I finally had a day where I wanted to get off my bike, pick it up and throw it in the lake as I was riding over the bridge. This happened to me on Saturday late morning and had I not had a great run after the bike and another on Sunday I am pretty sure I would be a grumpy muppet right now. Here is how it came to be that me and El Diablo almost got divorced.
Saturday morning Karen does her long runs and so I start my rides later in the morning and typically ride through the afternoon and tend to take it easy because during the summers here in Texas the temperatures can reach 105* and the heat index easily up to 110*. On Saturday though we had a cold front come through and the temps were in the high 70s when I started. Here is the kicker……just before I left the house I checked Weather.com for the winds and where were they coming from. I do this so that I can get a jump-start on the mental aspect of the ride. If they are coming out of the South then the ride at the end will be hard since I head straight South toward the end. If they are coming out of the North then the start of the ride is going to be brutal.
For this ride the wind decided to come out of the North and so I knew it would be tough sledding to start but that meant that I would finish with a tailwind and oh happy days. What stood out like a sore thumb was the number 17. Yup, 17 MPH winds to start the ride. AWESOME I thought with a hint of sarcasm. As I was leaving I mentioned this to Karen and she said that it was just gusts going that high on the run and the ride should be fine. What we both failed to realize is that where Karen ran and where I ride are two different areas of the Metroplex. She runs where there are buildings and trees. I ride where there are farms and the only structures out in the pastures are the occasional oil derrick.
As I started out heading North I immediately noticed that I was basically pedaling in place. I can beat this I kept telling myself and then the chain slipped. I changed gears and it slipped again. I put it into the big ring and no slipping. I finally reached the 8 mile point of the ride and this normally takes me anywhere from 24 to 27 minutes. The longest being 28. On this ride……just over 30. I fiddled with the rear wheel and that is when I noticed that the chain was extra loose. I then thought back to Maine and how the same thing kept happening. This must be because of the travel that the chain got so loose because I had just had a thorough tune-up before the race.
I chose to push on and would just ride in the big chain ring the entire time. So now I am out on Route 377 and headed due North. This is normally a good time to open up the bike and push. This day just was not going to be that day. I reached a marker on the route that would be around 1 hour and I got there at 1 hour 30 minutes. It was right before that as I was crossing the bridge that I looked at the lake and had the following thoughts:
- Get off the bike and call Karen to come get you. You can walk to the gas station and get some water and gum and wait for her to get here.
- Get off the bike, pick it up, throw it in the lake and then run home.
- Keep moving your legs dude because the return home is going to be a blast.
I kept on pushing and pushing and cursing and cursing. I finally made it to the next marker where I typically text Karen from. Normally at this spot at 2 hours and on this day I was there in 2 hours and 15 minutes. I had a decision to make. Go the extra 12 miles that could take me 45 minutes based on the winds or head south and finish in less than 4 hours of a 4 hour ride. Physically I felt fine, but mentally I had been beaten so I decided that coming in under 4 hours was going to serve me better than coming in over 4 hours with another 30-45 minutes of brutal headwinds. As soon as I turned South I knew I made the right choice. The speeds immediately went up to 27-30 mph…..oh tailwind how I love thee!
I got closer to the car and made a bet that if I were under 3h30m that I would do a side road for a few extra miles/minutes. As I made the turn to add the extra on I was headed right back into a headwind and I knew I made the right decision because this was only going to last 10 minutes while had I done it earlier it would have lasted 45. After the ride was done I went out on a 30 minute lactate threshold run. I got my HR up to 155 within seconds and held it between 155 and 160 bpm and the run felt great. I was coasting at just under 8:00/mile and immediately felt awesome.
As anybody who has ever trained for anything will tell you: there comes a time where you want to quit. There comes a time when none of it makes sense. This did not happen to me during Ironman Texas training and that is probably because it was all so new. Now that I am going through my second cycle and in the same year it finally happened. I have never wanted to quit a ride or run before the way I did on Saturday. The best part was that I didn’t quit. I did not give in to the mental barriers my mind was putting up. I forged on and when that tailwind hit I was like a kid in a candy store. Smiling from ear to ear. I was having a blast again. The next day I went for a 1h30m run and it was so effortless and fun. It was as if that bike ride never happened. It did not linger and just left my conscience.
There are going to be ups and downs during training. How you deal with them will dictate how you race with them. If you give up during training you can guarantee that you will check out during the race. I for one am not a quitter and when these tough mental days hit me, I choose to hit them back. I will not be a punching bag for anybody, but especially my own mind. I will put my nose to the grindstone and push ahead so that come race day when the going gets tough and others decide it is too hard I will keep going. I am competitive and this is one way I will win. I may not be the fastest or the strongest but I sure as hell will be one of the most determined.
Have You Ever Wanted To Throw Your Bike In The Lake?
What Did You Do About It?