Sunday, November 18, 2012

Livin' My Dream

I have posted about how I got into the biking scene, about the Biking Buddies, and the string of bikes I have had the last 8 months. The story continues...

In August or so, I did a Google search and found out about el Tour de Tucson, which the old guy I mentioned in my Biking Buddies post told us about. I told Rod that there was an 85 mile event there and that I thought we should do it. He said ok but we didn't do anything about it. We kept talking about it and the first part of September I got out the debit card and registered us for the ride. We just sat there shaking our heads our heads saying "I can't believe we are doing this."

Then we got serious about our training. We had ridden a lot during the summer, even in the very hot weather, so we were already in pretty good shape. We decided to ride 20 miles 4 nights a week, rest on Friday - date night - and then do a long ride (between 40-60 miles) every Saturday. This took just about all of our spare time. We also decided to be very careful with our diet and tried to eat very healthy foods. We continued with the green smoothies, home made bread, and a whole foods, plant based diet 99% of the time. It was so much fun to ride every night! And we ate ravenously after our rides. We would text each other during the day and say "only 1 more hour till we ride!" We eventually had to get lights for our bikes and kept saying we would have to cut back on our evening rides as the sun was going down earlier and earlier. Well, we never did cut back. We just got better and faster, and got better and faster bikes! It was very exciting to have this goal and work together toward this big ride.

When we did our last 60 mile ride last Saturday (11/10), I remember looking over at Rod and saying, "I am living my dream! You have helped me live my dream!" He just smiles in his quiet way. I cannot thank God enough for this wonderful friend and husband. He has blessed my life in unmeasurable ways. I cannot imagine any facet of my life without him being front stage and center. He is supportive beyond anything I have ever experienced and we have so much fun together!

As the date drew nearer, all we talked about was el Tour de Tucson. I am sure our friends and co-workers were SICK of us talking about it. Rod made a list of things we needed to take. I made sure our bike shorts and jerseys were washed and ready. We took the day of Friday - we packed up our stuff, put the bikes in the back of the truck, and headed out. We called our hotel ahead of time to see if we could check in early so we had a place to keep our bikes secure so we could go pick up our entry packets.
The Expo was at the Tucson Civic Center downtown, just a few blocks from the finish line. We went in to get our numbers. My heart was pounding! After we checked in, we went around to all the exhibitors and saw their wares. Then we went back to the hotel and took a 2 hour nap! Centennial High School played their final State playoff game in Tucson that night, so we went to the game. After we knew they were winning, we left at the start of the 4th quarter and went to the Olive Garden to eat up the carbs for energy.

My alarm went off at 6:00AM, which is sleeping in for me, and we got ready to go. We loaded up the bikes into the back of the truck and set the GPS for Pima College, where our start line was. Just a bit frustrating when you go to turn on the street you need and they have it closed off for the event you are going to participate in. Oh well, we made it anyway, with time to spare.

 I love having my own personal bike mechanic. I never have to worry about my equipment.

Rod immediately started working on our bikes, to get the chains all lubed up with white lightening.

I worked on getting on my leg warmers, which I then took off before the ride, and my arm warmers.

Rod posing at the start line.

And here I am at the start line.

Riders in the 111 mile event started at 7:00am and flew by our start line before our gun went off. They were so fast! You could hear them coming. It made this cool swishing sound I have never heard before. We watched 3 or 4 pack of riders like this pass by. It was amazing! They were strong, fast and furious. I got a little nervous about that time...
 A big smile to hide the butterflies in my tummy! And no, I did not wear any make up on this ride!

There were so many people there! And ESPN radio, with an announcer and much to my dismay, a Mariachi band blasting. People started lining up early. We were in the middle of the line up. They were talking and taking pictures. There were some really nice people there and they came from all over the country. One lady by us was from British Columbia.She and her husband flew in and rented bikes to be in the event. It was fun to see all the different bikes and the colorful jerseys.

We did a countdown 10, 9, 8, etc. and Bam! We were off. I just concentrated on not running in to anybody. We had plotted our strategy - don't start off too fast. Ha! That didn't go as planned. We actually made incredible time. Did our first 20 in 1 hr and 8 minutes - fastest time ever! And that included a stop at the 15 mile Aide Station and a mammoth hill.

We thought we would not be able to finish at that pace, but we really surprised ourselves. We had trained hard, and were able to perform physically and mentally. It was such a great experience! One thing that Tucson has that we don't have many of is HILLS. The first hill came and I was so glad we had ridden up 59th ave a few times for hill training. I knew I could do the hill because I had done 59th ave. I just didn't know there were so MANY hills on this ride. But we were able to climb them, and even passed people on every single hill climb! I couldn't believe it!

We actually had to carry our bikes through a dry river bed for about 500 yards. I made the comment that I had trained for a bike ride, not weight lifting. Thankfully our bikes don't weigh much. I passed one guy that was really struggling. I could see him limping and as we got closer, I could see that he had a badly twisted club foot. He couldn't carry his bike as he needed it for balance to walk. He was literally dragging his lame foot through the sand. I wanted to carry him and his bike! I had to fight back the tears and move on. I knew it was his battle and he knew what he was doing.

 There was even an aide station in the river bed. There were so many wonderful volunteers along the way. They would hold your bike and fill your water bottles while you waited in line for the port-a-potty. They had fruit, cookies, peanut butter sandwiches, water and lots of encouragement for us when we would stop in. They were an amazing support crew! There were also bike mechanics on the ride to help with flat tires and other equipment problems.There were 400 volunteer policemen that stopped traffic and made sure we were safe on the route. There were some pretty bad accidents and people were seriously hurt requiring paramedics and ambulances. Luckily we had no problems and were very blessed with stamina, strength and properly working equipment. 

All along the way, there were people there to shout "You can do it!" "Way to go!" And they would ring cow bells and yell encouragement. I looked over at Rod and said "as much as I appreciate the cheerleaders, and am so glad to be in the event instead of on the sidelines watching." Truly, I am so thankful for the marvelous experience this whole biking thing has been. One of the signs really struck a cord with me. It simply said "Exceed Your Expectations." Wow. We really did! We wanted to finish in under 7 hours and we actually finished in 5 hours and 44 minutes according to the official timing device they had attached to our rider numbers.

Something else that was special about this ride is that the weather was PERFECT. It was overcast the whole day, and we did not get sunburned. We did have a little wind for a while, but we had trained in the wind, so it was not a problem. We could not have asked for a more beautiful day for the ride.

When we had about 17 miles left, I told Rod "I can't keep up this pace any more. I can't pass anyone else." Then we would catch up to a group and it would bug me that they were going so slow and I would jam around them. I did this time after time. Rod says we passed hundreds in that last stretch before the finish line. Again, the training really paid off and the body responded with strength and stamina I did not know I had. I couldn't believe I was passing people at the end! And they were younger than me, and lots of them were men! We are promised in the Word of Wisdom that if we live that amazing law of health we will "run and not be weary and walk and not faint." I experienced that blessing during this ride as I called upon hidden reserves of strength. I will always remember this and know that because I was obedient and took care of my body, I was blessed by the Lord and helped by angels to achieve this ride both physically and mentally.

 Rod after the finish. He looks quite relieved, don'tcha think?

 My finish line pose. We were absolutely thrilled that we did it!

Our dear friends, Sam, Trudy, and Jacque Grimes came all the way from Peoria to cheer for us as we crossed the finish line. Jacque made these posters for us. It was so fun to have them celebrate with us!

We are already planning our next big ride, so watch out world. Here come the LaMunyons to break another land speed record! HA!

1 comment:

Katie said...

I am so proud of you! I can't wait to get a bike and do a race with you someday:) There is nothing like achieving that long, hard, worked for physical goal- something you thought you would never do! You two look awesome