Monday, April 4, 2011

The Four Week to go Blues

Yep, 4 weeks to go. Its the end of a huge week for me. In many ways. I managed to get the newsletter done so that it had more than just the usual sections in it. I scrambled and printed off a report of barefoot running knowing it would add a stir amongst the members.

But anyway, the week in conclusion..............

I opted out of my Wednesday long ride and traded it for my long run. I added/combined a shorter bike and a swim session and also squeezed in a massage. All good I thought but this meant that my weekend would be back to back long rides. Nuts!!!! really. I know in the back of my mind it would be a big ask.

The 2.30hour run ended up a 2.22hour run along a fairly flat course. But the scenery was fantastic and a welcome distraction. Ocean, lake and tree lined streets. I felt comfortable the entire time though the pace was slow I didn't mind. In the end I logged up 20kms. So happy all round.

So Saturday rolls around and my husband (gaz) has to work. I make arrangements with my buddy to meet him for a ride and do our 160km long ride. I lay in bed in the dark at 6.30am awake, but not wanting to move. I wanted to roll over and find a hiding space and stay there all day. Not good. I dragged and forced myself out of bed and got ready. I rolled my bike out onto the driveway, mounted and headed down the street and beneath me the road bumped and groaned as my rear tyre lost all air. Nuts! A flat.

Not far from home, 20metres. I pushed my bike through the door and eased the pain by knowing that at least I wasn't siting on the side of a road somewhere. I changed the tyre and pumped it up. No go. The valve was buggered on this tube. Start again.
Finally I left my front door behind and headed to my mate James' place. He had slept in. Just as well I guess. So by 8.30am we were finally heading North. The streets were busy with people making their way to work, but we road on laughing and chatting happily.

We had a Southerly blowing at our backs and we made good time. We rode all the way to the Sea Cliff Bridge. Its a beautiful part of our city.

The road is incredible and the wind was lifting as we snaked round the cliff edges and headed for Bald Hill. <insert overly dramatic dah dah daaaaaah>

Yep this climb up to Bald Hill had alluded me for some time now. In my mind it was bigger than Ben Hur. I didn't think I was up for the ride but I dutifully followed James who was keen as, to get up there. We started up one steep sharp section. OK got past that. Now up the last section. A steep elevation it was insane. I had already ridden 56 kms of road and now was about to ascend the steepest road to date. With 4 weeks left of training I am not sure that this was the smartest descion I had made to date. But I climbed. I tried to remain calm and find a rhythm that my legs could keep as I worked the pedals. I alternated when the work became to hard seated to standing on the pedals and attempting the mountain climbers pedal dance like on the Tour de France. Tiring of the dance again I sat and churned out the strokes. I dare not look down at the side of the road as a deep cement gutter cut into the edge of the road to carry water run-off away during heavy rain. It could quite easily have swallowed me up. I had learnt that lesson a while ago. Look at the pothole...end up in the pothole. So I refused to let myself look into the dangerous gutter drain and concentrated rather on my breathing and the road ahead.

We went on for what seemed an eternity. My internal battle for confidence and victory was being eaten alive by self doubt and pain. I kept my eyes on James and tired to mimic his strokes and rhythm. My lower back was starting to complain, almost as loudly as my heart and lungs. I was getting scared now. If I stopped I would have to rip out a foot from the cleat and hope I had enough energy left to hold myself upright as the cars and motorbikes rolled past me. Equally I had to concentrate on holding my line as the cars came dangerously close and any shake or error would see me perched on the bonnet of some poor souls bonnet.

Finally I saw the trees clear ahead of me and this meant the end of the road. Real panic now rather than relief because at the top of the road it turned to a T intersection and I would have to cross the T and head right which was yet another upward grade. I fought my head and all of the doubt. "How will you feel if you fail this?" How good will it feel knowing you conquer this hill?" Choose your outcome Sammi and it shall be so! I am a winner! I am an Ironman. Today I choose to conquer this hill. I rode to the T, there were cars lined up giving way to us and cars going in our same direction. I crept across the intersection and lifted my hand a little to wave a weak thank you to the cars for waiting for me and being so patient. I had made it to the top. My lungs and stomach now were screaming, I felt ill. Was I really going to throw up? Had I maxed out and hit 100% effort?

I rolled through the intersection and onto the grass in front of me. I didn't have the legs to push up the next section. My mind had souly been focused on the climb, breaking it up into sections the grass was my finish line. Waiting for me was James smiling. "You did it Mumma Bear!" Oh my..... I was shattered and relieved and thrilled. After a quick rest and regroup I pushed on up the short incline and into the parking lot of Bald Hill.

Photo evidence complete we turned and headed for home. I have never felt anything like it. Our heads went down as we faced the full force of the Southerly as we crept slowly back around the cliffs. With every pedal stroke we gained very little ground but we pushed on. Over all of the hills once more, along all of the flats that only had brief reprieve from the wind when we ducked behind houses. My bones began to ache as the temperature dropped. My knees started to seize up. The wind in my ears and the exposure to the elements started to drain every spark of energy left in me.

Worst of all was going past the road that would take me home and continue on down the road to Kiama. It is the hardest thing to do... turn a pony's head past her stable and this little pony wanted to go home to her stable.We finally turned our bikes and once again the wind was at our backs. We absolutely flew along the highway, it was an amazing ride. We reached my road and I said goodbye to James and slowly alone worked my way home to my front door and into Gary's arms. I was completely spent. He stripped me off and had made up a hot bath for me. I sat there in the water letting it seep into my cold bones. I fell asleep momentarily. Once out of the bath I lay on the bed with Gary spooning me and fell immediately asleep.