Anyway, about 15 (maybe more?) showed and we got started a bit after 7. My plan was to stick in the main group and soft pedal for a while to get the legs flowing....this ride is tough because Olde Stage Road (read: big ass 15% grade hill) comes only about 6 miles in. The plan worked great so that when Steve, Tyler, Beth, and Anthony came along at the foot of the hill I jumped on and the work began. You never really remember how tough this hill is until you are on it again.....it just goes up and up and up. But I worked it standing up out of the saddle and then back down, and then back up and so on. I never really felt like I had run out of gears (even though I had). What a change from last year when I just wasn't strong enough to lift my ass out of the saddle and had to do the majority of the climb sitting. Up the first part and caught up to Barry who was riding like he was in the Tour with my friend Andy right there. And then the fun part (for me), a bit of a downhill and then the last section which has about the perfect climbing grade that I can usually just crank on. My legs were tired but we were done with the major climb.
A few of us gathered at the top and down we went.....there is a speed limit on this downhill of 35mph and I really have no idea how fast we were going. I've been fighting some speed demons of my own since my crash and was riding my brakes for the first part but successfully navigated the left and then the right turn, hooked onto Anthony's wheel who was hooked onto Steve's and he pulled us to the front group where I was DETERMINED to stay. I will not get dropped today. The rest of the ride went very well.....about 10 of us rode together (we were FLYING) on Nelson and then we broke up into little pace lines for the remainder of the ride. Beth was directly in front of my and I was not going to let her go!!! Barry, Beth and I had a great ride down 63rd taking pulls and then we were done. Very pleased with my effort on the ride and very excited I didn't let anyone go (other than uber-fast boys....). Great day for a ride!!
Then we were off for a 5 mile run around the Rez. Started off slow and felt pretty good. Pace was pretty mellow until mile 3 when Steve ramped it up. The boys took off, and Beth put the hurt on. I wanted to stay with her but I just wasn't feeling it so she pulled ahead leaving me to suffer on my own. I was very happy to see the marina and to slow down. Saw a 7:38/mile pace in there for mile 4, which I will take. I'm really glad we did this run because the last 2.5 miles were on the actual course for next week.....so I had a chance to "feel" things out and know that those miles are so tough physically and for me, mentally.
Best part: taking a dip in the Rez, shoes and all afterwards. Yea!
Second best part: Awesome lunch with my awesome friends and teammates at Himalayas, an Indian food buffet. YUM.
This race last year kicked my booty pretty good and I am ready for a good race this year. I've done the work. I.AM.READY. No wimpiness, no walking. I will swim a smart pace, I will bike a great ride. And. I will run. A strong run. Looking forward to it.
Thank you to my family for giving me the chance to do this today, and well, lots of days!!!! ILU Michael:)