Oh. My. Goodness. I'm so ready to taper. I've had a great - but hard three weeks. Here are some of the highlights:
TOUR DE FEMME: I rode 75 miles for an all-woman charity ride in Raleigh. It's a GREAT event that includes great fundraising incentives (wine glasses, hoodies, hats, arm warmers), a ladies night (which I missed), carnations for each rider and amazing post event food (and beer).
It was excellent training for me to be out on the hills - a new challenge and new scenery. I arrived super early and hit the road alone for about an hour. I circled back to the start and took off with the rest of the metric century riders. The first hour was great. I made new friends, enjoyed some sunshine and got warmed up. Shortly after the first rest stop, it started to rain. I was alone for 10 miles in the rain - just before I met up with the leaders at the second aid station. I grabbed the wheel of one of the other women (hi, Michaela!) and we took off when the lead group stopped for a mechanical issue. We took turns pulling and chatting about rides and triathlons. Just before the last aid station, the chase group caught us and encouraged us to stay with them through the end so that one of the riders - a cancer survivor could lead us in. Michaela and I fell in withthe group and the skies opened it. We spent 15 miles in POURING rain. I didn't know what was worse - the rain from the sky or the water off the wheels in front of me. My gum was gritty. I did those 61 miles in just over 3:30 and felt GREAT for the transition run. My legs felt amazing, BUT, my fingers were purple and my feet were numb.
LAST LONG RUN: I've been having some great runs lately and I'm glad to have finished the last long one on Monday. I did a three hour tour of Wrightsville Beach. The day was perfect. A little windy, but sunny and dry and blue skies. I really enjoyed being out and found some secret weapons. First, I went through four pieces of gum. Second, I took an extra bottle of calories with me AND with 15 minutes to go, I ate three pieces of licorice. Yum.
I tried something new on my watch and really liked it. My Garmin 920XT has a virtual pacer setting. I set it to 9:15 and throughout the run watched as I pulled ahead of the woman on the screen. I could also see how far ahead I was and in the first hour and 15 minutes, gained 2min50secs on her. That meant I could walk for 2:50 and still be on pace. I walked for 30 seconds and only lost 20seconds to my pacer. I ran another hour and walked again. Unfortunately, at the 2:30 mark, I lost all my time to a cute lab puppy named Finnegan. I needed puppy love and when I restarted, I was 1:46 behind.
I logged just over 18 miles + later that night went out to celebrate Ace's birthday with Warren Haynes at Greenfield Park (which meant three more hours on my feet).
STRENGTH: In the mix of all this I've been working hard doing what I'm not doing. Meaning: doing what I haven't before. I've been working extra hard at functional strength, balance and flexibilty. I've been training my hip flexors and core and back and arms to be stronger than ever through a once-a-week intense workout with a functional strength coach. AND, I've been working with my pilates instructor to become more balanced, controlled and flexible. It's made me tired and even more ready for a rest.