On Monday, I got back to training again.
I took most of last week completely off. When I started having night sweats even after doing nothing during the day I knew it was time to step back even further to doing nothing at all - and trust me, stepping back further was almost impossible since I was doing next to nothing already.
After a few days of doing “nothing” (which is really quite more fun than it sounds) I really got used to it. Change is never easy but once you accept it holy crap does it settle in easily. I ate whatever I wanted (ie., pb cups, ice cream, sometimes nothing at all). Did whatever I wanted (ie., dog park, shopping, sometimes nothing at all). And heckled my husband about his training (honestly the best part). But I knew my day would come. And as the days went on I actually couldn’t wait.
Monday was like Christmas. I woke up knowing today was the day – the day I would do something in the category of “train”. I couldn’t wait to get on my bike. I dug out my heart rate monitor strap and welcomed it back close to my heart. Made up a bottle of sports drink. Got two towels, a gel and the little yellow power tap computer.
Lucky for me, it was time for my bike test. Exciting thing about working with a new coach – you start anew. You have no data, no heart rate, no power. Your mind and body becomes a clean slate. I was excited to test; some place to start fresh with a baseline to grow upon.
Two hours after breakfast was a long time to wait. Finally it came and I headed downstairs to start the test. Small problem. My Power Tap wheel was on a different bike. Being she-who-has-been-forbidden-to-touch-rear-wheels, I had to ask my husband for help. He with his bed-head snapped back at me with you’re just going to have to wait.
But I’ve already waited today. So I threatened him with don’t make me wait too long or I’ll take the wheel into my own hands. He, sharp and evil, knew better than that. He came back with go ahead and break your derailleur for all I care. Check mate. I realized he was right. I had to wait or else completely derail my plans with a broken derailleur and useless bike.
He finally headed to the basement to swap out wheels. Another small problem: he says to me you don’t want to test with 12 – 25, the gearing on my Power Tap wheel.
*This is where something as simple as riding a bike becomes very complicated. With my husband this is often the case. Please just let me sit on the seat (any seat), push the pedals (any pedals) and ride the bike (any bike)*
He suggested I use a wheel with gearing 12 – 23. Meanwhile he is picking up wheels, eyeballing cassettes and I assume counting teeth – though while most of us actually have to count the teeth out, he just looks at it and shouts a number “23”. It’s like a savant skill that sometimes is very useful and sometimes (in the case of today) kinda sorta gets in the way.
He searched the other wheels around the basement and could only find 11 – 23. After involving at least two bikes, two wheels, one wheel bag and what I would call a shitload of cassettes, finally I think I have a fully functioning bike. Then he realizes the wheel already on my bike had 12 – 23.
*This is where something overcomplicated gets even worse.*
There are now three wheels, an even bigger shitload of cassettes and spacer on the floor being disassembled, swapped or assembled. Plus there is this funny looking wrench with a piece of chain on the end that looks like more of a hazard than a help.
After some swapping, twisting, tightening and waiting (me), finally I have a bike with two wheels, all the right gears and enough pent up I WANT TO RIDE NOW energy that I am ready to pedal while standing in place. He goes to put the bike on the trainer and then decides it needs a different bolt. Or something like that. This involves another type of wrench, a bolt, a skewer and FOR CRYING OUT LOUD JUST LET ME RIDE THE BIKE!
I didn’t say any of this for fear that I would find that funny looking wrench with chain in my mouth. So I waited, impatiently, tapping my cleats on the floor until finally FINALLY I was riding my bike.
I’M BACK! Hello bike! Hello heart rate, Power Tap, sports drink and seat. Hello ipod, towels on the aerobars and track light that will cook me by ride’s end. My heart rate is totally normal and I take that as a good sign. I do believe I am getting back to feeling like me.
Lucky for me today this test contains two tests. I hit the jackpot there, eh? Somewhere in a week off I completely forget how to pace myself and so I started the first test out way too hard. I am ready to vomit at 10 minutes into it as power goes down, down, down. The test finally stops and I say to myself let’s not do it like that again. The second test was better and was closer to the numbers that I know from me.
And speaking of numbers – who knew that a bit of overtraining, fatigue, and week off could eat up watts that easily? Where did they go? There is a giant hole where watts and heart beats seem to have leaked right out of me. Either that or they are at the bottom of a giant tub of peanut butter cups. Come back! Chris says to me “you have a place to start now.” While part of me was sad to have taken steps back, the bigger part knew it would be the only way to get better from here. I’ve come to accept that change often means you take 3 steps back to get 1 step ahead. I’ve come to accept that from here on out I will be taking different steps.
In fact, they’re like baby steps. Remember that movie What About Bob where Bill Murray is overcoming his fears and taking baby steps? It kind of feels like that. Except I’m not an obsessive-compulsive-over-medicated-man. But if you hear me mumbling “baby stepping to the pool five times a week, baby stepping to the group ride, baby stepping with new heart rates” then you know where I’m coming from. I’ll be taking these new steps for awhile until I figure out the new system, get comfortable and grow with it.
Change is never easy and sometimes change feels like we have taken steps back. But we make changes and take risks because we are that vested in ourselves. We believe we can be somewhere better and accomplish bigger things. Whether it’s starting with a coach, signing up for Ironman, or going on a new group ride – we baby step with these changes and trust that one day they will translate into leaps and bounds. That’s where I’m at, small baby steps which will soon integrate into my stride until I’m moving along again effortlessly.
Until then, baby stepping to the bath tub to soak these now very sore legs (was there really a time when hard efforts like this didn't hurt?).