Just got back from training camp up in Canada for the Ironman. What an amazing time! Aside from being on the course and everything else about traveling off for a weekend, it was the team that really made it worth it. Surrounding yourself with people of like mind and that are there to help you is a great feeling. The team is stacked with great athletes, but you never feel intimidated or overlooked. Great coaching and teammates that know on any day you’ll need a hand no matter how good you are.
It’s odd being surrounded by people of like mind. So often I get tired of explaining why I “need” to get a long swim, bike or run in when on vacation or just over a weekend away from home. being in a place where you could see, not just our team, but hundreds of other people doing the same.
With the team it’s a different feel than I’ve ever been use to before. It seems like no one has an attitude, is condescending or over competitive to the point of being overbearing. Every workout seems to push and raise the level of your our game.
It’s odd waking up knowing that at some point in the day you’re going to be pushed to your limit. Reason enough to hit the snooze button a few extra times. I knew I was going to be in trouble before the bike start if I didn’t approach long rides from a different angle. Up until now the last 10-12 miles of all bike rides have been just trying to hold on. I go out steady, feel good at about 80-85% effort, but at the end....Bam...holding on to make it back to the car.
Mark suggested that “just because you can fly up the hills, maybe you shouldn’t”. I thought about that all week, or the few days before training camp. So my new moto on the bike is, “Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.” So I took the bike out as usual, but as we hit the first hill I slowed, lowered my rate, kept the heart rate down and did a steady climb up a little steep hill about 5 blocks long. It was still early, real early, mile 10 of 112.
Forty miles in we hit a little kicker and the same thing, get to the top and feel OK, steady. At about 45ish we start Richter Pass, I’m looking at the road as we approach and I can’t wait! I’ve been living in fear of this damn piece of road for almost 6 months, bring it on!!! Hard right turn and......
“Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.” I ease up and slow down and pedal nice and easy. On the bottom part of Richter I got pasted 4x and had to just mentally tell myself over and over. “Let them go, not your pace today”. I was feeling amazing when I got to the top, breathing wasn’t labored, heart rate was 135 and down to 93 about a minute after I stopped climbing. I looked around and just noticed how almost everyone else was pretty whipped, both from the heat and the climb. I felt great!
I had a few things I was trying new this day. 1. was the not going up with as much effort as I usually climb with. 2. Was not to pedal on the downhills, unless you needed to so you didn’t have to do much work on the next hill. As I did this I’d see the heart rate ease back to 130 and figured that was saving matches for later.
The out and back hits you around 63 miles or so. You have to keep in mind that the out is hard because it’s hard. Not because your tired. It’s Hard, because it’s Hard! False flats and steep little climbs, solidly kicks your ass. The way back at the turn around, not so bad. Which makes you realize - It’s Hard, because it’s Hard!
Yellow Lake - because I like to look at climb profiles and expect every climb to look like a saw tooth I didn’t realize we were on to climb until about a mile from the top. I may be a little thick when it comes to this. On the EWT, day one I think, I keep waiting for the road to really turn up for the 12 mile climb to Loup Loup and was amazed at the rest stop to hear we were already 6 miles into it. Sweet! So I kept thinking we were always about to start climbing, the rollers were just, well rollers to the approach.
Energy wise I was doing very well, heat wise I was not really doing very well. The last stretch up to Yellow Lake was an oven, I was riding with Kirsten and out of fluids. It seemed the heat was just eating away at any energy. It was very survival mood. I could only really focus on her back tire and felt if I lost that I was cooked. Luckily before things got too critical we hit the top and our great team support car was there with ice cold water and Gatorade...Phew
I iced down and stood off the bike for about 3 minutes and felt back in the game. The rest was about 2 miles of rollers and about 8 miles of descending back down to flat ground. I think everyones face was lit up with this excitement of “ I just did the bike course in 97 degree weather and survived” Holy Shit! 4200 plus feet of elevation gain as well.
The next morning was a long run in the 14-15 mile range, mind you I was doing one of the shorter runs...???? It was hot hot hot, again with amazing support from the team and coaches. Such a strong team, it’s so inspiring to train, work and support along side them. And by the way, the new approach to riding hills and saving energy totally paid off...