Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Double the pain

Date: Aug. 25
Mileage: 27.5
August mileage: 563.7
Temperature: 50

I climbed the Eaglecrest road today, from the Mendenhall Wetlands (sea level) to the end of the new construction (high!). Twice. Doing two-minute intervals. Into a 20 mph headwind. Through a relentless downpour. I learned many valuable new things:

* It's impossible to recover from an interval on a climb.
* So eventually the interval and recovery periods look and feel more and more alike, which is impossible not to get frustrated about.
* At 40 mph, it is possible for raindrops to cause one's lips to bleed.
* Turning around to climb again at the bottom of a long descent really takes the edge off the hypothermia.
* I know the idea of hill repeats is to climb hard, turn around, and recover on the downhill, but I just can't face those frigid descents more than twice.
* Yet another expensive "water resistant" rain jacket has had the water resistance beaten right out of it. It was a nice two months, though.
* I need to purchase a pair of swim goggles. Any recommendations?
* I think we have reached the season of neoprene.
* I had no idea I had it in me to self-inflict such levels of agony.

I actually left the house today hoping to ride that road three times, but man, I'm going to have to get out of the house a lot earlier to achieve that. As it was, the double-back nearly broke me - it was one of those rides that left my heart rate still pounding more than an hour after I stopped. I managed 14 miles and 3,200 vertical feet of solid climbing, plus 14 miles of horrible downhill, in about 2:45. I had some good speed in my early sprints, but it got to the point where the granny gear was making an appearance during recovery periods on nearly level pavement. I feel really good about this ride because I know I gave it everything I had. That I managed it in just about the worst weather imaginable makes it doubly satisfying.

Call me a masochist, but I really feel like I've achieved something when I press as hard as I can against the struggle and come out feeling stronger. It's much better than the dough-girl feeling I have after I sit at my computer all day sipping Pepsi, even when I'm doing something most would consider "productive," like working or writing. Right now I can feel this edge starting to develop, in the form of achy leg muscles, and that's a good thing. It means I really am venturing outside my comfort zone. I had planned to take an easy day Tuesday, but I had forgotten it's the day of the primary election - which means I have the opportunity to go in late to work, but also have to expect I'll be at the office well into the small hours of Wednesday morning. So Wednesday will need to be the short day - and tomorrow will be perfect for that long tempo ride. I think I'm going to pump up the tires on the touring bike and go for speed. Call me a masochist, but I'm excited.


  1. I have a pair of brand new swim goggles you can have, chica! :) If serious, holler and I'll send to you.

  2. Get some Jill. I'm right there with you.

  3. I would bet that your 'water resistant' jacket was at the limit of it's capability. To me it sounds like you produced so much heat and sweat, it wasn't able to breath fast enough to get that sweat off your body.

    it's what we in the outdoor gear business call 'the storm inside'. It's when you end up soaking wet from sweat, not rain.


  4. OK, you asked for it and nobody has given it to you. You're a Masochist, now do you feel better?

  5. b ...

    I'd say that jacket is at the limit of its capability. The little beads that used to form on the outside soaked through and that's that. I've had a lot of jackets do this ... Gortex, etc. They're great when they're new, but that outer layer breaks down, and they start to soak through the way tent nylon does. That spray stuff helps, but it's even shorter lived, and not so cheap itself.

    I've had people give me that sweat arguement before. Forgive my skeptism, but I doubt it. Sure, I was sweating a good amount, but enough to end up as wet as if I had jumped in a swimming pool? I also have a plastic jacket, PVC material that doesn't breathe at all. In all my experience, that has been the most effective shell at keeping me dry, but even that's not perfect (water still gets in through the bottom torso, sleeves and neck, and under the arms, where the manufacturers saw fit to install breathable mesh) But the places where I sweat, my back and chest, usually stay relatively dry in that PVC jacket. I don't wear it all the time because it doesn't breathe, so it is uncomfortable if I'm working hard.

    Anyway, that's just my personal experience. Not science. But I feel like I've been a pretty good tester of the products I've owned, and I'll never believe the outdoor industry's claims that something can be both waterproof and breathable. At least not in the long term.

  6. Mallie ...

    Are you serious? Because I actually am. I was thinking on the descent yesterday that if I just had a way to keep water out of my eyes, I would be much more comfortable. I was thinking ski googles, but they fog all up in the rain. Swim goggles are watertight, and I figured it was worth a try.

    I'll send money for the shipping. Maybe shoot me an e-mail and let me know where to send it, and I'll give you my new address in Douglas.

    Thanks! You rock!

  7. Cool site. I grew up in JNU in the shadow of Thunder Mtn and when I clicked your link from DrunkCyclist, it was cool to see some familiar sites. Good pictures of what I miss about the ol' hometown.


  8. Jill, this sounds crazy but when I lived in Juneau I admired a lot of the Grunden's line of fishing gear. They have this incredible pullover shirt that is waterproof, if memory serves. A coworker bought one and reported it was the only thing that kept him dry all day on the job site. Don't know about breathability. I expect you might get less seepage at seams and openings...try Marine Supply and see what they have? Good luck. I noticed the Olympic swimmers had a new google that had temple pieces like glasses; some of them wore them. Seen them?
    You are intrepid!

  9. oh, i forgot today is the primary. maybe you could go vote for once and make up for the fact that i'm not home to vote.

  10. "At 40 mph, it is possible for raindrops to cause one's lips to bleed"
    Yikes, you are tough! I sat on the couch explaing to my dogs that it's just to rainy and windy to go for our normal walk. I bet they'd rather have you for an owner!

  11. thanks Jill, your mention of 'achy legs muscles' reminded me that when I was pushing harder and getting stronger I had the aches pretty much all the time. The fact that I don't means I'm not pushing hard enough anymore. I thought with you being in LA I would finally match you for miles in a month but as of today I'm behind by almost 100 again. Ok I'm 30 years older but then I don't have to ride in the rain all the time. I still want to match you for a month, just once.

  12. OK, masochist was too strong.
    You know what you're doing, the pain is unavoidable. You're not chasing the pain, it's just the result of your training.
    You're pushing yourself. You're testing the edge of the envelope.
    Just don't hurt yourself, don't overtrain, don't burn out.

    Not that I have any idea what overtrain or burn out mean!
    I have achy legs everyday just from riding to work.
    I call it old age.

  13. Jill,
    This sure sounds like GDR training to me. Whatever it is, Good luck! Have fun too.

  14. I was going to say that my $2.00 cheap-o goggles work better than my speedos...but it looks like you have found yourself a pair! I have been doing a lot of swimming until I can find the money for a bike!!

  15. I have some really nice zoots (i think that's what they are called). They are fantabulous for pool or open water.


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