Yesterday, I felt quite smug about our 150km-day (I still do), done in 5:50 hours and with a more than decent average speed for a long time. Here is one lesson I have learnt since the start of training in September: build your strength up and speed will follow automatically. The stronger you are, the faster you will go with the same effort. Speedwork is just that – going faster without actually using more energy. There are two ways to do speedwork outside of the gym: intervals and hills. Hills are like killer intervals, and today we did a serious hill repetition workout.

It only lasted 2:30 hours (for me), but now my thighs are toast, I’m tired, and craving dinner already. Remember that last hill I told you about, the 13 Tiers of Pain? Today, I did it 6 times. This is equal to about 18km of pure climbing and an elevation change of just about the Stelvio Pass. I’m ready to climb the Alps (with a couple of stops to stretch).

The feeling I got from finishing these six goes was incredible. No one has ever said that I am determined because I tend to be more of a quitter. But I did not quit and I did more than I thought I could. When Juliana is happy with my performance, I know I am on the right track. It gave my ego a long needed cuddling.

In fact, the whole Boot Camp Napoli did. From learning how to not get killed by Neapolitan drivers to learning to fold a pizza correctly, it has been a great time. Juliana pushed me far beyond what I thought I was currently capable of. It felt good to be praised, and nothing is more fun than training together when you don’t have training partners at home.

Tomorrow, I must leave this beautiful place and its warm sun, but not before one last Italian dinner. I am already thinking about what to take home with me (Provola!) to recreate some of the after-ride goodness. On Friday, I will throw my now slimmer body into a pretty dress and attend a company Christmas party, and then work out on the weekend. It seems that cycling conditions are actually perfect in Munich right now and I am determined to make use of it. Now that 80km feels like a slow day, I really have to find some new routes though…

This was on our first day training, my very first encounter with this hill – I remember how hard it was last week and how much easier it felt today (for the first 5 times, mind you).