Monday, July 25, 2011

Splash & Dash 3/Tour de France Ride

Well, my final week of sabbatical was pretty lazy and oh so enjoyable. My house and car got cleaned, but other than picking things up and giving somebody money, I didn't have anything to do with those. I learned more about belaying and rock climbing at the gym. Other than a few ordinary workouts, my big athletic feats were the Splash & Dash on Tuesday, and a roughly 100-kilometer ride Sunday organized in honor of the last day of the Tour de France.

The Splash & Dash seemed to be a three-way race between being at altitude for two weeks, being away from the heat for two weeks, and barely swimming or running for three weeks. It seems that, thanks to overcast skies making it not quite as hot as it would have been otherwise, altitude narrowly edged out lack of training for my best time so far in the three months I've done this race. My swim plus transition time was 45 seconds slower than it was in May, but my run was faster, going a little faster than 8 minutes per mile. My final time was 16 seconds quicker than May, and more than two and a half minutes quicker than June, which was just awful. Not that it means much of anything, but my time put me 74th of men and 103 overall, compared with 73/116 in May (and 91/152 in June).

Wednesday I went to the rock wall for the belay class, which was one-on-one. There were only a few other people on the wall, so we had the chance to go over things beyond basic belaying. It also gave me the opportunity to use the belay device I had picked up on sale in Bozeman. I've since used the device to belay the rock supervisor, and she's used a few times to belay me.

The ride on Sunday was organized by the cycle instructor at the gym, and had a really good turnout. There were at least 40 bikes at the start, and at least 20 made it all the way to the turnaround point 32 miles away in San Marcos. Not that I didn't already have major respect for the Tour de France riders, but that ride renewed it. I hadn't done anything nearly as strenuous as the Alpe d'Huez or the other punishing stages in the Pyrenees and Alps, but I could definitely feel the Splash & Dash and a 5.5-mile run on Saturday in my legs.
In Buda, about 12 miles into the ride, the leader pulled into a drugstore parking lot to regroup, and give some of the weaker riders a chance to turn back. I saw two people from the club continue without stopping, and I followed them. It turns out they either didn't know the intended route, or deliberately went a little out of the way. I never even made contact with them, but fortunately when an intersection came up, I had a vague idea of which way to go. Shortly after that point was a water stop, and there were bikes there already, almost ready to leave. I filled up my water bottle and shoved some energy bar into my face as I hurried to catch up with them (and not get lost). I arrived with my watch showing 2 hours and 35 miles, about 3 more miles than the rest of the riders. I spent most of the ride back chasing clumps of riders. I would catch and overtake one group, then go off the front looking for the next group. I didn't ever get very far ahead, as any time there was a traffic light or train, the people I had passed would soon catch up again. Of course it wasn't a race, at least not until we got back closer to town and I passed a guy with an older version of my bike. I later realized he wasn't part of the group from the club, just a guy out for a ride, but we kind of raced back and forth for a few miles until he turned off. Back at the club, I had lunch and then climbed on the rock wall until I could barely close my right hand.

So, those are the highlights of a gloriously lazy week that might possibly be the best I'll ever have, and today I was back to work. Ugh.

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