Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Today's Workout Brought to You by

wind, rain, (no)sense of direction and hairspray.

This is sort of how the last few days have been.  Saturday I escaped the rain and actually got in a few hours on the trail. I even survived driving Lil' Dave's car after my workout despite needing to do some serious seat adjustments.
No, I am not sitting on the floor.
Sunday was a different story. I headed to Murphy hoping to ride the trail, only to arrive just as the gate was closed. I decided to do a road ride from there, knowing I'd lose my motivation if I drove all the way home in the rain. I planned to start the week off with an easy 1 1/2 to 2 hour ride so I stuck a single bottle on my bike and some Chomps in my pocket. At the last minute I stashed a 20 in my pocket (just in case I ran out of water and found a gas station) and headed out.

I don't really mind rain if I'm warm enough so the ride went by quickly- so quickly in fact that by 1:30 in I came to a road I recognized and thought I was nearly done. Just a right turn and I'd be headed back to the car. Thirty minutes later I wasn't back at the car. Confused, I finally consulted the map on my phone, at which point I discovered I'd been riding straight south when I'd thought I was riding straight north. Thankfully, I'd finally stopped because I was almost in Iowa, which meant I needed to turn around.

My only excuse for this complete and utter lack of direction is the wind. I was sure it was from the west. Turns out, it was coming from the east and of course, I was not only just south of my car, but west of it, which made for quite a fun ride back. I arrived back to the car 3 hours and 30 minutes later with an empty bottle, an empty Chomps wrapper and my 20 bucks. Apparently there are no gas stations on the back roads to Iowa. Or drinking fountains.

The upside to Sunday's ride and bonk was that yesterday's ride was only an hour and a half. The trails were still too wet to ride, but I lucked out and had a work break right as the rain stopped but before the Memorial Day partiers hit the roads, allowing me a rare city ride without traffic.

The pouring rain returned today, which meant that my mid-day hair appointment would be followed by a run in the rain. Normally I'm a "leave my hair wet" kind of girl so I figured this would be no big deal. I don't own a curling iron or hairspray. However, on the rare occasion when someone cuts my thin, straight hair and is actually excited to try to do something with it, I say yes. So, I ended up leaving the hair salon like this:
I had to take a picture for Big E so he knows it's actually possible for me to have decent hair.
just as I was preparing to go run in the rain.

Since I haven't used hairspray since 1988, I had no idea what would happen when it mixed with the rain. Let's just say this- my ponytail ended up becoming a whole-head dreadlock. I managed to comb it out after about 15 minutes and throw it back into my usual wet ponytail just as my next client arrived. I guess I'm just destined to be a ponytail kind of girl. At least I had an hour of good hair.

Despite Big E's encouragement that training in crappy weather is good for me, I'm looking forward to some drier days. I want my trails back. I'll trade the hairspray for bugspray any day.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Training Brain (aka How to Lose Your Bra)

Remember those old ads- "This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs."? Well, I'm pretty sure they could make one that said, "This is your brain. This is your brain on 15+hours of training a week," and it would be quite amusing.

When I read stories about people who work, train over 15 hours a week and raise children, I'm always amazed because, quite frankly, once the training amps up I can barely take care of myself.  Case in point- it's 11pm and I'm still doing laundry. Two workouts a day has drained the supply of workout gear. I'm not sure the washing machine is going to be able to keep up with this and my never ending pile of massage sheets.
(Yes, Big E is building a wheel behind my wall of wet laundry. Thankfully, this time he's actually working on his own bike at 11pm instead of trying to rescue one of my bike disasters.)

On weeks and days like this I adopt an "in the moment" plan. Basically, this means I go with the flow and focus on what's happening right at the moment so I don't get overwhelmed.  I think about work when I'm working, training when I'm training, eating when I'm eating...and then I pass out and dream about riding with Valentino Rossi. I call this "training brain", which is basically just my term for a brain that can't handle anything more.

Today was one of those days. I babbled some sort of nonsense at Big E when he left early, got up shortly after, ate, prepped food for the day, threw my bike and gear in the car and headed for the office. During my break between morning and evening clients, I jumped at the chance to finally ride some trail after a few days of rain. I headed to Elm Creek and whipped out my usual "stealth change" in the parking lot.

The "stealth change" is my version of getting naked in the car without really getting naked in the car. I prefer not going to jail for public nudity so I've figured out a method to change in which no one would actually see my breasts. This involves putting my sports bra on over my work bra and then slithering out of the work bra and pulling it down my legs and off my feet.

Today, in my training fog, I apparently completed half of my stealth change. I remember the point where I put one bra over the other and then I went through the motions. At some point there was the application of chamois butter, tire pressure fiddling and then I was off onto the trail. Nothing seemed off at the time. In fact, everything seemed completely normal until I returned to the car for a new water bottle and found a bra.

At first, I laughed at the prospect of someone having a little fun in the parking lot and losing her bra. Of course, a moment later I realized that was MY bra and I hadn't had a little fun in the parking lot. In fact, I don't really even know what the hell happened. Apparently in my training fog, I stepped out of the car with my bra still around my ankles. Or perhaps in my training fog, I realized I don't really need a bra and tossed her out the window.  I was so shocked to find it there, I actually checked all the windows to make sure someone hadn't broken into my car and left my bra behind (because, really, who else would even bother to wear a bra this small?), but that was not the case.

Thankfully, the rogue bra was rescued, since I needed it to go back to work. (OK, I could've probably pulled it off without a bra but I like to think I need one.) Now, let's just hope I can keep training brain in check long enough get all my clothes on (and completely off) for the rest of this week's workouts.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

True Confessions

True confession #1: I always bawl my eyes out at some point after a particularly hard or long race. I'm not sure when this whole post race syndrome began. My first memorable experience with it was the day after Alexander when I sat on Big E's lap before I left for work and cried my heart out. I had no idea what was happening and I'm not 100 percent sure, but I believe it was then that he explained what it meant to be "shelled".  Usually this whole post race meltdown happens in the first few days after a race, but for some reason this time it was delayed. I'm blaming the 13 hour solo drive the day after the race. I really wanted to melt down, but it seemed dangerous to bawl while driving. Plus, meltdowns are boring without Big E there to make fun of me so I held out until I got home. Somehow I then held out for two weeks, which, based on yesterday's colossal and ride-delaying meltdown followed by another near-miss this morning, wasn't the best idea.

Note to self- just meltdown as close to the race as possible from now on and get it over with.

True confession #2: I finally rebuilt some pedals with the build kit I bought after Alexander two years ago. You'd think after having my pedal fall off my bike in a race I'd want to fix those things up right away. Oh no. I bought a build kit right away, then spent two years swapping the pedals from my cross bike to my fat bike instead of fixing the old ones. Then, after selling the cross bike and buying different pedals for the fat bike, I lost motivation to fix those Candy pedals. Thankfully, the same build kit works for my Eggbeaters so, as part of my quest to take better care of my bike after riding with crappy brakes and a loose headset at Cohutta, I finally rebuilt the squeaky pedals on my bike.

In case you were wondering- yes, rebuilding the pedals makes a difference. Suddenly I can pedal in circles again.

Of course there's still a set of unusable Candy pedals in the basement.
True confession #3: Yesterday while riding I ate the deformed, once melted Snickers bar I carried for 100 miles at Cohutta. Today, while sitting on the couch, I ate the battered Peanut Butter M&M's from one of my drop bags.

I really need to go grocery shopping.

True confession #4: It took me three years to finally conquer my nemesis, the wooden berm at Whitetail Ridge. I'm not at all saying I ride it confidently yet, but after forcing myself to ride it six times in one day, I think maybe there might come a day sometime soon where I don't stress about that stupid berm for the entire lap before I get to it. That said, I'm just hoping there's never a cow standing on it when I arrive there because then I'll probably be back to square one....

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Cohutta 100- The Epilogue

After collecting my mug, I procrastinated moving from my comfy finish-line chair by chatting with the race director (at least I hope that was him who sat down next to me because if not, I had a long discussion with a random man about how I liked the course despite the bad gear choice). As soon as I could move, my main object was mud removal- from the bike, from my body, from my clothes. I settled for dipping my legs in the water and splashing around, which really just moved the mud around on my body. Truth be told, I didn't really care if I was completely clean- I just needed to be clean enough to convince someone to let me book a hotel room for the night.

Cleaning the bike enough to put it back in the car proved to be more challenging, at least in my zombie-like state. I learned there was a hose in a campground a mile away, but I was too lame to ride there. After a half-hearted attempt to pay someone to ride my bike there and clean it, and a stern warning from another rider that it would be terrible for my bearings to toss by bike in the river, I settled for rinsing Chili down with a water bottle and river water. When she was clean enough to travel, I drove her to the hose for a more thorough bath. (In hindsight that was all probably a lot more work than just riding the mile to the hose....)

Since I still had daylight and no hotel room, I decided to start the trek homeward. When a sheriff in a small town a couple hours later went out of his way to inform me of an impending storm, I drove to the nearest place with a nice hotel and called it a night. Yes, I see the irony in waiting until AFTER I was covered in mud to finally stay in a nice hotel, but then I probably wouldn't have splurged even then had I not still been worried about diseases from the hotel the night before.  Of course the entire room was white so I tried not to touch anything until after my shower, at which point I then had to clean the entire bathroom. Thankfully, I passed out quickly with no interruptions from fire alarms and no nightmares about cockroaches. (Unfortunately no Rossi dreams either.)

The 900 miles left to drive on Sunday actually went by fast. I've always said I learn more from my rough races than the easy ones, and the 13 hours in the car was my time to process the whole experience. Obviously, there was lingering frustration with myself. It's always tough to stomach a rough race when you realize it was made difficult primarily by your own silly choices like the wrong gear, too much tire pressure and a backpack the size of yourself. (No wonder some guy asked if I had a hair dryer in there.)
This is just what I took out when I got home. It doesn't include the phone, 2 King Size Snickers, 2 King Size Salted Nut Rolls, 2 pieces of pizza, GU and salt tabs I started with. It also doesn't include the raincoat, vest, winter hat and gloves I added after a few hours. Oh- and the 100 oz. of water...     

I have no idea why I found it necessary to carry the instructions for my hydration pack for 100 miles. That said, let's just say, my ride home included a little introspection about choices. (And perhaps some acceptance of the fact that I should actually listen to Big E when he talks to me about tire pressure.) However, in the end, I also learned that I can tough it out for a lot more miles than I thought possible. The way I see it- if I can suffer through 100 miles with those bad choices, the next 100 ought to be easy...