Why am I not surprised?
Starting out yesterday morning the temperature was bitter, just over freezing. Even so, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky so I anticipated a quick warm up. I started out in my USA jersey, arm warmers and my cold weather jacket. Below I wore my Brooks compression shorts, my cycling shots and a thin pair of tights. Booties were also in order. I thought about adding another upper layer for a minute and I was ultimately glad I didn’t. Ten minutes to eight I got a call from my wife to wish me luck, and an ominous taunt from my youngest – she informed me that I’d better be in first place crossing the finish line so she could cheer me on. Considering all of the high end carbon on site (including 2 Trek Tri-bikes, I figured that would be an impossibility, but told her I’d do my best.
We started out promptly at 8am, about 50 of us if I had to guess. I started toward the middle but quickly moved up to the front of the pack. Another rider joined me and actually took a pull for a mile but he started slowing down (or I sped up) and I soon passed him and before I knew it, I was on my own. It was another 20 miles before I happened on a rider who had snuck out early (this was not a timed event, it was a charity ride). I saw him when he was still a mile ahead of me, when he still danced with the heat rising off of the asphalt. As I reeled him in, he would check over his shoulder and hop out of his saddle and pedal his ass off as he turned back to stave me off. I had him. As I began my pass by announcing “on the left” he looked over his shoulder and said, “man I knew there was going to be a rabbit out here today”.
Who knew, I was the rabbit.
I hit the gas, I wanted for him to try to keep up, and watch me pull away, knowing he didn’t have a chance. I was still averaging 20 mph at that point, certainly quite a bit faster than I’d intending on riding, but being in front had an unexpected affect – I liked it and it pushed me to ride faster! I bumped it up to 22 to put some distance between us and held that for a couple of miles. Before we hit 25 miles, I’d opened a healthy lead. I slowed back down to 20 and by the time we hit the turn around I had a mile on everybody. At 30 miles I started to tire out a bit and I started to feel it slightly. I popped my third Roctane, cherry/lime and washed it down with some Gatorade. Half way home and I was into the wind. I concentrated on keeping my cadence up and fluid. Mile 36, 37 and 38 ticked by. Then I realized that I was in trouble. The organizers had painted arrows on the road to distinguish the route – green for the 100k, pink and orange for the shorter routes. I followed them meticulously but I was almost back to the farm, 24 miles too soon. When I reached the farm I stopped and asked the director where I’d gone wrong. I showed her my map on the phone and she said I’d missed the extended leg, instead of turning at the 23 mile mark I should have gone straight. It wasn’t marked correctly out on the road, and when I stated so she insisted that it was, that she’d painted the arrows herself… Rather than argue, I decided to do part of the first loop until I hit the 50 mile mark, then I could turn around and still get my 100k in. I took off. As I approached the turn around point, studying my on board map, it occurred to me that I could probably just finish that loop and end up close enough… Then I turned north, into the wind yet again, and I began to regret the decision to do the full loop. Had I turned around at 50 the trip back would have mostly been dealing with crosswinds.
I got down as low as I could on the drops and tried to get back to repeating “I’m the rabbit”. I didn’t feel like a stinking rabbit at that point. I was getting tired, fast. I downed my last gel and with eight miles left dusted off the last of my on board liquid…just 8 miles to go. I was sitting on 55.
Seven, six… I was hurting all over. Five, four… 12 minutes to go…I’m the rabbit…three, two, I called my wife to let her know that I’d be there in five minutes… One, I was so close to meeting my goal of 3:30, I’m the rabbit… With 600 meters to go I turned the corner and saw the finish. 500, 400, 300 I could hear my girls cheering me on to the finish – I kicked it to look strong for my girls. 200, 100. Done. And none of the bikes from the 100k group were back yet. I got and gave hugs, downed three large glasses of water, and slid off of my bike. 63.3 miles in 3:30:34.
God bless my wife, she walked my bike back to the car. I told her as much as I could about the ride while trying to collect my head, and looked around for some of the stronger riders that I’d expected to beat me. I was the only one.
My wife said that three other guys finished just before me and I remember passing them on the way back, so it is possible that I wasn’t first (it’s also possible that they did one of the shorter rides). Either way, it’s safe to say I was in the top five. More importantly, I made it and I made in the time I’d set to do it in.
It was one awesome ride.
Cycling: 567 of 18,759
Calories Burned: 1,236 of 27,037
Dinner for the evening consisted of a much deserved Fudrucker’s 2/3 lb burger, onion rings and several iced tea’s.
I’ll put up a detailed post later, but I made it. 63.35 miles in 3:30:35. The last five miles SUCKED! 🙂
My easy 5k was cut short by a k… It turned out not to be an easy one after all – first mile 7:12, second mile 7:14… I was pushing for the home stretch when I stumbled upon some sense – I’ve got a charity ride tomorrow and I really didn’t need to try to ride 100k with spent legs… The point is, I don’t know where this speed is coming from. I “can’t” run that fast!? I’m an 8 minute miler in mid season form.
I do know what it is technically, I ride hard, a lot, so my lactate threshold is increasing. I also pedal fast, 90-100 rpm so I’m building fast twitch muscle fiber which allows me to keep my running cadence fast (I actually match my cycling cadence).
Still, I never expected this.
In any event, it was a really fun run, followed by some fellowship at the running club, a few tacos and a fantastic Saturday nap.
This post will not cover my entire past, that would require that I fit the contents of a book into a blog post. This post does scratch the surface though, it was just a lot worse…
In late 1991 I was told that I had eight years left to live.
I was in out-patient treatment for alcohol abuse, assigned by the People of the Great State of Michigan and a probation officer as a condition of my probation. This took place shortly following a jury trial in which I was looking at 5 to 10 years in State prison. Most people don’t know the difference, but we’re not talking about jail here. Jail is where you go for a slap on the wrist – several days to a year. In the end, I was sitting next to my lawyer, sweating from every pore and shaking with fear. It had taken the jury two days to deliberate my case. They reported to the judge twice that they were hopelessly dead-locked. My attorney explained that this was a good thing though his words weren’t very comforting. He was right, though. You know, the funny thing about technicalities is that everyone hates them – until you’re looking at 5-10 and you’re let off on one. Such was the case with me, kind of. You see, I wasn’t guilty, not for what they were trying to pin on me, not by a long shot – but I wasn’t technically innocent either. So there I was waiting for the verdict, after the jury selection, several police officers embellishing facts and flat-out being dishonest on the stand and my own testimony – my attorney put me on the stand… And my fate lay in the hands of twelve of my peers. I was found guilty of the attempt of a misdemeanor. The maximum sentence was two years probation and fines and costs and the judge gave me every last-minute of that probation. Weeks later I learned that the reason that the jury convicted me of the attempted misdemeanor was that there was one older lady on the jury (my attorney had wanted to excuse her but ran out of options. He excused a couple of others who would have been much worse for me). In any event, that old lady just knew I was lying (even though I was entirely honest on the stand), and she would not back down, they were hitting me with something no matter what according to her – no matter what the law said. So the other members of the jury got her to settle on the least costly of the four or five possible outcomes. After I went home, my dad informed me that I had been bailed out of trouble for the last time – if I ever found myself in trouble again, I needn’t bother calling him.
Don’t bother asking about how I know all of the details about the jury. I don’t recall, the details have escaped my recollection.
That said, there I was, face to face with a doctor who was looking at my chart, eyes wide… He asked, not looking for an answer, “Are you aware that you have the liver of a 60 year-old chronic alcoholic? You’re liver enzymes are so high that you’ll die of cirrhosis before you hit 30”. I was 21. In July (or thereabouts) of ’92 I was arrested for drunken driving. I was less than a thousandth over the legal limit but with my record, I didn’t have a prayer. I called my dad from my cell and he informed me that he appreciated the call then hung up. I was on my own. My employer bailed me out the next day and I called my out-patient treatment counselor to let her know what I’d done. I had been informed months earlier after my mother called to report me coming home drunk after a spectacular bender that if I messed up one more time I was going to be sent away to in-patient. Well, it was time to pay the piper. My counselor set it up for me to go to Dawn Farms. I was scheduled to go in for 6-9 months, on November 18th, 1992. November 17, 1992 at somewhere around 11:55 pm, I had my last drink. That last drink wasn’t by design, I fully intended on going back to the bottle when I got out, but I’ll get to that in a minute. Now, most people have the idea that treatment centers are, for the most part, resorts. Not Dawn Farms, it’s a real working farm (or it was when I went there) and they take the hard cases. Multiple treatment stints, hard core drug addicts and the hopeless drunks – I was the latter.
My mother dropped me off at the treatment center where I had an “intake interview” with the president. Before I was called into the interview she gently stroked my face and with tears in her eyes, she asked if I’d be ok, that she wished I didn’t have to go. I grasped at air, telling her that I could change if she’d just take me home. She answered something to the effect of, “but then what? We’ve been down that road before”. I could only answer that she was right, because she was. The only thing I remember of that interview, more than 19 years ago now, was one question: “What makes you think you have what it takes to make it through this program? This isn’t easy here”. And my answer; “Because I have a lot of willpower”. That answer has haunted me, in a funny way, for 19 long damn years and I doubt I’ll ever forget sitting there, hung-over to beat the band, head pounding, stinking like draught beer and cheap liquor, completely lacking any self-control whatsoever, and I actually said that I possessed willpower!? Good God in heaven. At that, he must have figured that I was just about sick enough to need that place. I was taken right in and given a bunk. My first official duty at the farm, still incredibly hung-over, was to shovel out the pig stalls. That’s right, I was on pig shit detail. I wish I had a Benjamin for every time I almost lost what little was in my stomach that first morning.
After a day without a drink I began shaking uncontrollably. I can remember thinking, “so this is the DT’s”… Oh how little I knew, that was just the beginning. The shakes grew worse and were followed by intense irritability, night sweats, nausea and insomnia. By the time I hit the second week I was shaking so bad that I couldn’t drink out of a glass without a straw. The word misery doesn’t do justice to what I went through. Somewhere in my second week I was lying awake in my bunk bed, shaking and sick to my stomach, wondering what exactly the fuck I was going to do now. As I rolled that question around in my head, over and over again, I began to cry. I wasn’t sobbing, the tears just started falling – because I had no idea. I did know deep down that I was meant for more than this, I just didn’t know how I could get there and taking that journey without alcohol scared the hell out of me. That’s when I had my come to Jesus moment.
Tears streaming down my face, shaking and nauseous, I asked God for help. Actually, I tried for a bargain. I can remember thinking, “God, I know I’m supposed to be somebody, I know my life is supposed to be better than this. If you’ll help me, I’ll give this [sobriety] my best shot. That wasn’t the last time I ever wanted a drink, but it was the last time I needed one. I slept like a baby for the rest of the night. Somewhere in early January I attended my sentencing for my drunk driving. My driver’s license was suspended for 3 months and I was given probation. A few days later I decided that I’d had just about enough of the Farm, that it was time to start my new life. On January 10th, a brisk but not miserable day, I set off down the road – four to seven months before I could have completed the program. My dad left work and came to pick me up. I remember the conversation on the way home. He said, “So what are you gonna do now smartass? You have no money, no job, no car and nowhere to live. What are you gonna do”? I hadn’t thought the move all the way through. Grasping at straws I begged him to let me come home, that I’d changed in treatment and things were going to be different. My mom and dad decided to let me stay, and things were different. Within six months, I had bought a car, had a decent job and rented an apartment. I had some rocky times but I kept up my end of the bargain that I made with God, and He kept up His end.
Tomorrow, I’ll go back to Dawn Farms for the first time in almost two decades, not a drop or drug since, to ride a bike for 62-1/2 miles in support of the treatment center that helped save my life, corporate donation in hand from a company that I own, because I was right… I was meant to be somebody.
I am a one percent’er. Not in the monetary sense that’s become so popular, but in the statistical probability that an alcoholic who quits at 21 makes it to his 40th birthday without going back to the old life, and it has absolutely nothing to do with luck.
And I’ve only just begun.
I went out for a ride yesterday, probably a little bit faster than I’d wanted but I’m certainly not feeling any adverse effects today. I’ll be hitting a short slow run today just for fun, and then heading over to my local running shop for my gels and energy bars. My bag is all packed for tomorrow and I’m ready to go. I got my ears lowered yesterday (I always get my hair cut before an event). The weather is going to hold for tomorrow, in fact it is going to be a touch warmer than expected later in the afternoon.
Nothing to it but to do it at this point.
Next week spring finally comes back (rather than being stuck in late winter) – temps will finally make it up into short sleeve territory. About stinkin’ time.
A while back I walked through a hypothesis with a friend of mine in which we attempted to look at climbing hills in a new way (not noobish) – give cycling a look with some fresh eyes if you will. Little did I know at the time, but we stumbled onto something big! Bike v. Car solicited advice on the best way others had found to climb hills so I, freshly back from a bombastic (if windy) ride, suggested something so cutting edge, so perfectly simple, that it boggled both our minds (well I got the idea you were pretty impressed anyway, brother).
Before I get into the wherefore’s, I must state that I’ve studied this hypothesis and tested it relentlessly – I finally concluded my testing today. With my new method of climbing, I’ve documented an average speed increase of 21.485% up inclines less than 5% and have managed to knock minutes off of my normal rides (16 & 18 miles).
What is it, you ask? Prepare to have your britches blown across the room… (more…)