I can officially say that my body feels ready to go again in a few short days. I mounted my bike for my long ride on Saturday (1 week post Worlds) after some low-key workouts during the week and I instantly considered turning around before I reached my parents driveway to pick up Mark (which is exactly a quarter mile away). My legs were heavy and full of lead. I willed myself to meet up with the Wise Men (you'll meet them soon) down the street to give my legs a hot second to wake up. It worked. But I wasn't about to push it. On a normal Saturday morning, I usually pull the Wise Men behind me during our ride. Today, I was 100% ok with being the caboose.
So here we are. 10 days post Worlds. 4 days pre IMCHOO. There was an awkward "am I tapering or am I recovering" period and I'm pretty sure I've officially hit the taper, no longer recovering. That mountain lingered deep in my quads for a lot longer that I'm used to and I started to get a little worried. But I can safely say with confidence now, let's do this shit. But first, you have to meet this year's crew.
The 2017 Rybread Racing IM CHATTY Lineup
So we're going to start off with all the newbies (Ironman newbies, that is). Kati joined the RyBread Racing team just before the Spring season kicked off. She came from Chicago Endurance Sports, working closely with a mutual friend at CES. But changes happen, and RyBread was graced with Kati and all her spunk and sass. This super smart consultant (don't ask me what she actually does, she consults something, I still can't keep it straight) was born to RUN. This girl has been running for a LONG time and her resume is quite impressive. Fleet Feet is lucky to have this girl on their racing team, because her petite 5' frame can seriously fly. This girl has the kind of drive I look up to. Many of our conversations over the past months have lead to me to believe that this girl loves an internal abusive argument with herself during a race as much as I do. She has that level of crazy that many are afraid to find inside themelves. And as much as she is a creature of habit, she embraces the joy and thrill of a new challenge. And I'm positive that's what I love about her so much. The swim will always make her apprehensive and as much as she might want to sell her bike after every single long ride, she always comes back for more and wants to know how she can do it better than the last time. I gurantee you this girl will shock herself in a few short days, whether she believes it not.
So we're not 100% sure what Nathan's real name is. He keeps telling us his name is Nathan, but when bib numbers came out, his bib had "JEFFREY" splattered across it. Nate/Jeffrey is a friend of Mark's from college. He's a traveling nurse who's made his way around the country saving lives, racing bikes, and drinking a few celebratory drinks along the way. He decided to dive into the triathlon world only 4 shorts months ago. He called Mark and pretty much said, "HELP ME." Of course Mark directed him to Ryan, who immediately whipped his ass into shape. Since April, this kid has signed up for an Ironman, purchased a TT bike, spent all his free time training, and moved across the country for work. He finished his first ever triathlon (half ironman distance) only 10 days ago, placing first in his age group. So, to any men in the 25-29 age group reading this, watch out this kid has some serious hidden potential. Technically none of us (besides Mark) have every met Nate/Jeffrey, but of course we've introduced him into our lovely RyBread group chat. I'm almost positive he was like, "woah, get me outta here" as soon as he was added. But he had no choice. Welcome to Team RyBread Jeffrey. You're gonna love us. Promise.
You remember Matt from last year at Ironman Lake Placid. That's right, remember Lauren's boyfriend? The one who we so desperately tried to convince that he'd be good at this Ironman thing and should give it a shot? GUESS WHAT WE GOT 'EM! Hook line & sinker. Except... He really doesn't know which way the zipper goes when wearing a wetsuit. And... he's gotten really good at changing flat tires this summer. And... he's collided with a few brick walls while riding his bike. But that running thing? He's got that one down. Matt's another runner to the core, throwing down multiple sub 3 hour marathons like it's his full time job. And, if you ever want the truth (and I mean the honest to goodness truth) about triathlon and that all that it entails, ask Matt. His lack of filter makes me laugh until my face hurts when you get him on a roll about this sport. Don't let his humor blind you though, he's another athlete that isn't to be messed with on race day. This kid was a swimmer in high school, has some riding legs that can average some serious watts, and always seems to have his running legs handy. That 30-34 age group better watch out.
So technically Lauren isn't a newbie by any means. But after that curb came out of nowhere last year and tripped Lauren during Ironman Lake Placid and broke her foot, she has yet to cross that Ironman finish line. A girl of her word, she promised herself this was something she was going to do once in her lifetime. A quitter she is not. She's battled a few minor injuries throughout the last year but has never turned her back on this sport. She's been given every reason to walk away and live life any other way she'd like. But the will inside this girl is contagious and vibrant. This birthday twin (yep, same birthdays for us!) is someone you need in your life. Her charm and and wit keep me grounded when I'm about to lose my cool. She reminds me daily that you can do anything you want. Just put your head down and do the work. I need more Lauren's in my life and to say I'm excited to race with this girl on Sunday would be an understatement. She deserves that finish line more than anyone.
Mr. Tomato is headed to IMCHOO with the group this year. In fact, there hasn't been a full Ironman that I've raced WITHOUT the Tomato couple since IMLP last July. It's turning into our thing. This night loving mortician has come to realize the benefits of the daylight and what it can do for your training. So this summer he's sacrificed sleep more often than not in order to log some miles, push some watts, and get as fast he can. In the same breath, he's been known to sleep 20 hours at a time on his days off. His recently purchased bike is ready to throw down the hammer and see what Mr. Tomato is really made of in just a few short days. If I want any shot at beating Mr. Tomato on Sunday, I need to keep the gap between us on the bike as minimal as possible. He's turned himself into quite a cyclist and he's gonna make me do some serious work to find him on that run.
Talk about another cyclist in the group. This unicorn loving, full bread sass queen, makes riding a bike look like her day job. Mind you, this overnight critical care nurse has a completely separate demeanor on the race course than she does with her patients (and friends). She's the mother hen of the group (who will still laugh at you as you squeeze your cheeks while you run to the nearest portta potti) that turns into a hunter on the bike. She takes no prisoners when she rides, but when she passes you she'll tell you how beautiful you are and then make you stare at her ass as she giggles her way past. Moral of the story: keep your eye open for this one, she shows no mercy and she laughs in the face of fear.
Remember last year when I was over emotional about this kid's first Ironman? Because I was scared his lack of training was going to get the best of him? And how timid I was to share the course with him in the mountains? Yeah, that's all gone now. The little brother, BFG, has turned a new page and is also someone who will surprise himself for sure. Not to worry, he still hates the water and continues to average about 1.5 swims per month. But everytime he gets in the water he gives me a run for my money and I hate him for it. The downstream will surely help him find the shore quicker than he's anticipating. And his cycling legs.. holy hell. One of my secret goals that's not a secret anymore is that IF I make it out of the water before this kid, I pray to God I get off the bike before him. The kid can hammer pretty well on the bike. But, notoriously he excels in the shorter course on the bike. So Sunday will be pretty damn exciting battle for the Hode kids. And while he'll still tell you he despises the run with everything that he is, I'll be the first to tell you, I've got my work cut out for me on the run. All around this kid has made some drastic improvements this last year and I promise an exciting race out of his one.
So remember a little bit ago, I mentioned one of the 3 Wise Men? Well, here's the first. Bill is a local family friend in good ole Crystal Lake. Our paths have crossed over the years and as of late, we seem to find ourselves sharing the road on Saturday morning rides. He raced IMWI in 2014 as I tackled my first Ironman. I remember seeing him on the run course. And as he waved to me while heading to the finish shoot, I remember thinking, "one day I'll be able to race like that. One day I'll finish in the daylight." And fast forward 3 years, here we are training together side by side with Mark. Bill insists this is his last full Ironman, but I'm pretty sure he said that back in 2014 when we finished Madison together. So, time will tell. But for now, just know that it's not over til the fat lady sings.
|Lance on the right, all intense looking|
Lance, Wise Man #2. A decorated Go-Kart racer (like, the real kind. The super fast kind that practically sit on the ground) has found another hobby over the years that involves putting 3 sports into one. (Because racing go-karts and building his own cars wasn't enough.) Lance and I met a few years ago through Bill and turned himself into one of the Wise Men. This directionally challenged man is also tackling his first full Ironman in Chattanooga. We've nicknamed him Magellan for a reason. For so long I was convinced that the guys liked to give him a hard time. But it wasn't until we got lost on a long ride together (on what he calls his "home base route") that I started to understand. It's a good thing the course is marked, that's all I'm gonna say.
Heading back to Chatty for the third time this season, I can practically do this drive with my eyes closed. The roads and hills of this course are becoming more and more familiar. I'm hoping that serves as an advantage in a few days, but only time will tell. The entire RyBread crew is here to play, and I'm not one let them play alone.
So there you have it, your 2017 RyBread Racing IMCHOO crew. Of course we're not complete without our spectators. Kati's husband Rob is sacrificing his birthday weekend for his wife's happiness (awwww, true love!). Mr. and Mrs. Tomato are welcoming Ma and Pa Tomato to Chattanooga again as well! Mark and I are thrilled to share such a passionate day with BOTH our parents yet again. Bill Gagne will be racing with his wife on the sidelines and his daughter working the event, ultimately being able to medal her own father (I still want to tear when I hear that). Rob WILL be gracing his presence in Chattanooga again, this time no surprises or last minute plans. This PTO was requested months ago and I can rest easy knowing my spectathlete will be able to send me off with a good luck kiss.
But who are we without the man himself? The one that has whipped us all into shape, calmed our nerves, whipped some tears, and answered the same questions umpteen times a day sometimes. The mastermind behind it all, Ryan, will be in Chattanooga to support us every step of the way. Which reminds me, I better pack one less bag so he can fit in the car tomorrow.
|2016 Ironman Lake Placid Champion |
AKA DA COACH
Choo-Choo here we come!