Monday, August 26, 2013

2013 Reston Century Ride

Reston was my first century ride, back in 2010, and I was excited to do this one again with a little more training under my belt.  I didn't have a blog back then, but my friend Katie wrote a very detailed report of this adventure where I think she nearly killed me for convincing her to ride 105 miles on this notoriously hilly course (in my defense, I didn't really know it was that hilly.)  3 years later I have incorporated sections of the course into many weekend long rides, and was ready to try the entire thing as my last big training ride before Skipjack (the one and only triathlon I have on my calendar this season.)

I had purchased new racing tires for my bike to use at Skipjack and thought I'd break them in during the century.  So while watching TV with my kids, I took off my old (incredibly worn after thousands of miles) original tires and tried to put the new ones on.  And tried.  And tried some more.  I could not for the life of me to get them on the rim.  We had a birthday party to attend, so I put them aside until we got back.  So it's 10 p.m. and my wheels still don't have tires on them.  Jamie and I tried together to get them on.  For an hour.  I tried to get it on with a tire lever and punctured the tube.  Jamie did the same thing.  Two tubes down.  I had four tubes left. An hour later, we had puntured two more and still didn't have the tires on.  It was midnight.  I hadn't put on my handlebar tape.  I gave up and we put the old tires back on the bike with the two remaining tubes. I didn't have the wheels back on the bike.  I still didn't have any handlebar tape on the right side.  I didn't know where my wallet or waterbottle was, for crying out loud.  I texted the girls I said I would start with that they would likely need to start with out me, I texted Tuan (who yesterday decided, spur of the moment, to do the Reston Century with me despite the fact that he did Ironman Sweden a week ago) that I was having a bike disaster and would likely need his help in the morning, and I headed to bed - three hours of sleep is better than none.

(Sidenote:  At 4:30 a.m., an hour and a half after I got to bed, I woke up to loud music.  I peered out my window and there was some guy parked in front of my townhouse with his windows down, pumping music, and reading a magazine.  Seriously.  I turned on my light and stuck my head out the window and he looked up at me and then drove away.  What the?!?!?  So I didn't even get three hours of sleep.)

At 6am Tuan showed up and helped me put my bike back together.  We arrived to the start around 7:15 and took off.  I was feeling great, and the weather was gorgeous.  We were almost to the first rest stop when we ran over some pebbles, and I promptly flatted.  That's right.  Mile 9 of 103.5 and I have a flat front tire and no tire tubes.  But never fear - we were only about 400 yards from the bike mechanic tent!  I picked up Dora (the Explorer, my bike) and asked if I could buy a 650c tube for my tire.  Um... no 650c tubes.  This promptly brought flashbacks of my first triathlon after Jack's birth when at the expo, no one sold 650c tire tubes, and having flatted on a practice ride, I called 7 bicycle shops in Indianapolis and ended driving an hour -- yes, an hour -- to the only shop in this so-called metropolis that carried tubes in my size.  I now really hated these 650c wheels.  The bike mechanic called every other pit stop on the course, but no one had my size.  It was not even 8 in the morning, and every bike store did not open until 10.  So Tuan and I discussed the options.  He could ride back to his car and pick me up, and we could call it a day, or we could wait until the stores opened at 10 and continue the ride, or we could risk using a 700c tube.  We finally asked the mechanic if he could try that, and fold the tube over.  Yup, it would make a little bump every time the wheel revolved, require more energy, make hills a little dangerous, and very possibly result in a flat somewhere along, say, mile 75 in the middle of nowhere.  The mechanic pumped up the 700c tube, gave me another tube to put in my saddle bag, and wished me the very, VERY best of luck.  We head off on the very hilly route, knowing full well that we weren't going to be able to hammer down hills at 40mph in the aero position because I knew if I hit anything I was very likely to end up flying off my bike with a new flat.

So yeah, the ride is a little hilly.  Here is the course elevation:

There are three very steep hills, the worst being from Taylorstown to Stumptown.  We passed the 7-11 in Lovettsville around the halfway point, and I was pretty sure I was going to need a pina colada slurpee to get through that mother of a hill, so we stopped and I bought one.

So that evil hill in Taylorstown.  I did it once last summer, and I never wanted to do it again.  It is one of those hills that goes on forever, is straight up - a 600 foot climb - and if you stop to rest you'll never be able to start riding again and you'll just have to walk your bike up (which would probably have been faster.)  I got in my granny gear, did a lot of standing, and somehow made it to the top.  That hill was OPTIONAL the last time I did this ride.  OPTIONAL!  Sheesh. Even Tuan said it was hard, and he never admits such things.  We got to fly down the hill, except I was holding on to my breaks for dear life and praying my front tire wouldn't give out on me, and then we had yet another mother of a hill at mile 73.

We ran into our friend Ed at the next rest stop, and he took this lovely photo around mile 79.   I am smiling because I think those mother hills are over.  I forgot about the one at mile 82.  Ed says to me "You don't have any handlebar tape on your right side."  I just glared at him.

Ed, Tuan and I rode for the next 15ish miles together.  Really, I just sucked on Ed's wheels. 

Tuan and I skipped the final rest stop (we only hit two on the course, plus the 7-11), but I waved to the mechanic who had changed my flat and yelled "Great job!  Still going strong!"  Then we hammered a bit for the last 9 miles.  (Well I hammered.  My hammering is Tuan's easy pace.)  I was really hungry.  Finally at about 2:55 we pulled up to the Reston Town Center.   I was very excited to see the ice cream truck.

So all in all, a great day.  Great weather, great views, and great company.  I think I will try to do a couple more organized rides this fall.  With my new tires, installed by a professional (I am not a professional, apparently.)  And some spare tubes.  And handlebar tape.  (Don't even ask about the blisters all over my right hand. )  And a few more hours of sleep. :)

Friday, August 16, 2013

Rave Run

I've been on vacation in North Carolina, and so my runs and rides have all been either with the jogging stroller/ bike trailer or by myself.  At home, where most of my long runs are done with a group or buddy, I don't really care where we run since we're chatting away.  I'm pretty particular about scenery on my rides, but since I'm always in a rush to get back home I rarely and take it all in.  Vacation is another story.

My long run on Sunday morning was the longest distance I've gone since my injury -- a whopping 14.8 miles.  That didn't even constitute as a long run for me during marathon training last fall.  This run, if you just look at my pace, was nothing to be excited about.  It was over 90 degrees and humid, I ran out of water at the end and couldn't find a store, and my legs were still recovering at my first attempts at speed work on Tuesday and Thursday (a whopping 7:05 pace was the best I could do for any amount of time, and the four minute intervals were barely below an 8 pace... coming back is going to take a long, long time.)  

But it was a run to remember.

Tonight, I was able to run with my husband for a glorious 8 miles, something we rarely get to do since having our children.  It was drizzling when we left, so we left our phones at the house.   We didn't have watches.  We just ran, and talked.  Something about running brings out the best conversations.  The sixth mile was right along the beach, and as we turned onto the sand, it started to pour.  We looked out onto the endless sea, at the deserted shoreline, at the glassy water and the gentle waves, and ran in silence for that mile.

There is something spiritual about running, and when I run in wilderness (even if I'm steps away from civilization), I feel a sense of grateful that I can't explain.