This was a 500 mile race that started in Birmingham, AL. We headed across the state border on Friday afternoon for out team meeting. We spent time going over the route, packing the car, and resting, to prepare for the midnight start.
There is a LOT of stuff to bring with you when you are going that far.
There are also plenty of rules and turns and stuff--that's all crew stuff....I just pedal.
So, after a little nap, we all got up at 10:15 PM and headed over the the dark start. There was one other team,and they decided to let us go first (because you have a follow car behind you, you can't start at the same time.
Here I am chatting with the race director Tom about any last minute race things!
Don't you just love the little reflective flowers? They are Vespertine, which helped to sponsor this ride! You will see more of them for sure! I just love the idea of stylish reflective gear. It is SO much better than an ugly orange vest!
A quick hug with Dani--that will be the last time in a while that we will both be still!
And I'm off! There were lots of potholes in the first stretch, so we decided that I would go first to navigate through them.
For the first night, we took 8 mile pulls each. So, I would ride for 8 miles with George and Beau in the car behind me, and then Dani would be waiting in front of her car with Keith and Anne inside of it. Then I would pass Dani, stop, and she would take off. It got down into the high 30's, so we both got chilly, and we were looking forward to the sunshine by the end of the night! When you ride and get sweaty, then sit in the car warm, it is even colder when you get back out into the air! You cansee me gaining layers--but still happy!
If I haven't mentioned it to you yet, this was NOT a flat course! As the sun came up, we started to edge closer to Lookout Mountain, where there were plenty of ups and also some fast and fun downs!
Dani and I were still keeping it fun! When we pulled up to each other and Quacked, or Meowed, or Ribbited, or Neyyed every time we exchanged! I am pretty sure our crew things we are nuts, but hey!
Our crew chose our bikes for us--so they would look at the course profile and decide if I would be better off on my road bike or on my tri bike.
Once I rolled up and we were stopped at a train! We all had a quick team meeting! That means that Dani and I goofed off while the rest of the crew talked business!
My favorite part of this course was Climbing up Fort Mountain! We shortened the turns to 1 mile, and we really went for it! We FLEW up that mountain! It was a blast! It was almost hot out, so I put on my Moxie Jersey so I could really look good/feel good/ride good...that kind of works!
You can see Dani Quacking at me in this one!
And here I am quacking back at her!
After the mountain, the hills just KEPT coming!!! Eventually, I started to get tired, so I changed into my team Rev3 kit to get a little team love! I do appreciate the support, even if I don't really swim or run these days!
As the sun went down on night number two, we all started to really feel the fatigue. Early in the night, Dani needed a nap, so I took a longer pull. Turned out, instead of being mostly downhill, it was mostly uphill. But, seriously, this whole route was mostly uphill! You can see how tired I was in this picture.
As we approached the third mountain, Cheaha, I was H.U.R.T.I.N.G. My head was falling to the left and my eyes were crossing--not closing, crossing. I was hearing things that were not there. It was ugly. I needed a break. Jason suprised us, and showed up on the course! It was SO exciting! He gave us all McDonalds, and in my mean-spirited exhaustion, I tossed it to the side.
Then, it was my time to nap! I was so excited, and I don't even know if I took of my helmet. I got my 30 minute nap, woke up, got SO excited about having McDonald's Filet of Fish sandwish (SO weird, I know, but this is the ultra world,and things are different), devored it, and then couldn't wait to get back on my bike!
I had a fantastic next ride. As Jason said, power naps in ultras are POWERFUL! Getting through that slump was huge for me, and I was ready to just wrap this sucker up. At one point in Talledega, a rabbit raced me! It was so much fun!
Even though the second night wasn't any colder than the first, I think I was tired enough, that I had on almost every layer that I own!
Like I said, there were a LOT of hills! In the last few miles there were two more climbs! As I crested my final climb, the sun was coming up, and I had an incredible view! That was a moment of happiness and gratitude for me!
In the last couple of miles, Dani and I decided to ride together. It was so fun to talk about the race. We were so far ahead of anyone else, that we just soft pedaled and chatted. It was a really good moment, and it made me dream about the last few miles of RAAM, when we will ride from the official timed finish to the finish line together.
I am thankful that Dani is my partner. She is dedicated. She is strong. She is fun. I am very proud of her, and of us as a team.
I am deeply grateful for our crew. They are so selfless. They worked hard and gave up SO much for us, and the big race isn't even here yet!
I am also so thankful for my husband, whose support is endless--before, after, during, awake, and asleep. He took those vows to love and support me seriously.
And of course, we are thankful for all of our sponsors who believe and invest in us and our dreams! We appreciate you so much!