The drive from Davidson to Chattanooga early Friday morning went by quickly and we arrived close to 1:00. We found a local spot for lunch and then made our way to the meeting spot for our first bike ride. The sun was shining, it wasn't too warm, maybe even a little chill in the air and the wind was howling. It was a beautiful afternoon for a ride, but I felt like we had a headwind the entire ride. We completed 1 loop, 60 miles then checked into our hotel. As we were unloading the car the sun was setting and the temperature was definitely dropping. Friday evening we had dinner with the TriCoachGeorgia group and it was really great to catch up with them after not seeing them since Augusta last year.
We woke up early for breakfast. I ran to the car briefly to grab a few things and quickly realized that it was going to be a very very chilly morning for a 2.4 mile open water swim. Then the rain started moving in and it got colder. No big deal swimming in the rain, but the standing around before and after was quite cold. Thank goodness for the wetsuit wave because otherwise I can guarantee the only way I would've been in the water is if someone picked me up and threw me in. My longest open water swim was 1.2 miles with a fast current in Augusta last September, so the thought of 2.4 going with and against the current was a little daunting. I decided I would take the swim very easy, no need to race and just see how I felt.
The water actually felt great considering it was at least 15 degrees warmer than the air temperature. We started against the current and it really didn't seem that noticeable, although I'm sure I wasn't moving too quickly. I found a good rhythm and just swam my own race. I had 2 instances where I got water in each eye which forced me to stop 2 different times to adjust my goggles. I made a point to stop while I was with the current so that at a minimum I wasn't losing ground. I ended up swimming 1:10:40, 1:41 pace and good enough for 1st in my age group and 4th overall female for the wetsuit wave. The distance felt fine and confirmed that all of my swimming this winter has paid off.
After sticking around for the awards we were a little late getting back to the hotel for the run course preview. Timing was not great as we had not eaten lunch, just a few snacks, and we were heading out for a 13 mile run....in the rain. We missed the main group and took off on our own attempting to navigate the course. The plan was for the course to be chalked...but that doesn't work too well in the rain! Tara did an awesome job with our directions. I was so preoccupied with hunger that I was zero help navigating. We may not have run the exact course, but one way or the other I think we saw most of the course. Most importantly we saw the hills that have been talked about. This run course is no joke. It is going to do some serious damage and there will be some walking I'm sure of it. All I can do is hope that if I pace my bike appropriately I'll be able to run as much as possible.
As we went to bed Saturday night the forecast for Sunday morning was showing 100% rain for the entire morning.
Sunday morning I woke up and immediately looked out the window. It wasn't just raining, it was pouring. All morning there was chatter amongst the group about not riding. It looked like there might be a possible break in the rain so I told Tara that we should get dressed, go to the meeting spot and make a decision there. I knew if we drove home only to find out later that it didn't rain that we'd be really upset. From 8am-9am our group gathered to prepare for the ride. There was not a single drop of rain during this hour, so we decided we'd ride. The original plan was 2 loops, 112 miles. As we rolled out of the parking lot the rain drops started. I sincerely thought the rain would stop any minute, I really did. But apparently we were riding directly into the storm and not only did it continue to rain, it rain harder and harder the longer we were riding. A little over an hour into the ride we stopped at a gas station for a quick bio-break. There's nothing like taking off soaking wet clothes and then putting them back on when you're absolutely freezing and then getting on your bike to become even colder riding into the wind. Bone chilling cold!! I worried the entire ride that Tara was furious with me for convincing her to ride.
It didn't take long to realize that we would not ride 112 miles, but that surviving 60 miles would be sufficient. My Augusta buddy Candace was my lifesaver. We were soaking wet and freezing, but she made me laugh and we made the best of it. I honestly think she would've gone for another lap if I'd been game for it.
The weekend did not turn out as planned, but the TriCoachGeorgia group planned an awesome "free" training camp for us. I know a lot of work went into planning the weekend and I am so thankful for the experience they provided us.
I've struggled to write this recap of the weekend mostly because I've spent the better part of the last week reflecting. I struggle with confidence on my bike. I was really disappointed that I did not have the opportunity to complete the 112 mile ride and gain the confidence that I would be able to do it. I had a really good week of training last week and slowly got over my disappointment. I am well aware that missing one workout means absolutely nothing, but I wanted to ride "that course" on "that day" and come home knowing what it would feel like. I finally realized that my training plan is working for me. I have been extremely consistent with my workouts since January and I have the fitness to go at it consistently day after day. I am where I need to be right now and it's only going to continue to get better.
In the last week I've made a few small changes to my approach in cycling which will hopefully pay off. More importantly, the biggest change I will make moving forward is to be confident in my abilities. I've only been riding seriously for a little over a year. Cycling takes time to master. When I hear of friends struggling with open water swimming I tell them to be more confident. It's time for me to take my own advice.
There's talk of some friends planning another training weekend in Chattanooga this summer and I'm not ruling out the possibility of another shot at riding the full bike course. However, if there's rain in the forecast....I'm staying home!! And Tara and I are already planning our next road trip to a relaxing beach location, not a training weekend. Fun!!
Eagleman 70.3 Countdown....10 days away!! Good luck to everyone racing Raleigh 70.3 this weekend!!