Thursday, November 28, 2013

Turkey With A Side Of Suffering.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Ready to roll, layered up..
 ..about to SUFFER!
Don't let the sunshine fool you the way it did me!

This has been a great couple of weeks for me.  I've been at home in Austin, enjoying the roads and the city (though the weather has been less than stellar).  I've reconnected with old friends and made a few new ones.  I spent the day eating turkey with my awesome neighbors.  I even got a deck compliments of the awesome folks at my RV park!

LOOK! I have a deck!
No photography skills... but a deck!  

I took a new-to-me bike for the first time and did a little  recovery spin today.  My legs told me they were on holiday and were not going to be answering calls.  I was to ride without them.  It was an enjoyable little ride and the one time I put in a request for power, my legs referred me to their answering service.  NOPE.  Big fat SORRY ABOUT YOUR LUCK!

Alright Blackie, lets see what you are about.

Why the attitude?  Well, keep reading.

Coach Brain, as I said before, put a little slack in the lines on this schedule and I am getting to stretch my legs.  There have been a couple of deliciously challenging workouts in the mix, though some were challenging for more reasons than just what was written.  There were a couple of interval sessions that really reminded how much I like to dig down and hurt.  You know, the crunchy ones where you end up shouting at your legs for trying to slow down.  (not that it takes much to get to that point these days!!) Still, those workouts... the ones that leave you in a crumpled heap... those are the ones I like the most!

Then there are another kind.  They test you, not because the effort is challenging but because the circumstances are.. like the long trainer ride.  I had a couple of those this week.  Coach Brain gave me permission to shorten it to a brief warmup and cool down, plus the main set.  That would certainly have made it more palatable but I finally realized that there are so many reasons for me to shorten or skip a workout, that I did not need or have the luxury of a cop out based on boredom.  The workouts got done in their entirety.

The trainer workouts paled in comparison to the outdoor workouts though.  With a horrid cold front pushing through.  I found myself riding in weather that I would normally leave to.. well, ANYONE else.  Again, with all of the trouble that I have had in the last couple of years, I feel like I have used all of my “get out of jail workout free” cards.  I layered up and headed out the door the moment it stopped spitting ice from the sky.  The first day was so painful, it inspired three days on the trainer as the worst of the front pushed through.  Then, I headed back out to see if I could freeze out the princess that seemed to be rearing her tiara-ed head.

Full finger gloves and arm warmers.  Yeah, that's all that's in my arsenal.

First was a hill ride with one of my Austin Bikes teammates.  It was a great ride with great company, a good pace, and one of those times that fighting a 30 degree, 20+ mph headwind up some big hills seemed more tolerable when you are not alone.  By the end of that ride, the cold was causing my back and quads to cramp pretty badly.  I was quite happy when that was over but equally happy that I had the guts to get out there and do it.  I finished the day with a body weight resistance workout and felt pretty solid about how the two weeks were shaping up.  Only, those cramps, that cold, that strength workout, those hills... they would come back to haunt me.

The next day was a 3.5 hour ride with a decent block of tempo work.  It was a couple of degrees warmer... like two.... so confident from the previous days ride, I headed out the door in the same layers that had worked the previous day.  I was fine.. for about 90 mins.  Well, sort of fine.  I caught a long red light in the first 15 mins of the ride and after that point noticed a strange sound coming from the front of the bike.  About an hour later, I was feeling like hell.  I knew I had a tailwind but I just couldn't make that bike GO.  My legs and back were starting to cramp up again and I felt HORRID.  I stopped to check out the sound only because I needed a rest.  The sound?  The front brake was almost fully engaged.  It had been since that light.  I was hearing (and smelling) the brake pads burning off the rim.  AWESOME.  After I opened the brake, I rode a little further, suddenly feeling like I had wings, then got a my turnaround and went into the wind.  It was like the brake was back on.  DAMMIT.


By the time I got to the tempo block, about 2 hours into the ride, I was really suffering.  My legs were dead and painful, my back was locked up, my feet and hands were blocks of ice, my face was chapped (nope.  Didn't think to bring chapstick.  Too obvious!).  I was looking at my power and it was showing numbers far below the suffer factor.  My cadence was horrible.  My legs were totally unresponsive and no matter how hard I tried to spin up to a higher cadence, even in an easy gear, it wasn't happening.  Same was true for applying any real force to the pedals.  Every pedal stroke shot pain through my knees and up my legs. My legs tendered their letter of resignation while I sucked down every bit of nutrition I had packed looking for salvation in a gel packet.  I got through that ride.  Every. Last. Hateful. Minute.   I was prepared to be proud of my fortitude but really, I was a little panicked that I had overdone it and it was going to cost me the rest of this training block.

I came in from that ride shaking.  My legs and back were tender to the touch they were so sore.  It had taken all the stubborn I could muster (and honestly, I have a LOT of "stubborn" at my disposal) and then some to finish the ride.  I knew I had found that hole that I like to fall into and hoped I had not gone over the edge.

Maybe it could be argued that I would have been better served aborting the workout but honestly, I think I wanted to remind myself that I can still get it done.  I did my best to salvage the situation with nutrition.  I shot emails to my coach and dietitian... (slightly panicked): What did I do?? What do I do??  Since they are both athletes and professionals, they kindly refrained from actually penning an eyeroll or facepalm and gave me some simple recovery tactics that basically amounted “eat, drink water, and go to bed... dum-dum!”

When I woke up today, I discovered something.  I hadn't died overnight.  So on this absolutely FABULOUS day, I took that new bike for a ride.  And (properly dressed for the weather) enjoyed every last second of it.  I am thankful to have something in my life that cleans the slate so gracefully.  I am grateful for the ability to ride my bike today.

Wilbur had other ideas on how cold should be handled.

Oh, and the new bike?  AWESOME.

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