Thursday, August 27, 2009

I've been away for a few weeks, figuratively and literally. Away, out of town, out of state, on "vacation". I liken getting ready to leave on vacation this year to Odysseus' journey back to Ithaca, fraught with setback after setback, sometimes brought on by our own pride. Eventually Odysseus did return to his rocky home, and like our hero, we eventually reached our rocky destination. Thanks to the cavernous trunk of Nick's Ford Taurus sedan, we were able to get clothes for 5 people for two weeks, an aerobed, 2 gym bags, Nick's suit ( mid vacation meeting, ughh) laptops ( who goes on vacation without them these days...), 3 cases of diet Vernor's Gingerale, purchased in Michigan as a surprise for my mother in law, and my bike. That last item was going to be left behind, but Nick insisted I bring it. (THANK YOU!!!).

I wish I had taken a picture of the trunk fully loaded, Rubik's cubes were easier to solve. I was debating loading the bike, thinking instead I'd do ALOT of swimming, but the morning after we arrived in Rhode Island, I did a double take as I walked through the garage out to the car. That's nice, I thought, someone took my bike out and put it back together. Then I realized it wasn't my bike! There was someone else at the cottage who brought their bike too! An hour later, Jerry, my stepsister's boyfriend and I were spinning happily on the first of our 3 early morning rides to Watch Hill. Despite looking a bit like Mutt and Jeff, we were well matched speed wise, and pushed each other to keep the pace up. On the more quiet roads we were able to converse as well, and had some great discussions about family, injuries, and God's role in our lives. Riding with Jerry allowed me to ramp up my riding and I logged over 100 miles that first week. I also managed to squeeze in a long swim one day as well, in the almost tropical waters off Quonnie. I even rode in the rain one day after Jerry departed for the Vineyard, uphill, both ways..... at least it seemed both ways at the time. On each of these rides I reclaimed something I had left behind two years ago, a faster spin, sitting in the saddle for an hour or more, popping up out of the saddle for short climbs, shifting without thinking, it was all good. I could have easily continued this schedule for another week, or more.

We split our vacation time between my parents, so after a week of riding, relaxing on the beach, and trying to outsmart the dampness in the cottage, we shuffled up to Maine. Riding in Georgetown, Maine, isn't as easy as riding in Rhode Island, but again, I was able to reclaim the ability to climb without my knees falling apart afterwards. I did get to ride out on a quiet peninsula, past several Andrew Wyeth like farms. It was very peaceful, but hot and humid, unseasonably hot and humid, the hottest weather of the season in Maine, so the day after my ride, we elected to spend inside. Next year I'm going to explore the routes north of Bath.

Once I got back home, things got crazy for a few days, and I didn't get a ride in until Tuesday, when I had a few hours to myself. It was wonderful and I have no idea where I went, I headed north for about 5 miles, then east for a few, back north a few more, east, and so on, grabbing views of the ridge line just west of me, and then the bigger mountains on the edge of Vermont to the east of the Hudson. The air was warm and humid, and whatever was in bloom cast off a sweet almond smell that hit me full force when the breeze dropped. I remember backpacking on the Long Trail in Vermont and catching that same scent on hot August days. I eventually zigzagged my way home with 25 miles logged onto my cycle computer and in a great mood.
Now it's Friday, and I've been at working the past few days and haven't gotten to ride or swim, and I'm starting to get grumpy. The fall semester starts on Monday, and I've 150 or so students coming through my lab next week. I'm going to have to ( gasp) ride indoors tomorrow or I might bite someone's head off. I also have to figure out how I'm going to get some riding and weight training in at work. Priorities....

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Training Interrupted...

Yesterday (actually, two days ago, read on...) started out beautifully, we were very productive in the morning, getting our house ready for the renters, and when we could stand being inside no longer, we had the rest of the warm, clear day to enjoy the outside. I swam on the cable for 20 minutes then hopped on my bike, with just enough time for a 15 mile ride before we had to leave for dinner with friends. I'm gradually ramping up my mileage and speed, but until I can ride for a few hours each time at a decent pace, I've found that combining swimming with riding allows me to get the aerobic benefit without stressing my knee unduly. Today (two days ago) was the first day I was able to bike right after swimming.

Riding in the warm, sweet, August sun just after swimming was a treat. My hair kept me cool for at least 30 minutes. Riding north, I had the sun at my left shoulder. I spun in my middle chain ring for most of the ride, taking joy at the increasing speed. After turning around I was lost in the middle of a thought when I rolled over a large rock in the breakdown lane. Rookie Mistake #1. Keep your eyes on where you are going. I continued on and waited..... hmmm maybe it won't flat and I'll be lucky. Drats, seconds later I was riding on the rim. Sighing audibly I pulled over, hopped off the bike, and started taking off the front wheel. The tube was out in a jiffy, thanks to my speed lever. Here is where I KNOW better, Rookie Mistake #2. I had forgotten to put a spare tube in my pack. Tubes are cheap, and I usually keep 1 in my pack and several at home, but I not only forgot to pack one, I also had used up the ones at home. @#$%$#@. I did have a patch kit, though and two patches left, so I put some air in the tube and opened up my water bottle and found the snake bite pinch, or I should say I found MOST of it, because right after I patched it and put the tube back in, zipped the tire back on the rim with the speed lever, inflated it with my CO2 cartridge, and put it back in the fork, it was flat again @@#&$!!!@#%&. By this time I had used up most of my alloted ride time, so I grabbed my phone and called for my support team (Nick). While I waited, I found the small hole that I had missed, millimeters away from the edge of the patch, and put a patch over THAT, and reinflated the tube, just to be sure. Not sure why I did that, because now the tube is horribly bumpy and won't be very good to ride on, but I wasn't going to let it get the best of me.

Fast forward a few hours and we are enjoying deckside dining up on the ridge at our friend's house, looking down at the Hudson Valley, as the sun gently dipped behind the ridge line. We'd been here two days before celebrating their oldest son's graduation from highschool, but things were hectic and we really had missed talking with each other, and they had tons of food leftover! Never ones to refuse a free meal and some great conversation back up we went. Somehow peanuts and conversation go hand in hand and there was plenty of both. All of us dug in heartily to the leftovers, but by the end of the meal I started to feel like I had been hit HARD in the stomach, every 45 sec or so. After hanging out for an hour or so, relaxing, I figured it was just too many beans, but when I stood up I nearly fell flat on my face. Again, probably too many beans, but I really needed to get home, if you know what I mean. This wasn't beans.

I'm a scientist by trade, and my training has been in bacterial infections, specifically, pediatric respiratory infections, but I've been teaching Microbiology at the college level for several years, and one of the things I make sure my students understand is the difference between food "poisoning" and food bourne "intoxication". Without giving you all one of my lectures, I clearly was suffering from food bourne "intoxicaton". Rapid onset of violent symptoms. The toxin was very quick acting, affecting my stomach as soon as it hit. I did manage to make it home before "reverse peristalsis" set in, along with a bunch of other textbook symptoms that were with me the entire night until I passed out, literally, after I crawled to the couch. Two days later I've managed to rehydrate myself, and eat some solid food. I'm fairly certain the toxin I ingested was on the peanuts I ate. Everyone else had the same food, but I ate the most peanuts (Just typing this is making me queasy). I've lost almost two days of cleaning the house for our renters who are arriving this weekend, two days of getting ready for our vacation, and two days of riding and swimming. There was no way I could do more than drag myself around the house until this afternoon, so I've "lost" a few days, and a few pounds, gained some stress, and I won't be eating peanuts anytime soon.