Adjusted Reality

“Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” – Mark Twain

Tag: camping (Page 1 of 2)

Wacky Waco 70.3

I’ve been hesitating writing this one, and almost convinced myself to just copy my social media posts over here and phone it in, but I do look back at this stuff for posterity, so rock and roll, let’s do this.

The week of the race was probably one of the most hellaciously hectic – not just the “to do” list, but I had to be ON a lot with filming, live streaming, and other things going on in work and life.  The problem for me sometimes is not being ON (I live for that stuff), but turning OFF after.  On the week where sleep matters A LOT, I spent a lot of nights awake thinking all the things, which is SO abnormal for me.

Thankfully, I had the headspace to take a little time off work Friday and arrive in Waco in the late afternoon (versus Saturday like we had originally planned), and all went smoothly with the trip up.  Once I got to athlete check in and did all the pre-race things, this is what I had to say:

I’ve been fretting all day, all week, heck, all month about various and sundry things both related and not related to this race. At one point, I questioned, is this what ACTUALLY losing your mind feels like? Are THEY going to find out and whisk me away to the funny farm?

After the comedy of errors which was this week, I hoped I hadn’t spent all the mental energy I had left for the race. My cup of give-a-crap hath runneth dry mid-race before, and folks, it’s not pretty. On the drive up, thankfully, things pivoted. I enjoyed conversation and actually peeping that big, beautiful, bright ball in the sky. Oh sun, I have missed you so. Never stray for so long.

When I saw the finish line today, that familiar arch, I smiled. The spark is still there. I’m pretty certain there’s still some poetry left. Forget all that fast flowing freeeezing water with debris we’re supposed to be swimming in. Never mind that race day is twenty degrees warmer than yesterday. I’m ready to do battle on Sunday, once more, with feeling, with whatever course the race director lays out before us.

And, of course, I’m enjoying the opportunity to eat all the things. That is partially why we endure, to order something from the BBQ truck called The Terminator guilt free, right? ?

It was a bit of a brave face at the time, I will admit – but I was there, I was going to race whatever course was deemed appropriate, and that was that.  I don’t back down.  I’m not a quitter, even if the notion flits through my mind occasionally.

I got the best night of sleep all week in the camper, and woke the next day naturally to do the rest of the race prep things.  We went on a test ride, dropped off our bikes, attended a race briefing to find the swim cancelled (about 10% boo since I’ve been swimming well lately, and 90% yay because that water looked VERY UNSAFE).  The only thing I botched a little was that I ate my lunch (turkey bacon guac bagel sandwich) around 4pm instead of at a reasonable hour, but followed up with dinner (chicken, potatoes, and some veggies and hummus) quickly and the calories got in as they were supposed to.  I snacked a little more than normal and was probably about 2200-2500 calories, which is a lot more that I’d take in on a rest day, but a nice surplus to start the race in the morning.

I ended the day with this thought:

While I adore fine food and drink, being pampered, and penthouse views, there’s nothing quite so peaceful as waking up in the camper. Even if the situation at hand involves all the mosquitoes, one shower for the whole camp, and the illustrious “pee bucket”, being outdoors stills my soul. Best night of sleep and the most relaxed I’ve felt all week. I’m feeling the proper amount of nerv-cited butterflies fluttering around inside.

I haven’t been able to visualize this one yet. Cozumel, I pictured it clearly months in advance. This race has remained hazy. Of course I have a race plan, I just haven’t really been able to transport myself there mentally. Now, I’m pretty sure I know why.

A week ago, one course was set. Two days ago, it was altered to a point to point swim through rapids and obstacles, and the bike course changed as well. As of this morning, the run course has changed, and the swim was scrapped. Instead of kicking off the age group racers in the first wave of the swim at about 7:30, I’ll be hopping on my bike in the middle of the fray around 9am. That’s ok. I get to chase. I love the hunt.

While there are some minor logistical adjustments with gear and nutrition to consider, the overall plan for tomorrow is unchanged: bike with my head, run with my heart.

I slept a little fitfully that evening, but it was typical pre-race.  Luckily, with the swim cancelled, we did not have an early wakeup call, and rolled into transition around 7am, with plenty of time before the race to get set up.  I had my “Courage and Confidence” playlist on repeat, and actually didn’t take my headphones off until about 5 minutes before we queued up (around 8:40am).  It was nice to hide and listen to Willy Wonka about 6379 times. 

Bike:

At first, the bike course was incredibly narrow and crowded and that made me a little cranky, but I figured it was the best they could do with the situation at hand.  I wasn’t going to do unsafe things to keep my power or speed up, so I knew early on that the bike wasn’t where I was going to kill it this race.  The idea of staying draft legal (6 bike lengths) in this situation was laughable – it was just impossible.  I did my best to not hide behind anyone for too long but I’ll admit that there was no way I was technically legal for at least the first quarter of the race.

Once it got clearer, I found that I was maintaining the 150W average I wanted to (though the plan wasn’t to find it so early) with absolutely no effort, so I went with it.  I also found that I LOVED this bike course.  It had enough elevation changes to keep my legs fresher than Cozumel without any killer climbs – lots of rollers – which I just adore.   While other people complained about the chipseal on the country roads, to me, it just felt like home, like riding out at Pflugerville or Kerrville. 

About mile 40, I felt some deep fatigue/minor cramping in my lower back and inner thighs.  I’m frustrated about this, I don’t know why this has happened in both my races when my training rides were pretty spectacular.  In practice, I took less salt and nutrition in wayyyyy hotter conditions and my rides went by in a blink of the eye.  My power dropped steadily but I stuck with the pace.  I’m proud that I rode REALLY evenly – I stayed between 18-18.7 mph the entire time.  My goal was to push the last hour to try to come in under 3 hours, but with the threat of cramping looming fiercely, I played it a little more conservative.

Bike time: 3:06:03.  I would have been about 3:04 and change, but I had to stop and pee early on and that took about 90 seconds.  This is right about what I did at Coz time-wise and power average, but I enjoyed this course MUCH more and smiled through it instead of being angry (first at others, then at myself) the whole time.

Transition:

The chute was crowded and muddy, and everyone in front of me was walking their bikes so I did too.  My legs just didn’t have it in them to run through the mud in my bike shoes (read: still on the edge of cramping).  I sat to put on my shoes and talked to people next to me.  I could have been a little more expedient, but I honestly just didn’t care right about then.  Once I got up, running felt okay so I did that, heading out under the arch, wondering what the run would hold.

Transition time:  5:29.  Meh.  I’m not impressed with this but I can’t hate myself for it either.

Run:

My legs felt oddly okay, so I just tried to pace myself at that 10-something minute mile and hoped for the best.  Quickly, I knew it wasn’t going to be my day.  I had followed my nutrition plan exactly on the bike (2xcaff gels, 1 pack of spearmint blocks, 4 salt pills, 2 303s after I started cramping, and probably about 3 bottles of gatorade).  However, within the first mile of the run, I started feeling AWFUL.  Overfull.  Nauseous.  I tried to hold it together, sometimes that fixes itself, but I walked the first aid station and could only take in water.  Not a good start.

Then, I saw Zliten, and he had one communication for me as we crossed paths, “No shame in walking the hill” and then “oh yeah, love you!”.  Then, when I got to the hill, just the bottom looking up, I shouted, “OH HELL NAW!”.  In that moment, the switch in my head flipped from “shooting for a PR” to “maybe let’s survive this and resist the urge to turn in my chip at each aid station I pass”.  While I will give the Cameron Park area props for being BEAUTIFUL, it was so hilly.  They rerouted part of the run there, which added extra elevation, and not just a little bit, the kind of hills you maintain running heart rate walking up at 18 minute mile pace and bust up your quads running down.

I’ll be honest, I sulked a lot of the first lap and walked a lot (I ran the downhills- that’s about it – not even the flats after mile 2), while also visiting at least five different porta potties to try and take care of business out of one end or the other, and figure out how to make my revolting digestive system feel better.  I could not even fathom eating anything solid (I took ZERO gels or blocks in over the course of the run), but after a while I found I tolerated gatorade and the coke was actually settling my stomach, so I stuck with that so I could at least get SOME calories in.

Finally, I got my shit together on the second lap.  I stopped hitting the porta potty at every aid station even though I still felt like I could use it the whole race.  I figured whatever happened, happened, I was beyond giving a flying fig.  I established a 100 step run/100 step walk cycle, except at aid stations and the hills (which I walked).  Once I finished up the stupid hilly section (which I said goodbye forever to – because I don’t think I plan to do this race again), I started pushing myself to increase my run cycles to 200, then 300, then 400.  I had entirely lost my internal monologue and I had a few people call me out and ask me what the heck I was counting.  Oops.  At least I was mostly passing people by that point.

My last three miles were 12:10 (a fair amount of walking), 11:24 (just a little walking), and 10:17 (I think I walked once for 100 steps), so my RUNNING was on point, I just couldn’t keep it up for that long.

Once I realized that I was close to a 3 hour run, I wasn’t willing to let that time tick over.  I’ve only run over 3 hours in a half Ironman once and it was in 2013, after being injured and having a 5 week cycle to go from being unable to walk to racing hot and hilly BSLT 70.3.  Surely, I could do better than that during the best season of my life.

Run time: 2:58:37.  Spoilers: I beat it.  But it took a pretty good physical and mental push at the end to overcome the fuckery of the rest of the run.  I’m happy I was finally able to latch onto a goal and conquer it, but gosh, it came so late in the day.  A few days out, I feel less content with this than I did after the race.  I think on Sunday I was just happy to be done, both with the race and the season, but now I have a different perspective.  Now, my sentiments about the run go something more like “fuck that race, fuck that course, fuck my stupid malfunctioning body, fuck my weak ass brain, fuck that day in particular”.  If I raced with my heart, it was kind of like this. I could have been in a better situation, but I also could have handled my cards I was dealt a little better, especially in the first lap.

Total time: 6:10:09.  Nowhere near the 5:30 I was hoping to beat, which was kind of unrealistic with that stupid run course, but I could have gotten closer if I tried a little harder and gave up a little less at some points.

My face at the finish.  Big difference in how I felt at the finish line vs Cozumel.

Lest you think I am hating everything about the race, let me talk about the awesome parts.  As I said, I was a pretty big fan of the bike course.  I got to camp, which is always a bonus!  We raced with a billion people we knew, both on Bicycle Sport Shop team and also Wattage Brigade.  The town came out in force to support us.  I’m so happy they made the call to cancel the swim early, versus having us out in transition at 5am lugging gear and wetsuits, wondering if it would happen.  It was a well done race for an inaugural one.  It just wasn’t my race, and it probably will never be with that ridiculous run, and that’s totally okay.

My heart goes to the long stuff.  I love the training.  Somehow it feels more epic and heroic to come into the finish line 6 hours later instead of under 60 minutes.  I love the idea at someday being able to podium here like I can at sprints, but my head now knows its unrealistic without a BIG change in my strength, my weight, and my brain.  While that’s a bit of a downer, it’s also enough to already make me hungry to tear shit up next season.

That is, after a NICE long winters nap where the only requirements on the schedule is lifting heavy shit a few times a week.  Ah, offseason.  I am here, finally.  Embrace me with your arms of blissful recovery!

Krause Springs Pt 2 – Bikes and Hikes and Hammocks

When last we left off, I was heading to bed early (ish) Thursday night because Friday we had another sort of adventure planned…

This year, instead of our mountain bikes and riding a few miles around the property, we brought our road bikes.  Matt was also on vacation fairly close to us, so we met up to go play bikes.  The weather was supposed to be rainy until 10am, so we planned that as our meetup time, but the sky held out on us so it was just humid and gross and sticky.  At present time, that kind of weather is no big deal, frankly, I’ve not only ridden but ran 10k in worse conditions a few weeks ago, but at that point I hadn’t acclimated yet and was WHINY AS HECK. 

I also started with not very cold water and no ice in my bottles, and one had watered down crystal light ice tea.  This is not the recipe for success.  I had to pull over a few times to cool down when my heart rate spiked.  We tried to get water on the way back at a trailer park but no one was around to let us use their spout, so we rode back to town on fumes and I went immediately to the cold pool.  In my kit.

While at least half of it was a miserable ride, the views were worth the suffering. 

Again, it’s funny how your perspective changes halfway into triathlon season.  Now, this ride wouldn’t have been a big deal.  Seven weeks ago, two hours on my bike in the heat tuckered me out!  Acclimation is real, y’all.  The rest of the day was for eating and reading and some dips in the pool and a side order of napping.  It didn’t suck.

I got up for a few minutes to take pictures of the sunset and then went right back to being a sloth.  It was lovely.

My only goal for the day was to play with the fireworks setting on my camera while burning some sparklers.  It was a super productive evening!

On Saturday, I did have a major thing on my To Do list I needed to check off – take pictures of the falls area.  It was one of my favorite places to take pictures last year, and that was just with my crappy phone camera. 

However, the weather had other plans for the first part of the day.  After a lunch of chicken, sausage, onions, and peppers, we had barely made it out of the pop up to hike down to the lake with our cameras when the storm started to blow in.  It did make some really neat pictures, though.  Maybe not the best quality, most ended up super blown out and I had to massively level and color correct them, but I think they convey how SURREAL it looked out there.

Later in the afternoon, we finally got our window and we hightailed it down to the falls area. 

The fifth picture in the set will be my new age meditation album cover when I get around to recording it, hah.  The seventh picture in the set is one of my favorite pictures I’ve shot ever of all time.  It looks like fairyland.  I was a little grumpy about the lack of sunlight, but I’m pretty sure they turned out alright.  I think a grey day is kind of a rarity mid-July and I’ll certainly be able to get sunny sunlight pictures next year when we come back (because, yeah, that’s happening).

I’ve never seen the falls and the springs area so empty on a weekend!  I know it was raining, but we don’t melt, people!  I know I don’t, so I enjoyed the extra elbow room.  I tried to not be super pathetic and sad that we were leaving the next day, but it was hard because it was the truth.  I consoled myself with the last of the hot dogs and pasta salad for dinner and stayed up way too late not wanting vacation to end.

While I could have probably used more sleep Sunday morning, I got up around 9am so I could do a bunch of “one last things”.

I took one last read and nap in the hammock (and a few pictures of the view as well).  I took one last dip in the pool.  We made one last batch of bean and cheese breakfast tacos.  I saw one last froggie.  And then, we put turtle home away and drove our hippie selves back home for one of the most satisfying showers in the history of the universe.

If six nights wasn’t enough last year, five nights was DEFINITELY not enough this year.  Obviously, it’s too early to really completely solidify next year’s plans, but I think I’d really like to camp the whole week.  I didn’t get a chance to break open the paints, and we didn’t touch any games we brought, I could have ridden bikes more, and even without all that, I could have just read, relaxed, and taken dips in the pool for another few days, happily. 

Even though it’s just seven weeks removed, this trip feels like a lifetime ago.  My day to day has gotten so hectic, which is absolutely normal for this time of year, but still, it’s a stark contrast to the peace, the easy days, the silence.  I can’t imagine having so little to fill my time, so little to do, but not being bored in the slightest.  I’m looking forward to remembering it all over again next year.

You can see my full gallery HERE.

Krause Springs Part 1 – fourth of July, butterfly gardens, and wonderful laziness

I had magical memories of our 2017 Krause Springs trip.

I was wondering, even if a little bit, whether the magic I felt was the newness of camping with the popup.  It was just an entirely different experience than any other vacation I had taken in my life and I was hoping that essence would still be there at Krause.

And it totally was.  Even if this trip was different, it wasn’t any less amazing.

After a super smooth set up, we enjoyed our fairly standard first night meal when we don’t race the next day – hot dogs and veggie pasta salad, with an adult beverage this time because we could!  Usually, the first night of camping means being good, because we have to swim, bike, run, or do all of the three the next day, and in this case, we had ZERO plans.  However, our lack of sleep the night before limited it to just ONE and after the little fireworks show, we crawled in bed with our books and proceeded to sleep blissfully for 10 hours.

Wednesday was the fourth of July holiday proper, and we woke up to rain.  We had a delicious breakfast of bean and cheese tacos, and I spent some time coloring, intending to get warmed up to paint later in the week.  Then we took a walk to the butterfly garden.  Zliten spent some time drawing and I ran around and photographed everything. 

I wasn’t patient enough to get a picture of an actual butterfly or hummingbird, but I got some nice scenery before it started to POUR.  We hung back in the camper and made some fairly epic campfire stew and read and relaxed watching the rain drip outside our open camper windows. 

The persistent rain forced us to cook our first meal in the camper, and it actually worked out quite well.  When you don’t have to deal with the wind on the stove, you get a nice even temperature.

We lucked out and got a break in the rain pretty much JUST for the fireworks setup and show.  The rain had kept it cool and I’m sure there was less potential for fire hazards, so it worked out for everyone.  So much BIG KABOOMS!

The fireworks shows here are just plain epic, and I had so much fun playing with my new camera’s fireworks mode.  Zliten had to remind me to actually sit back and WATCH a bit instead of take pictures of every firework.

The next day, we slept until we couldn’t possibly stay in bed any longer, listening to the sounds of  a light drizzle on the popup canvas.  Once it cleared up, we had some breakfast and soon after, lunch because we were still hungry.

There was a lot of wonderful laziness on Thursday.  I read and napped and read and jumped in the pool and then read a little more, but I did take a hike to get some pretty footage of the area around the tent camping areas.

Our one big food experiment was campfire pizza.  It ended up a little burnt on the bottom, and it was more like a pizza inspired casserole, but all the delicious tastes were there.  Would totally make again.

Later, we headed down to the falls.

I neglected to bring the strap for my camera this vacation, so I spent the entire time in the natural springs clutching my camera for dear life.  I can report that I still have it! Success!

As the sun went down, I had to run around the campsite once again to see where the light was pretty and take more photos.  These weren’t the best grounds for epic sunset photos, but I enjoyed watching them each evening!

We took it easy that night and went to bed early to be ready for adventures in the morning.  But for that, you’ll need to skip to Part 2.

If you want to skip the words and just see all the photos, click here.

One Year Campiversary

Twelve months ago, I had no idea this was going to be one of my favorite things in the world.

ICYMI, last year our company moved offices, and we had some extra time off around the July 4th holiday.  Obviously, this prompted me to start looking at vacations, and when I found prices to be outrageous, I lamented that I wish we could just go camping, but not in July without air conditioning.

We started looking up rentals, and long story short, ended up purchasing a used Jayco pop up.  We obtained Turtle Home from a nice gentleman who had used it approximately eight nights in the previous nine years, for the cost of approximately double the price of a flight and accommodations in Colorado (the cheapest place we could go) over that long weekend.

Our first foray was six nights, which was a little overwhelming to me (the most I’d ever camped was two), but the site was an hour from home, so if it didn’t work out, we could just pack up.  We didn’t do that, in fact, I didn’t even want to go home when it was time.  I still don’t know at what point I’d get tired of camping in the pop up, but the answer is at least more than one week.

I expected the AC in the camper to put out a little bit of cool air so it wasn’t completely miserable to sleep.  I didn’t expect to need a hat, a thick comforter, and fleece pullover with it on low and sleep much more soundly than normal.  I figured it would be roomier than a tent, but I didn’t figure it would be spacious enough for two people to be able to lounge around in it comfortably with plenty of personal space.  I hoped I would have a decent time camping, I didn’t expect it to hook me as completely as it did.

I’ve spent 24 nights in the turtle and at the end of this week it will be 29 – that’s about a month of my life in the last year camping.  It’s been invaluable for races – it’s cheap, relaxing, comfortable, and sometime you can even stay AT THE VENUE and wake up with the race in your backyard, which is super convenient for someone who is not a morning person.  It’s been great for training, it’s nice to roll out of a campsite and be able to take a long bike ride in the country without navigating city traffic to get there and back.  It’s been amazing for time away to unwind and relax.  My brain shuts up a little bit after a few days in the woods and it’s a beautiful thing.

Our first year of camping included:

Even if you ignore the other trips, we’ve saved at least 10 nights of race hotel accommodations – considering the average hotel room price with taxes and fees, that would definitely be closing in on 1,000$ if not already there (for example, Hotter’n’hell was a 45$ campsite vs 150-200$ for basic rooms in the area).

In our Sophomore year of camping we plan to do these trips:

  • Krausse Springs for fourth of July again.  I’m super excited to have this as my view for another 5 days.  I’m super excited to paint, ride bikes, traipse around the property with my camera, read, make some great campfire food, and just chill the eff out for a while.
  • We are toying with the idea of camping as a training camp type weekend sometime this season at Granger Lake.
  • Race camping for Waco 70.3.  First camping half ironman!
  • A few nights in the Fredricksburg area over the holidays.  Y’know, they have free buses that take you to wineries and back.  That sounds like it doesn’t suck.
  • Mayyyyybe Pace Bend Ultra.  As part of a relay.  Or crew.

…and I’m sure we’ll be doing some more races and hopefully a few weekends where we take off and just enjoy being outside and relax.

I’m super excited for five more days in the woods.  Can we go yet?

Pace Bend Ultra #teamdfl but still #ultraAF

I don’t think I’ve ever been so unprepared for a race.

Ready to ride?

I’ve gone to races a little battered and broken.  I’ve shown up to short races with zero speed in my legs.  But generally, if I’m planning on an endurance event that will take most of a workday, I’ve trained for it.

Not this time.

I had INTENDED to train for 3M by doing a long ride every third weekend, but then I needed a brain break and my body was falling apart and vacation and then all of a sudden it was the end of December.  I had just a few weeks left and had to cram for a half marathon, which left little time for cycling, save 20-45 minute trainer rides and one very broken up multi-hour cruiser bike ride at 10 mph.

I had INTENDED to do a long ride the weekend before, but instead we raced the Indoor Tri hard and fizzled out after another hour on the trainer and called it.  We got in one 90 minute trainer ride about a week and a half out, which felt REALLY LONG.

Yeah.  Entirely unprepared.

Then, I decided to look up the start list and scope out who else was showing up.  Huge mistake.  I found six girls in my division, and most of them were cycling pros minus one super fast triathlete that always wins her age group.  Last year I was mid-pack.  This year, there was absolutely no way except for a mechanical on someone’s part that I wasn’t coming in dead f#%*ng last.

We got to camp around 5pm and set up and cheered the 24 hour racers off at 6pm.  It was actually quite inspiring because if the were going to ride bikes for a full day, I could do it for an afternoon.  It was chilly (40s), so I added some extra layers to my ensemble while we cooked pre-race dinner of chicken, potatoes, corn, and pre-made salads.  We enjoyed a leisurely dinner and bedtime since we had a lax wakeup time as our race didn’t start until noon.  More afternoon races please!

Credit – taken from Rob Jan Martinez’s event photos.

We had set an alarm for 10, but the camp got rather noisy after 8am (there was a race going on, after all), so we were up and had a very relaxing morning with green tea and bean and cheese tacos and split a turkey bacon guac bagel closer to the race.   That would never fly with a triathlon or running race, but my stomach is pretty sturdy on the bike and some good solid non-sweet calories really set me off right.  Again, more races starting at noon, please!

Around 11:45, we lined up with the other six hour racers, got a briefing, and got sent on our way right at noon.  As expected, everyone else in the race took off like a bullet and Zliten and I settled in at the back.  We made the call to wear our non-aero helmets that had our walkie talkies and try to hang together the whole race.  It was a challenge to sort out the cadence of following him because we had to stay non-drafting distance but couldn’t be *too* far or the walkies cut out, but we got it handled within a lap or two.

We made a quickie stop to pick up his inhaler after the first lap, and then watched the miles tick by fairly pleasantly and effortlessly at first.  I was amazed at how good I felt at 20, 25, and then just more than 30 miles when we made our first pit stop to get nutrition and fill bottles.  This was encouraging.  Maybe somehow my legs remembered how to ride bikes for a long time even after a 3 month break?

Credit – taken from Rob Jan Martinez’s event photos.  My layers were keeping me warm, but definitely not looking very sexy….

Around mile 40, my legs started to feel that little bit of fatigue burn.  While I was pretty impressed with how long it took to feel tired, I was facing the idea that the second half of the ride was not going to be so pleasant.  Time slowed to a crawl once my garmin hit 3 hours.  My 16 mph consistent pace started to slow in the 15s.  I spent some time doing the math here on how long laps were taking and how much time was left to distract myself from the unrelenting hills.

So, yeah, let’s stop for a moment and talk about elevation.  The course is a 6.2 mile loop with 300-some feet of climbing.  While that doesn’t sound like a lot, consider the 50 miles I had in my legs at this point had almost 3k of climbing.   My Ironman race had less than half of that in 112 miles.  There’s a decent size hill every mile here.  I am fairly certain that my legs would have had a little more in them if it wasn’t for the constant up and down.

I was shifting a LOT to keep pace and all of a sudden I heard a loud crunch and had no pressure on my pedals.  It sounded like a simple dropped chain, but when I got off to look, it looked all mangled in the gearing.  I figured I had done something bad to my bike, and luckily Zliten was within earshot so I told him to stop.  Since we weren’t supposed to ride backwards, I walked my bike up to him and he looked at it, shook his head, fixed my dropped chain (apparently they drop differently on the TT bikes…) and we were off again.

Before that stop we were skating the line between being able to make 13 and 14 laps, but this put us back a little, though 13 was still possible as long as we didn’t take too long at our last break.  We rolled into camp at 62 miles in just over 4 hours of riding (though it was about 4:25 total race time).  While my legs weren’t feeling awesome, I also didn’t expect to feel like a little baby deer all of a sudden when I got off the bike.  I spent 10 minute on the couch of my camper trying to stretch the cramps out and got myself up and back on the bike to make the cutoff of when I wanted to be back on the bike – 4:40pm.  This would give us time for 3 more conservatively paced laps + about 5 minutes of wiggle room.

Six hours of riding = crazy eyes and non functional brains.

Then, I realized both of us were attempting to roll out without our helmets.   Right.  Race brain.  Grabbing them put us a few minutes behind so I attempted to pull us along a little faster to make up for it.  We timed lap 11 and we were on pleasantly on pace.  Lap 12, my legs started cramping again and I said that maybe it was time to go drink beer and watch everyone else finish, but Zliten convinced me not to, and then he unconvinced himself, but I was already re-convinced and in the mindset of “if I cross with more than 25 minutes to go, I can make the last lap” so we decided that was the plan.

We crossed at 5:33 and change.  26-ish minutes to finish one more and that was just enough.  Now, I knew this last 6.2 miles didn’t mean anything in context of the race.  I had been lapped at least twice by every single female out there.  My legs were screaming.  But, we both made the decision to make the turn away from BBQ and beer, sitting and salvation, to ride another loop around the park because that’s what mother effing Ironmen do.  It wasn’t our fastest lap but it certainly wasn’t our slowest, and we came around the last corner and attempted to line our wheels up to finish at the same time.

It didn’t work – technically I still haven’t DFL’d because it counted Zliten’s finish as one second later than mine.  We were the absolute two last people to cross the finish line with our 81 miles, and had the least laps by far, but it was still a glorious day of riding bikes.

Six hour racers!

Riding 80 miles on no training is no joke, and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to the mass population, but it was a fun experiment to see what residual endurance I had left from last year.  While my legs fatigued a little early, they hung in there until the end.  And so did my brain.  I had a MUCH better day mentally this year than last year.  In 2017, at points I had wanted to throw my bike away and never see it again, and this year, I kept a pretty even attitude through the ride.  My speed was only 0.1 mph less than last year, so I missed that 14th lap because we took longer breaks, not because we were riding slower. And that’s pretty freaking impressive.

I ain’t even mad that literally everyone else in the race besides me got a medal because there happened to be 4 people in my one age group, especially because 3rd place was a freaking pro cyclist I know who kicks some major ass on the bike.  I would have been outclassed on my best day and that’s just the facts of life sometimes.  There is no earthly way I could ride 100+ miles at 18mph right now and that’s what it would have taken.  To get third.  It was kind of freeing to just get out there and ride my bike and not worry about where I stood with anyone besides myself.

NOMS. Doesn’t look like much but the pork was DIVINE.

Oddly enough, when people have been riding for 6-24 hours straight, there’s not much of a party atmosphere after, so we were the sole racers awake after 9pm.  We followed suit not too far behind them after housing a giant plate of BBQ and talking a lot about how our legs were sore.

I’m really torn.  I said I wouldn’t do this race next year unless it was my focus, and it probably won’t be.  It was too expensive.  It’s too pro.  However, I had so much darn fun, I’d consider plopping down the scratch to camp for the weekend and ride bikes for the afternoon.  Maybe a relay?  Maybe offering to crew for someone?  Maybe just randomly try the 12 or 24 hour race and see how far I can go with a bunch of breaks?

Either way, this ended this weird little three weeks of racing on an unexpectedly happy and positive note.  Onward and upward!

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