Monday, August 25, 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.