Climbing Hills

The weather this morning was perfect for cycling. A few white puffy clouds, temperatures between 65 and 75, and a light breeze. My training plan had 60 miles scheduled, but since I was not able to ride outside last week, I road 52 and will save the 60 miler for next week. I left from my home following a course I mapped out. The first twenty miles go through the hilliest parts with a net drop in elevation of about 300 feet. Do not assume it was all fast, it is rolling hills with several good climbs. Around 22 miles in I ride along a river out and back for the next 24 miles. It is mostly flat with a few significant climbs. Then there is the six mile ride home. That would be a 300 foot elevation gain in six miles, with the majority of it in the last four miles. At this point I drop into my “granny gears” and push home.

Along the ride I made sure to refuel with gels and Stinger Honey Waffles (great for eating on the bike) also taking an electrolyte capsule every hour. I am focusing part of my training on nutrition and stretching to prevent cramping on the run. Climbing as many hills as I did today, I knew this would be a good test. I made it home averaging around 15 mph (pleased considering the hills), changed into my running shoes and ran two miles. My run felt good, my right quad had a subtle feeling of tension, but no cramps ever materialized. When I finished I felt I had accomplished a good workout. My half iron distance triathlon is seven weeks away and I feel I am preparing well, on target with my training.

A few things came to mind while I road. Since I was alone, it gave me time to think through a few things. The bike course for the race in September only has one significant hill and it is not a long distance. I know the hills I ride are making me stronger, but I also want to get a few rides in closer to my race pace. I know I should be able to ride the 56 mile course between 17.5 to 18.5 miles per hour. Next week I may drive out to the Cuyahoga National Park and ride a much more modest terrain. Also while I road I was passed up by a woman cruising very fast on her bike. I didn’t know how far she had ridden, I was at 44 miles at that point. My legs were feeling the 44 miles and she was able to practically float by. I was riding at a 17 mph pace too, so she had to have been at 22 mph or more. While I admired her talent I also wanted to train to reach that level. If I want to be there by next year I will have to continue with my hills a few rides a week but also ride all year long. In the past I have hung my bike up in late September only to dust it off in April. That may be changing this year…

As I climbed the big hills home I acknowledge that pride is also a hill I have to conquer. I don’t like having long rides where I average 15 mph when I race well over 17 mph. It was humbling to be passed up too. But I also have to remember that this is my journey. There will always be someone faster than me and I will be able to pass others up too, even on the swim and run. My worth is based on far more than how fast I can finish a race. What I choose to do with each day, each moment, I am give on my journey through life matters most. If I am able to motivate or encourage one person to see the joy in life, then I have won my race.

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