Not this King of the Mountains – this is Chirs Froome becoming the current King of the Mountains in the Tour. No, I’m referring to our own training gauntlet laid down by our coach last week before he left for the UK… (But GO TEAM SKY!).
The King of the Mountains week hasn’t gone as well as I’d hoped, and I predict that my husband has smashed me in altitude gains. However, I’m not totally disappointed. Despite missing a couple of the big hill sessions that we were scheduled to do, I still trained my little booty off across all of the training days.
The reason I have been thrown off course this week is due to ‘SUPER-PIPER-POWERS’ day. That’s the day when I go into hospital to get my Super-Powers; I get treated for Crohn’s disease every eight weeks in a local hospital, where I get infused for a few hours with a treatment called Infliximab (Remicade). I go on an IV drip and receive a medication that essentially stops my immune system from attacking itself. The effects usually last around eight weeks, and then my Crohn’s symptoms will start to reappear before my next treatment. So this week I was due to go into hospital and receive what has affectionately become known as my Super-Powers.
If only my Super-Powers were actually effective in areas other than just the Crohn’s, as I could really have done with some athletic super-powers this week. When I say my husband smashed me in our ‘King of the Mountains’ competition, I mean he demolished me. Today, whilst we were out on a 20km ‘cruisy hill run’ as he called it, I was struggling to stay within 2km of him, and when he passed me on the way down a hill (as I was still going up), he turned around and RAN BACK UP THE HILL with me. Just because he could.
We were also scheduled to do some killer hill sessions on our bikes this week. But with me in hospital, I had to do a bit of shuffling with my schedule, as the treatment makes me feel like I am 100 kilos heavier, and generally just moving through syrup the whole time. So I missed an early morning hill session at Kew Boulevard, but decided to replace it with a brick session in the evening after I had been in hospital. So, after four hours on an IV drip receiving goodness-knows-what in my blood, we went out and did our training run of 10 x hill repeats of Anderson Hill at The Tan. That was devastatingly painful. But since I had missed the morning ride at Kew, I decided to ride for an hour on the trainer straight after the ride.
Waking up on Wednesday, after both my treatment and a massive training session, was like getting up after a four-day-whiskey-bender (I obviously don’t know what that feels like, but I’m using my imagination…). It was absolute hell getting out of bed and forcing myself to go to work. Imagine how eager I was to go for a swim straight after work at 6pm?
Luckily, the swim turned out to be one of my strongest so far. I’m still rubbish, but I feel the distinct footprint of progression on my stroke. To look at me from the side of the pool, I’m sure I still look like a labrador puppy struggling to make it through a garden pond for the first time, but in my head, I am definitely starting to feel more like an unfit Stephanie Rice.
Thursday was meant to be another 10 x hill repeats at the tan. After not sleeping on Wednesday night, I decided I would do the run at Running Club during lunch. But obviously, that was my ‘I want to stay asleep and in bed’ voice talking. Because when I was actually out and running at lunchtime, I realised my lunch hour was way too short for such an ambitious training session. Nevermind – I ran suitably fast so that I couldn’t guilt myself into an extra hill session on Friday…
Thursday evening was meant to me my supreme-hill-cycling-session at Kew, where I would do hill repeats until sunrise – thus defeating my husband in the King of the Mountains competition – not just defeating him, annihilating him in fact.
Stupid Piper: what’s that? Did you run hard at lunchtime and then hardly eat anything (a very, very rare occurrence for me)? Did you head out on your bike, bright-eyed and ready to take on the hills, with no fuel in your tank? And did you head out on your ride and forget to take anything with you to eat or drink? No food, no gels? No water? No Powerade? Silly girl. I was on a ride to Bonk Town Central. After an hour of feeling like I had literally NEVER been on a bike before, I headed home and stuffed my face with food, water and humble pie. Because I knew that my King of the Mountains attack was over.
This weekend has been more successful: Friday heralded my favourite session of the week – the Friday Lie-In-Turbo-Trainer-Ride – where I can lay in until 6-6.30am and then ride the indoor trainer for an hour’s recovery ride.
Then Saturday was another hell-hill session at the 1/20. And I quote from our coach:
“I know you’ve had a tough week and your legs will feel like sh*t from all those hills but I really want you to bury your self this weekend and suffer.”
Essentially, burying ourselves in pain was on the cards. But after my ‘bonk’ on Thursday, I decided I was never going to make the same mistake again, and I had a HUGE dinner (even by my standards) on Friday night, and then Saturday morning I had a couple of crumpets with honey and a coffee for breakfast. After riding about 40km, we got to the bottom of the 1/20, and I had a banana. then on my third repetition, a gel. And then before we rode the 40km of hills home I had a homemade magical energy bar and a ham and cheese croissant. What I’m trying to say is, I ate more than I ever conceived possibly consumable whilst partaking in sport. And you know what? I rode like a champion. I’m talking it up, but I felt so much better than normal. I’ve read that when you’re cycling a long distance, if you feel good, you should eat. Always eat. Always be consuming calories. But, being a girl, I have always erred on the side of consuming far too little; I am always struggling with that dreadful voice that is the undertone of everything you do: don’t eat too much! Don’t have too much sugar! etc. But I have to say that I felt incredible, and all I did was eat more calories during my ride.
So Saturday was a big win for food.
(As an aside, my Garmin told me I burnt about 4000 calories on the ride, and if I was honest in my calorific mathematics, I probably consumed about twice that in lasagne and ice cream after my ride yesterday… oops).
Today was our final hill session in the King of the Mountains week, and we set out on a run to Kew Boulevard, where we usually ride. The run out there was much longer than we originally thought, so we ended up running a flat 7km followed by about 5 or 6km of hills, and then another flat 7km home. We both had super-tired and heavy legs after yesterday’s ride, but managed to run 20km with hill repeats in just under 1:45. Next week, we are all running a half marathon (I’m entered in Run Melbourne, and the fellas are doing their own time trial), so it will be interesting to see where the running is at. It feels like I haven’t done any work on my running since the summer – we have put most of our energy into improving our cycling – so who knows how we will run at the weekend. I’m just going to wing it I think.
And now for the statistics:
Cycling: 7hrs 30 min
Running: 3hrs 30 min
Swimming: 1hr 30
Total: 12hrs 30 min