Florida Challenge Triathlon Countdown Clock

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Going Vertical

I can't believe it's April 24th. Time is really going by fast! That means my race is getting closer & closer, and that also means every training session counts! In January & February you can kinda slack a bit on your workouts, because you still have plenty time to get it together. But come April, EVERY WORKOUT COUNTS! Every lap in the pool, every mile ran, every pedal stroke. Which brings me to this weekend's workout: Hitting the bridges.

I'm sure I sound like a broken record, but riding hills is tough for me. I'm not making excuses, and I'm not I'm not complaining at all. It is what is is. Kinda like how some have a tough time with algebra. It just means I have to work harder than others to excel at them. Sometimes it's best to know what your weaknesses are so you can work on them.

The plan this weekend was to hit the bridges and ride them for 3 hours. Here I am before I headed out:

As an FYI, I got this jersey before T-Mobile became a household name in the US. Back in the early/mid 90's they were a powerhouse in the pro cycling world. They were the Lakers of cycling:

This team no longer exists, but I still have my kit! LOL

I was feeling pretty good this morning as I got ready for my ride. The bike is the most important aspect of the race, because if my legs are cramped up there's no way I'll be able to run. Unfortunately that's happened tome before & I've had to walk the majority of the run as a result. NOT FUN.

Here's a quick vid before I start my ride:

The plan today was to try different riding styles up the bridges: Sometimes I'd attack & try sprint as fast as I could. Other times I'd sit in the saddle & ride at an easy pace. Other times I'd ride seated, but at a faster pace. The goal is to hit my legs in a variety of ways, in hopes they can recover enough for the next time up the bridge.

Basically I'd just be riding the bridges back & forth, back & forth. I do this to try simulate the rolling hills I'll see on race day. This would be a boring ride, except I really DO like riding hills & bridges. I like the challenge of it. But the views make it that much easier to do:

Here's a pic at the top of 1 of the bridges:

The pics really don't do the view justice, especially on that pic. Going down the bridge is an incredible view of the Gulf of Mexico.

On this pic Mexico is straight ahead (even though we can't see it;)

45 minutes into my ride I'm feeling pretty good. To be honest, I felt like I just got on the bike. Here's a quick vid I took at that point:

Up to this point I'd taken my time over the bridge. I wasn't trying to push it, just taking my time. In Flatwoods I can start off aggressively, because there are no hills there. Sometimes when riding the bridges, I can feel fine, then halfway up I'll get a leg cramp or feel like I hit a wall and can barely pedal and will fall over! So I'm ride defensively on the bridges.

I'm now an hour into my ride & I still feel good. Really good! It's now time to get a tad aggressive on these damn bridges! I start to ride as hard as I can, standing & really pushing it as far as I can up the bridge. I get anywhere from halfway to 3/4 of the way up before I sit and pedal. What I have to work on is my tempo and relaxing AFTER I ride all out. The key for me is to not fight the hill, but try ride WITH it. It's hard to explain, but the more you "fight" the hills/bridges, the more energy you use. I have to work on that.

I've been riding now for 90 minutes and I feel STRONG. I head over to the 2nd bridge now, which is the hardest. I've eaten half a Clif Bar, taken 2 electrolyte pills, and a Gu. I ride the hardest bridge last because that's the best way for me to improve. 2 hours into my ride I want to have to work VERY hard. How else will you get better? You have to keep pushing yourself.

The views from this bridge are just as nice as the other one:

This bridge is HARD!! It's longer than the other one, and seems like it takes forever to make it to the top. When I try stand & pedal I get about halfway up before I have to sit down. It takes me about 2 minutes to get to the top. I guess that would make me a "2 Minute Brotha?" Yeah, but ONLY in this instance! lol

2:15 into my ride I start to feel the effects. My left leg is starting to feel a twinge, like a cramp is trying to come. When that happens, I try to work them out by standing & pedaling at an easy cadence on the flats. I also become more aware of food & drink intake. Luckily I didn't get any cramps today, but I was definitely tired.

After the dust settled, I accomplished my mission today and rode 3 full hours. Here's another quick vid:

I was pretty tired when I shot that one. Riding bridges really wears me out, but it's a GREAT workout!!

I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised that I felt much better within minutes of getting off the bike. That's a VERY good sign. That means my legs are recovering pretty well. That's GREAT, but there's s till work to do. can't get over-confident. Gotta stay focused and can't rest on my laurels!

After my ride I did my customary walk to get rid of the lactic acid in my legs:

This is a great place to train, and a great place to relax AFTER a workout:

The cool thing about living in Tampa is if you like the beach, there are PLENTY spots you can hit. Even find some nice, secluded spots like this one.

Sometimes I like the chillin out more than the actual workout! lol

All in all, I had a great workout. I'm still not fast on the bridges, but that's not my primary goal. My goal is to ride them at a good pace, while still having enough energy to run afterwards. I expect people to pass me on the bike come race day, but I want to pass them right back on the RUN! So I have to make sure I'm fresh starting the run, but still have a good ride. I'm hoping come race day I'll be able to do that. Luckily, I still have time to make that a reality. I don't have a lot of time, but I plan on using every workout forthcoming to make it happen!

Thanks for reading! Till next time, peace!

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