It’s been a long time since I’ve been here, and I apologize to my readers.
How do I summarize the past few months? Well, I won’t go into great detail and bore everyone. After training for the winter, my first race approached at Tuscarora and bam, second place for endurance women. In April, I decided to race an XC race and bam, second place! So, the season was off and is still off to a good start. I’m also loving my team, Toasted Head Racing and the support and awesomeness that they all provide.
This past weekend was my VERY first NUE, the Wildcat 100 mile race. Leading up to it, I was nervous, uncertain and felt completely not ready. Well, bam…not second. I didn’t seem ready in the sense that it snuck up on me fast. I kept thinking it was months away, but reality was day by day it was getting closer. Prior to the race, information provided about the race was not consistent and I was referred to read the riders handbook for any information. The riders handbook was like 10 pages of rules and regulations that made it seem like they (promoters) really were set and ready to go. Well, it read that we would hit the drop bag ONE time…really? ONE time..game plan changed, camelbak it is.
Again, my hubby, Jack was my support and my teammates, Jocelyn and Scott were racing also, which was nice knowing they were going to be there. Scott is a very fast single speed monster so, I saw him prior to the race and then, poof, he’s gone. Killer race Scott!
I waited until the LAST possible minute to register for this race. I kept making random excuses to not go, but thanks to encouragement from friends and family, I registered. Jack booked the motel and off we went Friday after work. The weather predicted was rain, but I was remaining optimistic that maybe we would wake up and the forecasters would be wrong. They seem to be wrong so much, that I was 80% sure the sun would be shining…WRONG.
I felt good, slept well and we headed over to the venue which was a tiny little spot to get the numbers and goody bag which had a few pamphlets in it (got a t-shirt at the end, made up for the “eh” goody bag). There seemed to be some lack of organization as to what numbers were being handed out, as the number plate I was assigned wasn’t even made, so I ended up with 166. Standing in line to use the ever popular porta-john, I look at the girl in front of me and she has a chip around her ankle. “Hey, why do you have a chip?”, I asked. She said everyone should be getting one. Back I go to the table, and get my chip that barely stayed around my ankle, so, I twisted tied it to my ankle. Others weren’t even given chips or empty velcro straps with no chips on them.
I was just nervous for the race and not really sure what to think about the day. Jack and Jocelyn were keeping me positive and reassuring me it would be a good experience. The rain is falling and off to the start we go.
The race started and I was curious of how they were planning on separating the field of over 250 racers before heading into any singletrack. Up the first hill we go, not even that bad, everyone was clumped together and when we got to the singletrack, it was standing in line, like waiting for a ride. Already aggravated, but remaining patient, telling myself, seriously, don’t get mad, you still have 98 miles to go! After the singletrack, it was a mix of rail trail and honestly, I think I blacked out (not literally) from mile 5 to mile 20, I can’t remember exactly what I rode, but I did see a waterfall, I remember the waterfall.
I hit the 26 mile check point, didn’t stop, went down, down and down some more past some amazing views and down into I believe, Lipman park for about 11 miles of singletrack. Again, the rain came down so hard and let me tell you, contact lenses are no fun in the rain. The humidity made it impossible for me to wear my sunglasses because they would fog up in a second. I rode quite a bit of the singletrack which was pretty damn cool, even wet. Twisty, flowy, bridges and then it turned to slippery rocks, roots and the last 5 miles sucked the life out of me. I thought I would never make it out. Threw some water in my pack and climbed BACK up about 1900 feet to mile 52 where Jack was waiting for me to refill my camelbak and use the bathroom that did not consist of a tree.
At this point, I was beyond muddy, but feeling great. I was smiling, ate a banana and sat on the back of the car to catch my breath for a second. Jocelyn rolls in and yells for me to get moving, okay, seriously some motivation I need…I’m in a race, not a social ride. We start back out, her on her singlespeed, I was able to gain some distance, but knew I’d see her again. Her experience and strength are too much for me to keep a lead on. Well, around mile 62 or 63, rain coming down, trudging through muddy singletrack, my mentality went right downhill. I cramped in my calf, my head was hurting and I was miserable. Jocelyn came through running with her bike, seriously, where can I get that energy? I kept moving, but slowed down big time.
Mile 70, it’s raining, Jack is waiting for me with another smile on his face as I guess he was proud of me. I sat down and cried. Not balling my eyes out, but I believe I swore off mountain biking and that I was going to sell my spot for the Lumberjack (I’m not). His encouragement and lie that I was at 75 miles and that my Garmin was wrong, got me moving again. From this point, I roll away, it’s pouring, tears in my eyes and off to the never friggin ending apple orchard. Seriously, I never ever want to ride through an apple orchard for the rest of my life. This is in full bloom too, where I should have been thinking, wow, how pretty. No way. I was covered in mud, soaking wet and riding on the muddiest dirt roads. It. Was. Awful.
Finally, the last check point in New Palz. The sun was out and it was mile 89ish. I leave my camelbak, take a bottle and bust my ass down the rail trail section. From there, more singletrack and more walking up greasy sliperry hills. Kind of pissed the sun was out because that brought out all of the bugs and when you’re walking with other people, the bugs just swarm. We hit some roads going back down into Rosendale and I was beyond excited, thinking we were finishing up the same paved road we started on..wrong. Up into the last 4 miles of singletrack we go, deep mud, greasy, damp and soul sucking.
I rolled through at a whopping 12 hours and 52 seconds for my very first National Ultra Endurance race. I felt like I was the last one. I wasn’t, but the promoter had the timing people leave. My time was written down, the chip was worthless and I felt like it was not a big deal that I finished. I know Jack was proud of me and Jocelyn was there to give me credit for sticking with it. Thank you to you both, your encouragement was needed and appreciated!
I sat in the lake nearby and just soaked for a few minutes as a black cloud of grossness rose from my kit and skin and I was able to clean off, just enough to change and go home. What a day, what an experience that I almost didn’t do and gave up on. It was miserable that it rained and that the mud was so thick, but I would do it all over again. I hope to only get better, stronger and faster and perhaps finish my next one in 10 hours?! Eh, we’ll see.
As for nutrition, I use Infinit and it’s my own blend and wow, what an amazing product. I don’t end up with a bunch of random food in my stomach, I know my caloric intake and am able to balance it out with my hydration.
Now that it is about 2 days past the race, I feel good and want to do a race this weekend, but I’ll chill. I did ride the day after and well, not cool as my bottom was not happy with me :) I know I didn’t win or come in the top 10, but just to finish was amazing for me. I get down on myself so easily in races and to be able to push through the mental drain is sometimes harder to do than push through the physical drain. I’ve never been so okay with finishing close to last…there were totally DNF’s, haha.
Thank you to you all for reading and thank you for the support. I love mountain biking and I love this whole race thing too. It keeps me young, healthy and very happy.