Saturday, June 4, 2011

How it went down

Saturday: Bike 100 miles

Mile 0.01: I glance at my odometer and calculate that I'm exactly 1/10,000th of the way done. I remind myself that that way madness lies and swear not to look at my odometer again for at least 10 miles.

Mile 5: I spend several minutes contemplating why "20 five-mile segments" sounds so much easier than "five 20-miles segments." The scenery soon gets better and I stop torturing myself with mathematics.

Mile 9: I become aware of my bladder.

Miles 11-16: I hold an internal argument. Do I stop and pee on the side of the road (appalling thought, but it is the middle of nowhere) or try to tough it out until my planned pit stop at mile 50? Every time I see a promising clump of trees, a car also appears, and I just can't make myself do it.

Mile 21: I'm no longer in the middle of nowhere, but because of its superiority to wetting myself, the side of the road no longer seems appalling. I stop and wade into a semi-sheltered clump of brambles, and miraculously, no cars come by.

Mile 22: I begin to notice that the Montana landscape on a lovely day in early June has qualities other than those related to its suitability to be peed on. I catch up on fluids, which I've barely touched for 10 miles.

Mile 23: I stop to remove a twig from my biking shorts.

Mile 50: I stop at home, use the bathroom again, reload on fluids, do a spot check for spots I missed with sunscreen (negative), and a check for more brambles in my pants (positive). I notice that my eyes are quite red but assume it's nothing to be concerned about.

Mile 60: I note smugly that I've already done more than a half-Ironman's worth of biking and I'm still well within my comfort zone.

Mile 61: I become aware of my back.

Miles 71-74: I go through a section of road absolutely lined with lilacs, and breathe deep of my favorite smell in the—OH MY GOODNESS IS SOMEBODY GRILLING HOT DOGS?? I have a new favorite smell.

Mile 84: It's officially my longest bike ride ever, and I feel great. Well, my back could feel better, but it's not doing the actual pedaling, so I can cope.

Mile 90: "90 miles, yesssss!" Uh-oh. Did I say that out loud? It's never a good sign when I start talking to myself. But it least it took me 90 miles to get to this point.

Miles 92-93: I go up the last climb of any significant size, zig-zagging across both lanes the entire way because a) it's fun, b) it makes it a bit less steep, c) there's no traffic anyway, and d) it's possible I'm getting a bit loopy.

Mile 95: I start singing the "Sesame Street" theme song out loud, because it has the words "A-OK" in it, and that's how I'm feeling. Definitely loopy. Are we there yet?

Mile 100: Heck, yeah, we are!

At home: My husband notices that my eyes are completely bloodshot and my face is starting to swell up. Since I am prone to DYING from anaphylaxis, we are both concerned. Benadryl, while it technically prevents death, makes me want to kill myself, so I take a Zyrtec and cross my fingers, but keep the Benadryl handy. An hour later, I still feel lousy, so I take a tiny dose of Benadryl. I read on the couch for another two hours, vaguely aware that I'm too woozy to get up. Eventually I go up to my office and find the strength to blog my mixed feelings about the adventure, which are as follows:

On the one hand, that went great. The ride took six hours and 40 minutes (average speed 14.9 mph); I think I got down nearly 2,000 calories without getting sick; and once I walked around a bit to get the kinks out of my back, I definitely felt like I could have run. On the other hand, random allergic reactions obviously make me feel extremely vulnerable. I for sure didn't eat any celery (unless they're putting it in Cheerios now), so I'm hoping it was related to all the sagebrush out there, which Coeur d'Alene is not going to have. But of course it could simply be exercised-induced, which means it's completely out of my hands.

Nice. I completely put to rest any worry about my ability to do the bike leg, and a brand new worry appears 10 seconds later.


  1. You're really something, congratulations. I actually started a new twitter account today, and at 6:11 PM my time, my first tweet was: "Sunny day, sweepin' the clouds away. On my way to where the air is sweet! Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street?" A very unconscious parallel...sweet! AK

  2. Good job! Hmmmm, on a slightly related note - I think these really long rides just basically knock out all normal self-protective functions in the body! Your allergy was probably sagebrush, and it is just not usually what you would be doing, namely breathing huge amounts of air over almost 7 hours! I ended up with a RIDICULOUS electrolyte-drink-related chafing injury after my last long ride that can only be put down in the same sort of 'strange but true, and we will hope it never happens again' column!

  3. Good job! Red eyes sound to me like environmental allergies, not death allergies.

  4. Christine, I was more concerned about the facial swelling that started the minute I stopped exercising, a typical reaction for me! What I'm hoping (I guess) is that the trigger was sagebrush+exercise, not just exercise by itself.

    Jenny, yeah, and the scary thing is the mind goes, too! It's easy to see why people might make stupid mistakes in an Ironman.

    AK, must be the "we're finally having a nice day" connection! It was so beautiful here, and I think you had the same.

  5. Awesome job!! I'm thoroughly impressed with the number of miles you put up week in and week out.

    Keep it up!!!

  6. Why are you so sure that there is no sage brush in Coeur d'Alene? There are in Spokane and it's not all that far away. Just concerned.

  7. Aunt B, the bike course is mostly through populated areas and around lakes. I don't know that it will have none, but I can guarantee it's a lot less than where I was riding. Not that I'm not still concerned. After all this, I'll have my epipen on me during the race for sure.