Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Donna Rides Again!

Bianchi Eros Donna rides again! I haven't had her out of the upstairs gym in over a year. The only action the poor girl has seen lately, is a little spinning on the bike trainer now and then.  I felt a little nervous about sitting atop those skinny little tires on such a flimsy bike frame, going at such fast speeds (compared to mountain biking), but that is exactly what my quads needed.

My left quad recovered pretty well within 24 hours after my aborted Vermont 100 attempt. The right one continues to bother. It cramps up when I squat (which I do a lot of at work), climb up or down stairs, or go from sit to stand. Monday, I dragged the bike down the narrow back stairway, almost falling down the stairs in the process, and went about checking her over to see if she was in ride-able shape. I found 4 dollars in the pack under the seat! I also found two flat tires and a very messy, greasy chain. Otherwise, she was in mint condition. After changing the front tube, I was ready to go!

Kevin happened to be outdoors as I set out so I tried to look strong and powerful, but the little whimpers I let out with the first few pedal strokes gave me away, "ouch-ouch-ouch-ouch..."   He called, "just spin easy." I figured he should know since he was married to someone who followed all the training rules to a T, before he married me, (I know all the rules but can't seem to follow them).

He was right. I put it in an easy gear, stayed on the flats, and spun my legs around like pinwheels. The pain eased up almost immediately. I swear, I could feel the lactic acid pumping out of my muscles with each pedal stroke.  I looked ridiculous. I had put on the fancy Spandex shorts and special glasses to make the experience complete, but  was tottering around like a 5-year-old on training wheels.

It was fun! I'm about to set out for another road ride this morning before work. I have to get my legs back into mountain biking shape by Saturday and I think this spinning thing will do it.  Today, not only will I wear my fancy Spandex shorts and flashy looking glasses, I will also dig out a Spandex roadie jersey with some kind of crazy printed words all over it and stuff the back pocket full of GUs and Power Bars. I'm getting into it. I love experiencing different cultures!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Vermont 100 in a Nut Shell

Somewhere around 30 miles into the Vermont 100 I was running with and enjoying the company of a fifty-five-year-old woman, Sue from New Jersey. We were both behind schedule and not feeling we would make it in under 24 hours. But why, I asked. My energy was good, I was well hydrated, I was keeping up with my electrolytes, I had no foot issues and no chafing, my stomach felt great.   She hit the nail on the head, saying "we expect to be able to run like we used to without training like we used to."  How true.

After letting go of any time goals the miles became a lot more fun. I didn't care who was ahead of me and who was behind me. I took in the scenary. I talked to people on the trail. I talked to volunteers and spectators along the way. At the crew stations I took my time to get what I needed and check in with Kevin. I actually started feeling better and better as I went. I left Margaritaville and started up the long steep climb. I was feeling great and passing runner after runner. Then we came to a slight downhill. I took a few running steps and both quads literally froze up on me. I've heard people talk about this happening from running too hard on the downhills, but never experienced it myself before. 

Eventually I staggered/tip-toed/shuffled into Brownsville, at around the 65 mile point. I plunked down into a chair and told the aid station workers, "My quads are shot. I think I have to stop." A British woman held her beer out to me and said, "A few sips of bitters will cure you."  I didn't take her up on it. I sat and thought for a while. It was only 5 more miles to Ten Bear, where Kevin and Bob N. were waiting for me. Might as well shuffle on in that far. I checked and saw I still had a light in my pack. It was still early, but I could barely walk so I knew it would take a while. I thanked the kind volunteers and told them I could make it to Ten Bear. They looked doubtful, but cheered me on.

Baby step after baby step I traveled on. People I had passed earlier started streaming by, then people I had never seen all day started passing. They all slowed down for a few steps to make sure I was going to be OK. There came a point where I just didn't think I would be able to keep walking, it hurt too bad. I found a little clearing on the side of the trail and was trying to figure out how to lower myself into a sitting position, when I heard a vehicle coming up the trail. Very unlikely, as this was a washed out ATV trail, but there it was, a pick up truck! It was manned by two young guys, one driving and one standing in the back hanging glow sticks. I really didn't even have to ask, they just pulled up beside me and the driver pushed open the passenger side door. The kid in the back asked if I needed help getting in. I declined and somehow slithered onto the seat. The driver explained that they normally used an ATV for this section, but it had broken down. This was followed by a wild ride through the woods and gravel roads, 50 miles per hour for 200 - 400 yards, skid to a stop, guy in the back yells, "all set" and on to the next likely branch. We bottomed out a few times, I think we got a little air coming off rocks a couple of times, but we made it back to Ten Bear in one piece.

We found someone else for Bob to pace. I'm glad he got a chance to run! Kevin and I hung out at Ten Bear for a while. I couldn't get out of the chair if I wanted to, so it was good to just sit for a while. Then we went back to the tents and slept a while. We watched some of the late finishers come in and attended the Brunch. I didn't feel bad or sad or disappointed. I had fun and learned something from the experience. So that's it for hundred milers for me. I don't and won't train like I need to, so I have no right trying to run them. I think I would like to go back and run the 100K next year, or just volunteer or pace. I love the event and don't want to miss it.

Yesterday I had trouble walking and my quads were quite swollen. Today I am out mowing the lawn and hardly limping. I spent some time this morning writing up a training plan for the Circum Burke Challenge (running division, not biking). I told Kevin, "Look I have a training plan for Circum Burke!" He just raised an eye brow and said, "really?"  Well, I'll try to stick to it. The race is only twenty miles and is very close to our Camp. I think Kevin is going to enter the mountain bike division. It should be fun!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Last Long One Before Vermont 100

My last long run before Vermont 100 went just as I hoped it would. I felt smooth and strong the whole way. I ran at a decent pace for 4 hours of hills. The only walking I did was part way up the very steepest hill. Kevin kept me company on his bike as we traveled over the single and double track trails of Northeast Vermont. I'm sure it was agonizingly slow riding for him, but it was very nice of him to give up a good mountain biking day to accompany me.  The trails were surprisingly uncrowded for such a beautiful weekend. We saw a few mountain bikers, but not as many as usual. I really enjoyed seeing things at a slower pace than we travel on the bikes. I noticed much more of the sights, sounds, and smells of the trail. Kevin mentioned noticing the same things.

We rode a counter clockwise loop and hit some of the trails we don't usually ride. It was warm and humid, but I felt good the whole way. It was very nice to get an ice cold orange Gatorade at the snack stand at the bottom of Old Webb's. We normally pedal right past this, but this time we stopped and took a brief break before moving on out of the woods and across Darling Hill Rd to the trails on the other side.

When we had almost completed our big loop, I sent Kevin up to the truck on Herb's while I continued on over the White School Trail toward home.  Before we parted I thought I might run all the way home, but cringed at the thought of the last three dusty, gravelly, full sun, uphill road miles at the end. So instead, we decided Kevin would meet me at the end of the trail, which is where he took this photo.  I'm ready! Bring on Vermont 100!