Playing with the big kids was fun. For 40miles it was fun. Too bad the race was 72 miles.....
But before we get to that fun talk, that me preface this by saying I was a wee bit intimidated when I got to the start of the race & there was NO one yet in the Platinum section. I certainly didn't belong starting at the very front of the pack, so I parked my bike (embarrassed a bit that I was one of only a couple people in the section) a few rows back from the coveted "VIP" section.
Apparently, when you work your butt off and get the Platinum card - it's for a reason. You don't have to get to the start of el tour races at butt-ass early in the am to line up. Who knew? OK, so I did kinda know that, but this was Shane's first race and I didn't want him to have to line up at the back of the back just so I could get 20mins more beauty sleep. And, who doesn't think getting up at 4am is fun?
Oh, and another totally random thing - Am I like a miniature cyclist? Friday night when I was standing with the 200+ other riders waiting to get our platinum card, I got lost in the crowd. Like, I'm standing there looking around and UP at every other person in there. I think I hang out with short people for a reason. Then I don't feel so short. That or 4" heels work nicely.... but not pre-race day.
Whatever, like little J said to me last night - I'm quicker to "stop, drop & roll" in case of a fire... Or something that, that was after a Big J margarita and um-something glass o' wine.
I'm really getting off on a tangent now....
Back to the race - I finally get myself lined up behind a few rows of people. I've never seen so many men wearing coordinating outfits, I must say. Even if it was all lycra. White Lycra even. I'm just saying....
6:30am, start of el tour de Phoenix. OMG, my lungs, OMG this is fast. OMG my HR is 178. OMG we are going 33MPH. OH SHIT where did my hoods go? WHAT HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO????? OH no, not NOW -
5miles into the race & my handlebars have dropped at least 2inches. I can not ride on my hoods. Choices -
1. Stop. This is hurting, I'm out of my league. THERE IS NO FLIPPING WAY I CAN RIDE 67 MILES on my drops.
2. SUCK IT UP BUTTERCUP................
And, this is how the first 30+miles of my day went.
Hang on, just a little longer...
Just make it to the first big hills
Are we really going 28mph UP this false flat
I shouldn't be with this pack, maybe I should fall back with the people behind me
SHIT there is NO ONE behind me
OMG. I must move up a few spaces
And then I looked at my watch. 30miles - 1:03. SO THIS is what playing with the big boys is like. Wow. Impressive. I'm still so far out of my league, but it's been great while it's lasted.
I couldn't believe it. I held on to the lead pack until the top of the first big climb. about 40miles..... I had wanted to give up for about 30mins, but I didn't. I found a small pack of people on the descent and we helped each other out until about mile 45. A guy pulling 2 girls came by & we jumped on their tail. Only, I was struggling. Struggling BAD - I had nothing. No more gears. No more momentum. I was bonking at 45miles.
I suppose this is what happens when you train SLOW with only 2 50milers, and NO anaerobic work.
I had a few small groups pass me during my 20 mile bonk. Including my husband. They all were incredibly nice to me. Tried to get me to grab their wheels, tried to give me that mental push. I wasn't upset, I wasn't angry, I just WAS.
I laughed at myself, I just TRASHED myself in that first 40miles. I know I could have picked up a better draft by tucking in the middle of the group, but for my own safety and lack of experience I stayed to the outside and worked a LOT harder than I needed to. It was the right thing for me to do, being my first time at this kinda rodeo.
I was proud for being a triathlete, playing in the roadie world & doing it well.
I have to commend the cycling community, at least the ones that I encountered. I've had some very unpleasant meetings out on the roads when I'm on my TT bike - They have been nothing but rude and mean, like triathletes are below them somehow. However, just like El Tour de Tucson - the athletes out there were fantastic. Nice, helpful & supportive.
Over those 20miles of bonking I just pretended I was in an Ironman. No drafting, no sprinting, just plugging away at the miles one by one. I already did the math, and I made up so much time in the first half that I could avg as low as 12-13mph for the rest of the ride and still come in with a Platinum time (3:45). I also calculated when I saw Shane & how if he kept up the pace he could get his platinum card as well!
Finally around mile 60 or so I got a started to redeem myself. People were REALLY struggling up over the last climb & I started to really pass them without trying too hard. I figured if I'm feeling ok now, I might as well try to pick it up. Only about 10miles left....
I saw a couple of guys ahead of me starting to move as the climb was peaking. I found another gear & caught up to them. I stayed on their wheels for a min or so, but realized I had more to give. I broke out in front of them & held a nice 26-28mph pull into a headwind.
Finally, I got my legs back. Another few guys caught us & came up next to me & said let's take turns. We now had a good paceline going & worked together for the last miles of the race. It ended up just being 3 of us as the headwind picked up & we weren't' letting up on our speed. We mad the second to last turn & I was spent. My two buddies were picking it up again, and I just didn't feel the need to trash myself to save 1min off my time. I was already in ahead of my goal time of 3:30 & wanted to just relax & flush out my legs.
When I crossed the finish line Shane was there - He just shook his head. Poor guy missed the Platinum time by less than 3mins. He too had a bonk (fortunately it was more than half way through the race).
We both finished the race very proud. We basically started re-learning how to ride again, with the help of our friend James. No speed work, not many miles & still fighting our bikes that are too big.
Not much soreness - just my arms/wrists are very tender and sore from my bars dropping. And, some soreness in my calves. Pretty sure that has something to do with the 30mph sprints for 90mins :-)
72miles, 3:26:15, 20.9mph - 18/141females - pretty sure 10+ of those passed me during my bonk :-)
Perimiter Cycling puts on a great race & I would be HAPPY to make 1-2 of them and annual event on my race schedule!