Sunday, September 11, 2011

Mission Accomplished! - My first bike race

Today has been a great day so far!  This morning was my 15k bike race, which was my first organized bike event ever.  I only made the decision to participate in the race about 3 weeks ago.  My very short training plan was to just ride my bike every weekend (sat or sunday) leading up to the event.  I kept striving to complete more than the distance of the course with each training session.

For this first time, I wasn't as concerned about my time. I just wanted to give it my best shot.  Going into this event, my goals were very simple:
1) to just feel comfortable on my bike, maneuvering it, shifting gears, etc
2) to simply finish the race
3) not finish last

That being said, I was so nervous leading up to today.  I even considered not doing the event all together.  All sorts of things were going through my mind last night, such as:
  • I should have tried the course so I would know what to expect.
  • I should have practiced more hills.
  • What if I have to get off my bike on a hill and walk it up?
  • I've only been training for the past 3 weekends.  What if that wasn't enough?
  • What if it's windy like it was the last time I rode? I don't do well with wind resistance.
  • What if I run out of energy?
  • I've never done the entire 9 miles straight....how many times will i have to stop?
  • What if my cycle starts?
  • blah blah blah blah...
However, I somewhat reluctantly woke up bright and early, had a nice breakfast per my training eating plan, packed up my car, and made my way over to the University of Texas at Dallas.  The weather was just fantastic!  It was kind of cool as I packed up my car, but once the race started, we were comfortably in the 80's without alot of headwind, and the sun was shining but not blazing hot. 

There were so many participants at the venue.  I was very happy to have received my cycling jersey, as they weren't going to be given to us until race day.  Actually, when I checked in, I learned that some of the jerseys had been delivered to the wrong location and thus weren't available on race day.  My jersey of course was in that batch. However, a few of our team riders didn't show up, so I was able to wear one of theirs. The jerseys were gorgeous, and it really made me feel like I was part of the team.  Keep in mind that this was a company event, and all anyone who wanted to participate did was sign up. Today was the first day meeting any of the other riders and getting the jerseys. So, seeing the rest of the team made me realize that I wasn't in it alone.  I had major butterflies in my stomach and just began to get excited as we were waiting to line up to start the race.  As a team, only 4 of our riders would qualify for our overall team time. The rest of the us would earn our team participation points as long as we completed the race. At that point, all of the pressure was off.  I was still a bit fearful of the unknown course, so I asked some of the riders who had participated in previous years. I was informed that there were 2 hills on the course and cautioned not to start off too fast.  Riders who were going to ride for participation points only were instructed to start in the last heap, which was fine by me. The overall group taking off together was pretty large (about 75 riders).  My co-workers and I (6 of us) grouped together and started the pack off. That was a great feeling. I didn't feel as nervous since I didn't see people in front of me. I knew there were alot of people back there behind me, but I didn't want to take a peek and get intimidated.  Anyway, the announcer said "make you way up to the starting line.."  and then "this heap will take off in 45 seconds...30 seconds...15 seconds... and GOOO!!!"

I took off at a strong pace, but not too aggressive. I actually kept pace with one of my co-workers for the first mile or so. She and I had a chance to get to know each other, and we seemed to be able to pace each other pretty well.  I think that she noticed that I could probably handle more, and she said "If you need to ride ahead of me, go for it."  After she made that comment, we hit the first "hill" and had to part ways.  I wanted to ride a bit more aggressively, especially up the "hill" to get it over with.  I put in my earbuds and begin my journey.  I felt great because the "hill" that I'd been so anxious about was no big deal.  It was a gradual incline, but I was able to stay seated the entire time and maintained a good pace. I saw someone get off and walk their bike up. I was envisioning a super steep hill, and I was worked up about nothing.  The course was a good mix of flats and gradual inclines.  I felt great up to mile 6.  Then, the last "hill" presented itself, which was steeper than the first but I still conquerored it like a champion.  However, when I got to the top, I started to feel my energy plummet a bit.  I didn't wear my camel back today, and I had my water bottle in a hip pack. So, I felt very clumsy when I would reach for my water and fumble to put it back. Not wearing my camelback was the only mis-step of the day.  Anyway, when I got to the top of the "hill", I decided to coast a bit to catch my breath and get my 2nd wind.  That was a good move because I was able to raise my gears and really get an aggressive cadence for the last 2.5 miles. At one point I even clocked 92 RPM on my bike computer, which was fantastic.  I was almost brought to tears when I saw the "University of Texas at Dallas" sign because I knew that the finish line was right around the corner at that point.  I coasted in a bit because I wanted the photogs to get some good 'action shots' of me, and I took my time crossing the finish line because one of our company reps was there taking pictures of each one of our employees as we crossed.  It was such a wonderful feeling! I can't wait for the next race!

Now that it's all over, I am so glad that I did not back out of my commitment!! I am very proud of myself for going through with it. It was alot of fun, and I surprised myself along the way.  During my training, I often made stops to grab water, catch my breath, etc.  Today, I kept moving for the entire race - no stopping.  When I crossed the finish line, my HRM clocked in about 35 minutes.  I probably could have done it in 32 minutes if I hadn't been talking and leisurely riding with my co-worker initially. However, that built my confidence and then the competitor came out.  Regardless, completing the course in 35ish minutes was the most suprising accomplishment of all. During my few practice rides, I rode 11.5 miles (75 mins), 13.5 miles (50 mins), 10.2 miles (45 mins), and 4.2 miles (25 mins - very windy day). The last time I was on my bike was on Labor Day.  I didn't ride yesterday because I wanted to be fresh.  I am great at indoor cycling/spinning, but I am so happy to have completed an outdoor course.  I accomplished ALL of the goals that I set forward for myself.

Next weekend will be the 5K, which will be yet another challenge.  At least it won't be my first 5K. However, I am de-conditioned for running (and haven't really trained for the event at all), so my plan will be to jog/walk as best I can.  I only put in 2 miles of track work last weekend, and it was ugly - LOL.  I'll post back to let you know how next Sunday goes.  This was a long post, but I want to remember every moment of today and how it made me feel :-)

1 comment:

Tytbody said...

You are amazing. What is with us? do you realize I also just bought a bike. I love riding. Okay. Back to read about your race. Dang girl:) Love it.