Saturday, August 14, 2010

Violating the Pleasure Principle

Yesterday I achieved something I have been wanting to do for quite some time. I had to give up much to make it happen, but in the end, it was worth it.

I got my 10-year-old to jog with me.

Oh sure, it was only a little 20-minute jaunt up Mt. Tabor, but it felt really good to be running with her. Will it continue in the future? I hope so, but I'm not banking on it.

Five minutes into the jog, she asked, "Why do you do this? It's not fun." Well, actually, to me running is fun, for the most part. It fits with my philosophy that exercise should be more about pleasure than pain.

I violated that principle today, though.

I had been feeling ragingly jealous of a friend who was going to ride part of a 75-mile trail through Northern Idaho. But then I realized I could do my own long bike ride--right here in Oregon. The Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway opened for business earlier this year. It's a 130-mile stretch of the valley on low-traffic country roads. I decided to ride from Champoeg Park to Willamette Mission Park and back, a 40 mile round trip ride.

Some things I took into consideration, but apparently not strongly enough: It was forecast to be 95 degrees today in Portland (actual high temperature in Champoeg State Park -- 99 degrees). Also, I haven't been on my bike since my class ended in July (and then I was only going like 2 miles at a stretch). Due to scheduling, I would not be able to leave for my ride until noon, putting me on the road, after driving down to Champoeg, during the hottest part of the day. "Take some food," my roommate begged. Luckily I listened to her and packed a banana and a Cliff Kid bar, along with 20 ounces of water (!).

The first 12 miles were perfect. Super flat and scenic, the roads rolled past hop fields, Christmas tree farms, cow pastures, and nut orchards. The vistas were limitless, with peekaboo views of Mt. Hood. I was a bit hot, but I drank my water and things were okay.

Around mile 13, I started to get tired. My left knee was sore and my quads began to ache. A couple of miles later, I began to worry about my water supply. I knew once I made it to Willamette Mission Park, there would be water there, but I still had a few miles to go.

I was pretty trashed out by the time I rolled into the picnic area at Willamette Mission (a cruel mile from the entrance gate, by the way). I drank a bunch of water and ate my snacks and lay on a bench in the shade for awhile. Then I realized I had to get on my way because I knew that I'd be taking many breaks and I needed to make sure I got back before dark. Those country roads were low traffic, but they weren't no traffic, and the traffic that was on them was going pretty quick.

The going was pretty slow, as you can imagine. I had it in much lower gears than I usually do, in order to conserve energy and my knee. I still had to get off the bike and take a break every half mile or so. The worst part: A northerly wind had sprung up and I was suddenly fighting a headwind.

I limped through 10 miles like this. It was not pleasurable and it was not fun. It took me an hour and a half. "Yay!" I thought to myself, I'm halfway back. And then, I hit the wall. It was on a long stretch of freshly poured blacktop with no shade in sight. I suddenly realized I couldn't pedal anymore, so I got off the bike and started walking it. Maybe I'd recover enough to get back on and pedal the rest of the way. I began to contemplate who I could call for a rescue. Could I just hitchhike? (Yes, I know I have a daughter who I would NEVER EVER want to hitchhike. Don't tell her about this next part.)

After a few minutes, a big white pick-up truck blows past me. And then pulls over. I sidle on up and look inside. It's an older gentleman. He gestures for me to get in. I throw my bike in the bed of the truck and climb in. "It's a little hot to be walking out there," he observes.

Turns out he works for a big egg producing plant, and he's on his rounds. He has no problem taking me the last 9 miles back to Champoeg, for which I am grateful. We chat about the weather and how different it is from his home state's: Texas.

One of the things I've always said about getting fit is that now I can rely on my body. Turns out that I still need to use my brain a bit to assess the situation before I get myself into it.


Amber said...

Yikes. So glad to hear that had a happy-ish outcome. Please call me next time. I have a bike rack and everything. :)

Mary said...

You're a complete dynamo! Keep on running!