Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Mile 2,010 (and beyond)

Yesterday I completed Mile 2,010. And 2,011.

Tomorrow, I'll probably do 2,012. Or maybe even 2,030. By the end of this week, I'll probably pass Mile 2,100.

See, even though I finally completed my personal challenge to run/ride 2,010 miles in 2010, I'm far from being done. (The fact that I'm writing this after just arriving in Lake Tahoe a few days before the 72-mile organized bike ride I have planned virtually guarantees me a hundred or so more miles this week.)

In the weeks leading up to that 2,010th mile - after I could really see the "finish line" approaching - I began to think about how I wanted the completion of the challenge to be. After all, the end was really in my hands.

Would it be on a run? Or a bike ride? At home or on vacation? Alone? Or with TC?

Would I mark the event with a celebration? Or pass through the mile like any of the other 2,009 that had come before it?

I could have easily banged out the final miles before leaving for vacation (I didn't log any miles last week - a first for any week this year). I held back a bit, rationalizing that I wanted to give my legs a bit of a rest after a high mileage week the previous week - I logged 118 miles between running and biking - and I wanted to give my legs a break before what I expected to be a physically active vacation. (In my first few days here, I've gotten in a 10-mile run, a 5-mile run and a 36 or so mile bike ride - and all those in what was going to be the restful leg of the trip.)

Soon, I realized that I'd probably hit the 2,010 mile mark somewhere in the first few days of visiting the Napa Valley. Could it have worked out more perfectly?

My trip to the Napa Valley with TC has been in the works for a while. Actually, we originally had plans on visiting Napa in April, then following it up with the Tour of Tahoe in September, but unexpected changes at work chained me to my desk for a few weeks during our planned April vacation.

So, we decided we'd just extend the September trip - visiting Napa first, then taking on the Tahoe bike challenge.

Since I'd already had a week off from running and riding, I was itching to get out and do something almost immediately. But our trip had a series of logisitical hoops to take care of first - for one, unpacking and reassembling our bikes. (Another post on traveling with bikes later, but let's just say that we hunted down a bike shop to help us out after discovering that a borrowed pair of scissors from the hotel's front desk isn't the ideal tool for the job.)

One we got settled at one of our hotels (we're already on the fourth of the trip - the final, luckily), TC and I headed out. He was on his bike; I laced up my shoes and hit the road for an ambitious 10-miler. Believe it or not, it's been months since I did a double-digit run - and the thought of the Maine Half Marathon I have on my schedule less than a month from now is a little more than daunting.

The morning 10-miler was unlike any long run I've done in a while. There's something about running in a new place - with new sights and sounds and smells - that helps me forget how far I'm going. Running alongside Napa Valley vineyards made me wish I could have kept going and going and going. (My practical side won out and I looped back for my planned 10 miles.)

The next morning, after we'd spent the night at a wonderfully private bed and breakfast, we were at it again - TC tackling some ridiculous mountain road, me running alongside vineyards. Five miles this time.

We ate a delicious breakfast prepared for us by the innkeeper and headed out again - now together, both on bikes.

To say that the area was beautiful is really an understatement. It's breath-taking. Crisp, blue sky. Towering mountains, vineyards as far as you can see. Pictures really do not do it justice.

I knew I'd hit the 2,010 mile mark on this ride. Or at least I thought so. According to my calculations, I needed roughly 35 miles to get there.

We mapped out a route, but about 10 or so miles into our journey, decided we'd change our plans - the plan now was to have no plan. We explored sideroads and saw parts of the Napa Valley that I'm sure most visitors never experience. We pedaled through Yountville and down a secluded road where we passed locals in wide-brimmed hats and farmers driving tractors.

I looked down at my odometer. We'd gone about 16 miles. Less than 20 to go.

At that moment, I consciously decided I didn't want to count miles anymore. I wanted to take in the sights and enjoy the unstructured nature of our ride - something that, thanks to a prominently placed bike computer that displays my speed and distance at all times, is rare.

I clicked a few buttons on the bike computer until it displayed the clock feature. Usually, I display my distance. The clock feature, I figured, was the least measured option I could choose.

We hooked up with the Silverado Trail (a part of which I'd run earlier in the morning) to make our way back toward the inn. We stopped to snap pictures and, for the most part, rode side-by-side and talked. (Thank you, California bike lanes.)

TC eventually asked me what I was showing for mileage - I hadn't told him that I consciously stopped tracking. (Actually, when he reads this post will be the first time he learns of it, since when he asked I immediately became curious and checked.)

I had about 5 miles to go. Our inn was nearby, and it would be close. It was no longer a guarantee that I'd hit 2,010 that day.

Then, TC asked me the question that I'd been asking myself for the past few weeks: "What do you want to do?" When, exactly, did I want to hit Mile 2,010? Today? Tomorrow? In Tahoe?

I was too close not to jump at the chance to wrap it up during that ride. Besides, the ride had been near-perfect and I knew there wouldn't be many other opportunities like this one.

My odometer clicked to 35 along a cut-through road between the Silverado Trail and Route 29, the main highway running through the Valley. I asked TC to pull over so we could mark the moment with a photo.

It wasn't the most picturesque part of our ride, surely. But it captured the moment - the sun, the cloudless, blue sky, the vineyards - and a smiling, but somewhat tired-looking me standing with my bike on the side of the road.

No real fanfare. (I confess that I thought of doing something silly, like holding my bike over my head mimicing a pic I saw of the woman who won the Mt. Washington Hill Climb - but when the moment came, I didn't do it.) TC and I high-fived and pecked. I'd done it - and I certainly couldn't have done it without him.

As always, he's encouraged me more than I ever could have imagined. Among other things, he's pushed me to do more bike miles than I thought I could do, persuaded me up hills I didn't think I'd make it up and endured my early morning alarm clock so I could sneak in some running miles during the summer heat.

After the photo-op on the roadside, we traveled the mile or so back to our inn - told you it was going to be close! We cleaned up and headed off to experience another Napa memory, a wine tasting at a small, local winery.

There, I posted my photo on my Facebook and dailymile accounts with a simple caption: Mile 2,010.

The comments and "thumbs up" started rolling in. I'm often surprised at how encouraging people can be from across the computer screen. They probably don't realize how much that ongoing support is a key to success.

Not surprisingly, my friends like to push me a bit. So it wasn't long before the question came: What next? Some even offered their suggestions. Boston Marathon? 3,000 miles by the end of the year?

Although I joked with TC that I've earned the right to hang up my sneakers and bike for the next three months, I don't see that happening. I haven't quite decided what's next - but I'm sure something will be next.

Until then, I'll take the next few days in Tahoe to challenge myself in a new setting, with a new single-ride mileage PR on the schedule. And maybe, if the mood strikes, I won't have that bike odometer staring at me for a ride or two.


  1. Awesome job. Loved the whole entry. Congrats on accomplishing such a great goal!

  2. I think Napa was the perfect place to accomplish your goal of 2010. You will never forget the place where you did it. It will be a road you may never bike again so savour the memory. Congrats. Love Mom

  3. Congratulations on this incredible accomplished goal!!


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