If you’ve been following the last few athletic related posts, you know I’m not in relatively great shape. Returning from a week of vacation in North Carolina where I figured I’d get no training at all in (which didn’t happen because I still managed to get six hours in after rescuing a wrecked beach cruiser), I was planning to double up to play catch up. Never a good idea to drastically increase your training, but it is much more doable with cycling, and besides, most people do some sort of training weekend or week where they escape with their cycling buddies and really build up. This would be my week. To make it interesting, Strava was holding a challenge to ride sixteen hours in the eight days of the Tour of California. Game on.
Note: I came into this after a tempo run the day before. Not ideal starting condition for a test of the legs.
I started on Sunday with a ride that was new to me. The Muddy Fenders Sunday Adventure Ride out of River City Bicycles. I recognized one guy from my usual group rides, but everyone else was new. The ride advertises itself as 30-40 miles with 2000-4000ft of climbing. Something I could easily handle. Well, I don’t know if it was tired legs from the day before or the fact that it ended up being 58 miles and 4500ft of climbing, or that the guys I was with were really fast, but I could not hang. Tough, but beautiful ride. I was showing signs of being dropped around 30 miles and by 40 or so I told them to go on without me. Sad tuba. Regardless, met some great people, saw some awesome farmland, and now have some new road to add to my route list. 3:55 down, 12:05 to go. Far ahead of the curve.
On Monday, I did my typical Monday Lawyer’s Ride out of downtown. Pretty tired from the day before, I didn’t push too hard and just got through it. Met Heather for lunch at The People’s Pig (had a Groupon — pork shoulder sandwich HIGHLY recommended). Good day. 23.2 miles, 1700ft climbed. I supplemented the day with a quick trip of errands by bicycle. 1:59 added. 6:04 down, 9:56 to go.
Beat, I took Tuesday “off.” Two small rides – one to drop the car off for a computer reset, and another for errands/afternoon coffee. My legs would thank me for only riding an hour. 0:58 added. 7:02 down, 8:58 to go.
Wednesday, I chose a long, but flat ride. Leaving the house, I headed for the Columbia, past Portland Airport, straight down the river to loop around Troutdale Airport, and back. Good, easy ride to loosen the legs back up. 36 miles, 730ft. 2:01 added. 9:03 down, 6:57 to go.
Thursday, I started with a short ride for coffee in the morning and in the afternoon I was back out for the Thursday Lawyer’s Ride. Still pretty tired in general, but my legs had some surprising pop, which caused me to set many personal records and even a “King of the Mountain” (fastest person over a certain segment, which in this case was a ~11 block strip down a bike route, and to use Strava to record it – honestly wasn’t going for this… will have to give it a real effort some day soon and see how high I can set the bar) along the way. This deep into this grueling week, I shouldn’t have been this fast. I suppose my performance is a really great sign. I’m happy. Except life-wise this day sucked (cancer blah). Met Heather for lunch again so that was a bonus. 26.3 miles, 2300ft. 1:56 added. 10:59 down, 5:01 to go.
Friday was Bike to Work Day. I attended an event and made my way downtown to work for the morning. Shipped a product, had lunch with Heather, and headed back home. “Commuting” to downtown is decent little ride (~12 miles round trip this day since I stopped at a few extra places), but I still went out in the afternoon for a real one as we have some rain coming in for the weekend and the time would be more enjoyably spent now rather than then. My legs were giving me very faint signals that pushing today was not wise so I threw on the aero bars to change-up the muscles/position, gave the GTI a spin around town, and put in a lap and change at Sauvie Island, which is a pancake flat 12-mile loop. 20 miles and no elevation worth mentioning. 2:01 added. 13:00 down, 3:00 to go, and two weekend days to do it.
Saturday, we awoke and immediately went for a two-hour Home Depot run. We came back with roughly a dozen new light switches and outlets. Basically, we’re replacing everything in the house because they’re old and funky, and a lot is two-prong. We’re not replacing our wiring yet so we’ll have fake three-prong action, which doesn’t meet code, but c’est la via. We also noticed our beautiful red photinia had taken on a leaf spot fungus. The fix? Remove all the leaves. So we spent the day doing that after some quick electrical work. I digress; CYCLING POST. I didn’t want to ride after all this work. Ooh, failed to mention we also removed all the ivy from our chimney too. I really didn’t want to ride, but I did. A quick loop around the southern part of town. 22 miles, 700ft. 1:27 added. 14:27 down, 1:33 to go.
Sunday I again had a lot of trouble with motivation. It was supposed to be in the low 50s and raining. I made a massive breakfast and then lit a fire, but after a quick look at the weather, I realized it was only going to get worse. I had done all my usual routes earlier this week except for one that is an hour longer than I needed to ride. Randomly, I took a look at my calendar and noticed there was a race today. I had put it in as “Kruger Race.” It took me a second, but it dawned on me that I had passed a Kruger Farm on one of my rides earlier in the week. That’s Sauvie Island! It’s not particularly close to the house, but also not too far. I’d never ridden to the island, but I’d been meaning to. And I can also catch some cyclocross action? Done and done. The ride there was absolutely beautiful, but I was in my rain gear (jacket and boots) so it was a bit of a sauna. Watched some great racing action (including one of my few cycling buddies who I didn’t know would be out there), ate some Portuguese sausage thing, and headed home when the skies began to open up. Luckily, not too cold a day, but it was certainly a wet ride back. An oddly enjoyable way to finish up this challenge. 31.5 miles and 1100ft. 1:55 added, 16:17 total (don’t check the math from day-to-day; I had been rounding along the way).
So, eight days, 16:17 hours of riding, 247.2 miles, 12,067 feet climbed. I can only compare weeks with the software I use so I unfortunately have to throw out the first Sunday (massive four-hour ride) for any comparisons, but this still blows any other cycling week of mine away by two hours, 32 miles, and 900ft of climbing; basically one ride, but my previous bests weren’t all done in a single week, either, and didn’t start with a four-hour ride that I’m not counting. Needless to say, this was a monstrous eight days. I expect it to stand for… about two months when I bike from Seattle to Portland in two days. Mileage and time will be crushed then, but not climbing, which ironically is the least out of the ordinary [for me] of all the numbers here.
Feeling really good about my fitness now. This week surely caught me up as even in the midst of it I felt an extra gear on some of the usual climbs. Likely just cumulative training from previous weeks, but to feel it when tired? Good sign. For now, I think I’m going to take a day off, kick back by the fire, and eat some ice cream (speaking of which, I didn’t lose a single pound all week – hurray for muscle gain!).
This year marked our 4th Race for Hope. This being the 7th year it has been held, we’ve now been to more than not. That’s neat. Edit: 17th year. I’m bad at reading. We had a pretty big team this year and raised over $2000. Was great to see all the friends, family, and “family” out to show their support.
I’ve not had a great off-season or on-season of training so I knew I wouldn’t be besting my 18:25 from last year. Things are coming around training-wise, but definitely not at full speed yet. A short run at 6-minute mile pace yesterday confirmed it, but I was still going to go out at that pace and see what happened.
Unfortunately, I forgot my GPS watch in my bag so was stuck using my phone for pacing and timing duties. Not ideal, but it should do a decent job. Following the line-up and survivors’ walk, we were off. Based on experience with this race, I knew a ton of traffic lined up at the front and would slow me down so I got very near the front, which resulted in only a few elbows and a second or two lost. I got into what seemed like a good pace (my app is pretty inaccurate for current pace), and went…
Through Mile 1 in 5:55. Alright! Except I knew I couldn’t keep it up. I was running next to a younger kid who was staying with me, but varying his pace wildly. Always annoying. He fell apart, but had one of those great strides that you know has potential; I’m sure he’ll crush me in years to come as he matures, but I digress.
During Mile 2, we did an interesting thing… NOT TURN WHERE WE USED TO. New course. Ungh. I loved the old course. The new course is probably a little more scenic, but when you know a course like the back of your hand, it helps. It was mildly windy and the new route put us in it more. Bummer. I could tell folks were getting gassed and knew Mile 2 is where you pick up the spots because typically nobody has anything left for Mile 3 (except for me last year). Made a little push, got a handful of folks, and through the 2nd mile in a race time of 12:10 (6:15 mile).
And then my lack of training kicked in. Mile 3 was tough. My form went away, I got passed by two guys, and knew I had nothing left. There was one guy closing on me late and I even waved him by to let him know I was done, but apparently he was even more done and I was able to keep him at bay. Through Mile 3 in… I don’t know. Probably another 6:15 or so. And then a final little push to the end to finish in 19:15. I think the course was a little long as my GPS says the 5k went by in 18:55, but it could have been my phone measuring wrong. Either way, I’m pretty pleased.
The results have me where I recrossed the line later with Mom, but I’ve submitted a correction that will get me 23rd place (edit: 22nd), 3rd in age group, and 1st from Oregon 😉 Next year I’ll have to get back in the Top 20 and find that sub-18 I’ve been searching for. No moving, no injuries… Let’s do this.
I shouldn’t fail to mention that my eagled-eyed wife spotted Fred Armisen (guy from Portlandia) at The Willard! What are the chances of bumping into him in DC rather than Portland? Funny stuff. I regret not shaking his hand as he hopped into his cab.
On our way to NC now! Vacation!!! Thanks again to everyone who came out and/or contributed! See you next year!