Sunday, August 24, 2008

If it ain't raining, we ain't training

Date: Aug. 24
Mileage: 50.3
August mileage: 536.2
Temperature: 52

Hunter down in Ketchikan (where it really rains) told me about this old Army saying, and I've decided to make it my motto for the upcoming fall. My goal for the next couple of weeks at least is to rapidly increase my time and effort on the bike ... mostly to see how it makes me feel and assess where my endurance is after two months of pretty lax base training. (And yes, if it makes me feel awful, I will dial it back.) Increasing time and effort to me means more miles and purposeful climbing at a tempo pace (and tempo pace to me means sustainable, but just barely.) So yesterday and today it was three and a half and three hours, respectively, of near-hurt (and sometimes outright hurt), with one beautifully restful stop each day for photos. Tomorrow I plan to do some hill repeats, Tuesday go easy, Wednesday ride another three-hour tempo, and Thursday do something long. On Friday I'll step back and see how I feel. I think it's a worthy experiment to see what kind of cycling condition I'm in - not that I have any reason to believe I'm in great shape, but I hope my muscles have good memory.

So far, these harder sessions have been less enjoyable while I'm riding, but they've left me feeling upbeat and energetic the rest of the day - more so than I have been during the work afternoon in a long time. It may just be that I still have a little California sunshine left in my blood, but even that's wearing off quickly in the latest rain deluge, which is not likely to let up anytime soon. It is, after all, nearly September. I can't expect to see the sun again in any kind of standard capacity until November (and no, sucker holes do not count).

Which makes any goals for longer, harder bicycle training sessions even more difficult. Bad enough to head out on a bike knowing you're facing three hours of self-inflicted pain. Worse yet if the slate-colored clouds have dropped to sea level and sharp daggers of rain are stinging every square inch of exposed skin. I don't even care about being wet and cold anymore, but I still have sunburns on my face, and those raindrops hurt.

More than a test of my fitness, this will be the ultimate test of my motivation. But I chanted Hunter's Army motto a couple of times this morning, and I have to admit, it did make me feel better. If it ain't raining, I ain't training ... because if it ain't raining, I'll likely be out on a leisurely hike, or otherwise doing something enjoyable to soak of every second of sun I've earned.