Over Half Way There

At the beginning of the year I set a goal to ride 5000 miles and run 500 miles.  June 30th is the half way point, and so far I have ridden 2652 miles and ran 302 miles.  I’m 53% of the way through with my riding goal and 60% of my running goal.

That’s good, because my body is telling me I need a break.  I’m still having fun, but my muscles and joints feel a little tight and achy.  I may have found the upper limit of what my body can handle.  While I was supposed to run/ride 96 miles per week / 9.6 miles per week to hit my goal, I actually did 102 per week and 11.1 per week.   I only need to average 89.5 miles per week / 7.6 miles per week for the rest of the year.

But don’t expect me to exceed my goal.  I’m going to actually reduce my mileage, so that I have more time to rest and do shorter workouts with higher intensity.

Last Saturday, I took an early morning, 6-hour, 80-mile bike ride through Downtown Columbus and up to Delaware County. This was my longest ride this year.

Next week, I plan on taking it very easy and doing a lot of stretching and “meditating” to give myself a break.  This will work out well, because I should hit the first Tri-State 6-Hour race very well rested on July 9th.  This will be the first in a stretch of races that I’m looking forward to, but will also push my limits mentally.  Getting ready for these races will involve extra days off to taper and it will be nice to have some breathing room in my mileage goal every week.

And while I plan on sticking to the goal and I think it’s obtainable, it has also given me some perspective for the long-term.  If I set a goal for next year, the max I would aim for is 4000 miles of riding and 400 miles of running.

While I feel the running is good cross-training, it does take an extra toll on my body and requires more recovery time between workouts.

As I type all this, it makes me feel like I’m being whiney or wimpy, like I’m not enjoying myself.  After all, this is all optional, why torture myself?  However, that’s far from the truth.  This has been a very fun year for biking and running.  From the big things like my trip to Utah, to the small things like discovering the Alum Creek running trails, I feel like I’m still finding new experiences and ways to keep it fun.  While, according to my race results, I’m having my fastest season to date, I’m actually spending more time riding slower and taking in the scenery.  Not every ride is a race or a workout and I’m making sure to explore new paths that I discover, even if it means that I’m deviating from some focused workout plan.

After all, that’s what drew me to biking in the first place.  It was a great way to explore.  The racing just gives me a goal to work toward when I don’t have the time to go find something new to see.  There is not always time to drive to some far off trail, so I ride the same trails repeatedly.  When you’ve ridden every line at Alum Creek, it just makes sense to see if you can ride that line faster.

And that takes me to my adventure this Saturday.  I’m planning to ride the “Dirty Dozen” in Pittsburgh.  This is a race that is held in Pittsburgh every Thanksgiving weekend.  However, I’m always busy with family stuff that weekend, so I’m never able to do it.  The course takes riders up 13 of the hardest climbs in Pittsburgh and it has reached legendary status as a challenging ride that has taken out some great riders.  I’m planning to ride the course, starting from the top of Mount Washington rather than the normal start, but I’m not looking to break any speed records.  It’s about 50 miles and 3700 feet of climbing, but I plan on taking it at a leisurely pace – except for when I’m going up hill of course.  It will be a great chance to explore some neighborhoods in Pittsburgh and to challenge myself physically on the climbs.

It’s rides like this that I live for.  This is where all the miles I’ve logged and hills I’ve climbed will pay off.  All that training gets you in good shape and makes the challenging days of exploring more fun.  …and it will get me 1/100th of a way to my mileage goal. So there’s that.

James Knott and neighborhood kids

Yesterday, I took the neighborhood boys on an 8-mile ride around our neighborhood. I took them on a lot of bike paths that they had never experienced. They were so excited to escape the confines of our street. On my best rides, I try to find that kid-like enthusiasm for adventure.

I took them on a little-known gravel path in our subdivision. Adventure!