Where I've Been and Hope To Be

Where I've Been and Hope To Be

Friday, November 21, 2014

Viva Las Vegas

Traveling to a fun destination like Vegas to run a half marathon is something that other people do.  People with fun money to blow and less responsibility.  Never in a million years did I think that I would get to do something so fun and so indulgent.  But with some begging, support from Hubby, and careful planning, I was able to enjoy this amazing weekend.

The Las Vegas Rock and Roll Marathon and 1/2 is particularly unique in that it is held on Sunday night.  The idea is to run up and down the strip in the dark to thoroughly enjoy the lights and the full spectacle that is Vegas.  I flew in on Friday so that I could maximize the weekend but also so that I wasn't traveling and wearing myself out the day before the race.  My bestie from high school, Angela, met me and we began our girls weekend.

We stayed at Bally's which is right in the center of the action.  I forgot how great the people watching is and got some good action in while waiting for her to arrive.  I had been to Vegas once before a number of years ago under very different circumstances.  While I was in town this time for a 13.1 mile racecation, last time I was there to PARTY and party I did.  Vegas looks and smells a whole lot different when you are sober and a reformed smoker.  But there is plenty to enjoy no matter your perspective.  When Angela arrived we grabbed some dinner and then headed to the room and to bed.  It was late and we wanted to get a full day in on Saturday.

Saturday we slept in.  Like really slept in.  I cannot tell you the last time I stayed in bed until 10 am.  And it was 10 am Vegas time which is 1 pm my time.  It was GLORIOUS.  No screaming toddler wake up call, no breakfast to make, no appointments or activities to be at.  Nothing.  Such a treat.  When we finally did get out of bed we headed to the hotel gym for quick runs and then after a shower to the buffet brunch at Paris.  I love a good buffet.  It is always so much fun to try a bunch of random stuff at one meal and this one did not disappoint.  It wasn't exactly my typical day before race meal, but since the race was Sunday night I had some extra time to digest and get my stomach under control.

After we ate it was time to head out to the Las Vegas Convention Center for packet pickup.  We took the monorail and enjoyed the views of the city.

The convention center was packed.  So many people were swarming the place picking up bib numbers and tshirts as well as shopping the many vendors of the expo.  In addition to picking up my race gear I was on a mission to find a vendor selling Swiftwick socks.  Of all the things to forget at home, I forgot my favorite socks which are the ones I have been training with.  The last thing I wanted was a blister from the run and not having the right socks was throwing me for a loop.  At long last, as we were about to give up hope and leave, tucked away in the corner I spotted a lonely booth with my socks!  Thank the running gods I bought 2 pairs.

From the expo we made our way back to Bally's and to dinner and a show.  I've wanted to try BLT Steakhouse for ages and there was one right in our hotel.  We indulged in delicious soup, popovers, steak (salmon for Angela), parsnips, and stuffed mushrooms.  We would have crammed dessert in too if we weren't running late for the show.  Again, not my typical pre-race dinner, but what the hell, you only live once! (All of this eating came back to haunt me a bit).

We bought half price tickets for the show Jubilee, also in our hotel.  It's a traditional show girl show with singing and dancing and the girls in wild feathered outfits and enormous headdresses.  Both Angela and I would have died for one of the headdresses.  They were too cool.  The show was entertaining, but not fantastic.  All of the dancers were incredibly subdued - almost as if the entire cast was on valium.  But it was a fun way to spend the night out without traipsing all over the city and wearing out my legs before I needed them to run.  Mostly though, it didn't matter what we were doing because it was so great to get caught up and laugh after not seeing each other in a year.

Sunday.  Race day.  Once I was up and awake (again after a decent late sleep) I started to get nervous.  What the hell was I about to do?  Run 13.1 miles after my longest training run was only 9.5 and fairly miserable toward the end?  Insane!  We found a good carb filled breakfast and I filled up my stomach early in the day so I didn't have to eat a ton later.  It didn't matter - I really couldn't eat much later in the day anyway.  We took our time getting ready and headed toward the start line on the monorail.  It was fairly easy to find our way since half of Vegas was headed in the same direction.  Somewhere between 35,000 and 40,000 people took place in this run and that doesn't include all of the family and friends that were there as spectators.

Pre-race entertainment included an hour long concert by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.  We hung out listening to the music and chatting with a woman from Illinois that was there to run.  I had been worried about being properly hydrated in such a dry climate especially after a five hour flight.  So since Friday night I had been chugging insane amounts of water loaded with my Skratch electrolyte mix.  And I had not needed to go to the bathroom nearly as often as I thought I should.  This made me even more nervous about being properly hydrated.  Well the floodgates opened when we got to the concert site and I spent a fair amount of that time in line for the portopotties.  All of my fluid intake also came back to haunt me during the race.

I also started to get a minor headache while we were waiting for things to get started.  I decided it was not going to get better while running so we scooted over to Mandalay Bay to buy some Advil in the gift shop and make one more trip to the bathroom.  Then back to get in my corral and get ready for the race start.

I'm going to save the actual race for it's own race report because otherwise this would become the longest blog post in Vegas history.  But rest assured the race happened and I finished.  Then back to the hotel to shower and get warm.  After changing we headed to a burger restaurant in the hotel and ate soft pretzels, brisket chili, and I had an enormous burger.  There was not enough food in the place.  And I was hobbling around like a crippled octogenarian.  In the middle of dinner I got a crazy hamstring cramp and had to stick my foot on the back of Angela's chair to stretch it out.  I'm sure I looked like an insane Cirque du Soleil wannabe.  But this meal may have been my favorite part of the weekend.  There was something so relaxed and comfortable about the meal and, of course, Angela's company.

Monday morning I could move better than I expected and after Angela left for the airport I wandered down to Hard Rock Cafe to get my traditional t-shirt souvenirs for all of the boys at home.  Then off to the airport where I purposefully went to the wrong terminal so that I could get a pedicure and foot massage.  At this point I was hobbling significantly enough that an airline employee asked if I needed a wheelchair.  Nope, just younger joints, but thanks.  The pedicure went a long way to relaxing my aching feet and then I was on the plane, home, and back to the grind of normal life.

This weekend was just what the doctor ordered.  It was amazing to actually taste my food for the first time in a while instead of shoveling it down as quickly as possible before a screaming toddler climbed into my lap.  It was nice to take care of me on my time instead of fitting my stuff in between everyone else's schedule.  And best of all, I got to hang out with and catch up with my best girl Angela.  She is so much fun and better than any therapist.  She lets me dump my crap but doesn't let me wallow in it.  AND she was great about deferring to what I needed for the race.  She totally got it when I didn't want to traipse all over town and kill my legs the day before the run.  Good good stuff.  I don't know when I'll get another trip like this, but I highly recommend it.  In the meantime, Elvis has left the building!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

October Recap

Yes, I realize November is half over and I'm just getting around to recapping October.  I've been very busy at work lately and still haven't managed to convince anyone to let me become a pro triathlete at the ripe old age of 39 and after only one year of racing.  So the day job still takes priority at times.  Boo day job. 

I also just haven't been super fired up about training or blogging lately.  I've hit a motivation rut.  And like any good motivation rut, it was well timed to coincide with the onslaught of Halloween candy.  Let the feeding frenzy commence!  So I've been doing what I need to do to not slip backward, but not a whole lot to keep forward momentum.  Hopefully I'll get fired up again soon.  In the meantime, here is a very brief look at October.

Run 54.21 miles.  Say what!?!  I only ran 13 miles last month.  I knew my running had ramped up, but I've never seen a number like that before.  I'm actually starting to feel like a bit of a real runner which is nice.  I know that if I can continue to get my running endurance and speed up over the winter my triathlons are going to look a lot different next year.  Half Marathon in Vegas this Sunday!!  So excited!   

Bike  106.32 miles.  I knew it would be down from last month with the Century and training, but I also missed a lot of bike workouts this month.  In fact, running was the only sport that got the attention it deserved this month.  When life interrupts training choices get made.  I'm just glad I was still up over 100.  Not likely for November.   

Swim  4.3 miles.  Swimming took the biggest hit in October and is taking an even bigger hit in November.  It has been really hard to find the motivation to get my swim workouts in.  It doesn't help that I have to either go at 5:30 am or arrange for a babysitter in the evening while Hubby is at football practice.  This should swing back up in the next couple of weeks as football winds down.   

Races  Waterman's Sprint Triathlon

I'm going to cut it short this month.  I'm tired and in bed as I write this.  All before 9 pm on a Wednesday.  I'm afraid my dear friend Angela isn't going to recognize this exhausted homebody in Vegas this weekend. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Long Run

Even before I started serious training I heard runners talk about doing their "long run."  Usually on a weekend a long training run is the longest run of the week and the length depends on whatever upcoming goal or race is being trained for.  As I am chasing my half marathon, now only 2 weeks away, my long run has been inching up each weekend.  Since I stayed home for the kids Halloween festivities, I had my long run on tap for Friday.  My longest run previously was 1:15, and this week I was scheduled for 1:30.  But the plan was to run for 9 minutes and walk for 1 for the 90 minute total. 

I started out at Roosevelt Island with a plan to run on the Mount Vernon Trail along the Potomac River.  The scenery of the DC skyline makes for such beautiful viewing that I find I can push a little harder for a little longer when I run here.  I need all of the motivation I can get since I have yet to find a set of earbuds that will stay in my ears while I run.  The annoyance of fighting them and trying to keep putting them back in has led me to run without music.  The distraction and frustration isn't worth it.  But it means the miles can get boooooring.  Yesterday's views didn't disappoint since we are fully into autumn and the leaves are changing beautifully.  The photo doesn't do the tree-scape justice, but there are some gorgeous colors out there right now.

My goal was to stay steady and consistent and use the 1 minute walk interval to rejuvenate, let my heart rate drop back a bit, and give my joints a small rest.  It worked well and I felt good for the first 4 miles.  During mile 5 my toes started to cramp and my right knee really got angry.  The 9 minute run intervals felt longer and longer and the 1 minute walk seemed like a second.  One hour and 13 minutes in I just had to take a longer walk break.  Physically, I know I need to listen to my body and not push it too far.  Mentally, however, it kills me.  I'm harder on myself than anyone else ever could be.  And it stinks when I have a plan and can't follow through on it precisely.  The good news is that after a long walk, I started running again at the beginning of the next interval and was able to finish.  7.66 miles is my longest run EVER by more than a mile and a half.  Slowly but surely I am increasing my mileage and stamina.  I averaged a 12:20 minute per mile pace.  I'd like to be under 12 for these long runs, but considering I walked for a full 7 extra minutes toward the end I'll take it.

The long run to Halloween festivities took a quick transition.  Hubby and I finished decorating the house before the school parade came by.  I put the rest of Lil Buddy's costume together with safety pins, and we got our "costumes" on.  (Tshirts).  I had hoped to get pictures of Big N and T during the parade and with Lil Buddy, but they are quickly embracing the era of being too busy and cool hanging with their friends to pose for my silly pictures.  I'm lucky I got one at all before we headed out for the great candy reaping.  Here's a quick glimpse of our day.  Hope everyone had a Happy Halloween!!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Running My Way to Vegas

I'm registered for my first half marathon in less than a month.  I figured I would make the event as fun as possible by registering for Rock and Roll Vegas.  Not only do I get to run the strip at night and enjoy the festivities associated with a Rock and Roll event, but I get to see my dear friend, Angela, who is going to meet me in Vegas for a great weekend!  So all that's left is to train my way into half marathon shape.  No problem, right?

Alas nothing works that smoothly for me.  Ever.  Under normal circumstances I would have started training for the longer distance weeks ago.  The longest running race I've previously completed is five miles as opposed to the 13.1 of a half marathon.  But my foot exploded in pain shortly after I initially aggravated it at the Crystal City Twilighter 5K.  I immediately sought out help from a podiatrist.  I assumed it was my plantar fasciitis coming back to plague me and that a cortisone shot would get me back on track quickly.  But the doctor had other plans.  He suspected that it might actually be a stress fracture and ordered an MRI.  He also gave me a 3 week run ban and prescribed 4 weeks of physical therapy.  THIS was not how I was planning on starting my training cycle.

Long story short, it turned out that there was no clear diagnosis.  It wasn't a fracture, but the pain didn't cleanly support a plantar issue.  There was stress in the MRI, but no breaks.  So I continued with no running and lots of exercises, biking, and swimming.  Eventually I graduated to the Alter-G anti gravity treadmill for short running.  This treadmill is so cool.  You belt into it and it lifts you based on your weight so that only a small percentage of your body weight is making impact with the treadmill belt.  This allowed me to work on proper running form without the impact of my full body weight coming down on my foot.

This is not a photo of me, but it might as well be.  My problems and pain stemmed from me striking my heel first with every impact on the ground.  Through lots of physical therapy at the Endurance Athlete Center, runs on the anti gravity treadmill, and carefully working my way back to running with drills from my super coach, the Speed Sherpa, I have finally figured out how to run and land on the middle of my foot instead of my heel.  I'm still working on getting a better forward lean and engaging my glutes and hamstrings, but overall running isn't painful.  Well it isn't painful in an ouch my body is breaking kind of way.

It is still painful in a I really hate running kind of way.  I long for the days where I can fly like a gazelle down the road with a freeing feeling of yay, this is awesome!  I'd say I'm a bit closer than I was before all of this injury nonsense, but I'm not where I'd like to be.  My friend Sharon asked if I was able to run 13.1 miles at this point.  My response was a resounding NOPE!  She then responded that she hoped the Vegas t-shirt was a good one.  I had to laugh.  Because at this point that's pretty true.  I'm logging the miles and increasing my stamina, but I'm just not where I wanted to be at this point.  But I have a good attitude about it because there is no pressure other than the pressure I'm creating.  No time limit I have to make.  No goal other than simply finishing.  I just want to build up more running stamina so that I can increase the distances of my triathlons over the next couple of years.  So I'm going to go to Vegas with what I've got and see what it gets me.  I'm going to enjoy the experience because it's a pretty outlandish one.  And I can't wait to see my girl Angela who lives entirely too far away for my taste. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Race Report: Waterman's Sprint Triathlon

I really wish I had written this post right after this race was over.  I was on such an amazing high and I think that excitement would have shown through in my writing.  Now I'm in a bit of a season-end funk and coming off of a rough couple of work days.  I still have running races in store, but my triathlons are over until next year.  Boo.

Anyhoo, Waterman's was the perfect finale to my swim bike run season.  Race week I felt confident and strong.  I knew I had trained my ass off and I was feeling really good both physically and mentally.  I also had some comfort in that I knew the course.  Waterman's is in Rock Hall, Maryland and held on the exact same course as Rock Hall Triathlon that I raced earlier in the season.  Since this was my first season I didn't have the opportunity to be familiar with race courses from experience, but finally this one I did.  And I knew I had done well on it before despite being sick in the weeks leading up to the race.  So my plan for this one was to CRUSH IT!

I guessed that we would probably get warm water temps given that it was the end of the season and the water had all summer to get warm.  I was right.  On Friday before we received an email from the race director that the water temp was 74.  What I wasn't bargaining for was chilly air temps.  The forecast called for a high of 65 on race day with temps in the low to mid 50s early in the morning.  I was coming off a cold 55 degree ride start at Seagull and was worried about getting wet and then riding my bike in chilly temps.  But I was determined to do this race without a wetsuit.  I wasn't worried about the actual swim or water temp and I didn't want to lose time in transition getting the wetsuit off.  In fact, short of an ocean swim, I think my plan is to go without a wetsuit for all sprint distance swims.  The gains I get from buoyancy are lost in the struggle to get it off.  So I packed arm warmers and said screw it - I'll just haul so fast I don't have time to be cold.

Race morning came early since I was driving from home instead of staying in a hotel the night before.  I tried to have some fun with my alarms on my phone to motivate me and get me moving at such an ungodly hour.

I rode up with teammate Desiree and chatting with someone about all sorts of non-race topics helped the drive seem short and the morning not so miserable.  Plus its always great having someone race morning to talk to in order to keep the jitters to a minimum.  When we arrived the sun was finally out, but so was the wind.  I was so cold.  During transition set up I kept my comfy layers on and made sure to keep moving around to stay warm.  We got our bikes racked, gear organized, and walked down to the swim exit to check out the buoy placement and plan the swim exit strategy.  I learned at the last race that the course was slightly different in reality from what was posted online and I wasted precious time looking for a buoy that didn't exist.  I wasn't going to make that mistake this time.

I didn't have family or Hubby with me at this race so it was kind of weird only knowing other athletes.  Not having a security blanket person to have nervous chit chat with was odd, but also kind of calming.  No one to be nervous with helped to take away some of the nerves.

I put on old grungy comfy clothes to take down to the swim start.  The race organizers promised to collect our sweats and bring them back to transition, but I wanted to make sure I wore stuff that could disappear without heartache.  (It did all make it back).  Finally it was time for the race to start.  I put on my cap and waited for my swim wave.  Took off my sweats and sucked down a Roctane Gu.  Despite the advice to never try something new on race day (which I violate regularly) I did eat this gu never having tried it before.  I don't know if it was the extra caffeine or what, but I felt awesome for the next hour plus.  I'm definitely adding this to my pre-race nutrition for the future.

This was the first time I started in a co-ed swim wave.  They had all of the athletes registered as Athena (women over 165 pounds) Clydesdales (men over 220 pounds) and both men and women novices starting in the same wave.  It was listed as 97 people.  I was a bit worried about battling it out with bigger men and arms and legs flying, but I was also ready to rock it.  I told myself that this was MY race and that they needed to worry about me, not the other way around.  When the horn sounded I was off.  I lined up smarter with a more direct line to the first buoy than before.  I settled into a comfortable but strong pace without going too hard.  I made sure to follow through with my stroke and get as much power out of my arms as possible.  I felt strong and fluid and was cruising through the water.  There were a couple of times when I got close to others and felt an elbow or thigh flying at me.  But I didn't let it rattle me and held my ground.  Let them move away from me - this is my water!

I turned the first buoy and couldn't see the second because of the sun.  I remembered having trouble sighting this one in the last race so I just followed the bodies trusting that I'd correct my course when I got closer to the next turn.  This worked and helped me avoid wasting time.  I made that second (and final) turn and headed for the swim exit.  This is when I really started passing people.  The wind was high and created a lot of chop for the first two legs, but the current was with us for the third leg.  I felt so good and was convinced that I was crushing the swim with an incredible time.  I was expecting to see 11 or 12 minutes on my watch when I got out.  Womp, womp, I saw 14 something and was really disappointed.  Ugh.  My official time was registered as 15:32 which includes a small run from the actual edge of the water and over the timing mat on the way to transition.  I was bummed, in part, because I was incorrectly recalling my swim time from before.  I couldn't figure out how my swim felt so good but was slower than before.  I was wrong - my time before was 16:43 so this was a faster swim.  I'll take it.

Transition 1: My transitions suck.  But for the first time ever, I felt strong on the run from the water to the transition area.  Usually I get to my bike winded and exhausted and unable to even put on my socks and shoes.  Not this time!  I felt like I was flying.  Got dry, threw on my arm warmers, helmet, socks and shoes, grabbed my bike and was outta there.  T1: 3:20.  Still needs work but I'll take it.  Previous time was 3:57.

The bike.  Oh my wonderful bike.  I've been working so hard on getting stronger and maintaining a fast strong pace over the course of the summer.  I struggled a bit in the weeks leading up to the race deciding whether to use my road bike that I've been riding with for years and have become one with, or try the new tri bike.  I ultimately decided that even if the tri bike itself is designed to be lighter and faster than the road bike, I know the road bike like I know my limbs and I wouldn't be able to ride as aggressively or quickly on a bike that I am unsure of.  I started hammering away on the bike immediately.  I was taking no prisoners.  I basically went all out for the entire 15 miles passing as many people as I could along the way.  I felt so good that I knew I'd still have some legs left for the run.  And frankly I didn't care.  I wanted to crush that bike like it was my job.  It was WINDY the entire way.  I'm not sure how the headwind followed us around and blew in my face no matter which way I was headed, but it felt like an evil curse.  Didn't matter.  I literally felt like I was cutting the wind like butter.  This race was such a mental victory.  I was so hopped up with adrenaline that nothing was going to stop me.  Including the woman in the Athena category I rode up on around mile 9.  We played leapfrog for the last 5 miles until I could finally not stand it a minute longer and went into a full out sprint for the last mile.  I was not letting her get back to transition before me.  I knew I needed to put as much distance on the other Athenas as possible since my run is my weakness.  I flew into transition and felt great.  Great final bike time too at 47:34 down from 53:43.  I averaged 18.4 miles per hour which I'm thrilled with given the wind.

Transition 2: Improving but slowly.  Got the bike shoes off, running shoes and visor on, and headed out just ahead of Athena mentioned above.  T2: 1:21 down from 1:42.  With my competitors this close, every second counted.

The run.  Lord I hate the run.  It felt cruddy the whole time as usual.  I never really got into a comfortable groove.  But I just kept my legs moving.  It helped to know the layout of the course and know where the turnaround was, how far to the finish, etc.  I focused on my form and trying to really engage my glues and hamstrings to get some extra push from each stride.  I also focused on keeping my cadence high so my feet were turning over more frequently instead of planting down on the ground like cement in glue for each step.  Despite feeling awful, it worked.  My final run time was 31:38.  This is down from 32:36 at Rock Hall Triathlon, but ALSO down from 31:52 at the Crystal City Twilighter 5K which was a stand alone 5K.  Somehow I managed to run a faster 5K off a 15 mile bike sprint than I did earlier this year when I was just running solo.  My legs may not feel good off the bike, but they seem to like it anyhow.  Plus, I attribute quite a bit of the improvement to the work on form that I've been putting in at physical therapy and with my coach.

The bad news is that other Athena lady passed by me in the first few minutes of the run and I had nothing in me that would allow me to chase her.  I had enough to keep moving forward at a steady pace, but I wasn't going to be catching up to or passing anybody.  I had no idea where I was in relation to other Athenas, but I was hoping I was in second which was my podium finish last time.

I sprinted down the finish chute and grabbed cold water and my finishers medal.  I had left it all on the course.  I could have gone no faster or harder at any point.  And that was what really mattered to me in the end.  But a new personal record and podium finish would be icing on the cake.  Time to wander over to the results tent and see how things shook out.

Final time: 1:39:23!  Down from 1:48:40.  I was super excited that I shaved so much time.  And it landed me a 3rd place spot on the Athena podium.  Turned out there was a super speedy lady somewhere up ahead that I never saw.  She finished a full 4 minutes ahead of me.  Good for her.  Gives me some motivation for the off season!

I really couldn't have asked for a better way to finish my first triathlon season.  It wound up being a gorgeous day, a super fast race for me, and a podium finish.  I learned a lot this season and particularly this race.  Not only did I learn about training and triathlon, but I learned about myself.  I learned that the hard work does pay off, that smart training and smart racing gets good results.  And I learned that I can be a competitor in this sport.  Maybe I'm not taking overall race places or qualifying for Kona, but for my first season I couldn't be more pleased with the way things went.  Now I'm going to focus on my run, getting it stronger, faster, and longer.  And it's time to start framing out next year.  I can't wait!

Monday, October 6, 2014

September Recap

When I write these recap posts I tally up the mileage as I'm writing.  So tonight I'm really excited to see how my numbers total.  I know the bike is high and running is low.  So let's see how it all unfolded.

Run 13.28 miles.  Ouch.  At least I have a excuse.  This month I was building back from the doctor's no run order to let my plantar fasciitis heal.  It's about to pick up significantly and just in time because my foot feels great. 

Bike  279.54 miles.  I really thought this was going to be higher because of the Seagull Century.  I feel like I spent the entire month on the bike.  Where are the miles?  Still a bunch, but I was sure I'd be over 300.  Wondering if I'm missing something somewhere. 

Swim  11.02 miles.  This is up a couple of miles and headed in the right direction.  I still missed all of my Sunday swims, but I made my weekday workouts more of a priority.  I'm hoping to get back to my Sundays very soon. 

Races Nation's Triathlon...ahem Aquabike....ahem...bike :-(, and Seagull Century

Current Reads I cannot seem to find a book to get excited about these days.  My recent disappointment was Where'd Ya Go Bernadette which everyone is raving about.  I thought it was incredibly stupid.  I'm still reading some vampire garbage and autobiographies by triathletes, but I need some fiction of substance soon.

Current Obsession Going to bed at a reasonable hour.  No matter what I do I can't seem to climb into bed before 10 and I'm never asleep before 11.  I'm a zombie all the time.  I found myself falling asleep at 5 pm on the couch the other day while Lil Buddy was running around and the big boys were doing homework.  I feel like the other mothers that pass out on the couch in the afternoon are drunk.  I have no good excuse.

Current Song Taylor Swift's Shake It Off.  Don't say you don't love it.  It's impossible not to shake it to Shake It Off.  I belt it at the top of my lungs when it comes on in the car.  Big N and Big T are pretending to be embarrassed, but they know all of the words too so I'm not fooled.

Current Need Sleep.

Current Triumph 100 miles on the bike in one day.  I'm still kind of in shock that I pulled it off.  I don't even like to drive 100 miles in one day.

Current Bane of My Existence The Redskins.  Life long fan here and they just make me sick this year.  The quality of play, the name drama, their horrendous owner, all of it.

Current Goal Finish the full 100 miles at the Seagull Century at the end of the month and still be able to walk.

Current Excitement Getting back into running.  I had a really solid run at my triathlon yesterday and my foot didn't hurt at all.  I'm ready to start pumping up the mileage and getting ready for my half marathon.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Seagull Century 2014

I did it!  I rode 100 miles!!  This has been a bucket list item for me for a long while and I am so proud of myself for getting it done.  It was no easy feat, but not nearly as difficult as last year's metric century.  Of course last year Lil Buddy was 5 months old and I was carting around boobs full of milk.  Not exactly ideal riding conditions.  Plus, I am in much better shape this year with a lot more training rides under my belt.  So here's how it went:

Got started at 7:30 am.  It's a show and go start so you can begin the course any time between 7 and 9 am.  You simply follow the seagull spray painted in the color of your route on the ground.  This course is extremely well marked and supported.  Local police and State Troopers are at all of the major intersections and the route is on roads with very wide shoulders.  Despite the length and popularity of the ride, I felt safe at all times.

It was only 55 degrees out when I got started.  I contemplated arm warmers but decided against them since I figured I'd warm up with the exertion of the ride.  WRONG.  I was extremely cold for the first hour and a half.  The temps didn't start warming up until well after 9 and the first part of the ride is almost completely shaded.  A stark contrast to last year.  Miles 1-23 went very quickly and my legs felt great.  I was ready for the bathroom break at the first rest stop, however.  After using the port-o-potty I refilled my water bottles, ate a banana, and took some fig newtons to go.  Also grabbed a photo with a scenic backdrop to commemorate the first leg.

As I headed out of the rest stop and onto the next leg of the ride I got to chatting with fellow cyclist, Scott.  He lives in DC and we rode about the same pace so we chatted the entire way from miles 23-43.  Having someone to talk to made the miles fly by.  He's been contemplating getting into triathlon but has reservations about swimming.  I gave him my perspective to consider.  We talked about all kinds of random things including newspaper delivery routes...so out of left field.  But he was so friendly and upbeat and I barely noticed another 20 miles were gone.  Rest stop at mile 43 again had bathrooms and water refills.  I didn't stay terribly long at this one and really wished I had grabbed more fig newtons at mile 23.  I did, however, nap a photo in front of the cornstalks to commemorate this stop.

Not long after I got started up I pulled up behind a very odd sight.  The guy on the bike in front of me is, in fact, pedaling along on a unicycle.  A what?  A UNICYCLE!  This unicycle is equipped with handlebars and brakes and possibly even gears?  Who knows.  The photo isn't great because I snapped it while moving.  I'd say right at around mile 50. 

At mile 56 on the nose I started calculating how long it had taken me to ride without rest stops and what that would mean for a half ironman (the bike leg of a half being 56 miles).  Then things started to get ugly.  I knew that the next rest stop would be at Assateague State Park and I'd get some good food and views, but things were really hurting.  My toes were going numb and I was incredibly uncomfortable.  Luckily I caught up to two guys that were keeping a steady pace and I tucked in behind them for the ride into the park.  Leading into the park is a small overpass with gorgeous views of the water.  And just after the bridge were the wild ponies Assateague is known for.

This rest stop included PB&J sandwiches, water refill, dill pickles for replenishing lost salt and electrolytes, and Atlantic Ocean views.  Hello mile 63!

I purposefully took my time at this rest stop and made sure to eat and drink plenty.  I knew that it was going to get tough going forward and this fueling would be make or break.  Miles 63-73 were fantastic, but 73-83 hurt.  I was really starting to feel the wear and tear on my body.  My saddle was rubbing in all the wrong places and my toes were really cramping.  Thankfully I found some buddies to chat with along the way which made this stretch bearable.  Somewhere around mile 80 was at least a mile of loose gravel road.  I don't know who's terrible idea it was to have us go down that road, but tires were slipping and the bumpy terrain made for very uncomfortable cycling.  Thankfully just after it ended we pulled into the final rest stop at mile 83.  The famous pie stop.  Don't mind if I do.

This ride has so many riders that it is also a display of a wide variety of bikes.  The unicycle was without a doubt the most impressive.  However there were a handful of this type of cycle pictured below.  I have no idea what it is called, but they zipped by me a bunch of times. 

The best part about pulling out of the final rest stop is knowing that it's less than 20 miles to the finish line.  I tucked in behind three girls that were hauling pretty fast.  At this point I just wanted to be done.  Soon I lost them but their friend caught up to me.  We chatted the rest of the way into the finish line which also helped it fly by.  I didn't think I'd get as emotional as I did last year, but sure enough, as I headed down into the tunnel that brings everyone up to the finish I started crying just like last year.

I never thought about quitting like I did last year and I never was near quitting physically, but mentally I had gone into it wondering if I could actually pull it off.  100 miles on a bike is a lot and the longest ride leading up to it was 60.  I am really proud of myself both for completing it, but also not chickening out and taking the 65 mile route like I considered early in the morning. 

After crossing the finish line I sat for a minute but then fairly quickly headed back to the car to start the 2.5 hour drive home.  No rest for the weary.  But I drove with a big smile on my face.