A Peak, a Valley, and a New Ascent: May by the Miles

May turned out to be an exciting month around the edges with a big blah and some good lessons learned in the middle.

Numbers-wise, it looked like this:

  • 1 Marathon
  • 91 miles run
  • 0 Brevets
  • 485 miles on the bike
  • 11 trips to the gym for general weightlifting workouts

First, a peak:  The first weekend in May, I ran a personal best marathon of 4:05:11 at the Potomac River Marathon. That time was over 26 minutes faster than my previous personal best. I had hoped to put up a good personal time, but my result surprised me– in a good way.

It was additionally exciting to complete the marathon two weeks after the D.C. Randonneurs 300K. It was one of those amazing moments of appreciation for what the body is capable of accomplishing.

Potomac River Marathon
Next, the valley: I hit a low spot in the two weeks following the marathon. I tried to keep going to the gym, but lacked my regular energy. I made poor nutritional choices and craved sugar. My sleep schedule was off.

In addition, Felkerino and I decided to dial back the bike riding this May and focus on a more active June and July. I looked at my old mileage logs and realized that, over the past five years, I have averaged 800 miles in May. This year, I rode 485 cycling miles for the month.

I rode how many miles in May?
I rode how many miles in May?

Reducing the cycling miles allowed me to really focus on the marathon and not worry about preparing for upcoming rides, but it left me a bit perplexed about my May routine for a couple of weeks. It was almost habit to be doing big rides this time of year.

In the future, it would really help to have a recovery plan that addresses the physical aftermath of events and recovery, including a better nutritional plan. Also, it would behoove me to go with the flow more easily when I change my routine and not fret and second-guess the plans I made.

May was another reminder about energy. It takes energy to engage in cycling, running, and strength-training activities. I exerted additional effort by doing the marathon and was probably still slightly tired from the 300K two weeks prior. I should have allowed myself a week of recovery after marathon day.

My cycling miles went down, but my running miles went up. I gave up on super-focused weight training because I was balancing the increase in running as well as the post-event recovery. My strength training consisted mostly of work on my core, upper back, and arms with a little lower back and legs thrown in.

Long story short, I only have so much energy to do these various things and I need to manage it with care or I end up feeling run down, burned out or just plain pooped.

Sheep I saw on a May bike ride. Included just because they're cute.
Sheep I saw on a May bike ride. Included just because they’re cute.

Finally, a new ascent:  Felkerino and I began swinging back into the cycling again in the latter half of the month, riding segments of Skyline Drive on two different rides– once with our friend Lane and another time solo.

We usually ride Skyline later in the year, and we both commented on how lovely it was to get out in May and enjoy the quiet cool climbing on the drive. Skyline and the area around it offer up a solid challenge for cyclists and I consistently experience a sense of accomplishment after a century-ish ride out that way.

Co-Motion on Skyline Drive

These rides also sparked my enthusiasm for our summer of riding.

That said, I’m suspending these monthly reflections on the numbers and workouts for a while because I plan to focus primarily on general strength training and core fitness, maintaining my running base, and pointing the bike toward the hills whenever I can to ramp up the cycling miles again.

It’s going to be a fantastic summer. I hope you’ve got some great plans, too. And as always, special thanks for reading these “trying to be a better me” type of posts.


  1. “Being a better me?” If it wasn’t for that blasted Hawkeye’s shirt, you’d be the definition of awesome.

    Concerning burnout, I was also mulling my limits as my son had me up at 4:30 this morning, and I’m wondering if a dawn gravel grind is really in my best interest. I went on the ride, but tomorrow needs to be a rest day before the first big ride of the year this weekend.

    I think I speak for many of us when I say that you are an inspiration for what we want to achieve as cyclists. So when you can admit to wanting a break, it reminds us that we’re not failing when we need a rest.



    1. Ha ha! You know I love my Hawkeyes! Thank you so much for your kind words. Your comments about burnout are interesting, and remind me of I like reading Gale Bernhardt, who is a trainer of professional athletes. http://www.active.com/experts/gale-bernhardt?force_a2=y#blog_posts She totally gets that life commitments can intrude on training, and that as everyday athletes we need to be able to adapt to that, even if it means reducing the amount of activity we do.


  2. Wow! That was some body of work for May. Ever think about a triathlon? And after your next marathon, take a few days off. Your nervous system will thank you for it. Keep those blogs coming!


    1. Thanks, Joe… I’m not much of a swimmer so not yet. And I will definitely follow your advice regarding the next marathon. Rest after a big effort is a good thing!


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