You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Biking’ category.
Now that I got that last part of the race report out of the way, the off season is beginning! I had originally planned to start at the beginning of September, but this month has been insane with work and school and lots of travel, so I pushed it back a few weeks.
The Starting Point
After two solid months of eating like crap and not training, I feel like total garbage. I am WAY beyond my “oh shit” weight, and into “WTF?” territory. The main cause of this has been the past month. With all the travel I’ve been doing for school, I’ve barely been home, and have basically had no groceries for the last month. Because of this, I’ve been scrounging and eating whatever I can find in my cupboard/fridge, which usually results in breakfast, lunch, and dinner consisting of eating peanut butter off a spoon.
Also, the current class that I’m taking is a field class. That means an entire semester of field trips and work is crammed into the month of September, because after that, the weather is a crap shoot. So aside from eating like crap, I’ve had virtually no time to do anything outside of work and school. No training. Nothing. Nada.
Put those two together, and I am generally feeling cruddy. I still look perfectly fine on the surface. But I don’t feel that way. But that ends starting now.
Once my field class ends after this coming week, my schedule gets much more flexible. Tuesdays and Thursdays are still a hot mess, but the rest of the week is pretty good. The plan is to swim, bike, and run a couple times a week, while getting in a few decent strength sessions too. I don’t want to try to do too much, because that’s when things fall apart. So I’m planning on doing short, quality sessions for the swim/bike/run workouts, with a couple longer sessions on the weekends.
Other important things are staying on top of my groceries, and bringing lunch to school/work every day. Whenever I don’t, I end up so starving by the end of the day, that I come home and inhale everything in my kitchen. But with a little bit of planning ahead, I don’t have that problem.
I have a few goals for this off season.
- Lose the excess weight. I’m sick of it.
- Improve strength and flexibility through weightlifting and yoga.
- Make some good power gains on the bike through HIIT workouts.
- Improve my swimming technique and pace through focused workouts. My swims are always so unfocused.
- Be consistent in writing at least a weekly post on here. I haven’t written much in the past year or so, and I miss it!
So that’s that for now. Time to prep my lunch for tomorrow, and head to bed!
Ironman Boulder is 24 days away! Where did the year go???
This past Sunday, I got out for a great century ride. It was brutally hot. Someone’s bike computer read 107 degrees at one point. Mine read 102. It was nuts.
I was really proud of myself on this ride because I don’t like to ride alone, and will often use that as an excuse. But this time, the girls in the group that I normally ride with were on a recovery week, so I was on my own. And this time, there was no time left to put it off until another day.
So Sunday morning, I loaded up the car, and drove to Tom Watson Park. I was on my bike by 9am, course map and turn-by-turn directions in hand. I know the whole first part of the course, but with the course changes, I was unfamiliar with all the roads up in Loveland. This always made me stressed out riding with a group. The girls I usually ride with are awesome, and we have a very laid-back no-drop group. But even knowing that, I’m always stressed out that I’m going to be dropped, miss a turn, and then be all on my own to get back. Not that this is really a problem – thank goodness for smartphones. But I’ve noticed that it makes me stressed out, which makes the ride less fun.
I rolled out of Tom Watson at 9am, and headed out on the course. Down Diagonal to Jay, up 36, and onto 66. For the first hour, I was spinning out my legs, and getting things warmed up. I felt good! Today was also a test run for my new nutrition, so I was really curious to see how that worked. My old standby of the Clif shot drink mix and strawberry Gu chomps didn’t seem to be working for me anymore. I was bonking hard around 50-70 miles in every time. So I switched it up, and decided to try out some Skratch drink mix, with some applesauce pouches, and peanut butter and strawberry jam Uncrustables instead.
The other new thing I was testing out today was the new tri shorts from Coeur Sports.
Worked like a charm!
It was stupidly hot, so I went through a lot of water and had to make two refill stops at gas stations before I even got to mile 65. But aside from the heat, I felt really good! I wasn’t bonking, AND – hallelujah of hallelujahs – my lady parts felt fantastic!!!
By mid-afternoon, I was riding south on Colorado, wishing the sun would go away and that fantastic storm that I had been eyeballing for the last hour would come my way. I was in the middle of trying to decide if I should make the left onto 66 and follow the actual course, or just continue straight on Colorado all the way down to 52. At that moment, I saw a group of cyclists taking the course on 66, so I decided to make the turn and follow the course.
This ended up being a very good decision.
I rode east on 66 for a couple miles, and noticed that I was slowly catching up to these people. Eventually, once we got onto highway 119, I caught the back of their group. It was a bunch of women out riding the course. We said some brief hellos, and commented on how damn hot it was (this was the WORST part of the day), and I continued on past them.
A few minutes later, I caught another two in their group and said hello. This was the point when my garmin said 102 degrees, and I was pretty much hating the world and wishing I could go jump in a frozen lake somewhere.
At the intersection of 119 and 52, I stopped for a minute and got off my bike to stretch out my lower back. At this point, a guy in a car stopped to ask if I was alright. I gave him the usual smile and “I’m good! Thanks!” He then asked if I needed anything, and said that he was working as a mobile aid station to about 50 triathletes out on the bike course that day.
Helloooooooo, angel with the cold water!
I wanted to kiss him.
I dumped out the (now very hot) water in my bottles and refilled. The girls I had passed a few minutes ago had now caught up, and we chatted for a minute. Turns out they had someone acting as a mobile aid station as well, and she was just on the other side of the intersection, about 200 feet away. They invited me to ride the rest of the way with them, which seemed like a much better option than pushing through the heat alone.
I rode the last 30 miles with these 5 ladies, and had a fantastic time. Aside from the brutal heat, and the 40mph wind gusts that we faced at one point, it was a great ride. They were all super nice and friendly, AND they had cold water. (Swoon!)
Eventually, I rolled back into the Tom Watson parking lot just as my bia and garmin ticked over to 100 miles. Perfect!
Overall, it was a great day. My nutrition seemed spot on, and the seamless chamois tri shorts are the work of angels. I averaged 15 mph on a super hot and occasionally super windy day, so I’m really happy with that. Race day goal is to be above 15 mph, but I’ll be perfectly happy to do 15 as well.
Since this ride, I’ve gotten a few good trainer sessions in at home, and have some runs and OWS sessions planned for the next couple days. This Sunday is also the Boulder Peak olympic tri. I’m hoping to push myself a bit on the bike for this race, since it’s so short. I always seem to settle into the same sort of pace, no matter what the distance is. It would be nice to race it like it’s an olympic, and not a full for once. Then again, I could just completely blow up if I do that. Either way, it will be interesting.
After this weekend’s race, I have one more peak training week, and then it’s taper time!
This past weekend was the Boulder 70.3, which I was really looking forward to – even with mixed feelings (nervous about contact and choppy waters on the swim, and not sure if my foot would hold up).
On Friday afternoon, I biked up to the Boulder Reservoir (“The Res” for us lazy locals) for athlete check in. The whole process was super fast and smooth, and within just a few minutes, I was all tagged and ready to go.
As I was wandering out of the Ironman Village area, I glanced to my left and saw some familiar faces hanging out and doing autographs and pictures.
Well, that was cool!
On Saturday, I headed over to the Res and checked in my bike (they now have a mandatory bike check on the day before to the race). Everything was quick and easy, and I was even surprised that the traffic and parking at the Res wasn’t that bad.
Sunday dawned bright and early at 4am. Fortunately, I live right by the race venue, so I didn’t have any crazy travel time. It was actually a rather relaxed morning!
I headed out to the Res at 4:45am, and by 5:15, I was through the traffic, parked, and getting my things organized in the transition area. The first thing to do was pump up my tires, since you always make sure to let the air out when you have to rack it the day before (sitting out in the sun all day can overheat your tires and cause a blowout – not good). As soon as my tires were pumped up, I stashed the pump back in my car and headed back into the transition area.
On my way back into transition, I found a tri club friend who was doing body marking. She wrote all over me (and only now, several days later, is it almost gone – that was some magic sharpie!), and then I headed back to the rack to finish sorting out my space.
In transition, I found a few friends from my tri club (including one who was racked right next to me), and chatted with some of the women in my age group. This race had our bib numbers organized by age group, so all the 30-35 women were racked together. Some people didn’t like that (theoretically, this could cause crowding in the transition area since we were starting the swim with our age groups), but I didn’t notice a problem. Plus, these ladies were super nice, and great company during a chilly pre-race morning.
I laid down my small towel (NOT a full size towel – don’t be that guy), on top of which go:
- Bike gear (in the front half of the towel)
- A small throwaway squeeze-type water bottle (to wash the sand and gunk off my feet before putting on my shoes)
- Bike shoes and socks
- Jersey/tri top
- Spray sunscreen
- Run gear (in the back half of the towel)
- Running shoes
- Belt with bib number already attached
- Handheld water bottle with run nutrition in the pocket
- On my bike went:
- Bike garmin
- All nutrition
After laying out my transition area, I stalled as long as possible before having to ditch the jacket and flip flops at the tri club tent – it was chilly out! But once the sun really started to come out, things got much better. And by the end of the day, we would all be wishing for those cool temperatures again.
I wandered down to the beach with my tri club friend who was racked next to me. We had quite a long wait until it was our turn to start. The pros were starting just after 7am, and our wave wasn’t until 8:05.
We ended up hanging out on the beach and watching the waves go before us, and before we knew it, it was almost our turn. The few of us who had been chatting headed over and joined in with the other silver-capped swimmers just a few feet from the start line.
Oh shit, now I was really nervous.
I should mention that I haven’t done much swimming during this round of training. It’s always the first thing to go when things get busy and you’re trying to squeeze things in. Plus, the last race-setting open water swim I had done was Ironman Lake Placid, where I was miserable and getting beat up the entire time. PLUS, on top of that, the day before this race, I had gone for a “nice little open water practice” at a local reservoir, and it had been HORRIBLE. It was super choppy, and everyone was having a terrible time fighting the chop.
So now I was panicking a bit.
I could see that the water was calm, so that was fine, thank goodness. But I still was really nervous about contact on the swim. When you’re just watching from the shore, you can’t see the free-for-all that can be an open water swim. People get punched, kicked, and smacked all over. I have been kicked and punched in the face and chest while swimming on more than one occasion, and let me tell you, it’s not fun.
While we were all standing around waiting for our turn, we were chatting a bit. Turns out, the women in my age group are AWESOME. Everyone was so nice and sweet. And all everybody wanted to do was get in the water, do their thing, and not get beat to crap. There were plenty of us saying “if you don’t hit me, I won’t hit you, buddy!” So it was good to know that I would hopefully be surrounded by like-minded individuals.
The 30-35 men went off.
Oh shit. Now it’s our turn. Shit shit shit. I don’t want to get punched in the face. Ahhhhhhh!
We shuffled into the water, about waist/chest deep, and waited. There was a five minute gap between each wave. People (myself included) were bouncing around, talking, laughing, and “dancing” to the music. (I was mostly doing this to distract myself, and not let others know how much I was freaking out.)
I positioned myself in the back of the group, to give myself even more of a chance to not get caught up with anyone who was going to beat me up in the water.
The gun went off.
Oh crap. Here we go. Just stop thinking and start swimming. It will be fine.
For all my worrying, this swim was fantastic. I have never had a better, or more contact-free swim in a race. And I think that had everything to do with the age group wave start. So, thank you, 30-35 women. You are a pleasure to swim with.
One of the annoying things about swimming at the Res is how murky the water is. I had heard about this ahead of time, so it wasn’t a surprise, but I was still amazed at how little I could really see. I could barely see my own fingertips when they were stretched out in front of me. Where this could become a problem is that you can’t see the feet of a person who is swimming ahead of you. So to prevent face kicks, you have to keep an eye out for people as you are sighting for the buoys. It took me a couple minutes to get used to this, but as soon as I did, things opened right up, and I had pretty much clear water the whole way. There were a handful of accidental body bumps along the way, but nothing that was problematic.
We swam out from the shore for quite a way, then made a right to do the top end of the upside-down triangle that was the swim course. On this second leg of the swim, I noticed a couple hot pink swim caps creeping up on me. These were the fast people from the wave behind me (women, 25-29 – those young whippersnappers – before the start, our wave had been joking about forming a human wall to block them on the swim). But no major problems here. At this point, we were spread out enough that they could navigate through us slower folk.
After what felt like an eternity, we made another right turn and started heading back to the shore.
Oh my god, this leg of the swim took forever. I think I was just getting tired, but WOW did it feel long.
I kept wondering when that stupid arch would look any bigger. Plus, I was starting to get a bit toasty in my full wetsuit. The water was warm enough (high 60’s) that I could have managed just fine with a sleeveless.
Just keep swimming… just keep swimming…
FINALLY, I put my feet down and felt the bottom. Hooray!
I’m always a little dizzy and lightheaded after a long swim, so I took my time standing up and walking out of the water. I felt like it took a bit longer than normal for me to get my bearings back, which I’m guessing has to do something with the altitude (even when you live here, you can still get a bit oxygen-deprived on the swim). Or it could just be a lack of swim conditioning. Also highly likely.
I crossed the timing mat, stopped my watch, and made my way to the transition area.
Swim time: 45:17 (Just a couple minutes slower than I had hoped, but I’ll take it, given my nerves and lack of swim training.)
After walking off the dizziness, I jogged down the bike racks, found my spot, stripped off the wetsuit, and got to work cleaning off my feet.
Shoes and socks go on, jersey on, helmet on, sunglasses on. (Always put your helmet on before unracking your bike – you can get DQ’d if you don’t.)
Good to go!
I took my bike off the rack and jogged to the mount line.
Transition time: 5:51 (Not bad. Could be faster.)
I made my way out of the Res and onto the bike course. The first several miles of the course are a long, gradual, nearly imperceptible uphill. This, combined with the fact that it’s the start of the bike and I don’t yet have my bike legs going, is so frustrating. I felt like I was working so hard, and going nowhere.
In addition to that, due to the age group wave start, I was constantly being passed by the fast people from the waves behind me, which is incredibly demoralizing. The wave starts were wonderful for the swim. Less so for the bike. But after 20-25 miles, people were mostly settled in with riders of similar speeds, and that stopped.
We made our way up Route 36 and north out of Boulder. This part of the course is really beautiful as you ride right along the edge of the foothills. There are some decent-sized hills that aren’t quite rollers, and aren’t quite climbs. They’re just enough to make you work hard. But they’re over in a minute or two. I’ve ridden this part of the course many times with my tri club, so I felt very comfortable on it, and just kept chugging along.
Eventually, we made a right onto Route 66. Once you get to this part of the course, things flatten out and you can really start to get some speed. I actually averaged 16.3 mph for the first hour (which included all of that long gradual climb, and just a little bit on 66), which I was happy to see. 16.3 is still slow for many people, but it’s improvement for me! In previous years, I always seemed stuck at 15 mph, so I’m very happy to see those numbers creeping up (albeit slowly) now.
The next hour of the course was the fastest section. It’s mostly flat, with some rollers, and just a couple steep (but very short) climbs. I was feeling good, and picked up the pace a bit. For the second hour, I averaged 17.2 mph. I was starting to get excited now.
The third hour of the bike, I was unfamiliar with the course, and didn’t know what to expect. All the times I’ve been out to ride, I’ve ridden the course for the full. The courses are the same for the first 30 miles or so, but then the split. I was anticipating that this last part of the course would be mostly flat with some rollers, and a fast ride back to the Res.
I was wrong.
There were a LOT of long, gradual (but somewhat steep) climbs in this section! I was getting frustrated, because I had been excited and getting my hopes up to keep my average speed around 17mph, and now I knew that wasn’t going to happen. But then, I realized that I was still averaging more than 16mph, which is what I was originally estimating, so I couldn’t really complain. For the third hour, I averaged 16.3 mph
Eventually, we turned right back onto Diagonal Highway, and we were nearly done. We rode our way back into the Res and to the dismount line. I got off my bike feeling good, and very happy with how the ride went.
Bike time: 3:23:01 (16.55 mph average)
T2 was a quick change. Rack the bike, helmet off, shoes off, jersey off.
Running shoes on, tri top on (it was getting hot and I was desperate for a sleeveless), hat and sunglasses on, race belt on, grab water bottle, and GO.
Transition time: 4:52
Heading out of the transition area for the run, I had absolutely NO idea what to expect. My foot had been painful on only a two mile run just a few days earlier, so I wasn’t expecting anything good. I was fully prepared to stop running and accept the DNF the minute my foot started hurting. This race was not my A race for the season, and it just wasn’t worth risking the Ironman – which was only 7 weeks away.
I started running out of the Res and made the right onto the dirt road that goes around the lake.
Unfortunately, I didn’t make it very far before I started to notice some tightening in my foot. This was not a good sign. I was only two miles in, and had 11 to go. I wasn’t in pain, but I knew that I would be long before I finished the entire run.
The question was, was it worth it?
I stopped on the side of the road for a minute and thought about my options.
- Keep running and finish the whole thing, regardless.
- Keep running, finish this loop (it’s a two loop run course, so each loop is 6.55 miles), and see what happens.
- Stop running, and walk the rest.
- Stop running now, accept the DNF, and don’t do any more damage.
I ended up picking door #4.
I know I could have run further that day, but I really had no idea how much further. I knew I wouldn’t be able to do the whole 13.1 miles, so finishing the run wasn’t going to happen anyway. I figured it was smarter of me to stop at 2 miles before my foot started to get painful (at this point it was just getting a little tight, but that’s how it starts), and avoid any further damage. I may have been able to make it through the whole first loop, but even that was questionable.
As I was standing there on the side of the road, the roving medic came by and asked if I needed anything. I told him I just had an ongoing foot injury and wasn’t going to be finishing the run today. So he took my timing chip, and I slowly walked back along the course, cheering as I went.
It was a bummer to DNF, but I know it was the right choice. I really didn’t want to make my foot worse and not be able to race Ironman Boulder in a few weeks. So even though having a DNF sucks, in this case, it’s better than the alternative.
Somehow, the year is flying by, and we’re already only one week out from Ironman 70.3 Boulder. When did that happen???
It’s been a tough couple months trying to get training in, but I’ve been doing alright. As usual, not as well as I had originally hoped, but my conditioning is pretty decent, and somehow I seem to be getting faster (thank you, living at altitude!), so that’s good.
Going into the 70.3 this coming weekend, my goals are pretty much the same as usual:
- Have fun and enjoy the day.
- Give it my best effort.
- PR if possible – given my recent biking and running paces, I should be able to do this if nothing unexpected happens.
Ideally, I’m expecting something like:
- Swim: 42-43 minutes (I might be a bit slower on this one since I haven’t swam much.)
- T1: 5 minutes
- Bike: 3:30 (16 mph average)
- T2: 5 minutes
- Run: 2:04 (9:30/mi average)
- Total time: 6:27:00
So we’ll see what happens. The foot has been doing much better, but it’s still a question mark on anything longer than a few miles. I’ve been trying to take it easy and give it a chance to rest and let the irritation go away. So far, so good. I’ve been able to run 3 miles with no pain during or after, so that’s progress. I’m hoping to get in a couple 6 mile runs this week to get a better sense of how things are going with the recovery.
This weekend I got to do my first open water swim of the season, and it went surprisingly well. The first OWS is usually a bit bumpy and there are usually a bit of early season jitters. But this time I felt great. I never got jittery, and actually had a really nice time in the water. My swim conditioning could use a bit of work between now and the full in August, but I should be fine for this coming weekend. And I have a few more OWS practices coming up this week to make sure I’m comfortable and ready to go.
One thing that’s been really great is riding with people from my tri club. There’s a fantastic group that goes out for a weekly no-drop ride, and I’ve been loving riding with them. We had a great 59 mile ride after our OWS on Saturday. It’s fun to ride with them because it’s a low stress group that still pushes me a bit, so I’m improving quite a lot every time I ride with them. Plus, it’s a great way to meet new people, since I’m still pretty new to the area.
Another awesome thing about Boulder – so many group workouts and races to choose from! I now have SIX different OWS chances throughout the week, plus the weekly Stroke and Stride series, and multiple weekly tri club rides and runs. It’s fantastic!
Anyway, it’s late, and I need to get some sleep. Lots to do tomorrow!
In the past two weeks, I was fortunate enough to come across a power meter for my tri bike – thanks to a good friend who is not racing for a while. Once I got everything set up and working (PowerTap G3 with an Edge 510), I was psyched to start training with power.
Problem is, it’s pretty overwhelming at first!
So what does a noob to power do to get started?
The other fortunate occurrence was this year’s BeginnerTriathlete.com mentor groups. There happened to be a group on there that is meant for people new to training with power, and they didn’t mind taking on another clueless soul like myself.
The group is run by two awesome guys – Shane and Marc. Shane is a great tri coach, and is putting together workouts for us weekly. It’s pretty awesome. Check out his coaching website if you want more information:
So this past week, I did my first two FTP tests – one 5 minute, and one killer 20 minute. I actually had to do the 20 minute test twice, because the first time I tried it, I only got 11 minutes into the balls-to-the-wall interval before I blew up and ended up laying on my floor for ten minutes, covered in sweat and not wanting to move ever again. The first time I did the 20 minute test, I tried following the Sufferfest “Rubber Glove” video, which was fantastic. But I clearly needed more of a recovery time before the actual test interval, so the second time around, I did the test as written by Coach Shane:
Long (20 minute) FTP Test – 1:00:00 total time
- 10:00 spin; get loose, build up a light seat, have slightly elevated breathing by the end
- 5x30s at short test wattage, 30s easy spin recovery in between
- 10:00 spin
- 20:00 all out – you want to be steady through this or build power as you go; you don’t want to start off too hard and then fade as the test progresses. Better to start a little too easy and build throughout than blow up part way through. Early in the test, if you feel you can hold the power for another 5:00, you are probably right where you want to be; if 5:00 would be easy, go a bit harder, if 5:00 seems like way too long, back off a little. With five minutes to go, time to just hang on through to the end.
- 15:00 spin
Courtesy Shane MacLeod (http://www.scotiamultisport.com)
I ended up with a pretty darn low 20 minute power. But the way I see it, that means I have nowhere to go but up!
After a good recovery day, I did the 5 minute test. Again, as written by Coach Shane:
Short (5 minute) FTP Test – 45:00 total time
- 10:00 spin; get loose, build up a light sweat, have slightly elevated breathing by the end
- 5:00 at a moderately hard effort (just a bit easier than oly distance race effort)
- 5:00 spin
- 5x15s at about 5:00 test effort, 45s easy spin recovery in between
- 5:00 spin
- 5:00 all out – you want to be steady through this or build power as you go; you don’t want to start off too hard and then fade as the test progresses. Better to start a little too easy and build throughout than blow up part way through. Through the first half of the test, ask if you can keep this power up for another minute; if so you are probably right where you want to be; if not adjust slightly. With two minutes or less to go, time to just grit your teeth and hang on.
- 10:00 spin
Courtesy Shane MacLeod (http://www.scotiamultisport.com)
Yeah, there was a lot of that gritting of the teeth and hanging on this week. Also, a lot of swearing and grunting. But I got through!
I ended up with the following for my results:
- 20 minute test: 125 Watts
- 5 minute test: 159 Watts
- FTP (Functional Threshold Power): 119 Watts
- This is what I should be able to maintain for an hour
- CP (Critical Power): 114 Watts
- This is what I should be able to maintain for a “very long time”
- W/kg: 2.1
- Pretty typical for a crappy cyclist like myself. 🙂
- AWC (Anaerobic Work Capacity): 13.6 kJ
- Essentially the size of my “battery.” This should go up as I train more. It doesn’t matter much with endurance races – it’s more of a sprinting thing, but it’s still interesting.
So now that I’ve got a baseline, I’m all ready to go for this week’s workouts. Can’t wait to get my butt kicked!
I also got to get out Saturday and enjoy this amazing Colorado weather. It was January 18th, and I went out for a three hour ride, in short sleeves. It was amazing. It was like May in New York! Also, the view while riding is just spectacular. I still can’t believe I live here.
I love this place!
Also, go Broncos!
I started out my week feeling stressed and overwhelmed. School, money (or lack thereof, thanks to returning to a grad student income), a general lack of time to do the things I need to do (nevermind that I’m sitting here writing a blog post when I should be reading more journal articles), and lots of self-doubt in terms of my ability to come up with a research project idea that I could really get behind and not feel like I was just spinning my wheels on something that didn’t really get me excited. It wasn’t pretty.
But I decided that rather than let it get to me, I was just going to slowly chip away at the things that were looming over me and causing me stress. I got an exam back in class (my first exam since 2005), and ended up doing better than I anticipated – thank goodness. It still wasn’t wonderful, but I’ll take it. In the afternoon, I taught my class, and then had my office hours. No one ever comes to office hours, so I spent that time playing around with my budget and really making it bare bones. It’s still super tight, but at least it’s not as bad as it was before. It’s been a big adjustment to go from a salary with extra summer income on top of that, to a sad, sad little grad student stipend. But I can’t complain. In a lot of fields, you get nothing. So I’m extremely thankful that I get funding to cover my tuition and most of my living expenses.
After getting to the point where looking at my budget at least didn’t make my heart start to pound, I found a couple part time faculty jobs that were posted and applied for those. So hopefully I hear something back soon. That would be ideal – extra income, and I get to continue teaching. Fingers crossed.
In the afternoon, I came home and walked the dogs for an hour. The day started out quite freezing (I biked to work in my winter jacket with another one underneath it, plus two layers of gloves, a hat, and a scarf), but by the afternoon, it was pretty glorious. So the dogs and I walked and enjoyed the amazing views of the mountains (they never get old).
I was supposed to meet a friend for a ride in the afternoon, but things were just too crazy, so we pushed it back to later in the week. Instead, later that night, I set up my new pain cave, turned out the lights, put on my headphones (so I didn’t drive my sweet roommate too crazy), and powered away to a Sufferfest video (There Is No Try). I made sure that I could be proud of myself and my effort when I was done. It was hard, but it also felt great at the same time. I’m pretty sure my roommate heard me grunting and swearing all through it though. There was many a “sonofabitch!” thrown around for that hour.
The other good thing about adjusting the budget is that my food budget has significantly decreased. Now, normally, this wouldn’t be a good thing. But I think it’s going to help keep me from all my mindless snacking. I do it ALL. THE. TIME. And I don’t need to. My challenge is to eat very healthily, and do it for very cheaply.
Tuesday was a great day! I was planning on getting out for a run in between my classes, but that didn’t happen. However, it was for a really good reason. While I was in my first class, someone said something and it was like a light bulb going off. I came up with my Ph.D. research project! So I spent the time in between classes digging into that. It was a HUGE relief. I had been so incredibly stressed about that for months now. I had had this nagging feeling of I had a job that I loved, with coworkers that I loved, that paid well. I lived in a place I loved. I had the best friends. I had a wonderful relationship. And I gave it all up. FOR WHAT??? At least now I feel like I’m getting somewhere.
Wednesday was also a really great day. I had a meeting with a couple faculty members, in which I ended up walking out of there with a side project/job that is really incredible and I’m super excited about.
Then, after my meeting, I went out for a run. I decided to keep with the HIIT theme, so I did some ass-busting intervals. I had to be back for another class soon after that, so it had to be short. But I did 3 miles, with an overall average pace of 10:00/mile. HOWEVER, that was including my walk intervals. My run intervals were around 8:30/mile. I was huffing and puffing, but it felt good!
Thursday was pretty uneventful. Went to class and had a rest day. Not much to report here. But sometimes that’s a good thing.
Friday, my awesome week of progress continued! In the morning, I received an email from someone at one of the local community colleges asking if I was interested in teaching one of their spring courses. This wasn’t even one of the positions I applied for earlier in the week. This was just out of the blue! AND the class is the one that is my absolute favorite to teach. Sign me up!
Most of the day was productive, and then in the afternoon, I got out for a great (but slow) ride with a friend. We climbed up Red Rocks, which was awesome and gorgeous, and rode all around that area. I absolutely love riding out here. Everywhere you turn, it’s just one beautiful place after another.
After a great post-ride beer and dinner, it was time to head home and get ready for Saturday’s field trip.
Saturday started out promising. The field trip was supposed to be down to southern Colorado to look at the KT boundary layer (material from the impact that killed the dinosaurs). We stopped at a couple places on the way down – including lunch at Garden of the Gods, which was beautiful.
After lunch and walking around Garden of the Gods, we attempted to drive about two hours south to check out the impact layer. But there was a football game at the Air Force Academy that afternoon, and they were playing Notre Dame, so the traffic was horrendous. So much so, that we barely moved at all. Eventually, we gave up, and turned around. Bummer.
Later that night, I got home to a sick dog. After cleaning up the disgusting mess, I had to rush her to the emergency vet. Thankfully, everything was completely fine, but I didn’t want to risk it. My dogs are my kids, and I don’t mess around when things could be serious. I’m so glad she was fine.
Overall, it was a long day.
Sunday dawned puke-free, so that was good. I ended up spending the whole day in Denver for a conference. It was really great to see several of my former coworkers, former students, and my old masters adviser. The conference continues into this coming week, so I have plenty of things coming up too!
At this point, I have finished the brutal swim, and am about to mount my bike and see what happens. My biggest worry going into the race was whether or not I would make the second bike cutoff at 5:30pm, so that was really the only thing running through my head at this point. Just get in by 5:30.
I crossed the mount line with a big pack of riders, clipped in, and headed down the first downhill of the bike course. We rode out of the Olympic oval and down the ramp that goes up to the high school. Then it was a few blocks of fairly steep downhill, until you turn onto the main road to begin the ride out of town. So far, I was hanging with the pack much better than I anticipated. My swim had been a bit slower than I had hoped for, but overall, it was still a fairly average time, so there were plenty of people around me.
I had turned my garmin on when I got my bike, but it took a while for it to find satellites (about 3.5 miles or so). The ride out of town and past the ski jumps was pretty uneventful – mostly just a chance to warm up and find my bike legs after swimming for a while. Right after I passed the ski jumps, I flew down a nice little hill, over the bridge, and began the climb up to the top of the Keene Descent.
The climb out of town is a bit rough, but I’ve found it’s been getting easier the more I ride the course. I put my bike in the easiest gear, and just chugged away, one hill at a time. Many people passed me like I was standing still, but I also passed a fair number of people too, so that was nice.
At the first aid station, I had nearly exhausted one of my water bottles, and decided to chuck it and get a new one. At B2B, I got off the bike at each aid station so I could fill my bottles, but this time I didn’t want to go racking up precious minutes that I might need later. So I went for it. Coming into the aid station, they had actual goals for us to throw bottles and trash into (some had giant bullseyes). I chucked my bottle (they’re cheap), made eye contact with a volunteer holding water, slowed a bit, and held out my hand. He jogged along with me for a second while we did the handoff, and then I was on my way. Beautiful!
Nearly to the top of the climb, I passed the house of one of my students. She wasn’t out yet (still asleep – college kids!), but her parents were. We said some quick hellos as I rode past, almost done with the first big climb.
It’s always a great feeling to get to the top of that climb, because you know the Keene Descent is next. I crested the top, switched to a higher gear, and began my first descent into Keene.
Another benefit I’ve gotten from riding the course often is that I feel very comfortable on this descent now. Because of that, I flew down the entire thing, passing tons of people (who – even as I was flying past them – I knew would be passing me again very, very soon). I hit 42 mph at one point – not my fastest ever (49 mph), but a good speed. And I’ll take all the speed I can get on this downhill. I need it to balance out my slowness on the uphills.
Coming off the descent and into the turn at Keene, there was a decent crowd cheering. I made the turn onto Route 9, and headed off to Upper Jay.
Around now, I was starting to get hungry. Following my century ride bonking debacle, I had decided to commit race sin #1. I changed my bike nutrition for race day. I stayed with the Clif Shot drink mix for the bulk of my calories – it seems to sit decently with my stomach. But I can’t eat Gu gels anymore, and Gu Chomps, while I love them, don’t seem to work for me on the bike like they do on a run. I decided I needed more “real” food – less straight up sugar. So I had stuffed a few peanut butter and honey Uncrustables in my jersey pocket. I was taking a gamble here, but I figured it couldn’t be worse than my horrific bonk on my “century” a couple weeks earlier.
On the flat to Upper Jay, I decided it was time to bust into my first Uncrustable. It was delicious. So far, I was happy with my decision to bring those along. I couldn’t help but wonder if I would remain happy with that decision as the day went on.
I stayed in aero most of the time I was on the flats, and it felt pretty good. I’ve gotten to the point that it’s actually fairly comfortable, and bothers me a lot less than it used to. Many of us were riding at similar paces through here, and we chatted back and forth for a while. We cruised through Upper Jay, and made the turn to follow the river out to Jay and Ausable Forks. This section of the bike course is a nice reprieve from the big climbs, but it can be deceiving. There are plenty of rollers and false flats along the way. I still seemed to be in with the pack – maybe towards the back of it, but I was holding on better than I expected.
I rode out to Ausable Forks, made the turnaround, and headed back to Jay.
The ride back to Jay wasn’t bad. One thing I always do when I’m coming back from a turnaround is scope out how many people are behind me. There still seemed to be quite a few. I was clearly not in the middle of the pack, but I was still doing alright.
By now I had gotten into a rhythm with the aid stations. I wasn’t going to stop and get off my bike until the second loop. So for now, my system was:
- See aid station coming up
- Chug as much of whatever is left in my throwaway water bottle as I can before hitting the aid station
- Bottle exchange at aid station and be on my way
Coming into Jay, you can’t help but think ahead to the huge climb ahead. The last 20 miles of the bike loop are mostly uphill, and it’s a long slog to get back to Lake Placid.
I rode into Jay, and made the turn onto Route 86 to start the long climb.
This was one of those points that I was so thankful I had been riding the course. I knew that I could do it. If I hadn’t had that experience, I honestly don’t know how I would have done on race day. But I just put my bike in the easiest gear, and plugged away at it a little at a time.
The best spectator in the climb from Jay to Wilmington was a guy sitting on a 4 wheeler at the end of his driveway. Next to him was a cooler and a sign that said “free beer.” Spectators were pretty spaced out here, but the ones who were out there were very enthusiastic.
Eventually, after what felt like an eternity of slogging away, I finished the final climb (of this section) and cruised down the small downhill into Wilmington. At the bottom of the hill, I made the hard right onto Haselton Road for the short out-and-back. The aid station here was hopping, with tons of volunteers, a loud DJ, and many spectators. Before I knew it, I was at the turnaround (it’s only one mile down the road), and heading back towards the aid station and Route 86.
At the end of Haselton, I turned right to get back onto 86 and finish the long climb from Wilmington to Lake Placid. A few hundred yards down the road, 86 hangs a left, and then you’re on your way to Whiteface, and beyond that, Lake Placid.
For me, the worst climb of the entire course is the one just past the driveway to Whiteface Ski Resort. It’s a category 5, and it’s just steep as hell. I feel like I’m dying. What made this hill bearable this time was the spectators at the top. There was a group of 20-somethings at the top with signs like “Honey badger don’t care.” and “Wheelies are aero” (also yelling for us to do wheelies – which some people did), and “We’re drunk.” One of them was also holding a sign in front of himself that said “I’m not wearing pants.” They were great. I was looking forward to seeing them again on loop 2.
After several painful minutes, I made it to the top, and began the long section of rollers that goes past High Falls Gorge (beautiful!), and along the river. At this point, I really didn’t feel terrible. Heck, aside from the searing pain in my crotch from the stupid bike seat, I would go so far as to say I actually felt pretty good!
I finished the section of rollers, and passed River Road. For me, passing River Road is the sign that I’m pretty much done with the loop. All that’s left after that is a few climbs known as The Cherries and The Bears (Mama, Baby, and Papa), and you’re in town.
Climbing the Bears was pretty fun. Somebody had re-marked them, which was nice. When I got to the top of Mama/Baby (Baby is really just a tiny bump on the top of Mama), and looked ahead to Papa, the crowd looked awesome. I had heard that spectators lined Papa and made you feel like you were in the Tour de France, and I had been looking forward to it.
I got to the bottom of Papa, and was joined by a cheering spectator who ran alongside me with a big flag just like the nutters at the Tour de France. It was great. I loved that guy.
At the top of Papa, I made the right onto Northwoods Road, and the FINAL section of uphills. At the top of the second hill on Northwoods, I knew I had a nice ride into town, and I enjoyed every second of it. The crowds were thick and loud, and it was a great feeling to have the loop done.
Now I just had to go back out and do it all over again. And then run a marathon after.
I came into town and made a quick stop at the bike special needs station to get my bag. This was the first time my feet had hit the pavement since I started the bike course 4 hours ago, and it felt great. I decided there was nothing I needed from my bag, so I got back on my bike, got a push start from a volunteer (those guys are amazing), and rode through town.
I was feeling really great riding into the center of town and past the Olympic oval. Then it was time to ride back down the bus ramp, and out for loop #2. By now, it was a little after 12:00, and when I was riding out of town to start my second bike loop, I passed people already running. Granted, they were the pro men, but still! Gah! (Related to that – how cool is it that in this sport, I can be three feet from the pro men? Little nobody me. It’s awesome!)
Riding back out of town, I passed my support crew camped outside our hotel and cheering. I had an empty clif shot bottle that I didn’t want to lose, so I tossed it to them and took the other one out of my jersey pocket to use next.
The second loop went much like the first: Chug chug chug up the climb to the top of the Keene Descent, fly down the Keene Descent, try to hold my speed on the flats from Keene to Ausable Forks, and then start busting my butt on the climb back to Lake Placid.
At this point, my lady parts were on FIRE from the saddle. I started stopping every other aid station or so to re-lube, which provided some temporary relief. Other than that, I felt great. But no matter how I sat – aero or not – I was in pain. Oh well. It would be over soon.
The single biggest thought going through my head during the bike was that 5:30 cutoff. I really didn’t know if I would make it, and I was seriously worried. I kept trying to do race math (calculating paces, and what’s the slowest you can go to make it in time), but when I get that deep into a long course race, I don’t trust my math. It seemed like I could make it in time, as long as I kept going the way I was.
Eventually, I made it into Wilmington for the second time. I finished the out-and-back on Haselton Road and then turned back onto 86 to finish the long climb back to town. Just before making the left to start riding out to Whiteface, I heard a loud “pffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff” coming from my front tire.
“Shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit!!!!!!!! NOT NOW!!!!!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!”
Yeah, I believe that’s verbatim.
I pulled over and inspected my front tire. Sure enough, there was a hole. I could see it. I had a flat. AGAIN. SHIT. By now, I was physically and emotionally exhausted, and this just pushed me over the edge. I had already been worried about cutting it close with the cutoff, and now I had a FUCKING FLAT. I was sitting on the side of the road, pulling my front wheel off, swearing and muttering (not so quietly) to myself, and crying just a little.
As required by race karma, everybody that rode by checked on me and asked if I needed anything. I was just trying to change my flat as fast as I could.
A really sweet and well-intentioned volunteer came across the road to check on me. I didn’t need any help (changing a flat is kind of a one person job), but he stood there and kept me company for the few minutes I was working. I vented to him a bit about being worried about making the cutoff, especially now, and then he said the ONE thing no one in this situation wants to hear.
“Andy Potts finished about two minutes ago.”
I wanted to punch him.
“My son is racing today too. He’s out on the run course and he’s halfway done.”
SERIOUSLY???? Are you shitting me right now? ARE YOU REALLY TELLING ME ABOUT ALL THE PEOPLE WHO ARE SO GODDAMN FAR AHEAD OF ME WHILE I AM SITTING HERE FREAKING OUT ABOUT EVEN MAKING THE STUPID BIKE CUTOFF????
I know he was just being a proud dad and meant well, so I didn’t actually say anything except “Nice!” and “Mmmhmmmm.” but MAN, I wanted to throat punch that guy.
After a few minutes, I got my tire changed and back on my bike. The flat had taken quite an emotional toll though, and I was NOT HAPPY. I rode off toward Whiteface and started the long climb back into Lake Placid, all the while thinking “Screw this. What if I just give myself another flat on purpose and then I can be done?”
I busted my butt hard to get back to town in time, but I was also resigned to the fact that the flat may have ruined it. Once I passed River Road and only had the last bit of climb into town, I started to realize that not only was I going to make the bike cutoff, I was going to beat my anticipated bike time by quite a bit. Wouldn’t you know it, my mood started to improve. Go figure.
When I got to the bottom of Papa Bear, the crowds were still there, but had thinned – I was clearly slipping further towards the back of the pack. There were a couple young-ish guys at the bottom of the hill, who I pointed to and told them that I needed them to run to the top with me. And they did. They were awesome.
I hit the top of Papa, turned onto Northwoods, and felt like I was home free. I started cheering to myself, and telling spectators and volunteers that I loved them (I seem to do this at the end of long bike legs). I mashed my way up to the top of the very last uphill on Northwoods Road, fist pumped, and then started pedaling as hard as I could to get to the oval and T2.
Turning on to Mirror Lake Drive, I rode alongside part of the run course, which was already full of people on the run leg. The road was jam packed with spectators, and I positively flew through town and into T2. The bike cutoff was 5:30pm. It was around 4:30pm. I was so thrilled with making the bike cutoff that I felt like I could run to the moon if I needed to.
Bike time: 8:15:38 (Anticipated bike time: 8:45 – beat it by 30 minutes! AND I got a flat!)
T2 (Bike to Run)
I crossed the dismount line and handed my bike off to a volunteer. I was directed around the outside of the oval towards my gear bag. I popped off my shoes and tried to jog for a second, but that didn’t last long. Instead, I walked to my gear bag, grabbed it, and went into the changing tent. I was met by a fabulous volunteer, who opened my bag, organized all my clothes and gear, packed up everything I took off, and helped me change into my run clothes. She was awesome.
I took a few last swigs of leftover bike water, changed my garmin over to “run,” and headed out of the changing tent to start the run.
T2: 7:44 (slow, but hey, I made it!)
To be continued…
I went up to ride the full IMLP bike course today (FYI, the trailers for their equipment are already there). It was a disaster. Worst ride ever. I’m hoping it’s the whole “bad rehearsal, good show” thing we had going on in high school drama club. I hope…
My bike had a flat yesterday, so I changed it last night – at 10pm. I forgot about it before that, so I was scrambling to take care of it before I had to leave for my ride this morning. But once I changed it, I realized I didn’t have any other spare tubes anymore. So I took a shot, and went to the 24 hour walmart at 10:30pm. (I absolutely never go there, but it was the only place open that might possibly have one.) However, I couldn’t find a tube that would fit. Whomp whomp. So I went home and patched the one that I had just taken out of my tire and hoped I wouldn’t need it.
See where I’m going here? Yeah…
5.5 miles out from Lake Placid, nearly to the top of the Keene Descent, I heard something weird. I flatted. Same stupid wheel (the back). I put the patched tube back in, inflated it, and it seemed okay. I didn’t trust the patched tube for the whole ride (smart decision), so I called the bike shop back in town (5.5 miles away), and gave them a heads up that I was coming in. Then I crossed my fingers and hoped I would get back without flatting again.
I ended up having to walk the last .25 – .5 miles or so back to the bike shop (I had been occasionally reinflating with my CO2 along the way, and ran out), where they fixed it – by the way, the mechanics at High Peaks Cyclery are awesome, fast, and really helpful. Turned out I had a piece of glass hidden in there that I didn’t see when I checked the rim and the tire. Repaired and restocked (2 new tubes and 2 new CO2 canisters), I headed back out, now delayed by 2 hours, and having ridden an extra 10.5 miles that I wasn’t planning on. At this point, I was still hoping to do the full 112 because I really wanted to see how my legs would feel doing the climb out of Jay at the very end (if you are unfamiliar with the IMLP bike course, the last 26 miles of the loop are uphill and it SUCKS – oh, and you do it twice).
So I headed back out, for attempt #2. But the flat and the scrambling to fix it threw me off and I felt like complete and total crap the whole way. Going down the Keene Descent was fun, but other than that, it completely sucked. By the time I went to turn onto 86 and start the (first) climb out of Jay, I was a full 1 mph slower (average speed) than I normally am. And I need that 1 mph. I was pissed.
The climb sucked. Everything sucked. I started to get really mad and frustrated. I was two hours behind where I should have been from the flat, AND I was going significantly slower than normal. And I just didn’t have any gas.
Eventually (around 2:30 pm), I got back to my car. I had originally set out on the course at 8:15 am. It was ridiculous. I should have been back around 12:15 (I’m slow). My poor dogs have been home alone since 6:15 am, and if I set out for loop #2 now, I won’t be done until just before 7 pm, and not home until 8:30ish. After some calls/texts, someone offered to stop by and let them out, thank goodness. So I decided to suck it up and try loop #2.
That was a big fat flop.
By the time I got to the top of the Keene Descent, I was shaky and weak, and absolutely miserable. I knew I didn’t have the gas to go over the top and down into the valley, only to have to climb out again at the end. There was no way. I was bonking, and bonking HARD. At the top of the descent, I admitted defeat, turned around, and headed back to my car. When I got back to the car, I ate everything I could possibly find. I think my blood sugar just completely tanked. I felt like there was nothing left in my legs, arms, back, or neck. Everything took more effort than my body wanted to give at that point.
I ended up doing just shy of 80 miles (total – including the tire debacle in the beginning). I’m not happy with this one bit, and race day is going to be interesting. It will probably still be okay, but I’m annoyed.
Anyway, IMLP is two weeks from today. The taper begins…
So it’s been seven and a half months since Beach 2 Battleship, and since then I’ve written all of three or four blog posts. None of them have been very interesting or worth reading, really. I didn’t write much for a number of reasons. One was that after B2B, I didn’t do much training. I mostly spent my time with my friends (which was great), or eating and watching TV (which was less great). I felt so horribly gross and guilty, and I didn’t want to acknowledge that. Whenever I don’t work out regularly, I feel so guilty and like a failure. It eats away at me, and creates this downward spiral into frustration and self-loathing.
Sounds super fun.
The other thing that kept me from writing much was the divorce. Ultimately, I was the one who made the decision, and I know it was the right decision. But I was afraid to write much because I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I know there are people out there who read this who may be upset if I had been writing something about being happy and spending time with friends, or eventually beginning to date again. In relationships, I am always afraid of hurting someone’s feelings. And this was no exception. But starting now, I am going to stop censoring myself. If my social life is not something you wish to know about, stop reading now.
So I am just over seven weeks away from Ironman Lake Placid, and I’m feeling slightly more optimistic about things. Since my last post, I have biked the course (just one loop so far), and managed the hills much better than I thought I would. I averaged 13.97 mph, which gives me some – not a ton – of breathing room for the first bike cutoff. And I’m sure I can improve a bit still before the race. I also did my 16 mile run yesterday and felt pretty good for most of that too. My knees and ankles got a little stiff here and there, but they worked themselves back out as long as I kept moving.
Last week I went to my tri club’s first open water swim practice of the year. Uugh. I felt like crap. I have been neglecting the swim, and it showed. I know I’ll be okay on race day, but that was one crappy OWS. I think part of it was the typical “first OWS of the year” nerves, and then on top of that, I was getting very dizzy. I didn’t know what that was about until later. But then I learned that’s pretty common when swimming in cold water without earplugs. So next time I’ll try those.
So what’s next?
Next week I’ve got a 75 mile bike (hopefully), and an 18 mile run. Hopefully I’ll get to OWS practice and things will be better with the earplugs. I still have a few weeks to make some improvements, and I’m feeling more and more like that might actually be possible. So that’s good.
This weekend was awesome! I finally did my first century ride! This was my last long workout before my taper. There was no more 20 mile run in the cards, due to my toe (feeling better, but still hurts).
On Sunday morning, I woke up early, packed up the car, and headed out for my ride. Earlier in the week I stopped by my local bike shop to get some ideas for a route that wasn’t super hilly. Since the B2B course is very flat, and now with a broken toe, I didn’t want to be wasting lots of energy trying to mash up lots of unnecessary hills. I wanted it to be as close to race day conditions as possible. I ended up finding a 52 mile loop that looked fairly flat – or as flat as I’ll get in this area:
Not bad at all. I was looking forward to that nice little downhill. Especially at the end of the second loop.
Compared to the B2B bike course, this was still a little bit hillier, but overall, a pretty good analog:
This ride is on top, B2B is on the bottom.
It was pretty overcast and crummy out right from the start. There were showers and possible thunderstorms predicted for the afternoon, but I managed to stay dry for most of the ride. But I wasn’t completely lucky. For the last hour of the ride, it poured on me. And it was fantastic. I felt like the rain was just washing away the craptacular summer I had, and letting me start fresh.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I set out from my car a little before 9am. My plan was to ride the 52 mile loop up and down the river twice, stopping at my car at the halfway point to refill my water bottles and get my “special needs” bag. (I had thrown an apple and a peanut butter sandwich in there.)
Starting out on the ride, I was feeling really good. My speed was hovering around 17 mph, and I felt strong. Eventually, I hit my turnaround/cross the river point, and I started heading back north on the loop. Over on this side of the river, I was on much quieter roads. And of course, what goes along with quieter roads, is less maintenance. So things were quite bumpy for a while.
The other thing I noticed was that this side of the river seemed to be mostly uphill. So my pace slowed a bit. But I was still averaging around 15 mph. I was okay with that. I didn’t want to get too hung up on my pace during this ride. If I needed to slow down, I needed to slow down. This was my first century, and I was riding with a broken toe. I just wanted to roll with it.
The first loop was fairly uneventful. I saw lots of wildlife while I was out. Deer, sheep and goats (not really wildlife, but they’re cute), alpacas (also not wildlife, but still fun), and a HUGE turkey vulture. How that thing gets airborne, I have no idea. It was the size of one of my dogs.
After the first loop, I knew I was averaging just under 15 mph. I pulled into “special needs” (AKA: my car) and replenished my water bottles. I was feeling good, so I decided to skip the food. While I was off my bike refilling water bottles, I decided to stretch out my hamstrings for just a minute. That little bit of stretching felt so good.
Then it was time to hop back on my bike and set out for loop #2!
I was still feeling strong, so this was a good sign. I really didn’t feel any fatigue. My toe wasn’t painful either. The only problem with the toe was that I couldn’t scrunch up my toes like I usually do while I ride. If I don’t move my toes around, they tend to go numb after a while. My left foot was okay (I broke my right big toe). But I couldn’t curl up my toes on my right foot without pushing on the big one. So that foot was pretty much numb for 75% of the ride. Which, all in all, isn’t the worst problem in the world. Later in the ride, I started trying to wiggle things around other ways, and I managed to get feeling back well before I stopped riding, so I think it’ll be fine come race day.
Around mile 70, I had my first chance to cut the ride short. Earlier in the week, I had said all I wanted to do was at least 75 miles. Near that point, there was a bridge where I could have turned back and cut off the last 30 or so. The thought did cross my mind – my butt was sore, and my foot was numb. But I talked myself through it and pushed ahead.
I had another opportunity near 80 miles. And again, I managed to forge ahead. At this point, I was feeling pretty good. I was mostly just bored. But I told myself that my legs were good and I was going to regret it if I turned back now. So just suck it up.
Around the 6 hour mark, I was feeling great. I knew I was getting close to finishing. My endorphins were up, and I was getting into the early stages of a nice riders high (like a runners high, but on a bike). When all of a sudden, out of nowhere a HUGE (unfriendly) dog came charging at me, growling and snarling. I didn’t see him until he was about 8 inches away from my leg. He scared me so much I audibly screamed, and started mashing on the pedals like a mofo. His owner was in his driveway yelling at him, and I was so pissed. The dog continued to chase me for a good 100 feet, and then he finally turned back.
Well that’s one way to get my speed up.
Not long after the dog incident, it started to rain. The closer I got to the 100 mile mark, the heavier it came down, and the better I felt. I found myself actually yelling out “bring it rain!” because I knew at this point I had it in the bag.
When my garmin beeped over to 100 miles, I let out a great big “woooooooooohoooooooooooooooo!” out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by farm fields, in the pouring rain.
I felt awesome.
I celebrated my 100 mile mark by coasting down the last big downhill. Unfortunately, I had to squander away the downhill because it was raining so hard, I didn’t want to wipe out. So I rode the brakes most of the way down. But it was still a great way to finish.
Pulling into my car, I felt like a million bucks. I couldn’t actually run run, but I did get off my bike and do a quick little jog just to see how my legs felt. And they felt good! My toe was still problematic, but nothing I can’t manage come race day. At that point, I felt like I could have run to the moon.
So the final total was 104.1 miles in 7:12:41. Which comes out to 14.45 mph. Not quite as fast as I was hoping for, but I’ll take it. I think come race day, I should be feeling good.
I packed my bike back into the car and headed home, but not without a quick pit stop!
Apple cider donuts – a local fall favorite, which I just recently discovered ARE vegan!
I earned those donuts, dammit. And they were amazing.