Sunday, July 26, 2015

My spirit animal is a masochistic mountain goat

This week I biked 134.8 miles with 15,194 ft of climbing.  That's A LOT of climbing.  My 200 mile week in RI got me 11,000 ft.  A normal 75-100 mile week in WV gets me 6-10,000.  My highest weekly WV mileage was a week last August when I got 135.9 miles.  (If I had checked that before today's ride, I would have biked a few extra miles to beat it...) The elevation gain that week was only 10,755 ft.  And this week I climbed over 15,000 ft.  And I feel fine.  I could go out right now and ride again.  My legs are strong.  My back has hardly been giving me any trouble this year.  Last year I could barely do any long rides because of awful back pain.  Without that pain this year, I have been able to ride 30+ miles easily.  And I have been trying to take advantage of it as much as possible.

My only problem lately has been neck pain.  It's like there are magnets in my shoulders and ears that keep trying to draw together.  I am constantly catching my shoulders hunched up by my ears and having to consciously work to relax them.  If I go too long without remembering to lower my shoulders, my neck cramps up pretty bad.  I think another contributing factor is my increasing fearless-ness on descents.  I have gotten over my initial fear of flying downhills, but in order to go fast, I have to crouch down and lay flat over the bike.  When I am this low over the bike, the only way to see where I am going is to bend my neck at a sharp angle.  I think that sharp angle is contributing to the pain.  I haven't yet figured out what to do about that.

Miles this week:
M : bike 55.3
T : run 5.5
R : run 5.6
F : bike 23.6
Sa : bike 23.7
Su : bike 32.1

total bike miles : 134.8
total run miles : 11.1



Running

I decided at some point in the last few weeks that I missed running too much and needed to run no matter what.  Never mind the fact that my foot is clearly not pain free, or the fact that my inhaler barely works and I struggle to get enough oxygen when I run.  I still love the run, and I really, really, miss daily running.  I decided that I was going to run 3-4 times a week, breathe as best I could, and ice my foot really well after each run.  

This seemed to work well enough for a bit.  I felt good enough to add a weekly mileage goal on Strava.  (I have had a 75 mile/week bike goal all summer, and I have had a 15 mile/week running goal on and off, depending on how things are going.)  I added the 15 mile running goal last week, and ran 16 miles.  I didn't feel too bad.  I couldn't run as fast as I wanted due to the asthma, but my foot really wasn't feeling too bad, and I was really good about icing it after each run.  

This week, I ran twice.  The first run was decent.  My avg pace was below 8 min/mile, which at this point I have to consider pretty good, even though I would prefer it to be well under 7:30.  On my second run, I decided to do some 400m "sprints."  It wasn't quite all-out, but I would say I was exerting around 80% effort, instead of the 50 or less that I keep for most of my runs.  I spread 6, 400m sprints throughout my run, whenever I had a long enough flat-ish stretch.  All of them had an average grade of either 0% or -1%. 

("Teaberry short" is the complete stretch between the Longview & Summit 400s, it has an average grade of 10%...in other words, it isn't the easiest recovery ever.  "WVSOM sprint" is the first half of the "WVSOM 400")

At some point during the week, my foot started hurting more than normal.  it might simply be that I spent a good bit of time walking around in my horseback-riding boots, which I don't ever seem to remember to put my orthotics in.  I normally where my Chaco sandals all day, because they are the only summer-type footwear I own that NEVER makes my foot hurt.  At all.  The foot pain got to be just enough that I managed to talk myself out of running my 15 miles this week.  I really, really, wanted to go out and run today after my ride, just to get to 15.  I am trying to balance my craving for running with my desire to be injury-free.  It's not easy.  But I did manage to talk myself out of running today.  I am starting to accustom myself to the idea that I may have to give up my fall races. That would be really disappointing, after already skipping all of the summer ones.  But I am seeing it as a very real possibility that I will not be able to run a successful half marathon by September or October.  Still hoping things work out though, of course.  


Biking

I found out sometime on Sunday that I wouldn't be working until Wednesday, so I decided I should make use of my extra two days off and go on an adventure.  The saga of Monday's ride can be found here.

I had planned to bike after babysitting on Wednesday, but ended up spending the time after work hanging out with a friend instead.  Babysitting 8:30-5:30 every day makes it hard to find energy for a good workout afterwards.  Thursday I got up early so I could run before work and have time to ride my horse after work.  (Wednesday I got up early to ride her before work).  Friday I didn't get home til almost 6, but I was overdue for a bike ride, so after eating just enough food to sustain me for a ride, I headed out on the bike and got a good ride in.  I wanted a longer ride, but there are only so many hours of daylight, and I couldn't risk getting stuck out past the point where there was enough sunlight to be safe.  

The Wheels of Hope ride last Saturday had left my neck really sore, and Monday's ride only made it worse.  Usually I can get about 20 miles in before my neck is really bothering me, but on Friday's ride it was hurting a lot sooner.  I really wanted a long ride this weekend, but wasn't sure how much pain I should really be inflicting upon myself.  There was a route I had been planning on the western end of the county that was 25-30 miles long, and I decided to do that on Saturday instead of trying to do a 50+ miler like I really wanted to do.  Now that I have this awesome roof-rack on my car, I am enjoying how easy it is to take my bike other places to ride.  So I drove out to the western end of the county and started out on the loop I had planned.  I ended up taking a wrong turn at some point, but by the time I figured it out, I had gone to far to make it worth turning back.  And I recognized the road name as one I had passed earlier, so I knew where it would spit me out, and knew it would be easy enough to get back to my car.  The road was some of the worst pavement I've ridden, which was unfortunate, but thankfully I survived it without flatting.  Because of the wrong turn, the ride ended up shorter than planned, but it included a good bit of climbing, with more than a fair share of 14% grades, so I didn't feel the need to add-on at the end.  

I stopped by the bike shop on the way home to drop off my bike so Stu could tune it up and put on the new front derailleur he ordered for me before I left for RI.  I hadn't gotten in put on yet because I was too busy riding the bike and didn't want to leave it in the shop.  I found out earlier this week that he wasn't too busy, so I knew I could drop off the bike and have it back later in the day.  I picked it up that afternoon, with its new derailleur and a new chain.  

After yesterday's ride, I was over 100 miles for the week, with 12-13,000 ft of climbing.  But I didn't feel the need to take a day off today, and I wanted to test ride the new parts on the bike.  So I picked a route that I hadn't done yet this summer and set out to make this a week of ridiculous climbing.  Somewhere in the middle of the ride as I was laboring up a mountain, I decided my spirit animal was a masochistic mountain goat.  Not that I actually believe in spirit animals...but if I did... I must be a mountain goat for the amount of climbing I am doing without my legs dying.  And the masochism is an excuse for why I would even try to do so much climbing in the first place.  Although I don't think it's actually masochism...because I wasn't in that much pain.  

Photos from today's ride:







I am not sure what this coming week will bring in terms of exercise.  I will be babysitting Monday-Friday, and it looks like the hours will probably be around 8:30-5:30.  That will make it hard to bike too much...but then again I might be determined enough to make it work. We shall see. If I have a lighter week, I will try not to feel too bad about it, since I put in such a great week of miles and climbing this week!

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