You've got to get the miles in if you're going to do endurance sports -- no way around it.
Sunday was my day to hit the road and go long -- a 4-hour ride with a short 20 minute brick run at the end. Early in the week the weather forecast looked superb -- temperatures in the 70s, sunny, but the reality when I woke up was a bit different. It was sunny, but in the upper 50s with winds in the 25-30 MPH range. But training called, and off I went.
My route was a simple out and back. I planned to go 2 hours out, then retrace my route. Unfortunately, my ride started into the teeth of the northwesterly wind. I knew that I'd be thankful it was at my back later on, but that was cold comfort as I struggled through the first 20 miles or so.
As the ride continued my direction shifted more easterly. The wind was still an issue, knocking me around a bit at times, but it wasn't as much as impediment as it had been. I kept grinding on through the Virginia countryside. The roads were smooth, little traveled, and passed through farm country and forest as I rolled along. Every 15 minutes my watch beeped to remind me to drink. The goal was one bottle of Infinit IM blend each hour, and I had plenty on me -- two bottles on the down tubes, and two stuffed into my jersey pockets.
As I reached the two hour mark, I was crossing Lake Anna, a large man-made reservoir. I rolled over long causeways, passing by fisherman bundled up against the unseasonably cool weather, casting away without a glance at me.
After 2:10 I stopped for a moment to have a chocolate GU and swap my empty bottles out. Just short of 35 miles, and time to head back. That's the beauty of an out-and-back ride -- no chance to bail out early -- once you've gone halfway you're committed.
I was able to catch a nice tailwind a few times on the return, and up my pace a bit coming back, counting the miles down with a sense of pride and not a little fatigue. Finally I rolled to a stop, 69 miles completed, the ride done. No rest for the weary (or the triathlete) however -- on go the running shoes and I'm off on a 20 minute run. Surprisingly, everything worked OK and I got into a nice rhythm almost immediately.
Finally it's done -- time to sit on the grass and collect myself. One 'o clock -- still time to get home and mow the grass.