How could that be possible when flats/home and hills are located about an hour apart and it's 90+ freaking degrees outside?
Tadda, enter our favorite home away from home: Hampton Inn.
In fact, one is located only a few miles from the Great Floridian course and we've stayed there the night before other past events in Clermont, FL (like the Assault from Sugarloaf Ride and FL Challenge half iron). For training, however, we've always gotten up early and just driven out there in the morning and driven back home. Why not stay there after the big Saturday brick workout and drive home after my long Sunday run?
The night's stay would be FREE anyway using Dave's Hilton hotel points and he'd been home all week so surely he would not mind spending one measly night in a hotel this week. Worst case, I'm sure he could be easily bribed ;-)
He'll get to control the thermostat the whole weekend. (I usually set ours at home to 82.)
He'll get to watch History Channel shows, Myth Busters, Dirty Jobs and other stuff he likes on cable TV. (We don't have cable at home.)
We'll eat dinner at the restaurant next door after my long brick workout. (We rarely eat out together unless we're on travel or it's a special occasion.)
Free breakfast Sunday morning. (Need I say more?)
Lunch at Panera, which is also next door, after my long Sunday run.
Plus, lots of attention and cuddling all weekend when I'm not working out. (Partly because I'll be ffffreezing in a 65 deg room!)
So the plan was to ride a 45 mi flat-ish route together and then I'd do another 60 on my own for a total of 105. My favorite route mapping tool these days is Bike Route Toaster. It provides a nice elevation map and you can also download the course directions to your Garmin, something that Dave likes (I prefer knowing the course in my head). I had let go of the notion of riding the actual GF course (the first half is definitely not flat!), but there are plenty of hills I could ride on my own to make for that.
(Side note: Coach said I could ride flats when I told him that I didn't think I could get Dave to ride in Clermont again after the fire ant and heat exhaustion episode. He did not direct me to ride flats specifically and probably would have preferred that I ride some hills.)
But Mother Nature (MN) had other plans ...
That B*tch produced record high temps this past weekend. And, of course, I had the "brilliant" idea to start our ride about the same time I'd be riding on race day after my swim, 9 am, and by then temps already felt like 86 degs. Bleah!
Dave fared well in the heat this week on the flatter course even with temps soaring to 102 with the humidity factored in. YAY, Dave! Unfortunately, I had 60 more to do by myself :-( and I gotta say that heading out on my own for the rest in that heat was beyond tough. To make it a bit easier for me mentally, I decided to do 2 laps, as some of you suggested. That way I could also get more water from a park with restrooms and never be more than ~15 miles from Dave who was heading to the hotel after his ride.
MN was having none of it, however. She was determined to break me down and decided to see if some rain might dampen my iron spirits. Ha, I'll take rain over heat any day!
But did I bring my little blinky light so I could be more easily spotted on the road by cars in limited visibility conditions? Doh!
So I rode on a nearby bike path instead of the narrow, shoulder-less roads for a bit. Now I am not a big fan of riding on bike paths but in this heat and rain, there was NO ONE to dodge on the path and it was much safer than tempting fate on a narrow road with a fair amount of traffic in the rain. A few miles later, the rain stopped and the heat index skyrocketed up around 100 again. I was back riding on the roads again now that I was further out, which was nice so I didn't have to slow down at every intersection, but somewhere along the way I lost my desire to hit all the steepest hills on the GF course. I settled on riding only the nasty ones at the end of the GF course at the end of my ride. The rest of the ride would be only rollers, which in this heat was going to be plenty for me.
Lap one was done with little fanfare. Not sure what my average speed was but I know I was going faster than only 13-14mph last time I was riding on what was supposed to be the easier part of route. WTF??? Is it the heat? Am I dehydrated? Did I eat enough? Did I push too hard early on? Another slow leak in a tire?
It was hard to tell at first riding in a fairly barren area, but then it became obvious when I turned and got to an area that had some trees.
WHOOOSH! Yes, leaves were blowing off trees and coming toward me. Not a good sign. The skies had clouded up again and then huge water drops began thudding on my helmet. I knew what was coming ...
CRRRAACK!!! Crap, thunder.
Yep, MN was royally pissed now. She brought in a full-blown thunderstorm with 23-25 mph winds and driving rain to try to stop me. There was really no shelter out there and it'd take Dave 15-20 minutes to come get me (and by then the storm would most likely be gone) so I just kept pedaling. I struggled to keep my speed above 10 mph heading into the wind and rain but the more important thing I was doing was counting the number of seconds between the time I saw the lightening and heard the thunder. Fortunately, that time did not seem to be getting less so traversing those nasty hills late in the course, which are also some of the highest points in the area and where some tall power towers are located, should be OK. I hope!
The funny thing was that I think I climbed those hills the best I ever have. For one thing, the storm had dropped temps down into the 80's so it was considerably cooler than the other times I'd ridden them. But also, my adrenaline levels were red-lining. There was no way in heck I wanted to spend any extra time on those hills with all the thunder and lightening in the area (a lot of people who get hit by lightening are not in the midst of a storm but rather on the outward edges). All the rain, however, created rivers of water in the low areas of the road where I knew some cracks and wheel grabbing potholes were lying in wait so I could not coast downhills as fast as I normally would in dry conditions. And the fact that there were very few cars out on this road in the storm was both a good and bad thing. Good because I didn't have to worry much about them not seeing me or hitting me. Bad because if I got hit by lightening or crashed and couldn't call for help, there was no one around. (Dave would eventually see that I'm not moving on the GPS locator service we have with my cell phone, though, and find me as long as my phone was OK).
So, basically, I could not crash, that's all there was to it. Nothing I could do about lightening except try to stay away from tall stuff. Just don't crash. Don't crash. Don't crash.
I went up the hills and down them almost as slow. I gave myself ample time to brake and made sure to round corners carefully. I finally made it to the hotel with a total of 105.3 miles completed in 6:44:27 (15.6 mph avg). Whew!
By then it'd stopped raining but was still cloudy which was nice for my 5-mile brick run. Towards the end of the run, however, the sun came out again and it felt like 95 degs even at 5:30pm. Ugh ... 5 miles done in 49:25, a 9:53 pace. Better than I thought, actually, and Dave got 3 huge bags of ice for my ice bath to reward me. Thanks Dave 8-O
The next day Mother Nature came out fighting again with temps already feeling like low 80s at 7:45 am. Probably would have been better to run 18 miles in the evening when I'd be running during the race (and when things would hopefully be getting cooler rather than hotter late in the run) but I wanted to get the run over with early. My legs felt sluggish the first 3 miles but got better and I ran fine until around mile 10. Then the heat index was well over 90 again and even running largely in the shade felt so hot with the little wind there was. I envied all the cyclists I saw knowing they were creating their own breeze.
By mile 14, I went into survival mode taking regular walk breaks every mile to keep my HR down and to try to get as much fluids into me as possible. It was not pretty and I definitely did NOT finish as strong as I would have liked but I got 18 miles done in ~3:15 (10:50 pace, including walk breaks). I'll take it! Dave picked me up from where I finished, got another 3 huge bags of ice from the ice machine for my ice bath and today I'm feeling surprisingly good considering all I did this weekend.
I made it to my taper -- HOORAY!!!
Weekend workout summary:
Fri 4500 yd swim: 4x1000s with five 100's thrown in the middle.
Sat 105.3 bike (15.6 mph) + 5 mi run (9:53 pace), 80-102 deg HI, 3700' climbing.
Sun 18 mi run (10:50 pace), 81-98 deg HI.