High and Dry

With my current work and school schedule, weekends are quickly becoming the time to get in some of my best quality and quantity as far as workouts are concerned.  My Saturday plan was for a swim/bike brick… a 2000+ yard swim followed immediately by a 30 mile ride.  Bike/run bricks are much more common, and probably more productive from a training standpoint, but I’d already done enough running for the week… I needed a swim and a ride to round out my efforts.

That was the plan.  Unfortunately, I was up a lot later Friday night than I planned to be.  Given that Saturday is also the only day of the week I can sleep past 7:00, I squashed the alarm when it went off and went back to sleep.  I finally rolled out of bed at about 8:30 (a gasp went up from the training crowd!), and shoved my swimming gear into the gym bag.  I had a choice to make; I could stop at Starbucks for coffee before the swim, or I could pack my bike stuff into another bag, load the bike, and do the brick as planned.  Yes, I think you see how this is turning out.

After I finished the coffee at Starbucks, I headed to the Y to swim.  I felt a little guilty when I joined the Y, because it was an extra expense that I didn’t really “need”.  The apartment complex has a 17 yard pool with lap lanes marked (most of the residents have no idea why there are black lines on that part of the pool, and tend to congregate there anyway).  But the apartment pool is closed until 9:00 a.m., and the afternoon/early evening thunderstorms are wreaking havoc with swimming after work.  I’ve gotta say, swimming in a full length pool without a crowd is worth the extra money.  This morning I did a warmup of 5 X 100 yard repeats, and then a 2000 yard endurance swim, with a lane to myself the whole time.  It was wonderful.

The rest of the morning and the entire afternoon were spent cleaning up the wreckage of 18 hour days during the week and prepping/packing for the upcoming trip next week.  I planned to do an early supper and be on the bike by 6:00 p.m. for my 30 mile ride, finishing just before dark.  That was the plan.

Unfortunately, the skies opened up at about 4:00, and the ride appeared doomed.  Even after the darkest stuff had pushed out into the gulf, a light drizzle dragged on for quite a while.  It wasn’t looking good for the home team, and I’d just about abandoned hope for the ride.

The roads actually started to look fairly dry by 6:30, though, and I began to reconsider.  I’ll admit I’m a little gun shy about riding after a rain because of my earlier Tampa experiences.  I had three or four rides in a row just after I moved here in which I either came back drenched and filthy because of post-rain road conditions, or got caught in a surprise “follow up” shower.  Each time resulted in me disassembling the bike to clean all the garbage out of the nooks and crannies.  My own carcass being far more difficult to disassemble, the personal scrubbing was a bit more painful.  You wouldn’t believe where road grime can go… you just don’t want to know, take my word for it.

Anyway, the coming week will be short on riding opportunities, so I decided to give it a shot.  I quickly dressed and configured the bike, and headed out.  Traffic had thinned out for the most part, and I stayed with my well-worn main road route.

The roads were amazingly dry, and there was almost no wind.  The best part, though, was that the rain seemed to have dropped the temperature by about 5 degrees, and it was really pleasant.  I was surprised to look down after I hit the first straight away and see my speed at about 22 mph, with my heart rate in the high 130s.  This could be a good ride.

The outbound leg continued without much fanfare, and with good speed and conditions.  A few miles short of the turn around point, I had a sudden pang of fear.  Usually when I’m average above 21 mph outbound, it means I’ve got a tailwind that will turn to a headwind when I reverse course.  Ugh.  Oh, well, too late now.

Once I turned, I was relieved to find no headwind.  Guess the speed was all me.  In fact, by the 3/4 point on the route I was averaging 24+ mph, and feeling great.  Everything just sort of clicked.  I was comfortable in the aero position, the temp felt nice, and I was just flying.

The same thing happened in the swim this morning.  2000 yards is a long way to swim, especially in a lap pool.  I mentally count my laps to make sure I know how far I’ve gone (and how much I have left, which is even more important!).  At around 1500 yards this morning, it just became easy.  I felt like I was gliding through the water, everything was in sync, and it just felt right.  I’ve never heard of “swimmer’s high”, but I think I might have found it this morning.

Workouts like these, when everything just seems to go right, make me want to come back for more.  Sometimes a workout is a slog… those are the times that build the mental toughness that Joe Freil and others talk about.  But then there are times like today, where it’s just good.  I can’t tell you what I did differently today than any other day, but the satisfaction makes me want to keep trying to figure it out.

I’m off to Canada tomorrow, staying in a hotel with no real workout facilities.  There’s a nice running path through a nearby park, as well as a smallish pool, so I should be able to get a few workouts in.  There’s also a lake, but it’s always been too cold on my previous visits to even consider swimming in it.  If the weather cooperates, I may just give it a shot.  No alligators in Canada.

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