Monday, July 06, 2009
A 3 Day Weekend: A 3-Part Tale
Hope that everyone had a holiday weekend. Mine was pretty intense. I'm actually relieved to go back to work today so I can recover! (I need a vacation). You know you're a triathlete when...you use national holidays to fit in as many workouts as possible as your idea of fun.
Friday, we kicked off the weekend with a century ride: The Independence Century. I did a little research and came up with a 1-loop ride in north county that included some hills and heat but ended with the flat, refreshing coast. I also gave riders shorter options so there was something for everyone. About 25 people showed up, which was awesome. I love using long rides as an excuse to meet new people and catch up with old friends. My hamstring and knees were still shredded from Palomar the weekend before, especially when climbing, but oddly enough, everything seemed to warm up after mile 25.
The heat began to escalate when reached Escondido, and I forgot to drink between the first and 2nd rest stops, getting myself good and dehydrated. Everyone reacts differently when they're dehydrated. I get very cranky. After forcing down a sandwich, Coke, and copious amounts of water (after snapping at everyone first), I felt much better. I was ready for the famous climb up Lilac (which isn't that bad, guys, really). It looked intimidating because it was long and you could see it coming forever as it snaked up and around and around. Plus, it was hot. Stifling hot, which always makes everything harder. But once we started going up, I realized it wasn't that steep and could sit and spin.
Somehow, we made the wrong turn at the Lilac-Lilac-Lilac intersection. Is this the nexus of the universe? Did they run out of street names? I mean, c'mon! Anyway, we inadvertently started riding west but were supposed to be riding north. I knew we had gone the wrong way, 10 miles later, but after all the ups and downs, we weren't about to turn around and head east again, back into the blazing heat. Each 5-miles west we rode earned us a degree cooler (it had been 100 on the Lilac climb); I had ridden parts of the roads before so I forged ahead, trying to get us back while creatively adding miles to make up for the ones we had missed. No one knew where we were, and I was only pretending. Inside, I was panicked. What if I lead everyone astray? It's one thing to get yourself lost. It's quite another to organize a ride and get everyone lost. Argh!
We continued riding north on beautiful back roads, winding past gorgeous, tucked away farms and avocado groves. There was no traffic, and all was serene and quiet. All of a sudden, I recognized the street name. It was on my original map! I called a quick regroup, showed everyone where we were, and, relieved, led the way confidently after that. The new route had missed our 3rd rest stop. Thinking fast, I found a 7-11 at mile 70 (about the same mile as the original route), and we all rehydrated. We reached the San Luis River Rey bike path, and I celebrated, pushing hard into the head wind for the next 10 miles. Brent and I took turns pulling. I felt wonderful! Guess it takes me 70 miles to warm up.
We hit the coast and were instantly amazed at how packed the streets were. Beach cruisers, walkers, dogs, cars, everywhere. All roaming aimlessly about. Angry cars, searching for a parking spot. Surfboards, blindly flying out into the bike lane. It was mayhem. Why would anyone want to go the beach on the 4th? It's SO crowded. Yuk! It was tense but somehow, we made it back to the start. My computer read 93 miles. Stubbornly, I continued south. The group followed reluctantly. Hey, they could stop if they wanted to! But inside, they were all mileage junkies like me. We turned around and head back to the start (again). We reached the light to turn into the parking lot but were still 0.4 miles short. I stubbornly rode north to the next light before turning left. Everyone groaned...then followed. We reached the parking lot, and my computer read 100.1 miles. I'll be damned if I plan and century and my computer doesn't read 100 miles. Obssessive?
The Suck It Up Run (17-mile Black Mountain Park trail run):
Saturday, I woke up early to run to Black Mountain Park. I needed to run 16; Brent wanted 10. The trail in the park is a 10-mile loop. Simple, I would run to the park. However, when I mapped it out the night before, I would be 3-miles short so I headed in the opposite direction first for 1.5 miles before turning around and heading towards the park (first mistake). Second mistake--I left my fuel belt with Brent, thinking: I don't need water for the first 6-miles. You do if you're running 10 hilly hot ones after! Doh! My legs were heavy from the bike the day before but I could crank out a good pace on the roads if they were flat. Unfortunately, the entire route to the park was uphill. The entire way. I was feeling very cranky. It was very humid too, and sweat dripped down my forehead and cheeks. Ugh. I was feeling pretty miserable. I'll warm up out of it. Just give it time, I coached myself.
I reached mile 6. No park. I still had a good mile to go. WTF? I didn't want another mile! Something inside me snapped as I realized it would be a 17-mile run. For some reason, 16 was okay but 17 seemed unfathomable. Out of the question. I finally reached the park, hot, cranky, dehydrated, and with an extra mile under my belt. I slammed the extra bottle of water Brent had brought, snapped on the fuel belt, and we set off.
The trails were hot and hilly and the going was agonizingly slow. I was cranking at Brent. Why did you have to pick this run? Why are you making me do this? Why couldn't we do something easier? He just kind of raised an eyebrow at me. He tried chatting about how fun the bike ride was yesterday and what a great weekend he was having but was met with only silence. It just seemed like too much energy to reply. I was hitting the wall. Every little hill we met, I had to walk. It was such an effort to resume running again. I couldn't. I just couldn't.
Only 1-mile in (8-miles for me), I asked him for the keys to the car and turned around. He hesitated, then waved goodbye and trotted off. Miserable, I sat down on the side of the trail and started crying. Brent was already out of earshot. I cried louder. Looking around, I saw I was alone. No one was there to take care of me or make me feel better. Except me. I fell silent and took several deep breaths. I didn't want to go back to the car. I didn't want to surrender and only do 8 miles of a 16-mile run (okay, now 17). I was halfway there. I didn't want to have to make it up later or bail on it completely and worry about what skipping it would mean for my Ironman preparation this close to the race when every workout counts. There was nothing wrong with my body. I was just tired. The urge to quit was 100% mental but physically, I knew I could get through this run. I took a suck-it-up pill (as David Goggins would say), picked myself up, and started running.
I ran fast, feeling fresh and energized. I tested myself. Could I catch up with Brent? Clipping away at an 8:30 pace, I saw him a mile later. Whoo hoo! I was overjoyed. He was surprised but happy to see me. I told him I'd had an attitude adjustment and we toiled onward. It didn't really get much easier. The sun was blazing, there was no shade, and the rising heat was stifling. The hills were numerous, steep and mountainous, and I practically had to crawl to reach the top of each one. My legs were tired and my pace got slower and slower and slower as the miles got longer (and hillier). But I didn't really care. I wasn't giving up. I wasn't going to quit. And that's all that mattered.
I ran out of water at mile 14 or 15. Brent saved me by offering me some of his. Next time, I'll have to drop a bottle at mile 5, where there's another trailhead. The temp was in the high 90s. The sound of rattling tails from nearby, hidden rattlesnakes in the grass reverberated in the canyons. I sharply scanned the trail ahead of me, watching my step. The last 2 miles were the hardest (and hottest and hilliest). I was having a hard time just walking. At the top, a cool breeze deliciously teased me, and the sound of a bubbling creek below refreshed me. "Do you hear that? It feels wonderful!" I commented, not realizing I was mixing senses. Still, I think my core temp dropped a degree or two. Somehow I made it up the next hill, and the next. I was wobbly and tired. So tired. There was a little patch of shade offered by the massive electrical tower perched at the top of the hill (okay, mountain). I asked Brent if I could lay down to take a little nap. "Just a little one?" I pleaded. He shook his head no and urged me onward. (Later he would tease me that I wanted a power nap under the power tower).
I saw the baseball fields at the park where the car was and rejoiced. We had made it. Barely. He drove to a nearby gas station so I could grab 20 lbs of ice (ice bath), chocolate milk, orange juice and water. I was quite a sight as I wobbled around in a disoriented manner, barefoot (there was no way I was putting my running shoes back on again). I was so happy to be done with that run. But in the end, it was great mental training.
Laps in the Cove:
Sunday, I squeezed in an hour bike and 6-mile run before meeting my group for an ocean swim at La Jolla Cove. I was short on workouts for the week and stubbornly wanted to get them in. Also, I wanted a redemption run after the day before's horrendous one. Surprisingly, the 6-miles were wonderful. I was fast and quick; my confidence was quickly restored.
I met my group and we set off for the half-mile buoy. I needed 2.5 miles. My plan was to go 3 laps: 2 to the 1/2 mile buoy and 1 to the 1/4 mile buoy. Everything was smooth sailing until I reached the 1/4 mile buoy. After that, the water got really choppy. A large swell was coming in, and I kept getting buffeted up and down. It was hard to feel like I was making forward progress.
After finishing my first lap, I headed back out alone. Everyone else thought the water was unpleasantly rough (it was) and 1-mile was enough for them. There were a lot of other swimmers out there, and I felt safe and secure between the 3 buoys to my east and 3 to my west (the 1/4 and 1/2 mile buoys are between the 6 cylindrical ones). Unfortunately, in the ocean, the shortest distance between 2 points is not always a straight line. I swam too far east on the first half of the 2nd lap and had a rude awakening when I turned west to reach the 1/2 mile buoy. I was swimming directly against the swell. Somehow, I didn't swallow water or even get seasick. I just kept swimming. I reached the northwest cylindrical buoy and had a moment of total disorientation. How did I get here? Luckily, I wasn't in a hurry. I stopped and looked around, realizing I had overshot the 1/2 mile buoy. Sometimes, stopping to collect yourself can save you time and prevent disaster in the long run, especially in the middle of the ocean. The return back on the 2nd lap was a snap since I had favorably placed myself in the current. Whoo hoo!
I was feeling kind of tired and sour as I headed out for the 3rd lap but I only had to go to the 1/4 mile buoy this time, and the ocean was much calmer until that buoy. Still, I stopped several times to readjust my goggles, more to look at fish and look around than to fix a real leak. I circumvented several snorkelers and scuba divers as I returned. An airplane roared overhead, and I stopped abruptly to see what the noise was. It was pulling a banner advertising Cheetah's, a strip club. Really? I'm in the middle of the ocean, and I still can't escape that kind of stuff? Ugh. I returned to shore for the last time, exuberant. I had done it! All of it. Then, I realized I was ravenous and, after seeing a friend up on the grass, proceeded to scarf down a ton of food in his cooler (turkey, salami, cheese, cherries, trail mix, granola bars), until he snapped the cooler shut, cutting me off. Thanks, TJ! It was delicious. You're a life saver!
Thank God it's a recovery week!