It started very poorly.
I woke up and didn’t really want to get out of bed. I haven’t been sleeping well and I’m not 100% sure why. I’m normally plenty tired in the evenings and I’ve been keeping my bedroom fairly clean and stress-free. I haven’t been doing that great at not drinking right before bed, but that wasn’t the issue Sunday morning. I didn’t do anything Saturday night. Actually, doing nothing Saturday probably WAS a factor on Sunday morning. I thought this weekend was going to be really good socially… Thursday evening was decent, but left me feeling frustrated that I seem to have lost any touch that I once had when it comes to identifying and interpreting the signs and signals that are sent by the opposite sex. Friday evening was almost a carbon copy of Thursday and I spent a lot of Saturday dwelling on it. I’d like to not care, but I do. That drags me down. I just end up spinning my wheels on it and it sucks away my will to do anything else.
I made a fantastic breakfast while I got ready, talking myself up the whole time. French toast from homemade bread with bourbon barrel aged maple syrup and some OJ. Solid ride fuel for some solid base miles. One would think that kind of breakfast would be inspiring on it’s own. Instead, I just felt grey. The radiator in my kitchen mocks me. It rattles when the building boilers turn on, but it yields no heat, just a racket to go along with the drone of the ever-running fridge next to it. So while elsewhere, super bowl party hosts donned their team’s jersey and ran out out for last minute supplies I sat, alone, eating in the sterile flickering light from the rickety ceiling fan/lamp fixture, naked except for a grey hoodie and the scabs from my recent crash. The prescription bottle across the table and each pillowy bite reminded me that oblivion and sleep was within easy reach. This was the setting for my half-hearted pep talk about ‘these base miles just being what I do now’, and that it’s ‘a measure of my character that I make them happen.’ The darkness has a way of crowding in on cold, lonely mornings.
I’d decided it was best for me to stick to the bike path given my misadventures last week and the need for me to keep from pushing too hard. The point was to log low intensity base miles, so, wise to stay on the flat, featureless ribbon of asphalt that weaves it’s never-ending way north along the Little Miami River. I’d be safer there, less likely to crash and could also meter my output better than in hills. It shouldn’t be hard efforts as much as it is just injecting miles into the legs. I drove myself and my bianchi over to 50West and got out to finish suiting up.
I drove back to my apartment. Fueled by anger at myself, I went inside determined to give a fat middle finger and “fuck you” to whatever misery tried to pull me down, I loaded up with what I needed and drank half a can of coke. I put my helmet on, put one earbud in and started recording data. Screw driving back to the trail. No time for that now.
By 12 miles in I was feeling good. The endorphins were starting to flow and the darkness, ebb. Once I got to 20, I’d decided that I should go for a metric century. It’s all flat, it’s all easy, and 100km would take about 4 hours, which was the right amount of time. I considered just burying myself and going for 100mi but realistically, for a century I need more than the 450 or so calories I’d brought with me and I had failed to bring any money or a credit card.
I kept output fairly low for the first half. I’ve been hearing and reading more and more that a proper, long warmup of high cadence, low effort work is especially important for getting your body going for a long effort. I tried that but can’t say if I really noticed any difference because I don’t have much to compare it to. I haven’t done more than 45 miles in a while.
It was an out-and-back route and I tried to keep my heart rate under 160 and mostly under 145 for the “out”. I did some long out-of-the-saddle intervals to give my ass some relief and just practice bike handling out of the saddle for long periods of time too. On the “back”, I tried to open things up a bit, which didn’t work so well. It’s hard to know how much of that was wind and how much was fatigue. I had some good bursts but the ability to sustain wasn’t there. I guess that’s really why these long rides are part of the training plan. I’d set out to hit a certain average over 3 mile segments but could never seem to hit those goals. Glycemic roller coaster? Tired legs? 15-20mph variable winds? Who knows, but the “opening it up” thing didn’t work the way I thought it might.
No matter. It was a beautiful day and in spite of my continued lack of progress on my social and relationship goals, I knew I was crushing my fitness goals. Plus, I knew there would be superbowl snacks later. JACKPOT! Okay, by that time I was feeling pretty good.
My route had me do a long shallow climb in the last 4 miles. The pavement there isn’t the best, which makes it harder to maintain a steady cadence. That hill is one that I use to gauge my fitness. This would NOT be a useful measure of my ability. I rode comically slow. I nearly dipped into my emergency 36×28 gear that I rarely use for anything other than cat 3 and above climbs. I crawled to the turn where I could either push further up, or turn for home. Home. Even on the flat I could barely hold 13 mph in a cross/head wind.