While I’m not usually a big fan of virtual races, when the opportunity to run the 465 Challenge came up with BibRave, I said yes. I needed something to help me kick off the new year right, and I liked the idea of taking on a new challenge.
The 465 Challenge is a brand new virtual race, running you in a loop around Highway 465, which circles Indianapolis for a total of 53 miles. The goal was to complete 53 miles between January 1 and February 29 in whatever way possible. I decided that I was only going to count run miles, but you could count run, bike, swim, walk, whatever you wanted. That’s the fun of a virtual race.
You also had the option to do the 465 miles in the first 24 hours, getting your name on the 24 hour club list, or you could aim for multiple loops, putting you in the Looper Club. While I used to be in shape to run 50+ mile months, I’m just not there right now. So I was just looking to run a total of 53 miles. (Should be easy, right? Not during cold and flu season!)
One thing I LOVED about this race was the race emails. Every week, they sent a motivational email that included where you would be on the loop if you were doing your 53 miles at an even clip (.88 miles a day). Of course, they were sure to remind you multiple times that you should not, no do not, never ever go run on 465. That always made me laugh, and yet you know there was probably that one person…
For example, here is a bit from week 3:
Piping along the west side of Indianapolis amps you up for the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing!”! The West side of Indianapolis houses the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home to the Indianapolis 500, NASCAR Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard, INDYCAR: GMR Grand Prix, and the MOTOAMERICA: Superbikes at the Brickyard! Just the thought of those high speed engines has us picking up our pace!
I really enjoyed learning about the area as I “ran” around the loop. There was also a Facebook group for this challenge, which was equally fun. There were a lot of people taking on this challenge as a way to kick off the new year, and for some, kicking off a new healthy routine. It was great to get to cheer on new runners and walkers.
The race swag is pretty sweet. It arrived just as I was finishing my 53rd mile, and it’s super cute. The medal is adorable, and the car slides around the course, which I love. They billed the t-shirt as super soft, and it definitely is. It’s one of the nicer race shirts I’ve received in a while. It also came with a bumper sticker, and while my car remains sticker free right now, I do have a fun collection of stickers on my bulletin board at work, and this one will fit right in.
While I don’t do a lot of virtual races, this one made me see why some people love them, especially the ones with an attached community. It was a lot of fun to get to talk with other runners, especially newer runners. It was good to challenge myself and make myself get back on the treadmill, no matter how much I didn’t want to. And it was fun to start the year on a positive note. So I think this one might just stay on my list for next year. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.
This has been a crazy, crazy set of months. I’ve had my mileage for January sitting in a post draft all February and never got around to writing it. So let’s take a look at my year so far.
These past two months have been crazy. January had two trips, and in February, my boss was in training so I had to do my job and her job (note – that is an impossible task and I felt like I was clinging onto the edge of a cliff the entire month). I also managed to catch multiple colds. But I’m working to get back into training. I’m registered for a few olympic distance races this summer, and I want to be able to complete them!
My first race is at the beginning of May and I’m already a bit nervous. I’ve not actually completed a triathlon since 2018. My first race in 2019 ended in a crash, and my second and last race in 2019 ended up being turned into a bike-run. So getting back in the water, completing a swim, and then getting onto the bike is going to be scary. I’m also really far behind where I should be on my swim skills.
January Mileage Swim – 1.2 miles Bike – 56 miles Run – 36 miles
February Mileage Swim – 1.6 miles Bike – 34 miles Run – 32 miles
As you can see, February wasn’t a great month for me, workout wise. I did show up to the pool twice, and that’s better than nothing. I’ve been struggling to get myself out of bed and to the pool, but I’m recommitting for March. I will show up.
I’ve also got to make sure to get in all my running – I’ve got a ten mile race coming up at the beginning of April. I definitely want to run strong there, so I’ve got to step up my game.
2020 Mileage Swim – 2.8 miles Bike – 90 miles Run – 68 miles
I also need to be better about keeping up with this blog. It’s a great resource for me to look back on, and tracking my training publicly has really been good for me. So now I’m setting the goal. I know that I need to keep up with my training, but I need to get back to blogging. Ideally at least one post a week, but at this point, I’ll be happy with two posts a month!
Plus I’ve got a few things non-fitness related to post about!
In order to kick off the new year right, I’ve signed up for the 465 Virtual Challenge. What is this? 465 is the road that loops around Indianapolis, and it’s 53 miles long – so to complete this challenge, you run, walk, swim, bike, hop, etc. for a total of 53 miles between January 1 and February 29.
For some of us, 53 miles in two months sounds like a solid challenge. But for a lot of runners, that might not be enough mileage. So you have the option to become a Looper – how many times can you loop 465 in two months? Or maybe you’re a one-and-done type – can you get the 53 miles done in 24 hours? (I do not even want to consider this – I’m not sure I’m back into that sort of biking shape, and I have never been in that sort of running shape.)
There are two signup options – the basic package gets you a bumper sticker, a training program, motivational emails, a virtual bib, and a certificate of completion. The premium package gets you all that, plus a t-shirt and a sweet finisher’s medal with a car that slides around the route.
If you use the code BIBRAVE, you also get 10% off.
I’m really excited to get started with this. I think I’m going to try to run the 53 miles, because I’ve been working to get back into a running routine, and January and February are going to be difficult months, schedule-wise. This will hopefully help keep me on track. Anyone want to be racing buddies?
This weekend, I finally returned to the race stage after crashing on April 20th. Early in the year, I registered for the Patriots Olympic Triathlon, and it was the one race I opted to not defer after my crash. I really wanted to have something to work towards. I knew it would be tough, but I was dedicated to completing it.
Of course, the incoming hurricane had something to say about it. We were very lucky to not get hit, but thanks to Dorian, the swim was cancelled. The rescue boat was required elsewhere, so we know about the cancellation mid-day Thursday (the race was on Saturday). There were plenty of angry athletes, but I was just disappointed. Obviously, the important thing was that people were kept safe, so I’m glad the rescue boat could be prioritized to where it needed to go. And I was glad to know early so that I could mentally prepare.
My biggest worry was probably the swim. My elbow and shoulder still hurt when I swim. It’s not bad, and swimming doesn’t make it worse or better, but it’s just something I’m going to have to deal with for a while. So having the swim cancelled removed that worry.
It also really removed another big worry, which was a super fast cyclist coming up behind me after the swim. The race turned into a time-trial start, all self-seeded. While there weren’t signs indicating where people should line up, I figured there wouldn’t be any crazy cyclists whizzing past. Sure, there would be some jockeying for position, but nothing like a slow swimmer/expert cyclist coming out of the water later and then trying to crush the competition.
This race, I also had my boyfriend with me as chauffeur, carrier of heavy things, captain of the cheer squad, anxiety battler, and all around super supportive person. I think that definitely helped as well. He kept me out of my head and prevented a lot of stress.
He also very proudly wore the shark head, much to the delight of many a toddler. After the race, I asked him how many people he took pictures with, and he said something like “Not too many, only maybe ten or so.” TEN? That’s a lot of people to ask a random stranger for a selfie!
The race also had a half-distance before the olympic, so we got to watch the half athletes go off first, which was helpful in understanding how they were going to do the time-trial start. The bike didn’t actually use the original “bike out” path, so I was confused for quite some time until things got started. I was ready to leave and return the same way, so the description of how the time trial would start made no sense to me until I saw it happen.
I ended up lining up with some other friendly Athenas. We chatted and had a lovely time as we waited for our race to start.
For the start, we walked to the start line and were told to go in pairs in 15-second intervals. We walked/ran across the line and mounted our bikes. And then we were off.
The start was a bit scary because we rode along a very narrow path along the side of the road (that would later be part of the run). There wasn’t any jockeying for position because there literally wasn’t any space for it.
Thankfully, that didn’t last terribly long, and then it felt like the race really started. I had done the race before, back in 2017, so I knew it was flat save for one bridge (that I had also ridden many times during Rev3 Williamsburg) so there wasn’t a lot of unfamiliarity here. Flat was a bit of a misnomer – there were some small rollers, and as someone who has done the majority of her training inside this year, they felt larger than they really were. My only goal for this ride was to at least try to stay in my racing zone – though I’ve not done a new FTP test since before my accident, so it’s possible that’s a bit high. My watch is set to beep at me when I’m out of the zone, and well, it did a lot of beeping! I wasn’t really watching my pace, but I knew I was doing well based on the time it was taking me to complete each 5 mile set (my watch beeps and gives me the time for each 5 mile “lap”). My only real goal was to keep to at least 15mph and I was absolutely doing that.
Of course, even with the time trial start, there were still a number of riders (male, of course) who came flying up from behind me. The whole point to the time trial start was to put everyone in generally the right spot pace-wise, so waiting til last to start is kind of a jerk move. I know plenty of people who do it running, and that doesn’t bother me, because there really isn’t much of a safety risk to a fast runner passing you, but as I can attest, a fast cyclist coming past you can cause all sorts of damage. Naturally, there was the expected shifting of positions, where I caught up to other riders or others caught me, but it was the number of riders who came blasting past that I found very frustrating.
Around mile 20, I started to get cocky. I hadn’t crashed! I had made it through the bike! Except not yet. No getting cocky now. I needed to finish the ride first.
And I did. Just under 24 miles (the course was a bit short the last time I rode it too) at 18.1mph.
I was off the bike and running into transition. I couldn’t believe I could actually run into transition. I think I was just so excited to have not crashed.
In transition, I just felt like I was moving through molasses. I was sure I was in there for nearly five minutes. It felt like it took me forever. But it didn’t.
T2 (or T1, depending on how you view it): 1:45
I had looked at the run map for this race because I remembered that there was a weird turn and that the last time I raced, a bunch of people had missed it and ended up running a loop backwards. What I didn’t look up was what the course was like, so I had forgotten that a good chunk of it is through a wooded area, on a dirt path. It’s actually really pretty, but it also feels pretty darn deserted.
My goal on the run was to hold my intervals (1:1) and to keep to a sub-14 pace. I really wanted to be closer to 13, but I know where I’m at right now, and knew that might be pushing too hard.
The other thing I forgot about this race was how lonely it feels at some parts of the race. It definitely starts to feel like a bit of a mental challenge, when you feel like you’re the only one out there, no other runners, no spectators. I had to work hard to stay out of my head. I’m a slower runner – there’s no way around it. And I’m okay with that. But when I feel like I’m totally alone while racing, it becomes a mental game. So I just started doing race math. Each mile, how far under 14 minutes was I? How much time was I “earning” each mile? Whatever it takes, that’s what I did.
I managed to ultimately keep a 13:09 pace, which is fantastic! I was super pleased with how well things turned out.
I made the final turn into the race and pushed myself to cross the finish line strong. I won’t lie – it hurt. But it felt so great to finally be crossing a finish line again.
Total race time: 2:40:56
I’ve never done a bike-run race before, so it was hard to say just what that time meant, but given that my main goal was to finish under 3:45, I’d say that even if there had been a swim, I would have been safely under that time. So all in all, a great race back! I also came in smack in the middle of the Athenas, which was an awesome place to be (and it was so great to see so many of us out there!). Now I have something to work towards for next season. And a great cheerleader to join me on the adventures.
While a normal summer for me is filled with fun and training and racing, this summer has been filled with fun, but slightly less training and zero racing. I’ve not raced since my crash on April 20.
But that’s about to change.
This weekend, I’m racing my last triathlon of the season (and hopefully the first one I will finish for the season). I’m headed back to Williamsburg for the Kinetic Patriot’s Olympic tri. Initially I had planned to do the oly and the sprint this weekend, but on the advice of my coach and my PT, pulled back to only one race. Because I’m a glutton for punishment, I chose the longer of the two races.
Okay, I actually chose the oly for two reasons.
I hate sprints. I don’t like going all out for an entire race.
I wanted the challenge. I needed something to force me to push my recovery.
About that recovery. How’s it going? Well, things are improving. My elbow hurts every single swim stroke, which is fun. It also hurts when I ride. Doesn’t hurt when I run though, so maybe the run won’t be the part of the race I hate the most this time. I’m working with a PT to rebuild strength and it’s pretty shocking how weak my upper body still is. Considering that when I first got out of my arm brace, I couldn’t do a single press up (not a push up, but just pressing my upper body away from the ground with my hips still on the ground), the fact that I can now support my weight on my arms is pretty amazing. Over the winter, I’m hoping to be able to do some strength work to really rebuild and rebalance.
The race will be interesting. I’m definitely nervous, though not particularly nervous about crashing. I feel like it was such a fluke to get hit by another cyclist that the odds of it happening again aren’t high. Am I going to be nervous at bike mount, which is always crowded, and will it likely freak me out when other racers come flying past me? Absolutely. (Though my swim has gotten slow enough that it may not be an issue.) But mostly, I’m just nervous if I can actually do this. Can I make it through the swim? Open water isn’t like swimming in a pool. Of course, I can always stop at a kayak if my arm needs a break. Will I be fast enough to make cutoffs?
The thing is, the race could go incredibly well. I’ve put in the training. No, I’m not going to be setting any new PRs, but I could have a solid race. But there are a lot of unknowns that definitely have me nervous.
But I want to show up. I want to see what happens. If I don’t finish, I don’t finish. I would like to not end up in an ambulance. But honestly, if I manage to cross the finish line under my power, it’s a win.