Monday, June 10, 2013

MS Escape to the Lake: Day One

Most likely this will be long and boring.  Way to grab my readers and keep them reading eh?  Haha.  Ok I'll try to keep it shortish and less boring.  Here goes.   Ok scratch that... I don't think I can manage to make it short.  

George and I, along with 1200 other riders including my good friend Tracey and her husband Nate, rode in the MS Escape to the Lake (aka MS150).  There is a 100 mile option or 82 mile option on day one and the second day is 64 miles.  So MS150, give or take a few.  

We rode with the awesome Pella Team, a team Tracey has ridden with for 9 years.  My running friend Barb was our team Captain.  It was so great to be a part of the Pella team.  A lot of these people have ridden together for years and years and you feel like you're part of a family.  I feel like everyone welcomed George and I with open arms.  

We started at 7:00 am on Saturday morning at the Seneca Valley High School (about 20 minutes from my house).  

At this point I was amped and ready to go, but I was incredibly nervous too.  I hadn't even started "training" until after the Pittsburgh Marathon in early May and I wouldn't even classify my riding as training.  I did a handful of training rides and my longest ride was 23 miles.  I felt VERY underprepared.  

Tracey and George both told me they'd stay with me throughout the ride and I wasn't sure if that made me feel better or worse.  Don't get me wrong, I loved that they wanted to ride with me, but I didn't want to be the one holding them back.  I tried to just let it all go at the start line and told myself to do the best I could do and be proud of whatever that was.  

I knew day one was a hilly day with several significant climbs (the first at mile 4) and I was scared.  Everyone knew there was a century option (100 miles), but there was also a 82 mile option.  No one in our little group was fully decided on which way we'd go.  We all agreed to just see how it went.  

I always ride rides like these rest stop to rest stop. Meaning I don't think about the total distance, but just the distance until my next stop.  So as we pulled out of the high school I thought to myself, just make is 22 miles to the first stop.  

I'm not going to lie, that first climb at mile 4 was no joke.  It was a rude awakening to my legs and I wondered what I had signed myself up for.  Before I knew it, however, we were pulling up on the first rest stop and I had made it through the first leg 

At that point I was averaging almost 15 mph and that made me EXTREMELY happy.  I was hoping to average at the minimum 14 mph for the day.  That was my silent goal for myself.  In rides like this I generally average 13 mph (over sorter distances) so I was hoping on my new bike, I could step it up... even just a bit.  

At the rest stop we fueled and filled our bottles and were back on our way pretty quickly.  

The next rest stop was at mile 38.  That meant just 16 more miles until the next stop.  I wish I could remember all the details of every stretch, but they all seem to be running together in my mind right now.  This stretch I believe was a hillier stretch and I'm glad it was only 16 miles.  It's nice after over an hour on the bike to get off and stretch even if it's just a little.  

We enjoyed some more food (even if you don't want to eat, you kind of have to because you're burning so many calories).  I generally ate one peanut butter and jelly fold-over (half a sandwich) and one other small item (grapes, Belvita cookie) at each stop.  

I should take this time to say that the MS people are really awesome.  There was WAY MORE THAN ENOUGH of everything you could have possibly needed on this ride.  I've done a lot of rides where they either didn't have what you wanted and you were picking from whatever was left and even some rides where there was nothing at all.  No water, no gatorade, nothing.

In addition to the MS support our team, the Pella Team, had our own truck with support which was beyond phenomenal.  We had more food, the freshest of fresh fruit, cold towels, and top notch hospitality.  It was truly amazing to be part of the Pella Team.

We left with 38 mile rest stop knowing it was about 15 miles until our lunch stop at mile 53.  You know me, I'm all about the food and I was really looking forward to mile 53.  I do remember that the stretch between miles 38 and 53 were my favorite part of day 1.  This must mean there weren't many hills.  I really loathe hills.  As in I hate them.  A LOT!  

Pulling into lunch I was a happy girl feeling really good about my progress for the day and happy to eat some real food.  When we pulled in George and Nate (that's Tracey's husband... keep up here) already had their plates of food. I couldn't wait to get mine. 

Most of the rest stops had been in and out.  Get what you need and get going.  Lunch, however, was more relaxed and we took our time eating.  I had a sandwich, pasta salad, some fruit and chips.  It was much needed and felt like the perfect fuel to keep me going.  

We all discussed at the lunch stop what we would be doing.  Would we do the century (100 miles) or would we opt for 82.  At this point Tracey was leaving it up to me.  She'd already done the 100 on this ride before and it didn't matter to her either way.  Part of me wanted to do it, but that was because I've never completed a century before.  Part me, however, was realistic and knew 100 miles on day one and 64 miles on day two would NOT feel good.

Either way, at lunch the decision had not yet been made.  If the time before lunch seemed hard, the time after lunch was twice as hard.  Maybe it was because I was tired, but I really think the second half of day one was MUCH tougher.  A lot more climbs and more wear and tear on my body.

We pulled out of the lunch rest stop with just 14 miles until our next stop and then the "dreaded hill" (more on that later).  I felt great coming out of lunch, but by the time we got to the 67 mile rest stop things had changed a bit.  I didn't feel badly per se, but I was beginning to think beyond right here and right now.  I was looking ahead to how 100 miles would feel and how I would feel again tomorrow.  After all, tomorrow's ride was 64 miles (just 3 miles short of what I'd completed up until this point).  At this point I let Tracey know I'd decided against the 100 mile route and she was totally ok with that.

I felt good leaving there knowing I had just 20 or so miles to go.

All day everyone had been talking about the hill coming out of the rest stop at 67 miles.  Cochranton Hill.  I was definitely scared to see it and knew it was going to be a bitch.  Did I mention, I didn't even want to see it?  Well here it is and trust me pictures never do these things justice.

Well no one lied.  It was a bitch.  It was probably the worst climb I've ever done.  A steep start that tapered off and then went on and on and on and on.  I hated it and my body was starting to feel it.

I remember thinking to myself, "now my hamstrings are really starting to hurt."  I made a point to look down and it was mile 70.45.  I made it until mile 70.45 and I gave in to the pain in my body.  I allowed myself to say, I was suffering.

When we got to the 76 mile mark and the century riders turned right whereas the 82 milers turned left, I was MORE than happy to go left.  I was definitely disappointed that I didn't have it in me to ride 100 miles, but I knew I was making the right decision.  I was NOT prepared to ride 100 miles and certainly not when I had 64 miles to go the next day.

The miles between miles 67 and 82 were tough.  They were really tough mentally because I just wanted to be finished.  I wanted to be there and off my bike.  I wanted a shower, I wanted more food, I wanted to sit down on something comfortable.  Did I say, I just wanted to be D.O.N.E. Done?!

Eventually we did make it.  After 5:43 on the bike, we pulled into Allegheny College to rest for the evening.  Think about that.  Almost six hours pedaling on a bike!  I did manage to meet my goal and finished averaging 14.0 mph flat.  Yay me.  I'm celebrating that victory!

Don't know why my Garmin was short, everyone else was right on 82 miles
 The finish line never looked so good.

I don't know if you can see, but I'm sure I'm smiling.  So, so happy to be finished for the day.

Thanks to George and Tracey who stuck with me and helped me get through day one.

Congrats to Nate and his friend Jason who completed the century.  We are so proud of you and know that wasn't easy!

Stop back tomorrow to hear about the rest of our adventure!

To be continued.... 


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