I had every intention of waking up at 5:30 am to go to masters today. Disregard the fact that I have a rule that says no one shall swim before 7 am unless a race is involved. I even set the alarm. But at 5:30 am when I woke up and I was still tired I said - the pool can wait. And it did. When I showed up at 7:20 am it was still there and I swam just the same.
So I swam alone. Didn't really feel warmed up until the 3000 yard mark which made me think maybe I should swim another 1500 so that I can say at least 30 percent of the swim felt good. But I settled at 3400 yards and called it done.
Met Marit for coffee and bagels. Marit has the gift of gab in a good way. Her conversation draws you in and makes you want to talk more. She looks good and she is hungry to start towards her goals again.
Chris finally arrived in town - he's here for the California 70.3. We all went up to Encinitas to drop off Marit's bike and then Thomas and I set out for a mostly flat 4-hour ride out to Pendleton.
In theory this should have been a great ride. There were no clouds in the sky. It was about 65 degrees. The course was mostly flat. Theory however does not always hold up in reality.
I am not sure where this ride went wrong. It took us about 45 minutes to ride from Encintas to Pendleton. In case you were wondering, it is possible to catch every red light through Encinatas, Carlsbad and Oceanside. And when you arrive at Pendleton, it is possible to find out that the headwind you were riding into for the past 45 minutes could get worse.
Camp Pendleton is a beautiful place to ride. It is a military base snug in the hills of southern California. Hills that are right now exploding in yellow flowers and lush green. However Camp Pendleton is always a very windy place to ride. I am no stranger to riding on very windy government property. At home I do most of my riding at Fermilab, a Department of Energy proton accelerator laboratory and the wind there blows like nowhere else. Except Pendleton today.
Every time I looked down we were going 14.4 mph. Thomas never left his small ring. It didn't matter how hard I pushed or which gear I was in I was going slow. The hills came, we rode slowly up the hills into the wind. The descents came, we rode slowly down the hills into the wind. Wind wind wind.
We exited through the back gate of the base after 30 minutes and found the old 101. This was even more beautiful than the base. The ocean was within view and the 101 had been turned into a state beach park. It was flat as could be and directly into the wind. Excellent. I thought Thomas would cry. He kept standing out of his saddle to relieve his ass of pain. I was ready to cry. I was being beaten by the wind and the bike. It was like being trapped in a muscle tension interval for 2 hours straight.
Finally at 2 hours we turned around. Tailwind! It was quiet and we could enjoy the ride again. But when we returned to the back gate of Pendleton, showed our ID, the military guard looked at his watch and then looked at us.
"Base closes at 3 pm."
"Base closes to cyclists at 3 pm."
Please Private Officer Sargent in Training military man please - PLEASE - do not tell me that the ONLY - I repeat ONLY - way to return to Oceanside is through this base and this base is now closed.
"Base is closed."
We thought he was kidding. But it became clear he was not. It also became clear that we were going to have to come up with a different plan. We needed to find a way to ride through the base without riding through the base because riding through the base is the only way back to Oceanside unless you take the interstate.
With that in mind, we rode away from the base and considered our options:
1 - Swim with bikes on back
2 - Walk 16 miles along beach in bike shoes
3 - Ride on the shoulder of the I-5
None were feasible and then we came up with a new option - call Chris. Needless to say Chris was not thrilled. Asking him to drive an hour north along the 5 was not something he wanted to hear after being awake since 3:30 am CST to catch a flight. Plus the traffic along the 5 is evil at best. But he agreed to come pick us up because there was no other way back.
Meanwhile, we still had 90 minutes left to ride. So we rode back into the wind and the muscle tension started again. This felt worse than climbing Palomar. Worse than Soledad. Worse than riding with a gorilla on my bike through gravy. Finally at 3 hours I announced to Thomas that I was breaking up with my bike. The thrill was gone and I was reaching my breaking point. My head hurt, my legs were tired from the constant grind of the flats into the wind. I was thirsty. And it was nearly 4 pm and all I had consumed was a bagel, a banana, 3 gels and a bar. I had enough of my bike for the day.
At 3 1/2 hours Chris arrived. He was a little miffed by the traffic on the 5. I was a little miffed that I was still on my bike and it was 5. Thomas was miffed that he agreed to spend the weekend with a miffed married couple and it was only Thursday.
Chris did a short ride to preview part of the race course. Thomas escorted him. I called my coach and did everything but cry. We all regrouped and decided dinner would make us good again.
That's when I realized when a ride throws lemons your way you take those lemons and squeeze them over fish tacos. And you eat lots of salty corn chips. And then you trash talk Thomas about tomorrow's ride. So that's where we left the day. With good food and good smack talk (note: smack talking ahead):
"Thomas, you better bring your tool belt on tomorrow's ride because when I drop the hammer you're going to need somewhere to put it."
"Liz, you better call Marit and ask her for the name of her gastroenterologist because on tomorrow's ride I'm going to rip you a new one."
"Thomas, you see that drink on the menu called Kick Ass? You better order one so you can get a taste of what's in store for you tomorrow."
It didn't stop there. And it won't stop tomorrow. Because we are climbing Palomar. Again. And when we get to the top we are doing a run. Tomorrow is another day and my legs will be ready. Even if they are not I will push them as hard as I can up the mountain and then on that run. And then afterwards we can break up again and I'll tell them hey it's not me it's you legs. Can we just be friends?