Sunday, August 30, 2009

24 hours at Afton on Team NewMart

My confidence exceeds my ability. That is my personal lesson for this weekend as I did my first mountain bike race. 

Friday afternoon I headed over to Afton Ski Area with my training partner, Guy, to meet up with the rest of our team and get our campsite/ pit area set up and staged. We found Chuck (our team captain and a customer of mine - he owns a couple convenience stores called NewMart, and one of my account managers is his Coke rep) and Kraig already set up. So we set up our tent next to theirs on the hard gravel. The weather was cool and it felt more like a fall weekend than a late summer weekend. I was a little nervous because I only learned how to mountain bike 6 or 8 weeks ago. I later learned from the other mountain bikers that this is one of, if not THE, toughest mountain bike course in the whole state.
The race started at 5pm and I rode the first loop. Basically, each team (or solo rider) does as many loops of a nine-mile course as you can in 24 hours; the one who does the most loops wins.
It's at the ski area, so you pedal up and down the mountain along the single track bush-whacking trails, and traverse across the ski runs. Up and down and over; up and down and over; up and down and over. The switchbacks are very tight and steep. Taking them too fast scares the living daylights out of you because you can see how steep the fall is at the immediate edge of the track you are trying to ride in. But if you take them too slow, you tip over and then you have to push your bike up. If you take them way too slow, you tip over and tumble down the mountain.. Thankfully, there are lots of bushes and saplings to break most of your fall, so I never fell more than 20 or so feet down. But I fell down repeatedly. I actually cried at one point.
I should describe the fall because it's kind of interesting. It starts out in really slow motion. You definitely have time to pray. But the impact(s) come much faster and your bike falls over and over with you. Eventually you realize that one of the crash landings has forced your feet to clip out of your pedals and at some point you stop moving. You assess the damage to your limbs and butt and if they're all still there you thank God; now you just have to find your bike. Which is tricky at night if your headlamp comes unplugged during the fall and you can't figure out how to plug it back in because it's DARK out. Then you climb back up through through the brush, dragging your bike, and relocate the trail. Then you push your bike up the mountain, along the the very track that was so steep you fell off of it, to a place level enough to remount. You might have to straighten your saddle and handlebars, but you're good to go.
When you make it back to the bottom, you tag off with a teammate and then you can rest for 3 hours. And so it goes all night and all the next day.
Our team ended up finishing in 3rd place (out of 4 teams), so we did collect some nice schwag.

This morning I got up feeling like I've been beat up by the roller derby team. I have bruises everywhere: my triceps, hips, quads, kneecaps, shins, shoulders... even my coolie took a beating when I was bombing down a hill, couldn't get clipped back in, and so my legs were flying and I was bouncing off my saddle. Seriously. This is what I assume it feels like the day after for boxers, only it's all-over. I don't do contact sports! I didn't even play basketball or volleyball! But there is something alluring about these trails and I WILL go back out again.
I didn't bring a camera, but I think my teammates have some pics. If I get them I'll share them.
I was looking for the next challenge after marathon and Ironman and I definitely think I found it!

It's ultra trail running and mountain biking. Both of these are pushing me where I have never, ever, ever  been.  I have had to dig deeper. If I don't, there is no sag wagon on the side of the road; there is no cell service; there is no hollering for help; there is no biking over to the gas station for Powerade or other fuel. It is JUST YOU out there.

It's my new passion, and my first step in my attempt to master it is to change my name to SingletrackJenny. Ya like it?

Sunday, August 02, 2009

August 2, 2009

Where has Jenny Moore been???

I haven't posted in weeks and weeks, But I raced my first triathlon in a YEAR last weekend. It was the Chisago Half Ironman. I placed second in my age group, which is the same placement I had at this race the last three years, so I guess I am happy about that. Ya know you can't ever complain about podium finishes! But I was particularly pleased that I PR'd this time. Last year I PR'd here with a 5:18; this year I PR'd again with my first ever sub-5 hour -- a 4:59:28. Naturally I was pumped about that! I had a bunch of friends racing it, and my trail running partner taking pictures, so it was a perfect day from the course as well as from the sidelines! My bike split registered 21.0 mph over the 56 miles and my half marathon was 1:49 - also a PR for that distance on any course - stand-alone or in a multisport race for me.

I have only one more triathlon on my calendar - Ironman Cozumel in November. After that I only have Ironman Wisconsin in 2010. I think this time I mean it when I say I'm ready to move on to the next big thing, which for me is trail ultras and mountain biking. I have LOVED triathlon and the people and I will maintain many, many friendships. I'm not selling my tri bike (because I WANT to keep it -- even though it's a piece of dinosaur shit all-aluminum-with-a-bad-to-begin-with-but-now-chipped-too-paint-job-with-650-wheels-heck-it-never-even-fit-me-properly bike), but I am going to keep it and just hang it in my garage for a while and give my SWEET mountain bike some wheel-time.

Speaking of my sweet mountain bike, it's a Giant XTC and I got it at Brickyard Bikes in Chaska MN. Jeremy Baker is the owner and a serious gear-head/ bike-mechanic kind of guy who also heads up our Fellowship of Christian Athletes in the western suburbs. GREAT guy, GREAT shop. He gave me a GREAT deal and GREAT fitting and I am in love with my Giant XTC bike in a way that I am almost embarrassed to write about. Give me a minute until I'll compose myself, re-open my eyes and continue posting.


Deep breathing.

Final heavy sigh.

I'm good.

Let me just say I love my bike. I love the mountain bike trails. I love how there are boulders the size of microwaves and severed heads in the middle of these dirty single-track trails and you just kind of hop over them as you go along. The trees on either side of the trail give you maybe 30 inches clearance and your handlebars take up about 24 inches of that. And you are twisting and turning and going fast on various terrain like pineneedles and dust and mud and grass and holes where turltles laid their eggs and slabs of granite. I have bruises I can't show people and scrapes on my arms and shins.

It. Is. Cool.

It just is.

And you have to check for ticks when you get home.

My first race will be at the end of August. It's called "24 hours at Afton"' and teams of four ride a nine mile loop at the ski area and whichever team makes the most loops wins. I have Guy (my trail training partner who has been mountain biking for 30 years), my customer Chuck (super serious mountain biker who travels all over the country to race) and his best friend Kraig (who is even more serious than HE is) on my team. Yeah - I asked myself the same question - what are they doing with Jenny Moore, right??? I have NO IDEA!!! But they invited me and I said yes and I'm going to love it I am sure! So I have been on my bike FIVE times and I still think I'll be ready. Ready enough to let them "carry" me anyway!

I think I have 11 or 12 marathon-or-longer races this year, but they, too are morphing into trails rather than road. Yesterday I did a 30 mile gravel-trail run for charity. It started out as 28 miles, but ended up at 29.8, so we had to run the extra .2 to make it an even number. (Don't even start - you know you would have run the extra too because you are just as anal as I am!)
And a couple weeks before that I ran the Afton Trail Run 50K - it was awesome!!!! It was 12,000 feet of climbing - up and down and up and down... It took me 6 hours and 10 minutes. But I LOVED it. Trail running is so different from road marathoning - there are a bunch of hippies who do it! Shirtless guys with long beards, and there is no "corralling" of athletes at the start - everybody just sort of shows up at the trail head and the race director says, "OK, everyone have a good race.... Go!" No national anthem, no balloons to run under, no chute of picture-taking family members.

It's different.

It just IS.

But I still have Twin Cities Marathon and the Des Moines Marathon this year -- they are part of my training plan for Ironman Cozumel.

But my A race for the year will be the Superior 50 mile Trail Run in September. It's FIVE points of contact in some places - two hands, two feet, and your butt -- as you scale car-sized boulders. It's crossing streams on fallen trees and clinging to brush so you don't slide off the mountain. From what I hear we should be happy to hold a steady 14-minute mile. How fun does that sound?!?!?! We will cover much of the course in the dark, so I need some nighttime trail runs to prepare. Last year 35 people finished it. There is also a 100 miler for those of you who didn't get enough!

Bedtime for me. If anybody still even reads this blog, thanks! You can more easily keep up with me on Facebook.....