Saturday. 99 days to the marathon. Oof. Thursday I ran for 1 hour not too bad but I was a little creaky.
On Friday I took my bike out and wanted to do 50 miles. I zipped up to Barkhamsted — taking a different route from last time. I found myself riding miles through a beautiful forest and was zipping along. After maneuvering my way through little picturesque towns I found myself at the top of the Reservoir Dam. I was at 19 miles. I felt fine and I knew that if I went back the direct route home it was only 12 miles so I decided to tackle the back roads. I didn’t remember the route exactly (it had been well over 20 years) but I figured I could wing it. I knew there would be at least one big hill but I was up for the challenge.
As soon as I turned off to go the backroads I was greeted by a rather steep hill — it seemed longer and steeper than Harlem Hill in Central Park. I took it on with great determination. I wasn’t even remotely tired so I climbed my way to the top and looked at my odometer. It wasn’t even a 1/2 mile. Oh well, it takes longer to go up hills I reminded myself. I got to the top rounded the bend and was greeted by an even bigger hill than the one I had just climbed. I didn’t remember there being two big hills on the backroads home, but frankly I always drove it, never rode it. I hunkered down and climbed. I was pretty tired when I got to the top and checking my odometer I was only 1.5 miles away from where I started — it felt like 10 miles — they were two very steep hills.
I came to a juncture in the road. If I went straight it went up another hill. To the right was a sign pointing to Bradley airport. I chose the road to the airport both because it was flat and also I knew that was generally the right direction. I rounded a corner and to my dismay I was faced with the biggest freakin’ hill I had ever seen in my life. With no exaggeration, it had to be 1 mile straight up hill. I couldn’t even see the top it was so steep. No way, I said to myself. I can’t, I just can’t. I had just climbed two hills bigger than anything I had ever climbed before (including Westchester) and now I was faced with the side of a mountain. This is no longer called a hill when it points straight up like this. This was a come-to-Jesus-meeting moment. I could turn around and take it straight downhill get out onto the highway and get home. But I knew that if I did that I would never live with myself. An iron-girl wouldn’t turn around so I started up the hill. I refused to look up and I just climbed, climbed, climbed. Finally after what seemed forever I made it to the top. It had to be the top of the world.
I rounded another bend and then I was face to face with my own L’Alpe d’Huez. I wanted to cry. I had climbed so high already and I was faced with another climb that made the last three hills look like nothing. I tried to conjure up Harlem Hill and laughed out loud that I had ever even considered that a hill in my mind. I would gladly exchange twenty times up and down Harlem Hill for once up this hill. I knew I could not and should not do this — I had not trained to take on any mountains of this size. I had not had a break since I left the reservoir at 19 miles. I looked at my odometer 23 miles. I had been climbing straight uphill for 4 miles and now I was facing this monster. “Just turn around, just turn around, it would be all downhill” I kept trying to convince myself. But then this other little voice said “but you know you can’t turn around.” There was no choice but to go forward. My lower back was starting to hurt. My calves and quads were both getting tired. This is stupid, I kept telling myself. There is nobody for miles around. Nobody on this planet will care if you turn around and coast down those three monsters you just climbed up. Tears started to fill up in the corners of my eyes because I knew I had no choice but to keep going. Backing down would admit defeat of all of my hopes and dreams of where I want to be one day. Okay maybe this was not the day I had planned to climb the biggest mountain of my life, but the day is here anyway.
I needed a break but there was no way I could stop because I knew if I stopped peddling I would collapse — I had to just keep climbing. Even now remembering the climb it was painful. How the heck did Lance do it? I just kept climbing all the while reminding myself it didn’t matter how slow or how long — just keep going. When I finally reached the top there was no view to prove I was at the top of the world. Just some rolling hills and a long road ahead. My odometer was not even at 26 miles yet. I couldn’t believe it. The first 19 miles had seemed like a breeze. The last 7 seemed like hiking through a mudslide. Now my back was killing me and I was out in the middle of nowhere — I couldn’t describe my location to anyone even if I wanted to call them to come get me. I looked at my cell phone — no signal. 40 miles seemed like forever and I just kept reminding myself — only 14 miles to go — you can do 14 miles in your sleep. But now my back was hurting, my carpal tunnel was screaming — I thought I should stop but I was afraid that I wouldn’t make it home.
I struggled through the last 14 miles and most of it was flat. Even the smallest incline felt like a mountain. The last five were all I could do to get home. I kept thinking to myself — oh my God, Charlee, Colleen and Amanda rode 115 miles with hills and then they did a marathon (with hills). I barely made it through 40 miles and not only would I not be able to do a marathon — I was worried I couldn’t dismount my bike without falling over. I realized how far away from doing an Ironman I really am.
I’m trying to get ready to do my two days of 75 miles in a couple of weeks in Vermont — I’m kind of worried about that. On Monday I will do 50 miles here in CT. On Wed. I will do an early a.m. ride to Nyack another 50. Next weekend I will do the Litchfield Hills Ride which is 50 miles. The following weekend hopefully I will make it through two days of 75 miles each…. We’ll see.
This morning I ran for 2 hours and 20 minutes. I was proud to finish. Just like yesterday’s last couple of miles on the bike, the last 20 minutes of this morning’s run was very hard. I will say, however, that there were a few moments during this morning’s run when I felt on autopilot. I realized that is what marathon running must feel like — just get that autopilot feeling for longer periods of time. When I was finished I tried to imagine doing yesterday’s bike (twice) and then this morning’s run (twice) all in the same day. Ouch!!! I need two more years at least to get to that point.
Tomorrow I am off to Webster Mass to be a swim Angel for the Danskin Triathlon. I’ll be swimming alongside of those who have anxiety in the water. Looking forward to feeling confident again!!!