I still can't believe it! This blog post is going to take me a while to type b/c the right side of my right hand is still numb. Here's the breakdown of the weekend.
I got down to Salisbury, MD on Friday and went to the pasta party with the team. They always given an award to the person who raises the most money as the party. This guy raised a whopping $15,000! Schwinn is a new sponsor of TNT and they presented him with a new bike -- sweet! There were also folks who were recognized for having completed what TNT calls the triple crown. These are folks who have completed a marathon or half marathon, a triathlon, and a century ride. I now have 2 down, and 1 to go. Can you guess what I'm planning to do next?
There were 155 of us and as a group, we raised over $500,000. Not bad. Me? I raised about $2800.
Anyway, as I'm getting my stuff together in the room the night before, I mentioned to my roommate that I didn't bring a spare tube and that I've probably jinxed myself by not bringing one. I didn't have room for it anyway and wouldn't have known how to change it on my own even if I did bring it.
Saturday was a long day. I started out at 7:00am and finished at 5:00pm, with a total riding time of about 7 1/2 to 8 hours. The day started out cold and dark, with sun starting to rise when we left. I had a jacket on over my race shirt and undershirt, but my ears, fingers and toes were still cold. Actually, my toes didn't fully warm up until mile 40 or so. Here I am before the start.
I felt really good that first mile, passing some folks and cruising along. We were on the streets of Salisbury at this point and hadn't yet made it out to farm country. We made out 2nd turn and all of a sudden, my bike feels weird. At first I thought it was the road surface, but I pulled off and it still felt weird. Turns out, my tire was low. How is that possible since I had just topped it off that morning before we left. Actually, it was possible. There was some glass on the road that I did not see and, well, it punctured my tire. That's right, I got a flat tire after the first mile!
I was so pissed. I wanted to cry. I couldn't believe that I might have to quit after 1 mile. I didn't know what to do, but since I was only a mile from the start, I figured I'd walk back and see if there was a tube there and someone to fix it for me. Luckily, my coach rode by at that point and his tire was the same as mine so we used his spare tube. He and one of the mentors changed my tire for me. Only problem is that since they only had a hand pump, they only pumped the tire up to 40lbs of pressure (normally, these tires take 110lbs of pressure). They said that would get me to the next rest stop at mile 22 where there would be a mechanic and floor pump.
So, at this point, mile 1.x, I am off again. My group is way out in front of me. I won't really catch up to them until I cross the finish line. Only problem is now my ride is more laborious. I'm working harder than I had before, my ass is killing (shouldn't be until mile 50 or so), and my legs are really tired. Didn't realize this until the mechanic told me but it was b/c there was so little air in my tire. Once he filled it up, the ride was sooooo much easier.
The next 20 miles were great. I felt good and was moving at a good speed . . . for me. Our next rest stop was around mile 43. Ate some food, grabbed more water for my sports drink and took off. About 5-7 miles later, my knee started to act up. I have been dealing w/ this all summer and thought I had finally figured it out. Obviously, I didn't. For the next 10-15 miles, I had to stop several times to stretch and massage my outer knee. My goal was to make it to Assateague Island, and then decide from there. Assateague was the third rest stop and the metric century mark (62.7 miles).
I should note here that rest stops for century rides are way different than those for marathons and probably triathlons as well. In marathons, some folks don't even stop running, but grab the little cup of water as they barrel on by. Here, there's tons of food and folks sit down and take their time. The reason could be that w/ marathons (and triathlons), folks have a chip on their shoe that keeps time. Everyone is trying to beat a time, whether it be their last race, their initial goal, etc. Here, there were no chips. There was no starting gun. It was what they call a "show and go" start where folks have a 2-hour window to roll out of bed and start the race. Only rule is that they be off the course by sunset. So I don't have an "official" time like I would in other endurance events.
Back to the story. I made it to Assateague. I made it 62.7 miles and completed a metric century. The main hill on the course is the bridge over to the island. This is a picture a teammate took:
With my knee bugging me, I wasn't sure how well I'd make it up there, but I did. I stopped toward the top and took a few pictures myself. This one is looking up to the top of the bridge:
This shot is looking down at those pedalling up the bridge:
And here's a shot of me on the bridge:
At the rest stop there were tons of folks there milling about, eating lunch and relaxing. One tradition is to go and dip your feet in the ocean. I didn't make it that far. I just made it to the dunes and looked out over the ocean.
I felt pretty good after stretching and decided to push on a little further and make a decision at the next rest stop -- mile 83. I began to question that decision not even 4 miles later when I had to stop, stretch and massage. I did this another 3 times before arriving at mile 83. At one point, I told my coach that I was calling it quits at the next rest stop. We were then about 4 miles out from the rest stop when I thought to myself, I just rode 20 miles in pain, what's another 17? I was so close at that point anyway -- just 2 laps around Kelly Drive. I could do it.
So, when I reached the final rest stop, I consulted w/ the medics to make sure continuing further wouldn't fuck up my knees. She said my injury was my iliotibial band (IT band) which runs from my hip down along the outside of my leg and knee. It's a repetitive injury that is common among runners. The medic said it was inflamed and the only thing to do was rest, ice, stretch and massage, but if I kept going, it would continue to hurt. She even offered to wrap my knee in ice before I went further, but I declined. Too awkward.
After downing a banana w/ peanut butter and filling my camelbak, I was off for the last 17 miles. I was immediately kicking myself after about a mile, but then let adrenaline take over. I think I only stopped once to stretch. Jim, my coach, was great at that last stretch. Most of the time he followed behind, but here he and Katie (mentor) stuck w/ me most of the time. At one point I was going up a slight incline (there really weren't any hills on this course except the bridge above) and then I felt a bit of pressure from behind on my back. It was Jim giving me a "push" up the hill so I could pass this one woman. Too funny.
I finally finished after 5pm. One of my teammates got a "picture" of me riding in to the finish, but as you can see, #4873 was blocking me entirely.
I didn't believe her at first, but then if you look real close, you can see an extra piece of black that is not where it should be and a random tire behind the guy. That's me. I'm as amazed as you are that this guy could literally shield all of me from view, but it is true. Otherwise, I don't have any pictures of me on my bike per se. If someone sends one to me, I'll be sure to post it. Otherwise, this is all you get.
Everyone from our team was still there and they were all there cheering me on when I rode in. After checking in at the TNT tent and getting my pin and medal, I went straight to the medic tent for some ice.
I'm quite a site with my ice bags, aren't I?
I'm not sure whether I'll do another century or not, maybe just a metric century (62 miles). I did, however, have a great time, flat tire, IT band and all. The course was beautiful. There were barely any cars out on the road and we went through some beautiful wooded areas and farmland on Maryland's eastern shore. I had heard that the race has a history of bad weather, but for us, it was gorgeous. You couldn't have asked for a better day.
And the thing that kept me going and not quitting was not only the fact that I couldn't go home and say I only did x miles, but it was my uncle, my friends who are survivors, and a little girl named Kirsten from the Lehigh Valley who cheered us on. If they could go thru chemo, I could tough it out and do 100 miles.
Until my next team in training event . . . GO TEAM!