I slept well last night, five hours followed by three more, instead of the usual five hours followed by one more, and if I’m lucky one more, and if I’m very lucky, one more.
The growl of my belly may have been what woke me. It was something sudden like that instead of my usual disengagement from Morpheus; the gradual changes in my breathing that alert the dogs to the imminence of our breakfasts. Today, only the pup was on the bed and instead of nudging and licking me, there was just his chin resting on my knee and the solidness of his body spooned against the back of my legs.
Rolling out of bed and standing, I wobbled. I’ve come to expect that, but this morning’s unsteadiness wasn’t because of weakness in my knee. Rather, it sprang from a general stiffness extending from my calves to my quads. The first few steps were more of a hobble, then I got the slack out of the reins made my way to the bathroom. Stepping into the shower, I became aware of a vague burn in my lungs and a soreness around my diaphragm.
My belly growled again and it all fit together.
I rode the bike yesterday. Hard. But instead of keeping up on a Dirty 30, it was on a trainer, staring at Zwift on this same screen I’m now filling with words. Halfway into Knickerbocker is an eight minute climb with 15 percent grades. I rode it like I was watching everyone else’s taillights disappearing up Shinar Mountain.
The advice in the books and the magazines is to spin up the hills. I don’t know who writes that bullshit. Mortals cannot spin up the hills in New England. So, I stayed in the middle ring and ground out this virtual hill like I grind out the real ones I live in. At times, the tunnel closed around me and the only awareness was of the effort it took to turn the cranks. I’ve felt that before, riding with my only care being to keep moving forward between the gravel windrows of a steep and untraveled dirt road.
The remaining half hour of the session passed by in something like a trance. I thought about my knee. It felt fine. The tiredness was normal, arising from the kind of hard effort I sometimes make toward the end of a ride when there’s no reason to leave any gas in the tank.
I PRed the segment, although compared to my friends’ results, rather pathetically. On the other hand, their PRs didn’t happen five weeks after surgery. This soreness is a friendly one, a sense of my body I haven’t felt since June. Today began with the awareness that I’m stronger than I was yesterday. How many 58 year old men can say that?