Monday, July 5, 2010

Are We There Yet?

Yesterday thanks to riding partner Nancy, I completed my longest ride on the bike yet.  It was a good day, and a frustrating day all in one.  But mostly good....

We started our ride in Providence and headed out at a very relaxed easy pace which was great.  We tend to do that on most of our rides and I prefer a nice long warmup to heading out too quickly which just makes me cranky.  Our ride took us all the way into Connecticut and back which was kind of fun.  Although I must say I was pretty dissapointed that there wasn't a giant welcome to CT sign for me to get a photo in front of to put here in my blog.  In fact in 85 miles I can't say there was much of interest to take a photo of.  It was a beautifull route full of lovely little roads through various towns whose names I can't remember, but nothing that stood out to me too much.  And nobody needs to see another picture of my sweaty face after riding all day.  But I digress...   I know...  shocking eh?

Riding 85 miles is as much a mental challenge as anything else.  It was hard for me not to occasionally look down at my bike computer and think hmm....  20 miles in.  Thats roughly 1/4 of the way there.  I have to say I felt somewhat nervous for the first half of the ride.  I'd only ever ridden 70miles before and I felt like I had more energy that day.  So I was tentative for most of the ride and I felt like I was being carefull to make sure I had enough energy to finish it.  I didn't want to fall apart at mile 60 and have to suffer my way in and annoy Nancy for the last 20 miles of the ride.

So here's were it gets frustrating.  Nancy led the ride for about 81 miles of it.  Yep.  I only pulled for about maybe 2 miles of it, and the other mile or two came from random bike guy who joined us for a little while.  We picked up a straggler from one of the NBW group rides in the area and ran through a group ride like rotation for a brief period while the three of us chatted until our routes parted ways and he went on to finish his ride.  Now I know going into these rides with Nancy that she is the much stronger rider and that she also knows the routes really well whereas I have no idea where were going.  And through most of our rides Nancy pulls and leads for 95+% of them.  And initially I was ok with all of this.  I didn't know where we were going, and I'm not as strong a rider.  But now I'm starting to get frustrated by it.  I'm just not going to get any stronger as a rider by grabbing onto her wheel.  There are times on safer roads when we can ride side by side which we will do from time to time but those are rare, and I always guess wrong as to when those times are.  Sometimes I drop back 10-15' to try and get out of her draft.  But then I always start to panic and think she's going to drop me. (not intentionally).  So I end up grabbing her wheel for the whole ride and therefore putting out 30% less effort than she is for the whole thing.

Lets face it...  there's a big difference between being able to ride 85 miles and being able to be pulled for 85 miles.  And somehow the accomplishment just doesn't seem as much of an accomplishment when its the later.  I know I'm not strong enough to pull for 50% of the rides yet, but I want to at least be doing 10% and working my way steadily towards 50% in the future.  So I sent an email to Nancy explaining all of this yesterday after our ride and she has graciously agreed to help me work on it.  And I really hope that we are able to figure it all out.  I know its not always easy to be in her position though.  These rides are her workouts too and she's not my coach.  Just a riding partner.  So its a carefull balance of me wanting to turn them into workouts designed to make me stronger and become a better rider, and me not wanting to annoy her too much or take away from her workout goals.  But I think there's a balance to be had there.  Its probably at this point I should take a moment to say how much I appreciate Nancy letting me tag along on her long rides.  They really have made me a much stronger rider in a very short amount of time.  Sure I still have a very very long way to go.  But I don't know that I would have attempted an 85 mile ride on my own so I'm very appreciative that I get to tag along on these rides.

However...   all of the above said....     I'm still psyched that I rode 85 miles yesterday.  The route was very hilly (4500 feet of climbing) and quite challenging.  Not a lot of flats, several long and slow inclines which I found harder than the short and steep hilly parts generally.  The heat was also up there for a lot of yesterday.  It always seemed like all of the hills had no shade over them either.  They were always the hottest most brutal parts.  I think the temps were in the mid 80's.  I drank over 140oz of gatorade, ate three cliff bars, and another 16oz of water during the ride.  Post ride I drank another 40oz of water on the drive home.  I was THIRSTY!  And after all of that I got on the scale when I got home and weighed exactly the same as when I left.  Which is good as it means I hydrated properly, but thats a lot of sweat!

Speaking of food...   I screwed up big time last night and perhaps publicly admitting it will make me not do it again.  After getting back from the ride and getting cleaned up I wasn't all that hungry yet.  My stomach was too full of fluids I think.  But eventually I made this massive dinner of brown rice, sliced turkey kielbasa, and diced asparagus in a pad thai sauce.  It was a GIANT meal.  1200 calories and I ate the whole thing.  Which is fine as I need it.  I burned 2200 calories on the ride today and consumed about 1800 calories during the ride. So I was still allowed to eat quite a bit.  But after dinner my friend Jen came over and we chit chatted and watched some tv for a bit.  And then after she left I watched the Tour de France coverage I had taped from while I was out riding.  During this time period I ate two pitas, three string cheese sticks, and an ENTIRE BOX of 6 cliff bars.  Thats another 1800 calories worth of food.  Yes... it was a binge.  And yes, I'm really pissed off and dissapointed at myself about it.  Ugh.  I suck sometimes.  The worst part is you know its a binge in the middle of it and its damn near impossible to stop it.  Whats even more annoying is that I was down to 139lbs which was just 1lb shy of my pre vacation weight.  And now I've probably added another pound or two to that.  So getting to 138 before the race on Sunday is going to be tricky and I'm not going to do anything stupid to reach that goal as I still need to properly eat this week.  So yeah...  I'm dissapointed in myself today.

So goals for this week?  eat better, have a great race, taper effectively, and get some transition practice in, and continue to swim three times this week before the race.  Speaking of taper...  I need to get my head in some books this afternoon and figure out what the hec I'm doing training wise this week as part of my pre race routine.

Hope everyone had a fun and safe 4th!

Oh and forgive this somewhat private joke... but I just feel like it needs to be immortalized somewhere...

Remember...   deep breaths, and no bird chucking! Stay true to your rasalution!

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