Sunday, April 12, 2009

I hit the wall...

Sorry for the lack of posts recently. I have been really busy at work and when I get home I just don't have the energy to get straight back on the computer! So now its Easter I have a bit of spare time (not so sure about the energy though) to catch you all up on the goings on from Perth. I apologise for the lack of emails, text messages and phone calls as well. Hopefully things settle down a bit.

A couple of weeks ago Jason was lucky enough to head down to Rockingham to do his kitesurfing lesson (this will be the subject of another post soon). SO I faced the prospect of a 5 hour hills ride on my own. On the Friday at swim squad I put my feelers out for a group doing a long ride so that I could have some company. My coach found me a group (that were leaving from the Narrows bridge at 6am!) and then when he heard who it was he said "that will be a time trial!"... Hmmm how hard could it be!

I got to bed nice and early as I needed to be up at 5am (at the latest!). Poor Jason also had to be up early to drop me off at the start destination. I started to get a little concerned as all the other riders for the session turned up... now I know flash bikes don't necessarily mean good riders, but REALLY flash bikes combined with ultra skinny cycling types with leg shaves better than I ever have start to ring some warning bells. I was the only one on a tri bike, the rest brought out their roadies...

A little after 6 am and we were off, down the bike path by the Kwinana Freeway.... and from the minute we left we were on a mission to where ever we were going... lucky it was dark so I didn't see how fast we were going, but I tell you what, I was lactic within 5 minutes and I was truly wondering how I was going to sustain 5 hours of this.

This pace was maintained for the first hour as we headed from the CBD to the hills... so many times I considered pulling the plug but I seriously had no idea where I was going so I had to stay with this bunch, or get lost in the middle of nowhere.

As we neared the hills another one of the girls mentioned that she was only just holding on as well and when I stopped to check we had lost two riders on the trip already! SO at least I made it to the base of the hills. Apparently they like to ride fast through the town streets to get out of the traffic (what traffic at 6am on a Saturday I thought...) and then the pace drops somewhat in the hills.

One of the riders let me know what hills we had ahead of us... apparently just 4 main climbs, one at 14km but moderate grade, the second at 3 km but really steep- so steep that a zig zag technique is sometimes applied... and then two 4 - 5 km moderate to hard hills to finish. I was pleased to note that they regroup at the top of all climbs as well.

As we set off up the first hill we pretty much all split up... I was in the middle so was pleased with that... My biggest fear was coming in last!!! My legs were pretty shattered but I got into a good climbing rhythm and we were soon at the top. We had a rest at the top while waiting for the other riders to catch up and then we were off again. Now when I say 4 main climbs to a ride that doesn't mean the rest is flat... there were hundreds of undulations... some that should definitely been classified as hills I thought!

We stayed together for the next hour or so and then we hit this amazing down hill... I hit an all time high for me of 78.6kmh!!!!!!!!! SO close to the 80kmh!!!!!!! The bike was wobbling a bit though!!!!

The second hill was a killer... more so on a tri bike! I wanted my road bike SOOOOO much through this section.

About 3.5 hours into the ride I was starting to get a bit tired so I was consuming as much food and fluid as I could... and then I took a sneaky caffeine pill. Yay for being a responder. As the caffeine flowed I immediately felt much better, the next two climbs were great for me and the guys who were leading the pace at the start of the day were suffering (good to see I wasn't the only one having a tough day!).

Finally after the last main climb we hit Kalamunda and most the group stopped for a coffee and muffin. There were a few of us that wanted to keep going though (I figured if I stopped I would struggle to get started again)... so we headed off down the hill and then flat back into down... and smack bang into the head wind (from the West) that plagues Perth late morning early afternoon!!!

By this stage I was out of fluids and it was heating up a lot!!! We were still riding at about 35kmh so the pace was still hot! 2km from the city we all went our separate ways and I had 15km to get home... the first 3 km were ok and then that wall snuck up on me and smashed me in the face.... I was shaking, I got lost (on a bike path!!) and I had no idea how I was going to get home!!! I was dehydrated, needed food (I had nothing left) and I started crying. There was no one to call to help either as Jason was an hour south of Perth on his course. I was on my own....

Its so hard to truly get across how bad I was... I have never, ever hit the wall like this. This day I was worse than my race in Canberra even. A combination of the heat, lack of food, dehydration, speed, long ride and not as much sleep as usual all culminated in one big ass wall that I needed to climb to get home....

I was never going to make it all the way home so I focused on getting to the petrol station 6 km from home, there I could refuel and hopefully regather my thoughts and energy!

I was reduced to a crawl nearly and at one stage thought that I might get off my bike and walk it! Every pedal stroke was a mission for me..... I wanted to curl up in a corner and die!!! All I could think about was how pleased I was it keep it together while with the new riding crew! Ahahaha pride is a funny thing :-) Especially as a triathlete/cyclist!

Finally I got to the garage and I hit the coke (not diet but real coke!!) for the caffeine and sugar, also powerade for the dehydration, and a trail mix of fruit, nuts and chocolate. I sat down out the front on the garage and seriously just wolfed down my stash... I was shaking so badly so food was going everywhere, I must have looked like a homeless person who hasn't eaten for weeks!

I demolished everything is sight and then pulled myself together for the last 6km... it is amazing what food can do... The next 6km were much easier than I thought that they would be... and finally I was home..... HOME SWEET HOME!!!!

Needless to say the next few hours were spent on the couch.

Now the real kicker was my programme for the Sunday... my coach had a race in there!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How on earth was I going to do that I wondered.

Well this is the amazing thing about the human body... I got up the next day, had a little residual soreness from the ride to day before, but nothing to write home about! We arrived at the race course (Point Walter- a subject of a previous blog) and I wondered what I was getting myself in for.

The course was going to be tough! A relatively easy swim, but then a 1km uphill run from the water to transition... then a 20km hilly bike course, followed by a 2 lap hilly run! Hmmm

Well I started the race with no expectations, I had no idea how the body would react at all. Well it reacted well as it happened! I led the whole race from start to finish... picking up about a 20 second lead in the swim/run to transition, then pushing this to a 2.5 min lead at the end of the bike, which I further extended in the run (only by 15 seconds...)... so all in all nearly a 3 min win for me.

I felt AMAZING on the ride and just wanted to keep going... I then ran a good 5km and only 20 seconds slower than my 5km triathlon PB (from a flat course). All in all it was a sprint distance PB as well...

SO all I can say is, that wall can be scaled and its amazing what we can do once we get to the other side!!!

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