Category Archives: race

Arizona Trail Race 750

I’ve been busier and more unavailable than usual and here is why: I’m racing the Arizona Trail 750 - A self-supported, 750-mile, mostly single-track mountain bike race from Mexico to Utah. It starts next Friday, April 15th.  The story is below!

Chillin in the Great Basin on my 2006 bike tour of the Great Divide mountain bike route.

There are some things about me that are obvious:  It takes me a really long time to make decisions, I’m stubborn as hell, let’s see here, what else, oh I love pancakes and I’m always looking for new adventures. Last year I was convinced my new adventure was 24 hour mountain bike races. My logic was sound:

I love mountain biking.
I love riding for a really long time.

Here’s what I didn’t realize: I hate riding in circles. Last year at the Cool 24 hour I wasn’t that stoked. It got old. It probably didn’t help that it was cold and wet. So easy to get in your sleeping bag when you pass it every hour or so! The motivation to push on and do more laps wanes quickly. Later in 2010 at the Boggs 24 hour race, even though I ended up in 2nd place single-speed, I was having more fun, but still, well, I hate to say this, I was bored. Bored of going in circles.

Setting up my own support station at last year's 24 hours of Boggs. This is 10 minutes before race time!

So what else is there?

Imagine an awesome combination of bike touring and mountain biking. You and only yourself and your survival gear getting from point A to point B- on remote, off-road trails. It’s called Bike Packing: extended off-road travel by bike; like hiking, but faster and more fun.  Exactly what I did in 2006 on the Great Divide Mountain Route with my close friend Steevo (see his photos). That was one of the best trips of my life. We rode cross bikes and even though we weren’t racing, hustled to cover 90-100 miles a day. We camped every night but two: one when we met a girl who invited us over for dinner and once when I was so sick I couldn’t stand up.

Now imagine the same situation, but a race. No entry fee, no support, just getting from A to B as fast as possible. The most famous of this unique style of racing is on the Great Divide route- The Tour Divide race. It’s famous enough to have a film and an estimated 100 people lining up at the start this June. And I may be one of them.

But that is not until June. What I’m preparing for is next week’s Arizona Trail Race- 750 miles of mostly single-track from Mexico to Utah. For years the race was ‘only’ 300 miles because not enough of the Arizona Trail was complete. Last year the organizer offered the full 750-mile version and two people finished, the fastest in 7 days.

Image lifted from the race website!

How is this race different from the Tour Divide? The rules of self-support are nearly identical- see Tour Divide rules and Arizona Trail Race rules- but the Great Divide route has less than 1% single track, about 250 miles. Even though the AZT is a quarter of the distance it has at least twice the single track. That means more technical riding- both up and down. The biggest limitation of this race? Crossing the Grand Canyon. See, National Parks do not allow bikes to be ridden off-road. The Arizona Trail goes in, across, and back up the canyon on the north side. Racers must dismantle their bikes and carry them on their back for the 24-mile hike. Seriously? Yes.

Race organizer Scott Morris carrying his bike the 24 miles through the grand canyon

Unsurprisingly I’m freaking out. I’m not silly/tough enough to ride this single-speed so I’m building a 1×10 29er.  Yep, a new bike. But not just a new bike. All sorts of new gear that is specific to this kind of adventure: rack-less bag system, tubeless tires, GPS, dynamo hub lights. My friend Errin is preparing for the Tour Divide and he’s already riding his fully-loaded bike to work every day. I’m less than a week from starting this race and I’ve got a ways to go! The ever productive and helpful Chris Chueng is making me a few bags.  Famous vegan track racer Jack Lindquist built my wheels, Megan from Moth Attack helped me with the components, Errin Vasquez is helping me with both gear (he showed me this 7 ounce bivy sac, which I bought!) and GPS, Golden Saddle Cyclery is doing some wrenching…I haven’t pedaled a mile of the race and already so many folks have helped me.

I hope to get more details up through next week, before we leave. For now you can read about the route and check out the site for tracking the race (I’ll be wearing a SPOT device).

Meanwhile I’ll be studying maps, gpx files and bikepacking.net to minimize my biggest fears: getting lost and running out of water. And reading more super motivating articles about being outside on mountain trails like this great piece by ultra-runner Anton Krupicka.

Have a great weekend, and maybe I’ll see you at Feel My Legs, I’m a Racer?

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Filed under hike, off-road, race

Bike Night at the Hammer. RAD. So rad.

My love for bikes started really young. I was riding without training wheels at 3 and racing BMX by 4. I was in the 5 and Under category at my local track where an adult helped you push your bike up the starting hill and then held your rear wheel so you could balance against the gate. You got to ride the same track and jumps as the older kids! I thought it was best thing ever and it didn’t take long before I was finding or building jumps in the woods and trying to ride skateboard ramps. I had two concussions before I was 7, but that didn’t stop me from riding all over my neighborhood and beyond. Once my neighbor found me 3 miles from home riding off some curbs. She was so exasperated that she put me and my bike in her car and drove me home!

I wasn’t that interested in traditional sports or being told when and how to do something. BMX was an outcast thing to do, like being punk or vegan, and even at 7 years old you have an idea of this.  Then in 1986 the movie RAD came out.  BMX on the big screen! Sure, there was BMX Bandits (with Nicole Kidman!) before that, but BMX was an aside, it wasn’t about BMX. RAD is. And it’s as cheesy as it is amazing to a 7 year old BMXer.  My friends and I studied that movie. We looked up the stunt doubles in BMX magazines. We learned the names of any of the tricks we didn’t know. We built bigger jumps. We felt like bad-asses tearing around on our bikes doing tricks.  Hell yeah I’d skip the SAT’s to ride Hell Track!

So my good friend Lisa Auerbach, who crewed 508 last year and took all of those great photos, organizes Bike Night at the Hammer museum every year. She picks a bike film to show in the theater and has drinks and vegan food beforehand. In 2009 it was Breaking Away and last year it was PeeWee’s Big Adventure with Paul Reuben there to introduce it! So fun. This year she chose the movie RAD. It also happens to be the 25th anniversary! The Hammer searched high and low to find possibly the last remaining 35mm print, the Director will likely be introducing it and the original BMX bikes will be there on display. Seriously, does it get any more rad than that?

Thursday, April 14th at 7pm. Details on the Hammer website.  Also check out RAD: The Movie.  Please pass this on and help promote this super rad (okay, last time) event. Trailer below.

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Filed under bike, bmx, race, vegan

Alaska and Los Angeles are both important bike places in this moment

Yo! First off, you know Spring is creeping around the corner by the number of packages on my doorstep today. I need a word that = stokedx10. Since Rapha ruined ‘epic’ I’m running low on descriptors. Back to the goods: stuff from Mountain Hardwear, Princeton Tec, Carousel Designs, and lastly, Niner (via Cranky’s bike shop!!). Word! Hard to imagine I’m only in the 4th week of the semester for teaching. Come on spring break!

Okay, beyond material possessions, I want to report that my friend Aidan Harding is in the Alaskan wilderness right now doing the 1100-mile Iditarod Trail Invitational.  He raced the 350-mile version two years ago, the year it was extra gnarly.  He’s the dude who got 4th overall and 1st single-speed at the 2010 Tour Divide. Only 10 hours off of the single-speed record! Fortunately I got to ride with him last summer before he headed back across the pond. So If you are one of the few people in the world who thinks an 1100-mile mountain bike race in the Alaskan winter is interesting, you can follow his progress online.  Go Aidan! His partner, who is an ultra-distance swimmer, is also regularly updating his website with what she knows.  1100 miles. In the Alaska Wilderness. Sit on that for a minute.

Back in Los Angeles, the City Bicycle Plan passed unanimously at City Hall, despite the complaints of well-to-do horse-people, and was signed by the Mayor today.  On twitter the #LAbikeplan hashcode actually trended in Los Angeles.  Yes, it’s only a plan and implementation will be a challenge, but the Plan has come a really long way. Originally it was a crappy, nearly non-sensical document that used terms like ‘infeasible’ to describe city streets in relation to bicycling. Then activists stepped up and had their own meetings. And made their own plans. Their volunteer work changed the half-million dollar city plan to something useful and, imagine this, even exciting! Props to all of you who put in work (I wrote about their meetings, but never made it to any). The best coverage round-up is actually at the LA DOT Bike Blog and LA Streetsblog’s photo blog.

Back to work for me. It’s winter, when I’m suppose to be working a lot to save money to play a lot in the summer. You know, the same life plan I’ve had since I was 15 and delivered newspapers through the East Coast winter in order to spend the summer traveling and riding BMX. The jobs and bikes have changed, but not much else. Thanks for reading!

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Filed under city, off-road, race

Calico 50k Race Report

[Update Fri Jan 21 10:11am: Wanted to link a few other race reports with great stories and photos! Don’t Try This At Home at Runner’s World | Bourbon Feet (fast dude who wears the Air Jesus sandals!) | Kylie at TriFuel.com | Trail Bum ]

 

In my continued attempt to not gain an unsightly amount of winter weight and lose all of my fitness I signed up for another ultra-run, the Calico Ghost Town 50k. The race is a benefit for Discovery Trails, whose focus is education about the Mojave desert. Their tag-line is Learning From Adventure, which I can get behind!

Speaking of adventure, I’m sure some people drive to a race, race it and then go home. Seems too simple. And boring, really. We make it a huge adventure: camping, stopping at places of interest on the way, eating at great places and generally using the race as an excuse to get away and do rad stuff. First on the list: stopping at a vegetarian restaurant. One World Cafe is in the burbs of the San Gabriel Valley, the part of the ‘Los Angeles Area’ that is the sprawl associated with my city. When I go on a long bike ride I head north, south or west, rarely east into Sprawlville. But when we’re driving out that way, it’s a treat to hit up one of the Supreme Master vegan restaurants.  And yes, they have a Supreme Burrito, but I stuck with the Pan-Asian stuff. I can’t get enough of these spots lately.

Calico ghost town is located half-way between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, in the Mojave desert.  It’s just too far to drive morning of without getting up stupid early. Last weekend Mike and I drove down to South Orange County to ride a PCH Randonneurs 200k that started at 630am. Needless to say, him and I did not start at 630am. At least it made us hustle to get to the first control before it closed. But then luckily we could take the remaining 110 miles at the Swarm! ‘Can Stop Will Stop’ chill pace. Riding in South Orange County is very beautiful, but the only photo I have is of this crazy cockpit:

Back to the run! We rolled up to Calico in time to check in for the race and scope the town. I’ve been to a few and I appreciate the throwback to olden times. We learned that Calico was bought and preserved by Walter Knott, the founder of Knott’s Berry Farm amusement park, who was a far-right wingnut that had racist policies at his amusement park. It has long since been sold to San Bernardino County, but we couldn’t help but notice that the Welcome sign was in English, French, German and Japanese, but not Spanish and that there was no brothel!

The goodie bag was provided by an outlet mall which may have something to do with the pose I’m striking.

Checked in for the race and content with seeing most of the town we headed down to the campground to set up camp and make dinner. As I’ve said before, I love when you can camp at a race start! So Max, Donovan and I got a fire going and whipped up some pancakes and beans in honor of Burro Schmidt, whose tunnel we visited the last time we drove out to an ultra-run.  I was nervous about making pancakes on a camp stove! The first time I ever camped in my life was at an Earth First! forest defense thing in Pennsylvania and I was blown away that you could camp and still eat pancakes. Still, I had never done it. The photo below is proof that it can happen!

Even though we were in bed at a reasonable hour, that 6am alarm felt too early. We sprung up and got water going for coffee, took down on our camp and drank said coffee in time to swing by the bathrooms (to avoid a Have To Poop scenario like my first ultra) and run to the start with a whopping 4 minutes before the gun. Nice. Max had hurt his ankle the day before so he decided not to run. I’ve never run with Donovan before but we decided to stick together as we both had sub-6hr times in mind. Ends up I avoided the dreaded Have To Poop scenario, but he did not! Two times ducking into the desert for him would be the difference in our times. Now I had looked at the course photos from the website, but I was not expecting the course to be so beautiful. It was magnificent! We ran through red canyons, down washes, over tight, rolling hills, through two tiny tunnels (!!); much of it with unbelievable views of or from the desert mountains. There was a technical section that took me ten minutes to slowly climb down using my arms on rocks for balance. SO fun. Not sure I can go back to road running….

At mile 22 I decided I was going to run every hill that was left. Felt good to push. Since I train on hills a lot just because of where I live, that came easy, but I’d struggle to keep people I had passed from catching me on the down hills or flats. Still, my descents definitely improved from the Ridgecrest run last month. So I’m rolling along, feeling good, running everything and I get to the last aid station. Now one note about this race is that it is supported by the locals. The folks at the aid stations are not runners. They were SUPER FUN. They loved it. Constant jokes (‘We got some meth in the back if you need a boost!’). So at the last aid, I say, ‘3.1 miles, right?’ Nope, 4.5 miles. Oops. I’m tired, it’s getting hot. I have no idea what time it is. Whatever. I run past some dudes in 4×4 trucks playing on some hills. They say hello. Then I see the campground! Sweet. The course went through it, which is now two out of two times that has happened. Should we make it a ritual to sleep on the course?

A few more ups and downs and then I’m in town and I see Max! He jogs along for awhile and then splits off to meet me at the finish. I pushed on the last hill to pass the triathlete I’d been back and forth with. Holding him off on the descent I cross the line at 5 hours and 47 minutes. Stoked (ended up 31st out of 121).  Donovan crosses 5 minutes later and we head into the saloon for our post-race meal. The young lady working was kind enough to give us french fries instead of pizza….

On the way home we stopped at Viva La Vegan, an all vegan grocery store in the Inland Empire that has a grip of frozen pizzas (good for National Vegan Pizza Day):

But I bought some chocolate hazelnut butter and we finished the drive back to LA for some pizza from a pizza shop.  This race is part of the So Cal Ultra Running Series, which I signed up for, just for fun. I was already to tell you about the next crazy run I’m signed up for, the Twin Peaks 50-miler, but I just found out that it’s postponed until October! Wtf? Look at this elevation profile:

I’ve been gearing up for this and using it for the fear I need to train properly and now it’s not happening! Bummer. It was scheduled for February 12th, what should I do instead?

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Filed under off-road, race, run, vegan

Furnace Creek 508 all weekend

Tomorrow is the 27th edition of the Furnace Creek 508 aka The Hell of West aka The Toughest 48 Hours in Sport!!


I’m racing solo. Again. Third year in a row. I’ve written about this race enough that it has its own tag. Check out this post from last week for my history with the race including links to reports, etc. My close friend Morgan ‘Goat’ Beeby, the first of our crew to race this, wrote a great story about his experience as my Crew Chief on my first solo race which gives an idea of what it’s like out there.

I’m so stoked and feel incredibly privileged to have the health, ability and resources to even attempt this race. The days leading into the race are very stressful- the logistics are complicated (and expensive!!) and that feeling of not having trained enough will wake you up at night! But the day before I feel a peace with it all and just can’t wait to get to that start line.

Racing fixed gear in 2006. This seems so long ago!

Let’s go to my favorite format of all time- FAQ’s- to cover what all this is about. Thanks for reading and think of me riding all day on Saturday. And Saturday night when you go to sleep. And Sunday morning when you wake up. And hopefully when you’re eating dinner Sunday night I’m crossing the finish line…

Can I follow the race online?
Yes. I’m updating the Swarm! Twitter when we can. My time splits will be posted here as part of the AdventureCORPS webcast. This is the page to follow! Photos, videos and updates will be posted all morning. My pre-race mug shot will be up by tonight!

What’s this ‘Desert Locust’ thing about?
Instead of a number you get an animal totem that is yours for life! I’m Desert Locust, but last year I was Dessert Locust which is the dessert totem of my animal totem. This year I’m a combination of both and the jpeg above is the sign that must be on all four sides of the support van.

Do you ride the whole thing yourself?
Yes. Every mile. You can race team as I did in 2006 where you switch at every time station. About 80 of the 200 racers are solo.

Is it a race or just a long ride?
The fastest folks finish in under 30 hours. That’s a 17 MPH average over 508 miles and 35,000 feet of elevation gain! The time limit is 48 hours. National Geographic Adventure (RIP) called it the 8th hardest race in the world.

Do you race it?
Ugh. Sort of? I got tenth last year, only cause faster folks dropped out in the 50+ MPH winds in Death Valley and my crew had the tenacity to push me on. It was actually much uglier than that, but I’ll spare you the details of puke and piss.

Do you have a crew?
Yes. Three friends are in a support van with the job of keeping me going with food, water and motivation. This year I have a totally rookie crew! They are in for an adventure as well. Dave Vandermaas, Lisa Auerbach and Sabrina Ovan. Thank you so much!
They ‘leapfrog’ me all day Saturday and follow me directly over night passing me water and food.

finish line photo with crew and desserts in 2009

What do you eat?
A combination of fruit like bananas and apples, liquid foods like Sustained Energy, bars, gels and mini-burritos. Peanut butter on tortillas, pretzels, and chocolate covered espresso beans are my secret weapon based on my 7-year, $65,000 education in nutrition.

Do you sleep?

In 2008 I slept 15 minutes at daybreak on Sunday. In 2009 not at all.

Does your butt hurt?
Yes. And then it stops hurting. And then it hurts again. But you know what? Anything worth doing involves some pain and suffering.

Is going down hill really fast awesome?
Yes.

Why?
Why is water wet? Why is the sky blue? I’m drawn to the physical and mental ends of this body I live in, I think. And I happen to be good at riding a bicycle for long periods of time, so this is the best way for me to do this! The answer to this question varies depending on my mood too. I love to travel from A to B, I love California and really, because I can.

Specific motivation this year?
5-time RAAM winner Jure Robic was killed while cycling near his home in Slovenia last week and that weighs heavily on my mind. Death is real, folks. RadioLab has a fitting good-bye. Also friends and specifically my girlfriend who are overcoming their own struggles, will motivate me through the night. Considering what lots of people have to deal with every day, having to pedal my bicycle, something I love, can’t be that bad. Right?

Any other Swarm! vegan racers?
Yes!
Max and Brian from the 2006 fixed gear team Bonobo are racing as a 2-person team: Emperor Tamarin

Megan (also from Bonobo), Sasha (who made the documentary from the 2006 race), Jacob and Mike Sz are a 4-person team: Wild Burros!

New friends which I met at 508 last year Jeff (pro coach) and Cara (PRO) are a 2-person team: Godwit attempting to beat the 2-person mixed record of 27:34:29!!

What can I do to help?
Ride a bike for trips under 4 miles. Eat vegan when you can. Realize that your actions do matter. And, secondly, you can txt, tweet, email or facebook me with words of support and my crew will pass it on, when they can.

Can you post an awesome Hip Hop video to get me stoked?

Yes.

http://www.youtube.com/v/isumZjs3dKA?fs=1&hl=en_US

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Filed under 508, race

2010 Shenandoah 100 Sunday

I raced the Shenandoah 100 in 2008 as my first mountain bike race ever and it was one of the best races I have ever done! Challenging, technical sections, beautiful area, kick-ass racers and volunteers, great vegan food before and after. It was so fun! (2008 write-up!)

I got my new bike (which made the trip in my Ritchey luggage without incident- no fee on Southwest and nothing broken). I’ve ridden off-road a lot more since 2008. Can I get in under 10 hours? There’s a corral start based on when you think you’ll finish and I feel pressure about where to line up! Last year was 10 hours, 55 min. I started in the back cause I didn’t want to get in anyone’s way…

Stoked to be in ‘the south’ visiting with friends and riding all day tomorrow. I won’t let summer end!!

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2010 Vineman

Vineman full-iron, yo. Pretty tight. Haven’t done this multi-sport thing in two years. Appeals to the ADHD me. Also to the Zone-3, no jump in me. 8th/79 in age-group, 45th/527 overall. The 4-hour marathon deal at the end has me pretty amped. Put in some serious work there. Here’s the breakdown:

Pre-race
Drove from Portland to Oakland two days before. Fun and beautiful. Stopped in Ashland, Oregon, recently voted best trail-running city in the country where, fortunately for me, hung out with a new trail-running friend I met at the Badwater Ultra-marathon when I was there as an official. Unfortunately, Lacy and I didn’t have time to go running with her, so we did the next best thing which was hang out at the Ashland Food Co-op. Another city, another vegan donut.

Sonoma County hang- I’ve some family in Sonoma which was our base. Three kids under 11 to keep me busy. An important note: Don’t try backflips on a trampoline if you can’t do them well. Hurt my neck and it bothered me all day on the race.

Dinner in Oakland- Ate dinner at Manzanita, which another friend described as Food Not Bombs food for $20. I was into it. Quinoa, miso soup, delicious salad. Perfect pre-race.

Race day
Up at 445. Made a french press. Drank coffee on the way. Start was mad crowded, parking, blah blah blah. Set up my ‘transition’ with my bike stuff, which is always exciting. By the time I see it again, I’ll be so fucking stoked to finally ride. Putting on my wetsuit: way less exciting. If I’m lighter than I’ve ever been (er, well, close) why is it tighter than it’s ever been? Haven’t worn it since this race in 2008.

Swim
In the water, ready to go, pre-whistle. A first. I started to get nervous which made me think tardiness is a response mechanism to nervousness.

Stay chill!


Harder than it sounds. Having breathing issues. Wetsuit felt SO TIGHT. Gnarly. Took 20 minutes for me to calm down. And for my dumb goggles to quit being foggy. This has never happened to me! The swim is two laps in a river with very little current. By the start of the second loop I was feeling a rhythm. Swimming is difficult to tell pace; I often didnt know if I was passing or being passed or if I was swimming straight. It’s also very shallow, which means you can stand if you have to (which is why Jeff and Megan call this Styrofoam-man!).
Still I paced, slowly. Got out in 1hr22min, 10 min slower than past race. I’m cool with it. Arms are tired. Wonder why?

Bike
I passed my pink backpack and wetsuit over the fence to Lacy with a big smile on my face. Cycling. Hell yes. I go hard straight away. Stomach is weird so I don’t eat for about an hour. That’s 2.5hrs now on a small banana. It’s fine. Passing hella people and being super polite and stoked, but others aren’t being so! (No Meat Athlete just talked about ettiquete for these races).
The course is rolling hills and it’s overcast and chilly for the first 50 miles. I love it. I’m feeling strong through the first 70 then I’m less stoked. I notice because I’m getting angry at dudes with Zips and discs passing me on the flats. ‘I’m being passed, wtf?’ Reconsidering the offer to borrow Zips from a friend. I hesitated cause they are tubulars, but that 8-10% speed improvement sure sounds nice about now.
I stop and pee. Eating more. Feeling good. My average speed is dropping below my goal of 21 MPH. Usually my strength is in the last half of the bike, but lack of recent long rides is showing.
Finish at 5hr30-something minutes. About 10 minutes faster than last time; making up the time lost in swimming.
.

Transition 2
Yeah, running. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I think cycling is the perfect warm-up for running. I feel great. It’s getting warm so I slap on sunblock, drink some cold water, dump some on my head and run out with the goal of a 4-hour marathon.

RUN
Boom. Three out-and-backs loops with rolling hills, turns, spectators and aid every mile. I head out strong, I think, trying to figure out my pace. I’ve no watch and there are no time clocks. I ask some dude with a fancy watch his pace. 9min07sec miles. Perfect. He then says that’s too fast for him and backs off. Then someone says, ‘Yo Matt!’ A dude who lives in Pasadena and has ridden Feel My Legs, I’m A Racer is on his first iron-distance. He’s killing it. We chat awhile and then my pace is a bit faster so I split off. Straight away I’m chatting with a dude from Bogota who speaks no English. We talk about running, cities and Ciclovia. He says, ‘this is hard’ and then runs away from me. I see Lacy at the end of my eventful first lap. Stoked. Run through the transition/finish and see the clock and do the math. My goal is three 80-min loops to equal 4 hours. I did 76 minutes. Boom. Drink some tea (thanks girl!), head out for lap two.

Lap 2
This is the toughest part, mentally. My brain insists on tricking me to slow down. Stop to pee! Put on sunblock! Walk this hill to conserve energy. I do the first two, but not the last. I endure. Passing folks which feels odd and exciting. I’m using the Hydra pouch cup system; no paper cups. It holds 6 ounces of liquid that fills in one second. I’m eating only pretzels and clif blocks. I must have eaten $20 worth. Falling into that tunnel of only feeling my legs moving. I barely comprehend the people around me. Occasionally someone yells, ‘Go Swarm!’ and it feels like they’ve given me everything they have. A simple cheer feels like a lifetime of support. I see Lacy at the end of lap two and she runs along with me. I see people smile and that makes me smile. Ask for the rest of the tea and some ibuprofen. She quotes me later as saying, ‘This is getting hard.’ I do the math on the clock and it was an 84-minute lap. Shit. I blame peeing and sunblock, but really my feet are burning and quads aren’t stoked.

Lap 3
Almost done. Well, 8 miles til done. My mantra is ‘run to the next aid’. Head down. Trying to keep pace, have no idea. I see people heading back on their last lap running a pace that seems impossible. I get to one of the two bigger hills and push. Everyone I see is walking, but I refuse to. I crave the change in muscle use. At the turn around I think, ‘Just run back. That’s all you have to do.’ My feet are destroyed. I stop to drink two cupfulls and have to hold on to the pop-tent cause the motion of putting my head back makes me a little dizzy. A volunteer says she thinks I should sit. ‘No way I’m sitting down, sorry!’

On a downhill about 2 miles from the finish someone catches me. Straightaway she says, ‘I’m on the relay, don’t worry.’ I try and hold her pace. We chat. She’s super supportive. I can barely talk. I think we’re doing 9 minute miles but it feels like a sprint. We both jog through the last aid and I refuse to give up her pace. We start to catch someone I’ve seen ahead of me at every turn around. I push. Drop her. Catch him.
The last half mile is painful. Did I go too hard too soon?
Cross the finish with the same Black Power salute I did in 2008, but this time the clock is one hour earlier.
Results.

Post-race
Try to keep moving. Head cloudy. Feet burning. STARVED. Lacy finds me wandering in circles. I sit. Stretch. Snack. Get bike. Get food! Yay veggie burger with pasta salad on it. Whatevs. Tons a fruit. See the Pasadena dude and someone I randomly met at a wedding last year. Congratulations all around.
We hear about a local, sustainable, vegan restaurant in the tiny town of Graton and head there. Ends up they are promoters of the first two, but haters of the latter. ‘We put cheese in the polenta because it tastes better.’ I knew it was too good to be true. Damn ‘local’ restaurants and their total disregard for animals. We eat at the Mexican place next store that gets it. Yum. See some folks who were at the race and my hobble gives away that I was there.

So. Yeah. Was high on this for a few days. No photos, unfortunately. There are the official ones, but I couldn’t figure out how to pull them.

Soon, the fall: More mountain bike racing and then Furnace Creek 508, again. See you out there. Keep at it, whatever it is you do. Here are some applicable Buddhist quotes I stole from famous artist, Lacy J. Davis.

Don’t depend on how the rest of the world is.
In this life, concentrate on achieving what is most meaningful.
Stay focused.
Don’t expect any applause.


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