Date: April 5
Temperature upon departure: 37
Today I swam for just over an hour and rode a bicycle for well under an hour, but my most rewarding activity of the day was choking down death salsa at Fernando's. For a divey little Mexican joint with regular entrees as bland as funeral casseroles, that place has amazing salsa. You scoop up a small amount on a chip - it could be a tomato chunk, or it could be a chili pepper, not that it matters. Then, you stuff the entire chip as far back in your mouth and as far away from your lips as it will go, bite down hard and chew fast. The ensuing pain is beyond what any workout could prescribe; it will stomp all over your nagging knee pains, your sore calves and burning quads. It will rip through your nasal passage, shut down your vision and shoot a steady stream of white fire into your brain. It is real; immediate and an amazingly effective source of endorphins. And I will say, I normally have what I would consider an above-average tolerance for heat.
Geoff took me out to Fernando's to celebrate my first "complete" (meaning I kept both feet on the pedals the entire time) bike ride since Susitna. The salsa was the clincher, though, because I was definitely feeling a little down. I had only planned to ride 5-10 miles, but in the back of my mind was hoping for longer. Before this afternoon, part of me was convinced my injured phase had nearly ended. Part of me feared that I had made no progress at all. The reality is, as it always is, somewhere neatly in between. This is progress, though. I think I count now four outdoor rides in six weeks. The first, I only made it 50 feet without pain. The next, about 500 yards. The third, just over a mile. And this, pain only right at the end, mile 7. I can say that I am becoming better at judging when harshness is approaching, and turning my butt around accordingly.
Improvement? Yes. Miracle cure? No. It's all in good time. And at least I know now that if cycling doesn't work out, I'll always have death salsa.