miseryquest

Race Report

Failed Goal = Lifestyle change


No Comments

Part Two: Race Day

The day of: After a night of poor sleep, I awoke to my knee wound still aching from the crash, sleepy and nervous about how the day would unfold. I was anxious to get on my bike and start riding. I was bursting with anticipation as we lined up at the start line. After a short delay we started down the road for our neutral start.

tumblr_m42mb99aXq1r6w132
The office: where it all begins. Image stolen from Truss Love.

As the race officially began, we all filed into a short section of river trail. It was madness. Everyone was clustered together in a tight, impatient line, waiting to get up the hike-a-bike sections. If I pushed past someone, my heart rate skyrocketed. If I stayed behind someone, I got delayed even longer. I cursed the pile up and made another tally mark on my mental checklist of reasons why I dislike river trails. Eventually we started to spread out and we hit the gravel road. I was already frazzled, but the miles of climbing started to melt the frustration away. I was in the back of the group, but I started to catch people along the gravel road climb. I found my friend (and hopefully future No Apologies! member) Bridget. We leap frogged back and forth as we began the descent. Her single speeder legs destroyed me on the climbs as I would sit down and spin. Then I would catch her on the downhill.

Chasing Bridget
Chasing Bridget

I love the Cream Puff course (seriously, sign up for the 50 miler). It is on one of my all time favorite routes and I kept getting caught up in it. It was hard not to enjoy the wonderful views in the open meadows. I wanted to stop and hang out but I had to keep going. I felt good. Or at least I did until I rounded up to the last big climb of the first lap. Once we hit the newly built singletrack climb, the day started to catch up with me. But somehow, like magic, the last downhill portion of that lap erased it all, and I found myself at the lap point, ecstatic from the descent. I looked at my time and thought: I can do this! I hit the river trail again with all my might. That is when it all started to fall apart. As I mentioned earlier, I kind of hate river trails. I think they are beautiful, but I’ve never gotten used to the constant ups and downs. The rolling terrain really takes it out of me. I would much rather tuck my head down for a brutal climb than deal with the constant undulation of a river trail. I tried to ignore the pain and enjoy the sound of the water. I focused a little too much on that sound and I started to think it was calling to me. I imagined stopping there and taking a swim. It was a hot day and nothing sounded better than jumping in that cold water. But somehow I kept going. I hit the gravel road climb for the second time, put my head down and started spinning. I kept spotting Bridget in the distance, but she was pulling away from me. I became keenly aware of my declining speed. I looked at the time. It started to sink in that there was no possible way for me to make the final cut off. I could make the first cut off but probably not the second, and definitely not the final one. This realization really took the wind out of my sails. How far would I keep going? Would I wait for them to pull me off?

The end.
The end.

I watched as more and more people passed me going the wrong way on the road. They had officially pulled out of the race and were headed back to the staging area. It was hard to keep my spirits up as I watched my fellow racers give up. When I was nearing the next aid station, I found my Jim limping along the road. He looked worse than I felt. I knew then that we were done. It was time to call it. One of the sweeps started circling us like a vulture, waiting for our bodies to drop to the ground. We alternated between walking and riding to the next aid station. When we rolled in, our friends confirmed our decision to stop. Bridget had decided to keep pushing until she was pulled (at her next pass of this aid station). We asked about our other friends who were still in the fight (one of them eventually made it across the finish line). But we were done. We gave it everything and we didn’t make it. As we waited for the shuttle to take us back down, I didn’t even have the energy or mental capacity to feel bad yet. It was over.

So tired.
So tired.

Have you ever pulled out of a race? How did you feel about it later? Tell us about it! I will share more about my experience in part 3: the aftermath.

Personal

Failed Goal = Lifestyle change


1 Comment

Part One: The preparation

Sometimes it isn’t about the end goal. Sometimes it is about the work you put into it during journey. I am usually a fan of making hard but attainable goals, however, in 2013 I set a huge goal for myself that walked the line between attainable and unrealistic. I had been mountain biking for 2 years. I was consistently riding a few times a week during the year and even more during the summer months. I had done one race as part of a 6 person team at a 24 hour race. I was obsessed with mountain biking and I wanted to become better, so my husband (Jim) and I decided to sign up for the Cascade Creampuff (organized by our very own Michelle). For those of you that don’t know, that is 100 miles and almost 20,000 ft of climbing. Seems like a reasonable next step right?

Jim and I both knew that we were taking a big step, but we were fully committed. We signed up for early season races, started putting in mileage on the road bike and spending LONG days on the mountain bike. We became competitive with each other as we sought out longer, crazier routes in our local forest, the McDonald-Dunn. Our routes started to look like a toddler had taken a crayon to the map. It was fun and it was miserable.

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 1.16.50 PM
Route or crayon?

The first BIG task was the Test of Endurance 100k. The Test of Endurance had over 10,000 feet of climbing which included a rooty, steep climb up Mary’s peak on the North Ridge trail. This is a trail that any sane person only descends. I managed to survive the race. I didn’t make the best time and I came in last in Open Women, but I finished. I felt like I was limping to the finish line because my muscles were cramping like they had never cramped before, but I accomplished my first long race.

This is actually from last year, but the sentiment is pretty much the same.
This is actually from last year, but the sentiment is pretty much the same.

After that, the base miles continued. Longer rides, better nutrition and more electrolytes. A friend of ours shared her homemade “salty tang” sports drink recipe and it changed our lives. It banished cramping forever! We experimented with more “food water.” Eventually, the race day details started to come out. I knew I could do it with unlimited time, but I wouldn’t have unlimited time. I was worried, but I tried to hold on to the hope of finishing. I would tackle it with all my might.

A few days before the race I went out on a fun ride to relax. It was a beautiful day and I really needed it. After that much training, all I wanted to do was ride for fun. With only a few minutes of descending to the trailhead, I went down hard. I still have no idea what happened. I was “just riding along” and then I hit the trail with a scream. Nothing was broken, only an impressive bruise and some pretty good scrapes. Those scrapes would be my war paint for race day.

Read about race day in part two.