Last Friday, I followed through on the plan I had in my head, perfectly.
On Friday, I did my 18-mile loop, and did a pretty good job with it. The 13.3mph speed wasn't too great, but I did keep my heart rate down below 128, with less than a minute total above 125bpm. Rockin'. Power was 111W avg, which is a bit below where I would like to be, but not bad.
Saturday, to take it a little bit easier, I did my 15-mile loop, although I did a little bit worse. I finished in 66 minutes, which is 13.8mph. That's not too bad. And power was 115W avg, which is also pretty good. But I did much worse with heart rate; my max was 133bpm and I spent close to eight minutes over 125bpm. That's not good.
On Sunday, though, I was feeling pretty good. I left the house at 0445, went a mile or so, then turned back to get a couple more items. I got out of the house again at 0453, which was still earlier than my original plan. Unfortunately, I decided to avoid the Toll Road for getting to Reston, and went a couple miles out of my way when I missed a turn. Fortunately, I caught it pretty quickly, and got back on track.
When I got there, I found out that, as largely expected, the breakfast consisted of absolutely nothing I could eat. Bagels, fruit, and energy bars. Carbs, carbs, carbs. I guess they didn't want to deal with plates and utensils, but I would have killed for some eggs and bacon.
I had some time to wait, and found a few of my teammates. We hung out until 0630 (I had planned on leaving at 0600), then got on the road. We asked for directions to start, and were pointed in the wrong direction (boy, this is already sounding familiar). We corrected fairly quickly, although we did an extra half mile to a mile.
One thing that surprised me, was that I expected a mass start, and something like a peloton on the road. But it was ridiculously sparse. We ended up in a group of ten or so for the first fifteen miles.
And I should point out that we were "supposed" to do 18mph (which had me a bit concerned, beforehand), but we did manage to do that. In Purcellville, around mile thirty, was when we really started dropping people. In fact, our group of ten fell down to three, there. It was me, one teammate, and another guy we didn't know who was hanging back a bit (though he decided to pass us a few miles up from there).
That just left my teammate and I, and we worked out a system. He had aerobars (for triathlon-guy), so he led on the downhills (mostly), and I would generally pass him and lead on the uphills. That worked well to the halfway point, when I started flagging (my first time dealing with cramps in my thighs, along with general fatigue).
But we kept going for quite a while. Much longer than we should have, it turns out, as we took a wrong turn in Middleburg that took us seven miles out of our way through serious hills (well, as serious as it gets in that area; nothing compared to real mountains, of course). And, of course, I ran out of water in that detour. Not fun.
We did, eventually, figure out our mistake, though, and got back on course. Although we hit that point on our detour, we actually did keep our 18mph speed through milemarker 72 (not really sure, after that).
Anyway, we finally hit the next rest stop at about milemarker 82, and I had to stop there, for a while, to get my muscles to uncramp (drank a lot of water, some energy drink, and had a couple electrolyte pills). Plus, the rest helped a lot.
My teammate needed to continue on, so I didn't see him again. Several people got to, and/or left, the rest stop while I was resting. I mention that because, once I got moving, I managed to pass everyone else over the next 5-8 miles after leaving (and that made me happy).
From there, I did pretty well, keeping going. I still had some cramping, but they never got nearly as bad as at that rest stop. It helped, though, that I had a couple bananas (terrible, vis a vis my diet, but I needed the potassium) at subsequent rest stops.
The rest of the way was a bit of a struggle, and I stopped at every rest stop along the way. Also, when I was leaving Purcellville, my phone got to the point where it stops recording (right at 99.9 miles, which is funny, considering I had set my phone up to email a few people every five miles).
Not much else to say, really; I did it, and it was a struggle. The last couple miles, I took a pull from a woman on a time trial bike; I have no pride about that sort of thing.
Since my phone died, I don't really know what my final time was. I managed to get it to show me finishing, but I know the timing was way off. The time is long, by at least half an hour (maybe as much as an hour, thanks to those rest stops). But what it has is 121.7 miles in 7:54:25. It also has 141W power and 5450' of elevation. Both of those numbers are badly wrong, though, thanks to the phone dying. I wish I knew how much (I was able to get Strava to fake the distance about right, but I lost an hour or more of both power and elevation, and there's no way to get that data to come out right). Similarly, I wonder what my "suffer score" would have been with an additional 30-40 minutes of 150-160bpm.
Still, I'm pretty happy with the results. I'd've been a lot happier if I'd taken the phone charger on the ride (I left it in the car, and that's why I was able to fake it so that Strava saw me finishing). I didn't realize how much the every-five-mile updates I had emailed to my wife and a couple of others would take out of the battery. The phone was at 100% charge at the start, and it will normally 8-9 hours on a full charge (each hour sucks about 8-10%, normally). The one other likely factor is that we might have gone out of cellular connectivity at some point, and that chews battery as well. Unfortunately, I have no way of knowing if that's the case.
Anyway, as the data is recorded, I did a 15.4mph average. If we assume fifty-four minutes of time added (just to make the numbers even), then that would bump it up to 17.4mph. If we add a couple more miles as well (it's probably short by about two miles), then we get 17.7mph. Better numbers than I'd've guessed I'd be able to do, given that I couldn't draft anything like I was planning on. And four hours of 18mph... I'm quite proud of that; if you'd asked me, beforehand, if I was capable of that, I'd've said no, even with another person helping.
In fact, using Strava's analysis page, I see 18.0mph average speed, with 170W average (158bpm heart rate; a few lower than I'd've guessed) over those four hours. Still lots of room for improvement, but I was very pleased.
So, lots to like about the ride. A couple of lessons: bring more electrolyte tablets (1/hour not enough). Two, bring the phone charger case. Three, some nuts for snacks would be good. Four, Quest bars work well. Five, don't expect food to be provided. Six, be more careful with directions.
Still, a very good experience, and one to build on.
This morning, as you'd expect, was totally about recovery. I didn't get things ready last night; I was too tired. I thought that might cause problems, but it did not. I got out on time, or maybe even a little early.
I wasn't sure about how far to go, but ended up doing my 15-mile loop in 66 minutes (13.6mph). I averaged 121bpm, and maxed at only 127bpm. I think that's about as good as I can reasonably hope for.
Power was 109W; a little lower than I'd've liked. I'd like it to be more like 120-130W. Well, I'll just have to keep working on it. Tomorrow will be another recovery day, though I'll at least add the three miles to get me to my 18-mile loop. After that, I'm not sure; I'd like to do the group ride on Wednesday, but I'm not sure if that's feasible. I'll have to see how my legs feel, I guess.