Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Keep Rollin' Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'

It had been nagging at me all summer to ride 200+ miles in 7 consecutive days and this past week presented the perfect opportunity, except for the fact that I was considering racing on the 8th day.  Ah what the heck, no guts, no glory.

Two Sundays ago, I somehow had a whole day to myself with perfect weather.  Not wanting to waste the opportunity, I readied my untrusty stead (a.k.a the joker), grabbed and extra tube and headed out.  I had never ridden the full Emerald Necklace so I looked up the map my ride route and hit the road.  About 30 or so miles, in, I ended up missing a turn and riding through East Cleveland where I noticed my bike was worth more than most of the cars.  I had (2) thoughts: Pedal your ass through here as quickly as possible and don't stop.  I had just made it to the outskirts of downtown Cleveland (E. 17th and St. Clair) when I hit a big bump and double pinch flatted.  Luckily I had grabbed that extra tube and after wrestling with my stupid valve extenders for about 10 minutes I was up and riding again.  I decided to head to Spin as it was only 8 miles away vs. trying to navigate my way back home.  They hooked me up with some extra tubes and CO2 cartridges before hitting the parkway.  I had ridden more on the west side this year than ever before and I actually knew a good portion of the road for about 20 miles.  It was relatively flat with a very slight grade for about 20-30 miles until I rode east of I-77 and then the climbing began.  The sun was at it's highest point and I was cooking.  Tons of motorcyclists passed me, making me wish I had taken this bike of mine out instead.  I stopped at Station Bridge to refill my bottles and upon leaving hit what I think was the steepest climb of the day.  I cramped in my cavs and hamstrings for about 2 miles and spent the time spinning and hydrating.  I climbed through the Bedford Reservation and it took all I had to push those pedals the rest of the way home.  Nearly 6 hours of riding with over 4500ft. of climbing and I completed my first completely unsupported century solo.  Oh and I had a bit of a sun burn.

Friday I rode from home up to Willoughby to help The Bicycle Hub run a challenge/aid station at the Dark Horse 5K.  It was like the Warrior Dash, but in the dark (headlamps, glow sticks and flashlights galore).  Roark met me up there after work, so thankfully I didn't have to ride home in the dark.  Chalk up another 21+ miles.

I managed 5 hours of sleep before heading out to the Rev3 preview day at Sawmill Creek, hosted by the CTC.  I wasn't really too keen on swimming, but I neglect it so much and I HAD TO that day.  A quick 30 minute swim and I was hustling to get ready to roll for the ride.  My friend, Danner had never ridden a full century and with the course being only 2,500 feet of climbing and supported, it was the perfect opportunity.

We set out with the B group and ran into my friend TK who was also game for the full century.  The ride started out fine but after 10 miles or so 90% of the group was riding in a paceline in their f*ck#ng aero bars!  I couldn't believe it.  I always here how roadies think triathletes are stupid and refer to us as "tritards" and how against having people join group rides on tri bikes are but that day, I found myself agreeing.  I am without a doubt of a roadie mindset now, posing as a triathlete.  I couldn't believe how stupid and/or ignorant they were being, especially with all the crashes this year.  We decided to get away from this group and jumped up to the B+ group where it was still occurring but much less frequently.  I don't give a crap how fast my average speed is or about any Strava segments....

**FYI - If I catch you riding with me on your aero bars I WILL CALL YOUR ASS OUT!!!**


We rolled through the first loop with about 20-30 people, but when we made the left hand turn to hit the second loop it was .... CRICKETS!!  I think we saw 2 other guys turn with us but it was pretty lonely.  We picked up a girl on a custom Shiv riding 90s that couldn't have weighed more than 130lbs  (the wind got under her at one point and she almost ended up in the other lane)  and we fought the wind the last 25 miles or so with her back to Sawmill.  My Garmin only had 97 miles on it and my friend wanted a legit 100, so the 3 of us rolled past the resort for a few more miles to get our triple digit ride in.  I came to find out our new friend had never ridden 100 before either, so it was a great to get to share that moment with my 2 riding buddies.  As for me, I hit my 200th mile about 20+ miles before that and had my own secret victory party pedaling through the headwinds with them.  We managed 100.5 miles in just a hair over 5 hours.

Total Miles: 221.4 miles

Friday, August 2, 2013

Huntington Triathlon

The race went like this swim, fumble around, bike, fumble around, run -- finish.

My last triathlon had been the full at Rev3 last year.  Other than that it had been nearly 2 years since I had done anything.  I had no intention of doing this race, heck I was seriously considering giving the Eastern Ohio TT a shot, but after Roark signed up I was scraping for some quality time with him, even if it meant suffering a little (who am I kidding, -- a lot).

I saw so many familiar faces and was happy to rack my bike and gear quickly so I could socialize.  The nervous feeling I used to get was barely there.  I had never done this race and having been in the water less than 5 times this year and all but boycotting running, the goal was 1:15, smash the bike and have fun!

I originally, thought I would be in the first women's wave so I was a little surprised to see the wave break at 34 and under.  I had a rather large moment of sadness as I realized I was going off in the "old lady wave."  I don't know why it bothers me so much these days, maybe it's because I am closer to 40 than 30 or maybe it's the few gray hairs I have found, or maybe it's the fact that Roark is over 10 years younger than me and I am just trying to hide my oldness from him for as long as possible....  I even had a little discussion with TriSaraTops at the shoreline about it.

Shoulder to shoulder we left the beach running head on into the waves.  My left goggle was leaking in the warm-up, so I knew it was going to be a 1-eyed swim eventually.  I waited until there was a break in the wave sets and plunged in swimming for the first buoy.  The swim was clockwise and I breathe to the right so I could sight off the shore.  The waves were fine once out past the break wall and I just settled in to a comfortably hard pace, figuring I would be in the water a good 10 minutes and I didn't know where the last buoy was.  I was actually, a little surprised how quick the swim actually was and when I hit the shore I glanced at my watch to see just a hair over 9:00.  I attempted to strip my wetsuit in the water as Roark had instructed me (which I have never done before) and I fumbled around for a minute or so, with the waves crashing into me, unable to get the right leg of my suit off -- DAMN!!!!  At last, I was successful and ran my unhappy ass up to T1.  I was surprised at all the people walking up and I passed at least 5 or 6 people on my little trek.

T1 was uneventful and I was on my way in no time.  I did take note of the many very empty bike racks.  The thought that I was in the last wave had escaped me and critical thinking was not my forte at the moment.  Worried I might not make my goal of 1:15 due to the water fumbling and lack of intensity I was racing with I hustled out determined to have a better bike than swim.

The course was of course, FLAT (we were on the west side).  I tried to ride aero, but it would only last for a little bit at a time.  I was not comfortable and most of my riding these days has been on hilly routes and with groups -- herein lies the problem.  I didn't get passed by one person (guy or girl) and rode by effort only,  unable to see my speed on my Garmin and without a heart rate monitor.  My quads were a little baked from the race last night, but I have raced soar before and it was completely tolerable.  I decided to do a flying dismount after debating with myself for a few minutes as it had been a few years since my last one.  What do ya know, it was like riding a bike, no issues off the bike and high tailing it into T2 successfully.  Garmin split on my bike was 12.4 miles in 33:57, avg 21.9mph and my avg watts were 204, which is great for me (normally, I push 170-190 watts on a ride).  I got the QOM on Strava for the course to boot (course, I am the only girl too -- hehe).

T2 I had forgotten my tri shoes with the Yankz and had to pull on my trainers that had the broken shoe string.  Fumbled around trying to get them tied and double knotted before heading out to my impending punishment.

I had no idea where I was in relation to the other girls.  I did see my friend BS running up the last hill toward the finish thinking he probably won the men's race.  As I made my way out I saw Roark directing me to the left and cheering along with JL and some of the Spin peeps.  I smiled and yelled something about this being my top speed and I was already suffering on the run.

I can never tell my pace when I come off the bike, but it felt slow.  I was guessing around 8:45/mile.  I was hoping to be 8:00/mile flat.  I hit the first mile marker and saw 8:24 --- ooiii.  Not good.  As I made the turn around I saw a few girls hot on my heels, one of them being TriSaraTops.  She looked strong and I felt miserable.  My first thought was there was no way I could hold them off for 2 miles.  She, especially was just too close, and then I had a plan.  I was going to surge in the shaded spots as much as possible.  I wouldn't be able to hold a faster pace, but maybe surging on and off would keep them at bay.  I pushed and pushed.  The sun actually took a little "behind the clouds break" so I surged a little more than I really wanted, which would probably be my saving grace.  I dare not look behind me again and right after mile 2, I saw Roark running the other way.  I hoped he would run with me and encourage me but nope.  He yelled at me to pick it up and ditched me :)  To add insult to injury my shoe came untied.  I debated tying it and decided it wasn't worth it and if the damn thing came off I would come back for it.  I knew I was so close to the finish making the final turn to run up the last hill, but I knew the other girls were even closer.  I gave it all I had to get up that last hill.  I saw Roark and TK screaming at me to hurry and that there were girls right behind me.  One girl caught me right at the top of the hill, but she was in the wave ahead of me, so I already had 4 minutes on her.  I crossed the line, only to turn around and see TriSaraTops RIGHT behind me (you can read her version here).  She had run out of road, literally.  I was spent and it had hurt.  Next time I would not be so lucky.

I was elated to see my time had been 1:12:47, over 2 minutes faster than my goal.  No splits were available, but it's safe to say my bike split was probably one of the fastest for the women, and minus the part where TriSaraTops made me run so hard that I wanted to puke, I had fun.

Reflecting on this race, I find my nervous intensity and seriousness regarding triathlon racing is pretty much gone.  I don't expect to win anything overall or in my age group, so it's a bonus if I do now.  I don't train much (except riding my bike),  hence I don't have huge expectations.  I'm not a pro.  I feel my glory days are passed me in regards to racing, but I'm having fun, a lot of fun.