Sunday, March 25, 2012

I want to ride my bicycle!

So much to update since my last post!  I am in the peak of Ironman training and my free time somehow is just non-existent, so I haven't been able to write as frequently as I would like to.  I'd like to start off with a little quote that I read in a magazine. 

'Normal' is a cycle on a washing machine. 

So true, right?  I don't want to be normal.  I want to be me.  In all my crazy glory.  And speaking of crazy...  last weekend I convinced five of my closest friends that it would be a good idea to bike Mount Lemmon in quite possibly the worst storm we've seen in the 7 years we've lived here.

It all started in January, when my husband and I looked at our calendar and picked a couple of weekends that we could head down to Tucson for a nice training weekend.  Here in Arizona we normally don't worry about things like weather.  It's always sunny with varying degrees of warm.  Always.  Sometimes there might be a cloud in the sky.  One of those big fluffy white ones.  And if you turn on the news at that moment, they will undoubtedly tell you that it's "raining".  I'd almost forgotten what real rain is.  I've come to believe that it somehow involves fluffy white clouds and sunshine.  Anyway, I'm getting off topic...

So in the week leading up to our second training weekend in Tucson, the weather forecast turned dark.  They were predicting a big storm to blow through on Saturday night, bringing high winds, heavy rain and snow above 4000 ft.  Yeah.  Right.  I thought.  I ignored it.  My husband and I did talk about the possibility a little bit, but ultimately we decided that the weather wasn't going to be any better in Phoenix, so we were better off biking up hill where we wouldn't get cold. 

Friday night, I got a text  from my cousin who was biking with us.  Weather looks bad, we still on?  We chatted and I told him that we were still going.  Besides, his girlfriend was driving SAG for us so as long as we made it up the hill, she could drive us back down.  It's really the descent that is dangerous in the rain.  Game on.

Saturday afternoon I got a text from my friend KS who was racing down in Sierra Vista, south of Tucson.  It's pretty windy here!  Since they were down there anyway, they met us for dinner as planned on Saturday evening.  We joked about getting on the bikes at midnight to avoid the storm.  Little did we know, that probably would have been a good idea.  But I was still in denial about the weather.

Sunday morning alarm goes off early.  I'm up and getting ready for our ride.  Another text.  It looks pretty dangerous out there.  We might just head back to the valley.  My response?  K.  Clearly I'm still in denial.  As we load the car in the hotel parking lot, the wind is gusty and the mountain is covered with a cloud so dark you can't actually see the mountain.  Oh.  This is what she meant by dangerous.

The whole gang shows up at the parking lot of Le Buzz.  We take off down the road for our warm up to the base of the mountain.  To our surprise the wind is at our backs and we are flying!  Our joy was short lived as the rain started about 1 mile into the climb.  But climbing Mt. Lemmon is tough, and I was still plenty warm.  Then the rain starts to pour down harder.  I have to slide my glasses down my nose to be able to see.  Starting to not have fun any more. 

The SAG vehicle was leap frogging us.  Every mile I'd give a little wave and tell her, one more mile.  I was bringing up the rear, so after I'd pass, she would zip on ahead to the front riders.  Soon the wind picked up.  I'm a teensy bit afraid of heights, and I stayed far away from the guard rail imagining my demise if a big gust picked me out.  I was starting to get cold.  Then, at mile 5 1/2 we round the corner and change the side of the mountain we are on.  With that, we instantly have a ferocious head wind that brings me to a halt.  I simply cannot turn my pedals.  I have to get off my bike.  Off the bike, I'm no longer working and I'm suddenly freezing.  I nearly had my jacket ripped out of my hands by the wind as I struggled to get it on. 

With no one in sight, I began to walk my bike uphill, knowing that sooner or later I'd see the SAG.  Just when I was about to break down crying, I see her flying back down the hill in my direction.  Praise Jesus.  It was pouring down rain.  I was completely soaked and frozen.  I hurried up and threw my bike in the back and got the bike rack set up for the 4 other bikes.  It was almost comical as the 5 of us struggled to squeeze 4 bikes onto a 3-bike rack.  No one could feel their fingers and our dexterity was minimal.  We're all yelling and my husband is laughing.  I'm nearly crying but I can't stop shivering. 

Finally we get the bikes secured with a bungi cord and a bike lock.  We pile 6 people into 4 seats in my Xterra (did I mention my car is the BOMB!!) and zip back down the mountain.  Thankfully we didn't check out of our hotel, so we were able to jump into a hot shower to defrost.  We had a few laughs about my 'great idea' and I agreed not to have any more for a while. 

I followed up my 10 mile bike ride on Sunday with a 245 mile bike week--  my biggest week ever other than the two times I biked across the state of Iowa with RAGBRAI.  It culminated in today's workout:  a super-sprint triathlon, followed by a 100 mile bike ride with a 6 mile transition run at 8:15 pace.  My team, TriScottsdale, is the host for Tri for the Cure so as part of the elite team, I had the privilege of representing.  Not wanting to waste any time, I biked to the race and then home afterwards which put me at 37 miles.  I dropped off my gear bag, changed my clothes and hit the road again for the final 63 miles. 

With two loops of Usery and plenty of wind, my legs were cooked!  I certainly didn't feel as good as I did after my last 100 miler, but it was a solid effort and a great training day.  As I started my run I told myself if I ran less than 9 minute pace, I'd run 6 miles.  If I ran over 9 minutes, I would run 5.  My first two miles ticked off at exactly 8:30 which shocked the hell out of me.  So I kept up the effort and my pace dropped over the final four miles.  I'm starting to feel much more confident about St. George.  6 weeks ago, I was scared silly.  And I guess that's what I needed to get my ass in gear.  Now I feel strong.  Prepared.  Ready.  6 weeks from now, I'll be an Ironman.  (Again.)

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