Thursday, October 12, 2006

My First Century - Leaves of Lincoln 2006

“If you're going through hell, keep going.”
- Winston Churchill

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve posted. I turned 30 last Friday, and J.T. and the boys took me out to eat and also surprised me with a large gift certificate to the bike shop where I’ve been wanting to purchase a new MOUNTAIN BIKE!!!!! Briar also made me the sweetest card ever, and that would have been plenty. I am not disappointed at all to turn 30. I love it, as a matter of fact. I've been waiting to turn 30 for like, 30 years!!!! But I'll post more on that later.

My plans were to drive to Fayetteville(about an hour away) early the next morning and do the 62 mile route of the Leaves of Lincoln Century. Saying that I was only going to do the 62 mile route was a combination of fear from crashing the week before, fear that I had not put in enough long rides to get me through anything more than a metric, fear that I would not be able to tackle the hills in the later miles, and of course, fear of the unknown –

~I have never ridden more than 60 miles before~

~I am going all alone, will I see anyone I know? Meet anyone?~

~How big are these hills going to be?~

So basically, I was being a big scaredy cat. I was reverting back to that old Lana, the one who stays in her comfort zone, and inches out very slowly and carefully. The old Lana, who is terrified of failure and doesn’t try anything if she’s not sure she can handle it. The old Lana, who must appear as though she has it all together, at all costs. The “Delta Crash” caused her to surface, and she started taking charge.

I got up, got dressed and took off to Fayetteville around 5:50 a.m. I had already signed up for the 62 mile route, not the 100 mile route, so “just incase” I asked the volunteer at check in if it was a problem if I decided to do the 100 instead of the 62. She said “No, not at all”, and gave me a sticker to put on the back of my helmet for all those who were doing the full century. I was nervous, just like I always am before an event I’m not familiar with, and quickly found the restrooms. With my schwag bag in hand, I went back to my car to get my tires pumped up and ready. I saw Tom in the parking lot, a guy I ride with some at work. It was still pretty cool, so I decided to wear my bright yellow Pearl Izumi jacket over my sleeveless Biker Chick jersey, which was over a long sleeve black jersey. I looked around and most everyone else had on about the same amount of layers. I rode down to the starting line, chatted with a few people I didn’t know, and then we were off. I was cautious, but felt pretty good during the first few miles. I didn’t get close to anyone, though. Around mile 9 I saw that the elevation was starting go up a little, but didn’t think too much of it until I passed a guy and he look at me and then looked ahead and said “Here we go!” I thought, “hmmm…this must be one of the hard climbs.” Up ahead the road was marked saying “500 meters left!!” As it turns out, it was the infamous “Crystal Ridge” talked about on the website. It was very steep, and at the very beginning of the steep part, people were dropping like flies…weaving, stopping and pushing, etc. I was doing fine, but cursing the 11-23 rear cog on my tri bike…it got steeper and steeper, I looked ahead and it was a sharp left turn, then the final steep part. At that point, someone ahead of me weaved over in front of me and caused me to lose the little momentum I had, and I quickly unclipped to keep from falling. I was mad that I didn’t make it to the top, but not too disappointed as I saw all the other people around me with triple chain rings and nice big gears on road bikes who had been pushing way before I did. I pushed to the top, got back on and rode until I reached the first rest stop at mile 13.

There was a ton of people at the first rest stop; I ate a package of Fig Newtons (mmmmm! I love Fig Newtons!!), stood around a while, and then took off with a group who was leaving. This was a fun little stretch, as there were about 8 or 10 bikes all in a line, drafting off each other. I didn’t really notice, but evidently there was a pretty significant headwind most of the day. There was another challenging climb before the next rest stop, but I made it with no problem. I came upon the next rest stop at mile 25. I thought to myself that I really didn’t need to stop, but I pulled in anyways, since everyone else was, and just stretched out my legs for a minute. I soon saw a man and woman ride by the rest stop and keep going, so I took off to ride with them. I stayed with them for about the next 10 miles as I lusted over her pretty blue Cervelo tri bike. And I wondered what kind of gears she had on that thing, and if she made it up Crystal Ridge. I saw her at the mile 40 rest stop again, and found out she had a 12-27 on the back but still didn’t make it up.

I stayed too long at the mile 40 rest stop, probably…just sitting around knowing I had to make a decision about whether I was going to do 62 or 100 miles. Around mile 30 I had really gotten comfortable back in the saddle and had been singing the Rodney Atkins song that certainly was inspired by the Winston Churchill quote above:

“…If you're going through hell

Keep on going, Don't slow down…
If you're scared, don't show it
You might get out
Before the devil even knows you're there…”
And I thought of myself riding through hell, scared and embarrassed from last weekend’s crash, and fighting with the Old Lana who wants to keep me in my comfort zone.  So I kept going, didn’t slow down, I was scared but didn’t show it, and I rode right out of it.  It was at that point that I had pretty much decided that I would be doing the 100.  I figured that this day needed to be monumental.  I had just turned 30, I was riding with a monkey, or should I say, “Old Lana”, on my back, and today did not need to be a day of settling for less.  So I got up from the sidewalk, stretched my legs, picked up my bike and took off saying silently to myself “I’m going 100.”    

I rode along by myself paying close attention to the route markings – I did NOT want to get lost – and became excited about being bold, strong, and brave. I rode with a pack of riders who really seemed to know what they were doing, and rode straight through the turnoff, staying on the 100 mile route – no turning back now! I lost the pack on one of the hills, and then I came upon a guys from Scottsboro, AL(the town right next to where my dad grew up). He was a really nice guy, and hadn’t been cycling long, so I felt comfortable riding with him. We chatted about tri’s and every thing else under the sun, and then before I knew it, I was at the 62 mile rest stop.

This rest stop was themed “Gilligan’s Island” and the people were SO nice. On a side note – every rest stop at this thing was incredible. Any kind of food, drink or energy bar or gel you could ask for. I had taken off my jacket a long time ago, and the people at this rest stop really liked my Biker Chick jersey. I met the rest of Scottsboro Guy’s friends here, and they gave him a hard time about my getting to the top of the recent hill before he did. They were really nice, so I took off with them when they were leaving the rest stop. I rode about 10 miles with them when a couple of them broke away a bit. Things started to get a little tough around mile 70. I would think I had surely gone several miles, but I would check my computer to find it had barely been one. Ha! But I kept spinning and finally made it to the mile 83 rest stop – the last one before the finish. As I pulled in, everybody cheered for me. I filled up my bottles and started talking to some guys from Huntsville, AL. They knew my friend Leslie, and we talked about all the triathlon events around the area. They invited me to ride in with them, saying they were going to take it easy, so I accepted. As we took off I remembered that this was the pack from earlier “who really seemed to know what they were doing”, so I wondered if I’d be able to stay with them.

They kept my mind off of my aching shoulders and my numb left hand quite well. They were all upbeat and funny, cracking jokes, just cruising along. And one of the guys was wearing a blue jersey with rainbow strips on it, which meant he was the MASTERS WORLD TIME TRIAL CHAMPION – Mike Olheiser! They explained that to me while we were riding, but I don’t it really sunk in until I got home. During the last 10 miles, all I could think of was:

“Surely we’re almost there…”

(checking the “Dist” on my bike computer)

“Damn. We’ve only been a half mile since the last time I checked. I thought surely it had been 2 miles.”

(repeat that over and over)

But we finally made it in, and I was ecstatic to see the Fayetteville town square. As we rolled through the finish, I smelled the BBQ that was being cooked for us, and I was so excited about it that I got off my bike and got a plate right then – before changing my clothes or taking my bike back to the car or anything!!! Then I realized I had a plate full of food AND a bike to get back to my car which was 2 blocks away. I had to hurry home to celebrate my 30th birthday with some friends…but more on that later. Before checking my bike computer, I was thinking that the ride took me almost 6 hours...but then I went back and checked to find that I was way overestimating myself - it took 7 hours!!!

I'll end this post with another Churchill quote:

“Mountaintops inspire leaders but valleys mature them.”

- Winston Churchill


Michele said...

I am so proud of you, what an accomplishment and a great 30th birthday present to yourself! Way to go.

Funny but as soon as I read the first quote that Rodney Atkins song came to mind, then you quoted it too. Great minds…

Cliff said...

Woohooo..u went long.

Be-lated happy b-day.

It ain't as bad as u think huh? Long is fun.

I like the last quote.

TriSaraTops said...

The Churchill quote was on a wet, smeared sign on the IM course. SO TRUE, so true!

Congrats on going long! Will I be seein' you in IMFL in 08? :) AWESOME job on what sounds like a very challenging century! You never forget your first one...I did mine on a hot as hell and hilly course--and when it was all done it's such a rush!

LOVE the biker chick jersey, too! Way to ring in the new decade! You ROCK!

rice said...

That’s one serious ride..

I’m glad you love 30.. I started to send my mom flowers every year on my birthday when I turned 30..



jkrunning--Just Keep Running said...

I love the quotes. I think I'll send the second one to my hubby. I'm glad you toughed it out and rode the 100, you must be so proud!!

Happy Birthday-- You handled 30 much better than I did.

Phil said...

Great to see that you finally threw the "old Lana" off your back. Great century ride and a great write up.

Isn't it amazing how, as we get older, we push ourselves harder.

Happy Birthday

John said...

What an incredible feeling it is to smash through a barrier or limitation that you've - for whatever reason - placed on yourself, and know that you really did have it in you.


Welcome to your 30s - the fun has just begun!

Flatman said...

sweet ride...way to go! I am proud of you!

Lance Notstrong said...

Awesome ride Lana, your first Century IS a milestone!!!

I've learned to never look at my computer on really long rides for fear of thinking I have 5 miles left and the route really endup being 103 miles :-)