I had a big training day on Sunday and I thought it would be fun to share it in detail here. The plan was to ride with a new friend, Rich, from Squamish to Pemberton and back followed by a run. Here’s what happened…
6:30am. I woke up with enough time for breakfast (toast and cottage cheese with a latte), to check the news and finalize my equipment for the day.
7:45am. I was picked up by Rich for the drive to Squamish. I took this opportunity to get in more food and ate a peanut butter sandwich.
8:30am. We stopped in at Galileo Coffee for some coffee and to assess the weather for the day. In a word, crappy. Sheets of rain were coming down and it didn’t look like it was going to clear up. It definitely crossed my mind that we wouldn’t be riding so I suggested we do the Grouse Grind. Rich suggested The Chief. We definitely weren’t living Rule #5. We elected to finish the drive to Squamish and hang out at the local bike store to see if the weather would clear, but this didn’t seem likely.
10:00am. The sheets of rain had slowed and we decided to make a go of it. Rich announced that we were going all the way to Pemberton. I pointed out that we didn’t know exactly how many kilometres that ride would be. Rich didn’t seem to care; he had adopted Rule#5. I drank a Boost and we set off for the long ride ahead.
10:10am. We started the 11km climb out of Squamish. This is the first time we’d set out on a ride together. Both of us didn’t want to let up and we were pushing it up the hill. I thought to myself that this was not going to end well. My heart rate was over 155 and approaching 160 (well into anaerobic threshold). We were 15 minutes into who knows how long of a ride and I was going hard. This was not sustainable, and yet I continued.
10:30am. We crested the hill, both still not wanting to admit that we were working too hard. At the top, Rich said that it had been a tough climb. I agreed. Is it bad that I was happy he admitted it before me?
Rich 0; Geoff 1.
10:31am. We discovered that I’m faster on the descents. I could see Rich dreaming about stealing my wheels as I rode faster and harder to prove how fast the wheels were. I told Rich that it’s all in the wheels and that I was just cruising.
10:45am. The hills continued. Thankfully we’d settled into a more sustainable pace. The shoulder was wide enough for both of us to ride side by side so that we could both avoid the draft (it’s A LOT easier to ride behind another cyclist in their “draft”, but in triathlons you’re not allowed to draft, so no sense drafting during training). I learned that Rich likes working hard as well.
11:40am. We reached Whistler and we both had enough fluids to continue the ride on to Pemberton. We quickly learned that it’s a long, easy and mostly descending 40km into Pemberton. That meant that it would be the opposite on the way home.
12:55pm. We arrived in Pemberton. Our halfway distance was a perfect 90km. We stopped to watch the kids in the skate park, buy $26 in Snickers bars and Gatorade from the gas station, go to the washroom and take a break (this break would be REALLY nice in the middle of an Ironman).
1:15pm. We left Pemberton and right away the hills began. It was a grind, but not as bad as I thought it was going to be. However, we’d thought there was going to be a tailwind, but the wind seemed to have shifted and now we had a strong headwind. The hills were easier than expected; the wind was not.
2:30pm. We arrived in Whistler. Rich wanted to take a look in the village having never seen the bike park. I didn’t argue and enjoyed the opportunity to take a 10 min break while he looked around.
2:40pm. We started back up and hit the 120km mark, only 60km to go!
3:00pm. We started to take in the scenery. We saw a very large bear to our left munching on grass, spectacular waterfalls, and rapids and rivers to our right. In the distance we could see the Tantalus mountain range, a location I plan on exploring with Allison. This place is amazing! This road is amazing! In a state of exhaustion, I’m still able to appreciate the small things. Life is good!
4:50pm. Rich wanted to sprint to the end. I told him that this was a bad idea but he responded in no uncertain terms that I was a wimp. I attacked and went all out. I could feel every muscle in my legs groaning in agony. This can’t be smart, I thought to myself. We carried on like this for less than a kilometer before exploding. Rich got the win.
Rich 1; Geoff 1.
5:00pm. We hit exactly 180km and pulled into the parking lot. Ride time was 6 hours 10 minutes, 29.3 km/hour average speed. Not bad for a very hilly course.
5:15pm. I got the $5 turkey sub special from Quiznos, washed up and sat down. Sitting down had never felt better.
5:45pm. We left Squamish for the drive home. We’d agreed earlier in the day that it would be very, very easy at this point to call it a day and ditch the planned run, but that we would follow through. If we hadn’t openly committed to the run, we would have gone straight home.
6:45pm. We left on our trail run through Pacific Spirit Park. I was thinking that we were going for a nice easy 10k (I didn’t say this) but found that Rich was 2 steps ahead and pushing the pace. Not wanting to admit that I’d prefer to go slower, I stayed on his heels. He’d mentioned that he hadn’t done much running lately – this didn’t appear to be the full truth.
7:00pm. The pace continued with Rich leading the way. I was holding on, but a stitch had formed in my chest and my breathing had become labored. He asked me if I was okay, in a moment of weakness I told him I was hurting but to keep going. My legs felt fine, but the stitch was making things interesting.
7:15pm. I’d worked out the stitch and picked up my turnover. My body warmed up and I was ready to run at about the same time that Rich seemed to be slowing down.
7:25pm. Coming into the last kilometer I picked up the pace and heard him say “I’m going to lose you”. The sweet sound of victory. He had capitulated. This spike in energy drove me to the finish.
Rich 1*; Geoff 2.
*Rich – I’m claiming victory, you can argue your case in the comments.
7:30pm. I stretched it out and could feel the toll that the day had taken on me. I was ready to pass out.
7:45pm. I got dropped off at home. Knowing that there was no food in the house, I immediately turned around and headed out for the grocery store to pick up something for dinner.
8:00pm. It’s never a good idea to shop while starving, but I managed to get the basics and make some healthy choices.
8:15pm. Once home, I devoured an entire chicken before showering and going to bed…I was asleep when my head hit the pillow.
What did I learn?
- Rich and I share a competitive edge. This can be good and bad. For hard sessions, I should try to train with him, for planned easier sessions, it’s better to do them on my own or else I’ll be pulled into going harder.
- Having found a new training partner, I’m excited about the 2 months ahead and know that he will push me to work harder in preparation for IMC.
- Successfully riding 180km (especially along a much hillier course than IMC) inspires a lot of confidence. I’m going to do this distance 3 more times before the race.
- There are few better places to ride such large distances and vertical without stopping, I’m going to make the Sea to Ski corridor a more regular training ground.
- I need to consume even more food on the bike. I took in 2500 calories during the 7 hour ride (including breaks) which is about 350 calories/hour (800 cals Carbo Pro, 500 cals Cliff Bars, 700 cals Snickers Bars, 500 cals Gatorade). Eating more than this is going to be tough because I wasn’t hungry, but I felt low on energy. My new goal is 400 calories per hour on the bike.
A fantastic training day! Probably my most successful training day ever.
Being competitive may not be effective every session, but it worked pretty well Sunday.
Happy training! 67 days to Ironman Canada!