confessions from an olympic tri…

Today was the first Olympic distance triathlon of the season for me (.93 mile swim, 24.8 mile bike and a 10k run) – it’s a little late in the training program (I think technically it was supposed to be last week or the week before to fit ‘perfectly’, but c’est la vie!) I’ve covered the distances in training, obviously, but today was truth time. So, confession time. What did we learn? How did it go?

1) First and foremost, I must confess that I was not really excited about this race. My hubby was also supposed to do the race and he had to work so I was on my own and I was really tempted to bail on the race also. It was a 3+hour drive away and an overnight stay because there was no packet pickup this morning. In some sense of the word, it was a victory for me that I even showed up!

the calm before the storm…

2) The swim was pretty rough, choppy and at times almost violent, which is NOT something I remember from this race last time. I puzzled over this throughout the rest of the race – I think it may have something to do with the fact that I’ve aged up to the next age group. Last time I did the race, I was 29 – in the first wave of the Olympic distance with only the half ironman-ers in front by about 15 minutes. This year, at the ripe old age of 31, I had to wait for everyone in the half-iron group (still well ahead of us, but I did pass a few struggling stragglers towards the end of the .93 miles) AND I had all of my wave PLUS the first wave to fight through. The water was choppy. People were all over the place and there was seemingly no end to watching out for feet, elbows and fists. This is not something that I snobby ex-pool-only swimmer likes to see. Whether being in a different age group made the different or not, I added a couple – 2 or 3- minutes to my swim time from 2010, which I was bummed about because, ironically, I’ve been swimming a heck of a lot more this year than back then. Confession: I was/am(?) a little concerned that I’ve been swimming and somehow gotten s-l-o-w-e-r.

(trying to) swim in the crowd

3) As you may have gathered from #2, I’m a front of the middle pack or maybe back to middle of of the front pack swimmer, depending on the crowd. What’s the confession here? It’s this: the benefit of being good in the water is not really not a benefit at all – you get to hop on your bike early and be passed by people who say well-intentioned but ultimately funny and demoralizing things like “Good swim…” and leave the “too bad you’re not a better biker” hanging in the air. I know, I think so too. I even heard a guy in the water before the start talking about how he never worked on his swim because he just didn’t see it as an advantage. Now now. You may blow by me in a few minutes, but I’ll put money on the fact that I’m probably less frazzled and winded from the first leg. But I digress.

C’mon climbers!

4) Ok, this is maybe the confession that concerns me the most with a 70.3 looming: Sadly, my climbers are not what they should be on the bike. Biking is definitely my weakest link and while I’m slowlybecoming a better biker with time and practice, I find I don’t push myself as hard as I do when I’m running or swimming. I think it has to do with the fact that I associate biking with casual rides around the neighborhood as a kid. You know, relaxed. Carefree. Not grimacing, sweating, legs and lungs burning kind of biking. Nothing quite like race day to make you put the pedal to the metal, really push yourself to try to compete with the fools that are flying past you like you’re standing still (even though your bike computer insists you’re moving at what you feel is a respectable clip). Fortunately for me, today’s course was rolly, but not hilly. Twenty-five miles of really pushing it and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was a little concerned about how well I’d hold up and how much gas I’d have when I hit the run. Plus, my knees have been hurting on higher cadence rides and I definitely noticed it today when I climbed off. But fortunately once I was on the ground it went away. (Note to self – probably oughta get that straightened out, wouldn’t you say?)

5) I forced myself to eat and fuel all day. Forced is the operative word here. I hate eating in the morning, but I had a banana and a bar and a bunch of water before I swam, three gels on the bike and one on the run. Lots and lots and lots of water. Other than the gross queasy feeling I had before the swim (which could definitely be attributed to the fact that my stomach deemed it too early to be accepting food and also to the fact that I was ready to just get this thing going already), and a brief moment around mile 18 on the bike where my stomach reminded me how hard it is to digest folded over bike handlebars (I spent a few minutes sitting upright), I felt good. Hm. No confession here, I suppose.

6) Last time I did this race, I thought I was going to die of heat exhaustion. I’m not gonna lie – this was really a big concern of mine for this year as well. To combat this, even though I really didn’t want to, I carried a water bottle with me and every water stop (there were 4 or 5, I believe), a cup of water went on my head and neck and I drank or filled my bottle with the other. In between stops, I made sure I was keeping my head cool and drinking a lot. I felt a lot better about the run this year than I did last time, that’s for sure. And I think I was able to shave a few seconds off of my last run time for the course as well.

7) Lastly, triathlons continually remind me to be humble. I try to be supportive, talk it up on the race course and encourage people. But in every race there is someone, maybe a few someones who (in a moment of judgy-ness or jealousy or poor sportsmanship or whatever you want to call it) “have no business being in front of me”. I’m not proud of it. Yet, there they are. And they’re there, in front of you for a reason. Maybe they’ve put in more work. Maybe they’re more determined because they’ve seen more adversity and overcome more so they’re stronger. Maybe this is their life’s dream and for you its simply a training run. Maybe they are there to motivate you to stick with it or kick it in at the end. Still others may be there to remind you to be gracious and thankful for the skills and abilities you have. Or maybe they’re there to remind you to be inspired by the people around you.

Today, around mile 5, maybe closer to 5 1/2, a gentleman who I knew had been with me for a while finally picked up his pace, ran up beside me and said “Hello, how are you doing?” I said “I”m great, beautiful day” or something to that extent. He smiled, commented on what a nice pace I have (he should know, he’d been hanging out in it for a while), and then sped off, beating me to the finish line by more than a handful of seconds. And as he ran off, I noticed the numbers on his calf read: 6-8. Man. Sixty-eight years old and still rockin’. I just smiled and shook my head, I picked up my pace but I wasn’t going to catch him. Mr. 68, you are my hero for the day. You reminded me to smile and be happy with the day and to be inspired by the journey that others are on. I can only hope that 37 years from now I’m still able to do this with a smile on my face.

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on heat and hydration…

I have such a love-hate relationship with July. And mid to late summer events, for that matter. There’s no doubt that the start of actual summer-like weather makes training and triathlons easier in a lot of ways. It’s a pretty safe bet that from now until October, I will probably not have to worry about planning a training workout around rain or otherwise foul weather (I did say probably…).

Here in the Inland Northwest, we generally have 2-4 weeks of really, truly HOT weather. The number of times we break 100 degrees can usually be counted on one hand. But our hot weather has come early this year – a week ago, we jumped straight from 70 to 95 in a matter of two days and haven’t dipped below the mid 90s since. Not that I should complain. I’ve been more than ready for sunshine and blue skies for MONTHS. But I digress.

Most reasonable people spend these scorching days submerged in water – floating lazily in an inner tube down one of our rivers or on one of the many lakes. Me, I have the distinct (mis?)fortune of being in the midst of training for a summertime 70.3 Those of you doing the same or something similar know that when these hot days come, we must spend the time acclimating ourselves. Because lord knows, come race day, it’ll be 95 degrees out and we’ll have no choice but to deal with it. Better to give our bodies the chance to get used to it.

Saturday was a scorcher and that is an understatement. Seriously. And from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. I was out in it. During the nearly 3 hours I spent on the bike, I was thankful that I had remembered to apply sunscreen on my arms and face. But I still got a mild sunburn on the side of my thighs, adding to my rockin’ bike shorts tan lines. Note to self: remember to apply sunscreen before the race and stash at transition area for “just in case”.

I’m working on fine tuning my on-the-bike nutrition and always have to make a conscious effort to eat, eat, eat when I’m on the bike. Note to self: make sure that whatever you bring to refuel is tolerable when it’s warmed up! Some gels are really pretty gross when they’re warmed to 90 degrees… but some are ok – apple cinnamon flavored Hammer Gels taste like warm apple pie! And espresso flavored GUs also seem pretty normal at 90 degrees… I guess because coffee is often served warm so the temperature matches the flavor. Or something.

Bicycle water bottle

Bicycle water bottle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And then of course there’s the issue of hydration. As you all know, the hotter it is, the more you sweat, the more you need to replenish – both fluids and electrolytes. On hot training days, I really have to make sure I’m carrying enough water. Or that I have a plan for refilling often enough. I drink quite a bit cause I’m a big sweater… so I need to have quite a bit of water on hand or a lot of planned water stops. The problem with carrying it all is, of course, making sure you have enough water bottle holders on your bike (or you could carry a Camelbak or some sort of hydration pack) and also that the water will heat up the longer that you’re out. The other day when I was out, I was definitely drinking really warm water, which makes me not really want to drink it. Race day is generally a different story with water stations, but it’s definitely something to think about. Note to self – try this: freeze some water bottles the night before the race. Stash them at transition and pull them out at T1 and T2 (depending on how hot and how long the race is).  And also, find some better insulated water bottles. Pronto.

photo from: guysandgoodhealth.com

Post bike/post run, basically as soon as I stopped moving, sweat just poured off of me. How the heck was I going to cool down? The last late July race I did, I jumped back into the lake following the run and sat until I could get my core temperature back to normal. Fortunately, there was a river alongside the trail I was riding and running on, so immediately after I finished running, off came the shoes, the tunes and the sunglasses and into the river I went. I sat and I floated and I cooled off. No better way in the world to do it. Note to self: pack a cooler with a post workout water bottle! And only work out near cool rivers and lakes!

Just a few things to think about…after this weekend and also after today’s toasty midday run, I’m reminded that hydration issues can definitely derail my race day. So as much as I’d prefer to skip the midday 90+ degree workouts, practicing and adjusting my race day strategies and hydration has to be part of the training plan. For a few more weeks, anyway.Do you have any special tricks for dealing with the summer heat?

Race recap: sprint tri #1

6:30 a.m., hubby’s alarm goes off.

6:39ish – hubby’s alarm goes off again. SNOOZE. C’mon!

6:48ish – hubby’s alarm goes off and he rolls out of bed to start getting ready. I roll over and doze off again.

7:00ish – my alarm goes off, and I finally get up. Swimsuit under sweats and a beanie. Sandals, no socks. Old swim team habit.

7:20ish – start loading up all of the gear we’d packed up the night before (so as not to forget anything as I’m wont to do early in the a.m.)

7:27ish – eat a PB&J I had prepared the night before. Force feeding myself is always part of race day. I need to fuel, my stomach, full of nerves and not much of a first thing in the a.m. eater anyways, never agrees with me and my brain’s awareness of the fact that I will need my energy before too long. Thus, the force feeding.

7:35ish – jump in the car…and take off. Surprisingly, no “turn around, I forgot ________!”

7:55ish – arrive at event parking. Hubby glances at temperature gauge (clearly a mistake). It reads 47. Push hubby out of the car into the cold. Quickly close the door as to keep all of the cold air out there. Hunker down in the passenger seat as he makes faces at me… just kidding, I didn’t lock him out of the car in the cold.

8:05ish – bikes off of the car, pump up the tires, port gear to transition area. Wish for a sherpa or a horse or a wagon or something. (Ok, ok, I’m being dramatic. It’s not that far, but still…)

8:12ish – arrive at transition area at the same time as all other athletes. 33 minutes till pre-race meeting, announcements and instructions. Wander through transition looking for the “just right” bike rack to suit our needs. Begin unloading all the gear with fingers crossed that we didn’t forget anything crucial.

8:25ish – Gear’s unpacked, bike’s on the rack. Off to find volunteers with ginormous permanent markers who will write race numbers on your left bicep and your age on your left calf. (More on that later)

8:25ish – On the hunt for a portapotty… preferably a clean one, without any significant lines. Success, relatively quickly. Good news. It’s a quick stop. Bump into someone else I know, she sporting booties. Man, in hindsight that seems like SUCH a good idea… too late now. We exchange well wishes and head back to the transition area.

8:35ish – People are beginning to squirm into their wetsuits. Some people are even in the water. Hmmmm. Maybe time to start thinking about that… then someone stops by to say hi. We chat for a few minutes about – what else – the water temperature and we swap suggestions on how to brace for the cold. Oh heck, there’s no big secret. Ya just gotta get in. Lots of whispering of numbers – all seem to be in the low 50s. Are they talking temperature?! Someone mentions peeing. Sure. A nice temporary warmth.

8:40ish – ok, wetsuit time. I hope it still fits… squirm squirm squirm… there’s no good way to do this. Zip and stretch. No body glide used this time… I don’t remember if I should have used it or not so here’s hoping not!

8:45ish – time for a Gu. Espresso flavored. Wash it down with water. Race director (or maybe it’s just the announcer guy) is talking constantly now. Who knows what he’s saying. I think he’s calling the white caps to the beach to start – hubby’s in the first wave.

8:52ish – walk with hubby down to the water’s edge. He puts on a brave smile, gives me a kiss and jumps in, prepared to meet his maker, from the looks of his face.

9:00 – white caps are off to the races, including hubby. I don’t see him bailing for shore right away so I take that as a good sign. So far so good.

9:09ish, or maybe 9:12ish – Lots of folks in full wetsuits. Plenty of people with booties and neoprene swim caps. And a couple in straight up speedos and nothing else. I see two girls in bikini tops and briefs – certifiably crazy, all of them. I jump into the lake to get ready for my own wave start… Holy $@%#!*$^! New personal goal  for today – break world record for ½ mile swim. Get out as quickly as possible! I already can’t feel my feet and my hands. My chest is constricted and I’m trying so hard not to hyperventilate.

The Swim (.5 miles):
Too soon, I hear “GO!” and we’re off. I quickly find my way towards the outside of the group, desperately trying to control and calm my breathing while avoiding a foot, fist or elbow to the face. The downside to swedish goggles is that if I take a hit to the goggles, I’ll probably need stitches. At least it’ll give me a good excuse to get out of the water early…

Soon I find myself with just 2 pink caps in sight – one right next to me and one just in front of me. We’re quickly catching the silver caps, then the red, and a few hundred yards out from pulling into the beach, some of the white cap stragglers.

Transition 1:
I hear people yelling at me as I’m running out of the water towards the transition-

“Way to go!”, “Watch your step!”, and “#2!” Huh, could I have been the 2nd pink cap out of the water? I realize it may be possible. That means lots of people will be passing me now that we’re on dry land again. Being a fast swimmer isn’t all its cut out to be…

Pulling off my wetsuit  was easy enough. It was the small actions- putting on socks and shoes  – the things that required numb, frozen fingers to work that I had a hard time managing. It was a slow transition for me. Or at least it sure felt that way…

The Bike (14.4 miles):
Here’s where I realized I’ve definitely been training for an endurance distance race. 14.4 miles should be a walk in the park. I came hauling out of the gates, clipped in and quickly chugging along at 20 mph (fast for me). And I soon realize that it’s going to be a long ride if I run out of gas too quickly.

Here’s where you realize just how awful it is to have your age on your left calf… suddenly, everyone’s a target, including you. I was distinctly aware of the fact that the person in front of me for a good part of the bike was 21 – a full ten years younger than me and by gosh, I was out to prove that slightly older (more seasoned and wiser) is better (and definitely faster) than her . And on the flip side, I’m equally brutally aware of the fact that the 56 year old who just passed both me and the 21 year old like we were both standing still is older than the two of us put together. Yes, I will win my age group when I’m that old, I think to myself. You know, I’ll be retired and there won’t be anything else to worry about.

I think I held it pretty close to a 17 mph pace overall (I’m still waiting for the official results to be posted). But let me tell you, am I ever having some serious biking attitude issues. Anyway, since my bike’s been hurtin’ me for the past few weeks,I’ve been avoiding it like the plague. Not a good strategy. And it’s given me SUCH as negative attitude about biking. Yikes. So I finally went out and got a professional bike fit. Moving things around made me realize that the biking I’ve been doing has been on muscle groups ever-so-slightly different than the ones I was using during the race. Eep.

Headwinds a couple of times really made me groan to myself about how awful biking is. See what I mean? And that 21 year old was still just in front of me. I kept pace, knowing I would catch her at the end…

More headwinds, some less than fabulous pavement, but all in all relatively uneventful. I have GOT to fix my attitude! Now, buckle down and take that 21 year old! (You’ll be pleased to know I got her in the last 2 miles and improved my lead over her in the run portion as well, finishing several minutes in from of her.)

Transition 2:
Good, pretty quick. Jacket off, pull-on sleeves on. Quick swig of water and I’m off. Nothing much to say here.

The Run (5k or 3.1 miles):
I quickly realized 1) that I should have fueled more on the bike even though it was just a sprint distance. I could have used the fuel. And 2) my feet literally felt like bricks of ice. This is a strange sensation as you have no idea how your form is, how your foot is striking the pavement…plodding along.

The run is a comfortable place for me. I’ve spent a lot of time training for everything from 5Ks to a marathon, so I know what running feels like to me under all types of conditions and situations. While I’m not particularly fast, I think my experience is a strength for me come race day.

At mile marker 1, I stopped for water. I didn’t feel like I needed it, but I thought I probably hadn’t been drinking enough. I walked a few steps, drank some water, and started running again, only to have an immediate hammie cramp threat that lingered the entire run. This kept me from kicking it up a notch – not wanting to cramp and have to walk at all, I kept my pace quick, but under control.

I didn’t feel my feet until 2.5 miles into the run. They thawed slowly and strangely. But it was like magic when I finally did!

Hubby was at the finish line when I crossed, saw me come down the home stretch. I was happy to see he was smiling and that he didn’t succumb to the monsters of the deep during the swim. In fact, he was 4th in his age group without even trying.

And my final time was good enough for a 1st place age group finish.

All in all, a good race to get under our belts and a confidence booster for us both as we enter Week 13. Now all we have to do is keep training…

race day prep… warm up race #1

English: IronMan 70.3 Pucón 2009 (Start) Españ...

IronMan 70.3 Pucón 2009  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tomorrow’s the 1st race of the season… a “warm up” race that, as of this moment today promises to more chilly than anything. It’s been raining all day. Heck, it’s been raining all week. A week of wet, chilly runs and spin classes. Ugh. I don’t know what I was expecting. I may or may not have already mentioned that the vast majority of my races back in 2010 were in the cold or (and often AND) rain. Those race included multiple sprint tris, a half-Ironman distance triathlon and a full marathon run in the rain. Yes, it rained the ENTIRE 26.2 miles. Every last one of them.

Tomorrow’s tri is a brick workout in week 12 of the 70.3 training plan – we managed to time this first race perfectly. Except for the rain part. So, while the race tomorrow is just a .5 mile swim, a 14.4 mile bike and a 5K run, I will spend my evening steeling myself against the idea that I will be spending yet another few hours of my life submersed in water chillier than most normal people would tolerate, and then biking and running in 50-60 degree weather and into potentially driving, pouring rain. Hooray.

But I digress.

In the meantime, it’s prep time. Time to make sure I have all of my gear. Fortunately, the internet is chock-full of sample prep lists … what, oh what did we ever do before Google? Here’s my own preliminary version:

Swim / for the morning:

  • Warm clothes for setting up your transition area
  • Towel
  • Wetsuit
  • Swimsuit / tri suit
  • Goggles (plus an extra pair just in case)
  • Swim cap (including a neoprene cap to go under the race cap in case you’re swimming in water cold enough to freeze your noggin)
  • Baby powder for your swim cap
  • Timing chip
  • Watch
  • Body Glide, vaseline or other lube of choice – apply pre-swim and leave at transition area for shorter distances (may want to also include in bike to run transition bag if there are 2 separate transition areas)

Bike:

  • Bike
  • Bike Shoes
  • Socks
  • Bike Shorts
  • Sunglasses
  • Helmet
  • Water bottle / hydration
  • Race belt with bib # pre-attached
  • Arm warmers and leg warmers or Jacket and pants
  • Bike gloves

Run:

  • Running shoes
  • Hat or visor or headband
  • Socks
  • Water bottle

Other:

  • Snacks – bars, gels, chews, whatever you use for race day fuel (remember not to try anything new…)
  • Clothes for after the race
  • Advil or pain killers (depending on the length of the race and how prepared you are of course…less prepared=more pain killers)
  • Wet wipes – I usually have some of these or use a towel at transition that I dump water on and wipe my face off after I get off the bike. You know, to get all of the bugs off my face and outta my grill and all…

I fully expect I have forgotten something here. And I fully expect that even if I didn’t forget ANYTHING on this list, I will probably  forget something tomorrow. Hopefully it will be something really unimportant (though I’m not sure that on this list I’m willing to give up… baby powder, I guess.)

Anyway, recognizing this is the 1st race of the year and I’ve probably definitely forgotten how to do this, my other race day advice for myself and any other 1st race of the year individuals?

  • Give yourself enough time on race morning to do everything you need to do. Don’t forget to get up early enough to eat and let your stomach settle. What is that your mom always said about swimming after you ate?
  • You’ll probably have to park a little ways away and cart your stuff, so be prepared for that – bring a backpack or a gym bag or something (not like me, one of the first race I did, I just threw everything in the car and had to hand-carry it all in multiple trips back and forth from the car to the transition area. Not the recommended course of action).
  • Getting there early also means you’ll have plenty of time to set everything up so you can find it when you get out of the water and are running around like a chicken with its head cut off, trying to minimize your transition time.
  • And of course, getting there early will also mean you’ll have time to squirm and wiggle your way into your wetsuit in a more relaxed fashion. You know, with some dignity. Like the rest of us. Ha.

Good luck, have fun, and happy racing everyone!

week 8 recap…


Day What I was supposed to do… What I actually did…
Monday Rest Rest? Meh, who needs it?
Thursday’s Bike 1:20
Tuesday Bike Short Hills (1 hour, 10 minutes total with 9×1 minute hill climbs) Wednesday’s run:
47 minutes with 9x:30 sprint set with 1 minute rest
Wednesday Swim (1625 yards)Run Speed Intervals (47 minutes with 9x:30 sprint set with 1 minute rest)  Lame-o Swim Attempt – ALMOST today’s yardage… 1500 yards
Thursday Foundation Bike 1:15 Swim:2x {50 free, 50 back, 50 breast, 50 fly}4×50 scull drill

5×300 (sight 1x per 25)

2×100 Cool down

Total 2300

 

Friday’s Foundation Run:  37 minute predator run

Friday Swim / Foundation Run + Strides set REST.
Ok. I’ll admit it, I guess I do need it.
Saturday Foundation Bike 1:45 Sunday’s Brick WorkoutBike 1:15
Run 30 minutes
Sunday Swim / Brick Workout Combine Tuesday’s hill workout with Saturday’s Foundation RideBike: 2 hours of hills, hills, HILLS!

week 6 recap…

Week 6 recap:

Day What I was supposed to do…

And what I actually did…

Monday REST Rested. Well, walked. I needed the fresh air. And I needed the rest. Walking was a good compromise.
Tuesday Bike 1:15 – with 10×1 min short Hills Swim: 2200 (in place of Wednesday’s swim)400 warmup2x300 (50 kick/100 swim/50 kick/100swim), :30 rest

3×200 pull, strong effort, :20R

3×150 (50free/50 choice/50free), :20R

100 cool down

Run: 45 min predator run (negative split)

Just flip-flopped the runs and did Friday’s workout.

Wednesday Run(50 min with 12x:30 sec intervals)

Swim (1950)

Strength training (Gotta fit it in somewhere. This week it ended up bumping a swim out, but c’est la vie!)Tuesday’s Bike workout: 10×1 min hill climbs, 2 minutes active recovery, 1:15 total
Thursday Bike 1:30 Swim: 2400 (in place of Friday’s swim)600 warm up6x50 (alternate 25 drill/25 swim and 25 kick/25 swim) with :15 rest

6×50 (25 sprint/25 easy) with :20 rest

2x{4×50 fast, :30 rest /200 pull}

2×150 (50 free/50 choice/50 free) on the 3:15

100 cool down

Friday Run 50 mins with 4x:20 strides with :40 sec recovery

Swim 2000

Run: 50 min, 12x:30 with 1:30 active recoveriesWednesday’s workout!
Saturday Brick – 1:15 bike/20 run Brick – 1:30 bike/ 20 runWhen I first hopped on the bike, I could tell my legs were tired from the previous day’s sprint workout but once I warmed up it was alright.The twenty minute run was alright – still feels funny to hop off the bike and try to run. My legs didn’t feel like bricks, per se, but it was a slower run for whatever reason.
Sunday Swim (1700)

Run 40

Bike 1:00. This was supposed to make up for the Thursday 1:30 ride, but we made it out to our turnaround faster than we thought and I was BEAT and sucking wind so we called it quits early and came home to eat crepes!

 

the kindness of strangers…

As you may recall, we had quite the flat-a-palooza last weekend on our bikes. Well, as I was leaving for my brick workout today, I didn’t exactly forget about it, I wouldn’t say that… but I didn’t exactly “remember” what it had done to my flat-fixin’ supplies. You know. Spare tubes. Cartridges. Things that come in handy when you have a flat and want to be able to keep going. Things that keep you from phoning a friend and calling in a favor. Let’s just say, I was tempting fate. Or tempting flats. Foreshadowing, anyone?

The workout for the day was to be a brick workout, calling for a 1:15 bike ride followed immediately by a 20 minute run. I decided to do a 1:30 bike to make up for the 1:30 bike I had skipped earlier this week (which, I should add, was the only workout I skipped this week!).

I left the trailhead, headed west straight into a vicious headwind. Ugh. But better to have it on the way out than on the way back, I thought to myself. Not even 2 miles in, the trail, which follows the river, was completely flooded. No passage to the sides of the trail. Too chilly of a day to ride through. Fortunately, I knew of a detour that required more street travel, but would still do the trick. No big deal, I was off on my merry way.

One of the things I love about being out in the spring is seeing all of the new flowers pop up and today I saw the first of the purple silky lupines that grow on both sides of the trail, and also lots and lots of happy mule’s ears. See?

Fairly close to my turnaround point, around 40 minutes, I came across another puddle and debated my options. It was not huge and it was passable, but a couple out walking their dog informed me that another puddle lay just around the corner and the only option there was to go through it. So I opted to turn around and head back. No big deal.

Around this time, my headphones decided to poop out on me. Well, I should be more specific – the right ear pooped out the other day. Today, the left ear called it quits too. Bummer, but not the end of the world (today at least).

The rest of the trip was uneventful, until it wasn’t. As I made my way along the shoulder of the road – the detour on my way back) – I remember thinking, “I never even notice how much junk is on the road. Or maybe there’s not this much junk on the road, just in the bike lanes. Lots of land mines and potential flats in these parts, eh? Oh…. I hope I don’t get a flat… watch out for that twisted metal shrapnel looking thing…” You know the drill by now. I’m not sure what I caught, but just as I had finished that stream of thoughts, I could swear I heard a slight hissing noise. Nah, maybe my mind is playing tricks on me.

Pssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssst. Psssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssst. Psssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssst. Psssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssst.

Really? Sure enough.

And only then did it actually occur to me that this was one flat I was not going to be able to fix.

Fortunately, I had made good time and good progress. By my estimates, I was between 3-4 miles from my car. Not too far if you’re biking. Or running. But pushing a bike and walking in bike shoes, well. Doable, definitely. I mean, if you had to…

I decided to pop the tire off and switch out the tube. Knowing I had no cartridge, I was only hoping that someone would pass by and check on me. And then I would be ready.

It was my lucky day. First, having seen Jason change not one but two flats last weekend, I had recently gotten a refresher course. And second, just as I putting the tire back on the bike, a couple passed by and asked if I needed help. Me? Well… now that you mention it, I could sure use a pump if you happen to be carrying one! As we were pumping up the tire, two guys also passed by and asked if we were good.

Thank you to those kind strangers that helped me get back on the road this afternoon! While we weren’t able to get the tire fully inflated (to 120 psi – kind of hard on those little travel pumps), we were able to get it full enough for me to make it back to the car without having to walk. And I still had plenty of time to go run a couple miles. All in all, my day was better because some people I didn’t know took the time to help me. Some days it’s hard to feel good about the future of mankind, but days like today really make you appreciate the camaraderie of sports and the generosity of others.

And I promise that next time I head out on my bike, I will be prepared. Not only for my own potential mini-catastrophe, but also armed and prepared to help in case we see another rider who needs a hand.  Guess I’ve got some shopping to do before tomorrow…