Monday, August 18, 2008

Not quite 100 miles...

Naturally anxious after last weekend in San Diego of "doing nothing," this past weekend was certainly an attempt to do too much. So this is the life even of someone who is training "half-ass" for an Ironman triathlon. On Saturday I SHOULD have gone out with Kathy's group to do 16-18 miles of running, but INSTEAD my curiosity was piqued to attend the Lake Norman Y Open Water Swim. I went once last year and managed three laps (750 meters x 3) and so this time Julie and I showed up at 7:15 right when registration opened. Unfortunately the line was huge!

[photo of long line]
It's a Fact: Swimmers like to get up early

In the end I was assigned to the fifth wave (versus wave 2 last year). As a non-member (a YMCA membership is a HUGE waste of money for me) I had to fork out ten bucks, and I only would get 1-2 laps out of the deal (I had wanted three or more). Waiting in the line was a little vexing for me, although I did get to see Cheryl, Scott, Kevin, Jocelyn, and a few others. I even hopped in before my time. Versus the previous year, my times were quite slow, clocking in 18:56 then 19:xx for the 750 meters. I was going around for three but they turned me around as they were dismantling the course. Lame! Most were out for a ride, but we made our way home.

Normally I would never run that late in the morning, but temps were down a bit and I had to get something in. I took a standard half marathon loop from my house that headed east towards Ferncliff. A staple-gone by, Ferncliff used to be the home of a running friend of mine. I couldn't help but think of her as I passed the parsonage, especially since she just had a baby girl - CONGRATS! At the hurricane evacuation sign on Providence I clocked in half way just under one hour, definitely not all that speedy. It was at Wendover that I stopped at the foundation for my gel and some water. I then descended down Sharon and up to Queens. I passed Freedom Park then the usual death march up Marsh. For the last 30-40 minutes the sun started to come out in all its glory. It was a few minutes after two hours when I stopped my pedestrian stopwatch (my Garmin had been left on and as such uncharged!). I obviously took the afternoon to relax. In desparate need of groceries, I left later in the afternoon noticing the toaster had returned to the paper store. And yes, I did buy over $100 in groceries! I really had a fabulous meal that night of lamb, corn, and bread - all of which cost me less than eight bucks - score!

That evening the women's marathon was on and I was genuinely (and warmly) surprised how much coverage NBC put on! Thankfully the weather/pollution was not a factor. I knew there was no way Paula would win, and sure enough with her minimal training following injury that came to pass. And what a huge disappointment for the Americans - Deena out at 5K with a broken foot and Lewy-Boulet waysided. I had no problem cheering wildly for the amazing effort of Constantina Tomescu-Dita. Her running style looked pained to me but she punished the frontrunners for their slow pace and held that strong minute all the way - FANTASTIC! And I'm glad Catherine the Great outsprinted that Chinese woman - although for someone that trains/runs about 26 miles a day (?!?!?) I suppose I should reward that (insane?) behavior.

During my quick moments away from the marathon I planned out my big century ride for tomorrow. My planned route would start at 5:30 and took a big clockwise loop, starting down Providence, looping through Waxhaw, continuing out to Highway 5, then up 161 to India Hook and up my favorite road Paraham, crossing back on 49 and taking Dixie River to finish the century. Winston and I were in bed around 10PM.

Obviously 5:13 (I never set my alarm clock to rounded/even times) came way too early. I was a bit slow in moving all the parts together. When I opened the door I saw the roads were wet. I assumed that was from some sprinkles the night before. I did see that today was forecasted for a 30% chance of early thunderstorms, which was odd. I was totally dressed for hot summer sun. When I got out I realized it was actually raining, but very lightly. In the dark I made my way up the Woodlawn/Runnymede hill. I flew past the same stretch of Ferncliff again out to Providence. It was there it started to drip a little harder and I started to see a lightning show in the direction I was heading. It didn't seem like a smart idea to proceed but I felt like I had a shot of slipping by the worst of it and seeing my big goal for the day through. Once I got on to McKee there was a bolt of lightning that was frightening close, and the rain had started to come down harder. With the depressed temps I was starting to get cold. Continuing down Antioch Church there was little light coming online but by that time I was completely soaked and freaked out about getting electrocuted. When I got to Beulah Church I actually made a wrong turn, going right instead of left. This, upon retrospect, was a good move. My goal at that point was to seek some sort of shelter in Waxhaw, but instead I came out at Providence north of Weddington. By then it was clear I had to make my way home and get out of this bad situation. At the Ardry Kell gas station I stopped underneath the shelter for about twenty minutes. I then pedaled west towards Rea and make my usual way up north, except I took the very direct route of Tyvola west towards shelter. I was obviously cold and miserable when I arrived at home.

So instead of my century, I barely put in 40 miles. The worst part was that the storm essentially went away and later in the day it was relatively mild and nice. So for those people in Charlotte who suspect I could be making this up as a sad excuse, I think some people in Union county noticed. I had a huge plate of biscuits and gravy for breakfast as I started to watch the Olympics and recover. I wonder if I would have made it if the weather was decent, as I was quite tired that early afternoon. Hopefully that will be my only frustrating cycling experience for this critical window.

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