With 7 more interning days left in my food service rotation, I was in need of a little break. The next 2 weeks will be really time-consuming so it was best that I got away to tackle my to-do's. Thankfully, my parents are less than 4 hours away and for me, that is a jump and skip away...or a 200 mile bike ride :)
Karel and I always enjoy time at my parents. We love our friends in the Tampa bay area and if it weren't for the Gearlink cycling team, Karel and I would not have met. They really are family.
I couldn't wait to watch the 70.3 World Championships. The turn around on the bike was just 7 miles from my parents house. I have only missed 1 world championships as a spectator so it is kinda tradition that I watch the race for the last year in Clearwater.
Karel decided to ride with the Gearlink group on sat morning so me and my road bike made our way down to Clearwater while watching the pro's on the bike course. How cool!!! Despite racing in plenty of Ironman and 70.3 races, I have never been so close to a professional triathlete...while on my bike. In no other sport can you be so close to professionals while you are racing. I just can't explain how much I love being able to call myself a triathlete.
After 30 miles, I made my way to the Clearwater Causeway to do a little more spectating. I met up with one of my athletes (Gary) who always makes me smile. His determination and excitement for triathlons is really contagious and I can't get over how strong he is as a 60+ year old athlete. What an inspiration and it's been a fun ride as his coach for the past few years. Who would think that a person over the age of 60 could be racing faster, stronger and more efficient than in his early 50's? Not to mention consistently winning his age group.
After cheering on the pro men and women, I made my way back to my parents house. Rather than heading back on the race course, I took my favorite roads through Clearwater, Dunedin (where Karel and I moved in together) and Tarpon Springs. So many wonderful memories were rushed into my head and despite the wind being super strong, I just didn't want to get off my bike. So many thoughts of not being able to ride with groups because I was unable to draft or keep up. So many thoughts of running on the Pinellas trail while training for my first ever Ironman Distance triathlon (IMFL). The sights and smells reminded me how much I just love living life and how important it is for us all to give a little time, every morning, to relieve some stress and keep the body healthy and strong. 66 miles later, I was home.
Later in the evening we attended the Gearlink cycling party. Once again, we felt like it was just yesterday since our wedding. With a selection of fabulous catered food, it was great to catch up with everyone. There is no group like the Gearlink team and we are so happy to have so many wonderful people in our life. It's kinda funny because there are so many stories about Karel and myself from when we both started riding with the Gearlinkers (Karel started riding with them about a year or so before I attempted to hang on during warm-up, during the group rides). I guess they have enjoyed seeing us progress from boyfriend and girlfriend to engaged couple to married couple....with a dog.
Sunday morning Karel and I made our way to San Antonio/Dade City for some hill riding. Although 40 minutes away from my parents, there is no better riding in Florida than in the hills of San Antonio. My good friend Jennifer joined me as Karel took us on a 61 mile ride with a few new roads and some beautiful sights. Thinking back to the times when I couldn't keep up with Karel for an easy ride, I could help but push a bit harder than normal in an effort to not let Karel drop me during our ride. Jennifer and I stayed on his wheel for all of the ride (well, a few climbs Karel made it look super easy as our legs screamed for a break) and it was a really challenging morning. I told Karel that the lactate was just spilling in my legs and that it wasn't any getting easier to ride in the hills. His answer "it never gets easier".
What a great weekend. I am trying to mentally prepare myself for the next 2 weeks because I am on the home stretch for this rotation. It's not that the rotation itself is difficult but there is a lot to soak in for an 11-week rotation. Finding balance with exercise and school and well, the rest of life is tough but I know I am a better person because I reward my body with good food and a healthy dose of exercise as often as I can.