I was starting to get a little disappointed. I followed many friends and bloggers last year in their journeys to Ironman and there were constant stories of struggle, battling the weather, rides that challenged the spirit. I didn't sign up for this darn race because it's easy! But mother nature kept throwing me Saturdays that were 65 and sunny. Can't a girl catch a freaking break???
So here bloggers, is my story of the epic ride
Lanny, my training buddy who I will be eternally grateful for, the guy who has gotten me out of more than one jam, the one who does my monster swim sets with me and leads when I look like I'm about to fall over, my personal workout scheduler, in his own words: my loyal servant- scheduled a ride for me today. He goes out with a group of roadies on Saturdays. Usually it is a 3 hour hammerfest. Once a year they do the Emerald Necklace tour of the Cleveland Metroparks, a 75 mile mostly flat (well, for Cleveland... I'm sure we did at least 6000 feet of climbing) and very scenic ride. My friend Tony had volunteered to help me round out the ride since I was probably going to need 100 miles. The email went out to the group... the ride was on for today at 6:15
I woke up at 4am after a brief 6 hour nap (I was training the night before until 9) to practice my nutrition. I ate a bagel with peanut butter, a banana and some coffee. I went to the computer to check the weather. Uh oh. Not looking good. Big front coming through. I estimated we would get a nice band of rain at 8am. I got out the trainer just in case, and went to change.
I decided to try out my new DeSoto Tri-suit today to see how I could handle a tri-short for a 6 hour ride. When I was ready to go, I gave Lanny a call at 5:30am
Me: So, is it still on?
Lanny: The radar looks good, we're planning on heading out!
Me: You must be looking at a different radar than I am....
I packed my bike in the car, and felt the first drops. Ugh. We haven't even started yet! I ran back in the house and borrowed Colleen's super nice waterproof windbreaker. I was off.
The rain let up a tad and I met up with about 8 people at meeting place #1.
Hmmm.... I'm the only girl. Interesting.
We set off to meet the other half of the group
We saw the group up ahead- 7 more people. They were across a grassy median. There was a gap in the median so that we could go to meet them. There were 2 sets of train tracks in the median. Lanny sprinted up to meet them.
Riding fast while turning on wet train tracks... you know the result
Lanny was down.
5 minutes into the ride. He banged his hip and elbow really well and took all the skin off the top of his thumb. Lanny was a little worried about the hip. He's retired and knows a lot about how bad broken hips are as you get older. He's tough, though. We had one of the docs in the group quickly bike to his house to get some band-aids. I thanked Lanny for taking the pressure off me to be the catastrophe of the day, and 10 minutes later, we're off. 16 riders strong.
Our route first took us straight through downtown Cleveland. We were doing a nice and easy pace. I was very surprised by how laid back it was. I was enjoying myself. It wasn't raining. Life was good.
Just as we got past downtown and into some prime real estate (if you like the ghetto), one of the riders got a flat. He found someone else in the group who was good at changing tires (it really astounded me that there were so many grown adult male cyclists who can't change a flat! They must be very lucky. I have become an expert this year, unfortunately). When they had the tube changed I asked them if they found the puncture...
oh, we didn't look...
It took about 5 seconds. A huge piece of metal. There was a big gash in the tire. So off the tire went so we could patch it. When the tire was back on, we saw that the tube was still protruding. It had now been at least 20 minutes (God only knows why). We were antsy to go. He wanted to bag it and call his wife to pick him up. As we looked around at the neighborhood we suggested he try riding on it for a few minutes to get to a better location. That he did... for 20 feet
At this point I was up with the front pack who was waiting a block up.
A guy says- I have a spare tire
Damn! Who carries a spare tire? That's awesome.
So back we go with the spare tire. This for some unforseen reason takes another 15 minutes. Just as they are done I look at another guy's bike.
Do you have a flat, too???
Yup, another flat
He is much faster at changing a flat than the other guy, so a few minutes later he's ready to go
Me- Did you check for glass in the tire?
I quickly scan the tire and there is clearly a piece of glass, a large one, sticking out of the tire. Why don't people check this! He would have flatted about 2 seconds after he started riding again. Oh, well. his gash was not as big as the other guys and we are off.
45 minutes later, we are moving! Yeah! But now, of course, it's raining.
5 minutes later, another guy pulls over to the side
Oh, dear. Here we go again. 15 minutes of changing a flat and we can finally leave. Dude, I'm pretty sure my grandma, if she were still alive, could change a flat faster with her arthritic hands. Sheeesh.
So now we're back on track, but have only traveled 16 miles in about 2 hours. People had plans and needed to get back. People who have the abilities to ride very fast. So what do we get?
A good old testosterone driven hammerfest.
At this point it's pouring. We finally get down into the metroparks and Lanny calls out to the group:
Paceline! Get ready to go
Within about 2 minutes I found myself at the back of the paceline. It's raining cats and dogs, my brakes are essentially useless, I can't see, there are huge puddles on the ground, I have to pee, and I'm hanging on for dear life to the wheel of a guy going 22. Remember I am the only one in the pack without a Y chromosome. So, in other words, the only who sees this as maybe not the smartest idea. But you better believe I'm going to pedal my little legs like my life depends on it. I might not have a Y chromosome, but I do have my pride...
If peeing your pants is cool...
Consider me Miles Davis
So I'm hanging on for dear life and my bladder is now screaming. There is just no way I'm going to ask these guys to pull over, and if I stop I would lose the group for sure. It's pouring, I'm wearing spandex, I've been told this is what I have to do during Ironman (especially since I'm going to be wearing a 1-piece), so what the hell. I look behind me... clear. And I did it. Yes, I peed on my bike. Oh my gosh it felt so good. Pressure relieved.
Ok, peeps. I think you know my luck. What would happen right after I do something I have been dreading but have been told I need to do? Yes, it stopped raining. I couldn't believe it. The one time in my life I wanted it to absolutely pour, it stops raining.
And what comes next? Potty break. I just shook my head.
The pace slowed down and I soon found myself with just 3 people, seemingly in front of the group. We waited for a few minutes and then the group rolled in. There had been another crash! One of the riders got caught in a rut and went down hard on his head. He was quite shaken up and we still had 50 miles to ride!
The wheels come off
My week had been very light. We've been a little worried about over-reaching since the stress of my PhD defense really seemed to get to me. My workouts were super light and this was to be a very easy zone 2 ride. And other than the 30 minute hammerfest, it was pretty decent. I forgot to put my HRM strap on this morning (dammit) so I don't really have an idea of how hard I was going. But it was flat (again, it's all relative... it was the Alps for someone from Illinois), so I'm sure it wasn't too bad. Still, at mile 65 my wheels started to come off. Not literally, of course. I just lost my legs. They started to ache, I was tired, it had started raining again, and I still had 2.5 hours of riding. I have never wanted a ride to end so badly.
My friend Tony dropped back, as did 3 other riders and we started to take it easy. I told him that this wasn't my best day and said he'd help me get my mileage in and we'd take it easy.
Man, I have some great friends!
The rest of the ride was, thankfully, very unremarkable. The rain stopped at hour 4 and Tony and I did a nice loop through North Chagrin. For the 4th week in a row I had to climb out of the valley after putting more than 90 miles on my legs. That is fun, let me tell you. But I made it back to my car at hour 6 with 101 miles in the Ironman bank.
I had to do a 40 minute "brick" elliptical run. There was just no way I was going to be seen in public covered in road schmoo and pee. So I went home, took a quick shower (I think they should have showers in T2 at ironman, by the way), put on my HRM strap and headed to the gym... without the damn HRM monitor! So I had the monitor but not the strap for the morning. And the strap without the monitor for the afternoon. I need to grow a brain one of these days.
I will leave you with a recipe for a recovery shake that has absolutely changed my Saturdays. I'm not a zombie anymore!
1 cup Orange juice
1 cup frozen strawberries
25 grams protein powder
2 tablespoons flax seeds
3 grams glutamine
Grind it up and be amazed at how great you will feel!
Oh, and your moment of Zen:
A Few Good Swims
2 hours ago