Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Slow to warm up

Date: July 31
Mileage: 42.5
July mileage: 874.6
Temperature upon departure: 55
Inches of rain today: 0.03"
July rainfall: 7.28"

It has been a few weeks since I have been able to attack the first miles of the morning with anything more than little whimpers. And I am not just talking about the first five or six miles. I am talking 20 miles - sometimes 25 - before I feel anything more than the dead weight of sluggish pedaling. But if I wake up early enough, and I don't have too many errands to run, and I actually have the time to surpass that magic number ... just like that, my legs break through that lead shell. They begin to spin faster, stronger and ready to hammer to my destination - which, by that point, is usually home.

I've heard of this happening to people who train the way I have been ... putting in long miles and slow-burn climbs without much focus on sprinting or strength training. Slow warm-ups may or may not be the price of endurance building, but they're an interesting experience nonetheless. I was several miles into the return ride today, pumping tar and wondering how deep I was going to have to dig just to get home, when the window finally opened up. I was amazed by all of the energy I discovered there, and took advantage of my new found weightlessness to really grind out the final 20 miles. I was flying, even into the wind, hammering, hammering, and thinking about all of the extra chores I was going to have time to accomplish before work now that I was moving at warp speed.

Then, with about three miles to go, it all came crashing down. Total bonk. That was an interesting experience, too, and an example of what a creature of routine I've become. Geoff and I have a long weekend coming up and, as such, had neglected to buy groceries for a while. So we were out of orange juice and out of milk. I ate a few handfuls of frosted mini-wheats for breakfast and called it good. I didn't give it another thought until about mile 39 of my bike ride, when I went from turbo drive to fumes in about six seconds flat. After that, I just put my head down and slogged my way home with the gas needle flatlined well below the "E." I think if I were a car, I'd be a Toyota Prius. It takes me a while to get going, but once I do, I can burn comfortably at 50 miles per gallon. So comfortably, in fact, that I'll completely forget to buy fuel. Until it's gone. And once it's gone, it's really gone.

So I finished up July as my second highest mileage month ever, behind only January 2007. Although when I consider the time I spent in the saddle, combined with the intensity of the effort it took to rack up 900 miles in January, I feel like my July mileage should probably be counted as something closer to 600. Or even 500. Seems fair. And I agree that mileage isn't the best gage of fitness or strength on a bike, but without a heart-rate monitor or altimeter or GPS unit, it's all I have. And I'm pretty happy with it.

5 comments:

  1. I definitely notice a difference in pick-up when I add in real weight training and speed work. I'll be getting back to both slowly this month. Maybe we can be workout buddies from afar! Congrats on the awesome mileage!

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  3. You did great getting to 874.6 miles in July! Reading your mileage updates during the month helped get me out there pedaling too...I managed 508.63 miles.

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  4. Nice mileage Jill! -- and knitten kitten too.

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