So, on August 19, 2012, I started and finished my third and final IM distance race! I have to say that given this training year, it was nice to have a rather boring race. My race report will follow, but the training was in an of itself, a trip. Let's summarize it: 2 bee stings, 1 bike wreck,1 "Bob", fog, rain, thunder, heat, humidity, some 800+ miles of biking with lots and lots and lots of elevation, 250+ miles of running, 20+ miles of swimming, gosh only knows how many miles of driving over 3 months and in three states.
Bees and me are not a match made in heaven, given I swell up like a balloon, and their stings hurt like hell. I got my first sting on my ankle during a "fun" little Adventure Challenge in Wintergreen. It was only 7 miles. But, those 7 miles were literally up and down all the freakin ski slopes at Wintergreen, and included some fun obstacles, the slip-n-slide on steroids being the most fun. There I was, walking in a line of people in the woods, and a bee finds me to sting my ankle. Ouch. Kept going but called it a day a little early given the race was a week after the Rev3 Half-Rev (70.3) in Quassy Connecticut and I was still tired. That sting swelled up my ankle for a week. My second sting occurred whilst I was bombing down a hill on Skyline Drive during one of my longer hilly bike rides. The bee somehow flew through my helmet vent onto my forehead, where it stung me. I knew it was still in my helmet, so I stopped and shook it out, showed the sting to my "training bitch" (who, unbeknownst to me was actually training for the same race, but more on that later) who didn't seem impressed. Put my helmet back on, kept riding. Stopped again at a camp store, and took off my helmet, to find out that I looked like a Neanderthal because my helmet pushed all the swelling up in a band across the top of my forehead. I continued biking, now calling myself "Lil Shawnene" and wondering if my forehead would start swelling out of my helmet. After the ride, it just got worse, the swelling moved down my face, changing me from "Shawnene" to "Asian Shawn" to "ShawnPuffyface" and after nearly a week, back to normal. I think I'll get an eppipen.
The bike wreck wasn't mine, but I did see it all unfold in front of me during an ill-fated attempt to ride a different route out of Ashland. Things that day didn't start well, flat tire, grumpy riders, and some wet roads, but we pushed on until BrianD decided to try to shove MyKaren's water bottle back into the holder on the back of her seat, while the five of us were riding in a small pack. Needless to say, it didn't end well for him. Front wheel went sideways, he went over like a rocket, Training Bitch ran over his bike and wrecked as well. Lots of drama, but they were all banged up but ok, BrianD's helmet took the brunt of the hit, and we are all glad for helmets. As we limped back towards the car a stray dog started following us, in a friendly manner, on a busy road. So, we stopped and tried to get her to go home, she wanted to stay with us, we didn't want to see her hit. Called the number on her collar, got a country woman, who said the dog was one of her husbands hunting dogs and he would come to retrieve her. Seems hunting dogs are let loose in the summer to get their hunt on or some such nonsense. At any rate, another car stopped, said they knew who owned the dog and left with her in their car. We think that it was dog snatching, but were just glad that the dog was not running on the busy road.
Bob first appeared after a 50 mile ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway, for which I decided to wear a pair of Tri-shorts instead of bike shorts. Baaaaddd decision. I believe Bob's birth came from sitting weird and pinching the right side of my woowoo area on my seat, followed by an hour ride the next day. Bob stayed with me for the remainder of the training, fluxuating in size from a baseball to a golf ball, and necessitated some 3 trips to the doctor to make sure Bob wasn't infected. Bob did require antibiotics once. I cannot say that I love Bob, and will be glad when Bob goes away, if he will ever go away. Needless to say, every ride after Bob appeared was somewhat painful. Waahhh. Bob did behave for the actual race, and for that I am grateful.
Garrett County, Maryland is a really pretty locale in western Maryland. It is home to Deep Creek Lake and the Savageman triathlons. It is also home to the Garrett County Gran Fondo which somehow I was talked into doing. It was, by far, the hardest biking I have ever done. Training Bitch and I did the 102 mile route which had 12,755 feet of climbing. Ouch. I was out on the course for almost 10 hours, and it took my sit bones about 2 weeks to recover. I was happy I made it through, even though I did walk up some of the absurdly steep and neverending hills, it was still an accomplishment. MyKaren, BrianD and Carrie all did the 125 mile version, with 16,400+ feet of climbing. Absurd. It was like a bad dream, every damn turn ended with a freakin hill with a grade of 15% or better. I'm surprised I have any cleat left at all on my bike shoes! But, it was good for me to be tested on the bike. I'd recommend that ride, just for the pure absurdity.
One day, my Training Bitch and I rode up Crabtree Falls, it was a Friday, and overcast with some fog on Blue Ridge Parkway, when we flew down Reed's Gap to begin the loop. We figured by the time we finished, the fog would have burned off. It didn't. The ride up the falls was fine, and once we got to the Blue Ridge Parkway, that seemed fine as well, until we climbed up the hill around between MP 26-25 and saw the line of cloud cover. It was like riding into a horror film. Visibility was about 10 feet in front of us, and of course, us on our tri-bikes which do not have lights, b/c we are too cool for lights and reflectors---idiots. It was a long, cold scary ride down to Reed's Gap and thankfully, the fog and weather kept traffic down to a minimum. We were freezing at the end of the ride, and bought some cheap fleeces to warm our stupid-asses up. Would not recommend riding in the fog without lights or reflective gear. Won't do that again.
I guess the final weird thing is my mental breakdown during a little 80ish mile ride. I was in a bad mood, I'll call it a menopausal rampage in the making, and early in the ride, got buzzed by an SUV. Happens to us all when we ride. Somehow, that was the trigger for what I can best describe as an out-of-mind experience. It happened close to a stop sign at the intersection of a busy road. The SUV stopped at the sign, I hammered to the stop, and proceeded to scream at the top of my lungs at the SUV driver, hurtling out onto the busy road and nearly getting hit. The SUV stops, the driver and I are yelling at each other, well I was screaming about them almost hitting me, etc. to the point of me spitting as I am screaming out of control at this person. I knew in the back of my mind, I was overreacting, yes, they almost ran me off the road, and yes, it scared me and they were wrong, but I was certifiably crazy at that moment and couldn't stop screaming at them. MyKaren calmed me down, I started crying, the SUV drove off to think that women cyclists are nuts, and it was then that I realized there was an outdoor book sale going on about 15 feet from my screaming fit, with the poor shoppers and staff looking on with horror. Somewhere that day, and perhaps for days to come, someone is describing the crazy screaming woman on the bike as a cautionary tale. If it is a cautionary tale to never piss off a woman cyclist, then I'll wear the shame from my breakdown with pride.