We’ve had some crazy weather here in the DC Metro area this week. Monday, schools in our county were closed because of “ice.” On Tuesday, the high was 69 and on Wednesday it was 72. Thursday night it snowed and right now it’s 28 but feels like 16.
When the weather’s that changeable, you’ve gotta pretty much grab the bull by the horns when it’s nice out. Wednesday morning I texted my biking partner, “T”, to see if she wanted to ride. Her response: “Sounds good. 8am?” I was so glad she was up for an outdoor ride in January. Not everyone subscribes to the same craziness as me, but T is one of the few who does.
At 8am, after finally finding my bike shoes (buried in the laundry room after the last outdoor ride, probably back in October), I set off to meet T on the road. Our houses are about 3 miles apart so we ride towards each other and generally meet in the middle. Once we hooked up, we headed out on our usual route. The roads were dirty and gritty and soon we were, too. I noticed that T wasn’t riding as close to me as usual; in the past we’ve had a habit of very close drafting, given that we ride about the same speed. On one stretch of road she moved in front of me and I realized that if I hung on her wheel I got a nice spray of mud and dirt in my face; oh, that explained her lack of close drafting.
Here I am post-draft, with mud on my face:
Seventeen muddy, windy miles later we called it a day. I turned toward my home, T turned toward hers. I got home, cleaned my dirty bike, took a shower, and settled in to work for a few hours.
And then, all of a sudden, it hit me. This was T’s first outdoor ride since breaking her collarbone back in September. Her first time back in the saddle since we crashed on a training ride much like this one, minus the mud, that left her bruised and battered and her collarbone broken in four places. I got off lightly with some road rash. That was four months ago, and it’s the first time I’ve written about it. At the time, I didn’t want to write about what had happened. It was hard enough looking at my friend with her arm in a sling, knowing it was party my fault. I blamed myself for the incident. I missed a turn that we usually make. I was on the inside, so when T turned, she T-boned me and went down hard. I wobbled around and crashed a bit further away, my bike breaking my fall. At the time, I wished I had been the one to break my collarbone as I didn’t have a Half Ironman the following weekend.
In an instant, everything T had trained for was gone. I’m not trying to be dramatic. It was heartbreaking. She had trained hard all summer – I had done many of the rides with her – and was in great shape. And then, instead of racing her first half, she was having surgery to piece back together her collarbone. Fortunately she is a tough chick and has recovered amazingly quickly. And I think part of the reason that I didn’t realize it was her first ride outside since that day was because, aside from the part where she was keeping her distance from me a little more than usual (that makes sense now!), she rode strong and with her usual confidence.
It takes a lot of guts to get back up and carry on. T never backed off and I know giving up wasn’t an option for her. She came to strength training with her arm in a sling. She rode the trainer. She and I went for a walk very soon after the accident…I did my usual bang-up job of making a wrong turn and turning a 3 mile walk into 4 miles. Thank goodness I made her change out of her flip-flops.
I’m looking forward to riding again with T this summer. We’ve made some changes to our riding etiquette: top of our list is, of course always calling out every turn.
Speaking of being back in the saddle, I feel that I’m finally in marathon training mode now. Boston is just over 10 weeks away and I’m up to 40 miles/week. This may seem low for some but I’m not a high-mileage runner, what with all the biking and swimming that I do. This week’s workouts have made me realize my potential and recognize my strengths and weaknesses. I am enjoying working closely with my coach and that added accountability doesn’t hurt either!
My coach will often say something that sticks in my head during a workout. Yesterday he said, “If your body gives out that’s one thing; if your mind does, I have no sympathy for you.” Training the mind is such an important part of endurance training and I think I finally get it. On Tuesday I had a hard track workout lined up. Monday night’s swim had been a killer workout and I hadn’t slept well. I had a nasty cough, too. I started making my list of excuses. Then I stopped. I went and found my ipod. I only use my ipod on the track and only for tough workouts. I found some Nickelback, cranked up the volume to where I couldn’t hear my raspy breathing and couldn’t feel the pain, and I ran.
Getting back in the saddle isn’t always easy, but it sure feels good.
By the way, if you’re in the DC Metro area, stop by any Potomac River Running store through Saturday evening and enter the Super Bowl contest. There’s over $4000 worth of prizes and all the money raised will go to charity (Girls on the Run and Team Red, White & Blue). Pay $10 per square; there will be 4 winners at each store! Prizes are as follows: