Week 5 Ironman Louisville Training: Blood, Sweat, and Tears

This week has been hard. Really hard. Work stress has been piling up, leaving me with unpleasant things like work-related nightmares. That can’t be good. I almost saw a child die on my long bike ride on Saturday. I almost got T-boned when a minivan decided to run a red light today after I dropped off my bike to get tuned up. So yeah, there’s all that. My personal life is meh at the moment but let’s focus on the good. As a memorial plaque told me on my long bike ride this weekend, “Love life, live fully.” I intend to do just that.

My ride started off a bit of an afterthought on Friday morning. I had heard that the weather was going to be exceptionally beautiful this weekend in Seattle. My longest ride to date was 42 miles or so on a stationary bike last December, and 29 miles on my real bike (outdoors) mid-January. With all of the training I really wanted to feel like I was making some sort of progress, and based on how I felt with some of my longer 30-40 mile rides on the trainer I felt that it was time to take myself for a test ride. On Friday, I mapped my route and did some research.

Again, this was the farthest I’ve ever gone. I’ve driven to Redmond ONCE and that was in October, when Shant was in town for Halloween. We went to visit a glass pumpkin patch all the way at Marymoor Park. On the map I saw all these cities that I’d generally deemed too far to drive to, let alone ride. Kenmore? Bothell? Woodinville? Redmond? I went along with the route, hoping that my naivete would carry me forward.

On Saturday morning, I lagged…majorly. I made breakfast and went back to sleep. I woke up again at around 10 o’clock and got things ready…got dressed in my gear, got my bike tires pumped, strapped my spare tube and air canisters on, filled up my Camelbak, and even decided to give my biking cleats a try.

Before my ride (a.k.a. before falling down and cutting myself and developing saddle owwwies). I had no clue what I was getting myself into!

I made it as far as my front door, perhaps even an extra 50 feet, before I clipped in and immediately proceeded to fall off my bike. I broke my fall by not tensing up (something that keeps repeating itself this weekend) and just kind of fell as gracefully as I could onto the pavement. I looked around and it didn’t seem like anyone saw, so I got up. I unhooked myself and walked my bike up the hill. It’s incredibly hard walking with cleats on, let alone up a sidewalk on a hill. I try to get on to pedal some more but my chain is out of whack again. Great, just like the night before my first triathlon. I try to put my chain back on while my biking gloves are still on and my thumb catches one of my bike chainrings and I begin bleeding all over my bike. (I spare you of those photos, but at least I’ll highlight it in red for you.) I pull my bike indoors to get things cleaned up. There’s chain grease everywhere (including all over my white handlebar tape) and blood on my hands. I clean up and, in the process of bandaging my thumb, wonder if this was going to be worth it. It would be so much easier to just stay home, or to hop on the trainer, or to grab a stationary bike at the gym. This whole process kills about an hour and half.

When I finished my pity party, I headed out again anyways.

My first break. A bench with a short memorial. “Love Life, Live Fully.”

The Burke-Gilman trail definitely didn’t disappoint. There were lots of people on the trail that day. Friends, family, couples, athletes. It was nice to see everyone out enjoying themselves. I wished dearly that Shant, or my parents, or my besties were there riding with me that day. I try to think of this as a preview ride where I get to experience all of the bumps on the road before deciding if its something safe for them to enjoy, and that helps. I was hoping to catch Shant that morning for a dose of enthusiastic cheer, but alas he was already prepping and out the door for his photo shoot. I’m a nervous wreck when I have to deal with distances that seem out of reach for me, and he always knows what to say to put me in a peaceful place.

The views of Lake Washington was extraordinary. I didn’t want to stop quite yet, and as an incentive to finish, I figure that I could take photos on my way back. So, eventually the signs said “Leaving Seattle” (eeeek!) and the Burke Gilman Trail became the Sammamish River Trail.

Taking a snack break along the Sammamish River Trail. Little did I know that there was a huge picnic area just less than a mile up the trail. This is a theme that continues repeating itself…

I start getting hungry. I kept telling myself that I’d stop at the next bench I saw, but they stopped coming. I eventually just dismount and set my bike down. I watch a ton of people ride by while I snack on almonds and fruit mix.

I made it to Richmond! Like, all the way to Richmond! I biked from Amazon to Microsoft! Craziness. It’s also crazy that Marymoor Park has wifi.

I push through and eventually made it to the end of the Sammamish River Trail at Marymoor Park. It felt glorious. I remember seeing this trail from the road, I remember the sign (above) and I remember the baseball fields near the park entrance. I find some empty bleachers and make a home of it for a few minutes while I catch my breath, eat some more, and hydrate. I’m already pretty tired, but I still had to head allllllllllllllll the way back home. I know that I passed the Redmond transit center on my way to the park. Great, there was an escape plan! However, I figured that I’d leave that as a last-ditch effort in case I really couldn’t just slog out the miles. It lifted a bit of weight on my mind so I headed back.

Somewhere in between Redmond and Woodinville. All I really wanted was a diet Coke at this point.

I can’t really remember the name of this place. I was starving, tired, exhausted. I really just wanted to go home at this point. My saddle had been killing me, my lower back was getting uncomfortable, but I knew that I still had enough juice in me to slog it home. I really wanted a weekend to remember, so off I went…

Pulled over in Kenmore to catch a breath. I watched a young girl almost die, so I needed a bit of a brain break here.

Wow. So here I am in Kenmore. Just a few feet behind me, I watched one of the scariest scenes of my adult life unfold before me. There was a young girl, no older than 2 or 3 years old, riding along on her tricycle without her helmet. The side of the Burke Gilman trail here actually has a bit of a cliff. Beyond the patchy grass you see there is actually a 20-30 feet drop onto a rather large highway. There’s a bit of a grading, so if you had the tenacity, you could climb up and down if you were a bit like Spiderman, but it generally acts as a divider between the trail and the highway. So this girl loses her footing and goes plummeting down this cliff, with no helmet, and she is headed head-first into a parked SUV along the side of the road. By some good grace she manages to not freeze up and turn her handlebars at the last minute. By now I’ve already dismounted and was heading down the cliffish hill (as someone who is TERRIFIED of going down a steep hill, even on foot) hoping not to witness the maiming of a child. When I see that she’s cleared the parked SUV I look (with mostly fear) at the highway in both directions…and it’s clear enough, with a few cars off in the distance headed towards her but nothing that a driver wouldn’t have missed if they were paying attention. Another stranger was able to dart faster down the hill than I was able to, and grabbed the crying girl and pulled her out of the intersection. Her parents soon followed.

It all happened so fast. I wasn’t prepared to see a child die on Saturday. I don’t think you’re ever ready for that. I’m glad that it ended up being a happily ever after but seriously, why on earth would you let your 2 year old ride a tricycle so close to a cliff edge? And why the hell would you be carrying her helmet instead of making her wear it?! Ridiculous excuse for parenting ever. Seriously.

Matthews Beach Park overlooking the Pontiac Bay.

I continue on, contemplating life and death and all the shades of grey in between. The pain in my rear is radiating at this point. I’m mentally fatigued. I’m not sure why the hell I even decided to embark on such a long ride by myself. I missed my boyfriend, I missed my besties and my parents. I hope that one day we can all bike here. It was such a pretty day out…would’ve been a great day for a picnic. I thought about my new life and in the physical misery I felt at that time, there was a small ray of happiness. I also decided here, at Matthews Beach Park, that I was not going to schlep up the hill in Eastlake to get home but was instead going to catch the next bus after passing through UW, thus completing my journey from Seattle to Redmond in one sunny afternoon.

Almost made it home, but to get me close enough I hitched a bus about a mile or two. (There’s hills where I live…)

Blood, sweat, and tears. All of them. All weekend long. At least I finished that sucker.

Week 5 Ironman Louisville Training:

13.1 hours; Swim: 3432 yards; Bike: 96.58 miles; Run: 5.21 miles

Monday, March 25: Rest day

Tuesday, March 26: Strength training in the morning, 1.2 mile commute to work on foot

Wednesday, March 27: 13.7 miles in 1:15

Thursday, March 28: 0.75 mile swim. I got kicked in the face with a huge wave of water. 15 miles on the bike, 3.2 miles on the treadmill…all before work.

Friday, March 29: Strength training in the morning, followed by a 1.2 mile swim in 1:05 again. In the evening I return for 14 miles on the bike and 1 mile on the treadmill.

Saturday, March 30: The grandaddy of all bike rides I’ve ever done. 53.88 miles in 04:59:32 with plenty of breaks in between. 1.01 mile brick run when I get home.

Sunday, March 31: Rest day. Took my bike in for a tune up.

Here’s to a less bloody week 6. I’m technically 20% done with my training. Oh boy.

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