Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Misc ramblings...

It's been a rough few weeks with work, Drew's appendix, only having 1 car, etc...

But THIS is the week I reestablish my balance. A lil training every day, a solid work day, and some time at home awake... and, it seems to be working!

I am making some small modifications to the end of the season... just not interested in spending 2 days/nights on the bike yet so I'm going to skip the Hoodoo 500 (though it is a most awesome race). Instead I'm planning to do the Ring of Fire, a 24 hour race in Oregon. It will give us a chance to visit with Drew's sister and see the kids and all and be a good, but not overly insane, challenge for me.

2 weeks now until the Leadville 100 MTB race. I've been spending some good time with K (my old school Kestrel CSX bike) and am starting to feel comfortable on him. Still a chicken on downhill switchbacks, and still pretty tired on steep uphills.... but I'll be ready to go out and do my best at Leadville.... and as Michelle says, no mayyet what I get to sleep in a bed the night of the race. Gotta like that!

Finding my balance...


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Trying to drop some weight

This is a quick one.

So it's been 3 weeks since Ironman Coeur d'Alene with maybe 10 days totally off and then back building back up for a week to 10 days. I was entered in the Boulder Peak Triathlon this past weekend and then I was going to do the Xterra Mountain Cup at Beaver Creek next saturday. Anyway, Friday Leslie and I did the work thing and met some surveyor guys at home. We went back down the hill because we had time and I swam, then ran, and mtb while leslie mtb the whole time. At dinner, my lower abs were a touch sore but nothing really of any concern. Saturday, Patty Jo an ultra cycling friend of ours came into town to visit. We all drove up to Boulder so I could get my race packet stuff. On the drive up there though, I just couldn't get comfortable and kept twisting and turning. I felt like I was having hot flashes. Well I still did a short swim in Boulder Res. and we headed back. Same thing on the drive back, twisting and turning and totally uncomfortable. When we got back Patty Jo & Leslie went mtb and I laid on the couch hoping something would change since I really didn't feel like riding. At dinner I didn't really eat anything.

The ultimatum came as soon as we got home from dinner. If you race you stop if the pain changes or gets worse. If the pain gets worse over night we go to the emergency room. If you still hurt when you wake up you don't race. Well, it seemed to feel worse by the time I went to bed and I really couldn't sleep. The alarm goes off, "No, I'm not racing".

We end up going to the emergency room and after a Cat Scan, they tell us it looks like aqute appendicitis and we've paged the surgeon, that was a little bit of a relief since I didn't want to look stupid when they say "looks like a sever case of gas". I get surgery at 7:30 and I'm back in my room by 8:30. Leslie picks me up on Monday in the afternoon. And now I'm in recovery not allowed to do much of anything and really can't do much of anything because I'm still pretty sore.

Anyway, I'm out of commission for 2 weeks or so until things heal up.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Ironman Coeur d'Alene (aka: why wasn't Drew with Leslie for RAW)

Alrighty, I don't think I have as gripping a story as Leslie has but it definitely started off like I could.

So to kick things off I had a 7:05 am flight on Thursday before IM CDA. I had be rolling down the road by 4:30 am in order to insure I could carry everything to the check in counter and not stress out some obscure muscle (done that before). About 4:45 am BAM!!! THUMPPP!!!!

Yup, you guessed it Bambi, Bambi's BFF and their boyfriend all decided to jump out in front of me at the same time. The long story shortened for time constraints is the car still worked and I drove it to the airport since I couldn't get a cab for cheap and the bus would have been a nightmare with all the transfers to get out to the airport. I parked it, checked in, and made the 8:40 am flight, only 4 hours behind schedule getting to Coeur d'Alene when all was said and done.

Oh yeah, couldn't get a tow, left a message with the insurance folks since they don't open til 10, out of the service area for a taxi and where is Conifer anyway. Normally I print off directions to the hotel, race sight, flight itinerary and rental car stuff. For some reason it occurred to me that I hadn't printed off rental car information. So at the at the airport I'm leaving info for the insurance folks and hunting for a rental car online since I was borrowing a friends laptop so I could keep track of Leslie through our blogspot. Somehow I managed to reserve a rental car before I took off and everything was peachy. Landed in Salt Lake for a little layover before heading to Spokane and insurance called, got that all squared away or at least ready to be when I got back to work on Tuesday after the race.

So, now I'm in Coeur d'Alene where the original plan was to get my bike together and get in a little ride and run and maybe a swim since I was supposed to be in at 10 am. Instead I road on a back street for about 10 minutes making sure everything still worked then ran about 4 or 5 minutes. Chatted with Tony from Canada, who was suppose to be my roommate for the weekend and had made the reservation for the room but was leaving in the morning because of a work commitment that came up, for a little bit then it was time for dinner where we were meeting up with Andrew from around Boulder (Erie I think) and his family. Tony and Andrew are from Leslie's Trideads online group. I brought the laptop to dinner so we could stop at a place that had wifi on the way back since the hotel room wifi was miserable.

So it's been raining and kind of cool almost the whole spring and summer so far in Denver. Making rather difficult to get aclimated to heat. Lucky for me it wasn't supposed to be hot this weekend and in fact was predicting rain for at least part of the day on race day and 60's for a high. I'm a little sick of rain at this point to say the least. Friday I packed up everything in the car and went down to the lake to swim and then I was going to check out the bike course. Oh man, talk about a little chop on the water. The temperature wasn't too bad 65 or so. Got out of there and went to drive the bike course. It was quiet overcast and I was hoping it would hold out until I got in a ride before it rained. Nope. So I hit a coffee shop to check up Leslie's race and wait for the rain. Ultimately only got in 12 miles before it started to rain hard. After wasting a few more hours on a bunch of little things and nothing productive I ended up driving out to the hill on the run course and got in around 3 miles. Ended up having a late dinner.

I wasn't thrilled with the miles I got in but I guess less is better this close to race day. Same thing happened to me in Boston and ended up taking the day completely off before that and had a good race.

Well, race morning came it and it actually was sunny but had those real thick but puffy clouds around the lake, okay maybe they were a little grey. I debated for awhile where to put my arm warmers and gloves. Coming out of the water or coming off the bike. It was only in the 50's at the start so there was potential to be cold on the bike. I opted for coming off the bike and got in the lake to warm-up a touch. The lake was still choppy. The gun went off and I had a fairly good start and didn't too beat up until the start of the second loop, no clue why, but my right eye socket was sore because of it. My 1st lap was 34 minutes or so and I thought perfect especially with the chop. Well apparently it got worse the second lap and that's why I got beat up so much. So I ended up at 1:13, not what I was planning for but I figured everyone had to be off as well.

The bike started out real nice and was partly sunny. Went through the hills comfortably and was actually passing alot of people on the hills with not much perceived effort on my part. Rolling into downtown I was averaging 21 mph give or take and thought that was about perfect, if I ride even I'll have a great bike split and if I fade a little because it's the second lap I'll still have a decent split for me. Out on the second lap it ended up being very grey and over cast and all I was thinking was don't rain. It was a bit chilly and if it had started to rain I think I would have froze. I came back into town again and saw 5:33 and kind of got excited because I felt really good.

I have to say that in the couple weeks leading up to the race I kept getting this weird feeling where I get a chilly up my back when I thought about running a race and running it fast. It's hard to describe. When I was doing duathlons it happened a few times where I would come off the bike for the second run and I would get this chill and all I could do was just hammer the run. Like you'd go out a pace that normally would be way to fast but it was comfortable and easy and you'd just keep running faster. I would win those races with really fast runs.

Anyway, I handed off my bike and ran into the tent to put on shoes and start running. Took the arm warmers and gloves and put those on while I was running. Out on the course I did the evaluation of everything and basically I felt really good. I settled into a good pace by 3 miles and just tried to stay consistent. I really wanted to go faster but in the back of my head I had that thought of knowing things always change around 20 miles. I probably could have gone faster for the 1st half but I don't know if it would have caught up to me worse or soon. Up until 22 miles I hadn't look at my watch all day. I started thinking if I'm at 9:45 or better I have a shot at 10:15. Which I kind of thought might get me close to a shot at a roll down spot to Kona. I hit 22 in 9:44 and got another chill, and really contiously tried to pick it up. Apparently I slowed down and while I was finish the last 4 miles I made the realization that I had forgot the 365 yards at the end. I ended up running 3:28. That gave me a 10:19:33 and 25th in my age group. At roll down, my age group had 9 slots and 3 rolled. They went to 10th, 11th, and 12th places where 12th was 10:02. As usual, a good day for me is a good day for everyone. I'm a little discouraged by that but it was a 22 minute PR for me, and if I get that same feeling again I think I'm going to let it all hang out and hope I can hold it to the end.

I think I'm getting closer to my potential and maybe I have the nutrition figured out. Okay, maybe I have the nutrition figured out for cool, rainy weather. Next Ironman is St. George May 1st next year.

Race across the West (from the end to the start...)

After almost 104 hours I turned the corner into Moab and the finish line of the Race Across the West… a closed Conoco station. Stopped feeling slightly bewildered as my crew got out of the car and we just started to laugh. This is it. A closed gas station, with no lights on except one dim light over the tanks. No signs, no people, no tables… just a closed gas station. A police car pulls up and asks if everything is okay, and I had to sit down I was laughing so hard. Bill, my crew chief, called us in to race HQ and that was it. Time to go find a shower and a bed for a few hours sleep.

At 104 hours I was unofficial, but I was also the first women to finish the race and only the 3rd person ever to complete it. One guy finished in 2008. Dallas Morris finished officially this year with 21 minutes before the 92 hour cutoff. After the giggles wore off I had to grin… I did it, my first 1044 mile race, and though I was (way) over the cutoff I learned a lot and I am positive I could make the cutoff if I did it again. And, I was only an hour over the RAAM women's cutoff in Taos, I could definitely make that if I want…

The race is billed as 1000 miles, but is really 1044. The last 44 went by as a dream. Slight grades, white concrete road, and nothing to see on the sides (it was the middle of the night after all). My crew vehicle was following me and I rode in the headlights of the car, my bike lights hardly needed. The only thing keeping me awake was the occasional bump which would shoot pain through the sores on my tookus. That and one stop I made, I stopped at the side of the road and Bill and Kate came out and asked if I needed anything. I said I was looking forward to showering and putting on real clothes… Bill said "about that…" and Kate added in "um, we don't have your spare clothes, they went home in the other vehicle"… That was my first hard giggle fest. No clothes? Really?

The time station before Taos was Antonito, CO. I had stayed here and trained on the course a few weeks before the race. The TS was actually at the same hotel I stayed at. And the 20 miles before this… still lovely. Slight downhill with a tail wind. 20+mph, easy spinning, trying to stay light on my seat. Before that… Bite Me pass (well, actually La Manga Pass). The highest climb on the race at over 10000ft. A long rideable but tough climb up from Chama, NM. On this leg I got smart and thought to switch my seats on my bikes so that I could drop my seat height and duct tape two towels onto the seat to try to relieve my tookal pain. (My seatpost on Artemous is the perfect height for me sunk as low as it will fit into the bike… should have chopped off a bit to allow for adjustments!). It helped a bit, I could sit on the climb with a low steady pain.

Chama, NM. I love this town. Coming into it I had some intestinal distress, so I took a long break here. Changed shorts (necessary), drank a lot of Gatorade, ate a lunchable. I knew I was over the cutoff (this is where the race site lists me as a DNF), but I was going to finish this so I took as long as I had to in order to prepare for Bite Me pass. This was also where two of my crew, and our 2nd vehicle, had to leave so they would make their flights… and where the fudge store owner remembered me from my training ride, walked over to where I was sitting in the shade and gave us a pound of fudge to eat at the finish and a warm (sorry I'm disgustingly sweaty) hug.

About my crew. They were the best!!! I rode my bike, yes, but they made it all possible. There was Bill, my crew chief, who was a calm and steady presence. Larry, the leader of the second crew who again was steady, calm, and positive. My sister Christie, who was upbeat and bubbly, and made me feel like I was doing her proud the whole way. Lauren, the voice of experience, who had done this before on a RAAM attempt a few years ago. Vibol, a friend of my sisters who I had never met before but was just awesome, running my handoffs, smiling, and quietly doing what needed done. And Kate + 0.2… who I have not seen in too many years, but picked up again with as if it was yesterday. And her 0.2, the twins to be, who (she says) wiggled when I came by. I cannot really say how important each of these folks were, and how awesome and positive they stayed no matter how much I was sagging. They made the finish happen. I'm racing to help promote the Save the Tata's foundation, and my crew wore their Tshirts and handed out stickers across the path of the route to curious people wondering what we were doing… the shirts received several interesting comments and sparked some really nice conversations with peple affected by Bresat Cancer.

Before Chama there was Pagosa Springs… and before that a 20 mile climb I did after my 3rd nap. This nap was unscheduled, but we decided to take it to ensure the finish, knowing the cutoff was unrealistic by this time. 3 hours on the ground next to the vehicle. Unlike the first two naps, this one wasn't too good as my knees were aching and I just couldn’t turn off. Before the nap, I shocked my crew with 30 miles of speed. I had caught a second (third? tenth?) wind coming out of Durango, I was on terrain I knew, and I was feeling good in the early evening hours. (Yeah, we're already back to the night before). There was a fabulous downhill coming into Durango that I just grinned through, some 20+ miles of down with the sun setting. A perfect pick-me up from the hours before…

The downhill came at the cost of a LONG uphill grind. My bum hurt, I was exhausted, and near the top of this grind was the one place I came close to calling it a day. I was just done, and could not summon the energy to continue. I had broken down into tears a few times in the days before, just out of exhaustion, but never seriously thought to quit. This time I did. Somehow Bill, Christie, and Vibol got me be back on my bike. Fortunately, it was just a short while to the top of the climb and then the euphoria of the downhill to change my attitude. In Cortez (the CP before) I had looked in the mirror and saw the damage to my bum. I called in Kate and showed her and she got on the phone with her Dad the Dr and my coach Michelle (who was in pretty constant contact with my crew throughout the race) and thus began the strategy of creams and bandages. It made riding bearable, but just barely. And, unfortunately, required frequent dressing changes and they would come off whenever I needed to stop for a nature break.

The ride into Cortez was the breaking point for my tookus. The road was old chip and seal and just torture. We pulled my timetrial bike down for a time and I rode that in a weirdly hiked over hip position that offered some relief. The problem started in day 2 somewhere but really got intolerable here. This was also a weird out of it section for me, coming into Cortez I could barely remember the last few hours. Just this nightmare of riding and being pursued by a big grey vehicle with nice people in it.

Before Cortez was Montezuma Creek, and another awesome section was for Mexican Hat to Montezeuma Creek. The scenery was just phenomenal (lots of red rock), we had a bit of overcast in the sky, and there was a little coffee shop. Bill says my head swiveled so fast when I saw the coffee shop they knew they would have to go back to it and this iced latte they got there was just liquid love. So delicious! It was somewhere in the early morning… not but a few hours after I had woken up from my second 3 hour nap atop a mountain just as the sun came up. I had gone to sleep exhausted and sick of heat, climbing, and Artemous and woke up to overcast skies and a view that was indescribably lovely.

Kayenta was the previous checkpoint, and I learned that my crew had saved my life. On the trip into Kayenta from Tuba City the road was pretty busy and Larry, Lauren, and Kate debated whether to follow me or leapfrog me (leapfrogging is allowed during the day). They decided to follow. A pick-up truck was apparently in a rush, came around them tight, and took off their drivers side mirror. Lauren was driving and managed to remain calm and all I knew was that there was a big loud noise, I saw some glittery stuff dash across the pavement behind me, and that was it. The truck sped away, and now that I know what happened… OY! The crew in Kayenta hit the hardware store and from then on they McGuyvered a handheld mirror duct taped to what was left of the car mirror with a fish eye stuck on so they could meet the rules to be my follow car.

Before Tuba City was Flagstaff, and before that we went through Sedona (gorgeous but narrow winding roads) and some hellaceous 4ish mile steep climb. Before Sedona was Cottonwood, and about 20 miles before that my first 3 hours sleep. This one was deep and restful coming 410+ miles into the race. Before Cottoonwood was Prescott and a gorgeous climb there. Red rocky but green, a long one but pretty enough to smile all the way through. The towns blend together before this… the next thing back I really remember was a hot hot 8 mile climb out of the oasis.

The Oasis was a time station that had a pool, and delicious food, and was a major relief as it came after the longest hottest stretch of the race. The temps were in the high 90's and on the asphalt pavement it was just scorching. I spent the better part of a day miserably hot with only the glove of love (a glove stuffed with ice) stuffed in my sports bra, and cooling ties around my neck, and frequent changes of waterbottles to help keep my core temps down. The oasis is also where we passed the other gal left in the race… and from that point on we'd get reports of the gap between us widening. While I was admittedly racing myself and my abilities, it was a small pick-me-up to get these reports.

We had dropped into the desert a few hours before dusk the night before down what they call the glass staircase. This was one of those times that was just special. A smooth road, a steep but not scary descent, incredible views... just made me glad to be a cyclist. Even a rear flat (discovered by an odd noise as my tire went soft but quickly changed out by the ubercrew) could not mar the awesomeness of this descent. The temps rose quickly and I was glad to see the sun go, but I'll leave out the details of that night (mainly because I cannot really remember them… I remember a sweet tailwind, a bad sleepy section, and the sun coming up and the furnace beginning but that's it).

Going back a bit further was California, maybe 50 miles into the race when I had my own police escort. It was on a climb, and I stopped to breath. And a cop came up behind me. And stayed. Whether I was climbing 6mph, or going down at 20+ he stayed back there for some 40 miles. My crew was leapfrogging me, so I would see them every 5 miles or so, but my escort remained. We even stopped briefly at a CP, and he stopped back there too. At some point I was riding alone, and heard a voice over a loudspeaker… "I'm turning off now Ma'am… be safe and have a great day" and he was gone.

And back further, the first 21 miles of the race we were unsupported. I was happy, smooth, giddy and got no flats! Was great to meet up with my crew and settle in for the ride.

And, a half mile from the start. There were people flagging us through the course… but somehow I missed one and was off course less than 5 minutes into the race. Drats! I had to laugh and hope this wasn't an omen for the days to come.

And… the start. A time trial start (with people holding my bike up and a ramp to negotiate down.. .yikes!). They announced my name and I couldn’t stop the grin, the nerves, and all that. It was awesome.

I was terrified pulling into the parking lot, got a hug from Linda (another racer) and we wished each other well. My crew was excited but focused and there was a huge buzz in the air. I did not know if I could do this… I certainly trained for it, but had never done 1044 miles in one stretch. My crew, my hubby (who was off doing an Ironman himself) and my coach were behind me and I knew that. But, that's why I do this. If I know the finish is a definite, then the challenge is not big enough.

So, what comes next? This was the biggest event for this season. I'm healing and playing on my mountain bike now and going to do the Leadville 100 MTB race. Simple goal, don't embarrass myself too much. Then I want to go back to the Hoodoo 500 in September and kick that course's butt. In the long term I think one more year of ultracycling focus, gearing towards the 1300 mile Race Around Ireland in September 2010 and then it's back to the UltraTri scene.

Thanks for reading (if you made it this far) and a big thank you again to my crew, my hubby, my coach, Steven at Kestrel, Dennis, Alec… and everyone else who believes in me… it was a blast and I am still grinning!


Thursday, July 2, 2009


Still very tired...

Suffering a weird bout of PTSD. I wake up in the middle of the night heart racing convinced I just fell asleep on the bike. Realize I am not wearing my bike clothes. Where is my crew? Open my eyes and see the window, the door, and the bed and remember I'm at home asleep. Lay down and gradually fall back to sleep...
Race report should be coming next week.
Looking forward to a 3 day weekend, and being back to myself next week. Will start gradually building up time on the mountain bike. Leadville Silver Rush 50 miler is July 25th, Leadville 100 is August 15th. There are just for fun and giggles and remembering what it's like to be silly on my bike.
Enjoy the long weekend!!!