My pre-camp post was titled “Fuel” because I knew that fueling would be key to getting me through this training weekend. Indeed it has been so far – I’m writing this Sunday morning, so I’m not quite through yet! Here are a few thoughts on fueling and other F words; perhaps more to add after today.
Fuel – I laid out a pretty meticulous fueling plan for camp, and I’m glad I did. Stuck to it on Friday for a short recovery ride and swim, and did well. I was so pleased that my (gulp) soft tissue issue did not seem to get in the way of biking and that the swim in Mirror Lake was actually pleasant. I am actually getting to enjoy open water swimming!
I continued on the fueling plan for my big Saturday ride. My goal was to ride one loop of the Ironman Lake Placid course, which Mary slated for 3 hours 30 min. **Insert laughter here.** I was aiming for 250 calories per hour, composed of 1 gel per hour, plus a bottle of Perpetuem and a bottle of Heed over the course of the ride. I also – thank God! – had some extra food along for backup. Followed my plan and even had a little more when I felt I needed it. I can’t say I got back feeling fresh – more on that below – but I got back without being bonky and feeling focused enough to ride safely.
Focus – One reason I like this training stuff is that it requires me to focus. To finish a ride safely, I need to be simultaneously right where I am and right where I want to be. Picking a line, riding it, seeing it through. I need to know what’s going on around me (Little white fluffy dogs darting out from ditches?? Cars back? Wheeleating pavement cracks?) at the same time as I know what’s going on within me (How’s my gut? How’s my energy level? My right ass is hurting a bit; what does it need me to do?). I was proud of my focus on this ride.
Form – There were lots of cyclists out on Saturday. Like lots – some solo, some in giant uniformed herds – many of whom were obviously very strong athletes. I gained a new respect for anyone who can not only finish two loops of this course but finish it strong. Oh yeah, and then run a MARATHON afterwards? Holy Hannah.
So compared to most folks out there, I was slow. I expected that, both because I’m recovering and because I was comparatively slow BEFORE my accident. I’m a beginner triathlete even though I’ve been cycling for a while. So focusing on my speed, especially within the context of the other riders, would’ve been just depressing. I let myself get too caught up in this last year, which I think contributed to my frustrating ride.
This year I focused on form. My mantra was, “Form, focus, fuel,” hence the F themed blog post. The form felt good. Several times I gave thanks for the wizards at Geneva Bicycle, especially Chad, who spent hours dialing in my position on this bike. I was so comfortable.
Fun – When I got those three F’s right, I got a fourth F: fun! The land out here is simply breathtaking, and it was great to see teammates on the course. My favorite part of the ride was from Keene to Jay, and then the Jay out & back; smooth roads, nice tailwind, felt fabulous.
F*** – Yeah. Made it from Jay to Wilmington, with the short out & back, and realized that I’d made it to mile 45. Cool! Only 12 miles left! OMFG. Those were 12 tough miles!
By this point, some muscles or tendons – perhaps around the IT band? – in my right hip / arse area were giving me a little bit of pain. Not too bad, but I knew that if I just pushed through it, it could get bad. So I played with it, figured out that if I focused on extending my hamstring while I pedaled it felt better.
But nonetheless, my legs were notifying me that we hadn’t done this much volume, or this many hills, for basically a year. They weren’t fuel-deficient, I don’t think; they were just getting fatigued.
And then I turned south into the headwind. F***. Spun through it, working basically my four lowest gears even while heading only slightly uphill. Ugh. By this time my gut was feeling a little bit unsettled, I think just from the exertion, so I was taking fuel in smaller sips. But I kept fueling, which is key, or I might still be out there.
I won’t lie. The last 5 or 6 miles were HARD. I knew the course ended with the “Three Bears,” three relatively short but sort of steep hills. While I was no longer really in the mood for hills, I wanted those bears to appear so I could be DONE! Finally, finally I got there. Stopped at the top of Papa Bear and tried to figure a way into town that didn’t require going all the way through town on Highway 86, which involves a nasty little climb that I just did not want to do. My legs were stick-a-fork-in-me DONE.
But alas, there was no way around it. I took an extra gel while in town, only like 1 mile from our motel, just so I could get up that @%#$%&$ hill. Incidentally, if you’re ever looking to find a new favorite food, eat it when you’re in a state like I was. Strawberry Banana Powerbar Gel will forever be to me as Nectar of the Gods.
Finish! – Oh yeah. Oh, YEAH! I made it back! 61 miles in 4 hours and 12 minutes. Yes, this is slow. But it’s also double the length of my longest post-accident ride and on a tough course. And then I sucked it up and tried a transition run off the bike. Did 20 minutes, and this helped work out whatever was going on with my right leg / butt tendons. My legs actually felt good afterwards.
Fail! – So I ate after the ride and run, as per my plan. Apparently this is where the plan needs to be revised, because despite a recovery drink, sandwich, some fruit, some fig newtons, and some granola bar in the 2 hours post-ride, when we arrived at the beach at 4:30 for a swim, I totally DNS’d. (Did Not Start.) I went over to Mary and said, “I feel just totally shelled.” She told me to eat. Oh. Right. More?
And she was right. 300 calories and 15 minutes later I felt better. So apparently I need to step up the post-ride / race fueling too. So a part of my plan failed, but that’s ok! Really, there is no failure, only feedback.
I skipped the swim, realizing that what I really needed was to put my feet up and chill out by myself for a while. So I did, and I was better.
Friends – And then a fun dinner with the TT peeps! Awesome group of people; not much more to say.
One last F, written from home on Sunday night:
Fortunate – It is a gift to be able to train like this. I have a body healthy enough to push, a job that lets me get away occasionally, and the means to have a speedy bike and enough other gear to keep me covered, safe, and as comfortable as I can get while making myself hurt. And even more than that, I’ve happened upon the nicest, most unassuming bunch of people in the Train-This team. Amazing. So grateful, and also pretty tired. Time for a…
Film – From Netflix, watched with my feet up, or perhaps in bed.