S - 12,700 yards
B - 271.1 miles
R - 43.6 miles
Time - 23.42 hours
Stringing together back to back weeks of good training feels almost as amazing as cutting your fingernails after a long lay-off. You may scoff at that analogy but please, let me explain.
Training is kind of like fighting a gorilla. You don't stop when you get tired; you stop when the gorilla gets tired. It's a never-ending process of trying to get better and improving very gradually over the course of long periods of time. It requires patience. It gets a little crazy every once in a while. There is risk involved. There is pain; there is suffering. There is joy; there is satisfaction.
So basically, training is like fighting a gorilla for all the reasons mentioned above.
Why then, did I equate stringing together two good weeks of training with cutting your fingernails? It's a question I asked myself repeatedly while writing the previous paragraphs actually. I was kind of wondering where I was gonna take that (somewhat odd) analogy. But I've got the solution. I'm going to take it to level 10.
Your fingernails always grow. That is just what they do. The longer they get, the more they get in the way. They do, admittedly, get far better at picking one's nose but that's about the only utility to be found in longer fingernails. So, fitness is kind of like fingernail growth. It never stops. The only thing fitness does is get you more fitness. It doesn't make you any cooler (as much as I am loathe to admit that). It certainly doesn't make you nicer. In fact, the lower your TSB the grumpier you are going to be.
(as an aside, if your significant other or spouse is in a heavy training phase they likely have a low TSB, which is exactly the reason why they are a PITA to deal with)
But what makes training great (or fingernail growth) is the ability to see results. There are few things more satisfying than doing a nice, precise slice of the 'nails. Just like week after week of good training and growth, it is satisfying to see the result of that growth and then slice it off with a good race. Because that's the goal in the end, isn't it?
Nobody wants to JUST be good at exercising. Well I suppose cross-fitters do, but they are weird (if you can call that "exercising" hehe). Everyone trains with a goal in mind. Well, mostly. The goal doesn't have to be a "race" per se, it can just be any sort of "competition." With yourself, your work buddies, your spouse, your kids, your man upstairs, your yard...etc.
On that note, it's been a good two weeks of training. This week was marked by several special occasions:
1) Contained in the week was July 4th, which is the day AMERICA was birthed from the womb of Britain's lame tight-wad mother.
2) I raced my bike in Pisgah, NC
3) I rode my bike with good friends for 6.5 hours in the mountains of NC on Sunday.
Now, with regard to #2:
I DO like racing bikes. I like beating roadies at their own game.
(by the way, does any one find it INCREDIBLY satisfying that people say triathletes are just mediocre at three sports but then get their asses kicked by triathletes at THEIR sport? Because I do)
This time, however, the roadies had the answer: teams. It was a 5 lap race with a 1/2 mile twisty, curvy road as the start/finish lead up. It was a pretty flat course with not too many opportunities to break up the group. On either lap 3 or 4 two guys got away, one a member of Team Novo Nordisk (who had 7 or 8 guys in the ~35 man Cat 3 field) and one a member of Team V (I don't really remember the name of the team but they had either 3 or 4 guys in the field). Given the strong presence of their teammates in the group this two man break got a little out of sight over the ensuing lap. I wasn't eager to do any work yet so I just sat in the pack and minded my own business. Somewhere in lap 4 a guy from Team Cyclus got away off the front and bridged to the two guys (he had either 2 or 3 teammates in the pack). In spite of having what are, quite literally, the ugliest kits in the history of kit design they actually function fairly well as a team.
On lap 5 it was time to do some work so I made my way to the front to try and get the party started. But when half of the field won't work on the front because they have teammates in the break it is kind of difficult. There was another "team" in the pack (Tumult Racing) but they had a bit of trouble getting all their guys to the front so it took a while for any sort of "chase" to be enacted. I was active at first but after a bit I figured it was futile and slid back to try and pick a good spot for what I assumed would be a field sprint.
The break stayed away (although the gap was closed down significantly) and we came up to the left turn leading into the half-mile slight uphill finishing straight. I was holding a good spot about halfway in the pack on the left side (at 200m to go the road opens up to be able to use both lanes so I have always figured staying on the left side was the most reliable option). It seemed like a lot of the field was pretty tired so I didn't have too much trouble beating out the others in the sprint (for 4th place) but - as always - the sprint itself had a lot of crazy stuff going on as guys would sprint and then die and just sit up like there was nobody going full-bore behind them...
The next day we all made the drive up to Morganton, NC to do our beloved loop in the mountains. There were a bunch of us and the weather was amazing so it was really a great day. I was happy with the way I rode and I think everybody was pretty worn out in the end. Most of us added in the super great Beech Mountain climb, which I hadn't done in about two years. It is just as hard as I remembered.
Unfortunately the Garmin 510 touch screen proves problematic at times, but luckily I "saved" instead of "discarded" that file...
All in all, it was a fantastic week of training and weather here in Charlotte, NC so there is - literally - nothing about which I can complain.
Next week brings with it a mid-week mountain bike race (hopefully), some more training, and some more acquisition of memories. Get ready. Gonna be epic, as usual.