Ride Recap of El Tour De Tucson ~ I Did It!

You know you’ve been away from blogging when the virtual snow has appeared on Word Press.  I will admit it’s kind of a nice feature.  I took some much needed time away from thinking about blogging, but I’m back.  Merry Christmas!

There are a lot of emotions and angst about my latest endeavor.  First, I will start with a recap.  Forgive me for repeating myself to those who follow this blog.  This blog came about and is dedicated to the memory of my mother, Karen Ellen Dennis Mastromonico who died at a young age when I was only eight and my brother was three.  I started it as a way to honor her, my health and the beauty of life that can be taken so quickly.  It is still and foremost dedicated to that purpose, but on most occasions I dedicate an event, i.e run, race or ride to an individual(s) who may be struggling with health issues of their own.  I have raised money for cancer and MS and many other of life’s struggles while participating in various events over the years.  Participating in the El Tour de Tucson supported the Easter Seals and is considered the United States largest perimeter ride at 106 miles.

This past summer I had reconnected with some high school friends and we decided to take a girls road trip from Colorado to Arizona and had a great time.  Shortly after the trip was over, I received an email from my friend Jen (one of the high school friends I travelled with) about her husband Tim.  He was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer.  So, of course I dedicated this ride to Tim and his recovery.  The power of physical prayer is what I like to call it when I participate in these events.  I am sad to say that Tim lost his battle with cancer this month.  He was a young man taken too quickly and too soon.  In her last email what resonated with me the most is we still had stuff to do.  Every time I sat down to write about something that was a triumph all I could think about was Jen’s loss of Tim.  It was a hard thing to swallow.  I feel so badly for Jen and her family.  It happened so quick.  It is mind numbing that just six months ago I was having a drink with Jen and Tim in their home.  Life indeed is unpredictable and short.

This was the first ride I participated in, ever.  I guess for most people who cycle, there is some building up to this massive event.  You know, shorter rides (just like runs) before you go all out.  But….no I decided to go big, first time.  That’s pretty much how I roll…a lot.  For better or worse, that’s how it is.

I took the Friday off before the race from work, so I could take my time getting ready and attend the Expo in Tucson, AZ.  I found the Civic Center, where the Expo was held with no problem, but I will say it was a little stoic walking inside and looking at the different booths.  Please fellow cyclists don’t get offended, but the cycling crowd and the running crowd are very different.  The cycling crowd seems to be a lot calmer, whilst the running crowd ~ loud and proud and a little rowdy.  Very interesting.  I picked up the packet and walked around waiting for a “required safety” briefing that never happened.  As I sat in the front row, waiting for the briefing, there was this older gentleman passing out maps of the event.  He starts talking to me and asks what event I’m participating.  I tell him the century, as a matter of fact, and he looks at me and says….are you physically capable?  At first I was like, you have to be kidding me.  That Scorpio mindset was about to blow.  Then I composed myself and just said yes, the century.  He looked at me and smiled and said good.  Humph!  I took my map and sat for a couple more minutes until an announcement was made the briefing was going to be delayed due to the interview with a cycling pro that showed up.  I ended up walking around and stopped at a vendor selling pickle juice.  I didn’t know that pickle juice helps with cramps.  I tried a sample and it was great!  So I bought a six pack.  I love pickles anyway so this was good!  There were vendors selling all sorts of stuff.  I bought some arm warmers and decided to call it a day.

pickle-juiceexpo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I made reservations for a hotel advertised on the ride site.  I thought this would be easier since I’ve never been to Tucson.  One thing is for sure, when I go somewhere new I don’t like to get too crazy.  Or to put it lightly something fairly easy to access and easy to get to the event.  This hotel was an Indian run casino, so cray it was and easy it wasn’t.  It was about 13 miles out of town.  So, I was overcompensating getting up and getting to the event on time.  I was on edge and didn’t get any rest.  I brought my bike into the hotel because, no way was I going to leave it in the car at a casino parking garage.

in-the-hotelIn order to make the 6 o’clock start time I left the hotel around 4:45.  Kept the French fries and fruit from the night before as an early breakfast, along with some pickle juice.  Hmmm…tasty.

Just like in a marathon, there are corrals for the ride.  The fast people up front and slow people in the back.  I was surprised when I arrived at downtown Tucson, I was able to find a parking spot fairly close to the start line and there were so many people around I just followed everyone else to find my way to the start.

When I arrived at the starting line there was a gate that housed all of the faster riders.  Their bikes were upside down like they had slept there the night before.  Then there was everyone else.  I found my way to the back.  I didn’t want to take any chances being “trampled” by the herd.  It was cold.  As with most of these events it’s always hard for me to gauge how much clothing to wear.  It was cold, but not crazy cold.  I bought a “throw away” shirt to wear that I ended up not having to bring, which I was glad because I thought it was too nice to ditch!  So I found my spot and waited for the ride to begin.  There were photographers walking about taking pictures and people moving around deciding whether or not to “move up” or go back. Last minute checking of gear and the bike to make sure everything was in check.

Then the gun went off and it was time to ride!  Similar to a large run, the caterpillar effect was in full force.  My left foot was clipped in as I guided with my right just moving myself along.  We did this for about a quarter of a mile then the flow started to even out.  I was a little put out because I forgot my cellphone in the car, so unfortunately I didn’t get to take any pictures during the ride.

As I have said in previous posts the first 50 miles isn’t a problem.  It’s the last 50.  The ride started out good, I was pumped and was moving along nicely.  I trained for this moment.  I road close to 80 miles and this was going to be fine.  I was going to be fine.  About 30 minutes into the race the wind started blowing… hard.  When I say hard I don’t mean a strong wind, I mean almost knock you off your bike gusts.  It was really unbelievable.  This type of wind went on for 4 hours straight.  It really slowed down my normal pace and of course caused more fatigue early in the ride.  The route contained two washes that needed to be crossed on foot.  Now washes in Arizona are there for the rain.  When it rains in the desert, it happens forcefully and fast.  Those rocky washes can look like raging rivers in 30 minuets flat.  Normally they aren’t very large width wise.  This wasn’t the case for the first wash I had to cross.  Of course it wasn’t.  It was a quarter mile of sandy rock.  This is why I wish I had the phone.  Just imagine 9,000 people, that’s right there were 9,000 riders, crossing a wash, carrying their bikes.  You surely can’t ride it across.  Not a road bike.  So carry it you must.  It was grueling.   I began to have flashbacks of Army road marches.  Yet strangely, there is a solace when you are doing it with people who think like you in the same situation.  There was a Mariachi band that made the crossing…less of a task.  As much as I liked that part, it was a bit of a time waster.  More of that later.  Stopped for a porta potty break took a gel and headed back out.

There were rest stops about every 10 to 12 miles.  In the beginning I stopped when I felt I needed too.  I didn’t want to stop too much because what should have been a 5 minute stop turned into a 15 minute stop because of the amount of people using the facilities and the chit chat.  I felt comfortable knowing there would be a place to go to the bathroom and not some rattlesnake infested ditch.  Around mile 30 I found myself riding with another woman named “Sally”.  It’s interesting when you are doing an event like this how you just kind of come together as what I like to call “necessary friends”.  We just started talking and decided to stick together and offer each other support.  Sally was from Tucson and she had just completed another century two weeks before.  I took this as a positive sign and listened to what she had to say.  She mentioned the “wind” wasn’t normal…of course not and the big thing about the century is finishing on time.  I kept hearing this over and over from different people, but I had done the work and the calculations and 10 hours should be more than enough time.  Every time I looked at Sally I just wanted to sing…”ride, Sally ride”…I know, I can’t help it sometimes.  After about an hour of riding with Sally, I began to notice that Sally was kind of dragging me down.  One thing I learned around mile 40, and this is going to sound like an episode from the Walking Dead, sometimes you gotta smile, and leave them behind.  That’s right…cut bait, move on, see ya!  I had to leave Sally behind, at the rate she was going, I would never make time.  I know it sounds brutal, but I had to do it.  I wished her well and was on my way.

Around mile 48 is when my first real test happened.  It’s always a slow motion realization, that something big is about to happen.  You’re not really sure, but you know it’s not going to be good.  I turn a corner and there was the biggest hill I have yet to climb.  I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do it.  Not that I didn’t want to attack the hill and try, I knew that physically, at this point in my training, I couldn’t do this without stopping.  I unclipped my right foot because I knew I would have to stop and I didn’t want to fall on the pavement because I couldn’t unclip fast enough.  I just put my head down and a part of me deep inside just said do what you can.  I made it half the way up before I had to fully stop and walk the rest of the way up.  I felt like I was going to throw up and I was breathing so heavy at the top.  I was at mile 50 and I felt like crap and I was seriously beginning to wonder if I was going to finish this ride.  Seriously.  I was stopped on the side of the road checking out what I thought was a loose clip on my shoe when one of the maintenance team stopped and asked if I needed assistance.  It was around 12:30 pm.  I said no, just checking my equipment.  He looked at me and said you are 45 minutes behind schedule, do you want to finish the ride?  I was like who the hell is this guy.  I looked at him square in the eye and said are you kidding I’m going to ride until they have to pick my ass up!  He gave me a wink and said good to hear, and drove off.  I get back on the bike and continue, then out of nowhere I hear this voice behind me in a strong Spanish accent say, “you can do this, what is your name”?  I turn and there is this sweet young Mexican woman in all white on an all white bike!  Her name was Brenda.  Brenda hung with me for 20 miles.  All the way saying my name in that accent!  It was so cute!  She would say. “Lawwwrel we are strong women, we can do this”!  After a while Brenda had to leave me behind too around mile 70.  Hey, I totally respected that I was now the one, slowing her down.  At this point I was feeling good.

A very strong piece of advice ~ those that are in the lead don’t necessarily know where they are going.  How can you be on a route with 9,000 other people and find yourself alone.  That’s just what happened around mile 80.  I do have some criticisms of the ride.  One, the turns were NOT well marked.   I found myself pretty much alone at one point.  I mean really, how does that happen!?  About a half mile ahead of me I did see two riders and so I just followed.  I am a former Army officer.  I have read maps.  One was given to me.  Did I read it? Heck no, didn’t even know where it was.  So, I just followed the people it front.  I’m pedaling away and I see this guy in a truck following me.  He’s trying to say something out his window..and you know how you shake your head trying to be nice but you don’t even know what this guy is saying.  So I smile and keep on riding.  Then he comes up to me again and this time I hear him ~ “you’re going the wrong way”!  OMG, you have to be kidding, 20 minutes of wasted time.  I begin to panic, because I was trying so hard to make up the time I had fell behind.  This unfortunately was a critical mistake.  I turn around find the right path and continue.  REMEMBER, trust your own instincts…lesson learned.

Around mile 95 my left toes started to go numb and hurt badly.  To the point I almost was in tears.  I started to laugh to myself because I thought surely if anything was going to hurt it would be my back or my thighs.  The pain must have shown on my face because again out of nowhere there was this young man riding next to me.  His left arm had tattoos that formed a sleeve, he looked at me and said, “the pain is worth it” and rode off.  I can remember saying a silent prayer asking to just take the pain away, and like that it was gone for the rest of the ride.  I saw the same man at three other stops and he would just look at me and say the same thing, the pain is worth it, nothing else.  At about mile 101 I didn’t see him again.

The next five miles were filled with angst and anticipation.  I was desperately trying to finish under or at the 10 hour mark and I was drinking water at a crazy pace.  The sun was setting and I was pedaling as hard as I could.  So hard, a couple people took notice and commented on my ending strong.  In the end I finished in 10:02.  Two minutes shy of the 10 hour time limit.  I was pleased with myself that 1) I finished and 2) I cut my 45 minute deficit down to 2 minutes.  I was a little put out I didn’t get a finisher medal.  I was hard to walk through the crowd and see that I just wasn’t good enough that day.  I was also proud that I had no mechanical difficulty with my bike.  I chalk that up to good maintenance on my part.  There were a lot of people who had blow outs or chains off early on, so for that I am grateful.

To put this in perspective, the man who won the race finished in 4 hours.  Can you even wrap your brain around that?  The first woman 4-1/2 hours, just amazing.

I can’t tell you enough how endurance races/rides are beneficial for the soul.  It’s at events like these one has to use all of their mind/body/spirit to move on, over come and succeed, just like in daily life.  106 miles ~ I’m truly grateful.

My only picture!  The funny thing was my number is my birth year! It was a coincidence.

My only picture! The funny thing was my number is my birth year! It was a coincidence.

Over all I enjoyed the race and I’m ready for another.  It was challenging and fun.  I would have liked to see more snacks at the stops, especially if you are advertising that is the case.  I think a lot of people gauge how much food they will carry.  And the route needed to be marked a little better.  I later learned that the promoters were pulling up signs early.

So far I have completed 4,211.73 with 7,103.27 remaining.  I look forward to completing each mile with gratitude, love and a smile on my face.  Happy Miles to You!

 

Twas The Night Before Tour El De Tucson

Well it’s finally here, or almost here I should say.  Tomorrow is my century ride, 106 miles.  It’s hard to believe that after training once and having to redirect and starting again I’m finally here.  It’s exciting and scary at the same time.  I overheard at the expo that they are expecting 13,000 cyclists.  That’s simply amazing.  There are a combination of rides in the Tour with the shortest being 25 miles I believe.  My race starts at 0700 in downtown Tucson.  Let’s hope it will be fun and injury free.

I decided to stay at a hotel that was on the race website.  It’s a little out of town but much better than the hotel I stayed at for the Grand Canyon Half!

bike-in-hote hallway

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The room is much better and the hallway isn’t creepy like the other hotel, although I can picture dead twins.

chicken dinner french-fries fruit-plate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had to eat!  No I didn’t eat everything.  I’m saving some for the morning because I have to be out the door of the hotel by 5:15.  The fries and fruit were pretty darn good.

The expo was interesting.  You have to go for packet pickup.  There were vendors there selling everything from riding gear to pickle juice!  I bought a six pack of pickle juice that is supposed to help with cramps.  I love pickle juice and I realize it isn’t for everyone.

pickle-juice expo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I got a cute T Shirt, key chain, and chapstick (lol) in my swag bag.

tshirt

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now I’m just doing a little maintenance on my bike and stressing about where I’m going to park tomorrow morning.  It’s never easy or flows well in my experience so allowing yourself time for error is necessary.

Tomorrow’s gear:

jersey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These events are always very reflective for me.  I usually do them with a certain someone in mind, (usually many certain someones) and it is my way of trying to transcend how grateful that I have survived these 49 years and can participate!  Life is a precious wonderful gift.  Be kind to each other.  Happy Miles to You!

Mileage Recap ~ Week 10 Century Training

I have finally completed the last full week of training for my Century Ride.  I was especially happy to begin the taper week!  There really is nothing like knowing that you can take it a little easier.  At least that’s my opinion, just sayin’.  It gives me a chance to enjoy the journey and get ready for next week’s race.  I’m beginning to focus on what I need to take, my nutrition (staying hydrated and keeping the body limber), the logistics of everything (traveling with the bike on my rack) what to do with my bike when I get to the hotel and how far the start line is from the hotel etc.  I’m not sure what I will be doing with my bike while I’m at the hotel.  I definitely need to call.  I’m sure they won’t let me take it to my room….

I plan to blog about my El Tour de Tucson Century Ride step by step, in hopes that others wanting to give a Century a whirl can learn from my successes and hopefully not to many pitfalls.   This last week will be about prep, a couple of short rides then the big event.

It’s amazing how better equipped my body is to handle the distance and hills.  Climbs that I didn’t look forward too before, I can now accomplish with ease.  There was less physical effort needed and I still maintained my same average speed, which is interesting to me.  I really tried to slow down and just complete the mileage but found my speed didn’t go down from last weeks long ride. I think my main concern will be to pace myself during the full race.

Overall I feel good.  My knees and lower right back are hurting a bit and I am a little tired.  I’ve been concentrating on hydration and good nutrition and feel I will be good shape come race day.  I’m going to do a little yoga every day to keep the body open and the hips less tight.  Yoga is so good for you and really makes a difference in overall body health.  I’m partial as a yogi!

Nothing too crazy this week or anything special to note.  National douche bag alert was at a medium level.  It’s garage sale season here in Phoenix, with the cooler weather, and people are driving crazy to find their second hand treasures.

Had two shorter rides during my busy week and then the long ride on Saturday.  Packed my gels and decided to bring a brownie flavored Cliff Bar®.  I was at one of my stops and I was watching a video message from my friend who is working in Germany, love technology, and as I opened the package the bar went flying to the ground.  You know how something happens and you’re in disbelief and just staring.  I looked at the bar on the ground just pondering my next step.  I know what my next step is…pick it up and eat the damn thing.  As I was picking the bar up I turn and see this little kid and his family looking at me as I stuff the bar in my mouth… and I smile.  Yep, leading by example.  Buck up kiddo, this thing cost about $2.50 and I have 20 more miles to go.

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

week-10

This weeks mileage

Happy that this is my last week!

Happy that this is my last week!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Completed 60.71 miles this week. Looking forward to getting this challenge complete!  There are 7241.92 miles gratefully remaining.  Happy Miles to You!

 

Mileage Recap ~ Week 9 Century Training Complete

It’s hard to believe that there are only two weeks left before my big century ride.  Completing the training for the century wasn’t going to be easy.  The first time I started to train I had to let it go, because I began a new job.  As everyone knows learning a new job can take it out of you both physically and mentally.  I’m three months in and personally I believe it takes about 6 months to learn a job and then a little more to learn it well.  So I had to back down and regroup.  No time and too tired.

I remember when I completed my first “long ride”.  Twenty -eight miles long and I was just wiped out afterwards.  Came home and just crashed.  By the second week of training I was better, not as tired out and could go about my day afterwards.

Training on the bike is much different then running.  It’s funny when I look at the metrics of a run and I see the calorie burn.  Once I started getting up into 40 miles I was burning 2K plus calories every long ride.  Very strange because I burned about 2K calories when I ran the Rock and Roll marathon in St. Louis.  The body burns the fat differently too.  This is my observation for my body.  I seemed to drop pounds and tone up quicker running than I do riding.  Strange all around since the calorie burn is equal to one marathon a week.

This weeks long ride was much better than last weeks.  I figured that speed wise I’m going fast enough to finish the race on time.  My biggest concern is performance and overall body health.  Last week’s speed average was 13.5 which is the highest average I’ve ever had.  I’m not focusing on my speed. There are people out there riding MUCH faster than me.  People whiz by me all the time.  Better riders, bikes and overall athletes.  That’s okay.  I know what my goal is and what I need to do to complete that goal.  If you read the recap of last weeks ride I was hurting around mile 58.  By the time I got to mile 61 I encountered a cramp in my right quad that pretty much debilitated me for about 5 minutes.  Ensuring that I listen to my body, focus on time and distance needs to take priority.

My cramp was most likely caused by dehydration and overuse of the muscle.  During my training once I started hitting 40+ miles I used my house as an aid station.  I’ll be honest I didn’t want to drink too much water because there is no where to use the bathroom for a good 20 to 25 mile stretch and ducking behind what they call a bush here isn’t an option.  Sooooo….I was careful how much water I consumed.  Again though becoming dehydrated riding feels different than running.  During the race there will be aid stations around every 10 miles.  That will make a big difference in how I consume my water.  I will not have to worry about wearing bikers depends.  Just kidding.

This week I decided on two things to make my ride better, slow down and consume more.   More water, food and the gel packs every hour.  I don’t know about you but when I get up at 5 am to make it out the door by 6 am it’s hard to eat and drink something and wait for the body to get moving.  I start with cereal or something light, a cup of coffee (a must) and a little water.  Try to get all that done by 5:30 so I have plenty of time for everything else. For this ride I was extremely disciplined.  I’m very happy about my performance.  I took a lot of water and food stops.  I stopped and got off the bike.  Even if I wasn’t hungry I ate a bit anyway.  Just a bite of a nutrition bar and a good sip of water.  I slowed down.  If I started to feel a burn on a hill or a little light headed I slowed down, not try to power through.  This made a world of difference in how I felt towards the end.  During this ride I made two aid stops at the house.  Used the bathroom, had cut up oranges, chocolate muscle milk and water.  Again much better and each stop was about 5 minutes.  I stopped and took a power gel every hour.  It was a 5 hour ride which equated to 4 gels.  I built up to the long ride.  Kept track of water and protein consummation.  I enjoyed myself.  The last one is as important as all the others.  Enjoying the experience I was about to have.  Heck I even smiled more and looked around at my surroundings.  Again making all the difference.

Last week I noticed a ghost bike on the route.  This is something that must have just happened because I didn’t notice it a couple of weeks before.  The picture isn’t great because of the curb.  I wanted to pull my bike up and lean against the railing but after unclipping it just seemed more logical for me to stay on the road.  A ghost bike is a monument to a cyclist that was killed on the road, most likely at a spot very close to where the bike is chained.  So the bike is painted white, chained and a plaque is usually placed somewhere near the bike.  I didn’t see a plaque so I’m not sure of the individual’s name, but I felt that this would be a good place to take my break in solicitude with this soul.  There are tons of cyclists riding during the weekends now that the weather has officially “broken”.  It’s a shame because Pecos road has four lanes for cars to merge over and a sizable bike lane.  People really should pay better attention.

Ghost bike on Pecos Road

Ghost bike on Pecos Road

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy to say this weeks long ride came to 65.01 and now it’s time to taper!!  I just love that word….taper.

week-9-long-rideA successful fun ride.  I had fun.  This weeks mileage gratefully comes to 82.61.  There are 7302.63 miles waiting…Happy Miles To You!!

Mileage Recap ~ October Wrap Up…Hear Me People of the Good Hood!

Three more weeks of training to go and I’ll be heading to Tucson to participate in the EL Tour De Tucson Century Ride.  I’m not going to call it a race, because I’m not racing anybody.  Maybe the clock.  My goal is to finish in the time allotted or a little before.  Training so far has been going well.  I am hitting all the milestones I’ve set for myself without too much trouble each week.  So far no mechanical mishaps and for that I am VERY grateful.  My body felt better during last weeks long ride then this week.  This weeks long ride was ok but became a real grind towards the end.  I felt good for the first 40 miles, then I started to feel fatigued.  Not bad but I seemed to be sweating more and a little tired.

My physical body felt fine, I was experiencing a drained type feeling.  I also had a hard time clipping out of my new pedals.  It caused some stress and angst every time I needed to stop.  I’m not 100% used to these new pedals and not quite sure why I’m experiencing this problem.  Now that I’m into the 50+ rides I need to focus more on what I’m doing inside and out.  Eating, drinking and resting.  It’s not at all like training for the marathon.  There is a different type of intensity.   I will admit I was thinking about everything under the sun.  My mind was just wandering this time around.  As I get closer to 50 miles that’s when I start to notice my mental fatigue.  I’m more reckless meaning not really paying attention like I did at the beginning of the ride for cars or people etc.  Like I’m just going or an out of body feeling sometimes.  I started to think about the movie Castaway on this ride.  Your mind starts playing tricks when you’re really tired.  Wilson!  Try to keep up Wilson! Wilson can you pass that sports gel friend?  That’s exactly what I felt like.

wilson wilson1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or having the urge to laugh uncontrollably!  Oh that was funny Wilson, I’m so enjoying our time together!

dumb-and-dumber

 

 

 

 

On part of my route I go through a more, shall we say affluent neighborhood.  We shall call it the good hood.  A lovely non-gated community nestled at the base of South Mountain with very nice homes.  There is a cul de sac that I have a timed stop.  Usually for a gel, water or maybe a bite of an energy bar.  Last week I stopped and I tried to take my gum out and dispose of it in paper.  I opened my mouth too wide and it fell on the ground.  No….I didn’t pick it up.  I didn’t have the proper packaging because I messed it up with the gel pack and I…well damn I just didn’t want to get my hands sticky.  I’m sorry people of the good hood.  This week I dropped a plastic bag, while riding, in the same location.  I carry a bag for garbage (see I’m responsible!) but no I didn’t stop to pick it up.  I did pick it up the next time around.  Oh and yes, I took some selfies.  I can only imagine what the neighbors are saying as they look out the window drinking their morning coffee, “George, there’s that woman again!  And…and she’s dropping her gum, now a selfie!  I knew we should have voted yes at the home association meeting for the community gate!”

Once I hit mile 58 things began to go downhill.  My goal for this week was 65 miles and I fell just shy of that with 61.72.  I was making my final round when I stopped to cross a street.  Once I unclipped and put my right leg down I had the worst cramp in my right quad.  I have Never had a cramp in my quad and nothing that bad.  When I looked at my leg there was a huge mass right above the knee.  At first I thought I had done something much worse but it wasn’t the pain of a pulled muscle.  But the pain overtook my whole body.  I literally had to lay the bike down.  After a few minutes I was able to cross the street and again just stood there until the pain passed.  Per the Mayo Clinic online:  http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/muscle-cramp/symptoms-causes/dxc-20186052

Symptoms and causes of muscle cramps

Symptoms

Most muscle cramps develop in the leg muscles, particularly in the calf. Besides the sudden, sharp pain, you might also feel or see a hard lump of muscle tissue beneath your skin.

Causes

Overuse of a muscle, dehydration, muscle strain or simply holding a position for a prolonged period can cause a muscle cramp. In many cases, however, the cause isn’t known.

Although most muscle cramps are harmless, some may be related to an underlying medical condition, such as:

  • Inadequate blood supply. Narrowing of the arteries that deliver blood to your legs (arteriosclerosis of the extremities) can produce cramp-like pain in your legs and feet while you’re exercising. These cramps usually go away soon after you stop exercising.
  • Nerve compression. Compression of nerves in your spine (lumbar stenosis) also can produce cramp-like pain in your legs. The pain usually worsens the longer you walk. Walking in a slightly flexed position — such as you would use when pushing a shopping cart ahead of you — may improve or delay the onset of your symptoms.
  • Mineral depletion. Too little potassium, calcium or magnesium in your diet can contribute to leg cramps. Diuretics — medications often prescribed for high blood pressure — also can deplete these minerals.

Risk factors

Factors that might increase your risk of muscle cramps include:

  • Age. Older people lose muscle mass, so the remaining muscle can get overstressed more easily.
  • Dehydration. Athletes who become fatigued and dehydrated while participating in warm-weather sports frequently develop muscle cramps.
  • Pregnancy. Muscle cramps also are common during pregnancy.
  • Medical conditions. You might be at higher risk of muscle cramps if you have diabetes, or nerve, liver or thyroid disorders.

Damn…age..no they didn’t!

Anyway, it passed quickly and I felt fine after five minutes.  Didn’t even need a nap that day.  I completed 80.99 miles this week!

Bam!  I finished October with 310.44 miles for the month.  7385.24 miles remaining!  Blessed and grateful.  Happy Miles to You!

week-8-long-ride

 

 

Mileage Recap ~ Week 7 Century Ride Training…The Ricky Ride.

Week 7 officially means I’m past the half-way point training for the El Tour de Tucson.  If you’ve ever trained for a race (any race), what would you say is the hardest aspect to the whole process?  For me, it’s time.  There never seems to be enough of time.  I’m getting antsy just thinking about the time it takes to train.  It’s jubilant and annoying all at the same time for me.  The excitement of getting out there and achieving more miles, than the stress of other crap I have to do on the weekend.  Plus, as we speak I still need to wash my bike.  Saturday’s are pretty much a wash for me.  I get up early, do the ride then just relax and do little things.  Or at least that’s my excuse!  Then Sunday I do what I have to do.  #whatever #stopwhining

whateverDon’t want to bend over that crown might fall off!

 

 

This was the first week that I used my new shoes and clips for all three rides.  I thought I would manipulate my clip on the right foot, just adjust it a little for comfort but I totally screwed up the way it was supposed to turn.  I should have turned the clip inward not outward for a more comfortable fit.  That was a very uncomfortable ride, but it was short so I just powered through.  I definitely would not recommend doing that as you can screw up your knees.  The clips are good but not very easy to release.  It takes a good bit of turning and I get nervous from time to time.  Something quick happens I’m going down.

I added another water bottle attachment to the bike this week.  I’ve only been riding with one, but last week I blew through some water.  Having two water bottles is a smart move in the desert.  I don’t have to “ration” because I don’t want to stop.  I’ve also incorporated my house as an aide station.  It’s sort of in the middle, so I can stop if I need…aide.  I had some snacks, top off with water, and needed bathroom breaks.  I wanted to make sure that I’m drinking and eating to keep my energy up.

Cycling and running are very different on the body, or at least for me.  When I ran my marathon it was tons of sweat and I burned about 2000 cals when I was through.  I wasn’t really hungry during the race at all.  Cycling is a different story.  I start to feel hunger pangs after two hours and I’m into the 2k for cal burn with these long rides…weekly.  I’m making sure I take a gel every hour, drink sips of water throughout and eat the snacks I’ve brought.

That brings us to the “snacks“.  That was a really good nutrition bar, said no one ever.  I’ve just come to the conclusion nutrition bars are just that, for nutrition and that’s it.  There is no cheesy grin like in the Mentos© commercials.  Hey that was an awesome chia bar dude! So, I have decided I may try my own pomade of power snacks.

mentos

 

 

 

 

Bacon.  Bacon dipped in some type of power powder, dipped in chocolate.  You think I’m kidding…I bought two packs of Applewood smoked bacon today…hmmmm.

By now you’re probably wondering…who is Ricky.  This is Ricky:

rickyI was at my second stop eating (I use that term loosely a 2nd Surge Gel™ when out of the blue…Ricky was just there.  He just came up and started talking…really fast.  The conversation started off with him saying gettin’ some miles in…then after that it was a blur.  Ricky was talking so fast I had to count my gel packs to see if he downed one without me looking.  He’s been climbing these hills for 66 years! (He said he was 70).  All, I got out of that was he lived there before anything was built and that he was a fighter and he kicked someone’s ass.  I asked him if I could take his picture.  He was sweet as molasses… if you could understand him.  Here’s to you Ricky, keep on rolling.  I slowly got on my bike and pedaled away and left Ricky to attack those mountains.

Training takes dedication and planning.  I am a planner.  I think I like figuring out how I’m going to complete the training as much as training itself.  I make charts and track my progress. The process of getting up and that first initial thought of what lies ahead of you.  There is a pang of nervousness and a feeling of being overwhelmed that must be pushed aside.  Isn’t that how we live our lives in other aspects too?  An overwhelming task before us and the struggle to meet, attack and complete that task.  Mental mountains.  I open my garage and this is what I see:

week-7-morningDarkness.  A beautiful moon, some stars, and the place I hang my hat at this moment in time.  I take a deep breath, knowing I have four hours ahead of me.  There is that quick glimpse of…how to accomplish this task?  How will I do this?  How do I complete this monumental task before me.  Then I throw my leg over the bike…and I don’t fall down.  Whew, this morning is starting off positive.

Surprisingly I felt pretty good on this ride.  I have passed some major mental battles of distance and clock watching.  I know where I am on the route with time and distance.  Around three hours in I felt a little delirious.  I popped my third gel and I felt better and finished strong.  Four hours looked like this:

week-7-long-ride

Pace was the same as last week!  Thought that was interesting.  Finished 71.94 for the week and 7466.23 miles gratefully waiting.  Happy Miles to You!

 

 

Mileage Recap ~ Week 6 Century Training

The week is already over?  It appears that I am experiencing some serious ground hog day syndrome.    Meaning, work during the week, then my long ride on Saturday, a weekend that blows by and I’m up doing it again.  That is definitely where I am at this moment.  There is no sleeping in either.  I have four….yes four cats.  No, I’m not a crazy cat lady, at least not yet.  But would that really be a bad thing?  Living with four cats means, you do not sleep in…at all.  I’ve never been one to sleep in as a child or of course the US Army.  To me sleeping in is about 0600.  If you ever catch me sleeping in until 0800 then there must have been some serious shenanigans happening the night before.

I was extra proud of myself this Saturday as I got up at 0500 and out the door by 0600.  It’s dark at that time in Phoenix now, but I can’t let that stop me.  I purchased a new light for my bike.  It is obnoxiously bright.  So bright if you look at it too long you feel sick.

I know there are some women who love bright shiny things.  I have never really been one of those gals.  Sure, I like beautiful things, but give me gear or books.  If I had a choice I would spend my money on cycling (or running) gear and the rest of it in the book store.  This segways into the fact I needed new shoes.  The cycling shoes I started with were great, but I think they could have been a half size larger.  Now that I’m putting in a lot of miles I can really feel it in my feet.  Here are my new shoes:

new-shoes shoesSee how they sparkle! My heart just skips a beat and there are diamonds inside!  One interesting aspect of this purchase is the clips.  For seasoned cyclists this may seem basic, but I didn’t have a good clip on the other shoe.  This one is broader and will be better for me.  Of course with new shoes and clips I found out the pedals I had wouldn’t support the new clips and I had to buy new pedals.  I tell ya, every time I walk into Global Bikes® I spend money.  But here they are and they are so pretty.  What do you think I should call them?

On the advice of a friend I decided to try some new gels.  I purchased Accel ™ from Pacific Health Labs – Link here: http://www.pacifichealthlabs.com/.

accel-gelsReview:  Overall I’m pleased with my first purchase.  When you visit the site they have protein powders and some other products for sale.  It was a good selection of products and not so much choice where you feel overwhelmed looking through the site.  It was simple and easy to order and the price is great.  I ordered a box of ten assorted gels and a box of 2nd Surge gels (6ea).  It arrived fairly quickly and if you really need it fast then of course you can pay more for postage.  One thing about gels, for me at least, is the texture, overly sweet and sometimes a little nausea that follows after I eat one.  I love sweets, but I don’t like that sticky, syrupy sweet stuff.  Which is hard to get away from with gels.  These are not as sweet or viscous.  I also didn’t get that little pang of nausea that sometimes happens after taking a gel.  I did feel a burst of energy and there was no crash.  General overview – I liked them better than the Gu ™ gel.  I used two gels on my long ride, one regular then the 2nd surge on an hourly basis and felt a constant energy flow with no crashing no nausea.  I will definitely try them again – you should give them a shot.

This week I had two 9 mile rides during the week and then my long ride on Saturday.  As I mentioned before, I was out of the house by 0615 and the goal was to ride for 3.5 hours.  I was hoping that being out at that time there would be less traffic, but I was surprised that quite a few people were out.  A combination of “getting away for the weekend” and most likely errands for most.  Douche bag level alert was high. Drivers were in no mood for cyclists and had to get things done.  I was honked, buzzed and cut in front of….what’s that you say…yes the f bomb was dropped.  It seems to roll so eloquently off the tongue in this situation.  What?!  I try to behave, but sometimes it’s really just too much.  It’s usually someone sipping their latte and on the phone or going to a garage sale.

I felt really good on this ride.  I didn’t have any of the mental obstacles I did the week before, I wasn’t clock watching (as much) and I’m covering more miles faster.  My pace was 13.4 this week, up from 12.7 and 13.1 weeks before.  I’m not too worried about pace.  Almost everyone I discuss cycling with is all about the speed.  I will submit that’s a great goal to get faster but I’m more concerned about distance and completion.  Those have always been my primary goals.

A nice bike shot.

A nice bike shot.

week-6-ride-selfie

I know I don’t look too happy here…but I am. I also just texted my Dad to wish him a happy 73rd birthday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My long ride this week was 48.39!  Another new first!  Grateful!  The weather was cooler than last week and I think this helped me.

week-6-long-ride

The mileage for this week came to 67.60 miles.  Feeling good and ready for next week’s challenge of 4 hours.  Total miles completed 3776.83 with 7538.34 remaining.  I can’t wait…every mile is an adventure.  Happy Miles To You!