What's that old saying that seems particularly applicable to me?
If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have any [luck].
While I do always have a chip on my shoulder, feeling like things just never seem to work out in my favor, this summer has been particularly oppressive. Take this past weekend, for example. Following the debacle of my rear wheel at Luray just the previous weekend, I decided I wanted one problem-free ride on Frankenstein before Louisville. Just one. The obvious choice was to go to Church Creek out on the Eastern Shore for their 40km TT on Saturday. It's essentially the Eagleman course, in reverse. Flat, fast. 3 years ago in my first time trial, I rode 58:55. I didn't feel it was my best day, my legs seemed really stale that month, but it was a good result. I figured I could go out there and do at least that again, but regardless of how fast or slow I went, I just wanted a good ride on my time trial machine.
It must have been on Thursday that Alyssa brought to my attention that the registration had closed for Church Creek and that there would be no race day registration. Shoot. But, fortune smiled upon me, as Alyssa then found another race, on Sunday in PA, that was about the same distance from Baltimore and seemed pretty decent. Done. Before I registered, I emailed the director to make sure it was going to take place even if the field was small (there were just 5 signed up by Friday morning). He said yes, so I signed up. The race was in Gardners, which was 18 miles past Gettysburg. The drive on Sunday was pretty easy at 6am, and since I haven't been to Gettysburg in a really long time, it was cool to see it again.
Backtracking for a moment, last week's training was super light. After the track meet on Wednesday, I actually took Thursday off completely. More and more I've been feeling really just low and my motivation to train is non-existent. The weather last week didn't help, with a lot of afternoon/evening thunderstorms of great intensity. Following the Thursday day off, I ran with Brennan and Ed early on Friday morning. Brennan was aiming to get in his weekend long run (20) and Ed was looking to do his Friday run (9) so there was a big spread. I wanted to run 12 or 13, basically 90 minutes. We crafted a route that would have been a lot more hood if it was run in the afternoon, but at 5:45am it was quiet. It was also uphill for the first 35ish minutes, before we started coming back down towards the city. I felt okay, still sore from Wednesday's track effort, but got through 90 minutes by 7:15 and was pleased. I went to swim later in the day, but found that the pool was closed for a private event, and then I would have gotten kicked out anyway as another storm popped up.
Saturday morning Alyssa, Z and I rolled out early for an easy 2.5 hour ride, which Mike and I chased with a 4 mile easy run. My legs were a little tired but more concerning was my heart rate, which just seemed way higher than it should have been. I hadn't ridden since Sunday though, so I figured maybe it was just that. I had wanted to get into the pool later, but a few friends randomly descended upon Baltimore so we spent the rest of the day with them.
Now it's Sunday morning, and I wasn't totally psyched to have to get up real early to go race again. But I got up and went. Alyssa came with me, and was going to do her hour run when we got there. We arrive at this place after 95 minutes of driving, and it is assembling in a parking lot for some kind of fast food shack, Swirly Top, on the side of PA Route 94 (Carlisle Rd). It was the entrance to this state park, Pine Grove Furnace or something, where the AT crosses through. There were a few cars in the small parking lot, so it looked like it was going to be a pretty small event. I went to warmup, looking to get in at least 40 minutes. The race director kept telling us how flat it was, and that there were just a few rollers in the middle. As I rode my warmup all I could think was "You ain't got to lie Craaaaaaiiiigg" because this thing was only going up. Every so often you'd go up something steeper that would enable you to then go down a little bit, but the route was clearly going up.
I went out about 20 minutes and came back and since it was a little faster, I wanted to keep warming up until 10min before my start time (9:03). I turn around and I noticed that someone was on my wheel - which is weird, especially on a warmup. I saw a little patch of gravel and didn't want to ride over it, but as this person just showed up, I didn't know if he was sitting there, if he was going to pass, whatever, so I just went over it and then PSSSFFFTTT. Rear wheel flat. Shit. Shit, shit, shit.
Now I'm about a half mile away from the start/finish, and while I had stuff on me to fix the tire, I just didn't even feel like it. I had just 10 minutes, and it was not going well. I couldn't get the valve extender off, it was glued on too tight. Fortunately, some other guy was warming up still and saw me, so he went back to the start, got his van, drove back and picked me up, and then lent me his training wheel to ride. But, for some reason it did not want to cooperate and I was having trouble getting it on.
I was super frustrated - scratch that - really angry, and didn't want to ride anymore. Alyssa was tremendously helpful in trying to get the wheel situated, because I was out of it. Fuck, fuck, fuck. I just drove an hour and forty to come to this stupid race, to have ONE day where shit doesn't go wrong, but clearly that isn't possible. And yeah, I realize it's just a flat, and that they happen and whatever, but this is the second flat in 7 days I've gotten on this bike. The other one came last weekend following the race, driving home. How does a tire explode when you're not even riding it? So, here is me officially telling Vittoria that this tire you make is complete shit. I've never had problems with a bike before like this one.
Whatever. I get the wheel on and am ready to go. The guy who loaned me the wheel started, and :30 later, I went. We were last by many, many minutes. Off the line, this guy got after it. That probably helped me because otherwise I think if I didn't see anybody right away, I would have just phoned it in. I was using him as my carrot, and for the first mile or 2 he stayed about :30 up it seemed, I certainly didn't appear to be making any headway into his head start. Then the first bigger hill came, and I started bringing it back. On the second one, it was all over. Since I had ridden it in my warmup, I knew I wasn't going to be stupid and try and get up in my big ring, so I dropped down and was able to spin up. I passed him, and two other people, real fast. Then I just got rolling. I wouldn't say there were false flats, as you knew you were riding uphill, but they were at a small enough grade that you could still push in the big ring and stay in the aerobars, but it was hard. My HR was really high, I was working. I managed to pass a few people and then saw a couple more ahead. I tried not to stand too much, saving my legs a bit. I had a watch going and would check my 5k splits, and I felt like I was going to hit the turnaround around 32 and change.
It's 31 minutes now and I see people coming back at me. Cool, maybe I'm riding really, really well, and picking these people up! But where's the turnaround? It should be here...Nope. Turnaround was still another couple minutes away, because from mile 9 to 12.4 it was seriously difficult. I finally get to the turnaround, and now you can see what you just went up. I don't think I even pedaled for 3 miles on the way down, I was spinning out and I felt like I may as well just tuck in a little bit. There was nobody in front of me at this point that I could see, and I just focused on keeping an honest effort so that none of the poor climbers behind caught me on the descent.
For as hard as I was working on the way up, it was really difficult to work on the way down. My HR dropped, and for the first half of the way back I seriously didn't pedal that much. With a few miles left, I saw one person ahead of me, who I could tell was a girl, and I passed her inside the last mile. It had flattened back out and I was pushing hard, but the finish was not coming quickly enough. I crossed the line in 1:02:04 and thought holy shit, that is not fast. I recovered pretty quick and while my original intention had been to ride another hour, I didn't want to have to ride on this dude's wheel so when he came through I asked if he wanted to go cooldown. He said he wasn't going to ride, but he was thinking of running, so I said sure, I'll do that. We just went out a mile and came back, kept it chill, but I felt really good.
Got back and they were finalizing results, and here's how it shook out:
1. Scruffy college kid, 58:43 (!!!)
2. Some other guy, 59:35
3. Some really, really old looking dude, 1:00:02
4. Another pretty old dude, 1:00:45
5. Moi, 1:02:04
My initial reaction was, I can't believe I got TIME put into me by these old guys, how does that even make sense? But then I realized I'm a week out from an Ironman, they appear to be cyclists, no big deal. The kid that won went to Franklin Marshall College, and as he rolled out I noticed he got into a minivan with Colorado tags. Makes more sense now.
It took me 34:36 to ride 20km to the turnaround, an average speed of 21.55mph. On the way down, I rode 27:28, or 27.15mph. For the entire effort it was an average speed of 24.03mph. For my effort, I was rewarded with an amazing certificate (something I would have made on my Gateway Computer when we first got Microsoft Publisher or something) and a check for $15. Time trials are way better than triathlon. I paid $30 for the race. I won back half of that. I put in a really hard effort, and was able to run off the bike. I think next year I may just find TTs to do, and run off the bike. It will save me hundreds of dollars each year and make me less angry because I won't be around triathletes. And, since swimming sucks anyway, I can just do that when I get back home.
Oh, and the elevation profile? 692 feet at the start. 1453 at the turnaround. That's 760 feet over 12.4 miles, with 400 of those feet coming from mile 9 to the turnaround. I don't know how to post a picture so I'll just link to the graph: http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=5027179
The temperature was around 70 when we got there, and had worked up closer to 80 by the end, and it was really humid. The pads on my bars were soaked. We left and headed back towards Gettysburg, and stopped there for lunch. I realize that Gettysburg is quite the tourist destination but I think it must have been moving day for the college because there seemed to be a lot of college age kids and families. It started raining, then stopped, and then as we got back into Maryland we could see the storms to the south. Since I now had to get a(nother) new tire, I stopped at Race Pace in Owings Mills to get that done. I should have just saved myself $160 from the get-go and not bought the tires I had. I am hoping these new ones will not fail me. Coming back into the city and it was one of the more insane storms I've seen in a long time. Fells was already flooded and not long after I got home, a tree on my street (I know, rare in the city anyway) came crashing down on top of a car, totaling it. My roommate's car was behind the one that got totaled, fortunately his was okay. His car had gotten totaled in front of out old house earlier this year when a drunk driver crashed into it in the middle of the night. The highlight of the day was Fox45 coming to check out the scene and since Ed and I were the only ones on the street, we were interviewed and got on the news.
For the week, it was less than 10 hours. I rode just twice for a whopping 75ish miles, and ran 32 miles. Just one swim for 3k. At this point I guess it doesn't matter a whole lot, other than confidence. I swam yesterday and felt alright.
In other news, the Vuelta a Espana began over the weekend. It's cycling's third and final Grand Tour of the season, and unfortunately, the most boring. I wonder if it was always as boring as it's been for the decade or so that I've been following. Most of the race seems to take place through the desert. There is very little variation in scenery, and while it does offer up some really, really tough climbs (among the steepest in cycling), it is just so boring it's hard to watch. Most of the sprinters use it for prep for the World Championship race (late September) so they do a few stages then drop out. Very few legitimate guys treat it as serious, and they are usually the ones who crashed out of the Tour. And they seem to ride a lot of miles on highways. Meanwhile, in Colorado, the US Pro Cycling Challenge is concurrently taking place, and it seems like a one week race was more enticing, and they probably have a lot of money because EVERYONE is there. For us viewers it just means more cycling to watch, and then World Track Championships start this weekend. I won't be able to watch much over the weekend, which is too bad. I'll post again before I leave.