Thursday, June 17, 2010

the Stoopid 50

So this race I was determined not to bonk.  You can see I brought along chips, salsa, coconut macaroons, granola, Raw Revolution bars, GU Chomps, chocolate cookies, bananas, and yes jelly beans.  Although the only things I ate during the race were some jelly beans, the GU Chomps, and the coconut macaroons, my new secret weapon. And the jelly beans were pretty good too and a nice break from all the Gu blocks, which started to give me a stomachache halfway through the race. 

And it worked.  Or at least I did not bonk. The only problem was I am not sure it was because I rode slow enough that my body did not need those extra calories.

Chris Scott, the Promoter, liked my nutrition choices so much he posted this pic of my drop bag to his Facebook page after the race with the caption, "all I need is more sugar!" I love being mocked.
Anyway, about the course, 50 miles, 70% incredibly technical, scenic, backcountry singletrack with more rocks than even French Creek. There were plenty of gravel climbs as well.  I started out way too slow, something new and different. There was a long three mile climb and then more climbing. I did not warm up, so my glutes were on fire the whole time. I took it easy and paid the price. I got behind every rider who did not know how to carry speed though rock gardens. The first trail was the Tussey Mountain Trail that I had rocked at the training camp. I had to pass folks right and left.  I need to be better at that.  Even if they are not going that much slower than you and you are thinking twice about passing them, once you do pass them they tend to ride even slower. Unless of course they are male sport riders whose egos take a beating when they are passed by a chick. And they speed up which is really annoying. It took me the first half of the race to get out of that mess. It had rained for the first hour so everything was slick and muddy. I took a few nasty spills during the race.  Perhaps the best was when I cracked my head after sailing through a long section of treacherous rock gardens, passing a bunch of riders, all proud of myself and then…whack.  ^^%$!!

“Are you OK? Can I help you?” the rider I had easily showed up (ha) said as he came rolling up to me. Now you need to understand before you read my answer to him that:
a.  I had forgotten my pharmaceuticals in my haste to pack for the hotel, so I had not had my wellbutrin   that morning. And
b.  I had just spent 2 hours fighting my way from behind the folks who were just out for a 50-mile ride. And
c.  I had just cracked my head, which always pisses me off, whether I fall or run into a door or whatever.

 “no, there is nothing YOU can POSSIBLY do to help me.” I said, being a total bitch but as I said I was irritated.
The main problem I had during this race was my left hand. I have terrible carpal tunnel syndrome. I had a nerve study done, had made changes to my bikes, had tried anti-inflammatories and a cortisone shot and I wear these really sexy wrist braces to bed. Nothing has helped. My left hand goes totally numb and I cannot feel it or even use it at all. I have to reach my right arm across to shift my gears. I have to look down and see if I am braking or not. It was a special problem at the Stoopid because many of the rocky downhils really require that you lay off the brakes and just trust that the bike, if you choose the right line, can pretty much roll over anyting with your momentum. In my case not only did I have to brake too much because of traffic, but I was so terrified that if I let go of my front brake I would not be able to use my hand again, that I was riding my brakes way too much on the downhills. My wrists were not only numb but they were burning and it was excruciating and terrifying because at any moment my hand could fail and I would crash, badly. On one steep downhill with switchbacks I was in so much pain I rode off the trail, stood up and just shook out my left wrist for a few minutes, waiting for the pain and numbness to subside. It was pretty awful. But then there were times when the numbness would dissipate and I could ride normally for awhile. It turns out that Dr. Todd does the surgery all the time and apparently the downtime is not that bad, so in a few weeks after Marysville I will make an appt with him and see about getting my ligament cut. That’s what I need, one more surgery.  The first one of 2010!
Anyway, I was determined to speed up during the second half, which I did and I passed a lot of people, but it was late to make a huge change in my results. By the time it was finished I felt like I could do another 30 miles. That is a good indication you did not push yourself hard enough. The course ended with the Three Bridges Trail which fortunately I had pre-ridden at the TSE camp. You come up a gravel climb (after climbing for miles) and make a quick left into the woods and straight down a treacherous, rock strewn descent. The entire trail is a descent but not one you could relax on. The pre-ride (at the camp) was invaluable; this was the trail on which  Mike had videotaped me demonstrating how to nail it to the other campers. Sothe only thing freaking me out on that trail were my numb wrists.
I shared a hotel room with Janel and Todd, which was an adventure, as was the road trip up in my new plush ride. We ended up listening to 80s and 90s music on XM most of the time. I made Todd drive up since I knew I would be the best one to drive home since they would both have raced hard, and I haven't learned to do that since the installation of my little box.

As for the results, there were 202 racers that finished, 21 women.
I came in 6th out of 21, Top female Kristin Gavin came in at 5:17, Janel at 5:53, and I did not roll in until 6:44--yikes. The good news is I know I can do a lot better, 6:44 was riding easy.  I came in 125th overall (all racers), Kristin was 29th overall, Nicki 57th, and Janel 76th.
Todd came in 6:38 as strong as he is: it was a very technical course for him and he bit it on the Three Bridges at the end.  He was bleeding and annoyed when I got back to my car and saw him, rare for Dr. Smiles.  It started to pour and we ended up cleaning ourselves up the best we could and scooping up Janel and skipping the post-race beer and burgers.  And of course we all forgot our drop bags. We went back to the hotel and showered up and then headed to Chipotle for some burritos and the trip home. 
Good things I learned:

  • I can get a handle on my nutrition if I choose the right foods and consume more liquid calories. 

  • I need to start faster, even if I go into a deficit for a bit afterwards I will recover. No fear. My heart needs to go into block in the warmup, because when it blocks and the pacer kicks in, my legs blow up for about 25 seconds and I feel like shit.  It messes with your head.  Which means I have to get off my ass and warmup before these races. 

  • I probably need more intensity in my training but that is for coach to figure out.

  • I can ride a lot faster.  50 hard miles is very manageable for me and it wasn't a month ago. My legs were not even sore on Monday!  Besides the multiple bruises. I went into the gym Tuesday and hammered them though so today they are sore.

  • I need to be a lot more aggressive about passing people.

  • I get stronger as the race goes on if again,  I stay on top of my nutrition. Coconut macaroons rock.

  • I need carpal tunnel surgery most likely, and a new saddle desperately. 
 The best part, somehow after this race I am in first place in the endurance series.  That probably won't last, especially if Selene does more MASS races, but hey, for now I'll take it. 

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