Our weather has been so funky in Austin that I haven’t been out on my bike much. I’ve done a lot of work on a trainer, but I’ve done very little road riding. It’s been cold and rainy much of the winter. This weekend was no exception. This week it rained so much that on Friday afternoon, just as Dave and I were heading out to meet our team for the drive to Houston for our two-day ride, we got an email saying that Day 1 of the ride was cancelled due to rain. There went my 100-mile day. All that remained was to figure out whether Day 2 would happen.
Dave and I stayed in Austin Friday night with the plan to join our team in Brenham the next day if Day 2 would was going to happen. I got up and went for a swim Saturday morning, and I was planning to head out for a long run when we got an email from our team captain saying that they would be riding in Brenham at 1:00 p.m. If we hurried to get on the road, we could get there in time to join them. My gut was to stay in Austin because my phone showed thunderstorms in Brenham, and I was skeptical about day 2 even happening. But my friend Catherine and my sweet Dave both indicated they wanted to head to Brenham, so we went. And I’m so glad we did.
We managed a lovely, overcast 33-mile ride around Brenham. The course involved rolling hills, nothing steep. I didn’t push hard, but I was trying to stay in big gears and push myself a bit. I averaged just over 15 mph and found my bike legs. It felt good to be out there.
After the informal ride, Catherine, Dave and I went for a long walk through historic downtown Brenham, which we topped off with a stop at the Sonic next to our hotel. Sonic ice cream and milkshakes have become something of a tradition on these rides, and Catherine and I were not about to short Dave on tradition. And we felt justified after the two-hour ride and two-hour walk. It seemed irrelevant that we hadn’t yet had dinner.
Anyway, the next morning, our team set out to La Grange for the official MS150. It was about 65 miles of slightly rolling hills. I pushed through the ride, stopping only briefly at the lunch stop. Again, I averaged just over 15mph, and, when I finished, I felt like I had more in me. I could have gone longer. I could have gone faster. It was a good confidence booster after not having spent much time on the road.
I’m ten weeks out from Ironman Coeur d’Alene. I’m not ready, but I feel like I’m getting there. My fitness is coming along, and I think my speed is too. I normally go into Ironman telling myself that I just want to finish. I do want to finish, but I really want to PR – hit a personal record. After seeing this weekend what I can do on a bike, I think I have a reasonable chance at that. And that feels really good to say.
I’ve felt uneasy about my ability on the bike even though I’ve been training well on a trainer that measures power. My coach says that training indoors is just as effective as training on the road, but the voice in my head has been saying things like:
- You missed a bunch of training because of the calf injury.
- You haven’t been on the road much.
- You haven’t been practicing in your aerobars.
- You haven’t re-learned how to eat and drink on the bike.
- You haven’t done a 100-miler yet this season.
- You haven’t even done a dam loop, much less a double dam.
- You didn’t do the Austin marathon.
- You didn’t do the Fort Worth ultra marathon.
- You don’t have a half-Ironman warm-up race planned.
- You’re not going to be strong.
In my head, I can easily convert this list of doubts into excuses for poor performance. I didn’t do this. I didn’t do that. The weather didn’t let me. Blah blah blah. But what I learned this weekend is that the weather hasn’t affected my progress on the bike. My program is working. I’m progressing. And I still have ten weeks to go. That excites me.