Inclement weather in Brisbane has challenged my Three Peak Challenge preparation this week. Due to bad weather and extreme heat/humidity, my training week was pushed out to eight days rather than the usual seven, and concluded this morning with a long ride through Ipswich and Brisbane.
To recap the training week, it started with some tempo efforts at Graceville, which resulted in unexpected personal bests along our usual Graceville route. Despite the difficult Sunday ride I had just completed,I felt myself lift as I tried to chase Matt and Nicky’s wheels. It is a privilege to train with riders that are better than yourself. I find myself being motivated to try that little bit harder, even if I’m quite a bit off the pace. I often find myself pondering about the power of our minds – when I’m simply in the moment and focused on the wheel in front of me or completing an effort, my performance is much better compared with the days I’m doing mental gymnastics. Usually this runs along the lines of “I don’t know if I can today. Maybe I’m too tired. Or too old. Or too fat”. These are all rather unhelpful and these days, I’m internally counselling myself that I can think these things as much as I like once the effort/ride is over.
Wednesday’s ride involved coaching the Southbank Triathlon club on Mt Coot-tha. Sometimes when you coach, the real work is in the communication with the athletes and helping them to be the best they can be, rather than the physical side of things. Nevertheless, I do think Sunday’s epic adventure had started to catch up with me and my legs were tired.
Thursday was a very strange day indeed – a scheduled rest day! I made use of it by heading to the gym. I’m involved in a PHD study around hamstring proprioception and the role it plays in restrengthening after trauma. It involves running through a graded series of exercises that focus on balance, hip and knee angles and correct activation. I also decided to try running – it was an absolute joy to achieve four kilometres before the technique and form started to wane.
Friday finished the working week on a fun note. I was able to participate in a recovery ride with my Koiled teammates and friends, Laura and Deb. There are always a few shenanigans to be had – sometimes we have a bit of a sprint or do a few efforts and I totally surprised myself by doing a PB time up Highgate Hill. I thought the Queen of Highgate Hill,Deb, was on my wheel which was a great motivation to pick up the pace!
Hot and steamy were the only words that could be used to describe the weather conditions on Saturday. I met with Liz and Anne and knocked out a Coot-tha loop and then six steep Stuartholme repeats. I have always had a firm dislike for the Stuartholme hill and to think that six steep climbs were on the agenda! Both Liz and Anne are inspirational in their ability to stick with the task at hand, which made me think better of complaining of fatigue after repeat number four. Again, I was amazed by the power of the mind as Liz came whizzing past me on the final lap and yelled some encouragement to pick up my act. Result? Third best time up the hill. It’s incredible how well external motivation can work!
Sunday was marred by storms and heavy rain, and we decided to cancel our riding plans. This was a little bit frustrating as I had 200km to ride on my program. When I’m following a program, a major part of the enjoyment is ticking off the boxes (literally!) every time I complete a workout. It meant that I would need to ride today to achieve my long endurance ride for the week. This meant setting off at 3:50am, and heading towards the back roads of Ipswich, via Mt Crosby. It felt very strange to be starting so early and being so alone, but I reminded myself that athletes who do the TransAm unsupported bike race face these decisions all the time. When it is oppressively hot, it makes sense to ride at night. Within the first five kilometres of my ride, I hit the dreaded Mt Crosby “camel humps”, the last hill coming in at a 17% gradient. I was pleased to have faced my fear of nailing this climb again post surgery. I had agreed to meet Nicky and Liz at the Moggill ferry at 6am so I wasted no time riding through the remainder of my pre ferry route, arriving just before six am. The hour I spent riding with the two girls was heaps of fun and included a nice tough time trial effort and a decent hit out along the Centenary motorway. Again, I marvelled at the power of the mind – with Nicky and Liz going for gold, I couldn’t help but join in and “have a crack”. It felt quite sad to leave my splendid company and as the sun climbed and temperature soared, I knew that completing 150km was going to be a test of mental grit. As a means of distraction, I started calculating my average speed for every hour that I’d been on the bike. Without a calculator, my brain was getting a really good workout! Once through the city and back in Brookfield, where I slurped on a Calippo ice block,my spirits lifted. Only 15km to go until I was home. Unfortunately the road from Brookfield to Moggill is moderately hilly, however, with 135km in the legs, it’s rather excruciating. However, I got the job done and now am feeling as pleased as punch to have another long ride under my belt. I was very happy with my average pace too, given the whole route was rather lumpy.
Reflections for the week? It’s incredible how the effects of making a commitment to achieve a physical goal such as Three Peaks, spill over into other areas of life. Part of the magic of sport and physical activity is that it teaches endurance, resilience, and expands your capabilities by challenging you past your perceived limits. I am really proud of my preparation so far, in both the physical and psychological sense. I’m overcoming fears and barriers with every hard ride that I achieve. Seeing progress in this area has been the most gratifying of all.
See you all next week!