Last Friday, I was like a kid in school… watching the clock, itching to bust out of my office door to enjoy a 3 day weekend! Three whole days of freedom, three mornings to sleep in, three days to unwind… wait, what am I talking about, this is tri-season. Three days to get in long training.
During the previous two weekends, I’d done sprint races. Now, with an extended weekend ahead of me… I was looking forward to being outside and getting some miles on my new tires. The forecast called for sunny and upper 80’s / lower 90’s all weekend. Actually, it was so nice on Friday evening; I decided to go for an easy 24 mile ride. My legs felt great, easy pace… I didn’t even notice the hills. At this point, I should have known Saturday would be a different story.
For 2 ½ weeks prior to my ride on Saturday, I hadn’t ridden longer than 40 miles in any given workout. Lots of speed work… not so much on the distance side of things. So, sure, bring on 80 miles. It’s a beautiful Saturday morning, what the heck else do I have to do?! Who doesn’t love riding their bike in the Carolina hills, chasing a pro triathlete, for well over 4 hours?
After applying what I thought was an ample amount of SPF 40 sun block, filling water bottles, loading up with gels and shot blocks, pumping tires, cleaning sunglasses… Peter and I rode out of his driveway. That’s when I realized my legs had taken a vacation. How did they hear about the Holiday weekend?! Where did they go?
There was simply no other explanation… the weather was perfect, no wind, plenty of sleep, hydrated. Mentally, I was ready to go. However, it’s physically challenging to go 80 miles on a bike when your legs feel like they've traveled to the Bahamas to chill on the beach and sip margaritas.
I forced myself to keep up with Peter, but even during the warm-up, it was more challenging than usual. Then came the fun part: TT 3 times 9.2 mile loop. Considering my legs were off enjoying a nice buzz… with no intention of returning from vacation, this was not going to be fun.
We were time trialing a loop I’ve done many times before. I was going to do the 9.2 mile loop… while Peter used a different road to make his 10 miles. I’m going to omit the gory details about these TT efforts (or the riding in-between, or the bee sting). To be honest, it just plain sucked. I couldn’t muster up any speed, my legs were tired, and when we finished the 3rd TT… we still had 20 miles to ride. Peter, in an attempt to cheer me up, began asking questions about my fatigue. He questioned my fluid consumption, calorie intake, ride the night before… then, he asked if it was too hot for me?! I couldn’t take it anymore… I really just wanted to be done with the ride. That’s when I snapped, yelling about not having ridden enough in the past 3 weeks. It had nothing to do with hydration/food/heat… I just wasn’t ready for a ride like that.
We didn’t talk much for the last 15 miles. Usually during warm-up or cool-down, I ride next to Peter… but, not today. Today, I was yards behind… wondering if my legs would bring a nice souvenir upon their return (a pooka shell necklace, perhaps?). But, really I was trying to remind myself that I am NOT a pro, or a guy, or an Ironman for that matter. It’s understandable that I couldn’t keep up with Peter.
Later that evening, Peter, his roommate (Brad), and I went to Barley’s for pizza and beer. I’m laughing now as I think about the amount on our table. 3 huge water glasses, a pitcher of water, a pitcher of coke/sprite mix (the guys are quite particular, hum?), 3 pints of beer, the beer pitcher… at that was just the liquid order. The waiter was a bit overwhelmed. We ordered 2 large pizzas… and ate, and drank, and ate, and drank, etc…
Before going to bed, I questioned my long run in the morning. Riding a bike while your legs are on vacation is one thing, but running could be an entirely different story. Then, I was too exhausted to think about it anymore. Sleep, must sleep.
To get motivated for Sunday’s run, I loaded a few new songs on my ipod (thanks for the Hot Mix part Deux, Ben! It’s awesome!). The weather was fantastic, and I knew I needed to get going to beat the heat. Yeah! They came home; my legs were back… tired from their trip to the Bahamas, but with me nonetheless. After finishing the long run, drinking gallons of water, and showering… all I wanted to do was sit down. Of course, that’s when my friend Kate called.
Kate is an awesome friend, but after 2 hard days of training… I didn’t know if I was up for the attack of her customary energy and cheerfulness. I bit my lip, and answered the phone. Triathlon training is no excuse to ignore friendships. Many people have given up on calling me to “go out” (as in – going to the bars like normal people in their mid-20’s)… but, Kate has not forgotten me. She is my link to celebrity gossip, current fashions, cool parties, shopping, etc…
“Meet me at the Sugar Mill pool in one hour,” she said. The Sugar Mill pool is her parent’s neighborhood pool. Kate happens to be the oldest “kid,” who still hangs out there… acting as pool princess, leading games of Sharks & Minos and Marco-Polo. It was exactly what I needed: a vacation from training! (is this where my legs had been hanging out?!)
I put on a bikini… that’s right, no speedo for me today! But, when I stood in front of the mirror to apply sunscreen, I saw a tri-geek. Painfully white thighs, sport bra tan line between my shoulder blades, white feet, pale stomach… yuck. Oh well, it was Kate… not Matthew McConaughey. Off to the pool to meet the girls (Noel, my roommate, was going too).
We didn’t talk about triathlons, splits, intervals, gear, races, heart rate, or hydration (oh, wait… we did talk about hydration… we wanted to go buy beer, but here in South Carolina… you can’t buy alcohol on Sundays). We talked about guys, upcoming bridal showers and weddings, Sheryl Crow’s new baby, the dude near us with back-hair… which led to a discussion about waxing. Anyway, it was refreshing. We lounged on the pool chairs, harassed 7 year old kids, dove for those weighted sticks, listened to the lifeguard’s Dave Matthews Band mix CD.
It made me feel like I was a kid again! The sights, sounds, and smells at a pool in the summer are timeless. (for those of you familiar with Willow Knolls - I'd like to give the WKCC a shout out) Kids running around, parents shouting orders about sunscreen, dads blowing up floats, siblings arguing over towels, getting splashed, adult swims, eating popsicles… it was AWESOME! I can’t blame my legs for taking a leave of absence… chilling out poolside was the perfect way, both mentally and physically, to recover from a hard weekend of training!
Kate, thank you for the Sugar Mill Vacation. You have no idea how badly I needed that getaway!