3 new personal records set; Helped some lost and tired runners.
For the third straight day this week, yesterday I found myself powerless to resist the call of the trails. I’m glad I went, because I set three(!) new personal records, and I met a couple of really cool runners who were in need of a little assistance.
It was warmer and more humid yesterday than it has been so far this week, but still a far cry from the brutal summer months I’ve been enduring. I decided to start my ride at the springs, and that the new cross-country speed record I’d just set on Monday was going to fall once again. The trails (at least on my 4.5 mile timed run from the springs to the fishbowl) are still dry, and so I had the benefit of fast lines through the root gardens and the hindrance of really deep and dry sugar sand in some areas.
Less than a mile into my ride I could tell I was really in the zone. I was carving the corners like my bike was on rails, my cardio felt amazing, my legs felt very strong and I was completely in tune with my bike. I was even hitting the sandy corners with extra speed, and as my back tire would slide away from under me I was still in control.
I’ve been riding clipped in for a few months now, and I no longer even think about clipping in and out–it just happens from muscle memory now; this has increased my confidence and my ability to handle corners and sketchy stuff with more speed than ever.
When I arrived at the end of my timed run and hit the split on my Ironman I was grinning from ear-to-ear: 24m07s and my average heart rate was just 179 BPM! When I set my old personal record on Monday my time was 24m37s with an average heart rate of 182 BPM. I’m riding faster than ever, and my cardiovascular system is working more efficiently than ever. My latest VO2 max measurement was 73.5 ml/min/kg, but I’ll bet that’s going to get even better as I continue to push myself harder and harder.
When I set off yesterday morning I had a suspicion that I was going to go for a distance personal record for off-road miles. My existing off-road distance record was 36.9 miles, which was set this past June. I decided to bring enough supplies to get me through a 40 mile ride (100 ounces of water, 4 packs of Sport Beans, a few Quest protein bars and so on).
As it turns out, the choice to bring the extra supplies was a blessing…
Not too long into my journey I was riding towards a couple of runners coming from the opposite direction. I’m not a runner, but I’ve certainly seen enough of them over the years that I can easily tell a casual jogger from a serious runner. These two women struck me as strong and experienced athletes, and I assumed they trained at Wekiwa all the time. So we passed each other with a “good morning”, and I figured that would be the last I saw of them that day…
Fast forward more than 30 miles and several hours later. I was on the final leg of my journey, and was returning to the trailhead–about 7 miles out. Off in the distance I saw the same two runners approaching me, and they were heading towards one of the most remote areas at Wekiwa. I thought, “Wow, these ladies are seriously hardcore, I can’t believe they are still out here!” As we approached each other I started to say hello, but they flagged me down and asked how to get back to the trailhead.
As we began to talk I realized the runners were in trouble: they were lost and heading the wrong way, very hot, completely exhausted (they’d done more than 13 miles at that point), had long since run out of water, had no source of electrolytes, no food, no map and no cell phone. Of course the stress of being lost with no supplies or means of calling for help is exhausting in and of itself.
Thankfully I still had plenty of water in my CamelBak and a couple packets of Sport Beans. Even though I know the trails out at Wekiwa like the back of my hand, I always carry a spare map anyway. I gave them the map and was explaining how to get back to the trailhead, but the Wekiwa map is not exactly easy to follow unless you’re already somewhat familiar with the trails. In fact, I remember the first time I went to Wekiwa with a map and GPS and I still got terribly lost.
There were lots places on the way back to the trailhead where a wrong turn would have taken them miles off course; with no supplies or means to call for help, even a simple navigation error could have ended very badly for them. I wanted to ensure they made it out of the forest safely, so I offered to ride behind and guide them back to the trailhead. They accepted my offer, and we set off.
As we made the journey back, I learned their names: Megan and Lori (I hope I got the spelling right, Megan!) I also learned that they were indeed very experienced marathon runners. Thank goodness they were both in phenomenal shape, because I don’t think they would have been able to make it back otherwise. As I discovered for myself (the hard way), no matter what kind of shape you’re in, without enough water and electrolytes things can get real bad real fast.
There is a paved road crossing a few miles from the trailhead, and as we approached the road I suggested that they stay and rest while I haul butt back to the trailhead and get the truck. I knew they were suffering, so I double-timed it back to the truck, quickly tossed my bike in the bed and took the paved road towards the Sand Lake trailhead to pick up Megan and Lori. Thankfully I always take an extra 24 ounces of water and leave it in my truck–the girls were absolutely parched.
As an aside, I’m very glad I was in my truck. If I’d been in my SLK 350 (which only has two seats) they wouldn’t have both fit in the car! Although I probably would have trusted them to drive the car back while I followed on my bike. I digress…
As a mountain biker, I guess I have it easy. I can strap 100 ounces of water to my back and still have plenty of room for all my supplies. I’m not sure how distance runners can carry stuff like that with them (especially adequate water, which is very heavy) on long runs, as I suspect chaffing and so forth is a real issue.
Well, if you’re reading this Megan and/or Lori, it was very nice meeting you both, and I’m so glad I was able to help out a little bit. Comment below or drop me a line and let me know you made it home safe and sound if you can. Also, I hope yesterday’s experience has not soured you on Wekiwa, as it’s a wonderful place to get a run in. Just please take a map and a cell with you next time. Hope to see you both on the trails under better circumstances sometime soon!
So, about those other two records? Well, when I finished my ride I saw that my total distance was 37.84 miles, which bests my previous all off-road record of 36.9 miles. Finally, my total off-road miles for the week now stands at 86.24 miles, which is also a personal best for me–especially considering that was just over three days!
No riding today (this time I promise!)–I’ve got to make up yesterday’s chest/delt/triceps workout.
Have a great day!