Saturday, November 01, 2008

Harder than it seemed

Date: Oct. 31 and Nov. 1
Mileage: 72.4 and 30.1
October mileage: 587
November mileage: 30.1
October rainfall: 16.42"
October snowfall: 9.1"

I left the house on Friday telling Geoff I'd be gone about three hours, hoping to stretch that to six hours and 100 miles, and figuring I'd end up somewhere in the middle. The truth is I was feeling a bit battered from Thursday. After four hours of stomping around in heavy snow, I was sore in all sorts of new places, fatigued and somewhat windblown (or maybe just sunburned.) I also had a painful red ring (frostnip?) on my skin around both legs just below my calves where ice and snow had built up in my boots (yeah, I wasn't wearing gaters ... just boots and a thin pair of polypro tights.)

So I was not feeling 100 percent up to a long ride, but I was OK with that. I can ride all of the centuries I want, but my best training is still going to come from the spontaneous outdoor excursions where I don't quite dress right and don't bring the right gear and spend four hours hiking six miles and have random things happen like getting a boot stuck in the snow. There's still so much to learn. There's always so much to learn. The problem-solving, the hard lessons and discovering my strengths and weaknesses are my favorite aspects of winter training. Centuries are kinda ... boring.

Not to say I even came close to accomplishing one yesterday. I went out a little hard with an east wind sweeping at my side, just a touch underdressed for 39 degrees and scattered rain, and by mile 38, I'd had enough. I ate two Power Bars to try to coax my energy back, but it wouldn't come. I turned around. Several miles down the road, I took an extended break at Eagle Beach, laying on a picnic table and listening to the wind-driven surf lap the rocks. When I was too cold to rest any more, I reluctantly peeled myself off the table and took the short way home.

It was a hard day. Some days are like that. The only real downside to it all was that it killed any motivation I had for Halloween. Some holidays are like that. I woke up this morning resolved to do a pretty mellow ride today - active recovery of sorts. Surprisingly, I felt really good, and ended up pushing hard toward the end of the ride just for fun.

If I had a coach or any real training plan, I would probably have a better grasp on good days and bad. But for now, I really think it's better for a person like me to go with the flow; listen to my body; build up my strength with snowshoes, not weights; build up my endurance in hours, not miles; and sometimes get my boot stuck in the snow.