Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Brick In Pieces

This Labor Day weekend was an interesting one.  Fun, not so fun, nervewracking (in more than one way) and inspiring all at once.

Saturday I had a rest day.  So we "rested" by taking the girls to Hollywood Studios at Disney.  We weren't sure what to expect but thought it would be different and hopefully less crowded than the other parks.  They had some cute shows and a few little rides, but nothing really to write home about.  The nice thing was though that all waiting was done in airconditioning, and the park wasn't so big that I felt like my feet were tired by the end of the day.

Sunday was THE BRICK, in pieces anyway.  Yes, the 60 bike and the 10 run.  I'm not sure if I mentioned that the 60 bike was in the hills of Clermont, including Sugarloaf.  Sugarloaf is a hill that many experienced cyclists have a hard time with the 1st time.  I'm not experienced.  Bike Shop Owner was riding with us and was helping me learn how to use my gears on hills (remember, other than knowing how to get on a bike and pedal it, I haven't been really riding a bike for even a year yet) and trying to get me to be less fearful and have more fun.

We did hills that were 3% grade, then 5% then 7% with some smaller ones mixed in, and then the 15% grade of Sugarloaf.  I was really focusing on those hills to the point that I forgot to pay attention to my nutrition, translated: I wasn't eating on the bike.  I had some major negative talk going on in my head with the 1st 5% gradient we did and as negative talk does, I ended up having to get off the bike.  I cried.  I cried because I was mad that I talked myself out of it and that I was crying.  Of course up the next small hill I realized I was shaking... so I ate and drank and boy did I feel better.  My cycling was better too. 

I made it up 2 hills back to back that Bike Shop Owner told me were much bigger than the one I didn't make and that he'd seen good cyclists only be able to make one their first time around.  Not sure if that was just shooting sunshine or not, but I felt better about things after that.  Funny how nutrition plays such a big role in things, eh?  I made it up the rest of those bad boys until we came to Sugarloaf. 

We came around the corner and there was no downhill to give you momentum to help you up to the top.  Nope.  I made it half way up and got off the bike.  I didn't want to get to the point where my mind was not nice to me again, or like another cyclist I know who got part way up and then fell over on the bike, so I pushed and then said "enough."  I don't want to get off the bike in any race or any workout, but I realized that it was about finishing that matters sometimes not my pride. (Perhaps that's why I had to crash my bike at the Moss Park Tri so I could finish dead last and still be proud of myself. Hmm.)

At the top of the mountain hill, I noticed that my back was hurting... pretty badly.  So I stretched it out and evidently laid in ants or spiders or something because I now have a line of bites down my arm with little pussy heads on them.  Let's just hope they're not of the flesh eating variety.  Then it was off again. 

I had made attempts to remedy my lack of nutrition and now was eating too much, so I ended up with stomach cramps.... once of which hit just under my ribs and shot down to my hip in the middle of a long hill.   Bike Shop Owner ended up holding the small of my back and giving a slight push as he pedaled his own bike while I was cramped up and still pedaling the best I could.  And this time, my legs were fine, my breathing was fine, it was my stomach!  More cramping ensued making the rest of the way back to the trail a bit slower than it should be.  Coach, Training Buddy and Bike Shop Owner were all really patient, which I totally appreciated. 

I can't say that the ride instilled in me a great feeling that I can finish the 70.3, but I asked Coach if she thought I could do the 70.3 and she said yes.  In fact, she said she wasn't worried about me and that if she had thought I couldn't do it then she would have talked to me about it.  I am taking that faith in me as mine.  If she believes I can do it, then by golly I can do it.

By mile 45 we were back at the start of the trail.  I was still having stomach issues and told Coach that I didn't think the run was going to happen.  She confessed she didn't even think we were going to make the 45 miles because what we did with the hills made it into what would have been a 75 mile ride on flat land.  We decided we wanted to at the very least finish our 60 bike though, and she said ok but wanted to get a quick drink from her car.

On her car, Coach has a Team in Training sticker.  When she got to the car, she found a napkin tucked into the windshield wiper on the back window that said, "Thank you for racing.  My son died at the age of 6 from ALS (Acute Leukemia Syndrome) in 1982."  Let's just say that poor Training Buddy was stuck with 2 teary eyed ladies at that point.  I forgot about crying on the hill (I embarrassed myself with that one) and the fact that what I just did seemed so super hard.  I realized that the person's son would have been just about my age today if he had lived, and it reminded me of why I started with Team in Training to begin with and why I am going to do it again in January.  The next 15 miles on the road seemed easy as can be... we even got up to 18 mph toward the end when we bumped into the Team in Training Century Ride team doing their 60 mile ride and we all finished up together.  Toward the end, I realized I could run that day if I needed too, but that I really didn't want to. I wanted to go home and be with my family.  Coach said we could postpone the 2nd part of our brick until the next morning.  She said it had to be in the morning though so our bodies wouldn't have recovered from the hills.  So I went home and spent the rest of the day with an ice bath, a nap while the girls were napping and then playing with them and being with Mr. Darcy.

Monday I woke up early.  4:30 am so I could eat and plot my 10 mile run.  I figured it out and headed out the door in the dark just a little before 6 am.  I ran and walked.  My hamstrings were tight as all get out and so was my lower back... even though I stretched really well before leaving the house.  I decided I would do what I could and set up a running plan that I called "corners."  I would run to a corner and if I felt like running more, I would.  If not, I'd walk to the next corner and then start running again.  A different sort of Galloway Method.  I hate looking at the watch, so I do this instead.  I ran about 1.5 miles before the 1st walking and it was just because of sore hamstrings.  I didn't walk more than 0.25 miles before running again.  I definitely ran more than I walked overall, and I felt pretty good but was just trying to pay attention to my muscles.  When they got really tight, I'd walk.  Then back to running once they loosened up again. 

Was I fast? No.  But, it was faster than I've done some of the other long runs that were part of bricks.  Of course, it was the next morning and in cooler weather (although still muggy as can be - I was pouring off the sweat and by the end of the 10 miles I was so wet my shorts stuck to me like I had gotten them right out of the wash without drying them), but I averaged a 13:53 mile pace which included sore muscles, tight hamstrings, and 2 times when I stopped next to a neighborhood garbage can to take my gels so I didn't have to cart the trash with me. I ran nice stretches of road and walked briskly.  I was pretty happy with it.  I had set a goal of getting the 10 miles done in less than 3 hours even though I was "doing what I could do."  I finished in 2:18:53.  That made me feel better about things. 

Coach emailed last night and said she'd been reading a ton of blogs about the Augusta bike course and from what she read she thinks that Augusta will be easier than the course that Bike Shop Owner took us on.  I am hopeful that is true, but one thing that I can say is that even if it is just as difficult (and I pray it is not more difficult) I can finish it.  It might not be pretty, it might not be fast, but it will get done.  And hopefully I'll be able to do the run afterwards (which will be a run/walk) in my case and finish that in less than 8:51:59. 

I'm still hoping for that 7:48:34 I dreamt about. I'll just break it all down in my head, like I did with my run, so that it's just A Brick in Pieces.


  1. Great ride! That is TOTAL money in the bank for Augusta. I really envy that you live so close to Clermont. You should see what I do down here to try to 'simulate' hills. Ha!

    That being said, it's highly unlikely that we're going to see anything remotely close to sugarloaf or even some of the other steeper inclines around Clermont in Augusta. I think you (and I) are going to be just fine! Steady and strong!!! :o)

  2. Way to push thru that ride!!!! Mental demons are far worse then physical ones, remember this ride and what you did while racing Augusta, it will only help you.