Three-peat hills

It feels like every single week I’m hitting new milestones in my training journey, and doing things I never thought I could do. Every week I am pushed to new limits, and most days I don’t even think twice about taking on the challenge, no matter how hard. With my training partners by my side, my coaches constant voice in my head, and my dreams laid out before me, I am fully willing to puke or pass out to get where I need to be. Whether it’s finding that extra push to beat the clock in the pool, or that extra step to keep pace on the track, or that extra drive to rotate my wheels just one more time on the bike, I am constantly pushing myself, and it feels so damn good. That triumph and rushing feeling of greatness after killing a workout strikes me with an overwhelming sense of pride and happiness, and any amount of ache or pain within my lungs or muscles quickly evaporates.
This weekend I had a hill climb workout on the schedule; my first ever. My idea of hill climbing last year compared to this year are vastly different; like mole hills and mountains.
I teamed up with two of my training partners at the crack of 7am for an easy warm up in the crisp and chilly morning. The sun had broken through the clouds and the sky was a vast beautiful blue, lighting up the asphalt before us. Like most workouts these days, I never know what to expect, so naturally I just always prepare for the worst, and psych myself up for the greatest challenge of my life.
After warming up our legs, we entered the bottom of the first hill at Todd Road.  I looked up, shifted down, mumbled some words of wisdom, and off we went. Within the first kilometre my heart rate had certainly elevated and my legs were slightly heavy, but with each pedal I had a good feeling that I was conquering this hill. It was in the last kilometre and a half where my breathing intensified to what sounded like wheezing, my heart rate sky rocketed, and my legs seared with that lactic acid burn. I began to wobble, and even thought of giving up, and literally just toppling over dead on the side of the road. But as always, I looked up to see the bobbing heads of Pat and Vince just ahead of me, and I cursed at myself to keep going. Once at the top, I smiled with joy; one hill down, two to go.
The descent was the perfect time to relax and enjoy the ride down with the wind whipping at our faces as we practically kept pace with the cars beside us. Halfway down and my heart rate had already calmed to a recovered rate, my lungs were no longer aching, and my legs felt fresh again; all in time to do it all over again. So, I shifted my gears, settled in, and while muttering the words of Katy Perry’s ‘Roar,’ I once again proceeded up the hill, one rotation of the crank after the other.
Round number two was reminiscent of the first as it went from easy, to more difficult, a little more difficult, challenging, then to heart pounding, lung burning pain. And as good as it felt to conquer it the first time, it felt even better on the second round.
At the bottom of the third hill, the boys talked about hitting the top and then continuing on to Coldwater Terrace for one final hill. “Some people stop at the roundabout, and some people go for the top,” said Vince. “That won’t be me,” I replied with a grin. The funny thing is, no matter how much I have accomplished and no matter how well I do, I always sell myself short. But when we reached the top of Juniper, and Vince called back to see if I was continuing on, I knew if I didn’t accept the challenge, I would spend the rest of the day in regret, so I called back a quick, “yup.”
As I reached the final ascent, I looked up to see what lay before me, I looked down to see my legs churning the crank and I looked out at the valley below me, and I was all smiles. This wasn’t painful, it was pretty freaking awesome.
As much as training for Ironman is a physical challenge, it’s a mental one too, and so often you just have to be prepared to find whatever it is within yourself to push a little bit further. Whether it’s been running in snow blowing in sideways, cycling up mountains, or swimming with ninja sticks on my arms and my feet tied together, I always find a way to keep going and to always finish with a huge smile on my face. It felt amazing to conquer the three-peat hills this weekend, and I am already anticipating the next challenge on my schedule, and looking back on this and thinking this was a walk in the park.


2 thoughts on “Three-peat hills

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