It is more an after-the-fact generalization than a true rule - but the rule round here is that I can blog when I am either exuberant (preferable) or frenetic (fall-back option), which between the two is about 95% of the time. (Or 98% A high number, anyway.) The other 5% of the time I am feeling down and prefer not to spill my negative feelings all over the internet, so there is no blogging!
I have been in low spirits this week - I had a very tough day on Monday - and the fallout from the emergency trip to Philadelphia (I was lucky that my mom assessed the situation so perceptively and called me so early, as I was able to have a good hour with the dear little creature before he entered the final stretch) meant that I had to stay up all night on Wednesday packing and getting my apartment ready to hand over to my subletters. It is a big job, not the packing per se so much as the closet-emptying and general weeding that one wants to do under such circumstances.
I was pretty amazed that I made it successfully to Cayman with all of my luggage, as my Facebook status update on Thursday afternoon proclaimed; the task seemed of a magnitude that was truly almost beyond me, especially given the complete lack of sleep. (I periodically thought - like at 2:45am as I left my apartment to take computer and library books to the office, with eye on clock for 5:45am car service pickup for airport - this is good Ironman practice!)
I was traveling with vastly more luggage than usual - the bike and triathlon equipment in a large soft bike case (maybe 40-45 pounds all told?), a huge duffel bag packed full of six months' worth of clothes and books and papers (putting in my toiletries bag at the last minute toppled it over the crucial 70-pound dividing line, but I was able to take out that bag and put it in the bike bag instead and only had to pay $50 overweight luggage fee, which seems to me very reasonable - no additional charge for the bike bag!), a small duffel bag with c. 40 pounds of books. Those three were checked, and I also had my large handbag and a tote bag and a backpack which I took on the plane (had intended to pack the empty backpack in luggage, but at last minute realized I needed it for actually putting things in - this meant I sort of had one more item than I had mentally conceptualized, which I think was where part of the problem arose).
It was only on Friday afternoon, when I embarked on unpacking, that I had the truly horrible realization - a bag was missing, I had retrieved the bike bag and the large duffel bag but due to combination of sleeplessness and anxiety about first-time task of paying duty on the bike, I must just have not remembered that I had a third bag checked!!!
I checked with Brent at the office, and it wasn't in the car; I made about 15 phone calls trying to get through the people at the airport, but couldn't find anyone picking up; several agonizing hours later, I knocked on the metal door at the back of the arrival hall, was happily let in by a customs officer who listened to my description of my plight with a straight face and then escorted me to the baggage storage area, where the first sight that greeted me was my missing bag...
(Her comment, as she checked its contents: "You read a lot!")
In other words, I'm sort of having one of those weeks...
I did a short sea swim on Friday before lunch, and a treadmill run yesterday, but it was one of those ones that leaves you in a state of such profound negativity that there is truly no reason to document it.
(Nothing truly calamitous, and on the bright side, I had a nice walk over to the gym beforehand, spotting two brilliantly green teenage iguanas and an adorable family of hen and 6 chicks so small you could imagine pressing them back into the eggs they came from, the whole family posing a conundrum for a young couple in an SUV whose air-conditioning condensation had attracted the birds beneath the chassis of the car, the pool of water so deeply attractive that they would not get out of the way for the vehicle to safely leave! I wasn't wedded to a particular mileage total for the run was a whole, but I had a hard minimum of 6 treadmill miles, and had hoped to run more like 90 minutes, but almost the first thing that happened was that the refurbished iPod nano that I recently acquired specifically for treadmill running went dead. The second thing was that I knocked the safety plug out, which left me with a restarted count on the treadmill and the determinedly optimistic view that if I used the new time, I should be able to get up to 75 minutes and stop when the numbers got to 60. After about forty further minutes of absolute painful sweaty drudgery and mental negativity, though, I knocked the plug out again. At that point I was about .5 miles short of the 6 I had initially envisaged as a minimum, so I grimly restarted the treadmill and finished it out on distance. Not a terrible workout, I suppose - if you add the 30 minutes of walking, it is 90 minutes zone 1/2 + time on feet - but I had insufficiently BodyGlided for sweaty treadmill running, which led to very painful chafing, and felt sufficiently glum when I got back to the condo that I simply logged the run on the Buckeye Outdoors site and refrained from having the INSANE BLOG OF NEGATIVITY that would have inevitably been produced at that point!)
But this morning my mood has been completely turned around, mostly by Brent's extreme thoughtfulness and generosity as a cycling host! Yesterday morning we dropped the bike off for reassembly at "Uncle Bill's Home Improvement Centre, and it should be ready by Tuesday. So as I was bike-less, we took a drive out to the East End for Brent to show me the route for reasons of geographic and cycle-specific orientation.
And it was absolutely lovely! It is a beautiful drive in any case, but also he has thought it out very well and generously from a cycling point of view - he'll be doing quite a bit of riding with me this summer, but isn't training for an Ironman himself, so I will have company sometimes but not always.
The main route goes for about 15 miles through more trafficky bit of island (along the South Sound) to where the good loop starts. That is then a 20-mile loop, with a possible ten-mile extension out to Rum Point. Now I know the route. And next weekend he'll ride out with me just to make sure I'm good to go, then part ways and come and meet me later with the SUV so I don't need to ride the trafficky last bit home at the end of a long hot ride.
(I'll do this as a weekly ride Sunday early morning; if I leave at 6am there is very little traffic on the roads and the heat hasn't yet become overwhelming. My other riding during the week will be indoors, which makes more sense from a safety and logistics point of view and will let me do some hill simulation and interval training. With air-conditioning!)
After that initial accompanied trial ride, I will do the first leg of riding on my own, and then he'll meet up with me and do the last part of the ride so that we'll be either riding together for last trafficky bit or putting our bikes back in the SUV at the end of the final loop before coming back onto main roads.
I think it is a reasonable enough ride back in any case that I can do it on my own if I need to, not terrible traffic (it's more that there isn't a shoulder) - I was keeping a keen eye on the route today, for what it's worth, and it is an exceptionally straightforward route, so that I think even I would have a hard time getting lost! - but as a safety precaution and thanks to Brent's helpfulness, I will not need to make a habit of it.
I am sure I have now extremely embarrassed him by praise, but it must be noted that this is a kind host!
I will do a 3-hour trainer ride this afternoon. I had intended to start training seriously this week, but I had a great conversation on Tuesday with my COACH (more anon about this conversation, which was full of valuable and eye-opening insights) who suggested that I should take perhaps as much as two weeks for heat acclimation. And it is certainly the case that the past week has been pretty overwhelmingly stressful and exhausting (there were lots of good things, too, but I was really very busy on Tuesday and Wednesday, even aside from travel), so I will take this full coming week just to get a bit acclimated to heat, doing some short outdoor runs, working out what will suit me schedule-wise, and then start on a 'proper' training schedule a week from tomorrow.