For this past Friday's "Family Game and Movie Night" I took the kids to see "Up." Our new favorite joke is to yell "Squirrel!" when we want to distract someone. I might also seriously contemplate putting the kids in a "cone of shame" for punishment when they don't clean up their mess in the basement... After the kids went to bed, I stayed up chatting with Marit. Saturday was an early morning with another ride in the Blue Ridge on tap. Since my downhills are like her ocean swims--very fear inducing, but a necessary evil--it was nice to commisserate with her. We talked alot about our respective upcoming IMs, training, and vacations. I hope Marit someday considers coaching--for someone so young (just a few years older than my son) she knows just the right things to say that motivate, inspire, and make people believe that "YES, they can!" She lives that attitude and it really comes across. Thank you, Marit!
The following morning, we got Lynn, bike, and stuff loaded in the car and headed out by 6am. I ate all my various breakfasts, so I was well fueled for the bike ride. I was determined to work at those downhills, to not ride the brakes as much, and to just "let it go." We met up with our fellow crazy-IMPLers at the Reeds Gap exit off the Blue Ridge Parkway, just up the road from the Wintergreen resort. The weather was still cool, and quite foggy, but with the promise of blue skies and 80 degrees to come. Among this group, I am the least-strongest biker, and my current dislike of downhills contributed to my slowness. Yet something was working for me that day. I was cranking on the uphills, just relatively comfortably spinning in my lowest gear (if grinding away at 3,5, and 8 mile uphills can be comfortable), and then talking my way down going the other way. I feel like I've gotten my nutrition nailed--the combination of a heavy carbo-pro sippy bottle and gu--which takes so much guess work out of the ride. And I don't have to chew!
Most of the morning I didn't have much company, since the majority of the first 14 miles is downhill. I was the last to get to the turn around, but was able to keep up with Lynn and Shawn on the way back--managing to catch up to them on an uphill after a potty break. The next 10 miles were more grinding uphill. At one point Ed went screaming by in the other direction, probably pushing way over 50mph. Those next 10 miles back to our cars was another chance to try and let the bike have it's lead and pick up my average mph for the day. Another quick stop at the cars and it was time to head back to mile marker 0. That descent went much better than the first time, the sun had come out, there was some breeze so I was mentally talking myself through that, and trying to keep up with Lynn and Shawn (to no avail). After tinkling in the bushes at the major intersection, it was time for the last uphill grind of the day.
So, miles 1-3 weren't so bad. Then comes a little reprieve around the visitor's center where you can catch a little downhill. I gave the 4 foot long black snake in the road a wide berth. Miles 4-5 are nice and shady. Then Mile 6 hits you. Crap 8 more to go. Grind grind grind. Where is mile 7? 8? By mile marker 9 I am grumbling to myself (since I'm all alone)...this really sucks...Placid isn't this hard...can I go downhill now? I won't complain, I promise... Finally you get to mile marker 9, but then it's ALL uphill with no rest until mile 11. Just please, Lord, get me to mile 11. From mile 11 to 14 you don't have to pedal at all. Just coast, catch a nice breeze, and hold on till the end. I did manage to snap a few pictures on the way--of myself, of the deer at mile 8, and the view. Very nice, now get me off this damn bike. Where's my cupcake and beer?
I did it. I was very proud of how hard I worked on the uphills. But I was toast. Lynn and Shawn came in just a few minutes behind me and headed out for their transition run. We had an impromptu picnic by the cars, congratulated fellow IMLPers Tyler and Greg on their impressive 100 miler (who were headed UP to the top of Wintergreen, OUCH!), and cheered on Mark, Karen, and Rick as they tackled the 644 hill up to Reeds Gap (a NASTY 15% grade). Karen, Shawn, Lynn and I had a most satisfying lunch at the bbq/sandwich place in the valley before heading home.
The weekend wasn't over yet. Sunday, Joe joined me for a rare run sans ipod! It actually felt pretty good to run, and we made it out early enough to beat the worst of the heat. A quick packing of the car with overnight bags and dog, and we were off on our drive up to Gettysburg. Joe got a bugaboo about taking the kids up there. Maddy had learned about the Civil War in her Social Studies class, and they were all done with their benchmark testing at school, so it seemed like a good time to go. We hit some weekend traffic, and ended up pulling into our hotel close to 5pm. We left Sophie to get acquainted with the down comforters on our beds, and headed into town to explore and find dinner. The tavern we ate in is the oldest building in town, which was fun, and the kids enjoyed the miliary collectibles shop. We headed back to the hotel for a quick dip in the pool before bed.
The next day started with a great diner breakfast, the new museum, gift shop and cyclorama. Then we started our walking/driving tour of the battlefields and monuments. I should've looked up family names from Michigan to see if there were any listed among the dead. I'm pretty sure my father's family came to the US after the Civil War.
Soon it was time to head home, and begin the taper! Kids are out of school this friday, I have Eagleman on Sunday, and we leave for Europe on Monday. It will be a busy week.