Oh, where to begin my book...
The couple of weeks between the Transylvania Stage race and the Lumberjack 100 were incredibly busy, mostly in good ways. It was part of my motivation to bag the last day of the stage race after getting sick there, to get home on Saturday to have a all day Sunday to rest, recover, get caught up, etc., which I am very thankful I did. It was a full week of work and family stuff -- niece's high school graduation, dad's retirement party, which meant lots of family around to hang out with...etc., etc. It also meant I got little riding in and not as much sleep as I would have liked which was a tad frustrating but it was what it was.
Needless to say, I figured I should be "fresh" for the Lumberjack. The women's field was incredibly stacked, much like the stage race. I was trying to get in the mindset of "I have done enough of these 100 milers that I should really truly try to push and see what I have, and if I bonk, I bonk." Of course, I knew that would be semi-contingent on how the legs and body felt on race day. I was after all, feeling a bit spent from all the activity heading into this race. So, mostly, I wanted to have fun. I do not make my living off racing so there should be some pleasure in riding a 100 miles (haha!).
I had some new travel mates this time around. Down at the Cohutta 100 back in April, I had run into a friend/fellow racer I had met ~5 years ago at the Jay Challenge in Vermont - a 65 (er, I mean ultimately a 72 mile) torture fest that had 'broken' me and had me crying at the end of it vowing to never ride my bike longer than 2 hours ever again (that lasted huh?; what is wrong with me?). I didn't have anyone to travel to the Lumberjack with so Chris invited me along with his friend Matt. They lived in Poughkeepsie, NY so it would only be about 3 hours to get there. I told him I'd give it some thought as I had been debating bagging the race altogether for another one later on in the season, but I decided to go with them.
I headed out Thursday morning to Poughkeepsie and arrived at Chris' just around noon. Chris had given me directions to get there either via Rt. 90 or Rt. 84 to Taconic Parkway. I took the Mass Pike (90) since I've been driving 84 all the time. The directions seemed so straightforward that I didn't bother to look at a map before heading out. I got on the Taconic Parkway and thought it was 8 miles south from Rt. 90 to the exit I had to get off at, but I was chatting on the phone and had probably gone well over 8 miles by then, and started to realize, hmm., maybe I should have looked at this on the map. So I called Chris and well, it was 8 miles off the Taconic Parkway, but many miles heading south on the parkway first.. Got it. It was really simple.
I arrived around noon and Chris' buddy Matt showed up about a 1/2 hour later. We packed up Chris' mini-van and hit the road to Youngstown, Ohio, about 6 hours away. Oh joy.. the beginning of many many hours in the car. It was a pretty uneventful trip. We chatted a ton about biking of course -- training, nutrition, strategy, etc. Chris asked me what my goal was for this race. I was like, huh, I guess to do better than last year. I try not to set myself up for a bad head day on the chance that if I'm not feeling great, I don't want to have the added expectation of killing it, even if that is ultimately what I want to do. The Jay Challenge had taught me to be cautious of too lofty of expectations. I hadn't even looked at my time from last year on this course. I had guessed it was around 8:20 or 8:30 (it was closer to 8:30). Anyway, Chris and Matt were great traveling mates. We all got along well and were accommodating to each other, although I think they were perhaps a bit more accommodating to me, giving me, the "well you're the pro", which kind of cracks me up.
We ate dinner at an Applebees somewhere over the border into Ohio (or maybe still in Pennsylvania). Getting a beer was very tempting, but I behaved knowing I was probably still trying to 'catch up' from the crazy busy weeks I just had. Then we stayed at a cheap hotel in Youngstown. Matt is an early bird which wasn't a bad thing as it was probably a good thing to hit the road at a decent time since we still had many many miles to get to Manistee, MI. Chris had mapquested the various routes to take to the race with going through Canada being the shortest and fastest. He's from Netherlands originally and has a green card and thus didn't want us to get hung up at the border (and who knows how long it could take at the border regardless). By Chris' calculations we would have 7 hours to drive on Friday, but the GPS calculated it out saying 9hrs. Yikes! That would get us there about 5pm and we still wanted to get a ride in, get dinner, get everything set for race day...but thankfully, it did really only take 7. And, thankfully Chris and Matt were pretty chatty and fun to hang out with so the time didn't totally drag. Chris is also quite the cook. He quite generously shared his delicious banana bread with us.
We arrived at the race venue just after 3pm and picked up our race packets. I caught up briefly with some friends. Then we went to the cabin I had rented for us to settle in and get ready for a ride to loosen up the legs. The cabin is basically on the back side of the course so we rode from the cabin to the race start/finish area and back. I felt pretty good considering I had just spent 17 hrs in the car over the past two days. The legs were a bit heavy and dead at first but I did a couple of hard efforts on a climb that helped kind of open them up and that made me feel a bit more awake.
We cleaned up and headed into the small town of Manistee for dinner. It was reasonably early still so I suggested we head down to the waterfront on Lake Superior since neither Chris or Matt had gone in the previous times they had done this race. It was a beautiful evening out, warm, sunny, cool breeze. The water looked inviting (but chilly). I had been wondering about the "good morning buttercup" Matt said to Chris that morning, but then I caught a picture of them holding hands. I told them I would blackmail them to their wives :) (completely joking around here/silly).
We ate at the restaurant I have eaten at the past couple of years for dinner the night before this race. I knew it was pretty good food and shouldn't pose any problems for racing the next day. I refrained from a beer or glass of wine again. We hit a grocery store for final supplies, post race snacks and beer etc. Then, it was back to the cabin and preparing for race day.
Man, the mosquitoes are ridiculous there. There was a nice little deck with chairs to sit outside and enjoy the evening with the very late sunset (close to 10pm since it's at the end of the eastern time zone), but we'd have no blood left to pump through our body for race day if we did that. So, it was to bed before it was dark out. I felt like I was like 5 years old again.
I didn't sleep all that great that night but I was, for once, actually not overly anxious or nervous about the race. It's usually race nerves that keep me up. Anyway, 5am comes early regardless and the thoughts of "why the heck do I do this" coming flooding through my brain. I ate some oatmeal and downed my coffee and then we were off to the race, about a 10 minute drive.
We set up our cooler and other bike parts/supplies for the race at the start/finish area. This is the one 100 miler that I do that is 3 laps. The mosquitoes were pretty bad that morning and thankfully I was able to bum some bug spray off a friend. I forgot mine in my car back in Poughkeepsie. I was still surprisingly calm for pre-race time, especially given the many talented riders in my field. I knew I should be pretty fresh, but I was worried that I hadn't done a ride longer than 4hrs in quite some time. Normally, by this point in the season I have done several 5 or 6 hour training rides. I also wasn't quite what kind of impact the busy few weeks would have on me once I got several hours into the race. I reminded myself again that I don't do this for a living so just try to have fun out there and if you feel good, go with it.
I actually did warmed-up with a couple hard short efforts to get the legs opened up. The race starts down the paved road a couple of miles to help spread out the pack before dumping onto singletrack for the majority of the race. So, you have to be ready to go super hard to make sure you have good position getting into the singletrack or else you can lose a lot of time on the first lap. I'm sure I have said this in my blogs in the past, but I hate the starts like this - a few 100 mountain bikers all jockeying for the front spots. It is quite stressful. I tried to stay pretty close up front as I could but wasn't doing an overly good job of it. Once we hit the singletrack, I realized I was kind of farther back than I had hoped to be. That, and I hadn't tracked who of my competitors were ahead of me.
I made some stupid passing decisions that I sort of crashed myself but thankfully didn't take down anyone else. I apologized quickly, but was annoyed with myself for the wasted effort. I wasn't overly happy with the pace of the group I was in and you can lose a lot of time right there in the beginning as there really aren't great places to pass on this course. And early on in the race, no one wants to let you pass since they all want to pass whoever is in front of them.
I finally kind of settled in and found a 'spot' of my own. I find in these race that I always seem to end up around the same group of racers for a majority of the race. You pass them, they pass you and so on.
I felt pretty good for most of the first lap. I can't say I felt like a superstar or anything, but my effort and heart rate and feel all seemed ok. But by the end of the lap, I had started to feel the effort already and was a bit disheartened by that. I also didn't know what position I was in. I knew there were at least 3 women ahead of me, most likely more. When I came through the start/finish area from the first lap, someone said I was in 3rd which I knew was wrong unless Amanda or Cheryl had dnfd. Highly unlikely.
I refilled my camelback with my Carborocket powder mix that I had pre-measured out in ziplock baggies. (I finally got to meet Brad Keyes, owner of Carborocket, my awesome sponsor - very nice guy. He had a great race on his single speed.) I made a bit of a mess on my camelback since I was in a hurry. I grabbed an Odwalla bar, ate half and stuck the other half in my pocket and hit the trail again. The 2nd lap is tough since you have gone pretty hard the first lap, especially since the trails are super fast, flowing awesome single track. There are no major big climbs which means you are pedaling all the time pretty hard. On a course with big climbs (ie, Shenandoah or Wilderness 101), you just find a smooth climbing pace you can hold for, oh, an hour or so, and then you get to descend for a long time and hence get a long recovery, or use you legs in a different way. The Lumberjack course is just go go go. So, now you still have 2 more laps and your legs are starting to feel the hard effort.
I got in my head a bit too much this lap. I was not enjoying it and how hard it felt. I have been starting to think I don't want to do these 100s anymore. Of course, they are always hard. I don't know why I assume they will ever feel easy. Anyway, I convinced myself that I would only do the two more on my schedule this year and next year, none. I would just take a nice break and go have fun riding some awesome trails out west and enjoy a good beer or two in the evening. Get up and repeat. And then, I would remind myself to make that decision at the end of the season. Nonetheless, I convinced myself to keep going. I just tried to keep riding steady and try not to worry too much about getting caught from behind. I was assuming I was in 4th at this point which was confirmed (if I wanted to truly believe the person telling me at the start/finish area).
I finish Lap 2 and stop to refill my camelback one more time. I figured I wouldn't want any food so I gulped some water and hit the trail for the final lap. It was nice to know it was just one more time, even though it was a long one more time in comparison to doing short 2 hour races where a lap is done in an half-hour or less. I actually felt pretty good starting out on the lap. Fairly early on in the lap I saw Vikki up ahead and eventually caught up her. This of course was motivation. I chatted with her briefly asking how her ribs were feeling after hurting them at the stage race (she came in 3rd still there with broken or badly bruised ribs!). I passed her on the next climb. She had told me Cheryl (2nd place) was about 5 minutes up. I thought, ugh, 5 minutes is pretty significant and Cheryl is such a strong rider.
I just kept riding strong and was happy to feel like my legs felt better this lap then the last lap. I had tried to calculate out whether I thought I would be able to do a sub-8hr 100 here, but I was guessing given my lap times and having taken about 8 minutes longer on the 2nd lap, and my last like would likely be at least the same or longer that a sub-8hr was not probable.
I was passing some guys on the final lap and one of them told me Cheryl was about 2 minutes up. I was inspired in that if that were true, I had been gaining time on her. And not too much longer after that I saw her up ahead. I finally caught up to her and just stealthily stayed behind her and a guy she was right behind. I hadn't quite decided how to play it out. We were about to hit the aid station which was half-way through the lap. I was starting to figure I would just see how we both felt on the next climb to see what she had in her legs still and to see what I had left. To my surprise, she stopped at the aid station for water and I didn't need to stop since I had plenty left in my camelback so I rode right on through wondering if she realized I was right behind her and/or saw me pass her.
I was hoping she didn't see me and then she would be less likely to dig deep to catch me again. I figured it was highly unlikely she didn't see me or that someone wouldn't have told her I passed. I kept trying to look back to see if she was coming up while reminding myself that she is a very strong rider and if she catches me, well she catches me. But I didn't see her and I just kept riding hard. (She told me after the race that she figured it was coming up on her that far into the race and at that point she had bonked.)
Eventually, I was in home stretch where I knew Cheryl wasn't going to catch back up to me. I started to calculate out my time and realized that hey, I have 6 minutes to get in for a sub-8 hour race. I have 5.. I have 4... and finally I knew I would make it in on time and finished in 7'57". Woo hoo!!! My first 100 under 8 hours and a 2nd place in a really strong women's field. I was stoked. My lap times were 2'36; 2'43" and 2'37" --very nice to see a big drop on the last lap :)
I couldn't wait to get my shoes off and get off my saddle. My shorts are getting a bit old and the seam for the chamois was digging in to my butt quite nicely, or not nicely, for the last few hours. It was rather uncomfortable to sit after that. I got cleaned up, which was a chore. My camelback mouthpiece has starting leaking a bit so I had carborocket sticky water on my legs that had attracted quite a lot of dirt/dust. It got warmer out than had been predicted too so it was a challenge to change when I was still sweaty.
I ate post-race food and chatted with some friends/racers waiting for Chris and Matt to finish up. They both had strong races, although not quite as good as they had hoped but they didn't get too hung up on that. We headed back to the cabin to clean up and then headed in to town for some food and a beer and ice cream!
We got back to the cabin and packed up the mini-van that evening as we were heading out at 5am since Chris and Matt both wanted to be back home to work on Monday. I was like ugh.. I usually do this drive over two days but oh well. I had figured I would just crash in Poughkeepsie Sunday night and finish driving home Monday morning. It wasn't too bad heading out at 5am, granted they both did all the driving. I had offered to drive but they were quite kind. So, I spent some time in the back trying to nap, and then riding up front to avoid getting carsick and so on for oh, 14 hrs. We made back to Poughkeepsie a little after 7pm. I wasn't completely cooked so decided to drive the 3 hrs home so I could sleep in my own bed and hopefully sleep in really really late.
I was pretty wooped driving home. My left eye kept twitching on me. I did make it home safe and sound, well except for one close call with a deer. It took me a while to fall asleep, probably too much caffeine. I did sleep in some, but not as much as I had hoped so I need to catch up. This week is looking kind of busy too though.
It's a nice long break till the next 100 - end of July. I will probably do some local short races before then - hoping to race Putney, VT Root66raceseries this Sunday.
Thanks for reading this far :)
Sunday, June 5, 2011
Well, the 2011 Transylvania Epic Stage Race (TSE) turned out to be a roller coaster ride for me. I went into the race with the mindset of getting on the podium for any one of the stages would be a really good day given how stacked with talented riders the women's field was this year. Many of my friends were trying to convince me that, I too am a 'talented' rider, but I know my competitive side would have eaten me up if I went in with the attitude of having to be in the top three all week. It would have taken away from the fun factor putting that kind of pressure on myself. I knew it was better to race as hard as I could each day and whatever happened as far as results was what would happen.
I arrived at the Boyscout Camp (race headquarters for the week) on Saturday afternoon. I registered and headed up to the lodge I would be staying at all week. At least this year, I knew what I was getting myself into as far as living in a bunk bed all week, sharing a bathroom that would get filthy, and a kitchen that was also less than cleanly, so it didn't phase me as much this year. I unpacked my car and settled in as best one can settle into this style of living for a week. I then got ready to go pre-ride Sunday's Time Trial, Stage 1.
It was a pretty hot on Saturday, with the forecast only getting hotter through Tuesday. I was ok with that as I tend to do really well in high heat and humidity. It sometimes starts to throw off my stomach some, but generally, I'm ok. I started out on the TT course which was marked already. It wound through the Boyscout camp, which had some very wet stream crossing and other muddy sections, and then out onto the road but opposite the direction we went last year. I thought I had messed up following the arrows. I saw a rider coming up behind me and it happened to be Ray Adams, one of the race directors, and he told me the course had changed from last year and this was the right way. We rode together for a while chatting away. It was a few miles of road before heading into some very twisty singletrack, unusual for PA riding. Ray had to stop to help out with some course markings so I finished the pre-ride on my own. It was shortly thereafter that the long singletrack, loose dirt/rock climb started. I was like, ouch...this kind of hurts and granny geared it to the top where it joined the course we rode last year for the TT. The rest of the course was the same from the previous year which was pretty fun, although it follows along a stream heading back into the boyscout camp and that was super wet, muddy and slippery. Oh, and it felt like a long distance for a time trial.
I got cleaned up, ate some dinner, hung with fellow racers for a bit and then went to bed pretty early. It was surprisingly quiet in the lodge but the smell was pretty nasty. I believe this was the first time the lodge had been opened up all winter and it was damp, musty and stank of vinyl-finish on the walls or something. Icky. I slept pretty well but had started to get some pre-race nerves going. It helped knowing I had all morning to chill as the TT didn't start until 3:00, with my start time being 4:13.
I went into State College for breakfast and hung out reading for a while before heading back to camp to get ready to race. I was the first women to start. It didn't matter all that much as we had a minute between us and the course was long enough that no one knew what the times were before starting. I just didn't want to get passed. I warmed up as my coach had instructed with some semi-aggressive intervals to really get the legs opened up for the short hard effort of a time trial. I arrived right on time at the start line for a 30 second count down and I was off. I felt pretty good but I just tried to keep reminding myself to ride hard and not worry about how I placed. I got immediately muddy through the first couple of stream crossings and wet/muddy patches. Then it was out on the road section which was hot in the sun. I rode steady but fairly hard. I made it through the twisty singletrack and began the long climb up and started to get a cramp in my right shoulder/neck area. I tried to relax it out and take it back a notch since I was going pretty hard, especially with six more days to come. I settled into a rhythm and finally reached the top of the climb. I rode pretty aggressively still and kept thinking in the back of my head that this was a really hard effort that I hope it at least gets me in the top 5. I finished out the wet nasty stream bed section having to pass a couple riders fumbling through the slick roots and rocks. I continued riding hard around the pond at the base camp and across the finish line. I was not sure of my time as I didn't start my bike computer on time.
I pedaled around lightly to help flush the legs out and then got cleaned up and started 'recovery' for tomorrow's hard stage. I eventually went back down to the timing tent to try to get some results for my race sponsor, MTBRacenews.com and when I saw Zac, the timer, he was like 'nice job'. I was like thanks...'so do you have results?" and he told me I won. I was like, "no way! you're pulling my string." But he was serious. I was truly shocked but obviously extremely happy. I couldn't believe I won a stage which also gave me the leaders jersey, as least for a day :) It certainly made me feel better about how hard I went. I had a 40 second lead over 2nd, who was the winner of the whole race last year and just over a minute on this year's to be winner. I was stoked, but also knew what a long week it was ahead. It definitely helped the confidence.
Monday's stage 2 started at 9:30 from the base camp. Last year it was a remote start but they were trying to simplify the schedule a bit more this year which was nice. This meant a bit more dirt road however, which I wasn't thrilled about. I for some reason didn't quite pay attention that well to where exactly the stage was heading out to until we were out on it. It was a neutral roll out of camp but after the first turn it was balls to the walls on wet downhill rough dirt road. I thankfully felt pretty good and was able to reel in the women up ahead and we mostly rode in a pack of 5-6 of for a while. I was happy to have the legs to hang there and not feel like I was pushing it too hard yet. It was still early in the day though. There was a lot of technical rocky trails in today's stage which was good for my skillset.
It eventually ended up a group of three of us, myself, Vikki and Amanda. We rode through the majority of the stage together switching up leads etc. I finally broke free from them through some switchback technical trails when Amanda messed up on some rocks. I needed the gap as we were going to be coming into an aid station within 4 miles and I had to stop to re-fill my camelback whereas they were both going to be handed bottles and not really have to stop. I also was happy to get out front on the technical trails finally as I can ride them much smoother at my own pace and finding my own lines versus following someone who doesn't always pick the best lines or just throws you off your rhythm. I made it in and out of the Aid Station without being caught. But shortly thereafter one my ties holding my number plate broke so my number was bouncing down into my front tire. I was like crap. I tried to get the bottom tie loose and wrapped up around my cables while still riding and it worked for a bit but dropped down again. So I finally had to stop and take the bottom tie off and use it to replace the top one that had broke. A little bit of wasted time :(
On the final ~8+ miles of road to the finish, Amanda caught back up to me and said that Selene had caught up at the Aid Station. I was a bit bummed out about losing the lead but I was at my limit at that point. Both Amanda and Selene are super strong riders and I was pretty pleased with myself with how strong I had been riding all day. My legs were starting to feel a bit twingy/crampy so I took a bunch of electrolyte tabs and just tried to keep it steady. Amanda was getting a gap and I could see Selene up ahead but just couldn't get back up to her. I could also see Vicki back too and focused on keeping up my pace up the final climb to not lose 3rd place, which I managed to do.
Two days in a row on the podium. I was stoked. Twice more than I had anticipated. It was definitely a boost to the confidence for sure. I felt ok after the stage. I felt like my carborocket had kept me fueled pretty well and hadn't upset my stomach. My new Zaboo bike was handling awesome. I definitely had gone pretty hard again but I was able to eat well after the stage and ate a good dinner that digested well despite it being another really hot day out there. Last year, my stomach was bit a undone by the heat and race nerves by this point. So I was hoping for some good rest and recovery that night and see how stage 3 would go. I lost quite a bit of time on Stage 3 last year. I don't think Stage 3 gets the credit or respect that it deserves as far as how hard it is despite being mostly dirt road. The climbs on it are pretty long and steep. It makes it feel like we hardly climbed the day before.
Anyway, I slept ok that night only to wake up maybe around 5am with my stomach feeling a bit nauseous but I was hoping it would go away. It didn't. I knew it was bad news, but was trying to avoid accepting that. I kept thinking was it something I ate, or did I eat too much? I had felt fine last night and no indications of digestion issues. But the couple across the from me had gotten sick over night throwing up and then the women bunking beside me woke up feeling really nauseous and none of us ate the same thing the night before. Ugh! I tried to eat a piece of toast but my body wanted nothing of it. I got a piece down but it was not good. The guy who had gotten sick that night said he got an anti-nausea pill from the on-site doctor and said it helped him out some. I was so bummed out. I hopped on my bike and just pedaled down the driveway and broke into tears as I had that gut feeling that it wasn't going away. I found the doctor and took anti-nausea pill and some tums and figured I would hope for the best and start the stage.
I toed the line not feeling good about it at all. We started out from the camp again in a neutral start for maybe a mile. I had nothing from the get go. I was so depressed. I had no energy and the nausea wasn't going away. I was starting to feel achy too. We had a rough downhill that I would have normally eaten up with smiles but it just hurt my body. I figured I'd try to get to the first Aid Station at mile 17 and pray that this feeling would miraculously turnaround. But I was starting to think through that I was going to be so far back today that it didn't matter if I finished or not as far as staying in the top of the GC. I knew it would be stupid to push it not feeling good, especially in the heat and miss the rest of the week.
Some women had gone off course early and came up behind me and tried to convince me to hop on their train. I got semi-inspired to keep going but I just felt horrible and eventually let them go. I broke down at this point as I knew it was over. I just rode chill down the road into Coburn (where the Wilderness 101 starts) and tried to enjoy the views. I had thought the aid station was right there in town but it was farther out which was nice as I got to enjoy the mostly flat road along the river and just took it easy to the aid station. The doctor was riding around course with Mike Kuhn (the other race director) and they came by me to see how I was doing and I told them I felt worse and was pulling out at the Aid Station.
I made to the aid station and tried to keep it together. I knew I was making the right decision but it sucked, especially after starting the race so amazingly well. I had to wait a while to get a ride back to camp. I had moments where I felt ok and then a wave of ickiness would hit me again. I was starting to get chills and it was probably approaching 90 by that point.
The drive back to camp felt long and I was freezing in the AC. I felt like absolute crap. I had at least avoided throwing up though. I got back to camp and showered. I had some bike clothes soaking in soapy water that I knew I needed to rinse out and hang up or else they would rot so I managed to do that before resting. Racers had already finished up by this point and I was hoping someone was going back down to the main lodge to get a note to have the doctor call or text me when he was back on site but no one was heading down there. I walked down there and thankfully the doctor was already back so I went with him to get an IV bag of saline hoping that would help me get back on track quicker and maybe riding again tomorrow. I'm not crazy about needles and almost got woozy at first but chatted with the doctor to take my mind off it.
I walked back up to my lodge and tried to sleep. The fever part of this bug was really starting to kick in. I felt horrible - achy, cold, hot.... It's no fun being sick period, but really no fun being sick with no one there for you in a stinky lodge in a bunkbed. I had a fan that I had to keep turning on me and then away. I tried to eat that night knowing if I wanted to race again I had to get some calories in me but I only got a couple pieces of toast down and half a can of soup. My stomach was still really off though so it was debatable whether it was worth the discomfort. By then, I knew my hopes of riding Wednesday were out, which was a total bummer as it was the Raystown stage. Raystown is a sweet sweet trail system that rides like a giant pump track. It's really fast roller coaster like terrain. Last year, I was totally cooked on this day so I didn't really get to enjoy and well this year, wasn't happening either. I think I will just try to go spend a weekend there riding the trails and swimming in the lake and not involve a race.
Some of the other racers in the lodge knew I raced the 100 miler series and there was the Mohican 100 race in Ohio this Saturday. They threw out there the idea of bagging the stage race and heading over there. I was like, hmmm? I figured out much farther it was, 5 1/2 hrs and the weather forecast was dry and 90. I could handle that. I wasn't too keen on the drive over and then it meant 11-12 hour drive home on Sunday. I had some buddies doing the race who I could stay with, so?? I emailed my coach and ran it by him. I was up in air about myself as I wasn't too psyched to drive that far. Anyway, coach said I 'could' do it, but only if I felt significantly better on Thursday.
So Wednesday I probably should have just rested in bed all day again, but I was not too keen on staying in the lodge all day. I drove over to Raystown lake and hung out at the dam and the overlook. It was a pretty hot, humid day, but I was enjoying sitting in the nice breeze. I could have taken a nap but just day dreamed. Later on, I caught up on some emails at a coffee shop in a town near there. I had thought I would eat lunch there but I was feeling a bit nausea again when I got there. By the time I headed out I ordered a sandwich to go which I managed to get down but it was slow going. I went back to camp and debated on my plan for Thursday. I was at that point not feeling overly optimistic about a big turnaround for Thursday, or more importantly to ride hard Friday and Saturday. Both stages were pretty technical and suited my skills for a good day but only if I had enough energy to ride the rocks which at that point, I was most definitely not feeling up to the challenge.
Thursday I woke up feeling a little bit better but digestion was still slow and not quite right. I was feeling kind of tired, so I knew going to Mohican 100 was out. I figured I would go ride today's stage mellow and see how the legs were doing. I was on the fence about doing that or just doing my own ride near camp and then heading into town to read at a coffee shop. In retrospect, I should have done the 2nd option. Fellow racers were happy to see me back out there riding again. I however felt overly tired still and felt pretty labored in my breathing way too quickly. It was really depressing as it made me wonder about even being able to even race the final two stages. Friday's stage had lots of great singletrack and an awesome ridge line trail. After riding a couple of the mini-stages and hanging out at the aid station, I thought about heading back to the car at that point but started to ride out to the 3rd mini-stage. I calculated out how much longer we would likely be out there riding and decided to turn back with another racer. We rode back on the dirt road together and did the last mini-stage. It ended up being a long day which was probably not in my best interests as far as recovery. It totally bummed me out and I was thinking of just packing up and heading home Friday instead of sticking around. It didn't seem worth it to try race a tough stage through rough rock gardens and risk getting hurt because I didn't have the energy to ride it well, or risk recovering properly from being sick.
I was chatting with some of my fellow racer about what to do. I was pretty sad and bummed out Thursday night. I talked to my sister for a bit who was trying to encourage me to just take it easy and maybe go see a comedy movie and finish up Saturday. It had started out as such a great week and went down hill so fast. I had kind of held myself up with the hope of coming back to race hard Friday and Saturday, and well, that just didn't look like it was going to happen. Amanda has suggested starting the stage, which had a 3-mile group ride out to the start and then if I felt like crap still I could bag it at the Aid Station at mile 20 and get a ride back with her husband. So, I figured what the heck. I convinced myself that this would be it. I would ride out there and see how I felt and if I felt good enough, that I'd I would give it what I had and then call it quits and head home on Saturday, skipping the last stage.
So I started out the stage and felt better than the day before. It was hard to tell what I had in the tank on the ride over to the start but that at least felt like a lot less work then the chill riding between the mini-stages yesterday. And then we were off racing and I had something to work with. I held onto the front women through the first dirt road section. I could go relatively hard but definitely wasn't 100% but nobody else was 100% by then either. I managed to sit in third for the day. The first technical singletrack section we got on, I felt kind of spacey on but I finally came around. Every now and then, I had that feeling I might just totally bonk at any moment, but I stayed really good about fueling, taking in my carborocket and trying to eat a little since I knew my glycogen stores were probably still pretty low. It seemed to work and I had a pretty good time riding the trails.
I made it to the aid station which we hit at mile 20 and 26. Coming back through the 2nd time I refilled my camelback and reminded myself I could do this. It was only 12 more miles, long miles, from here. The ridge line trial is amazing. You totally want to look around and take in the views but you do so very cautiously scanning up ahead for any rocks that were going to take you out if you stopped paying attention for too long. I definitely love singletrack. It inspires me.
I was pretty stoked to pull of a 3rd place after being so sick. It felt great to back in there in the mix. I briefly debated racing the final day, but once I got back to camp and was starting to come down from the race, I could tell it took a lot out of me and that I was still trying to recover from being sick. It wasn't worth pushing it at this point with the next 100 miler race two weeks out. That, and well, I was totally sick of staying in the lodge at this point too. I also was looking at a couple of really busy weeks before heading out to the next 100 miler and well, a full day at home and sleeping in really late sounded nice. I almost changed my mind when I found out that the women had decided to ride for fun again like we had done last year for the final stage. I was tempted since it wouldn't be too bad of a workout, but I kept with my plan. So I enjoyed the last night hanging with folks. I got up and watched them start the final stage and took a bunch of pictures. Then, I packed up and headed home.
I picked up my pooch from my mom and unpacked some, watched the Bruins but called it a night when they went into overtime. I slept in very very late :)