Monday, February 2, 2009

Saturday's Assault, and just getting through it

It's been a few days plus the weekend, you know it's going to be a long one!

I had scheduled awhile back a personal TT of a local mini-endurance route. In December I made finishing the route in sub-6 hours the first of my annual goals, to be completed by March. I didn't sign up for the "event" itself (it cannot be a race), so a personal TT of the course was all I would be afforded. Thought it might be fun to head out with some other fast guys that wanted to get a base time set for the first part of the course.

So, Saturday morning the day arrived. I was sort of nervous, but knew what I needed to do. Had to avg 7MPH over the entire course. I chose that morning NOT to have as one of my visible settings my avg speed, mostly because the entire last 10~ miles are downhill or flat whereby the majority of the speed was going to be picked up.

Aside from keeping myself moving (not only did I want to beat my goal time through ride time, but it also really mattered that the total time was under 6 hours), I also needed to focus on nutrition, since that's basically the only thing that can stop you in your tracks. The mileage and climbing I wasn't super worried about. I'd ridden the course plenty of times (especially the first half), though not recently (it's been 11 months since I've even seen most of the course). It was all about keeping a good pace, keeping the HR in check, and eating plenty.

Justin decided we'd go without packs (it'd make it lighter for me, and also I wouldn't have to stop to get out food). But, it also meant only 2-3 bottles.

I started out before the boys (Luke, Slater, Trevor, James, Justin, Ryan, Eric) with Slater's wife Monique and a few of their friends. I felt bad about it at first, but as soon as we got through the gate I took a few deep breaths, hit "Start" on my Garmin and took off like it was a race. Well, for me, it was!

There had been a few groups of people that started within the 5 mins before us, so I had some "carrots". I rode through the Troupe clan on the flats to someone joking about me going race pace this early on. Well, it was my race, so race it I did.

The group down below

I'd see a rider here or there up above on the switchbacks and while I didn't raise my pace to catch them, I did keep in mind that I kept getting closer, and eventually would pass them.

Now, you may not know me very well, but it's a new thing for me to pass anyone, ever. Last year at a few of the races I'd pass people, and sometimes I'd be passed. On weekend rides, I never ever used to pass anyone. I was the caboose on every ride, and would get passed by just about everyone. Sometimes now I'm lucky enough to be the one passing.

Yesterday I passed everyone, except for one guy as we headed up to Four Corners. But, he didn't beat me by much. Not only did I pass everyone, but sometimes I felt like I was passing them like they were standing still. I wouldn't consider it "fun" to do this, but it is a welcome change for me to feel that strong and climb that well.

I said hello to everyone as I passed, but didn't slow at all to chat. Sorry to anyone that I did pass that felt like chatting; I was in race mode. Nothing was going to stop me from my attempt.

Getting closer to that ball with every pedal stroke. I'm already that close?!

I hit a personal best on the initial climb. Gate to gate I beat my time from Dec 07 by more than 12 minutes, and in 2007 I was ONLY doing gate to gate, so left it all on the hill. This past weekend I still had another 35 miles to go!

I rode through a few groups of riders at this "top", but again didn't stop to say hello, just kept on cranking.

I felt great. It was a bit warm, but my legs felt good; I had middle ringed the entire first climb. My back felt okay. I was keeping with my gel and drink schedules by taking in calories consistently. I knew on the next section of crazy of steep ups followed by steep downs I needed to eat something solid. I dug an Odwalla bar out of my pocket and ate about half, saving the other half for just before the first singletrack descent.

My body was holding up and I was ticking off the miles.

I kept passing people here and there. I caught up to two guys riding, and while I passed one easily, the other saw me and decided to take off like he was racing. I chuckled to myself; I'd already caught them once, did he think I wouldn't again? I didn't put in any kind of effort to chase, I just kept moving at my steady pace. Not long after I had to pull around him and ride in the "fluff" to get around. He was huffing and puffing from the effort. I noticed that for some reason I don't do that anymore. Not working hard enough, or have I just learned to keep the effort quiet enough when I pass? It's good to not let your competitors know how much you are or are not struggling!

I made it to the top of the singletrack, hopped over the railing and said hello to the hikers as I pedaled off. Not long after I got to the descent there were about 15 hikers. They kept popping up hiding behind bushes. Then it was smooth sailing to the bottom.

I knew we had a vehicle stashed nearby to change out to new bottles, but I wasn't sure where. Luckily it was right at the bottom! I changed out my mostly empty bottles for freshies, took off my knee warmers and headed out.

The next climb I knew mentally and physically would be demanding. The first part is paved, and so the assumption there is that it should be easier than it is. The air is stagnant, and no matter how far you climb the pavement seems never-ending. There is a switchback at the end of the canyon where the pavement yields to dirt, and it is there that you begin to feel better, because at least now you are on dirt again, and it makes sense that you are working this hard.

I felt good out of the "gate", but knew I had a long climb ahead of me up to the merging of fire roads and eventually up to the peak itself.

No one behind me

I anxiously looked back a lot, waiting for the guys to catch me. It was inevitable, afterall.

The air was hot. I was sweating a lot, and kept trying to keep the fluids and food coming in. I had a long way to go, though, and wanted to be fueled the entire way. The gnats were present, but not horrible. Jeeps and trucks and motos passed me, choking me with their fumes.

Each time I waited to hear the sound of them make the turn at the switchback, signaling I was close. But, to no avail. It seemed to never come. I alternated sitting and standing, and never felt good in the small ring. At one point I thought I was "there", but then it was just another bend in the road, and another bridge, and another steep short section.

Two motos went by, and I heard them make the turn. I was close at last! What a relief.

Pay "dirt"

I continued climbing, and opened up my PB&Banana Bonk Breaker. I've almost always had problems running out of energy on this ceaseless climb, so I figured a full set of calories would keep me fueled and ready. I ate half, and stored the other for as I neared the transition to the next climb. It was GOOD.

I climbed alone, listening to my iPod Shuffle and my thoughts, looking back for the riders to catch me. I saw no one. Eventually I did see someone, and it turned out to be the only rider that passed me all day, and he wasn't with our group.

I got to the merge and continued on. This next section was tricky because it's narrow and filled with a billion loose rocks and no clean line. I made it a long ways before my tires spun out too much and my body begged me to stop pedaling. I got off and walked for maybe 100 yards, and started out pedaling again. I made the turn at the false peak and while I looked forward to the short descent, it yielded no relief.

It was rockier and slower than I rembered, and I was not into sitting and pedaling over the rocks. Quite frankly, I was tired of rocks.

At least I was able to smile!

The fire road turned up again, and a truck drove slowly behind me (as I was as far to the right or left - I switched sides more than once - looking for the cleanest line I could that was out of his way). I have no idea why they didn't pass, but they had to have followed directly behind me for about .5mi before finally going around. I passed another two riders, and continued my solo ascent. I kept looking back knowing eventually James or Trevor or Luke or Slater would round the corner. I saw no one.

I actually stopped, about .5mi from the summit to closely study the trail, hoping to see SOMEONE out there. No one appeared.

I continued climbing, turned the corner, and knew it was mostly downhill from there.

Once I hit the peak I knew I was on my own for the remainder of the ride. I started to conserve my remaining fluids because the shuttle vehicle at the finish line wasn't mine, and I didn't know how far back the driver was. I hadn't brought any money or cards for the market nearby. It was mostly descent, and I went slowly once I got to the popular hiking trail. I knew I was well within my time limit, so there was no reason to run over anyone. Everyone yielded the trail, despite the fact that I was descending at granny pace and watching more the trail ahead of me than in front of me for hikers or climbers. It got really crowded near the bottom, but I made it through and popped out onto the fire road for the last 5 miles of riding. The first part goes quickly. Then you get out into where it is hot and dry and flat.

The wash boards and rocks are everywhere. There is nothing that is flat or smooth. It is relentlessly painful. I could stand for a minute or two, run out of momentum, pedal pedal pedal, and then my legs were fried so I'd sit down and grit my teeth. Cars drive on both sides of the road hoping that the lowered Civics they are in will make it through the crater sized holes littering the road. It's like dodging moving land mines.

All of a sudden I looked up and saw vehicles. Vehicles! I was there! I beat my goal by 36+ minutes.

I spent a minute or two stretching, and then sat down. About 5 or so minutes after I finished hubby rolled up also! He'd spent the entire day chasing me, and much of it he rode alone also.

Monique offered us water, Recoverite, food (I declined, because the shuttle vehicle had my food and drink in it, and Eric couldn't have been that far behind), wipes.

Luke rolled up not long after Justin did. We were all thoroughly worked from the day's effort.

Monique offered to drive Justin back to the start, which was a blessing in disguise. Luke didn't know where Eric was; he hadn't seen him in hours. Slater showed up in the back of a truck after too many flats and not enough C02's (after a busted derailleur hangar!). I found out James, Trevor, and Ryan called it early due to a slew of mechanical bad luck.

We sat and chatted about the course, training, weight, etc. and Eric rolled up. Good thing Monique had taken Justin back to the truck cause Eric left his keys in it! Mr. Chatty (he had been the social butterfly of the day at least) needed a lesson in shuttling ;) We'd have been pretty much in dire straits without the ride back to the mid-way point.

Eventually Monique and Slater headed out to pick up packets for a half-marathon they were doing the next day (animals!!!) and Justin came back with freaking Keith B in tow! I hadn't seen Keith in nearly a year. Not only that, but here comes Maxwell walking across the lot after a big day on Bell. Ridiculous! Was anyone not riding in the SA's last Saturday?

Was great to see some familiar faces, and then it was time to head out and get some food at Wahoo's. I had had my recovery coffee and PB&J (it's LOADED with calories, btw), but wound up having a Bonzai veggie taco at Wahoo's anyway. It was goood.

I felt pretty decent considering the effort, and went to sleep happy!

Sunday I woke up not feeling that great, to be honest. My morning sore throat had turned into sinus congestion and a headache. I got up anyway and went about getting breakfast together for my 3+ hour ride. We got ready and got on the road and I was starving!

We saw a few acquantinces in the parking lot (which was sooo full - was no one going to a Superbowl party??), and got ready before taking off. I felt okay, and tried to stay within my endurance zone for the day. It's tough when all you've got is hills, but I tried my best. Even on the first loops I just was not feeling it. My legs were fine aside from a sore muscle in my glute region and my lower back. I kept pedaling, and just mentally wasn't into the ride. The clock wasn't moving and I just wanted to be sitting on the couch. I could feel my sinuses getting worse. Since I actually didn't feel horrible from the neck down I grinned and bared it and finished up just 4 minutes shy of my weekly volume. Not too shabby.


The peeeemp bike is still breaking in, and I can tell already that he doesn't at all like to ride slow. It's fast-paced or nothing!

I felt horrible, nixed running errands, and went home to watch the Superbowl. I didn't actually watch much of it. Wasn't super into it, and I'd missed almost the entire first half. Wound up watching some DVR, getting ready for bed, then catching "The Office". I didn't know it was on for an hour! I'd taken a Sudafed PM at 7 or so and barely made it til 8:40 when it ended.

It was totally a top 5 episode from the show, though. Had to like the hook of the first scene (come on, some guy lighting his office on fire?). It didn't disappoint, and I promptly headed to bed afterward. I fell asleep quickly, but woke up at 2 am feeling like I was on crack or something (I have no idea what that feels like, but my skin and body was super jumpy and jittery and I couldn't sleep).

I considered taking a Nyquil, but since I had to get up in 4 hours that sounded like a bad idea.

I woke up feeling not horrible today, and while nothing is specifically wrong (no sore throat, no fever, no sinus headache), I don't feel "good" at all.

At least if I'm going to feel this way it's a good week for it; time to hit regen this week before it's all about upping the intensity. I'm looking forward to it. The last few rides have shown me I'm ready to start hitting higher HRs and going faster. Can't wait.


Trevor Glavin said...

Nice job out there! Bummed we had to bail early due to some bike issues. I can't wait to get back out there...I hope this weekend works out.
Have a good week!

jameson said...

allison... what can i say? You are killing it and getting so fast! I can't wait to see what happens when you really "race" this year. It's going to be fun to watch.

Ryan Weeger said...

You definitely dominated on saturday (and the Epic is pretty sweet, I wanted to check it out in the Parking Lot) Hopefully the weather cooperates this next weekend, James and I were thinking of a good makeup ride for last weekends mechanicals!

Pedal Circles said...

James - thanks! Hard work pays off. I'm looking forward to reading about Beth and your races also. It's nice to read about other activities and see how well you guys are doing!

Ryan - the Epic was at home on Saturday! It was a bit rough of a ride for the new bike ;) It'll be at the races, though! Keep me in the loop about riding. Justin may be out for a few weeks, so I might need some riding partners!