I feel like I just finished Ironman Lake Placid and yet, somehow, Ironman Florida is just nine weeks away.  After a fairly laid back August training wise (albeit a crazy August work wise), I’m ready to turn the volume up in preparation for Ironman Florida.  Pretty much what this means is that I’m in for long bike rides on Saturdays followed by long runs on Sunday. I’ve found that the best way to get long bikes in is to find a century or metric century and ride with new friends.  This can be tough to do in the summer, but in the fall there are literally dozens of century rides all over New England each weekend.  Here’s the schedule leading up to Florida:

September 10, 2011 – Graveyard Grind Metric Century – Woodstock, CT
September 11, 2011 – Yoga Workshop – Ashtanga Full Primary Sequence – West Hartford Yoga
September 18, 2010 – Vernon to Vernon 80 Miler – Vernon, CT – Vernon, VT – Vernon, CT
September 24, 2011 – Chesapeakeman Skipjack – Cambridge, MD (1.2 Swim, 64 Bike, 10 Run)
September 25, 2011 – Yoga Workshop – Restorative Yoga – West Hartford Yoga
October 1, 2011 – Sunderland Clover Century – Sunderland, MA
October 9, 2011 – Great River Ride – Westfield, MA
October 13, 2011 – Yoga Workshop – Yoga Tune Up: Hips – West Hartford Yoga
October 15, 2011 – Hartford Half Marathon – Hartford, CT
October 16, 2011 – Yoga Workshop – Hip Help for Classic Poses – West Hartford Yoga
November 5, 2011 – Ironman Florida – Panama City Beach Florida

Great River Ride – Keystone Arch

While I’m excited about Chesapeakeman and the Hartford Half, the “race” I’m truly looking forward to in the build up to Ironman Florida is the Great River Ride. Its a tough 111 mile bike through the Berkshires with 12 categorized climbs and over 6000 feet of climbing
Back in 2009, I attempted this ride as part of my “training” for Ironman Arizona.  It was a disaster.  My training log entry for the day simply says: “Great River Ride. Worst bike ever.”  I think that was probably an understatement.  Shaun and I set off an hour after the official start time and within the first twenty miles there were more hills than I had climbed all year.  Once you thought you reached the top of a hill there was a turn and more climbing.

Great River Ride – Westfield River

I was fat, out of shape and woefully inadequate at climbing hills.  Instead of sucking it up and climbing, I threw my bike down on the side of the road and had a temper tantrum (very mature, I know).  Shaun and I ended up bailing around the 40 mile mark and finding our own route back to the parking area.  This year I am ready.  I’m lighter, fitter and can climb hills (just sit and spin).  I’m ready to attack the 111 mile course and actually finish the entire ride with a smile (and then go for a T run right off the bike).  I’m not sure what will be a bigger accomplishment PRing at Ironman Florida or just finishing the Great River Ride. 

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Kelly Burns Gallagher

mccarter english employment litigator / oiselle team runner / coeur sports triathlete / sonic endurance coach & race director / witsup.com writer / dartmouth '02 / emorylaw '05

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