Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Ninety miles. Ninety degrees. Ninety hills

Well, maybe there wasn't really ninety hills, but it sure felt like it by the end!! I don't know how I managed to forget exactly how many hills were on those last few roads I took. I rode part of that route three years ago, surely the hills haven't grown since then?

Seriously though, it was a beautiful ride. It's a blessing to be able to ride here in this most lovely corner of the world. I started out rambling through some rolling hills in the foothills of the Cascades. All felt well, it was cool and breezy and the forest smelled refreshingly sweet with the morning dew. The first big hill, one I go up regularly, I just cruised up (usually I have to start standing and huffing and puffing halfway up). A good omen.

About 35 miles in, I turned away from the forest and headed west across the Willamette Valley. Into the wind. Of course. A few more hills along the way and then I was out into the flatlands of the valley. I took some new backroads, past fields of mint, head-high corn, and hay waiting to be baled. At about mile 45, there was a standoff with a great horned ram of some variety of extremely curly-haired sheep. I wish I had my camera (and some good Western showdown-at-main-street music for the background). Fortunately, as I had no intention of slowing down, he ambled off to the side of the road.

On the other side of the valley, it was starting to heat up. I called my support crew (aka husband and kids) and put them on standby to head out to meet me (I just love not always having to bike in loops or turn around and come back the way I went out). Now the hills started getting big again, and numerous. I was in the foothills of the Coast Range now, and I stair-stepped up and over one big one and then rolled down into Oregon wine country. If I had been a little less hot, I would've appreciated the scenery more. A few trees were dropping golden leaves around me as I wove around the hills, but there was scant shade out on the blacktop. My heartrate pushed over 150 and wouldn't drop back down, even on the flats.

Finally, at 89.5 miles, my crew rolled up in the minivan. I told them to park a half a mile down the road and I'd meet them. Then I ran for a mile or so, just to feel how wonderful the first mile of the Ironman will feel (ha ha). Actually, not too bad! That was encouraging after the heat and the hills.

I wound down the afternoon by hiking up a local peak with my hubby and the kids. A run the next morning revealed very little soreness and tiredness, so I'm thinking that I might actually be close to ready to do this Ironman thang after all.

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