"Monday morning. Time to pay for your two days of debauchery, you hungover drones."
Today is really March 24th.
It is Tuesday, the first day of the 12th week of Ironman training V.2009.
Where am I, now?
Saturday we rode over 60 miles. It was moderately hilly and very cold in the morning. No rain, though, which is always a bonus. [I had just started to write about how kind the weather had been so far this year, but at that moment a virtual "shhhh" came from virtual Jan who reminds me not to tempt fate and jinx us.] Some rides its ridiculous how swift the punishment is when I mention something about the weather not being too bad. The words leave my mouth and not 3 minutes later we are swamped in rain, pelted with ice crystals or hunkering into our jackets from the snow... or some mixture of all three.
Saturday was a tough bike ride, but Jan really crushed it and forced me to step up my game a lot. Good girl. She mentioned something about making a point not to sandbag this ride, and she meant it. From the very beginning she held a torrid pace and I followed her for much of the ride. She pushed up the early hills so hard that not only was I not slowing down for her like normal, I was pushing myself to keep up. Did you read that? I WAS PUSHING MYSELF to keep up. My legs were still tired from my ski day, but that was not causing this. Not only was I impressed for her, I was astounded. I knew what she could do, but never really knew how to awaken the girly- dragon within. Well, it woke up. And now that the secret is out, I wonder how she will ride in the future?
I realized she might be pushing waaaay too hard, so I reminded her we had some hilly sections heading back home. She agreed but kept pushing. I smiled and followed dutifully. Very, very proud coach. If she can learn to run like this... women triathlete opponents watch yourselves. There is a sleeper in Kenmore.
She is the exact opposite of me. When I bought my bike, I was a red blur everywhere I went. You could smell the lactic acid eeking out of my pores, because everytime I sat on the bike it was all or nothing, burn-the-daylights-out-of-my-legs kind of ride. Didn't matter how far or short, how hilly or how flat, who I was with. GO GO GO, as fast as I can, as long as I can manage. Everyone always asked me, "Why do you always ride so fast?" Or, "Do you always train this fast?" I thought they were just jealous. Ha. Turns out they knew something.
And now I impart to Jan the value of a huge amount low intensity work, year after year, and how after a few years, at the same intensity, you go much faster. And its working. I just had to learn it for myself, first...
Sure enough the hills hit and we both conked out. We did make it, encouraging each other on. Hill after hill, we slogged it out, until the very final downhill stretch. And then, like a dope-slap, I was riding behind (like a lot of this ride) Jan when all of the sudden a really loud HIISSSSSSSSS emanated from her rear tire, and it sank in a slushy mess flat to the ground. Of course. OF COURSE.
I ranted and raved for a few moments and Jan (kindly) suggested we stop complaining and fix it. After acting childish for a few minutes and watching Jan struggle with the tire changing, I grew up and helped and we got it done and were on our way.
Then the reality of the situation hit me: I was changing a flat tire, getting grimy and dirty after a HARD 60 miles, with the woman I love more than anything. Together we did it all. How cool is my life? And how cool is the woman I get to share it with?
Sunday I ran 1:15:00, 75 minutes, for 8.2 miles. Mostly flat. Easy pace. Felt good, on tired legs and sore left knee from crazy skiing the previous week. The knee troubled me enough that I accommodated it in my running style, but its not so bad that I am concerned. The tension and pressure put on it from skiing is a very certain kind of force that threatens to pop the knee cap off outward. It happens when I maintain the position of my skis being under me in the thick and heavy snow that, when I hit it at high velocity, slows the skis down considerably and wants to pitch me forward. Think about breaking a small branch in your fingers. You hold the branch in your fingers with your thumbs oon the branch pointing towards each other in the middle. Using your index finges, press down and oppose that force with your thumbs by pressing up to bend the twig in between your thumbs. Now imagine a knee cap right where the bend is occurring. That was my knee cap.
Monday was a day off. A seemingly short and useless day off, especially at 9:30 PM when your phone rings and its the lab in which you work telling you to come in because a critical freezer has failed and no one else is available. Forget sleep, big dude.
Today I swam 3200 yards. I swam 200 warm up, 4 x 500, 4 x 250. I had my own lane the entire time, and swam my perfect pace. It was awesome. Its one of those feelings to finally get to swim the way you want. The importance of occasionally having to deal with throngs of people and altering your tempo, swim hard then fast then hard--its good. 2007 taught me a lot, one of the most important lessons being the difficulty of the swim. That is not your normal swim and you will NOT be just swimming your training swims out there, no way. All that is great but some days you just want to have your training plan, get in the pool, and mentally check out. You want auto-pilot to drag you up and down the lanes. You want to be in the moment feeling the water slosh between your arms and head, hear the sound of your breathing, the flow of the water over your back. You don't always want to be thinking the best way to get around the backstroking 90 year old, the kicking girl and the two chinese guys swimming sideways. Today was ideal.
And so training goes. And then there will be this big exciting race and then it will be over. Again. And beyond that, where this life goes, is anyone's guess. But for now, I relish the tired body and the thought of the hills and the rain. Even the flats. I know its a different perspective when you are out there, but really, what is better than exercising because you want to, in a clean, free, beautiful place, with a wonderful partner? Obviously I guess doing all that somewhere warm and comfortable, if you asked the Girl. For me, there is something so satisfying of checking another day off the calendar, knowing that as long as I do what is posted there, I will be 95% of the way to my goal on June 21st. And the rest, that uncontrollable 5% or so, I just have to hope my preparation is sufficient to handle whatever comes my way.