This is why we are friends…….

Who do you call a friend….Someone who sends you a Tweet or Friend Request?  A neighbor who you can always count on for an extra egg, cup of sugar, or to take the baby monitor while you run a quick errand (I’ve always dreamed of a neighbor like this)?  Someone who is there when you call them regardless of how long ago your last conversation took place?  For me…..All of the above!  I have GREAT friends.  They hail from sea to shining sea and the number seems to grows on a daily basis.   Currently, my Facebook page says I have 315 🙂

What I find most interesting is that I’m closest with those friends who are willing to go the distance………..No really……….They actually go the distance with me.  Sometimes side by side, other times we take turns pulling each other through the rough spots.  On any given weekend you might  find us pounding the pavement or cranking the pedals.  No winners.  No losers.  Just lots of jibber jabber and caloric burn!

Last year I had the opportunity of getting out of Southern Utah for more races and with that came the chance to meet a lot of new people in our sport…..some of whom I had seen their names for years and years but never had the pleasure of calling them friend.    The weekend of February 19th found me in the company of some of these new friends.  Many people headed into town over this President’s Day weekend to try their legs on the St. George Ironman course.   What could be better!  Some of the best triathlon talent in Utah was descending on Southern Utah and I had a weekend to ride and run myself into a frenzy.  Perfect………..That is until Mother Nature showed her hand.

Mother Nature hates me.  We are NOT friends.  One minute it will be sunny and beautiful and I will be jazzed to hit the road only to turn the corner out of my development into a 30 mph headwind…….strangely coming from both directions.  I’ve decided she is just “coaching” me into being a better athlete, but this particular weekend there was no “coaching” going on.  She was going to take complete control and attempt to shut us down.  It rained!  No.  It poured!  We live in the desert here in St. George.  Anything more than a drizzle that barely seems to dampen the concrete is quite uncommon.  For an entire week we understood what it must be like to live in Seattle.  It was damp.  It was cool.  It just seemed to keep raining.

I felt horrible for all the athletes in town to train.  What can you do?  You packed up everything.  Changed your entire schedule around for a weekend of out-of-town training only to be greeted by less-than-tolerable conditions.  I began to improvise.  If Mother Nature was not going to help us…….We would help ourselves.  I rallied some of the troops for an indoor trainer ride on Saturday.  I did my long run on Friday and was hopeful for a long ride on Saturday, but the trainer was the only biking option available.  My new friends Leslie Howlett and Sarah Jarvis decided to join in.  Leslie is from Nothern Utah and left behind her hubby and three children and Sarah is from Flagstaff and left behind her hubby and two boys.  We definitely had to utilize ALL the time available to make the trips worth it.  Breanna Nelson from St. George joined us and we piled into my home studio and popped the bikes up on the trainers.

It wasn’t the hardest workout I had ever done in my life, but it was a great opportunity to meet and get to know new friends.  Leslie and Sarah are AMAZING women.  Not only are they wives and mothers, but they balance all of that responsibility with being elite triathletes.  I’ve watched Sarah’s name from afar at many races as she topped the leader board, knowing that when she was in town, none of us had a chance.  I had the pleasure of meeting Leslie while racing last year and found that she was no stranger to the podium.  The fact that I can call these women friends and even teammates is very exciting for me.  We rode and we chatted and Breanna and I got to bounce all of our weird triathlete questions off the two of them.  It was a great sweaty workout, even if I just about did Leslie in when she found out I was not very friendly with the idea of having any fans in my studio 🙂

We wrapped up the indoor ride in under two hours and as soon as we stepped outside to rack the bikes the sun came out.  Mother Nature…….You are the BEST!  We planned for outdoor riding on Monday and would brave whatever was thrown our way (as long as it did not violate my strict no riding in the rain policy).

We woke up on Sunday to a dusting of snow on the ground.  Only the second time this year for snow in St. George and of course it would happen this weekend.  I watched the weather websites like a hawk and was SURE that Monday would be clear, if not cold BUT we would ride!  I invited the Southern Utah Triathlon Clubbers to join along for a ride to Zion National Park (one of my favorites).

On Monday morning is was cold, but it was rideable….. At least the entire long weekend wasn’t going to be a waste.  I was a good girl and did my swim workout early in the morning and had all my work done by 11 a.m. ready to hit the road.  My husband was awesome and decided that he didn’t need me all day and would meet us in Zion for a pit stop while he took the kids hiking and rock hunting.  It was going to be a good day.

We had a great group.  I believe there were about 10 of us who set off into the cool of the day.  It definitely wasn’t going to be a warm ride, but we hoped maybe the sun would peek through and warm it up a bit (especially Sarah & Leslie who had just jumped out of the pool only to find that the Community Center lacked hair dryers).

After freezing down the first hill, I realized I was dressed warm enough and would probably do okay.  We started to climb through Hurricane on our way to the LaVerkin twist (a steep ascent to the top of a mesa outside of the Park).  As we ascended out of the valley the group began to split and turned into a powerful paceline.  I hadn’t been out on a good hard ride for weeks and this was just what the doctor ordered.

We made our way through the headwinds into the Park and spotted Adam and the kids at our turnaround.  After a quick fill up, bathroom break and a snack we were off headed back the way we came and, of course, into a headwind.  The pace continued and all I could think of was that I hoped everyone else thought we were keeping a up a pretty good pace.  I was not riding casually.  That is always my fear in a new group of riders.  You never want to be the dead weight.  You never want to be the one flying off the back of the paceline with the rest of the group wondering “what happened back there.”  The group worked wonderfully together and we ended the ride not only with the sun shining, but an awesome average of over 18mph.

I was feeling so good after 60+ miles, I decided to ride the rest of the way home in hopes of rounding out over 80 miles for the day.  I was able to shed some layers and finished out what became a GREAT day of riding.

Leslie and Sarah joined our family for a post-ride dinner and we had such a great time getting to know each other even more.

I don’t know why I always find some of my best friends and best conversation while covering long distances….okay I do know…..what else are you suppose to do for 5+ hours….whatever it is, I love it!   You can’t put a price on a good friend and I would never try.  All I know is I’m grateful for all of you.  Thank you for going the distance.  Thank you for understanding all my weird quirks.  Here’s to all my friends………old, young, triathlete or coach potato.  I love you all……..Now let’s go for a ride 🙂

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