Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I love finish lines

Everyone is struggling with the events in Boston. So am I. I am feeling so sad about something terrible that happened in a place that I love--the end of a race.

Thinking about finish lines is really the only way I know how to process this right now. I don't want someone to take away why I or you love them.

I want to take a minute and remember why I love finish lines.

They are places of joy.

They are places of relief.

They are places of accomplishment.

They are places of raw human emotion.

They are places to celebrate all of the hard work you put into getting there.

They are places to celebrate with friendships that grew deeper on the course.

They are places where you can reflect on loved ones that got you there.

They are places you can spend time with the team of people that you raced with.

They are places you go back to at the end of a race to cheer for total strangers who you can't wait to see finish.

They are places to laugh about the good times and laughter of a race.

They are places to celebrate not just your success, but the success of your competitors who might just become your friends.

They are places to think about where you have been, and where you are going.
I love finish lines. I really do.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Heart of the South 500 Race Report!

Starting at the finish 31 hours and 42 minutes after we started the Heart of the South 500 --check out this dream team we had with us! Fom left to right, Anne, George, Me, Dani, Beau, Keith, and our suprise addition, Jason!

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!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Follow us on Heart of the South!

Starting at midnight Freiday, Dani and I will be racing in the Heart of the South 500--but let's be real--it's 517 miles folks! It leaves from Birmingham and does a look in Georgia before you head back to to Alabama!

Dropped off my bikes for tune ups thanks to our sponsor All3 Sports! Thanks!

 We had a crew meeting--Keith, George, Beau, and Anne are our fearless leaders for this race! Honestly though, there was as much trash talking about who would make the best playlist as actual planning. Playlists are a big deal people.

We will be divided into two cars with two crews. Dani's car will have Keith and Anne in charge, and my car (which has fresh brakes, oil change,and rotated tires) will have George and Beau.

The race starts at midnight, and Dani and I will take turns of about 30 minutes each riding. This race has over 35,000 feet of climing and goes over Lookout Mountain, Fort Mountain, and Cheaha Mountain. On the giant climbs, we are going to take very short turns to try to keep the pace up. We are expecting this race to take in the neighborhood of 30 hours to finish.

I spent the day packing--I have changes of clothes (in all varieties). I am hoping for weather nice enough during the day to wear my awesome Moxie jerseys!

We also just got the CUTEST reflective gear, and you are going to see some great pictures of it, since half of this race is at night! When you see it, check out Vespertine!
So, two bikes, three sets of wheels, lots of first aid, TONS of food, and tools galore. I think I'm ready to roll tomorrow.

I haven't finished my playlists, but they are coming, and they will be great!

There is no regular tracking, but we will be upating our team facebook page, team twitter (@powerponytails), and feel free to also check and add my personal facebook page, and personal twitter (where I will be updating when I can!). I Love love love hearing from people while we are out on the road, and I appreciate all bits of support!