Also known as "What I did on my Memorial Day Weekend 2009"
Last year I used Memorial Day as a bigger than big weekend on the bike. On the Friday I rode the Eagleman course hard, then put in 101 and 104 respectively on Saturday and Sunday, before completely crashing on Monday. My intention was to go even bigger this year.
The weekend kicked off with an unnecessarily late Thursday night followed by an early Friday wakeup to drive out to Cambridge. I was meeting Joe (2:07 bike split at Eagleman 2 years ago, 2nd fastest of the day), OJ and another dude Kevin to ride the course. Joe of course gets there late and we don't roll out until 10:15. It was already pretty hot, and the sun was brutal. Everyone should be proud though, as I put on sunscreen. We warmed up for about 6 miles before getting into an hour of tempo riding. We had a headwind on the way out to the refuge, so I could tell we were going a little slower than last year (when it was just me and Joe). Joe was doing the lion's share of the work, and it was pretty cool to see the four of us riding TTT style along the roads. When I would try and ride side-up with Joe I think he saw that as a move of aggression and would try and move to the front again. That first hour went well as we covered 24.6 miles. We took a 5 minute break and then got into another session of hard riding. We picked up a little bit of a tailwind, but I wasn't feeling as hot as the first part. OJ and Joe got up the road a little bit towards the end, and they had averaged 26.6mph so I was probably just a little over 26. We were at mile 47 now and the hard part was over, an easy 9 miles back to the park and we managed to ride the course in 2:30. That's faster than most of the people will race. It was a quick day.
Off the bikes we laced up the shoes and went for a 4 mile run. We started out at 6:40ish pace and then I tried to pick it up in the last mile, but it didn't go so well - 6:22. The Eagleman course is brutal. People think just because it's flat that it must be easy, but that's what makes it so hard. There isn't an ounce of shade and it's always windy and hot. My legs got that all-too-familiar feeling in them where they were cramping up, so my hope is that the weather is better on race day. By 1pm, when we started the run, it was 90 degrees. Still cooler than last year's race day.
I was then running late to get back so I had to hustle, and went to the Orioles-Nationals game in DC with Brennan and his coworkers. A lot of fun, but didn't get to sleep until after 1:30. Woke up on Saturday at 5:30 to go up to the Dreaded Druid Hills 10k, helped out for a little and then rode my bike the 3 or 4 miles to Meadowbrook to meet OJ et al for the start of our ride.
It was now 8am and getting warmer. We rode pretty swiftly up to TriSpeed and by the time we got there to start our 78 mile ride I was already at 17 miles or so. We picked up Zero, Stanford and Alex and headed out. Alex and I sat on the front of the ride for 12 miles before people sprinted to the church at mile 13. We shed a few riders from there, most people don't ride more than 2, 2.5 hours at this ride. I was feeling alright but not great, definitely feeling yesterday's effort. OJ and Benda were feeling pretty good and were a little ways up the road. We regrouped in Hampstead and rode through the mayhem that was Route 30. It was like they were throwing us a parade. We finally turned onto Lineboro Rd and tried a little paceline work, and stopped at Leone Springs for water - my favorite part of the ride.
A little while later OJ, Benda and Alex took off to ride hard til we got to Glen Rock. I certainly didn't have the legs for it, and just rode it in. After a short lunch break we headed back out, and now it was really quite warm. On one section of the road I noticed what appeared to be a fairly large snake. I presumed it was dead, as it didn't seem to be moving. As we got closer it started to squiggle away and I nearly hit it - and I thought Stanford might have nicked it. He claims it hissed and jumped at him. Alex thought it was the coolest thing he'd ever seen.
While the day started out windless, we had managed to pick up an annoying headwind. We turned onto York Rd with 22 miles on the one road until we got back to the store. I put in a turn at the front for a while and maybe shouldn't have, because when the hills started, my legs were not great. It was also kicking in at 90 degrees again and there isn't any shade. I just wanted to be done and was becoming infuriated by the wind. Back at TriSpeed finally and OJ and I still had 9 miles to go, and I was feeling it. Made it back and to our surprise Alex was waiting with Slurpees for each of us. Definitely earned him the KC Masterpiece Award for coming through in the clutch. The finally tally was 105 for the day.
I got home and went to the pool, swam for a little to loosen up and then had a little bbq at the house. I could barely keep my eyes open and just wanted to sleep. When everyone had gone home I crashed out hard, but it was still 11:30.
Sunday, 6:30am. The most sleep I've gotten in a few days but still my body did not want to get up. Surely I could not ride another 100+ miles today. OJ picked me up at 7:15 and we headed out to Frederick. The plan was to drop off his truck at his parents' house, do the 53 miles of miserable mountains and then ride 57 miles back to Baltimore. Stanford and Zero were out for day 2, it was nothing short of impressive. The 78 miles they rode the day before was the longest ride ever for each of them. The temperature was fortunately cool and the first half of the ride has a lot of shade, so I was actually chilly at points.
Climb 1 is very hard and occurs early in the ride. You're barely warmed up and you climb 4 miles, 2.8 of which I would classify as very steep. My back was screaming bloody murder at me. My legs felt alright, but everything else felt tired. Made it to the top and really killed the descent, it was a lot of fun. Apparently only hit 50mph on the way down, it felt like it was much faster. Climb 2 is probably the hardest of the day. A little shorter at just about 2.5 miles, with maybe 1 mile at a disgusting pitch. It's on this climb that I've hit my highest HR ever on a bike (and yes, for the record I have a really low HR when I ride and the 165 that I hit felt like my heart was going to explode. I have seen 181 I think running, and that's the highest).
Once Climb 2 is over, it's a fun little stretch of flat road where we did some paceline work again. We then turn back onto Route 40 and it's Climb 3, a 3 mile trek up and over the Appalachian Trail (we cross it a few times on this ride). I felt better on that one, but didn't have the legs to really get after it. Following that climb is another serious descent, and then we're in Boonsboro for Climb 4 up South Mountain. I rode this one pretty comfortably, and after a water stop at the top it was time to turn it on. You can bring your average speed up 1mph over the last 12 miles because you can seriously fly. There's only one more climb and it's not that bad - unless you're tired and/or having a bad day. 53 miles down, 57 to go.
I found myself out on this ride with not many food sources. There is virtually nowhere to stop during the ride, and I only had one Gu with me. For 3.5 hours of riding, I'm okay with that, but the mere fact I had another 3.5 to go, it was just not enough. I had made myself a PBJ and left it at OJ's house for lunch, so I ate that, but I needed more. OJ and I continued on to get back to Baltimore. We ride along Liberty Rd. It's surprisingly hilly. Either way you go it's hard. And it again has no shade and it was warming up to the mid 80s. We stopped at mile 85 at a 7-11 and I knocked back a Coke and a Milky Way. Stuff of champions.
Geez are we done yet? This is getting ridiculous. I have spent almost the whole weekend on my bike. My taint was super tired and I just didn't want to pedal anymore. I felt a little better towards the end of the ride, and we were going pretty quick up to where we split. We were just about 100 miles into the ride and it was 3:15, and I still had 11+ miles to ride back up a few hills and through the city. It takes a while, and I have a mile long hill back to my house. Compared to what we rode today though it's like nothing. I finally made it home, 111 on the day and capping 272 over the 3 days. This eclipses my 261 from last year.
My legs were cooked. My body was fried. I hadn't gotten sunburned (yay for sunscreen) but I certainly got color. I was contemplating going for a run but it was so late in the day and I was exhausted. Headed down to Fed Hill for another bbq and man, what a good way to spend the weekend. Somehow I made it out until after 2, getting home at 2:30. It was entirely too late and I should have gone home, but it's all good.
I woke up today (late) and felt dead. I had intentions of riding today, but only if I felt up to it. Another 30-40 miles would have put me squarely above 300 miles for the extended weekend. That would have been huge. I erred in favor of my body and instead went to the Orioles game with Ben, Barf, Zero, Jen and Scott. Always a good time. Baltimore on Memorial Day is a weird place though, and we saw some seriously weird stuff going on.
On to Fed Hill Runners, the last piece of my Memorial Day Weekend. It had been raining since the 7th inning (somewhere around 3:30) and Baltimore seemed empty. Small group tonight, as expected. Me, Zero and Stanford were way off the back as our legs were trashed. And the Harbor stunk.
I think this weekend will go a long way in turning up my fitness. Last year I felt like I was in better shape to handle the efforts. The Friday ride was hard, Saturday I didn't feel great and Sunday I felt amazing. The weather was also cooler last year. This year was fairly similar, didn't feel great on Saturday and felt a little better on Sunday - but having to do Frederick in the beginning of a 111 mile ride is tougher than last year's Sunday ride.
Last year I had a wedding in Wisconsin the following weekend, and as such didn't ride Thurs-Sun. I will ride this year but probably do something shorter and may start throwing in a few more runs off the bike.
A couple good sound bytes from the weekend:
I was busting OJ's chops when we were leaving his parents' house, telling him to call his parents to let them know he got home safe. He says "I'll text you." His dad's response was "We don't have a computer"
In the car ride in the morning, profound wisdom from OJ: "never let a boner go to waste; you never know when you might not be able to get one anymore."