The past week was all about one word 'UP' and we aren't talking about the new movie that was out.
To recap: Sunday - hilly bike ride and rode hard; Tuesday - biked up the bonus hill 8 times; Wednesday - ran hills. Which leaves us with the remaining portion of the week.
On Thursday I biked - one guess here - HILLS! Well, one hill in particular. It's called Cochrane hill and out here it's rather infamous. Ask Jenna about it, she can tell you. It's the hill that everyone rides out to to climb and do hill training. It's approximately 3 km in distance to the flat bit before the Gleneagles intersection, and has a gain of approximately 225 m. All put, it's a gooder.
I did a 25 minute warm up ride then set out to tackle it. I've ridden this hill many times in during my triathlon days so don't find it intimidating, but I do find it challenging. If you don't, then you aren't working hard enough. Today I was blessed to have a tailwind. We've had some wicked wind out here these days and to try and fight a headwind on that hill is just ridiculous.
As I started up my first climb I noticed how much debris was on the road. In fact, I couldn't look anywhere other than down in front of my tire as I had to maneouver around nails, broken glass, broken mirror, broken pottery (??), cracks in the road, uneven surface, rocks and sand. It was a bit unnerving especially as there is not much of a road edge and you have cars doing about 80 - 100 km zipping past you.
I made it up the first climb fairly well. I think I used to take about 20 minutes to climb this and this time it was 18, so I was happy with that. As it was the tail end of rush hour I decided to descend through the Glen Eagles neiborhood. This is the other hill you can climb, which is about 5 km in length and has it's fair share of steep bits. Not as many peole go through here, I'm not sure why.
Everything was fine until I took my first corner and was hit with a blasting wind that had my bike shimmying. This I didn't not like. It's a fast descent and there is only so much braking you can do. I held on and prayed I wouldn't get a huge gust after each corner. Finally I made it down.
I decided at the bottom that I was only going to do two hill climbs. No because of the climb, but the wind seriously scared me and I'm pretty confident in my riding. My schedule said 2-3 hill climbs, so I didn't feel too bad, but I also knew that I would work even harder on this climb to 'make it count'. And I did. I pushed hard and kept my mantra of 'perfect little circles' going. I managed to take a minute of my previous time, so that was cool.
My total ride time ended up being 110 minutes, which was what I was supposed to do. Perhaps next week I won't take so much time to warm up??
On Friday I went out for a run where I had to do some speed work. Correct me if I'm wrong here, but trying to get speed after knackering your legs on hills is almost impossible. Or at least it feels like it.
I ran for an hour and did my best with my intervals. My Garmin was giving me all sorts of paces so I wasn't sure if I was on my 'goal' pace or not. What I do know is that my heart rate was 160 bpm and my breathing was heavy, so I worked hard. Of course my last interval came just as I got back to the bonus hill. Ya, like I was going to do that pace up there! So I deeked into a neiborhood and ran around there for a bit then 'cooled down' by running up the bonus hill. My legs were a hurting unit by then.
I ended doing my long ride on Saturday because I was going to help out with a kids triathlon camp on Sunday. Had I given this any thought I may have done something else....
I had a 3-4.5 hour ride scheduled so had a friend, Pam, come out from the city with two of her buds, Leanna and Kevin and I took them on my favourite ride - the Lochend Loop. Jenna can tell you more about this one too!
It's about 105 in length and for the most part you can say it's all UP. I love it because it takes you through countryside, which at this time of year is starting to look really pretty. There are ponds along the way where the ducks hang out and you can hear the frogs singing. There are cattle farms, horse farms, donkey farms and llama farms! You even have the chance of seeing deer and prarie dogs along the way. Oh, and if you stop at the Bottrell General store for some fueling, which I highly recommend because it's the coolest wee store (celebrating 75 years), you can hang out with the wee white kitty there and Buffy, the dog. Both are exceptionally friendly and love scritches behind the ears, which I'm more than happy to oblige. In return for the lovin, Buffy will lick your face off if you choose to let him.
There are a lot of rolling hills, but you never seem to come back down far enough and have to climb again. And again, and again. When you ride up Lochend Road you think, okay, at the top of this hill I'm done climbing, only to see a steep descent and another hill to climb.
This is why I love this route. It's challenging, and still beautiful! I loved what Pam said as we were riding back to town, 'Gee Susi, you sure did pick a hard route to be your favourite!'
Once back up to Hwy 1A it's an easy schmeasy ride to the top of Cochrane hill, then a quick descent and you are back into town. Of course if you are riding back to my place you still have the bonus hill to do.
There were a few interesting occurrances on this ride. One was the fact that I learned that I can ride head on into 30 km/h headwinds for quick some time and not get too discouraged...although I was happy I managed to luck out again and had them as tailwinds UP Lochend Road.
Two was that all the wind and riding around farms really nailed my allergies and my asthma kicked in very badly. I had my Ventolin with me but it wasn't helping. I felt like I had about a 1/4 of my lungs working for most of the ride - I'm still feeling them today. The med student, Kevin, that was riding with us later explained why I should use my steroid inhaler. (I got my prescription renewed and picked it up last night!)
Three, as I got to the top of Lochend Road I remembered a spot where Tigger had pulled over in her truck last year to say hi to me. I was bracing myself to get to that location as, obviously, I'm still pretty emotional with my memories. I remember so vividly us talking about her dragon boat racing and how she loved it. And I can still feel our hug as we bid adieu that day. I recall thinking how strong her back and shoulders were. Just as I was getting to the spot I noticed a motorcyclist, who had passed me moments before wearing a 'WWE Rock Music' t-shirt, had stopped in the same spot Tigger had been. I smiled to myself and thought, well that's definitely not Tigger! As I rode by he turned and looked at me, gave me this big arse grin and said 'Great ride!' I said thanks and smiled back, then fought off the urge to cry. Weird coincidence or what?
For some of the ride I was struggling a bit with the mental game. I was again behind everyone. Not by much, but enough that I was trying not to get discouraged. I was working super hard on the hills, and doing well on the flats, but still, it's hard to be behind all the time. I kept reminding myself that this was a good way to get stronger, to chase and keep chasing.
At about the halfway point I realized I had done 7 days straight of good workouts. Even with that I was still able to work hard and keep pushing. This made the discouragement go away. I may not be fast, but I'll be darned if I quit or stop working hard!
I think one of the hardest things in sport is too keep that positive mental attitude going. There are times when you are going to be slower, or not feel as strong, but you have to keep forging ahead. All of the time you spend doing that will make you a better athlete and get you through your races no matter what challenge you face. I strongly believe that.
So even with the challenges I faced this week I had a great time! I have a better triathlete tan, my lungs have recoverd, and my legs will eventually forgive me in December after race season is done. To end the week I had a blast helping out the kids triathlon camp! What a great group of kids - they are going to be amazing at the Footstock Kids of Steel in a couple of weeks - I'll be helping out there too.
As for next week....onwards and UPwards!
Peace out my glorious friends!