22-mile ride

  • 22.25mi Distance
  • 1:23:07 Moving Time
  • 1,591ft Elevation
  • 199W Estimated Avg Power
  • 992kJ Energy Output
  • Speed 16.1mi/h avg, 45.6mi/h max
  • Heart Rate 147bpm avg, 182bpm max

This ride was a milestone in my triathlon training adventure.  Not a huge milestone, maybe more like a milepebble.  But it was something that I felt proud of.

When my parents moved a couple of years ago to live closer to us, I jokingly suggested that I could start training for triathlons now, because they were close enough to bike to, and owned an Endless Pool.  At the time it was just a lark.  I was probably 50 pounds overweight and it would be at least a year before they even thought about installing the pool again, after dismantling it from their old house. Not to mention that the route between my house and theirs “ain’t flat” (to use a common expression around these parts).

Still, the idea never completely left my brain.  It sort of percolated.  And eventually, after a series of particular life events, I found myself training again.  And the triathlon plan was a viable possibility.

This ride really solidified the reality of what I was trying to do.  It wasn’t just that I had thought about doing this ride, and then eventually did it.  It was that I could do it.  It took weeks of training and reacquainting myself with my road bike to reach the point where I could ride 20 miles on my own without blowing up, much less on a route like this. But I did it, and that was a thing I did that I was proud of.

The ride was pretty much a steady climb for the first five miles, and included three Category 4 climbs, and my climbing muscles felt it.  I learned a lot about my own personal riding on this ride, paying attention to how I positioned myself on the bike in order to focus on different muscles and relieve the pain of the persistent climb.  I figured out that I could shift that pain around a lot by changing how I was sitting and leaning, and trade the effort off between different parts of my legs.

The payoff was a sweet extended downhill cruise to the flats, topping out at around 46 mph at one point, followed by watching a World Cup game with my Dad.  

It was a good day, and one of the first days since starting this plan that exercise felt really, honestly good.  It was great to have that feeling back again.

Challenges

Training continues to chug along.  So far I haven’t missed a day since the Toronto debacle, and I managed to do a couple of the “optional” workouts to boot.  I am starting to get over the “I haven’t exercised in forever and it’s horrible” hump.  It doesn’t feel quite as awful to get out there, particularly to ride my bike(s).  I’m really starting to get into mountain biking, which is an interesting diversion from road biking and a completely different challenge.  It’s a good strength workout for me currently, and always makes my body feel destroyed all over – mostly in a good way.  As an added bonus, when I get back on my road bike, it feels like a rocket ship by comparison.

My biggest challenges right now remain my foot, and my weight.

My foot (specifically my right one) suffers from plantar fasciitis, which is literally a big pain.  It started about a year ago, and when it first hit, it was so bad that it was difficult to walk at times.  Running was definitely out of the question.  I got through what seems to have been the worst of it, but it still rears its head occasionally and makes running an extra challenge.  I think I would be a lot further along in my running progression than I am if I didn’t feel like I was getting shot in the heel every step.  When it’s bad enough, it cramps up my whole right side, all the way to my upper back.  It’s not a fun time.  

Besides therapeutic doses of ibuprofen, the one thing that seems to really help it is this ridiculous boot that I wear at night.  It’s a splint, pretty much like this one, that immobilizes my foot and performs kind of a passive stretch.  It works wonders; when I wake up in the morning, I often no longer even feel the pain, whereas before I sometimes couldn’t stand on my foot because it hurt so badly.  It doesn’t stop it from reacting to runs, particularly on hills, but it helps a lot.

The other thing going on is my weight.  It’s not changing.  At all.  And I don’t really get it.  I’m not eating more; I’m pretty sure I’m eating less.  I’ve made some changes like no stand-alone cheese snacks or added cheese on anything, and I’ve given up cereal for breakfast and I’m only eating oatmeal or eggs.  Nothing drastic, but after 3+ weeks of regular exercise, compared to virtually nothing before that, I thought I would have lost something by now.  My only real theory is that all the cycling I’m doing is building muscle, which weighs more than fat, so I might be dropping some fat but adding muscle.  

To make matters sort of worse, I got this smart scale and it immediately told me I had gained five pounds compared to my previous scale.  It seems accurate relative to itself, so I guess that’s all that really matters, but it was a bit discouraging.  I am liking the features, though, and the ease with which it logs my weight over time, integrates with Apple Health and Fitbit, and even provides me with all sorts of other crazy stats just by apparently smelling my feet.  I don’t put a lot of stock in the secondary stats but it’s interesting.  

We are going camping this weekend as a family so it’ll be another challenge to get my workouts done, but we will be on a lake so I can try my first open water training swim, and we’re bringing the bikes.  We’ll have to see if the weather cooperates, is all.