My morning bike ride started off poorly. First, my buddy Frank and I were confronted with a fog bank so thick in Agoura Hills that we had to drive back over the hill on the freeway to higher ground to have enough visibility to ride. But it wouldn't matter, as Frank realized once we prepared to leave that he forgot his shoes at home. His day was over before it started. On the day before his birthday, no less. Then, if that wasn't enough, I got a flat tire on my back wheel -- in the first mile of my solo ride. I knew my back tire had a slight gash in it following my rainy Santa Clarita outing a couple weeks ago. Yes, Frank suggested I replace the back tire but I thought I could get lucky and make it last a while longer.
Turns out Frank knows what he's talking about.
Fortunately, I noticed my flat about a block away from a cycling group preparing for its own Saturday morning ride. I was even more fortunate that my Fortius teammate Jason decided to ride with this group instead of our team -- he pulled up in his 4Runner almost immediately when I pulled up with my lame bike in the cul-de-sac. Jason helped me insert an empty Clif Bar wrapper between my new tube and the tire to keep debris out for my ride back to the car.
That wasn't even the highlight of the pit-stop though. I met Julie, who recognized me from my Fortius race kit and told me she was the person cheering for me at the bike turnaround point at Ironman Arizona. I had never met Julie in my life, but she was a friend of my buddy at Helen's Cycles, Pete. Pete told Julie about me and asked her to cheer for me that day. This unknown cheerleader had remained a mystery for me since then, so I was excited to tell my new friend that hearing her scream for me at those lonely checkpoints truly boosted my energy and resolve heading back into the headwind. If nothing else, that helped make my brief ride today somewhat of a success. Saying "thank you" to Julie felt great.
So now that my bike ride was over for the day, I had a choice. I needed to be back home in 1.5 hours for a family obligation with Steph. I could just skip working out for the day and lament my bad luck on the bike, or I could try to squeeze in a trail run.
Even though I was bummed about not cycling with Frank and embarrassed by my choke-job on fixing my own bike in front of others, I decided to at least try to fit in a hilly trail run. I'd have to drive another 30 minutes to the Dirt Mulholland trail, but I couldn't let the whole day be a loss.
I'm so glad I did! FINALLY, seven weeks after Ironman Arizona, I enjoyed a run where my knees didn't act up! Yes, my right psoas still felt tight but that was it. Better still, my calves weren't screaming in pain from my new running technique where I'm trying to run purely off the balls of my feet instead of my old heel-to-toe strike. Better than all that was my lower, calmer heart-rate on hills. I felt like I was running slower, but still I managed to bang out nearly six miles in an hour on a hilly trail where my heart-rate only briefly visited zone 4 a few times and I typically stayed in the low-mid 140s.
To think I would have missed that experience had I sulked about my bad luck on the bike.
We often hear about how if you fall off the proverbial bike, you should get right back on it again.
Sometimes, maybe it's best when you fall off the proverbial bike, to simply ditch it and just change into running shoes. Take what the moment gives you. Accept it for what it is. And plan a different route to achieve a goal.
164 days and counting.