12 hours in 3 days: Grumpy but not too Grumpy!

Every so often at strategically timed intervals, which come around again amazingly fast, Coach Cal puts our triathlon training group through a short volume push. For myself, it is putting close to the same number of hours I usually train in a week into three days.

On Friday we started the weekend with a group video ride at the Olympic Oval. While most of the group did some epic vertical snowshoeing near Banff on Saturday, I opted to stay home and cross-country ski at COP, swim, and trail run in order to get more family time and not be gone all day – sometimes I’ve found I have to find the best alternative options to keep my personal athlete-mom balance in check and still get in the necessary training! Sunday we finished the weekend off with an epic 5-hour Brick back at the Olympic Oval – a final test of mental and physical endurance mixed up with bike sets, running, stairs, and swim band pulls.

Coach Cal in the centre to the left leading the 5h Brick

The weekend got me thinking about how physical and mental endurance builds in increments, and that I am way better at handling training volume than I was when I first switched to being a cyclist and then a triathlete. Since I’ve spent half of my racing career so far specializing in the 1500m run on the track, I remember thinking a 90 minute bike ride was long when I started mountain biking while injured one summer. After about my third mountain bike race that same summer at Nationals in Ottawa, I couldn’t believe my brother had the energy to go out on the town with friends, while I was so wasted tired!

When Coach Cal first told me to run 2h and then 2h30 at one time, I thought that was nuts, the longest I’d done as a pure track runner was about 80 minutes! Or to run zillions of mile repeats as fast as we could go! Or when I had to do my first ride longer than 4 hours. what ride for 5-6 hours, that is crazy?!…still a rare occurence but now I know I can do it! Or gradually building up swim mileage and speed in the pool, or even to race a half marathon, and then half-ironman, nuts and too crazy hard…but of course I got to thinking each time maybe I’ll try it…and so on. Though I still think of doing an Ironman as a little crazy, ha, I’m not there yet!

As our bodies learn to handle more training over time, we learn how to better mentally embrace it, prepare for it, and have strategies for how to get through it. The same for mental intensity. As on a typical Tuesday night last week, we finished a long night of speed work on the track, and I was done like dinner at the end, but somehow finding the mental focus to get through it has become easier over time with practice, I’m better at just breaking it down to focusing on one interval at a time!

The Olympic Oval with a running track around the outside of the Long Track ice, perfect for indoor winter track sessions, and Bricks with plenty of stairs to  up the hurt factor!

And now I can finish a weekend like this and not be too much of grumpalufagus with the family, and even have a little energy left over each day to enjoy and play with my kids – not like I have a choice on that matter anyway – ha! And of course, I always like to reward some solid training with a little sweet treat – today it was quinoa chocolate cake – try this somewhat healthy one for some good protein recovery…:) It was a hit with my entire famille ce soir!

Moist Chocolate Quinoa Cake

Bring 2/3 cup quinoa, 1 and 1/3 cup water to boil, simmer for 10 minutes, turn off heat and leave to cool. Combine 1/3 cup milk, 4 large eggs, 1 tsp vanilla extract in a blender or food processor. Add 2 cups of the cooked quinoa and 3/4 cup melted butter and continue to blend until smooth. Whisk together 1 and 1/2 cups white or cane sugar, 1 cup cocoa, 1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp or baking soda, and 1/2 tsp salt. Add to blender and mix well. Divide batter into two  8-inch, greased pans and bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes.