Usually I ride long on Saturday and run long on Sunday. Due to the race being on Sunday, having to drive home from the race, AND having to go into work on Sunday night, Mary smushed my long ride and long run together into an extended brick on Saturday. I typically don't do workouts like this.. most of the time I run 30 minutes off of a long ride. Saturday I rode 4 hours and then ran for 90 minutes. I guess there's a first for everything!
I was up and on my bike by 8 am. I have come to embrace (and even enjoy) these long solo rides. I no longer mentally struggle with them, I don't need someone to keep me company, and I actually think I ride better when I am by myself. I can dictate my own pace, timing and length of pit stops, riding route, starting time, etc. I don't have to deal with anyone else besides myself - so if I am grumpy, I don't have to worry about pissing someone else off, and if someone else is grumpy, I don't have to worry about their bad mood rubbing off on me. Not that I don't enjoy riding with other people, because I do, but just because of my personality, I think riding alone is much better preparation for racing Ironman - for me personally. It's the best head space for me.
Anyways, I headed out the same route as before, from Mendon Ponds Park to 15A south with the idea of doing an out and back (I didn't have time to waste doing any extra because I was driving to Ithaca after my workout). The weather was ok.. it was very humid but overcast, and it rained on and off for the first half of the ride. About 90 minutes into the ride, I got a flat. Of course I was riding up a huge hill at the time. I stopped and started changing the flat. Now I am totally capable of changing a flat BUT I am not fast. I had just gotten the new tube in and the tire back on the rim when an older lady in a minivan stopped to make sure that I was ok. (Picture: lone girl who looks 15, standing on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere, holding a wheel, in the rain). I assured her that I was fine, thanked her, and sent her on her way. Don't you just love people like that? If only I could have replaced "older lady in a minivan" with "hot 30 year old man in a Subaru Forester." Although I guess I should be happy that, considering where I was riding (Candadace), I did not get "creepy old man with missing teeth in rusted pickup truck with 'mossy oak' decals."
On the way home I had a hell of a tailwind AND a net downhill, so I got back to MPP 30 minutes ahead of schedule. In order to get to the full 4 hours, I rode the 10 mile Mendon Ponds duathlon loop - perfect! Nutrition also went really well for this ride. I was a little worried about trying to run with 4 bottles of Powerbar Endurance sloshing around in my stomach, but surprisingly, I had a GREAT run. We're talking.. the best run I've had since Ironman. 10 miles at 9 minute pace is not too shabby! I had to bail myself out of a low spot (some dizziness) with a mini Snickers bar but otherwise I felt great AND hit my 30 mins of tempo at the end.
I then made a quick trip to the bike shop to replace the flat kit that I had used and to get one of my aerobars rewrapped. Went home, cleaned the bike, got the Zipp wheels on, showered, packed, and was on the road for Ithaca, where I was meeting Mary and Luc at the EconoLodge (we were staying in a room together). It's about an hour and 40 minute drive. We found Van in the hotel - I guess they lost his room so he had to find a room at a different hotel. While we were discussing where to go to dinner (Mary suggested this Italian placed called "Ciao" that we had both passed on the way to the hotel), I jokingly said "hey, there's a Pizza Hut next door" and then Luc exclaimed "I want to go to Pizza Hut!!!" Guess where our pre-race dinner was?! It's always classy with Train-This.
We went to bed and were up the next morning at 5 am. I was at the race site - Taughannock Falls State Park -by 6 (my race didn't start til 9). The weather was iffy, it kept sprinkling and then clearing up, and then sprinkling again. I didn't bother with sunscreen because it was so overcast. There weren't too many people that I knew because this race is a little far from Rochester; there were a few Train-This teammates (Van and 2 Donnas). My cousin Holly's husband was directing traffic at the race (he is some kind of park ranger in Ithaca). I didn't actually see him (I saw him the last time I did this race - 2008). However, I did get to see a guy in transition wearing a 1997 NTL Cross Country shirt.
Some background: NTL stands for "Northern Tier League" which is the collection of high schools from where I grew up that competed against each other in various sports. In the fall of 1997, I was in 8th grade so I ran junior high XC, but we still competed at the NTL Coach's Invitational (where all of the schools run together in an invitational-style meet, which was actually held at my high school) and that was the t-shirt that was sold that year! So first of all, I grew up in rural, redneck-land Pennsylvania AND that shirt is FOURTEEN YEARS OLD. What a WEIRD thing to see at a freakin' triathlon! I had to talk to this guy! I went over to him and told him that I had that shirt and that I ran at that particular XC meet. He asked me where I went to school. "Northeast Bradford." He went to Towanda! (Next high school over). Turns out, we have some mutual friends. Small world!
Anyways, I'm not really going to go into detail about the race because a sprint is a sprint. But there are some things of note. I entered the "open amateur wave" like I did at the Cazenovia Tri last year (you need to hit a specific time in order to enter), however there were two (yes, two) of us in the wave, me and an older guy. I am happy to say that I smoked that dude in the swim. It was nice to have a clear shot in the swim (we were the first wave in the sprint race) however I had wanted to practice drafting and pushing myself on the swim to keep on the feet of faster swimmers. That didn't happen.
|the "open amateur" swim wave.. all 2 of us!|
I lead the race for the entire swim and about half of the bike. I was essentially racing alone for the entire race because everyone else started so far behind me. For a while, there was a police escort on a motorcycle riding right behind me and, for the life of me, I could NOT figure out why he was there. Either he thought I was going to do an illegal pass (because I was passing some of the intermediate distance racers from later waves) or he was just trying to keep track of the sprint race.. who knows! My quads were BURNING for parts of the bike course (thanks to the 5.5 hour brick the day before) but in general I felt pretty good. Even when I was running, my legs felt great. The run at this triathlon is off-road.. about 1 mile on grass and the other 2 miles on a groomed trail up to a gorgeous waterfall and back. I am not so fond of running on grass so that slowed me down. I definitely did not run as fast as I would like (I ran it in 25:something rather than the 23:something that I usually run in sprint tris) but I am attributing most of that to the non-pavement aspect of the 5K, as my legs felt 1000x better than they did at the mini-Mussel (and the view was WAY better).
I wish I had more time to spend exploring Ithaca. There is a vegetarian restaurant there (Moosewood) that I have wanted to go to for years, but sadly it is not open on Sundays. There are also tons and tons of gorges (Ithaca is gorges, after all). Unfortunately, I had to get back to Rochester so I could nap and then go into work at 11 pm. Not ideal, but the bills need to be paid! I will be happy when I am off of nights in 2 days! :)