Sunday, June 7, 2015

You don't know you've done too much ...

... until you've done too much.  It seems like every year I have to relearn the lesson that heat is not my friend, and this first-heat-wave-weekend-of-the-season shot that lesson home hard.

Jeffy had organized a group of friends to go mountain biking at Snoqualmie Pass on Saturday, starting from the cabin.  I'm not a mountain biker and I don't have a mountain bike, but it sounded like fun -- with all the canceled ski races this winter,  I've missed my ski friends!  I knew I didn't have the bike fitness or the mad mtb skillz of the others who were coming, but my rainy-day commuter bike has fairly sturdy tires and I figured I'd wave goodbye as they headed off for some technical vert, then I'd tootle down to the campground and put my toes in the lake and eat my lunch.  Then I'd ride back to the cabin in time to meet them for the barbecue.

But they encouraged me to come with them, and generously planned a route that would accommodate my shaky skills and slick tires.  We rode from the cabin to the Iron Horse trail and out to the Lake Easton dam,

ate lunch at Lake Easton State Park,

looped back around the back side of Amabilis,

and then headed toward home on Via Lake Kachess and Lake Kachess road to the dirt road back to the cabin.  Jeff's watch said just under five hours and 27 miles, but he and Glenn and Jim did a certain amount of yo-yo'ing back to me to see if I had been eaten by a cougar or was just taking pictures (thanks, guys!) , so I know I did fewer miles.

It turned out to be plenty for me!  For Jim and Elizabeth and Anna Louise and Glenn and Jeff, it was a lovely day of easy trail cruising and sightseeing.  For me, on my suspension-free bike and skinny tires, it was a lovely day of ouch ouch rock gravel ouch rock ouch my fingers are numb gravel water rock bridge tunnel ouch rock ooh puppy! gravel ouch ooh frog! lake rock ouch ... and sightseeing.  It was tough, but it was super super fun to be out there!

Just before we got back to the pavement on Via Lake Kachess, Jim let me try out his full-suspension, 29-inch-wheels machine and, people, it was like night and day!  OMG, that big bossy front tire just led me smoothly and easily around every obstacle and the full suspension made me float like an angel over all the bumps.  It was lovely!

Then we got back to the pavement, switched bikes back to our own, and that is where the heat smacked me down hard.  I had been feeling pretty toasted all day, but once we broke out of the forest and hit the full force of the mid-afternoon sun on blacktop, I was knocked to my knees.  I had a heat stroke once some years ago on a long hot bike ride; I blacked out on a long exposed uphill and toppled off my bike into the dirt, and the friendly paramedic who rescued me told me two important things: The first is that once you've experienced this, you're more sensitive to the heat forever after.  The second is that your body is smarter than your mind.  Your mind says to keep going (cabin!  beer!  shower!), but your body, that reptilian brain stem that never sleeps, says you're going to hurt yourself if you keep going so I'm pulling the plug on you.

So this time I recognized the warning signs and got off my bike before I fell off.  I walked up the long paved uphill, seeking out shady spots, dribbling precious water over my head and down my front.  Jim, bless his heart, stayed with me to make sure I didn't end up in the ditch, making big easy circles on his bike while I trudged up the hill.  He stopped partway up the hill, attracted by a group of people doing some hard-core trail work by the side of the road, but I slogged onward.

At the top, I came to an intersection and had no idea which way to go, so I parked my bike in the shade and drank more water and waited for Jim to catch up.   But he never did and never did, and suddenly I thought, maybe he's ahead of me!  Maybe he's at the cabin having a cold beer right now!   But I still didn't know which way to go, so I flagged down a passing car and asked the driver which way to I-90.  He took a dubious look at my beet-red face and said, "It's that way, but it's a long way."  So I said thanks and took off, slowly, stubbornly, rock-headedly, heading for the cabin.

Jim caught up with me just before I got there; he had been behind me all along and had enjoyed a nice long chat with the trail workers -- with coffee cake!  And coffee!  I should have stopped when he did -- coffee cake! -- but I'm not sure I could have mustered up the mental strength to get going again.

So, back at the cabin: the most heavenly scrumptious shower ever, fresh clean clothes, then dinner on the cool and shady back porch, with grilled hamburgers from a buffalo that Jim shot his own self, plus salads and brownies and apple crisp and watermelon and cherries.  Plus beer, but I skipped the beer and guzzled bottles of Nuun instead.  Jeff had picked out fun prizes for all of us -- including Keith, who had skipped the mountain biking but joined us for dinner, and Joy, who had done a trail run instead -- so we had a laughter-filled awards ceremony with much merriment.  Then we cleaned up the cabin and headed for home.

By the time I got home, I had a splitting headache.  I never get headaches, so I knew it was heat-induced.  I felt much better this morning and decided to get out early, while it was still relatively cool, and do my favorite roller ski workout in Discovery Park.  The problem is, with the sun coming up at 5:00, the morning heats up very quickly.  I parked my car on the north side of the locks, as usual, and noticed I was shivering as I put on my boots -- in retrospect, that was clearly a warning that my internal heat regulator was still out of whack!  But I headed across the locks and up to the park, the evil sun beating down on me again.  I managed two repeats on the medium-size hill that was fairly shady and had a little bit of a breeze and thought, that's not so bad, so I decided to try the big hill.

And that, my, friends, was a mistake.  My body said, "Didn't we talk about this yesterday, moron?"  I have often been slow skiing up that hill, and one time I did have to stop and rest halfway up, but I have never before had to stop so many times, every other minute, to pour water on my head and bring my jittering heart rate down before continuing up.

So I know when I'm beat.  I headed slowly back to the locks and my car, getting there with my last drop of water and last ounce of energy.  I put my boots and skis and helmet in my car and walked across the street to Red Mill for french fries, with extra salt, and a full-strength Coke, the recovery snack of champions ... and wanna-be champions.

With a long hot summer in the forecast, I have to figure this out if I'm going to be able to train the way the Birkie requires!  Any ideas?

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