The Texas Time Trials – 12 Hour “Tin Butt” Challenge
It should be easier than this to come up with words that paint a picture of what my day was like. I want to tell you all about my nutrition, my race strategy, my crew – describe what I thought their roles were going to be and compare them to what their individual roles ACTUALLY were. I want to tell you about the pain in my knees and achilles and back, the counting of the pedal strokes that helped me up the hills during hour 11, the singing OUT LOUD that made me laugh, how I begrudgingly told the SAG “I’M FINE” while I was standing with my bike at the stop sign at mile 13 of my last lap. Or how about the girls that flew past me that, as it turned out, were kicking my ass all the way to hour 12.5? And how proud I am of myself for being consistent, for not hesitating to do one more lap.
Hmmm .. maybe it isn’t so hard after all ..
Have you ever ridden your bike in the dark? Before race morning, I hadn’t either. All racers are required to have adequate amounts of headlights, blinkies, and reflective gear to start – it’s pretty dark at 6am in September here in Texas. No city lights to light up the sky. It was pretty awesome. And the weather was amazing. Cool and crisp, but not cold. As all the 12 hour riders took off and spread out along the first two miles, it was pretty cool to look ahead and see nothing but a trail of red blinky lights! It was so still and quiet, with the occasional rooster! A man riding near me said, “Well, I guess it’s time to get up.” HAHAHAHAHA!!!
I felt pretty good on the first 26.5 mile loop. I think it took me about half that to get warmed up, and I had to keep reminding myself to relax and not worry about trying to keep up with the fast riders that took off as we crossed the timing mat! There seemed to be so many of them in front of me, and I couldn’t see much behind me – and nobody was passing me. Please don’t let me be the last one! is what I was saying over and over. But you have to let all that go and just ride, so I did!
As I was coming up to the timing mat and into “pit row” at the end of the loop, I could see my friends running just ahead of me. The cool thing about a 12 hour bike race is that it lasts for .. well .. 12 hours, ha! Plenty of time for the crew to get in their training miles too. They timed it perfectly and came across the start/finish line just as I was. THEY. ARE. AWESOME. I got off my bike and they went into crew mode! They took my bike, checked my tires, removed the lights, filled my bottles, gave me a hard time about not fueling much, sunscreened and chamois buttered me, gave me PANCAKES, and made me laugh! And just like that, it was time to go out for more.
Laps 2 & 3 .. and 4 & 5
I rode the same 26.5 mile loop 6 times, and they all seem to blend together in the middle. I had ridden the course once this summer with Drum. A recon ride to see what I was getting into, and to mentally prepare myself for the hills of Glen Rose and the chip seal that plagues the country highways of Texas. On race day, however, it wasn’t exactly as I remembered. Overall, the roads didn’t require a mouthpiece to prevent your teeth from breaking, and the smooth, fast parts – although small and limited – were still there in September. It was the wind; it was coming from the opposite direction. (I’m not actually complaining though. When I rode in July, it was so hot that 2 loops exhausted us. And the cyclists in the 500 mile and 24 hour race that started 2 days before me were rained on for most of their ride .. so wind and some cool humidity? I’ll take it.)
The first half is mostly rolling hills, with the biggest one around mile 9.5 – 10. As you’re coming down a roller, in front of you there is a hill that looks like it goes straight up, and about 2/3 of the way up you pass the mile 10 sign. Now, it really isn’t THAT bad, but then again, I’ve ridden 14 miles up a mountain in New Mexico to Bobcat Pass and completed 8,007 feet of climbing during my first century in Oklahoma <brushes shoulder off> .. but no, seriously, it’s not terrible. Not really something you want to see during hour 10, but hey, it’s there so you just gotta do it! But after you come to the top and turn the corner, the roads flatten and smooth out for a quick few miles and before you know it you’re at the stop sign just past the mile 13 sign. HALF WAY.
My memory of this half is what was most surprising. I don’t remember this being a false flat, but it totally is. And this is where the wind really gets in the way. The rollers aren’t nearly as big, and the roads are a bit smoother .. just loooong stretches of flat road that is actually an incline. And like I said, the rollers aren’t bad, but you’re starting with what feels like no momentum and wind in your face. But the miles tick away and before you know it you’re at mile 22ish and the roads are smoothed over by beautiful blacktop that feel like you’re riding on glass. It’s the perfect cure! Any cyclist will tell you that a smooth road will turn the “I’m so tired, I don’t want to go anymore .. “ into “I LOVE MY BIKE I LOVE CYCLING HOW FAST CAN I GO YAY I WANT MORE!”
I have to say that as challenging as it is to be out on your own for that long during a race, I really enjoyed it. There are so many thoughts that drift in and out of your head during the tired times .. and if one where to say them out loud they would no doubt be left with judgement from others. But during this race, it’s just you and your bike for the most part. When you get frustrated, you can drop *F-bombs* without offending anyone; if you feel like crying, you can cry without someone wondering if you’re ok – because really, you are ok, you just need to get it out of your system. You do, however, have to rely on your own will to get you places; to force back the negative talk. I think this is the part that impresses me the most on these long, lonely, endurance events. It’s all you, 100%.
That’s actually not true. Let me show you why, in no particular order:
If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, or if you’ve read any of my old blogs, you know how much I love and appreciate my friends. They never disappoint. In the end, it was an amazing experience and I couldn’t be happier with the outcome. Well, I mean, it would’ve been super cool to win 1st female, but I’ll save that for another year. I performed as best I could for the athlete that I was on that day. I highly recommend The Texas Time Trials! Did I mention the cool trophy?
The last blog I published about my active life was Monday, May 21, 2012. I was coming off of a first .. a DNF. (Did Not Finish). It was a bike rally – a 100 mile ride from Austin to Shiner. The entry before that? Tuesday, February 7th, titled: Not A Cyclist.
Funny how quickly things can change.
The summer of 2012 was amazing, almost all of my spare time spent on my bike with my friends! Drum was training for Ironman Arizona and I followed her around most weekends .. watching, learning. I went to New Mexico and climbed Bobcat Pass; I had my first experience with Tulsa Tough and Crybaby Hill; I completed my first century ride in Oklahoma at the Wild Horse Century and Double Century – where the hills feel like mountains; I was honored to be with Elaine during her first 50 mile ride. And I got to experience all of these things, and many more, with my friends! I LOVE MY FRIENDS!! As my cycling season was coming to a close, Greg (I’d love to hyperlink his blog here, but … yeah Ninja, I’m calling you out) started talking about a bike race our friend Robert was doing .. The Texas Time Trials. I immediately clicked on the link and saw the SWEET trophy you get if you meet a certain mileage requirement. I also saw the price of registration. Apparently time trials aren’t as affordable as bike rallies .. and after the beating I took at Wild Horse, I just wasn’t up for it. I hung my bike up – literally, on the wall in my living room – in October and didn’t bring it down until late January .. 2013.
I was overwhelmed. So much learning, so many miles!! I needed to let it all marinate .. but in the back of my mind I couldn’t shake the picture of that trophy.
When I started riding again this year, I could tell from the start that I was stronger. I took care of a few aches and pains I had in my knees and decided I was gonna give Shiner another try. You know, the century ride I didn’t finish last year. Not only did I finish this time, I found a new riding buddy in the process: Erik Kennemer! MK, thank you for letting me borrow your husband this summer, hahaha!! We rode two centuries together, Tulsa Tough, and many training rides on the weekends .. until I got dumped for marathon training. ASS.
I was feeling strong. I had finished two century rides before the end of June, and there was a new time trial near Waco in July .. PERFECT. I was ALL IN. Time to put my money where my mouth was, so I signed up for both. Tonkawa Ultra Cycling Race in July – 6hour; The Texas Time Trials (TTTT) – 12hour.
Wait, before I go on, for those of you who aren’t familiar with cycling and time trials .. it’s you against the clock. Well, and against the other cyclists; it IS a race after all. The two I signed up for are on looped courses. The object is to ride as many miles as you can in the designated time. In ultra cycling, this usually means 6, 12, or 24 hours. At TTTT, there’s also a 500 mile RAAM qualifying race. Seriously.
With Drum focusing on mountain biking and running, and Erik marathon training, I found another training partner, Jeff. We met while he was training for Ironman Texas in the spring, and since we both had goals for the end of the summer, I welcomed the company on my rides during the week! He’s pretty strong on the bike and he pushed me to ride faster and stronger. I managed to kick his ass on hill repeats one day (you didn’t really think I’d leave that out did you?), but most of the time he was dragging me along.
I love that so many of my running friends started doing (or went back to) triathlon! Most of my long rides were solo, but occasionally I was able to hook up with some of them during their training for Redman, which happened to be the same day as TTTT! Never underestimate the power of a friend on a long training day. I was even able to ride with That Pink Girl! We spent many hours together on the bike last year, both pretty new to cycling. We’ve come a long way, Pinky
I could write a separate post each for Tulsa Tough and Bottoms Up Cycling Tour, (and really, about every single rally and training ride I did) but I’ll spare you for now and just say this: If you’re a cyclist and want to have a fun weekend of nothing but bikes, go to Tulsa Tough. It’s quickly becoming my favorite weekend of the entire year. And the Bottoms Up Cycling Tour? Well, I was inspired by Drum’s training weekend in New Mexico we did last year and wanted another adventure. I recruited her parents and mine to sherpa us around for 3 days in Georgetown and across to Chappell Hill. So many good things happened during these trips, which included riding with BYRON!! Have I mentioned how much I LOVE my friends???
I no longer consider myself a runner in cyclist’s clothing. I’m a CYCLIST. I love my bike; all things bike. There’s still a runner in me, but she’s sleeping right now. She’s about to wake up, but more on that later. First, let’s talk about race day!Read More
This has become one of my favorite stories to tell because it is one of great significance. My life is forever changed due to my decision to become a massage therapist.
In my “past life” as I so fondly refer to it, I was employed at Communities In Schools Dallas Region (CISDR) – a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering students to stay in school and achieve in life. I was placed in an elementary school and it was my job to integrate myself with the staff and create a program to best suit the needs of that particular school. I was on an academic journey to get my Master’s in Education and become a Licensed Professional Counselor focusing on grief issues. Well, student loans can only be spread so far, and after 3 school years with CISDR, my program was cancelled and I felt lost. I LOVED being in graduate level classes, but found myself up against a wall that I just couldn’t seem to get over. I was losing interest in my job; and although I was able to successfully complete 12hrs at the TWU graduate school, I just couldn’t see what I was fighting for.
In the early days of my undergrad life, I would sit in front of my computer searching for massage schools in California. I wanted to run away to the beach, leaving the university behind. When I was in grade school, I was the brown-noser giving the teacher a shoulder massage while she was grading papers; during story time; whenever there was an opportunity. I massaged my dad and uncle’s shoulders. When I was in elementary school, my mom owned a cake and candy store where my sister and I spent MANY after school and weekend hours .. I remember asking her if I could set up a folding chair outside and massage people’s shoulders as they walked by.
Flash forward to the fall of 2006 and there I was again. Sitting in front of my computer looking at massage schools .. in Dallas. I made an appointment to visit the owner and tour the school; I needed as many details as possible! But I knew before going in that this was what I wanted to do. It was time to make a change. Classes began in February of 2007 and I had just enough vacation and PTO days to get me through the Monday/Wednesday massage school schedule AND finish out the school year with CISDR. On the last day of school (at the elementary school where I was working), I walked away from that job and into a fulfilling CAREER and lifestyle that I didn’t imagine was possible.Read More
Thank you for taking the time to browse through my new website! This is my first experience with WordPress and website design; it’s definitely an ongoing learning experience! I am so happy to finally have a way to get information to you online. Come back often (and please be patient) .. I will continue updating, adding, blogging and learning how to make this the most user-friendly site possible. If you have any feedback for me, or if there’s a topic you’d like to learn more about, this is the place for that.
RELAX & ENJOY!Read More