It started early with a run at Sabino Canyon. Sherpa Thomas and his girlfriend (yes, girls, I know this will cause a collective sigh of disappointment for Sherpa Thomas’ internet following but he has a girlfriend and she is beautiful) went to run on the trails while Dana and I headed up the long paved climb.
I have never seen so many people out walking, hiking, running on a Saturday morning! Tucson is fit! The incline started slowly and after a short warm up I took off for my favorite type of run – up tempo hills. You cruise the flats, ease up on the downhills and work the hills. I love to run hills. If you want to get strong and aerobically fit – run hills!
After a few miles of the climb, I heard someone about 100 feet behind me. A quick look and noticed it was Chris. I didn’t realize he had taken this path and I knew it was time to make a move. There are very few areas of sport where I have even a remote chance of dropping Chris or putting the hurt on him. Hills would be one. I am smaller than him and my small size is a big advantage on a climb. And I knew the last 6 minutes of this path were a steeper climb. I started to pick up the pace as the climb winded higher towards the peak. I could hear Chris behind me and as he started nearing, I picked up the pace even more. Psychologically I had the advantage because I knew where the climb ended and knew I only had to push to that point.
No sooner did I get to the top than Chris came up behind me and shouted: THAT WAS SO HARD! To prove his point he shoved his heart rate monitor in my face and said LOOK AT MY HEART RATE! Ok, I just laughed and said it was supposed to be hard! Plus, I admitted, I picked up the pace.
I win – for now. And this was the first, last and only time I would win against my husband on this trip. It happens about once a year and required a 6 minute steady climb to achieve this win. I will not let this one go for at least the next 24 hours.
Of course the win was crushed in the next 24 seconds. We cruised back down and his size had the advantage. He was ahead of me. Of course I tried to make up the gap between us and was nearing in when one of those trams started crossing a bridge and I had to wait – ah! The run finished up good and strong. We ended up negative splitting the course by nearly 5 minutes across 30 minutes. That’s how uphill it was!
After the run we had some recovery food and drink before heading out for a ride. Dana led us on a beautiful ride to Saguaro National Park. It was a steady long climb through Silverardo Hills to get there, but once there it was beautiful. There was a festival going on in the park complete with mariachi band. Once Rob (Dana’s husband) arrived, we did the 8 mile rolling loop through the park. How unique and beautiful. Cacti, mountains, blue skies with wispy cirrus clouds – it was a southwestern landscape I couldn’t help but get caught up in looking at. The back part of the loop was a long climb. I felt good so I took on the climb. Towards the end, Dana came up behind me and I asked where are the boys! She said they were behind us talking like school girls. Hey for the second time today – girls launched an attack, girls win!
Of course I would pay for this. Rob cut out early to head back for a run and Chris led Dana and I on towards Collossal Cave Mountain Park. 10 miles with a tailwind for the first half. Chris must have felt like launching his own attack because all of a sudden I found myself spinning over 100 rpms, geared out, going 26 mph in excess of LOTSA watts and watching Dana and Chris pull away. And away. And away. At the bottom of the hill perhaps it was pity for me or remorse for losing me so early but they stopped, let me back on and I cursed my gears. And my legs. And my husband for pulling out the attack so early.
The remaining miles to the park were just as hard and I started wondering if it was me. Is it me? My legs? I started to concoct my bail out plan. I will ride with them to the park and then insist on riding alone. Left for dead. Just go! I’m too slow and need to be by myself. All of these excuses that fill our head when we are uncomfortable. Chris and Dana were making it look so easy and I’m behind them fighting the wind, the bumpy pavement and wondering if the excuse is just myself. The thoughts were spinning and mostly I was dreading the fact that we had to turn around into the wind and ride mostly uphill back to Saguaro!
One at the park, we stopped. It had to be said: that was really hard, I was over xxx watts the entire time, is anyone else feeling like this isn’t easy? Dana immediately said I’m glad you said something!
Turns out that Chris didn’t have a heart rate monitor, power meter, nothing. No idea how fast was fast or how slow was slow. When we asked him about the pace he said I thought it was uncomfortable but figured it was my shorts.
Let me tell you – many times I have felt uncomfortable on my bike, blaming the wind, the terrain, the gearing, the group, the sun, the rain – anything and everything but never ever have I considered blaming it on my…shorts.
We turned around going into the wind and Chris’ “easy” was 23 mph pulling us along. At least I could catch my breath though. Once we reached Saguaro it was a mostly downhill ride and then back into the wind to the hotel. I’ll tell you – I know wind because I live in Illinois but there was quite a bit of wind out there today!
It was a really fun day. Let me say that any athletes that live in Tucson simply have no excuse. I say that half joking but seriously….there is sun. There is wind. There are hills, blue skies and altitude. There are endless bike lanes, rolling roads and monster climbs. Other than overdoing it – there is really nothing in the way. There is no motivation not to train – a cloudy day maybe? What, all 20 of those a year!? It’s a different perspective being out here and I feel like a puppy unleashed. As we rolled back towards the hotel I thought to myself – wow, a 3 mile run would feel great today. Then I thought to myself – you ran 8 this morning! You are done! One sunny workout melts right into the next one and I could see how you could easily get carried away, day after day. But if you are smart and utilize this terrain and location properly, I’m guessing you would get good really fast. No matter what your V02 max is!
Tonight is another TriSports.com gathering and then tomorrow is…I don’t know. It is what it will be. A ride? A short run? Maybe a swim? Well, let’s not get too carried away. The pool is for a cloudy day. And according to the odds around here I probably need to wait another 2 weeks for that.