This morning I rode with a new group, new people and new routes. This is BIG for me because I am a creature of habit. I love riding with people I know and on the same routes. Probably my type-A personality and my fear of change but unless my sidekick/comfort blanket(Karel) is with me to ease my worries I will get super excited for new routes and groups but then make an excuse to not go for weeks! Well, no excuses this morning. I planned on going to the beach and meeting up with my friend Kellie this morning and riding 60 miles with a group of triathletes and running 3 miles with Kellie and her friend Joy. Of course, I was a little extra motivated to train at the beach because I have not been to the ocean in Jax since we moved and I really wanted to go in the water and play. This morning started at 5:15am when I woke up, started the coffee and got dressed. I packed my bag, filled up my bottles and put my bike in my car on friday night. I prepared my 1/4 cup oatmeal, raisins and a little banana for the car, snacked on 1/2 wasa cracker w/ PB and filled up my coffee cup and water bottle. I had a 25 min. drive to the beach and I didn't feel that nervous for the ride. Karel has a great way of telling me that I am a strong triathlete but sometimes I doubt my potential when I am with other people. Especially when those people are much faster than me at certain disciplines. Joy, Kellie and I rode our bikes to meet up with Shawn (karel's coach) and another guy. During the next 10-miles, 8-10 more people joined on. The ride was 60 miles and a few of us turned around at the Hess gas station at mile 32. Shawn is training for Kona and a few others are training for IMFL. For those doing Ironman's, the ride was 100+ miles and that was not for me. Actually, everyone there was training for an upcoming half or full IM....except for me. I was just out there enjoying what I love to do and well, I just have that IM buzz. I noticed that the pace was pretty fast for the rides and even with the headwind for our 20 mile stretch along A1A (Gotta love the ocean view for 40 miles!) it was a tough ride for my legs. Heart rate was ok but I was pretty tired from pedaling continuously for so long. I guess that's one of the downsides of flat Florida...you have to keep pedaling to keep your pace. There are no downhills. It was pretty much Kellie, a few other guys and myself in the front of the group while Shawn pedaled according to this powermeter. Very smart of him since we were only doing 60 miles and the other guys had a few more hours in the saddle. When we headed back we had the wind at our back and a super strong guy was pulling us back. No joke, we averaged 25 mph for 18 miles and I had no more gears to give me any more power. My cadence was so fast and I thought the stretch back was much harder on the way out. Well, we made it back all in one piece and it was a great fast ride. I really enjoyed myself and I felt great. I went through my two bottles of Melon Heed (my new FAV flavor!) + 1 scoop base aminos and refilled one bottle at the gas station to give me around 2 1/2 bottles for the whole ride. No energy gels were needed and my heart felt good even though the ride was hard for my legs. After we swapped our cycling shoes for running shoes and visors we headed out on the street along the water. I was feeling really good for the run and just happy to be out with the girls (kellie and Joy). Now, here is where it got interesting. Joy and kellie are amazing runners. Both are fast and fierce on the run. As for me, well, I can run aerobically for a long time but my speed is just not there since my leg injury pre-kona. I have been working really hard on my running but it is a slow process to come back from such a horrible injury. The pace was fast right from the start of our run. It was 9:40am and it was hot. Just to say how fast it was, our first mile was a 7 min/mile. Ok, I don't even do that in a sprint triathlon! My legs don't know that speed off the bike and if anything, I'm just doing this workout for fun! This run became not-so-fun when I asked Kellie if we could slow down the pace. Ouch-that hurt my ego so much to say that but I just couldn't keep up. Kellie said no prob since she just did IMKY and needed to stay in her zone 2. Well, at 17 min it all turned ugly. I literally couldn't catch my breath and it was as though I had an asthma attack. I know I didn't because i don't have asthma and I was fine in a few seconds but I just couldn't catch my breath and I had to stop and walk. Bummer. Kellie continued on for the last mile and I walked. Walking during a training session is something I can say I have never done before. Why, because I always train at my own pace and when it is tough I slow down. It was just a few minutes of walking until I was 100% fine to run again...at my own pace. I felt like I had enough energy to keep running for another hour, the legs felt good and I was enjoying getting a tan as I was running out by the ocean. Karel tells me that training with other people will make me stronger. I agree. My cycling improved so much when I started riding with him (being able to draft properly) and riding with groups on my road bike. But when I can only run 1.5 miles out of a 3 mile run and then have to walk, is that really making me stronger? If anything, I probably ruined a 3 mile run off a great bike because I started out too fast and my body was compromised. See, with cycling you can coast, get dropped or just draft. As for running, if you run too fast you are done. It is very hard for the normal age-grouper to just "tough it out" when you are way out of your league and out of your zone. Taking a look at the group ride, the only person who was staying true to his comfort zone was Shawn. The only person going to kona was well, in the middle of the pack, not drafting and keeping his cadence and power steady. Now, that is smart. As for me, I was caught in the moment. Here I am thinking in my head "I went 11 hours in an Ironman, I have beaten both these girls in triathlons, how can I possibly do IMKY when I can't even run 1.5 miles in the heat here in FL after a 60 mile ride". Now, I'm sure these thoughts sound pretty arrogant but I think we all think about our strengths during times of weakness. The weakness however came because I was in the moment of training with others and not thinking about what my body was physically capable of doing. I feel fine now and after a dip in the ocean I was really happy I made the drive to Jacksonville beach to train with a new group of people that I plan on training with many more times in the near future. When it comes to racing it is really important to listen to your body. If there is wind, slow down your pace. There will probably be tailwind and you can pick up the pace. If you pace on the run is slow for a few miles, maybe you can conserve your glycogen stores and average a faster pace than what you had intended to run. As you know, with a triathlon there are three sports and depending on the distance there is a lot of ground to cover. The race isn't over until you cross the finish line. As far as training, I want to train with people faster than me. But I must recognize that everyone trains differently during the week and we all progress at different paces depending on our heart rate. It is likewise important that I don't just train in the moment or else I will never find myself getting any stronger. I guess I learned my lesson that I have a long way to go until IMKY and it isn't going to be an easy ride. But I will continue to stay positive and challenge myself whenever possible. I guess I am ready to get out of my comfort zone.