Saturday, August 24, 2013

Climbing Mountains!!

Tom and I spent a week in Colorado with many of our favs.  Most of us spent so much time out training in the mountains that we now feel like we need a vacation from our vacation! Manitou Springs is the home of Pikes Peak and this active little city is one of my favorite pockets in the world! This was our 3rd trip back here and we decided to rent a house as a group and it totally rocked. VRBO is probably one of the best things to ever happen to me. We scored this large cabin way up above the city in what the locals refer to as the "shire."
 
 

The views were incredible and the family that owns this place also has adopted many stray/rescue animals including horses, a couple donkeys, and a bunch of dogs. It was like living in the midst of our very own zoo!



EEYORE!
Their dog Maggie was my favorite as each day she would come over to our cabin, let herself in and then hang out with us....she was the cutest and I wanted to take her home!

 

Some of our friends signed up for the Pikes Peak Ascent Half Marathon, which basically involves climbing from the bottom of Manitou Springs, CO all the way to the Summit of Pikes Peak. 13.2 crazy miles! Sue, Eman, Lisa and Katy all made it to the summit!


 
They were stoked and I loved hearing all about their races and struggles with the altitude, the 16 Golden Steps, etc. I will admit I started to wonder if I could just "hike" this 1/2 marathon next year! Jeff, Anne and Eman (again!) proved that was possible later on it the week. Hmm...now to convince my coach this is a good idea!

 Since Tom and I weren't racing the Ascent we spent most of the week training, chilling, and enjoying a break from the hot, humid place we call home.  Here are some of the highlights!


Palmer Park - this is a "I'm too scared to ride it" face
Woah!!! I  dusted off the kicks for the 38% grade hike Up the Incline
Taking the Barr Trail back down
Here we are at the start of the Pikes Peak Ascent. cheering our friends off!
Then we rode to to the top of Rampart Range Road! 9,300 feet!
What a view of Pikes Peak!!!
Andrea and I climbing to the top of Gold Camp Road
 
My Broadaxe was starting to get tired....
So it only seemed natural to ride it up Pikes Peak Highway


19.05 Miles, 162 turns, 6.5% average grade, 2:59, 165 bpm, 6,716 feet of climb

Finally I made it to the Summit!!!!  Brr.


Tom drove up to share Donuts and Cappucino!!!  What a week!
 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Ore to Shore!!


Ore to Shore race weekend was much freaking fun that I’m still floating on air thinking about it!  I had been looking forward to this race for most of the year and it turned out to be so much more than I could have ever dreamed! Racing my bike is always a blast, but doing it with this guy is 1000 times sweeter!

New Foundry Race Kits!!!

Okay, let’s cut to the chase…Tom took home the Morgan Ore to Shore crown this year edging me at the line by a whopping 1.8 seconds. Boo!!!   Note to self, drop this cat earlier in the race next year! Some people were surprised he didn’t “let me win” the race.  He’s like “I don’t think these people know who I’m married to!”
I had a preferred start this year which allowed me to have an awesome warm up and roll right up to the start gate just in time to hear the National Anthem playing. I lined up right behind Jenna and since she’s a phenomenal pro racer I figured I would just do whatever she was doing and try my best to keep up.  The pace was intense from the get go with lots of slow down and then get out of your saddle and mash to stay up front.  I was actually pleased with my start and was only about 10 yards behind Jenna when we entered the dirt.  This is when I seriously felt like I was riding training wheels as a zillion dudes and speedy Sue passed me and I couldn’t grab onto a wheel to safe my life. There was a small crash that I managed to only have to step down and scoot around….I stayed calm and remembered that usually this “I feel like ass” phase only lasts briefly and I smoothly climbed Lucy hill and then was shortly passed by Diana and Cooper.  Man, I really needed a wheel at this point…and then finally I heard “on your right” I looked to my right and there was no one? So I turned to the left and yep, there was Tom!!  (apparently he is still trying to learn his rights and lefts).  He slowed slightly so I could grab a small break on his wheel.  Wow, I so needed that. Thanks babe! Then about 30 minutes into the race we all came to a screeching hault.  What on earth?  There was a stalled TRAIN blocking the trail!  Ha!  At first I was panicked thinking that it totally ruined the women’s race, but then was pleased to realize that everyone but Jenna was also stopped by the train. 

Most people were super annoyed by the train and the fact that all their hard work was wasted, but I was rejoicing in the fact that I could catch my breath!!  People were mostly confused and not sure what to do.  Tom took a piss along with many other dudes (so unfair!!) and he even had time to give his spare tire to his buddy Jason who had a second flat!  Finally we all got smart and just rode around the train.  Tom and I traded places for a bit for the next 10 miles and I thought I had dropped him right before our hike up Misery Hill, but then right as we crested the top I heard his voice.  Bah! 
Okay, honestly I was happy to have him there, especially as we entered the long uphill pavement section of the race.  I had no idea at this point what place I was in, but I was determined to maintain or improve my place in the race.  We both did our fair share of the work on the climb, I high fived Michelle who was doing hand ups, and I was starting to feel totally awesome!  As we were nearing the top of the climb Tom’s buddy Seth passed us and Tom made a move to stay with him.  Most of the race was downhill from here and I figured I would never see Tom again!  With about 5 miles to go I had finally bridged the gap!  We traded places a bit and I think I would think I had him on the uphills, but then he would crush me on the downhills.  With about 1 mile to go I was riding his wheel into a single track section and he got hung up on a root and had to step down.  Um… “On your left, dear!”  I looked back once we hit a pavement section and I had about a 15 yard gap. Yikes!!  I plowed my way through the last double track section passing our buddy Evan who was killing the race on a fat bike.  Shit! I figured this was not going to help my cause as there was no way Tom would let Evan see him go down without a fight.  I pedaled my heart out and as I entered the pavement for the final push I looked over my shoulder and saw a dreaded smirk. Crap, he had somehow bridged the gap. He was the cat, and I was the mouse.  On the final turn he went for the pass and I smashed my legs into the pedals as hard as I could and I just couldn’t muster up enough power to even grab his wheel as he flew past me crossing the line only 10 yards ahead of me. A stone’s throw!! Argh!
What a freaking blast!!  We were both stoked and I was really happy with how I raced!  I felt really strong last hour of the race and at times I didn’t even feel like myself. I knew I had put forth my best effort.  Single-track is pretty sweet, but not much can replace the post race glow of a 3 hour sufferfest!

Tom rushed over with my race printout and it said 5th place!!!  I was elated!!  Last year after racing Ore to Shore I remember thinking how stoked I would be to make the podium this year. Achieving this goal was really just icing on the cake!!!
Our friends Danielle, Evan, Brian, and Will crossed the line shortly after us and Kelly also finished the 28 mile race!  We all spent the rest of the day celebrating BlackRocks brewery style with Jeff and Anne.  I lost to Tom at bean bag toss (that's enough arlready!) and we ended the weekend reminiscing over a bonfire.
 
Huge thank you to Evan for letting us all camp out in his living room.  Having a house to stay at for a race is so incredibly nice, and mostly we just enjoyed hanging out and catching up with great friends.  Does life get much better than this?!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Big Lake Tri and a friendly little battle...

Finally, I decided to take a weekend off from racing!  Honestly I had planned to do the MN Series race at White Tail Ridge however I could tell even before Wausau24 that all of this traveling and racing was totally catching up to me.  I have a tendency to ssometimes always bite off more than I can chew.  Last week I had my usual overcooked meltdown.....
Poor Tom!

and then ended up taking 4 days completely off the bike! 4 days off the bike?!?!?!  It was amazing!  I even got a massage on Friday and by the time Saturday rolled around, it was as if I had been reincarnated...um, whose legs are these?

Saturday morning turned out to be a double awesome day since Tom was racing Graniteman Big Lake with Lisa, Jeff, Chad and Lisa B.  The alarm went off at 5 am and I instantly felt nervous and then I remembered...wait I'm not racing, I'm spectating!  yeh!  My most important concern was soon whether or not there was a proper coffee shop in Big Lake.


It was super fun watching everyone get ready to race and I had fun chatting with Lisa and Chad and checking out Chad's hot new bike.  Everyone had really great races and that always makes for such a fun event. Lisa had her fastest bike split ever and I was so happy to see her finally crush the 23 mph barrier...way to go girl, you have only scratched the surface of your potential. 

 
Tom had a great first race back since IM Texas securing the 4th overall place by 9 crucial seconds!  And hell, Jeff just went and won the whole freaking thing!  We celebrated afterwards at Champps of course.

 
Check out this huge Graniteman they had at the race.  They had everyone exit the swim by running right under his crotch...yikes! I was really concerned for the Graniteman, although to my disbelief he remained stone faced the entire time, I guess that's granite for you.

 
On Sunday Chris and I drove out to Afton to get in a hard ride on the trails.  I had never been to Afton to ride, but Chris kept telling me all last year that if I wanted to get faster I needed to ride Afton a lot. So I suppose it shouldn't have taken me this long to get there?  Yeah, it was hard as hell and was pretty much up or down the entire time.  There was this horribly steep and long uphill grind that apparently used to be a part of the course but has since been removed.  Of course Balser insisted that we ride it anyways and each time I seriously thought I was going to implode by the time we got to the top of it.  It was awesome!  they used to have this 24 hour race there and I know both Chris and Danielle have done it....I however have no idea how on earth someone could do that for 24 hours...it's incredible.  I'm really hoping these hills make the hills at Ore to Shore next weekend seem like a piece of cake!

Yep, thats right....  ORE TO SHORE IS NEXT WEEKEND!!!! I seriously think this is my favorite race of the year.  I absolutely love Marquette, MI and I love big races even more!  Each year Ore to Shore draws about 2000 racers and the morning mass start is super rad!  I'm stoked as this year I'll get to have a preferred start which will hopefully allow me some more time to warm up and be less stressed about getting my bike in a good start spot.  I am also psyched to see and race with some of our great new friends...I'm pretty sure Saturday night will be a riot.  Oh and even better....Tom is actually racing too!!!  This will be the first race we have done together in what feels like forever.  Tom seems to think he is going to ride faster than me. Hmm, I suppose on pavement I might concede, but Tommy, this is a whole nother dirty world....it's on!

Stay tuned, we will both be racing on matching Foundry Broadaxes... may the best horse win.