Hi there, remember me? Yea, its been a little bit, huh? Don't worry, I've been keeping myself plenty busy. And speaking of busy, the weekend was the epitome of busy. Not so much busy as in, going from one place to the next, one after another. But rather, we did a lot of stuff.
Let's start with Friday. As a continuation of the week long celebration of Rebecca getting one year older, we met up with some friends, one of which was also celebrating her birthday this week, at the Sculpture Garden of the National Gallery of Art for Jazz in the Garden. I hadn't been to one since last year, but man was it crowded! Fortunately, we had some blanket space and were able to find a spot. After a few pitchers of sangria, we were good and toasty (at least, some of us were), so it was time to head out and grab dinner. We ended up going out in Barracks Row, which, shockingly to us, was mega crowded. We came to find out that El Presidente was making an appearance at the US Army Ceremonial Band's summer concert series. It was kind of nuts with all the police cars and secret service around, but we were able to get a table at a nearby restaurant and enjoy ourselves.
Saturday brought some new adventures. On tap first thing in the morning was my "long" run. I use quotes, because my long runs aren't so long right now. I've been really focusing on the swim and bike, so the run has taken a back seat. I've mainly been focusing on my weekday runs to keep the mileage and speedwork, but the long runs have not been as consistent as I would like. Well I am hoping to restart the long run mojo as the countdown to the Patriots Half stands at 7 weeks away. So my run ended up being ok. Nothing spectacular, but considering my lack of long runs, I was actually pleased with the low HR average. I kept effort on the easy side, because my focus is still on the bike for the time being and I didn't want to waste myself for Sunday's bike ride.
But before I get to Sunday, let's stick with Saturday's plans after the run. Rebecca's friend was planning to celebrate her birthday by going on a tubing trip, just over the border in West Virginia. Since Rebecca and I had never been tubing, we were really looking forward to some fun in the sun. The weather looked perfect and the temps were hot. We zipped out there, and after a few hurdles to get through, plopped into the water. Now I don't know about you all and your experiences with tubing, but I would think that the point of tubing is to float down the river without having to paddle, like a lazy river, but with some rapids. Not the case here. We spent the first half hour paddling with our arms to get to the "current". We'd go through some small rapids and then get stuck on a rock or in an area with no current and have to start paddling again. I was shocked at how much work I had to do. I was beat! My arms were sore and they got chaffed from having to paddle and rub against the innertube! I was actually surprised too, since there was a massive thunderstorm the night before. So not only were Rebecca and I sick of sitting in the stupid tube for hours on end and paddling, but we had to climb over wet rocks to get out of the water. It was downright dangerous and we were sober! I can only imagine how many drunk related injuries happen while tubing. And just when you think it couldn't get any worse, it did. Remember that nice sunny weather? Well it brought afternoon thunderstorms. Fortunately, we were out of the water, but walking down the highway, with an innertube, a life vest, and just a bathing suit in the middle of the heavy thunderstorm is not fun. After a ton of chaos, we finally got on one of the shuttles that took us back to the company. We got in our car and hightailed it out of there. Never again! I'm just curious - has anyone else gone tubing and had a good time?
Last, but certainly not least was my bike ride. My one piece of consistency this year has been riding. I've made sure to get in my long rides and all my other rides. Not only do I enjoy it, but I think it pays the most dividends for racing, since a cyclist in good shape rides faster and leaves legs for the run. My attempt was to do my longest ride ever - 80 miles. Last year, I had a 72 mile ride, but didn't feel it was necessary to go much beyond. With some more experience in racing longer course, I can see the benefit in having a base that would allow yourself to go longer. So I'm sticking to it, because it seems to be doing wonders for my riding this year so far. The planned route included a section that had been recommended by a coworker who is a big cyclist. He had told me that there were some great hills, including one particularly nasty 1.5 mile climb with some very steep sections. Below is the route (though for some reason it is showing 85 miles, but it was actually 80):
So I set off first thing in the morning. Just before I left, I noticed a slight drizzle. I checked the weather real quick to see what I might have in store for myself. I saw a pretty significant line of rain, but it was pretty far west, with only a little bit touching the area I was going to cover. So I threw caution to the wind and figured if it rained a little, I'd chalk it up to experience. Well, experience came a little quicker than I thought. Within the first 6 miles of the ride, I was head first in a torrentional downpour. For a short while, it was coming down so hard, I nearly ate pavement when I incorrectly spotted the dip in the curb and ran into a part that was still several inches high. Fortunately, my mountain biking skillz helped me pull through and I never lost it. So while I was in the monsoon, I started thinking about going back home and finishing on the trainer. I despise the trainer. It was coming down that hard. I told myself that I'd ride till the next bailout option, which would leave me 9 miles from home, where if it was still that bad, I could go back and ride a couple of hours inside, while watching Le Tour. Well I am happy to say that I waved goodbye to that spot and pressed on. Besides, the rain had started to let up a bit and it wasn't THAT bad. In all, I had 3 total heavy downpours on my ride. But to be honest, I welcomed every one of them except the first. I was hot and humid, so the rain was a nice refreshing feeling.
Most of my route took me to the outer edge of the W&OD Trail. Then I found my turn off, which sure enough, crossed over many of the roads we had driven through the day before while tubing. I even saw this, which was one of the buses for the company:
Finally off the trail, it was time to settle into some of the more technical and challenging portions of the ride. For the most part, there were a lot of hills that required constant shifting and in several cases required me to sit in my easiest gear and spin my way up. I entered the town of Waterford, which is apparently pretty old (check out the date on the sign):
After a little bit, when the sun was finally out again, I stopped to snap a picture of a sight that I thought looked pretty cool (though the picture didn't show all the massive barrels of hay scattered throughout the field):
The back side of the loop had all the big hills, and most of them came one after another, so it was definitely a challenge on the legs, since they were pretty sore from lots of kicking in the tubing adventure the day before. Once the loop was over, I tried my best to hightail it home. I made one slight mistake by thinking, with about 20 miles to go, that nutritionally, I was fine and didn't need the 200 calories I had planned on taking. With 5 miles to go in my ride, I started bonking. I was on a very bumpy and rough stretch of another trail which took all the feeling I had in my legs out of them. I could barely pedal because of the bumps of the surface. So I did what I always yell at other people for doing - I rode in the shoulder of the main road, which was parallel to the trail. Now I know why people do it! This particular section of the trail was in such bad shape, that I can't imagine anyone with a road bike rides on it. Anywho, I finally made it back home, wet, dirty tired, and hungry. In the end, I logged 80 miles, averaging about 17 mph (the loop of the hilly section took about 2 mph off of my average for the ride).
The rest of my Sunday was filled with errands and miscellany. A friend came over and we all went out to lunch at the greatest place known to man - Wegmans. And we did some long overdue food shopping. Then we went to Ikea and got most notably a shelf for in our kitchen (runner up for most notable from Ikea was the $1 frozen yogurt!). Rebecca and I simultaneously put the shelf system together AND cooked a chicken (actually she cooked it, but I helped). And I am happy to say that the chicken was delicious (sorry no pictures - next time!) and the shelf system looks perfect.
So that was my weekend - how was yours?