Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Chance of RAIN

2013 has been an amazing year so far.  I've had so much fun and have met some wonderful new people. Athletically, it's been extremely fulfilling. Every day I learn a little more about my sport. Every day I grow and push myself to my limits. Every day is a gift.

While I have concentrated on all three disciplines of triathlon in my training, my primary focus for the first six months of 2013 centered around cycling.  It is my passion. I have logged 3,900 miles in the saddle the first six months of the year. This was largely due to training for and the completion of of my biggest cycling endeavor to date; RAIN/Ride Across INdiana. July 13, 2013. From Terre Haute, IN to Richmond, IN. One day, one way, 160 miles. It was an absolutely incredible experience. 

I planned to ride RAIN with several close cycling friends. We made the journey to Terre Haute, an 80 mile drive from Indianapolis, Friday evening.  We reached the city too late to make packet pickup so we grabbed a late dinner and retired to the hotel, arranging to meet in the parking lot the next morning at 5:30am.

The morning arrived with crystal clear blue skies and cool temps. We made our way to the venue and prepared our equipment for the day. Excitement was in the air.  It was my kind of heaven with cyclists everywhere, race atmosphere abound and the familiar nervous excitement building inside of me. I had trained for this ride for months, and I was ready.

We underestimated what time to arrive at the starting line and found the field was set. As such, our group was forced to start toward the back of the pack.

We were still optimistic.  The gun sounded the start of the ride.  The first 30 miles was difficult as we volleyed for position. We slowly made progress, passing slower riders and eventually hooking up with a good pace line with faster riders. We gained speed and regrouped at the first SAG stop.

The next couple of legs were faster. Adrenaline took over. We discovered another factor imperative in this ride: teamwork.  This is not a solo endeavor.  We attached to good, fast groups and made up a lot of time taking advantage of drafting opportunities.  Unlike triathlon, drafting is completely legal in most cycling events.

As the afternoon approached, the winds picked up and were directly in our faces.  This made riding twice as difficult unless drafting was utilized. As the afternoon progressed, the field of riders was largely dispersed, and our little rag tag group was left to face the wind alone.  The last 40 miles was tough.  We were tired, saddle sore and one was extremely hung over.  To make matters even worse, the final 40 was a steady, gradual climb into the wind.  It took all of our strength to keep pedaling.

During the last two miles two of our Indianapolis riding buddies caught up to us and we crossed the finish line together.  I had never been more thrilled to get my ass off the bike!  The sense of accomplishment far outweighed any pain or stiffness that I was feeling.  I had done it!  Ridden across the state.  Amazing!

My goal was to finish in 9 1/2 hours, based on my performance in training.  When it was all said and done, it took me 11 hours but hell...I finished!  Many did not. RAIN was tough.  I was a rookie just out to do her best, one pedal stroke at a time. We encountered several obstacles:  a 14mph headwind all day, we got off to a late start (we started at the very back of 1,400 riders), we didn't use time wisely at our SAG stops (SAG = Support And Gear), and did not adequately prepare leading up to the event.  Training is not enough.  I am chalking this year's ride up to be a fun learning experience and knowledge gained of what we need to improve next year.

One example: corn fields make perfectly acceptable potty stops.  No lines, no waiting.

Post RAIN, my focus shifted back to the swim and run portions of multi sport.

My next event is in a little over a week.  Ironman Steelhead 70.3 in Benton Harbor, MI.  My "A" triathlon of the season. I did this race last year and my goal this year is to PR (personal record) the race. I will be joined by a large Indianapolis triathlon circle group of friends and it will be a fun weekend! I'll keep you posted...

Peace out xoxo


  1. Maximum respect for the eleven hour time.
    Would have taken me that many days!
    Great post.

  2. Congrats on your ride across Indiana, Michelle. 11 hours sounds like pretty good timing to me! Indeed, corn fields provide plenty of privacy during a potty break.

  3. A wonderful accomplishment, Michelle. Your enthusiasm is definitely contagious.

  4. Michelle, you’ve had such an incredible journey! All that training really paid off. I bet it was thrilling to reach the finish line with your team and get your “ass off the bike!” LOL! Amazing and well done! Good luck in your next event. :)

  5. Wow, you are so inspiring! Well done!