The last two days of training have been pretty intense. Yesterday was a 5.5hr training day and today was a 6.5hr training day. Both included riding the Ironman 70.3 St George bike course, which, like the run, is beautiful but deadly.
Yesterday, I had some great company on my ride. I was lucky to meet a fellow triathlete, Charity, who is a super strong cyclist and so nice. We rode the first 60km of the bike course together. We did it at a fairly aerobic pace, with the exception of a few of the climbs. This was nice as we got to take in the gorgeous views on the route, of which there are plenty! The hills in this first section aren't too steep, mostly rolling with a few gradual long climbs. It reminded me a bit of the Tremblant course. We met up with a friend of Charity's, and a Pro triathete, Matt, on the ride. Both Charity and Matt (and Charity's husband, Kirk) run a triathlon team here, DarkHorse (www.dh313.com). Matt rode the rest of the route with me. It was his easy day so I could keep up, barely :) The last part of the course involves a very steep 4km climb up Snow Canyon Drive. During this climb you are surrounded on all sides by the red mountains (they are that colour because of the iron oxide), so at least there is something nice to look at as you are suffering on grades that approach 18%. Once at the top of the climb I breathed a huge sigh of relief, because I knew the rest of the way was downhill! I enjoyed the final stretch of the course as best I could, while making sure I avoided the rumble strips while descending at over 50kph. Scary!
At the start of the bike course
View from the start of the bike course
Today I tackled the bike course AGAIN. Only today I was by myself and I had to include 9x through: 4km at lactate threshold pace then 6km aerobic. I rode 30km out to the start of the course, nice and easy. Then the fun began! Of course, the first 4km was flat and then the next 5km were up hill, then the next 4km were downhill! Blah! At least that meant the 4km were over quicker, but it is tough to ride hard downhill! Anyway, probably good practice. This set actually made the ride seem to go by quite quick, even though I had a headwind today so the actual ride was not much faster than yesterday. By the last 25km I was hurting pretty badly though. My bum hurt, my legs hurt, I was sick of the wind and I just wanted to be back at the hotel. I knew I had the toughest 4km of the course just ahead, but then it was all downhill. I used this knowledge to push myself through the steep climb. I pictured my competitors coming after me and forced myself to keep pushing. I also found that swearing out loud at my coach helped too :) Even though he wasn't around to hear me. Finally, I reached the summit and then coasted back home.
View of the swim course from the 5km mark on the bike course
View from the top of Highland Pkwy on the bike course
Once back at the hotel I changed into my run gear and was quickly off on my run. Of course, my run was not a nice recovery run, but involved 6.5km at race pace on the run course and then an easy 6.5km back. Now, that does not sound so bad until I tell you that the first 6.5km involve 180m of elevation gain! All that after 120km of cycling. I was hurting. I did make it through. I am not quite sure how (I think I actually turned my brain off during the run, somehow).
Next, I ate an embarrassing amount of food and now I'm typing this blog :) Tomorrow, just a swim, and exploring the area. I wish I had the energy to go see Zion National Park, but I am not sure that I will :(