August 2, 2009

Sport legs pills swallowed: 20
Bottles of Heed melon-flavored drink drank: 5
Bottles of water drank: 5
Cans of Sprite consumed: 0
Different post-race meals I had in my hands at Whole Foods but then didn’t buy (b/c I couldn’t decide on any one or two): 5
Dinner idea I finally came up with: LaBarge’s Moonlight Diner: Mojo burger with fries and a vanilla shake. (We’ll see if the burger gives my legs any of their mojo back.)

Trying ot get my mojo back via a burger.

Trying to get my mojo back via a burger.

A mighty ass kicking was meted out today. To me. By the Tour de Park City.

Going into this 170 mile race that climbs nearly 10,000 feet coming off of only three weeks of riding outside and a food poisoning-induced fast this past Tuesday, I knew it would kick my ass. But I didn’t think it would really kick my ass. After all, the first year I did the 206-miles-in-a-day Lotoja, my longest training ride had been 110 miles. So was it really a big deal if my longest training ride for a 170-mile race was 90-some miles?

Well, Lotoja is wuss-y compared to this race. I don’t know how race organizers do it, but the race isn’t only full of climbing, but also has riders battling a headwind no matter which direction they’re heading. Magnificent. There really is no easy stretch. You look ahead and think it’s flat, but it’s 30 miles of false flats (with a headwind). You’re on the rivet trying to keep a pace of 14mph. And then, after you pass the 100-mile mark somewhere along here, you’re watching every .1 of a mile tick by on your cycling computer; teasing yourself onward only with promises of a rest every two miles. Yup, I stopped my bike, unclipped both feet, got off my bike and just stood in the grass by the side of the road three times in the last seven miles I rode. I wasn’t exaggerating when I said I had my ass kicked.

While I’m bummed I didn’t finish – I’ve never DNF’d anything before – I have to say I’m a little proud of myself for proving that I’m not the most stubborn person on the face of the planet. My legs felt like total shit: the slightest rise had me off the back of the pack from the very beginning. And I started getting chills around mile 80. I don’t know what to blame the former on (other than not enough preparation), but the latter I’m going to blame on dehydration. Even though I thought I was drinking plenty, I’m guessing I wasn’t. When I stopped at the feed zone at mile 107, about 15 miles from the top of Bald Mountain Pass, I thought I had somehow managed to blow snot all over my chin. It was so crusty. Upon further investigation, my entire face was that crusty. Reminded me of the days I could afford to get microderm-abrasion facials (ahhh, I miss those … and spas in general). My neck, arms and shoulders (including all around my new, big collarbone scar) were that crusty too. Impressive. I thought I had sweat before, but evidently not. This is a whole new level. I bet I had seven pounds of crystals all told. Or maybe not. But it sure felt and sounded like seven pounds as I was scraping and scrunching them all off.

Anyway, so I’m a bit proud of myself for quitting. (Quick aside: I wasn’t so proud of myself when I was still at the 107-mile feed zone and there was some chumbawunba dude hopping about on one leg with bags of ice pressed against his other knee while wondering aloud whether he should 1) push on or 2) suffer permanent bodily harm. All because of a tight IT band. “My IT band is serious,” he kept telling his riding buddies. What was really serious? His attention grabbing and excuse-making. Especially as 10 minutes later he got on his bike and went pedaling away just fine. IT band my ass. Setting down excuses for a DNF is more like it. I’ll bet an all-you-can-eat pizza night at Betty Rock that he didn’t cross the finish line, or, he’d be the type to sag in, but have the sag car drop him a mile from the finish so he could still ride in. My sag driver offered to do that. Really, if you do that do you tell people you rode the whole race?)

But enough of the IT band choad. While it’s going to hurt my pride to tell everyone I didn’t finish, if I had kept going, I’d probably still be out there right now (12 hours after having started). Which would hurt my body much more. Of course I now have a goal for next year: Top 3. If I ever get my legs back, the climbing on this course is actually my kind of climbing – power rollers and then long and gentle.

I’m totally in awe of anyone who finishes this race though. (Anna – you rock! Thanks for keeping me going on those false flats.) It really is incredibly burly. In the last 15 miles there are two highway climbs, each between 1,000 and 1,500 vertical feet. And – of course – they had riders climbing straight into a headwind. Pushing up them in the sag car? I was still getting tired. Even the downhill off Bald Mtn. Pass wasn’t easy. You guessed it, into a headwind.

Lotoja really is child’s play next to this.

All right. Time to go to bed. I’ve got a great van-camping spot along the banks of some river just south of LaBarge. It’s only 9:30, but I was too tired to drive anymore.

I had to “wash” all the crystals off me – no shower yet – with a little Stridex zit pad. Reminds me of the “showers” I used to take in Nepal. Except I evidently didn’t really sweat there as I never had stalactite-like crystals growing anywhere on my person. Despite trekking through an equatorial forest. (In case you didn’t know – as I didn’t the first time I went – that Nepal is pretty dang close to the equator.)

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