Sunday, June 24, 2018

Ninja for a Day

Final smoothie at the end of a long training week. 
There's usually a story behind a picture like this- one that tells you how I ended up looking like a crazed woman ready for a really long nap. This story involves a crap load of training, because, well, prepping for a 187 mile bike race through remote terrain necessitates a crap load of training. So I train. And drink lots of smoothies.

My philosophy on training for ultra endurance events is this: train until you're beat down and then really start training. Why? Because that's how you're gonna feel at the end of the race, beat down. You might as well know you can keep moving through that feeling so you don't find out in the middle of a race, in the middle of nowhere, when no one's around to rescue you, that you're a pussy when you're beat down. At least in training if you become a total pussy you can make your way home pretty quickly.

This all leads us to this picture, taken today at the end of two weeks of straight hard training. My goal for the second week of these hard cycles is to never train fresh. Since week one involved  2 1/2 hours of running, 12 1/2 hours of biking, 2 hours of strength training and 4 hours of Jiu Jitsu, I was pretty much set up to reach that goal. Week two, which led to that crazy lady drinking a smoothie, went something like this:

Monday- Wake up at my usual 6:30 pretty sore and a bit crabby, go to work, run on tired legs for an hour, drink a smoothie, go back to work, strength train between clients, work some more, shoot my bow before bed. Nothing too unusual here.

Tuesday- Wake up when the alarm goes off at 6:30, lay in bed for 30 minutes because my legs, hip and back hurt. Roll out of bed, stretch and massage myself with The Stick. Work. Ride an hour and fifteen minutes to the evening Jiu Jitsu class carrying my Gi, arriving just as it starts raining. Dry my bike with my dirty Jiu Jitsu clothes and begin the ride home. Get caught in the rain. Realize the Gi is getting heavier. Pedal harder. Arrive home smiling anyway because I finally had a stripe on my belt to show off to Big E. Drink smoothie.

Wednesday- Wake up when the alarm goes off at 6:30. Hobble to the bathroom. Lay back down to survey the soreness. Roll out of bed after 7:00 and make friends with the foam roller before I even eat breakfast. Run for over an hour, including four sets of 97 steps and lots of hills. Drink a smoothie on the way to Jiu Jitsu. Feel thankful one of the kids wants to join us so for once I can actually practice with someone smaller than me. Reluctantly roll with a couple guys bigger than me at the end. Get my ass kicked. Leave looking like a drunk girl doing the walk of shame after a long night out. Love it because this is what hard weeks are all about. (Not the drunk girl part...) Get a massage. Ask her to work on my legs because that's what hurts. Fall asleep on the table and wake up an hour later to discover she was still working on my back and shoulder. Apparently those should hurt. Realize they're probably just numb. Go to work. Do 40 minutes of Pilates with one of my clients. Shoot my bow before bed. Fall asleep so hard Big E sleeps on the couch because he doesn't want to wake me.

Thursday- Wake up sometime after 7. Lay there for 1/2 an hour trying to figure out how to move. Wonder how the hell I'm going to ride a bike and do Jiu Jitsu later. Work. Ride the long way to the evening Jiu Jitsu class, do class, ride the long way home and do some monkey bars on the way to prepare from the obstacle course race I signed up for in August. Get a fish hook (yes, a fish hook) in my tire riding over the 494 bridge. Realize it's not easy to extract a fish hook from a bike tire. Change my flat and make it home just before dark. Drink a smoothie. Eat an entire pizza.

Friday- Wake up sometime after 8 when Big E tries to tiptoe into the room to video tape me snoring my face off. Laugh when he says, "Dammit, I can't sneak up on you now that you're doing Jiu Jitsu because you're turning into a ninja." Realize most of me hurts when I laugh.  Eventually manage to move enough to make breakfast, do some core training and run for an hour including 5 long hill repeats. Drink smoothie. Go to work, do a little more strength training between clients, but take a day off my usual routine of doing 10 pushups every time I check social media because I'm being a pussy. At least I made it to Friday. Shoot my bow. Stretch, foam roll and hang out in my ice tights before bed because I know tomorrow is gonna be long.

Saturday- Wake up at 6:15. Ride to Jiu Jitsu. Throw up in my mouth on the way there because my body apparently doesn't really want to ride a bike today. Stress the rest of the way there because I don't want puke breath when I'm rolling around with people. Ask The Ninja Teacher for gum as soon as he walks in. Try not to notice that a lot of big guys showed up for class today. Practice single leg take downs with poor form. Get thrown on my back by The Ninja Teacher while he shows me how to do them properly. Get up and practice them the right way (I think) because I really don't want him to show me again. Get back on the bike and ride for 3 1/2 more hours on the way home, including some singletrack and some ridiculously overgrown doubletrack. Do some monkey bars on the way for good measure. Drink smoothie. Check for ticks. Ask Big E if he will shave my head because I'm tired of dealing with my hair during training. Let him talk me off that ledge. Because he's always the more rational one of us. Get back to my social media push ups.

Sunday- Wake up when the alarm goes off at 7. Go to the bathroom and open the shades with every intention of getting up. Fall back to sleep. Stay asleep for almost 3 hours while Big E gets ready for his race, which probably sounded like a small marching band was in the kitchen. Ninja failure. Get out of bed after 10. Somehow drag myself back onto my bike to get some more singletrack in. Swallow numerous bugs on the ride because I'm too tired to close my own mouth. Bust ass on the trail just to try to stay ahead of little kids. Drag my tired self home. Drink smoothie. Take crazy picture. Do one last strength session, in which I realize I can't even straighten my legs all the way.

Endurance training success. Now it's time for an easy week.  And some work on my ninja skills.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Finding Rosie

After my sh!tshow at Mammoth Gravel Classic, I had two more chances in May to work on finding my inner Rosie in races.

Chance #1 was at the Woolly Mountain Bike race, my first mountain bike race in almost three years. If there was ever a time I needed Rosie, this would probably be it.

Things went well pre-race. We got there early, I got in a good warm up and I didn't need any meltdowns over my brakes or GPS at the start line. I even started in the middle of the pack, instead of hiding in the back like usual. Not that I stayed mid-pack very long. When you gear your singlespeed for the hills, it doesn't take long for the pack to pass you. At least the passing happened before we even hit singletrack! I figured with 4 hours of riding to go I'd have plenty of time to pass people back.

Unfortunately, that positive thinking lasted one lap. Then my chain fell off. Four times. By the time I put it back on four times, I pretty sure I was in last place and Rosie had left me. Thankfully, the race was loops, I eventually limped into the start/finish area with my chain dangling off my bike. I asked if I could make a quick stop to find a mechanic and after confirmation I could, I promptly found Jimmay!!!  Finding one of my LCR teammates is even better than finding a mechanic. These guys could probably fix a bike with dental floss if need be. In this case, after 10 minutes with Jimmay!!, I was back on course with my singulator twist-tied to my bike.

Told you these guys could fix a bike with anything. 

Now, I'd like to say I went back on course and everything was sunshine and rainbows. It wasn't. Somehow, after all the stopping to fix my bike, I ended up right in the mix of the expert and comp guys starting their races. If you've never done a mountain bike race, let me just sum this up for you like this: these guys all think they're winning the Olympics, which basically means if they come up behind you on the trail, they will expect you to get your ass off the trail immediately, even if there's a place to pass in 10 feet.

I swear these are guys who would hold the door open for me any other time, but get them on a bike and they'd rather kill me than have to go off a smooth strip of dirt to pass me in some grass. 

Thankfully, after a couple of laps of this and a few tears (Yes, I can cry and ride a bike at the same time. Yes, I also know this is ridiculous.), the always positive Chris Gibbs caught me and yelled something about Rosie, which reminded me I should be Rosie right now. And Rosie doesn't cry when she rides her bike. So, I pedaled hard for the next lap and half, passed a few people back and surprised myself with an unexpected podium. Not that I looked all that happy at as I finished:
Photo: Woolly Bike Club

Lesson of the day: Sometimes (most of the time) persistence pays off. Even if you can't find your inner Rosie when you need her most.

Fast forward six days to Wild Ride Buzzard Buster 10 Hour Race. A chance to redeem myself and keep in my Rosie mindset for the whole day.

Again, pre-race went well. The 2 hour drive was enough time to get myself in the right mindset. I had over an hour once I got there to set up my transition and get the bike ready (the chain was no longer held on with twist ties). I ran into the awesome HCCC crew before the start and they let me set up under their tent. I'm not sure if this was out of kindness or because I mentioned I might get naked in there later.  I even had time to check with the race director to make sure riding topless was an option. (Yes, yes it was.)

When it's supposed to be over 90 I start planning to be naked. Clothes are hot.

With that, I headed to the start as Rosie. Thankfully, the Le Mans run start goes much better for me than a mass start on the singlespeed so for once I was actually the first girl onto the singletrack. Despite having to run part of the first crazy uphill, I stayed in my Rosie mindset and stayed at the front down the technical section on the other side.

At this point, I pretty much knew this was probably gonna be my day. That probably sounds nuts at the start of a 10 hour race, but for me, the starts are usually the hardest. If I can make it through that with a positive outlook, I can find a way to keep my head in the game for however many hours there are to come. So, the rest of the ten hours, despite a battle with the heat, was all pretty much full of smiling.

I even finally rode "topless" for my last few laps.
And yes, I cropped this photo. No one's belly looks good when they're bent over on a bike. Just trust me on this. At least I can smile while riding with what looks like a beer gut.

In the end, it was finally a win. Not just for the race, but for finally finding Rosie again, and keeping her around for a whole race.