Smoke from forest fires out west

Today is the beginning of my last big week of training for the 2015 Ironman Wisconsin. I find that I'm torn between two competing sentiments:

  1. I am TIRED and ready for some tapering
  2. I want to be more ready for Wisconsin than I am right now

I swam with the Z Team on Saturday; for one reason or another I haven't been at a Saturday swim for a long time (June?). I had had my run earlier in the day (before it got too warm out - after too many heat-of-the-day runs I finally got it in my head to get up and go out early), and it was a good run - 40 minutes with Seyore (my almost 9-year-old yellow lab, with whom I run a little gently as he is getting on in years) and then a while by myself, a bit faster. A pretty solid run for me.

All of this is to say that I was not quite fresh for the swim but I did reasonably well. Swam with Vlad and Mike, doing a set of 250's on 5:15; then 12x75 on 1:30 (those guys did them on 1:25 but I was coming in on 1:25).

The best part was that Gregory said to me at one point "that's the best I have ever seen you swim." I have been working on having better extension and keeping my head down so that my legs don't drag; Gregory said that I had good extension and a smooth stroke. Funny how happy it made me to hear him say that.

This week there have been forest fires out west, prompting health advisories here in Colorado. Occasionally I experience some asthma (usually in February and March; my doctor says that trees are busy around then), and they say that people with respiratory issues should limit their exposure to outdoor air - but they make no mention of people with respiratory issues who are in the final two weeks of Ironman training before their tapers, so off I went yesterday for a long ride.

Gregory had me down for a five hour ride; I had it in my head to ride 100 miles - and I am not such a fast rider when there are hills to climb. Have averaged just below 15 mph this season, which is discouraging; I do pretty well on the flat stuff but still get passed by serious cyclists. I just don't seem to have the power, or my power to weight ratio is low or something.

In any case I waited until 9:15 to start my ride yesterday because it was COLD first thing in the morning (mid-40's!) - set me up for a late finish. I'm not sure but I think the air quality gets worse later in the day, too. Rode one loop of my hilly 50-mile route, then popped into the house to get more supplies, drink a protein shake and head back out. I checked forecasts to see where the wind was going to be coming from as I finished my ride, and Google and weather.com both said it would be coming from the South - so I went out toward Elizabeth.

I was having a hard day, doing a job on myself about my slow pace ("all this is doing is teaching my body to ride slowly for Wisconsin") and noticing that I was not riding with any joy, until I had a shift in my thinking. I realized that I was building my conditioning more than anything, and that's a good thing. I spent all week training hard, getting my body as tired as it was when I started the ride, and then pushed myself up some hills and into the significant wind out of the South. Although it was slow, it was certainly conditioning.

I popped into the Subway in Elizabeth to refill my water bottles and took a look at my eyes, which had been bothering me. Sure enough they were RED - with all of the wind and smoke my contacts were really bugging me. More than anything that gave me permission to complete my ride with less than a full 100 miles (I did 97). I was really happy to be home and spent the rest of the day lolling about on the couch, watching Doctor Who Season 8.