One of the biggest highlights of the weekend was participating in the Chinook Road Bike Training series ride #5. The Training Series is what the locals consider a "racing" series. Granted it's mostly locals, but usually the strongest local riders..and it's usually all men. This Saturday did not disappoint, drawing out some of the finest cycling talent in the Tri-Cities...and only 1 girl other than myself.

When I had started planning on doing this ride for my long weekend ride, my boyfriend and my coach were planning on going, so I felt confident I wouldn't be alone. It was just my luck that my coach decided he would rather be at home in Wenatchee and my boyfriend decided not to go because he was afraid of pushing himself so hard that he couldn't recover. So, I put my big-girl bike shorts on (my brand new SET Coaching kit) put on my racing tires (figured I could use every little advantage I could get), and headed out to meet the boys. As soon as I got on my bike to spin around before the start, I noticed my front tire was low, not a good sign. I quickly changed out my tube and headed to the pre-"ride" meeting. We were given instructions on the route and team assignments when I noticed a goat-head thorn in my tire, ugh!! Good thing I hadn't actually ridden on it yet, otherwise my new tube would have been done for. With some help, I deflated my tube, plucked the thorn out and re-pumped it up, just in time.

The first couple miles was a neutral start, which was exactly what I needed to calm my nerves. As I chatted with some of the guys, I thought...this isn't going to be so bad after-all...or was it... As soon as we turned around, the race was on!! I thought for sure I would be in trouble as we headed down-hill with a tail wind...compared to a bunch of guys, I don't exactly have a weight advantage for descending. Somehow I managed to hang on, and at one point ended up in the front, not by choice...I knew that if I didn't want to get dropped, even though I was feeling good now, I needed to conserve energy. Just then, one of the strongest riders came by me and said, "stay in the draft, this is a long one"...yeah, no kidding!! Even if it was only behind one person, I stayed hunkered down and was able to maintain my position in the lead pack. I was even able to lead the group back up to some break-aways and definitely held my own on the climbs. I was having so much fun, I honestly had no idea how hard I was working!! By the last 18 miles or so, I was starting to feel it a little bit, but I couldn't hold back, it was too fun :) On the last couple of miles, I thought maybe I should just let the guys duke it out and hang back, since I really didn't care how I finished. However, I felt that I had earned my place, just like them, and didn't owe them anything. So, I smartly hung at the back of what ended up being a little group of 4 and waited, waited, waited, and SPRINTED for the finish line...yeehaw! My patience worked, and I beat them in a sprint for 6th place over-all.  I could hardly believe it! Our team ended up sticking together for the most part and working really well to take the "W" for the day. Thanks team!

Sadly I didn't stick around for awards because I had to get on with my 50 minute transition run. That run was BY FAR the hardest part of the day! Before my w/o that morning, I read an article that Ironman did on Kelly Fillnow, where she talked about being in the moment, and it worked wonders. Feeling that tired, I normally focus on how bad I hurt and if I will ever be able to do this for 50 more minutes? 45 more minutes? 40 more minutes? On and on....but I just got thru each moment as it came and kept my mind off of where I was going, and how long I would be running all alone on those hot desert hills, and it was so much less stressful! It's not that I had never thought about it before, but for me, sometimes I have to be in the right place mentally to accept a challenge and make a change. I was ready to make a change in my mental focus and Kelly gave me motivation and inspiration. Challenge accepted and change adopted :)
Thank goodness, becuase I also would not have made it thru the extra 2 miles I accidentally added to my long run on Sunday!
Now it's time to relish in all the hard work I accomplished last week and focus on recovering before my first triathlon of the season, this Sunday in Walla Walla :)

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