Tuesday, July 29, 2008

12 Hours conquered, 24 next??

That's right, I can sit here before you and say "I finished a 12 hour adventure race!" From start to finish, I just kept thinking to myself "look at what I am doing!" I was continually amazed at what I was doing and the amazing scenery around me - it was a day I will never forget.

I finished at just over 11 hours - I really took my time so I was definitely one of the slow ones. The race started with a 1 mile run to the Dillon Marina, which I pretty much walked the entire way because of my sprained knee. I arrived at the Marina and saw that everyone else had already launched their kayaks for the paddling section - I was definitely at the back of the pack!

I spent the next 3 1/2 hours in an inflatable kayak (also known as a duckie) – this ended up being the hardest part of the race for me. For those of you who have never used a duckie, I would never wish that experience on you - ever! Just thinking about those 3 1/2 hours and I get tired! The things about Duckies are they are just about impossible to keep in a straight line - I spent the first hour weaving all over the place, doing lots of 360's and at one point seriously considered turning around to get a head start on the mountain biking section. Instead I looked around me and realized how amazing it was that I was even there and knew I had to do the entire 11 mile kayaking section.

So I worked a little harder and began to get the hang of it- I was doing fairly well and was heading to the last checkpoint when I ran into the leaders of the race - they had already reached all the checkpoints and were heading back to the marina. And this part is the reason I love adventure racing - each person waved and wished me luck, or encouraged me to keeping going, or admired the fact that I was going it alone in a duckie - it was a huge boost and helped me push myself even more. It's the reason why I am growing to love this sport more each day - the amazing support!

I got back to the marina and was told I was only about 30 minutes behind the last to finish. Cool, not too far behind! So I walked the mile back to the transition area, changed out of my wet clothes and got ready for the mountain biking section. Believe it or not (and most of you know this is my weakest part) I had a blast!

I took a fun path from the lake to Breckenridge for about 10 miles, which was a nice, gentle climb and good warm up for what was up next. At Breckenridge I had to head west, which meant that I would be climbing the big ole’ mountain in front of me - this is where my training paid off! I headed up the hill for a few miles of climbing to the first bike checkpoint (and only had to walk the bike 2 times at some pretty steep parts). From there I was suppose to ride up to the next checkpoint but it was all single track and by this time it was pouring rain, so I opted to skip the checkpoint. I just wasn’t comfortable with riding single track in the mud so I had a fun ride back down to the bike path and hauled ass back to the transition – I was flying and having a blast!

I got back to the transition exactly at 3pm, which was my goal and headed to the orienteering course. It was still pouring, so I had to get my rain gear out and headed out in the rain. The course was huge but it was the highlight for me – I told Sherry (the course planner and the one who has taught me everything about orienteering) afterward that she puts together the best courses – the checkpoints were in the best spots! I got to walk on the beach, do some fun climbing, walk through a marsh, and so much more. It was the highlight for me, despite the rain and being pretty tired. The race required that you get at least of the 15 checkpoints and that’s exactly what I did, 15. I was going to go for more, I had an hour left where I could of snagged a few more. But I was pretty tired, covered in mosquito bites and ready to get some warm food in me, so I decided to head back after I got my 15.

As I was running to the finish line I heard everyone yelling and cheering me on - the funny thing is all I could think was "where's all my gear?" Unknown to me my wonderful mother had loaded everything up in the car but at that moment all I could think was "someone stole my bike!" Amazing the things that come to your mind at that moment! Logic finally won out and I realized what I had just done - finished my first 12 hour adventure race. On top of that, I wasn’t the last one to finish - there were two other teams out there! I've got to admit I got a little teary eyed (I wrote this just for you Glenn - yes, I cried... again) but couldn't keep the huge smile off my face.

Besides finishing, there was a great sense of pride at finishing a race put on by the same company that gave me the tools to be able to handle this race - this was the same company that put on the camp I attended in March and since that time they have became more friends than just a "company." They were with me from the beginning and are some of my biggest supporters. I told Will after the race that I never had so much fun and thanked him for an amazing time - it really was a great experience!

I was pretty sore that night and despite wanting a warm meal, my stomach wasn't able to handle much of anything. Mom was pretty tired too, she had done lots of work as my support person and I think both of us were just ready to head to bed!

So, what did I learn from all this? Hmmm, good question. But here are a couple of things:

  1. That my confidence, or lack of confidence in myself is my greatest weakness. Each time I race I have to face that lack of confidence head on and when I actually conquer it, I gain a little more. The reason why I admire Jari so much? It's because she believes that anything is possible and that I can do anything I put my mind to - I love her for that. Now if I could just believe it myself.
  2. That laughing through the hard times makes them a lot easier.
  3. That at times you need to stop, take a deep breathe and look at the beautiful world around you - it's amazing how it can give you a completely different perspective on life.
  4. That duckies are a pain in the ass to paddle.
So, what's next? I have a crazy, one day, 100 mile bike ride (the White Rim trail) in Moab planned with Jari; a sprint (6 hour) race in Vail; an entire week of vacation in Moab where I will be riding, kayaking and canyoneering, as well as providing support for a team during a 3-4 day race at the end of the week. Somewhere in there I want to climb a couple of 14er's, just not sure when. Summer is going way too fast and I want to pack as much in as I possibly can!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The 12 Hour Adventure

This weekend is it - my very first 12 hour adventure race. My dreams have been filled with all sorts of images, mostly of me forgetting my map or bike or clothes (yikes!). I guess you could say I'm a little nervous.

Compared to my last race, I feel pretty prepared. I've been riding lots, with each ride at least +20 miles. I've followed the training schedule pretty well, so at least my conditioning is pretty good. Mentally I feel stronger, but I know that is my weak point. I keep echoing Jari's words "you're a bad ass!" just trying to convince myself that yes, I can do this. At this point, I am ready to get beyond the training and visualization and just get out there - at least the dreams will be gone!

To further complicate everything, I hurt my knee last weekend and have been dealing with some pretty good pain this week. It basically means I won't be running and going much slower (if that's even possible - I'm ALREADY slow!)

I have a few goals for the race.
  1. To run MY race - I tend to get caught up in all the craziness around me, push it too hard at the beginning and end up exhausted way too soon. I want to go at my own pace and disregard others.
  2. To finish in 12 hours - if this means I have to miss a few checkpoints, so be it. I just want to run a good race and make good decisions.
  3. To pay more attention to my eating/drinking - I don't want to get sick again!
  4. To get all the checkpoints on the orienteering course.

So, if you happen to be close to Summit County Saturday, drop on by the Frisco Nordic Center and you just might catch a glimpse of me hobbling along between transitions. I will eventually write up a report on my excursion, as long as my fingers are still functioning. Mom is coming and has already said she will take pics, so I even have an official photographer.

Let's just hope I am actually standing at the end of this day.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Typical Morning

Each morning I drag myself out of bed at 4:30 am and head to the gym. Since I've always been a night person, this is quite the accomplishment for me. I never thought I would be a morning person (just like I never thought I would run an adventure race!) but it has fit into this new life rather well.

Now let me make this clear, I am still not a morning person. Most mornings I hit my snooze button many, many times and then when I finally do get out of bed, it's in slow motion. I'll give you a little peak into what goes on in my odd brain when the alarm goes off on my spinning class days (Monday and Wednesday):

4:30 am: alarm goes off - I hit the snooze button and happily doze off again

4:39: alarm goes off again - I hit the snooze button again and think "I really need to get up" - it doesn't work

4:48: alarm goes off a 3rd time. This is usually when I actually crawl out of bed, all the while thinking "do I really need to work out today?"

4:52: I get over my reluctance to head to the gym, grab a bottle of water and my many morning vitamins, turn on the tv and crawl back into bed - I proceed to drink my water and take my vitamins, all the while thinking "do I really need to work out today?"

5:05: I finish chewing, swallowing and drinking and realize if I don't hurry I will be late to class! I rush to get dressed and collect everything that I need: a towel, my ipod, a bottle of water and ID. I think to myself "why am I always late?" and of course "do I really need to work out today?"

5:20: I grab my peanut butter pudding from the fridge and run out the door, knowing I am going to be late. If it's Monday, I usually end up speeding a little faster since my instructor turns out ALL the lights at exactly 5:30 - have you ever tried to adjust a spinning bike in the dark? Not easy.

5:24: I eat my PB Pudding while driving to the gym - eating pudding while driving can be rather daunting but I'm getting pretty good at multi-tasking. I again think to myself "do I really need to work out today?"

5:32: I arrive at the gym, rush to the door when I remember that my water bottle is still in my car. (every morning!) I rush back to my car, grab the bottle, then hurry to the front desk to get signed in. Get to class, say hi to all the regulars and rush, again, to get my bike adjusted. Think to myself "why am I always late?" and of course "do I really need to work out today?" (at least I am consistent!)

5:35: Jump on my bike and begin warming up - the thought comes to my mind "why am I doing this? I am way too tired to ride a bike for an hour." Or "do I really need to work out today?" I am STILL fighting the urge to run home and hop back into bed.

5:40: "Will this class never end?"

5:48: "No way am I going to make it to the end of class - can I go home now?"

5:56: "Another hill, are you kidding me?"

6:04: "You want me to increase my tension again?! *&%^#!!"

6:18: "If I turn my head to the left and casually look like I am stretching my neck, I can check out the clock and see how long I have left and no one will notice."

6:18 1/2: "Instructor saw me look at the clock - has an evil smile on his face. NOT GOOD."

6:24: "My legs feel like jello and my butt is asleep- can I stop now?"

6:28: Ahhhhh... stretching, my fav part. That is until our instructor decides to introduce a move that has me standing on one leg, while my other leg is stretched out behind me and my arms are twisted above my head in a strange sort of ballet/swan move. I fall flat on my ass.

6:30: "That was fun... let's do it again!"

Sunday, July 6, 2008

You know it's summer when...

you see a snake while on a hike.

Yup, saw my first snake yesterday. A tiny little garter snake that was more scared of me than I was of it (which is kind of amazing, knowing my fear of snakes!) I was hiking Eagles Peak at the Air Force Academy and saw not only the snake but a roaring waterfall, the requisite chipmunk, lots of flys, bees and other bugs and of course, many cadets. It was a perfect day for a hike and I enjoyed every minute of it.

That night I went for a bike ride with Jody, a friend I met through the orienteering club. We parked near a local trail head and took a beautiful, mellow trail to downtown Colorado Springs, where we proceeded to get sick on a big bowl of Josh and John's ice cream (actually, I got sick - she was smart and got the small bowl). It was a perfect summer evening and reminded me of when I was a kid, when your only means of transportation was your bike - I remember riding all over the place, not having a care in the world. That's how the ride felt - just a casual, fun, relaxed ride with beautiful scenery and great company.

I seem to have turned a corner in my workouts - I'm finally feeling like I am progressing and getting stronger. I'm regularly riding 20-30 miles on the bike and actually sticking with my workout schedule. I'm pretty disciplined in getting in my workouts, but I've never been very disciplined when it comes to following a schedule. I am going on week 3 of my training for my race in July and it's been easy and fun to follow. If I can keep this up until the race, I just might feel prepared for the race. Let's all keep our fingers crossed - I don't want another repeat of the last race!

One thing I have been working on is how to avoid another dehydration/bonking episode. I've been trying different ways to get in electrolytes, which I know was part of my problem last time. I hate sport drinks, way too sweet for me and tends to upset my stomach. Instead I've been experimenting with Sports Jelly Beans, which are working really well. I've got a big workout planned Friday with 20 miles mountain biking and 10 miles hiking and that will be a good test on how these really work in the long term.

Other than that, the only other new adventure has been my new job. It's quite a change, going from a fairly large place to one that has 8 people. It's been a fun challenge - I've hit the ground running with lots of projects that need a quick turn around and I'm enjoying that. I love the challenge and I'm definitely not bored!

That's all I've got - hope everyone had a great holiday weekend! I'm finishing the weekend with an ATV ride outside of Woodland Park. Get out there and enjoy the summer, it is going to disappear way to fast!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

So I got this email...

I told Jari, my instructor from AR Camp, about my plan to do a 12 hour race July 26. Her response was perfect and just what I needed:

"You'll be fine. And by that I mean it will be the hardest thing you'll have ever done but the most rewarding. THere will be a few times when you are tired and it is really hard when you ask yourself why you are doing it and you just have to know that the answer to that is because you are a bad ass! Because you want it. And because when you get done you have achieved your goal. To finish. That should be your goal, to finish."

And now you know why I love this gal.

Think they would allow me to legally change my name to "Bad Ass?"