Saturday, November 10, 2012

My New Best Friend

For most people, the game plan goes something like this:  decide to ride an epic 100 mile bike race.  Pick the Leadville 100.  Get in the lottery (good luck with that).  Get selected.  Buy a new bike for the new adventure.  I did it backwards.  I bought my dream bike and decided that it was made for Leadville.  Enter Leadman to guarantee that I can do the bike race as well as some incredible run races.  Train hard.

It started back in 2011 when Pat and I visited our friends who live in Crested Butte during the Fat Tire Bike week.  Specialized was there with some demo bikes.  I rode my Specialized Stumpjumper to a Leadville 100 finish back in 2001.  My husband rode the same bike to a finish the next year.  That's still my primary bike and needless to say, it's a bit behind the times. Even though it was against my better judgment (we couldn't afford to buy me a new bike and I knew I'd love anything I test rode and it would just torture me to not buy a new bike) I decided to test ride a Specialized Epic 29er, a $10,000 bike.

I can't explain what it was like riding that bike.  You couldn't scrape the smile off my face.  Instead of avoiding any rock bigger than a pebble, I was searching out the biggest, baddest things I could roll my tires over.  The 29 inch wheels were incredible.  This bike rocked.  I was born to ride this bike.  It had a 1x10 gearing set up which I had never seen before but really liked.  I wanted it.  Bad.

Sweet bike

Sweet singletrack for test riding

Happy rider

I sure didn't want to return that bike but I guess taking it home with me wasn't a wise idea (I left my 10 year old Stumpjumper with the Specialized folks as collateral, isn't that a fair trade?)  Needless to say, we left Crested Butte without a new bike and I returned home and continued to ride my faithful Stumpy.  But it was getting more and more difficult. 

Fast forward over a year and things finally fell into place and I was able to get a great deal on a new 2013 Specialized Epic Expert 29er.  My first ride elicited the exact same feelings I had experienced in Crested Butte over a year ago.  I was born to ride this bike.  And this bike was born to take on Leadville.  I decided right then and there that I was going to sign up for Leadman. First time I've had disc brakes and I put them to the full test on Wednesday when I discovered a new trail aptly named Scott's Drop.  It's geared with a 2x10 which I prefer over the 1x10.

For the next couple months my run training is officially going to take a backseat to bike training.  And I have no problem with that.  Buzz and I have many dates planned on the local trails. My new best friend.

Buzz after a muddy ride

Monday, November 5, 2012

Lithia Loop and Leadville

     Last Saturday I joined 142 other runners up in Ashland, Oregon for the Lithia Loop Trail Marathon.  The girls didn't have school Friday so we decided to make it a family trip.  I'm so glad we did.  Ashland is beautiful, especially this time of year.  From reading Scott Dunlap's race report  previously, I knew we were in for a treat.

I had originally intended to only stay 1 night and head home Saturday after the race.  But the 11:00 check out had me concerned.  I wasn't looking forward to no shower after running 26.2 miles and then driving 4 1/2 hours back home.  So before we even arrived in Ashland, I was on the phone with the hotel extending our stay an extra night.  After checking in we walked the 2 blocks to downtown and made our way to Rogue Valley Runners to pick up my race packet.  I had really been looking forward to this and the icing on the cake was meeting Hal Koerner.  He really IS as nice as people say he is.

Hal Koerner and I

We arrived at the peak of color change.  Warm days and cool nights.  Race morning had me wearing only shorts and a t-shirt although I was underdressed compared to many.  I knew the race would climb for the first 10 miles so I wasn't chilled for long.  I paced myself well and before I knew it, I was on the next 10 mile section that is rolling.  For some reason I expected after all that climbing that we would be treated to some nice views.  But this is Oregon and so trees abounded.  We were mid-slope and although the views were limited, I did enjoy how lush and green everything was.

Hal Koerner sending us off

It was along this section that my legs decided to let me know that my longest run has only been 14 miles.  They started to ache and I started to tire.  I found myself running with another lady named Flora from Hawaii.  We gabbed quite a bit and it really helped the miles go by.  She continued ahead as I paused at an aid station and I was on my own.  I gutted it out to 20 miles where the next 6 miles would be downhill.  Now that may sound good on paper, in actuality, it's quite painful.  After 2 miles of torture, my muscles started to adapt (and we got onto some fun singletrack) and I started to fly.  The last 4 miles were definitely the most fun.

Every mile marked

"Super" volunteers filling up Flora

Nice view of Mt. Ashland

My best moment came at the half-marathon mark when I noticed my time was 2:36.  I went into this race expecting to run about 5:15-5:30.  Doing the math I knew I could go sub-5 hours. (I also figured at this point the winner was probably crossing the finish line).

Right as we hit the last bit of pavement, my right calf started to cramp.  I had to slow a bit and run in a "toes up" position as my leg swung forward.  I downed some S-caps and that helped immediately.  As I approached the finish I saw my family playing nearby.  I yelled to them and Caitlyn came bounding over and continued a nice tradition of running across the finish line with me.  Pat took a cool video of us crossing the line but I'll be danged if I can figure out how to get it on this blog.  I know just enough about this computer stuff to be dangerous.

Thank you to Hal Koerner and the wonderful folks in Ashland for the wonderful race.  I'm so glad we decided to stay the extra day.  I was able to shower and  slip on my new 2XU compression socks which I have to believe really helped in my recovery.  For how sore I was right after the race I figured I would be having some serious issues with stairs the next day.  I was pleasantly surprised when I felt really good.  At least better than expected.

The girls enjoying Lithia Park

Ashland's sulfur water

Mt. Shasta dominated the skyline on the way home

Other news:

Sunday night I stayed up past my bedtime in order to catch the opening of registration for Leadville's Leadman/Leadwoman.  Time to put up or shut up.  I did the 100 mile bike ride way back in 2002 (could it really have been that long ago?)  In 2009 I attempted the 100 mile run but came up short (you can read about that here).  It's been 3 years and now it's time to go back.  And why not take on the whole enchilada.  For those who don't know, Leadman consists of 5 (or 6) events.  Starts with a 26.2 mile trail marathon, a 50 mile Bike Or Run (or both), 100 mile Bike, 10K run the next day, and finishes with the 100 mile run.  And all this is done between June 29 and Aug 18.  And all above 10,200 ft.

After signing up, I went to bed and slept really well, for about 3 hours.  Then my mind started racing.  When should I start training?  How should I train.? How do I work out the trips to Leadville with family?  How many trips should I make?  One minute I'm confident that with the right training I can succeed.  The next minute I wonder what the hell am I thinking?  I finally got up and went for a run.  That is my center right now.  I've decided that November is my month to play.  Let my body heal after Lithia Loop.  Get on my mountainbike.  Explore new trails.  Improve my technical skills.  Have fun.  There is going to be plenty of time for serious training.