Sunday, June 1, 2014

Bike racing was easy! Hood 2 River Relay Race Report.

I realize I don't blog anymore. It's not that life hasn't been exciting. I went the the Cayman Islands for almost a week. I've been doing some wicked fun riding, etc. But heck, I am retired. I am just living life. Planted a garden, etc. And a few months ago, I thought it would be a good idea to support one of my favorite race promoters, Chad Sperry, and sign up for the inaugural Hood 2 River Relay and race solo open women. WHAT WAS I THINKING??? I'll tell you what I was thinking. I thought I would train. I thought it would keep me motivated and in shape. I thought I would run more. I thought a lot of things, but never did I think I would win and never did I think I would be this damn sore afterwards. This race makes bike racing a piece of cake.
I didn't go into this event totally blind. I did actually do the PPP (Pole Pedal Paddle) about 16-17 years ago solo when I first moved here. A friend (David Knoll) invited me. I talked another friend (Pam Frick now Schwartz) into doing it solo, but together. We started together and finished together and we were total hacks. It was awesome. 

Pam and I upon completion of our PPP.

So, I knew it was going to be a logistical nightmare. I knew I would need help. And I knew I could do all the events, even if I would suck at some and I knew it would be a kick ass workout. Best part about it was that I overestimated the time it would take to finish it by about an hour. So, here is how it played out.

Leg 1: Alpine Ski. They made us run up to our skis up a steep hill. It was a great way to get the blood pumping. I was not even close to getting a good start off the line. Nor did I take any risk going down the gates. I guess I forgot I was in a hurry. There were ruts. Snow was variable. I had no edges or wax on my old skis. And my good friend Erik Weeman had already sliced his shin open during the warm up run. Slow ski, but whatever. It was FUN!

Leg 2: Nordic Ski.  After the slowest transition in history after being told I had to walk across the mat with my skis, thus having to take my boots out of my bindings, I struggled. I didn't even think to walk across in my socks with the boots still attached to my skis. Duh! I have these 2 pin Pilot bindings on my skate skis and they are NOT easy to get fastened ever. Add adrenaline. Forget about it. Eventually I got going, and the skate was awesome. HARD. But great. And way longer than 2 miles. Snow was pretty darn good. I love skate skiing, but it felt really hard. And two laps going up this hill. I guess I forgot it was a race. And supposed to be HARD. 

Leg 3: Mountain Bike. Or in my case, CX ride. Only 7 miles. Probably the one leg that needs a little improvment to make it a true MTB experience, but it was fine. Bombed down the access road and down to teacup and then did a loop in teacup that we normally skate. It was a lot rougher than anticipated and I had a blast. I caught several people on this leg. Smiled the whole way. Realized that screamer hill is hard on bikes and skis. Ughhh. I grabbed my TT bike at the transition, but when I went over the mat, no beep. Somehow I had lost my chip. A bit of panic and confusion, but mostly just a big bummer.

Leg 4: Road bike. 27 miles. Downhill mostly. In a head wind. I used my TT bike for probably the last time. I may have been uncomfortable, but I was aero. And apparently built a huge gap on this leg. I had no idea where I was in the race, I just pedaled and reminded myself to stay on top of the gear. I didn't feel particularly fast and I was just annoyed that even downhill I had to pedal the entire time. It was hard. I focused on drinking and eating something, b/c I knew what was coming next. And I was dreading it.

Leg 5: Run. 6.7 miles. More than 10K. Pure hell. I had been dreading this. I hadn't run enough to prepare. I knew it. But after being so uncomfortable and sick of being on my TT bike, I kind of welcomed being upright and running. Until I was running. But I channeled my inner Erin Ford and told myself to keep going, one foot in front of the other, quick turn over. Use the momentum. It hurt, but I probably ran the fastest I have run for a long time. Without my timing chip, I will never know what my split was. I even forgot my bag at home that had my garmin watch in it. I was liberated from any data during this event. The run was long. And painful. And towards the end, not really marked. I was a bit misguided, but got back on track and to the beach where I met my kayak for the first time. 

Leg 6: Kayak. 1.5 miles. Way too long. Very windy. Word to the wise: maybe check your kayak out prior to the race when renting and get it set up for yourself. The seat and feet were too far apart, so I just winged it and with all my practice from the Grand Cayman trip (one time on a sit on top kayak), I struggled through it. I got blown all over the place. Lots of back paddling to get back on track. I was so relieved to see the shore, and then I stood up. OUCH.

Leg 7: Run to finish. Ouch, ouch, and double ouch. I looked over my shoulder several times just to make sure no one was going to pass me at the last minute. I won. It was very anti-climactic. No one was there. Sans chip, the timing guy was very confused. But then it was party time. Food, friends, sunshine and just being done! I survived. I did it! And somehow I won. That was an unexpected bonus. 

Back at the cabin with our weekend guests, Ashley and Nate Koch, and Erik Weeman who had fresh stitches in his shin, we ate, drank, cooked, laughed and enjoyed. It really wasn't about the winning or losing. It was about the people. It was about the experience. It was about the personal challenge. It was fun. Like bike racing always was. A great Saturday in the books. I am glad I put it on my calendar. Despite not being able to walk afterwards! Thanks to Breakaway Promotions and Chad Sperry for creating this event and making it happen. It should be put on your bucket list. You won't be sorry.

photos to follow if I can find some...


Sonja Butler said...

I love you and your mental & physical grit!! Chris and I were talking about your nordic strength last night. Impressive. Thanks for detailing the race I had no idea what all it entailed. Hope you got some R&R and feel better soon.

Becky @ RunFunDone said...

So fun! I just discovered this event and signed up to do it with my husband yesterday! I'm so excited, but I don't know how to cross country ski, so I'm a bit nervous.