Monday, October 22, 2012

Runner gone Rogue - becoming a Biker.

On Sunday, October 21, I participated in my first Bike race.  It was the Livestrong Challenge and you could choose from 20 , 65 or 100 mile bike ride.  I really thought I was going to weenie out and do the 20 blaming my ITB and the need to protect my knee and joints for the Route 66 Marathon.  However, it certainly didn't turn out that way.

We headed into Austin on Saturday, early to pick up our packet.  The difference between this packet pick up and the ones at our race events was vast -
  • No lines to wait in - yet there were 4500 bikers. 
  • No swag bag - say what? 
  • No cotton tee - I understand that this a fundraiser effort for cancer - I was just caught off guard. 
  • No bag - at all!  Nothing to stick your bib, zip ties, or water bottle (instead of a tee, I think). 
  • No insanely huge expo with tons of vendors or samples of anything.  
  • Only open from 9 am to 1 pm.  
Packet picked up, we headed off to our most favorite sub shop - Firehouse Subs.  We usually opt to stay in town the night before an event since we live so far away. so we headed off to our hotel at this cool part of Austin we had never been too!  
Perfect Pacer and random turtle

Race morning came early - we headed down to the venue at 6 am to meet up with our friend Jarrett.  

Perfect Pacer, Moi, Jarrett - who doesn't know the difference between flat and hilly
After meeting up, doing the usual last minute portapotty trip and lining up at the 65 mile marker, we just chilled a bit.  This race was for LiveStrong - a fundraiser for his cancer organization and had rides for 20 miles, 65 miles and 100 miles.  It was his 15th year for this race and he waived the usual mandatory fundraising minimums which opened it up for more participants which was awesome.  We had 70 riders on our Team Beef team - none of which we knew.  Most of them were cyclists and not runners and most of them had been riding together for months and years.  

My most anxious moment was at the start.  I am always a little jittery when I first hop on the bike and just knew that I would take out several hundred riders at the start line.  

Didn't happen.  

But it was crazy crowded: 

Another thing that is incredibly different from running events to biking events: Water stops.  Cyclists refer to them as Power Stops and they are placed approximately 9 - 12 miles apart.  And they aren't on the side of the road - they are to the side of the road and they are insanely large.  You get cookies, oranges, bananas, peanut butter, gatorade, water and cots (to lie down on).  You get your snacks and you visit with the other cyclists.  You look at the map and see where you've been and how much further you have to go.  You have the cycle dude double check your bike if something goes wrong.  And sometimes one, looks like this: 

Every time we'd stop, Jarrett would smile and tell me there were no more hills.  Jarrett apparently didn't learn the difference between a hill and flat.  I hated him yesterday.  He ended up shooting ahead of us - I was way to slow for him which I knew would happen.  Perfect Pacer as always stuck it out with the turtle.  

Two other differences between cycling and running events: I rarely saw a medic. We did see a lady handing out Shiner Bock on the side of the road about mile 45.  Which was pretty awesome.  We stopped for a minute and ended up chatting with a guy who had biked 381 miles at one time and another guy who came from Maine to bike (really, Maine).  
We had been told there were no hills with the exception of the one at 30 miles.  Apparently "no hills" means "buttload of hills" in Texas speak.  It was one hill after another.  And let's not forget to mention the wind - 30/40 mph winds.  And we were headed into until about mile 45.  Mile 45 was awesome.  

This 45 mile spot was a big encouragement for us.  At 42, I thought I was done.  My quads were screaming, my ITB had gone numb and I had no feeling in my left fingers.  I had cried at power stop 42 miler and told Perfect Pacer I just couldn't do it.  And he said fine.  And then he said, we could just go real slow, stop as we needed to and if it got worse, we'd shout for the SAG wagon.  And then I realized, I'd have a DNF by my name and I just couldn't handle that. 

So we left the power stop and realized we had more hills in front of us.   And then we hit the Shiner Bock lady with a ton of encouraging words and I realized, we finally had the wind behind our back and we almost there.  My quads were still screaming, my fingers were still numb.  But I would not receive a DNF. 
last pit stop (10 miles to finish line)
Downtown Austin never looked better.  We headed into home stretch and I noticed all the 100 milers were catching up with us.  Think about it - they left 30 minutes before we did, went 35 miles further and were basically finishing the same as we did.  First, it was a blow to the ego and then I realized, I was biking 3x further then I had ever biked before. 

I was sunburned, windchafed and butt numb.  We crossed the finish line together as we always do.  Perfect Pacer tried to hold my hand while we were biking across but I'm almost crashed so we quickly rethought that.  

It took 6:38 minutes.  It was by far the most grueling adventure I've ever done to date.  Yes, even harder then Child Birth.  Perfect Pacer argues that running the marathon was harder.  I say that they were both uniquely difficult and challenging.  How's that for political correctness? 

We slept like a baby last night - needless to say.  Not a bit sore today - wow.  Until I went for my training run.  Quad failure.  I'm just going to take the day off and start training for the Route 66 Half tomorrow.  

Post a Comment