Thursday, August 6, 2009

Desolation Highway

As I sit and write this I have to admit, I am spent, tired beyond belief, too wired to sleep, have a sore throat, and have to say that I almost bagged my drive up to Toga because I woke up that way. The funny thing about this is that as much as I wanted to bag the whole thing, I knew I needed that long swim with company and I knew I needed a tempo ride with company so I whined about it but I did get my ass up here.
The route I had planned for this afternoon's tempo ride consisted of these specs: 36 miles- 6 miles of rolling, 2 mile decent, 20 miles of flat, 2 mile climb and 6 miles of rolling. I had arrived at this route after much contemplation over my goals. Lake Desolation is at the top of a mountain and we wanted to ride out and back from there, this seemed like the most suitable direction for a true tempo. Alison and I headed up to the lake. On the way, Amy informed me that 2 miles of our planned route was unpaved, but she believed it was ridable. I decided that we better do a quick scouting run. It was a good thing I did. The route was completely unfit for a road bike for most of the 8 miles to the lake. It took us almost 30 minutes to drive it. So we decided to bag that part of the route and just ride the flats. We had a great ride, though a bit shorter than planned, we covered 17 miles in 55 minutes but my HR stayed right were it was supposed to be and for the first time in a very long time I can honestly say that this felt almost too comfortable. Alison seemed to think that there had been some positive training response since the day we rode last week. I guess I can feel it. I am definitely way more comfortable on the bike, its become a part of me. This was by far one of the most scenic rides I have taken this year.

Tonight's swim was interesting. I had this desire to understand what my body was made of, though I really didn't feel up to much. Tonight was about preventing a fear response to water. I needed to know that my breathing and cadence were matched, that I could pull up brick walls that weigh a ton from the underwater and glide like a bird through it. I needed to convince myself of the power I know I have in the water. So I swam out hard, at the perceived effort of that eddy crossing last Sunday. At first I was keeping up with the front of the pack, then I felt myself slipping because I lost sight of them. What I didn't realize was that they were still there, I was just swimming in the moment. I arrived at the half way point, popped my head up just long enough for the kayaker to keep track of me. I headed for home. At first I was swimming just as hard as I was on the way out, then I feel something swim right into my face. My head was turned for a breath so I could not tell what it was at first but as I rolled back I got a glimpse of the legs, then the body. I had just had a head on collision with a huge BULLFROG. I think we both were startled. This seemed to break my pace a bit. which was OK, I was starting to cramp up a bit, which is not unusual for me after a ride.
Now looking back on the frog incident, I could get all philosophical, after all I consider frogs to be my alter ego in some sense. They are thought to bring the rains to wash sins from the earth. When I set my record across CT in 2005, frogs were a very big part of it. By the way, the animal that I think embodies my spirit is the hawk, but that is a very long story, with too many components, and best suited for another day.
The only question I really have about the workout is one that Alison asked. What does it mean when a black cat crosses your path in front of a historical cemetery?
I did take pictures, but have not had the chance to upload them yet. Not to worry, I did not break my tempo to take them!

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