Oh, alright… so riding a bike disqualifies my qualification for the Boston Marathon — but it still felt awesome to see such a fast time when I hit 26.2 today on the bike. 🙂
Today was a lot of fun! My husband and I are working on creating a USATF certified, Boston-Qualifiying marathon in our town around beautiful Lake Lowell. Wayne ordered the Jones counter for the bike while I was away last week and he hooked it onto my tire this morning, we loaded up our bikes and dropped the kids off at my parents house for the morning and we headed to the course.
It was pretty cool seeing all the details we had to attend to: the temperature on the ground, not in direct sunlight at the start had to be written down, we had to measure out 300 feet very carefully (and place 11 lbs of weight with a pull spring on the steel measuring tape) to make certain even that trail section was very accurate. Then, 8 times we had to ride the bike with the counter along it, making notes of the numbers on the counter after each time. It was cool. It was fun and I felt like a jogging secretary as I tried to keep up with Wayne on the bike, clipboard clutched to my chest.
It was also REALLY COLD! It was about 40 degrees (which wasn’t the bad part) with 20 mph winds with gusts up to 30. That part was awful! I nearly climbed back into the Suburban and refused to come out for the ride. But.. I strapped on my new pink bike helmet and climbed aboard my purple mountain bike (which I scored at the thrift store a few months back for less than $20 and had yet to even test out) and we were on our way (after carefully writing down the starting data and staring our Garmins just for another reference for our own curiosity.)
The Lake Lowell Marathon course is beautiful – scenic farmland, trees, tall prairie-like honey colored grasses waving in the breeze, rolling hills (some steep enough that I had to stand on my bike pedals), cows, sheep, a Shetland pony or two, a llama, several horses, lots of lovely birds near the Deer Flat Wildlife Refuge, which encircles much of the Lake front and today – a frozen Lake, opaque in the sunlight, with the Owyhee mountains looming like continual shades of darker purple in the background. I think I took about a hundred photos out there today. It was magnificent!
Now, the rolling hills are tough. The total elevation gain was only 465 feet, which honestly surprised me since it felt like a lot more. I was feeling pretty eager to get in some exercise when we started since I hadn’t done more than walk around the block since I injured my ankle at the Orcas Isand 50k last Saturday. This was a great outlet for my pent-up energy – but it was a bit tougher than I first imagined.
Being a runner – and a runner only — I sort of expected the bike ride to be quite leisurely. I have run this exact course twice before and knew the first half was a bit challenging due to the hills, but assumed it would feel much easier on a bike. Turns out, that’s not entirely true. 🙂 I have a whole new respect for bikers this evening! Some of those hills were harder to ride than they were to run!
By mile 6.75, it was even getting to the race director (aka – my husband, who was panting along behind me on his bike.) I waited at the top of the longest hill for him to push his bike up to where I was waiting. I offered him a gel and some water and encouraged him to catch his breath, but he told me, “I can’t do this today. I really thought it would be no problem, but it’s harder than I thought.” I told him that was totally ok and I would be fine to ride the course on my own and meet him back at the car. We kissed goodbye and headed our separate ways.
The hills kept coming for another 6 miles or so. It wasn’t until I was past the 12 or 13 mile spot, that I started to experience some real relief from the continual climbs. That’s when I was heading back towards the most gorgeous section of the whole course – meandering through the countryside, drinking in the natural beauty all around me, passing acres of perfect furrows in the fields — awaiting springtime planting, horses galloping in the fields enjoying the sunshine and even stopping to photograph an entire field of lambs and one llama right at the 20 mile spot! I thought of the phrase, “Are you feeling baaaaaad” for that one. 🙂 But, I wasn’t. My injured ankle felt perfect on the ride today (and even the little bit of jogging I had to do during the initial measuring stages.) I felt strong. I felt happy and I was really glad to be out there helping my husband.
Now, around mile 21, I had to go. I was in the middle of nowhere, with no one in sight, so it seemed a perfect spot to slip off the bike and sneak into a ditch for a quick potty break. No sooner had I done my business when I heard the grind of tires on gravel as a car pulled up next to me. I immediately started fearing the worst – expecting some deranged weirdo, seeking out the owner of the purple bike to attack and throw back into the ditch I was already so conveniently located in.
Much to my surprise as I came up yanking up my britches was the sight of a white, Sheriff’s patrol car! Oops! I immediately started to apologize for using nature’s bathroom, when the nice Sherrif started apologizing right back. He was very nice and had just noticed the bike up on the road and assumed someone had stolen it and left it there. I think he felt as bad as I did about catching me by surprise. He told me to have a good day and we headed on our separate ways — me giggling about how strange this day was turning out to be.
This is where I should mention something. Wayne got back to the car, but didn’t have the keys. I had those in my fuel belt. Oops again! Luckily, we didn’t lock the vehicle, so he was able to climb inside, eat some snacks and take a little snooze until he saw me again. I felt so bad when he called me and reminded me that I was holding the keys, though. We’ll plan better next time. 🙂
I finally came across the dam road (and no, I’m not swearing at you) back to the vehicle. I couldn’t believe I’d traveled 26.2 miles, hugging the white line the whole time, on my bike. Since I hadn’t ridden a bike more than 5 miles in 25 years, this was a pretty big accomplishment. It was a lot of fun and I have to say my thrift store bike really did me proud! I’m not even sore. And, lucky for me — I get to go back tomorrow and do it all again (certification round #2!) Looking forward to it, too!!!