Ironman friend and riding buddy Maria had turned the big 5-0 a few weeks back and decided to celebrate with a 50 mile bike ride this Sunday. How could I say no to a group ride followed by a brunch? Knowing I had this ride set for Sunday, I co-ordinate with training buddy John to do a 12 to 14 mile on run on Saturday with the group that leaves out of Holiday Park at 6:30 AM.
About 8 runners gathered Saturday morning, and we start off on our run. I'm fine through about the 5 mile mark of the run, when my energy level just drops severely. As I drop off the back of the pack, I'm wondering if I'm relapsing from the cold I was getting over, am under-trained, or I'm overheating from the humidity level. As my only symptom is feeling like a limp rag, I figure I'm just short of energy. Unfortunately, I had run out of goo packs and have no way to jump start the energy stores. While I always carry cab fare in case I can't complete a long run, I decide that as I'm at the mid-point of a 10 mile loop, I should just run the next 5 miles slow and get the mileage in.
Nothing sucks worse than a long run when you don't feel the energy to complete the run. I'm not running that much slower, but the perceived effort makes it feel a lot slower. As I come to about the nine and a half mile mark, I come across John going back out for another 3 mile loop. "Turn around," John says as he passes me. "No, I've got no energy," I reply. I feel so bad about my run that I tell the other runners hanging out back at the park to let John know that I wasn't feeling well and am going home. No need for an after run, breakfast analysis of a crummy run. That afternoon, I make sure to stop by the running store and get a new case of Hammer Gels.
The next morning, as I pack my bike in my car, I wonder if I'm going to bonk on the ride. I hadn't been on a ride since before I left for Europe. This could be trouble. To make matters worse, a storm front was stationed off of the coast and the winds were predicted at 15 to 20 miles per hour. Oh well, I can't miss the "50 for 50" ride.
About 8 riders show up at Maria and we're met by 4 more as we reach A-1a. Being a bit cautious, I stay mid pack on the outbound, but take my turn pulling on the into the wind outbound ride. I'm holding my own, but wonder if I'll run out of gas again today. As we start our return ride, the wind is somewhat at our backs. I take the lead and feel pretty good about myself. Unfortunately, I'm feeling a little too good and start to drop some riders. I realize I'm a crummy lead rider, which is why I like the solo riding of triathlons. I pull back to a consistent pace and share the lead with other riders. At about mile 45, I start to lose steam and drop off the back of the pack. OK, so the dreaded energy drop off didn't occur until near the end of the ride. I glad that I was able to complete the full 50 miles. Brunch afterwards at Maria's house was fabulous.
I'm not sure what the drop in energy level was all about on Saturday, but I'm glad it didn't effect Sunday's ride. I just hope it was a fluke and I'm back on track for my next long run.