Monday, January 25, 2010

Fox Hunts, Cujo, Rain & My Couch

Finally, the weather, my energy level and my schedule finally cooperated as I was able to get on El Bastardo for the first outside ride of 2010!!! Coach Orton scheduled a 70 mile ride for me on Saturday, mostly in zone 2 – 3. For the past two weeks I have had a 70 mile ride scheduled but had to choose option B, the 2 hour trainer ride, because of either the weather or exhaustion from travel. I quickly found out that no matter how hard I've worked on my road machine, it did little to prepare me for the hills of Charlottesville!

The ride took me past beautiful farm houses, through small towns and on the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains. At one point I looked across a wide open field to see the tips of the Blue Ridge covered in frost and couldn't have been happier. Riding down here is breathtaking, getting just a few miles outside of Charlottesville leaves you alone with your thoughts and with nature. The best description I can give a ride like this is cycling perfection; well if some of those hills were a little less steep it would have been total perfection, but I need the work!

About 20 miles into my ride I passed by an equestrian in full English riding gear so I smiled and waved, just down the road was a brigade of horse back riders complete with beagles, red English fox hunting jackets and an austere look on their faces. In all I passed about 15 fox hunters, "sporting," is still a big part of the culture in VA but this was my first encounter with them on my bike. Out in the countryside seeing all these people on horse back was definitely a sight I won't soon forget.
About 15 miles later I was on my favorite 5 mile stretch of road, totally flat, totally smooth and freaking fast. My 93 rpm cadence had me humming along at 26 mph and then I got passed by a pack of roadies!!! I have never been passed on this stretch of road, apparently all that drafting they do off of each other gives them a mph advantage, although these 5 guys looked like studs, all tall, all super skinny and freaking fast. I'm pretty sure they were going at least a mph faster than me, rather than be a meat head I hung back so not to draft off of them and just let them go – small victories for signs of intelligence!

My blood sugar dropped to the 90s around mile 45, so I hopped off my bike for 5 or 10 minutes to have a clif bar and rest up a bit, my back needed a stretch so this wasn't the worst thing. I actually didn't have my usual breakfast before the ride mainly because I forgot to buy Odawala Superfood on Friday afternoon. So I think this "low" had more to do with not taking in enough nutrition prior to my ride than my actual nutrition mix during the ride – or it could have been the hills and all the clothing I was wearing for warmth.

The ride progressed and I was happy as could be. I was outside, I was riding hard, I was riding smart, my legs were burning from the challenge but that's what IM training is all about. That is until I encountered Cujo and his friends. On Dick Woods Rd, I was riding up a particuraly long, steep hill. On the road ahead of me I saw 2 four-legged creatures walking across the road with their brown and white friend (a collie) whom I have thus named Cujo. As I got closer I realized that Cujo was escorting two freaking goats across the street – like complete with horns and goatess, actual goats just chilling, hanging out having a grand old time. Well Cujo must have wanted me to be part of his goat brigade, because he tore ass across the street as I passed his little party trying to get me to join them. I actually said out loud "seriously dog I'll run you over if you get in front of my wheel," I actually thought Cujo understood this as he backed off a bit, or so I thought. I sped up a little along the steep grade, only to hear barking and the click-clack of dog nails behind me, Cujo was right on my back wheel! F-Me!!! I sped up some more and thought I dropped my furry friend, so I slowed up as my heart rate had spiked to the 170s to hear click-clack, click-clack yet again, the snarling beast really wanted me to join him and the goats for tea! Dial it up again Ed, so I hopped out of the saddle and hammered away since a tea party with 2 goats and Cujo really wouldn't help my social life, as I hit the top of the hill I heard click-clack, click-clack, woof, woof, woof! Cujo honestly chased me for at least a ½ mile up hill!!! I know my legs look tasty but seriously there's other fish in the sea pooch. As I hit the top of the hill I cracked up, gave my new furry friend the finger to let him know who # 1 is and took off. No rabies shots needed, but I bet Cujo walked back to his goat friends in triumph, or dejected thinking he lost the chance to not be the third wheel at his fiesta.

3 hours and 45 minutes later I got home and collapsed on my living room floor, sore, tired, but happy as a fat kid at a Chinese buffet. 70 miles for my first ride outside since at least November, I have a long way to go to IMCDA or even Cali 70.3 but I'm on my way. I had to recover quickly though because I had a conference call scheduled about 45 minutes after I got home – was tough not being delirious for that one.

Later that night I went to dinner with a friend, and then to a buddy's birthday party. One of the things I love about training while I'm at Darden is having an excuse not to get black out drunk. Peer pressure is tough to avoid if you don't have a good excuse, but telling my friends, hey sorry I rode 70 miles today and have a 2 hour run tomorrow so I'm just having 1 beer leaves them dead in their tracks. Ahhh the joys of your friends thinking you're totally insane.

Sunday I woke up at 9am, laced up the running shoes and was out the door by 10:30 am; 2 hour run was on tap and I was determined to get it in, even If it was pouring outside. My legs were filled with lactic acid, my head was pounding from a lack of salt and my eyes were blurry with sleep, but I ran. I kept my hr steady in zone 2 and wavered between a 7:50 and 9:20 minute mile pace. With my quads burning I struggled through the run, with a healthy blood sugar and only a slight twinge in my hamstring. I was shocked I was able to run so well and maintain the pace I did in zone 2. 40 minutes after I returned to my apartment, I hopped in my car to head to the pool – the pull buoy was used extensively because my legs felt like 2 blocks of cement but I completed my entire swim workout. As I left the AFC I had a huge smile on my face as I knew I had just gone through the hardest weekend of workouts I've had in 2 years.

I hurried to whole foods, bought a ton of food and then got my butt on my couch where it remained for the rest of the day. I watched Championship Sunday while eating at least 300 grams of carbs, had a few friends stop by during the day, each of whom laughed at the pathetic sight on the couch. I relished in the soreness, I took pride in the pain, as I fell asleep that night I thought – this is what Ironman training is all about, and this is why this sport is so great.

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