Haute Route Pyrenees

The 800km route from Barcelona through the Pyrenees to Anglet

The 800km route from Barcelona through the Pyrenees to Anglet

I leave today for Barcelona where I will be doing Haute Route – Pyrenees. It’s a seven day stage cycling race that begins in Barcelona and travels through the Pyrenees mountains to finish in Anglet on the French coast. I am very excited. Actually, I think this is the most excited I’ve ever been about a race.

I expect it will be the hardest thing I’ve ever done, which funny enough, is probably what excites me the most about it.

I’ve never done such a long race on so many back to back days. It’s really hard to know how my body will react. I think it’s inevitable (although a bit pessimistic, or is it realism?) that there will be a day or two that my body won’t/won’t want to click into gear. But, I’ll just keep turning the pedals.

Based on what people have said after doing this race, I know the smart thing is to ease into it and go fairly easy for the first couple of days, to train into it, but that will be pretty hard for me to do. I don’t have a step by step, hour by hour race plan. In Ironman, I knew every step of the way how hard I would be working and what I would be eating & drinking. That knowledge and preparation worked very well for me in IM. Although, it took a sizeable error (I feel stupid as I write this, but yes, I drank ~800 calories in the first hour on the bike out which resulted in debilitating stomach cramps) on my first one to recognize that I needed to put more time into planning to be successful on race day. 

Seven stages and 21 cols & ascents, including the famous Tourmalet which we will ascend twice

Seven stages and 21 cols & ascents, including the famous Tourmalet which we will ascend twice

Preparation: shoulda, woulda coulda…I find it a rare event when I speak with another endurance athlete that says they are 100% prepared for the race. I have high standards for myself and I don’t think I lived up to them during this training cycle. I had a lot of personal stuff going on (I’ll spare you the details) that took, without question, priority. I’m not upset about it, it’s just what happened. I’m going to do my absolute best. No excuses. 

Pacing: for Haute Route, it’s truly an endurance event with 20,000 meters of climbing over the seven days, so my overall plan is to burn as few matches (stay aerobic vs. going anaerobic) as possible each day. I’ve learned that I can dig deep for a couple of days in a row, but after that, my reserves can run dry. I expect I will learn a lot more about how my body reacts over the next week. If I’m feeling good on day five I’ll start to dig deeper.

Nutrition: I plan on taking in a bottle of electrolytes every 45 min. I take in as much natural nutrition (bananas) as possible to keep my stomach happy (gels & packaged products work for a one day race, but my stomach is not very happy after the race. TMI?). I’ll also take in electrolyte pills in varying increments, depending on the heat.

Goal

  • C goal – to finish
  • B goal – to finish top 100
  • A goal – to finish in the top 50. Chatting with friends that have done it, I think this is a challenging and achievable goal. Normally I would have a time goal that I work towards which keeps the goal more about me and how I perform, and isn’t relative to others, but it doesn’t seem practical to have a time goal over this distance and varied terrain, so I’ll stick with the placing goal for now. 

I had some incredible training partners this year that pushed me beyond my comfort zone each and every ride, but more importantly made the rides easy with offside banter, laughter and friendship. You know who you are – thank you. 

Allison…I’ll spare the details and just say I couldn’t have done this without your support. Thank you.

This is going to be fun! Thanks for reading.

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