Summoning My Inner Warrior (and mixing in a little crazy)
Sunday afternoon, I stood up from a laughter filled lunch with friends, my legs protesting each pound I was demanding them to carry. My body felt broken, unwilling to rise up to the challenge of standing. This all seemed like a good idea a few weeks ago...
Saturday morning I ventured into the world of cycle racing. Starting with the Oak Ridge Velo Road Race - 27 ish miles of pushing my body (and my bike) to the limits... holding it there, and continuing to demand more. Riding bicycles with other like minded ladies - what a blast.
My team and I are new to racing. Given the early season race and our race strategy to work hard, work together, have fun, and see how things went (it may have been a bit more laid out than that... just a bit), we had a great race!
We worked together to stay with the main pack for the first portion of the race. When the lead ladies turned up the heat, we stayed with the chase group. Over the next many miles, our small group worked together to chase back down the lead pack, arriving there only to be dropped again. We stuck it out, through headwind, lonely climbs and burning quads to respectably finish mouth breathing, smiles in tact and ready to do our next race (just maybe not for a few days, please)
The 4 hours until the next race were spent with laughter, magazines, good music, enjoying the breeze, eating and hydrating.
Saturday afternoon. With the bike on a trainer, I hoisted my complaining body onto my TT bike (a special bike meant for aerodynamic suffering) for a warm up. The next race was a Time Trial (TT), 7 and change miles of "fast as you can, hard as you can" one-at-a-time racing. Whoever has the best time wins. Simple to explain...
It's a pain cave. I was calm going into the start, knowing I would push the limits of my mind and body over the next few miles. I took a deep breath, then 5, 4 ,3, 2, 1, Go. I took 10 pedal strokes out of the saddle, settled in and focused on my breathing. I pushed hard, adjusting the gears to keep my legs engaged without my mind quitting. My best friend and teammate passed me on the first big climb (she's been DOMINATING her training and is going to have a fantastic season). The last major hill behind me, I settled in, pushing all the rolling hills both up and down, fighting for every ounce of power I could muster. I turned the last corner to see the 500M mark and laid out everything I had.
I came across the line proud of my effort, proud of my performance in light of my earlier morning, and just trying to breathe. Another 10ish minute cooldown on my trainer and I packed up for part 3 of the weekend.
Sunday morning's triathlon was a soggy mess. In light of the looming thunderstorm, the bike course was cut short. If I were able to muster the strength, I would have jumped for joy.
I kicked off the morning with a 400 meter indoor pool swim. Yes, avoiding swimming for the last 5 months made it rather interesting, and I don't recommend the avoidance. I finished well enough and without drinking too much water, and "ran" to transition for the bike 2.88 mile bike segment. I tucked into aero position and assembled my inner warrior and pedaled. My bike handling skills felt instinctive even in the rain and I pressed harder into the discomfort, finishing with a rusty dismount.
The run proved to be the finisher I expected. It usually takes about a mile to 1.25 miles to work my legs into a comfortable stride... today took 2. I kept telling myself one foot in front of the other, relax your shoulders, breathe, and keep moving. No matter how slow, keep moving.
The last little bit of the race I distracted myself with how many "blocks" it was until the finish. (ah the strange things we think about) But the welcome reprieve of the downhill segments was just what I needed to come up the final two hills strong(ish) and finish with a smile on my face. I had given it all I had.
I don't think I care to repeat three races in one weekend, but I'm glad I did. I shook off the rust from the winter training months. I found (a few) areas of improvement. And I was thankful for all the time I invested in strength training these last few months.
Plus cycle racing and triathloning makes some of the best and deepest friendships.
Now for the sofa, chips and guacamole and the occasional laundry transfer when I can will myself to move again.