WEEKEND WRAPUP--THE 3 H's (Heat, Humidity, Hazardous Weather)
I'm sure a lot of you had the same type of weekend, what with all the heat and humidity that suddenly was upon us, and all the hazardous storms besides. I know the Midwest got hit pretty hard, and West Michigan was probably the worst in the state.
The weekend started out with my longest bike ride this year: 48.16 miles. We rode the White Pine Trail, which starts in Grand Rapids and ends on a newly paved section 24.8 miles north in Sand Lake. When we started out, it was already over 80 degrees, and I'd guess the humidity was probably in the upper 60% range, so very steamy. I had brought 2 large bottles of water, fully frozen, hoping at least the Polar would stay cold the whole way.
I really had no idea how long this ride would take. One other trail I have been on in the past, which is also around the same length, usually took me under 4 hours last year. Not a stellar time. I know that and hoped to improve somewhat on this ride. My longest ride so far this year has been about 30 miles. I'm not sure exactly because the last time I rode part of the trail, I did not zeroize out my computer, so it was a guesstimate. The time before that it had been 22. So I didn't worry too much about jumping from 30 to 48+.
Riding along the river at this time of year makes you think it is snowing or has snowed, what with cottonwood trees shedding their cottony fluff. It was everywhere! All over the ground, floating through the air, and wouldn't you know, an open mouth was like a magnet drawing all the fuzzy stuff to your lips and nose, so I found myself constantly spitting the stuff out or having a twitchy nose. And I didn't even want to think of all that gunk on my bike.
As much as I was looking forward to this ride, and was totally optimistic about it, I found myself soon trailing behind, as usual. I decided to just go by mph today and skip worrying about the cadence. I pretty much think I have that down well enough now that I can use it on the trainer and skip it on the road.
One thing I couldn't figure out was why one knee hurt on every pedal stroke on the way out. Nothing until that day, and then the whole way out. And nothing excrutiating, just one of those nagging little things that I couldn't figure out since it hadn't happened before. No amount of adjusting the pedal stroke or my knee position made it any better, and eventually, after we stopped, it did go away.
Even though this trail appears to be "flat," it is a false flat. I know I've mentioned this before, that there are sections where for several minutes you're flying along holding a 17-18 mph pace, and the next you're (me) grinding out 13.9 and no climbing. And there is one particular area where so far this year I can't even hold 13 mph on it. So it gets frustrating here. By the time we reach the newly paved section, it again is smooth and definitely flat for a few miles at least, and then again there is a very imperceptible climb. During this last stretch, my phone started ringing. Two calls in a matter of minutes! Rarely does my phone ring on rides. By the time I reached Sand Lake, I was ready to be off the bike for a few minutes at least and checked my messages, both from my kids, both adults and on their own. I don't understand it, but every time I take a day off work, they all seem to call and want to know where I am! And do they call when I'm at home or even at work? Nooo. Just when I take a day off. Almost every time. And its always: "How come you're not at work? What are you doing? Where are you?" etc. Hey, I'm the parent here. I don't think I have to ask permission. LOL! I'm hoping if I ever get Alzheimers they'll think to check on me this much!
We stopped and had some sort of sports drink and I finished off one of my bottles and we set out again, only to have my phone ring AGAIN! I had barely started so stopped to answer that one and it was another of my grown kids wanting to know: why aren't you at work; what are you doing; where are you; when will you be home? This was No. 4 child and I told him I'd call him later.
Now the hard part was coming: headwinds ALL the way back, 20-30 mph. I knew I had to get an attitude adjustment to get through this, so just went mile my mile. I just dealt with each mile, each grade elevation, each fast section, and tried not to think about the wind or the fact that I was a LONG way behind now. At least my knee wasn't hurting anymore and hasn't since. The only thing that started getting to me was another woman turned on the trail at one of the streets we had to cross and she just went flying by and we didn't see her again until she was returning. She did not give the appearance of being a fast rider, but I guess looks aren't everything! I guess a sporty bike jersey and fancy helmet do not help make me a faster biker, as I constantly am aware.
I noticed too on the way back that it was clouding up, not fully but enough only to make me worry about a storm popping up, but not enough to block the sun. It was very hot, and I knew I was probably getting some sunburn, more from the sweating than anything.
Seven miles from the finish, we stopped briefly again and once again, my son calls! I told him I'd be back soon and would call him back. And sure enough, 3 miles from the finish--and at this point I was watching each tenth of a mile click off on my odometer and starting my countdown--the wind picks up more, if that was possible, and it starts raining, those big huge drops, completing soaking us in a minute. Now I was down to 9 mph and couldn't help but start thinking, there is no way I can do a half IM in 2 months! There is no way! Fortunately, the rain let up quickly, and we were just stuck with more wind. Getting closer to the river again, it was like being in a blizzard with all the cottonwood fluff all over. And the wind was so strong most of the time that I started this coughing fit in the back of my throat from dryness which was causing my gag reflex to kick in. I pedaled and choked, trying not to fall over.
So the last few miles were very unpleasant, but by the time we got back to the car, the sun was blazing again and the temperature read 93. Whoa! It was very, very hot. My water was either gone or lukewarm now, so I used what was left to wipe the cotton fluff off my legs, face, and arms. It was caked on but actually looked yellowish. I couldn't wait to take a shower! Our total time was 4:11. Again, those doubts crept into my head about being able to do a half IM in 2 months. It just didn't seem possible with that kind of biking time.
On the way home, we decided to take the bikes to the car wash, and as I've said before, that is the EASIEST, fastest, and most thorough way to clean your bike. A little degreaser on the chain, foam on the rest, and a good power rinse.
We were home a couple of hours when the first of the weekend storms kicked up and there was a tornado watch pretty much everywhere. It was almost as dark as night at 4:30 pm. I was glad I wasn't out in that anymore.
Saturday, the plan was to get up and run at least 6 miles, or farther, if possible. I didn't really know if my legs would support that, but they really didn't feel that bad. It was the heat and humidity that sucked the life out of me. We ran together (actually I was WAY behind) for 1.9 miles and then I went on, trying get get in 2.1 more before turning. I really wanted to do more, but it was a struggle. I'm sure my legs were still somewhat tired, although they didn't feel bad, and with the hills, heat, and humidity (another H factor), I found myself walking more than I had planned. All in all, I think by adding on at the end I ended up with 6 slow miles, for 1:11. Good enough on a day like this!
Saturday afternoon was blazing hot, but no sign of any storm. I did get in a 3/4 mile swim late in the afternoon, for 30:39. Then, later in the evening, another big one pops up and we ended up getting anywhere from 2-4 inches of rain in a matter of maybe 1.5 hours. Crazy! Fortunately for me, we didn't lose power.
Sunday, I decided I would again ride the trainer. I didn't want to use any extra time, energy, or gas driving to the trails to ride, so decided on a good hard 15 mile ride on the trainer, and really felt fine after. Then we thought it was still very hot but very windy again, and maybe we should go try to get in an outdoor swim. We drove to one of our favorite township swimming holes only to find the road to the park flooded out and the water looking pretty muddy, so decided to skip it. We went to another one, only to find they had raised the rates to $5 a day, and decided we didn't want to pay $5 just to swim. If they had sense, they would issue yearly passes, but apparently, they don't. At that rate, I'm not sure I'll get too many open water swims in this year, much as I love it. So we skipped the swim, which wasn't that necessary anyway.
Again Sunday, mid afternoon, the storms started up again. I was out in it this time and really was worried about a tree coming down on my car! Every intersection I drove through had several inches of standing water, and I had heard a couple of reports of roads washing out, people going down in ravines and getting killed, and another where a tree actually had fallen on a car, crushing the driver, so I was very relieved to get home and in the driveway!
The hot weather continues. I'm not that bothered by it. (Its the cold I hate!) But it definitely was easier running in the rain this morning than in the humidity, and I probably wasn't any wetter! I had woken up at 3:30 am and couldn't get back to sleep, so at 5 I got up, did some weights, made my lunch, etc. and finally by about 5:45 I was ready to run. I didn't want to wait too much longer because I knew rain was threatening, but it was still, surprisingly, so dark out, I decided to wait another 15 minute, and of course, wouldn't you know, it starts pouring again. I waited another 20 minutes and when it let up some, headed out. I managed 40 minutes without stopping except to wait for traffic to cross 2 streets, and am always surprised how much easier it is to breathe in the rain than in cold or humidity. It was a good run and like I said, I was hardly any more wet than if it had just been humid. Another thing that surprised me was my ability to do all I did over the last 4 days and still feel good today. I guess there is always progress being made!