Ironman training is going - and going well. I am putting in my multiple workouts, cherishing my Monday rest day and am also starting to feel its effects. My Saturday long bike ride is a culmination of a week of tough workouts with limited rest, but that is IM - you learn to do everything on tired legs and with a tired body.
A few weeks ago on a Saturday long ride, I was introduced to the Steeles Avenue hill. This hill is really in two parts with the first (shorter) part being a 13% grade then a "plateau" where it is still climbing but the grade eases and then the second climb with a tougher piece at the end.
This first time, I had to get off my bike and walk to the plateau or I thought I would fall since I was going so slow. I got back on my bike and finished the climb, but had to retrieve my lungs from outside my body.
I was not a happy camper that I had to walk some of the hill, but my coach and Shelley encouraged me and said that I could do this - they haven't steered me wrong yet.
Aha, a bite size goal - climb Steeles Avenue hill without stopping!
The second attempt was with just Shelley and I managed to climb to the plateau, stop my bike to try to breathe (but didn't get off my bike) and then continue to the top, where I stopped to once again retrieve my lungs. Better, but not quite there yet.
This past Saturday was my third attempt at Steeles (three's a charm, don't you know) - it was on the first 60k loop of a 120k ride. I had fab support with Shelley beside me and my coach behind me when I turned onto Steeles and got in my granny gear.
It is a tough slog and when I could see the plateau, I really, really, really wanted to stop (which of course I verbalized). That was greeted by a surround sound chorus of "You're not stopping - keep pedalling". Apparently the plateau is where I can at least retrieve one of my lungs. I tried to negotiate by asking if I could stop at the top. "Only if you have to" was the response.
So I kept pedalling through the plateau (which actually did allow me to breathe a bit) and then continued up the second half and around the corner through the tougher finish. By this time, I am sure that all of Milton could hear my gasping, but I did it...and kept pedalling. I didn't stop at the top but just stayed in my granny gear to spin my legs and recover. I also knew that the long downhill of Bell School Line was just a few minutes away.
That was one proud moment for me - I set a goal for myself, learned from my previous attempts, toughed it out and accomplished it. Sometimes when the overall goal can be overwhelming (hello...Ironman Florida), achieving bite size goals allows you to have your mini moment in the sun, while reinforcing belief in yourself and your potential.
While the goal of climbing the Steeles Avenue hill is a wee bit smaller than finishing Ironman, the concept is the same.
I have to believe I can do this - I have to learn from my training - I have to tough it out - I will accomplish it.