Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Sometimes you just have a target on your back. Literally. And when it's a big ugly block M on a maize and blue jersey, it's particularly volatile. Unfortunately for him, but really due to his own poor choice of clothing, that's exactly what happened to this guy at the Kisscross night race a couple weeks ago.

I got to the race venue in time to ride a practice lap. It was raining and chilly—that seems to be typical race weather lately—but once I started warming up I felt pretty good and was actually glad I hadn't dressed any more warmly.

As the race began my legs were a little sluggish. I started feeling a little discouraged. I was hoping this wasn't going to be another Kisscross season like the last two. Pretty soon everyone was ahead of me. But then it happened. I saw my target. His hideous jersey was like a magnet. I had to beat that guy. No matter what else happened during the race, I just had to do it.

I finished the first lap with two goals in mind—concentrate on my dismounts and remounts and beat the guy in the U of M jersey. I started to speed up and continued my quickened pace as I moved closer to my target. My dismounts and remounts weren't perfect; some were a little premature, but the were much improved from my first cyclocross race of the season. 

The dismounts and remounts are always a challenge for me. No matter how much I practice them, during a race I always panic as soon as I get to the barriers and end up just getting off the bike the regular way. During this race, however, I was almost flawless in dismounting correctly. I did get momentarily distracted during the last lap when some people I wasn't expecting started cheering for me, but other than that, I did well.

During the third lap, I finally caught up with the guy in the U of M jersey. I got a little bit ahead of him and pushed myself to stay that way for the final laps of the race. 

In the end, I only beat two people, but I was really pleased with the race. I beat that Michigan guy, but not only that, I kept up the intensity for the entire race. I don't think I've done that since my first season of Kisscross.

Between this race and my 5k experiences this year, it should now be fairly obvious to me that the thing I need to do to have a successful race is to find one or more people I want to beat and spend the entire race trying to make that happen. The competitive drive and spirit motivates me and keeps me going.

This has been kind of a pathetic race season for me. I haven't done a lot of the things I intended to do, but I've also accomplished some things I never expected. The season's not quite over yet, though. I have a few things left that I want to tackle. Next I need to figure out what those things are and determine the best way to go about training for them.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Do You Have to Be Smart to Race?

Last week, I rather belatedly made up my mind to race the Logsplitter. As you might know, I haven't done much racing this year. I thought it might be nice to redeem myself a little at the end of the season by squeezing in another mountain bike-ish race before Kisscross started. The race was in Grayling, which is reasonably close to our cabin, where we had already planned to spend the holiday weekend. Of course, part of the draw was the opportunity to once again hang out with some cool people, most notably this one. It was 26 miles, which I thought was doable, and I liked the fact that many of those miles weren't on singletrack.

On the morning of race day, I dragged myself out of bed to the repetitive sound of rain on the metal roof of our cabin, which seriously threatened to lull me back to sleep. After a brief stop at a local campground to pick up my cheering section (aka Mom), we headed to Hartwick Pines. It continued to rain.

By the time we got there, it had tapered off a bit. I hit the restroom while my personal pit crew prepared my bike for the race. When I returned, my bike was put together, my race number affixed, my tires aired and my chain lubed. Talk about service! I borrowed some arm warmers from Ali and a jacket from my mom, because although it had stopped raining, it was still quite chilly.

It seemed I had everything I needed, but I should have known better. As I lined up for the start, blue skies appeared to give me a false sense of security. I began the race amid cheers from Mom, Chris and Ali. My legs felt a little sluggish, but got better after I started to warm up a bit.

There were two other girls racing against me. They got ahead of me shortly after we hit the ski trail at Hartwick Pines, but I figured as long as I could keep them in sight I had a chance to catch them later. I just tried to stay close, but it was challenging. The ski trail, although not technical, was hellishly hilly. It had started to rain again and would continue to do, sometimes torrentially, for the remainder of the race.

Near the end of the ski trail, in my granny gear, I passed one of the girls on an uphill. I was feeling quite good at this point and stayed ahead of her through the rest of the ski trail and the next section of the race—the bike path.

But as I hit the two track section after the bike path, I start to slow down (and slow down and slow down). My legs didn't want to move any longer. It was taking everything I had in me to continue peddling. As I headed into a neighborhood, the next leg of the race, she was directly behind me. I was about to get passed.

By the time I reached Hanson Hills she was so far ahead I couldn't even see her anymore. I had no idea what was happening. I was actually shaking. Then I remembered. I had a package of pop tarts earlier that morning and nothing since. I had nothing but water in my bottles. And I had no food with me. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

To compound this ridiculous behavior, I decided to do something even more stupid. Instead of bailing into the parking lot as I reached Hanson Hills, I continued to the last leg of the race—10 miles of singletrack. I had my first DNF in four years of racing earlier this year and it felt like crap. I didn't want a repeat performance, so I slogged through those miles, walking something like half of them. I was spent—had no fuel left in the tank and couldn't climb even the slightest inclines.

Needless to say, I came in last place. As I crossed the finish line, all I could think about was food.

That being said, Glen, Ali and everyone else who helped put on a great race. I really enjoyed the first leg. I'd like to do it again next year, minus the bonk.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Best of Both Worlds

If you were a geeky kid like I was or had extremely young parents like I had, you might have had an experience I had when I was growing up. It didn't happen that frequently, but every once in a while, I had to choose between doing something fun with the family and doing something fun with my friends. And it was always hard, but a decision had to be made, one way or the other.

So this weekend when the worlds of friends and family collided, it was MEGA SUPER WONDERFULLY FANTASTIC. Because I didn't have to choose between hangin' out with the cool bike racin' kids and hanging out with the fam. I got to do both.

That was just part of what made this weekend memorable. Here's the rest. 

The badger and ...

The Badger

Oh, yeah. That girl was around. She says I am a geek when I gush, so I won't gush, but you know she is awfully fun to hang out with.

The husband got tall? How'd that happen?

Fun with white boards

I know it looks fun, and it was, but this race was also brutal. And wet, wet, wet (and I'm not talking about the cheesy band here). (More on the race in another post)

Who Hit John? Think Old Crow Medicine Show a la Wagon Wheel.

A little anthropomorphism with a lime—he was starving for spinwheels!

Ms. B, on the other hand, was not so satisfied with the spinwheels.

The first one asleep (here Jon R.) had to deal with the glow stick pranks.

Did I mention it was wicked windy? It's a good thing Red was out with the chainsaw, because this large-ish tree was blocking the road to the Crik.

Here's the new room at the Crik. This addition is bigger than our entire cabin!

Clubbin' (at the Eagles club)

Teaching my bar mates a little francais. When I start writing on the chalkboard, it's probably time to go home.

But instead I watched the in-laws doing the Woody Twist. Classic!

Then I took a few lessons of my own, courtesy of DG. I am hopeless at dancing. :(

The last stop was the Knot Hole for that steak sandwich—the one I wish I could have every night of the week. Too bad it's a three-hour drive.

And seriously, what weekend would be complete without a beer tower? Don't even try to deny it. You know you want one.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Reason for the Weekend

Yes, it's true. Someone is still minding this blogity blog, even if all the readers have disappeared. To ease back into it, this one is going to be heavy on the pics and light on the copy.

Things have been pretty serious on the homefront lately and it's nice to have an escape. My recent refuge has been with the fabulous Ali B., who is my HERO (because she loves it when I say geeky things like that). And this weekend was her spectacular birthday celebration.


And although Ali was certainly reason enough, all kinds of bike-themed goodness was also happening in the land North of here.


First was a chance to sneak in some pre-Kisscross cyclocross racing. Before the race, I looked so excited you could barely notice the apprehension.

Seriously, we rode through this old building. This was one of the most interesting things I've done with the trusty KHS. 

Yikes, I need some work on that form, not to mention that FORM. It's time for that yo-yo to hang out on the low end of the spectrum again.  

But that's not going to happen if I keep eating the yummy goodness of the goat cheese fondue at North Peak.

Ali's bday night meal was so tasty, she was prompted to feed it to Glen.


Later that evening, we hit the local watering hole.

The proprietor wasn't offended when I called him Gordo. He was, however, offended by my shirt. I was representin' with the big Spartan block S, and I was ready to take one for the team and leave, because that's how loyal I am. If you don't believe it, just take a look at my pic from back in the day.

Di was hangin' with the crew, too. To find out what super secret thing Di and I both did that was extremely out of character for me, go here.

Anyone Hungry? This guy was. Umm ... is.

And he was digging meeting the spectacular bday girl.

Saturday, three starving girls found some seats on the patio of the Blue Tractor to satisfy the urge for food and race spectating. Fabulousness ensued. One of its manifestations was the crab/bacon/scallion mac and cheese.

In between races, Ali did some posing. Anyone want one of these jackets? I'm thinking about the faux denim version.

And what wardrobe would be complete without this number? As you can see, Di is considering one of her very own.

These guys are far braver than me. Crits are fun to watch, but racing them? No way.


But the most fun race of all? The Commuter Crit. The basics: 1) 4-person relay teams 2) no clipless pedals 3) some theme for your team, complete with costumes 4) must have a basket to do a cherry pie handoff when switching riders. Fun stuff. We are in for this one next year!


A little Michigan stargazing. Turns out the race announcers had their own team in the Commuter Crit, with the third leg raced by the famous guy on the left. That's Frankie, and yes, I spent some time gawking. If you don't recognize him, you probably haven't watched much TdF coverage. He's a homegrown Michigan boy and he's a rock star. Surprisingly enough, this secret weapon wasn't enough to make his team pull off a win, although he gave the winners a run for their money.

All in all, it was a great weekend in the North and it looks like it may not be quite finished. Here's what may be on tap for next weekend. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I Don't Know What My Problem Is

Seriously. I just can't seem to make myself update my blog. I had a super fun weekend up North, ran another 5K, raced an actual mountain bike race. And I just can't seem to make my lazy go away for long enough to write about any of those things. Maybe soon.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Road Rode or Rode Road

Early this week I talked to my mom on the phone. She asked me what I was doing this weekend and suggested I come down and do One Helluva Ride with her on Saturday. The distance planned was 64 miles. My first thought was "absolutely not." After all, I'd been on my road bike for a total of 16 miles this season. Still, I told her I'd think about it.

By Thursday morning, I was sending her a text saying I was in. You see, there were a couple of factors working here. The first is that it's hard to say no to my mom, particularly when something seems important to her. The other thing, which I'm only just experiencing now that I'm closer to 40 than 30, is that I'm much more likely to think I can do something than to think I can't.

When the hell did that happen, anyway? I know I ponder this whole Accidental Athlete phenomenon a lot, but it still sometimes blows my mind. Ten years ago, I wouldn't have imagined I could ride my bike 10 miles, let alone 64. Now I'm always convinced I can do it—it's just a matter of how long it will take me and how painful it will be.

We got a bit later of a start than I wanted, but we were out on the road by 8:30 or so. Surprisingly, the first 10 miles felt pretty good, despite the fact that I was completely confused anytime I tried to brake. I kept thinking "where the hell are my brakes?" and then "oh yeah, they're down here." We were averaging over 14 miles an hour, which considering how little time I've spent on my road bike lately, seemed pretty fast. 

The first rest stop was about 13 miles into the ride. I stopped because I was planning on taking it a bit easy, and because I have this annoying foot thing when I'm on my road bike which necessitates me taking my shoes off every 12-15 miles or so. Otherwise, the pain becomes excruciating. 

I ended up having to stop at the side of the road for my feet about six miles before the lunch stop, which was at 39 miles. Lunch was good and I was ready for a break. With 25 miles left, My legs were still feeling reasonably fresh and though we had slowed down a bit, we were still averaging above 13 mph. 

Everything changed when we got back on the road. It suddenly felt much hotter, the road conditions seemed much worse and my legs felt like lead. Not only that, but the course got much uglier, and spent quite a bit of time paralleling I-94. Yuck!

Even so, we were still clicking off miles and getting closer and closer to the finish line. Remarkably, I was able to keep the speed up despite completely cooking in the sun. After two more rest stops for my feet we finally made it. The ride that I thought was going to take close to six hours ended up taking less than five. That made me feel pretty good.

The rest of the day was spent somewhat exhausted hanging out in the shady backyard at my parents' house with the family, watching the dogs and kids chase each other. I was definitely tired, but I think the heat took more out of me than anything else. I was actually able to go for a run this morning and my legs don't even hurt. I must be tough or something. :)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Accidental Gets Intentional, Part 2

Many months ago, when we last left our fearless heroine, she was running a 5K. Okay, so it was only weeks ago, not months, but it might has well have been months. At any rate, on to the second mile ...

Once I slowed down a bit, my breathing became more regulated. I was still pushing myself at a pace faster than my usual, but I was not going all out. Despite the heat, I wasn't feeling nearly as bad as I expected. Still, I decided I needed a little extra push, so I picked out two women who were slightly ahead of me I wanted to beat and made that my next goal.  

Competition #1 had passed me just across the starting line and had steadily kept up a pace that left her marginally ahead of me. She was a couple years older than me and quite a bit bigger. I convinced myself I could beat her.

My next target was chosen out of pure spite. Youngish, cute and skinny, Competition #2 might have had a bullseye painted on her back. On top of that, she was wearing yoga pants, which I thought was ludicrous considering the weather. The nail in her coffin was the fact that she was alternating periods of running really fast with periods of slow walking. She would pass me  when she was running and I would pass her when she was walking, which I just found really annoying.

I sped up a bit and finally passed Competition #1. Competition #2 remained elusive. Finally I hit the two-mile mark. My time was still looking on target, but I had already decided I was going to go pretty much all out for the last mile. After a bit I finally passed Competition #2 for the last time. As I rounded the back side of the pond, I knew I would make my time goal and my goal of beating #1 and #2. When I neared the finish line, I realized I could not only finish faster than a time of 42 minutes, I had a chance of finishing faster than 41 minutes. So, I gave it everything I could and crossed the line at 40:55.

My coworker Katie (with me above) was cheering me on at the finish line. She and her husband finished at about 32 minutes, three minutes faster than their goal. 

This experience was such a rush. I never imagined I could possibly enjoy running as much as I have. I'm tentatively planning that my next 5K will be on August 1. (I may try to squeeze one more in before that.) I'd like to take at least another couple minutes off my time for that race, because I want to do this race at the end of August and for that I have an even loftier goal. 


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Accidental Gets Intentional, Part 1

(This is the first race report I've ever written that doesn't involve a bike. That seems crazy!)

Friday was full of turmoil for me. I had more nervousness leading up to this 5k than I imagined could be possible. I'm always nervous before a bike race, but nothing like this.

The day was complicated by the fact that I had only two acceptable pairs of shorts to wear—one was missing and the other was in a sweaty wad in the clothes hamper. I discovered this, not the night before, as I should have done, but that morning when it was nearly time to leave for work.

After frantically throwing a load of wash in the washing machine, I headed to work. My husband doesn't work on Fridays, so I sent him a text asking him to put the clothes in the dryer when he woke up, and asked that he also send me a text to let me know that it had been done.

By 9 a.m. I was experiencing what I like to call the "nervous stomach." It's something I like to affectionately blame on my late grandmother, who was my favorite person ever. She always had it, and somehow passed it along to me. It consists of a feeling that my stomach is being tied in knots by some unexplainable, extremely strong force. It happens whenever I am really anxious about something and it pretty much stuck around all day.

I had a hard time concentrating on anything. By 1 p.m. I still hadn't heard back from my husband, so I started calling him. I called him once every half hour or so until 2:30 without reaching him. That's when I finally left the office and went home to check on my shorts.

When I got there, I found him sitting next to the phone, which he had chosen not to answer. His explanation for not texting me back was that "if you send me a text and ask me to do something you should know I'm going to do it." I won't go into the nightmare of recriminations that followed that statement, but suffice it to say that I was now in an even worse frame of mind. At least I had my shorts, though.

My next disaster was that I forgot to make a new playlist for my MP3 player. All the playlists I had were only about 20 minutes long, and normally when I'm running I have to stop and switch to another playlist when one finishes. That clearly wasn't something I wanted to do during a race. After exploring all my options, I realized I was just going to have to do a "play all," which would not only play all the songs from my playlists, but all the songs on all the albums, in alpha order, no less. It was certainly not ideal, but I figured it was better than no music. Of course, once the race started, I realized there were several horrible songs preloaded onto my MP3 player that I never deleted, and of course, as fate would have it, I had to listen to all of those. 

I arrived at the race venue with about an hour and a half to spare. I spent that time drinking water, talking with some friends, picking up my registration packet and thinking seriously about bailing. A last minute phone call to my mom and an encouraging text from the Dorktor helped a bit and were enough to get me to the start line.   

Once the horn sounded and the race started, I felt phenomenal and excited. It was in the upper 80s and muggy as hell. I went out too fast, which I realized pretty early since my breathing was all messed up. I slowed down a bit, but still kept pushing. Once I hit the first mile marker, I looked at my watch. I figured I would have run 14-minute miles or faster to meet my goal. When I looked down, my watch read 12:49. So far, so good.

To be continued (in another ridiculously long post) ...      

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


That's the magic number. Yes, I do realize that's a 14-minute mile, which is painfully slow (nothing like a 4-minute mile). So far, the fastest I've run three miles has been 46 something, and most often it has been closer to 54. That being said, my goal of 42 minutes might be a bit ambitious. But if I don't push myself, I will never get any better. This is something that has been painfully obvious during my adventures in bike racing. And for some reason, I want to push myself at running more than I have wanted to push myself at anything in a long time.

The test comes the day after tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Double Stuff Minus the Oreos

So, every now and again I decide to visit this blog and write a post. Today is that auspicious day out of the last two weeks when I finally got around to it.

Since I've been absent, I've continued my running adventures. I'm still slow, but not quite as slow, and it continues to be enjoyable. I went quite a while without riding much at all, but thankfully, that has been corrected in the last couple of weeks. Lately I've been riding at least three or four days a week. I'm running about five days a week, though, and needless to say, there are only seven days in said week. As a result, I find myself doubling my efforts many nights—starting out with a run, then changing into riding clothes and hitting the trail before dark. 
Surprisingly enough, I'm not only surviving this—I'm relishing it. 

Now, about the racing. Those of you who are observant and who are still out there may have noticed that I have now missed four (count them) races on my racing schedule. Some of you may wonder if I am ever going to race again. The answer is a resounding "yes."

In fact, I'll be competing in a race this very Friday at 7 p.m. Now here's the surprising part. It's a running-type race, namely a 5K. I think I must be crazy. 

I have a goal in mind for this race. I think it will allow me to push myself but should still be within my reach. And I think I will actually share that goal on my blog, even though I am embarrassed to admit how slow I am. Not tonight, though.

Oh, and by the way, there's an actual bike race on the horizon, too.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

That Was a Crazy Game of Poker

Yesterday was the Mid-state Poker Run. And as with any gathering of mountain bikers, beer was present and hijinks ensued. We got there a bit late and I was pretty sure I wasn't going to do the actual poker run, but just hang out for a while.

So I ate a fabulous burger from the grill. Then I watched Chris M. put together a bike for his kid while Jon W9 supervised.

Then I watched Chris' super cute kid ride his new bike which, incidentally, had the fork on backwards. At that point, I started to feel a little guilty about the fact that I hadn't done the poker run. After all, it was a perfect opportunity to finally ride my bike after an extended hiatus. Low key, no pressure. All I had to do was get motivated to change my clothes and get on my bike.

So I did. And it felt very good to get back on the bike. So good, in fact, that I almost forgot all about the poker run.

That was, until I saw the first sign.

The trail was a little sloppy from the rain and I had a few mishaps, but I persevered.

And then I collected numbers from stations 2 and 3.

Just two more to go. Then I looked at the time. Oops. It was 15 minutes after the poker run was supposed to end.

So it was back to the tent for some super SWAG!

Thanks to Jon, there were some big time prizes.

The Badger was ready to rest.

And there was much hilarity to witness.

Someone had obviously been drinking a bit of this.

Life imitated art.

The charred remains of a few hot dogs were all that was left.

Bottom line: The Mid-state Poker Run was a good time and I definitely need to spend more time on my bike.