Glotman Simpson Cypress Hill Climb August 2011
Cypress Hill Climb-
Report from newest team member Kristina Bagma
How much pain can you handle?
That was the question I was asking myself on the morning of the
Glotman Simpson Cypress Hill Climb. It
was actually the question I was asking myself all week. “Was I physically and mentally prepared to
not only push myself into the pain zone, but could I force myself to stay there for 40, 45, 50
A race that involves only one mountain – from the bottom to the
top – definitely requires strength. But
when it really comes down to it – you need to be mentally prepared to hold
yourself in total physical pain -for the entire time – if you want to finish
fast. For the entire week before the
event, I was nervous because I am never really sure if I am mentally capable of
forcing myself to stay with the pain.
Some races (or even training days) I can push my limits and ignore the
pain signals that are screaming for me to stop. But then other days I mentally can’t handle
it and just have to give up.
Even as I write this article, I have a difficult time, trying to
describe the whole concept of how it is possible to be comfortable with pain
and harder still is trying to describe why I want to do it. Why does someone choose to wake up at 6am on
a Saturday morning just to see how much pain they can endure? Why do we care how long it takes us to climb
a mountain? My answer is – I don’t know
why. And if I tried to explain it in
words, I would come out all wrong so I have since stopped trying to explain why
I think this way. It just is.
And so, here is how the pain unfolded….
6am wake up
From the moment I woke up, all of my energy became focused not
just on the race, but on one thought – being comfortable with pain. Pain in any race is inevitable, but some
races hurt more than others and some require more mental focus than
others. Any distractions you allow
yourself can only be to fuel you to go faster.
Listening to your friends cheering for you, looking for people to chase
(Richelle) ahead of you and jumping on to someone’s wheel as they pass you –
all help fuel your fire to push harder, go faster, hurt more!
This was my first mass start hill climb race and I fumbled around
looking for the best place to start.
Everyone around me looked faster than me. Finally I staked out a tiny piece of real
estate, chosen only because I recognized a few familiar faces. We chatted about our expectations for the
day, all the while my butterflies continued to make me tongue tied and race
stupid. There is no better way to
describe the mental state of someone right before a race – except “race stupid”. My mantra for the next 44 minutes was, “Stay
with the pain.”
The race started with a neutral roll out, the girl beside me
started to chatting with me. She
introduced herself as Richelle and Thanked me for writing a blog post that
inspired her last year when she completed her first Ironman. What a great confidence booster for me! But then the pitch changed, the race started
and she was gone – ahead of me, pushing me to catch her. Stay with the pain.
There were a ton of guys in front of me but only one girl –
Richelle. She was in a small pack of
guys but I was focused on her back. I
tried to hold the distance between us and as they started to approach the first
first switch back I thought about trying to catch them. They were only about 100m ahead of me. If I just picked it up a bit I should be able
to catch them….. but I hesitated too long and they picked up the pace on the
flats and were gone. In retrospect I
probably could have afforded the little push, but I was nervous about going
anaerobic too soon. I held back and
thought I might be able to catch them later but there was no later.
There is always strength in numbers and I was alone. Stay with the pain.
So alone I rode, picking off a few people one at a time. I was holding 9 miles an hour and tried to
keep it steady – no matter what the grade.
When I reached the second switch back, I allowed myself a bit of recovery,
switching my cadence up to 95rpm to loosen my legs, trying to rid them of the
lactic acid build up. Then it was back
into the groove. Stay with the pain.
As I pulled out of the last switchback, I started to get
excited!! I chanced a quick look at my clock and realized that I was going to
reach my goal of finishing under 44 minutes! It was enough to push me into
another gear. Stay with the pain.
To keep the momentum moving I alternated between standing and
sitting, picking up the pace just enough to push me over the last bit of a
grade, past my friends cheering me on and into the last kilometer finish. But just as I was trying to change the
cadence from a climb to a sprint, the 4 guys sitting on my wheel during the
climb passed me in a flash. I
remembered my hesitation from earlier and didn’t even think twice this
time. I quickly jumped on the last wheel
of the pack. We rounded the last corner
in the gravel a bit too fast but I wasn’t going to slow down now. All style and grace was gone as I hammered on
the pedals again for one last push for a standing sprint to the finish!
Total time of 43:28.
Can’t wait till next year!