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My First Century

by Meghann on September 22, 2013

It took us way longer than expected (we missed the cut-off by an hour!) and we got a little lost along the way (and ended up riding on a very busy road by ourselves – whoops!), but we did it. We finished our first century ride and we had a blast!

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And, oddly enough, my legs feel great! woo hoo!

The morning started early. My alarm was set for 4:00am with the goal of getting on the road at 4:30. My sister Kelly and I had registered for the Ride4Ronald 100-mile route, which had a 7:00am start time in Lake Nona. We picked this event because it was the perfect middle ground for both of us (an hour drive for Kelly and a little less than an hour and a half for me). We both arrived around 6:00, collected our packets, and got ready for our long day.

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This was our first cycling event and neither of us knew what to expect. It wasn’t a timed race, but there was a cut-off of 7 hours for the 100-mile route. I figured as long as we averaged 15 mph on the bike that we would be fine. What I didn’t take into account were the multiple rest stops and the amazing volunteers who encourage you to relax, chat, and eat at each stop (p.s. this event had AWESOME volunteers!). The “race” definitely had a laid back feel to it and reminded me of a relaxed trail run. Personally, I loved it. We didn’t hit any of our timed goals, but we made new friends and loved every minute of it (well, I didn’t like getting lost so much).

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Ride4Ronald had 10 mile, 30 mile, 60 mile, and 100 mile distant options. The 100 mile group started first (at 7:00), with each distance departing every 10 minutes after.

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At 7:05 (there was a delayed start), it was go time. We positioned ourselves in the middle and took off with the 100 milers. I would guess there were about 75 cyclists going the 100 mile distance?

As predicted, everyone took off and Kelly and I were left in their dust. We were averaging 16.5ish and they still flew by. Whomp. Whomp. We decided at the beginning not to let the groups passing to bother us, we were going to finish this 100 miles in our own time.

The first 28 miles were amazing. Eventually the 60 milers caught up to us (as we knew they would) and started passing us as if it was nothing. However, we both felt great. We were still averaging 16.5 and going strong.

We skipped the first rest stop at mile 14, but did make a pit stop at 28. I was still concerned about making our time cut-off at this point and got nervous as we wasted time waiting in line for the porta potties and taking our time filling up our water bottles and grabbing food. We lost 10 minutes at that first stop.

It wasn’t long after we left the first rest stop that we dropped the 60 milers. They made a right around mile 30, while we went straight.

I really enjoyed the route for this ride. It took us all over Orlando, including areas that Kelly and I were very familiar with. It was like taking a fun ride down memory lane.

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It also helped both of us overcome our fears of riding on the road. Actually, it wasn’t that bad to ride with the morning traffic. We stuck to our shoulder (and obeyed traffic laws) and never felt unsafe out there. I enjoyed it sooooo much more than my normal trail rides. So. Much. More. ๐Ÿ™‚

We were on our own after the 60 milers left us. After not seeing ANYONE for 20 miles, we were pretty convinced we were the last 100 milers still out there. We were still doing good on pace at that point and made it to the 50 mile rest stop at about 3:12 on the clock. Not bad. Not bad.

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It wasn’t long after we pulled up that a group of guys turned in too, then a couple of other cyclists slowly trickled in. Oh, hey, we’re not last. Woot! Woot!

We said hello to the other cyclists and made friends. Turns out they were from the same town on the east coast that Kelly recently moved to – small world!

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p.s. these rest stops were STOCKED with food. Apple pie? Chocolate chip cookies? Coke? Powerade? Fruit? Peanut Butter sandwich? What-ever you want, it’s yours!

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I actually became a little piggy at each stop. It’s so hard to say no when they have a cyclist’s buffet in front of you!

Kelly and I left at the same time as our new friends, but we lost them pretty early. Kelly and I were on our own again and starting to slow down. The rest stop had cost us another 10 minutes and we were now facing a nasty headwind.

The course was well marked with bright orange arrows that had been spray painted the night before guiding the way. There were arrows (whether telling you to turn or go straight) at every intersection. On top of the arrows, we also carried maps in our back pockets and had our phones on us just in case we needed them.

We knew something was wrong when we got to a very busy intersection (Tuskawilla and Red Bug Lake Road) and were no arrows. I checked my map and it looked like we were supposed to go straight through Red Bug Leg (but what I missed was that we weren’t supposed to be on Tuskawilla when we went straight). It took a dead end intersection arrows with no arrows to confirm we were definitely lost. However, the busy road with no shoulder should have been our first clue. :/

We pulled over, got the maps out, and consulted our phones to realize we had missed a right turn a couple of miles back and accidentally cut 2 miles off of the course. Darn it! Luckily, we could make a left and be back on the course immediately. We decided to continue with the course and try to make up the distance later.

We turned into the next rest stop (mile 68) and met back up with our new friends we had made at our last stop.

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We joked about getting lost with them and they joked about us not letting them know about the short cut in advance. I had a cookie and refilled my water bottle.

We ended up leaving at the same time as the group again, but this time we somehow got in the middle of their line and kind of stayed there. They were going the same pace we were and having fun – why no try to hang on? New friends rock!

We stopped at the rest stops at mile 75 and mile 83 (spending about 10 minutes at each of them). At this point I knew we weren’t going to make our original 7 hour goal, but I didn’t care. Everyone was just so laid back and just enjoying the day, their attitudes totally rubbed off on me.

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Oh, and the ice cold wet towels at the final rest stop were probably the best part of the ride.

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o.m.g. amazing.

Unfortunately, just as we pulled out of the last rest stop, on of our new friends for a flat tire. Oh, no!

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We had been riding on roads with a lot of gravel and glass and a piece of glass got stuck in the tire and popped the tube. We waited as he changed the flat.

The final stretch was along the airport road, which is a popular bike route in Orlando I’ve heard of, but never been on. I didn’t like the headwind going out, but the tailwind coming back in was awesome.

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The last 15 miles felt like the longest 15 miles of my life. I had been on my bike for 7 hours and was just ready to be done. We picked up the pace for the last bit and the guys were great by helping Kelly and I add 2 miles to the route to get back to where we needed to be to hit 100 miles at the finish.

We headed into the finish chute and about half a dozen volunteers were out there cheering us on. I couldn’t believe they were still out there an HOUR after the course was supposed to close. How bad ass is that?! I’m telling you, these volunteers rule!

We came to a stop and more volunteers swarmed us, offering us pizza, water, soda, and anything else we could possible want. Again, volunteers rock!

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And, there it was, 100 miles! Whoa.

Am I nervous were didn’t finish anywhere close to the cut off time? Nope. Because I know that the Ironman will be different. For one, we won’t be taking several 10-20 minute long rest stops along the way. Also, our attitudes will be a lot different – definitely no laid back feeling on race day, complete focus only.

However, I’ll admit this ride was very humbling. I was legitimately scared they were going to start packing up the last rest stops before we got there, or the finish line was going to be gone before we finished. I’ve been very lucky as a runner to always come in well before the cut-off times, but I’m not as lucky of a cyclist. I’m slow and I may finish last, but I will finish. I’ll have 8.5ish hours (HOPEFULLY!) to finish 112 miles at IM Florida. It’s going to be a push, but I know I can do it (just need to keep those stop to a minimum!).

Kelly and I have one more 100 mile training ride in two weeks. We’re going to have less stops and spend the ride side-by-side (no drafting allowed!). It’ll be our final long ride before taper time. It’s getting close!!!

{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

1 MissPinkKate September 22, 2013 at 10:40 pm

Thanks for the report! Do you and your sister plan to stay together on the Ironman course?

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2 Meghann September 22, 2013 at 10:44 pm

No, she’s a faster swimmer, so she’ll probably beat me out of the water by a good bit.

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3 Rebecca P. September 22, 2013 at 10:55 pm

Awesome ride, glad you had amazing volunteers and help! I did a ride this summer that was supposed to be 14 miles, but the volunteers and organization was awful and we ended up going 20 miles! Something I was completely unprepared for!
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4 Sara @ LovingOnTheRun September 22, 2013 at 10:57 pm

Great job!! Even though you didn’t get the time you were hoping you finished and you had a great time with your sister! That is the most important part! You are going to do awesome in your ironman! I love following your training.
Sara @ LovingOnTheRun recently posted..Weekly Training Recap: 9/16 โ€“ 9/21

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5 Lindsay September 22, 2013 at 11:03 pm

Are you planning any solo long bike rides? Seems like a concern if you’ve only done long training rides with someone else!

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6 Courtney September 23, 2013 at 8:48 am

Most of her long rides have been solo. Plus the IM courses are filled with other participants, you won’t have the same person the whole time, but there are always people on the course… so it shouldn’t be a concern.

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7 Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs September 22, 2013 at 11:10 pm

Amazing! Congrats on finishing your first 100 miler!
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8 Kayla September 22, 2013 at 11:22 pm

This makes me totally want to do a century ride! Way to go!!
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9 Megan (The Lyons' Share) September 22, 2013 at 11:33 pm

Wow, you two are amazing!! And what nice volunteers!! I’m always amazed at how much solid food I can consume on the bike (especially since I have a super sensitive stomach when running). Congrats!!

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10 Mrs. Swan September 22, 2013 at 11:50 pm

Loved the recap!
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11 Mary September 23, 2013 at 2:26 am

Well done on your super-long bike ride! I’m sure you will make the cut-off on race day.
It was a really nice day over here in England yesterday too and I saw loads of groups of cyclists out and about in their groups.
I got really confused for a minute when on your map I read ‘Keep on the right side of the road’. I thought ‘Well that’s not safe at all!’ before realising that in America you do drive on the right hand side! Whoops!
Mary recently posted..Bristol half reflections

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12 Amanda September 23, 2013 at 3:30 am

I can’t fathom being on a bike for that long! Your training is SO well rounded, I really admire your commitment to this ๐Ÿ™‚

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13 Lisa September 23, 2013 at 5:16 am

wow, you two are awesome!!! ๐Ÿ™‚
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14 Runner Girl Eats September 23, 2013 at 6:24 am

100 miles and 8 hours?!? My butt is tired just thinking about that! You guys did great. I love reading your recaps and your realistic goals adn outlook. Very inspiring ๐Ÿ™‚
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15 Becky @ Olives n Wine September 23, 2013 at 6:56 am

Way to go on the 100 miles! Regardless of break or times, that is incredible!! I bet it feels awesome to have that under your belt ๐Ÿ™‚
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16 egb September 23, 2013 at 8:30 am

Congrats on your first 100 milers (sounds like there will definitely be more in your future)!!! Sounds like a great ride with even better volunteers!
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17 Ashley (@FiddleDeeAsh) September 23, 2013 at 8:39 am

Congratulations! Great volunteers really make a great event even better. You can just tell by your photos that you had a fun time. You’re going to do amazing at IM!
Ashley (@FiddleDeeAsh) recently posted..Marathon Monday: Week 2

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18 Brian J September 23, 2013 at 10:13 am

Great Job on the Century. You said keep your stops to a minimum…are you talking about during the Ironman? Not many people stop at aid stations, only special needs.

If you haven’t already, you might want to practice grabbing a water bottle and GUs, Bananas or Bonk Breakers while riding. It’ll come in handy.
Brian J recently posted..Push it to the Limit

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19 Katie September 23, 2013 at 10:25 am

I’m bummed you were working for IronGirl this weekend as I particpated in the Duathlon in Bloomington! But I am glad you got such a great ride! What a great way to get the mileage in and stay positive!
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20 Beth September 23, 2013 at 10:30 am

I’ve done two group rides like that & felt the same way. All very relaxed with a good vibe. You can absolutely make the bike cut off at IMFL. You got this Meghann!

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21 Sam Terry September 23, 2013 at 10:43 am

Totally amazing and inspirational!! I have always been scared to try the 100miles but next time round I will give it a try..even if I don’t finish..I must just stop being such a perfectionist!!

Have you ever traveled by bike? A few years back I got to Paris, bought a bike and rode my way to Versailles (Biiiiiig uphill leaving town) then took a train to Chartres and rode my way all along the Loire river, seeing a castle a day and camping in the teensy weensy camping grounds which were ridiculously cheap.. have I inspired you back? ๐Ÿ™‚
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22 CaitlinHTP September 23, 2013 at 10:46 am

is that my old orlando airport course? man, i miss that a lot.
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23 Nicole September 23, 2013 at 11:49 am

Wow, congratulations on 100 miles!!!
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24 Ashley September 23, 2013 at 11:51 am

What an amazing ride! Sounds like you took advantage of a fun and exciting event — you have the right attitude (obviously). The IronMan will be different. You just spent over 7 hours on your bike — that is AWESOME training. Let’s not even talk physical — I doubt I’d have the MENTAL stamina to do that!

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25 Erin September 23, 2013 at 11:58 am

My first thought after reading this…and your crotch isn’t sore at all?!?!?!?

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26 Emily September 23, 2013 at 2:21 pm

Congrats on finishing your first century! And only one flat tire from the group? That’s unheard of. The Good Biking Fairies were on your side this weekend!

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27 Sonia the Mexigarian September 23, 2013 at 3:18 pm

Congrats on the century!! Sounds like a lot of fun ๐Ÿ™‚ Glad you all got to the finish safe and sound. Great volunteer support there!
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28 Caroline September 23, 2013 at 5:36 pm

Congrats on finishing 100 miles. I can’t even imagine biking that far! OUCH! How’re you feeling today?
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29 Jessica September 23, 2013 at 6:22 pm

It sounds like you had a really great time!
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30 Shannon @ A Pinch of Ginger September 24, 2013 at 12:57 pm

That was such an awesome post! My family and I are doing our first (almost) century this weekend in Philly for MS. Its called CitytoShore and I’ve sent my sisters your post as a means to pump them up ๐Ÿ™‚ Congrats!! It’s so awesome that you did it for a good cause, had a great training ride and good time with your sister ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope mine will be the same experience!

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31 Floey September 25, 2013 at 5:54 pm

Did u ever swim in high school? I did, but I’m scared to join a masters team so late in life! lol/
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32 Jess October 2, 2013 at 12:10 pm

Oooo heyyyyy! Me and my girl friends are in your pic of the start arch ๐Ÿ™‚

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33 John Baker October 9, 2013 at 7:24 am

A really phenomenal job. It is hard to imagine the end when you are at the beginning but believe and train enough and you can do it. Nice Job
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