Editor’s note: Ian Murray is using Zwift to train for the International Triathlon Union Long Course World Championships held in Odense/Fyn, Denmark July 2018. His weekly Zwift Insider series discusses the previous week’s training and the plan for the upcoming week.
It’s taper week. I hate taper week usually. That’s because normally I drop my volume significantly during this week compared to previous weeks to bring my fatigue levels down. Due to the crazy travel program over the last five weeks, my volume really hasn’t been all that high since mid-May. It’s really been more of a struggle to maintain a high level of fitness. That being said, this taper would be a little different, as I had some catch-up to do on the bike and in the pool.
Mechanicals and the Return of Aquaman
On Monday morning, I headed out on the bike just after 6 AM. The humidity was already picking up as I made my way to Haines Point to knock out an Endurance Lab workout, Pick up the Pace. Traffic on the trail and road closures in the park made it a little difficult to get all of my “stars” from the workout, but I got close. More importantly, I had no issues holding any of the target wattages for the prescribed times. In fact, it was more an issue of keeping my legs in check. After finishing up the workout, I made my way back to the house. Rolling through Old Town Alexandria, my right brake lever popped out of the bullhorn. That was no bueno since I was riding amongst the cars. Now, it didn’t come off because the brake cable and the Di2 cable kept it attached. It did make hand placement on the bar rather tricky, so I got a good core workout over the last mile or so. I made it safely home and ate something quickly before heading to the pool. After a short 35-minute swim, I headed in to work to take care of a couple of admin things before returning to the house to begin the long process of packing. Well, we weren’t really packing. We were more taking stock of what we had shipped in the move or carried with us and bouncing that against my race packing list. The next day, we changed up the routine and…. ok, we did not change anything. We headed for the pool where I did a 3K test. To hit the magical 3K number, I did the math and roughly came out with 3250, so I rounded it up to 3300 yards to account for any navigational challenges that might occur during the open water swim. As I proceeded through the workout, I realized that I kept getting a little faster every 1000 yards. My target for the test was roughly 51 minutes for the 3250. I ended up finishing the 3300 in 50:26. I was absolutely stoked. Despite limited swimming in the last month, it was my fastest time at that distance. Oh yeah!
Unfortunately, that’s when the awesomeness of the week started to go a little haywire. We got home from the pool, and I started to get to work on the bike to fix the brake lever that had gotten loose. Somehow the retaining bolt that expands the collar on the brake lever had gotten very loose, requiring me to remove the rear brake cable. Great news…except for the fact that my stand, tools, and extra brake cable are all on a boat somewhere between Santo Domingo and the US. Luck was on my side, though, as my local bike shop Conte’s took care of me, fixing the bike that night so I could pick it up on the morning of the 4th of July. Happy Independence Day to me! Speaking of that morning, I went for a little run. Well, I planned on doing about 13 or so, and I had plotted out my water stops along the trail going north towards DC. Turns out, I planned poorly. My first planned water stop turned out to be a water fountain that was out of order. That was about 3.5 miles into the run. No problem. My next planned stop would be at mile 6 at a park near Reagan National Airport. Nope. Wrong again. I pushed on a little more in a futile effort to find a water fountain. At a little more than 6.5 miles into the run, I relented and turned around to head back. I ended up taking a slightly different route home on which I knew for sure that had functioning water fountains. The downside was that I had to spend more time in the sun rather than the nice shade on the trail. I didn’t care, though: I needed the water, as it was hot as all get out. An hour and forty minutes or so, I finally made it home and headed straight to cool off.
After a quick bite to eat, I swung by the bike shop to pick it up and pack it for the trip. In the process of disassembling it, I took a picture and posted it to instagram, tagging the bike company. This key event both saved me and sent my world into a chaos. The next morning, I got online to check my email and found one from the bike company. Unfortunately, the frame was not deemed legal by the International Triathlon Union yet. Thus, I would not be able to use the bike at the race. Oh, I got this information four hours before heading to the airport for the first leg of the trip down to Florida. I went in to full-on panic mode. I checked the race website to see if I could still rent a bike. Nope. All bikes were sold out. Then, my wife came up with a brilliant plan. Buy a new bike. I knew that I married her for a reason. She’s a genius! I reached out to two companies that I had been interested in for a while. One was in Florida, and I figured that I could go to the HQ to get a fit if necessary, and the other one was known for amazing customer service. The first one to answer was Premier Tactical, and the owner of the company Dan Keegan answered the phone. I explained the situation to him, and he immediately jumped into action. Within a matter of minutes, we had talked through a preliminary fit to match my current setup, and he got to work on putting the bike together. In less than three hours, Dan had put the bike together, packed it in the included bike case, and dropped it at FEDEX to ship to my parents’ house in Florida. Dan saved my race. Now, I would never recommend using a new bike at a race if you haven’t trained on it, but using a new bike is better than not using a bike at all. I do want to thank Rachel from Ventum who reached out to me a little while after I contacted them, as she was ready to help out as well. I’ll be forever grateful to Dan, though, for the superhuman effort he put into making sure that I could race.
With that solved, we headed to the airport to go meet the bike in Tampa. At about noon, it showed up, and I set about putting it together to take it out for a spin. That is when I found out that my between the arms hydration system doesn’t fit on this cockpit (cue Price is Right fail sound effect). After a ride on the new bike, officially named Blue Wing by my nephew, I got in a quick run before going off on an adventure to find a new hydration system. I went to one of the local bike shops after making a phone call to see if he had what I needed. He said he did, but he was wrong (more Price is Right music). That fail ate up my time to look on Saturday, so I resolved to find a solution on Sunday before our flight. Not exactly ideal, but it was the only solution. So, I focused on packing everything up and preparing for the next day’s drive to Fort Lauderdale.
At about 11 AM, we loaded up the car and made our way to Ft. Lauderdale for our flight. Along the way, we stopped at three different bike shops, looking for the last remaining items needed for the bike, the BTA and the computer mount for my Wahoo Element Bolt. In the end, we found Conte’s Bike Shop in Ft. Lauderdale, a sister shop to my LBS in Alexandria. The crew there hooked me up by making a modification to a Garmin mount to get my Bolt on my BTA system. Finally at 5 PM, we had solved all of the bike problems (well, those that have popped up so far) and grabbed some food. Then, after all of the turmoil, we got to the airport, which is where I am wrapping this week up.
Planned TSS – 584; Completed TSS – 462
Well, it’s go time. I’ve got to get some time on my new bike, so the schedule below will probably change some. I feel pretty ready, but we’ll see how this week goes.
Planned TSS – 758
As race week progresses, I’ll try to get a post or two up to let everyone know how it is going. Soon after the race, I will be back up and training on Zwift for the final two races of the year. For anyone interested in watching the race, it will be aired on Facebook. Just look go to https://www.facebook.com/ITUMultisportFestival/ and watch the stream. I do have to warn the non-European crowd that the time difference may cut into your sleep time. But hey, you can get up and ride along with us! I’ll be looking for the Ride Ons during the race. Ha! Until then, Ride On!