I did the Mt Greylock Hillclimb TT on Saturday. A record number of folks turned out for this well run event on a pristine day. For once, it was not too hot, too cold, too wet or too windy. It was just right. Should be PR conditions, right? That's not exactly how it went down.
Late in the week I was fighting a scratchy throat, not getting enough sleep and dealing with a lot of frustration at work. I had to get up extra early on Saturday due to road closures on the way to Mt Greylock. Needless to say, I felt less than stellar. It didn't matter. It was going to be nice, and I hoped to ride more after the TT.
I got in a decent warmup before lining up for my 10:28:30am start. A rider goes up every 30 seconds. Wouldn't you know it, I was DaveP's 30 second guy. He's been PRing most of his climbs this season, and the way I felt, I thought surely I'd go out too hard and he'd pass me in the last mile.
The climb starts very steeply. In fact, there is some 17% grade in the first mile. Then you get some downhills where the big ring is needed, before the climbing resumes. There is a lot of 10-12% grade in this climb. The summit is reached 9.1 miles from the start.
Once I got into my rhythm, I felt ok. I think I handled the start well and did not go out too hard. John and Pamela on the tandem were staged a couple minutes ahead of me. I gained on them during the initial steep section, but dang if they weren't hard to catch through the rollers. I bet they went well over 40mph on the two downhills, while I max'd out at 35mph. But when it got steep again, I finally passed them. Once was not enough for John. He first solo'd up as one of the first time-trialists, descended, then teamed up with Pamela on the tandem. Impressive. That would be a surefire way to end my marriage if I tried that with Cathy.
I passed oodles of people on the way up. I recalled from last year, just weeks out of a cast, reaching the hard left hand turn in 40min, 30sec. I figured I should be able to do that in 40 minutes flat this year on such a perfect day. But as I approached the turn, 40 minutes came and went. I rounded the corner in EXACTLY the same time as last year. Last year, I buried myself from that point on to PR this climb in a fraction of a second under 44 minutes. Could I do that again this year?
I tried. I just didn't have that VOmax snap I had in my legs like last year. It took me 3:30 to finish that last half mile or so last year, and I think I did a good chunk of it out of the saddle. This year, it took me 3:54 to cover that last part to finish in 44:24. A solid 2nd best effort, but I was somewhat bummed to climb the first 95% of the climb in the same time as last year, but then go 11% over in the last 5%.
Not surprising, really. My training has been dysfunctional at best this year. I think running is mostly to blame, but travel and work schedules have thwarted many intensity workouts. In fact, I can count on one had the days I've gotten in quality interval workouts this year. Most of my riding has been the "junky middle" kind of riding. The junky middle is often the most enjoyable riding though. Trips to Arizona, North Carolina, Italy and Colorado this year have all gone well. I will remember these trips far longer than some race result. Not all is lost by failing to maintain a certain structure in training.
Running has been a big experiment. I hope to find out in the next month or two if my bone density has improved. The doc said go run and check back in a year. It will be a year in December, but I will probably jump the gun a bit on that. Running has impacted my cycling training by eliminating honest recovery days. I run on what traditionally were my complete rest days or active recovery days. The deal is, even an easy five mile run beats you down. At least it does for me, as I'm not running 30 miles a week. I'll ride hard or race all weekend. A rest day is really needed on Monday. But no, I run. Then come Tuesday, my intervals day, my legs feel like poo. Sometimes I attempt intervals, only to shut them down early or half-ass get through them. I used to cherish these sessions, as huge gains come from modest time commitment.
I need to re-assess what I want to do next year. I'll be able to race in Masters 50+. Be nice to win a race or two. That won't happen if I continue with my current workout regimen. If my bone density scan shows little or no improvement, running will clearly be out of the picture and I'll have to find some other means of corrective action. But I suspect there will be a marked improvement. Then what? I could shift my focus to duathlons. I believe I could easily become a competent runner if I ran more than one hour per week that I have been. My triathlete friends insist I've been going about it wrong this season. I should be doing my bike intervals and running on the same day. That would leave a day or two per week open for true recovery. I can only imagine what a five mile run would feel like after one of my VOmax sessions on the bike. If I want to be a bike first, run second kind of guy next year, that may be what I have to do. But...
I hung around up top Mt Greylock for a while chatting with hillclimb enthusiasts. Time went by quickly, and my sense of well being went downhill. I was definitely coming down with something. I decided to bag riding a loop over Petersburg Pass, get some free lunch at the bottom and call it a day.
Later that evening, I felt the day wasn't yet complete. I ran only once this week, a relatively short 4.2 mile run. I decided I would go out for a run, a trail run. I hadn't yet run on a rough off-road surface. The Mines Falls run I did earlier this summer was on a well groomed dirt path. A loop I had in mind from my house went four miles on gnarly ATV trails. I put both ankle braces on and had no idea if I could even run in those things.
I got into the woods and I first thought, wow, this isn't that hard. I was pretty confident I would not be able to roll an ankle to point of injury with the braces on, but I could easily trip on a root or Irene dead fall and bash a kneecap. My loop was very hilly. I went uphill faster than downhill. I was amazed at how easy it was to run up the steep gnarly bits compared to riding up them on a mountain bike. It was like running uphill took no additional effort over running on level trail. On a bike, you really feel the ups.
I crested the top of Seavey Hill and dropped back down to my house. Even though I was sick and my legs hurt from Greylock, that was actually quite enjoyable. I could easily get into more of that. There are many areas not reachable by bike (like wilderness) that could easily be reached by running. I watched a movie with my wife after the run. I could barely walked after the movie. It appears running on rocks and roots uses a lot of muscles that don't come into play running on flat pavement. The ankle braces didn't seem to have much negative impact on my mobility. No chaffing. I have trails close to the office that may need to be sampled on foot this week.