We decided that a 3 week camp in Flagstaff would be ideal prep for this race. It just so happened that we were there the same time as the rest of the Canadian endurance contingent so it was nice to see some familiar faces at the track after being away from home for so long already this year.
We found an amazing deal on a great home for the month which was ideally situated right next to Lake Mary Rd, where we did all of our training. The house was big enough for Myself, Inaki and Ben as well as Jared, his wife Claire, Quentin and Luke (Jared's physio) (as well as Gerry and Inaki's wife Carmen at times).
By the end of the first week I was starting to feel back to normal(ish) and decided to push out a little speed session. I kept it light with 10x500m but they went so well that I decided to jump in with the rest of the group for their last 2 1km's. It wasn’t meant to be a hard, or all out workout by any means but it definitely acted as a good confidence boost after a few weeks of being in a mentally bad place!
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On a more positive light: My time at altitude helped me increase my hemoglobin substantially. Hemoglobin helps transfer O2 in the blood from the lungs to the working muscles, so the more of it you have… the better. My hemoglobin mass (hemoglobin from a blood test is measured in g/dL and can change depending on how hydrated you are, whereas hemoglobin mass gives you a much better indication of total Hb) before the camp was 1052g (my previous best was just over 1000, so a fairly substantial number to begin with) and after the 3 weeks had gone up 2.5% to 1079g. HbMass is typically measured per kilogram of body mass and for me this meant my post value was over 16g/kg! (anything over 15 is considered highly elite). I'm a huge numbers nerd, so seeing this gave me confidence that the camp paid off. Even if it didn't feel like it training wise!
After coming home I've have a few hard workouts to push the body. After an easy 1st day down, day 2 was a 10km tempo in 42:30 that felt a little tougher than I'd have liked, but all things considered I was quite happy with it. And 3 days down I had a 20km moderate in 1:29:30 (46:00; 43:30). With those two workouts in the books and being 10 days out from the race I will start backing off now, keeping the volume low and the intensity fairly high to maintain quality.
Going into Rome our team (of Ben, Inaki, Mathieu and I) are ranked amongst the favourites. 2 years ago in Taicang we were unknowns that scrapped together the 3 fastest times ever by Canadians and missed out on a team podium by 1 measly point. This time around, anything short of a podium will be considered a disappointment. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly the tables can turn!
To end: Here are a couple photos of my lego man that I'm taking on my adventures this year.