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 (bikect.com) 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