Friday, July 30, 2010

ORAMM Race Report, part 2

I owned Curtis Creek this year.  Last year, my legs went on strike at aid station 2, but today was like riding without a chain.  I gobbled up plenty of carrots in those 9 miles.  I caught back up to Rich; I taunted him with the 6 hour thing, but his face told a different story.  That was the last I saw of him. 

I did have to slow it down a bit at the midway point, not because of my fitness, but because of the heat.  I started to get a headache and felt a slight chill, telltale signs that if you ignore, the next thing you know, you will be on the ground babbling incoherently.  I knew I was close to the top when the switchbacks got steeper and tighter.  I rolled in to aid station 3 and was immediately greeted by several smiling faces.  One filled my gel flask, one offered an ice cold coke and the other had my drop bag.  Was I in heaven?  The aid station volunteers were awesome!

The gravel descent down the other side of the Parkway was insanely sketchy.  I have never felt so out of control on a gravel road descent.  After a couple front wheel slide outs, I determined what little time I might be gaining by riding stupid was not worth the risk.  I slowed it down to a more life sustaining speed; it seemed like forever before I hit the bottom. 

The 4 mile climb back up to the Parkway was uneventful, except for the nagging headache that would not go away despite what I thought was an adequate fluid intake.  The volunteers at aid station 4 were masters of their game and had me off and pedaling up the Parkway to the infamous hike-a-bike.  I think I ingested too much gel and Rapidade at the last aid station because as I pushed my bike up to Heartbreak Ridge, I became nauseous.  This brought back not so fond memories of The Burn 24 Hour. 

As I began the looooooong descent down Heartbreak, my body was able to draw some blood from my legs and finish the digestion process.  The nausea soon passed.  I always forget just how long Heartbreak is.  I always start off "Whoo-hooing!" but that soon changes to "Oh my God, my head is going to fly off my neck!"
This section requires absolute focus which is hard to do when all your eyes see is a constant "dirt, sky, dirt, sky, dirt, sky ...".  There are a few kickers on this trail that allowed my body to realign itself and prepare for the final switchbacky descent that I initially rode up on the way to Star Gap.  Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my ride down and my Specialized Era rocked it!  (I would love to see what an Enduro would do on Heartbreak, however.)

I rolled on through aid station 5 and looked at my time:  5:17.  That sub-6 was not looking good, but I thought I still had a chance to equal last year's time.  Well, at least until I began the 4 mile climb up Miller Creek.  Did I just enter hell?  This was the most exposed road of the day.  It was now 1:30pm and probably 97+ degrees.  The heat was like a ton of bricks sitting on my chest.  It was here that I really had to dial the power down or suffer the consequences.  I passed through the parking lot, not looking forward to the steep-a$$ climb back to the top of Kitsuma.  I made it, albeit slower and a few more times off the bike.

The descent seemed like an eternity.  Very powdery after having 400+ riders come through and a lot of skid marks off the trail.  Once again, my Ergon GR2's comforted my hands on this bumpy terrain.  I popped out onto the pavement and immediately went into time trial mode.  This lasted about 30 seconds when my inner quads screamed at me and threatened to lock up.  I backed off and rode at a cramp-free speed.  No need to kill myself; there was a "jelly" in a white Cadillac Seville that tried to do that for me.  Speeding along, horn blaring, swerving around me at the last minute ... yeah, you are really cool, old man!

I crossed the finish line in 6:33, 1st place woman (and the oldest, I might add), and 31st overall.  The slower time I will blame on the heat, for I felt I was fitter than last year.  All said and done, I felt that I properly executed my race and nutrition plan for this one.  I consumed 170 ounces of fluids (Rapidade, water, and Coke) and I took in about 230 kcal/hour.  I don't think I could have gone any harder.

Kudos to Todd for once again putting on a stellar race.  Great course markings, wonderful volunteers, a nice creek to cool off in post-race, and good food. 

I might add that Zeke finished 5th in the 50+ category and would have possible been higher up on the podium were it not for the time spent helping the heat casualty up on Kitsuma.  Not only is he one fast old dude, but a trail angel.  Those in his class at Leadville had better watch out!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

ORAMM Race Report, part 1

83 degrees at the 8am start would make for a scorching race.  Knowing that staying hydrated and keeping the core cool would be crucial, I started the race with a cold, wet jersey and my Camelbak full of iced down Rapidade.  I had also stuck bottles of water in my drop bags, not for drinking, but for pouring over my head at the aid stations.

The race rolled out of Old Fort at a neutral pace, giving me time for my legs of 41 years to come around.  I can start fast when needed, but I really like these easier starts.  Having broke a spoke on my Powertap wheel during the pre-ride the day before, I would have to rely on HR and PE to keep me from blowing up in the first 25 miles as I had last year.

The race began as we hit the 5 mile climb up Old Hwy 70.  Lisa and I rode together for a ways, neither one of us talking much, but watching as Andrea slowly pulled away from us.  I was focused on a steady rhythmic turning of the pedals and making sure my HR didn't get too high.  I soon caught Andrea as well as a bunch of guys and was able to make it to Kitsuma's single track with a clean trail ahead.

Halfway up, I encountered Rich.  From reading his recent posts, he and I both had the same goal:  a sub 6 hour race.  But seeing him this soon in the race bothered me a little.  I was hoping that I was motoring on and that he was not sputtering.  He was pretty chatty and in good spirits, so if that continued and I could keep up, then perhaps a sub-6 was doable.

I let him take the lead on the descent.  Not that I was being nice, but I wanted to follow his lines on this descent of mayhem and hell.  You see, this bit of trail has gotten a lot more chewed up in just a year, what with bigger drops, more log crossings, more root exposure, and one hell of a hole left by an uprooted tree.  Rich is like a Jedi knight, Yoda in particular.  Just by looking, you wouldn't think him to be much of a mountain biker, but when his game is on, it takes everything you got to hang on!  Needless to say, I hung with him through the trickiest parts and then he just got smaller and smaller ... and was gone!

I hooked up with Justin and rode with him over the next hour or so.  The single track up to Star Gap was quite entertaining with several steep hike-a-bikes.  I knew I would be coming back down this later in the day so every now and then I would take a look back down and study the lines.  The climbing was steep but manageable other than a couple CX off the bike moves to negotiate some sharp, steep switchbacks.  Once again, I encountered Rich and asked if we were on pace.  He wasn't too sure and didn't seem too confident at this point.  Oh, well.  I was feeling really good, so I stayed optimistic.

On the descent I rode behind Matt, the Outdoor Store's Specialized rep.  He was kind enough to take a digger on one of the switchbacks, allowing me to dismount and make it down nice and safe.  Once I finished the descent and popped out onto the doubletrack-turned-singletrack climb, the fun began.  The next seven miles on this old logging road was like riding on marbles, blindfolded.  Very sketchy and you couldn't see what lay ahead due to the weeds almost choking out the trail.  Oh, goody!   Luckily I had Justin ahead of me and I could follow his lead.

Rolling into the second aid station, I was handed my drop bag.  I poured a bottle of water over my head, swapped out water bottles, downed 1/2 a can of Coke and headed out for the next little hill.  At this point in the race, I was feeling great, the legs were sparkly, and I was ready to conquer the 9 mile Curtis Creek climb.

to be continued....

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

SERC Raccoon XC Race Report

 With doubts as how well I would do at my first XC race in 2 years ... and on a SS, I opted to compete in the singlespeed division.  Coach said it would be funner competing against the guys anyway.  And Carly wanted me to "girl" them all.  Carly and my friend Stefanie had come to watch and hang out.

At 9:30, the temperature was already 83 degrees and extremely humid.  My kind of weather.  The women's pro/expert started 2 minutes ahead of me.  Mmmm, carrots!  The start was 3/4 mile of pavement.  There were 13 singlespeeders and I entered the woods in 4th.  That surprised me as I was running an easier gear than the guys.  My legs were feeling sparkly and soon enough I caught up to the back of the women's field.  After passing several of them, I looked at my HR and decided I needed to slow down a bit or risk blowing up after 1 lap.

On the first lap, a couple guys in my field passed me, but on the second lap I passed them back as they struggled with the short punchy climbs in their harder gears.  Towards the end of the first lap, I managed to pass all the women save for Kim.  On the second lap, the hills were a bit tougher and I had to run two short sections.  However, I still felt strong and was less than a minute slower than my first lap.  I managed to pass the 2nd and 3rd SS'r with just a few miles remaining.

 I finished up with a time of 1:22:50, about 5 minutes slower than 1st but over a minute ahead of 3rd.  Not too bad for my first SS XC race.  Simple and fun.  All I had to do was pedal.  I definitely want to do a few more of these.

I love my Specialized 29'r SS Hardtail.  And that is coming from a racer who likes "cush."  Raccoon Mountain is a very rocky and technical trail.  After two laps, my back was still happy.  Light weight and super responsive at less than 20 pounds.

Stefanie has been taking a photography class, so after taking action pics, Carly helped her with the portrait pics.  Carly was a trooper out in the sweltering heat all day.  After the race she had the choice of ice cream or sushi.  Guess what she chose?  Man, sushi makes for a great post-race meal!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Fundraiser Update

As of right now, I have received $4350 in donations and pledges.  I am still in the midst of chasing down a few outstanding pledges (you know who you are :) so I figure that once I receive those I will be right around the $5000 mark.

The Outdoor Store has received all the prizes for the Kid's Contest, including 4 bright, shiny new bikes!  I know the winners of said prizes, but won't be telling anyone until this fall at the beginning of the school year.  I plan on announcing the winners as well as presenting a check to City Park and Ingleside school during the first PTO meeting.

Most likely Ingleside will use the money to fund the purchase of playground equipment.  A good friend told me about The Patch indoor obstacle course.  After looking at their website, seeing a You Tube video about it, and having my daughter exclaim, "That looks like coolish fun,"  I will try to encourage City Park to purchase the basic kit.  It is expensive but durable and could be expanded upon year after year.

It has been 6 weeks since The Burn.  It took about 2 1/2 weeks for my body to feel good again.  The worst part was the 4 weeks of a combination of foot numbness, pin and needles, and hot foot.  But all is good now, except for my mental state.  I attribute that to a "lackofracinitis," which should be cured by Sunday as I am heading down to Raccoon Mountain to race the SERC XC ... SS style.  It should be fun and brutal at the same time.  The last time I raced an XC was at this venue in 2008, but on gears.