Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Thunder on the Horizon

Today I raced thunderstorms. And learned a bit about myself in the process.


There were a few spotted ones to the North, and a massive one to my South. Directly East from the Blackwater trailhead were clear blue skies: so that’s exactly where I headed (with a wary eye towards my South and North).

My ride was a grand total of 3:15 followed by a 35 minute transition run. Yea! I GET to run, I GET to ride! And I couldn’t have been happier.

Not even when I heard the high temperature was supposed to range in the mid-90s. (My Northern counterparts are having it much worse, it seems).

Not even when Jen emailed me that I should “start early as to avoid the heat…” (I’ve had more than my share of afternoon trainer rides, as my heat acclimation isn’t all that great. Anything more than 3 hours on the trainer, and its New DVD time. I swear, our collection is out of hand).

Not even when I checked the weather at 5:15 am (yes, 0515 – o’dark thirty! Or whatever it is) and saw dotted thunderstorms splotched across the Panhandle. (They’re localized! And I’ve already had my bad lightning experience! So as long as I play it safe, I should be okay…)

And believe me, nothing, absolutely nothing says “good morning” when you’re sucking down your second gel of the day at 7:30 am (yes, 0730 – o’not-so-dark-anymore-but-still-way-too-early-for-two-gels thirty!).

But I rode on, oblivious to the heat, chomping on my ride nutrition, and keeping a wary eye directed to my South.

And as I rode, I noticed a very subtle transformation. At first it was hard to get going; it was early and I could feel the accumulation of fatigue. The 5 (yes, count ‘em, f-i-v-e bottles of water and carbopro combined) weighed heavily on me and my bike, and I could hear the sloshing every time I stopped and then started up again.

And again, and again, and again.

But after the first half an hour or so, just as I was turning off Munson Highway onto Indian Ford Road, and right as I was beginning to start my bike pieces, I felt a shift to my old pre-crash self. No longer was I concerned about the storms, the heat, the 5 bottles (I didn’t want to stop once I started…) or the unpalatable gels. I wanted to hit my zones, wanted to nail my pieces. I felt my body respond and the bike hummm along under me, the whirrr of the wheels and my own breathing making the sounds of an athletic symphony.

At 2:00 and somewhere in the middle of the Blackwater Forest, I made the turn and planned on looping back to Munson highway and the trailhead. And that’s exactly when I came face-to-face with the ginormous Southern Thunderhead.

In amazement and over the course of 10 minutes, I watched as the uppermost parts of the puffy clouds billowed up well past 30,000 feet and hit the strong wind shears. And that’s when I saw the tell tale anvil formation. The wind sheared the top part of the clouds and formed a long trail: a sure sign of forming thunder storms below.

But I also realized that because the storm was still 20-30 miles away (by my guess-timation), that it would take a bit of time to actually reach me. Perhaps an hour or more: perfect for finishing my ride, but not enough time to get in my run.

But if I was really lucky, I could still run…

Or would it be better to drive 25 minutes home and run on the treadmill??

Or instead should I drive to Whiting Field NAS, about 9 miles to my NE and run on their treadmills???

But what if it was okay to run, but it was a zillion degrees outside? Then the thunder wouldn’t matter one single bit. If I melted on the pavement, I wouldn’t be able to run anyway. So perhaps an indoor treadmill set-up was the way to go…

Whiting or home???

How much time did I have?

Was the storm heading my way? Yikes!

And that’s when it hit me: why was I worrying about something I had absolutely no control over? It was affecting my performance, my ride, my mental state – and it wasn’t a given that the storm would even blow my way. Certainly there was a chance. But there was also a chance that everything would be okay.

The conclusion that I came to, was that there were things within my control, and things out of my control. Obviously, I couldn’t control things out of, well – my control. Like the storm. Or the heat.

But, as it was sunny, hot, and my 3/5 empty bottles were no longer weighing my down; I could still enjoy the rest of my ride. And to make matters better, I could hear birds chirping away as I whizzed by. And if it was about to thunder, I can’t imagine the birds would be singing so…

Steadily, I rode past fields, small farm houses within the forest, down valleys to offshoots of the Blackwater Creek, and then finally I crested one of the ridges above the Blackwater Forest. From that point, I could clearly see the storm and all her fury. I could see distant lightning flashing against the backdrop of purple, pink, and dark blue clouds. And though I could hear no thunder, could see no rain, I knew the storm could turn quickly and head my way.

So I took a mental snapshot of the busy horizon and made my way back to Munson highway and eventually to the Blackwater Trailhead. All along controlling the things I could control (holy too-many-gels-early-in-the-morning Batman!) and relinquishing control of the things I couldn’t.

And the moment I came to this conclusion, I had the best ride that I’ve had since my crash. And that was something that I could control.


Train-This said...

how great is it that you are writing about riding 3+ hours???? WONDERFUL!

kerri said...

Geez, you did it AGAIN! MCL.

HOLY CRAP!!!! YOU RODE THREE HOURS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And then RAN!

I'm calling you the COMEBACK KID!

So happy for you.

Beth said...

HAHA! I wrote about out-racing thunderstorms today too!! :)

GREAT workout Marit!! You are definitely back now! Have a great day!

Beth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TriGirl Kate O said...

In my head I hear the Aerosmith song "I'm BAAACK in the saddle again..."
Yey marit!

Ashley said...

Yes, the M C-L blog is back to how it should be.... a long winded recount of hours on the bike and miles of running. I am SO glad you're back.

Alili said...

3:15 followed by 35?! Wow! You're amazing.

Sarah said...

Since I 'met' you after your crash, I was never entitled to Marit training posts.

What a joy it is to read your training ride/run recount!!!

Go Marit!!

Kellye Mills said...

I got sooo excited reading this!! 3:15 and a 35 min T run... that's stinking awesome!! I was running today thinking about coming to train with you in Florida some and wondering if you'd be able to... now I'm back to wondering if I'll ever be able to keep up with you!! :)

Anonymous said...

ROCK ON!!! I have been missing your posts about training since the crash. This post was super great to read! It really made my day to hear you are back in the saddle...add in a run and it's almost too much to handle!!

Mira Lelovic said...

It's been a while since I've stopped by your blog. Glad to read you are back at it and all recovered. Hope your training goes well! Sounds like it already is!