I am seriously behind with my blog now as so many exciting things have happened in the last 7 days. My husband even asked me on Friday when I was going to write up my 3.8k swim for the blog because he was looking forward to reading it. Well, he, and you will have to wait, as I've decided to blog about today first, and then catch up on everything else that I want to cover in the next few days (3.8k swim, splits from last Monday's tri, photos from my 14k river swim, and my amazing trip to the Paralympics yesterday - so stay tuned).
Today was my longest and fastest cycle ride to date. It was the Ox and Bucks Sportive which was held to raise money for the Children's Brain Tumour Foundation. There were two options available, 40 miles or 70 miles. Obviously we signed up for the 40 miles.
I was quite nervous about it after the disaster of my 34 miles and especially as I've have a lot of events in the last 8 days and not been feeling tip top due to work and not sleeping very well. In fact I wasnt even really sure that I was going to do it until I got out of bed this morning. Well, of course I was going to do it, I like to finish things.
We set off at 8am and were almost immediately overtaken by everyone else setting off in our wave (the waves were 10 minutes apart). As usual I felt wobbly for a mile or so; I wish I felt comfortable sooner on my bike, I guess that will come with practice and experience. But I soon settled down and was even contemplating trying to grab my drink whilst cycling. I didn't, because I only had one bottle of squash and I didn't really want it all over the road. I practiced my hand signals instead. Because I've had problems with back pain in the past few rides, the plan was to get off at regular intervals to stretch my back out and this seemed to really help. It wasn't actually that long before we saw the 10 mile marker - a quarter of the way through. I was absolutely flying along the first half until we hit the food station just before 20 miles. The first ten miles were hilly, but the second were flatter. After the food station it all got a bit more rolling again and I think we slowed down, but we seemed (with back stretching stops and a couple of stops to pee) to be tackling each 10 miles in about 55 minutes which wasn't too bad. By about 34 miles I was starting to really have to dig in, my legs were tired and it was further than I'd cycled before, but I was doing far better than when I had cycled this far before. Unfortunately it got more and more hilly (in the uphill direction) and I got more and more miserable, culminating in a descent to the finish which I just couldn't manage to get down. Descents are my weakness (and I'd already got off once for a descent that I didn't feel comfortable with); my hands were all sweaty so I couldn't grasp the brakes properly, and I was just tired. I felt so stupid at not being able to manage to last little bit that I just cried.
With some help and encouragement from Mr W, I walked down some of the hill and then got back on for the final 100m and we rode over the finish line together. He could have done it so much faster than me but it was nice to have the company and support. It had taken us about 3h 35 minutes which I don't think is too bad at all. Obviously I need to do some work for my 70.3 because I'll need to go another 16 miles and pick the pace up a bit, but I reckon it's a solid position to be starting from with 364 days to go.