Hi! I haven’t written about any training things for a while, but I’ve been training for the Tour de Tucson which is a 111 mile ride. I had been training for my 2nd marathon, but after Hood to Coast and just not feeling 100% back to running health, I decided to be smart, give myself a break, and focus on a new goal, so I’ve been riding the crap out of Mean Green, and grown to really love cycling beyond as more than a means to get to coffee, breakfast or yoga.
A few weeks ago, I had a really great, confidence-building, solo 80 miler, and I wasn’t really planning on doing more than that until closer to the race.
In fact, yesterday’s route was originally supposed to be about hill training–for those of you that aren’t local, there is a gooorgeous hilly route that I always stop and turn around at just before it gets challenging because I’m a wuss.
Anyway, we planned to tackle it yesterday and the entire route was supposed to be about 60-70 miles, but then I got a message earlier in the week from Steve asking to make it a century with a map. I thought he had planned a century instead of the hills, but he had planned one that included them. Awesome.
Well, Friday night Steve tells me he feels like he’s getting sick…again. That was the whole reason I went solo for 80 mi is we had planned to do it together, and then he got sick. You see, I have this really annoying personality trait where once I decide to do something, I can’t not do it. Once I’m mentally committed, there is no backing down–it can be really obnoxious, but I guess it’s mostly a good thing.
We still started the ride together, but Steve was struggling almost immediately. The wind was also out in full force–like, sometimes I swear if I didn’t pedal hard, I was just going to go backwards. We made it pretty slowly to the hilly section (Power to Usery), all into the wind of course, and as we started climbing Power, we met up with a couple other cyclists Doug and Kendra who chatted with us for a while. We rode together for probably 5-7 miles and it was so nice to have some strangers to distract me from how tough things felt. The wind was so intense at this point because we were in the middle of no where–no buildings or anything to block it. Even going downhill was hard! Anyway, we broke off from them at Usery, and that’s where Steve and I started to split up as well.
After the first mile of consistent climbing (it’s 3.5 miles of climbing total), I stopped to wait for Steve. When he caught up, he told me to just get to the top and wait for him there, so I continued on. One guy passed me, then I passed him back, then he passed me again and that was that. I am a sloooow climber, and I honestly have basically no hill experience at all. I kept looking down at my garmin and thinking “this is slower than most of my friends run”, but I didn’t really mind. I knew I’d get there eventually, and I was happy to not have to stop and rest. My friend Jason told me that the first time he did this route, he had to stop and walk his bike up, so I was happy to feel strong even though I was averaging a snail-like 7.2 mph.
I didn’t realize I had gotten to the top until an other cyclist mentioned it to me. I had been really scared about this part of the ride, and I was thrilled to finish the tough climbing section with so much fuel left in the tank! Good thing too, because we were only about 30 mi in. I waited for Steve, and then the fun began! I hit 35.8 mph without even pedaling! It was exhilarating, and it made every foot I had climbed 100% worth it. Not to mention, we finally had the wind at our backs!
As the path flattened out, Steve started struggling again. He just felt terrible, couldn’t breathe, etc. He was in no shape to make it a century. He told me to wait for him at our next turn, which was several miles away. He had planned to still do 80 with me, but when he got there, he was in bad shape. I thought about calling it. I had finished the climbing, I didn’t feel great (female problems…sorry boys), and I wasn’t even half way through yet. I was mentally unraveling a little at the idea of doing more than half of the ride by myself, but that thing inside my brain clicked in, and off I went. I actually felt fine until mile 60 where I turned back into the wind.
I knew if I wanted it to be easier at the end, I had to face the wind at that point, so I went back east and the wind was literally confidence shattering. I was struggling to go 13 mph, and it felt like no matter how much I pedaled, my garmin would.not.move. On top of that, my shoulder started to get really tight, and I kept having to try to stretch it while I was riding which is…not easy haha. I texted Steve at mile 78 and told him I wasn’t sure I could make it. I had been going back into the wind for almost 20 miles, my shoulder was killing me, and I was feeling spent. He asked if I could finish 85 and be satisfied with a new PDR, but I told him no–ya know, that brain thing.
But then something magical happened! I turned away from the wind, and suddenly I was going 20-21 without effort! Here’s where I started to go a little nuts. Laughing, yelling things to myself, pep talks with myself out loud. I kinda lost it, but in a good way? I texted Steve again the last time I refilled my water and told him to meet me at Dutch Bros for a celebratory coffee, and I thought about that coffee the entire way there. As I got to the last 1/2 mile, I remembered that this was the same way I ended my first 20 miler, and I got all kinds of emotional and started to cry.
100.2 miles in 6:41:51 with 1,900 feet of climbing. Not super speedy, but not bad either!
For those of you who are curious, and because I know I would be, I brought enough fuel for a small army, but here’s what I actually ate:
- 1 ALT Larabar (pumpkin pie flavor–yum!) ~ 200 calories w/10 g protein
- 1 Kind bar (one of the protein ones) ~ 200 calories w/8 g protein
- 3 packs of black cherry shot blocks (I cut the tops off with scissors before I leave so they’re so super easy to eat while moving) ~ 600 calories
So that’s about 1,000 calories total. I have no idea if that’s good, or right, but it seemed to work for me. I feel pretty confused about bike fueling, so a couple of days ago I emailed my friend Julie who gave me some good tips. She suggested alternating small snacks with bigger ones, so I would get through an entire pack of blocks (first time after an hour, then 2 blocks every 45 minutes), then eat a bar. Towards the end when I needed more energy, I started eating 1 block every 15 minutes, and it seemed to really help!
So that’s my story. Now I’ve hit my longest ride that I’m going to do and the race is still a month and a half away, so I’m not really sure what to do for the next 6 weeks. Maybe the husband will rope me into an other century, but with how tired I feel today, I’m not so sure I want to commit to triple digits again until race day. We shall see.