Half Ironman Training week 3 – heat and hiking

A proper training recap! This week I did just over 9 hours of training, which was my highest in quite a while, helped out by a long hike and a long cycle ride.

2 swims: I really was not feeling my first swim. I was tired, I hadn’t swum in a pool in over a week, and I just felt sluggish. Luckily the plan didn’t call for any too-long/too-fast reps – a maximum of 400m slow and 300m in zones 2-3 suited me just fine and I got the workout done. The second swim was similar just with slightly more mental motivation and slightly less energy in my legs after a hard treadmill run the night before.

1 run: Talking of that treadmill run …. 35 minutes involving some 30 second hill sprints (the first time I’ve ever done this on the treadmill due to being scared I’d fall off the back – I didn’t!) and some 1 minute fast sprints. I kept my “rest” speed fast as well and had a great run – although I was exhausted afterwards!

– 2 cycles: I had meant the first one to be a brick workout, a 1 hr 40 cycle followed by a 20 minute run. However, the night before we had work drinks and I ended up staying out too late and drinking too much … justifying it to myself as “this will be good for my career“. Question: can anything be good for your career after 4 glasses of wine?! In all seriousness I did manage to have some good conversations with people I had just met and learnt a lot about the possibility of working in Spain in the future….. but my hangover the next day meant I just couldn’t drag myself out of bed and the length of my cycle rapidly decreased………… The park was pretty though. Hard to believe it wasn’t too long ago that under these beautiful trees lay mines and bomb craters.

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The second cycle was meant to be a 3 hour ride after James had left to return to the UK on Sunday evening. But it was 36 degrees outside and I was tired and dehydrated and, with a headwind on the way out, felt absolutely horrendous. I was going slow and time was going even more slowly. I was just counting down the seconds until I could turn around, hating every minute, and feeling horrendous with the heat. My completely frozen bottle of water was almost too hot to drink after less than an hour and despite having electrolytes and lots and lots of water, it just felt too hot. And there was no shade. So I ended up cutting the ride short, turning around after 1 hour 20 instead of 1 hour 30. Then there was a tail-wind on the way back and I positively flew home, for a ride of just 2hrs 15! I worked hard though and I am sure it was good training.

– 1 hike: This was in place of a long run. We rented a car and drove up to Manzanares el Real before starting the hike. Another exercise cut short due to the heat – we couldn’t carry enough water to see us through so ended up with a 3 hour hike instead of the 4 hours plus that we had planned. But it was INCREDIBLE.

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We started off with some gentle up and downs along the side of the river, then took a steep climb up the side of the mountain. This felt like it went on forever and was real calf burning stuff.

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Once on the top, the gradient evened out and we ended up on a high plateau, with stunning views of the rocks and the plain below, the four skyscrapers of Madrid visible on the horizon, around 50kms away.

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It was just wonderful and I wish it had been slightly less hot / we had slightly more water so we could have continued further.

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I had taken Friday off work as James was arriving to visit Madrid for the first time. We did one of my walking routes from this blogpost on Friday, but stopped off at the Prado and then made our way to Fabrica Maravillas, a really cute craft-beer bar where they brew their own beer. From there we had a wonderful dinner at the Mercado de San Anton before bed.

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Saturday was hiking day, followed by a fantastic meal at my favourite, Sala de Despiece on calle Ponzano, and then on Sunday we just lay in bed reading the papers all morning, before lunch and then James going home. It was a wonderful weekend and I really can’t wait for James to come and visit again!

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