Training camp was AWESOME. Epic. Bodacious. (or epi-dacious as we started calling it). Hard. REALLY hard. Fun. REALLY fun. REALLY HARD FUN!
Let's skip straight to Saturday. The Diabolical Double . 125.3 miles. 16511 feet of elevation gain. Harder than any training ride I've ever done x10,000.
8:48:24: time spent in the saddle; about 1:48 longer than any other ride I've ever done
2,564: approximate number of hills climbed during those 125.3 miles
2,564: approximate number of times I wished I had a 12-27 cassette instead of a 25 (which, funny enough, coincides with the approximate number of hills climbed... :)
2,564: approximate number of times I wanted to cry on the ride (are you seeing a trend yet?)
2: number of states we rode in (Maryland and West Virginia) which prompted one of the QOTD: "Wait, are we supposed to be in West Virginia?!?!?!" (this, after I had seen a sign that said we were in Beryl, WV and we were about to climb up a 6 mile monstrosity)
3: number of hills I actually had to mailman to get up
82: approximate number of cookies consumed by me at the 6 aid stations on the course; at the start of the ride I was being quite precise with taking in ~200 kcals/hr (what I would do on any normal long ride) and consuming my gummies, bars, sports drink, etc... But after about the 2nd aid station I realized this was NOT going to work because I was STARVING and we had 85+ miles to go! At this point I started shoving anything I could possibly find in my mouth at each and every aid station. I guzzled Coke. I snarfed down peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And of course I ate A LOT of cookies. :)
14.2: average speed in miles/hr for the ride and you know what? I was honestly really proud of that!
It's no secret (at least to me!) that riding long is what I struggle with most in triathlon training. It's hard for me and it's where I have the least amount of experience. Last year was the first year I had ever riden my bike over 4 hours. And leading up to Kona last summer, I really only did about 6 rides that were over 4 hours.
Riding long is growing on me. I'm definitely getting much stronger (thanks to uber-biker Dirk) but still, a 125 mile ride (regardless of the amount of climbing!) was definitely going to be a HUGE challenge for me. Add in those hills and...well, let's just say I was quite concerned several times that I wasn't going to make it.
But I did. I did in part because my body is a lot more willing and capable than my mind is willing to accept at times. I did because I had 3 other friends that rode with me and encouraged me (and pulled me away from the aid stations when I wanted to nap underneath a tree :). I did because I told myself over and over again "just keep pedaling". JUST. KEEP. PEDALING!
When I finished I was so amazed! And although it's probably not true, I seriously already feel stronger because of it. My goodness, if my mind and body can survive that ride - the relentless ups and downs and ups and downs and the STEEPNESS of the ups (and downs)...well than, it can survive a lot more than I thought it could!
Eric, Bruce, Jocelyn and I. After 10 hours of pain together on Saturday we now share a bond like none other! Friends for life I suspect! At times we happily chatted. At times we commiserated. At times we just grinded up the hills side by side in silence.
And so, although the first words out of my mouth to Chad, Jeremy, and Matty upon finishing were "NEVER AGAIN!" I'm already looking forward to next year and taking down that 8:48:24 PR! :)
As for the rest of the weekend, there was much more fun and training to be had! We swam open water twice (once in a wetsuit and once where I decided I didn't need my wetsuit and WOW was that water COLD!). We ran long on the trails of Swallow Falls State Park. We rode again on Monday for another (much flatter) 45 miles and amazingly I felt really good! We ate and laughed and played games. There was Uno, where if you lost your punishment was TRX atomic pushups...and yes, I lost. There was KanJam, where I discovered that I'm not too good with a frisbee. 12 (or was it 13?) friends who all love to swim/bike/run and have fun too. Really couldn't ask for much more!
Before our swim on Monday, Jeremy and I without wetsuits and about to be VERY chilly! (made me swim faster though... :)
The night before the Diabolical Double, the house refrigerator was jammed full of prepared bottles!
I miss my training partners already! After an easy swim/run day on Tuesday, it was back to reality today with some hard intervals on the trainer. Where I saw power numbers that I've never seen before! I'm telling you, there is something to climbing those hills of western rural Maryland (and WV). If they don't kill you, they certainly do make you stronger! :)