Rebrick

Bike:

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  • 11.49 mi Distance
  • 39:37 Moving Time
  • 647 ft Elevation
  • Avg Speed 17.4 mi/hr
  • Max Speed 40.5 mi/hr

Run:

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  • 2.58 mi Distance
  • 26:13 Moving Time
  • 10:08/mi Pace
  • Elevation 169 ft 

It was time for another brick, the last opportunity before my first triathlon. I decided to try to closely simulate the upcoming event, as well as ride out on the same route that foiled me earlier in the season, with a broken chain and a calf injury. 

This was what I needed to be confident that I could complete the race.

The bike went according to plan.  I took it relatively easy, not working too hard and focusing on keeping myself to about an 80% effort. One of the things I’d been concerned about was outpacing myself on the bike and having nothing left for the run, so I wanted to work on actively preventing that.

The legs still felt terrible for the first mile of the run, but by this point I knew what to expect and it was easier to deal with. I felt no hint of a problem in my calf on the way out of the out-and-back route, but just after I looped around to head home, it seized up on me.  It was bad enough that I had to stop completely. I tried to relax and calmly stretch it out, but I was cursing inside. I was terrified that this was going to be a re-injury that would prevent me from racing.

Luckily, the stretching seemed to help quite a bit. I started running again, very slowly, to test it out.  It held up.  I continued and made it home ok, without further incident.

I hoped it was a fluke. My first tri was just a week away.

Injury recovery week

The week of workouts after injuring my calf on my first brick was full of trepidation.  My first sprint triathlon event was just two weeks away, and I really had no idea whether I’d be able to recover enough in order to do it.

I started the week with an open water swim at a local lake, my second time swimming there.  I had a rough estimate of the distance I was covering from Google Maps, and corroborated that with the time I spent in the water.  It was good practice for figuring out sight-lines and navigation in the water.  My calf felt okay, but I didn’t expect that swimming would tax it particularly.  The real test would be running.

Next up was a ride, which I did as a relatively low-key mountain bike ride for just under an hour.  No serious effects there either, but I did feel a couple of tweaks.  It was mainly feeling painful during my everyday routine, preventing me from walking normally and feeling really tight and stiff.  I felt like stiff was something I could deal with and potentially stretch out, but if it connected with pain, that was a problem.

I took my first run of the week on the treadmill, keeping it flat and easy, for only about 20 minutes.  It again didn’t seem to hurt it, but it wasn’t getting any better.

Another easy swim, and then I decided to try it out on the road.  I did an extremely careful, extremely slow run, with a couple of hills in it, one of which I walked.  I didn’t want to take any chances with making it worse, but I did feel like something needed to be worked out for it to get better.

That seemed to go okay, so the next day I did a decent ride, about 20 miles with about 1,300 ft of elevation, all in one go.  It felt pretty good.  I got my running shoes on immediately and went out for a short run, to complete my second brick.  I didn’t feel normal, but I didn’t feel bad, and overall it was successful.  I was optimistic for the coming week.

A painful brick

Bike:

  • 9.98 mi Distance
  • 33:38 Moving Time
  • 565 ft Elevation
  • Avg Speed 17.8 mi/h
  • Max Speed 39.1 mi/h
  • Avg Heart Rate 149 bpm
  • Max Heart Rate 173 bpm

Run:

  • 2.58 mi Distance
  • 25:49 Moving Time
  • 10:00/mi Pace
  • Elevation 170ft
  • Avg Heart Rate 166 bpm
  • Max Heart Rate 182 bpm

A key component of triathlon training is doing combination workouts, or “bricks” as they are called in the sport.  These are training sessions where you essentially simulate one or more transitions, doing a ride and then immediately going for a run, for example, just as you would in an event.

This was my first attempt at doing such a thing.  I really wasn’t sure how it would go, since I’d never done it before, so I decided to keep both the bike and the run relatively easy.  I’d shoot for around 10-12 miles on the bike and about 2.5 miles on the run, as flat as I could manage from my house.

I felt really good on the bike, putting down the miles with relative ease and moving fairly comfortably.  Things took a turn when I was close to the end, though.  I came to an intersection in the middle of a hill and had to stop for traffic.  Then as I started up again, preparing to tackle the rest of the hill ahead of me, my chain snapped.

Like, literally just broke in two.

I heard a snap, my legs started freewheeling and I looked down to see it just dangling off my chain ring.  

I was only a mile from home, so a rescue mission didn’t take long to reach me.  It was frustrating, though, and dropped me out of the zone hard.  I hurriedly changed into my running gear (no tri suit yet) and headed out on my run, eager to regain the momentum I had had going before the mechanical failure.

My legs felt awful. I had never experienced anything like it.  I’ve been tired on a run plenty of times, and having finished two marathons in the past, I know what it’s like to feel nearly 100% fatigue in your legs.  But this was different.  This was like my legs belonged to someone else and I was controlling them remotely, or something.  It was really weird.  They felt almost numb, even though I could feel them.  It was clear very quickly why people practice this sort of thing.

After about a mile, the weirdness started to clear up and I felt more like myself again.  I crested a hill and started down the other side, when a car appeared heading toward me.  I moved to the side of the gravel road, into the shoulder.  And felt a twinge in my calf. Different than a cramp, it was like a very specific section of my calf contracted as hard as it could.  

I should have stopped immediately to stretch and rest, but I was determined to see this through and was locked into a mental race mode.  The leg hurt for the rest of the run but I finished it out and limped up my driveway.

I wasn’t sure how that was going to play out, but it didn’t look or feel good.