Duncan and I in front of the temple of Poseidon, half way through the ride.
When I was younger I used to get so angry at my body when it failed me. Not just disappointed, but outright angry. I felt my body was a tool - a well oiled machine, that could, and of course should, unfailingly deal with all that I presented it, from not eating enough, to training excessively, to staying up or not resting enough. In my old and wise age (of nearly 30) I am still learning to respect my body - to give it time and nourishment and days off.
I have seen what a failing body looks like, I have felt it, hugged it and lifted it. In the last few months of his life my father's body truly failed him. He became small and frail, a mere 37 kgs of bones and skin. I could lift him with little help. Yet he had faith in his body - to the last minute he believed that he would walk, he would go fishing again.
Maybe I am just mellowing out - I am definitely less strict with my training, yet I enjoy it a lot more. I expect less from my body, yet it does more. It has taken to training like a fish to water, and considering that I had such a long time off, it is getting back to form beautifully. A chronic injury also teaches you not to take things for granted; the fact that I am up and walking today means my body has not failed me.
My prescribed training today consisted of a 3 hour ride followed by a 45 min run. A tough session, especially as I have not ridden that long in almost three years. The ride was hard from the beginning possibly as I have been unwell lately - took two days off Thursday and Friday for tonsillitis, possibly as an remnant of a 90 min ride the day before (and a 3km swim...) or maybe just because my legs are just not used to riding as much as they ha in the past. It was also a group ride, which is both good and bad. The good is that you have friends to ride with, you can chat and you are also more visible. The bad is that you have to go at a pace that may or may not suit you. I was trying to stick to my IM pace (by heart rate) and that proved hard, as the group would surge up hills then level out on the flat. It was clear from the beginning that the pace was not ideal for me. It also became clear pretty early on that there was no chance my ride would be 3 hours, but would more likely end up being 4. Still, something that 4 years ago would have worried me, didn't. Sure, that's what I can do now, this is as fast as I can go at this heart rate and my legs feel heavy. Maybe it is a reality check - but at a good time, still 13 weeks to go. I enjoyed the ride, all the while trying to make it as useful to me as possible, gauging perceived effort to heart rate to speed relationships, making mental notes on how comfortable my position/equipment felt (possibly time for a bigger pair of shoes) and keeping hydrated and blood sugar up.
3hr 48 mins later I came off the bike pretty tired. And felt ready to run - my legs wanted to do something other than go round and round. Of course 10 mins into the run they also wanted to do something completely different, like lie down, but the run felt light and, if not easy, bearable. Pierre, a fast and always fit Frenchman who was training with us, pushed the pace a bit and I found myself being well over my pace/prescribed heart rate, but at least I finished the run standing.
Today was another lesson that I should take with me on the journey to Challenge in August. In fact it was several lessons. 1) When things get bad... keep going. They almost always get better (especially after some food) 2) For runs off the bike especially (actually... and long runs) run alone, at my own pace 3) Ride more!
Total hours this week: 11 (with two days off for sickness). 13 weeks to go!