A year ago this weekend I was a bit apprehensive about finishing a 33-mile bike tour. It was the first time I had ridden in a group setting and was going to be the longest distance I had ever pedaled on my new road bike. I was a newbie. I still hadn't fully embraced my triathlete-in-training label and quite honestly wasn't sure I wanted to adopt it fully. Wow. Times have definitely changed. This weekend was the one year anniversary of my first bike tour and another stepping stone in the Road to Louisville.
The week leading up to the Redbud Classic was not one of the best training weeks I've had lately. I got way too little sleep. I skipped a swim. I was exhausted and burning on fumes when Friday finally arrived. This has to be the busiest time of the year for me. Coming out of winter is when everything kicks into high gear. Customers start visiting more frequently, my brother and niece start up with spring sports, race season kicks into gear, and everyone I know has a birthday. It's the same way every year. I love spring, but it can be exhausting - and expensive. Luckily, Chesapeake Energy picks up the tab for all of my spring races and all I have to do is show up and give it my best effort. This weekend I had registered for the Redbud 50 Mile bike tour on Saturday and the 10K run on Sunday afternoon. The Redbud 5K was my first race ever back in 2009. Redbud is a great event and is really the big race that kicks off the racing season. It's the first big cycling event in the area as well. It's basically a great weekend to showcase the winter training and kick the dust off the tires on the bike.
The 50 mile tour was a lot of fun for me this year. It's the longest ride I've had in 2011 and the weather was pretty cooperative. Temps were in the low 70s at the start and probably reached the high-70s by the time I finished. The winds were about as good as you can ask for this time of year - somewhere in the 20mph range. I started the race by myself because I showed up just in time for the start and didn't get a chance to squeeze in with the Team-in-Training folk. The first 10-12 miles were pretty congested since most of it is spent on a 2-lane road. After you make the turn south,then east of OKC, you really break up the pack because the headwind starts picking people off and then a water stop picks off a few more. About mile 17, I caught up to a fellow TNT'er who is training for Ironman Wisconsin this year and we settled in together and rode side-by-side for the rest of the ride. We chatted about training, goals, ambitions, fears, and everything else Ironman-related. It was one of the best rides I've had on the bike. I really enjoyed the company and felt like I could talk freely with my riding partner about the aurora surrounding the Ironman. It was refreshing to know I had someone so close to me going through the exact same thing. I really hope we can make our schedules work to share many more long rides together this summer.
Today was my shot to see how the legs would respond after the bike yesterday. I really didn't expect much honestly, but to my surprise I felt pretty decent today. The run starts at 2PM every year so it's really a toss-up weather-wise. This year we were treated to low 80s and fairly light winds. It wasn't weather that you'd really say was perfect for a PR, but it was still pretty nice compared to the 40-50mph wind gusts that had been forecast for today. I'm not really sure where the forecast went wrong, but I'm sure everyone involved in today's run was very grateful for the mistake. Stupid me forgot to start my Garmin when I crossed the mat at the starting line so I never really knew my official time throughout the whole race. I guessed i was about .10 miles off judging by the signs along the route, but I never really knew exactly where I was with my overall time. I knew early on I was going to be pretty close to setting a new PR. Conditions weren't ideal, but I was kicking off pretty solid pace averages and by my estimates I was on track to beat my time of 46:41 from 2 years ago in nearly perfect race conditions (50s, cloudy, no wind). As I made my final turn onto the last .5 mile straight-away, I estimated I needed to average about a 6:50 pace to close out a PR so I kicked up the pace a bit and closed out strongly. My Garmin read 45:44 and 6.15 miles. I was pretty confident I had just nailed a new PR. Sadly, my time according to the online results shows a 46:42. Aargh! Missed a PR by 2 seconds! If I hadn't been such a dummy at the start, I would have known to push just a little bit harder on that homestretch. Oh well, I'm still really happy with my running right now. My PR from 2 years ago was at a time when all I was doing was running and race conditions were nearly perfect. I'll take my 46:42 in today's weather and set my sights on the OKC Memorial Half Marathon in 3 weeks. I think I see that 1:49:16 shaking in it's boots. Here's hoping for a healthy, happy, and restful 3 weeks until OKC Memorial. I'm looking for a PR baby!