Monday, February 23, 2009
Today starts a 10 week training plan from BeginnerTriathlete.com that I will use for my first "A" race of the year, the XTERRA West championships in Las Vegason May 2nd. Yes, the season will be barely underway when this "championship" race hits. I didn't come up with the idea. XTERRA did. Shows you how crazy they are.
Anyways, back to the training. I should be able to handle 10 weeks and stay on track. 20 weeks is too long and results in me burning out. 10 should be doable. I just can't slack as slacking would severely impact my readiness for this race. The plan is an intermediate Olympic plan that I am modifying by adding mountain biking and trail running.
So it's back to the pool for me this week. It's the last week in February, and I didn't pay for Master's swimming, so I'll have to wait until next week to join back up with them. It's probably best I don't swim with them for a week until I can get back in the swing of things. Meaning, embarass yourself in front of strangers at the city pools while you learn to swim again before heading back to swim practice where you will see the same people over and over again.
For my trail run this week, I would like to try one of the Sabino Canyon trails. I've run the road in the dark every Wednesday morning at 5:20 AM with Julie since December, so it would be nice to try something new. I'm hoping on a Friday it wouldn't be too busy on the trails. Everyone should be at the rodeo, right?
Saturday I am planning on a long mountain bike ride. Right now the tentative plan is to roll out the front door of the house, ride the 15 miles up Mt. Lemmon to Mile 12 where the Bug Springs trail starts, and ride Bugs down to the Prison Camp trail. We'll either take the road back down when we hit the campground at Molino, or if we are feeling spry, take Milagrosa. Or take the AZ Trail to Reddington. I'm not sure. Right now I'm planning on weenieing out on the road for this first attempt.
Monday, February 16, 2009
During the week it snowed on the race course, and the weather reports were showing iffy weather for the weekend. So I proceeded to pack every piece of warm bike clothing I own, including rain gear. Thankfully when we got to the race site on Friday the weather was chilly but sunny. We pulled into our usual camping spot and waited for the Tucson Tri Girls 4 person chick team to show up (Liane, Krista, Heather, and Elke). Friday was spent hanging around the campsite and the fire that we could enjoy thanks to Nate (Liane's husband) bringing out fire-making material. We were off to bed by 9:30 PM to get as much sleep as possible before race day.
Race morning we went to the racer's meeting, then it was time for me to get ready. I would be leading off on the LeMan's start with the run at the beginning. Zac and I were team "PirateGirl and Mr. PirateGirl" (PirateGirl is my name on the triathlon and biking forums) so I affixed pirate hats to our helmets with zip-ties. I love it when I can do a race with helmet decorations. Triathlon is a bit too serious for that, but not 24 hour mountain bike races. At first, Zac was kind of wishy-washy about the idea of wearing a pirate hat. "Shuddup, you're wearing a hat" I said.
The weather was great, with the air being a little chilly but the sun shining. For this lap I was able to get away with capris, bike jersey and arm warmers. Oh, and my knee high Valentine's day socks. I sauntered down to the bike racks and racked my bike and taped a Happy Valentine's Day balloon to the bike rack where my bike was. All mountain bikes look the same after a 400 yard run, so I used this old triathlon trick to mark where my bike was in the bike racks. I logged in at the transition tent and found Tri Girl Mea there already hard at work coordinating the tent activities and volunteers.
At the top of the hill I joined the other riders that drew the short straw to be the runner for their team. I didn't want to be up front where the crazy fast people were, so I moved towards the middle where a guy in a gorilla outfit was. He was doing the race solo and his girlfriend was at the front of the group in a banana outfit. I also found Kevin, who was on Zac's dad's team. My plan was to let the fast people go off and I would join the more casual group. The gun went off and Kevin took off with the sprinters (I think he got wrapped up in the race atmosphere) and I waited on the side for most of the "runners" to go by before hopping in the group of joggers. I jumped in next to Heather that was the first rider up for the TTG team and we jogged down to the bike racks.
The run at the beginning was actually a lot of fun. There was a huge crowd lining the road the entire way. As I ran down the road, I got a bunch of pirate comments, cheers, and "ARRR!" from the crowd. It was hilarious! Always wear a cool hat or costume in a 24 hour race. I grabbed my bike from the bike racks, waved goodbye to Zac, and headed out for my first lap.
I had determined that the most laps I could ever do in the race would be 7. That was a lofty goal, but I wanted to start out at a good pace that wouldn't kill me if I was going to do that many. So I kept the adrenaline at bay and tried to keep an easy spin as we started out on the dirt road. For the first lap, we rode down the road to a connector dirt road that intersected the gasline. On a normal lap, one would head out of the exchange tent and immediately onto singletrack that connected to the same gasline. The road allowed more room for 500 some cyclists to move around and pass. I saw John Shouse at the turn and he yelled "Enjoy the Bitches!" as I passed by.
Ah yes, The Bitches. You have to love a race that has a section of the course named The Bitches. The Bitches are a series of 7 steep uphills and corresponding downhills all in a row. I've never counted all 7. Personally, it feels like 15 to me. And I think they add one every year. Oh, and they get steeper at night. I have no shame in using my granny gear, so I switched to granny and started the climb. Me and granny are tight like that.
About 8 million people passed me on the climb. I got to the top and rolled down the other side, finally having some shred of momentum to get at least partway up the next Bitch. More climbing, but at the top of each one I bid goodbye to granny and switched to the middle ring to pedal down the hill. There were a ton of people on the trail, so I would often move over and take the rougher line to get down. Screw triathlon and this endurance stuff, I am now a downhill queen! Until the next uphill. Granny comes back (no offer of cookies and milk I might add) and the the people that I passed on the downhill come flying back on the uphill. At this point I have mentally gone back to triathlon and remind myself that I would have toasted them on the swim and annihilated them on the run.
On the last Bitch I see Kevin and say hello as I roll by. The trail flattens out here to a fast section. There is also a volunteer radio station positioned here and the volunteers are out with their kids waving and cheering for the racers. We hit the singletrack and I fall in with a group that is rolling at a pretty good pace. I let others pass when they can but have no problem rolling along in the train of riders. I figured it would keep me from going too fast this first lap. Riders are friendly (they best be or else they meet the business end of me blunderbuss) and find the time to chat while in the train.
We hit the Golf volunteer station, where they always yell "Welcome to Golf!" when you pass by. Golf is a mental checkpoint for me because I know the course is about half way over. We climb another hill on a short section of gasline, then turn onto the His/Hers trail and I join another train. Our small train of riders connects up with another train in front of us and soon we have about a dozen of us in a line. The His/Hers trail is quite twisty, so we went into roadie mode and yelled if we were slowing or braking to let the group know. A guy in front of me went down so we all yelled to stop to allow time for him to get up, rather than be plowed over by 18 mountain bikers.
As we joined the Junebug trail, I noticed the Hotel search & rescue station was setup in the same spot as last year. They are a Hotel in the desert. Well, not a real hotel with beds and such. But they burn a mean campfire and always have chairs setup around the fire at night. It was a good mental note to have for the night laps. We hit station India and started the climb up the Highline trail. The Highline climb is long and gradual and sucks your life away at night. I picked out landmarks along the way to be ready for the night laps. Stuff like "At this group of rocks in the trail the turn to head back to camp isn't far. Then two climbs and downhill goodness." It's all about the downhill goodness for me. We hit the off-camber downhill turn, and a girl in pink went down. She was ok, and allowed a small group of us to pass so that we could enjoy the chewy goodness of the downhill. I live for that section of the trail. It is my favorite. There are rocks to keep it interesting and downhill to give you awesome speed into the dips of the trail. At the option, I chose to take the easier route around and not do the rock face. I've done the rock face plenty of times in the past, and didn't want to eat it on the first lap and take myself out of the entire event.
I rolled into transition and met Zac at the transition table. He took off with his pirate hat on for his first lap and I rolled back to camp.
Lap 1: Garmin ride time = 1:33:18 (pause time deleted), Official time = 1:34:32, 16.4 miles completed
Our plan was to do single laps in the daylight and double laps at night. Since Zac was out for his single lap, I didn't have much time to rest with all the prep needed for the next lap. The first thing was to get out of the cycling shorts and into dry pants and to put warm clothes on. Next was food in the form of a PB & honey sandwich and my Spiz recovery drink. On the first lap my Infinit nutrition mix wasn't strong enough, so I added another scoop in my Camelbak.
In the RV I had set up a communications station on top of our microwave. There was a notebook where we could leave notes, a log sheet for our laps, and a spreadsheet with estimated times. (Yes, it is possible to engineer a 24 hour race). I found the following note from Zac in the notebook:
Everyone loves a Pirate Girl...Especially me. Y
BTW the water heater is on, so there will be hot water.
I left him this note after Lap 1:
First lap was good. Kevin (Kiki) went out fast on the run and I caught him on the 5th bitch. Worked my way thru the crowd and caught a good pace group up to Golf. We were in a train until there. Got shuffled on the gasline and joined a train behind pinky girl. About 12 of us behind pinky until she crashed in the rocky tech section on Highpoint. Passed there.
I'm not taking lights for my 2nd lap. I should be back before lights needed.
I still love you at this point. :) I have not divorced you like I have Nate.
Oh, and lots of people yell "Go Pirate!" and "ARRR!"
(Nate had been a bit late showing up with the fire, so I joked that I had divorced him 8 times over). Since it was Valentine's Day, I had made up a bunch of little valentines (like the kind you get kids at the store) with funny sayings inside each one, and each had a mini candybar. They were positioned throughout the RV for Zac to find. Here's what the notes said:
Eat the candy, not the cactus.
Wear helmet while eating. Safety First!
May not be used to patch tires.
Only eat in case of emergency, or if you see a cactus.
Don't mush the boy bits!
Chocolate will self-destruct 10 seconds after reading this note (maybe).
Chocolate tastes better than Gatorade.
Say hello to your little friend. (I don't know what that means).
It's not that bad. You have chocolate. Some people have none.
Contains tastiness. May or may not contain salmonella. (This had a Reeses peanut butter cup enclosed).
Only eat after 12 AM. Date to be determined by you.
Guaranteed to make the next lap 10 minutes shorter. Only valid in Liberia.
I warmed up next to the fire for a bit before donning the next round of cycling clothes and heading back to the transition tent. Zac came in after a 1:28 lap and I was off on Lap 2 at about 3 PM. I knew I'd be back before lights were needed, so I left my lights and batteries back at camp to charge for the night laps.
The second lap still had quite a bit of traffic, and I made sure to crank along at a comfortable pace. I slowly spun up The Bitches and flew down the other side. At the top of one Bitch, there was a sign that said "Get some air!" I was hoping they were talking about oxygen. Alas, it showed a picture of a guy jumping on a bike. There was a berm at the bottom of the hill and a photographer taking pics. Not the kind of air I was hoping for. I gave him a flying pirate move and continued on.
Lots of people liked to tell pirate jokes as they passed by. I got told the steering wheel nuts joke twice, the little pirate movie joke once, and a few others that I can't recall after 24 hours. What, you haven't heard these jokes? Well let me help you out.
Steering wheel joke:
A pirate walks into a bar with a steering wheel down his pants. The bartender asks, "What's with the steering wheel down your pants?" The pirate responds, "ARRR! It's driving me nuts!"
Why couldn't the little pirate see the movie?
Because it was rated ARRR!
I had heard all of these jokes before but humored the riders and let them tell them anyways. It helped to take my mind off the fact that my butt was starting to hurt. Uh oh, not a good sign this early in a 24 hour race.
Lap 2: Garmin ride time = 1:44:25, Official time = 1:45:14, 32.8 miles completed
I got back to the RV and checked the communications notebook. Note from Zac after his 1st lap:
I took that lap at a "fun" pace (fast downhills, slow uphills). I figured I needed to have fun on at least one lap. And I did the rock.
Used my pirate lingo:
"Permission to pass granted"
"Me Capt'n awaitn' me in port"
"Can't find me treesure"
"Fair winds & fair sails"
"She's a mighty fine vessel"
I love you! Thanks for the Valentine!
Ha! See, he was having fun with the pirate hat afterall. I told him he would. I left him this note after my 2nd lap:
Butt is starting to hurt. I may have to walk some hills. Figure ~4 hrs for double. I will call when I get to India (on 2nd lap). Figure 30-40 min from there. I can't wait to rest! Night laps are gonna suck. :( Hope you are feeling better than me!
Yes, it was time to get ready for the night laps and the double lap. I pulled down all the clothing I would need into a pile on the bed of the RV, filled my Camelbak with water, and affixed my Mountain Feed Bag to the bars of my bike. A Mountain Feed Bag is kind of like a bento box like triathletes use, but much bigger. I stashed my extra battery in there, along with my cell phone, a Cliff bar, and 2 Snicker bars. My Spiz nutrition mix went in a bottle on the bike. I had a few minutes to rest, so I set my alarm for 20 minutes and tried to take a power nap. It didn't work. The alarm went off and I got my warm clothing on. I put on my wooly socks, bike shorts, tights, Valentine's socks, and switched out bike shoes to the ones with shoe covers. I also put on a tank top, long-sleeved Under Armor shirt, and my TTG zip running jacket. I put my windbreaker and fleece MBAA beanie from the McDowell race on my Camelbak to put on later. For gloves I put my knit running gloves on under my winter cycling gloves. I was ready to battle the cold and the darkness.
Zac rolled in at 6:30 PM after a 1:40 lap. We talked briefly and I told him I'd call him at India on my 2nd lap of the double. "Enjoy your rest!" I said, rather jealously as I rolled away on my bike.
My first lap of the double was quite slow, but I was fine with that. I slowly crawled up The Bitches, and like I said earlier, they get steeper and longer at night. At this point I realized I hadn't done a night ride on the mountain bike since this same race last year. I always use my lights for commuting on the road, but tend to ride the mountain bike in the daylight. Probably because it's warmer and I like to absorb the energy of the sun. The sun was disappearing now and being replaced with cold dark. Thankfully the climb up The Bitches was warming my body up. What it was not warming up was my feet. Not a good sign when your feet are cold early on.
I trudged on and on the Corral Trail I heard "Hey Pirate! It's the Gorilla!" The solo gorilla guy was behind me. I offered to let him pass, but he asked if he could stay behind me as he liked the pace. What? Someone likes my pace? My pace is slow at night, like a trackstand. But he was welcome to hang back there as it gave me someone to talk to. He passed at the end of the Corral when I pulled off to get my drink and take a break. My butt was really starting to hurt. It wasn't chafing, as that's on the surface of the skin. Rather, the pressure points of my sit bones were what was killing me. I tried standing but that wasn't enough time to allow the butt to rest. So instead I tried rotating different areas to sit on. At some points I would put the seat on the middle of one thigh to get my butt completely off of it. In retrospect, I should have put my cyclocross bike seat on my Blur. The course requires much more sitting and spinning than standing. At least it would have given me different pressure points.
I got back on the bike and told myself to at least get to Golf, and that way I could rest at the top of the hill. I actually made it up that climb, and found the gorilla guy resting there too. He wasn't wearing the gorilla costume, but I told him I was stalking him since we were going back and forth. He got back on the trail and I rested a bit before starting the next section. I told myself to do the entire His/Hers trail and I could stop at Hotel as a reward. As people passed by in the dark they would say "Arr!". Even late at night most still had a sense of humor. The other thing I noticed is that the crowd was much more serious this year. Where were the prison break guys on beach cruisers with radios? Where were the beach crusiers? Where were the people in costumes? Where was the naked guy? So I had to represent as a pirate.
I got to Hotel and pulled over. Hotel had a big group of search & rescue folks hanging out by the fire. I grabbed my nutrition drink and stood by the fire while sipping it. I could rationalize stopping on this first lap of the double if it was to take on nutrition. The Hotel folks invited me to sit down, in a rocking chair no less, but I declined since I had another lap to do. I chatted with them for a bit, then decided I should move on. I told them to keep the fire burning and I'd be back to visit again in a few hours.
On the Junebug trail I tried to stand as much as possible to relieve my complaining butt. It wasn't working. I memorized each turn in the trail and the landmarks for the next time around so that I'd know how far it was to India. I stopped briefly at India to take another drink of Spiz and wash it down with water. It was now time to climb the Highline. Climb, climb, climb. I began to wonder how I could do this again. I remembered on of the articles I read before Ironman that said to always stay focused on the short term. So don't think about the marathon when you are at mile 40 of the bike. They called this technique "staying within your box." So I got back in my box (not a very warm box at that) and didn't think about the next lap. Instead I focused on getting back to the transition tent because it would be warm in there and I might be able to warm my feet. That would be my reward. This was my routine. Pick a small goal on the course, then reward myself. I would have to start inventing rewards soon though.
I got on my favorite part of the trail, the rocky descent of the Highline, and my attitude picked up. I was having fun flying down the trail at Mach Stupid and going faster than my light would allow in short sections. I arrived at the campground along the trail and it was nice to be around civilization again. I rolled into the tent, gave them my name (I still knew my name at this time) and went to the exchange table.
The volunteer asked if I was going out again. It was REALLY tough not to say no. Rather, I said yes, and asked if I could warm my feet at the turbo heater in the tent. My feet were SO cold. The volunteers were super nice and even offered me a chair. I pulled off my shoes and rubbed my feet while keeping them a few feet away from the turbo heater. I couldn't feel the warmth at all. I decided I should stop because the toe of my Valentines's sock melted off. For all I know I could have cooked my feet and not felt it. I put my shoes back on, grabbed my bike, and headed out for the 2nd lap in a row.
Lap 3: Garmin ride time = 2:05:19, Official time = 2:10:05, 49.2 miles completed
It was getting cold, so at the end of The Bitches I put on my windbreaker, and traded out my lightweight beanie for my fleece beanie. I was moving really slow this lap, but I told myself to just keep moving forward. I took a lot of short rest breaks and wondered if I was doing permanent nerve damage to my butt. I couldn't feel anything but pain where my sit bones were. My mountain bike seat doesn't have a cutout on the nose, and on some of the climbs I actually rotated forward to relieve the pressure back there. This put horrible pressure on obviously sensitive areas, but at this point I didn't care.
On the His/Hers trail, another solo guy latched onto me and paced off of my crazy slow riding. I can't even remember what we talked about. All I remember is that he was a nice guy. My only goal was to get to Hotel. After what seemed like forever, I finally saw the blinkie light on the post in the desert and Hotel wasn't far after. I pulled up and parked my bike and stood by the fire. This time only Mark from search & rescue was out. He said he'd be up all night and the others were off taking a nap. We chatted for a bit, and I told him my husband would be coming around on the next 2 laps, and then I'd be back out again. He promised to keep the fire going.
I got on the Junebug trail, and don't remember much except I felt like the walking dead and was going really slow. This section of the trail is only a few miles long, but it felt like 40. I wanted to get off and put my trail running shoes on and run. This is one of the few times where the thought of running was more appealing than biking. But not swimming. I wasn't to that level of crazy yet.
I got to India and a few riders were pulled over. One was the solo rider that had been behind me and he said, "Where's my pirate? I need my pirate. My pirate has a good pace." Funny how just riding, even no matter how embarassingly slow you think it is, helps out people like the solo riders.
I made a quick phone call to Zac to let him know I was at India and I would be back to the tent in 30-40 minutes. He was already up and ready to go, but I had gone a bit slower with all the rest breaks. This allowed him more time in camp, and he wouldn't be waiting at the tent wondering where I was. "You'll feel awesome after the nap" he said.
The next 3 miles on the Highline were torture, but at least this time I would be stopping after this lap and Zac would be going out. I just wanted to get OFF the freaking bike! The rocky descent was nice as I could stand, and in some strange way bouncing on the rough rocks massages the muscles. Or I could have been halucinating. That's a fine line.
I rolled into the exchange tent at 11:19 PM. It felt like 3 AM. I told Zac to take his time out there, and I wasn't in any rush to go back out. He took off to do his double lap, and I rode the tortuous few hundred yards back to the campsite on the seat.
Lap 4: Garmin ride time = --, Official time = 2:41:09, 65.6 miles completed
As soon as I got to camp I rushed around prepping everything so that I could maximize sleep time. Batteries for lights got plugged in on the chargers, my Garmin and cell phone got put on their chargers, and I loaded my Camelbak for the next lap. I put on my jammies and while I heated some soup in the microwave, I pulled down out of the cupboard all of the clothes I would want for my next lap. I drank my soup while sitting on the floor with my feet against the furnace outlet, trying to warm my feet.
Zac's note after his 2nd lap:
Lap 2 wasn't bad, but used a lot more granny on the hills. I'm gonna be using pretty much all granny on the doubles. Didn't turn on lights on Lap 2, but was a little too dark to do the rock. Now I'll have a little dinner and try to get some sleep.
I love you!
Anyone who says a duo is harder than solo has not enjoyed a toasty nap mid race! My lower back is sore, but otherwise I don't feel too bad. Ask in a few hours...
I left this note:
My butt hurts SO bad! Legs aren't bad but sitting on the seat is torture. I need a nap. The room is floating.
I had prepped everything and got in bed in 31 minutes after Zac had left. I set my alarm for 2 hours and 20 minutes later. I tried to sleep but all I remember is thinking about if I had prepped everything correctly, or thinking of riding sections of the trail. Before I knew it my alarm was going off. I got up and felt way worse than I did before the nap. I was shaking and shivering and was nauseous. I sipped on some Gatorade and hoped it would be awhile before Zac called. It wasn't. The phone rang. He was at Hotel and estimated 40-50 minutes from there. Crap. Now I had to put bike clothes back on. I told him I could probably do another lap, but didn't think I could do 2 in a row. I would have to see how I felt once I got out there. He said that was fine, and if I didn't do a double, to just leave the baton at the exchange. He wasn't going to go out again until daylight.
I added this to my note:
Not sure if I can do another double. If not then I will leave baton at exchange. If I do, then you may only get another single in. Not sure how slow my laps will be.
Most likely I was going to be out for the dawn lap, which meant it would get even colder. I put on fresh bike shorts, tights, and my windbreaker pants. For my upper layer I put on a tank top, long sleeved jersey, fleece jersey, and my windbreaker. I put on my fleece beanie and my earwarmers to completely cover my ears. My helmet didn't exactly fit well. I had the back strap all the way out but it still put a lot of pressure on my head. For my feet I had 2 pairs of socks, with plastic baggies around my toes in between the layers. I also had my full booties on that completely enclose my bike shoes.
Nate was outside by the fire, so I visited with him while I got everything together. I put 2 Snicker bars in my Mountain Feed Bag and a fresh bottle of Spiz on the bike. My batteries were all charged up and ready to go. I told Nate, "Well, here I go" and I slowly made my way to the exchange tent. This lap was going to be a disaster. I could already feel it. As I racked my bike Zac called to say he was in the tent. I told him I was outside and would be there in a second. I met him at the exchange table and noticed his rear bottle holder was broken. I told him this lap was going to be really slow, and he said that was fine. He needed to rest, so he wasn't going out until the daylight.
I got on the bike and switched on my light and started on the trail. As soon as I hit the first Bitch I tried to climb but couldn't make it. It was finally too steep. I got off and walked for the first time the entire race. I was breathing really heavy, which is a sign of how tired I was. I coasted down the next one and only walked one other Bitch. I didn't think it was possible to ride this slow on the trail. I took lots of little rest breaks and decided that I needed to enjoy some of it and take my head out of the thought of "I'm doing yet ANOTHER lap." When I stopped I switched off my light and looked around at the stars and the course. You could see for miles the headlights of other riders. When I got to the top of the hill by Golf (yet another walk required) I could hear 24 hour town and all the announcements. I finally made it to Hotel, my beacon in the desert. This time Mark and Craig were out and they said "Hey! Here's our pirate! It's the girl pirate this time!" I gladly took their offer of a chair by the fire. Another girl did the same. My toes were once again frozen so I propped them up on the fire ring and watched as steam rose from my toes. The girl and I chatted with Mark and Craig and a solo rider joined us. He said he needed to stop and eat because his stomach was bothering him. We learned about the other fallen riders on the course, and the mechanicals the search and rescue guys had seen. As riders rolled by we noticed some had lights that were out. Mark said some guy riding tried to buy his headlamp off of him. They said Zac had stopped by to call me. "Aren't you going to wake him up since he called and woke you up?" they asked. "No, I think we're both going to rest for a bit" I said. Most likely this was going to be my last lap.
Then there was the first sign of light from the east. I stayed a few more minutes by the fire then said goodbye to the guys and thanked them for being out there and keeping an awesome fire going all night. It was chilly when I got back on my bike, but the stop by the fire was so worth it. It's a nice way to experience a different kind of race and socialize with the support crews that are out there working all weekend.
I don't remember much about the Junebug trail, other than it was now 80 miles long in my head. I stopped at India one more time for a last rest break and chatted with them before heading on to the last 3 miles. I made it past the powerline to take a quick bathroom break (which is difficult with 3 bottom layers on), and climbed a bit more before stopping to check out the sunrise. "Isn't it beautiful?" one girl said as she rode by. I took out my phone and took a few pics of the sunrise. There was now enough light that I no longer needed my light burning. I switched it off and was able to enjoy the trail now that I could see in the daylight. I made the last 2 climbs and the rocky descent for the final time. I was pretty sure this was my last lap, given how long I had been out on the course. I rolled into transition at 7:10 AM and told the volunteer that I would leave the baton there. "Will Zac be going out next?" she asked. "Um, yes. Yes I have just made that decision whether he knows it or not" I replied. She laughed.
Lap 5: Garmin ride time = 2:31:17, Official time = 3:34:19, 82 miles completed
I slowly rolled along the 5 miles back to camp (yes, camp magically got further away much like The Bitches got taller and steeper at night) and pulled in to see Zac and Heather there. I told Zac I was done, and he said that was fine. I got in the RV and quickly pulled off my bike gear and put on my comfy, non-biking warm clothes. My final note in the notebook from Zac said:
You seriously rock! My lungs are pretty bad, legs have no power. This morning will be slow. Ran out of water at the end. Lap 4 was really sloppy, missed the trail about 5 times. I'm starting to feel nauseous, so that's the end of this note. I love you!
After changing I went outside to joing Zac and Heather and Nate by the fire. Zac had a box of Entemann's donut holes sitting there, so for some reason I sat down and started eating those. Our table by the campsite had grown into a buffet of junk food. Normally I wouldn't eat such things, but things get a little strange after 24 hours. I told Zac he'd be doing the last lap, so he was free to do 2 or 1 lap, whatever he felt like as I didn't care. He considered doing 2 laps. But we had started talking, and this was the first time we were able to socialize with each other during the whole race. Liane and Elke joined us and after awhile Zac decided sitting by the fire was more fun than being out on the trail. As people came up to the fire they said "Why are you both here?" And I said, "Well, I'm done, and Zac will be doing the last lap for the noon finish." More friends came by to hang out by the fire. We saw Kyle and Michelle and quite a few others. After awhile I started to feel woozy, so I told Zac I was going to go in and take a nap. I set my alarm for an hour and proceeded to go into a coma. I didn't hear Zac go out for his lap, and checked with the group around the campfire to make sure. Zac and Liane were out for their final laps so the rest of us stayed by the fire. I proceeded to eat more junk food in the form of apple pie and M&Ms.
A little after noon, Zac rolled up after completing his 5th lap in about 1:45. We had both ridden 5 laps for a total of 10 for our team. Not too bad given that this was our first duo attempt. Last year was the most laps I had ridden on this course at 3 laps, so this was definitely an improvement.
We weren't in too big of a hurry to leave, so we sat by the fire and had lunch and slowly packed up. It was 4 PM by the time we finally left 24 hour town. Overall it was a great weekend.
Big thanks to everyone at EpicRides for putting on such an awesome event, and all the volunteers and search and rescue folks that help! Especially my friends at Hotel. I will be seeing them next year.
And no, Zac and I didn't end up divorced after doing this race together as a duo. ;) It was challenging, but the 5 person teams are a bit more fun as you get more time to socialize. That's what this race is really about for us. I have the triathlons and the sprint mountain bike races to be serious and put a race face on for, but this event is all about having fun and hanging out with everyone. So I think next time we may be going back to a 5 person team. We'll see. A lot can happen in a year. :)
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Zac and I are in Duo Co-ed, Team #221, "PirateGirl and Mr. PirateGirl." The race starts Saturday at noon and finishes Sunday at noon. Hopefully the link above will keep updating throughout the race.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
So this week is all about preparing for the race. I have started packing my clothing by placing it in piles so that I don't wear it before the weekend. I have packed almost every pair of bike shorts I own, I have packed all warm clothes that I own, and have packed all rain gear that I own. Weather is not looking sunny for the weekend, so it's best to be prepared for everything.
Tonight I will pick up our packets and review them for any key info I may have missed. Then I'll load the RV with my clothes and start organizing race gear (shoes, helmet, gloves, etc). Later in the week I'll start organizing my nutrition. I'll be using my Ironman mix of Infinit on the bike (with water in the Camelbak) and Spiz for recovery right after. My stomach sometimes likes a bit of solid food to keep from grumbling, so I'll have pre-made PB & honey sandwiches ready. If things get bad, I'll have de-fizzed Coke and Snicker bars. I don't want to pull out those guns unless necessary, so those are in reserve. Of course, if I make it through, I'll eat the Snickers on the last lap because such things shouldn't go to waste. For after the race I have Pringles and pizza or burritos. I always like salt after long endurance events.
I have our laps planned out in a spreadsheet with anticipated times. I'm able to estimate times for Zac and I better than a 5 person team...much fewer variables. Our plan is to double up on laps at night to allow the other person to rest, and to charge batteries for lights. I won't go out fast on the first lap (a mistake teams make each year) and instead hope to remain consistent and solid all the way through. Bigger teams with riders that are only doing 2-3 laps can rip off fast laps right away. But a duo is a real endurance event, and we need to ride it like one. Going 10 minutes faster at the beginning could kill us by the end the next day.
My personal goal is to complete 7 laps. If I'm feeling good and something happens to Zac, I'll keep going to try to reach my goal and let him rest. Really it's like we're doing solo events except that our laps get added together. What happens to Zac doesn't really affect me as much. If he can't continue, no big deal. I'll keep going for as long as I can and rest when I can. And vice versa.
Monday, February 2, 2009
For the running races, I like to find someone that is around my pace and try to stay with them during the race. Yesterday morning I drove down to the ranch at Colossal Cave park and immediately found Shari in the parking lot. We warmed up together and joined the very cold group of people at the starting line. At 7:30 AM we were off for an 8 mile run.
The run started out on the road, which helped to space out the group a bit. With 250 racers, this was the largest trail run I had done. By the time we hit the wash there was a bit of a bottleneck, but not too bad. We started up a huge climb and I think being in a lot of people helped to keep us from going out too fast (which, no matter what, I always tend to do in a race). It was singletrack for several miles. We tried to pass where we could, and with Shari in front I stayed right behind so that I wouldn't loose her. We also tried to keep talking. This helps take the mid off of the run for a bit and helps to keep the effort in check. We would talk to some of the gals in front of us until they had to stop and walk and we kept on. At one point I remember the rocks changing and we ended up in a shaded area with trees. I figured the view must be amazing, but in a trail run you can never take in the view because you are always watching the ground in front of you and where to put your feet.
Most people were cool about passing. Many would say "On your left" or "Passing left" and that gave you a chance to move a bit so they could get by. But in the technical rocky section in the trees some guy snuck up on me and came down and around me hard without saying anything. I yelled "Runner up!" but it was too late and he was already forcing his way around Shari. That pissed me off. How hard is it to wait until a safe spot to pass and alert your fellow runners? We continued on and I noticed he wasn't pulling away from us. "Mr. Blue Shorts" (as I called him) was running not much faster than us. Now I was REALLY pissed. Aggressive passing and he couldn't back it up with the pace. Dork.
At the 4 mile mark I checked my watch and it showed 47:16. Shari wanted to beat her time of 1:34 from last year, and if we maintained the same pace it would be really close. We were stuck behind a girl but thankfully we reached a dirt road that opened up more room. It was a downhill, so I took the chance and moved in front and passed the girl, with Shari right behind. She pulled the first half, now it was time for me to pull the second half. We hit a steep uphill and took short strides to get up it. Thankfully there was a downhill and flat afterwards. We both took that as a chance to down Shot Bloks and water. Best to get the nutrition in on the easier Jeep roads than the technical singletrack.
We got back on the singletrack and headed back on the trail. We were passing a lot of people this second half. I think this means we paced the race good by not getting passed too much for the first half, and passing more people on the second. Right when we got back to the rocky wooded area, I saw him...Mr. Blue Shorts. He wasn't far ahead! "I want to get him Shari!" I said and she replied "I know." But it was all about timing the attack. We worked our way up the hills and in the flats and downhills got closer and closer. It was really pushing the pace but Shari was sticking with me. There wasn't much talking now other than "We're doing good, keep it up, almost there." Now it was about focus.
The last 2 miles we stalked Mr. Blue Shorts. On one of the tight switchbacks he could see I was right behind him. Dang it, I was found out. On the uphills he and the group in front would make a gap, but we could close it on the flats and downhills. Unfortunately there was one group of large uphills at the end to climb. We caught a group of runners and by the time I made up the gap I was behind 6-8 runners. It was fast downhill on singletrack now, and there was no place to safely pass, especially being in such a long line of runners. There was a bit of a gap between me and Shari, but with only half a mile left I knew she could make it. I glanced at my watch. 1:24. Shari would definitely have her goal in the bag!
We flew down the singletrack hills and hit the wash. I looked up the inside for a place to pass, but there were too many loose rocks and I couldn't find a good line. We made it across the wash and on the uphill afterwards everyone was sprinting. Time to sprint to the end and see if I could get under 1:30. I pushed it hard with the arms flying front and back for max propulsion and crossed the finish in 1:28:19. I heard Holly yell "Go Elaine!" and put my arms up and smiled but had to bend forward because I was panting hard. I turned around and saw Shari cross the line just 5 seconds later. I had to give her a hug at the end because we ran a great race together and I was so happy she crushed her time from last year.
My goal was to average 12 min/mi or better during the race, and it was right at 11 min/mi. I was definitely wasted because it was a longer run with technical spots and lots of singletrack, but was really happy with how we did. Especially how close we finished behind Mr. Blue Shorts. Next time we shall pass him!
Congrats on a great race Shari and thanks for pushing me during our awesome race! :)