Sunday, July 24, 2011

Finding the bike groove. Very briefly

Another beautiful day in paradise.

I have long envied other bike riders. Their feet go round and round and they go forward. Some of them fast, some of them very fast. *MY* feet go round and round, and I sort of go forward. Slowly. I've been working on the round and round for several years now. Some times are better than others. I get passed a lot, today included.

I've had the swimming groove. Often. It's easier to keep going than stop. The bottom slides by without apparent effort. The ends of the pool appear suddenly and it's time for another flip turn. There is no thinking about stroke, breathing, pace, or anything. The water is friendly, sliding past your body easily, gripping your hands, supporting you evenly. There is real regret to getting out of the pool to do whatever is next for the day. Swims like this make me want to go to the exorbitant expense of owning a house with a 25 m pool in the basement, where part of it is open to the outdoors via a sliding roof, surrounded by a nice patio. I would probably swim 3 or 4 K every day. I would let my friends swim there.

I've had it running. A few times, even, which never ceases to astonish me because I've never really thought of myself as a runner. I hadn't run since high school, which for many of you was back in the dark ages. Let's just put it this way. 8 track tapes were not only viable, but popular. Cassette tape was viewed with suspicion. CB radios were huge. When I started running I was very very big. I worried about my knees and took it carefully.  It was slow, but I expected that. I'd heard about runners high and didn't believe it. I still don't.

But what has happened several times is that I found a groove. I'd be "running" (long time readers know why I use that phrase cautiously) and suddenly I wasn't thinking about it. My body was doing it's thing. I could feel everything working together, and all of it going together. It's not that the running felt effortless, but it felt in tune. My stride length, stride cadence, pace, arm movements, my core, my posture, my heart rate, my breathing, all of it was working together naturally. It doesn't last long. The problem is that I start to think about it, or something changes, and the spell is broken. Don't mistake me, there aren't many people that would think I was running fast during that time. But for a few moments I found a sweet spot, and it was great. This has even happened, very briefly, since changing my stride turnover a little while ago.

Before today I had never, ever had it on my bike. I've had lots of fun, and many great rides on my bike. I get some astonishing scenery during my rides, and it's always different as the weather changes. But I'm always working, always thinking about something, mainly trying to spin. I'm dealing with eating or drinking, or shifting around trying to keep my fingers and hands from going numb. I seem to notice every sore or tired muscle in my legs, on almost every ride. Lots of rides I'm never quite comfortable, shifting around on the saddle. I had a bike fit, and have been meaning to go in again. I'm thinking about my pace. It's been hot, or cold, or windy, or worse. I'm always thinking about traffic and road conditions, even when I'm on 22X and 22 where there is essentially a full lane for us cyclists. (Which is a good thing today, more about that later.)

But today, on highway 22, just south of 22X, I suddenly realized I'd been in the groove. I was a smooth 87 rpm, and my effort was just right for the speed I was going. I wasn't thinking about spinning or anything else. I felt comfortable. Of course, as soon as I realized it, the spell was over. But it will happen again, I'm sure of it. I hope.

Friday was another huge thunderstorm. There was no way I was going out. If I'd been ambitious I'd have got out of bed when I woke up and gone for a swim. But I didn't. I didn't even go downstairs for a core session. I'm pretty sure wine was involved. I'm reading a new series that a buddy recommended, What Angels Fear, by C. S. Harris. Sort of a Regency murder mystery. Pretty good!

Saturday the major effort was cleaning the BBQ. We use it quite a bit. Normally I give it a cleaning every time I refill the tank, but I missed last time. I'm sure it was something to do with that day being frigging cold! But it's filthy now. Linda found these great e-cloths. There's different kinds of them for different purposes, and one of them is for cleaning BBQs. I was dubious, but willing to have a go. If I'd been on the ball I'd have made a video of it. Usually this task takes much scraping, lots of windex or something similar, a mile of paper towel, and the better part of forever. Get the cloth wet, swab, and a shiny outside happens. Fast. Rinse and swab. Scrap out the bottom using a putty blade, and scrape the guck off the bottom of the grill and it was all over. Well, some cloth rinsing with dishsoap, and washing my own hands after. But it's clean and in record time. BBQ rack of lamb tonight. Every athlete should have this, since all that extra time can go to training!

I was up and getting ready fairly early today. It's perfect out. I started easy, and still made it to 22x and 22 in 20 and 42 minutes respectively. I'd been thinking about distance and time, since I still have my suspicions about what biking does to my knee. After I turned south on 22, I found my groove for a while. I saw only a few other people on bikes. I guess they're all up in Sylvan getting their tails kicked by Jenn.

On the way back paying attention to traffic paid off. Geez Alberta drivers can be dicks! One guy pulling a trailer heading south moves over to the right a little bit. A small car goes to pass, and a big pickup right on his ass hits the horn, and then pulls over yet another lane to pass him! Which puts him partly into my bike lane on the opposite shoulder of the road. One a one lane each way road, you don't often see 3 vehicles coming at you at once. I nearly crapped and started looking at the ditch to see how bad bailing out was going to be. Then Mr Aggressive backed down and tucked in behind the car. I guess oncoming traffic appeared, because he sure didn't care about me. Just another reminder to everyone to ride carefully, and wear your Road ID.

The rest of the ride was uneventful. I turned around at 1:15, and 32 and a bit K, and was home again in 2:27 or so. I wasn't trying for a fast ride. Normally I'd do a long run today, so I was trying to keep my effort under control, but being strong(er) up the hills. This seems to be working. Right off the bike I went out for a run.

Now I noticed the heat. It had been about 15 C (59 F) with a light breeze when I started the bike, which is perfect. By the end of the ride it was 22 C or so (72 F) which is still nice, especially with the breeze. But during the run I sure felt the heat more. I hadn't been able to drink or eat a lot on the bike. My normally reliable energy drink was gack today, making me feel more thirsty, not less. I'm not sure why. During the run I took a bottle with some Nuun in it, and that really seemed to help.

This is my first brick in a while, and my legs were kind of tottery at first, then settled down to ok. What wasn't so ok was my heart rate. Even a slower than normal run was putting my heart rate up to 140 bpm, and I could feel my lungs tightening up. I could have kept running, but I wasn't out to suffer. I walked, and within a minute my heart rate was back down to about 125, so I started running again. I did this a couple more times and called it about the 30 minute mark. I walked to cool down.

I've stretched a bit, and will stretch more. I can really feel my quads, IT bands, hams, and glutes. Everything feels tight, so I'll do what I can to loosen things up. I miss my massage therapist.

Weekly Summary
Bike 3.25 hrs
Run 1.0 hrs
Total 4.25 hrs.

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