Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Another smashy weekend, yay!

It is time for another blog post! I thoroughly exhausted myself this weekend, and I couldn't be happier about it. I made huge strides in terms of pushing myself to the edge (something I am honestly afraid to do -- "give it your all" 5k run races freak me out more than marathons or even ironmans). 

I had a couple hiccups in my training last week because I had to get another injection into my knee (see this post). I get Synvisc One injections into my left knee every ~8 months to prevent the onset of arthritis and relieve pain. I've had my medial meniscus removed after a soccer injury and there's really nothing preventing bone on bone contact except for this Synvisc One synovial fluid. I usually bounce back from these injections after a day. This time, however, the swelling was massive and the range of motion in my knee was severely limited. Memories of 3 years ago were immediately brought to the forefront of my mind: unable to walk properly for months, exercise was out of the question. Soccer, the love of my life up until that point, was definitely out of the question. To say I was severely depressed was an understatement. In any case, I was feeling really down last week. I couldn't bike, I couldn't run. The swelling started to go down, but not in time for me to complete my long run of the week. It was meant to be on a gorgeous 4WD track in Lorne, a town on the Great Ocean Rd. Instead, I had to settled for a hike uphill and a delicate, slow jog on the downhill. At least I sweated for 1h30 that day. That's all I could ask for. And the forest was lush. All the rain in Victoria this year has meant amazing things for the vegetation -- you could smell the Australian bush, it was so powerful. 
5 Mile Track in Lorne. Gorgeous Aussie bushland!
Obligatory shot at the trailhead, taken after the hike/jog. 
I spent the rest of the day keeping my leg elevated -- the swelling needed to go down just a touch further for me to be able to bike the next day. So I relaxed on the beach at Lorne and watched some surfers surf on what were some arguably messy waves. It is so beautiful to watch them, though.
Beach at Lorne. 
On the Saturday, I got up early and made my way over to Torquay. I hadn't been on my bike in 2 days and 2 days prior, I could barely turn the pedals over, the knee was so swollen. Would I be able to today? More importantly, would I be able to ride 145 hilly kms? The answer was yes!!! And with gusto!! At first, I had been a little worried. The knee was stiff, and what I could only describe as "thick". But it soon loosened up. Low impact cycling might be good for it after all. Now, I wish I could have taken more photos of this event. It was the Great Ocean & Otway Classic Ride, a 145km event starting in Torquay, heading inland into the countryside, then taking a gorgeous long downhill into Lorne to finish the last 50km along the famous and beautiful Great Ocean Rd. What's even more striking about this event is that everyone wears the same jersey.

The jersey, here modeled by 2 kind (and exhausted) gentlemen.
Seeing 3500 cyclists, all in the same blue, yellow and white 2XU jersey was pretty spectacular. Of course, it could get confusing. I know I'm not the only one that had a conversation with a stranger thinking they were someone else!! It's not the biggest event I've done (that would be the 210km Around the Bay ride, where 16,000 cyclists take part... now THAT was organized chaos!!!!), but this event was truly the one with the greatest camaraderie. Everyone was willing to take the time and energy to organize nice pelotons. We were flying at parts, even up the hills everyone was making the effort to climb hard to stay in the group. Also, riding in a peloton sure is a nice way of distracting yourself from the cold and the wet. Descending into Lorne, I'm quite certain 9 out of 10 toes fell off from the cold. But it was a great day, and I pushed myself very hard. Focusing so hard on staying in a good, fast group had me neglecting my nutrition quite a bit, however. This was something I would sorely regret in the last 1h of riding... TOTAL BONK. I crawled back to Torquay, fell off my bike and slammed food into my mouth. I guess the last time I bonked didn't leave a big enough impression in my mind. 

I finished that day with my legs like jelly, but it was well worth it!! The rest of the day was spent eating, resting and recovering. 

The triathletes in the long course off-road tri get started!

On Sunday, I woke up early yet again to do a 10k trail run race in Anglesea. At the same time, off-road triathletes were also racing. The huge pull to don a wetsuit and get in there was almost irresistible. However, I came to my senses in time - I'd registered for the trail run, not the triathlon and besides, I don't even own a mountain bike!!!! I watched the 2 races begin (short and long course), then changed into my run shorts to warm up. My legs were absolutely exhausted from yesterday (it was tiring to even walk around). Furthermore, I didn't know the course beforehand, all I really knew could be summed up in these key words: "river crossing" and "beach run" and "steep hill". The 10k trail run went something like this: 
1k: easy, along nice flat trails, through a small forest
2k: on the beach through mushy sand, charge through a river
3k: ouch, that steep hill, bust up it and nearly die
4k: try to regain feeling in the legs, gentle downhill on nice trail
5k: running through really mushy sand (the kind that drains you of all forward momentum!!)
6k: hop rocks, avoid the slippery algae covering most of them, avoid the pools of water between the rocks, don't fall! Climb up a steep set of stairs
7-8k: regain composure, try to run through that sand as best as you can
8-9k: run through that river again, scramble up onto the grass
10k: back on flat trail, repeat to myself "JUST HOW MUCH CAN YOU SUFFER", i.e. don't lag now, really try and suffer, push push push!!!

I finished in 56:45, which for me is a very slow 10k time, but given the fact that I had exhausted myself in the last few weeks of training, the previous day's 145k ride and the fact that my knee was still a bit swollen/achy (OH, AND THE COURSE!!!), I'll take it. I finished 47/74 finishers (18/37 Women). It was an INCREDIBLY fun race where I learned how to overcome the negative energies I usually create in the last 3k of a 10k run race. I successfully embraced the suffering, and finished strong. I really want to sign up for a local 5 or 10k road race and see what I can pull off now (my PB is from a very long time ago, and is low 48'). I want to get it down to sub-45, which I think I can pull off on-road and on a flat to gently undulating course. One day, I'll go back to focusing on shorter distances and see what I can actually muster. Right now, however, I'm just having TOO MUCH FUN training and racing long distances. What a journey!!!! 

This weekend, I'm most likely staying in Melbourne and doing local training. Despite staying stuck in the city, I'm excited for two things: going for a ride with a friend I haven't seen in a couple months (and one I secretly have a crush on, shhhhh!), and trying out the ISM Adamo Road saddle, one I bought off a BTer who kindly sent it to me in Australia!! Pretty exciting!!!

1 comment:

  1. You're an animal! Makes me feel quite inadequate in my training/racing volume! The trail run sounds like a real blast - I do like a run that involves getting in the water :)

    I've actually just got an ISM Adamo Racing saddle, so far I've only put around 110km on it over a couple of rides, but already love it - it does make some areas a bit tender but it's the sort of thing you don't really notice while you're riding. I think the Road model is a bit more padded so it may be even better