How do you know if you are ready to go long? You don't. You commit, train and pray. -Friel and Byrn, Going Long.
The other day a friend reminded me it's only 11 weeks until IM CDA. Actually, now it's 10 weeks.
Sometimes 10 weeks seems like a very long time.
Today is does not.
I had this idea that I would be like steel on the bike before the race. I would do so many long, long rides that I wouldn't even FEEL 112 miles. It would just be a little warm-up (albeit one that takes me 6 hours). My thinking is that I won't be able to run that marathon if I am as f-uped up as I was after the bike at IMLP, so the bike simply cannot fuck me up at IM CDA. I must rule the bike. If I rule the bike, I can also rule the run.
Yep. Easier said than done.
Jen has been giving me long rides. At this point I've done four centuries +. Hell, I've done two centuries in the last week and a half. I no longer balk when I see a century on the plan. I know I can do it. I know I can do it alone. I know I can run for 4 miles when I finish it. I know it's simply not that big a deal.
Except it is a big deal. At about 4 hours in, it becomes a very big deal every time. I have seen improvement. It used to be a big deal when I hit 3:30. Before that it was a big deal once I hit 3 hours.
What do I mean by a big deal? It becomes a big deal for me the minute I stop thinking about just riding, and instead start thinking about how much I hate riding.
I love riding for about two hours. Riding is okay from about two-four hours. However, (at this point) I simply don't like it after about four hours. I simply want to get the fuck off my bike. I know I've hit the I hate this point when I can't stop the negative thoughts from flowing.
Oh My God, I still have 2 and 1/2 more hours.
Oh My God, I am pathetically slow.
Oh My God, I just want to stop and chill.
And I know it's gotten really bad when I start cursing cars and stoplights--out loud.
And I know I'm at my limit when I start screaming Fucking Fuck! at the top of my lungs when I get jolted by hitting a scrap of bad road.
When I was in Tucson, Jen (or maybe it was Jerome--I can't remember) told me that I probably wasn't fueling properly if when I get to mile 75 I don't want to ride anymore. I'm not sure this is true. I eat a lot when riding. I drink a lot too. I think it's a more a mental thing. After riding that long I simply want to do something else--anything else. It is also physical. I don't want to ride anymore when even riding in zone 2 feels hard and I start fantasizing about getting off the bike and massaging my aching ass.
I did a century on Thursday. I had a meeting at LuLu Lemon before my ride which was very fun. I had been asked to attend a design meeting with one of their designers from Vancouver. The woman designer looked a bit like Kate Moss, but cute as opposed to sultry. She basically wanted to get our feedback on the the yoga/running/tri scene in Boston, and have us give her feedback on products. I talked a lot. I always do.
But I'm off topic.
My point is that I couldn't start my ride until 11 am. Andy had agreed to come home early to get the kids off the bus, because there was no way I would be home before 5:30 p.m.
As always, the first hours of my ride were fine. I took it out slowly, I didn't stress about my slow speed or my lackluster heart-rate. I knew my job was to work the second half harder than the first. It was sunny and warm, and the first flowers of spring were blooming. All good.
I turned to head home at 52 miles. I was in Grafton--a long way from home. I was excited to start the second half. I felt strong and ready to kill it.
And then the temperature dropped. It was sudden and dramatic. It went from being in the low 60s to the mid 40s. The wind picked up and was swirling all over the place. No matter what direction I rode, the wind was in my face--and it was pissed. It really just wanted to test me--to fuck me up. (The wind and I have battled this week, huh?) The weather change was partly just bad luck. It was also predictable, though, and here's where I am at fault. It's April in New England. It doesn't stay warm past 3:00 pm. It just doesn't. Add to this that at about 4:00 pm commuter traffic picks up. I shouldn't have been out that late, and if I was planning on being out that late, I should've brought the gear to deal with it. And I didn't.
And. It. Sucked.
It sucked for the next 51 miles. I was so cold I couldn't get my hands to shift. I was so cold my muscles in my legs (I was in shorts) were like frozen lumps that refused to fire. I was so cold that I lost complete feeling not only in my feet, but also my hands, wrists, ankles. Cars were everywhere, leaning in close and honking. I felt enormously ENORMOUSLY sorry for myself.
My thinking went something like:
I fucking hate this. This sucks.
It's a privilege, Mary! You could be home doing laundry!
Why do I do this? My ass is killing me and I'm lonely.
You love this, Mary! The more you talk shit in your head, the more unhappy you will get.
Whatever. You hate riding. Why do you try to convince yourself you love it when it just fucking sucks!
It doesn't suck. You love this. You're just cold and tired and your heart rate is low. Jen will see this file. Pick up the pace! Move it!
Shut up! I'm doing the best I can!
etc. and so on.
"A deep love of cycling is a fundamental requirement for successful long-distance racing." Friel and Byrn, Going Long.
Can you cow yourself into a deep love of cycling?
Actually, I think you can. But I'm not there yet.
What I know--quite deeply, actually--is that I need to have that deep love before things come together for me in IM racing. I need to master the bike at IM, but before I can master it, I have to love it like I love running. I have to love it even when I hate it. I have to love it even when it totally sucks.
I'm not there yet. But I will get there. I need to get there.