One of our running group members is returning to Texas as he is retiring from the army, so I decided to organize a 100 mile bike ride for him. He joined the group about 2 years ago when he was stationed here are started running with us but he was more of a biker than runner. After I got injured and then started swimming people asked me about when I was going to do a triathlon so that’s when I started to organize them and we have done one every week since then. Tom had the most knowledge about biking and had the best bike but over this period pretty much everyone has got a new bike and many have done triathlons. Tom & Jeff actually did the half ironman in Miami in October and training for that they did their longest rides around 60 miles, none of us had ever done a century ride and only a few had also rode 60 miles. I thought organizing this 100 mile virgin bike ride for him was a great way to send him off and be something he would always remember the club by. Many of you may know that I don’t ride a traditional bike, I ride an ElliptiGo which has been measured to be about 30% harder workout than a traditional bike. So for me riding 100 miles was going to be an even tougher challenge, so to prepare I organized a 40 and 60 mile ride to prepare for the day and to help map out the route. The day of the ride came and it was cold and windy, temperatures in the low 40’s and 12 mph winds from the north. We met at my house so I could get a headcount and have sandwiches ready for the half point, with the weather I was concerned that several would not show up. We had new bike shirts printed from the running club so I put on my shorts and new shirt and started getting my bike ready, I never wear layers and often underdress but I’m pretty resistant to cold weather. People started showing up and we had 15 people in total when we left the house, we don’t ride as a tight pack like you see other bike groups drafting behind each other as it’s much more casual than that so trying to keep a good pace is hard as people started falling behind immediately. I rode at the front of the pack as riding the ElliptiGo you’re in an upright position so you have to fight the wind more than others so those riding behind me have more protection. This is the position I maintained for probably 95 miles of our total 102 mile ride. By the first stop 9 miles down it was so cold one of the girls couldn’t talk so her and her husband turned back, the temperature actually fell a little more over the next hour as we rode south along Gulf Blvd down to St Pete, heading to Ft De Soto Park and riding to the tip before turning around a little over 28 miles. That meant we were now heading into the wind so it was harder to ride and felt cooler with the wind coming straight at us. We kept pretty much on my calculated schedule, riding around 15 miles an hour and headed back north to my house. We stopped for lunch which took longer than I expected but it was nice to warm up and have a good chat with everyone. Some folks had to leave but we had others show up so for the second leg heading north we still had 15 riders. As the ride progressed every little climb or overpass challenged me but I continued to push forward from the front as we rode up to Tarpon Springs before turning around to head back home. We made it back coming over the last bridge as the sun was setting so it was a perfect end to the ride. In total we had 9 of the group complete their first century ride so overall was a great achievement. We were meeting up later in a bar to celebrate Tom’s leaving but I think everyone would have preferred to rest but we went out and had a great time.
The following day there was a smaller group for our weekly triathlon with only myself and Richard, who rode 60 miles, that had participated in the previous days ride. We jumped on our bikes and started, I intended to go easy but soon found myself pushing hard heading into the wind. By the end of the 13 mile ride I was tired and certainly not looking forward to the run. We wait for everyone to finish and then set off. Rich doesn’t run so they’re was only 4 of us as we set off, we usually start together at a slower pace and by the 2 mile turnaround point that’s when we usually start to race each other back. Dave was telling Paul this was his chance to beat me, Paul is competitive and would love to beat me but usually finishes about 30 seconds behind, today I knew I would be challenged and that I would probably be beaten as my legs were heavy and I was breathing hard from a cold I’ve been trying to shake for a couple of weeks. I had to try to keep the pace slow on the way back and hope I could keep close to them as if they pulled off I wouldn’t be able to catch them. We made the turn and Jeff started to increase the pace, he isn’t usually one of the faster ones but I think he even knew I was not on my game and they both had a chance of beating me. Paul followed him and I tried to tuck in behind as we ran north into the wind. After about half a mile Paul took the lead and Jeff started to fall back, I knew I had to take over him otherwise too much of a gap would open up. Luckily Paul didn’t push the pace too hard but I was breathing very heavy and now about 12 yards behind forcing myself to stay as close as I could. We were about .7 of a mile from the finish when Paul’s hat flew off, you should have seen his face as he turned around to retrieve it and see me pass him, I wish I had a camera as it said a thousand words expressing how he was going to lose because of his hat. I couldn’t beat him like that so I stopped and told him to get 12 yards in front and I would start again, I knew that probably meant I wouldn’t win but it wasn’t fair and I wouldn’t have felt good about it. I managed to hang with him until a quarter mile out and I had to dig deep now to catch him and then sprint it out but didn’t know where that strength would come from. Somehow I closed the gap and then surged and Paul wasn’t able to dig so I pulled clear and was able to win again. Even those these are fun runs they are very competitive and the last 4 weeks we’ve had mini races with me having to come up with different strategies to beat the different folks that were competing that day. 2 of us then completed the triathlon by going in the cold ocean water, 58 degrees, down from 67 just a couple of weeks ago. It was freezing to get in and my head was cold from the swim but as we got out at the end I called Jeff to come back in and we just floated for a couple of minutes enjoying a cold ice bath. We then headed to Crabby Bills for our usually breakfast and recap on the activities of the weekend. Later that evening I went down to the beach again for 75 minutes of beach yoga. A very busy weekend but my hip didn’t feel bad and I was pleased, I took Monday off but my hip was sore during Tuesday’s run so I took Wednesday off also. Thursday I was in Mississippi on business and managed to get a run in on grass on a golf course in cold 40 degree rain but it felt so good not running on the road. This weekend I have a 5 mile race on Sunday, however there were several times I thought about stepping up to compete in the 50K ultra as I’ve been reading Born To Run. I wish I could but for once I listened to my body and decided to be cautious and set that as a longer goal as the furthest I’ve ran recently is 9 miles. My hip has been aching a little more recently as I’ve started to run more, further and faster and haven’t been able to schedule as much time for my stretching. It’s a fine balance and one I will have to watch carefully over the next several weeks to make sure I don’t reinjure myself.