The week leading up to the century ride yesterday was challenging. I could not run, so Saturday brought a 12 mile run on the schedule. So feeling Ironman training pressure, I decided to walk the whole thing! This was an interesting thing to do. H is injured too, so we did it. We walked 12 miles. Now averaging 15 min miles was not my idea of a fast walk. I am tempted to take a course in race walking just in case, you know..At any rate, I should be able to run on the ankle this week, although may keep the ankle brace on just in case...Amazing how worried I feel about re-injuring it at this point in IM training. I would not be a happy camper if I had to walk the whole marathon. Although I would and could, if I had to at IMWA.
We went to a dinner party Saturday night. At this juncture of my training, I feel like a party pooper as I look at my watch at 9:00 and think wow I should be in bed by now-big training day tomorrow! But alas I did stay up until 10:30, WAY past my bedtime for this event...The alarm went off at an early 5:00 AM. I stumbled out of bed and into the car and we were on the road at 5:45. The website says the Sky City Casino is 45 minutes away. Let me correct that. It is one hour away. We barely made it there, threw our gear on and rushed to pick up our chips. As we wheeled our bikes to the start, the woman said GO! Wow, that was as close as I like to make it to a race, although we were registered as "recreational riders" it still felt like a race. I had thrown on the long sleeved race T-shirt on over my bike jersey, thank goodness. It was freezing at the start. The sun was not up yet at 7:00 AM and everything was COLD! I knew eventually it would warm up but I stayed behind H to block the cold wind which was mild at this point. I could not feel my hands or feet for quite awhile. There were about 50 century riders and we were at the back. I immediatey dropped my sunglasses so stopped and then we were last. Geez, we are with a fast crowd! I thought..Soon we passed a few folks and now my goal was not to be last..at least. It felt like we were in quick sand for the first 15 miles or so. The sun started coming up and we saw the most beautiful table rock mesa formation looming over us. It was magical. We picked up speed as the turrain seemed to flatten. Some of the roads were rough, which made aero position tough at times. The water stops were plentiful and the people there amazingly friendly and encouraging. The only food were oranges and bananas but plenty of water. We had been told to bring our own food, which we did and needed it..I was pleasantly surprised at the attention we did get. I guess in the past, there were not enough water stations and they seemed to have corrected that this year...
At mile 19 we hit a hill. Not the gentle "let's get up this hill". It was a full on, Heartbreak Hill kind of climb.I forgot to look at the grade on my GPS after about 10% but I know at some point I got off my bike and walked. I looked back and everyone behind me was walking. It was a short .5 miles or something until I got back on my bike. That was a little depressing having to walk and all but alas my little tri-bike doesn't like these sort of hills and when I am riding slower than I can walk, then I walk...Back on the bike at the top and there were no big hills to speak of after that..so glad someone told us about this beforehand, otherwise I might have been scared to do the rest. I knew that was it for the Heartbreak Hills..
After about 30 miles, we turned off away from the highway into the headwind, which was picking up by now. This 20 mile section out was a: getting windier by the minute b: slightly uphill and c: kind of rough road but beautiful. We finally saw the lead group of 4, with a police escort coming back on this stretch. It seeemed to take forever on this part. The wind was getting worse and we were headed straight into it. I felt really strong however and pushed it. Then I noticed something strange. Of all the folks heading back I saw no women. Now I had passed two women and thought, Geez could I be the first woman here? Not my slow ass. BUT maybe there were only 3 of us. I relayed this info to H, who said Great..He was struggling yesterday as he had a new tire on his back wheel which turned out to be like riding in quick sand for him..Then it occured to me I could not place in this race, I had registered as a recreational rider..Oh well. We trudged on. We made it to the turn around, where I saw two other women who said they had seen two women hauling ass back already. After stopping for 15 min or so, we started back. The wind at our backs, we were flying! I passed a woman again, the same one I had passed earlier. It was on! Everytime we stopped at a water station, she passed me..I felt my competitive spirit jamming by now. I felt so good yesterday. This is fairly new..I usually die at around mile 70 of these rides. Not yesterday. Around mile 65 of course the wind shifted and again, we had a headwind. This kind of sucked. Not unusual at all for New Mexico. Acoma Pueblo was still bringing us beautiful scenery, the kind you see on postcards of the Southwest.
Finally we hit the freeway access road and knew we had about 30 more miles. We turned away from the wind again and FLEW down the hill. Aha-we were climbing that last 25 miles afterall! I passed "the woman"again..then she passed me and I did not see her again for awhile. As we got to the last aid station there was lots of cheering-these folks were great! The road was suckingly rough these last few miles. We did another short out and back to get to mile 90. I saw "her" again, walking her bike up a short hill. Here was my chance to catch her! But I could not get to her..Until..I saw her stopped, hunched over her bike.. Good debi said Oh poor thing must have a flat or something, I should help her.. Bad Debi said Oh good I get to pass her ass and beat her! OK, good Debi won out. I stopped and saw she was doubled over in pain and crying..I asked her if she was OK and she managed to get out that she had a really bad cramp in her quad. I asked her if she needed electrolytes, she did not. I did not have any Ibuprofen but did give her encouragement and told her to knead the cramp. After a few minutes, she said to go on, she would be ok and walk her bike. I took off and did tell the next police officer, which were aplenty at every intersection, that she may need help..I had mixed emotions. I wanted to beat this young lady, but not like this. I hoped she was OK...H and I carried on and at about mile 95, there was the end! We were done! Short about 5 miles by all accounts but crossed the mat! At one point earlier we had heard there were 15 bikers behind us on the century so we were not last or even close! My Garmin said 6:03, not counting our stops. The tent looked rather empty and some very old barbecue left to eat, which we passed on. We loaded up the car and I saw my young friend riding over the mat and knew she was OK. She had a triathlete jersey on, so I knew she was one of us...
I have no idea what my chip time was or where I finished in the century. I do know it was a great ride. I felt strong, something foreign to me in these things...Well supported, great people, well marked, lots of law enforcement. The only negative is the shorting of the last 5 miles, although I can't say I minded that much!
Ate like a pig last night and today my legs are feeling that century!