I woke Sunday morning early and exhausted. It was another anxious night where I didn't sleep well. The cycle competition was to be held on roughly the same course as the previous day's 5K run. According to the online schedule the first of two cycle events - the 5K time trial - was supposed to start at 9:00, my 20K race would be up when that had concluded.
|Photo Courtesy of Mari Fridenmaker|
Before I had left Oregon, I arranged a bike rental through some amazing and fabulous folks at Tri on the Run in Houston. These fine folks were, without a doubt, my personal MVPs of Day 3. Booking through them was not only easy but the guy helping me had me in stitches; our conversation went something like this
ToTR: What size bike do you need?
Me: I have no clue, I'm pretty much a clueless idiot that rides 90% of the time on an indoor resistance bike
ToTR: Don't worry, we can help you, how tall are you?
Me: I'm 5 foot 2 .... and a HALF! That half is very important to short people
ToTR: Then that would mean you will be 5'3" in Texas. You know everything is bigger in Texas right?
|Inside a TGA shuttle bus|
Photo courtesy Team Liberty
This is where things got confusing and slightly reminiscent of the trouble with registration at the 5K run race the day before. Although the website stated the 5K cycle would begin at 9:00, the folks running the cycle events were adamant the event was starting at 8:00. I was so grateful I was not participating in the 5K race because there was a lot of confusion and anger flying around that hot muggy park that morning.
I felt especially terrible for the ToTR staff. I understand people were in stress mode just prior to the start but they were unnecessarily taking it out on these folks that were trying to get people set up and troubleshoot gear issues. It was hot and every single one of them was aggressively sweating - they were working HARD! I had brought along some chocolate covered hazelnuts from Oregon and pulled them out of my bag for the ToTR team - hoping they hadn't melted too badly yet.
They put me on a beautiful bike and added the right pedals for my shoes. Unfortunately on my practice lap, it was obvious this was just too much bike for me, not everything is bigger in Texas. I had to come back to the tent and exchange it for a smaller ride. Luckily for me the 8:00 5K had just ended and there were some smaller bikes just returned that fit me much much better.
|My awesome ride - thanks to Tri on the Run|
|Photo Courtesy of Mari Fridenmaker|
|Fast cyclists ahead of me at the start of the 20K|
|Starting line selfie|
My strategy for the three loops would be to ride the first turn steady - get my bearings and keep my heart rate up. No hard pushing until I figured out the declines/inclines and turns of the course. I wanted to hit a negative split, but then wondered if cyclists aim for this like runners do?
|20K Cycle - Photo courtesy of Donate Life Louisiana|
As I neared the two mile mark, I saw the peloten of men all decked out in their gear and high end bikes. They looked intense and aggressive and I was so glad I was back a mile in my happy little world doing my own thing dodging pot holes. Right behind the group of men I saw a familiar face - a new friend Mari from Team Georgia. I let out a ringing "YOU GO GIRL" and a fist pump - which nearly made me lose my balance on my touchy ride. I had met Mari on the bus the previous day to the swim event and got to know her poolside. She's an amazing athlete and cornea recipient. She was doing the Virtual Tri as well and won gold in the 500 Freestyle swim the day before. She looked so strong on the course - very focused but also with a giant smile on her face. She was enjoying herself and kicking butt!
|Mari - All smiles for good reason - 2 Golds!|
Photo Courtesy of Mari Fridenmaker
It wasn't long before I crossed over the starting line and began my second lap. I was feeling good and had passed even more cyclists. Again I saw the peloten approaching but this time Mari was in front of them. Again I screamed for my new friend - she was killing this course! The second loop went quickly and I was able to negotiate it easier as I knew what was coming and where the challenges were located. Near the turnaround point on the course I saw one of the fast male cyclists sitting on the curb looking frustrated with a volunteer sitting next to him. The course had claimed its first victim.
The final loop was slightly confusing because I could no longer tell who I was chasing and who was chasing me - the competitors were all along the course so I decided to treat every single person in front of me like a competitor that needed to be passed. Even though it was hot as Hades, being on the bike was refreshing. It didn't feel as painfully hot as it did during the run - I assume because I was making my own headwind. It was nice and I was genuinely enjoying myself.
|Final push on the course for me|
|Place||Name||Bib No||Gender/Age||Laps||Time||Pace||Distance||Total Time|
Because the finish line senser was super touchy - we were not allowed to walk past it once we finished the course, doing so would have erased our time so I stayed put near the water station. My family was on the other side so it took a while to get them over on my side so we could talk.
Unfortunately my daughter wasn't feeling well. Most likely a combination of her peanut desensitization therapy and the extreme heat had her feeling nauseous and in pain. My poor little girl. We decided that the hubs would take her back to the hotel while Anna stayed with me for the awards ceremony.
As we waited we met more amazing new friends and heard more touching and heart-breaking stories. I was happy Anna was with me to get this experience with me. Since our transplant I've been very involved with the Donate Life NW team and have developed great relationships with other recipients and organ donors. Anna hasn't had this same exposure and I really wanted her to build some relationships of her own. We were both happy to engage and meet new people - even if it meant doing so in extreme heat.
Mari won gold for both the 5K and the 20K in the organ recipient category!! I received a gold medal for my living donor category. My first gold of the games - what an honor, what a beautiful day! I was a hot sweaty stinky mess but I was grateful and I was happy.
A quick stop to shower and charge our phones (seriously - does the extreme heat drain iPhone batteries??) and I was on the hunt for food. I was leaving so early in the mornings that I was missing the hotel breakfast so at this point all I had consumed was an energy bar and some Shot Blocks. I needed real food.
We found a great little bistro with live music and settled in for Sunday brunch. I love brunch - especially brunch with alcohol. My post-race celebration tradition of enjoying a bubbly drink continued in Houston.
|Sparkling Mojito with brunch - yummm!|
|Anna and I at the TGA Expo|
|Anna signing the Houston flag|
|Wall of transplantation|
|Anna & I added our transplant - Nov 9 2007|
That evening we bailed on attending the Donor Tribute Ceremony. I was operating on no sleep and feeling extreme overexposure to sunshine. My daughter was also dying to swim in the hotel pool and I wanted to give her some fun time too. It was an early night and I got my first real honest sleep since arriving in Houston. I had one more day of competition ahead of me, but it would be my longest day yet. I needed some serious shut eye.
|Little girl happy to finally get in some pool time|