Tuesday, July 21, 2015

5th Annual Remember Big Timmy Ride

5 Years have passed since Tim left us. Lots of new friend. Lots of new adventures. He still comes to mind now and then. This day was to remember him....

This rock stands at the top of a switchback climb on the Green Loop at Fort Custer. I never met Erin. I have no idea who Erin was as a person. I imagine that she was an amazing person if someone left this kind of memorial for her. The quote says "Friends are spokes in the wheel of life". I always think it is cool to see this memorial, but on this day it had more meaning.

The ride was smaller this year. Jimmy, Lisa, and newcomer Chris W. joined me for the ride. We rode the red loop and gathered at the trailhead to see if anyone else was joining. Nobody did...except for a single butterfly. In previous years the butterfly would land on us. This year....it fluttered by and landed a short distance away....as if it was Tim....just listening in on our conversation. We rode part of the green.....then a storm rolled in.

I got a text so I stopped to check it. It was Dan telling us to take cover. I looked around and realized we were in trouble. We were far out on the green and had to sneak some shortcuts to dump out at the boat launch. Jimmy and Lisa hauled ass back to the trailhead while Chris and I hurried to Eagle Lake. I got the bikes in the suburban and it unloaded on us. Huge winds, thunder, lightning, RAIN and sirens going off in the distance. Tornado? Maybe. It was a short storm and the families were arriving.

We headed to the beach and set up. Had some food and we were relaxing. There was some turmoil when a trip to ER had to happen. My father-n-law had a vein start bleeding and it wouldn't stop. So they took him the ER and ended their day at the beach. We hung out and swam and chatted. My phone chirpped and it was a tornado watch in Allegan. I decided it was time to pack up....and the DNR Sounded a horn to pull people off the lake. We packed up and headed to my in-laws house. As soon as we unloaded the truck it stormed like crazy again. It was the right choice to leave.....even though a lot of people stayed. A County Sheriff pulled in as we were leaving....I can only assume to enforce the closure of the beach. People were still going to the beach and setting up. I am glad we left.

Overall it was a good day. Spent some time with friends and family and enjoyed getting a newbie out on the trail. I just simply need to ride more now. Been slacking off since Lumberjack. Anyway, it was a good day to remember my brother-n-law.....my friend....the guy that got me riding....and started me on this path where I have met so many amazing people. Miss you brother.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Golden Egg......and Sweat Shaker

I am not really a happy camper right now. The day started good enough. Up on time to leave for Sweat Shaker. Arrived and swapped over the bike rack to Jay's car. Lisa, Jay and I took off from Meijer at 5:30 am. Right on schedule. Then.....

I hear Jay say "oh shit" and I look to my left....
....a male deer....full stride.....running towards us....
.....slow motion.....
.....head of the deer into the mirror and then the driver window...
....body into the rear door....
....deer into the 3 bikes...

Jay pulls over quickly on US-10.  We are only 1.5 miles away from US127. Less than 15 minutes from our destination. Carnage. Here is the rundown.

mirror gone
driver window splintered but no glass falling out
rear driver side door smashed in....will not open

Rack torqued to the right.
1 arm completely ripped off
1 bike...front tire taco.
1 bike with a hole punched in the fork
1 bike with a bent rear triangle, broken rim, and possible bent frame.

Did I mention nobody was hurt? Yeah...there is that positive note.  We pick up the pieces and drive the rest of the way to Mid Michigan Community College. We get to work getting 2 bikes functioning. One was fairly easy. Taped up the hole in the fork. Done. The second...well...we pulled the wheel and did some restructuring. The bike shop guys that were there did some work and got the wheel....to where it would spin. The debate was on whether the wheel would hold for 20 miles or not. 

Race started....Jay and Lisa were off and I was left standing on the sidelines. Jay finished a respectable 7th with his wobbly ass wheel. Lisa finished an awesome 2nd. I yelled. I cheered.

So now....I wait to hear about the bike. But the title you say..."why the golden egg?". Well....I was thinking that my season will take a definitive change. I missed out on an opportunity to have a high finish today. Not knowing how long it will take to either get the bike fixed or replaced....I could miss another race....or the rest of the season. It is just up in the air right now. So I was happy to say that I finished Lumberjack last weekend. This race was truly my golden egg for this season. So if nothing else....I got my golden egg.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Lumberjack 100

When I turned the calendar to June and saw Lumberjack 100 on the 20th my heart skipped a beat. Here is my recap as best I can remember
Ready to roll
Jay was at my house by 7:45 Friday morning. We had taken the day off so we could take our time heading to Manistee. We headed to the hotel first. Surprisingly, we couldn't check in until 4pm. So we gave Brian a call and headed to Big M.

Limited space in the Hotel room.

The goods. The customized number plate was a cool touch

Photo courtesy of Jay Bridgeman
 We wanted to do a pre-ride so we could have a small idea of what we were in for. Jay was going to do a whole lap since he wasn't racing. We headed to where Brian and Gwen were camping and then headed over to Big M to see what was going on. Once there, we set up our tent real quick and got some intel from Kris, who had just finished his ride.

 First off, this place is beautiful. It was kind of hard to ride and look around...and not die.

 So we finally got going. Right out of the parking lot it a long climb. Not steep. Just way longer than anything we have around here in SW Michigan. And that first hill just kept going...and going...and going. 

The first banner 
 We made to a sign and turned off to head back. Jay went on to ride the full race course loop. Brian and I worked our way back to the parking lot and ended up with about 6 miles....and a lot of climbing. We headed back to the campground to relax while Jay finished his lap.

Once Jay got back he gave us some intel on the course....and what I was hearing wasn't really positive. I knew what I was in for...but he made it sound worse. At any rate, it was too late now...the race was the next morning. We headed to the hotel and found a place for dinner. Then...straight to bed. We set our alarms for 4:30 am so we could get to Big M in time to have a decent parking spot.

4:30...beep beep beep. Holy hell is it early. Since we had everything ready I headed down to eat some oatmeal for breakfast. Yes, the hotel was serving food at 4:30 in the morning. I ran into Danielle M. and Jill M. as they were eating and getting ready as well. Then, off we went to Big M. 
Brian got a picture of me taking a picture. lol
Arriving at Big M around 5:30 was smart. We got a close spot and moved all our stuff to the tent. I commenced to getting ready. People were wandering around everywhere getting ready and chatting about the day. I was as ready as I was going to get.
Brian and I at the start. Unfortunately he was in the process of getting a flat and had to stop to swap it out as he rolled into the parking lot. Better there than 10 miles out I suppose.
 Brian and I said our good-byes to the people with us and headed to the start with all of the final "good lucks" and last minute advice of "pace yourselves" and "ride smart". 100 miles.....riding smart is already out of the question. lol. Started seeing a lot of friends at the start. Time to go....I just settled in and was drafting people. Everyone was laughing and chatting on the 1.5ish mile roll to the parking lot. I started all the way at the back because I had planned on 12 hours. We were rolling and finally reached the parking lot. There the mob turned into a single file line and started the grind up the first hill. Slow would be an understatement. Congo line was the best description I have heard. There was a line of riders as far as I could see winding up the first hill and out of sight. Around 5 or 6 miles in the group was finally decimated and sorted out. There were still a lot of people around, just smaller groups. 

I started to settle in and find my pace. The miles were ticking away one by one. But where is that aid station? Oh....I am only 9 miles in. Pace? Right around 10mph. Ok. I will take that. Finally the trails flattened out and I was able to use my road training to find a solid pace and get even more comfortable. The terrain is awesome out there in the Manistee National Forest. The trees are amazing. Old growth for sure. My mind is wandering already. I found myself passing a few people and then getting passed by a few more. Eventually there was a group of around 10 of us in a solid line rolling towards the aid station. It was a comfortable pace and it was nice to see where the trail was headed. Finally I saw some decorations hanging in the trees and we were rolling into the aid station. Oranges, bananas, chunk of payday...and go. Only a few people stopped, most kept rolling. There were a handful of people stretched out over a few hundred yards that you would see now and then.

Hills. Did I mention there are hills out there? This guy...not a climber....so I was suffering even on my first lap. Eventually I see a sign pointing up and right. Fire tower climb. You have got to be kidding me. Steep....torn to shit.....lets go. Finally drug my bike to the top and there is a screaming fast downhill gravel section. Finally a fast section. But, there was no relaxing because the gravel was sketchy. So, I enjoyed the short brake and back to the hills. Finally I see the 5 miles to go and I smile. Thinking that I am only 5 miles from the end of the first lap and I have a decent average speed going, I press on. 4, 3, 2, 1, finally I see the tents in team row. I see Walters and he points towards the tent. First lap done in 3:46:37. Not fast....finishing pace!

I roll into camp and the Cannonade Midwest guys clean the leaves from my bike to make sure I don't have any issues. Gwen hands me to full bottles and Jay hands me my full camel. I eat some food as Summer looks on in horror. I was stuffing beef jerky in my mouth and she was mortified. lol. I was hungry. Leave me alone! Then....on to lap 2. Honestly...I don't remember much about lap 2 other than these few things. First thing was the feeling of cramps coming on around 45 miles in. I was not drinking enough so I really started to drink more from the camel to make sure I was getting enough. That was a pain I didn't want to deal with. The more I drank the better I felt. I was still in my comfort zone and had just passed the 5 hour mark when I hear "riders back!" so I moved over. It was the 4 leaders and they were straight up flying. I was riding my pace and they still passed like I was sitting still. Damn. I hear a "thank you" from Jordan and I realize that he is in that group with Tinker. So cool to see those guy in action....demoralizing or not. Anyway, I pressed on knowing some people would be passing. I got to the aid station and loaded up again. Drank a cup of coke and headed out. Half way. I took off again with a positive attitude that I would make the cutoff. That changed about 8 miles later when I started to cramp again. I emptied my camel and saved my last bottle for the final 5 miles of the lap. Pretty uneventful....other than knowing I was going to make the cutoff. I rolled in at 7:44:00 with 16 minutes to spare for the cutoff. I headed to the tent. Gwen handed my full bottles and Tom helped me refill my camel. He was nice and calm. How is the bike? Did you eat? Anything else? Now go. lol. Now go enjoy the last lap. If you start it...you will will finish it. I slammed the rest of the water in the jug and headed out....pretty excited that I was on my last lap....and my chances of finishing were pretty good.

So as I start the third lap I was eating a cliff bar. I had taken two bites and while climbing that first climb I just kept looking at it. My stomach was full from the water, which I deemed more important because of the cramps I was having. I looked at it one last time and the thought of eating it was too much....I threw it out into the woods. By now, the trail was a highway. On our pre-ride you couldn't even see it. Now it was a 14" wide strip of black among the beige and brown of the leaf covered ground. Nobody around. Had not ridden with anybody for a long time. Finally I see a woman churning up the hill in front of me. I get off and walk because there was just no way. I got back on the bike at the top and we start chatting about what we got ourselves into. Joe from CMW catches us as he was sweeping and looking for someone. With his fresh legs he flys up the hill and disappears. I said "he didn't race" and she says "I was gonna say, those are some fresh fucking legs". Ha. We pedaled along and enjoyed the scenery around us. I said the only reason I came back out was for the patch. She didn't know that you got a patch if you finished! She said "there is my incentive to keep going". Eventually we caught another guy and the three of us rode together for a while.

I was finally starting to feel better. Strange that far into a ride, eh...race,....but my legs were feeling better and I was getting excited about finishing. I eventually pulled away on a long flat section and never saw them again. My mind started to wander. I was thinking of my friends that had finished already. I was hoping all my friend made the cutoff. I was really starting to want pizza. The miles ticked away one by one and I was finally saw the decorations for the aid station. The volunteers there were very awesome. "what do you need?" was what they asked as I rolled up. I had them refill my empty bottle (just in case) and I had a few cups of coke along with bananas and oranges and pay days. Cathy was there and was really excited that I was on my last segment of the race! One final push and 17 miles to go.....here we go....

At the finish (Courtesy of David Frost)
Honestly, I wasn't feeling bad. I think I was climbing more this lap than I was on the second. I got that second wind and was still riding my comfortable pace. I was slow, sure, but I was moving forward. I had not seen another ride for a long time. I was mid hill walking when I heard a guy coming. I was thinking....really...this far in and someone is catching me? He was a sweeper.  He asked how I was doing and I said good. off he went and I started to ride again. Then I see those damn arrows pointing up fire tower climb. Two steps...break. Three steps....break. Now, I am ready to die. I am so tired I can barely get my bike up over the logs. Legs are sliding in the sand because it was so torn up. I just kept telling myself that I had an awesome downhill coming. Finally I made it. That tower is freaking tall...on top of being on a huge hill. Anyway, off I went. Now looking at my Garmin I had less than 10 miles to go. The miles were ticking away. I look again and I am at 94 miles. Then...I pass the 3/4 sign. Huh....that means more like 8 miles to go. Not 6.....DAMMIT. I keep looking for the 5 to go sign and eventually I see it. Awesome, 5 to go.

4, 3,....is that another rider? It is! I see Fred and I get the motivation to reel him in. We rode the last few miles and crossed the finish line together. As I rode under the finish banner I see Michelle and the little girls waiting for me. Such an awesome surprise! Cathy and her grandson head over and give me my finisher patch. I was done. Jay grabbed my bike and I was just trying to soak it all in. So many people were coming up and telling me good job that I don't even know remember who all was there! Very cool feeling. Very big sense of accomplishment.

Chris and I showing off our dirt tan lines.
We headed back to the hotel and got cleaned up then headed to dinner. William S., Summer, David W., Lisa P., Brian and Gwen B., Chelle and the girls, Jay and I all sat around the table and talked about the day. All in all.....a great day on the bike.


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Closing in.

Just over a week ago I flipped the calendar to June and there was LUMBERJACK 100 staring me right in the face. Wow, that meant less than 3 weeks. So, looking at my riding I was a little nervous. I had not ridden the entire week after Memorial day because we were getting ready for Zack's graduation. The weekend after we had dance recital for the girls. I did muster some mileage at Yankee Saturday morning.

Monday night I loaded up the Defy and headed to the 3rd Coast Monday gravel ride. This ride was interesting. There was a guy there that had a very big movement in his pedal stroke. What I mean is that he was bobbing right to left on every pedal stroke. 2 miles in. 3 miles. Trying to lead the group. Red faced. Wasting so much motion. I figure he would blow himself up...but he did hold tough. There were a few sections where I took off just to ride my pace and put a solid test on my legs. Always fun to ride super hard and see where you stand.

West Loop at Ski Area

Wednesday I headed to Cannonsburg again. I started at the Ski area and rode everything that I could. I was looking for hills so I could truly test my legs. I took the newer West Loop that is on the connector between the Ski area and the SGA (state game area).  It is a tough loop for sure...but what I needed. I am learning how the new gearing works. I am glad I swapped to the 22\36 for Lumberjack...I will need that low gearing for those climbs. The West loop goes across the side of one of the hills a few times. Long and drawn out to really stress the legs. Awesome.

After that loop I headed over and did the State Game area trail. Always a fun loop with some interesting areas. I did have one issue...and it has been an unfortunate trend lately. A guy rode up on my and I moved over to let him pass....he zipped past me and never said a word. Headphone in. I just don't get why people can't give a simple "thanks" or "have a good ride" when they pass. I should have just rode my pace and held him up. I honestly hope that I ruined his strava segment. lol. On the connector back to the Ski area I hit the West Loop again. Legs cooperated for the most part. With the 22 tooth ring I actually had a few gears to go. That makes me happy.

Now....Lumberjack is 9 days away. I plan on one more long ride hopefully this weekend and then I am just going to take it easy next week. Jay and I are headed up Friday morning to scope out the area. We are going to do some sort of ride, just to open up the legs. Lumberjack 100. 100 miles on a mountain bike in the trees of the Manistee National Forest. I am ready. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Busy Memorial Day Weekend

The weekend started off right. I took my wife out to see Pitch Perfect 2 and then we went to dinner. After dinner we headed home and I packed up for Saturday.

Jay, Lisa and I met at the Kal-Haven trail head in Kalamazoo. We were set up for 70ish miles of rail trail going from Kalamazoo to South Haven and back. We were ready to rock...and off we went. It was chilly. Like....in the 40's chilly. I didn't have a base layer and poor Lisa didn't have her regular shoes, just her riding sandals. Needless to say, I was a little chilly for the first part of the ride.

Jay was setting the pace....and it was rough. I knew going in that I wanted to do a tough ride to test endurance and my Infinite custom blend. This was the perfect place.....5 hours of flat hard riding. The worst part of this ride...is knowing that you are going to be pedaling for 71 miles. We were trucking.....Gobles, Bloomingdale....town after town just ticking by. Then you start to notice that the lake is getting close. Lake Michigan for those of you that don't know. We arrived in South Haven 2 hours and 3 minutes after we left Kalamazoo. 34 miles.....17 mph. I barely average that on the road...so thankfully Jay was there to pull Lisa and I along. It was by far the fastest I have ever made it  to South Haven. We rode to North Shore and took the pic above. Refilled the water bottles at the trailhead and off we went back to Kalamazoo.

The return trip is never as fast.....because it is uphill the whole way. I say that jokingly, but it really is. The problem is that you have to pedal the whole way....no recovery. With 30 miles to go....you are still confident. I was holding onto Jay's wheel for all I was worth. Lisa was tucked in right behind me. We were good. 25 miles to go....that was over. I couldn't hold his wheel anymore. Jay would gap and drop back....gap and drop back. We were holding on for dear life and failing. Eventually Lisa started to tire and commanded me to continue on without her. She knew my purpose on this ride, and she didn't want to be the reason I slowed down. It didn't matter. We regrouped in Bloomingdale with about 17 to go. Jay was waiting in Gobles for us and I was just plugging away. Jay eventually caught back up to me again and we ticked away the miles. Finally we reached the final climb to the Kalamazoo trail head and I caught a glimpse of the parking lot. Don't. 71.2 miles with an average speed of 15.3mph overall. My fastest previous ride was 14mph....so a dramatic difference in speed. 

Sunday I helped my lovely wife take pictures all day for the dance studio. Then we headed over to visit with some  friends. Got home late and packed up for Monday. Jay, Dan, Jimmy and I were headed to Owasippe to meet with Bob and some of the Team Troll group.
Awesome trail!

We got to Owasippe just before 9am and the rain was holding off. It was very grey and overcast, but only sprinkles on the way in. We spent a lot of time last year in this area when taking Megan to Blue Lake, but never had a chance to ride last year. Because the trail in in a boy scout camp they close it while the scouts are there. So we took the day we had to get a ride in.

Bob, Scott, and Marc met us at the trailhead and off the 6 of us went. The outer loop is 13 miles. There are some of the toughest and longest climbs I have ever experienced on a bike. Like....long....nasty....grinding...steep....awful....climbs. But the downhills.....damn. Fast. Mostly flow. Awesome.

One of the 2 Bridge Crossings on the Short Loop
We all headed out for the first loop. The group quickly segmented, but I stayed with the leaders. The pace was tough....but I was using this ride as a major training ride too. After all, Lumberjack is only a month away. We got back to the trailhead and a few guys bailed out. Not an easy trail by any means...and I know exactly how they felt. 2 years ago I felt like I was going to die when riding here.

So, the four remaining headed out for another lap. There is a cut-off just over 7 miles in...take the long way and it is 13 miles total....take the short way and it is about 9 miles total. Since we hit the long loop we wanted to see what was on the short loop. 2 bridge crossings...over NASTY water. Stink. Just go...ride straight across like you are riding trail and you have no issues. You look at the water....you ass is walking home because you are not getting into any car I own smelling like that. lol. I thought that...and Jay said that on our last lap. We got back to the trailhead and Jay and I talked over another loop. We played it by ear and said we would decide at the turnoff which way we were taking. After 71 miles on Saturday I opted for the short loop. Jay thankfully agreed and we hung a left onto the shorter loop. Jay was giving me words of encouragement on the climbs. It was like I had my own personal team manager screaming in my ear while riding the tour...ALLEZ ALLEZ, VENTE VENTE VENTE.   We got back to the car and had just over 30 miles of hilly single track. Legs torched.

Lumberjack is a month away. I am feeling better all the time on the bike. The longer rides are working and as nervous as I am about 100 miles in the dirt....I am confident as well. It won't be easy, but I will do my best...and hope for the best. Today the legs felt pretty good, for the most part. I would expect nothing less with the hard rides we did this weekend. 100+ miles in 2 rides. Solid training. Thanks to everyone for the company and the nudge when I needed it.

We have Zacks graduation party this weekend on Saturday. Hope to get out for a long ride Sunday and just keep piling up the miles. I am nearly to my mileage total from last year. I expect to surpass it in June....probably on the Lumberjack ride. Thanks for reading.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Fort Custer Stampede

It was a beautiful day at the Fort Custer recreation area. Zack, Zoe, Chelle and I got there about 8:30 and helped Jay set up the tent. It was still pretty quiet but it didn't take long for the activity to start. While we were waiting of the race to start we went over and checked out the Kids race course. Zoe wanted to see what it was like. She walked a few of the hills....but was excited. 

We cheered for our friends racing Expert and Elite, then we headed over for the kids race. A pretty good group of kids were there so they broke it up into a few groups. Zoe was in the first group and they had to do 3 laps. I was following, but a little guy crashed and I was helping him out. I stayed with him to make sure he was good. When we got to the home stretch on the first lap there was another boy walking....pouting a bit. He had dropped his chain. I jumped off and got his chain back on and sent him on his way. Went back to following the little guy again. It was funny because as I went by all the parents and they CHEERED for me just as loud as the kids. lol. Zoe was the second finisher and she had a blast!

So, my start time was approaching. I went and did a warm up ride and then headed to the start area. I was chatting with Ross and Brian. We were trying to figure out who was in our class and who was in the other class that they combined with us. Not sure.....it was time to go. 3, 2, 1....

And we were off. There were 24 Sport Clydes.....and the start didn't seem blistering....but we were stretching out pretty quick. I got in front of Brian and tried to settle into a pace. It was fast....probably too fast. I was just trying to hold onto the wheels in front of me. There was lots of passing and jockeying for position. We turned into Crazy Beaver and there was still a long line of riders. It was very cool to see because it was just a long snake.....no...a train.....that was meandering through the woods. Normally we don't see many people...so 30ish people all riding together was a cool thing to see. We made it up the first little climb and headed towards the trenches at the end of the red course. I knew there were riders behind me, and I heard "on your left" as a 15-18 year old tried to pass. I say tried because when he WENT...there was no ground...he went right off one of the trenches. About a mile later 2 more passed on the right...it was clear...but they about caused a huge crash with the guy in front of me. Don't get me wrong...they were surely faster...but they were picking terrible places to pass....where there was zero room....and they very easily cold have gotten hurt....or hurt someone else.

I was a bit ahead of Brian...and then he caught me again. We pretty much rode together for the rest of the first lap. I was pushing as hard as I could....fearing that I would POP at any minute. At the end of the first lap I grabbed a bottle from Zack and took a gel. Brian gapped me and a few other guys got between us. Eventually I lost him. I had to slow down and just tried to settle into a pace. There were still a lot of people to ride with...so I tried to just hang on if I could. It finally thinned out. I would catch a rider now and then...and another would catch me. In the Amusement park I saw a few guys stopped and realized that one was Brian. There was a log sticking out over the trail and it had smashed him right in the face. I asked if he was ok and he responded "I will be"....and I figured he was shaken...but ok....so I pressed on. I was slowing down...but I wasn't giving up. I was just going as hard as I could. 

4 miles to go.....keep going. Legs are fried. Is that Fred? Nope. Keep going. Surprisingly I was passing a few more people. They were running out of steam because we were nearing the end of the race. Knowing Brian was chasing I pressed on. I was worried about Ross blasting me right at the end too....but he had a mechanical and was forced to drop out. 3 miles to go....closer. I caught a Cross Country guy and drafted off of him for a while until the turn onto the pavement. I let it rip to get past him and shot back into the final stretch of single track. I saw Fred. Knowing for sure he is my class I tried to catch him.....but just didn't have the legs left to close the gap. I closed within 6 seconds...but he still got me.

My final time was 1:52. Good enough for 13th out of 24 in the Sport Clyde class. Zack did a fantastic job and finished 5th in Beginner Men 15-18. Lisa took 1st in her class and David W. took 3rd in the Sport Clyde class. The leaders were fast. lol. Brian wasn't far behind me....but thanks to a freak stick to the face I beat him by a small margin.

Next race for me is Lumberjack 100. Got lots of riding to do before then....

Monday, April 20, 2015

Yankee Springs Time Trail 2015 Review

Jay and I got to Yankee Springs early to set up shop. Brian was there walking the dogs and came to the site to help us as well. It was cold when we got there....overcast and windy. Temps were in the 40's and it was chilly. But....before I get ahead of myself.....

Saturday evening as I was packing up and getting ready my allergies started to flare. I was thinking that it wasn't a big deal...until I woke up at 3am Sunday morning sneezing and with a very sore throat. Lymph node under my the right side of my chin was super swollen and hurting. Perfect feeling on the night before a race. The best part was...the little girls were up and ready for me to go Sunday morning so that was a bonus. lol.

So...we were set up and ready to go pretty early. We didn't go down to the start, but we knew a lot of people that were on the course. Those are super fast guys and girls. We were chatting with Dennis and we saw Jordan and Simonson come flying through. Those guys are just ridiculous fast. Sub 44 minutes on their first lap. Crazy.

Finally I started to get dressed. Nose running. Sneezy. Hit the 2 mile loop trying to get everything opened up and headed to the start line. Everyone was chatting and then it was time for me to go...when Martin says "hold on" and makes me WAIT! They were running a bit ahead because of the people that didn't show up. So I looked at him and said "this is like getting on a roller coaster and having it break down right before you go...NOT FAIR". He just smiled and said "couldn't have happened to a nicer person!". So it was time to go....3, 2, 1. GO. and I was off.

First mile wasn't terrible.....second was worse...third was WORSE yet. I was just plugging away but I was having trouble getting that deep breath that I needed. Lungs just would not cooperate. By the time I got to the guard rail climb I was blown. I just plugged away and kept going. A few people caught me right away, but not as many as I figured would. And these guys....Kudos....they were polite and asked to pass when there was an opening. I was keeping an eye and ear open too....because I was having a bad day...I didn't want to hold anyone up. By mile 5 I was like "ok, almost halfway". I still wasn't feeling the greatest...but hey....on the home stretch.

Just keep plugging away....a slow time is better than not finishing. I was shooting for an hour.....but I missed that. I was about 3 miles from the finish and was really struggling. Just wanted to be done. I really like mile 11 to 12 out there at Yankee. A guy passed me right before the 11 mile marker. This is where I am fastest on the course...so I stayed with him. He got a little off kilter in one of the sandy sections and I got past him. I put the hammer down and never saw him again. One guy stayed with me and passed after a while...but he was definitely drafting off of me for a bit. I just love that section.  

So I finished. Took 19th in my class. Way off the leaders....but I can't complain. 1:07 was my finish time. Faster than last year. Feeling awful. So.....next up is Fort Custer Stampede. Hope to feel better and compete a bit more in that race.