The last few weeks have been pretty awesome. Or at least my weekends have 🙂
– First, I ran (mostly) a lap of Berryman with Emily, who thankfully paced us reasonably from the get-go. Why a human that has been mainly just riding her bike around the city, not ‘training’ for anything or consistently running, decides to run 24 trail miles is beyond me.
But apparently somewhere along the line my brain didn’t stop to ask my body and off we went. The first half was fun, minus the start of blisters and turned ankles in the first few miles. I was SO GRATEFUL for water at Brazil creek, and Emily (being the smart, awesome national champion adventure racer she is – did I mention she’s totally badass?) brought bleach. Yaaay drinking water. The second half was hard. Packs wore funny, ankles and legs stopped working as expected. Apparently running nearly a trail marathon is a pretty hard thing to do. There was a good bit of walking… which was totally welcome. Trail chatter slowed down a bit as we tried to just survive. Finally, we saw the tell-tale root wad signaling we were close to the campground! Also, we ran into Maria riding her bike backwards from the campground, as she and Emily were planning an afternoon-evening 30 mile MTB ride post-run. (Yeah, I wasn’t kidding, she’s crazy). I was really happy to have survived, and slooowly gathered my wits for the drive back to St Louis, as Maria and Emily carpooled down to the start of their ride. Nuts.
– Feeling like a bit of a cop-out, I retreated to St Louis and promptly attempted to let my legs repair themselves by drink a few beers and giving myself a lovely ice bath. Cold. But good 🙂 Sunday, Peat and I headed out to Binder lake by Jefferson City for one of his favorite races – the 6 hour Tall Oak Challenge! Because, you know, nothing says recovery like 6 hours on a bike. Also, I was recently awarded the bike equivalent of a hand-me-down(up) as Peat upgraded, meaning I got to ride the lovely Frank’n’tank singlespeed.
The legs, oh the legs, they were tired. But for my first attempt at singlespeed, I had an awesome time. A downpour in the middle of my second lap made everything interesting, and I wound up crashing into a little tree (everyone likes hugs, even trees, right?). But overall, I was pretty happy to have survived. I wound up with 7 laps in 6:28, which was good for about 50 miles according to my garmin (the race directors would say it was closer to 56, which I’ll totally accept). That also meant that I was only 23 minutes off Melisa’s blazing fast 1st place time of 6:05… and we got the same number of laps!!!
She’s super fast, so I was incredibly flattered to have covered the same distance within the time limits. Peat, meanwhile, went ahead and just won. On a singlespeed. (Here is my favorite series of photos of him… note that the trail here is just a really easy flat section in a field. At least I’m not the only one that falls on ghost roots. Photos by Nicole Stacey – she’s awesome!!)
And, for comparison, here are frank and I ‘gettin totally rad’ on some roots. I was super pleased with all the stuff I rode, particularly on a new (fully rigid ss) bike.
I was a little bummed on peat’s win – he’s decided that he has to earn his beer, so he typically will only drink after a win. I, however, drink beer all the time and was looking forward to a relaxing drink post-ride then a chill drive home in the passenger seat. Stupid peat had to go and win, so the keys remained securely within my responsibility.
That didn’t stop me from doing a kegstand from the awesome people from Walt’s cycling immediately post-race, though 🙂 (also, to be fair, I didn’t know peat had won at that point). We hung out with everyone and generally just had a great time. Arthur and I jumped in the lake, then I made him help pull me up on the dock. I’d like to blame my lack of scrambling skills on dead legs – it was a fairly embarrassing ‘girly’ moment. Such is life, I suppose.
– Saturday, I had originally planned to run the ‘Holy Grail’ ultramarathon (50km = 31ish miles) put on by the awesome people of team virtus, but unfortunately it was cancelled. ‘Fortunately’, the people over at Carol’s Team (Eric) put together a 51k over at lost valley, so another long day of trail running was back on the schedule. We met at the trailhead around 7, then promptly got running! The Sonas were there, along with Dwayne and Emily (yep, same one, duh) of team noah, so I didn’t feel quite so awkward crashing a random trail run.
Jeff and Emily had a big race coming up the following weekend, so they were going to just do 20 miles. Dwayne hadn’t run more than 7 miles at a time, so he figured he’d just run with them. I wasn’t planning to do anything nearly as epic for the rest of the day, so I figured I’d at least attempt the full 51k, acknowledging that I could always just walk back to the car in defeat if necessary. I wore my typical running shoes instead of the trail runners (to attempt to avoid the blister and ankle-rolling issues of weekend #1). This meant my feet were very quickly soaked, and forming new blisters on my big toes. You can never win. Still, I wound up doing my own thing for a while, then hopping on with Eric and Jen, two seriously intense St Louis area ultrarunning pros. The discussion literally went from 100 mile training weeks in the winter, to which ultras were their favorites, to which races they were planning to run… I quickly realized that I was seriously inferior.
But it was a lovely run, and we were ‘only’ doing 30 miles, so at least I could try to keep up. Bear in mind, that was the longest run I’ve ever done. Like, in my life. So, yeah, I was a bit out-classed. All was well, until we hit a field we were supposed to cross in order to grab a trail to run back down to the katy… and the trail that was there in January was all of a sudden gone, and the field was cut down – no trail. We wound up turning around and taking a different route than planned, but probably ended up with about 30 miles on the day anyway. The last few miles were, again, rough. But I was SO happy to see everyone hanging out in the parking lot, enjoying some tasty watermelon (thanks Emily!), beers (thanks Jeff and Carrie!), and pretzels (I dunno who those were from… but I ate a lot of them). ALSO, birthday cookie cake coated in caramel sauce. Happy birthday Eric!!!
– Sunday, Peat and I had a date! And by that I mean, we got to go mountain biking! Together!
Despite the fact that we’ve ridden a lot of the same courses this year, we actually don’t ride together very often. I can count a (1) new years day ride and a (1) ride at lost valley when he was in serious hip-surgery recovery mode as the only real trail rides (so 2) we’ve done together. So, we headed down to Bass River Resort to check out some of the last sections of the Ozark Trail 100 mile race we’re planning to do at the beginning of September. The OT100 is new this year (although there is a trail 100 mile running race that happens… which Eric and Jen had talked about Saturday). In short, it will be difficult. It may be the most difficult mountain bike 100 mile race in the country this year. Like, seriously difficult. Peat is convinced people will die. After our ride, I don’t really disagree.
We started the day easy with about 8 miles of gravel road until we hit the Berryman trail (yep, same one we ran weekend #1). We took a lap around Berryman, which includes a section of the ozark trail that is part of the race course (and near the end, meaning it’s where I’ll probably be riding in the dark). It was good to try to get an idea of what the trail is like while it’s light outside. We then took the ozark trail for the return trip to Bass instead of the gravel road… and, it was hard. Like, really hard. The trail wasn’t super clear in a lot of places, with some serious overgrowth and a few downed trees and washouts. But more importantly, there were hills. There were soul-crushing hills. Granted, I had 30 miles of running and about 35 miles of riding on my legs at that point, but those hills were rough. At one point I looked at peat as we were about to start a descent and said “no more descents. downhills just mean more uphills!” And they did. At this point in the OT100, people (if they make it that far) will be crying. I will probably be crying. In a delirious, crazy way. Be ready. Luckily, we survived to rinse off at an RV hook up, and got the best (double-bacon) cheeseburger I’ve probably ever had as we were heading through Steelville.
*note to self (because you forget things, and wish you had posted it for cedar cross – you did berryman and OT on Frank with a 32×20. Was doable).
So, overall I’m pretty stoked on my recent 75+ trail mile weekends. And most seriously, I’m really hoping that racking up all the time in the pain cave will lead to a finish (yeah, I don’t care how long it takes, I just want to actually complete the thing) of the OT100 🙂 Now, to recover from the seed tick bites I apparently found. At least I missed the poison ivy this time?