Thursday, July 19, 2007

Fire it up

Date: July 19
Mileage: 108.7
July mileage: 561.1
Temperature upon departure: 68
Inches of rain today: .11"

The weather started out beautiful today and tiptoed toward crappy - so slowly that I didn't even notice until the headwind I was plowing into finally reached that breath-stealing threshold and the rain drops arched into horizontal daggers. But, surprisingly, my long ride today followed nearly the opposite progression.

Not that the ride wasn't chock full of suffering. There was plenty of that. I felt like I spent the entire day perpetually on the front end of a bonk. It reminded me of the month I continued to drive my '89 Tercel after one of its cylinders burned out. The car began to guzzle gas at the rate of a monster truck, but no matter how much I floored it, I could barely coax it up the babiest of baby hills. That was me today. I was the three-cylinder Toyota.

Twice today I was determined to quit. And each time I would stop, take a long break, and stuff food down my throat. I cleaned out my Camelbak. I was banking on that old cliche about never quitting until you've had some pie (And I didn't have any pie, so I had to settle for mushed up Power Bars.) Then I'd lay on the gas again, giving everything I had to my three remaining cylinders. But there just wasn't enough in there to power up.

But I think what made the ride incrementally more enjoyable - before I even noticed that I was enjoying myself - was that I did have enough in there to power through. I started the morning knowing I was worn out. I had a tough week of intensity workouts I don't normally do ... followed by a four-hour hike just yesterday that really laid into my joints. I woke up with muscle fatigue, and that is never a good sign. But I know enough about my limits to realize that I wasn't completely spent.

All of this "training" I'm doing right now - amping up for an August crescendo that is purely psychological training for a race that is seven months away - is about understanding my limits. And I didn't meet them today. In fact, my performance and mood improved noticeably when I came to terms with the idea that I was required to stay on that bike until it came time to meet Geoff at the airport. And I did meet him there. I actually beat him there, but just barely - meaning that I met my goal of spending a full eight hours fighting my demons. And despite my two 25-minute breaks, a flat tire, and several bathroom/photo breaks, I still worked my way over 108 miles. Eight hours total time; about 6:30 saddle time.

Now Geoff is on his way to Anchorage to race in the Crow Pass Crossing. I thought I was going to come home and die for a while, but that didn't happen. In fact, I feel pretty good right now. I especially feel good about the part where that bike ride is over.