Operation Hills V.50Miler
|August 29, 2012||Posted by Emily under Uncategorized|
In 5 ½ weeks, I am going to be getting up close and personal with this:
No, it’s not the hilliest 50 miler out there, but it’s not exactly flat either. And believe me, 3,500 feet in elevation change is about 3,499 more feet than I’m currently prepared to face.
The part of me that is more than slightly terrified by this elevation profile? My poor, kind-of-sort-of-very-weak, under-trained hamstrings.
Back in the day, before I retired from the sport of triathlon, my hamstrings used to be in pretty top-notch shape. I remember coming off of my first winter with a bike trainer, and positively dominating my first hilly running race, even though I had scaled exactly zero hills on foot before the race. It turns out that biking actually helps overall fitness, especially when it comes to hill preparedness. A fact that I’ve been trying to ignore for months as I shoved my bike into the storage room, locked the door, and threw away the key (blame Ironman PTSD).
But with a butt ton of hills standing between me and a 50 mile finish line, I need to finally dig myself out of my blissful state of ignorance and get my hill climbing muscles ready for race day.
So this morning, I set out for a workout that would deliver a kickass double whammy to my hammies.
At the glorious hour of 5:15 am, I headed out my door for a 4 mile run, with the last couple of miles straight uphill, to arrive at Revolve, my favorite local cycling studio. (You may remember the spot from when I did some spring break riding a few months ago, heavy on the sweat, light on the rest.)
The uphill miles to the studio were not exactly easy, but they were not nearly as bad as I had built them up to be in my head. Either that, or I’m actually getting stronger at hills. Yes, let’s go with that.
The class I attended this morning was the “Real Ride Endurance”, which I soon learned was code for “Discover Just How Much a Bike Can Kick Your Ass in 60 Minutes.” The answer: a lot.
This morning’s instructor Angel is a competitive triathlete and a former military officer. And good god, it showed. There were no silly jumps or other spinning tricks clogging up the playlist. From start to finish we were riding hard intervals that killed my legs and left the floor beneath me glistening with sweat.
Angel was clearly speaking my language during the 60 minutes of hard riding. She kept yelling things like: “get ready to hammer!”, “keep your eye on the goal”, “goal, goal goal”, “ATTACK!”, “this is your 400 meter sprint around a track”, “PUSH HARDER. Get that runner’s high!”, “earn your bagel!” (You see what I mean about my language, yes?)
Every time I felt tempted to turn down my resistance or pedal a little slower to give my fatigued legs a break, I’d picture myself climbing hill after hill on October 6th, listen to Angel and PUSH HARDER. It was awesome. And yes, I even got a little bit of a runner’s high in there.
After class, it was back into the Hokas, followed by a 4 mile cruise downhill to get back home. If I’ve learned anything from the ugly final miles of the Boston Marathon course, it’s that downhill training is as crucial as uphill. Count it.
8+ hilly miles and 60 minutes of spinning later, and my hamstrings have got to be at least 99 feet closer to that 3,500.