Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Ring of Fire

Headed up to Portland this past weekend for the 24 Hour Ring of Fire...

Leading up to the race has been interesting. After the Leadville debacle I got back on my beloved RT900 (Artemous) and we've fallen in love all over again. My longest ride has only been 6 hours since RAW, and since I haven't had a chance to sort out my saddle/shorts issues going into the race I was a little nervous how my bum would hold up. Decided to just roll with it and see how the day went.

Drew's sister, bro-in-law, and 2 nephews live in Portland so it was a good opportunity for some kid-hanging. Jen and the kids drove out to the race course Saturday to play with Drew for the day, and then he planned to crew for me through the night. I prepped 5 drop bags with coke, bars, and treats and figured I was good to go for the race.

My race started at 6:41am. There were 6 gals in the race and we were separated by about a minute. This race featured LOTS of climbing and some high desert heat. Start out with a 5 mile climb out of the gate, followed with some downhill, and the some steep short stuff. My inner quads wanted to cramp so I tried to just spin and ease them out. We climbed from the high desert (read no trees and lots of brown grasses/sage) into the forests around Mt. Hood. Awesome views, some fabulous road surfaces, and lots of long climbing. The day loop was 156 miles, and then we came down to do a 26.5 mile night loop.

After 40 miles we had a fabulous decent, and then on more 10 mile climb before dropping back to the plains. The temps rose, and I was holding it together but rather slowly. Filled my bottles at each checkpoint and tried to stay on top of my electrolytes. Just taking the miles. Around 90 miles there was another 9 mile climb, but rather gentle, and wicked hot. Some folks had support crews with them and one of them gave me a baggie of ice. She was like an angel! Then at the top of the climb she offered me a huge bowl of fruit salad. I could have cried at how delicious and cool the berries were on my parched throat.

A nice down and I saw Jenn and Drew driving by. They came out to say hello and offered up a coke and some blueberries (delicious) and a turkey wrap (gag.. not a chance that would get choked down). We turned and got to preview the second half of the night loop. Some short climbs, then a steep downhill and a gorgeous 8 mile stretch by the Deschutes river. Drew and Jenn stopped to cheer a few times by the river. It was well needed as I was pretty baked.

After the river the 12 hour folks turned right and headed to do short loops and the 24 hour folks went by an unmanned aid station and then started a 20'ish mile climb... 4 steep miles and then gradual climbing to 3200ft. I was anxiously waiting for the aid station to get my drop bag. Got there, opened the cooler and there was my bag. SWEET! Wait, so NOT sweet! Someone had drank my coke, ate my bars, took my gels, and left my bag in the cooler with the discarded wrappers. WHAT? I was calmly pissed, filled up my bottles with ice water and started to climb. A mile into the steepness it hit me that I had no nutrition, 30 some miles since I had real food (other than fruit), and miles of pain until the next aid station. I was climbing and crying and finally pulled over. Called Drew and he didn't answer so I left a message saying I needed him to bring stuff NOW. Called my coach just to vent, because I needed to settle or my race would be over. (she was understandably confused). A crew came by the other direction, saw me there, slowed down and lobbed a V8 can out to me. (It was JUST what I needed, and I have no idea how they knew that).

I drank the V8 and got back on and figured Drew would be by eventually so what I needed to do was just settle and ride. This climb was really dispiriting. After a few miles only, Drew and Jenn pulled up with food. YEAH! And Drew said he'd meet me at 7 with my bike lights so just keep on rolling. Eventually I saw my competition coming back at me and they were miles ahead. It was a struggle to hold it together mentally and I just wanted to turna round and call it a day. Hot, tired, way behind, and miserable.

At 7 Drew rolled up with lights and sweet potato fries and I had 2 more miles of climbing. Finally made the top and turned to go down. Drew passed by 15 miles down and I was grinning madly, spinning and refinding my fun. Even saw a shooting star.

Hit the start/finish way behind schedule and started in on my night loops. Still lots of climbing (we had that 5 mile climb at the start of each one). I'd eat at the start/finish line, and then by the top of the climb be dealing with heartburn. Blech! After 2 laps I had a vivarin and a espresso. Struggling to stay awake out there in the slightly cold and very solitary night. I only saw maybe 2 other riders the whole night, because the loop was so long we were all spread out. Had to take a 10 minute catnap before my last lap, inhaled an apple danish and away I went.

YUCK! I had serious heartburn by the top of the climb and stopped 4 or 5 times through that lap with vomitous burps. I could push to a certain level and then it would get worse so I played with that threshold. Daylight started to break and I knew I needed to put my foot into it to finish the lap before 6:41. Going down the river I was holding over 16mph, which was wicked fast for the condition I was in but I made it.

Finished 4th female (of 6) and 7 (of 15) soloists. The night riding treated me well, although I didn;t realize it at the time. I ended up only 18 miles out of 2nd place female after being WAY down from the long loop.

Lessons learned:
- Take Pepto-Bismol often and early when eating then climbing
- Stick with it, things will turn around.
- Bring a little extra nutrition, even when there are drop bags because people can be dorks.

That's the wrap of my serious racing season. Two more fun races to go, a 4 person team at the 24 Hours of Triathlon and then Drew and I are teaming up for a 25 hour MTB race at the end of October. Goals for the next month are to have fun, recharge, lose a little weight and start to lay the foundations for a strong 2010.

Ride on!

ps. At the post race brekkie the RD called me up and gave me 2 Starbucks drinks and told the story of how I was riding unsupported, counting on my drop bags, and someone took my stuff... He handled it well, I hope whoever did it was there and was ashamed of himself!!!

1 comment:

linda guerrette said...

Leslie, good on you for soldering on when times were tough and annoying. I know it has been a challenging summer but through your determination and follow through you seem to be stronger and even clearer on future goals. CONGRATS!