After church and a nice Easter meal of pasta, I hit the trail for some lengthy mileage. I opted for the trail mostly so I could avoid serious hills, listen to the iPod, and feel comfortable no matter the length. Even though I ride this trail every day, it's still enjoyable to ride without a backpack full of food and clothes. The only downside to all of this was missing nearly every NCAA game today.
My legs were surprisingly nimble after yesterday's hammer-fest at Cold Toes, but I kept it nice and steady. There was a decent headwind on the way out, but it didn't bother me as much as it might if I were commuting. The pace continued to feel solid. I thought briefly about catching White's Ferry and coming back on the MD side, but once I got to Leesburg, I just decided to keep on rolling. Soon enough I was crossing Highway 15 and realized I only needed ten more miles to reach the end of the trail--and to get eighty miles for the day. I was originally aiming for four and a half hours of base time, so everything seemed to be set up well. I had just enough time to make it out and back before dark and the total time would be near five hours. I figured the tailwind would give me hand.
Well, I made it out to the trail's end in Purcellville, VA for only the second time. The last time I did this, I rode every inch of the trail from start to finish and back again. Today would be a bit shorter, but since I live near mile four of the trail, not much shorter. Maybe a little before, but certainly not long after I made the turn, I started to feel a pain in my right knee. It didn't take me more than a minute to realize what the problem was. My IT Band! For those that know me from running, this time it was a different knee (my right), but it was the same pain that cost me my entire freshman year at MIT. It's off to the outside of the knee and it causes the entire area to feel stiff as a board.
I decided to stop and stretch some to see if I could mitigate some of of the discomfort. It wasn't hurting me too much, but I was pretty worried about how I'd handle the next forty miles to get home. Fortunately I wasn't running, because I know there's no way I could have tolerated any more once this pain started. But even when I was at the height of my injury in college, I could always seem to get along better on a bike. So I pedaled on. It felt weird in intervals. Basically any time that I would stand up on the bike, it would start throbbing again. But if I stayed seated, which is what I was trying to do anyways, it didn't feel so bad.
I kept my head down, stayed aero and pushed towards home, picking up the pace a little bit to beat the darkness. My iPod finally cut off in Vienna since I hadn't started with a full charge, so I rode the last thirty minutes in silence. When I commute, even without the iPod, the ride is hardly silent, but it's nice to ride across the same roads on the weekend, when there's hardly anyone out. I climbed the hill over 66 and then finished off the ride without too much problem with the knee.
As soon as I stepped off the bike and put it in the shed, the knee became incredibly stiff. If I'dve had any doubts about what was causing it, they would have been cleared up real quick. There is no question; I'm once again dealing with an IT Band problem. I stretched for a while when I got inside, and since I haven't been doing that much, it's probably no surprise that I'm seeing a recurrence of issues. I also downed some more pasta and went back on Vitamin I for the first time since college. Ugh. I'll probably end my twenty day commute streak tomorrow and drive in to take a day off the knee. Other than that, it'll be wait and see before I get ready to race twice next weekend. Please don't let this get any worse!