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The Dual Sufferfest

So I had brilliant plans for my weekend. I was going to ride my bike lots and lots, run errands, catch up on sleep, do some cooking and generally enjoy the end of my first week back at work.


Sufferfest Part I:

Friday night began and ended with food poisoning or a 24-hour stomach virus — still a little fuzzy on the cause — that left me with no sleep and a really miserable body. I haven’t been sick like that in a long, LONG time, and it was beyond horrible. Laying completely immobile in bed was the only thing I could handle, which completely shot my hopes of getting a 90-plus mile ride in with the team. And it was all I could do to press refresh on my laptop to watch this girl and this girl finish killer races at Richmond and these ladies rock their marathon debuts. Most of my Saturday was spent mindlessly watching kid movies on Netflix and dozing in and out to make up for a sleepless night. I really just wanted my mom to come and make it all better.

Sufferfest Part II:

By late Saturday I was feeling better — hungry, even — thanks to some killer drugs and a few naps. My whole weekend wouldn’t be wasted! I still had Sunday!

I woke up that morning after the greatest night’s sleep I’ve ever had and was totally ready to ride my bike. The weather was beautiful, and I was planning to meet a few members of the women’s team for an “endurance pace” ride. Totally reasonable. I managed to eat a bowl of Cheerios and rally to head out the door and ride the six miles to our Georgetown meeting spot. And for awhile I felt great — keeping up, staying comfortable, loving my bike.

Thennnnnnnnn mile 30. I knew at this point it was going to get ugly. I considered turning around but was promised we only had a short lollipop loop left. So I bonked. HARD. The sum total of my food intake in 36 hours was 300 calories of Cheerios. I had two protein bars with me, but it was either bonk or throw up. I chose what seemed like the lesser of two evils at the time. And so for 20 more miles, I dug deeper into that hole. There were hills. We were moving a little faster than I wanted to. I couldn’t even stay on a wheel. And I really wanted off my damn bike.

We ran into one of the guys on the team along McArthur as we headed back into town, and he (very nicely, I truly do mean that) was trying to coach me into staying in our little paceline. Unfortunately, that wasn’t really a priority for me. I just wanted to shout “I NEED TO BACK OFF. PLEASE, LET ME SLOW DOWN!” I already felt bad that the group had waited for me at a few of the turns, and I’d even considered stopping to get my act together and just letting them go ahead. Feeling like a child didn’t help. In any other situation I would have appreciated and welcomed any and all feedback and assistance — that’s why I joined, right? — but my mental game had spiraled down as quickly as my physical strength.

The solo ride on the trail back to Alexandria was even worse. The wind was crazy strong — whitecaps on the Potomac, anyone? — and I was moving at, oh, 8-10mph? And hurting with every pedal stroke. I actually considered how long it would take me if I just got off my bike and walked. I was tempted to throw the bike into the river. And/or call Katie crying to come and get me. When I finally walked in the door, my entire body was shaking and I looked like death.

So don’t bother telling me I’m an idiot. I know. I’ve never actually bonked before — although I came pretty damn close during that 119 degree Memorial Day century — and so I couldn’t appreciate how it would affect me and how much it would hurt. And man, did it ever hurt. And now I know that it’s real, and despite all my bad nutrition habits from the past and the fact that I miraculously managed to escape it, I’m not immune.

I also came to the conclusion that yes, I do need a break.  I did not want to be on my bike even a little bit for most of that ride, and while a lot of that was due to my poor fueling choices, some of the frustration was also out of a desire to be doing something different with my afternoon. It’s very hard to go from training twice a day to being okay with multiple rest days in a week or just doing yoga or a quick strength session. But in the end it’ll be better for my mental game when I actually need to be out at the track or riding long if I’ve rested. Not to say I won’t do a few fun holiday races or some team rides if the weather’s nice or check out a few CAR training sessions (!!!), but I’ll also be down with skipping out or changing my mind partway through or just failing to plan anything at all. Exercise to stay healthy and in shape > sport-specific training. Sounds brilliant, right?

How was your weekend? Less painful than mine?



15 thoughts on “The Dual Sufferfest

  1. I don’t think you are dumb for Sunday, it can be hard to gauge just how recovered you are post-illness. It sounds like the kind of sufferfest that just isn’t productive, as opposed to the kind that you know is helping you improve, which is really crappy.

    But I’m glad I provided you some entertainment on Saturday.

    Posted by Victoria (District Chocoholic) | November 14, 2011, 5:28 PM
  2. Aw, that sounds terrible! A mental break is an excellent idea. You can go for a run if you feel like it. Or not. And it won’t matter one bit. Then after a month you’ll be craving the structure and challenge of hard workouts again.

    Yay for coming out to CAR workouts! Maybe I’ll even show up a time or two in the winter!!

    Posted by Beth | November 14, 2011, 5:36 PM
  3. Glad you are feeling better! Thats pretty badass of you to attempt such a ride after being laid up like that in bed with food poisoning!

    Posted by Jon | November 14, 2011, 6:00 PM
  4. I heard about the potential of CAR workouts this weekend…I’m so excited! Now I can chase your crazy fastness in person instead of just virtually 🙂

    Thanks for cheering on Saturday and hope you’re feeling better!

    Posted by amy | November 14, 2011, 6:01 PM
  5. I can’t believe I didn’t ask you how you were feeling. I’m a monster.

    Posted by lizard151 | November 14, 2011, 8:03 PM
  6. i hope you are feeling better! yes, take a break. do some yoga. do some push ups. cook some food. i say do what you want, when you want for a few weeks. thats the whole point of the off season! 🙂 I plan to learn how to snowboard!

    Posted by Lauren | November 14, 2011, 8:19 PM
  7. Glad you are on the mend!

    I can’t tell you the number of weekends I have had where going into it, I had grandiose plans of a super long bike ride only to want off of my bike after an hour.

    Posted by Kevin | November 14, 2011, 8:22 PM
  8. So sorry you had a rotten start to the weekend. That ride sounded rough! Hope you are feeling better. I feel ya on the struggle between wanting to train and needing an off season. I made myself take some mandatory time away from traditional training and while it was hard for me, I actually ended up discovering a lot of great cross training – Bikram Yoga, Barre classes, and TRX training. I’m still throwing in some races here and there for fun, but am trying to look at the bigger picture of things I want to accomplish in the 2012 season. I don’t want to be mentally burnt out when it really counts so I’m trying to slowly build my triathlon training back up and not forcing myself on my bike or out the door for a run. You just did an Ironman and that fitness will not disappear if you let yourself have a couple weeks of more relaxed working out. Rest up and hope you are feeling better soon!

    Posted by triathletestrials | November 14, 2011, 9:54 PM
  9. Ever since my tri season ended in September, I’ve been having the same adjustment issue: how to go from training twice a day/6 days a week to “only” 5 or 6 workouts a week? It’s hard not to feel like you’re short-changing yourself or not doing enough. We just have to remember – like you said – that there is a difference between exercising for health and training for a sport. It’s OK to dial back the training from time to time. Good luck with your off-season!

    Posted by Emily (@TriRunner302) | November 14, 2011, 10:52 PM
  10. That bike ride sounded like a big suffer fest… I hope you are feeling much better now.

    Posted by Sarah | November 15, 2011, 11:01 AM
  11. Ugh – I hate those weekends. Welcome to Alexandria! If you ever want riding company, I’m right off 4 mile run/Mt. Vernon. All this CAR talk has me quite interested as well…

    Posted by Sarah | November 15, 2011, 11:21 AM
  12. you SHOULD have called me! stubborn little wench, next time I will come and get you with a smoothie.

    Posted by katie | November 15, 2011, 12:28 PM
  13. That sounds painful. Enjoy your off season. Don’t rush back. 🙂 And come to more CAR workouts!

    Posted by Allison | November 15, 2011, 3:06 PM
  14. yikes. i’m so sorry — that doesn’t sound like a fun weekend at all. hope you’re feeling better by now. and cheers to the off-season — we all need a little mental and physical break sometimes to recharge.

    as for the marathon, i’m already ready for #2. how is it that something so painful can be so darn addicting?

    Posted by Isabel | November 15, 2011, 8:21 PM
  15. Just reading about that post-30-mile-marker adventure makes me feel tired…O-u-c-h. Glad you made it through, and sort of amazed by the ‘feat! But yeah, healthy exercise > the sufferfest type. 😉

    My weekend was much less painful – a 10 mi run w/ the Saturday group and Sunday spent touring some of my DC hoods on foot.

    Posted by Heather C | November 16, 2011, 7:52 AM

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