After last weekend's ride took it's toll on me, I was fearful of bumping up the mileage by 20. But my new riding buddy, Lisa, talked me into it. Plus, I new if I could ride 80, I would have the confidence to do the full 100 in the Solvang Century (http://www.bikescor.com/solvang/) the week after. Only problem was...this was supposed to be a recovery week. After going from 4-6 hours a week for awhile, I had bumped it up to 10 for 3 solid weeks. How to keep training AND recover? I'm still not sure but the scientist inside me decided to try a new experiment, using my body (as always) as the guinea pig. I took Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday completely off. By Wednesday night, my soreness was completely gone, along with my exhaustion. My depression had now been replaced with mere irritability and excess ancy energy. Time to ease back.
Thursday, Brent and I went for a nice, sunset ride on the bike path--only 16 miles so I allowed myself to ride hard, hitting the hills with everything I had and coasting on the downhills. Btw, stoplights SUCK when you've been hammering and you're heart has leapt into your throat. My pre-workout snack also threatened to jump into my throat. Yuck. For some reason, Brent and I can ride together during the week just fine. He takes it easy on shorter rides while I hit it hard. To me, it makes sense to increase the speed and intensity when the distance is shorter and slow down when the miles increase. He has an opposite riding style. Go figure. I'm not his coach. At least we can ride together during the week!
Friday, I snuck in a lunchtime master's swim at UCSD. The noon sun and warm water felt sooo good on my skin. Swimming at lunch is my favorite time but it's not always feasible. Friday afternoon, I went for an easy 4 mile run. My plantar fasciitis is feeling MUCH better (thanks to "the sock"). However, I've been finding it's worse if I don't run regularly--it actually stiffens up. Time for more frequent runs! Yippee! Friday evening, I spent a long time getting Torch ready, filling water bottles, and laying out bike clothes.
Saturday morning, I was full of nervous energy. I hadn't ridden 80 miles in a long time. Since I was organizing the ride, and people had confirmed, there was no turning back. I was locked in. Just the way I like it. I met a ton of new people and reunited with old friends at the Del Mar Starbucks, and we rolled out. Since it was an out-and-back ride, we had a lot of company during the first few miles since riders could turn back at any point along the route. Brent hung back with me and kept me company the first several miles before zipping off, an unexpected treat. He turned around at mile 15, sticking to his recovery week plan, cheering me on as he returned to the start.
The weather was in the low 60s and quite pleasant with a chilly wind that struggled unsuccessfully to pierce through my arm warmers and vest. We were pushed along easily by a medium tailwind. Although I enjoyed the free speed, I glanced nervously down at my computer. I was going waaay too fast to be chatting this easily with my buddies. The return home might pose to be quite a challenge.
We reached the Oceanside Harbor (mile 20), and I called out to a bunch of riders in our group who had stopped for a brief respite. "Long ride this way!" I had told people we were regrouping at the base, only a mile up the road, and I didn't see the point in stopping twice (we had to stop at the base to show id anyway). "Now?!" one of the resting riders screamed incredulously. They were a bunch of fit, muscular guys; I knew they would have no problem leaping on their bikes and sprinting after us to catch up. Lisa, Brit, Greg and I pressed on confidently. Just inside the base, I stopped briefly to use the Port-a-Potty. The guys who had just caught up to us were not too pleased, "Let me get this straight. You made us hurry to catch up to you so we could wait for you here?" Not feeling like launching into a long drawn-out explanation (as I have here), I just nodded. "Yup. Let's go." And I took off again. Maybe they didn't understand but they followed along behind anyway.
Riding through the base was spectacular. Never a disappointment. The fields were softly green with spring grasses, dotted with chirping finches and other brightly colored songbirds, filling the air with their music. Wildflowers carpeted the rolling hills in blankets of orange poppies, yellow daisies, and purple lupine. The ocean sparkled to the west as the sun gleamed down on us in a baby blue sky with a few tufts of cotton candy clouds on the horizon. I am so spoiled; I actually sometimes take all this for granted. My Saturday rides always remind me how lucky I am to live in this paradise.
We reached the end of the base at mile 30, and our group broke off. Matt, Don, Greg, Tracy, and Tonya waved goodbye, wishing us a good ride. Why turn back now? Only 10 more miles to the turn-around! I thought. Lisa reminded me that it was another 10 to return to this point, making it actually 20. Oh yeah. I guess I don' t think like that. Lisa, Brit, Greg and I pressed on. What started out as a group of 50 became 30, then 10, and then there was 4.
We were in fantastic spirits. All of us had someone to ride with and we stuck together as a small group, just how I like it for a long ride. My butt was a little sore but that was it. I led the way to the liquor store in San Clemente. Everyone cracked up but it's a perfect stop for the turn-around. They are very bike-friendly, offer a clean bathroom, and lots of food and drink (water people, water). As I looked around the store, I realized why they are so cyclist-friendly--it's a teenager hangout. I felt sorry for the owner, an elderly woman with gray, curly hair and thick glasses, wearing a beige sweater with a cross around her neck. She looked weary from having to deal with houligans all day long. She said we were welcome to the store any time.
After a quick potty break, a coke and Dorritos (extra cheesy), we turned back and began the long ride home. I had been worried about being hit with a headwind. Sure enough, we were hit in the face with the winds as we headed south. However, after glancing at my computer, I realized my speed was the same. Hmmm. I looked at the flags (and multiple kites--you know it's windy when you see a ton of kites), noting that they were all blowing east. A crosswind! The winds had shifted. I'll take it. The cycling gods had blessed us.
I did a mental check. I felt pretty good. I was a little tired but nothing to worry about. I didn't feel hungry or thirsty and I was in good spirits. At mile 55, I dug into my secret stash--chocolate-covered espresso beans. I popped 4 and waited. My stomach didn't churn, and I felt zippier! I don't think I rode any faster but I certainly was talking at a faster rate. Oh, well. At least, I felt good. Yea for chocolate-covered coffee beans!
A cyclist rode past us and enthusiastically commented on my bike several times, repeatedly exclaiming, "You're bike is SO daffy!" Daffy? I have no idea what that means but it cracked us all up. I started saying, "Hey Brit, you're so creamy! Zesty! Daffy!" making up random adjectives as I went. We reached the Oceanside Harbor again, and Greg made us pause for a quick pit stop. It forced me to refill my water bottles so that was good. I was eating and hydrating well. I couldn't believe how quickly the miles seemed to be flying by. The final 20 miles were fantastic. We reached the end and gave each other big ear-to-ear smiles. What a great ride.
I was tired and a little wobbly but had enough energy to properly take care of myself. I promptly stopped at the grocery store for sushi, chocolate milk, and a bag of ice. At home, I ate the sushi, drank the chocolate milk (hey, it was what I was craving, ok?), stretched, and took an ice bath...in that order. Then, I donned compression tights for the rest of the day.
Sunday, I slept in a bit and opted for a solo 9-mile run on the bike path. Brent and Alec rode alongside on the tandem, cheering me on. It was hysterical, cracking up even the most somber runners around me, trudging away on the bike path. Except for an emergency pit stop in the bushes at mile 6 (no more corn the night before a long run!), I felt great and cranked out 9 min/miles the whole way. My foot actually felt better and better as I ran as did the stiffness in my legs from the bike the day before.
When I got home, I downed an Ensure, stretched, took an ice bath, and slipped into my compression tights before rushing off to Alec's soccer game. Today (Monday), I feel great! No soreness and just a little fatigue but nothing much. I even did weights this morning. Those ice baths are miracle-workers! Time for a lunchtime swim.