Date: Nov. 9 and 10
Mileage: 18.1 and 30.2
Hours: 1:20 and 3:45
November mileage: 261.0
Temperature upon departure: 37
My recent realization that the sun now sets before 4 p.m. has been a bit of a blow to my mood. At the beginning of the week, I was riding a sugar snow high and it was all I could do to straighten my face after hours of silly perma-grin. Now I am feeling the effects of greasy snow indigestion (not literal indigestion; just sort of a sinking feeling that not all is well.) At first I blamed the waning daylight. But now, I'm wondering if some of it could be mild overtraining.
For this race I plan to line up for in February, spending as much time as possible on the bike, on the toughest trail conditions, in the crappiest weather I can endure, is the most valuable training I'm going to get. Speed intervals, "time trials," weight lifting, hill climbing - these were all great exercises to build up my base. Now it's time to build up endurance. Even more so, it's time to toughen my morale. I need to learn to spend hours on the bike, days on the bike, learn to trudge beside my bike for hours, days, and not lose my mind in the process. It's a daunting task - especially because I there's a decent chance I could jump the gun and lose my mind in training.
The first 10 days of November, there has been a lot of riding. The miles don't show it, because almost all of the riding has been snow riding, muddy trail riding, road miles on the mountain bike, and trail-hopping road miles on the Pugsley (which so far I have been unable to coax over 14 mph without the benefit of gravity or wind.) So while the miles don't show it, the sheer hours of exercise have stacked up. I've probably jumped from 9-11 hours a week at the end of October to 16 this past week. Maybe more. I don't know. It's obviously not wise to make jumps like that, so I'm going to start keeping track.
It's funny, because I haven't felt any physical effects of "overtraining." There have just been a few hints of slipping morale. Like yesterday, when I purposely set out on my road bike in marginal weather and turned around at the first sight of snow flurries. Then today, riding the trails on a Saturday morning, I became overly annoyed with just about everybody I saw. Two people on the Salmon Creek trail stopped me to point out the girth of my wheels (Don't they know it's rude to call something "fat"?) and then chide me for not riding with studded tires. The trail was wet gravel covered by about two inches of slushy snow. I wanted to launch into a lecture about how studs are great on the street but nearly pointless in these kind of trail conditions - but instead I just smiled and through clenched teeth said "Yeah. We'll see how it goes." As I headed back up the trail, even as I vowed to never, never go trail riding on a Saturday again, I wondered about the real reasons behind my quick-tempered irritability.
I think I'll keep increasing the hours of my long ride(s) each weekend, the way I planned, but flatten out my weekday riding (I don't have much more weekday time to burn, anyway.) See how it goes. Hopefully it will keep me from snapping at a hapless hiker. Then, when training calls for the necessary dissection of my morale, at least I'll have happy memories from November.
Late, completely unrelated tangent: I don't do political diatribes on my blog, but Geoff and I just returned from a showing of the documentary "No End In Sight" and I can't get it out of my head. This movie about the Iraq war isn't simply a vehicle to preach to the enraged choir, as Michael Moore's movies have done. It's a very simply laid-out, calm play-by-play of the events and decisions that led to the current situation in Iraq, as told my members of the military, former members of the Bush administration, and others who were very close to the process. The feeling it ends with is not anger, but an almost overwhelming sadness. That's why I highly recommend seeking it out and seeing it. Not because it will leave you in despair, but because it will inspire you to take action. It definitely has me asking myself what I can do. Especially today ... Veterans' Day.