Wednesday, March 9, 2016

A motivating weekend of biking and running

So, I mentioned on Tuesday that I had wanted to write about my weekend and that is something that I definitely want to do because it was great and I haven't done a weekend recap in a while. The main thing that I wanted to do this past weekend though was go for a long bike ride and to do it on the road. I had reached out to a few friends and was also trying to research group rides, but wasn't able to find something that seemed to be the right level and pace and what I was looking for. So, even as of Friday night, I wasn't sure what my Saturday was going to look like.

After work, I met a group of people from my company who are trying to start up a regular happy hour crowd, which I am ALL ON BOARD with. For those of you who may be new around here, before I moved to Atlanta, I used to coordinate regular happy hours with a distribution list that was around 200 people, from SVPs to just general minions such as myself. I believe the vision is to do something similar here so I gladly volunteered to run the next one at the end of the evening.

When I arrived I only knew one of the people who would be there, and she is fellow triathlete, although much more experienced than me. She has done multiple races, is going to the Half Ironman World Championships this year, and is a certified coach. Needless to say, she has been a person I bring questions to very frequently. And, on Friday she introduced me to another triathlete (who also enjoys happy hours) that we work with and upon talking we realized that we both wanted to ride the same distance, pace, and time the next day and he volunteered to let me tag along with him. It made me so happy to have an experienced rider to take me out and before heading to my next engagement we made plans for Saturday.

From happy hour, I went to a birthday dinner for a friend from the gym, which was a really fun night and great to see my gym buddies out and about (and with wine in our hands.)

Only problem was that my meal was apparently made for ants. It was so small!!  Luckily, I ate a massive plate of nachos before going to dinner, so #win for me.

Saturday morning I got up early still since I wasn't  going to be riding until later in the day and drove out to Roswell for yoga at the studio that I like. It isn't exactly a convenient location, but I really like the studio and I hadn’t been able to get to yoga class in quite a while.

Lately, since I returned from Dubai, I have been feeling extremely tight in my hips flexors. I know that my hips often give me problems but they have been feeling worse than usual and I have had a limited range of motion. I saw my massage therapist and the chiropractor to help with it, and needed to recommit myself to yoga as well to try and make some progress with it. The yoga class in the morning was exactly what I needed.

I returned home for a quick change and then went to meet the guy I had met the night before. We planned to drive out to Cartersville, GA to the Budweiser plant, which I had heard from a number of bike riders was a great option of a place to go. Talking to the guy the night before, he seemed to know it really well and I felt really encouraged by his willingness to let me join.

Originally it was going to be a small group but it ended up being just the two of us going out to do the ride. We made the ride out, saddled up, and head out on a beautiful bike ride.

The route was full of rolling hills and curved roads that proved SO much more interesting and engaging to my mind than the Silver Comet trail where I have done the majority of my riding so far. The only road riding I have done has been in the city, which has its own anxieties with stoplights and traffic and challenges to come across. I thoroughly enjoyed being out in the country on a marked, looped route, with fields and cows and lakes and forests to look at as we biked along.

I rode in the back, following my friend and just riding at my own pace. I tried to become more comfortable with the gears, riding hills, and pacing myself. Conveniently, I realized that I had forgotten my GPS watch so I had no idea of my pace or the distance traveled while we were out riding. Which was probably good for me.

While we were riding, I can’t say that I enjoyed every minute. And by the end, I was definitely tired and my pace definitely slowed in the last miles. For the last few miles, I just kept thinking “When is it going to end?!”

My immediate thoughts after finishing the, what ended up being, 31 miles, were “HOW in the world am I going to do double this?!” and “There is no way I could now run a half marathon!”

It was intimidating, for sure. To know how much further I had to go in training. But a little while after finishing, I felt calm and I felt okay. I can do this, I thought. I can build up to 56 miles, I rationalized.

Because I didn’t hurt. I didn’t feel pain. And most importantly, I looked back on it smiling and having fun. I didn’t feel sore in the hours after, I didn’t lack energy. I was tired, for sure, but I felt good.

While we were riding, one of the coolest things I have experienced happened. I had a moment. It was similar to when I ran down Decatur Street during the New Orleans Half Marathon. Or when I did the Nashville Rock N Roll way back when and I suddenly felt clarity as I ran through the rain as the sun rose with 30,000 strangers. Or when I did the Paris Marathon and heard nothing but feet pounding the pavement all around me and realized I was a part of something bigger than myself. It was a moment that gave me goosebumps, and with that gave me perspective.

We were riding on the tail end of the 31 miles and we were riding through farming lands, which we had been throughout most of the bike. We started crossing a field on our right hand side, which was the side of the road we were riding on (since you ride WITH traffic.) And in this field, behind a fence that was a few feet from the road, there were a few horses. And as I biked past (my riding buddy was a ways ahead of me) one of the horses noticed me and turned and started to run to try and catch up with me. He (or she) did, and ran alongside me. Just a few feet in from where I was riding my bike was a beautiful, majestic galloping horse with its mane and tail flying behind and I’m guessing, feeling free and carefree. For 10 or so seconds, this horse galloped and ran alongside me in, in pace with the speed I was riding, and it was the most amazing feeling.

On my bike, on that road, in my helmet and biking gloves, with my clip in shoes, and on my bike with its little carrying bag and water bottle holders and handlebars and brakes and gears and all these contraptions – I felt weightless. I felt like that horse. I felt like I was flying and just galloping through the woods with nothing holding me back and nothing restricting me. I saw that horse running next to me and I felt like we were one.

It’s hard to describe but it was an amazing and magical feeling, one that makes my stomach do flip flops, as I think back on. Similar to all those other moment while running, it was one of those moment that makes everything else worth it. It was the reason why we do these things.

I finished that bike ride feeling so proud of myself. It wasn’t the furthest I’ve ever ridden, it wasn’t the fastest I’ve ever ridden, it wasn’t the longest ride I will do in this training cycle –but it gave me confidence. It was the first time ever riding my bike that I felt that high and it gave me something to chase while I am on the bike in the future. It excited me and it made me not dread all my future long rides. It meant a lot.

I spent the rest of Saturday doing a heck of a lot of nothing, to be honest. I reached out to a few friends, but I also was honestly pretty tired. I had traveled for the past 3 weekends and I ended up committing to a night at home, and I treated myself with a box of desserts from Publix. Unneccessary? Yes, of course. But delicious, yes and yes.

I don’t know why I have knowingly and consciously been making poor food choices lately, but I have. I still have been at that mindset that I get towards the end of marathon training where I think, “I have been working so hard, I should be able to eat whatever I want!” and it is a false thought and it has slowly been wrecking havoc on myself. I can feel my pants feel a bit tighter and a bit more uncomfortable and I can see my body continue to take on those shapes that I don’t like. But, I’ve been making the decisions anyways. Sigh.

Those desserts were good though.

Sunday I woke up and made plans to meet up with friends for a run. I also did a quick crowdsource of my running distance for the day and with the input of a few friends, settled upon 8 miles to run.

I began the day by going to one of my favorite places in Atlanta, the Ponce City Market, having a coffee and doing a little work e-mail that I needed to catch up on.

Then I continued the glorious weekend weather by doing my run on the popular Beltline and meeting up with two friends for 4 of the 8 miles. I ran a mile to meet them, ran 4 miles with them, and then finished the last 3 on my own. Having the company in the middle, made those miles fly by. We talked about work, running, and the ever popular topic of boys, as we ran down the Beltline weaving in and out of the other hundreds of people who were out enjoying the nice weather.

I felt good when I finished the 8 miles. Again, I was tired, but I didn't feel totally dead or achey or in pain or anything. I felt really proud of myself.

The beautiful weather and the great workouts on both Saturday and Sunday gave me a lot of confidence going into the next few weeks of training. Sunday was 11 weeks from the half ironman and I did a 31 mile bike ride and an 8 mile run. I have 11 weeks to move up to a 56 mile bike ride and a 13 mile run. And you know what, I think I can do it.

P.S. Something happened during that run and for the first time, I felt myself getting chafed and a blister WHILE I was running. It sucked and it hurt and when I was finished it hurt a lot. When I took a shower, I legit yelled out in pain during the shower, which I don't remember happening since the Paris Marathon. Some was on the underside of my arm and some was against my body. NOT COOL.

The end.

1 comment:

  1. W-O-W!!! What an awsome moment on the bike...gave me chills!