Saturday, May 19, 2018

Tour de Floyd Metric Century

I've been eyeing the Tour de Floyd metric century ride for a few years. (You know, you hate to rush into that sort of thing, lol.) Well, this was the year!!

It's one county over from us and includes part of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the 62 miles includes 5000+ feet of climbing. In other words, it sounded like a lot of fun!

We pushed off at 8:30 and, despite days of rain preceding this and an iffy forecast, it turned out to be quite a nice morning to ride. We had some misting rain but not much wind and we finished under blue skies.

One of the cool things about these rides is how you group up and pair up with people you don't even know and you look out for one another. There's a connection and common interest without even saying a word!

Also there's a lot of yummy food. This ride is known for the homemade cookies at the Parkway stop - they are amazing. I will be having dreams about the lemon cookies!

I met the ride founder and organizer, Paul Lacoste (below), at a rest stop. I asked him how the ride came to be. He said it was a favorite ride route of his and for probably 10 years he thought about creating a ride to share it with others. Good thing he finally did! This is the 11th year of the Tour de Floyd. The support, food, and route are fantastic! Even though it's a good bit of total elevation gain, there's nothing monstrously long or steep.

I rode much of the ~30 mile Parkway stretch solo because I knew that section (and there was no way to really get lost there - always my fear!!). I grouped up for the back roads as I could, even though the turns were very well marked. The probability of getting lost was really quite low (even for me).

There's one part I could have done without -- At one point I was part of a group and I had just gone to the front on a downhill stretch when a very large dog bolted onto the road in front of me. I just managed to avoid him but he took down the rider behind me. I knew the dog would claim a victim. I heard it before I looked back and saw the rider on the ground. Erring on the side of caution, the cyclist got a ride back with a SAG driver. I saw him post-ride and he was in good spirits, albeit with some road rash.

I really REALLY enjoyed this ride. Cycling never gets old. I appreciate new routes, new scenes, and new people now and again!


Sunday, May 6, 2018

8th go at the Smith Mountain Lake Triathlon

One-on-One Endurance athletes: Me, Kristin, Chris, Coach Jim, Rebecca, Kirk, Kimberley

Yesterday was my 8th time racing the Appalachian Power Smith Mountain Triathlon, and my 9th year going (one year volunteering). When I started I was just a youngster in the 40-44 age group!

I love this race because it's our local season opener, a time to reconnect with friends, and Smith Mountain Lake State Park is so tranquil and beautiful. 

BUT the water is usually so cold in early May. BRRR! Guess what?? This year it was actually OK! The morning air temps were in the mid-60's and the water was near 70. 

My oldest son Spencer came with me to the state park cabin. He was ready for some much needed R&R and sleep after an especially tough week of school with many deadlines.

Spencer is 6" taller than me, not 14" as it appears in this photo. 

Race night I slept horribly. In fact, the week prior I had not been feeling great at all. I'd pulled the plug on two runs and had very low energy. I blame/credit hormones for most things. At my "age group" I"m allowed to do that, lol.

Race morning I did not feel well. Emotionally I felt frazzled. I leaned on friends and pulled myself together. I was thankful for good race conditions and didn't want to squander that. I knew in my head that you don't have to feel good to race well, so at least I should give myself the opportunity to do my best. 

The air horn went off. I made a decision to swim steady and not exhaust myself. I drafted as I could to conserve energy. I was the 11th female out.

photo credit: Christopher Davis

I had the quickest T1 of the women with credit given to the fact that my wetsuit came off fast! SCORE!

On the bike, I have to try to chase down all the fast swimmers. I didn't know it at the time, but I was 3 minutes down from the front runners which I knew would include my speedy friend Rebecca. I found my strength on the bike and let myself enjoy the hunt. I came off the bike in second but with a quicker T2 than the leader, I led off the run with Laurie Grant on my heels. (Transitions matter!!)

Competition on my heels!!
photo credit: Christopher Davis

I didn't know where I stood but I heard encouraging news from spectators and other racers. I felt OK enough on the run but it was one of those efforts where I was afraid to even talk, afraid to break my concentration. Sweat and snot gathered on my face and I didn't even care. At the turnaround I saw Laurie and Kristin not far behind which strengthened my resolve. And scared me a little!!

But I found my way to the finish and was proud of myself for keeping my head in the game. I had pulled myself together and found focus and a mental calmness.

And as a bonus, I finished first (results here). This was my fourth overall win at this race and meant a lot to me. At age 51, with a life that can feel pretty overwhelming at times...yeah, this meant a lot. 

Thanks to Coach Jim McGehee of One-on-One Endurance, master's swim coach Judy Wolfe, sponsor Solar Connexion, and my friends and family :-)

photo credit: Jim McGehee