These Are the Ugly Times.
I’ll be completely honest.
The only reason that I did my workouts yesterday was because they were in the plan. They were written down. Staring at me.
I didn’t want to leave the house. Or pack all my shit. Or work the ride and run in around all of the other things that I had to get done. I wanted to bail. To say "It’s too cold." or "It’s too wet." or "My legs are still burned from Thursday’s triple."
But there they were on the plan. Demanding completion. Demanding, at least, an attempt.
It turned out to be one of those days….
I had to do a shoot in the middle of the day at my studio, so I packed up all my gear and brought it with me. It’s been cold here lately, which isn’t a problem in and of itself, but does present some safety issues on the bike when the road is covered in sheets of ice. There wasn’t a chance in hell that I was going to ride yesterday morning – no way. I was waiting until the afternoon thaw.
Every rider I know who went out yesterday morning either went down on the ice, or turned back early.
So at 2:00pm when my shoot is over, I put on all my gear and get ready to head out on the bike. I’ve miraculously remembered everything: gloves, booties, wool knickers, wool socks, base layer, wind layer, jersey, rain jacket, shoes, winter cap, helmet, heartrate gear. It’s a miracle!
And then I look at my bike.
No flat kit.
I forgot to put it back on when I cleaned the bike.
Luckily, Bike and Hike is just a few blocks from my office, so I roll over, buy a tube and some tire levers, shove them in a back pocket and I’m off.
The legs are heavy and the workout is a battle. I struggle to produce the intensity that I’d planned. It’s absolutely pissing rain and 33 degrees. The booties soak through 40 minutes in.
I keep my head together and finish the ride.
Just as I make the corner to go to my office, I see that a semi-truck is parked in the middle of the road. This forces me to one side, sandwiched in between the truck and a row of parked cars.
I am heading directly for what I refer to as the Bicycle Spiderweb Death Trap of Doom. Three old railroad tracks coming from varying directions converge here. They are slick with all the rain. With so many angles, it’s impossible to ride over all of them at a direct perpendicular.
There are about 8 to clear.
As I’m rolling toward them I am thinking, "You should get off and walk across those. You’re going to go down."
But I keep rolling.
And I go down. Hard.
The saving grace is that I was moving slowly. I still manage to mash in the right brake lever and knock the front brake calipers out of alignment. I get up, press on the tender meat of my now-bruised hand, check out my now-scraped knee, rotate my now-sore shoulder, open up the now-rubbing brakes wide to minimize the effect, and get back on.
Fall off. Get back on. This is life.
I send a "dumped my sled" text to Sal, change clothes in the studio, and head to Stumptown for coffee with the lovely HG.
It’s nice. She’s nice. The coffee is nice. I’m warm.
I want to stay that way.
But there is another workout on the schedule and I am not going to bed until it is completed.
My nutrition has been off all day – my caloric intake has been way too low and I can feel the effect. By the time I get home, I realize that I haven’t eaten in four hours, which is a disaster. I can’t eat now because I’ve got to do a run.
I know I won’t make it if I run on fumes, so I reluctantly ingest a Gu, gear-up, and head out into the pitch-black neighborhood streets.
My legs are cooked, my energy is low, and my head is not in the game.
"Pull your shit together, Swift." I tell myself.
I run through Hawthorne, dodging all the Saturday night socialites. I run to Laurelhurst on darkened streets. I can’t see the ground well enough so I end up slogging through some impressive puddles. The feet are soaked 20 minutes in.
I can’t generate the intensity I want. I just can’t get up to speed. Down Ankeny, past Ken’s Pizza where warm couples are eating hot, crispy carbs. Around 28th I realize that if I run on bigger streets, I’ll have better lighting and better drainage. Duh.
At 38 minutes I want it to be over. This is rare – I almost never actually want runs to be over. I love running.
I want to go home, to cut it short. I adjust my route so I can end early. I’m over this. Every step has been a battle. My stomach hates the Gu, and my body is pissed off about the low calories. I’ve got nothing and it hurts. My face is twisted with the effort.
These are the ugly times.
Then, almost like magic, my switch flips in minute 39. I go from grimacing and near tears, to floating, flying and smiling. I have no idea how this happens. It seems impossible. I look at my watch. I’m running fast now and I feel 100 times better. I make another turn to reroute again for more miles.
I end with a respectable 7.25, come home, slam a recover drink, run an ice bath, last 30 seconds, give myself props for trying, drain the bath and take a hot shower.
Within thirty minutes of the shower, my body shuts down in a way that I haven’t felt in a long time. It just turns off. I can feel the energy draining out of me. I choke down a few last quality calories, shut down the house, and crawl into bed.
Amid the intense warmth and comfort of new flannel sheets, I sleep uninterrupted for a record 10 hours.
My legs are sore, my body is tired, and my resolve is set. Today is another triple.
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