Sunday, September 30, 2007
The next few days passed by and I was in pain. I couldn't laugh, cough, sneeze or breathe deeply and I just thought it would go away in a few days. I went back over in my mind the details of the crash - I fell to my left and most of the impact was on my left elbow. I then hit my shoulder and helmet and then my hip. My ribs never really hit the ground, yet that's where I felt this pain any time I tried to move, stretch or twist. Then I went to swim and got in a warm up of about 600 yards. The next set started with 50 yards of butterfly. OW, OW, OW, OW, OW! Oh my gosh, that 50 yards was excruciating and as I ended that 50 yards, I decided I would not be swimming any more butterfly today. But as it turns out, I would not be swimming at ALL the rest of the day...nor the few days after. I started out the next 50 yards with some freestyle and screamed in pain. Whatever I had done had really agitated the situation and I could not pull with my left arm. I got about 10 yards out and doggie-paddled back in. My lane mates asked if everything was OK, but they knew it wasn't. I waited a couple of 50s and tried to jump back in. No, no, no....same thing, out about 10 yards, doggie paddle back in. I was upset and in pain. I got out of the pool and walked carefully and gingerly to the locker room.
It hurt to move. It hurt to lift my arm over my head to wash my hair. It was impossible to twist. If I put pressure on the place where it was painful, it seemed to go away, but as soon as I took my hand off, it hurt. It was difficult to get in the car. I couldn't turn the steering wheel with my left arm. I got home, carefully and slowly got out of the car and came over to the computer. I couldn't use the mouse (I use my left hand). I did a little research and decided it was a strained intercostal muscle. I figured it would go away soon. I popped some Advil, put some Icy Hot on it and tried to sit still for the rest of the day.
I couldn't lay down on my side. I could only lay on my back. And then, when I tried to get up, I would wince with pain. I felt so helpless and wondered how I did this to myself. More importantly, I wondered how I could get it to go away. My conversations sounded weird because if I tried to move in the middle of a sentence, you could hear an inflection in my voice. I missed several workouts that week and finally, one day, I tried getting out of bed and screamed in pain. I couldn't take it any more. It wasn't getting better. I had this clicking sound on my left side and I still couldn't breathe deeply, sneeze, cough, yell, or even laugh. (I had to stop watching my Seinfeld re-runs!).
On the advice of the all-knowing BC, I called a couple chiropractors. Within a day, I had an appointment with a sports chiropractor. I explained to him my problem as well as the crash which I think caused the problem. Very quickly, he identified the source of the problem. I laid face down on the table, held my breath and he "popped" my rib back into place. No, this did not hurt. Then we slapped some ice on there and he said I should be almost 100% within 2 days. And I was. Awesome. I never really knew what a chiropractor did or what an "adjustment" was. But now I know. It's nice to be able to breathe, cough, sneeze and laugh again. Pain free!
Monday, September 24, 2007
So I now am living vicariously through various friends who are embarking upon this year's Chicago Marathon. Though I know many marathon veterans running (and wish them well!), the people I'm most excited for are those running their first marathon. Each and everyone of them I've had a conversation with in the last week has been excited about the race. They are just dripping with anxiety and one of them could barely stand still as he reviewed his final long run with me. The energy is contagious and I described to him how they have the big monitors in front of the expo and they go through the marathon course in fast forward. I've seen that many times now, but it gives me goosebumps when I watch it, even when I'm not running the marathon! It's fun and interesting for me to listen to the various race strategies. Apparel, nutrition, pacing, mental attitude, all of these things have a place in the race and I think everyone had their own way of attacking this challenge.
There is a new film coming out. Click here for the preview for the Spirit of the Marathon. This was filmed in 2005 at the Chicago Marathon. And one of my friends, Leah, is one of the featured athletes! Even watching the little preview of this movie makes me a little sad that I won't be running in this year's race. But there will definitely be more marathons in my future.
I'm not going to put up any last-minute marathon taper advice for you newbies, because I'm sure you're probably sick of hearing it by now. But I will share with you a little something that was sent to me just before my first marathon.
A marathon is not a race; a 5K is a race.
A marathon is not a race; a 10K is a race.
A marathon is not a race; a race is run with your legs.
A marathon is not a race; a marathon is a measure of how you handle the doubt in your mind at mile 15.
A marathon is not a race; a marathon is a measure of how you handle the pain that takes over your body at mile 20.
A marathon is not a race; a marathon is a measure of your courage.
A marathon is not a race; a marathon is run with your heart.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Not much time passed, then it was announced that we would start in 10 minutes. WHAT?? I still can't see anything out there. We knew we were to go out 3 buoys, and we could barely see the second one. The volunteers in the boats assured the race director that we'd be able to see the third buoy once we got to the second one. The two people you see looking at the camera with our arms crossed are BC and myself. It was chilly, even with the wetsuit on and we were anxious to get moving. I wanted to stay close to him and see if I could catch a good draft! It was then announced that we were waiting another 10 minutes or so. I guess that was good, for visibility purposes, but none of the athletes were too happy that we'd already gotten in the water and now had to wait for an indefinite amount of time. The water was about 77, so it wasn't so bad. We were able to spot Aaron and Eileen, two other Salt Creek Tri Club members, both making their first Ironman appearance.
Then the announcement was made that we'd be starting in 6 minutes. Huh? I still can't see anything. The volunteers in a nearby boat said they have boats all around the course and they'd help direct us.
We were off, heading toward the next buoy. I was immediately drafting off someone and hoped they could see where they were going because the sun was blinding and the fog that was hovering over the top of the water was so thick, I couldn't see much in front of me...including the person I was drafting off of! We passed the second buoy and I just kept following the person in front of me. I noticed there were about 4-5 of us sticking close together. All of a sudden, we stopped. The volunteers in the boats were yelling at us that we were way off course and were pointing in the direction we needed to go. We turned, tried to sight a buoy, but still, I couldn't see more than a few feet in front of me. Somehow, we got to that buoy and turned. We were swimming once again in this small, tight little pack and we managed to get to the next buoy. Then the person to my left stopped, so I stopped. She asked me "Which way?" I didn't know. Then I saw Aaron's face pop out of the water. Then I heard a familiar voice..."Bernie?" "MJ?" It was like the movie theater scene from Seinfeld where Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer all start calling out to one another when they realized they were all at the same show. It was frustrating, but I think that was my favorite moment of the race.
We were yelling to the boats now, "WHICH WAY?" They'd point and we'd just head off in that general direction. Once we'd get to the next buoy, the process started all over, we all stopped, looked around and yelled to the boats for direction. I tried not to lead at this point because it seemed like we were going way off course and the first person who could realize the right direction was the one not putting in all the extra distance!
Once we finished the first loop of the course, visibility improved tremendously. I think in this picture, I'm drafting off BC. Once I was able to see the buoys for myself, I just swam alone, headed straight for the buoy. I felt relaxed and the lake was smooth as glass. I thought about how cold I was going to be when I got out of this water, so I tried to enjoy it. I then started passing some of the half ironman swimmers. Their yellow caps made sighting pretty easy. I wasn't working too hard, but I wasn't exactly slacking out there, either. Once I could see the beach area, I tried to swim just a little faster.
I got out of the water and ran to my bike. Unfortunately, this race didn't have wetsuit strippers. I ripped off the wetsuit, grabbed my bag of bike clothes and ran into the women's changing tent. BC was at the rack right next to me, making fun of me that I was actually going to change. I got into the tent and was happy to see Sally in there laughing and smiling about how crazy it was that we were racing in such cold weather. She was in no hurry since she was going to get some pictures of Eileen. There were no chairs in the changing tent, nor was there anyone in there to help. I was thankful Sally was in there because I needed her help in pulling my bra on....that's quite a challenging feat when you're soaking wet! She graciously helped me out and I got my jersey on quickly and ran back to my bike. BC was just about ready to leave...WHAT? He was beating me out of transition! I had to let him go. I still needed to get my shoes and socks on, arm warmers, headband and 2 pairs of gloves on before I was leaving. At the last minute, I decided I did not need a jacket. I tossed it on the ground and ran out of transition.
I clipped in pretty quickly and started off. Boy, I was cold! I looked down and the wrong display was on my computer. I must've looked down for too long because by the time I looked up, I was headed off to the side of the road in some deep, loose gravel. It was too late and my reaction to turn the bike back onto the road was too late. I fell less than a quarter mile into the bike course. I hit my elbow very hard and my head lightly tapped the pavement. I was REALLY happy I was wearing arm warmers! I quickly got up, picked up my water bottle with all my nutrition for the day in it and placed it back in the bottle holder. I then scanned the bike over to make sure nothing looked like it was rubbing on the tires, got back on and rode away. I was sort of surprised that another athlete or a volunteer didn't come over to see if I was OK. I mean, I was fine, but usually people run over and hover around when you fall. Guess it was good no one came over, it was quite embarrassing! However, I expect a phone call from the race director asking if I am OK! :)
I rode for about 10-15 minutes and was still chilly. I hadn't attempted to get into the aero bars because right where I'd put my elbow is where I fell and it hurt much too much to put down on the pad. So I tried pulling my arm in a little closer so that the place where the impact was was well off the pad. It was a tad uncomfortable, but it was either that or ride up like a sail for the entire 112 miles! There was a really rough section of road where I wondered why on earth they'd put us on that road! There was a lot of loose gravel on the sides and it all blended in with the rest of the street, so it was difficult to tell where the gravel was. I rode slowly through this section. I didn't want to fall again! The rough road wasn't too long and I went to take a drink from my aero bottle. Uh oh. Empty. Guess all my water came out when I fell. Great. Now I have to ride 14 miles without any water. At this point, I'm glad it's not too hot outside!
The course was weird...several out and backs and then do the whole thing again. This was good to be able to see BC tearing up the course, putting some serious distance between me and him, Aaron riding along up ahead, smiling and enjoying the day and I could see who was gaining on me. I briefly saw Angie looking very fast and smiling. I was also able to see Eileen a couple of times and Sally. Everyone seemed to be in good spirits and was enjoying the ride. Despite being a little cool early in the ride, I decided I was quite comfortable temperature-wise.
I got to about mile 30 when my contact popped out of my eye due to the strong wind. I pulled over to put it back in when I noticed it was ripped. DAMN! I tossed it aside and hopped back on my bike. This very same thing happened to me at IMCDA last year. And almost the same mile mark! Guess it's time for me to look into some LASIK! It bothered me for a little while, but I got used to riding with just one contact pretty quickly. It only was an issue when I felt the other contact start sliding out that I started to get a bit nervous. If I lost the second one, I'd have to quit. My vision is not good enough to be able to ride without contacts!
The turn arounds on the out and back sections were tight. They caused me to slow down, unclip and slowly move around the cones. I watched one woman in front of me fall while trying to navigate around the sharp turns. She was fine, but I had to stop to let her get out of the way to pass. I felt good passing her, she rode right by me when I was messing around with my contact and never asked if I was OK. I got to the last turnaround of the first lap and the volunteer said we were at mile 51. FIFTY-ONE? That's it? I groaned as I realized I wasn't even half way through yet. I was getting uncomfortable and knew the second half of the ride was going to be tougher.
At the beginning of the second loop, I grabbed a water bottle from one of the volunteers. It was unopened. I tossed it down and grabbed another one from a second volunteer. Still unopened. OK, someone should have explained to these volunteers that we need the bottles OPENED! So I tried opening the bottle several times with my teeth. When I realized it was too difficult, I angrily tossed the bottle to my right with such force, I almost lost control of the bike. Oops. That was stupid. I was fuming for the next few miles. That cold water would have tasted really good. And this course wasn't exactly stocked with aid stations!
Tougher it was as the wind seemed to pick up and I felt the front wheel swing a little out of my control at a few points. I almost lost it just after one of the turn arounds. It felt like someone grabbed the handlebars and yanked them over to the left. I rode on and eventually caught up to Aaron. He was still smiling and very positive. I reminded him to pace himself...he still had to run, I did not. He was being smart about the race and tried conserving a little on the second half, which I was very proud of him for. BC continued to gain ground and he was leading the race! It was really cool to see him out in front of all the other competitors. I yelled out to him as we passed each other that he was leading, but he already knew and I think it spurred him on to push even faster. Just after seeing him, another competitor heading back in yelled to me that I was the first woman. Really? Oh yeah, I was first out of the water and no women had passed me. And we were at mile 80 or so. Nice!
And there she was. She came out of nowhere and didn't say a word as she pased me. The woman with the yellow bike and purple bikini bottom flew by me and I was bummed that she was now taking the lead spot. As much as I thought about chasing her, I knew I needed to stick to my plan and it didn't include surge that would enable me to stay with her. OK, so what, so you're not first, I thought. Well, I'm not even doing the whole race, so it doesn't even matter!
I kept on going steady and as the end of the bike leg neared, I still felt very strong, yet still uncomfortable. My elbow was still throbbing, but there was nothing I could do about it, so I just tried not to think about it. I'll take care of it later. I came to that last turn around, where I was at just 51 miles the first pass through. And I felt strong, so I picked up the pace a little. Well, maybe that was just in my head, but I wanted to finish strong. I saw Sally pull ahead of me in her car, freshly showered and out there cheering me on in. It was a lift to see her. I steered on up to the dismount area where the volunteers were yelling that I was the first woman in. HUH? What happened with the purple bikini chick on the yellow bike?
I uneventfully crossed the timing mat into transition and, though I felt like I could've run, I was happy I didn't have to! My race was over. I then learned that the purple bikini on the yellow bike was actually a MAN! Hee hee!! Someone needs to let the dude know he shouldn't be wearing those bottoms, but whatever. I caught up with BC in transition and he cleaned up my road rash from my fall. I'm really happy I did this event. Excellent preparation for the upcoming Ironman!
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Monday, September 10, 2007
I arrived at P2's house just a minute or two ahead of schedule. We had to swing by to get Ginga, stop by a gas station to get some Gatorade and we were headed out to Utica! We were on the road for about 20 minutes when P2 needed to pull over. FLAT TIRE! I started walking down the side of the road to see what mile marker we were at to call for assistance when a car with a bike on top pulled over. It was our 4th teammate, Kristen! She, her husband and 2 kids had gotten a little late start and didn't even realize it was our cars pulled off to the side of the road. It was me walking in the Apache gear that caught her attention! They came over to help us quickly change the flat and we were back on the road!
We had to make a quick pit stop and decided it would be best to add some air to that spare tire that was now on the right rear axle of the van. Though we thought we were moving along pretty quickly, time was slipping away from us. Back on the road once again, I kept nervously looking at the clock. It was getting really close to our start time.
By the time we got there, the place was crowded. It was difficult to maneuver vehicles on the street. There were teams of 4 cyclists, each team with matching jerseys, covering the road in both directions. We sat on the side of the road, waiting for the cyclists to move and Kristen courteously offered to take our waivers and get us checked in while her husband parked the car. We needed all the extra time we could get. We were directed into the very tiny parking lot and I was glad I had a small car! I followed a guy (I think he goes to my Y) who said he was leaving for SAG support. Cool...he was in an SUV. Plenty of room for my little cruiser to fit right in. I parked and hurriedly got out my trainer, pulled my bike out and put the front wheel on, put on my shoes, got my water bottles in place and secured my bike on the trainer. Wait...another pit stop...ok, now I'm ready to warm up.
Shoot...we have less than 20 minutes before the start! I was set up next to P2 and Ginga, got on my bike and started pedaling away, trying not to be so nervous about all the hard work that I was about to put forth. The bike seemed to be working fine and Kristen rushes over to us saying that we have 3 minutes! YIKES! We quickly started putting the trainers away, filling the water bottles just one last time and we rode on over to the start. Alright, they were a little behind, we had a few more minutes. We took a nice, short ride the opposite direction of the start. I was breathing deeply and trying to calm down. I wanted to give this team everything I had today.
We lined up, wished each other luck and were sent off in a flash. Our order was a little screwed up for a few seconds in the beginning as we had a little clipping in issue, but this was corrected swiftly and seamlessly. The race was on. I think it took me all of 30 seconds to start breathing hard and wondering what the heck I had just gotten myself into. I am sucking wheel here and I am barely able to hang on. The heart rate zoomed up way too quickly and as it was my turn to take a pull, I tried not to push any harder than I already was. In fact, I think I tried to let up just a little. We had 37.2 miles to race and there was no way I could make that distance redlining the whole time. And I was no good to my team if I had to drop off so early in the race.
We took our regularly scheduled pulls for the first 20-25 minutes and then I think my teammates noticed I was struggling. I didn't say a word, but something in my posture or lack of power on the front told them I was just trying to hang on at this point. And this was the beauty of working in a team. They forced me (and Kristen) to not take pulls for a while. They wanted us to recover. P2 and Ginga rotated the lead for at least 10 minutes, maybe more...couldn't count. All I could do was try to bring my breathing and heartrate back to normal.
We stayed amazingly close together, taking advantage of the draft and tucking in on the side away from the wind. Our turns went very smoothly and we all managed to stay close togther, reminding each other to call them out ahead of time and lay off just a little to bring the group back together. We were all back in normal rotation now and Kristen showed just how much she recovered by taking these monstrously strong, long pulls. I was at the very back of the train and I felt like I was hammering just to stick with them! SO THIS IS WHAT IT'S LIKE TO RIDE WITH EXPERIENCED CYCLISTS!!! We communicated, watched out for each other, encouraged each other and suffered with each other.
These women were amazing. Now it seemed Ginga was struggling. All those pulls she was forced to take early on had apparently caught up to her. We all took turns pulling, getting back in rotation just before Ginga to let her sit back there and hang on. We lost her for a little bit, but her determination wouldn't let her slip away...just a minute or two later, she was right back with us! Now I could tell P2 was struggling because she became quiet. The sweat was pouring off my face and I wondered how much longer we had to go. I wasn't sure how much longer I could keep up this pace. But I can't let the team down! My computer wasn't working, so I really had no idea how far we went nor how fast we were going. I just left it all out there.
Not soon enough, we could see the finish. HAMMER, HAMMER, HAMMER! Kristen easily pulled ahead of all of us and though I tried to catch on her wheel, she was much too strong for me and I had to yell to her that I lost her. But just as soon as I'd gotten back on her wheel, she'd give another burst of her powerful pedal strokes and in the blink of an eye, I'd be off her wheel again. P2, Ginga and I just put our heads down and pedaled our hearts out. We all crossed the finish line together!
I am so proud to be a part of such an amazing team of women. We all gave our best and though we didn't place, we are very proud of our accomplishment. We couldn't have communicated any better. You'd think this team had been riding together for years, it was all so smooth. It hurt. Oh boy, did it hurt! This was one of the hardest rides I've ever done, but it was also one of the most fun. Thanks, Apaches, for letting me be a part of this awesome team. Hope we're able to do it again in the future!
Saturday, September 08, 2007
Anyway, I haven't done this race for the last several years. Not because I don't think it's cool, it's actually one of the best swim events (particularly for triathletes) in the area. However, I've always had long runs to do on Saturday mornings. Well, I guess having an injury that prevents you from running is good for something! I signed up for the 5K, no wetsuit. As my friend Elaine says, "Wetsuits are for weenies!" I convinced Elaine to sign up with me. Even though she changed her entry last-minute to the 2.5K, I'm still proud of her for doing the event.
Traffic on I55 and LSD is a wonderful thing early on a Saturday morning. It's pretty much non-existent. We made it down in record time and went over to pick up our packets. The lines were small and I got my chip, got body marked and picked up my goody bag (or promotional bag) and stood around waiting for Elaine. I went back to her line, where she was standing in the front describing to me that there was a problem. Apparently, the yahoos working the check-in line gave someone else her timing chip! It took a few minutes for them to assign her another chip so we could get her through the check-in process.
I was calling BC to tell him where we were when I spotted him walking towards us. We set down our things and just talked a little bit while we were being eaten alive by mosquitoes! It was horrible. You couldn't stand still for 3 seconds without getting bitten. We went over to just put our feet in the water - a comfortable 72 degrees - and went back to prepare for the event.
There were a few familiar faces, but the event has grown so much since the last time I did this. It was really a great sight to see. And even better for me, this wasn't a mass start, we were staggered into waves based on age group, distance, and whether or not you were wearing a wetsuit. I figured this would be a much easier start than I had just a few years ago.
The water was pretty calm. The air temperature was between 75-80 degrees. The sun was shining. It was absoluely beautiful conditions for this swim. The countdown was a bit rushed - 5-4-3-2-1 and we were off. I thought I had positioned myself on the far outside as to avoid being hit. No such luck. Almost immediately, I was being pushed to the left by a crowd of swimmers on my right. I kept wondering why they were trying so hard to push left. I couldn't even stick to my line unless I wanted to be bludgeoned. So I followed the line with everyone else and tried not to let the swimmers on my right bug me so much as they kept running into me. I wasn't sure if they were going off course or it was me, so I just let them pass and tried to fight for my own line.
Once we turned the first buoy, it opened up a lot. In fact, if I didn't pick up my head to sight, I would've thought I was in the lake alone. I was quite comfortable. I swam breathing every 3 strokes and couldn't believe how smooth everything felt. I was having fun. It couldn't have been a better day. As we neared the second buoy that would head us back to shore, the waves kicked up. The crashed strongly against the back of my head every time I took a breath to the left. I was happy to be a left-side breather! This was a really long stretch that felt like it would never come to an end.
As I turned the 3rd buoy, which was also exactly where we started I thought about how I'd be almost finished if I had entered the 2.5K race. That would've been great! Ah well, I continued swimming along, all alone, and decided I really wasn't pushing hard enough. I tried to kick up the tempo of my strokes and planned to hold it for the entire second loop. I got passed by a bunch of very, very fast guys. They were too quick to even think about trying to catch a draft.
I tried to focus on my own race and my own rhythym. This is all just practice for the upcoming Ironman. And in that race, I'll most likely be wearing a wetsuit, which will make a swim of this distance all that much easier! I just hammered. The water was clear and I could see my arms in the pull of the stroke. I tried to focus on form with long, strong pulls. The water definitely was choppier on the second loop and it seemed to take FOREVER to get to the final buoy!
I was on the final stretch and I saw a woman with the same color cap ahead of me. My competitive spirit will not let go as I push as hard as I can to catch her. I trail behind for just a few short strokes and then decide to blow by her. It wasn't as easy as I had hoped. She picked up her pace and tried to draft just off my hip...wise move. But uh huh, I ain't havin' any of that, so I pushed harder and started breathing very heavily. I just wanted to get away from her. At that point, I wished I drafted off her just a little to get some rest before deciding to try and overtake her.
COME ON, where is the FINISH!!! I've been going at full-speed for much too long. I have this thing, I never look back when I pass someone. I figure, if you have the time to look back, you're not pushing hard enough. So I swam like she was on my heels for the final leg. I swam until there was no more water left to swim in. I got up and ran, hearing Elaine cheer for me as I ran to the timing mat, and still feeling pretty great.
Much better experience this year. Not that much thrilled with my time, but hey, it was such a blast. And now I know I need to work on my swimming a little bit more. Guess I can't just swing by with a swim workout every 2-3 weeks! A great event. Happy I did it.
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Anyways, some friends and I had made plans to go up to Madison to do a long bike ride over the weekend. I had been looking forward to this weekend and ride for a couple of months! It was a chance to get away, hang out with some really cool peeps, get in a nice, strong ride and then hang back and enjoy the city of Madison, WI. Even got to bring the baby with us!
We pulled into the parking lot of the bike shop at about 4:57pm. Shop closes at 5pm. I run to the counter and ask the guy for the goods. He smiles and proceeds to ring me up. Just after me, a family of 5 walks in and starts perusing the bike selection. The younger of the 2 workers shakes his head and mutters "Why does everyone have to come in just when we're closing???" I smile at him and explained how I really hurried to get there. I don't think he was referring to me, though. I made my purchase and was out of the store by 4:59pm.
Check in the hotel, one of those Extended Stay places. They're the best. You get your own fridge, stove, microwave, the works. BONUS: They accept dogs. My phone starts ringing as others pull into town and we begin to make dinner plans. We hit a nice little pub in downtown Madison. We had a considerable wait, but it gave us all time to chat, laugh and pretty much make fun of one another. Dinner was excellent and I'm surprised we didn't get kicked out of the restaurant for throwing things across the 2 booths we were seated in. I think we were worse behaved than the college crowd!!
Off to bed, we had a long day ahead of us. We met in the hotel lobby in the morning and the riding crew headed out to breakfast. Those non-riders (spouses and significant others) were afforded the luxury of sleeping in! Breakfast was again a great time with much chatter and laughter. The server even broke down everyone's order to separate checks! Hey, we were the only ones in the restaurant, I guess he had time.
It was a bit chilly once we parked and got out of the car. Of course, in my haste to pack, I neglected to bring armwarmers. Well, the forecast was calling for mid to upper 80s, so I just hoped I could go with the plain old jersey. Sure, I'd probably suffer the first 20-30 minutes, but I guessed I'd be OK later on. Everyone checked in, filled their tires, gave the bikes the once-over and we were on our way!
This ride is a little deceptive. The first few miles are downhill with maybe a few little rollers. It was cool and I had goosebumps, which I was confident would be gone once we hit the first climb. I spent a little time riding with each person in the group, talking a little bit, just enjoying the day. It was fun to be out there...just riding, no real agenda. Without warning, there it was, the first climb. The crew became silent, we all shifted down to easier gears and started breathing heavy. I was pretty happy I brought the Merlin...much, much easier to use for climbing.
So this is basically what went on for the majority of the ride. Sure, there were a couple of great descents. In fact, on one of the steeper ones, there was a guy laying on the side of the road getting medical attention. Broken collarbone. I know I shouldn't break into turns on the downhill, but I get nervous and seeing this only freaked me out more. Better to be cautious, albeit a little slower, but be able to ride the next day. After all, this was just a ride, not a race.
The last couple miles of this ride is downhill. You can almost ride the last 2 miles without pedaling...almost. The finish came quickly! We all packed up the bikes and walked down for the post-ride spread. It was an absolutely beautiful day for a ride...warm, not too humid, sunny, not much wind, and it all seemed to go by much, much too fast. We sat down for a great little lunch and shared more stories and just got to enjoy each other's company for just a little bit before it was time to head out.
Looking forward to doing it again next year!