What a wonderful and mysterious trail life leads us over. I have seen and done so much since the school year ended. The traveling and training and planning of more traveling has kept me plenty busy, but not too busy to catch up with some old friends over lunch a couple of times. The last 24 hours have been consumed by tending to my son who is once again ill and in the hospital. I am typing this from his hospital room where we have just learned that the abscess on his left tonsil is responding to the IV antibiotic. We'll be here for another 24 hours as the drug flows. Then we will make the decision about whether or not to remove the tonsils.
The weather seems to have touched many lives across the country in recent days. With the deaths in Arkansas and severe flooding in other areas, I could not allow myself to complain about our suffocating heat and humidity. Nor will I complain about the fact that I've developed a sinus infection that has turned my right nostril into a high-flow faucet. I will, however, bitch and moan about the carnivorous horse-flies that tried to make a meal out of me. Below is a LIFE SIZE photo of the monster.
The only other time in my life when I can remember being so relentlessly harassed by biting insects was when backpacking in Denali National Park in 1997. Then it was the Alaskan "state bird" giant mosquitoes that completely enveloped me every time I paused to eat, drink, or scratch my arse. Plenty of clothing and an army surplus head-net kept that blood thirsty mob at bay. Yesterday, clad in only sopping wet running shorts, a mesh hat, and running shoes, I must have appeared to be a mammalian buffet to every fly who flew near me. I was bitten more than a dozen times by various types of flies, including four painful bites by the mandible-equipped female 1.5-inch horse-flies. That's right, the blood suckers were girls! The toothless boys eat pollen and nectar.
The four who bit me all died. That was the sole purpose of having a hat on in a dense forest at dawn. Swat and stomp - PETA be damned!
The BS was quite similar to last week. I started with the 32-mile bike ride over a hilly (1500' vert) loop again, but I kept a higher tempo than last week. Controlling the cadence and HR, I rolled through the course at 22.5 mph while sweating off 8 lbs of fluid and salt. The legs felt great the whole time.
Next was the run. I carried a gallon of water from the car to the bottom of Stru Hill before proceeding onto the roads for a 9-mile/1-hr "warm-up." Though that part was uneventful, I did arrive back at the car with shoes that appeared to have just stepped out of a river. That was far too much sweating for June. Wielding a backpack containing the day's calories, I ran back to the bottom of the hill.
A few isolated thunderstorms on Friday had completely changed Stru Hill. Much of the fine gravel had washed to the bottom where the depth gave it the consistency of a river beach. Passage without testing the ankle in the myriad of new erosion ditches was impossible. I only turned the still-healing ankle once - while removing a large branch from the beach before I started.
I climbed the hill 30 times, taking two short nutrition/fluid breaks after the 10th and 20th ascents. Though I consumed almost a gallon of water and a quart of sports drink, I still became dehydrated to the point of a HR spike with 6 climbs remaining. Finishing those last few climbs in a state of robotic delusion was good practice for the upcoming goals.
Upon returning home I stepped on the scale and learned that I weighed 10 lbs less than when the day started. So a drank some chocolate milk, orange juice, and water. Then I drank some more chocolate milk because - well, because it tasted soooo good! I also swallowed several s-caps.
The BS ended with a 34-mile easy ride over a loop very similar to the one I rode earlier. Amazingly, I suffered another horse-fly bite while cruised downhill at almost 35 mph.
I am excited about the fact that I was able to finish this long training day in horrible weather conditions without bonking, despite a heat index near or over 100 degrees for most of the run and all of the second ride. My efficiency and strength are both coming around while my heat acclimation passed a tough test. The combined workouts included more than 6000' vert, covered 90+ miles, and lasted almost 6 hrs. It was a good day, despite the fact that I had to drink another two gallons of fluid to get my weight and vertigo back in line.
The heat wave is expected to last all week. Oh, boy!