March 16, 2012

Call Me Crazy

Ironman training has been known to cause many things - exhaustion, insatiable hunger, a lack of social life - and as I learned today, questionable judgment. For all you other Californians, you know that this week's forecast has resembled this:

Just as predicted, it started storming Monday evening and has continued throughout the week. Normally I don't mind the rain, especially when it's not especially cold. In fact I kind of like running and swimming in the rain. But cycling.... that's another story. As luck would have it, this week's training just happened to be heavy on the bike, leaving me in quite a predicament. Tuesday morning I woke to cloudy, dark skies, but no rain...yet. About 5 minutes into my hour-long ride however, the promised rain finally began to fall. Thankfully it wasn't too heavy, but it certainly did not make for a very enjoyable ride. I slowed down and took the turns easy, and was happy when it was done. For Wednesday's 1.5 hour ride I opted to stay dry and do the workout on my nemesis - the trainer. I loathe the trainer and generally try to avoid it as much as possible. Part of it is the boredom, and the other part is that I don't like not having my data recorded (type A much?). I threw on a movie which made it a bit more bearable, but I've decided that 90 minutes is my max on the trainer.
I can think of a million other things I'd rather do.
Fast forward to today. It was my day off, so my coach had scheduled my longest workout of the week - a 4 hour brick (3:15 bike, 0:45 run). I'd been checking the forecast the past couple days hoping for a break in the storm, but the hourly forecast had the chances of rain at 90-100% all day. All morning I went back and forth, weighing my options. I even Googled "cycling in the rain" and "long rides on a bike trainer" to try and help me with my decision. As it got closer to when I needed to start my ride the rain had still not let up. A final thought of how 3+ hours would be double the misery I felt on Wednesday's trainer ride and I knew I was going to brave the elements.

I dressed in layers and loaded up my bike with fuel and then I set out. It was raining, but not too hard. I wasn't totally sure how long I'd last out there and kept thinking I'd knock out as much as I could tolerate and then head home and finish on the trainer. The first 10 miles or so the rain wasn't too bad, but there was a nasty sidewind that had me gripping my bike for dear life. It subsided a bit after a while, but of course then the rain picked up. I rode to Hazel then turned back, thinking I'd head home. But as I got closer the rain and wind died down and the clouds lightened so I decided to head out the other direction and see how far I could get. Not surprisingly, it soon began to pour. Within minutes I was sopping wet. The rain was falling so hard it seemed to be coming from both the sky and the ground. I got so overwhelmed by the downpour that I stopped under an overpass for a few minutes hoping it might let up, but it was in vain. I decided I'd just try and make it home from there and headed back out.
my temporary shelter

I ran into a coworker and stopped to commiserate as it began to rain even harder. At this point I was pretty miserable and seriously wondering what the hell I was thinking. With about six miles back to my house I set out again. As I got closer to home, however, the rain let up a little and I started thinking I'd add on a little more in the opposite direction that I'd gone initially (sensing a trend?). Physically I was actually feeling really good. My legs were spinning easily and despite having to slow significantly to take turns safely, I was maintaining speeds between 17-18 mph. With about 40 minutes to go it once again started dumping. The sky looked a little lighter in the direction I was heading so I kept hoping it would let up, but no luck.

I cut the ride 10 minutes short because after going up and down the bike trail in that weather I could not handle even one more second out there! When I got home I spent a good 15 minutes hosing down and drying off my bike before peeling off my own soaking clothes and changing into dry run clothes. Oh my goodness did that feel good! If only I didn't have to head back out in the rain for a 45 minute run : / In the end I completed 53 miles on the bike and a 4.8 mile run in weather that kept 99% of people inside. I like to think of it as character building, but you could just as easily call me crazy : )


  1. Yes I am the are way tougher than me....I also had a 3:15 ride followed by a 20min T1 run and it was cold and windy and dumping rain....and I opted for the trainer.

  2. at least you had the trail to yourself! good work and dedication.

  3. I will run in the rain but cannot imagine riding in the rain. Wow. I suppose you never know what race day will bring so best to go with the flow weather-wise during training. Nice job!