I was going through my computer and organizing things and tossing others when I found these past race recaps. They are from two of my favorite races – my first century ride and my first half marathon. They took place in June and August of 2008, respectively. They feel like a million years ago, but are extremely important to the person I am today.
America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride
I did it! 100 miles on my bike around Lake Tahoe, plus a little trip out to Truckee and back. What an amazing experience! Over the past 18 weeks I have spent most of my spare time training for a century ride. Four months ago I didn’t know if it was possible, but as the weeks went on I began to believe. Sunday it all paid off with the most beautiful ride you could ever image – America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride.
The weekend was a wonderful celebration of the hard work we have all put in as well as the cause that brought us all together. Riders came from across the country, including 1800 who trained with Team in Training and raised money for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and their mission to find a cure for blood cancers. The riders participating in Sunday’s event raised over $8 million for the LLS. Thanks to all of your help and support, I provided over $6,000 of the 8 million. I remained the top fundraiser from San Diego for the majority of the season. As impressive as that $6,000 is, the top fundraisers from across the country came in with mind-blowing donations. The top fundraiser raised over $54,000 dollars!! Maybe next year! As a side note, on Sunday while we were circling Lake Tahoe, thousands of Team in Training participants competed in the Rock and Roll Marathon and raised over $12 million for LLS – meaning those of us racing on Sunday raised a total of over $20 million for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. That is something to be very proud of! Thank you for your generous donations and supporting a truly wonderful cause!
With my training group, along with 3300 other riders, I headed out at 6:30am from South Lake Tahoe for the ride of my life. The weather was a balmy 40 degrees at the start, but the sun was shinning and it did not take long to warm up – at mile 10 we had an 800 foot climb through steep switchbacks up to Inspiration Point at Emerald Bay. The altitude made for a breathless climb, but that was nothing compared to the breathtaking view we were rewarded with at the top.
From Emerald Bay we continued North to Homewood through the beautiful rolling streets along the lake. The views along the way were amazing. At times I forgot I was in one of the most beautiful places in the world because I was focused on my team and making sure I was riding safe. But luckily Lake Tahoe has a way of not letting you forget how beautiful it is for very long.
We hopped on the bike path in Tahoe City and left the lake behind us for a couple hours. We made our way along the Truckee River and once we made it to Truckee, turned around to revisit the lake. After 71 miles we reached Kings Beach for the big lunch break. I was grateful to see familiar smiling faces waiting for me. My mom, Aaron, Auntie Barbara, Ed, Kelly Conway and Casey were all there to cheer us in and provide much needed hugs and kisses to get me through the final stretch of the day. We got to take some beautiful pictures and visit for 45 minutes before hitting the road for the final leg of our journey.
That final leg included a killer climb up to Spooner’s Junction. The 10 mile climb was pretty much the only time I spent riding alone on Sunday. For 18 weeks I have following faithfully behind my teammates and lead them with care in our paceline along the roads of San Diego county. However, we all climb at different speeds, so we often separate on the hills. On a 10 mile hill, the separation is guaranteed. The alone time was appreciated as it gave me time to reflect on how far I have come and why I was doing what I was doing.
At just the right moment, as the hill was starting to get tough, along came a little red Mercedes with Team in Training posters in the window and my Mom and Aaron there to cheer me along. I felt like Lance Armstrong with a pace car riding alongside of me. I am sure Lance’s pace car moves a lot faster than mine, but it was a great feeling anyway! Aaron got to get some good action shots which I have included in this email. Our team regrouped at the top of the “hill” and waited for the last riders. After that it was the final push to the finish. We were surprised to find a couple additional hills our coaches opted not to warn us about, but we also had some fun downhill bringing us back into South Lake Tahoe.
As is San Diego tradition, we waited about a mile and a half from the finish line for the rest of the San Diego team so we could all cross the finish line together. It was a fun time to celebrate and talk to the other groups about how their day went. We all had a wonderful day and everything went smoothly with no major mishaps. I guess all that training paid off! Right around 5 o’clock our final group pulled into the parking lot and we lined up to ride in together. It was great finishing with everyone and getting to all feel the excitement at the same time. Patiently waiting once again were my mom, Aaron, Barbara and Ed. It was great to see their smiling faces once again and be able to celebrate my accomplishment with them. The day could not have been better. The weather was clear, sunny, calm with temps in the low 60s – perfect cycling weather. The weekend before it was snowing, so I think it is clear that there were a lot of people looking out for us!
Once again, my experience with Team in Training did not disappoint. The people I have met and their stories have changed my life. I have learned so much through the experiences and leadership of my coaches, mentors and teammates. Looking back at our first day of practice in January to the team we have become is something to be proud of. The fact that I can ride 100 miles and then go out dancing until after midnight is just icing on the cake!
Thank you for being a part of my journey and sharing in one of the greatest experiences of my life – it means more to me than you know. Knowing I have people that will be there to support me is the only reason I sign up for these events. The question now is, “What’s next?” Stay tuned!
America’s Finest City Half Marathon
So the play by play of the race goes something like this (ignore if too boring).
You have to take a shuttle to the start from the finish because we start at a national monument and they wont let people in there. So Aaron dropped Justin and I off at 5:30 at Balboa park and we took the shuttle to the start. We had like 45 minutes to stretch and pee and do all that.
The sun came up and we were up on the top of Point Loma and could look over downtown. This was a little intimidating because downtown looked really far away and we had to run there (and that isn’t even the finish).
We started at 7am – the gun went off and it took us 2 minutes just to get to the start. That was when I started my watch and we were off. The beginning was really frustrating because it is so crowded and you have to work really hard to get around people.
Once we left the monument, we ran through the neighborhoods of Point Loma which was rolling hills. I was told the beginning was all downhill, so the small hills were unexpected and I do not like running hills. The downhill was tough too because it just made everything hurt. The first 4 miles felt great and I was shocked at how quick we were going (quick for me). Once mile 5 started I began to feel the pain a little. For the past 3 weeks I have not run farther than 4 miles, so I think my body was in a little bit of shock. But that soon passed, so I was relieved.
We ran by the airport and around Harbor Island. This was when I lost Justin – he had to walk. Since my goal was 2 hours I wanted to be done with 8 miles by an hour and 10 minutes. That would give me a cushion to run 10 minute miles for the last 5 which I needed since the last 2 were uphill. I got to the 8 mile marker just past my goal so I knew I needed to stay on track. Losing Justin made me go a little slower I think.
After I passed the 10 mile marker I just crossed my fingers that I could do this because I have never in my whole life ran farther than 10 miles. We rand through downtown along the harbor and then cut across to Sixth Avenue. I knew I was cutting it really close to being able to finish in 2 hours. This is the part that is all uphill – and it was so hard. I just knew that if I stopped (1) I would not finish in 2 hours and (2) My legs would cramp up and I would not be able to start running again. So I kept chugging along.
Once we turned to enter the park, I was getting really excited. There is a bridge that goes over highway 163 and into the park and it is really pretty. We ran across that and it was lined with American flags which was really pretty. The race is called America’s Finest City half Marathon – hence all the flags.
There were lots of people toward the finish and that is always fun when you can pretend they are cheering for you – much different than when I go running on the weekends.
I was trying to look for Aaron while still concentrating on the finish and I saw him about 20 yards before the finish so I was really excited. And I was going pretty fast. I already knew I wasn’t going to break 2 hours, but wanted to finish as close as possible. So I finished (in 2:00:35) and got my medal (all finishers get a medal which is cool). My legs stopped working almost immediately and I bet I looked like a fool hobbling around. Then Aaron took pictures and I drank water and we waited for Justin. We had a beer in the park and then went to breakfast.