Thursday, May 2, 2013


Crowd before a Launch - Credit: NASA
Growing up on the Space Coast of Florida, it seems instinctive to know what the countdown clock is, and its significance.  The date is set; the orbiter was assembled and rolled out onto the launch pad; final preparations are being made.  It wasn't a time to install a new fancy gadget, or to work on improving the rockets thrust ability.  There was a set amount of time that was left, and repairs and final fixes were all there left.  At some point fueling would be finished, the Astronauts would climb aboard the craft, and they would light up the Florida skyline rocketing towards their destination.

At this point I feel like it's a very similar situation for me with my training for the Assault on Mount Mitchell:  The training is done, the date is set, and it's time to start making sure everything is together for the big event.  By the time May rolled around, I knew I had to be ready physically for the challenge that I had in front of me.  At this point I do not feel like there is any additional training that I can do that will make me better prepared for the journey coming in just 18 days.  Saturdays are the day that I have in my personal life for big efforts, and there are just 3 of them left to go.  I still would really like to get a century ride in to Bill's Hill before May 20, but the time to do so is limited.  What I don't want to do at this point is injure myself by pushing too hard so close to the final event.  

As I stated on the scouting trip to Mount Mitchell last month, the 3.5 hour grind to the top definitely pushed my knee to its limits.  In my youth I played a lot of baseball, and as a part of that I developed Osgood-Schlatter disease in both of my knees.  I can still remember the game that ended my baseball "career"; when I damaged my knees to the point of needing to have a cast on one of them for 6 weeks to let it repair.  At 38 the good news is that my knee is mostly fine, but the scar tissue from the previous damage can irritate my Patellar tendon.  Knowing my limits prior to the event is fantastic, but it also means I need to heal as well as finish preparing for the Assault.

After a washout of a weekend, this Monday I decided that I really wanted to get some climbing in.  It had been about 10 days since scouting out Mitchell, and while I had ridden relatively hard the previous week I hadn't done any real climbing.  What I decided was that a couple of trips up Paris Mountain would be a good workout.

What it taught me is that I needed more recovery time from big efforts than I had planned.  About halfway back up I really started to feel it, and being the human being that I am I pushed up to the top.  It was a perfect day to spend extra time on Paris Mountain, but what I really got from it is an understanding of what these big efforts mean for me personally.   The next day was the typical Tuesday night event here in town (sometimes lovingly known as the Tuesday night championships), and while I wasn't dead for it I definitely felt the day before more than I typically would.  For right now I'm just shutting down training for a few days to let my knee rest, and doing some extra easy stretching morning and night to relax it some.  

With just 3 Saturdays left to go, I have to make hard decisions.  To me there are only 2 training days left that are viable.  The first is this weekend there is a trip from Table Rock  up into the Pisgah National Forrest that I really want to do.  It's 97 miles with 8,500' of climbing total.  It would put all of my preparation to the test.  The big question really comes down to preparation:  Am I going to be prepared for that big of an effort at this point, and if I do would I be able to recover to put in a bigger effort just 2 weeks later.  Knowing that even after 10 days my knee is still tender and prone to issues, I'm thinking that the efforts that the Table Rock ride would require could do a lot more harm than good.  Right now I'm looking at what I can do on May 11th as my final big ride, and that will probably be riding the first 50 miles of the Assault (up to and including Bill's Hill) to get myself mentally prepared for the efforts required.  I'm not sure how many folks will attempt to ride that day, but hopefully I can find some folks that are willing to get up stupid early on a Saturday so I can test out my morning routine as well.   After May 11 it is time to start the countdown clock, and do final preparations.  

T-minus 18 days.  The training is done.  It's time to prepare.

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