First, let me recap the other things I did this weekend. Note: Rebecca stole my thunder for much of this post and we didn't even mention it to each other. I guess that's why we are getting married in less than 2 months ;)
- Friday night, Rebecca, myself and some friends went to a Jazz in the Garden, which was going on in the sculpture gardens by the National Gallery of Art. It was great, with the US Army Jazz band playing. Free to attend, with several bars and food options all around. We opted for a pitcher of sangria, which resulted in a solid buzz before dinner.
- Saturday morning, we took Piper to the ICU, because he hadn't eaten in more than 24 hours and had been getting progressively worse over the course of week, since becoming ill. The
recommended step was to take an ultrasound to determine if something was in his intestines and causing the problems. Sure enough, there was. The only option was sugery. So we handed him over and Saturday afternoon, Piper successfully underwent surgery to remove the foreign object. When I spoke to the doctor following surgery, he was describing the object as something like a piece of a goggle. While that wouldn't surprise us, since we do have a few pairs of them around, we realized that it was actually the rubber belt that wraps around Rebecca's computer battery pack to tie up the wires. We had recently noticed that about half of it was missing. Go figure. The good news is that Piper is doing great and recovering well under the watchful eyes of the doctors. We hope to be able to take him home
- While waiting for Piper to undergo his surgery, Rebecca and I stopped by Home Depot, since we were in the area. $75 later, we left with a new fan for the broken one in the bathroom, paint for the kitchen, and a gutter pipe connector, because with all the rain from Hanna, we were having some issues with the gutter pipes connecting and needed an extra part. By the end of the day, the kitchen was painted, the bathroom had a new fan (thanks to Rebecca), and the pipes were mostly connected (thanks to Rebecca). Who says we aren't domestic!
- Sunday, Sunday, Sunday. Since Patriot's was out, I decided that I needed to do something to cause equal pain to my body. Something I really had been eyeing for some time this summer, but never got a chance to do. I set out first thing in the morning for the Blue Ridge Challenge.
After reading about Jeanne's fun times last weekend, I had to make that a part of my pain. So I drove out to Marshall, VA and began the ride.
While the description of the ride says it's not for the faint of heart (and that's totally true), it also says that the first 20 miles are fairly easy. I disagree. While there are some flats and some nice downhills, its still pretty rolling, with 1 or 2 decent climbs by any other courses' standards. I entered the town of Bluemont ready for the road ahead. The next 2 miles average an 8% grade, but there are much steeper pitches. First, is the 500 foot climb out of Bluemont. This was short, but very steep. I thought it was going to be longer, since I saw a switchback at the top, but luckily it was flat for a minute, which was a nice break. Next, you continue up Rt 7 for about 1/4 mile at a fairly reasonable, but still challenging grade. Then,
you make a left onto Blue Ridge Mountain Rd. Once you make the left, you see the reason why this ride is for the faint of heart. It is pretty much straight up for as far as you can see. And since the road is straight, it makes it look even worse from the bottom. At this point, I mentally prepared for the grueling climb and got settled in my easiest gear and spun away. As you near the top of what seemed like the summit, the pitch got a bit steeper (why does it always have to do that!) and I pushed hard to get up the hill thinking I was done, since I saw downhill. The downhill was short, because I found myself climbing and thinking this HAS to be the top. But no. There are so many false summits.
I guess it is my fault for not reading the elevation map too closely, because you can clearly see that there are 5 "summits", with the real one being once you see the fencing for Mount Weather. The next bunch of miles were spent whizzing downhill and hoping I didn't encounter and surprise wildlife, since I was breaking, but still having difficulty keeping it at 40 mph.
And then I made my one and only mistake of the ride. I got toward the bottom of the big decent and thought I had to make a right onto Rt 50 to get to the bottom of the hill for the next turn (per the cue sheet). What I mistakenly overlooked was that I was to go left onto Rt 50 (which was up hill) and then get to the bottom of the hill for the next turn. It was a bit tricky, I swear. So, when did I realize I had made this mistake? Oh, only after I spent 2 miles flying downhill. So I had to turn around and go back up that 2 mile hill. Ugh. Of all the mistakes to make on a ride, you never want it to be one that requires you to go back up a hill you just whizzed down. So instead of 2 major climbs on the ride, I now had 3. And instead of 56 miles, I now had 60. 4 extra miles doesn't seem like a lot, but those 2 up hill miles sure took a lot out of me.
The rest of the ride was nice and scenic through rolling hills along the mountains. I passed by Naked Mountain Winery (and would have loved to stop there, but the whole fact that I had 20 miles to go and my legs didn't feel so good got in the way). Finally, I reached what is normally the 2nd major climb, now my 3rd. This wasn't nearly as long as the big one, but it was plenty steep and curved around, so I never knew when it was going to end. Not to mention, it was only a few miles after I had just spent 2 miles climbing, so my legs were already shot. At one point, I cramped up and needed to stop. I stretched a bit and continued on. The rest of the ride was mostly a blur, but I was able to keep a pretty good speed on the flats and there were only a few minor hills that required me to get out of my big ring. Finally, I spotted a sign for Marshall, VA and I knew I was done. That was one bad mother of a ride. I'm sure there are others in the area that are bad as well, but this was the hardest ride I've done in this area. Not that I want to, but I'm sure I'll come across one harder in the future.
- Rebecca made turkey chili in honor of the start of football season. I LOVE me some chili. It is my usual ritual during football season.
So that was my weekend in a nutshell. While it didn't equal to racing a half IM, it was still just as crazy in its own right.
Note - I just wanted to point out that SetUpEvents has recently announced that they will be sending registered athletes from the Patriots Half their swag bags, even though the race was canceled. After my initial disappointment, I think they have gone above and beyond what I actually expected. So despite my earlier post about what I had hoped for, they are clearly doing as much as they can, given the circumstances.