This past weekend would bring me my longest training ride yet...83 miles of hills! As you know, I was in the land of Sugar last week hanging with my sister and my niece and knew I needed to be back in The Woods for my long ride. One of my teammates gave me the heads up the long ride was moving to Saturday & so I had to quickly change my plans and make sure Stef & Avery would have company.
I arrived home Friday late afternoon and started unpacking, doing laundry and getting my bike ready for the ride. We'd be leaving at 7am Saturday morning so I wanted everything ready to go. I checked ALMOST everything and felt like I was good to go. Little did I know.
Saturday morning came way too early but I rolled out of bed and got my cycling clothes on (yes, I laid them out the night before so there would be no issues picking something out in the morning). I went downstairs and the thought of food was making me feel sick...something common for me early in the morning. I went to the pantry to get my nutrition for the ride and then it hit me that I was out of almost everything. I had Ironman Perform (thankfully) and a few random Gu's but that was it. I was out of Perpeteum, Shot Blocks, Chomps, etc. Well C R A P. Heck, even if I could stomach breakfast, there was nothing appetizing in my pantry. Remember, I was gone over a week. I decided to head to meet the group because let's face it, I should have plenty of calories on reserve given I'm not exactly blowing away in the wind. :)
We had a pretty good crowd and headed out as planned. We would be riding a good portion of the IMTX course so I was pumped to get going. Coach reminded me what zones I should be in so I made a mental note. I'd already set my HR alert so felt like I would be "good". We rode about 45 miles before we stopped in Richards to refuel. I took a Gu knowing that I hadn't consumed any calories with the exception of what I was getting from Ironman Perform. I felt fine though and so had not plans of making a big deal out of it or letting my coach find out. As I waited in line for the ladies room, I asked Lynn if she thought I should take another Gu given my lack of eating a good bfast. When I got back outside, Scott asked if I wanted a Fig Newton and I felt like he was really pushing it on me. "Here, I'm not going to finish them. Take them all." Then Coach G mentioned she understood I hadn't eaten. Hmmmm, I smell a rat! I know, I know. Poor planning on my part. I knew I would need to just pay attention to how I was feeling so I didn't risk bonking. I felt I would be just fine!
We set back out on our ride and holy hills Batman! We hit the 50 mile mark and I remember the self-doubt was starting to knock on the door. By 60, it was kicking the door down. I asked myself what I was thinking signing up for IMTX. I started to do math in my head and didn't think I would have what it took to finish the bike in the amount of time allowed. Just as an FYI, don't try to do math when you're exercising. Unless you're a math whiz, it just doesn't work. Around 65 miles I could see Coach G just a tiny bit in the distance and thought she was slowing down. Not possible! She told us one rest stop only. Thankfully, she was having some back issues and decided a rest was in order. I'm not glad she was in a little bit of pain but I was grateful. There were 4 of us now: Gena, me, Michelle & Lynn. Michelle gave me some Power Bar gooey things and I took another Gu. All in all, I was feeling good. We agreed to stop in about 12 more miles so I could take another Gu and not risk running out of energy.
When we got going again, I felt great! It did help we were past the worst part of the hills and in my mind, this was the home stretch as we were headed back to The Woodlands and had roughly 20 miles to go. All that self-doubt that made it's way in was finding it's way out just as easily. Thank the Lord! As we got closer & closer to our cars, I wondered if I would have the energy for my post ride run. I had told myself that if I didn't do it, no big deal.
We turned into the park and hopped off our bikes. 83 miles and 5 hours after we started, I was pretty happy to be off my bike. I rested my bike against my car and had all but decided I was done. As I glanced up, I saw Coach G heading out to run. I asked Misty if she minded watching my bike while I went with Gena. Just like that, I was running. I hollered to Gena and asked her to wait. She was running 15 minutes and I felt like I could manage it. Actually, I felt like I'd just run 10 and be done with it but at the point I wanted to turn around, she said something (I don't know what) that just convinced me to keep going. There was no reason not to keep running....I felt surprisingly good and while my legs felt like 500lb logs, we were running a sub-10 minute mile pace. Alrighty then. Gena let me know after we ran that we hit about a 9:40min/mile pace....after riding 83 miles. What? I did? We did?!?!?! That's AWESOME!!!!!
The ride on Saturday turned out to be another huge confidence booster. On top of that, I learned some good lessons. (1) Do a frequent inventory of training supplies/nutrition/hydration as now is not the time to be unprepared. (2) Riding with the team really has so many benefits. They took care of my nutrition where I did not and offerred words of encouragement. Even though I don't mind riding alone, there's just no substitute for the support teammates & friends offer. (3) Cycling specifc shorts are like huge, uncomfortable diapers. This extra padding does not translate to a more comfortable ride. I will stick to tri shorts thank you very much. (4) Self-talk can serve a purpose. Don't freak out. Doubting what you can do is normal and it happens to everyone. Just know how to control it and learn from it. (5) I've learned where the most demoralizing part of the IMTX bike course is for me and I plan on getting on it as many times as I can before 5/21 so I can be even more prepared.
I have got some MAJOR training coming my way. We've crossed the 12 week point officially. Actually, 12 weeks from today I will be 2 days post race, resting at home. I'll probably be wearing every bit of IMTX finishers gear I purchased and settling in for a night on the couch with a glass of wine. Ahhhhhhh.
This week is a "rest & test" week. No, rest doesn't mean no workouts. Shucks. :) I've got a 70 mile ride this weekend and I can't wait to get out there with my teammates!