Saturday, May 29, 2010

New Trail Love

Most of my rides start right out my door. The road possibilities are endless and I can get to awesome trails quite quickly with very little pavement. It is good for me to ride some pavement as there are some paved sections at Leadville. Lately though, about every two weeks my friend and I have been going on adventures. We pack up the bikes and hit the road in search of new (well, new to us) trails to ride and explore. Our most recent escapade took us to 20 miles of super sweet single track.

That brown zigzag on the hill side was the start of our trail

The guidebooks and website that we referenced raved about this trail and we weren't disappointed. The descriptions also mentioned that on the aerobic scale this trail was rated strenuous. That sounded perfect for someone (me) training for an endurance mountain bike event. Lucky for me, my friend the downhill diva needed no encouraging, she loves a good workout. This trail had a technical rating of 4+ ( the scale only goes to 5).  Whoops, missed that little detail!

Absolutely stunning scenery

It was a great day for riding. There was only one other car at the trail head so we basically had the trail to ourselves from the start. The beauty of being able to go mid week. We were cruising along and passed a few trail markers that had mileage marked on them. Neither of us had a computer so we really had no idea how far we were at any given point. It was 10.5 miles to the top and then turn around and come back.

The trail ahead

At one point on our ride the trail markers started going the wrong direction. We saw one that said 7 and the next one said 5. We hadn't taken any turns and hadn't passed other trails. Good thing we both like to explore the unknown, because at this point it was pretty much unknown. The directions we had with us made no sense. When you take one trail in one direction you always know the way back so we weren't at risk of getting lost.

My new tires were super fast on the hard pack and climbing. They didn't quite grip the same on banked corners as my old tires did and took some adjustment. Of course, as always, I learned the hard way.

My bike and I went down a ravine, head first!

We eventually reached the top end of the trail in 2.5 hours turned around and headed home. It took 4, yes 4, hours to ride just over 20 miles. (of course the guidebook also said it was a four hour ride, but I must have thought that meant if you were fat and slow). I did some math and I am going to have to pick it up if I want to ride 100 miles (104, actually) in under 12 hours. Just more proof that I am in over my head. I did fall in love with this new trail. You could even say, I fell head over wheels!!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Gift Horse

Last week Me Heartie (yup, the name is here to stay!) brought me home a gift. A gift so exciting and big it would make any girls heart swoon. Not new jewelry, not a new purse, not a new car and whatever else normal girls think of when I say an exciting gift. Being that it is already established that I am off to the side of normal on the continuum (that was established by my being exciting about getting into the Leadville trail 100), you have to think outside the box. It wasn't a new bike, or a new puppy either. Nope, I got a new tool for my workshop. He bought me a fancy, super duper air compressor.

My New Toy

Now, I know some of you are thinking, what was the occasion for such an elaborate gift. We did just celebrate our anniversary so maybe that was what it was for. When you get a wonderful gift, it doesn't serve to question why or what for. Ever heard the saying 'don't kick a gift horse in the mouth' ? Rather, than sit around questioning the motives and whether I deserve such a gift, I just celebrated it and got to work! I have already had lots of fun with my new toy. Let me just say that I am no longer sporting 3 year old tires and sealant on my trusty stead. I do need to point out that I went three years without a flat, so something on that system was working. Too bad I wore the rear flat. Just in case my gift horse is reading, while I am not opposed to jewelery, new bikes or puppies as presents, this gift was very thoughtful and much more personal and less cliche! Thank you!!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Bible

I have not failed to notice that the one standard requirement for a well stocked nightstand is a bible. This book is the one constant between hotel and motel rooms. It takes many different shapes, some are big and thick and hardcover, other smaller and paper back. They don't always have the same name or chapters but they are all called the bible. People read the contents of this book, recite parts of it back and try to abide their lives by it. It is with great pleasure that I can now say, my nightstand at home is no longer lacking. I now have my own bible to read last thing before I close my eyes and first thing when I open them. I can already recite many lines from it, and have random numbers memorized. I believe it is already getting dog eared from so much handling. My bible arrived in the mail last week.

The Leadville Trail 100 2010 Mountain Bike Race Bible

Now I am pretty sure that we won't see this particular bible version popping up in motel nightstands worldwide. I am also pretty sure that I am not the only person who is having bible study sessions with this book. Instead of the 10 commandments we follow the four 'H's'. 1- thou shall huff and puff because hypoxia is real at 10,000ft. 2- thou shall hydrate, relative humidity can be as low as 5% and you are going to lose fluid breathing (and since I will be breathing rapidly, I take that to mean I will lose fluid rapidly) 3- thou shalt be aware of hyponatremia (sure, that will be the only reason I am confused, blundering and experiencing severe muscle cramps) 4- thou shalt respect the mountain climate and the chance of  hypothermia (is this the part where we strip off our clothes and climb into a sleeping bag with another naked person -hhmm, not sure that should be in the bible;)) Hypoxia, Hydration, Hyponatremia, Hypothermia - wow sounds like a super duper good time!

Sir Edmund Hillary said "I believe that if you set out on an adventure and you're absolutely convinced you are going to be successful, why bother starting". I must be on the right path, I read this in the good book. 

Monday, May 24, 2010

King of the Mountain

Last week was the Tour of California professional bike race. It is always fun to go and watch these guys ride, and this year I had extra incentive. You see, I have heard that not only is a certain Lance guy planning on doing Leadville again, so is his team mate Levi. This was a perfect opportunity to go and check out the competitions training (because you know that they are only using these little bike races to prepare for Leadville;)). We got a prime location on the highest point of the days stage and set up camp.

View we woke up to

My rock solid reasoning was that I would ride the climb up Dawson Saddle and thus I would be doing basically the same training as the boys. Okay, not rock solid, but in my defense I don't have a clue what I am doing! I was doing altitude training as we had slept at 7900 ft and I was riding at elevation. It was a spectacular morning to ride and I managed to be the first female over the top (okay, I had a REALLY early start!) There was a steady flow of riders all day including my friends the Sullivans, so random that we were all at the same point of the days route and we hadn't even discussed it.

KOM (maybe just Queen)

You take my breath away!

We had great neighbours for viewing and Supercrew and Jason showed up to watch with us. It was their first stage of a major road race and Jason was swept up in the excitement of the passing peloton. He took off up the road running and cheering. Next time he will be more prepared and have his speedo on!

Lead group of 7

The Crew set up next to us, they were FUN!

 I was huffing and puffing up this climb but the real deal guys sure made it look effortless. In all fairness though, I was ahead of them cresting the climb. Wonder if I can get a 6 hour headstart at Leadville??

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Nature Lessons

Many of the local areas that I mountain bike were ravaged by fires in the recent years. I never fails to astonish me, how a place that was absolutely desolate and charred can become one of the most beautiful trails that I ride on. As I am preparing my body for the massive undertaking of the Leadville trail 100 there are times that it feels ravaged and broken down. I know from watching mother nature at work that the vegetation regrowth that occurs is spectacular in strength and beauty. I am trusting that as a part of nature my body will also experience this phenomenon and will rebuild stronger.

Burnt tree surrounded by wildflowers.

This hill burns my legs!

The rocks don't present obstacles to the stream, just a new path

The plants and creatures that thrive in a devastated fire region are all resilient and extremely adaptable. Those are the qualities that I am striving for in training and development. On my journey I will heed the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson 'Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is patience'. Patience has a time limit though, only 12 more weeks!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Chasing the Black Line

It has only been two and a half weeks since my triathlon season ended and my biking season began. I have been doing triathlon a long time and people always ask me what is my favorite of the three disciplines. The answer to this question is interchangeable. You could ask me that question seven days in a row and get a different answer. Heck, you could ask me in the same day and get a different answer. If I just finished a run, even if it was only mediocre that would probably be the sport I would pick. The same goes for the other two. Right now, with my focus being on biking the thing I am missing the most is the swimming. Here is my list of reasons, in no particular order, that I miss chasing a black line back and forth in a pool.

St Croix, our secret swim and snorkel beach

1) As unique as speedo tan lines look in a strapless dress, they look better than biker tan lines, I have been asked many times at events if I was a swimmer, and I am pretty sure that my shoulders didn't tip them off;) Are they now going to think I am a - gasp - golfer?

2) When I swim three to four days a week, I know when to wash my hair. I know this should be easy to figure out, but I am struggling and am only 2.5 weeks in. If you see me with dreads you'll know what happened.

3) Masters swimming is pretty social, and I already miss seeing my friends. Even if most of our conversations are about who gets to be the caboose on the masters train.

4) There is a hot tub and sauna at the pool. Sure I could still go and use those facilities, but it is so easy once you are wet and in your bathing suit to enjoy a quick post swim luxury. (I also don't want to turn into one of those ladies that spend hours naked and stretching in the sauna)

5) The smell of chlorine coming out of my pores when I get a good sweat going is my barometer for how good my post swim bike or run is going. Now, I won't have the smell of chlorine to mask the stink and will just have to guess on how hard I am working.

6) Being in water and having it move over my body as I swim along is great active recovery, aqua massage.

7) I love the way the sunlight looks coming through the water.

8) Swimming keeps my math skills fresh. Okay, it is simple math but the way many of those guys struggle with the clock you would think we were doing quantum physics problems!

9) Mindlessly staring at a black line for an hour is meditative and calming. There is nothing mindless for me about riding rocks and ruts (or curbs!).

10) Being forced to wear a bathing suit several times a week makes sure I keep up my personal hygiene  (you know what I mean) - okay that may be Me Hearties number one reason that he misses me swimming!

Tana Swimming

For now, I will still go and stare at the black line once a week but there won't be much chasing going on. I am mostly going to the pool so that my hair at least gets wet, if not washed once a week;)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Snakes and Ladders

I have always found mountain biking to be more like child's play than working out. When I hear children outside playing I am always struck by the sheer joy of the sounds they are making, well except when someone gets hurt and then there is crying and screaming. Mountain biking with my friends brings out the inner child. I love it when I look over and my friend has a grin plastered to her face as she rides along. Even better is hearing the squeal of delight when someone rides down, or even up something that they weren't sure they could make. Like child's play we sometimes scream, but we NEVER cry! We are far too tough for crying. Instead, we curse like sailors! Recently, one of my rides was like playing the game snakes and ladders.

I was riding trails that I am not familiar with and every new turn I took felt like a roll of the dice. Sometimes, I would just end up following a nice flowing section of trail. This was like taking the board square by square. Other times, I would turn a corner to see a ladder. Maybe I am exaggerating a little bit, but some of those steep short hills sure felt like I was riding up a ladder. I know in the real board game you celebrate landing on a ladder, but in my version of the game, the ladder didn't always bring joy! What it brought was the granny gear, lots of grunting, huffing and puffing. Not sounds that resembled children playing in a garden! There weren't just ladders in my game. I did come across a few snakes throughout the day, literally and figuratively!

Saw several of these fellas out enjoying the sun!

Just like with live snakes, the trail snakes were of many varieties. There were harmless and dare I say fun little descents. Ones that made all the pain and suffering of going up worth it. Others were just mean and venomous. I believe in the work and reward program when I am out riding. What I mean by this is, if I work hard to go up I should get to have fun going down. This is not always the case and some of the single track downhills were as much work to ride and not even as fun as the uphills! Next time I ride those trails I hope to avoid the nasty snakes and ladders and just land on the fun ones. Of course, that requires me remembering which trail is which. That is about as likely as avoiding them with the dice throw in the real board game. One thing I do know, in my variation of Snakes and Ladders the winner is determined by the giggle factor.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Curb Appeal

I have been known to spend chunks of my time watching HGTV programs. (much more useful than Real Housewives, which I may have watched a time or two, but you have no proof!). Many of the programs on home and garden TV refer to curb appeal. I have always thought this was an oxymoron. I mean, what is appealing about a curb? Curbs are mean and dangerous entities. NOTHING appealing about them. Curbs and I have a long and mostly unpleasant history.

Our first unpleasant encounter was when I was in first grade. I was skipping along a curb and fell off, onto a broken soda bottle (that's right younguns, they used to make pop in glass bottles). This incident resulted in a trip to the emergency room and a several stitches in my right palm. I also had a nicked tendon. It might have been better if it was a clean cut through the tendon, that would have eliminated the use of my middle finger, which has been known to get me into sticky situations. I was once stranded on the side of a road because a curb decided to jump out and hit the tires on the right side of my car, causing not one but two flats. So far, curb two, me none. The worst meeting between me and a curb occured about three years ago. I had decided it was time for me to stop dismounting my mountain bike at every sidewalk and curb and riding up them. I went out and was diligently practicing this skill. I had even managed to get up and over several times. This consisted of me riding up to a curb and just running into it and letting the shocks take me up and over. Not exactly mastering the skill, and not pretty. Me Hearty (okay, I like his pirate name way too much) decided I should learn to pop a wheelie up a curb. I was learning how to lift the front wheel prior to hitting the curb. That went well for about two times and then, not so well. Disaster struck. I popped up the wheel and it came smack down at the curb and I took a hard hit. That curb beat me up, head to toe. I was black, blue, green and yellow up on both hips (don't know how that happened) and once again the curb got the better of the palms of my hands. Now, maybe dear readers you can understand why for me there is no such thing as curb appeal. Until today.

Today, I was determined to meet my fear of the curb face on. I went out for a ride and warmed up. The first curb I came to I went for it. I looked at it dead center and said, I'm not taking your crap no more. (really, I held my breath and muttered 'please be nice to me'). I made it up the curb, but I was still terrified and decided that holding my breath on every curb was going to be ludicrous. I decided to ride up and down it until I was loose and relaxed. That took ten times. I still wasn't experiencing curb enthusiasm, but I was moving away from dread.  I then continued on my ride and I am proud to announce that I did not dismount one time today for a curb! Now I am not saying that the next time I head out I will not hold my breath up and over the first curb, I have years of terror to erase, but progress is being made. Maybe I will get to the point where curbs are appealing.

The practice curb, I graduated to the big white squared off ones by the end

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Todd

Sadly, I am no longer training for a triathlon. This makes me sad on so many levels but mostly it freaks me out. Leadville is now so much more real and I can't just shove it to the back of the mind closet. Up until now, it has been after the marathon, after the half ironman, now there is nothing but LEADVILLE looming on the horizon. Now dear readers, you can see why I have been basking in the Caribbean glory for as long as I can. I know how to be a triathlete. I know how to train and prepare for a triathlon. I have no friggin' idea what I am doing now. I am entering unchartered waters so to speak.

Familiar waters, St Croix poolside taper

On the odd chance that it may have slipped my mind how far over my head I am in tackling Leadville, I can rely on 'the Todd' for constant reassurance. We are not talking about the soothing, cooing kind of reassurance. Not from 'the Todd'. Instead, immediately after my successful finish in St Croix, and my slaying of the beast, he sends me a message telling me I have more work to do than I can even fathom. He then proceeds to inform me he has already ridden the White Rim 100 mile trail in Utah this year. Solo. In one day. (probably with 50 extra pounds strapped to the frame of his bike). He plans to do it again. He also never fails to mention the hideous amount of elevation gain he does on his training rides. The real kicker is he likes to remind me that the race starts at 10,000ft above sea level and he lives around 7,000ft. I live at sea level. Oh, and he sleeps in an altitude simulation tent up to 12,000ft for two months leading into the race! Now, 'the Todd' does know what he is talking about, he has started the Leadville race many, many times. He hasn't always finished, but since only 65% of the field finish on any given year I guess the odds are if you start that many times, you won't always finish. He got a stomach bug last year and he didn't finish, not sure what happened the other times. He also has two bummed knees, so bummed he really doesn't have knees. Last I checked I had two working knees, I'm just saying!

The Todd and Jen Oak Creek Sedona, Nov 2009

I am sure that the Todd will be riding the latest and greatest equipment at Leadville. He will have a new bike that weighs less than a water bottle- an empty one! He will have some super slick fancy set of race wheels with tires that roll by themselves. He will have everything dialed in. I will get my bike tuned up, and I will put on a fresh set of tires. I will even put in new sealant, although to be fair the sealant that I put in September 2007 has been holding up quite well! (I just felt Haywood roll his eyes- you could have fixed it for me Haywood, I would have made you nanaimo bars;) ).  Pretty sure there is a book called 'its not about the bike' or something to that effect, so I will take two working knees over a tricked out bike. Yup, the Todd this is your official calling out. Might be time for you to go to the Robinson's and do some reading of children's stories. I'll be coming out of my shell on August 14th!!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Walkin' the Plank

Ahoy, race day be upon me and me's as ready as me's gonna be. Me gots me Furner* (a ship which be yer own, not one ye steal and plunder)  ready and me first matey on board.

Me First Matey strapped to the Bow

It be time to jump into the seas and get o'er to the island. Me came upon a landlubber lass frightened to take the plunge off the dock so on a count of three we plummeted into the churnin' deep dark waters (okay, it was calm and crystal clear, but what kind of story does that make??) and made our way to the beach of Hotel on the Cay. While doing me warm up swim out there me came upon a few Sprogs* (rawn untrained recruits), doing their first ever race. The fact that they were wearing wetsuits gave them away. The water was a balmy 80 something degrees and super salty, floatation was not an issue. Me hope they are not currently lost at sea!

The cannon blew, (or maybe a guy just said go) for my wave, me be off and the swashbucklin'* (fightin' and carousin' on the high seas) began. Actually, unlike other races, me had a good clean start to the swim and was in the front pack of four. Lovin' the non wetsuit swim! Me managed to stay there until the turn when me got left for fish bait in Davey Jones locker* (the bottom o' the sea where the souls of dead men lie) as the others manuevered around the bodies floating (maybe they were swimming) from previous battles.

Swim exit, there was a ramp on race day

Swim done, 4th out of water, thanks to me amazing masters coach me finally fly the Jolly Roger* (pirates flag, an invitation to surrender)! Grabbed me Furner to Go on Account* (embark on a piratical cruise). Me smartly*(quickly) got into a pedalling rhythm. We's be ridin' portside* (left side) and me took no time to be old salt* (experienced sea man).  Shiver me timbers but them hills started and they ne'er stopped! On the pass through town me sail ho*(me see a bike) and the chase was on. 'bout 20 miles in, just before the legend of the beast, a squadron* (group of ten or less warships) of wenches blew by me. Me's not saying they's was bilge sucking*(does that really need an explanation??) but me sure that the beast took care of that. I prepared meself for a proper flogging*(punishment by caning) on the Beast by sucking down me grog*(pirates favorite drink, me special infinit formula).

Me Hearty* got this picture of the lead women (see the 27%, if that ain't a Cat O Nines Tail!*)

Gangway* (get out o me way!!)

Me hearty stationed heself early in the morn atop the crows nest*(lookout with a view) of the beast. Him and the other hands got to yo ho ho*(pirate laugh) ats many mates who were marooned on the beast. (really, they were very supportive!)

No Quarter* (surrender will not be accepted)

Aft the beast was laid to rest there were many lads and lassies on the sidelines wishing us fair winds*(good luck)  and slappin' high fives. Me couldn't resist slappin' a few. The locals favorite cheer was "push, push'. Felt appropriate, cause at times, it felt like serious labor! One point, we come around a corner and sink me, another 17% grade hill. Thee lily livered lad* (faint o heart) side me, cried avast* (stop that). I told him to belay* (shut up) and to board the jollyboat* (small, happy craft, often a dinghy). Me got thar, 9th off bike and it was time to abandon me Furner and see if me had me land legs.

View of the Briny Deep from the bike course

Immediately onto the run course, me thinkin' me addled* (mad, insane, or just stupid). We's be running 'round thee Buccaneer golf resort. Thee sutlers* (merchant in port) were pedalling all kinds of grub and grog and all stations were ship shape* (well organized and under control).  Me was splicin' the mainbrace* (having drinks) at every opportunity. A group of hands* (crew of sailors) were playin' us shanteys* (sailor work songs) while me danced with Jack Ketch* (the hangman) 'bout mile 8! Me black spotted* (placin' the black spot be markin' em for death) a few wenches in front o' me and the lights*(lungs) were a burnin' as me reeled them in. Many o' these mateys were runnin' like they's was loaded to the gunwales*(drunk). Some point me got a stowaway, some son of a bisquit eater* (bastard pirate) decided to sit on me shoulder and let me do the pacemaking. Me at me ropes end*(another term for flogging) and that blaggard* (insult) keelhauled* me (punishment by draggin' under the ship, from one side to 'nother, victim ends up half drowned, or worse, and lacerated from the barnacles beneath the ship) the last mile!

Me and me Poxied Swab*(diseased pirate)

Me suppose he didn't want this wench to make him kiss the gunners daughter*(to be bent over one of the ships guns and flogged), but me did. Me started 20 minutes arear of this 32 year old lad! Me tried to weigh anchor* (haul up anchor and go) in the last 3/4 mile.

Making Full Sail

Ye's can see with yer own deadlights* (eyes) here, me hanging on to me ropes end on yet anothe' hill! Well, blimey if me didn't fall overboard, mutiny me cry! 7th after run.

Me Pillage (raid, rob and sack a target) of the course complete

Me's in Fiddlers Green* (Pirate heaven)

Booty* (treasure earned) earned in Pillage

Monday, May 10, 2010

Jump Up

I will only milk my trip to St Croix for a few more blog posts. I promise. One of the best things about this island and event as I already mentioned was the laid back attitude. Laid back, but full of life! Lots of races have a pre-event dinner and maybe even some sort of banquet for athletes in a stuffy hall somewhere. One that charges an exuberant price for non racers. Not this race. Instead of lining us up to eat some soggy pasta dinner with iceberg lettuce salad we got a ticket worth $13 at any of the restaurants listed on the back. Imagine my GREAT pleasure that one of the choices was the towns vegan restaurant! Lalita was not only vegan it specialized in raw, living cuisine. Do you think I was in heaven? It was phenomenal! I managed to get there for a few meals!
Lalita's courtyard seating

Lalita's Bar and Open Kitchen

Everything was fresh to order and made with all organic ingredients. Things were so fresh that I smelt basil and looked up to see the chef picking it from a plant. After a delicious, leisurely dinner for two it was time to partake in the rest of the evenings events. St Croix puts on a street festival called Jump Up four times a year, one being the Friday before the half ironman. The streets are lined with entertainers and merchants. One giant street party Caribbean style. It was a lot of fun and the performers were so good that I was so engrossed, I barely took any pictures.

These guys got the party started!

One of the highlights of any Jump Up is that the Mocko Jumbies come out to play. Many of these dancers are young children but you would never know it. They are very impressive on the stilts.

Mocko Jumbie

One of the most popular vendors, with a huge line, most repeat customers, was making a fancy rum drink concoction with fresh pressed sugar cane, coconut milk and rum. The people in that area of the street fest were really having a good time:) Of course, rum costs about the same as bottled water so why not drink the rum? I had already won a bottle of rum on our moonlight kayak and gotten a bottle of rum in my race packet. Rum, not gatorade in the race packet!

The source of the Rum

I was a little disappointed that I was at a festival called Jump Up and not once did I hear 'I get up, and nothing gets me down. You got it tough, I've seen the toughest around. Ah, I might as well jump. Jump! Might as well jump, Go ahead and jump! Jump!'.  I was disappointed to not hear this Friday night, I guess that explains why it was the soundtrack in my head on Sunday. 'You say you don't know, you won't know until you begin'. JUMP, you might as well JUMP!!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Breathtaking Beauty- enough about the beast!

The days leading into the St Croix half ironman were spent exploring the island and soaking up the sun and atmosphere. It was such a beautiful place and I did manage to get in a few tune up workouts, other than snorkeling.

Pt Udall the most eastern tip of the US

Rather than ride my bike along the race course, which seemed a little redundant (not to mention the fact that I missed a turn) I rode out to the most eastern tip of the US. This monument was built in 2000 to commemorate the millennium. It has a sun dial and has shadows line up with the pillars at certain times of the year. I was fascinated by all of this shadow stuff so I took my own picture.

Noon, pretty sure I will be out on the race course at this time!

The swim leg of the race was held in an active boat harbor, you know with boats coming and going, boats with motors with propellers on them. My common sense and the fact that the race forbid us to swim in the harbor outside designated times, meant I had to go to a scheduled swim session. Mostly, I saw this as just another chance to spend time in the amazingly clear bath tub like water. Normally, I would go for a short swim, but this time I swam the course. I did this for two reasons. One, it was so fun and beautiful. Two, I couldn't figure out a way to cut it short once I was following the buoy line.

Swim course in the background

Race morning we swim out to this island to wait for the start

Beach on Buck Island

I even took a nice little run one day down a dirt road from the condo we were staying in to a private beach. Is it considered a brick workout that I went in the water and then got out and continued my run? My own private aquathon.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

No Worries, Mon!

Adopting the Caribbean mantra 'no worries, mon' was the most important thing I did for this race. Instead of riding the beast on my reconnaissance mission, I was driven up it. (that's right, I didn't even drive!) I made careful observations from the passenger side of our rental car. The driver told me that it is steep but I have ridden lots of steep hills before. (how does he know this, since he does not ride a road bike with me??). I went with this and said, 'I will be fine, you are right, nothing to worry about'. When asked by locals and other racers if I had ridden the beast, I confidently told them nope, I was saving myself for race day. When they had a look of utter shock on their face, I said 'just like saving yourself for your wedding night'. The response to this was to laugh. Wonder if they were laughing at the prospect that I saved myself for my wedding night, or they were laughing because like a new virgin bride I was about to get a dose of reality? Guess we'll never know, but probably both.

Road before the official start of the Beast

The official description of the beast is the it is 7/10 of a mile with grades between 14-21%. What is not mentioned is that it is uphill at about 7% for about 1 mile before you make the left hand turn to the official start. It also kicks up significantly just before the turn.

Fresh Paint letting us know, this is the start

You may wonder how I am able to be so specific on the gradients of the climbs. Just to make sure that we knew how hard the hill was, in case our legs weren't reliable enough sources, the grade was painted on EVERY hill on the course. So considerate! Now, my system of hard, steep and OMG is much more fine tuned;)

The oh so dreaded 21% section.

What the course description failed to mention is that there is also a 27% section if you choose to take the inside of one of the corners. Luckily, I learned that lesson the hard way in the past and knew that it was better to go wide. Still, quite impressive to see the 27% painted on the road.

3/4 of the way up a fire breathing BEAST!

After driving the beast I continued my race preparation with a lovely moonlight kayak in a bio luminescent bay. Doesn't that sound like way more fun than worrying! 'because when you worry, your face will frown, and that will bring everybody down'. I should point out, I did jump out of the kayak and swim in the bay. I counted that as a taper week swim, and I really lit that workout up:)

Red Mangrove trees which grow directly in salt water