Sunday. Ahhhh the ultimate in luxury — all of my workouts for the weekend are complete and until Tuesday I don’t have to do a thing!!!
Thursday we had another overgearing workout. I brought Tina and with her new cog set. Didn’t work too well — it was too easy. I can now spin pretty well in my hardest gear. On Sylvia in my hardest gear I’m really working hard. This week I basically just put my pedal down and Tina shot off. Kind of defeats the purpose of an overgearing workout which is to build muscle. It was nice though to not have to work sooo hard to keep up with everyone on the warmup loop. But I know the right thing to do is to bring Sylvia next Thursday to get the most out of the workout. (Don’t you hate it when you KNOW the right thing to do, but don’t want to do it?) The guilt, the guilt — just pull out the clunker and get the workout done.
I had a pretty good Pilates session with Elly after the bike session. Poor Elly is really trying so hard to make me cry, but I’m getting stronger and it’s getting pretty hard. Basically she is giving me a lot of reps to do. I definitely feel it towards the end but I plow right through twelve reps of something I could barely do two of nine months ago. Even the full teaser routine is no longer a groaner. So I know I’m getting stronger. I still struggle with the obliques. Currently this is her favorite exercise to make me suffer. The device is called the stability chair and the feet are on springs. So as you crunch up your arm comes up with the springs. If I don’t get my balance just right — boom, over I go. Then I cry.
Friday I couldn’t get to WW — too much work to do. But I did have another good meeting with my nutrition student. We talked about my ravenous binges that seem to happen a day later after a huge workout. Her theory is that I’m simply not replacing my glycogen stores soon enough after my big workouts and my extreme hunger is just my body’s way of trying to compensate days later. So she suggested that I up my post-workout consumption and try to get something with more carbohydrates and even some sugar in it. I really don’t have any desire to eat right after big workouts so I know this is a problem for me that I’m not replacing ENOUGH after a workout. 8 oz of lowfat chocolate milk is just not cutting it. She actually suggested something that might tempt me liek a cookie. A COOKIE?!?! Even two, she says. You mean like a cookie, cookie? One that you would just go to the store and buy? Or are you talking about one of those fat-free pieces of cardboard/air they pass off as cookies? You mean those things that are totally taboo and against every book from the dawn of diet? Yes, she says, those cookies. Have your chocolate milk and eat a couple of cookies too (this is if you can’t stand your recovery drink). Obviously she would PREFER I eat something else that is more nutritious, but since I simply don’t want to eat after a workout and this is one way to get me to eat — offer me contraband!! Genius if you ask me.
So Friday night I went to the grocery store and stood in enemy territory — the cookie aisle. I stood there facing my foes — the cookie shelves. For mmy entire adult life I have avoided this aisle. I heard the Keebler elves whispering “shhh, look who’s here, haven’t seen her in years….” The Mallomars were wooing me — “well, heloooooowww there.” (I know that Mallomars are the Devil’s tempting tickets to a hell of hippiness.) I knew there were two kinds of cookies that I love and are not THAT bad for you. Ginger Snaps and plain old Oatmeal cookies. They are not good for you by any stretch of the imagination, but as far as trans fats and total fat grams go they are not the worst. I also have been eating Fig Newtons on my long bikes (two for each 56 miles) and those are not that bad for you either. (Though I reserve them for long training rides only.) I started putting boxes of cookies in my basket.
First the Ginger Snaps (I thought even I couldn’t resist Cold Chocolate Milk and crispy Ginger Snaps after a 100 mile bike) — into the basket. A little shudder. Then a box of Oatmeal cookies — plain — these might be good to bring for after the swim but before the bike. I started to feel a little dizzy. I was in unknown territory here. Okay, okay. I’m okay, I’ve just put two boxes of cookies in my basket and the earth did not open up and swallow me whole. I have to have my Fig Newtons for the bike ride and so far I have only been eating the Fat Free Fig Newtons so I figured I better just stay with those. Into the basket. I now have three boxes of cookies in my basket. I look up and down the aisle — I hope nobody I know sees me.
Then I see them. They don’t say anything. They don’t have to. They are that powerful. The Arch Enemy, Archway Dutch Cocoa Cookies. Would I eat those after a workout? No probably not — too much chocolate if I have them with chocolate milk. Would I eat them during a workout? No probably not — too sugary and I wouldn’t want them. So I wouldn’t eat them for a workout, I wouldn’t eat them for recovery so they shouldn’t go into my basket right? Right, so off we go to check out — me, the Fat Free Fig Newtons, The Ginger Snaps, Oatmeal Cookies AND The Archway Dutch Cocoa cookies. They are sitting in the basket gloating. They are so smug. I hate them just for their smugness. I swear they jumped off the shelf and into my basket — I didn’t even touch them. And, then, just as I was exiting the aisle, I looked down and saw a box of Low Fat Honey Grahams already in my basket trying to hide behind the fat free yogurts — lame, how can a box of Graham hide behind yogurts? “HEY!” I said, “HOW did YOU get in there?” The little bumblebee on the front of the box just smiled at me. Either my student nutritionist was brilliant idea or I was gong straight to hell. I tried to check out as quickly as I could as I placed box after box of cookies on the checkout stand. I saw the checkout clerk look at me — it was brief, but she looked.
Saturday was our Swike – swim/run. We were to be on the deck at Asphalt Green at 5:45 for our 2 mile time trial (I can’t swim 2 miles in 1 hour so I knew I was just going to do the best I could). The kicker was, this time we had to ride our bikes there and they had people to watch our bikes while we swam. (HUGE shout out of thanks to Dear Dana who got up at that unGodly hour with her friend to come watch our bikes!)
My swim wasn’t anything spectacular but I was steady. I definitely wasn’t any faster than before they were all 10 minute 400’s. But, to be honest I hadn’t been putting in the time in the pool and I was not killing myself because I knew we had a big bike ahead of us. Right toward the end of the practice I was nearing the end of the lane when all of a sudden I felt a huge wallop right between my eyes. It took me a second to realize what it was — it was foot — specifically the heel of a foot kicking me smack on my forehead between the eyes. It was the bridge of my nose and top of my eye socket that stopped that foot from going into my eye. I was stunned. It felt just like someone served a tennis ball right into my head — the room goes dark and you start to swoon. I yanked off my my goggles and I think I’m hearing people say “are you okay, are you okay?” Yeah, yeah, I’m okay I’m saying but I can’t focus on anything — the room is kind of spinning and all I see is water and I feel for one second like I could just let go of the line and drift off…. Instinctively I knew I was okay though — it was just my eyes hadn’t caught up yet. It’s like when you are fast asleep and someone throws the brightest light on and you are trying to see but nothing is coming into focus. That same feeling of yeah, I know I’m okay, it’s just going to take a second to find which way is up.
The poor gal who whacked me felt terrible. I think only she and I will ever know the total force with which she whacked me. It was hard. I know she knows how hard she kicked. (Frankly I am impressed with her strength — I don’t kick anywhere near that hard.) But from tennis I also know that getting mad at the person who hit you is silly — they feel terrible already (I know I’ve hit people before) and of course they didn’t do it on purpose. On the tennis court you might want to shake them up a little and make them feel bad so you can get a few extra points out of them, but this was not the case. I saw my coaches hand stretching out to me and I took it to get to the wall. Rob is right behind me saying “yeah, I know you’re fine but let’s be more fine at the wall.”
My eyes begin to uncross. Then the coach says “Now you know what I am going to say, right?” I really thought he was going to say to get out of the pool and take the rest of the day off but I didn’t want to do that, I wanated to do the bike, so I just kept saying “I’m fine, I’m fine, really.” But instead he says “this can happen on race day, now get your goggles on and get right back into your rhythm. C’mon you’re tough.” Yeah, right, of course he’s right. I’m fine what the heck am I doing? (Later I relfect upon the hilarity of my thinking the coach would tell me to get out of the pool and rest.) I get right back into my stride and I find that I swim immediately right back into my regular stroke. There is no pain, no dizziness, I really am fine now. It was just a temporary shock to the system. And he’s right, I’m going to get bashed around race day and I’m probably going to get a heel in the face. I’m used to getting kicked in the stomach which is annoying, but nothing is worse than in the chest — that REALLY hurts and keeps on hurting for awhile. So in a way my teammate did me a favor. I know now if I get kicked in the head, that I really can keep on swimming. In the end she suffered much more because she kept apologizing to me. I was really over it, but the guilt lingers on — I know, from tennis. I still apologize to my ex-partner Robin for nailing her in the back of the head when I served in a match — TWICE!! It’s a terrible feeling.
Then we get out of the pool and onto our bikes. I wore my trishorts to swim and bike so I was out on the bike pretty quickly. (Great note, my good ole trishorts were comfortable for the entire bike ride so that’s what I’m wearing for Lake Placid!) I rode up over the bridge with the gal who kicked me and a couple of others — it was nice riding with them. A lot of fun chatting along the way. I waited for my regular cast of characters – -Michelle, Rob, Nacho and Jamie (we miss Sunshine ’cause she has a broken wrist.) Pretty soon we split up and it’s just me, Michelle and Rob riding up the side roads of 9W trying to find some place called the lemonade stand that is going to take us off toward Harriman. We don’t find it so we just keep riding until we are heading up a hill to Bear Mountain.
Up until this point I’m not really seeing a big difference in my new cog set. As a matter of fact I was spinning up one hill and it wasn’t until I got up it that I discovered I was still in my big chain ring. (Would help if I shifted to my smaller chain ring for easier spinning, duhhhh.) Michelle asked if I felt a difference, I said “nah, not really.”
Then we hit one long grind of a hill heading towards Bear Mountain Bridge. About halfway up it I realized, hey I’m not dropping my cadence to below 50. I’m not killing my knees. I’m still going 6.6 mph, but I’m still spinning and I’m not having a heart attack. So I yell to Michelle “NOW I feel it, here, this is the difference, I point to my gears hoping she gets what I am talking about.” It’s not that the extra gears are going to make me faster up the hills — they are not. But they are going to make it easier so I am not burning my quads and hamstrings. Mission accomplished — the 12/27 was doing it’s job. This is not going to be my prefrred combination for a race like St. Anthony’s or even riding Central Park or doing Montauk. But for going up to Bear Mountain or doing the Lake Placid course (twice) I think they will come in handy. I have to be careful to not just go into the 27 automatically. I did find that sometimes the gear or two harder were still okay and to reserve that 27 for when it’s really hard. It really is a Granny Gear.
When we got to the top of 9W where it turns off to the Bear Mountain bridge we head up to the Bear Mountain Inn parking lot for refueling. “I’ve never been to the tippy top of Bear Mountain where there is supposed to be a circle and a lot of motorcycles. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, we are so close, would you guys want to do that?” Rob said he had done it before and it was hard, Michelle said she was game. Two guys told us how to get up there, we had to go take a right onto Perkins Drive. So after refuelling we took off.
Perkins Drive is about 2 miles up with an average grade of about 6% (I looked it up). The grade is not so tough it is the grade WITH the distance. A 2 mile climb and after about 1 mile I’m thinking — okay, who’s idea was this? Every turn I kept thinking, this HAS to be the top. Nope, keep going. I decided I was going to blame Rob because he knew how hard this was and didn’t try to stop my bad idea. We slogged it up to the top. A couple of times I had to stand just to give my butt a rest.
When we got to the top it was nice but I don’t know if it was worth ALL that effort. On the ride home, hills that are normally no problem were suspicously hard. Rockland Hill was a pain in the patootie. I was using my Granny Gear to get over speed bumps. I had turned into a lazy slug. I guess my nutrition was slightly lacking. We stopped for water at a deli. Rob eats half a Snickers bar. Life is soooo unfair. A Snickers bar? Aren’t those illegal? “I only eat half.” He says. Half? You only eat half? What do you do with the other half? “I throw it out.” I look at him in disbelief — our relationship to food is soooo different. I go inside and buy a snickers bar and ask the clerk to cut it in half. I give half to Michelle and I eat the other half. Eh, it really didn’t do it for me. I think it’s missing the mystique of being in the fridge after midnight — that’s when I would want the snickers bar, not when I’m hot and tired.
I’ve come understand that THE BONK comes in many forms. Sometimes it’s obvious — the headache, the fatigue, the muscle strain. But sometimes it is more insidious than that. Coach Earl once said to us, “if you are in a race and you start to think about quitting, you’re bonking — eat.” So I think I was having that kind of bonk — just bored, don’t care, so what. There was nothing to keep me interested so I decided to concentrate on things like my burning feet. In my entire biking life I’ve never noticed that my feet were too hot. Suddenly this was unbearable. Another version of bonking. I just didn’t care.
Michelle and I get back over the bridge (to be honest riding over the bridge wasn’t as awful as I remember…) She has to go uptown and I head down Riverside. But now the late afternoon thunderstorm is brewing. As I’m riding down Riverside Drive I see the dark clouds in New Jersey and I hear the thunder. Then I see the lightening hitting on the water. I think maybe the storm is not coming this way — it’s staying in New Jersey.
I’m minding my own business when a bunch of Sunday riders with baskets on their handlebars pass me (they might have been girlscouts). Okay, okay, I’m riding too slowly. I refuse to look at my bike computer — I know I’m pedalling like 12 mph. Then a huge clap of thunder and I see a lightning bolt hit the water closer. Uh oh, I’m going to get nailed by this storm. I start pedalling like my life is depending upon it. I’m sailing up the little inclines of Riverside Drive. I blow past the girlscouts and I’m pedalling like a mad woman. I am pedalling harder and faster than any race I ever done. Harder than St. Anthony’s. I don’t know if the thunder storm had cleared people off the road or what but I was flying. I hit light at 96th street and it turns green just as I’m sailing down the hill (I never hit that light green) and I fly up the little hill there. At the top I see my mph say 20 mph. Up the hill. I’m pedalling so hard and every minute or so there is another crack of thunder. I can feel the storm breathing down my neck.
I’m counting the block — 63 street — 1 mile. The thunder rumbles and I feel a few pelts of rain. Oh please God, I just can’t take a thunderstorm. I am riding through the street construction like one of those bike messengers — dodging and weaving my way through traffic and taxis (normally I’m overcautious). 53rd street, clear. I have an entire lane to myself. I’m pedalling so fast even Tina is shocked. Definitely more drops. Another crack of thunder. It’s literally chasing me down 11th Avenue. I get to 44th street and pull in. One block from home – -I beat the storm!! I beat it. Take that!!!
I get into my apartment and see the storm let loose around me and then it is gone in minutes, obviously it is just running it’s way downtown looking for some other victim to harrass. Then I realize, geesh for someone who could barely pedal 12 mph out in New Jersey you certainly booked it down Riverside drive. Lesson learned, no matter how low you think the tank is, there is probably just a little more gas.
Finally I’m home and I go to the fridge to have my milk and cookies. I can drink the milk but I’ll be honest I really didn’t want the cookies. But I ate 3 ginger snaps and found them to be quite good. I decided to drink a second chocolate milk and eat 3 more ginger snaps — that had to be enough at least until I made some dinner. I made some pasta with veggies and had that within 1:30 of my getting off the bike. So that should be enough to restore my glycogen to my muscles… We’ll see. I went to bed very early because frankly I was zonked — I had been up since 4:30! Long day but a much longer day was a mere 5 weeks ahead.
This morning I had to run for 1 hour 45 minutes. I woke up feeling creaky. I didn’t know how I was going to run. I had to haul out the mp3 player for this one. Amazingly enough when I got down to the river and started to run — my legs just did it. I didn’t have to stop and although I wasn’t speedy by any stretch of the imagination, I was able to isolate my core muscles and conjure some form of Chirunning. After about 10 minutes I felt absolutely normal. Unbelievable. This was actually good news. If I can run 1:45 fairly easily the day after a 1 hour swim and a 103.83 mile bike ride that’s not too shabby. I actually even picked up the pace in a few spots. I ran in to one of our coaches out there (I swear they plant themselves around the city to spy on who is doing what.) We had a nice chat and then I went on my way.
As I was heading home I had the strangest sensation come over me. It was brief — left as quickly as it came, but for one second a thought crept into my head…. You know what? I may be able to do this Ironman afterall….
Here’s to milk and cookies. BTW, the Archway Dutch Cocoa remain unopened and I think I’ll just put them in the closet for now.