Sunday, October 26, 2008

Adventures in rain, more rain, and mud, and popping the Makara cherry again

Right- grab a coffee, some chocolate and a cuddly blanket, cos it's time for another mammoth update from the girl with no concept of focus...

Well- what a fantastic weekend! Only a nutty triathlete can enjoy a weekend of ice cold rain, southerlies and odd patches of sun. The fact that it's a long weekend, so I have tomorrow to recover before 1:45 of hill repeats (bike) on Tuesday. Eeek...

Not much to report, but it fit in chronologically.. Went for our first sea swim of the season- P's first wetsuit swim ever! It was salty and lovely and cold. Did two trips around the fountain- about 1500m in total. No watch, so no idea how long it took.

Only got one bike in this week- we were supposed to head out on Thursday morning, but the weather was awful, so made it Thursday evening, then P remembered he had a beer tasting, and I couldn't face hill reps up busy Mt Vic alone. Also couldn't face the evil trainer, so ended up running hills by myself, and decided to give the poor legs a rest on Friday when P got up for his ride. Instead, I had a gorgeous sleep- and don't regret it a bit, as the legs were in for a big weekend.

We headed out for our ride on Saturday afternoon (about 12:30). P had some big gear reps on a false flat, so we decided to do them on the Makara loop. I was a little nervous- I've run Makara a few times, and I knew the descent was steep and windy (when I've run it, it's been a climb), and that the climb up the other side was steepish (turns out it's not bad at all, but I didn't know that).

It was relatively clear when we left, but we knew it was likely to rain later in the day. We headed around the bays from home, and stayed on the road along the quays, up Bowen and then up Glenmore. I was a little nervous about Glenmore- not because it's hard, but it's longish, and there's plenty of climbing after it, and even though I'm losing weight and gaining leg strength, I'm still sturdy, and my legs are weaker than my lungs. Sailed up fine, and found the ride up through Karori a lot easier and funner than expected. Sadly, the same cannot be said for the ride up Makara Road which was, quite frankly, a bitch of a climb. Short, but just steep enough to be a bloody pain! I really will have to start doing P's hill reps with him!

I was pretty nervous about the Makara descent, and it wasn't my best work, but it was not too bad at all. I don't think I'll be climbing it any time soon, but it's in the future somewhere! There were a couple of nasty corners, and quite a few cars out, but made it to the bottom unscathed, and exhilarated. The next bit, notsomuch. My poor old 100% aluminium bike really does not like rough roads, so lovely country roads are more of a chore than they should be (Whitemans too....) That led to slacking off, which led to shouting at P (for people who like each other a lot, we shout plenty on the bike....), which led to working hard, which led to frustration and deflation. Climbing up the J'ville side was just what I needed- as I mentioned earlier, it feels harder when you run down than when you ride up, and included some lovely respites to really hammer. I love hammering :)

P warned me that the descent down Ironside would be tough, so I readied myself and prepared to brake. As we cruised over the top of the hill, the heavens opened, and we spent the entire descent being absolutely pummelled by rain. You'd think this would bother me- anyone who's ever read this blog knows what a moaner I am when it comes to cycling- but it was abso-freakin-lutely brilliant. Just mad fun!

From J'ville, it was back through Ngaio again. The rain eased until we hit the descent (the one I was so proud of a couple of weeks ago). I rode down sensibly, but not too overcautiously, loving the rain and the riding, and whooped when I met P at the bottom. Back round the quays and the bays in the bouncing rain. We had another hour or so to get in, and some 85% efforts, so we headed for the safety of the bays. We started our first 85% effort after the pedestrian crossings along Oriental Parade, and it just went on and on and on. 15 minutes is a bloody long time! It was at this point that I discovered my biggest problem on the bike- my legs! I was pushing the poor wee things as hard as they could go, but my HR was stubbornly stable... P was in sight for the first few minutes, until the headwinds got the better of me, and I lost him. It seemed like forever before I saw him again, spinning along towards Shelley Bay. The second effort (Scorching to,depressingly, not far past Breaker Bay) was beastly. Headwinds the whole way, going all out to hit 26-29 kph. To give some context to the wind- I was pedalling in my big ring down the Pass of Branda, and getting absolutely smashed by the wind- I'm not sure I even got over 30. Then cruised home, the tail wind pushing us through Kilbirnie at 29-30kph. Total of 70-something ks, a pathetically slow average speed, and a lot of confidence.

Two runs of note this week. The first was on Thursday,after I decided I wasn't going to do Mt Vic reps alone and I sure as heck wasn't going to be hanging with Coach Troy. I planned a route through some unexplored hills, and was raring to go (it's a little sad that I get so excited about unexplored hills). It was one of those fantastic runs- just me and my ipod, and a good, strong, solid pace. One of those days when you get to an intersection and think "Hmm. Up, or down? Why- UP of course!" I even added a super extra hill at the end. Nothing super flash, but after a decent week (I'd done 2 gym sessions, a hilly run, and 2 swims before it), and before a decent weekend, I was happy with how strong I felt.

The other run was Xterra race 3. This was the last of the series (boo!) and might just have been my favourite- if only because of the sheer madness of it all. The course can be divided into two parts- the first up 4wd trails over some farmland. Great fun terrain- not a hard hill by Xterra standards, but hard enough. I started off running with my sister's fiance (as of last weekend!!)- with me reining him in, and him spurring me on. I loved being able to power up it "in my big gear", rather than huffing and puffing up with tiny goat steps. And, of course, I loved having a 9 at the front of my (mile) pace instead of a 17!! I even loved the ice cold run, though I wasn't such a fan of the brisk, strong southerly headwind that seemed to meet us every time the climbing eased off. After a decent slog (20 minutes?), we reached the top and turned into the forest. By this point D was a good bit ahead of me, and I'd given up any hope of catching him. It stayed reasonably easy- undulating with some decent enough climbs, and some fun downhills, plenty of mud, puddles and water flowing along the trails. It was GREAT seeing 6s and 7s on the Garmin during a trail run- the other two had such awful downhills that even those were in the teens.

Then, after 1:20, it was into the bush for the dreaded technical section. I had a bit of a *moment* here, as the time suggested for "leisurely" runners was 1:45, and the technical section was supposed to take a good half hour. Feeling slower than "leisurely" did nothing for my confidence, and having no idea how much was left threw me a bit. The sharpish rocky uphill didn't help, as my legs had had a hard week, and a particularly hard Saturday. Plus, I'd failed to heed the RD's warning, and I'd left way too much out there on the easy bit of the course. Luckily, I had the foresight to preserve some shred of confidence by starting a new lap, so that the nasty roots and rivers wouldn't mess up my lovely 9:29 average.

The first part of the single track (after the beastly rocks) was great fun. BIG puddles of goopy mud, river crossings (for "ankle deep" read "upper calf"), and a complete wild goose chase trying to keep to the track. I was drenched, my feet hadn't been dry for 90 minutes, and I was having a ball. Unfortunately, I was getting hungry, my glasses were spotted with raindrops, I'd dropped my last jelly bean in the mud, and the sunlight glinting through the canopy was messing with my vision and depth perception. People started passing me again. The worst moment was seeing the way out and running past it to complete an extra loop (*as it turned out, lots of people thought this was so unfair that they just skipped the extra loop, and some people couldn't find their way out at all, so the "official" times will be a complete mess). Finally, I was out, and I could see my sister's fiance across the river. I shouted out, and splashed my way across, then realised he was walking. I caught up and found out that both his calves had cramped up (while he's a natural athlete, he hasn't run over 10k for years, and this was about 18...) Luckily, he could manage a jog, and we didn't have far to go.

One more river, with Jenn and P cheering from the other side, up the bank and we were done. I was irritated to see a colleague of P's finishing in front of me as I'd passed her early on and hadn't seen her again, but it turned out she'd made a couple of mistakes with the course, and no-one thought she'd actually beaten me (yes-I'm a bit sad, but I worked HARD to beat her!!)

I can't praise the Xterra events enough- great race shwag for series entrants, great courses, great tunes and GREAT post race food. For anyone who has a chance to enter next year- DO IT!!


Pip said...

What a great week's training. The descent down Makara Hill is pretty nasty, I agree. Sounds like you had fun and like your confidence has increased a lot.

Of course I'm envious of your Xterra run. What mad fun! I must try to fit a run in some time this week.

Andrew is getting fit said...

Sounds like you're having a blast. I'm going to have to try and fit some of the Auckland Xterra events in next year!

Aaron said...

That trail running looks like heaps of fun all right. Good that you are having fun training!