Elk Creek Park is my cycle training home. I have a love/hate relationship with that place. It is beautiful and peaceful, but home to my longest and most painful training days. The big loop is 15 miles. Adding an out-and-back to Coon Rapids Dam stretches it to 28 miles. It’s a one hour drive from home, and I get there at the crack of dawn. The rides are almost always 6-8 hours long, and usually followed by a run. With the long winters, I can only train there for a few months per year, but summers get grueling with no end in sight. Then, suddenly, the training season is over and I make a bittersweet goodbye for another year.
Today was that day.
It was the lightest Elm Creek training day of the year. One full lap (28 miles) and a 5 k run. I might be back before the snow flies for some cross training, but maybe not. September will be buzy. Weather in October will be unpredictable. But, it is always nice ride on a brisk and sunny autumn day with no need to train…just enjoy the scenery and tranquility. I hope to have that opportunity.
Next year, training here will be different. I won’t be training for a full Ironman. The rides will likely be 3-4 hours, instead of 6-8. I will likely be able to enjoy the experience more, instead of feeling stressed and overwhelmed by my weekly long ride.
Today was a little sad. I am doing a lot of “last time” right now…last long ride/run/brick/swim. Soon, last outdoor run, last trainer or treadmill session. This one hit me more then any other. The training is done. The season is almost over. The off season is around the corner. One last chance to say goodbye…