Sunday, June 25, 2017

Where has the last month gone?

It's always bittersweet when the summer solstice arrives (June 21) because, although it marks the beginning of summer,  the daylight hours very slowly begin to diminish. Late spring and early summer are my absolute favorite time of year - I feel energized, ambitious, and warm! With that, the past month has brought a lot of new experiences (and miles) for the kids and I. This is a major catch-up post!!!

I raced Mountains of Misery for my first time.

photo by Jordan Chang

This 102-mile bike ride/race, held on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, includes 10,000' of elevation gain and ends with a four-mile 12%–16% graded climb to the finish. It's a rite of passage for many area cyclists and I finally decided this was the year to do it. Due to my limited time available for long rides, I said to Coach Jim that I just wanted to be trained up enough to enjoy it and finish happy. 

With just four rides over 50 miles since the beginning of the year (53, 60, 66, and 68 miles),  I was surprised to feel good through mile 60, then through 70, 80, 90, and 98!! The last four miles most definitely lived up to the "Misery" part, but I was pleased to discover that I had the endurance and fitness to do it (not that I ever doubt my coach, he always has me ready)! I finished as the 7th female, in 7:27:51 [full results], which probably doesn't sound that great, but the last three miles took me 36 minutes to climb 1500 feet (yes on my TT bike). That included two stops and some walking, which also sounds pathetic until you've tried it...and tried it after already riding 98 miles. Huge thanks to my friend Kristen. I rode most of it with her - she's a smart pacer and as an RD I followed her lead on fueling and hydrating!

photo by Jennifer McDonald

I raced the Varmint Half Marathon for the first time.

This was also the first time that an AWARD was part of my motivation to race, but this race gives out the neatest homemade wooden sheep with plaques! My friend Tanya has raced this 11 times and I've looked longingly at her growing flock each year! 

The race is held in Burkes Garden Virginia. Called "God's Thumbprint," Burkes Garden is a valley bowl at 3000' elevation that is completely surrounded by a mountain. We run the inner perimeter.

About a week prior I mentioned my interest in the race to Coach Jim. With sprint and Olympic triathlons as my summer focus (and limited training time), I've only done three runs over 10 miles this spring. I didn't bother with a race taper, and had a tough track session two days prior, so I just wanted to race happy, and did. I finished fourth overall, and 1st master's in 1:45:32 [full results]. Another first - I had a lengthy mid-race conversation with another competitor - I was definitely laid back!! 

photo by Bill Huckle

With Tanya, Kristen and Jordan

I sent my kids off to Germany for a two week exchange program and I swam in a new pool.

Spencer and Grant spent time with host families in Quedlinburg, Germany through the German American Partnership Program arranged by their German teacher. I spent considerable time prior getting them packed and organized to travel, reminding them of things over and over (and over), and planning for every conceivable contingency (none of which happened of course.)  As a triathlete, I am naturally gifted at obsessing over all the details!! 

They had an absolutely wonderful time, exceeding any expectations! They flew out of and into an airport that was 155 miles from home so I figured if I was making the drive there and back twice, I should find something to do to break up the 300+ miles and I discovered the Greensboro Aquatic Center - a long course competition pool that's absolutely wonderful.

I did an open water swim in Lake Erie for the first time.

In all the times I've been up to visit my sister (and now mom too) near Cleveland, I'd yet to do an open water swim in Lake Erie. While the kids were out of town, I spent time up there. I found the Cleveland Tri Club on Facebook and connected with a small group for an absolutely lovely swim! As a triathlete (or runner or cyclist), it's easy to find community wherever we go. I'm looking forward to USAT Age Group Nationals in Cleveland in 2018 and 2019.

One of those in the background is me!
photo by Eric Gibb 

with my sister and mom!

I read a book for fun for the first time in over a year.

loved it!

I cleaned up all our gardens, thinned out plants and gave them away, and moved 10 yards of wood chips.

I won the Bath County Triathlon for the first time.

This was my seventh time racing but my first time winning [full results]. It was a smaller field this year as the race was no longer part of our state race series, but I was glad to support this much-loved event as I'd like to see it continue long into the future. Placing is a function of who shows up on race day, so regardless, I feel good about a race when I know I remained focused, smart, tough, and positive, and that was surely the case for this.

photo by Bill Huckle

photo by Bill Huckle

photo by Bill Huckle

photo by Bill Huckle

Moving on...

It's been a great ride but I am DIALING back for the month of July. I'm using it to recharge, slow down, empty out the calendar, and just attend to the smaller things. My next (scheduled) races are not until the Luray International on August 19 and then ITU Worlds in Rotterdam on September 17. I want to be in top form, rested, and ready.

But first...we are off on a college visit road trip - a different sort of endurance challenge!