Monday, June 24, 2013

June 17-22: Climbing. Slowly, but Climbing

I’ve whined more than enough about how bad I am at climbing hills on my bike. And I think by now, it’s obvious to everybody that it’s not my strength. However, I keep signing up for races that don’t cater to my strengths (at all) and therefore find myself doing plenty of hilly triathlons.

Including Ironman Mont Tremblant in eight weeks.

As appealing as it is to continue to whine and use my lack of hill climbing skills as a preemptive excuse for a poor showing, it seems like it might be even MORE fun to just get better at climbing hills this summer. This task got to be much tougher in light of my inexplicable weight gain last month, since climbing on the bike is all about your power to weight ratio, but that doesn’t mean I’m a (completely) lost cause. I’ve continued to bike on hills, work on improving my power, and have been doing targeted strength training to help out the power numbers even more.

The hills around DC, though, aren’t quite like the hills in Mont Tremblant, and I had to get out to a tougher course, which is why I signed up for the 62 mile option at the Garrett County Gran Fondo last weekend. This course includes somewhere between 8000 and 9000 feet of climbing, and a LOT of rated climbs.

(See: Extensive King of the Mountain markers. Some of those were real beasts.)

I climbed – slowly – but did not stop to walk my bike, even when it seemed that everybody around me was. 20% grade? That’s OK, I’ll just keep turning the pedals and chugging along about 2-3 mph. And while most recent hilly rides have left me in tears and ready to take a hammer to my bike, I was absolutely ecstatic to finish this ride and couldn’t have been happier.

It deserves its own recap, which will be coming shortly. For now, the rest of the week.

Monday: Rest day.

Tuesday: 45 minutes of strength training in the morning, then 3200 yards of swimming with DCRP masters in the evening.

Wednesday: A 5.25 mile track workout of 1600 (7:36)-2x800 (3:40-3:41)-4x400 (1:45-1:45-1:45-1:46). This felt really strong, and my form felt very efficient. It’s nice to have a good run session every so often during Ironman training, when it is so easy to become a long-distance shuffler.

Thursday: In the morning, 75 minutes on the bike trainer with three five minute zone 4 efforts. Followed up with 3300 yards of swimming with DCRP masters in the evening.

Friday: 45 minutes of strength training and 3000 meters of fairly easy swimming.

Saturday: Masochistic Metric!!!

5:43 to cover just over 62 miles with about 8500 feet of climbing, including a 1.5 mile section with an average grade of 10%. Though many others were walking their bikes up some of the steeper climbs, I didn’t stop ONCE outside of the two aid stations and the one brief break on a flat section to pick up the bottle that flew off my bike.

As awesome as that ride was, the 45 minute brick run that was on my schedule got turned into a 15 minute jog around the parking lot when I failed to find any good places to run.

Sunday: 7 miles of running at 9:33/mile pace first thing in the morning. This was a bit of a struggle, due to some combination of residual dehydration from the day before (70 ounces of water in almost 6 hours of training when temps hit almost 90F can do that) and lack of sleep. And, well, biking up mountains for several hours the day before.

That evening, I did a lot of foam rolling and stretching. A LOT.


  1. I cannot freaking wait to read more about that ride, because I am crazy and think it sounds like fun. Kudos to you for choosing to own those hills.

  2. i need to MAKE time for more foam rolling, stat. am no good with hills either, that amount of climbing seems crazy! i get up them, but am by no means fast. i have been enjoying sweet potato cookies + turkey jerkey sticks on my last few rides though, seems to be doing the trick...

  3. Can't wait to read the bike recap! Riding 62 miles sounds so impressive (and daunting--#bikenewbie), plus those climbs. I would have been glued to my bed/couch the day after. Nice work!

  4. Well, I already told you you probably would have won the 1 mile swim even after that awesome ride. Just hearing how long you were on the bike and with those climbs wow. Though it's proper blogging technique to whine about the race you signed up for. How you ran the day after is also extremely impressive but I'm not surprised. The more I read your weekly recaps of training, the more I realize how time and effort (10 fold than running) goes into being a triathlete. Not that I didn't know that, but it just floors me every single week if that makes sense.

  5. You are awesome, even if you're slow. And awesome trumps fast, every time.

  6. I'm absolutely exhausted just looking at that ride! Holy cow.

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