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A Humbling 56 Miles

Posted May 11 2013 5:58pm

So, I went on the ride .

I laid in bed this morning at 4:30 staring at the weather forecast for Middlebury, CT; inconveniently located two hours away from me. (Dang it, WHO put Middlebury there?!) told me it was NOT raining. I analyzed the pattern of “rain percentage”. 60% at 6AM, 50% at 7AM…so, it was going down, right? Perfect. I knew I would hate myself and would probably have to ride alone tomorrow if I didn’t go on the preview ride today, so off I went, coffee, bagel, and anxiety in hand.

The whole car ride I was freaking out. OMG it’s drizzling. AHHH stop raining. IT STOPPED, YES. Is that a raindrop? STOP. I felt like Jim Carey from Dumb and Dumber with the weather. 60% chance of rain…SO YOU’RE TELLING ME THERE’S A CHANCE it won’t rain?


I made to Connecticut with no downpours to report. As soon as I arrived, I noticed there were a lot of people with really nice tri bikes. I don’t like this. It scares me. Cervelos scare me. They are so intense. But hey, anyone can buy a nice bike right? It’s the engine that matters. (YOUR HEART, PEOPLE. THE ENGINE IS YOUR DETERMINATION! See how clever I am?) After a quick run-down of the morning, about 25 of us brave souls headed out for a 56-mile jaunt through the Connecticut countryside.

My view upon arrival. Creepily taking pictures.

Let me start by saying…remember when I thought that measly 2,800ish elevation gain ride was sooo tough? That was hysterical.

This was so hard.

I think it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Harder than any race I’ve run…harder than both of my marathons. I can’t even blame it on the weather…it was fine, minus some drizzling. Around mile 52 (of 56) I think I hit my breaking point. I think I said out loud, “why is everything so hard right now!” I’m pretty sure I whimpered. I had to keep reminding myself that it would end…eventually. Middlebury kicked my butt. This is humbling.

The majority of the course was so beautiful. Reminded me of home in Iowa!

The majority of the course was so beautiful, though. Reminded me of home in Iowa!

What made it worse was that I was literally the last person. The LAST person. This was extremely discouraging from the beginning, which I think set the tone and made this more of a mental challenge. I sort-of stayed with one lady the entire time, but I’m fairly certain she could have left me in the dust if she wanted to. At the beginning of the ride I was already saying out loud, “why do I suck so bad?!” and she said “Don’t worry. Unless this pays the mortgage, don’t sweat it. Just have fun.” She continuously reminded me to have fun and gave me tips on the gears to use, which was nice. (News flash: shifting into the second ring helps you fly on the downhills!) She said “people like you and me really need to make up time on the downhills; shift into the higher gear and pedal, it will help!” It sure did. Thanks, lady.

I’m pretty sure “people like you and me” meant “people who suck at hills”. So it looks like I’m in that category now.

Side note: there were cows in a forest somewhere along this route. WHAT is that about?! I have never seen that. A FOREST.

Side note: there were cows in a forest somewhere along this route. WHAT is that about?! I have never seen that. A FOREST.

Here are the stats:

No significant flats. Nada.

Screen Shot 2013-05-11 at 4.35.12 PM

GAH! They robbed me of my 56 miles.

At least I’m getting braver on the downhills…35 mph!

I am so, so slow and so, so embarrassed. (Funny, I think I’ve posted about this before…) Sadly that’s the overwhelming feeling I have right now. (Why the negativity, Kara?! Stop that!) But I finished this seemingly never-ending ride and that’s also something to be proud of.  I kept reminding myself of the people I’m doing this for ; the people who can’t be out there and who I’m sure would love to be. Let’s focus on the positives, shall we? I’m still a beginner and I can’t forget that; I have a lot of hard work up ahead but I’m ready for the challenge!

I’m still so glad I went. Having previewed the course will definitely help me on raceday; knowing what to expect and how to frame the course in my head (does that make sense?) is always beneficial for me.

I'm coming back for you, Quassy.

I’m coming back for you, Quassy.

I chased the bike ride with a 20 minute run, which actually felt okay. The hills felt much harder than the flats and my heart rate really jumped on the uphills, but I guess that’s to be expected. (I really need to look into the heart rate zones I should be at! Suggestions for links/books welcome!)

My glutes hurt a bit, but my quads and hamstrings feel fine. I’m wondering what specifically I need to work on to get better at hills. Endurance? Strength? Everything? Is it possible that because I haven’t been running as much due to this injury that I’m just out of shape? All I know is that I NEED to improve. There are no excuses.

Here’s the big reason I’m worried…the cutoff times. I’m positive I could finish this race without cutoffs, but with them, I’m nervous. I apprehensively looked them up when I got home:

Screen Shot 2013-05-11 at 4.41.32 PM

Let’s hope I’m at least in an earlier swim wave. What have I gotten myself into?!

Send motivational stories, please! Tell me about that time you rode 56 miles in 4 and a half hours and then won an Ironman or something. K thanks!

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