Sunday, April 03, 2005

Space Race

Today was the Space Race, a big event at NASA with 5K and 10K runs as well as bike rides ranging in distance from 10 to 100 miles. Dan and I dragged our time-change sleepy selves out of bed and headed out to the Johnson Space Center intending to do the 60 mile ride, but by the time we arrived we had decided on the 40 because Dan had some afternoon commitments and the Space Race routes have been known to be longer than advertised. A mile or two is one thing, but nearly 10?

So anyway, we arrived at the Space Center a bit after 7, parked, put our bikes together, grabbed our gear and headed to the registration tent. As it turned out, there were only two very slow lines for pre-paid registraion, and there were at least twenty people ahead of us in each line. Once we finally got our numbers, we found that we had to go to other tables for ride maps, safety pins, packets, etc. WTF? Dan went and got us some safety pins, I tried to get maps of the 40 mile route but they were out, and we both decided to skip the packets, even though they contained free passes to the Space Center. Funny how one rarely wants to do the touristy activities that are in one's own back yard.

By now it was eight o'clock and the 100 mile riders were being sent off. Since Dan needed to go back to the car, I went and got in line for the toilet. That took forever. It only added to the nuisance factor that there were people in line wearing street clothes. I hope they needed to go really bad, because here we all were missing our ride start and if the civilians just waited a little while, they'd have the toilets all to themselves.

We finally got started about quarter after eight, jumping into a passing peloton rather than going around to the official ride start. As it turned out, this group was doing the 60 mile route, which caused problems for me later.

We started out with a nice tailwind, so once we were clear of the slow people, I was able to cruise at 19 mph without any effort. The route was heavily suburban, as is typical for the Clear Lake/Webster area, but that was expected. I dropped Dan early on and cruised with some ride medics for awhile. They invited me to draft, but I really try to avoid drafting in training, since I can't draft in triathlons. I only draft in training if I'm suffering, and I was feeling pretty good today.

By process of elimination I was able to figure out that the unlabeled black arrows on the ride signs were for the 40 mile route. Even so, when the black arrows turned off the main route, I waited for someone to confirm that what I was doing was correct. And then I took off. Alone. Because I had been riding with the 60 and 80 milers all this time and the 40 milers were way behind.

In some ways this was very nice. I was able to cruise along without any slow fools in front of me forcing me off the shoulder and into traffic. I could move to the left of the shoulder to avoid debris and not worry that I was cutting off some speedster coming up behind me. But it also meant I had to pay more attention to signs and traffic than I would otherwise. Finally, I made a mistake. The route had dead-ened at a rest stop and I turned around, annoyed. I was skipping rest stops, dammit! I didn't want to end up at one! I headed back the way I had come and when I came to the light, I followed the other riders. Dumb move. As it turned out, they were from some other route, and I ended up back on the route I'd been before so that I essentially did an extra loop. I really don't know for sure how many miles this added because I forgot to set my bike computer at the ride start, but Dan and I both agreed later that this loop was about 10.

When I realized what I had done, I picked up my pace and blew through the rest of the course above 20 mph the whole way except for a stretch that was directly into a strong headwind. That part slowed me down into the high 15s until I got worried again about Dan waiting for me and I forced myself back up into the 16s and low 17s until we were out of the wind again. At one point we passed a speed monitoring system. I watched cars zoom past it, the sign flashing 46, 43, etc. I didn't really expect it to be able to read a bike's speed, but as I passed it, it flashed 23. I looked down at my bike computer. Yes, 23!

I finally turned into the Space Center and found our parking lot. Dan was waiting for me at the car and I tripped all over myself apologizing for keeping him waiting, until he told me he hadn't been there that long. He wasn't worried either, since he figured I must've missed the 40 mile turnoff and done the 60. Little did he realize! We spent much of the ride home trying to figure out how I could've made such a silly mistake. We stopped at Star Pizza on the way home and got some huge salads. Dan got some pizza, but I didn't need any.

Tonight we went for a little walk at Memorial Park, chatting about the weekend and our vacation plans. All seemed right with the world. I've made some meals for the week, my allergies aren't giving me any trouble tonight, and life is good.

This Week's Workouts
Monday: 45 minutes core and strength training, 45 minutes elliptical (slow because it was my massage day)
Tuesday: 45 minutes elliptical, intervals
Wednesday: 30 minutes elliptical, 20 minutes treadmill at 8 min/mile pace
Thursday: 45 minutes core and strength training, 45 minute bike, Spinervals 1.0 No Slackers Allowed
Friday: 45 minutes core and strength training
Saturday: 1 hour elliptical, 10 mile run
Sunday: 50 (?) mile ride, 3 mile walk

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