|Michelle: my crazy friend (on the left) and Me (on the right)|
Way back in March when my crazy friend Michelle forced me to sign up for LJ100 (she didn't exactly hold a gun to my head, but still), I knew training would be an infuriating challenge.
|Up late with my sick kiddo.|
My kids are still young. They are night-wandering warriors determined to destroy a peaceful nights sleep. They're giant, slimy balls of germ infested snot that can strike you down with feverish, lung choking illness in just one spray of spittle. You can imagine how those two things alone can throw a wrench into anyone's training plan.
Not to mention all the usual stuff that demands your time: work commitments, soccer games, school programs, blah, blah, blah. We all have deal with it.
Then I mangled my hand in a freak knuckle verses disc brake rotor incident.
And dislocated my shoulder.
Excuses. Road blocks. Whatever, they aren't going to keep me from doing what I've set out to do.
A vision quest is a rite of passage in some Native American cultures.
The vision quest is a turning point in life taken before to find oneself and the intended spiritual and life direction. He or she will go on a personal, spiritual quest alone in the wilderness, often in conjunction with a period of fasting. This usually lasts for a number of days while they are attuned to the spirit world. Usually, a Guardian animal or force of nature will come in a vision or dream, and give guidance for their life. (taken from Wikipedia).
This week I had what I would consider my most important training rides.
The goal: get as close to a 100 miles on single track as I could.
The trail: Owasippe.
It was a day I have long anticipated, knowing that I would be challenged in ways I had not yet been tested on the bike. The Owasippe trail system was the home of the Potawatomie Indians in the 19th century. I always feel a deep connection with nature and the land's ancestral history when I'm riding there. I couldn't help but think of this day as my personal Vision Quest. The way things have been going, I needed a turning point . . .
Michelle was planning on riding all day with me. Another friend, Derek planned to ride for a few hours before going to work. Michelle is riding a sweet new single speed that, gets this, weighs 19 pounds. I'm not jealous at all. Sadly, there's been some mechanical issues that cut Michelle's ride short and she had to leave after just a lap and a half. It was a blow. I was going to miss her. With Derek only able to stay until noon, I was looking at a long day of riding alone.
Feeling decent the first 3 laps, I was surprised when my legs were slapped with fatigue just a few miles into lap 4. Losing my companions hit me harder than I anticipated. Everything was harder.
I opted for the 8-mile trail in fear that the big climbs on the back end of the 11-mile loop would be too demoralizing to recover from.
It's funny how Fear changes as you ride. Fear in the first lap is that washed out, rutted drop. 50 miles into the ride, Fear is turning right to begin another lap instead of heading straight for the parking lot.
2 solo laps completed and I was feeling awful. I thought I had seen a moose. I was aware enough to know that there are no moose in Owasippe. Something was off with my nutrition. I kept stopping for no reason. Just sitting on my bike, wishing I was done.
And so I rode back to my car. Loaded my bike and headed home. It was only 2:30 in the afternoon. And I only had 50 miles logged.
I had failed.
Driving home I noticed that the hydration pack I had been wearing was still full. Full! After riding 20 miles. It should have been near empty. My plan was to take in most of my nutrition through fluids, the fact that my hydration pack was full meant that I was dehydrated and under-fueled. No wonder I saw a moose! My fingers and lips had also turned pale blue, not sure what that meant, but I know that's not good!
Laying on the couch at home my head filled with doubts. If I can't ride more than 50 miles how the heck can I finish LJ100? I was heavy with disappointment.
Munching away on my cinnamon raising toast with slathered with sunbutter, I decided there was still time to turn this day around. I brushed the crumbs off myself and set out to get in more miles. Initially I thought I would head out on my road bike.
But as I walked out the door it was my car keys I grabbed, not my road bike. I was barely conscious of what I was doing.
I was going back to Owasippe. I had a vision of Chief Owasippe (The Legend of Chief Owasippe) sitting on top of the hill, waiting for me. Where have you gone Heather? I'm here, waiting for you.
I was going to finish what I set out to do. This time I was focused and determined. 3-laps would get me 25 more miles for a total of 75. And although I could feel the fatigue of the mornings ride, I was renewed with a sense of purpose. I had found my flow and Chief Owasippe was my guide.