Monday, January 5, 2009

Rides getting longer, runs getting shorter

With the holidays over, done with, finished, gone (and not a minute too soon) our team was scheduled for our longest training ride yet. Saturday was another freezing cold morning, probably upper 30s at the start and maybe up to 50 by the time we finished several hours later. It was a much better attended ride than the past two weeks and our group of advanced beginners or lower intermediates was also bigger than it's been. We were told that for this ride we should try to find our own pace and not to worry if we got split up, we'd meet at the mid-way point. Okey dokey. I know the route and wasn't afraid of getting lost so I didn't mind if I got separated from the group.

Bree and I started out riding mostly the same pace. There were some piddly uphills and a long incline for the first part, then a strenuous climb, a screaming downhill and the rest stop at 20 miles. I felt pretty good at the turn around except for one major thing: my sit bones were aching. No, not the girly bits, not abrasion or chafing, but feeling like the flesh over the bones was bruised. Sitting on the bike seat was a challenge, to put it lightly. I didn't know how I'd make it another 20 miles. Since quitting is never an option, I started out again, squirmier than before.

Because it was so cold I was wearing full fingered, bulky gloves. My fingers were much warmer than they've been but it was difficult to get my water bottles out and impossible to get to any food. I had little granola-like bites, a couple of energy bars, gel and sport beans but I just couldn't get them out of the box. I couldn't even get anything out of my pockets, my fingers were just too clumsy. Since I had a bite to eat at the water stop and managed to drink, I wasn't too worried yet.

Midway through the ride the wind picked up. I truly detest trying to do anything with the wind in my face. It's a breathing issue, mostly, but I'd rather climb Mt. Diablo on a calm day than ride a flat road into a headwind. So much effort for so little reward. Our return route detoured through the Livermore backroads and since there were few cars and no stoplights it was a pleasure having uninterrupted riding. I managed a longer ride with no stops whatsoever on this part, I think a stretch of 13 miles. That's the longest straight riding I've done during this training; in a city you always need to stop at lights, or stop signs, or whatever but this time I managed to flow through.

Although "flow" wasn't quite correct. Once again my pace fell between the faster and slower riders so I was on my own. Don't get me wrong, I like riding alone because I can go exactly my own pace, don't have to pass or be passed, don't have to point out obstacles or worry about anyone else but me. Also, with the wind I can't hear anyone talking anyway and I end up shouting "what?" "huh?" "excuse me?" so much that socializing is out of the question. But on a windy day it's nice to have a paceline, someone to help you along, some encouragement. Heck, that's why we're on a team, right? But although I would occasionally see other people I rode on my own.

Finally, about 8 miles from the finish, I pulled over to the side and ripped off my right glove. I knew I was very close to a bonk and knew I'd have to start eating. I thought I was out of gels (I wasn't, as I discovered later) and opened my package of sport beans for instant sugar. For the rest of the ride I chewed on them constantly and they helped get me back to the parking lot. I wasn't too far behind the first part of our group, and wasn't too far in front of the rest of them. I was exhausted when I finished, chilled and damp from the exertion, and good grief my bottom hurt like the blazes. Standing was no problem, but even sitting down to change my shoes hurt. I have got to find a remedy for this; I can't even imagine going 60 additional miles feeling this way. Despite how I felt physically, I was thrilled to have ridden 40 miles. This was the longest ride I've done since I started running.

After the ride Bree and I went out to lunch again, returning to Chow in Danville. I had a beer and soup and fries and it was delicious and filing. But the beer just totally wiped me out. I got home, showered and crashed on the sofa for several hours. I'm going to have to rethink my whole refueling strategy. It tastes great but I think I'll have to skip the alcohol if I intend to be even slightly productive. Bummer.

Sunday morning we were scheduled to run 8 miles. We've been running regularly in Lafayette and decided on a change. Bree, Anita and I met at the Alameda Ferry parking lot and once again it was freezing. Literally. It was low 30s when we started and not much warmer when we finished. Wet patches on the pavement were icy and we could see a layer of ice on top of puddles. Eight miles? I don't think so. We managed 4, with twice the walk breaks we usually take, and I was pooped. When we got back to the parking lot I think I could have done another mile, maybe two, except that on the last walk break I felt my knee twinge. The type of -- well, not pain actually -- feeling that has preceded the shooting pains I had last year. I decided to not tempt fate and we called it a day.

On Monday I'm feeling mostly good. My shoulders are stiff from the ride but that's the only ache other than when I sit down. On anything, even a soft sofa. When I walk, every once in a while I feel that twinge in my knee. I think it's time to return to the strengthening exercises I did last year. I have my fingers crossed that it was just the icy pavement and cold weather and that everything is fine. My injuries are so 2008. I'm not starting up this stuff again, I don't have time to be injured!

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