On the way to Big Pine, 30 minutes away from our race start in Bishop, where Jacob, myself, and my fly bike (his bike too) will be engaged in extreme self-combat over the course of this weekend.
I'm never one to shy away from big endurance challenges without proper training, because I'm stupid like that, so when Jake asked me at the end of last month if I wanted to do this ridiculous stage race with him Sept 29th, I said, "sure!" Subsequently, everyone I've told about this has looked at me with wide eyes upon hearing "Everest Challenge"... when I got my lactate thresholds retested (update on that to come... newsflash, I'm stronger!) Gareth said, "do you know what you've gotten yourself into?" Answer: no. I have a vague idea that it is going to be extremely, terribly punishing, but that's about it. Because look at topography all you want, it's never going to translate to the actual stress on your quads, the sweat, the pain, the heinous suffering, the saddle sores and trembling legs that whimper after Day 1: not again!
I've never done this race, so I don't know what that's like really... except intellectually that, as a matter of fact, suffering will occur. So, uhhhm, I'm kinda scared. Scared in the way a young expectant mother fears impending labor. Everyone looks at you with a kind of pity, knowing the suffering you'll endure, and you just hope lamaze can help. Much like a pregnant lady, I've resolved it won't help at all to think about how much it's going to hurt. It's going to suck ass, but that's just life. Birth is painful, and so is biking up mountains. But you suffer through it, because that is also life, suffering, and eventually it does end, and then you forget the pain, because that's how we're built. I can't do much at this point to help myself except not worry. Worrying will hurt my sleep and my rest and build cortisol. I gotta be the best most rested version of my current self to get through this. So I'm just not going to think about it, and drink lots of electrolytes, and trust that having a compact and 28 will be enough to get me up these monsters. I'm mostly nervous because of the thin air... I have NO elevation training at all. I just hope I can dig into the Muller reserve and do that achieving thing.
Very little chance of being a contender here, friends... I am in no way adequately conditioned. I'm moderately conditioned, but I'd been preparing for a sprint triathlon with some rollers. This is a 204 mile stage race with over 29,000 feet of climbing... hence the name, since that's the elevation of Mt. Everest. We are climbing Mount Everest on bikes. (Oh my God, I just thought of what that means... what the eff have I gotten myself into!!? Ok, don't worry, just do lamaze...) It's really too great a figure to really comprehend. It's not going to sink in until I'm on the first 21 mile climb and think "I have to do this TWO MORE TIMES today... and then TOMORROW, too." Yup, that's gonna happen. And I will do it. Because this is war. The other day I looked down at my legs when biking around town on my foldie and I said, "you can do this, right, legs? You are some powerful things, you won't quit. You can do it." I hope so.
I've gained 30 watts of power on my bike, and we did some (very minimal comparatively) climbs earlier that I felt good on, and the gearing is very climb friendly on the new bike... sooooo.... eeeeeeeek. Gerardo thinks I'll get through it, William thinks I can, and Gareth says just try to keep the HR under 175 and eat a load-- and offered the reassuring fact that "you don't have to run after!" When I think of that, it DOES make me feel better... I can get through the first grueling day, and relying on my Wolverine skills of recovering, I'll drag my sore ass through the second day and use it all up, 'cause there's no marathon, half-marathon or even a 10k left to run after! Right? That's good! And the overall time over the two days is comparable to an Ironman. So... I'm like... doing an Ironman that I didn't specifically train for. Meh.
The VERY good news is, while I'm not going for time here, just finishing, it will be FANTASTIC conditioning for AZ... is far enough away from the race that it won't harm, but will help increase my power, and those flat aero rides will seem dreamy after brutal climbs. Accentuate the postiive, right? What does not kill you makes you stronger. And I can kickstart some fat burn, too. No big whoop. ;-) (I already forsee myself thinking about this while suffering on the hill and calling myself an asshole in my mind.) 200 miles away from Bishop, which is the equivalent of what we will cycle this weekend... only more mountains. Meeeeh! Updates to come... depending on time, strength and mood, might be during or after... and maybe one more just before bedtime. Depends on how much I'm freeeeaking myself out. Ok. Let's not freak out. Let's just get it done.