I had two goals for today:
1. Bike 100 miles.
2. Build confidence for Ironman St. George.
I've had a bit of a mental block since viewing the St. George course a few weeks ago. It was so much harder than I expected it would be, and to be honest, it put the fear of God into me. So we tried to pick out some routes locally that would mimic some of the challenges of St. George. We found one route that does just that.
A few weeks ago we drove our new course, checking out the roads, and the hills. I added it on to my training schedule and the day has been creeping closer and closer, until finally.... it arrived. I didn't know how long it would take me to bike 100 miles on this course, with close to 8000 feet of climbing. I was guessing 7+ hours. I was nervous. Scared. Whining like a little girl.
But I sucked it up and got out of bed this morning when my alarm went off. I hit the road just before 7 am, and started climbing. Surprisingly, I felt good. It's not that my legs didn't fatigue as time went on. I was just strong. When I hit the big climbs, a series of long rolling hills, I just got comfortable and pushed on. I didn't worry about the clock. I didn't worry about the wind. I just focused on getting up the next hill and practiced my descending skills on the other side. By the time I got to my turn around point, I was feeling the burn, but still feeling good.
On the way back, I crushed it. I kept my heart rate in check, but made sure I was continuously working hard. By the time I got back to flat land, I had 10 miles left. Tired, but still strong, I held a 20 mph pace the rest of the way home. I have never felt this good for the duration of a long ride! My average pace was slow (which I expected) but I finished the ride in 6 hours, 34 minutes, which was much faster than I expected.
I followed up my confidence-building bike ride, with a 6 mile transition run.... at an 8:17 minute per mile pace. And I felt so good! Double dose of confidence. I'm storing today in my back pocket for race day. When the going gets tough, I can look back on today and know that I've done the work. I've trained. I'm strong. I'm prepared. I'm ready.
I've got a few hundreds left before race day and I'm sure I'll be doing this course again. Good roads. Great challenges. Great training day.