Every year the Viking Biking Club up in Wisconsin puts on a ride called the Horribly Hilly Hundreds. It starts and ends at Blue Mounds State Park in Blue Mounds, WI, just west of Madison. The ride is so popular that there is a lottery to get in. There are 100k, 150k and 200k options. The 100k is enough for me, given that it's not really 100k but more like 68/69 miles (and believe me, those extra 6-7 miles make a HUGE difference!). This was my second year doing HHH. Last year I had NO idea what I was in for and didn't really train for it very well, but still had a decent ride and was "happy" the whole time, although I had to walk my bike A LOT. This year, I went into the ride with some high expectations. I had a ton more bike miles in my legs and had completed some decent hill work in Baraboo where I had done really well. My goal was not to get off my bike once this year, and although tough, I really thought this was an achieveable goal. But with HHH, you never really know what you're going to get. After a fun Friday night out at "The Grumpy Troll" in Mt. Horeb, WI, with the Salt Creek Tri Club and Beginner Triathlete buddies, it was time to get to work.....
(7am) Cycling - HHH = 5:42:16, 67.83 miles
Horribly Hilly. This year it was still hilly, but even more horrible. Rode much of it with my friends Laura and Kristin, and I was so very thankful for their support because I had a rough end of the day. And it had started out so well! I had so much fun on the first stage (the ride is divided into three stages) and did not walk ANY of the hills (unlike last year). The second stage was a little weird because I got stuck in no man's land between our two groups and was in a bad "bike traffic" pattern with groups that would zip past me on descents and then immediately slow down, so I'd have to use a ton of energy to speed up and pass them again. It was annoying to tell you the truth, because it was at that point in the ride that I started to get behind on fuel and thus get irritable. I was still doing fairly okay though and only had to walk a tiny little bit of a super steep hill on the second stage (we're talking 18%+ grade). Got to rest stop 2 and found Laura and Kristin. Was with them for much of the third stage, but I struggled on the first two big hills and mentally just lost it. I walked much of the big 2 mile climb at the end, and the more I gave in and walked, the more I got pissed and the downward mental spiral continued. I negotiated with myself the entire last stage to keep going. While I don't think I ever really would have quit, because I wouldn't have been able to live with myself, it was a continuous mental struggle. "This is a rest week for you....40 miles is more than enough!" "Look at all these big fit guys being picked up by SAG vehicles....there is no shame in quitting now!" And on and on and on....but I ignored those voices and continued to pedal. Finally I crossed the finish line and burst into tears. I was spent....more mentally than physically.
One day later and I have had time to process what happened to me out there yesterday. And because each and every one of these long workouts is a chance to learn on the journey to Ironman, I've captured those lessons (and high points!) so that I don't repeat these same mistakes again.
- My mental state during the first stage was GREAT. I need to bottle that up and keep it with me when things get tough!
- I was .5mph faster than last year and walked WAY less on the hills; with the exception of the last mega hill (and hill into the park), I stayed tough until the very, very top of the other two I had to walk
- My new DeSoto tri shorts are PERFECT; I think I may have found an Ironman winner
The Challenges and Opportunities:
- I am a heavy, salty sweater. I know that I need to supplement my electrolytes and take about 2 electrolyte pills per hour in addition to my Gatorade Endurance. Since I was on my bike nearly six hours yesterday, I should have taken 10 pills. I returned with 8 of my 10 pills. Oops. I was so distracted by grinding uphill and descending that I completely forgot to try and stick to a nutrition plan. I did okay with food, but didn't drink nearly enough and definitely needed more sodium. That might explain my fogginess and complete lack of power to get up the hills.
- I have a really hard time staying positive when I'm in the midst of pain. I need to figure out some techniques to help me stay strong. I'm not even sure that I'm as physically weak as I think I am. I am starting to believe it is more mental weakness. I can't be afraid to hurt!!
- Confidence. I have to believe in myself. I CAN do this. I WILL do this.