As a typical runner/triathlete I sometimes find it hard to pat myself on the back without a small dose of “you could have gone harder” or “maybe you should have gone faster.” However, in regards to this weekend’s 104 (or 106 depending on whose GPS you ask) miler, I am perfectly content with how I rode. In fact, I wouldn’t change a single thing.
Considering that two weeks ago I had a slight meltdown and left a ride due to anxiety I am even more pleased with myself for getting up so early on Sunday morning to head to a ride with a distance I have never before seen on a course that I was afraid to look at  and with a mass group of serious cyclists. For the record, the farthest I’d ever ridden up until Sunday was 64 miles. I like to go big, apparently.
Now, I must admit that on Saturday evening I had a single, solitary moment of, “Oh. Shit.” Should I do this? Can I do this? The thought was fleeting because I had too much invested to turn back now. I’d asked a few friends to come to this ride, I’d posted on this here “accountability machine,” and my confidence for Augusta was in need of a boost. If I can ride 100 miles, I can ride 56 with some hills. At least, this is my current rationale. To be continued…
Anyway, as I mentioned, I had asked a few friends to come to this ride. Of course, not all of them were going to ride with me due to, ahem, differing speeds. I’m still not cruising at 20 MPH over these distances so I was beyond relieved when my friend Pete let me know we could drive over to Sebring together and that he’d stay with me the whole way. There’s a special place in Heaven for Pete.
On the two hour drive to the ride start, at a historic hotel, I made Pete pull over twice for my nervous belly issues and when we arrived I was still antsy but excited. I’m not quite sure when I realized I had chosen a “century” ride of 105 miles but it dawned on me that those last five were going to piss me off. The Bok Tour Century is part of the Tour of Sebring which is three days worth of riding. I’ll just take the one, mkay? Thanks.
Pete and I grabbed our ride bags with our sweet ride t-shirts (holy tie-dye Batman!) and we ran into Cay-See, KC and her hubs Joel, and Jan (AKA Little J). Now, Pete could have stayed with this crew and finished a helluva lot faster than we wound up finishing but he stayed with me as promised and was a God send. All of these people are cycling machines. They are seriously amazing cyclists. I just happen to choose ridiculously athletic people for friends. In fact, the speedy group was done well before we were. Sorry Pete!
The time neared 7 AM and all of the cyclists headed outside to line up. I started getting really nervous at this point. I looked around and saw all of the riders all suited up and fancy. And I noticed there were so many in front of me I was afraid to clip in for fear I’d have to stop suddenly if the front group staggered for any reason. Pete noticed and told me it would be fine. The final directions and safety instructions were given and everyone started moving forward. I did a weird shuffling scooting thing without clipping in and I’m sure I looked like a total fool but hey, at least I didn’t fall or run into a parked car.
The ride started and was uneventful, which is always a good thing in my book (hello squirrel killing and falling over). Pete and I weaved in and around a few groups and rode with a couple who seemed to be triathletes (they are easy to spot in a pack) but they weren’t too friendly so we parted ways with them.
At mile twenty one, which came up very quickly, we stopped at the first rest stop of the day and I cheesed it up for a photo with the food. I was really excited for PB & J’s, Oreos, and bananas. There were lots of bars and cookies and the cycling nectar of the Gods, Gatorade. Everything looked tasty and delicious at this point.
I think the lens was wet. But yay Oreos!
We filled up our bottles and our friend Doug caught up with us at about this point. It was also his first century so the three of us stuck together for the next twenty miles. We stopped at the thirty seven mile rest stop and said hello to our friend Celeste who was riding the metric century (62 miles) and had hooked up with some buddies from Miami. I believe there were a few hills at this point but I felt good. I was eating the gels and chomps and whatever the heck else I brought all along the way. I had been told to eat and drink often and I chose to over-eat and over-drink so I didn’t cramp or dehydrate.
A few miles before the next stop at mile fifty-four we caught up with a lone lady cyclists who was climbing some of the bigger hills all by her lonesome. Pete, being the awesome guy that he is, told her to jump in with the three of us and we’d stick together. I was seriously impressed with this woman who was riding alone and had ridden the metric century the day before.
The four of us stopped at the fifty-four mile rest stop and as this was the third stop of the day I was totally over PB & J’s, Oreos, and bananas. It seemed that every food item available at the stops was some sort of sweet carb. The cookies, Fig Newtons, and chewy granola bars were making my stomach turn. I ate a bar anyway because I knew I needed it. I would have given my right arm for a chip or a pickle or anything salty. I was happy when our new lady rider had extra e-caps. I made a mental note to have these with me at all rides moving forward. I like salt.
I think somewhere in between fifty-four and eighty, our next rest stop, our foursome started to splinter. The lady rider saw a group a bit ahead of us and set her sights on catching them. Pete and I stuck together through some of the hills and caught up with them eventually, thanks to the pulling of Pete. He sure can dig in. Doug fell off a bit but also caught up with us at the next stop.
My view for most of the day. AKA Pete’s ass.
The miles of fifty-four to about seventy were mentally tough. I didn’t realize we had to get to eighty for another stop until someone in the group we caught up to mentioned it. This group was going at a lot easier pace and I was thankful for it. I think Pete was too but mostly because it gave him a break from pulling my slow ass. We tucked in with them and while they weren’t the friendliest group I’ve ever met, they sure were steady. Pete and I discussed this after and how we didn’t exactly meet the friendliest riders that day. I guess it differs from ride to ride. We were more than willing to take turns pulling and even offered it up but were met with shrugs and slight head nods.
When we got to mile eighty a woman was there who decided to quit the ride early and she let me know that she thought the last section, which we had just finished, was the toughest. I agreed that it was the hardest thus far. She was kind enough to take a picture of me with the SAG vehicle.
Bottles refilled to the top and bellies again full of yucky, sweet carbs, we head out for the final twenty six miles. I was excited because I knew I’d be finishing this ride. I was tired and would only get more tired but, I didn’t ride this far to quit.
The lady cyclist, the steady group, Doug, Pete and I all stuck together for about five miles. I was getting anxious and wanted to speed up, so as soon as Pete said we were leaving the steady group, I was ready to go. As we pushed the pace, I started to feel myself bonk. I got to that point where I couldn’t turn my legs faster without the lactic acid burning in my quads. I slowed down and Pete and Doug stayed with me while our lady friend rode on.
I drank as much as I could, ate a Honey Stinger gel (delicious!) and felt better after a mile. I told Pete I was sorry and as per usual, he said not to worry, we were doing fine. I found my strength again and we pushed on. As we moved along we lost Doug and he caught up to us at the final rest stop at mile ninety-five. Pete and I didn’t stop here long because the longer I stood the more my legs started to ache. I told Doug I was sorry but I had to get back on that bike and get moving. He said not to worry and he’d see us at the finish. That was that and off Pete and I went. In full disclosure, I licked my forearm a couple of times to get some salt. Yes, I know this is gross and weird but I was craving salt and figured if my body wanted it, I’d at least feed the craving this way. Don’t judge me.
Here is where things got funny. Pete started singing Ted Nugent and quoting Rocky. I think I sang Rawhide, but inserted “man my ass is swollen.” Some random guy on a mini van pulled alongside me and asked how I was doing. I think he may have been offering me some candy. Some other dude drove entirely too close and slow next to  me as well. It was weird. Pete and I started discussing how badly our butts hurt and I told Pete about the God awful hot spot I had on the ball of my left foot. It was seriously murderous. My knees were hurting and my right shoulder was really pissed.
When my bike computer hit one hundred I was really happy but also really annoyed because we had five stinkin’ more miles to go. I asked Pete whose dumb idea it was to ride a one-oh-five mile century and he happily let me know it was me. We trudged along and Pete dragged the crap out of me those last ten miles. He’d pull as fast as he thought I could handle and then ease back to make sure he didn’t drop me. Everyone should get a Pete. I can’t really thank him enough for all he did for me on Sunday.
When we finally saw the hotel sign I could barely believe it. I had ridden my bike over one hundred miles. I got a little choked up for about a second but then was just so unbelievably happy to get off the bike that when we rolled to the car I unclipped faster than I ever have. I thought about kissing the ground but really didn’t want to bend over for fear that I wouldn’t get back up.

Me and Pete post ride.
My computer said 104, Pete’s said 106. Whatevs.
My final thoughts on this ride are that I’m so happy I did it. I shocked myself and need to give myself a lot more credit than I do. It may have taken me six hours to finish but it’s something I never thought I could even start and I’m proud of that.
I do however feel that everyone who’s ever completed an Ironman must be doping because the thought of running a marathon AFTER riding over a hundred miles seems like sheer insanity. You all are awe inspiring and even though I was impressed before, I’m even more impressed now. Yes, I’d do it again. But only after enough time has passed to forget the hurt. And it did hurt, but only really badly from about mile eighty five on. I was super sore yesterday. I went to yoga, snuggled my nephew and Lloyd, and watched a lot of TV. It was a totally needed recovery day.
Thanks for all of the encouraging and kind words. And thanks for all of the kudos via FB, twitter, and DM. Augusta 70.3 here I come.