Friday morning, Jeff and I headed up to Laramie, WY in preparation for the Enduro on Saturday. The Enduro is 111k or 72 mi. The last time I raced in the area was several years ago for a collegiate XC race. I remember it being a great time and had heard a lot of awesome things about the race. The registration was capped at 400 riders, and filled within 10 days from when the online reg opened back in February.
I was pretty skeptical about how the race would go for me considering just 2 weeks before I finished the Breck 100 and spent the next 7 days sick(7 days off the bike), in bed for 3 of those days, and on antibiotics. That brought us to Friday. I had been off antibiotics for 4 days total, but all week long during my rides I felt weak and couldn’t push it on the pedals. Our short opener pre-ride on Friday was no different. I felt frustrated and dread for the race based on how powerless I was. Jeff made a video from the pre-ride, which I will post when he is done with it.
I’ve really been enjoying using Action Wipes which is a new product I discovered this year. I used to survive on “Wet Ones.” I didn’t much like the smell or consistency. These refreshing wipes smell like tea tree oil, so someone from the Republic of Boulder like me enjoys the freshness. (cleaning up right after pre-ride)
Here is how the race went down:
Waking up at 4:30 AM the next morning was much easier than at the Breck 100 because I wasn’t sick! We lined up for the start at 7 AM, and it was 40 degrees out – a record low! I went harder than normal at the start and found myself right behind Kelly Boniface on the singletrack. She gapped me off on a dirt climb. Before I knew it, 18 miles had gone by in about 1 hr 10 min!! Next was a really windy dirt road climb where I couldn’t seem to ride with a group. To hang on to the men passing me, my HR would jack up into zone 5 which is not where I wanted to be less than 2 hours into a 6 hour + race, so I rode in the wind by myself. Soon after, my back started hurting pretty bad and my legs had burned the only match I had. They were also cramping up despite taking electrolytes. People I knew started to come by me, all asking if I was ok. That’s when I knew I was in trouble.
From there, it was a downhill spiral – I had lost a few more spots dropping back into 4th overall. I somehow was maintaining that until myself and a guy made a wrong turn (which apparently some of the men in the lead group missed as well). We turned right at a pond, went up a fire road where a concrete thing was on the left side, and down the other side of the road. At the bottom were course markings, and a volunteer. Myself and the guy got on some familiar trail which had the orange tape. About 50 yards later, the guy said, “We rode this already. This isn’t right, we have to go back.” My heart sank. He rode the course the year before, so we turned around and I followed him back and tried to hang on to his wheel with all my might. About 15+ minutes later, we found ourselves back on course. I had no idea how many spots I had lost, but I was frustrated. There were some pretty extreme water holes we went through (almost waist deep!) My legs continued to feel worse, but I kept taking gels and pounding water.
I felt nauseated and started heaving up some puke (gross!) My legs were still cramping and felt like lead. At that point, it was hard for me to eat or drink anything because it was hard to hold down. It would just ball up in my throat and try to push back out. I wanted to quit so bad, but that was not an option. I don’t quit unless there is no way I can finish. I was using my easiest gear and barely making it up short climbs. I was on and off my bike for the last 20 miles of the race which never seemed to end. At least I had some guys to ride with which is the only thing that made it tolerable! I made up 2 spots I had lost, but still had no clue how many spots were lost with the wrong turn.
Finally I came across the line feeling pretty bummed. I told Jeff that I regretted finishing (which I knew I would change my mind about later and am now glad I finished). I was in so much pain at the end. I had to walk my bike back up the road to the car, and very slowly. My legs were throbbing with pain, I had a massive headache, and I was walking totally stiff legged from the cramping. I was doubled over gagging on and off. I finally got back to the car and Jeff helped me get changed. I was finally able to get some food down and started to feel a little better, but it took several hours for my body to stop throbbing with pain.
I ended up 11th overall in about 6h 45 min, and discovered I had lost 8 or 9 spots while lost. Subtract the 15 minutes of extra training mileage, and that would have put me in 5th or 6th. It was funny because people were coming up to me after the race saying, “Where did you go?? I finished before you, but you were in front of me!” oh the joys of wrong turns. 🙂 Sucks, but that is part of racing and it happens to everyone at some point. I was lucky I had the guy with me to make us turn around, or I probably would have kept on going!
Here was the best part of the day for me:
Laramie Enduro is a great event that is organized, the aide stations were stellar and well stocked, the volunteers were great, the course was well marked for the most part, and the racers were awesome too. All the fields were stacked, and I was really happy to ride with such great folks. Congrats to all the strong women in my field, especially Eszter Horanyi for always being consistently the best!! If it fits in the schedule, next year I will be back recovered, healthy, stay ON course, and not bonk or cramp and KICK that race’s ass!!!
Time for more recovery.