Back in the Saddle

You know it's been a while since your last bike ride when you have to think hard about what to pack in your gear bag beforehand. And you get out of the car at the meeting spot with your teammates realizing you forgot your helmet.

That's how my morning started with a few folks from the Fortius team (Mike, Tom, and Yolanda) in Northridge.  Fortunately, Tom lived nearby and was kind enough to retrieve a back-up helmet.  The only thing is, Tom is about 6"5 and weighs nearly twice as much (which I mean in the most respectful way, Tom!).  So, his helmet size is a wee bit larger.  I had to borrow a hat from Mike and tighten the helmet straps all the way to keep it remotely close to snug on my head.  My shadow image made my head look like a mushroom.

I needed the helmet to be as tight as possible because the winds heading out to Santa Clarita Valley were nearly as punishing as Ironman Arizona.  What a way to return to outdoor cycling for the first time since the race. I certainly had a few flashbacks as I got tossed from one side of the bike lane to the other from the nasty crosswinds. At one point, my makeshift helmet blew backwards, causing my hat brim to blow upward and almost right off my head!  It was a sorry sight to see.

Mike and I rode with Tom for the first hour of his scheduled four-hour journey. Yolanda headed back a little early.  Since Mike ran the CIM marathon last week, our pace was leisurely at best. We meandered through 26 miles in around two hours, though that included lots of elevation and a few breaks.  I didn't wear my Garmin watch since I just wanted to enjoy the ride. I'm trying to find that happy place where the training is "fun" again, and one way I'm planning to do that is through taking a bit easier on analyzing all the data for the time being.  I know what I need to do to recover, and a big chunk of that process will involve simply smiling and joking more during workouts instead of staring at my watch as often.

That said, I had a thought during an especially long, windy, uphill climb this morning.  I should have trained in poorer weather conditions more often this past season.  Granted, that can be easier said than done in pristine Southern California.  However, I think my psyche was HOPING for great weather in Tempe rather training as hard as I could have to account for less-than-ideal conditions.

How do you walk the line between enjoying your training and finding nasty weather to improve?

I made a pledge to myself this morning that I will hunt down wind, rain, cold and heat more often this coming year.  It's sort of a training resolution.  Though I have great respect for Mother Nature, I'm not going to be afraid of her.  I think that mentality, along with a worry about my ability to fix flats on my own, kept me from reaching my full potential this past year.

No more.

Training smarter, in this instance, may mean training harder.

And while the results on a per-workout basis may not be pleasant to view, it may pay off in Idaho this summer.  I'm not sure what the race conditions will be there, but whatever they are, I want to be ready for them.

After Mike and I returned from our ride, I drove to Simi Valley visit my parents and to meet my dad for an impromptu lunch at my favorite barbecue joint not located in Austin, Texas.  As you can see here, my appetite continues to grow.  I've now gained about seven pounds post Ironman, with no end in sight.  Both my parents commented that I look much healthier and less gaunt.  Too bad most of these pounds are probably garbage weight from one too many helpings of cookies, steaks, shakes and cupcakes.

Shhh, it'll be our little secret.

Tomorrow, I have my first week of officially scheduled IM CdA training workouts.  The real work begins again.  No more "do whatever you want" workouts. My three-week training holiday is drawing to a close.  I'm sad about that on one hand.  I've gotten a glimpse back into the good life of spending lots of free time with Stephanie, sleeping in late and generally being lazy.  On the other hand, I can feel my body changing for the worse.  My legs are tighter.  I've been a little moodier the past few days as well.

So, back in the saddle, again.  With a renewed sense of purpose (become a better, smarter triathlete), a new goal in mind (beat my IMAZ time), a new plan in my head (have more fun this season, but push myself a little harder), and a lot more confidence (I know what it takes to be an Ironman).

I hope you'll continue to go on the journey with me.

191 days and counting.