Sunday, August 29, 2010

Summer Breeze 2010 100 mile Course

It was out of complete ignorance I decided to do a biking Century. Sure, a few 10-mile loops here and there, a successful 74 mile ride. This is going to be so easy!

We started right on time, cruising out in a large group. I found comfort in being so close to a lot of other bikers, and enjoyed the excitement, brightly colored jerseys and flashing triangle lights many of the cyclists were wearing. But it was already 75 F when we started, and my early plans to skip the first rest stop at 15 miles were thrown out the window.

I realized a few things rather quickly: This was, in fact, not going to come easily. The 25 mph headwind made the biking exhausting. I was utterly unprepared.

The first stop I realized how necessary the bottle on my bike was. I was expecting cups and gatorade and water (a la marathon style), but the deal was you filled your own bottle. If you wanted Gatorade, you tossed in the powder on the spot. Not a bad idea. I ate a cup of peanut M&Ms.

I spent much of the first 30-ish miles fighting the wind, the hills and the rising temps, yet still feeling reasonably fresh. I was eating and drinking well, but about this point I was utterly alone on a road going straight into a very hilly section, directly into the headwind. I began to panic that I had somehow missed a turn. Nary a single marking of "SB -->" popped up even once on this long stretch, and each hill I thought to myself, "OK, this is the hardest hill I have ever climbed." Only to find another one just as bad or worse a few minutes later. I said this to myself at least ten times on ten different hills.

The second stop around 30 miles, I drank another 40 ounces and ate a half a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

The wind was so strong, I had to pedal to go downhill. There was no coasting or resting. For fifteen miles (from 30 to 45), my concern grew. I hadn't seen a soul in over an hour and had no confirmation I was even on the right course. I searched my brain for a plan B: How do I figure out where I am and if I am on the course? The miles did not come easily, and this was way too early to be so exhausted. My worry grew, but then I hit the sign for the next SAG stop, which was quite busy with other cyclists, and marked the end of the long trek directly into the wind. And then my Garmin 405 battery died (despite being taken off the charger the moment I left), at 44 miles. Ugh. I mentally needed to know how far I had left.

From here on out, while I did occasionally lose sight of other riders for stretches, there were enough "SB-->" sightings that I no longer worried I was off course. Although I would have given anything to see a mark on the road that indicated a half-way point!

Being out of the wind, I started to feel better. In fact, I came in so strong at the mile 68 rest stop, it was the best I'd felt all day. I knew I was going to make it another 32 miles. Somehow. I had begun to pass people (instead of being passed), and never was passed again.

The next stop was the lunch in Raymore, at mile 83. I got off my bike, and suddenly felt quite woozy. This worried me a bit; because I didn't know why I felt like that and had not realized it while I was on the bike. I was well enough hydrated to require a visit to the porta-sans each stop and drinking 40+ oz. per stop (yes, it was THAT hot and sunny). I was eating solid food, and had been taking a few hammergels as well. Also, I'd built up some endurolytes the night before. Seventeen more miles to go. Although I was fully aware of how much I'd underestimated this effort, I also knew I'd finish this thing.

Lunch was delicious, barbecued chicken and beans and all the traditional goodies of orange slices, grapes, bananas and peanut butter sandwiches. I had two helpings of the chicken, as I found I was quite hungry. Feeling better, I took off for the final (and longest) stretch.

Interestingly, I was still riding well. I'd continued to pass people, which surprised me. I passed with caution, as I figured every single person on this century ride was better prepared and better trained than I was. I didn't want to pass someone and annoy them, only to get re-passed as they breezed by to point out I was a complete and UTTER novice. Nonetheless, my strength did not leave me.

At last, I pulled into the parking lot and spotted my car.. and many other cars still there. I eagerly searched for some welcoming committee: ice cold beverages, cold orange slices, live band music, anything. But, no one was there. A few riders came in after me as I put my bike away, and I was glad I'd bothered to pack a cooler in my car and downed yet more Gatorade. Somewhat anti-climactic after finishing my first Century. Nonetheless, I managed a little, "Hell, YES! I did it."

I topped things off when I got home with a 22-minute ice bath. Why 22 minutes you ask? Because I honestly forgot I was in an ice bath while reading a magazine.

The one thing I wished I'd brought more than anything in the world? Lip balm.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Coming Back From The Stress Fracture, Again...

My leg hurt for nine days. And then it stopped. I didn't run a step for five weeks.

In fact, I could honestly say... I hardly missed running at all in those five weeks. Now, for those of you who know me, that sounds unimaginable. I am an addict after all. But, the first week was spent on vacation in Florida with my father and daughter, and after that, my next four weeks were filled with very consistent, endurance-type cross training. My sixth week introduced short runs after my cross training workouts.

Not a day went by that I wasn't doing a workout of some kind for over an hour. And then I picked up road biking, which held an interesting allure for me--allowing me to go for four hours or more. I'd never gone more than 20 miles on a bike. Ever. For the heck of it, I went 35 miles one day, and the next thing I knew, I'd signed up for a century. Between water workouts, biking (and a few other things, like kayaking), I collapsed into bed each night satisfactorily spent. I simply wasn't full of jittery energy wanting to burn it off with a good run.

This Sunday, I will attempt to complete my first biking century (starting from Longview Lake in Missouri). I don't really know what to expect, but I did manage a 74 mile ride without any issues two weeks ago. I'm oddly excited about it--happily nowhere near as stressed as my first marathon, but edgy and wondering, will I make it? Will it be too hot? What will it be like? Did they HAVE to put the bulk of the hills in the last third of the ride? Will peanut butter and jelly sandwiches taste good at mile 80?

And, of course, Chicago is still on the map in six weeks.