I had been planning this ride for quite some time. But bad weather and bad timing led to postponing the ride. The plan was to start in Merced and ride up to Arnold. A near 90 mile ride with close to 4500 feet of climbing. Then to top off the training weekend I signed up for a 1/2 Marathon the very next day in Angels Camp. IT was called the Twisted Oak 1/2 Marathon.
Here's the story....
I woke up at my normal wake up time of 4:15 am on Friday morning. My best friend Steve was nice enough to drive me to Merced. We left Visalia at 5:10 am and were off. At about 5:45 am I called the radio station like I usually do on Friday mornings. But this time I was headed out on my bike. I still made the call and did my interview. We arrived in Merced at around 6:30 am. I filled my water bottles, bought a few bars for the ride, sprayed the sunscreen on, pumped up the tires and was off. I was figuring the ride to be close to 90 miles, give or take a few miles. So my mind was ready and so was my body. I took off on J59 which is a tough road to ride on because of the limited shoulder. But since it was early the traffic was light. The first 15 miles were just about getting the legs going. Luckily I wasn't racing because there was a pretty heavy head wind right in my face. So I just began building my speed and marched onward. I told myself to not be stubborn and just stop at stores as I passed them. It turned out to help me quite a bit as I filled my bottles up with ice and gatorade and bought a bar if needed. I stopped at the 18, 38, 55, and 75 mile marks to re-fill and stretch the legs. As I would zone out, minutes would fly by and before you knew it I had made it to the half way point. Time was really flying. My energy and spirits stayed high the entire ride. Except for some light tightness in the lower back, my body was feeling good. As I made it to Highway 4, I knew that the ride was in its final phases. But just like a few stages of the Tour de France, my ride was a mountain top finish. I knew this all along. So as I reached the last 15 miles I knew they would be tough. But I kept a steady pace, kept my cadence high and pushed through the hills. I keep things positive in my head so that helps tremendously on long rides like this. I set small goals of making it to specific destinations. When I made it to Murphy's, a small town about 8 miles south of Arnold, the ride was coming to the end. THere were some climbing still left to be done but I knew this was it so enjoy and finish strong. I saw my destination and pumped my fist like I had just won a stage of the Tour. It was a big accomplishment. My ride time was just over 6 hours.
I woke up Saturday morning with some tired legs. I ate my normal pre-run meal of a cliff bar and banana and headed to the site of the race. I talked my good friend Ira into running the 5k race so it was good to have someone there competing with me. I had mentioned to the race director that I had rode 88 miles the day before. This wasn't the end of hearing about this during the day (you will see later). I definitely needed to warm-up to get my legs going. So I ran about 10 minutes, did a dynamic warm-up and did 5x50 yard striders, then ran back to the start of the race. The race started out fast because it was 90% downhill. We reached the 4 mile turnaround and knew we had to come back up that same hill. It was steady, not too steep but consistently climbing. My legs were feeling the ride. But again, I set small goals and this really helps a race go by quick. As I hit lap 2 I told myself 3 more miles, stay steady and zone out. They call the last 1 mile "Hernia Hill" because of the steep ascents through the Twisted Oak Winery. We had to do this twice so the second time around was tough. But I pushed though and before you knew it I was crossing the finish line. MY time was 1 hour and 35 minutes which was good enough for 6th overall and 1st in my age group. It wasn't my best 1/2 marathon but I was happy with this time because of what I did the day before. As the award ceremony began, the race director gave an award to the individual who put in the most effort to get to the race...well that was me. He announced to the crowd of what I had did the day before.
Overall a great weekend. Next up....Merced to Alpine Lake in August. That one is the same ride I did plus 38 miles and 4000 feet of climbing so a huge ride. Keep Rocking!!
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