|I only got one photo on Saturday before my camera battery died. Not my best work for a week of outings, I know.|
I'm a little embarrassed because I haven't started a weight training routine yet. I decided to join a small gym near my neighborhood, and it's been a frustratingly slow process. But my membership is set to start on Wednesday, so I hope to report back next week. The benefit of this gym, besides being relatively inexpensive, is there is one trainer there for a few hours each day who can work with me as long as they're not already occupied with other clients. It's not as good as personal training, but at least I can ask questions and receive feedback. This is all new to me, so obviously the first few weeks will be about treading lightly and focusing on form. Hopefully once I get the exercises down, I can start loading my weak little arms and shoulders more heavily so they adapt into something more useful.
Beyond that, I plan to continue with both riding and running/hiking, and if I can stay disciplined, start to add more weight to both my bike and back on these outings. There will be rides where I purposefully push my bike up a steep hill again and again. I may even do a few cart-dragging "runs." Whether I'll manage any snow training is still in question. El Nino heat may bring another snowless winter to the Sierras. I feel strongly that I need at least one week of real cold-weather camping practice, so I'm hoping to make a trip to Alaska in December. Also, Beat and I signed up for 200-mile version of JayP's Fat Pursuit in Idaho in January as a shakedown tour.
Monday: Road bike, 1:29, 16.2 miles, 2,232 feet climbing. My next big "event" is a nutty little outing that I proposed as part of Elden "The Fat Cyclist" Nelson's annual 100 Miles of Nowhere charity ride. On Nov. 7, people from all over the world donate money for the privilege of riding a century either on trainers at their homes, or on an outdoor course that effectively goes nowhere. For several years I've wanted to attempt "100 Miles of Montebello Road," which is ten climbs and descents on my go-to hill climb. The end result is a road century with 20,000 feet of climbing. As you can imagine for any stretch of road that squeezes 2,000 feet of climbing into five miles, there is nothing flat about Montebello Road. As I was grinding up the pavement on Monday, there may have been a few swear words uttered. (#$%! How am I ever going to get through two of these, let alone ten???) It will definitely take some work to get my cycling legs back. It's good I set this impossible standard for myself in three weeks.
Tuesday: Trail run, 0:59, 5.6 miles, 696 feet climbing. Running! Now that's more like it. I'm definitely better trained for running right now. My IT band was still bothering me after Firetrails, so I shuffled the descents.
Wednesday: Mountain bike, 2:22, 23.4 miles, 3,184 feet climbing. Moots is still covered in clumps of mud that are almost certainly from the Tour Divide, and Beat finally became annoyed with the rear tire that has been consistently flat for three months, and added sealant himself. My mountain bike has been neglected. As I pedaled over Black Mountain and began to descent into Stevens Creek Canyon, I realized I hadn't visited my home trails since May. May! It's been wonderful to get back on my bike, but I can definitely feel the burn in my butt and legs. It's been a while.
Thursday: Trail run, 0:57, 5.6 miles, 702 feet climbing. I got a massage on Thursday morning, and suddenly my IT band felt 100 percent better. Even though I ran this loop at an easier pace than my Tuesday run, I finished it faster simply because I wasn't protecting the descents.
Friday: Road bike, 1:18, 15.5 miles, 2,073 feet climbing. This is another cheater Montebello ride where I wanted to practice my "100-mile pace" and didn't even ride all the way to the top. I don't remember why. But this 100 Miles of Nowhere thing is really starting to freak me out. Also, if you're a Bay Area cyclist and think this nutty century sounds at all fun, please considering joining us. There are at least six people right now who say they're going to show up at 6 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 7. We may even have a bit of an aid station at the bottom of the hill. (However, this is a fully self-supported, unofficial, untimed group ride.) If you want more information, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday: Mountain bike, 3:58, 34.8 miles, 5,212 feet climbing. My friend Liehann recently started training with Coach Lynda, but he found a way to work me into his Saturday plan. We pedaled trails toward Russian Ridge, and I managed to keep a solid pace up until the final climb, when my legs just died. I've definitely lost some power in my quads.
Sunday: Trail run, 2:19, 13.1 miles, 2,246 feet climbing. Beat has been battling a veritable plague all week, and I haven't caught it, which is weird, because it seems like my immune system really gave up this year. Still, I'm currently healthy, so I set out to do my own thing — a half-marathon-length loop up the brutally steep PG&E trail and down the mellow and fun High Meadow Trail in Rancho. I felt fantastic on this run, with this giddy zeal that I also experienced while riding with Liehann on Saturday. It's funny, because with a few exceptions, I haven't felt this strong in a while. Months, really. In early October I had a few terrible runs and one especially terrible mountain bike ride, and I told Beat that if I couldn't finish the Firetrails 50, I was definitely going to withdraw from the ITI. It wasn't about the trail run; there was just something wrong with me, and I needed to figure it out.
Cue the visit to the allergist, and the assurance from a professional that "oh, there's probably nothing really wrong with you — except you're really allergic to grass." And just like that, I feel great. It's not about grass pollen; that's been gone for a couple of months now. It's more about increased confidence that this unseen anvil has been lifted. When I charge up a hill, I'm no longer afraid that it's going to come crushing down, so I push harder and feel better. Funny what happens when negative thoughts are flipped around.
Total: 13:26, 89.9 miles ride, 24.3 miles run, 16,346 feet climbing