|The rare NUE Women's SS Podium. I broke one of my cardinal rules and was caught in a photo wearing Crocs.|
I'm happy to report that the LJ100 is in the books. As rough as it felt while I was out there, my head was on for this one and that was 90% of the battle. Not being an endurance veteran, two weeks is a pretty tall order in between hundreds for me. The LJ was an added bonus. I registered the night after Mohican. If I could do it, I would do it. If I was flarey and not feeling so hot, no biggie. Obviously, I try to take this approach for all of them, but I'd be lying if I said I don't get crushed when I can't do something. I went into this one with not much stress or anxiety. I figured if I couldn't race I would at least make an excellent pit crew for Jane, Alex, James and Mike.
I actually slept the night before the race which is an oddity for me. We got to the venue and I got in a real warm up. The start is pretty intense, especially on an ss, so I had to make sure my legs were ready. They weren't. They kind of laughed at me and said something along the lines of, "Bitch, you crazy." Yes, my legs get a little ghetto when they're tired. I remember giggling to myself and thinking the day was going to be interesting. If I was starting I was finishing. I was not DNFing another LJ.
I dorked out for this one and broke down and wore a Camelback. I hate them. I only wear them on long rides when I will not have access to fluids. I remember last year that I dropped a bottle because it was so fast and twisty it was hard to drink. So I sucked it up. Glad I did. The first lap went down okay. There was the usual start craziness. There were some crashes and tacoed wheels in sand that were a little scary to witness. Luckily, I don't think anyone was hurt. I was a little tentative in the sand the first lap, especially seeing a few people bite it. Put me on a wet, rocky, rooty downhill and I'm okay. Ask me to ride a sandy downhill at speed and I'm a wussbag.
Second lap. Well, that's where there were some issues. It got hot fast. I felt a thigh cramp coming on a grinder of a climb at the beginning of the second lap. I haven't felt a cramp all year. Shit. I took a few Sport Legs and chewed on a couple in hopes of staving off the cramps. I backed off a little until I felt they were gone and then attempted to pick it up again. I caught up with a guy on a ss and we rode together for a while and we had a good thing going. I felt some stomach cramps and tried to convince myself that they would go away. They didn't. They got worse. I had to go. It became an emergency. I didn't want to stop because we were flowing together. When you find someone you're groovin' with it's hard to let go. The guy I was riding with said he'd wait for me. I tried to convince my new riding buddy to go on without me and that I was having some, "GI issues". Wink. Wink. He gave me the 'Ewww. That's groddy face', still said he'd wait (I thought for sure that would deter him) but then after pulling over with me and watching me start to strip down with reckless abandon he pedaled on his way in fear and disgust I'm certain. Thank God I had a surplus of baby wipes in my jersey pocket from my trip to the porta-john before the race. I wear bibs so there is a lot that has to happen. It's like a three ring circus. Camelback off, jersey off and hanging on bike that is leaning on tree. The trees aren't really great for hiding at the LJ so I had to jog in a little ways. Fun times. Crisis averted.
I'm convinced the LJ bugs are all escapees from a wicked science experiment. They were nasty. At one point I couldn't fight instinct and took my hand off the handlebar to smack and swat while standing and climbing on an ss. Yes, not a smart move. Luckily, I didn't fall over like an asshole. I caught my shoulder on tree and was suspended there. I paused there for a moment. Suspended in time. Contemplating my future and then carried on.
The third lap I had to take bathroom break #2. After that I was just crossing my fingers that I could make it to the finish without stopping again. I had some really rough patches. There were some dark times, to say the least. I went Chevy Chase Vacation bonkers for a spell:
There is no real recovery at LJ, physically or mentally. You are pretty much on the gas the whole time. It's twisty and turny so there is no zoning out and just mindlessly pedaling. Weaving in and out of trees for hours does take its toll. There's no relaxing on the gravel downhills or sandy double track sections for fear of washing out in gravel or sand. At the end, it started to rain pretty hard which made the sand pack in the tires. That was an extra kick in the ass.
I pulled across the line with a sweet, sweet dirt unibrow:
|"I haven't felt my left ass cheek in four hours."|