Portland Century challenge

Portland Century – The Recovery

We got home from the Portland Century about 4:30 on Sunday. All day during the ride I’d have no concept of time. I think it was because we started the ride so early (7:45). I also had no concept of mileage while on the ride. There weren’t any mileage signs posted anywhere on the route–which I think HELPED me a great deal. I showered immediately when we got home and I used the foam roller. It hurt so good. I also wore my compression tights all afternoon, which felt even better.


Then it was time for our massages. Oh heavenly 90 minute massages! It felt amazing. My therapist worked on my lower back, glutes and got the knots out of my shoulders and back. My hamstrings were surprisingly tight and I might have yelped a few times while he was working them out. I fell asleep several times during the massage and when it was over I crashed into bed and slept like the dead. Soooo good!

I slept in on Monday and donned my compression tights while I relaxed around the house. I was so happy I took the day off to recover. I ate breakfast–scrambled eggs, bacon and black beans. My goal for Monday was to eat lots of protein and carbs to aid recovery. Then I headed to the pool. I know I sound like a broken record but SWIMMING IS THE BEST RECOVERY.

I felt great in the pool. I was slow but I wasn’t setting out to set any records in the pool. After swimming I lounged in the hot tub (the best ever) and soaked my sore muscles. A guy in the hot tub mentioned that my form was excellent. He said he’d been pointing out my form to his son who was in the pool with him to give him tips. I’m glad that my form was okay because I felt pretty sloppy in the pool!

Swim Stats:

Time: 59 minutes
Calories Burned: 371
Distance: About 1.25 miles 


After my swim I had a high protein lunch: leftover mac n’ cheese with chopped ham in it plus a generous portion of cottage cheese. I then proceeded to eat a pint of blueberries. 🙂


It may not be pretty, but it did the trick.

 

Things That Helped in the Century

There were a lot of things that made this bike experience a success. I think having a clean bike with a sparkling bike chain made a world of difference. The lessons on how to shift up hills were valuable too. I practiced for months to prepare for the Portland Century. I started commuting to work by my bike–which I grew to love–and that helped me get more mileage in on the bike. I’d hoped that I would be able to commute to work twice a week and then do long rides on the weekends but that didn’t come to fruition. Weather and timing just didn’t go in my favor this summer. I think I did the bare minimum in training in order to complete the 72 miles but I started to feel it in the end.


BUTT CREAM

You would be amazed how something so small could help so much. I used Chamois Butt’r during the ride. I applied it before we started and reapplied it twice during the 72 miles. You can apply it to the chamois (padding) in your bike shorts, or directly onto your body–butt and girl parts, if you will. It reduces the friction that can cause saddle sores and soreness on your butt during long rides. And it really does work. I had no saddle soreness during those 72 miles (just lower back soreness).

They make many products that do this. Michael uses a product call DZNuts. It’s a little weird at first but it works.

FOOD

Eating something at every rest stop–and choosing items that were high in carbs and sugar–got me through the Century. I didn’t need to eat GUs at all. I never felt hungry during the ride. I may have made myself eat when I wasn’t hungry at a few of those rest stops but I think that prevented me from crashing.

When I did Reach the Beach I crashed. I hadn’t eaten enough food, I relied heavily on GUs instead. I also wasn’t prepared for temperature changes and even got hypothermia. It was a miserable experience that I did not want to repeat.

HOWARD

I usually listen to music on my headphones very quietly on long bike rides. I’m careful and I make sure it’s low enough so I can hear what’s going on around me. Instead of music this time I made a playlist of “The Best Howard Stern Moments.” I had about 10 hours of the radio show, without commercials, and they were all my favorite moments of the show. Listening to talk radio really helped me. It distracted me from the endless chatter in my brain, the thoughts about my sore body, the doubts in my head on whether or not I could do 72 miles on the bike. It was great!

WATER

It’s amazing how something so SIMPLE and FREE can make or break you. Whenever I was starting to feel lethargic or mentally starting to waiver, I had some water and immediately felt better. It’s hard when you are on a bike. Sometimes I get distracted with riding and forget to drink water.

REST STOPS

Originally when we talked about how we wanted to do the Century, Michael mentioned that he didn’t want to make many stops. I am glad that we ended up stopping at ALL the rest stops and then stopped along the way (for photos). These stops were probably what helped me stay strong on the bike for the first 60 miles.

Just when I was starting to feel uncomfortable we were at another rest stop where I could walk around, stretch, work out my back stiffness and just rest. I think getting off the bike is important for these long rides.

SUNSCREEN

I packed sunscreen with the vow to use it often. I’m very fair and burn easily. I did not want to end up with a miserable sunburn. There were sunscreen stations at each rest stop as well, which helped me to remember to reapply the sunscreen. I was MUCH better about it this year than I’ve been in past experiences.


It’s especially important when biking to put sunscreen on the back of the neck and shoulders, plus the ears. I reapplied sunscreen several times throughout the Century and that prevented me from being miserable. I did get some color but I’m not nursing a horrific burn.

MICHAEL

Having a partner riding with you to offer moral support is a must. When things get hard you pull each other through.


When things are going great you have someone at your side to share the happy memories!

 

What Would I Do Different For Next Year

Each organized ride, training session and even my running races, teach me something new. I learn that I am strong and can accomplish anything I put my mind to. A good part of cycling and racing is mental. If I can handle the mental challenges of these events I can succeed. So what would I do differently and what do I need to work on?

  • Strengthen My Core
  • Get More Mileage In

I think if I focus on strengthening my core that will help with back discomfort on the bike. Getting more mileage in will also prepare me for longer bike rides. My hope is that I can continue commuting to work as long as the weather holds up.

QUESTION: What’s your favorite way to recover from hard activities?

The Portland Century – Part 3

The Portland Century – Part 3

The Home Stretch

 

Read Part One and Part Two.

I definitely felt a sense of relief when we arrived at the Springwater Corridor. It was where we’ve done the bulk of our training and it felt familiar. I could mentally relax knowing how close we were from the finish.


Heading west on the Springwater Trail means two things: the wind is usually at our back and it’s slightly downhill. Which means we can make up a lot of time by going pretty fast on the trail. The only downside is that there are a lot of stops for roads/intersections.


Michael and I stayed pretty close together for most of this stretch. We were in a group with other cyclists.



For most of the ride there weren’t any issues with non-cyclists until the Springwater. There was some guy not participating in the Century on his bike who shouted something rude to the cyclists going by, but I didn’t hear what he said exactly. Then a bit later, we were trying to make the light at an intersection and we had 5 seconds left on the signal so we booked it. We made it through the light with enough time but some guy sitting in his car shouted rude comments at us. I thought that was weird and uncalled for, I mean he’d have to sit at that light anyways so why be a jerk? Who knows.


The final Rest Stop came up pretty quickly. I think it should have been placed closer to the end of the Springwater Trail because that’s where I needed it to be. More on that later. We stopped at the East Gresham Park to rest.


This Rest Stop had Hot Lips Pizza! I was not hungry but had a slice anyways. We found some shade to sit down in and I did some stretching.



After stretching and getting more water, we headed out on the rest of the trail. It was the home stretch, mentally I knew how much was left and I was excited.


My back was also starting to hurt. I tried doing lots of stretches while I was on the bike–every few minutes–but it was getting hard to sit still. I was feeling the fatigue in my lower back and my shoulders and neck.


We biked down the Springwater, through Sellwood, and passed Oaks Park. It was cool to be biking where my commute is.

We passed OMSI and I knew I needed to stop and stretch. I was thirsty. I was starting to get cranky and my back HURT. Michael and I stopped underneath a bridge in the shade. I was trying to stay positive and not give in to the Cranky-Pants-I’m-Crashing-Mentality. I could see it looming over me and I wanted to complete the Portland Century with a positive attitude–not like how I finished Reach the Beach or Hood to Coast last year (near tears). I stretched and drank my water (which was hot at this point–yuck) and Michael said his butt was hurting. We both agreed that 70 was the right distance for us–that neither of us were ready for the full 100 yet.

We continued on up SE Water Street in the bike lanes and then we had to wait for a train to go by. That meant another break.




The wait was probably 3 minutes or so. Then we continued on. We were heading East–which was annoying me because PSU was west! I had no idea where we were heading. We crossed a few streets and then the signs said to turn left. There was a group of us turning left together and we all had our arms out indicating as such. A car behind us decided he wasn’t going to wait and he sped up and cut us off–narrowly missing a girl right in front of me. She came within INCHES from being hit! Whoever that guy was, he’s an asshole! Grrr! We turned and looped around a few blocks and then the route took us over the Burnside Bridge.


I’ve never biked over the Burnside Bridge. The bike lanes were nice and wide. We looped around through downtown once we were off the bridge. We biked through the very congested Saturday Market area and then up to Broadway where we biked the last stretch of the course–uphill of course, and with lots of stops at lights. A car almost hit me. I had the right of way and apparently he wasn’t paying attention to the bike lane when he decided to turn right but he stopped just in time and I stopped on my bike. SIGH. People can be jerks to cyclists.

We arrived at PSU and we were finished. And here is where I have two complaints about the Portland Century. 1) There wasn’t a finish line that we crossed. It was anticlimactic to just be DONE. Where’s the banner to ride under?? and 2) There was no stinkin’ medal. I wanted a medal. I paid $70 for this ride, there should be a medal at the end of it. I know that’s petty but dammit, why not?

Portland Century Stats:

Time: 6:28 (with all the stops)
Calories Burned: 3229
Distance: 71.9 miles


First order of business: get our checked bags and change out of our sweaty spandex!


It felt so good to be in real clothes. The next order of business: BEER.


A Widmer IPA. Then we got our gourmet dinner at the finish line. Salmon, salad, grilled asparagus, Dave’s Killer Bread, chicken, orzo salad (which was delicious) and of course dessert:


The salmon and chicken were a little dry but the food was decent and yes–I had two desserts!

We hung out at the finish line for about an hour. We relaxed, drank our beer and ate dinner. There was a band playing awful music, lots of people. We chatted with some guys that did the full 100 and then we ran into my friend Kristin. She volunteered for the event and rode the 33 Mile Route. (She’s also a runner and ran the Boston Marathon this year!) It was such a fun event! We had a blast and I was glad that I was able to enjoy the after party this time. I missed it at Reach the Beach because I crashed so hard and got hypothermia. That was not the case this time (it was 90 degrees!).


We headed home to shower. We were both truly exhausted and struggling to stay awake. Here are some final stats:


As you can see, our actual riding time was 5 hours, not 6.5. That 1.5 hours was sitting at lights and the rest stops. Also, our actual miles were 72.51 biked. That could just mean that we took a wrong turn at some point and got a few extra miles in. Our average speed was 14.4 mph. Michael thinks the elevation was off but I’m not sure.


What a cool app. I’m glad to see the actual stats from our ride to compare it to our training rides.

QUESTION: Have I inspired you to try something like this? 🙂