I usually let myself sleep in a bit and spend my mornings off relaxing. This meant that didn't start my first workout today until almost 3pm, and with the heat wave we had, it probably would have been smarter to do it in the morning. Oh well! I had a 2 hour "hilly" ride on the schedule followed by a 20 minute transition run, half at race pace. I didn't really know where to ride since I mostly just stick to the bike trail on solo rides so I texted my coach. She suggested an out-and-back route around Folsom Lake and promised it would be nice and hilly : ) It was pretty straightforward so I figured I probably wouldn't get lost, and the elevation profile looked like it would make for quite a challenging ride, perfect prep for Wildflower.
I was a wee bit apprehensive about riding on open roads by myself, but I think I did pretty well and when I was finished I was quite proud of myself! No crash, no flats, no falls, no getting lost...I'm calling it a win! I started from Folsom Bike and rode up Folsom Dam Road, crossing over the American River. Within the first couple miles I hit the first hill, a long and gradual climb. I wasn't focused on speed at all for this ride, I just wanted to practice climbing and gain a bit more experience and confidence on hills. From there I turned down Green Valley Road and then onto Salmon Falls, where I did the majority of my climbing.
Fortunately most of the climbs weren't crazy steep, but rather long and gradual. I definitely prefer the latter. Salmon Falls is a fairly quiet road with some fancy ranch-style homes, rolling green hills, and glimpses of the lake. It's also not the most bike friendly as it lacks a bike lane for a good majority of what I rode. Thankfully most of the drivers I encountered today were nice : ) The longest climb came around mile 10 and lasted for a few miles. Again, it wasn't extraordinarily steep, but it got my heart rate up (I spent a good chunk of time in Zone 5 during this ride) and made my legs burn by the end. When my Garmin hit an hour I was more than ready to turn around since I had yet to crest that hill. And I was excited to enjoy the descents on the way back!
my turnaround after this looong climb!
south fork bridge
As I started back down the hill, and on later descents as well, I kept thinking to myself, "Did I really just ride up these hills?" They seemed much longer and steeper going down than they had going up! But I was also a little proud of myself for tackling them. There were still a couple challenging climbs on the way back, but it was certainly much easier and I ended up with a 10 minute negative split. When I got back to Folsom Bike I added on a couple more miles going up the road and finished up the tough ride with 29 miles. I certainly didn't set any speed records but it was a good, challenging ride on a beautiful, if warm, day.
After securing my bike and changing shoes I jumped on the bike trail across the street and did a quick transition run. The goal was to run the first 10 minutes at race pace (~8:45) and then go easy for the last 10. My legs felt terrible the first 5 minutes, presumably from the hills, but eventually warmed up and settled into a rhythm. By that time the heat (almost 80*F!) was starting to get to me and all I wanted to do was chug a bottle of water. I ended up with 2.3 miles with the first half averaged at 8:40. I was definitely a bit tired, but really more hungry and thirsty than anything. I grabbed a mango smoothie at a coffee shop which was the perfect treat to cool off.
After my ride/run I had a couple hours to kill before meeting up with the MTC group for our weekly swim practice. The past couple weeks, since Oceanside, I've felt like my swimming has suffered. I'd been struggling to hit paces that had previously been no problem, and as I result I lost a lot of my motivation. After my workouts today I expected to be tired and slow tonight, however, it was like a switch was flipped and I had a great swim! We did sets of 100s and I was consistently hitting my threshold pace of 1:41, and I swam a set of 75s in 1:18. I know this is still quite slow compared to many, but for me it was like a breakthrough after feeling like I'd lost a lot of fitness. We finished 2,300 yards over the course of an hour and then spent a little time soaking in the jacuzzi : )