The countdown begins.
High Cliff is just six days away. Six days people. That's not a lot of time.
Today I logged my last big workout before the race. I got up, read the newspaper while eating some cereal and then decided it was time. Time to tackle the bike course and some of the park trails I'll be running on in less than a week.
Course maps in hand, I loaded up my bike and set off for High Cliff. Once I was there, it was just a few more minutes before I was off to tackle the cliff road. A few weeks ago I was freaked out when I started the climb and barely made it up the first incline without almost having to stop. But today? I stayed calm. Breathed. And set my gears to the lowest ones possible. I kept pedaling. And you know what? This time around the climb wasn't so bad. Before I knew it, the first incline was done and the second one was looming ahead of me. Not bad either.
Aside from the cliff road, the rest of the 22-mile bike was relatively flat. A few rolling hills here and there throughout the countryside, but nothing scary. Rolling hills that I didn't even have to change gears on. The worst part about it was the last 6 miles or so when I was biking directly into the wind. It stunk, but since the course is rectangular, I figured I have to be biking into the wind at some point. Oh well.
Finished the course in 1 hour, 33 minutes. After loading my bike back onto my car, changing into my running shoes and grabbing a drink, it was time to run.
After studying the map last week, I realized the run? It also started up the cliff road. Just in case I didn't love it enough the first time through, I got to do it again. Only this time after coming off 22 miles on the bike.
Yes, my legs felt like lead, but I kept putting one foot in front of the other on my way up the cliff road. It sucked. It hurt. It was hard. It was hot. But at the top? It was over. Then it was off onto the shady trails. I originally intended to run about half of the 3-mile course, but I missed a turn and ended up going farther on the trail than I needed to before looping back. As a result, I actually ended up running 3 miles, just not the 3 miles I'll need to run on Saturday.
And while running up the cliff road at the beginning of the run stunk, there was a silver lining. The end of the run? It involved running down the cliff road, right to the finish line. Very cool. Very nice. Very fast. I loved it.
The bike was done. The run was done. There was a layer of grit and grime covering my body and my shoulders and back were pink due to a newly acquired sunburn. But I was done.
And not a moment too soon. I was sitting in a spot of shade in the parking lot, finishing my Cliff Bar, having some water and changing into my flip flops when I noticed the dark clouds rolling in, a streak of lightning and heard the rumble of thunder. A storm was brewing and it was time to go. I managed to drive into my parents' driveway and unload my bike just as the downpour started.
But I got in the brick workout that I wanted to today. And it felt good. I already knew what the water would be like after Thursday freezing dip into the lake, but now I know what I'll encounter on the bike and I know what it'll feel like running up, and down, the cliff road.
I'm ready for High Cliff.