100 miles

Let’s Get Serious

Okay, I’m starting to get a little nervous about the Century ride. It’s about 3 weeks away and I feel like my training has not quite been what it should have been. In the past, Michael and I spent most of our weekends doing the 40 mile loop, or trying to get in a 50 mile bike ride. That plan seems to have been thwarted this year. I am biking to work much more than I ever did last year, so that’s something. We’ve just had things come up to prevent us from being consistent. Michael recently had the flu and was not up for going on a long ride, and then the weather got in the way, and then my bike tire exploded… Hence, my worry.

Sunday –

Sunday morning I planned on going for about a 20-30 mile ride. It was most likely going to be solo because Michael was still feeling under the weather. Even though I was nervous about biking alone after my bike tire incident, I was ready to do it. It had to be done. I woke up that morning to rain. Seriously? In the middle of July?! The day after a gorgeous, clear summer day? So not fair. I headed to the pool instead, angry at the weather for getting in the way, and of course when I was done in the pool it was clear skies and sunshine.

I decided to just do it. I got on my bike after lunch and went for a short ride–something was better than nothing. The skies still looked a bit iffy in one direction so I decided I would ride in our neighborhood. My training ride ended up being all hills. There was one hill that in the past would kill me and leave me delirious from fatigue and heavy breathing. I was SO happy when I rode up that hill without too much issue this time! Conquering that huge hill made me feel confident and happy! Like I said, it was a short ride but all hills so that was definitely a good way to practice for the event.

Time: 41:49
Calories Burned: 381
Distance: 9 miles

When I got home from my ride, we made dinner together–lettuce from my garden, grilled chicken sliced on top with avocado and croutons. Michael also made queso from scratch (he gets the weirdest cravings sometimes) and I had some queso with tortilla chips.

I felt like SOME miles were better than no miles. And I spent the next few days obsessively checking the weather in preparation for my next commute.

Tuesday –

I wasn’t sure if I’d be biking Tuesday because the weather was forecasted as “iffy” but it happily didn’t rain so off I went. I felt really strong during my morning ride, hills that used to have me breathing hard were easy, I burned less calories. All in all it was really nice.

The afternoon ride home was hot and humid and felt like I was breathing pea soup. So nasty. But my body felt fine and my tire didn’t explode! It was kind of weird that both my morning and afternoon commutes burned the same calories–it never happens like that!

AM Miles: 12.38
PM Miles: 11.02
Total Mileage: 23.4
Calories Burned: 972

And then it rained for a few days and I could finally bike to work again…

Friday –

I love it when I can tell my fitness level is improving for a specific activity. The way it shows itself first is that I start to notice my heart rate doesn’t get elevated as high doing the same activities. The most obvious one is swimming–it used to leave me breathless and panting and now I rarely get my heart rate over 140 unless I’m swimming with fish as big as my arm! With cycling, I notice it when I don’t burn as many calories on the exact same route and when I also climb hills with ease.

Friday was like that. I felt strong on the hills and didn’t get fatigued. Progress!

Total Mileage: 23.39
Calories Burned: 933 

Total miles for last training week: 55.79

So not even close to 100 miles. 🙁 It’s frustrating that I set this big goal for myself and then the training just kept getting sideways. The rain. The scheduling issues. Being out of town. Sickness. Injury. Not having a consistent training partner. Not really doing long rides on the weekends. The list of excuses is long and I’m angry with myself for letting them get in the way. Right now, I doubt I am ready to do 100 miles. I could technically do it, but I’d probably hurt myself those last 20.

I don’t know what is going to happen in the next few weeks. I am going to keep training and trying to fit in longer rides whenever I can. My hope is that I can at least get up to the ability to do 75 or 85 miles in the event I want to do. Time will tell.

QUESTION: Have you ever quit an event or race because training didn’t go as planned?

Know Your Limits, But Don’t Get Discouraged

Recently I caught an episode of the Extreme Makeover Weight Loss show. I don’t really watch those “Biggest Loser” type shows anymore for a lot of reasons but I watched a few episodes of this show. One in particular was about a guy who started out in the 400 pound range. He lost a significant amount, then fell off the wagon and gained back a bunch of the weight. The personal trainer had him doing interesting but in my opinion, dangerous workouts.

First, he had to climb over 100 flights of stairs at a tall building in Chicago. This poor guy was like 380 pounds and doing something so strenuous I thought for sure he was going to have a heart attack in that stairwell. He looked woozy by the end.

Second, his trainer took him and his brothers out for a 100 mile bike ride. Really? I scoffed at this and immediately lost respect for the trainer and the show. I don’t think the show has integrity or realism, but more on that later. It was a hot summer day, about 100 degrees in the sun but the trainer said “it will be 110 degrees biking on this hot pavement.” Really? You’re taking a morbidly obese man who hasn’t exercised at all in three months out into 100+ degree weather to bike a century with no training whatsoever?

Can you guess how this ride ended? Around mile 30 he started to fatigue and feel the effects of heat stroke. At mile 40 he was incoherent, delirious and suffering from heat stroke so badly they had to call 9-1-1. He was hooked up to oxygen and fluids and the bike ride was over. DUH. I was irritated with the show because of this and it brings me to today’s important topic of knowing your limits.

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a goal or event and lose perspective on our abilities. Especially when we are big weight loss losers. It’s easy to feel overly confident because for once we can do something wonderful! We aren’t picked last for the team, we can run! We can bike long distances! Woo hoo! And the tendency is to bite off more than we can chew. I know I’ve been guilty of that.

I trained for Hood to Coast for a year. I was a fairly new runner but I was feeling confident and strong. I was running a lot. I thought I would be unscathed running something as epic as Hood to Coast. My longest run while I was training was about 8 miles without stopping or walking. That’s pretty good, but not good enough. My mileage for Hood to Coast was 17 miles. I should have been clocking in over 20 miles a week before the race and my weekly mileage was more around 15. Not good enough. I ended up injured.

I learned from my mistake with Hood to Coast and knew my limits when it came time to do the Portland Century. Was I conditioned for 100 miles on the bike? Sure–in a way. My fitness level is strong. But am I bike strong? Not really. I knew I wasn’t conditioned enough the complete the 100 miles without hurting by the end. That’s not fun. My weekly mileage on the bike was hovering around 65 miles and I knew that wasn’t enough training to do 100. I switched my miles to 72. Not quite a Century, but it’s still a great accomplishment. And I don’t regret that decision at all!

I see a lot of people in the blog world making this mistake. They are new runners and they sign up for a half marathon as their first race. Don’t get me wrong, I commend their enthusiasm and determination. I just silently worry about their bodies holding up. Why not start small? Do a 5k, then an 8k, then a 10k…? There is something to be said about working up towards a big goal.

Besides risking injury, you are robbing yourself of the joy of getting better and challenging yourself. Last year I biked 55 miles in Reach the Beach and this year I did 72 miles in the Portland Century. I was SOOO happy! I did 20 more miles this year without any issues. Awesome! That means next year I can totally rock 100 miles! And I’m looking forward to it.

There is something really special about challenging yourself to try harder, do more, bit by bit. It’s why training for things is so fun. You start small and work up the ladder. You earn that big accomplishment by the end!

That does not mean you should be discouraged, or feel less than someone else who is doing more. I did not feel like less of an athlete because I biked 72 miles instead of 100. I still felt like a rockstar at the end! Don’t get discouraged that your abilities are not quite what you expect them to be. It takes time. It takes training. You’ll earn it.

QUESTION: Do you agree or disagree with this? Do you know your limits?