I walk tonight with sore, quaking legs. The result of a terrific pace in a race earlier in the day? Or perhaps I did twenty or so sprints, warming up the legs for the summer to come. Or I did an unthinkable, riding some road race loop, complete with hills and such. What exactly did I do?
I (fake) ran a 5k.
See, late Saturday, the missus and I trekked down to my dad's with a bunch of tasks in mind. First off, we wanted to see the family (check). Second, we wanted to ride the tandem in a local ride (negatory - poor forecast). Third, we needed to drop off a bunch of promoting gear at one of the club member's house (check).
We managed a few bonus tasks too - we managed to empty the van enough that I felt comfortable driving it back home (we don't like storing it up here if there's too much good stuff in it).
And, finally, the bro's wife took us to the gym.
Actually, I drove my brother's new SI, so that was cool. One necessary acceleration meant bouncing the tach for a couple gears between a conservative-for-this-engine 4k and 5k (it doesn't even start to breathe until 6k and redlines at 8k), but otherwise I simply enjoyed the swift handling, beautiful shifting action, and the enveloping seats.
Okay, car stuff out of the way.
The last time I ran was, well, the last time the bro's wife dragged me to the gym, so it was about 6 months ago. Then, too, I did some absurd little self-test, running 1.5 miles about as hard as I could run. This time I wanted to see how long it would take me to run a 5k. Actually, when I started on the treadmill, I didn't really care, but when I saw "5k" on the list of automatic programs (i.e. you push the 5k button and it does a 5k thing for you), I couldn't resist.
I pushed the button.
Okay, first I stopped, watched my current run's stats (I'd hit "Manual" before, and just loped along at 6 mph), and then I hit the button.
I mean, okay, the timer started counting, but treadmill went to all of 0.5 mph. I wanted to go a bit faster than a 120 minute mile pace, which would correspond to some six hour 5k time. I quickly bumped up the speed to 6 mph, the 10 minute mile pace I'd been running before.
Time started to drag a bit.
I started thinking about how much more interesting riding would be, although the chilly overcast view out the window didn't make me rue leaving the bike behind.
At some point I grabbed the heart rate handles, and after a warning message, saw 138 bpm. Low. I decided that I'd accelerate as I went on.
After an eternity that took ten minutes, I'd run a mile. I bumped up the pace to a 9 minute mile. My thumping style smoothed out a bit, the treadmill shaking less. I felt a lot better. I tried not to lift my feet too much (I read that in some magazine somewhere), ran about 110 steps a minute (similar to a 170mm crank arm cadence), and tried to keep from being too bouncy.
My treadmill had some issues - broken TV screen, broken fan - so I focused on the red dot (me) going around the 440 yard course.
Another eternity, this one taking nine minutes, and I'd run two miles. I checked my heart rate on the grip things, waited for the "don't use the grip heart rate things while running as fast as you're running" message to scroll past, and finally got my HR - 158.
Not that hard, even for me. Heck, I do that during training rides. On the flats.
I decided I'd push the pace a bit. I bumped the pace up to some mid-8 minute mile, but as the remaining distance shrank, I kept hitting the Up arrow, finally settling in on a 6:40 pace for the last lap and change.
I got a bit distracted and didn't know exactly what I'd done for my fake 5k, but it was in the 27:30 - 28:00 range. Nothing world shattering - quite slow in fact - but I felt totally spent. Soaked in sweat, I couldn't even do 6 miles on the wildly optimistic computerized exercise bike (I was averaging 170 watts or so).
We all went back to my dad's, I showered, and we set off to drop off promoting stuff with the van. Luckily the van started (thanks to a 2 month old battery), there were no ants (I parked it in the driveway, not in the woods), and the van was pretty neatly packed due to the efforts of all the folks that helped out at Bethel this year.
A short time later and we were headed back home. The van seemed so empty that we decided to bring it back with us, with a "must stop" at a former local haunt named Ash Creek. We used to go there all the time - before the missus and I were even official, we went there because it happened to be between our two abodes. We kept going there since we ended up living only a couple miles away, and they have some smashing good burgers (although the guacamole burger disappeared, the bacon cheeseburg wrap is to die for).
After a couple good burgers (hey, we ran earlier in the day), we set off for home. I told the missus she could head on out as the van limited my top speed to just over the speed limit. I knew I'd be in the slow lane for much of the way home, and I didn't want to cramp her style.
However, supportive as she is, she went fast enough only to catch me (she got caught at a light just before the highway). After that she cruised at my speed, slow.
After following her through a few obstacles - clumps of drivers, last-second mergers separating us, and hills that, ironically, slowed me down - I realized something.
She and I were driving like teammates.
Okay, fine, we're married, but that's not what I meant. We were riding like racing teammates. We both knew our strengths and weaknesses, and we both tried to help each other out.
For example, she knew that I couldn't merge as easily with the ~5500 pound, 20 foot long van, so she'd change lanes first (behind me) and then let me into the lane in front of her. Or, if she dropped me on a hill, I'd try and catch up on the downhill, instead of her slowing too much on the hill. Naturally I used large vehicles for their draft, and followed such large vehicles closer than little ones (the van doesn't stop on a dime, so I have to be much more careful with slowing or stopping distances).
Just like riding.
All these adjustments happened somewhat automatically, just like they do when you have experienced teammates working together in a race.
We even had those riders, er, drivers, who cut between us, clearing the two of us by only a couple feet. Yet, without panicking, we worked together, using their tendencies against them, making them do what we wanted just by giving them the room to do it.
I hope that tomorrow my legs recover a bit, enough to let me do the group ride from Granby without embarrassing myself. Too, I hope that my legs then recover enough to do the EHaw race at the Rent, the first day the forecast looks promising. And finally, I hope that my legs are good for Wednesday up at NEV - I'm looking forward to practicing Madison stuff.
I better go eat some protein or something.