Running, Biking, and A Pirate Invasion

The most anticipated weekend on my calendar in a long time just came and went. Not only was the long awaited Tour de Greenbelt finally here, but my son’s pirate party was Sunday and I was uncharacteristically over-the-moon excited about it. What I mean by this is, as somebody who deals with moderate to severe social anxiety, throwing parties is something I used to do unevenly and infrequently. By unevenly, I mean with alcohol; and by infrequently, I mean that I found all parties, even the good ones, to be sort of traumatizing and very draining. This was my first party in the new Prozac-colored world, and I just took the ball and ran for the end zone. It was awesome! But I am getting ahead of myself.

Fortunately on Friday I got an “assist” from good ol’ Nana, who is back from Cape Cod now, for the most part. I got to go for a nice 5 miler on a beautiful fall afternoon in Melrose. That felt so damn good after a week dealing with a throw-uppy kid, evening volunteer obligations, and mad work deadlines. Labor Day’s over, y’all. Time to get back to work at my office. So that run through my ‘hood at a sub-9 pace was sorely needed.

Saturday morning I got up and headed to Essex, Ma for the Tour. After many texts back and forth with Tri Friend and Facebook messages with Ironwoman, I settled on the 25 mi route instead of the 50.

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I really wanted to do the 50 mi route. It looked amazing. I knew I could do it. Ironwoman (look left) was doing it. But Tri Friend was only up for the 25 miler. “Next year,” she said. She is a woman of few words, Tri Friend, but great resolve.

Between the three of us on Saturday, we have 6 little kids and three grudgingly supportive husbands. We each have to deal with the push and pull that is married life. All of us work full time, have our kids in day care, and try to fit in running and exercise daily.

Personally, my marriage rule of thumb is respect your partner and do what you can to keep the peace. This is not always easy but I try. He is way more important to me than any fitness goal or race on the calendar. While I would be tooling around Essex County on my bike, taking in the fields, stone walls, farmhouses and marshes of picturesque New England, he would be schlepping to Costco with the kids to buy party food and drinks.

Respect. Keep the peace. 25 miles will do just fine, thank you.

So I headed out on the course guilt free and feeling totally present. For the first few miles I tried to keep up with the lithe, young (certainly younger) swinging brown ponytail glistening in the sun on the bike ahead of me. She had casually mentioned at the start that she “didn’t bike” and her mom had just purchased her the helmet on her head. Huh. So why was I hauling ass through Essex to keep up with her then, this non-biking 20-something adorable chica with a mom sponsorship?

She lost me around mile 12, and in the process I somehow lost Tri Friend. Whoops. At the half way aid station I lingered a bit, thinking she would be right along. As they came in I asked a couple of the old timers if they’d seen a woman who looks a lot like me, and wearing the exact same thing? We both opted to wear the Greenbelt kit issued that morning. This yielded no info. So I pushed on and finished the rest of the course by myself. I did manage to help one other rider get back on course after missing a turn with about 5 miles to go. She was good-natured about the extra five miles she tacked on. I hoped Tri Friend hadn’t popped a tire or had an accident or also gotten lost out there. The signage was very good but on a bike, especially when you start to fatigue, it’s easy to forget to look up all the time.

I crossed the finish line at 1 hr, 36 minutes averaging 15.4 mph pace for 25 miles. There were some significant hills to contend with on the second half. 50 miles would have done me in for sure. I could have done it, but the  remaining prep for the pirate party would have suffered if I had. That’s the truth.

Tri Friend finally appeared with a tale of woe. She had in fact missed a sign and tacked on an extra four miles before getting back on course with the help of two other racers. Fortunately she had the course map so that also helped. I was relieved that nothing more serious occurred.

We were both in good shape and in the mood for the delicious BBQ spread put out by Greenbelt, and a few Harpoon beers to wash it down. It was a great cap off to a wonderful event. We got to see Ironwoman briefly before calling it a day. She seemed a little delirious after the 50 mi. Either that, or I was the delirious one, after one and half beers. Someone was delirious – that I can say for sure.

This was followed by a frantic dash through the aisles at the Michael’s on Route One for last minute party decoration supplies before heading home to my family where crafting, cleaning, and decorating ensued. Like. A. Boss.

Here are some pictures from the main event:

The party was so much fun. My littles really enjoyed it. My husband survived it (and enjoyed it, too). The aftermath was more exhausting than any endurance event I’ve ever participated in, I can tell you that much. But all worth it.

As for the Tour de Greenbelt? You bet your ass we’ll be back next year. And we’ll be doing the 50.

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What event on your calendar are you most looking forward to?

Have you ever gotten lost on a run or a ride?

And the age old question… How do you balance family life with racing and training? 

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