Monday, July 18, 2011
A Midsummer Break
My man Juancho recently quoth,, "nothing sucks like a rest day," so I'm guessing the mid-summer heat and constant hammering since February has got nearly everyone feeling flat these days.
Everyone, that is, except Joel and Rob, the two sandbaggers I rode with yesterday. They're regulars at the Wednesday night ride I've been attending, and they seemed to be just beyond my fitness level, so I invited 'em for a hilly 40-miler yesterday, to sharpen myself a bit. Well, they ate my lunch, and let me tell you, it would have been steep and hot enough out there even if I had kept my lunch.
Even with the aid of legal dope (an espresso from the redoubtable Cushman Market baristas) and enough cool liquids to float an ocean liner, I struggled up the S-curves into Shutesbury (a hill I'm usually smart enough to ride downward). Yeah, it was hot and all, but it was just as hot for those guys. Weaving and wheezing around a bend and seeing your ride buddies nowhere in sight is enough to turn your esprit de corps into esprit de corpse. (No knock on them -- I'd've done the same if I could). My heart was pounding so hard in the melting heat, my carotid arteries seemed to be trying to burst out of my neck. You know -- the kind of pounding that makes you see flashes of light with every beat. Pure suffering.
By the time we hit the final flattish 15 miles, I was cooked -- literally. I sheepishly tucked in behind Joel, who bravely led the charge for home into relentless, baking head winds. If any local gals on the market want to know what his cheeks look like, I can offer a detailed description of their ripple-tude. Body was saying "Quit, quit, drop back, let them wait for you at the next intersection!" The only thing keeping me pummeling the cranks as the heat came off the pavement in shimmering waves to cook us dry like chicken breasts was pride, pure and simple. That, and telling myself it would feel worse to see them pulling away yet again than it would to just keep pushing. Suffice it to say, I stayed with them.
I spent that afternoon on the couch guzzling ice water and vitamin C, eyes glazed, body limp, consoling myself by getting lost in the heroics of that day's Tour stage. (Andy Shleck for the top of the podium in Paris, by the way.)
I think I'll take it easy this week. I've been noticing dwindling enthusiasm lately, and that's a bright red flag for overtraining. If nothing sucks like a rest day, I better find something to distract myself for seven of them. It's time to recharge.