Sunday, July 11, 2010

Road Rode or Rode Road

Early this week I talked to my mom on the phone. She asked me what I was doing this weekend and suggested I come down and do One Helluva Ride with her on Saturday. The distance planned was 64 miles. My first thought was "absolutely not." After all, I'd been on my road bike for a total of 16 miles this season. Still, I told her I'd think about it.

By Thursday morning, I was sending her a text saying I was in. You see, there were a couple of factors working here. The first is that it's hard to say no to my mom, particularly when something seems important to her. The other thing, which I'm only just experiencing now that I'm closer to 40 than 30, is that I'm much more likely to think I can do something than to think I can't.

When the hell did that happen, anyway? I know I ponder this whole Accidental Athlete phenomenon a lot, but it still sometimes blows my mind. Ten years ago, I wouldn't have imagined I could ride my bike 10 miles, let alone 64. Now I'm always convinced I can do it—it's just a matter of how long it will take me and how painful it will be.

We got a bit later of a start than I wanted, but we were out on the road by 8:30 or so. Surprisingly, the first 10 miles felt pretty good, despite the fact that I was completely confused anytime I tried to brake. I kept thinking "where the hell are my brakes?" and then "oh yeah, they're down here." We were averaging over 14 miles an hour, which considering how little time I've spent on my road bike lately, seemed pretty fast. 

The first rest stop was about 13 miles into the ride. I stopped because I was planning on taking it a bit easy, and because I have this annoying foot thing when I'm on my road bike which necessitates me taking my shoes off every 12-15 miles or so. Otherwise, the pain becomes excruciating. 

I ended up having to stop at the side of the road for my feet about six miles before the lunch stop, which was at 39 miles. Lunch was good and I was ready for a break. With 25 miles left, My legs were still feeling reasonably fresh and though we had slowed down a bit, we were still averaging above 13 mph. 

Everything changed when we got back on the road. It suddenly felt much hotter, the road conditions seemed much worse and my legs felt like lead. Not only that, but the course got much uglier, and spent quite a bit of time paralleling I-94. Yuck!

Even so, we were still clicking off miles and getting closer and closer to the finish line. Remarkably, I was able to keep the speed up despite completely cooking in the sun. After two more rest stops for my feet we finally made it. The ride that I thought was going to take close to six hours ended up taking less than five. That made me feel pretty good.

The rest of the day was spent somewhat exhausted hanging out in the shady backyard at my parents' house with the family, watching the dogs and kids chase each other. I was definitely tired, but I think the heat took more out of me than anything else. I was actually able to go for a run this morning and my legs don't even hurt. I must be tough or something. :)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Accidental Gets Intentional, Part 2

Many months ago, when we last left our fearless heroine, she was running a 5K. Okay, so it was only weeks ago, not months, but it might has well have been months. At any rate, on to the second mile ...

Once I slowed down a bit, my breathing became more regulated. I was still pushing myself at a pace faster than my usual, but I was not going all out. Despite the heat, I wasn't feeling nearly as bad as I expected. Still, I decided I needed a little extra push, so I picked out two women who were slightly ahead of me I wanted to beat and made that my next goal.  

Competition #1 had passed me just across the starting line and had steadily kept up a pace that left her marginally ahead of me. She was a couple years older than me and quite a bit bigger. I convinced myself I could beat her.

My next target was chosen out of pure spite. Youngish, cute and skinny, Competition #2 might have had a bullseye painted on her back. On top of that, she was wearing yoga pants, which I thought was ludicrous considering the weather. The nail in her coffin was the fact that she was alternating periods of running really fast with periods of slow walking. She would pass me  when she was running and I would pass her when she was walking, which I just found really annoying.

I sped up a bit and finally passed Competition #1. Competition #2 remained elusive. Finally I hit the two-mile mark. My time was still looking on target, but I had already decided I was going to go pretty much all out for the last mile. After a bit I finally passed Competition #2 for the last time. As I rounded the back side of the pond, I knew I would make my time goal and my goal of beating #1 and #2. When I neared the finish line, I realized I could not only finish faster than a time of 42 minutes, I had a chance of finishing faster than 41 minutes. So, I gave it everything I could and crossed the line at 40:55.

My coworker Katie (with me above) was cheering me on at the finish line. She and her husband finished at about 32 minutes, three minutes faster than their goal. 

This experience was such a rush. I never imagined I could possibly enjoy running as much as I have. I'm tentatively planning that my next 5K will be on August 1. (I may try to squeeze one more in before that.) I'd like to take at least another couple minutes off my time for that race, because I want to do this race at the end of August and for that I have an even loftier goal.