When we last talked I was headed for the bike mount area of the practice tri. Before I get to that, I do need to note that as I was racking my bike I saw about 10,000 road bikes, and not one single mountain bike. Panic set in, as it did when I realized I was also in the minority of the wetsuit or no wetsuit group: no wetsuit.
I had no clips, no little foot cage thingys for my feet, nothing. It was like I was hopping on my Pee Wee Herman bike for a trip to the store. I was only missing a bell. But, I was there, what the hell, I just need to get on that bike and head for those "rolling hills".
I call bullshit, here's a map with the elevation profile: http://www.dailymile.com/routes/1533138-cycling-route Rolling hills my ass. And for a chick who has only been on a road one other time in the last like 40 years, I smoked this all things considered. Completed it in about 43 minutes and some change.
But there's a story, as there always is with me. The lady, who clearly was trying to make me feel better, completely undersold the bike and the trail run. The only thing she was right about was not needing a wetsuit. The ONLY thing....
I knew enough to put my bike in a low gear to get up the first hill, and then coast down. I figured that had to be the worst of it. Oh hell was I ever wrong.
Every hill climb I slipped into a spin gear (seated hill climb per the spin bike) and I felt like Eliot in ET just peddaling my wheels and floating, but not going anywhere fast.
Every descent was like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, completely out of control, and coasting (had to give the legs a rest you know).
The only, and longest ride to date was 8 miles in Sunriver, and it wasn't this hilly. I was suddenly disgruntled that my family was there, if they hadn't come I could have wimped out and headed back. My brain was saying "you're such a dumbass, what were you thinking?!"
So I decided to entertain myself, as long as I'm on a bike for the rest of my life, let's do something fun. So, I sang. TOP OF MY LUNGS sang. I sang Britney Spears "Scream and Shout", Bruno Mars "Runaway Baby", anything and everything. There was NO ONE NEARBY! (or so I thought anyway)
I passed a couple people, apologizing each time (I passed on the right, but in my defense they were in the road and the rules were STAY RIGHT, and I warned them I was coming, but I still felt bad.....) Gave a verbal high five to the ONLY other human on a mountain bike.
"Hey! Someone ELSE with a bike like me!" she said. I replied "Thank GOD! This is my first one of these." "Me too!" was her reply. I told her to have a great ride and I never saw her again. But at least I felt less like a schmuck!
I realized about mile 4 that I forgot TWO THINGS I NEED: Gum in my mouth and lip balm. When you're flying down hill panting like a hound dog on a sun porch in Georgia on a July afternoon you wish wish wish you had some freaking gum. I did not. Totally forgot in my transition rush.
And, didn't reapply lip balm, another one of my little OCD quirks, so in between singing I downed the Nuun in my water bottle to whet my whistle and vowed to take an extra 30 seconds to find those two things during T2.
But the singing, oh the singing, it continued for quite some time until I hit the dam where I saw some of the most beautiful scenery I've ever seen on a bike ride. Remember, I did ride in Sunriver....
The sun was sliding down on the horizon, spilling light onto the lake like a paint can filled with gold tipped over a blue canvas. To the east were luscious green fields and rolling hills, neatly trimmed and perfect. I was immediately thankful that for the time being my allergy medicine was working well.
"It's F-ing GORGEOUS!!!" I exclaimed to no one in particular. Then I hear "Yes it is! On your left!" so after that I kind of kept my trap shut. God knows how long he was back there listening to me belt out some very out of tune songs.
As I rounded the last few miles I caught up to some people. That kind of made me feel good and gave me some motivation even if I thought my legs would fall off. I chatted up one guy and said "I'd rather be running a half marathon right now" to which he replied, "You seem to be doing fine, you're quite conversational!" Guess maybe he was the poor guy behind me that I didn't know about....
I passed him a little later and then passed a girl with 29 on her calf. If you don't know, they write your age on your right calf, why I have no idea, but they do, and they did, and I was feeling like hot shit when I caught up to her.
She was HILARIOUS! She's dating a triathlete who kind of made her start doing this stuff, I figure it must be true love and they'll eventually get married and breed a clad of Ironman children, after all who would willingly sign up for this for a dude (or a chick) and go through with it if it wasn't for love. Or good sex. Whatever. They'll get married, that's all I'm saying.
We were talking about running pace and she asked how fast I planned to run, I said normally 9 minute miles but after this brutal climb I'm not sure my legs will move. She said she would run 11s and would just see me at the BBQ.
I asked if there was beer and she said no, but she did chug one before she started the race. I like this girl, even if she is 29 and has a real bike. NOTE TO SELF: maybe a quick shot of something might ease my nerves? Good plan.
She talked me down (actually up) the final hill until we rounded the "dismount" section and I never saw her again.
My transition from bike to run was a snap. Threw my bike on the rack, removed helmet & glasses, found the gum & lip balm (thank GOD) and took off on the run.
The run part was very much undersold as an easy little trail run, wide, compact dirt, no ruts or roots. Again, I call bullshit. Holy crap, 90% was a one runner path. I started singing again, composing a new song titled "What the F-k was I thinking" and I sang it through most of the run, much to the delight of others, who I tend to think were in 100% agreement with my feelings at that moment.
I passed a couple runners here and there and I saw that I was going to finish, possibly, in 1:10 if I put the pedal to the medal. I started out at a 6:30 pace on the run (OMFG cuz I NEVER run that fast) as apparently you tend to go faster off the bike not because you can (your legs feel like tree trunks) but because you're used to flying at high speed and your brain has to adjust.
I did settle in to a more realistic pace as I hill climbed the trails! But then I floored it, hoping to see 59:59 on my watch as I finished. It was 59:45 when I passed through the finish line. I new it was about 10 minutes on the swim including transition which my husband thankfully clocked for me. I was right on the money, 1 hour, ten minutes, and it. was. awesome.
My fuel plan was great, my hydration plan worked, my training is spot on and even though I'm a mental case, I can't wait to do it again, in the real sprint: 1/2 mile swim, 12 mile bike and 5K run on August 3.
One more little side note, I realized this morning that my breast cancer survivor clock started one year ago today. ONE. YEAR. And I've learned a lot about myself this past year, and more importantly how much my family means to me.
Even though this was a practice event, I'm so grateful that they were there, and that they always have been, no matter what torture my body endures: surgery, racing, more surgery, more racing. The best piece of advice I got for this event was from my husband (and, well Dori in Finding Nemo): Just keep swimming. From here on out, that's what I'm going to do.