29 May 2012

Hills, Sweat, and Oh - MORE Hills!

This past weekend did not disappoint when it came to swimbikerun.  And sweat (I know you think nutrition is the fourth discipline of triathlon, but this weekend it was replaced with sweat).  Sunday morning dawned early with my alarm going off at 5am (AGAIN - two days in a row).  I met up with Katie, Mindy, and Sarah in Front Royal and we were on our bikes headed up Skyline Drive by 7:30am.  Within the first 1/2 mile, all of us were dripping with sweat and with a four mile hill staring us in the face (and ridiculously high humidity), there was no chance of relief anytime soon.  We were doing the SkyMass ride, one of my favorites.  You start off with 30 miles on Skyline Drive, then descend into Luray, and then you climb Mt. Massanutten on the other side.  After that climb, you are rewarded with rollers and flats for the next 25 miles.

I think we were all in good spirits for the Skyline part of the ride.  It was early in the day, the climbs weren't steep, there were some nice downhill sections.  And minus Katie being chased by a deer, no major run-ins with the wildlife population (I'm always afraid of getting knocked off my bike by a rogue deer during one of the descents on Skyline - those deer come out of nowhere).  The climb up Mt. Massanutten was where the real fun started.  I don't remember that climb being so LONG - it starts off gradual after you make a right turn by the river.  Then it gets a little steeper.  Then it gets steep enough that you need to get into your little ring.  Then steep enough that you are cursing.  And praying that you don't 1) start going backwards and; 2) just tip over because you lost all momentum.  The road is also really twisty and around each bend I kept thinking, oh the top is right around this corner.  It never was.  I finally made it after what seemed like forever, clipped out without falling over (not the easiest feat to accomplish when your quads have suddenly turned to jelly), and drank most of my water in record time.

The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful, minus the countless dead snakes I kept seeing all over the road (disgusting) and the fact that I was OVER the Hammer gels by mile 60.  Unfortunately the general store we passed by had no selection of food and they didn't take credit cards so I was stuck with Hammer Gels whether I liked it or not.  The SkyMass loop is 83 miles so I needed to tack on an extra 17 after the ride was over.  One of the hardest things I did on Sunday was roll back out of the parking lot by myself while the others started their T-runs or got custard (I was this close to buying custard to eat on the bike).  I procrastinated a bit longer by stopping at a 7-11 and inhaling a GIANT bag of honey bbq potato chips and drinking gatorade.  I felt much more human after that and continued the ride.  I was originally going to do an out-and-back with a few miles down side streets added on, but the first side street I went down was deceptively flat until it suddenly went into a steep downhill before I could hit the brakes and turn around.  I was DONE with hills and really didn't want to have to go back up that hill I just descended, so I just kept going straight, convinced I'd eventually be able to make a loop.  Which I did (thankfully) and my ride was over almost before I knew it.

Next was the fun part - a 45 minute run in the blazing hot mid-afternoon sun.  I was tempted to skip it (of course - who wants to run in 90 degree weather with 100 percent humidity after biking 100 miles?  That's right - NOBODY).  But Jen had specifically put in Training Peaks Do Not Cut This Run Short and when you have a reminder like that staring you in the face, it's easy to see that skipping the run entirely is out of the question.  The run actually wasn't too bad, I found a cute, non-hilly part of Front Royal that had some partial shade and spent 45 minutes doing loops around that same area.  Once that run was done, I was done.  I didn't even bother to change - I just covered the front seat as best I could in articles of clothing so I didn't permanently damage our car seats with my sweaty self.

It was such a fun training weekend - a big thank you to Katie, Mindy and Sarah who let me crash their smashfest!  150 miles of biking and over 3 miles of swimming!  I feel like this warrants a celebration - I am craving a chocolate sheetcake like it's nobody's business!


Tyler said...

I did the SkyMass loop once, 2 years ago on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. But I did it alone and was not quite prepared for how tough it was. It was also a really hot and humid day!

I'd love to do it again though, now that I know what to expect. Glad to hear that you guys survived and got some good training in.

Gina said...

Hi Caroline! I have never done this loop but would love to try... Congrats on a great training weekend and that 5K swim!

Sarah said...

Sounds like a great day of training!

I will have to join you guys sometime

Katie said...

I like how you remember us all being in good spirits....yup, no grumpypants here! :) this was an awesome weekend and I'm so glad to now know the big scary loop!!

Caroline said...

@Tyler - it's definitely one of my most favorite rides! I hope to do it again a few more times this summer for sure. Though Massanutten seems to get longer and steeper every time, I don't understand it.
@Gina - HOW was your Lake Placid training weekend? Are you getting excited to RACE? SkyMass is good practice for Placid...
@Sarah - you definitely should join! Such a gorgeous ride!
@Katie - Hahaha, selective memory :) And you were singing along with your iPod by Mile 4, it's all good!