Tuesday, July 15, 2014

July

A few weeks ago I made the official decision to take the month of July off from racing. Mostly because I want to get a good month of training in without having to travel or take any time off...and also because I've run out of money for racing and need to save up :-)

Anyways, at first I thought it would be hard to take a month off but it's already the middle of July. How is that possible? Slow down summer!  I think part of the reason why July has been speeding by so fast is my coach has been keeping me busy with workouts. The last thing I've been thinking about is racing.This weekend I had more pressing concerns, like how I was going to walk up the stairs without collapsing and where I wanted to go for fro-yo.

On Saturday I was out the door fairly early. I had a few tempo intervals to do early in my workout. After that I hit a lot of this...

 and a little bit of this...
By the time I was done I had a little over 60 miles on my fat bike. Legs=tired!

I was hoping to get a long day on my Spearfish on Sunday but it rained really hard Saturday night. So instead I met up with my little sister and rode out to Grand Haven. The ride out is mostly flat with a few rolling hills, but it seemed like we were pedaling into the wind the whole way there. Of course, once we got to the beach we had to climb up to lookout point :-)
Ouch...
My Beargrease enjoying the view!
By the time we arrived to Grand Haven I had 50 miles already in, so we had to stop at the gas station to refuel on our way home.
Just being my "normal" self. Wandering aimlessly while wearing a helmet and eating beef jerky!
By the time I dropped Toni (my little sis) off and got back to my house I had 100 miles in. My first fat bike century of the year!

Surprisingly enough my legs don't feel too tired today. But that being said, I'm sure I would think differently if I tried to get on my bike and pedal. Thank goodness for recovery days!

Right around the corner is one of my FAVORITE-EST races of all time, the Wausau 24. I'll be racing co-ed duo with Twin Six Brent! This is one of those races that I can do year after year and it never gets old! Last year was my first year racing duo and I learned a lot. I made the mistake of not paying attention to the weather leading up to the race which was a total rookie move. We ended up with a really cool day, which was awesome racing weather but really cold for sitting around between laps. I remember wearing a hat and having to borrow my teammate Aprils jacket in between laps. This time I will be much more prepared :-)

Sunday, July 06, 2014

To Smyrna and back

Today I rode with the usual suspects (Scott, Jill, Steve and Juli) and spent just as much time laughing as I did pedaling. 
We tried to stay on gravel as much as possible because...well, dirt and gravel are so much more fun then pavement!
#wedon'tlikepavement
After miles and miles of dirt roads, a few sprints towards stop signs (where I lost repeatedly), and a few sprints to escape dogs, we reached our destination of Smyrna. Actually our destination was a small bakery/store in Smyrna which happens to have the best no-bake cookies on the planet.
Salsa love!
Yum!
Most of the ride was at an endurance pace but we did throw down a few times at the "stop ahead" signs. Sadly, I was the only person to NOT win a sprint today. Do you want to know what the opposite of sprinting is?? Me!!!! I suck so bad at it and I do EVERYTHING wrong! My friend Steve actually beat me in a sprint with both of his hands off of his handlebars. How is that even possible??? Scott was trying to give me tips but they kind of went in one ear and out the other. 

However, I did learn a few things. 

1. I need to stop laughing right before I am about to sprint.

2. I need to quit looking at my friends like a crazy person (while laughing) to see if they have noticed the "stop ahead" sign. 

3. I need to quit trying to sprint while in my hardest gear. Trying to sprint with a rpm of 40 just doesn't cut it. 

I hope to get many, many more of these rides in over the month of July, so hopefully there will be some improvement. And I plan on doing all of my gravel days on my Beargrease, because it is by far my #1 training bike. 

And speaking of my Beargrease, by the time I pulled into my driveway I had ridden 75 miles on it. This weekend was a great training block with a little over 15 hours in 3 days. I'm definitely ready for a rest day tomorrow though, because I'm pretty sure I'm going to be dragging!

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Boom Boom Boom!

I hope everyone is having a great holiday weekend! Instead of heading to the lake or setting off fireworks we've been riding bikes and eating tacos. It doesn't get much better then that! Friday I rode a little over 6-hours and today I rode 3.5 hours with my little sister. I'm really hoping the rain holds off for one more day. We've been so lucky so far!

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Erica Tingey interview!

In case you missed it, here is the archived link to the Girls & Gears interview I did with Erica Tingey! I haven't met Erica in person (yet) but she's completely inspiring and really easy to talk to. We both called in a few minutes before the show and instantly started talking non-stop. I think Ben (the human) was a little worried that we were going to miss the start of the show :-)  Anyways, Erica had a ton of great things to say and she's definitely worth listening to.

CLICK HERE to listen!

Whenever I do an interview during the middle of the day I get really worried that there is going to be a "squirrel sighting," which would then prompt Ben (the dog) and Jeannie to go into "defend our house" mode. So Ben and Naomi went to my parents house and Jeannie stayed home with me to listen to the show.
Kongs filled with peanut butter are always more interesting than squirrels!
I've been taking it really easy since Lumberjack but yesterday was my first day back to structured training. And by that I mean intervals. Luckily I didn't have anything too crazy and afterwards I was able to head over to Cannonsburg ski hill to ride with my BFF Juli.
Juli checking out the new trail
If you live in the area I highly recommend coming out to the ski hill on Tuesday nights. So much fun. The deck is open from 6-9 with food on the grill and drinks. I love summer!

PS. Don't forget the GRBC ladies ride tonight at Merrell Trail. 6 p.m. and it's a no-drop ride!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Lumberjack 100 race report!

I thought I would blog about the Lumberjack 100 while I'm still "high" from the fun-buzz. It ended up being one of those races that I dream about. Not only did I cross the finish line and complete all 10 Lumberjacks, but I got 1st place! It does not get better than that. But what made the race even greater was that a lot of my friends accomplished their goals and had great races as well!!! It's been a few days full week and I'm still smiling about it!

So without further ado...my Lumberjack 100 race report.

We left for Manistee Friday afternoon. And when I say "we," I'm referring to my friend/GRBC teammate Jill Martindale, and my other friend Jill-who was visiting from Colorado. They both happen to be vegetarians so my food vocabulary expanded even more on the drive up, with talk about tofu, nori wraps and Daiya cheese :-)
Road Trip!
Legs stretched out and hugging my bike=First Class Travel!!!
It was raining when we arrived at the Big M parking lot. However, that did not stop the Michigan mosquito army from being out in full force. Ugh...I hate those little blood suckers. After finding our other GRBC  teammates we grabbed a good spot for the tent, and registered for the race.
Prime spot for the GRBC tent!
While registering, people kept coming up and congratulating me about racing 10-years in a row and I started to get really, really, really, REALLY nervous. Because technically I still had 100 miles to go until I actually accomplished 1,000 miles. And as we all know...A LOT can happen in 100 miles. I was mentally preparing myself to attach my bike to my hydrapak and crawl across the finish line if need be. Or worse case scenario...I warned the two Jills that they might have to carry me across!

Back at the hotel we got our nutrition ready for the next day. As always I was keeping it really simple with CarboRocket half evil endurance formula in my hydrapak. Then it was time for dinner and checking out our swag bags! I loved the Lumberjack 100 design this year by our friend Daniel Clark. It's one of my favorites by far!
what every racer needs...a pint glass and a mini keg
Lumberjack t-shirt!
Then it was time for bed. I didn't sleep well (too excited and too nervous) and I'm pretty sure my eyes had just closed when our alarm went off at 4:15 a.m. However, I made sure to get as much sleep as possible the week leading up to the race, so I still felt OK. We ate breakfast, loaded up the van and were on our way to the start line!

We arrived an hour before race start to find an almost full parking lot. I sprayed 2 layers of mosquito repellent on, organized my gear under the tent, and then it was already time to spin down the paved road to the start. It's amazing how fast an hour can go by! It was still cool out which was perfect for me. Rick (the promoter) said a few things after we were all lined up but my heart was beating so hard it felt like it was in my ears...I didn't hear a word he said. And then we were off!

Our start was fast...but not an all out sprint.  I think I smiled for the entire ride down the paved road because I was getting a ridiculous amount of cheers and support from other racers, like, "go get them, #10 and good luck!" It was completely awesome and it basically made my day week YEAR! As we neared the parking lot the pace picked up and the main group started to break into smaller groups. I caught up to a fellow endurance racing friend, Karen Potter (mtbracenews.com) who is super strong. I figured her wheel would be a good one to follow up the first climb. I felt really comfortable going up the first climb which was a very good sign! Once the trail narrowed the pace slowed, and then it would pick up again and then it would slow. Karen and I were actually able to talk a little the first couple of miles and it was nice catching up. Throughout all of this I just focused on staying hydrated and not doing anything stupid...like riding into a tree or hitting my pedal on a tree stump. I've endoed over my handlebars because of those tree stumps more times then I can count and I was determined not to let it happen this year. 

Finally we hit the first dirt road section where a group of guys caught up to us. It was a reminder to keep pushing the pace, as I knew there were over 40 strong women chasing after us as well. I was the first female once we hit the next singletrack section, but I knew that I couldn't get too excited. After all, I still had a freaking long way to go and any little mistake could cost me the race. There had been a lot of rain leading up to the race which made the course less sandy than usual. By far the best condition it's ever been in for the Lumberjack. And trust me, I know :-)

Leading up to the race I couldn't decide if I wanted to race my Salsa Selma (singlespeed) or my Salsa Spearfish. As much as I love my SS, I'm so glad that I decided to ride the Spearfish. It's the ultimate endurance racing machine. I really don't see how Salsa is going to top this one...because it's pretty much perfect! 
Photo by Jack Kunnen
In honor of the Lumberjack's 10th anniversary the course was run backwards. Personally I liked it way better in this direction. First of all, it really helped that I didn't have any mental blocks about upcoming hills! I knew that I would be going down all of the hills that I used to dread in past races. And I felt great...so the new hills didn't seem bad at all. Before I knew it I was descending into the pit area and heading out for...

Lap #2! I rode most of Lap #2 alone. As I rode through the Aid Station I heard my friend Marnie call out, "Danielle-Payday!" All it took was the mention of a payday bar for me to open up my mouth and she managed to shove one in as I rode by. It was completely unexpected and awesome! Every now and then I would catch someone or someone would catch me but for the most part I was in my happy place, weaving in and out of the trees and drinking Grape flavored CarboRocket (aka the best invention ever!) The only downside to staying hydrated on a cool day was that I started to have to go to the bathroom. I should have just stopped and gone. There are seriously like a million and one trees I could have ducked behind out on the course, but no, the endurance racer in me decided that I was not going to stop. Talk about being completely uncomfortable (and stupid!) I also stopped drinking as much, which would later affect me. Lesson learned...just stop and go to the bathroom!!!

Lap #3! I'm pretty sure I was pedaling backwards going up the first climb. It was the only time that I felt bad during the race. I felt like I was barely moving and the hill felt twice as long. However, I was able to stop my pre-bonk before it became a full on bonk. I kept pedaling, started drinking again, and eventually felt as normal as you can feel when you are racing a hundred miles on a mountain bike. I rode with a few friends for half of the lap and it made the time go by really quick. However, there were a few times when we should have been going faster. Finally I decided to pick up the pace again once I rode past the aid station. I knew there were only a few more miles between me and the finish line.

Finally I hit the inner loop, which was composed of a lot of steep climbs. Every single time I hit the top of one I was like, "this has to be the last one," but then there would be another one in the distance. I checked behind me a few times and saw nothing but the empty forest. Phew! For the last couple of miles I slowed down, soaked it all in, and really enjoyed what would be my 995-999 miles of the Manistee National Forest. Finally I hit the last final (and fun) descent. A few more pedal strokes and then I saw a tent, another tent, lots of tents, and finally the finish line!
Photo by Jack Kunnen
I finished in 1st place with a time of 8:02:35. 10 years in a row people!!! Going into this race I promised myself that I would take next year off. The endurance racer in me always wants to see how far I can go, and I know if I did 11 races in a row I would then be shooting for 15 years straight..and then 20. Yeah, I have to cut myself off. Plus I've been wanting to race the Dirty Kanza for the last couple of years and I know that there is no way that I could do both races so close together and feel fresh. So next year hopefully I'll be lining up for the Dirty Kanza. But I will be back to race the Lumberjack again :-) It's one of the best races I've ever done!

Anyways, back to the race. For the last couple of hours of the race all I could think about was how the first thing I was going to do when I finished was go to the bathroom. Of course the moment I crossed the finish line I completely forgot about it. I shed a few happy tears (maybe that's why I stopped having to go to the bathroom...haha) and then had to rush and call Scott (he was home with our dogs) to tell him that I was bringing home money...a hatchet...and a saw!
Photo by Jack Kunnen
Races like this (where everything seems effortless) are few and far between but that's what makes them so great! What made the day even better was the fact that my GRBC teammate Jill completely kicked butt in her first hundred miler. I was just as excited (if not more so) for her. She finished with a time of 8:40 and got 4th overall. Being able to stand on the podium with such a talented group of female racers was awesome! Huge thanks to Rick and Cathy Plite, Scott Tencate and the rest of the N.U.E Series for promoting equal payout for women (as it should be!)
This is one of my favorite photos from the race. Clearly Jill and I were excited about the day :-)
I want to send a huge thank you to my family, friends, sponsors, and awesome mechanic Ted...I honestly couldn't do it without you guys! I received so many well wishes and good luck messages heading into this race and I really appreciate it. I also have to send a huge thanks to my hubby Scott. He stood in the Manistee forest for A LOT of hours over the last 10 years. As much as I would have loved for him to have been there this year, coming home to happy dogs and tons of food on the grill was even better. Maybe next year he can race the L100 and I'll do his hand-ups :-)

Next up for me??? Not sure yet. I have a few big races coming up in August so I'm planning on staying home in July, doing a lot of training and maybe a few local XC races. I'm trying to enjoy every single minute of this summer because it's flying by and....#winteriscoming.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Lumberjack 100-Excited...Nervous...Scared!

I can't believe that the Lumberjack 100 is less than a week away. It's a great example of how quickly time flies, because when I signed up I was like, "I have all the time in the world to train," and suddenly it's almost "go time!"

I'm really excited for this race but also really nervous. Not only do I want to do well....but I also have a ton of (self-imposed) pressure to make it across the finish line. A few years ago Rick (the promoter) and I realized that I was the only person who had done the race every single year since it started. From that point on my stubborn self was determined to do it 10 straight years in a row.

And here we are. Lumberjack's 10th anniversary.

Aggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhh!

I'm trying to keep the "metal race crazies" to a minimum. Part of me wants to carry a freaking tool box on my back, just so that I can be fully prepared should anything go wrong. But that would be ridiculous. On race day I'm going to line up like I have for the last 9-years and give it my all.

I know I fell off the blogging bandwagon last week but I'll have a lot more updates this week. There's so many exciting events coming up, including a few more interviews on Girls & Gears. But in the meantime I need to get ready for bed. I guess the only good thing about having to wake up at 4:30 a.m. is that it keeps me on schedule for endurance races. The only difference is that I don't wake up feeling excited to go to work, like I do when I have a race :-)

PS. Even though this picture has absolutely nothing to do with this post, I have to include it. Jeannie raced her first 5K with me last weekend and I couldn't be more proud. I have to admit that I DID NOT have big expectations for her, especially at the start when she sat down facing the wrong way. However she finished in 23:10, and was 5th out of 52 dogs. So cute!
Ben did the race with Scott and finished in a little over 41 minutes. He had to stop for a few water breaks, a few sniffs, and a few searches for dropped treats...haha. Anyways, the good news is that my hamstrings are finally recovered from that run. Clearly I'm going to have to train more before the next one!

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Back to reality

Last week was really great. Not only did I get some good training rides in (21 hours total) but I got to bum around town a lot with Scott. You know those people who say that they would keep working if they won the lotto? Well I am DEFINITELY NOT one of those people. If I won the lotto I would do exactly what I did last week. Ride my bike, eat good food, ride my bike more, drink coffee...and rescue a lot of dogs :-)
First coffee soda of the year from Rowster's!
By the end of the week I felt a lot like "little" Jeannie...
Completely exhausted!
This coming week is mostly a rest week. All of my rides are easy/endurance paced and I think they are all 1.5 hours or less. Boring...but definitely needed :-) My legs are tired and they need to recover before I can start training again. Also, I have some not-so-serious race plans this coming weekend...but more on that later. For now I need to do normal get-ready-for-work-day stuff. Like shower. And maybe find something decent to wear ;-) 

In the meantime, check out the latest Just Riding Along episode on Mountain Bike Radio. It's all about the Dirty Kanza...a race that I ABSOLUTELY have to do next year!