Monday, June 11, 2012

Michigan Mountain Mayhem 160K Recap!

From the title, you can see that I did do the century ride, as I had decided to do.  On Thursday, on the drive from KY to MI, Ryan expressed more concern for me and that ride.  Kent, who now claims that he fully supported me doing the 160K, still was posting data on my f/b about how much harder the MMM was than the HH.  The consensus what that if I really was set on doing a century, that I should pick a flatter one later on.  Then, I get a f/b message from one of Ryan's female friends (who's husband rides with Ryan), suggesting I reconsider and ride with her.  To be honest, when I found out that SHE wasn't doing the 160K, it scared me a bit.  She had done the ride before, and Stephanie, who I planned to ride with, had not.  From what I knew of these ladies, they had been similarly matched.  She worried that it was going to be very painful for me to finish.  Ryan said that he didn't want me to have to walk "the wall", an 18% grade hill at mile 98 of the ride, that was preceded by 2 miles of gradual climbing.  I was feeling stressed out.  I called Stephanie before we met up with Kent, Valerie, Austin, and Dave, to drive to Boyne, and waffled a bit.  She gave me some great advice.  Don't listen to people who I have not ridden with me, who don't know anything about me.  That was probably the best thing she said.  Why was I putting so much stock in what people that didn't know much about me?  While I had never ridden with her before, I had met her a few times mountain biking, and knew that she was really strong.  She was pregnant last year, and her son is only 8m, otherwise she probably would have been doing the 200K with the boys.  I knew I needed to talk to Valeire, and possibly Cristina, if I was starting to freak out.  I was just having a hard time telling if I was just feeling the normal pre-event nerves or if I was being flat out unrealistic.

We get to Kent and Valerie's house, and divide up between the girls van and the boys van.  That was a great call.  I had an honest talk with Valerie, and she knows me really well.  I mean, she saw me jump in the lake after only really swimming for 2.5 weeks after not ever swimming as an adult and come out alive.  She has ridden with me numerous times, as well as run with me too many times to count.  She has given me some awesome pep talks before that helped with my mental toughness.  Before my first tri, she told me, "you were an elite athlete (referring to my time as a competitve gymnast), you know what to do when it is hard, and you will keep going, and be just fine".  That was pretty much the talk I needed.  She completely understood my need to "seize the day", and take full advantage of the training that I had already done, and the fact that the kids were fine with Ryan's parents, and me doing this ride was not going to have any effect on the distance or time that Ryan was able to ride.  She understood how it seemed like a waste since I had already done a hilly 76.7 mile ride, and that I didn't want to drive all that way up to Boyne to do 65 miles.  While that distance is nothing to be ashamed of, it just seemed to me, that they way things were going, I had better take this opportunity and just get it done.  Since I haven't been super happy with the way things have been going in KY, and have had my fair share share of emotional discomfort lately, I was ready to deal with some physical pain.  I know how to deal with that. 

We get up there and pick up our stuff.  I called Stephanie and told her that I was on for the 160K, and I ordered a jersey.  No backing out now, right!  We ran into my friend Kristel, who had been sick lately and wasn't considering the 160K at all.  We grabbed dinner, and I crashed early in bed. 

I woke up at 11:47pm by the sound of pouring rain and thunder.  Crud.  I totally thought it was morning.  Thankfully, it wasn't, and I hoped this would end before morning.  It was making me second guess myself again.  I woke up in the morning and got ready to go.  I put on my Landshark kit, but then it started raining, again, so I switched to my all black.  I wasn't interested in ruining my brand new white tri top with road grime.  I had also packed cycling shorts instead of tri shorts, and this way I was just all black, with black CEP sleeves.  We got all set, and over to the start.  The 200K guys started first.  They wanted all the 200K folks to start before 7:30am.  It was chip timed, so you could start whenever you wanted, but in order to be done in time and hit the rest stops at the right times, you couldn't completely lolligag in the morning. 

Then, it was time for me to start.  I met up with Stephanie, and her husband made the even more bold decision to do the 160K too, and he hadn't trained as much as I had.  We rolled out with a big group, trying to save our legs for when we would make the split at mile 25 from the big group.  I had wished the decision point between the 100K and 160K was a little further out, but it wasn't.  We ended up with a group of 6 riders to do the 160K.  I had a little trouble with my cleats, because first they got sand in them at one stop and wouldn't clip in, and then later, they wouldn't unclip.  I tipped over twice due to these issues, and felt like a total dork!  The first time was because I came completely unclipped while going uphill, and couldn't get my feet clipped or on the ground in time.  DORK!  The second time I dropped my chain, and was in denial that it was dropped, trying to get it to pick itself up.  My dolce would sometimes pick itself back up.  Not my trek, and I came to an abrupt stop again on the hill as soon as I lost all forward momentum on the uphill.  I seriously felt like an idoit.  We had gotten separated from Stephanie and her husband a little bit.  I was doing OK with the other 3 from our group of 6, and they had told us to go ahead.  Her husband Brian, was hurting.  I felt OK still, so I stayed with the other group.  Stephanie and Brian caught up with us when I had my "issue" on the steepest hill, a 20% grade.  I was just glad I was able to get started again and not have to walk it up.  That was the trickiest thing!  I was really relieved when I got to the top that it was in fact the steepest hill, and that there was an extra water stop at the top that was a late addition.

We had a longer stop at around mile 50.  We had "lunch", and hoped that everyone would recover enough that we could stay together.  I still felt great.  I felt really good well past the 65 mile mark, so I was pleased that I had made the decision to do the additional miles.  I was not ready to stop at 65.  However, I started struggling to hang with my group after Stephanie and Brian had fallen back, and the upper 70s/lower 80s were pretty tough.  It was just hard because I wanted to slow down a tad, but I didn't want to be alone, because we were in a paceline, and I knew it would be easier to stay with them.  Ryan didn't want me alone either, although an organized ride was probably the safest place to be alon.  I was counting down the miles until the next rest stop, which wasn't until mile 84.  We made it, and I made mention that I was struggling.  I got a lot to eat, and sat for a bit.  Stephanie and Brian came into the stop, and I made the very good decision to finish up the last 20 with them.  I probably should have stayed with them in the first place.

It was so much better riding just a tad slower, and also not having the pressure to keep up with the faster group.  Stephanie is a strong rider.  She could just shoot up the hills.  I felt like I did a pretty good job with them.  I had some bigger guy yell at me, "well, I could climb like that if I was only 110lbs too".  Really?  why do you need to get mad at me for passing you on a hill like that.  Maybe because I was on a tri bike.  I don't know.    Another guy said some expletives under his breath at some really fast guys on titatium bikes that shot up another hill, passing both of us like we were going backwards.  I am not sure why people are so mean!  We were at the point on the route when all 4 routes were together, so the super fast  hardcore 200K riders that started before us were now passing us.  I was waiting for Ryan to pass us, actually, but I didn't know if he was already ahead or behind, and after all the trouble that Kent had with the Horsey Hundred, I really didn't know if he was going to be held up by his friends. 

We had one more rest stop, around 94 miles.  We knew there were only 10 to go from here, but figured it would be nice to regroup and refill water.  It had gotten warm, and we had the biggest hill to go, "the wall".    We had just left that rest stop when we came to a stop sign with a short but steep hill on the other side.  We stopped, and then as we started to push up the hill, I shifted, and then dropped my chain.  BUT, this time, my chain dug into my frame!  I was horrified.  My beautiful bike was scratched, with carbon flaking off, PLUS, it was stuck.  It wasn't budging.  I walked up that short hill, and then got angry.  Bike SAG just happend to come by.  They took a look at it, and it was still really stuck!  So, we ended up just pulling on it.  I hated to do that, but I also hated to stop before I had the opportunity to try the wall and hit the 100 miles.  Also, since I had picked up a chip, it would be my first DNF if I didn't get it unstuck.  It wasn't a big chunk, but I was still a little stressed about the safety of my bike.  A big rectangular chunk of paint was gone, as well as some gouges.  I later learned that I am missing a skid plate entirely, after looking at a photo on trek's website.  I was just happy to continue on, sort of.  Part of me was ready to be done and get into that truck- I had already gone farther than I had ever gone, but I didn't want to give up before "the wall".

Shortly after that, we started our approach to the wall.  It was then that I realized that not only was my front deraileur jacked up (since it kept dropping the chain), but my rear was messed up too now, likely from yarding so hard on the chain to dislodge it.  No matter what gear I was in, if I was pedaling hard, the chain jumped around.  CHONG CHONG CHONG.  You could hear me coming for sure!  We were at the base of the actual wall, and I thankfully had several gears left, and right as I wasn't quite standing up, and I got super mad at my bike.  The jumping was shaking the whole thing.  The wall looked dismall.  Everyone ahead was walking.  It was really depressing and uninspiring.  A pack of really fast, superfit guys, probably 200Kers, started to overtake me as I was making all sorts of noise with my bike and cursing SRAM bar end shifters.  They said "Shimano Baby, all the way!", and then I tried to focus on them and how fit they were heading up the wall.  I think had I not seen them tackle it ahead of me like that, it would have been a lot harder to keep going.  It was super hard, and I wanted to be done so bad, but I kept plugging and chunking on.  I finally got to the point where I could see the photographer at the top, and that is when I knew I wanted a good picture going over the wall!  Ryan looked really rough in his picture from last year, and with all his talk about not wanted me to be so worn out that I couldn't do it, I was set on smiling, and getting over that hill!  The pictures aren't available  yet, but I can't wait to see if I looked OK or not.  I was covered in salt and all blotchy looking, and I was working hard, so I am sure it won't be pretty, but hopefully I am at least smiling!  Stephanie made it up as well, and her husband walked up.  The nice thing about being done with the wall is that is was pretty much all downhill from there to the finish.  There were a few rollers, but nothing major.  I was so excited to have my Garmin click over to 100!  We were still a few miles out, but at that point, I had conquered the wall, hit 100, so if anything happened at that point, it was still a win in my book!  I was tired, and my knees and shins hurt, but I finished up.  My time was 6:41 from my Garmin.  My official finish time was 8:41.  So I had 2 hours of time spent at the rest stops!  Since I had switched from the 100K to the 160K, I had to tell them at the timing tent where they were giving out receipts.  The first receipt they handed me had a pace of 4mph!  WHAT?  Then I looked and noticed that they had moved me down to the 50K and not up to the 160K.  Probably not a lot of people move up, but I am not like a lot of normal people, I guess!

I found Valerie, who had already finished up with the 100K.  She said we were still waiting on the guys.  She took a few pictures on her camera that I don't have.  We were wondering about the guys, and hoped nothing bad had happened.  They rolled in about 20minutes later.  I was glad they didn't have to wait for me, and they didn't have any issues.  There was a "super hill" that was optional, and Dave had wanted to do it, so they waited while he completed it.  Ryan also said that he had to do waiting at times, and that he got an awful cramp on the wall.  He stopped, worked it out for a bit, and then continued up it.  I don't know how anyone could get restarted after stopping in the middle, it was so steep!  It was a great day.  I am so glad I did it, and Ryan was pleasantly surprised that I finished the 160K. 

We made it back to Canton to meet up with the rest of our family that night, and the next day, had a little low key birthday celebration for Keira.

We also dropped my bike off at the newest location of Two Wheel Tango, down the street from Ryan's parents.  Thankfully, I am going to be back in MI next week, and they will just keep it for me until then.  Hopefully it is just cosmetic, and they can get the shifting under control too while they have it.  They do lifetime free tune ups on bikes you purchase there, so I am glad we were able to get it over there.  I have my road bike to ride in the meantime.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

MMM Weekend Preview

This weekend is the Michigan Mountain Mayhem.  To say that I am a bit nervous would be a major undestatement.  I feel like I have two camps of friends right now, those who have no question that I will finish it, and those that think I am nuts for wanting to try it.  The unfortunate thing is that my husband and his friend Kent are in the later group.  So, I am putting this post out here to help ME remember why I want to do it.

1.  My cycling has been progressing very well this year.  I feel very very strong on the bike (for me).  Perhaps I need this to humble me?
2.  I am not unfamiliar with being in over my head.  My first triathlon ever was a huge example of this.  Some things you just have to go out and do, to fully comprehend what you are getting into. 
3.  I am stubborn, and understand that the mind is a powerful thing.  I am very set on doing the 100mi route.  Pretty much only major mechanical problems or really bad weather will allow me to even consider not doing the route.  I have never needed to be rescued from a run or ride before, and I don't plan on it happening this weekend.  I'm going to do what I set out to do!  I feel like there have been so many opportunities where I could have given up on a workout and have not.  I hope to be able to put this determination to good use this weekend.
4.  You don't know what you can do until you try.  The body is an amazing thing, and I really believe that it can do more than you really know.  I plan on testing that this weekend.
5.  It seems like a waste to travel all the way up to Boyne to only ride 65 miles.  That is sort of a dumb reason, but really, we have childcare lined up for the whole day, so I might as well take full advantage of it.  I feel like with Ryan and I constantly trying to balance who does what ride, we finally have the opportunity to both do a really long one, and I want to take advantage of it.
6.  It will help me determine if doing a full Ironman is something that I still want to do, and gauge how much work I will need to put in.  Ryan always feels really miserable after his century rides, because he gives all he can to them, and could never imaging wanting to run a marathon after.  I am curious to see if I will feel the same.  I felt like a rock star after the Horsey Hundred, and while this route will have more climbing than any triathlon course that I plan to do, it will at least let me know how I feel after being on the bike for 7+ hours or so.  I do think it will take me 7 hours at least.   Ryan averaged 17mph for this ride last year, so if I can hit 15mph, I will be plenty happy!
7.  I am confident with my nutrition and training, and I believe in myself.
8.  I am a bit crazy, but I think you already knew that.
9.  This isn't a reason, but I wanted to add it.  I am debating on wearing all black on Sat, just because I will be doing this for CLIF and not Aquaphor (which I did get offered and accepted, whoo hoo!).  Ryan asked me if I thought I was Johnny Cash, and if I was going to a funeral.  Maybe I am!  I still might wear my landshark kit, though.  I am actually thinking regular cycling shorts and not tri shorts is going to be the way to go, though.
9.  This appeared in my news feed today:
What will we receive if we press forward and endure to the end?

2 Nephi 31:20 Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.
I know this has nothing to do with biking, but hey, it has to do with pressing on!

Wish me luck!