Ironman Lake Tahoe Training · Training

Week 25: Mt Diablo

Photo Jun 21, 8 19 26 PM

“Earn your views. Earn your rest day.” — my weekend mantra

Between the double Diablo, a long open water swim, and a 14 mile run, it was a pretty great week of training. I didn’t do a ton of pool swimming during the week but I have been going to M2 for power cycle classes and absolutely lovin’ it! The intervals are tough and I know it’ll help improve my cycling if I go to the classes consistently.

Hope everyone is having a great week and enjoying the World Cup and/or Wimbledon!

Saturday: Double Diablo

Even if you’ve never been to the East Bay, chances are you’ve seen Mount Diablo. It’s the majestic double-pyramid mountain that towers over Contra Costa County. From the top you can see 8 bridges, Half Dome in Yosemite, the Sierra Nevada mountains, and there are even claims that the viewshed is the largest in the world, second to Mt. Kilimanjaro. Wow! True or not, the views are truly spectacular.

As a cyclist, climbing from the bottom to the top is sort of a rite of passage. It’s about a 10 – 11 mile ride with ~4,000 ft. of elevation gain which took me a little less than 1.5 hours. I’m training for Death Ride coming up in a few weeks and I needed to get my climbing legs ready. So we didn’t just climb to the top once, we did it twice — first from the North Gate, then the South Gate.

Strava output
Strava output

Our GGTC Bike Director, Tracy, organized the early morning ride. The group met at Northgate High School at 8:00am, did a short warm-up, then it was time to climb! We headed straight up North Gate Rd and saw a bike race going on. Luckily they allowed us on the road as long as we stayed to the right. It was really inspiring to see such strong, fit guys absolutely crushing it up Diablo. Unbelievable.

I mostly did a “comfortably hard” pace to the top. I didn’t want to crush my legs but I also didn’t want to be out in the heat all day (~85+ degrees). I also had a new saddle, a Terry Butterfly TI, which was about 1000x more comfortable than my old rock-hard saddle. What a difference!

The climbing is challenging, but you’re rewarded with such spectacular views along the way. I had plenty of water, food, and a clear mind so I just stayed positive, got deep into thought, smiled, and pedaled away.

Starting climb #1
Starting climb #1

And just to keep us honest, the very last couple hundred feet of the route is a very steep climb (~16%+ grade) where you almost have to get out of the saddle to avoid falling over. After 10 miles of climbing this was crazy challenging and burned all of our lungs. That section is the hardest part of the whole trip; but there was absolutely no way I was going to walk my bike. Uh, no.

We took a few pictures, filled up our water bottles, listened to the Lion King, then descended down to the South Gate to do it all over again. Mentally this was pretty challenging but physically I was feeling pretty darn good. The South Gate route is similar to the North Gate — just as beautiful and takes just as long.

Climb #1 done!
Summit #1 done!
Worth it for the views
Worth it for the views!

After we made it to the top the second time I was definitely starting to feel the heat a little. I had plenty of nutrition but that hot sun was tough to avoid.

We took a few more photos then it was back to our cars. I tacked on a few extra miles just to do some ‘normal’ riding, then we were done.

Summit #2!
After the second summit!
GGTC after the second summit!

Overall doing the double Diablo ride was an awesome experience. It was very challenging, hot, and really tested my climbing abilities. I think I’ll be fine for Death Ride, but the crazy thing is that what we did on Saturday was only about 1/2 of what we’ll see on race day. That’s pretty nuts. Luckily I have a pretty awesome group that I’m going with!

Sunday: Longest Open Water Swim To Date

Open water swimming isn’t exactly my favorite thing in the world. Just last week I talked about how hard 30 minutes of continuous swimming in the Bay felt. It made me nervous for the inevitable 2.4 mile swim on race day.

The calm of Aquatic Park
The calm of Aquatic Park

So on Sunday my goal was to overcome those nerves and prove that I can swim longer than I think. I met my GGTC group at Aquatic Park for a swim and had those little butterflies in the pit of my stomach. I set out to do 45 minutes of non-stop swimming, but after a little while I felt better and better and just kept going. So I made it an hour.

Getting ready to swim!
Getting ready to swim!

A full hour of swimming! To my Ironman friends that probably doesn’t sound like a lot but I’m pretty sure it was the longest time I’ve ever spent swimming in the open water. I took a few short breaks along the way (race day will be faster) but it still felt amazing!

Still need to work on that swim stroke, but I’m getting better and more confident!

Sunday: A Windy, Touristy, 14 mile Run

Right after the swim I dried off, put on some sun block and my running shoes and started my long run for the day. My calendar said to run 2 hours or about 14 miles.

I ran along the Marina towards the Golden Gate Bridge, fighting the head wind with every step. As I got up to the bridge it was a fight against wind and tourists. “On your left!” “Excuse me!”. I try to be as nice as possible to people visiting; for them it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to walk across the bridge and I’m lucky enough to have it practically in my backyard.

So I tried to keep a positive perspective, but man the congestion and crowds are just horrible for running. It was slow, it was frustrating, and I kept thinking about how lovely my desolate, calm, Bay Trail in the peninsula would have been.

It wasn’t the best or fastest run I’ve ever done, but I’m still happy I finished all 14; I really wanted to call it quits at mile 3 and turn around when the wind picked up. But I always remind myself that every run is an adventure; you see different scenery, you run into different people (sometimes literally), and you see the city from a different perspective. I just love it.

Golden Gate Bridge from my run on Sunday
Golden Gate Bridge from my run on Sunday

Just. Run.

On Thursday morning my alarm went off at 5:10am per usual and my head was pounding. Oh no, I was starting to get a migraine, or at least a really bad headache. Ugh. Snooze button. And again. And again. It took me a full 45 minutes to get out of bed. That’s very unusual for me — I normally can pop out of bed at pretty much any time in the morning but I had to first convince myself that my headache wasn’t going to ruin my morning training.

So instead of sleeping in more I put on my running shoes, drove down to work (my usual running spot) and started my run. I didn’t have much of a plan because I wasn’t feeling great. But I just started out and almost immediately I felt better. The warm sun, the fresh air, and the endorphins came together beautifully.

I was happy, I was strong, and I’m so happy I got out of bed. I did 8.1 miles faster than ever before, holding a ~8:25/mi pace. All I had to do was “Just Run“. And I’m going to repeat that to myself the next time I feel nasty or headachey… just run. Simple. And I’ll never regret it.


A little off-topic but this is such an exciting time right now for the US Men’s National team at the World Cup!! They beat Ghana last week and almost beat Portugal on Sunday. They’re playing Germany on Thursday morning at 9am PT which will be a tough game, but they don’t have to win to advance. This tourney has been so fun to follow!

And since EA Sports makes the FIFA videogame, everyone at work is all-in and the game is on pretty much every TV around the office and even in our mini theatre for viewing parties. GO USA!!!!


Articles / Podcasts:

This Week’s Training Log

Sunday the 22nd. Run. 14 mile run along the Marina, GG Bridge, and back. 9:57/mi

Sunday the 22nd. Swim. Aquatic Park, 1 hour swim.

Saturday the 21st. Bike. Mt Diablo north gate, then south gate. 53 miles.

Friday the 20th. Run. Workout, quick run, quick spin, core, strength.

Thursday the 19th. Run. Redwood Shores loop. 8.1 miles. 8:29/mi.

Wednesday the 18th. Bike. M2 cycle class. Base Watts: 200.

Tuesday the 17th. Run. 1-mile intervals with recovery, warm-up and cool down. 5 miles.

Thanks Everyone. Swim. Bike. Run. Eat Plants.

"Follow your passion. It will lead you to your purpose."
“Follow your passion. It will lead you to your purpose.”

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