I ended up settling in at a pace that was much faster than I had planned. A sixty mile ride earlier in the day made me skeptical about how much of a pace I could handle. Initially, I thought to back off but I figured it was such a short race that it might be okay to roll on a bit. I knew from the interval work that I had been doing that if I needed two a minute or two of slower jogging would snap me back if I started to blow up. Interestingly, I never needed it. I just locked into the feeling of fast that I have gotten to know over the last five weeks and never let go. I built my pace towards the end up to, according to the watch, a 6:22 (6:22? ARE YOU F***ING KIDDING ME? Ducks just don't move that fast... but that wasn't even the max pace for the race.) as I crossed the line. Or should I say right before I crossed the line...
As I was locked in on the finish, I saw my line home. I was doing this build that was smooth and powerful AND AWESOME to experience. Right then, the guys in front of me abruptly slowed to a near walk and clasped hands to cross the line as a slow moving human wall!! I damn near face planted across the line!
I started my watch a few seconds early and stopped it a few seconds late but the distance it recorded was 3.21 miles. I believe it, given the amount of zigzagging I had to do. The chip time was a shocking 5:12 better than my previous 5K PR and nearly 10 mins better than my time in this race two years ago. Last year I couldn't even run because I had just been injured.
Just like when I dropped out of the Athena class, I disappeared below that 30min mark with minutes to spare. Just like that, another barrier gone; another milestone passed.
That night, I struggled for hours with pretty strong stomach cramps. It meant that I wasn't able to sleep until around 5 am, so I had to rearrange my workouts, putting the group ride before the run intervals.
|Bluegrass Tri Chick and The Duck|
The next day, I went for a ride with a group of people that are involved with Team In Training locally. I was invited to the ride by fellow blogger, Bluegrass Tri Chick. This was the most enjoyable group I have ever ridden alongside. The vibe was warm, welcoming, and lighthearted, yet once the wheels started rolling, plenty businesslike. In addition to a great group of women on tri bikes, there were two roadies (men, but we can forgive them that) who made sure the pace stayed lively. I was a little worried when they ushered me to the front to ride with the roadies. It felt a bit like duck hunting.. you know, send up the duck and take aim! They assured me that they only had paintball guns. Fortunately, I managed to not embarrass myself, I hope.
|The Duck and her new hero!|
Also in attendance was their Team In Training coach, Susan Bradley Cox, who is an undeniable legend in her own time. Sometimes in life you meet people who are so powerful in themselves that they provide a homing beacon for your goals. In my experience, these people are rarely in your life for long. They are there to provide a snapshot, something to focus on as you move towards the personal goals you have set, towards your development into a better human being. I feel like I met one of those people in Susan. I cannot describe in words how positive her energy was... and I don't normally think about people's energy... but she simply radiated warmth, kindness, and confidence. I immediately liked her and immediately realized that I will strive towards that same quality. She was totally inclusive and never once left me feeling like an observer, even though I tend to put myself in that position.
|Bluegrass Tri Chick and the group|
The rest of the group also treated me with the same kindness. It was beautiful, challenging, enjoyable ride on a beautiful day with great people. It doesn't get any better and I responded by being willing to push my body which was beginning to feel the effects of the ride, race, and GI issues of the previous day.
Later that night, I went out and did my run intervals. I was expecting to be totally waxed but surprised myself. Once I became willing to just experience the run for what it was, not what I assumed it would be, it went really well. The intervals ticked off easily and the remaining mileage was totally attainable. I finished the workout strong and acutely aware of how much my attitude contributed to the success in that workout and in the race. There's a lesson here...
In all, a good weekend that will stay with me well into the future.
|Kinda feelin' like I need a throne now!|