Thursday, February 07, 2013

Not quite superwoman

After Sunday's amazing bike ride, I'd wondered if I was in for a week of drug-boosted awesomeness as I finished my prescription of Prednisone. On Monday I set out to "PR" my favorite 10K trail loop, and blew up near the top with a dizzy spell and hints of a returning sinus headache. When I complained to Beat about yet another bad run, he said, "You did ride for ten hours yesterday." Well, yes, there was that.

The rest of the week has confirmed that I'm not feeling or performing at a different level than usual. Perhaps all of my energy and enthusiasm on Sunday was the result of several days of real rest, and the powerful juxtaposition of "feeling like death" and "normal." Besides the slight disappointment of discovering that I have no superpowers, this week was full of time spent hacking away at a book project and compiling supplies for Beat's Iditarod race. His expedition to Nome begins in just over two weeks, which is a disconcerting realization for me, too. More than general nervousness about the dangers he'll encounter daily on the trail, I feel a sense of disconnect about remaining on the periphery of such a major event in his life.

When it comes to big expeditions, Beat and I prefer to go solo. We both feel that way — the solo, personal aspect is an integral part of the experience we're seeking. Still, as this event creeps up, I admit I feel more wistfulness than relief. Of course I'm relieved I'm not staring down that pain tunnel right now — but perhaps a larger part wishes I could join him on the trek. What's also hard for me is the fact I can't even serve a minor supportive role. Once he sets out, he's on his own — which is also exactly the way he wants it. I imagine I'll spend my time in Alaska (at least when I'm not out on my own mini-expeditions) riding my Fatback on trails within cell-phone range and waiting for satellite phone calls. As much as I despise the uselessness of fretting, I'm all too prone to falling into that trap.

Wednesday was my friend Leah's birthday, the big 3-0, so we celebrated in style with a three-hour evening ride in the Headlands. Our mellow, scenic and chatty ride turned a little more pro when ran into a group of Leah's cross-racing friends. We rode back to the bridge with a man who is something of a local legend — someone who was carving out a niche on these trails during the dawn era of mountain biking. I forget his name; he was a cool guy, but his version of a mellow and chatty pace was noticeably closer to my own red line. Subtle hints of spring have arrived in this region, with flowers blooming and bright greenery popping up everywhere. As much as I love Alaska and look forward to returning to the serenity and intrigue of winter later this month, I will miss spring in California. February and March are my favorite months here.

And then there's training. I still want to continue building for the Homer Epic 100K as well as the fitness I'll need for my snow bike trips. Despite the inconsistencies and lack of focus in my winter training, I think my endurance is solid right now — a great place to be, because it makes me feel like I can say yes to any adventure. Because we rode fairly hard on Wednesday, today I opted for a "short but steep" type of tempo run. However, at my planned turnaround point I felt too good to stop. The sun was out after a cloudy day, casting rich afternoon light on the valley below, and a cold wind urged me higher. I ended up on top of Black Mountain, and finished with 10.2 miles and 2,700 feet of climbing in 1:55 ... likely my own best time on that route. Maybe Superwoman is lurking somewhere in there after all.