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 http://www.dotoledo.org/gtcvb/history/display.asp?id=6).

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 types...it'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


  1. AWESOME! Congrats Karen! We'll see you at Putney Sunday! HOLLER!

  2. Wow! That is great news about your race. I love bragging about you to my family and friends who know Brian! I wish I could get exercise in by living vicariously through you and Mandy. haha She is running daily training for the Fall cross country season. It is so hot right now that they run at 7 in the morning most days. Even though they wait until after 7 in the evenings it is still ridiculously hot.
    One more comment: I love your writing style. I was giggling and felt like I was with you. You should send a copy to the local paper. Hugs to you and the rest of the family.