Friday, December 18, 2009

End of the Season

Oh, joy, winter is here. I am having a hard time dealing with the fact that winter is here in full force. I'm not quite sure if that is because we had such a mild November, and because I was riding in bike shorts on December 3rd that it's so hard to take this ridiculously cold weather and a terribly first snowstorm to boot. whine whine whine... one of these days I will truly move to Arizona.

So I did finish up the cross season this past weekend with a couple of wins racing Saturday in the Ice Weasels Race in Wrentham and Sunday in the Beer Cross finals in Dayville, CT. The races were pretty fun. Ice weasels was about half snow covered with some pretty icy corners which kept me (and most racers) from racing full-tilt for fear of seriously injuring oneself. I went down once but in a silly slow u-turn mud corner, but I'll take that over the hard pack icy ones. There was a great turn-out at Ice Weasels even with most racers off at Nationals out in Bend Oregon. Lots of beer and cupcake handups in the men's races..

Sunday's Beer Cross had a smaller field. There was much less snow in Dayville so the pace was a bit faster. The snow that was there had amazing traction until it started raining at the beginning of the women's race. Very fun course, fun singletrack, good runup that forces you to get back on and clipped in for a downhill right away.

Then it was onto a week of "play", ie, I could ride if I felt like it or not... Of course boredom has totally set in with there being just enough snow on the trails to make it tough going, but mostly rideable (I rode in Millbury on Wed but got sick of the slow going quickly). I need to get some exercise in but it's mostly boring choices, trainer or jogging and not even jogging in the wood. The snow is such ick snow. It would almost be better to just get some decent snow pack for snowshoeing etc.

So, I really only have a three week break from racing and then it's onto downhill slalom ski racing at Mt. Wachusett. ooohhhh.. because I'm wicked fast, not. Funny, my neighbor, who owns, convinced me it would be so much fun and that it's just like bike racing, although I haven't quite made that connection yet (maybe I'll figure it out this year). So I decided to try it last year after not skiing for like 4 years and probably only having skied about 10 times in my entire life. I was semi-hoping the coach would nix the idea when I asked him what he thought of my racing and fitting it into the training plan and then I'd be off the hook, but I got the ok on the premise it would keep me "fresh" over the winter. Let me point out that I have up my "rest day" for ski racing. It was interesting and fun once I got the hang of what I was doing. Oddest thing was being such a beginner again, like these people who race are like me in bike racing. There's all this 'ski talk' that I'm not well versed in, handicaps, medals, etc. etc.. I'm a year more 'versed' now so hopefully I'll have something to add to the post-racing ski chats at the bar drinking some Tuckermans :) I'm sure I'll still be wicked pathetically slow, but I'll set some goals and go with it. It's just for fun. Ski racing starts Tuesday after New Years. We had a kickoff party last Thursday night and of course all the true skiers there were stoked for winter and skiing etc and I'm like, this blows, it's cold and the ground is covered in snow :( I just got some glares..

Finally, some excellent news. I finally got some sponsorship. I'll be racing for next year thanks to Amada Carey, a fellow endurance and cyclocross racer, who connected me up with her friend who is organizing the team. Our bike sponsor is Felt Bicycles so I'll be racing on a new bike next year, going with a 29er (for non-bikees - bigger wheels versus regular 26 inch mtb bike wheels)... should be a pretty sweet ride, going hardtail though so I definitely need to keep up the core exercises, but I think it's going to be fast ride for the 100s. Looking forward to getting it and dialing it in. I'll post some pics and other team info as it all comes together. The plan for 2010 is the NUE series again starting with Cohutta in Tennessee April 24th and continuing on the same five I did this year. And, I'm going to do my own grass roots stage race for some good torture, likely late June/begging of July -- some of the days I have planned I'm thinking the dualie might be good to soften the ride, but we'll see.

Happy holidays!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Late Cross Report

So I left off taking a break post-Gloucester race, oh so long ago... and well, the Coach said "if I want to keep racing cross this year, I had to take a break for a couple weeks." So I did. Well I got a head cold post-Gloucester and really needed a break then. So I proceeded to get lazy and fat...and slow.. I was pretty focused there for a few weeks on trying to find some sponsorship for racing next year, but that has proved to be fruitless thus far. I guess I have to be an "world cup" status rider, which I'm not...and don't really want to do that kind of racing scene.

After a couple weeks off from riding or training or racing, it put me at the New Glocester Maine races. That Saturday the weather was cold, icky and very wet, so I decided one more day off might not be a bad thing for the head. So I went to Maine and raced in the nasty thick mud on Sunday, but at least is was a nice day out. It definitely would have been nice to have a pit bike for this race. I actually started pretty well but fell back into 7th for a while, until the second to last lap when I picked some bad lines in the woods and got stuck and passed by a couple other riders. I finished up 9th questioning the purpose of this kind of racing. I haven't quite figured out what is so fun about it -- suffering for 40 minutes. I just don't want to work that hard. Anyway, 9th got me a couple UCI points, woo hoo... (it really doesn't matter at this point).

So the following weekend I raced Sunday Nov 1st in Putney, VT. The weather was spectacular and no rain the day before so the course was dry. The field was pretty small but definitely some great racers there. Again, I started well and then fell into 4th place. I was going back and forth with 3rd for awhile and 2nd had a gap on us that we weren't closing very fast nor was it getting too much bigger. I was feeling pretty good for this race, rested, etc., but still totally thinking I'm retarded for doing this as it hurts so much. It's just so much suffering condensed into 45 minutes. You would think from the 100s I'd have the capacity to suffer for a long time, but it's so much different. Anyway, I decided it was time to chase down 2nd place even if all I accomplished was getting on her wheel, so I dug deep and reeled her in and dropped the other rider. Now it was coming down to the last lap and the last run up to try to pull off 2nd place. I came out of the cornfield and just hammered, whatever hammer you have at that point in a race isn't much, and dropped her but she caught back on before the runup so I thought I was screwed since I just blew everything I had on that attack. I felt like I was going to fall down the hill trying to "run" up it. the legs were swearing at me... but she stayed right behind me so I knew I had a good shot for taking 2nd and just hopped on my bike and told my legs to get moving and held her off... phew.. That was kind of fun, not at that exact moment when it hurt like heck and my heartrate shot through the roof. Funny, cooling down after the race chatting with 3rd and 4th place ladies, they were like "i love cross" it's so mellow, blah blah blah.. and I'm like "what!" mellow?! you're kidding.. this is so intense coming off 100s. Anyway, it was a good day racing, I still am not convinced I like to cross race but for some stupid reason I keep doing them.

The following weekend I raced the next Verge series race in Northampton. This time there was a pretty stacked field. I only raced Saturday as I had "better" plans for Sunday and it made no sense to me to suffer two days in a row, well not this late in the season... On my drive out there, I knew I was feel so so and certainly not motivated to race. I was wishing I had my mnt bike and probably would have easily convinced myself to go mtn biking instead of racing. But I raced. And it went kind of like I thought it might giving how I was feeling. I just didn't have much of a punch in the legs. My start was so so, not bad, not great. I fell back some again. Perhaps I should just start sucko and then use that energy to move up, but that doesn't usually work out very well in cross racing, well certainly not if you hope to hang with the top dogs, but hey, I'm not hanging with them all that well so I shouldn't be so concerned about that. I battled it out mid-pack absolutely telling myself that I don't like this. But stuck it out to finish in an all out sprint for a couple hundred yards - that I actually held off the woman drafting me which was probably the only highlight of this race for me. I finished 14th.

Then I took a weekend off on a trip out to Pittsburgh. Did an absolutely beautiful ride on Saturday 11/14 out there - mid-70s and sunny. It was great, no watch, no heart rate monitor, just playing. It was nice. I realized some of my not loving cross this year was I had set myself up to want to get to the world cup in Belgium which I knew was a completely lofty goal but I thought it was a possibility, until I found out the requirements to get in which there was no way I was going to qualify unless I was winning or at least top 5 every Verge race which is just silly not having focused on training for cross. Doing the 100s is such a different ballgame and I think I knew that intellectually, I just thought I could make the switch over better - not that I'm doing bad, just not as good as I had hoped so post-break, I've been trying to readjust the expectations and try to have some fun racing cross rather than taking it so seriously, which I admit fully, is tough for me to do.

This past weekend, I raced Shed Park, Lowell race which was a decent field, but a lot of the top riders had gone down to New York for a UCI event. The course was a lot of fun and the weather was great for mid-November, 50s and mostly sunny. I started pretty well and was leading for a lap and then got passed and just hung in 2nd the rest of the race. I didn't have a lot of zip in the legs, just some ability to maintain a pretty high output but not top notch. I actually felt better racing Sunday which kind of surprised me. I went to my mnt bike sponsor's race, Beer Cross, put on my Danielson Adventure Sports. I knew the fields were going to be small given the UCI race in New York and another race out in Easthampton that was part of series had unfortunately drawn most of the local riders. I went to the race knowing I'd race with the 'boys' for a hard race. The field was pretty small, but I had my boyfriend to beat, and couple other friends I ride with (or have ridden with a lot in the past) to beat... I was a bit concerned about this, beating them, and this having to beat them,.. was going against what the coach and I had discussed about not focusing on "outcome"... hahhaa.. anyway, the course is a blast..I highly recommend everyone come race Beer Cross 3 and 4 Sat/Sun 12/12-13 - it's a lot of fun, grassroots, good for anyone wanting to try out cross as well as some good competition on a great course - really good mix in it - I of course love the single track sections, but there's a track start and lots of flats, a small climb and decent run up that forces you to get on right away at the top... so I took off and lead the boys around the first corner and then got passed by the winner pretty quickly. I battled in 2nd for a couple more laps and then got passed by 2 and 3 and stayed there the rest of the race, although my friend who beat me at the mnt bike time trials back in the early summer was closing in behind me. I was getting pretty worried he was just getting smoother on the course and was going to overtake me, but he didn't close up the gap enough and going into the last lap I put the hammer down, well at least for the little climb in the beginning that I was figuring was hurting him more than me by this point since to his credit, he had raced the mens-4 race that morning...and put a larger gap between us. And since two cross races in one weekend wasn't enough, a couple women showed up so I raced with them as well, and on a victory lap around the track drank my beer for Beer cross !
Really, this is a great race - go race it in December - lots of fun, totally laid back. I can truly say I had fun at cross race finally! It's not sanctioned so you dont' need a license to race it and mtn bikes are ok.

So a few more weeks of cross racing.. a few more weeks to have "fun".. hahahaha
and then short rest and back then back to serious mode for the 100s next year ! no more drinking, eating ice cream, and other totally fattening foods... (um right)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Early Cyclocross Racing

So, I should be up at Gloucester today for Day 2 of the 2nd round of Verge racing, but I think the body has finally protested adequately to too many weekends in a row of racing. So, instead I'll update my blog and get some sponsorship requests together and chill for change.

I raced Suckerbrook in Auburn, NH the weekend after Tahoe (9/20/09). It went well. I came in 5th and felt reasonable strong during the race, although I didn't quite feel like I had a lot "juice" in my legs. Funny, Zanc (mike zanconato, my cross bike builder) asked me what I thought of the dusty conditions of the course and I was like, this is nothing...I've been racing super dusty courses for the past two weeks. It was pretty dry, but traction was good. I started ok but then let myself get passed in the first couple of corners because I don't quite trust my cross skills yet and I'm just not used to being that aggressive on the bike. Then I have a lot of work cut out for me to get back into good standing. I got going and picked off some riders and then hung in with the 4th place finisher for the last couple of laps. There wasn't too much to the course to excel as mountain biker, but for the first one out 5th wasn't too shabby.

Then it was off to Vermont the next weekend to begin the Verge Series races. I went into the weekend not having slept well for a few nights, and then Doug and I and Bruschi were camping out in Burlington pretty much right on Lake Champlain. I didn't sleep well Friday night, especially since I was camping with Bruschi in the tent who didn't seem to want to settle down. Saturday morning was a chilly day, but the walk along the lake in the morning was absolutely stunning. Breakfast at the Skinny Pancake was excellent, but perhaps a tad heavy, but I thought I'd be ok for the 4PM race start. I was feeling pretty wiped out though, and debated just skipping Saturdays race and trying to get some rest for Sunday's race, but I couldn't bag a race yet... So I head off to the race venue, register, warm up and get ready to race. I started terribly - missed my pedal and was totally off balance. I had all I could do to stay upright and not knock down any other racers. I would have been horrified if I had been the "one" to take everyone out at the start. So needless to say i was off the gate slow on this one. I worked my way up some positions. The course had a lot of climbing on it, which after climbing for over an hour in my 100s I thought would be no big deal but they hurt. I was able to gap a couple racers finally on an uphill in the woods that had a few logs in it that I was able to ride while they would run it. Aside from my start, I was happy with how focused I was on the race. Focus is pretty big in these races, unlike the 100s where you can zone out for long periods of time pedaling up some climb forever. Anyway, I came in 12th on Saturday which I was please with given the talented racers there, my terrible start and being so tired. I was a bit crabby that night to say the least. I just wanted some dinner and bed. But I probably waited to long to get food in me and I only slept so so Saturday night. At least Bruschi was tired out from a long day at the race.

Rain came in overnight which I knew would make for an interesting day racing, but a muddy course would actually be good for me as a mountain biker. I was still pretty wiped out. I knew it was going to be a tough day racing. I'm not used to racing hard back to back days so I was worried about that, had been worrying about that during Saturdays race when i was thinking there's no way I can do this again... The course Sunday was a lot a different. The corners were pretty greasy but it wasn't all that muddy. Warming up I knew I was kind of in trouble for having a stellar performance, but I tried to convince myself that the legs would come around. I focused on getting my food in the pedal at the start and did, and actually started really well. I was amazed at the sprint I had, but that was about it. I faded in the first climb and got passed by a bunch of woman. I held on as best I could and did manage to pull in some riders. I was pleased to see that I was actually passing them on corners which I hadn't felt was a strong suit of mine in cyclocross, so that was a confidence booster. Anyway, I ended up 11th on Sunday, in a slightly smaller field. The legs were definitely cooked, but I was happy to see I could race back to back days. Then it was the long drive home and time to get some good rest for going into Gloucester races. Doug was awesome supporting me at the races, taking pics, taking care of bruschi and putting up with my crabbiness.. and then driving home like a maniac...

So, I kind of knew all week I wasn't feeling great on the bike. My workouts during the week have been really pretty low key so I was hopeful that I could/was recovering from the back to back weekends of racing, but not quite. My heart rate has been low all week and just no zip in the legs. I had signed up for Gloucester already so I didn't not want to go. The forecast was very bleak all week. Rain, rain, rain for Saturday. The rain did come in. I figured what the heck, I haven't done any truly nasty races this year so I thought hey, maybe it could be fun, and certainly the muddy conditions on a more "roadie" type cross course could be to my favor. I showed up in Gloucester to wet, very windy, nasty conditions. I was kind of excited about it. I got a great number 117, how lucky to me... and I actually pinned on my number all by myself very well! (I suck at that, I have to give myself like 1/2 hr extra getting ready :))...
Anyway, warming up I could tell the legs were still feeling kind of like junk still. My heart rate seemed to be responding a bit better, but I just didn't feel great about it. It was freezing on the start line, but once we got going it warmed up fast. I didn't start really great. The legs just weren't there. I did manage to pass a lot of racers early on though in the muddy, nasty corners. That was kind of satisfying. I felt like crap through most of it. The legs just burned way too early and just didn't have much to give. I was kind of bummed out about that since I was riding the course pretty well and certainly had a advantage with my mnt bike skills. Thankfully we only had 3 laps, as I was totally fading in the 3rd lap. I had yo yo'd with a few riders, passing them in the nasty stuff and then getting beat on the flats (not usually the way it goes for me). Kind of frustrating to just feel so crappy. I knew I was cooked from too much racing as much as I hate/d to admit it. I came in 15th, again not too bad with the depth of talented riders in this race. I just wish I had some legs as I know I could have been much further up there and could have had a lot more fun in the mud. So driving home I was pretty bummed out by the fact that I obviously need a break. I heard Providence's course next weekend is a lot of fun and then it's a weekend off after that. I convinced myself that not racing today, Sunday, in Gloucester was good idea and that maybe if I rest all week I can have some better legs for Providence. So, we'll see how that goes.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

TAHOE Sierra 100 Miler

Ahh, the end of the mountain bike season... kind of sad. First off, I'd like to thank all of the wonderful people in my life who have helped me this season and over the years of my bike racing - my mechanic, bike shop sponsor, dog watchers, coach, friends and family for support etc.. thank you very much. It all went by so fast, although the Ohio race seems like an eternity ago.

So, Tahoe... what a beautiful place. I highly recommend getting there at some point to ski, sight see, hike, bike, whatever, it's amazing.

I was a bit worried about this race being at altitude and coming off such a hard effort at Shenandoah dealing with the mechanicals issues etc. I was pretty wiped for a few days post-Shenandoah which hasn't really been the case with the previous 100 miler races this year. I was brain fried till Wednesday evening and feeling kind of stiff and tight from the race and long drive. I brought my bike to my awesome mechanic Brian to help me pack it up in the bike box to fly out on Thursday. I thought this would be like a 15 minute affair but it ended up to be like a 2hr affair and some dinner.... He double checked the bolt on my suspension link to make sure it was all set and it wasn't. So he fixed that, and fixed my bottom bracket that was getting pretty stuck from water having been trapped in the down tube. Thankfully my old epic was still hanging around his basement so he yanked off some parts from that to get me through this race. Then finally on to packing up the bike. I haven't had to do this for a while and looking at the size of the box I was like, there's no way that is going to fit in there. Well, it does with lots of parts coming off. But Brian meticulously packed it all in there. I'm thinking, I'll never get it back together - at least I'll be at a bike shop when I get out there just in case. Since it took awhile I hung out and had dinner and some delicious pie with he and Karen, very yummy - thanks Karen. I headed home pretty late and decided to just pack up Thursday morning.

So, I tried to pack light knowing I'd be lugging around a heavy bike box. I think I did a good job. It was tough to know what to bring as it was supposed to be pretty cold in the evenings out there and get pretty warm during the day. In retrospect, I could have left some things at home for sure, but... I was feeling kind of anxious this morning. I went out for a mellow ride to see how the legs were coming along recovery wise. They felt ok, but I felt heavy chested like I was coming down with a cold. I thought uh oh, that won't be good having a cold on top of being at up in altitude, must take some serious vitamins when I get back. Bruschi meanwhile is looking concerned about the bags getting packed again. But he may have been semi-confused getting left at home since my downstairs neighbor, Paul, was going to watch him for me this time around. I headed to my parents house and my mom drove me to logan express to catch the bus into the airport. It's so much fun lugging that bike box around, actually it wasn't too bad. I realized I hadn't flown for about three years so some of the anxiety was from making sure I made it 'on time' to each of the places I needed to be. Once I was at the airport I actually felt better. I had to check my bike and bag and the airline was on top of their game having a cart already to take it away before I made it to the ticket counter... this is good.

The flight out was pretty long but uneventful. At first getting on the plane I was sitting next to a family with a baby and toddler and i was like oh boy.. I wish I had those Bose headphones (eh, hem, Dad ? j/k)... but they both were incredibly well behaved and quiet, especially for such a long flight out to Phoenix. We actually landed early but got stuck waiting for a gate to open up, and that's when the baby finally had had enough and I was thinking yeah, I could start acting up too now. It was a short layover and then a very full flight up to Reno. Getting on the plane I almost got into a brawl with this chick who had gotten on the plane already but had apparently needed to put her bag in the overhead space down the aisle from where she was sitting and then thought she could just back the line up to get to her seat and we backed up some but we had no where to go and there was an end seat open where she could just pull in to wait for some of us to get by and make some more room but she wasn't about to do that so I asked her why don't you just wait a minute so let some of us by and she flips out on me "why don't you watch your attitude before I slap you?" and I'm like chill out... she pulls aside and we move along and I turn back to the guy behind saying 'that wasn't very nice" and we were just laughing... oh vey.. someone needs to chill, and not me for once.

So I land in Reno after 10PM out there (1 am here)...Doug was flying in a little bit after me but he showed up right as I was getting my bag and bike box. Doug had borrowed his brothers bike and shipped it out to a bike shop ahead of time. So we gather up our stuff (my stuff) and wait for the hotel shuttle to come pick us up... cram all out stuff in and head off the hotel and to sleep.
The time change has thrown me off some so we wake up kind of early but started putting my bike back together. It wasn't as big a deal as it looked like it was going to be. I just couldn't remember how many spacers when in the headset above or below, so I'm like let me call my mechanic, which Doug didn't think he'd know, and I'm like, he'll know... yup, one.. :)
After that just ate some breakfast at the hotel and then waited for the rental minivan to show.. yup, we were styling.. actually it worked out really well for two bikes, luggage etc. Then we off to the bike shop so Doug could put his bike together, make some tweaks and tighten up some stuff on my bike and grab some tubes and co2 cartridges. We left the bike boxes there since we were going to have them pack and ship the bikes home. We drove through downtown Reno on our way out to the race site. Cute little city for sure. And the sky, oh, beautiful clear blue, and once the sun comes up, it warms up quickly. It was a beautiful drive up 80 towards Soda Springs (we were north and west a bit from Lake Tahoe itself for the race).

We were staying at Ice Lakes Lodge, which is a smallish ski lodge, and the race start/finish was right across the street. The picture with of me with the lake behind me was the view from the deck of the lodge. We settle in and grab some lunch at the lodge, delicious chicken salad... which I was thinking kind of wasn't in tune with my coach's advice of eating more carbs and drinking more water to deal with the altitude. Oh well, I'll eat some more carbs at dinner. We relax for a bit, and then head out for a mellow ride. It was basically down down down the dirt road that would be our start of the race. I didn't want to go down too far since we had to come back up that. It was kind of tough to breathe, certainly a bit more labored. The legs and body felt good otherwise so I was happy about that. We road down to this lookout point and man, it was spectacular. The ride back up the road wasn't too bad, then we just around the lake where we were staying and gawked at all the beautiful homes.

It was time to register and get all set up for the race - ie drop bags ready, the bike ready, clothes laid out ready to go etc. I was worried about getting lost on this course as last year was the first year they ran it and a bunch of people got off course and the race director had kept sending out emails ahead of time talking about clearing this trail and marking but the markings were getting taken down, etc. etc..not very comforting... So I did try to study the map and get a sense of the course. There were a lot of aid stations, 10 I think, so you would hit one almost every 10 miles or sooner so that should help in the not going off course. I was still kind of anxious since I knew I needed a good finish to get back into 2nd place in the series. A beer at dinner would have been nice, but I was behaving, behaving all week. We went to bed early, since the time zone difference made it feel late and waking up early was no problem.

The lodge put on a really nice continental breakfast for us and good coffee too! The time was here to start this race. The course was actually shortened to 91 miles which was quite all right with me, and I'm sure was really dry out there so it was going to be wicked dusty. We threw around the idea of starting a few minutes after everyone since we were just going mostly downhill for the first 8 miles and it would just be a dust bowl, but I didn't want to lose the leaders so quickly in the race, that and there was a 50 miler option for the race and they were starting a few minutes after the 100 milers. Tinker Juarez was there so I jokingly said I'd stay on his wheel... well I tried at the start but couldn't :( hehehe.. but I was in a good position at the start, got out in a good front pack and actually spaced out nicely for the downhill which was ridiculously dusty and had lots of little boulder rocks strewn about that took out a bunch of people. There were a couple women ahead of me and then the eventual winner and 2nd place woman came by on the first climb. I was just trying to go steady and not go too out of my comfort zone since I didn't know how the body ultimately would respond to the altitude over the long haul. The climbing certainly hurt and it was labored breathing for the effort, but not too bad, not as bad as I thought it was going to be.

The course was probably 85-90% dirt roads/jeep road etc, which is kind of boring to me. I had a hard time staying out of my head on this one. There were a few sections of sweet single track but it was made difficult by the deep moon dust - which has no traction whatsoever. You had to be really with your bike to corner in it that stuff and even then you weren't always going to hold your line. It was kind of fun, well when it was downhill, going up in that stuff was nearly impossible. The longer downhill in it was tough too though as with speed into some of the corners you had little chance of making it around. I was doing the 'go go gadget leg' a few times to not crash. I caught up to one woman on the downhill (and bunch of guys) and passed her thinking she might catch me on a climb again but I didn't see her again. The middle part of the course had a huge, pretty steep climb, including a hike a bike section on a dirt road, and then finally into a drop bag aid station, which I needed my fuel for sure. But then it was more climbing out of that aid station that seemed to go on forever. It was an almost breaking point for me mentally. I'd try to convince myself that oh, it's so beautiful out there, and it was, but it seemed like it would be much more enjoyable sitting on a rock staring out into the vastness, but I knew if I got off my bike and put it down, I'd have a hard time convincing myself to get back on it. There were some pretty high up dirt roads way out there, that kept going and going and seemingly going mostly up. Some really cool trees in some of the lower areas and some huge, like over a foot long, pine cones, that I wish I had put on my camelback and brought to my next drop bag for them to bring back to the finish for me as I didn't quite find any that big when riding post-race. Some storm clouds were gathering off in the distance and I was thinking that was going to be mighty chilly if it rained way up here, but I just kept hoping they would stay off to the north and dissipitate, they mostly stayed away from where I was. I got sprinkled on briefly which was fine. Every now and then I would be off on my own for a while and I would start thinking, huh, what if I run into a bear?? I'm so tired already I don't know what I would do, but then I would get lost in the thoughts of suffering again and playing the mind games with myself... i want to stop riding.. you can't... just keep going... but this sucks... argg...
There was once section where you did a 7 mile loop and came back to the same aid station, and upon my return and heading off from it, I got to see Doug heading into it. It was nice to see him so I knew he was still on course and no mechanicals or crashes had taken him out, and likewise for him seeing me. That was a fun 7 mile loop - good singletrack with a not too steep climb back into the aid station. Having the aid stations pretty close or so many of them helped the mindset some too for ticking off the miles. We had this one dirt road climb that we did a portion of twice, it was part of the one I hated earlier so here I was back on it and I pass this guy walking his bike and ask "did we do this climb earlier" and he said no, so I was like sweet, it isn't that horrible climb, but I get around the corner and I realize, yes it is..!!! but thankfully we got to a point where we had turned off but this time we kept going straight and it wasn't too much further to the next drop bag aid station. Slowly ticking off the miles. I was being told I was in 3rd place and I was like sweet....It seemed like forever to get to the next aid station. When I arrived a volunteer was like this is the last aid station before the aid so you should fill up since it's a long climb to finish.. I slowly get off my bike and pick up my water bottle which is still full and she's like what do you want, some this? or that? or .. and I'm like I cant' think.. how about some fig newtons? go fish.. umm... she kept asking and finally this guy was like "she's wants to stop suffering" and I'm like yeah, that's it.. and grab a peanut butter and jelly sandwich piece and get going. I was dreading the final climb but at least had some downhill before it would come up. Of course there was some uphills before the final climb and I didn't want to check my computer to see if this was it or not, but I finally did and I knew it probably wasn't the climb yet since the mileage was too short still :( :( I pass some guys looking pretty weary dreading the same final hill thinking that they don't realize that this hill isn't it... Finally, I finish dropping down to the "bridge" we went over at the beginning, but I quite remember and funny, there were these cabins/homes down there that I had missed coming down, perhaps because it was too dusty...anyway, we had ticked off some more miles by that point so the what I thought was going to be a 8 mile climb back up and by my calculations of how slowly I would climb would take like 2hrs... thankfully it wasn't that long from that point and there were some level parts and some slight downhills. My left knee had starting bothering me about half-way through the race so I couldn't stand without it bothering me a lot but man that last climb.. I'll just say I was totally sick of sitting. I kept telling myself to keep drinking my powerbar drink mix and eat something as it was still likely an hour till I finished. I totally didn't want anymore cliff blocks and I was thinking about the two boxes of them I have at home that I won't want either. I was getting myself through the finish of this race by telling myself I don't ever had to ride my bike again if I don't want to, you know you will, but you don't have to for a long time, screw riding with your buddies over the next couple of days out here and screw cyclocross...I just kept pedaling and I managed to pass a woman on the climb, semi-worried she might try to pass me back and I only had the speed I had, nothing more.. but she didn't respond at all. I made it to the point where Doug and I had ridden down to and knew I was probably 15-20mins away from the finish.. ahh, yes. I was thinking I was in 2nd now too, but the aid station people had not told me the right thing.

I came see the finish finally and am so relieved I can get off this bike soon :) I come across the finish in 9'37" - very nice... The race director comes over to me and he told me I was 4th which was kind of a bummer since I just spent the final moments of the climb thinking I was in 2nd, but hey, it was still the finish I needed. Later, checking the results he was off one and I was 3rd women overall and I think ~20th out of men too. I told him it was very very hard. It felt like the hardest 100 miler (well 91 miler) of the series to me.

I was a dusty mess so I hobbled across the street to the lodge and took a shower and just put my feet up for a long long time... and then thought about what I might actually want to eat since I should have something. But your stomach and well everything just gets so off doing these races. I got myself together, the soy wasabi almonds seemed to be the thing the body wanted then. I went out to look at the results and wait for Doug to finish and get his picture finishing up... he came across i 11:03 quite pleased to have finished a high altitude 100 (he had attempted Breckenridge a couple years back, which is quite a bit higher than this one and dnf'd)...

Yeah, we were done... Although I didn't quite have the elated feelings I thought I would being done the series now and having pulled myself back into 2nd in the standings. Maybe there was a hint of sadness that the season was over. Or just too tired to care... I called my folks and my sister to let them know how I finished and then we grabbed some food and beer. And I was all excited about the beer, but my stomach wasn't really, so I after saying I was going to get rip roaring drunk after the race, well, that just wasn't happening. That would be pretty cruel to the body on top of the effort... tomorrow :) We now had a couple days to kick back and enjoy the area.

So Sunday it was nice not to have to drive anywhere or anywhere far. We did some sight seeing post breakfast at the lodge, really yummy continental breakfast, some eggs, bacon, granola with yogurt, fresh strawberries...mmm. Then we drove down into historic Truckee and then over to Lake Tahoe finally. Tahoe is so beautiful, did I say that already. We got some coffee and walked down to a pier and hung out there for a bit just soaking it all in. Did some tourist shopping, got the most delicious nachos a pub in Tahoe City. It's awesome out there that guacomole just comes with everything instead of having to pay $2 per a tablespoon back east here. We drove down the west coast of the lake for a ways and then hiked up this little peak that ends with this awesome view of the lake. I ruined my sneakers in the moon dust though.. I don't know if that reddish color is coming out or not... We headed back up to the lodge (which was about 40 mins away) and it was kind of funny as only a few other people were staying there and all the staff just left. You let yourself in.. no eats there that night. So we dragged out weary bodies back out thinking we would have to go back into Truckee for some dinner but there was a pub/restaurant nearby that we got some pizza at and some beer and even a beer to go :) Then crashed...

I had called some riding buddies who were out in the Tahoe area doing a biking vacation trip since I felt compelled to ride my bike again, especially to do some of the sweet single track around the lake. It would be a shame not to hit that while we were out there. I convinced Doug they wouldn't be super fast as they have been riding hard for a couple of days by now. So we packed up Monday morning and headed to Truckee to eat at this diner that has 70 omelets to choose from, too many.. and had the best breakfast ever :) And I couldn't stop eating my food but I knew I had to not overdo it too much if we were going to ride later. I found a happy medium... We met up with the guys from Petersham to do a 20 mile ride on the Tahoe Rim Trail and thankfully they had someone who would drive our minivan back into Town so we could go point to point with them. At first the legs were pretty heavy but they loosened up for the most part, except after stopping for bit... but what a spectacular ride. Awesome singletrack and hardly any moondust on these trails. And the views were gorgeous. Doug had found some pretty big pinecones (not quite as big as what we saw during the race, but pretty close) and I put couple on my camelback, and Peter put a few on his. It would make me crack up following him seeing the huge pinecones hanging off... he lost one by the end of the ride. We were hanging out in the sun on some rocks overlooking Tahoe before descending back into Tahoe City...ahh.. I reminded myself to soak it all in as I'd be back on a plane back to normal life tomorrow... just spectacular.

Doug and I went back to the pub in town for nachos and beer... then drove the north rim of the lake into the Nevada side (which didn't seem as nice as the California side of the lake). And then back into Reno. Ate some mexican and had some margaritas - well one there and they actually let us take one to go :) and passed out... I dont' think my stomach enjoyed that one in the morning.. But then it was off to the bike shop to drop off the bikes to be packed up and shipped back. I was kind of sad leaving my bike there and knowing it wouldn't be back for over a week. Funny how when you can't ride it, I wanted to... Then return the car and then the airport and back home... after a long flight.. The Reno airport is so simple.. no lines, small.. simple, easy.. I got back into Logan 11:50 pm thinking I could catch the last logan express out to Framingham, but nope.. I guess they do really come at midnight. So at 12;10 am I'm calling my sister for a ride to my car back in Framingham... she rocks! thanks... Finally make it home about 2AM and I could have slept in yesterday and written this thing yesterday but Bruschi was too elated to see me to let me sleep in.. or something like that..

Anyway, thanks for reading these ridiculously long posts. I promise to keep cyclocross short and sweet, just like the race, except the race isn't sweet, just painful... :)
why do I do this???

Cheers! to a successful season

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Shenandoah 100 Miler Race Report

Well, it feels like a long time since I've posted to my blog - a month now...
Let me start out by saying - arrrrgggg!!!!!!

This was supposed to be an awesome race for me. I was feeling good going into it, no injuries, well rested, excited, great weather but the mechanical devils were out to get me this weekend. I drove down to Frederick, Maryland on Thursday to hang out with Doug and then head down to the race 1/2 hr outside Harrisonburg, VA on Saturday morning. The drive down wasn't too bad. I avoided 95 purposely despite mapquest telling me it was the most direct route, direct, but most trafficky... ick.. So I went out 84 to 81 which was fine, except one pretty bad accident that held up traffic for a bit. I had worked that morning and didn't leave until 1pm so by the time I arrived in Frederick around 8pm I was pretty wiped. We went out for some dinner at a local brewery and had a brewski to relax.

Friday we headed out to Gambril Mountain State park to do a mellow mountain bike. My legs felt pretty heavy and sluggish from the drive. I didn't like that feeling, but convinced myself that's standard for post-long drive, but it was hard to push aside the thoughts of how good I felt a week ago - strong, loose, ready to go - if only I felt that good for this weekend. I did loosen up by the end of the ride and started to shake out the long ride feel and the not sleeping in my own bed stiffness. Spent some time seeing the sights and got some delicious tapas at a Spanish restaurant in town for dinner.

Saturday, we were up reasonably early and hit the road for Shenandoah. The weather forecast was looking great - upper 70s, partly cloudy and dry. It had been dry for a while down there and the trails were wicked dusty. I don't typically wear shades when I mountain bike but I'm certainly going to invest in a set of clear lenses very before Tahoe (ok, maybe I'll just use my yellow tinted ones, something about any tint to them throws me off on the trails). We wanted to get to the campground that the race is staged from at a decent time to get a good camp spot up in the wooded section, which we managed to do, barely - lots of folks there already. We set up camp and then went back into Harrisonburg to wander around the town and grab an early dinner, which ended up being another local brew pub with some very yummy dishes. I wish I had gotten what Doug got, it sounded so heavy and fattening and not good pre-race food but it wasn't that bad, and certainly much tastier than my chicken pasta dish that I mostly just ate the chicken out of and had hoped for more veges in the mix, oh well.

We head back to the campground and pickup our race packs, get our bikes ready and head out for a mellow 1/2 hr ride to get the legs moving again. On the way back through the campground we stopped at my friend/best bike mechanic Brian's tent spot. He had come down to race along with Brian Jr. and Karen, his girlfriend, had come down for support. So we just start chatting and Brian notices my bolt is sticking out on the rear suspension link. We take a closer look and the bolt is gone! Ugh.. When Brian gets a certain look, I know it's not a good sign. I stayed calm hoping we would have no problem finding a bolt, right? Wrong. Of course it's a very specific bolt size etc. and he hadn't brought much with him in the way of tools and spare parts. Brian was trying to think of something to use to fix it. I went off and asked the race director if he might know of someone who could help and pointed to Thomas of Shenandoah bicycle who was trying to come up with possible ideas. He wanted to see what the nut looked like to make sure there wasn't some we were missing or something special to it. I hunted around the campground for someone else with another 2009 epic and finally found one and went back to hunt down Thomas to show him the epic. It was sounding bad as far as getting the right bolt size and it holding. He said he might be able to come up with something back at the shop but it wouldn't happen until late in the evening.

In the meantime, Karen offered up her mountain bike for me to ride - it was a 2007 epic just my size and mostly set up similar to mine. I got lucky she brought it with her as she said she was going back and forth on bringing that or her road bike. Since the probability of fixing my epic was sounding too iffy and too last minute I opted to pull some parts off my bike and get hers ready to go. So off camp my seatpost, pedals, bike computer, number plate, bottle cage and pump... I would have loved to have my wheelset and tires but her disc brakes were too different than mine to get them to mesh easily. So, I was ok with and had stayed surprisingly calm. I finally got back to the tent and ate a bit of food and hit the sack, and then nerves kicked in and I had a hard time falling asleep.

Up at 5, ugh.. at least it was relatively mild out. I had being cold waiting around to start. Down some oatmeal and espresso finish getting ready and head down to the start area, one last pit stop and then it's time to get going. There were a lot of very strong women in the race. I was trying not to let it get to me at the start line. It's a long race. I just get through the start, which is a tight, narrow road dirt road start out of the campground. I hung on Doug's wheel out of the start area since he's a roadie and better at holding lines etc. It was a fast start once we got on the road and into the first dirt road climb. I was already starting to miss my bike severely when the borrowed one was feeling really sluggish for the effort I was putting out. I thought it was funny I used to love riding kenda nevegals but these sucked now, energy sucking sucked. I tried to let it go. Then somewhere on the top of that climb and first part of the descent there's some very rocky, sharp rocky singletrack that I managed to slice the sidewall of the rear tire. It didn't flat completely but was soft enough to wash some on the corners and certainly didn't want to go when you pedaled hard. I was getting passed by so many people. I stopped at the first aid station 10 miles in to use a pump there but it was useless and I had to pull mine off my bike to pump up the tire. I knew it was probably fruitless and I should just change the tube. I think at that point I hadn't seen the cut in the sidewall. I got back on and headed down the road only for it to go soft again... ugh... I stop again to put air in. Got going again, soft again and this time when I stop I see the cut and basically go "fu---" as that can be pretty race ending. I decided it was time to probably try to put a new tube in or something and thankfully Brian had caught up to me by this point, so he stopped and helped me out. I had broken a spoke too. We put a patch in and hoped it would hold. It took a bit of time, but not too bad. Back on the bike, but it still felt sluggish to me...way too much work/effort for the speed I was getting out of it. We get into the first big singletrack climb and now I'm trying to pass people walking their bikes which takes a lot of effort, after doing this a bit the tire is going soft again!!!! Brian had also witnessed the shifting issue that when I shifted into the largest cog in back it would drop the chain on the inside. Anyway, I stopped to put air again, get passed by all the racers I just got passed... tried to get going again but this section sucks in a bad train unfortunately, since it was pretty dry it was much more rideable than in other years, but not with everyone already walking it so walking it was for a good portion of it. I somehow managed to get down the mountain without totally flatting the tire and risking ruining the rim. I couldn't really go fast on the downhill without washing out of hte corners though so more time wasted. I was thinking I was done this race unless they actually had a tire at Aid Station 2.

I make it out onto the pavement road section into Aid Station 2 but it's a long ways still and I'm going now where fast on this soft tire. It was terrible. I could see my heartrate being pretty high and knowing i was expending a ton of energy but not gaining much by it. Other racers would pass me and say "looks like you're nursing a flat" and I'm like, I know, believe me I know.... I couldn't believe I was going to have dnf another Shenandoah. It would be a cursed race for me (I had to dnf last year due my knee injury). I knew I still had Tahoe next weekend and would certainly be fresh for it if I had to bail on this race now, but I didn't want my finishing the series to rely upon Tahoe, that or having to have a good finish there either. Anyway, I finally make it to aid station and ask loudly "does anyone have a tire", to which I just get mostly blank stares, and now I'm like, oh 'fu*^*&".. but one of the mechanics at the aid station holds up a tire and I'm like sweet... although I'm so far back now it's not even funny. Brian is still at the aid station so he adjusted the rear derailer limit screws so it wouldnt drop the chain on the inside of the cassette. It took forever for the tire change though. I wasn't going to complain since I was still going to be able to hopefully finish this race. Finally, 3 1/2 hrs into this race I'm leaving Aid Station 2 with Brian thinking, I didn't drop lights, like this might take me that long if that effort to aid station 2 really tapped me. I also just lost Karen's fancy tire valve cap (well, I didn't lose it particularly, but I won't point fingers)..
anyway, I was on my way again on a much better rolling tire thank god. I started to put the hammer down, well as much as one can for a 100 mile race, and got going up the next huge climb. I was feeling ok, but definitely know I expended some serious energy pushing that flat for so long. The downhill of this mountain is sooo sweeet!!! Oh so much fun. I was finally having some fun. And then I went to pass this guy who had pulled aside for me and my right inner leg cramped... oh, f*&(&( you've got to be kidding me.. so I tried to shake it out still on the bike to some degree of success and then the left leg goes... ahhh!!!! I suck it up and push through it and manage to get them to subside. I make into Aid Station 3 and quickly ask for some electrolyte tabs and down like a gazzilion and then ask for some more to take with me but don't really have anywhere to store them so I down those too.. I go hunt for my bike since they awesome aid station people will take your bike for you and lube the chain etc... it is truly nice, well run race (I'm being serious).. Anyway, onward I go. There's a long road section and I see a rider up ahead and hurry up to get on his wheel and work with him and then a small group for a bit and then they slow down so I head off on my own still trying to make up time. Next big climb is kind of a fun singletrack climb to me, although it can be a bitch, especially when it's wet, but I like singletrack better than roads. Also, this was where my knee started to hurt me last year so I was quite psyched to be riding it this time around. I've mostly been picking off riders all the way through aid station 4. I was very happy heading out of Aid Station 4 still on my bike, feeling, but not in the sag wagon this year :)

Onward to the big climb, which is preceded by this ridiculously never ending dirt road section that every time a car goes by another year of your lungs is gone and you can't see anything for a long time from all the dust that gets kicked up...and it goes on and on.. I remembered from the first year doing this race that that's what it does and it can totally break you before you get to Shenandoah Mountain. I actually get excited to take the turn up the mountain as it's something different, but after about 200 yards, it's like, oh, yeah, this sucks... but you push those thoughts out your head. I was trying to calculate my finish time based on where i was and was thinking I was doing not too shabby considering all the time I lost early on. Maybe I'd get in 10 1/2 hrs instead of the 11+ I originally was thinking this race was going to be. I make it up to Aid Station 5 where Karen had volunteered and she was like what happened... she figured something was up when i wasn't up there with the top women riders. So I gave the shortened version of what happened. She said Brian Jr was about 15 minutes up and Doug was about 25 up. I was thinking poor Doug must have thought I dnf'd getting hurt or some mechanical since I hadn't caught up to him yet. I was thinking it would be tough to gain that amount of time in 25 miles. But I got going. The top of this climb just keeps going and going... you go through a small field and think, yes, this is the last one of those and then you get to another one that looks like the last one and think this is it.. but nope... so you tell yourself not to think about it.
I passed a few more women and finally catch up to Brian Jr before heading down to Aid Station 6. He did smoking fast time -he's got a lot of talent riding that strong with like a month of riding in him this year - holy cow!!!

I couldn't remember how long of a road section it was into Aid Station 6 after coming down the big mountain but you turn out from the trail and it's like right around the corner. I was like sweet.. I needed to use the outhouse. As i pull in there's a woman just about to head out. I thought maybe i can catch her, after I go... I get back on the bike and try to close the gap but to little success...damn.. I can see her ahead the whole time on the last climb and keep thinking maybe I can catch her on the downhilll.. yeah.. I can also see a jersey up ahead that look's like Doug's. I keep plugging along, feeling pretty much to my limit. I was going to come in pretty close to 10 hrs which I was kind of amazed at but also kind of frustrated at as I would have had a smoking time without all the issues. I finally caught up to Doug who had just let the women pass. He had said before starting the race that all my bad luck was behind me... so I said to him as I passed... "my bad luck wasn't over"... and he said it was good hear my voice since he thought I had dnf'd or something. I tried hard to catch the woman up ahead. We hit a downhill singletrack and I let it rip.. even for my standards.. and she let me by but was pretty much on my tail still and then we came out on a dirt road section before the final descent and she had more legs than I did so that was the end of that... I came into the finish in 9th which was great considering the problems. I was happy to have finished the series at least and for the time being was able to push aside the frustration with all that had happened.

Doug came in a few minutes and then Brian Jr. We were all a complete mess - darkened legs and arms from all the dirt and football looking eyes.. silly. I wish I got a picture of that before cleaning up. Post-race it always kind of funny. You' just don't know what you want to do first or what you want to eat and can't seem to do anything orderly. But it felt good to kick back. I was pretty hurting from putting out a huge effort, certainly felt like the biggest effort on one of these 100 milers to me this year. I've been a tad worried about that for going into Tahoe this Saturday. After cleaning up we grabbed some post-race eats and beer. Brian Sr had just finished up and he would have had a smoking time too if he hadn't stopped to help me so many times !!! Thanks Brian!!!! and Karen for letting me ruin her bike!!!! I had to find Thomas to get my bolt back from him, kind of wishing that I had taken my chances with the fix and riding my bike, but I couldn't do anything about that now. But thank you, THomas, very much for helping me out. Doug and I had stopped in his shop when we were in Harrisonburg - very nice shop.
We decided to head back to Frederick that night which was a good idea since I had to get back home Monday and that would have meant a really long day on monday. I was cooked and starting to feel the disappointment and frustration of the days events. I'm glad i was able to push that all aside while I was out there as it would have made the day a very very miserable day otherwise. He asked me I was going to call home to see how Bruschi (my dog) was doing at my folks and I was like, I can't, I'll cry now when my mom asks me how the race went since I had wanted it to go so well and could have gone so well. But I eventually dozed off a bit. It was nice to get in a take a shower and hit the sack. We went out for breakfast before I had to hit the road home. I think I gave myself a concussion getting into his suv... i just couldn't seem to time my ducking down under the door well enough, and wump... ouch... maybe that was why I was so brain dead driving home and today. All the dust made me really congested and my eyes were killing. It was a tough drive home in that regard. So that's my excuse for not writing last night -concussion (j/k) and I couldn't keep my eyes open, and still barely can. My legs tightened up on the drive home too, I'm hoping a couple good nights sleep here and I'll be good to go again. Of course last night, I just starting ruminating about how good I could have finished. I looked over my heart rate data and saw that I stopped for ~45 minutes dealing with the tire and add on the slowed down pace... and wasted energy on the soft tire.. man.. I could have been sub-9hr race... gotta let that go, gotta let it go... mechanicals are bound to happen at some point, and honestly, I have been pretty lucky for the most part racing for 10 years, so what can you do.

I did start to get more anxious about getting my bike fixed in time for Tahoe. I basically have to have it all set by Wed evening. I called the local Specialized Rep, Jim Mercier, to ask for his help getting the bolt and he got back to me on my drive home - very kind of him, to help out a stressing out racer... he said it shouldn't be a problem getting the part through Bike Alley or overnighting it from Specialized. (I was kind of thinking worst case was they send the part to the shop in Reno where Doug shipped his bike to and put it together there Cali to Reno not so far, Cali to Mass very far..). Jim said he'd call Neil at Bike Alley and let him know I'd be looking for the bolt. I called Bike Alley to see if they were open on Labor Day, but no.. so first thing today, I called.. and Neil's not in till noon, what I can't resolve this till noon.. let it go, let it go..
But he called back in a short bit and said he had another epic in the store that he could take the part from till one came in from specialized since I needed to get going to the next race. Awesome... Doug had took a picture of the link where the bolt had to go so I sent it to Neil to make sure we were talking about the same thing and yes.. it would be all set... straight to the bike shop post-work. Thanks a million!!! Tomorrow it will be back to Brian's to get my parts back from karen's bike and then the bike packed up to fly out with me to Tahoe on Thursday. Woo hoo... I have to admit, I am wiped though. I postponed a client of mine tonight that I felt terrible about doing. I hope that my getting to sleep in these next two days is enough time to recover as I need a good race out there now.. rrrrgggg... here I come.


(sorry for typos and maybe unclear ramblings.. like I said, I'm pooped)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Wilderness101 Race Report

The short of it - I came in 4th out of a very very talented women's field and was quite happy with that as going into the race I was thinking I would definitely need a stellar race to podium at all. I finished in 9'08" which was a few minutes slower than last year which I was only ok with that given that I just didn't feel the "race" legs were there for this one, so to finish that well on a "not on" day is pretty sweet.

Hmmm....well, the couple weeks leading into this race seemed to be very hectic and busy and rather stressful, and I was just waiting to get in the car and maybe unwind some on the 7 or so hour drive to Coburn, PA (near State College) on Thurdasy. I was working near Providence morning so it made sense to just take 95 down to 80, made sense... I had tried to make a deposit at my bank en route to Providence to make sure not to bounce any checks while I was away, and my local branch was being "serviced" so I figured I would just catch one in RI. So after leaving the stable I was working at, I stopped at three different exits that looked promising as far as a lot of shopping being around for my atm to no avail. I was getting frustrated pretty quickly as I hadn't anticipated it being so difficult to find a banknorth in RI. I finally call customer service and found out they basically don't exist in RI so I had to hit on at some exit in CT. So after wasting almost an hour I hit the road and got some more specific directions to a bank in Stamford from Doug, but I missed the first instruction of taking a right off the ramp exit ramp and get lost for a bit and have a near temper tantrum as this was not the "mellow" kick back drive I so needed. Oh, and this was after already sitting in 30mins of backup... Ugh. I finally get my 'sh'' together and find one of the streets from my directions and find the bank. Back on the highway heading into NY, yup.. more traffic, Karen's favorite thing in the world. It takes forever to break free of that and finally get to 80 down in Penn and it's still spotty stop and go traffic.. what the f-... sorry... finally, break free of that and chill some and make a stop in Stroudsburg, PA to get a Starbucks coffee and some gas. I'm heading back to the highway but the signs aren't very clear which way to go and it looks like you're supposed go straight versus a left and head up this big hill away from the highway.. huh? The car in front of me has the same realization and we u-turn and go back to the now right turn and are two blocks from the entrance to the highway again only to have the road blocked for an accident... you have got to be kidding me... talk about some bad traffic karma.. geezz.. that one kind of made me laugh - it was like a 4 block thing from the gas station to the accident to the on ramp.
oh vey... I finally get off the highway and hit some very nice back country road through Amish country and get sucked out my head immediately by the beauty of the farmland and mountains and all the Amish buggies going by. It was so cool. I was attempting to take a picture on my cell phone and thought better of it for fear of running them over. It was pretty neat to see.

So, like a couple extra hours of drive time from the 7 peaceful hours it was supposed to be, I arrive at the very nice bed and breakfast about 1/4 mile from the start/finish of the race. Perfect. I put my bags in the room and then Doug, who had gotten there a couple hours ahead of me, and I went to downtown Millheim (it's a happening place, for a small little town) and got some food. I wasn't all that hungry since I had plenty of snacks in the car and it was on the late side, but I got a delicious salmon salad that was pretty light so it did the trick. Back to the B&B to hit the sack and have a total chill day on Friday.. ahh, finally.. then clip, clop, clip, clop, and another amish buggy goes by... so cool.

Friday, we wake up to rain... blah...I would have liked to tour around the farms and find more amish folks to take pictures of even though they are probably quite done with that.. and then just wade down a stream. But after eating a very delicious breakfast, we headed off to State College to wander the shops. I even bought myself some new socks just for the race :) Just meandered, got some lunch, (yes, allison, I had a turkey sandwich, ok)... and then went back to Coburn to pick up race packets and get ready to go. Since it was wet out, we wussed and didn't ride more than 10-15mins, which I think was a mistake for me anyways post long drive. Doug had maybe a 3hr drive from Pittsburgh so not so much to work out of the legs. Cam, the B&B owner, told us about this new restaurant that opened up a couple towns over that was housed in a bank and you could eat in the vault if you wanted. So we went there for dinner on Friday night and ate in the vault. It was pretty neat and decent eats, although I think I overate a bit and my chicken was perhaps a bit heavy for 'pre-race eats'.

I slept ok Friday night but I did start to get anxious about the race which I hadn't really gotten to anxious about since the email the race director sent out on Tuesday with the list of "big wigs'" showing up to this race. When I saw the women's field, I was like holy crap and emailed it to my coach being both happy to be included on the list but also like, omg, it's going to be tough to podium even with a good race day. Will did good and calmed me down with 'they're going to do their best, and you're going to do your best and you can't control them...".. it helped get my head in the right place. I didn't want to set up expectations was all. I basically had the expectation of doing better timewise than I did last year, and even altered that to, well given that it's pretty wet due to lots of rain, maybe even the same time would be a reasonable goal, even though I've dropped a good amount of time from last year on my previous two 100 milers this year.

anyway, race day I woke up feeling ok. I wasn't all that nervous but I could tell I was perhaps not quite in race mode...ate a bagel and had some expresso and ride the short little ride to the start line. The race starts out going down the road a couple miles in a controlled start, ie tight in a pack of mountain bikers ... which is very nerve-wracking to me. But it turns a corner and starts a dirt road climb that thins out the pack quite nicely, although I felt like I was getting passed by more people than I cared to be passed by, and my legs felt pretty heavy, hence the 'maybe I should have spun my legs out for real yesterday'... I felt a bit like a slug for a lot of that first hour. I was trying to not let it get to me too much, reminding myself that on my last long training ride I felt not so good for the first hour and then the legs and body came around.

There's a lot of dirt road on this course, which is not to my liking. It really pays to get in a train and draft. I worked a tad hard to get on a fast train and stayed with them for a little bit but it was too much for my legs that just hadn't woken up yet. I dropped off and spent probably most of the rest of the race on my own, which was much different from last year when I worked with a group for a lot of the first half of the race (which is predominantly dirt road and very fast paced) and then again in the end of the race. After a certain point though, I was around the same 5-6 guys but we all seemed to have different strengths or weaknesses and just never got working together. This one guy I would pass on the climbs and then he'd come by on the crazy sketchy downhills, we did that a bunch of times until after aid station 3 (~60 miles in). I felt reasonably good for hours 2-3-4 on the bike and but my bowels were starting to umm, not be so cooperative. Then for some reason at aid station 3, I thought it would be a good idea to have a big handful of trail mix (which I never eat during races) and then start this tough single track climb. I was making good time to that point but going up that climb, I was felt like crap, like I was going backwards... I couldn't pass the guy I had kept passing on the climbs. I felt very close to just stopping for a bit to let my body settle but I didn't think that would be a good idea, in that it'd be pretty hard to convince myself to get going again. That was probably my toughest stretch from Aid 3 to 4... but, then again, it's probably the toughest stretch for most of the racers too. It's pretty fast and mostly dirt road to that point... the harder trails come up in that stretch. I felt like I couldn't ride anything well. It was pretty slippery, slick, throw you around jagged rocks for a trail, with lots of roots meshed in and not a lot of "ground" so to speak. I was thinking back to my last training ride with my buddy Jeff out in Western Mass, my favorite trails are all big rock, very specific line picking kind of trails and Jeff was hailing me as the "rock goddess"... well i was no "rock goddess" today. This is my least favorite of the 100 milers, as dirt road riding is boring to me and then the trails just beat the snots out of you and the downhills that you just climbed so hard for are slow going since they're so rough, ragged, slick rocks, off camber, craziness, and I usually think of myself as a pretty strong technical rider.

Anyway, I never felt fully on my game, not completely off, but just not quite "race mode" and my bowels weren't helping me out either. I just kept plugging along and reminded myself that I was just riding my bike all day and it might take a bit longer than I anticipated and that's ok.. that's all I have today. I tick off the hours, and the aid stations...really didn't chat with too many racers, but did run into a few that I knew, which is always nice to have a distraction for a bit. I hadn't let myself think about my placing and no one at the aid stations were saying, you're the ___ women to come through, so I didn't ask. So I was kind of surprised when I finished and was told I was 4th. Very cool, since I didn't think I would podium unless I had a really good race day out there. Pua who is a superstar endurance rider won with a time of 7'43" and was 8th overall... holy moly... and then Sue Haywood and Besty, 2nd and 3rd in 8'40". My time put me in 59th place overall. Not too shabby.

I rode back to the B&B and cleaned my bike and myself. There was another race couple staying at the B&B and finished up not too long after me. I was just about to head back to the race to catch Doug finishing but he was already outside cleaning his bike too - having a 30min PR for this course (or so he recalls it that way : ), fast B&B crew :) We headed back to the venue for some eats and beer. I was able to eat some and drink a beer, but my stomach was still not entirely there yet. Did the awards thing and chatted with a bunch friends... Then Doug had convinced Lee and Brenda to go for some eats at the Bank restaurant. They staff must have thought we were odd. Post race eating is odd.. You're kind of hungry, but not.. and not sure what's going to sit well. We munched on some nachos which wasn't doing it for me. I didn't want to add hots to my already "hot" stomach.. or whatever that is.. the salad actually seemed much nicer. I was surprised to sleep reasonable well post-race as well, at least somewhat better than usual. Breakfast was fantastic, although the coffee left one needed an expresso still.. I didn't feel too wiped out from the race and stomach seemed to be doing better. I have noticed this year I don't feel the need to consume everything the next day or two post race, which I'm taking means I'm more fit and better fueling myself during the race.

It was raining again on Sunday, which was kind of a bummer. It would have been nice to just do a chill ride following the river and driving amish people crazy trying to take their picture. But Doug and I just headed back to State college, caught a movie, and ate some burritos and drank a very tasty margarita, well I had two, which was probably one too many... phew.. but it was good. Nice chill day. I woke up feeling really good this morning, not achey, stiff or sore.. I was like, huh, this is good. Had breakfast and hit the road for a nice, no traffic, drive home.

One more for sure - Shenandoah - which I'll be redeeming myself from last year for not finishing due to my knee injury. And possibly Tahoe for the series finale - yet to be determined, but hopefully determined this week.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

6 Hrs of Pats Peak

I am very glad I (we, my coach and I) decided that the 12 hrs solo would not be a good idea...six hours was plenty. This is a tough course and kudos to all of you who did 12 or 24 hours. Phew. 12 hours would not be worth the mental anguish and the physical abuse. I still have a couple 100 milers left and need all the mental toughness for those ones.

I wasn't taking this race all that seriously as No. 1, six hours has become my standard long training ride that I seem to do every weekend and No. 2, until Thursday, no one else was signed up for 6 hr solo women so what the heck. I was glad I pre-registered though as by the time this race did come around, I was feeling a tad worn out from a couple busy weeks and just wanted to chill at home. But finally, Thursday, I was starting to get my act together and think about getting ready for the race - just usual packing stuff, like what I will need in the feed zone, parts, etc. will i camp out over night, bring the dog, etc. etc. I even had the last minute picking the bike up from Don ( who had attempted to get me new disc brake pads only to find out that the avid juicy ultimates are very particular and only "ultimate" pads will work, despite many trying to convince me that all avid juicy brake pads work on all avid juicy brakes, NOT.
So, I'll get them this week I hope. Who needs brakes anyways? I wasn't too concerned as I still had some pad left, I was just worried about a late day t-storm coming in and that would be the end of those.

I packed up Friday night and had intended on bringing the pooch along but my sister said she'd walk him for me mid-day and figured that would be a better option than worrying about him being too hot, or a noodge for someone I pawned him off on to keep an eye on while I raced. Woke up Saturday feeling decent but certainly not in race mode at all. The drive took a couple hours, pretty uneventful. I stopped at Starbuck en route to get a triple expresso for mid-race pokiness on hand. I tried to stay fueled and hydrated on the drive. The day was looking pretty good weather wise, except for a potential t-storm sometime around 6pm, which would hopefully be after I was done or not at all.

I arrived about 10ish to a relatively small venue. Met up with my buddies, Brian and Brian Jr. doing the 6hr solo as well and Rob and Kenny doing the 12 hr team race, and respective awesome support/significant others. I had done a 24-hr 5-person co-ed team (with Brian Sr) race years ago here and done a couple regular Root 66 races, so I knew the course, which has a lot of climbing per a lap and a pretty fun downhill. I had calculated out based on my last regular length here that doing 9-10 laps would be pretty good for 6hrs. It was tough to say for sure until I did a lap to see what condition it was in and how I was feeling today especially since I was feeling pretty darn mellow and not like I was racing.

Due to the incredibly inclement weather over the past month and half, the course was of course, muddy. Although the last time I raced here it was in a complete downpour/t-storm pretty much the entire time that each lap I came through praying they would the race but they didn't until after starting my last lap, ergg.. Anyway, I set up my cooler where Kenny and Rob had set up their tents right along the course nearing the start finish area. It was a good spot. The 6hr race went from noon till 6pm, and you had to be on the course till 6 and finish at 6 or after. The race has a lemans start which I hate, even though it's a pretty short run to the bikes. I picked a strategically uphill point to start the run so it would be mostly downhill to my bike :) I convinced my buddies of this important strategy as well and we all started off en mass.

I thank god didn't trip, roll my ankle or do other silly things getting to my bike. I hopped on and took off to get in good position, which yes, does seem silly to hammer from the getgo because it's a long race. But it felt good to go. Sure enough there was lots of mud. There was this one section through the woods with a mud stream coming down it that I was actually riding pretty well while the other guys in front of me were walking and I'm like hey 'rider'.. made it a few times through that section staying on the bike... not sure it was worth the effort but I usually felt inspired to try. Then there were a few nasty mushy energy sucking field sections crossing the ski slope, one particularly bad one before starting the biggest climb on the course. That was a drag. I was going pretty hard the first lap. My computer hadn't picked up my heart rate though so I didn't get to panic at how high the HR was likely going...must fix that next lap through. The climbs didn't feel too bad the first lap through and even into the upper single track it was pretty good going. The downhill though was tougher than I had remembered - lots of turns on slick roots and chewed up corners. It was definitely a wake up call to get back on track doing my strength training/core exercises. Ouch..

I came through the first lap 7th overall. Pretty good going. The stomach was a bit off though, and it was a bit hot and humid for the first time in forever this summer. I was making a not to myself to keep up the hydration and electrolytes, the fuel intake might have to slow down a bit to let the stomach feel better. I Got the heart rate monitor working starting into the 2nd lap and took it back a notch but still had some desire to do the first 4 laps faster than my last time racing it here, silly, I know since I would have to keep going after that. And by the 4th lap I was like, phew. That's a tough regular race. But I started my mental games of well, that's 1/3 of the race, 2hrs down, 5-6 more intervals (long ints), what was I thinking? thank god I'm not doing 12hrs., can I really do 10, maybe 9 will be fine... and on and on. I think it was finishing up my 6th lap I was feel a bit sleepy so the expresso sounded like a good idea. I stopped at my cooler and took a big sip, and then another.. ahh.. and carried on. At first, I thought my stomach wasn't going to appreciate it, but it settled after a little bit.

My 7th and 8th lap were probably the toughest, knowing I still had a couple more to do or not? I started to calculate out whether I could do a 10th. I was guessing I'd have plenty of time to start the 10th but did I want to? when I brought up this debate next time through at the cooler, the crew was like come on do 10... ok... I started out on my 9th lap feeling pretty good again, but still debating whether to hold up at the end and finish right at 6 or do the 10th. I ran into Kerry on the long climb (who I traveled with to the 100 milers last year) and had the debate again...but I feeling ok by then and was leaning towards 10 and hey, that's what I calculated before starting. Then the lead 6hr solo guy caught up to me and he was debating whether starting his 11th or not but he had to figure out whether the 2nd place guy would come through in enough time to start an 11th lap as well. He didn't want to do another lap since he was racing the regular cross country pro race on Sunday (insane... although that insanity had crossed my mind like once or twice and quickly threw out the idea - thank god). Anyway, I didn't see him waiting up at the end of the lap and he apparently not realized you couldn't check in from the lap and not go out for another if it was before 6 so he had to go do an 11th or be dnf'd...I came through at 5:40 so I knew I better get out for one more lap and not be a slacker and get all 6hrs of training in :) It was nice knowing it was the last time, and it's always comforting to tell yourself you don't ever have to do this race again if you don't want to after this lap. I took a quick moment to enjoy the view from the top of the climb. It is a pretty sweet view. I managed to get my brake pads through the race. It was kind of good motivation to lay off them some on the downhills so as to have some left at the end. I'm pretty sure I need new pads now and my bike needs a pretty thorough cleaning.

So I came in at 6:15 with 10 laps, 1st 6hr solo woman and would have put me 4th in the men's group. Not a bad day's effort. I showered up and ate some food, drank a beer and really needed to drink some water. I definitely got way under hydrated on this one, which thankfully didn't seem to affect me too badly during the race but I'm paying for it some today. They did awards promptly at 7 which was nice. I chatted with some fellow racers and then went back to my buddies' tent to hang for a bit. Kenny was thinking better about his enthusiasm for doing a 12 hr team race. I haven't had the experience myself but I've heard it's really tough being on and off and on and off, the body has no idea what's going on. I like being consistently working and then done...

So I left about 8ish glad I forwent the 2nd beer so I could drive the 2hrs home. My eyes felt bleary from the mud and sun and well the hard effort. It started to storm some down around Lowell and most of the way home from that point on, and it seemed like a lot of cars on the road for 10 on Saturday night, even a cop car that decided to be the nice guys that they are and came flying up on my butt and I had a slow car in front of me, they finally get out of the way and I speed up to get out of the way and the cop passes me and I, not realizing it till to late that it was a cop car, flick him off for being a prick, and he (i'm assuming it's a him prick..)... brakes hard and pulls in behind me.. uigh.. I'm like sh--- I'm going to get pulled over for that, and really thankful I didn't drink the 2nd beer now. He sits behind me for a while doing 60 with me and I'm panicky at first than mad that they have the right to harass you like this, like they wouldn't flick off someone tailgating the crap out of them... but he just follows me for awhile and then gets off onto Rt 2. I'm like phew, although i would have attempted to fight it if he gave me a ticket.

anyway, made it home fine - had to do 2.5hrs today...that hurt... definitely tired, definitely looking forward to a mostly rest week this week...

next stop Wilderness 101

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Root 66 Race - Putney, VT

A normal length race -- I was happy to find out that my legs can still do 2 hr race pace.
I woke up kind of surprised to see it raining out. I thought today's weather was supposed to be somewhat similar to Saturday's weather but not quite... what the heck is up with this weather this month!!! I'm lucky I went away for two races and had the chance to race in some decent weather, phew! So this morning I actually packed arm warmers it was that chilly out. As I drove to the race, the sky seemed to brighten up so I was hopeful that the weather was just crappy in the east. But to no avail. It started raining again :( Not really bad, but I knew the course would be sloppy and Vermont mud is tough. I was also pretty concerned about parking my little toyota matrix that is so low to the ground in the field parking lot and envisioned getting stuck badly if it were to rain more. I chose a spot pretty close to the "path" in. Then registration took forever, so I had about 1/2 hr to warm-up. I was sort of thinking it would be nice to do a full lap and really get the legs going since I had most of the week off the bike as recovery from the 100 last week. I just rode the first 10 mins of the course and turned around. I didn't feel too bad, but didn't feel super 'zippy' or anything, which sometimes is a decent sign for me. The single track was pretty greasy so I knew the downhills later on in the course might be a bit sketchy. Anyway, we had a decent women's field, five good pro women. I actually had some "go" at the start and stuck to the lead woman's wheel for maybe a 1/3 of the lap and then she dropped me on a climb and that was the end of seeing here. I was hoping I had made her semi-nervous yapping about the 100 milers and then being able to hang on her wheel for a bit, but I don't think it had much effect. She's strong, as were the women behind me. Gotta keep going. I went pretty hard the first lap, although that's the usual business in these races. I was feeling decent still but definitely worried about whether I could keep up the pace. I was thinking, I know I did the Bums time trials but that was for ~40mins at best so who knows if I can keep a fast pace past that timeframe. I did slow some, and got caught going into the 4th lap on climb. Actually she had caught up to me early in the 3rd lap but I mustered up some energy to try to fend her off that lap. I got some space in the singletrack and downhills but she'd gain it back on the climbs and eventually got me on a climb. I caught back up to her in the singletrack/downhill but just let it go since we were going to a decent climb again. I was pretty happy to be able to come off the 100 and feel pretty decent for a 2hr race pace. There was definitely lots of evil thoughts of the pain of 2hr pace. Race with joy.. my a--- .. :) and now i have to clean my bike (which, miracle of miracle, I did once I got home).
anyway, got myself some ice cream to celebrate, oh wait, who am I kidding, I would have gotten it anyway.
Next stop - 6hr race at Pat's Peak in a couple weeks (weather permitting, on my account anyway)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Lumberjack 09 Race Report (very long)

Ok, here were go... sorry for the delay. The short story -see picture - 2nd place, in 8:26, pretty smoking fast :)

Lets see, it all seems like a blur now but it will come back to me. As I may have noted in my pre-race blog, I was a bit more anxious going into this race, something about the pressure to keep performing well. I asked my coach for race pep talk and he came back with "race with joy"... hehehe. It sounded funny so that helped for the moment. I didn't ask if he intended it to be silly sounding and thus make me chill out a bit. I found once I starting truly packing for the trip, I felt better and just needed to get on with it. I was checking the weather forecast every day and it just kept saying 40% chance of showers and high of 71 :( :( but, if any of the courses that can handle some rain, it's this one. My final weather check before heading out the door Thursday morning said no mention of rain. I can race with joy now!!!

So I left about 8:30 in the morning for the long long long drive out Rt 90. I was meeting up with my friend Doug in Erie, PA. He managed to put up with me quite well at the Mohican race to be willing to travel with me again, thank god, so I wouldn't have to do this ridiculously long drive totally solo. The drive out was kind of annoying, in and out of rain, not seeing anything getting stuck behind 18 wheelers, and some crazy fog out in Western Mass. Other than that, just some good, kind of old tunes, and time to try to get my mind in the right spot about racing. I was rather disappointed in my memory of the turnpike having more Starbucks en route. I'd see the rest area listing, and no starbucks. Man, I need a coffee. I'll wait one more rest stop, nope... geez.. I finally succumbed to Lalavazz or whatever, "the best coffee in italy", hah! Italy must be so embarrassed. But, yup that was the highlight of the drive out. Very exciting.

I arrived in Erie about 5:30 and had a little time to kill before Doug was showing up, so I hung out at Barnes and Nobles not really being able to focus on anything. I was wishing I knew who sang a certain song I liked and had stuck in my head as I would have bought the cd for the trip home, but no. Doug showed right on time and we loaded up his car to make it to Toledo for the night. It was good to have company again and be a passenger. We had some very yummy eats in Cleveland. I strayed from my usual safe chicken choice for some fish, oh and a glass of wine to relax and death by chocolate cheesecake :) mmmm

It seemed like forever to get to Toledo. We got in around 10:00ish or sometime thereafter. Watched some mindless tv and called it a night. Breakfast was interesting at a local diner, many people who probably can't even bike a mile, or maybe even fit on a bicycle... hmm.. And we never did find out what "holy toledo" means (ok, here you go, in case you are wondering now too

Then driving and driving and oh, more driving to Manistee, MI, up along the northwest side of Michigan. I was pretty tired, so I semi remember some of it. (Maybe I should have had another glass of wine and skipped the cheesecake the night before to help me sleep). I may be missing some minor details here.

We arrived in Manistee at this cute little cabin we rented that was very conveniently located a couple miles from the race site. It was pretty quaint with a river running through it, oh, I mean behind it, that the owner advised would be a good "icing" down of the legs post-race. Good note. We unpacked some stuff and road down to the race site to register and move the legs some. It was threatening to rain at this point so I brought my big raincoat. I was finally getting a bit excited about this race, or maybe just excited to be out of the car. See pic (top right) :-)
It did feel good to move again. Doug hadn't done this race before so I was explaining the layout of where we lap through and where we'd leave the cooler tomorrow for our "pit" spot and then we grabbed our race packets, and I figured it would be good for him to see/ride the first little sandy climb that kind of bottlenecks on the first lap and/or you pick a too sandy route and have to walk it. It's just good to know what's coming up first thing onto the course. I was excited, remembering what a blast this course was last year.

We went back to the cabin, got our gear and eats and bikes etc. ready for race day and then headed off to the downtown Manistee, which is right on Lake Superior. It was Fish Fry night... I hadn't heard of that. But I did again stray from my safe chicken dinner and got some very yummy salmon, oh and some wine again to chill the nerves. We drove over to a beach on Lake Superior, froze our toes in the water, and just killed some time enjoying the view. Oh, and I attempted to slide down the giant slide there, but it was kind of not so slidy. Looked dangerous to me, especially for the drunken partying'd be a tough fall. I am being serious on that one, thankfully I just a glass.

So I thought since I was pretty exhausted from sitting in the car and not sleeping well the previous night and having a glass of wine I would totally crash and get a good nights sleep. UM, nope! I was awake for quite a while just trying not to let it get to me too much. It started to storm outside sometime early early in the morning. It didn't concern me that much since I was hoping that meant it would be done by the time we starting racing and that that hopefully was the chance of "morning rain". As I mentioned before, the course is really sandy so it drains really well. It was done by morning, 5Am wakeup. Doug remembered his expresso maker this time, no Walmart stops, so we ate our breakfasts and juiced up on expresso and got to the race start on the early side to get a decent parking spot. You have to lug your stuff - water, supplies etc to the start/finish lapping area so I didn't want to have to walk too far. Somewhere in that timeframe I noticed Besty Shogren (Mohican winner) milling about and I was like, huh, I didn't notice her name on the pre-reg list, bummer, oh, right, good competition, she and I thought Cheryl was coming, and Danielle Musto (the local rider home turf)... mmm.. Race with Joy, Race with Joy...

The race with joy starts out of the park down the road a couple miles so the pack can thin out some before hitting the singletrack. We got eaten alive by mosquitos waiting to get going, but it was a nice start otherwise. It was Besty, myself and Danielle (cheryl didn't come to the race afterall, she only needs one axe trophy :) (she won last year)) up front with the fast guys. It was a pretty tame pace to start until we hit the singletrack and it was hammer time, heart rate soaring up the first sandy climb. Betsy was still right there and Danielle got stuck behind someone and ended up off her bike and I passed her then and that was the order for the rest of the race. Funny, on the first sandy climb a little Bambi came crashing through woods, leaped over the racers and landed in a heap all legs scrambling to get out of the way. I was surprised the poor thing didn't land on someone. It was a cute little Bambi, lots of adorable white spots, just like Bambi.

So back to the race... I'm pretty happy with the start thus far. I'm in a good group, fast paced and actually spreading out quite nicely. Betsy gapped me a bit but I caught back up to her later on and stayed with her for a bit, but then she dropped me. I was sort of caught up in true race mode a lot that first lap and maybe mentally more than physically spent myself and had to get back into my head of racing my race, not being cocky about the position as anything can happen still. But, I did lose mega motivation going into the second lap. I was feeling a bit tired, and not having gotten great sleep the previous two nights was worried that caught up to me and would just worsen, I had to fight the thoughts of just not wanting to be there. It was tough, especially since I really loved this course last year, at least the first two laps were a blast. The race with joy wasn't doing it either. I tried to keep it going. I was on my own a lot that lap which usually I like but I was starting to think for mental purposes maybe not. I came through to start my 3rd lap, there were some spectators there helping out their friends/significant others who were also very helpful to me coming through the transition - helped me fill my camelpack up etc., giving me the race spread, ie, Betsy was up ~5 or so mins and Danielle was down similar.. mmmm.. better get going. Then starting out that lap I felt much better. The legs were really there again and I was very pleased about that, that's when I go ahh, all that training did work, phew.. and I got some silly songs in my head, like "i feel good,... like I know I shoud.." yeah and making up various words to that. It was my best lap, at least mentally. I was much more focused and feeling more alert. The course has some pretty flat sections that actually get a bit tedious and I had found myself zoning out a lot on Lap 2. So coming into the last lap, which is so nice, the women helping me with my camelback were excited for me as I had cut a few minutes of the lead Betsy had on me, so I was pretty stoked. Although, you come by the transition area after doing an 8 miler inner loop, so Betsy was advised of this and got got going again. I raced the last lap totally on "this is the last time kiddo" feeling. My left knee was starting to bother me though, so I was a bit uncomfortable with that and had to alter pedaling some on account of that, but otherwise I felt pretty good still going into the last lap. I kept thinking when I'd hit some hills or sections, gee, I remember that feeling really hard last year and this time it not being so bad. The last lap though, you start lapping riders, so that gets a bit tricky. Thankfully, 99% are awesome and move out the way quickly realizing that you're likely in position and they still have at least another entire lap to go. Funny, our cabin neighbors, one of the guys we ran into post race packing up and he said yeah, I saw you finish just as I was going for my last lap and he said "i hate her, I really hate her.. (in jest, of course).. I'd hate me at that point.. Anyway, the course really is a lot of fun, smooth, twisty, singletrack. Many of the sections remind me of Star Wars when they're flying the jets through the trees in the Ewok land, kind of like that on the bike. Sweet! So, as I'm finishing up my 4th lap, realizing I'm not catching Betsy, I at least realized I'll make my personal goal of 8 1/2 hrs and hammered in to make sure I got that time. Besty finished in 8'20, new women's course record. I crossed the finish line and Betsy was sitting there commenting that I looked "fresh" still. yeah, right.. but I didn't feel all that bad considering I just road a 100 miles. It certainly is nice to straighten out the back, phew. Oh, I was quite pleased to see my lap times were really really consistent, despite not necessarily feeling that way. My last two laps were only 9 seconds difference, and lap 2-3 only 1 min. My specialized epic road like a dream again, very nice, smooth sailing, tracked well for windy flats, climbs, smoking descents... ahhh.

I sat on the cooler for a while, doing the post-race, drunken mindset state of not knowing what to do first, eat, drink, change.... what... I'll just sit here for a while. I finally got changed and grabbed the beer mugs from the car and waited for Doug to finish up - he rolled across in 9'19, oh wait he didn't want me to write that, that I beat him... :) :) But I had the all important beer glasses ready to go.

We ate some food, had some good beer, although they were having some issues with it pouring too much foam.. :( but it still was tasty. Chatted with Betsy and Danielle. Did our podium shots. I love the trophy for this race. I have to keep doing the race and doing the long drive, ugh!! Then it was back to the cabin to ice the legs in the river. It had turned into a beautiful sunny day, pretty warm in the sun, so the river felt good, after a few minutes. We headed back to Manistee to find some more eats, not sure exactly what we were feeling like. It's an odd post-race kind of hungry/not hungry feeling. So we had some salad, nachos and beer, followed by, just my luck, some ice cream. I didn't think anything was going to be open that late.
And finally slept pretty well that night, which is a new thing for me. I usually sleep like crap the night after a race, just too jazzed up, or achy, or both.

We hit the road relatively early to make it back to Erie that evening. Ann Arbor was about half-way so we stopped there for lunch, and more ice cream :) and wandered around for a bit. Funny, we were in an outdoor shop and the clerk saw our Lumberjack race t-shirts which have a tree saw (there's probably some appropriate for such a saw, but I can't think of it right now) and asked if we were doing some "lumberjacking" (I didn't hear exactly what she asked) and we were like huh, oh, no, it was a bike race. No, really , we cut down a 100 trees in 100 minutes. But after that we were semi-paranoid that people were looking at us like tree haters..

On the road again to Erie, and last funny story for this report, we ate at this wings restaurant which was pretty tasty, but our waitress was perhaps a bit new... anyway, I had been craving some twizzlers recently, which is a bit unusual for me, but I hadn't bought any yet and at the end of the meal we got a couple twizzlers with the check (instead of mints, I'm assuming).. so I was like, sweet.. I finally got my twizzlers and had made a big deal about it and the waitress said that they give them out because, according to her boss, they're good for your teeth.. huh?? I thought they were made of high fructose corn syrup, and that's why I didn't buy myself a whole bag... I actually googled it to make sure I wouldn't make a fool of myself making fun of her. Maybe real, true liquorice.. we were delirious already so it didn't take much to humor us at that point.

So, I hit the road solo again Monday morning feeling a bit bleary eyed and was semi worried the drive was going to feel particularly long back to Massachusetts, but I woke up some as I belted out some tunes and had smooth sailing trip home. Oh, and I was pleasantly surprised to see many more starbucks going eastbound, unfortunately I had already given up hope of there being any and had gotten some Tim hortons coffee, but it was decent, certainly better than "Italy's Best" (the italians should do something about the erroneous claim)..
and that's that.. told you it would be long, see what you get for waiting :) on to some local races for the next month.. hopefully Putney will go well this weekend. It should only take 2hrs or there about, it will feel like a short day... just not so sure on the "speed/pace"..
Next 100 is the Wilderness 101 August 1st