Transcendence

Most people do crazy stuff when they turn 40 - the classic midlife crisis type affair. There's buying a snazzy new car (does a 4WD Merce...

Jun 29, 2014

Spectating

Not a bad view of the race start! Pro men, lining up - but can't really see them
Some of the fastest mountain bikers in the world descended upon Colorado Springs and the punchy trails of Pulpit Rock today. While I wanted to be out there, mixing it up with Olympic medalists  and world champions (yeah right - would have been happy to finish on same lap!) it was not in the cards. I was not as recovered from 24 Hours in the Enchanted Forest as I would have liked - and definitely not ready to be lining up with world class athletes. So it was a day to play spectator. We watched most of the women's race and all of the men's race. Under cloudless skies, the temperature was hot and the sun brutal. From what I saw of the course, it was a hard power course with some very steep climbs, loose descents and tight corners. It looked hard and I was happy I wasn't racing! I was having fun taking photos and Nick was enjoying heckling. It's awesome to see this caliber of racing in Colorado Springs. 
Women leaders on their second lap - attacking one of the many punchy climbs

Coming through on lap four  - still together in the lead
Nina Baum racing with a smile - I don't know how she did it! I wasn't ready to race...
After the women's race, it was time to watch the men. We grabbed a quick bite to eat and headed back into the brutal sun to watch the guys duking it out


Local rider Fernando Paez got the hole shot up the hill and the lead for most of the first lap


Another COS rider Russell Finsterwald in the lead on the third lap

Cameron Chambers (in orange) and Kalan Beisel (in blue) on one of the short, dusty descents

Cameron making it look easy through a slightly rocky climb

Todd Wells on the second to last lap - looking smooth and all alone in the lead


Jun 24, 2014

Moving on

Well, the bruises are faded and the deep seated fatigue is resolving. I'm finally feeling like I've caught up on my sleep and the four pounds I'd lost have miraculously reappeared. (I was hoping on that one... Would have been nice to have kept those pounds off.) The jersey is hanging on my wall and the rush of congratulations has subsided. Time to get back to reality. I'm still in recovery - and plan for another week of easy stuff at least. I want to make sure I'm really ready when to time comes to ramp it again. And I've got a few things to address to ensure success at the next great adventure. I leaned a lot over the 22 hours of pedaling and it's time to apply them.

It wasn't my legs that limited me in the final laps of the race. I was tired sure and not showing the spunk of the morning. But my legs were decent. It was my arms that really held me back. I was hurting so badly in my biceps and triceps that I could hardly maneuver the bike through the rocks. To me, that shows an area of weakness. Despite my exercise class and a somewhat regular attempt at lifting, it wasn't enough. I just didn't have the strength in my arms to tolerate that lengthy of time on the bike. So before September - only two short months away - I need to address that issues. More focused lifting and increased time in the water. I'm not a triathlete anymore, but the swimming definitely helps the upper body strength. It's hard to think about adding in more hours, but I can't slack off about that anymore. In the same vein, my low back was in spasm when I finished. So another area to target - the ever popular core stability issues. 

I also had several niggles - not quite injuries but painful enough and acute enough to warrant attention. In all my years of endurance sports - marathons and more - this was the first time I've had two injuries (for lack of a better word) in such short succession. So obviously, I need to address some things and figure out what caused them. It wasn't overuse - both happened in the recovery-taper phase prior to races. I think it was more related to muscle imbalances. Massage and some targeted rolling helped with both. And that's another area that I've been meaning to work on with regularity. Meaning to - meaning that I wanted to, planned on yet still haven't found the time. I need to find the time. A few minutes per day with the foam roller would have saved much mental stress and pre-race freak out. I've been trying to find the time since January for consistent yoga and rolling and other off the bike stuff and other things get in the way (like FaceBook - I need to get off that time suck...)

Nick was managing my food and drink intake, but I have the scribbles that give me the jest of what I was eating. And the biggest thing I noticed was wanting salty food in pit. I'd been drinking sweet the entire race. When I came into pit, all I wanted was easy to slurp down, salty food. So I ended up eating most of the chicken soup we'd brought. Just a few of the rice bars (I'd made both sweet and savory - but the texture of the rice wasn't making me happy after a few laps) - Which was odd because I've done almost all of my training on the rice bars. I also didn't touch my pies. I think it was because they all got smooshed in the cooler - soft crust in plastic bags + full cooler = a mess that's hard to deal with. I did nibble on a few candy bars, drink plenty of soda and some other random things. But the general dietary plan wasn't one that's sustainable on a single big loop instead of the many little ones.

So I have just over two months. July and August. Instead of just talking about it and waxing poetic, I need to get off my duff and take care of myself. Figure out the food and get the mental game together. It's going to be a long night and day and I need to be ready.

Jun 21, 2014

Dust in the wind - 2014 24 Hours in the Enchanted Forest

(This is long - very long... Grab a snack and a beverage before diving in....)

All of the same fears and questions dogged my mind in the days before the race. I hadn't really finished a true 24 solo effort yet because of the rain delay last year. Every time I thought about last year, the nerves and worry would rear up, casting doubt on my abilities and my goals. I knew I'd done the work - this race had been the sole focus of my training since 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo. I trusted the plan and knew Nick would keep me moving and keep me safe. But the demons were already lurking. So many times in the past I've reached for a goal, trained and poured my heart and soul into one last chance. And so many times I've come up empty handed. It was a good thing we were far away from everyone else with with awesome Back of the Pack crew. It's nearly impossible to be nervous and stressed out around them. Had we been closer, with all the pre-race staring, it would have been hard for me to focus.
Nick making sure the pit is up to his standards. We would expand along the course as the BPR team showed up
Everyone was hoping for a full 24 hours of racing this year - no thunder, no lightening and no peanut butter mud disrupting the flow of the event. We did not get any of that - save for a few scatter sprinkles Wednesday during set up. The one constant throughout the weekend was the wind. I'd checked the forecast before driving in - and only one day was supposed to be windy. Nick double staked the tents down because of the gusts howling out of the pasture and we oriented the pit along the course to provide some shelter from the wind. Every day the wind blew, swirling the dust into everything. But we all hoped it would die down before Saturday. No such luck. Race morning was as windy as the rest of the week. Just like last year, the weather was coming out to play....

Jun 20, 2014

Sinking in

Sometimes, when you chase a goal for years, it doesn't seem like reality when you finally reach it. From crewing for Nick at his solo singlespeed race the first year 24 hour nationals was in Palmer Park (our home course!) to placing second against Sonya and Jonathon the following year in the co-ed duo class to last year's rained out stage race, it seemed like we were always so close but so far away. Even throughout most of the race this year, actually reaching my goal just dangled in front of me. And then - suddenly it was there - within reach. All I had to do was ride my bike and it would become reality. The top step of the podium - a stars and stripes national championship jersey.

On the drive out of the venue, I sent a message to Coach Adam "mission accomplished - more details later." Despite having the jersey in my lap, I still didn't quite believe what I'd accomplished. So I took a picture and posted it for the world to see. And my digital world proceed to blow up with everyone sending me congratulations.
I didn't want to let it go while driving home
At the second Ascent Cycling race, with some photo ops with the jersey and the entire riding community wishing me well, it was clearer. I'd just won a national championship and joined a very elite group of ultra endurance mountain bikers. Wow.

But it didn't really sink in until this morning. Back at work, walking into my senior exercise class that I teach M/W/F. They heard me coming - the doors of the stairs are very loud closing - and when I walked in, I was greeted with a standing ovation. From a group of people who think riding around in circles - and riding at night - is just nuts. At first, I played it off - after all, I'd been gone for four classes and they tolerate my sub. But I knew that wasn't why they were clapping, especially after one of them handed me the article from the Gazette. To have that kind of reception from my class was touching - and solidified that it was real. I'd finally achieved a goal I'd been chasing after for over three years. 

Jun 16, 2014

24 Hours - last chance

Wow. I don't think it has sunk in yet. When I learned that the 24 Hours in the Enchanted Forest would be the final USA Cycling National Championships, I focused the entire first half of the year preparing. Coach Adam planned the training out - it was my job execute and physically get ready for 24 hours on my bike. Nick and I organized the race plan and he was also my awesome crew - managing every detail so all I had to do was ride my bike. There were plenty of hiccups along the way - from a tweaked knee before the Growler, a nasty cold a week ago and a perennially irritated Achilles' tendon (pick a side - both were taking turns being cranky) - but everything seemed to be falling into place.

We got to Gallup Wednesday morning and found a great pit site - away from the noise and dust of the venue, but right on course. With the Back of the Pack crew also showing up with six other soloists, having a good location was important. We also go to hang out with that fun gang all weekend - the best part of any 24 Hour race. It was a very chill and relaxing few days before the race. Again, Nick handled all the details and set up an awesome pit - easy in and out, with good visibility for riders passing by. All I had to do after the start was roll up, listen to Nick, communicate with him and head out again.

And that's what I did. With Nina Baum back to defend her title from last year, I knew it would be a fast start and a tactical race at the end. It would also be very different then last years 15 hour stage race, rain delayed national championships. This time, the race would last the entire 24 hours, testing both body and mind - as well as the stamina of the pit crews. I rode my own race, letting Nina set the pace for the first few laps. Only my second solo, but I've raced enough 24 hour races with Nick to know that it doesn't really start until midnight. I just needed to stay strong, stay fluid and stay steady through the heat, dust and winds the forest dealt out. And with Nick's help, that's exactly what I did. I took the lead on the 10th lap and held on until the end, finishing 12 laps at 21:55:53 winning the final USAC 24 Hour National Championships. Laureen Coffelt was second, also riding 12 laps and finishing at 23:30:08. Nina Baum held on for third with 10 laps in 17:45:36. I think it was the hardest thing I've done - and everyone who rode this weekend deserves a huge congratulations. I will have the full novel posted up soon!