A benefit of training in Houston that’s now a limitation…

An upside of training in Houston is that there are no hills.


A disadvantage of training in Houston is its lack of hills. 

As a new triathlete, I had very little muscular or cardiovascular development. For example, I struggled to run more than three miles on a flat surface or ride my bike for more than 15-20 miles without feeling completely exhausted. I did all of my training in the flatlands of Houston. But, when I competed in races in the hill country, I suffered. My body was not familiar with the stresses of going both up and down hills.  I knew that to develop as a more rounded athlete sooner or later I’d have to train on hills. But not yet…

In the interim, I decided to focus on developing the basics of being a strong athlete. I was aware of several missing skills:

  • The discipline to train consistently
  • Understanding the critical role of nutrition
  • Appreciating the need for adequate sleep
  • Learning how to recover properly
  • Learning and practicing proper technique (swim, run, and cycling)
  • Understanding the ebb and flow of training periods. 

Those are what I consider the basics…my foundation. One year and a few months into training, I feel good about building a strong foundation. I have been training very consistently (5-6 days each week), I’ve learned a tremendous amount about how to fuel my body for performance and how to allow it to recover. As I’ve focused on dialing-in my technique, each discipline has become easier to execute, I’ve gotten faster and much more comfortable with long workouts. Along the way, I’ve also found a wonderful tribe of self-motivated endurance athletes. I feel good in their company, especially when we are pushing ourselves. 

The hills are calling

Although the current viral epidemic has caused all races to be canceled or postponed, I still register and plan to race them throughout the year. Many of them, particularly the Ironman 70.3 races are held in hilly parts of the country. I’ve identified only a handful that are listed as having flat terrain. I don’t like being limited in this way. 

After the postponement of both Ironman Galveston 70.3 and Ironman Texas, I decided not to wait for them to be rescheduled. I am determined to complete both a full and half ironman in 2020 if at all possible. As I searched for new races to do, almost all of the Ironman 70.3 events were in hilly locations and I was scared away. In addition to that, I only found one flat, full-distance race, Ironman Florida. I registered for both of them and immediately realized the limitations of my training. I had no real experience with hill-work and no confidence to race them. 

More recently, I decided to register for Ironman70.3 Lubbock which is being held in late June, so I’ll have the opportunity to get a race done before midyear. The downside is that it’s in central Texas and full of hills and canyons. It’s also blazing hot. 

So, to prepare for the bike portion, I went to Chappell Hill, TX, the closest location with hills. It’s an hour and a half drive from me. I’ve known about it but never wanted to make the trek. Last weekend, the PTRC B-Group decided to do a ride out there, so I joined them. 

Five of us met in Chappell Hill to do their regular 40-mile route. I was the only one who had never been there. Hung and Oscar lead the ride while Jeri, Raymond, and I tried to keep up. The temperature was nice but the winds gave us some scares as we sped downhill. About halfway, we stopped and took a break in the Washington State Park. The scenery was beautiful and they had bathrooms.

Predictably, we suffered on the way back. The hills seemed higher and the sun was more intense. We were tired by the time we got to our cars. Everyone was looking forward to having cold beer and some awesome BBQ from Chappell Hill Bakery & Deli. 



I loved the route. Now, to do it a few more times before the race in Lubbock on June 28.