I know it’s been a few weeks since I posted, so here’s a quick synopsis before I launch into some details.
The end of the school year and peak training do not mix well. There were concerts and award programs, banquets, and senior stuff to do almost every night for two weeks straight. We had a weed eater, dishwasher, and a hair dryer all go out in the same week. Then came high school graduation on a Saturday morning.
I dealt with a slight head cold that week, and I wondered how I should adjust my training around losing a Saturday for a long workout. (This is where hiring a coach would be beneficial.) I opted to spend a few hours on the bike trainer the following Sunday morning, with my long run a few hours later. I’ve been fortunate to have the company of my husband for my long run the past few weeks.
It’s a nice way for us to spend time together and the miles pass by so much faster – especially when I want to get whiny because it’s hot. 🙂 The runs are slower than they were earlier in the training cycle, but the temperatures are higher and the mileage is building.
Last week was my peak week for my first half Ironman. The swims were longer, the runs hotter, and there was a 60 mile bike ride on my plan. A friend talked me into going with her to the Collin Classic bike rally. We registered for the 62 mile ride.
This was my first bike rally and I was a little intimidated. As we lined up and bikes started to fill in around us, she told me “don’t look back.” There were bikes everywhere! When we started, I tried to keep up with the crowd. I still get nervous when starting and stopping, but my two rides with the local cycling club helped me with my bike handling skills. I lost sight of my friend in the first mile. Did I mention all the bikes?
Then I came upon my first crash site. There were bikes down and people scattered. Someone had caught their wheel in a large crack that was between the lanes. As I navigated around, I saw a man on the curb moaning with a bloody face. That got my heart rate up as I wondered why I was even out there. I felt like an outsider – a rookie with poor biking skills who wanted the comfort of some space around the bike. But I kept going, and was surprised to see my first 5 miles averaged 16.3 mph.
I passed a sign that said “Break Point 1” and I had no idea what that was, but it was a turn off so I kept going. After seeing a few more of these, I figured out they were rest stops. On a rough road, I noticed my brand new bottle (attached to my aerobars) was working its way out of the holder. I pushed it back in, and tried to keep an eye on it. Three more times, it almost bounced out while on a bumpy stretch – and when going downhill. Further into the ride, I tried to open my Clif bar and couldn’t get it open. Because of the bikes around me and the unfamiliar roads, I wasn’t able to fiddle with it. That’s when I decided for my half Ironman, I will section my stuff out in ziploc bags that I’ll open before I start biking.
I knew I needed the calories, but this part of the course was hilly and I felt like I was at the back of the pack, so I didn’t want to stop. Then I was coming downhill and around a curve toward an intersection where an officer was controlling traffic when my bottle bounced out through the aerobars and hit the road. In that split second, I decided it was just too much to try to go back and get it. I was upset. Upset about how much we spent on the setup, how much trouble my husband went to installing it for me to have for my next long ride, and that it didn’t even work right for one ride. So I griped in my head for the next few miles, but at least I wouldn’t worry about it coming out anymore. Just past mile 30, I turned and landed right in the middle of the next rest stop. This one was right on the road, and there were bikes and people everywhere. That’s when I realized I wasn’t at the back of the pack.
I took one of my two remaining bottles to fill with ice and water, and devoured half of my Clif bar while I waited in the line. I also had some orange slices and banana. I texted my husband to tell him how it was going. It wasn’t a happy text. There were tears in my eyes (I’ll blame lack of calories and hormones) and I was ready to go home. But he was encouraging as usual, so I took a deep breath and got back on the road.
I stopped again at mile 45 to fill my other bottle. I started to notice I was having trouble with my hands. At one point for a major uphill, I had to reach over with my right hand to gear down because I couldn’t push it with my left hand. My hands would start to tingle or feel numb, and I would shake them out. When I stopped, I had trouble holding my bottle still for them to pour ice in. I took a few minutes to eat again, drink some gatorade, and then I headed out with the determination not to stop again. And I didn’t until I finished.
This was my longest ride ever, and it was an experience. Maybe I should have started with something on a smaller scale. I don’t know. I didn’t enjoy it like I thought I should. My friend says I need to do the HHH100, because I’m already up to 60 miles. I’m just going to leave that right here, because I’m perfectly fine stopping at 60.
But just so my rally recap is not all negative, here’s my happy list:
- There was a nice stretch of road that went over Lake Lavon by the dam that is closed to traffic. We rode out on that and on the way back.
- The rest stops were well stocked with all kinds of food. Granola bars, bags of chips, pb crackers, oranges, bananas, popsicles…It was like a buffet.
- Texas Land and Cattle was grilling up hamburgers at the finish area, and they were wonderful.
- It was a good chance for me to be on different roads, different sized hills, and out of my comfort zone – which will ready me for my half Ironman. I learned a lot.
Also, I learned not to grip too tightly on the handlebars and carry a lot of tension in your arms. When I went to bed Saturday night, my arms were still achy I didn’t have full feeling in my thumbs. It looks like it’s called Cyclist’s Palsy – which I didn’t know anything about until now – caused by vibration (thanks chip-seal), pressure on the nerve from holding the bars tightly, poor handlebar position. In my case, all of the above. That’s why I couldn’t shift with my left hand later in the ride. Even now two days later, I’m still having some trouble with fine motor function – but I can almost write normally again.
My biggest worry from Saturday night was that I would have trouble riding in my sprint triathlon the next day. I’ll put up another post later this week about that race though. This one has turned into a book.
So I want to know, what is an event you’ve done because someone talked you into, but it didn’t turn out the way you thought it would?