Thursday, September 22, 2016

Jackson Hole

Just a few Pictures from the rest of our time in Jackson Hole!!!
Such a fun trip every year!!!

Lotoja 2016

Im not sure at what point in the spring or winter Alicia and I decided we were going to do Lotoja again, but when the sign ups came in April Scott and I both signed up.  My training was defiantly different this time around.... I knew that I was not going to have as much time to train so I decided that I would train when I could and not stress when I couldn't.  It seemed like it would be a lot more chill with expectations low!

Because of schedule conflicts with everyone, our Porcupine Team did not do a lot of group rides, which left Scott and I doing a lot of long training rides just the two of us.  It stinks to not have lots of riders for long rides, but I think it did benefit my training because of the fact that Scott it a stronger rider than me so I was always having to push to stay with him and because there wasn't a lot of chances for drafting.  I really focused on making my miles count and spent a lot of time climbing.  My hope was that if I could climb well, I could find other people who were strong to pull me on the flats.  As the race grew near, I was feeling pretty good about my training but without racing and group riding I really didn't know where I was at.  About a month before the race Alicia and I were out riding when she really put the pressure on that I should really go for it and see how I could do.  This meant quick stops, not worrying about anyone but myself, and sticking with the lead group as long as I could.  Allowing myself to think that way increased the pressure and my stress level by about 100%! Allowing yourself to dream about top 10, podium or even winning can be so scary and you defiantly don't want to say those words out loud.  Alicia's encouragment and belief in me really did change my mind set for the race.  

A few days before the race I read a past Lotoja race review that really resinated with me....
In the article the rider said three things that stuck with me,
1. He basically only ate potatoes, lunch meat and Fig Bars. I am always trying to think of new things to eat and come up with varieties, but I decided that I like those three things and maybe it is better to just keep it simple.
2. You don't race Lotoja with one foot on the ground.  I needed to keep my stops short!  This meant having bags prepared so that I could grab them and go.
3. There came a moment when he mentally decided he couldn't push any harder, even though his legs probably could have done it.  Giving up for that moment cost him his goal time.  I mentally decided not to let that happen.  

Race morning came bright and early on Saturday September 10th.  We stayed at the Anniversary Inn which was really nice because of the fact that it was really close to the start line and they gave everyone little breakfast bags for the morning.  Scott started about 45 minutes before me, so after he left I mostly just paced the room and let the stress build....  At one point I looked down at my bike and noticed that I had a bulge in my tire.  The race was over, I was most defiantly going to get multiple flats.  I finally made the decision to have Rick (Alicia's husband) come in and look.  I basically told him that he had to tell me that it was okay, he said that it was not okay and I needed a new tire!  I of course had everything except for a new tire.  Luckily Bobby had brought my dad's bike and Rick hurried and switched everything out for me.  We were finally off to the start line!

It was only in the 30's so there was big debate on what clothing items to wear.  Scott basically wore everything that he owned, which I teased him about.  I chose to wear arm warmers, vest and full finger gloves.  A decision I greatly regretted the first 30 miles and was so jealous of how warm Scott must have been.  I was very nervous and actually pretty talkative the first 30 plus miles. Alicia commented that I was being so friendly.   Everyone is pretty relaxed and so I just tried to stay tucked in and draft as much as possible.  I started to make my way up to the front to be near the riders that I knew would be contending for the win.  I talked a lot to Mary (she won in 2015) about when we would be taking the neutral pee stop that everyone just kind of planned on.  I really needed to go and was a little anxious to get it over with since I got left there last time I raced Lotoja.  We finally pulled over at about 40 miles and litterally 80 women squatted right on the side of the road.  ( I made a mental note then that if I ever did this race again I would not wear bibs.) 

Once we got started again things started to pick up.  At about mile 47 the first climb starts and the race really begins.  I felt strongly that if I could stick with the leaders on this climb, things would calm down and I would be able to recover a little bit.  It was a huge risk to go hard this early in the race, but I had decided to give it my all. I was in third position behind Mary and Marci (a strong rider that I knew was going to do well).  Marci set a steady, strong pace, but to my delight it was not more than I could handle.  Before too long, Mary moved back behind me and said that no one was left behind us.  I couldn't believe it, there was just the three of us leading Lotoja.  The best part of it was the fact that they were not even in my category.  If we could stay away until the end (this was pure wishful thinking this early in the race) I would automatically win Womens Cat 4.  We just kept the pace up all the way to the top of Stawberry.  Marci broke off the front a little ways from the top, but Mary assured me we would catch her on the descent and that she would need us to pull for her.  Another pleasant surprise was the fact that I was the first on the descent.  I am a horrible descender and thought I would be dropped for sure.  The turns were big and wide and I just tucked down and pushed my fears out the door.

At the bottom of the climb Marci, Mary and I worked together and headed towards Mont Peillier.  As we reached town, we were told by the Moto Official that we were about 1 minute and 30 seconds ahead of the girls behind us.  We discussed getting through the first stop as quick as possible.  I saw Autumn and Matt waiting for me and hurried and switched water bottles, took my musette bag and was off within less than a minute.  to my surprise Marci and Mary were no where to be found.  I waited for a minute and then took off.  Another rider came up beside me and asked if any other girls ere ahead of me.....  I told her I didn't think so.  We started riding together and it was clear pretty quickly that we weren't going to stay away just the 2 of us.  After a few miles a group of women caught us.  Another fellow porcupine rider Krista was apart of this group, so I chatted with her for a minute.  She informed me that Alicia was not far behind us, which made me excited for her.  Suddenly Marci caught us and came around beside me.  She said that they got held up in the stop and Mary was behind.  She said we should go.  I jumped on her wheel and we took off, once again I was surprised when I was able to stay with her and when no one was able to stick with us.  We had some flats miles to get through before the biggest climb of the day, Salt River, or the Queen of the Mountain.  I tried to be very in tune with my body and keep up with drinking and eating.  I wasn't really hungry, but I ate anyway.  

By the time we reached the big climb one other girl had caught up with us.  Celeste was from the masters race category and was really strong.  She was able to take some really long pulls which was nice.  As we headed into the climb we wished Marci good luck because she was trying to break the Queen of Mountain course record, which she did.  I knew I needed to take the climb quick but steady, and assumed I could catch her on the descent.  I was so happy when I reached the top, it probably wasn't my best climb ever, but no other girls had caught up and I was happy to check another climb off.  Celeste and I descended together and a few miles later we caught back up to Marci who had flown up the climb and set the course record (unfortunately the timing system hadn't worked and no one would ever know how fast she really was.)

Our next stop was Afton and I was really looking forward to changing out my food and getting another pre-workout.  Marci and I agreed on a very quick stop and after having Bobby help me trade out bottles and food, we were off.  We kind of rode slowly for a mile or so waiting to see if Celeste would catch on.  I think we were both happy with the thought of having the extra help, but before long the moto official came and gave us split times. One gild was about 30 seconds back and a few more were a minute and a half back or so.  We made the decision to not give up our advantage and to continue on.  A decision that I was later grateful for because that group of girls ended up having a couple from the Cat 4 group and they surely would have beat me in a sprint.  

From Afton to Alpine is only about 30 miles but it is always my least favorite part of the race.  It is mostly flat with some rollers and we had a nice headwind to fight the entire way with just the two of us.  The moto official frequently gave us our splits and there were single riders from one minute thirty seconds to 4 minutes.  Marci and I felt pretty good about being able to hold off solo riders, but I kept thinking "why don't they just give up?"  There was this never ending feeling of being chased!!!!  We continued to take turns on the front.  I would just watch my clock and try to hold a steady fast pace for 3 mins or so and then move behind.  Getting into Alpine was a relief, but then you have to face more climbs.  Matt and Autumn were ready for me with new water bottles and food.  This was probably my slowest stop because I do remember talking to them.  I told them that we were leading the race and I didn't know if I could keep it up.  Matt said "well we better get you back out there," and off I went.  Marci had beaten her support person to the stop, which is a huge blow, but I told her to just to go and I could share food that I had.  

The last 50 miles are basically up hill climbing into Jackson.  The one plus is that you go into a beautiful canyon with gorgeous trees and the road goes right along the snake river.  I remember the first time I did Lotoja thinking that the river looked so nice and I would love to be rafting down it.  This time I was in the zone and did nothing but focus on the road.  At one point Marci and I were discussing the girls behind us and I told her I was not planning on contending her for the overall win and we should just focus on getting to the finish.  I honestly did this because I was hurting and just wanted her to not have to worry about me and be holding back so she could out sprint me in the end.  She was the stronger rider and deserved the win.  2nd place overall was truly more than I could have ever dreamed of I just needed to dig deep and finish the race.  On a few of the bigger climbs I started to get major cramps in my quads.  I had never had this problem before, but I had never gone that hard for that long before.  Marci gave me some salt pills and we kept going.  On the final up hill I fell back because my legs would cramp any time I raised the intensity.  As I watched Marci ride away I felt okay that I was close enough to the finish to still stay in 2nd.  We new the girls behind us were at least 5 minutes back, so I was feeling cautiously confident.  

It was an amazing feeling to turn off of the main road, like the serious racing is done.  To my surprise Marci had waited up for me and I was so happy to see her and feeling better.  I finally dared to say the words that we were going to win out loud!!!!  We past a few guys from Porcupine close to the finish and I was so excited for them to see how well we were doing.  I didn't feel like we were going fast, but Heath and Mike said that we went flying by.  I was running on nothing but adrenaline.  The last stretch to Teton Village is just a strait road that goes for about 5 miles.  I never dared to look back, I just kept pushing as hard as I could.  It was pretty cool having the motor cycles ride us in.  It felt like we had our own personal escort.  They turned off the road and the finish line was finally in site....  I told Mari I would take one more pull and then she could go.  she said thank you and was off, I watched her finish and then 2 seconds later after 10 hours and 8 minutes I finished the race!!!!  I was so shaky as they cut my timing chip off.  My emotion was so high as I congratulated Marci and gave her a hug.  As soon as I saw Scott I started bawling.  Everything had gone perfectly and I was so happy, relieved and overwhelmed.  It was so great to have Autumn (who basically ran my support for the entire day!), Matt and Bobby there to share the experience with me, but I was most happy to see Scott who I am not even sure understood that I was crying because we weren't just the first 2 girls in our category... we were the first two girls in the race!!!  I felt like an impossible dream that I had always had actually came true!  

The one damper on the day was when I found out that Alicia had to abandon at the top of the queen of the mountain climb because of a horrible migraine.  She had worked just as hard, if not harder than me all summer and to know that this huge high for me was such a low moment for her made my heart brake.  I was happy when I saw Rick had come to the finish because the Finlayson's really got me started into biking.  Alicia was a true friend and showed me so much support and I hope she gets back out there and gets to have her high moment and Lotoja.

The next morning I was so happy to wake up and realize the whole thing was not a dream and I headed to breakfast and then to the award ceremony.  Everyone says that I will do Lotoja again, but it's hard to imagine ever being able to beat the experience and I feel some completion in regards to biking.... but you never know!!!

Weblo and Arrow of Light

Last night Dakota and some of his best friends all received their Weblo ranking and Arrow of Light Award.  They all worked so hard and were so cute... and I think so excited to get out of Cub Scouts!!!