Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Ready or not...

With only one race over July and August, I was able to get in some pretty solid training, which has been great.  The 10-12 hours a week plus travel time to/from workouts, extra showers, and extra time eating, on top of my full-time job and attempts to have a social life have resulted in a pretty packed schedule, and the summer has really flown by. 

Despite the crash (more on that later), I was able to log over 1,000 miles (1,075 to be exact) with 31,781 feet of elevation gain.

July: Bike: 397 miles, 26:47:41 - Run:  121 miles, 16:11:11
August:  Bike: 404 miles, 27:33:00 - Run: 149 miles, 21:10:48

Not all rainbows and butterflies

My first crash
About halfway into the Tour d'Orange on August 2, which was scheduled to be my first century ride, I hit a seam in the pavement while descending a hill and went over the front of my handlebars.  I don't remember anything in between thinking "Oh shit, I am going to crash" and the paramedics wrapping my head, but apparently after the initial impact my helmet came off, resulting in a trip to the ER via ambulance, a concussion, and a lovely head wound requiring 7 staples.  I also ended up with some bruised/cracked ribs, cuts and scrapes (thankfully it was cool and I was wearing a jacket, otherwise the road rash would have been much worse), and soreness pretty much everywhere.  My Garmin tells me I went from 23.4 mph to 0, so I guess it could have been worse.  

{Big thanks to Tamu and the Tour d'Orange volunteers, without whom I would have been crumpled by the road for who knows how long; and of course to Monte, who took great care of me while I was concussed and broken}

Training through pain
Unfortunately I had to take a couple of days off because of my concussion, but I was anxious to get back on track, so I resumed very easy running and riding on the trainer that week.  The first week was pretty rough, but my head felt much better when I had the staples removed on August 11.  My ribs weren't as quick to heal, and even 3 weeks later I was still in quite a bit of pain.  I also have bursitis on my left achilles, which is painful but not debilitating.  I'm not sure if this was from impact (Tamu tells me I was pretty well entangled with my bike) or compensating for the rib pain when I resumed training, but in any case it's annoying.  Suffice it to say I've consumed well beyond my share of ibuprofen in the last few weeks, and I am really hoping to be pain free sometime in the near future.

On the upside, my sweet husband bought me a new bike!


Surprising dad on his birthday
This was training-related only insofar as flight cancellations led me to miss a scheduled workout, but if I am making a list of July-August highlights, this was definitely at the top!  With Mary and my aunts as accomplices, I was able to hop a flight to Burlington to join the family for lunch on my dad's 70th birthday.  Logistically, the day trip from North Carolina to Vermont didn't work out exactly as planned, but his expression when he walked in and saw me at the restaurant was absolutely priceless and I am so grateful to have some extra time with my dad and some of my extended family.  And the maple soft serve was not terrible either ;)

Bike-run interval workouts 
I had a few bike-run-repeat workouts, and loved these.  The first was on July 24, and included four 10 minute intervals on the bike at 90% ftp (about 16.5-17 mph), each followed by a one mile run around 7:00 mile pace.  These were challenging but each interval was short, so it went by quickly, and mentally it was easy to keep going when I got tired because I knew I only had a few minutes left before switching activities, and this was probably one of my favorite workouts of the entire training cycle.

Mountain ride  
My first ride outside post-crash was a trip out to Pilot Mountain State Park on August 16.  The climbing was very slow going, with trips up Sauratown Mountain (about 900 feet of elevation gain in 2.5 miles) and Hanging Rock (over 700 feet in less than 2 miles), but I managed to make it to the top without falling over or rolling backward, so that alone was a good confidence builder since the Bodenburg (which I will have to climb three times) is pretty intimidating.  I was a little scared on the descents after the crash two weeks earlier, but thankfully I felt a little more comfortable as the ride went on.  Huge thanks to Tim for planning this route and letting me tag along.

Run for Waffles
I wanted to do something different/special for my last long run, so I planned out a point-to-point that covered most of the American Tobacco Trail and ended at Dame's Chicken and Waffles, which I've been wanted to try for ages.  Despite the humidity (my weather app said  73 degrees and 94% humidity at the start) causing my shoes to squish for the last 5 miles and leading Monte to ask if Ellen had jumped in the lake, I was able to get in about 8 miles at marathon goal pace and complete my first 20 miler outside of a marathon since the fall of 2012.  All with great company thanks to friends who were willing to work through less than convenient logistics to join me for part of it.  And ending with fried chicken and sweet potato waffles with maple pecan butter.  Really a pretty great way to end this training cycle!

So now it's go time... 

I am all packed up and as ready as I will be.  I have never done anything this long or this challenging, so I am incredibly nervous.  At the same time, I'm really excited for this adventure and am going to do my best in representing Team USA.  

Tested out the new kit on my last long training ride
One final note before departure... I am incredibly lucky to have this opportunity, and want to say thank you to my amazing network of family and friends who have done so much to support me in this endeavor.  Extra shout out to my husband (who really is the best) and to my friends who've logged countless training miles with me.  I'm sure you were sick of hearing about this a long time ago, but I appreciate you putting up with me!