That time when people used to care about each other? It’s still here, and while sometimes you need to look a little harder for it, other times it pretty much smacks you in the face. Or the Facebook. I’ve been in tears a lot lately looking at the computer. Not sad tears (though honestly, maybe I’m a little hormonal) but the kind you cry when something touches your heart.
Item #1: March Madness is upon us, and while I typically couldn’t care less about college basketball, the St. Louis University Billikens have my heart this year. One of my former students has been dealing with a brain tumor his entire life. There have been some setbacks this year, but he and his family are some of the most positive, faith-filled people I know. They were connected to the Billikens through the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation, and the team has absolutely adopted them. Like, above and beyond adopted him. Joshua sits behind the bench at home games. He goes into the locker room. They and their coaches visit him in the hospital. There have been a couple great articles about the team and their connection to Joshua, but seeing him and his family light up when they talk about the team is all the evidence I need to know what a difference those boys are making in a life.
Item #2: A locally owned toy store in my town announced last week that their bank was calling their loan and they were going to have to close. I thought, “That’s too bad,”, made sure my nephew used any potential gift certificates before the store closed, and went on with my day. Some other people in town (including a girl I used to babysit…makes me feel old!), though, jumped into action and put together a campaign to save the store. With an agreement from the bank to hold off on calling the loan if $75,000 was raised by last Friday, they put together a social media campaign. Kids gave money they’d saved, other local businesses and vendors contributed percentages of their sales, and many donated online at a Crowdtilt site set up by the organizers. Because it was happening locally and some of my friends were directly involved in the campaign, the story was all over my Facebook feed. I’ll be honest…I’ve been in the store maybe three times ever. Whether or not it’s still here really will make no difference in my life…but all of the postings and excitement and just imagining how the owners must feel at the outpouring of support inspired me. I had to be a part of it, and my little $10 donation was part of over $80,000 that has been raised so far. The story of course made local news .
All these happy tears very nearly gave way to an ugly cry yesterday, though. While my training is nowhere near at a high level, it has been pretty consistent (for me). If I wasn’t feeling confident about June’s Dirty Kanza, I was feeling positive. I was even feeling fairly good (though nervous) about Saturday’s scheduled 80 mile ride, my longest ride outdoors since…um…since last year’s Dirty Kanza. I was not, however, particularly enthusiastic about the weather.
On the heels of Friday’s gorgeous weather and downright warm 68 degrees, we got temps in the low 40’s, overcast skies, and wind. It’s funny how your perspective changes, because if I was riding trails or running I’d be excited about how perfect the temperature was. I don’t much care to ride on the roads, though, until it’s about 10 degrees warmer.
My friend Dave had mapped out a big loop for us, which was good news because repeated loops would have made it much easier to bail. We had to start at 10:30 so I could watch J’s soccer game first; Dave got an unfortunate lesson in that if Kate says we’re starting at 10:30 what she actually means is she’ll be there at 10:30, so it was almost 11 before we hit the trail. Once we got going, the temperature wasn’t too bad, but the trail was no fun. The first 16 miles were almost entirely crushed limestone, which after all of our wet weather was just mushy enough to make for some seriously slow going. Very demoralizing to look at your Garmin and see a pace that you could sustain for a mile while running.
Despite riding straight into the wind once we hit the pavement it felt much better, for a while. I never felt really good, but somewhere around 30 miles in (maybe) my lower back started getting sore. My inner dialogue started on a loop: I don’t need to ride 80 miles today. 60 is plenty. I’ll just ride 60. But I’ve already ridden 60 this year on the trainer. How about 70? Yeah, I’ll just go 70. Well…if I’m going to ride 70 I might as well ride 80. But I really don’t need to ride 80 miles today. 60 is plenty… Of course, being on a long loop, there was a limit to how much the mileage could be adjusted, and Dave was leading the way anyway.
|We’re riding in Illinois, so there are corn fields|
I was very un-super this ride, and pretty lousy company as well. I was dragging and sore and most of my conversation was internal and negative. Having spent more time on training than is normal for me, it was really frustrating to still feel so weak. When I don’t train, I can spin it as “well of course it was hard…I haven’t trained”. When I do train, what’s left but to say “hey, I’m weaker than I like to think I am”. Or “hey, I’m having an off day” which is also possible but harder to sell to myself in the middle of it.
About 45 miles in we hit the last point where we could conveniently bail. It was already 3:30, and neither of us had brought lights, even a red blinky for the back of the bike. Since a friend of mine was just hit by a car Thursday while bike commuting home (she’s in the hospital with a broken arm and some broken ribs), safety is definitely on my mind. That said, I’d been struggling to not call Jeff to come pick me up for much of the ride. We cut it short and ended up with 60 miles for me and 62 for Dave (who had a little further to ride back to his car than I did to my house). Big thanks to him for planning the route, carrying my too-heavy pack for a while, and being unfailingly nice to the dark cloud following him on my bike.
- Hey, 60 miles is still 60 miles.
- I was riding my new Delta, and it rode great.
- I’ve pretty much gotten the hang of shifting with the SRAM shifters, and I spent a decent portion of the ride in the big ring.
- Riding in the drops on this bike feels much more comfortable and natural than on my road bike.
The bad (aka things that may have made it tougher):
- Soggy trail first 16 miles
- Tires: I was running smaller tires, but they’re the knobby cross tires, not optimal for road.
- Fueling: OK for somebody who likes to eat as much as I do, I cannot get this right for long rides. My pre-ride breakfast was coffee, pecans, and a banana. Right before the ride I ate a Honey Stinger waffle. During the ride, I had a long slim Jim, 2 homemade Lara bars, a Gatorade, and Ensure, and a pack of GU chomps. I’m loving the Paleo diet, but total lack of planning ahead leaves me at a loss before pretty much any endurance effort. If I’m going to eat whatever sounds good during the ride anyway, maybe I’d be better off eating a bowl of oatmeal or something like that before a long ride. Anyway, as always, nutrition is something to work on.
- My back: bike fit issue, carrying that heavy pack, or adjusting to the more aggressive position? This hasn’t really been an issue on my road bike trainer rides, but I’m able to sit up without hands on the bars on the trainer, which I can’t do on the road. I’m going to start paying attention to how far into a ride my back starts hurting; if that time keeps getting longer, then I’m going to attribute the issue to adjusting to the position. If it stays the same or gets shorter, then I need to look more at bike fit. Either way I’m going to focus on doing some core work.
- My hip: while my back was far more of an issue yesterday than the hip that bothers me on long runs, my hip was also starting to bother me and is fairly sore today. I’ve gotten away from stretching it, so I’m starting that again.
Yesterday I pretty much came home and sulked about how lousy I felt on the ride. Today…well, I’m not going to say that I’m feeling good about it, but whether or not it was just an off day it was also a wake-up call that I’m not in as good of shape as I like to think I am. That’s ok, though, because I still have 2.5 months to get ready for Dirty Kanza, and if I’d been inclined before to rest on my laurels, this experience (and my achy left hip) will motivate me to stay off of them.