Friday night I decided to give the yoga studio another shot. Bad news, little bears. The class was being taught be a regular teacher, not a teacher in training, which I thought would be a great way to sample the studio again. The first 15-20 minutes of the class were fairly standard, but really excellent - smooth transitions, logical progressions, everyone concentrating and working hard. Suddenly, our teacher tells us - orders us - to drop into child's pose, where she proceeds to yell at us that we're concentrating too hard, we're being too serious, and she's not going to move on until we all decide to lighten up and have fun. While she was talking (a while), the girl next to me got up and left, which, if I'm being honest, I was also considering. This triggered an avalanche of righteous insanity, which included forcing people into postures and variations, talking about the anti-psychotic meds she took, and telling us that yoga is where she brings her anger and we're all her friends for not leaving.
I can handle crazy. I can filter it out, and I was mainly able to get what I needed from the class, but there were two people in the class who were brand new to yoga. My heart goes out to these people, and I hope they return to find yoga the welcoming, accepting place that it is, instead of this replace-the-knives-with-plastic kind of ridiculous experience this class was. And what I take from this? A strong sign from the universe that I need to keep looking for a yoga studio. I can hear you, already, you can stop throwing bricks.
Friday night a good friend (who's a doctor - this is relevant in a moment) drove up from NC for the weekend, and we hung out and grilled and made delicious blender creations. Worst pun of the night: my roommate, saying that my friend "doctored" his drink. BOOOO. Saturday morning we got up early for the 20-mile ride that was planned, which turned into a casual 11-mile jaunt with friends down the MV trail. It was a beautiful morning, and we managed to get home just before the heat really cranked up.
Why, yes, I do have a sweet, sweet ass.
I headed to the gym, and then home for the best shower I have ever taken. The best shower anyone has ever taken. We spent the rest of the afternoon eating on the patio of my favorite place on earth, running errands, and relaxing. Saturday night I managed to create an epic disaster of biblical proportions by deciding to use my new bike pump to check my tires, and ended up somehow popping a tire right at the base of the valve stem. My hero, Ben, taught me how to replace the tube to make sure I could get out Sunday morning. Bless you, Ben. Bless you.
Sunday morning I got up even earlier for another ride, this time with my friend Gretchen, who is training for a 70.3 in the fall. This was going to be her first long ride, as she has been a casual biker for a long time but is a strong runner, and just recently has stepped up her game and purchased a tri bike. We planned on 30 miles on the W&OD trail, but decided we would just see how good we felt. This is one of my running buddies. The first time I ever ran more than 4 miles was because of her. Our 2-mile quick runs often become 6-8 miles because we're too busy talking to notice how far we've gone.
This ride ended up being pure comedy. We spent the better part of the first 1/2 mile stopping because one or the other of us had rubbing brakes, too-tight tires, shoe-clipping problems (NOTE: NOT ME. I AM NOT CLIPPING IN. I DO NOT HAVE A DEATH WISH.) or just checking out "strange noises." We finally got going and all of a sudden - 4800-watt pain in my upper lip. A giant bee flew into my face and got STUCK in my lip by the stinger, and was wriggling around, STILL ALIVE, trying to figure out WTF just happened to his happy little bee jaunt. With superhuman effort and magical balancing powers, I managed to get the bee out of my face (killing him, sorry about that) while cursing the universe at full volume without crashing into anyone, the bushes, or the ground, and pulled the stinger out just as I stopped. Yeah, I'm pretty freakin' talented. My lip instantly puffed up to 58 times the normal size, and I've got a cool Stallone-style snarl going on out of one side. I iced it with my water bottle for a few minutes and we headed on down the trail. During the course of our ride, I got hit with at least 5 more bees. Several bombed into my stomach, one hit me right between the eyes and escaped behind my sunglasses - as in, between the glasses and my EYEBALL - before I could shake it out, and at least two tried to move into my brain via my ear. I have NO IDEA what I was doing to attract them, but they didn't bother Gretchen (10-40 feet away) at all.
We decided to stop at the Target just off the trail in Herndon to get some Benadryl, but by the time we got there, it was feeling fine. I went in and clanked around anyway, to buy some Gatorade for Gretchen while she watched our bikes. When I got back outside, she filled up her fancy tri water bottle which, incidentally, doesn't have a cap, just a little sponge thing. She leaned over to inspect her front tire and promptly knocked her bike over, spraying Gatorade over 10 feet, her, and her bike. What. I hosed myself down with bug spray, she bought more Gatorade, and we were off.
We actually had a really enjoyable ride - we spent some time talking, some time drafting off each other, some time intently speeding through miles, and some time just enjoying the ride. I also had plenty of opportunities to practice gearing up big hills and flying down the other side. She thought we started at mile marker 12 (yeah, you know where THIS is going), so we decided to turn around at 32, which is just over the line into Leesburg. Somehow we (and by "we" I of course mean me) missed 32 and stopped a bit after 32.5.
I ate a pack of shot blocks and finished my nuun. My phone, which was tracking my miles, died just before we stopped to turn around, so my time/mileage ended up being kind of approximate. On the way back, we stopped at a bike rest stop slash BBQ joint (I don't know) to fill up on water.
Ignore my crooked helmet.
I stood in line with my three bottles of water listening to someone order 12 pounds of pulled pork BBQ and 8 pounds of mac n' cheese. Blllurggh. The heat was really getting cranked up by then, and we were starting to feel it. I took some shot blocks when we stopped at Target (mile 9ish) and again at the turn-around (23ish), but I probably should've taken a few more at this stop (32ish?). After we left here, we separated for a while, as I wanted to get in a few really fast, strong miles. We caught up around the 15 mile marker, and this is where I started to feel zonked by the sun. We cheered when we saw mile marker 13 - and then 12.5 - and then (you knew this was coming....) 12? 11.5? GAH. Turns out we hopped on closer to 11. Regardless, we had a great ride - the W&OD trail is gorgeous, and I got to see more of it than I ever have this way.
I've never been a particularly fast runner. I get REALLY excited when my pace starts with an "8." I've always thought that this mothership was built more for comfort than speed. I've never wanted to win a race - I'm pretty content beating my own PR by 2 seconds while riding in the middle of the pack. Cycling uses different muscles than running (everyone say, "DUH"), and in particular, uses those wide peasant thighs I've spent a significant amount of my life bemoaning. Today I learned that I'm strong in a different way, and those thighs aren't (just) too fat for skinny jeans - they are strong and powerful, and made to get me up a hill without slowing, and to make the wind move faster across my sweaty, dead-bug-covered bod. This just might (I'm saying "might" here people, don't blast me next week when I fall off my bike down the street and curse the universe that let me buy something so dangerous) be something I am built to be fast at. What a blessing this injury could turn out to be.
I finished up our 44ish-mile ride in a little over 3 hours - covered in dead gnats and chain grease, sweaty, dirty, muddy, happy - and hooked.