Last February I decided to take on the challenge of competing in the Wildflower Triathlon, one of the nations most difficult Triathlons,which took place in May of 2006. The distance I would cover included a 1.5K (1 mile) Open Water Swim, followed by an intense 40K (25 Mile) bike ride and finishing off with a 10K (6 Mile) Run. I finished this race in 5 hours, since then I have continued to document my journey.

Monday, November 17, 2008

November 15 2008; Solvang Century

I know its been a while since I've posted. I have still been racing/training but have not been great about updating my blog. I decided this morning that I will continue posting my race reports and tough workouts. Now on to the meat and potatoes....

3 months ago, I chose to take the leap from tri team to Cycle team. This decision did not come lightly because I definitely have my allegiance to the tri team but I liked the idea of doing something new and meeting a whole new group of people. Plus the tri team was training for the Triathlon at Treasure Island in San Francisco which is a race that I have never enjoyed. The bike course is 6 loops, each loop with 15 turns. The road is rough with potholes, seams, loose gravel, etc. Not something that excites me at all.

Unlike the triathlon, the cycle team trains in pace line groups. Which basically means we learn how to ride really close to each other and each person takes turns "pulling" the group. What that means is that we ride in the front for a fixed amount of time blocking the wind for the other riders. Wind causes resistance so the person in the front is actually working harder than the people in the back. To be in a pace line group you have to trust that the people in front of you will announce when they are slowing, stopping and if there is any potholes or debris on the ground (since you are literally so close to each other you can't see in front of them). This took me a long while to get accustomed to as in tri team you are not allowed to pace line and risk penalty and/or disqualification if an official catches you. Your pace group becomes like a little family throughout the season because you spend many long hours training together. My group included Coach Phil, Mentor Danny, Web Captain Don, Social Captain Christine, participants Cheryle, myself, and Charlotte. I'm going to spare you the details of the hours and hours of cycle time and days of preparation but lets say it's been painful and fun at the same time.

On Friday I woke up early to bake a cake for my Aunt's birthday and packed. Then I headed out to get my bike rack put on my car. As my car was getting prepared for me I changed my tires out as my old ones had a bunch of holes in them and a few slashes. I'm not sure how I haven't gotten a flat in weeks. They were in pitiful shape. Unfortunately, I had only purchased one tire so I added a trip to the bike shop on my list of things to do. I got to the bike shop and realized that I had forgotten to bring my bento box. I looked for one and couldn't find a bento box anywhere in the store. When I asked the guy at the shop he said..."What's a bento box?" are you kidding me?!?! I grabbed my tires and went off to pick up Eduarda for our 4 hour trip to Solvang.

On the way up we decided to make little placards for the whole team to attach to our bikes with a photo of Teagan Pesta, a little girl who passed away from Leukemia mid way through the season. Both her parents were on the team and Dad used to carry her in the back of his bike in a bicycle trailer. Needless to say her death was a blow to the entire team. After stopping by Starbucks to create the placard and email the artwork to Kinko's we resumed our long drive. When we got to Kinko's they had not yet finished laminating the cards and hadn't even started on poking the holes on top. So we went in search of a store to buy ribbon to tie the placards to our bikes. We ended up finding some yarn and then head out to Kinko's to help them finish the project. This four hour drive was just getting longer and longer.

By the time we got to Solvang we didn't even have time to check in to our hotel. We went straight to packet pickup. I had signed up late so all they handed me was a route sheet. No goodie bag, no t-shirt, not even a number! They told me that I'd get a t-shirt after the ride but they were not sure what size I'd get. I guess that's my penalty for signing up late. I was annoyed because they had no problem taking my $100 for the ride. The least they could have done was give me a goodie bag. I then head straight over to the TNT pasta party.

By the time I got there most of the speeches were done and people were eating desert. No biggie. I grabbed a plate of food and ate dinner while I listened. After dinner I told Danny about my disappointment for not getting anything for the ride and he told me to go back over to packet pickup with him and he'll get me one. When we got there all the TNT people were there and the lines were out the door. I went to the line with the T-Shirts and goodie bags and was able to score a shirt. Ah well. I was exhausted and all I really wanted was to get to the hotel.

The hotel rooms Nice way of saying small and dark. I didn't care. I just wanted to go to bed. But not before changing my tires and packing my stuff up for the ride. I went over to Danny's room for a quick tire changing clinic (I was afraid of changing it myself and getting a pinch flat) He was nice enough to change it for me. By the time I got my stuff packed and set up for the next day I just wanted to sleep. I was exhausted and had a ginormous headache. Not what you want before a big ride. I took some Motrin and we set the alarm for 5AM and went to sleep. It had been a long day.

The next morning I woke up and the headache was still there. I knew that there was a good chance that I had a migraine but chose to ride anyway. When I got to the breakfast station at the hotel, all they had was muffins, danishes, and toast. No oatmeal and no peanut butter. This was not good. No real breakfast AND a headache.

After we ate;Danny, Don, Charlotte, Cheryle and myself took off as a group for the 4 mile trip to the starting line. It was really beautiful seeing the sea of TNT athletes dawning their jerseys. It was cooold outside. My fingers were numb but I knew the day would soon become warm so I convinced myself to enjoy the chill while I could. There was one hill on the way to the start and I just couldn't get my legs to work. I was disappointed to see that my paceline group already had to stop to wait for me. I was worried about my day.

When we got to the starting line, we had some encouraging words from our interim coach Danny and off we went. Suddenly, this guy in an SUV cuts in front of our paceline groups causing us all to have to break hard. I said "What a jerk and what's even worse is that he's a cyclist!" He had his bike in the back of his car and was clearly coming to start the same ride. Most of the people in the group swears quite a bit, with one exception. Suddenly, that exception (Charlotte) dropped an F-Bomb at the guy. It was hilarious!

Not even a quarter of a mile into the ride we had this short steep hill that seemed to go straight up. I sure was glad we had that 4 mile warm up from the hotel because that would have been ugly on fresh legs. I did the hill alright but I was just moving so slow and my head was starting to throb a bit. After catching up to the group (who again had to wait for me) I led the fast downhill. It was quite wonderful!

Our group was moving pretty quickly but I knew everyone was nervous about the 12:30 cut off (we had to be at the second restop by 12:30 or they would send us back through a shorter route). I was just having a bad day and was having trouble keeping up. I tried not to let on that I was struggling but I sure was. After stripping off our morning layer, we took a group pickture. We then hit these little rollers that were kind of fun because you would gain speed going down and let momentum take you up. I liked that.

Then we went onto a little road for a nice downhill when suddenly Danny screamed. That was our turn! Then you could hear bikes crashing and people falling. I was super nervous about my friends but I knew I had to keep pedaling so as not to cause another accident. I then u-turned in the road and saw that it was a couple who was not part of our group that fell. We went over to check them out and the man kept yelling at us that the turn was there and why we didn't turn. He was fuming with us. It's not our faults he was too focused on the arrows on the road to actually watch where he was going. He basically started turning and when he saw us go straight he tapped his break and his wife hit him. He was checking out his bike as his wife was rolling around the floor still clipped in. I couldn't believe the jerk was more worried about his bike than his wife!!! He then picked up his wifes bike and started checking it out as she was still on the floor grabbing her leg.

We took off up a hill while the guy was still yelling at us when we passes Scott's team. They were fixing a flat. After cycling for a little longer my head started throbbing worse, my vision was blurry, and I was getting nauseous. I told Don to go ahead and he said he wouldn't leave me. I told him that I signed up as an individual, I didn't fund raise for this event and I sure as hell didn't want to be the one to cause our team not to make cut off. He still didn't want to leave me. I finally got him to agree when I said that I would hook up with Scott's team.

As I was spinning up another hill I felt someone push me. I was getting pushed up the hill by Scott. What a prince! I told him how I was feeling and he asked me when was the last time I ate. I said that I had 300 calories worth of carbo pro and electrolytes in my water bottle and that I had been good about drinking one per hour. He said when did you last eat any solids. I told him I hadn't. He then gave me a gu and told me to eat at the next stop. I didn't think I would be able to keep it down but the gu actually helped to settle my stomach a bit. After limping into the first stop (mile 30) I replenished my water bottles and ate some peanut butter pretzels. Kate asked me if I wanted to get sagged in but I told her no that I wanted to try to make it. I had eaten a bit and felt better. As Scott's team was getting ready to leave he asked me what I ate. After I told him he said that if I was to ride with his team that I would have to eat a banana and 2 bars within 15 minutes. I went and grabbed the bars/banana and started off with his team. I kept up for a bit then my blurred vision started coming back and my headache was back with a vengeance. I told Scott to go and that I would ride on my own. He hesitantly agreed. After riding alone for a few minutes, my team caught up to me and I was able to keep up with them but my tummy was not happy and my head was on fire. I knew that I could not finish the day. As soon as I made the decision to get picked up at my next opportunity, the route passed our hotel and I told my group I was done and to have a great ride. The funny part was that the team went to make a left by the hotel and that mean man with his poor wife missed the turn. He then made a uturn and asked our group if we'd seen any arrows on the ground. There were none. But seriously dude, don't get so focused on the arrows and everything that happens is not always someone elses fault. Of course I thought this I didn't say anything.

I went into the hotel room just in time to throw up. I then took off my Jersey grabbed some pretzels and collapsed on the bed. After a few minutes I got up, called the team manager to let her know that I had bowed out, and took a bath. As I was laying in the tub with a hot towel on my head the cleaning lady knocked on the bathroom door and said she needed to clean the room. Under normal circumstances I would tell her not to clean the room but I wasn't thinking clearly and told her to come back in 30 minutes. Doh! There goes my nap time. I finished up and went out to find a coffee shop for something I could keep down and coffee. I got to the coffee shop and held my head as I ordered. The waitress must have thought I was hung over. After slowly eating a half sandwich and a couple of cups of coffee. I went to the finish line.

As I was there I talked to the race director (to get my shirt) and told her that I was doing the Tucson century next weekend. She said she did that one once but she didn't like it because there were too many people and the ride support was bad. I found that kind of funny because this ride only had 1 water stop in over 60 miles and the SAG vehicle rarely left the parking lot. Had it not been for TNT there would be no road support out there. I kept my comments to myself though.

A few minutes later we got a call that Danny and Don were not going to be completing the century. They were at mile 60. Daphne (Don's wife) said I'll go pick him up since he's my husband. I said that I would because there my team mates. I guess husband trumps team mate :-) so I stayed back to take photos of the finishers. She walked to the car then came back and asked if I wanted to go for a ride. I thought...then who's going to take photos. She must have seen my confusion because she said "No...we need your car. Everyone but Cheryle wants to be sagged" Off we went to get the team. When we approached them they were in the middle of a 4 1/2 mile steep climb in direct sunlight. They looked miserable. Don told us to pick them up at the top but when we realized how much farther he had to go, we came back down to pick them up. Charlotte was the first to approach us. She just looked misearable. I told her to just go take care of herself and I'd take care of her bike. She just went into the car and sat. Then Danny came up. He just looked miserable. He had been cramping and nauseaus for the past hour. He looked the worse of all three of them and he is the strongest and most seasoned cyclist. Don came after. His wife took care of him. He looked bad too.

I then drove everyone back to the hotel. As I was on my way back to the finish Charlotte called me to find out if she could go to the finish with me. I didn't tell her I was pretty much there I just went to pick her up. That's where this picture came from. I'm in the photo...can you see me?

Yup...I'm in the car behind MaryAnne's team.

After getting Charlotte back to the finish, my head started to throb again. I went to get some finish line food so that I could take some more medicine and get more coffee. The food was actually pretty impressive taco's, tamale's, beans, blue chips, taquitos... I then just sat for a while trying to look like I wasn't miserable. After seeing everyone from the Silicon Valley team in, I went back to the hotel with Peter and Charlotte (but not before stopping by the grocery store to get a case of beer for the team). I got back and called "cold beer" down the hall. It was amazing how many heads poked out the door. I was feeling better and making people happy :-)

That night a bunch of us went to the steak house where sideways was filmed and partook of some really good eats. We then went to the celebration party to exchange stories with the team. When I went to bed I don't even remember my head hitting the pillow. I was looking forward to my drive home and an end to a great weekend!


Blogger Tinkerbell said...

Wow Sandy. What a crazy day. The area looks beautiful and I'm sure on a better day it would've been a great ride (hey, I've had one of those bonked out rides in 100 degrees...brutal). That's whack about the lack of rest stops and SAG support, *especially* given the $100 price tag. I've never heard of such a thing. I don't think I've ever been on an organized ride where there wasn't a stop every 10-15 miles, and most of those rides were $25 or so a pop! Good for you for taking care of yourself. Here's to Tucson!!!

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