Wednesday, June 12, 2013


It has been a full week since the Dirty Kanza. My legs are still tired and I know better than to race. But it is a local race and my friend Cat wants to drive in from Waco to race. The big racing is in Tulsa this weekend so I anticipated small numbers at University Oaks in San Antonio. Cat and her husband make it into town on Saturday night and so I decide to race with her. Sunday comes and I am still covered in tegaderm and other bandages - heck, I still have staples on my hip. But I crawl onto my bike to warm up and feel the scab on my knee crack open. It takes a few minutes for the range of motion to feel comfortable but it loosens up and I feel ok. 16mph and I start to feel like a taxed slug. This is going to be bad. Women Open lined up with the masters men and we had a combined field of around one dozen. Cat and I were the only women. I expected to get dropped. It happened, but sooner than I thought....about 5 minutes into the race. Poop. Cat stayed in the field. It wasn't long before they lapped me on the ~1k course. I jumped on the tail but was off before the next lap. POOP. So I rode alone, and settled in. I motioned for the awesome photog to stop snapping pictures of me. I was embarrassed. Embarrassed to be alone off the back with people watching me. I put expectations on myself. Then, in my pity party, I get lapped again. I jumped onto the back again and this time I was able to ride out the remaining hand full of laps with them. I finished and cooled down alone, reflecting on the past month. I should understand what happened and that I need recovery but I still find myself disappointed. There will be ups and there will be downs.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Dirty Kanza 200

Pre Race
With an ironman just two weeks in my past, I find myself in another all day packing cluster. It was Wednesday and I was leaving tomorrow morning with Doug and Nathan for Emporia, Kansas to race the big DIRTY KANZA 200. This is a well known epic monster race that is 200 miles in the unsheltered flint hills (mountains) of Kansas. Packing shouldn’t be as bad though because there will be no swimming or running but I have to pack food and supplies for all kinds of conditions. There will be 3 checkpoints along the route to make sure no one is cutting the course. Every racer is instructed to have mandatory support since we will be in extreme isolation with no stores along the way. If you do not have a person that will be your support, you can pay extra for PavLoveGrub who will provide you with food and a ride if you decide to bail out. They will also take a care bag to each check point of personal stuff you provide them with the day before. So I am careful to ration out mini cliff bars, sour patch kids, and snack sized paydays, arm warmers, extra shoes and socks, a fresh kit (in case I crap myself), lights, vests, and rain jackets into 3 separate bags.

Thursday morning comes and we head out at 9am. The forecast looks dismal and I start thinking about how epic Saturday will be. Just as we pass through Austin Nathan realizes that he forgot his Platypus bladder and spends the next 30 minutes stressing out. So we reroute through Dallas so we can hit an REI that he knew of. After REI (which I was good and made no purchases) and a Chick-fil-a stop, we were back in business. Time flies by and we are in Oklahoma where the sky gets dark and the wind starts turning stuff sideways. We see a funnel form and storm chasers pulling off the side of the road. What should we do? Do we stop or do we continue? Which ones are the idiots? We decide to just press on, and drive right under it. We arrive in Emporia sometime around 9pm and stop to eat at a local pizza shop. After dinner we meet up with the Slauson family (Jim, Terri and Will) and learn that our Bed and Breakfast is HAUNTED!!! There was a portrait of a little girl and her eyes would follow people around. Freaky, but as long as there were not any roaches, I was fine. Slept good. 
Nathan at REI. Not even an hour on the road and he realizes he forgot something. :-)

Oklahoma Tornado Alley!

Moore tornado destruction

White Rose Bed & Breakfast, our haunted house for the weekend. One street over from the race start.

Terri reading the Safety Tips while sitting next to the portrait of the ghost girl.
Friday morning I woke up and everything was wet from a night of rain. Drat. We had breakfast waiting for us on the big rap-a-round porch. Doug was quietly displeased when he noticed green bell peppers in the egg casserole. I learned last night how he was traumatized as a kid, being forced to eat stuffed peppers. We ate then headed out to pre-ride the first bit of the course. It wasn’t wet at all! It was a nice, tightly packed, flat, gravel road. This was going to be easy! The rest of the day consisted of resting, picking up our race packets, dropping off our checkpoint bags and attending the pre-race meeting. The meeting was packed and had a cool video but I was a bit disappointed that I learned nothing new that would help me during the DK. Waste of time. So back to the haunted house where the Slauson crew fell asleep before the sunset. I knew it would be a sleepless night but I laid my kit and equipment out for the next day and crawled into bed.
Doug and Jim accidental matchy-matchy

Terri and me at breakfast

To fart or not to fart? Jim, Will, me, Doug

nice pre-ride

Jason, serious Doug, Nathan, Kevin, Will, Jim, and me ready to tear up some gravel

Found this artwork on Commercial Drive. Crocheted bicycle and lock.

Granada Theatre: DK200 headquarters.


5:15am, time to wake up. The race starts in 45 minutes. I get ready in a nervous rush. Terri and Jim are also getting ready. Will is still in bed. I knew that boy would wait until the absolute last moment to get out of bed. Terri had his stuff all laid out and he was served breakfast in bed. Now for those of you who know me, I have to be at the start at least ten minutes prior, so I silently festered in agony until I could no longer stand it and I was out the door. I told the Slauson’s good luck. Terri and Will were doing the half pint distance (111.4 miles) and Jim didn’t want to start in the front. I had other plans. I wanted to race with Rebecca Rusch. I wanted to see how long I could hang, then when I fell off, I would simply wait for Jim, Nathan, and Doug. I just wanted to give it a try. Kevin, Jason, and Lee rolled up to the line with me. 5 minute countdown. This was going to be a LONG day. I see her - Rebecca Rusch, only 5 people to my left. My heart started pounding. This is really happening.

The Start
Roll out

6:00am: Go! The 600 people on the line start rolling. We have a mile of pavement then turn onto the gravel. I am in the lead group and Kevin is right behind me, babysitting. The group is moving fast and is large. I knew there would be a crash but did not expect to be in it. Sure enough, less than 5 miles in the pack started to slinky and my front wheel ended up next to someone else’s back wheel. At that exact moment, he jerked his bike to avoid a rock and took out my front wheel. Down I went. I rolled up like sonic the hedge hawg and caught sight of my bike just as Dallas rider, Chaos, rode over my frame and saddle. Noooooo. Kevin stopped and grabbed my bike and I did a quick check.Everything seemed fine so I jumped back on and kept going. I immediately noticed that saddle was broken, the left side was way lower than the right. KEEP GOING. I can deal with this. Kevin made it back onto the end of the lead group and I did not. I panicked. I let them go. Back up plan: Wait for my boys and ride with them as long as possible and TRY to finish. I look down and blood is rolling down my shin from a meaty gash on my knee. My saddle----ugh! I cannot believe this happened to me. I am in shock. I pedal on and find Lee who informs me that he went out too hard. Geesh, that sucks. We are less than 10 miles in and falling apart!!!! Then the first obstacle...a huge mud pit that you’d find a a tough mudder. I jump off and carry my bike around the far side of it. Once on the other side, we find Jason with a flat. I help and Lee stops also. Then I see them! Nathan, Doug, and Jim! Doug tries to level out my saddle and the rail snaps out of the back. But it lies flat now so as long as I am gentle, it should be ok. The flat gets fixed and we all forge on together. Shortly later, Lee falls off the back and Jason disappears off the front. With just us 4, we settle in to a good pace. We are making good time and then it appears...the white water creek crossing. There is a kayak in the crossing - this is insane. So we get off and lift the bikes up and start wading across. The water is up to our knees. Yikes. Maybe this will wash the blood off my shoes. I laugh because Jim is wearing sandals and Nathan’s bike weighs more than he does.  I sure hope this contaminated water does not infect my knee. We make it across a few other obstacles and soon find ourselves at checkpoint one.
Accidental regrouping with a few mechanicals

Nice view of rolling hills
9:30am Checkpoint One: Ok, we made nice time, just under 3 and a half hours. And that was with a tailwind... After some quick guess math I figure we will have around 16 hours of chamois time. We spend 10 minutes in the PavLove Grub tent. There were lovely ladies that filled up our bottles and fed us. I didn’t put clean socks in my bag so I must continue on with cow poo river soaked socks. I cleaned up my knee the best I could and we were back on the gravel road. Up and Down, Up and Down, UP, UP, and UP. Head wind, cross wind, head wind, cross wind. UGH! I continue on, barely surviving, scrapping on the back of wheels. I did not pull, I could not pull, I was hurting in every way imaginable. My mental guard went down and I was not well. I sucked it up and tried to find a happy thought to hold onto. On one of the hills Jim got stuck in a rut and took a little dirt nap. It was this leg of the ride (notice that it is no longer a race but a ride) that the obvious MVP and the apparent anchor would emerge. Nathan was constantly on the front pulling and was repeatedly told by Jim to slow down with by using the key word “PHILLIPS!!!!!!” (his last name). I was desperately clinging onto the back just waiting for my elastic band to snap. It didn’t. We emerged onto a paved road and I almost cried because it felt so good. We rolled downhill into the next checkpoint.
Doug, Jim and I with a few randoms. PHILLIPS!!! in front of us.
seas of green

1:30pm Checkpoint Two: LUNCH TIME!!! And a pair of way overdue dry, fresh socks! We spent 30 minutes here and I sat on a blanket to eat a subway sandwich. Today I learned that if you are hungry enough, you will eat anything. After 7 1/2 hours on the bike, I ate a sandwich with turkey/ham/mayonnaise/lettuce/tomato on it. I don’t think I even tasted it. We are only half way!!!!!! I send Jeff a wellness text and Jim checks on Terri and Will. They are making good time on the half pint. We head out with the wind at our backs and I enjoy it because I know it will not last too long. Sure enough, I see the nasty pink ribbon directing us to turn into the wind, now pushing us to the side. I soon find the only stick in Kansas and lodge it firmly into my rear derailleur pulley. It takes two of us and a multi-tool to free it. Then Jim’s water bottle cage breaks and his sandal cleat needs tightening. Nathan and I pull off to wait and see a full moon as a nerdy librarian decided to disrobe for a potty break. We pass people and people passed us all day. A few we see multiple times. Jim is insistent on chasing down and passing anyone with a leg tattoo...and there were quite a few of those. I am hungry again but can no longer eat my cliff bars, they just sit in my mouth refusing to dissolve. I try for my sour patch kids and have better luck. We run across a few Austin boys. We finally approach the final checkpoint where my friend, Cy, from the Red River Riot was volunteering and escorted us into the little town.  
Nathan, Doug and Jim

Doug and Nathan. This was my view for most of the day.
Over half way 

 5:50 pm, Checkpoint Three: We still have 50 miles left but I am happy we are on our last part. We spend another 30 minutes here and put our lights on, since we estimate finishing around 9:30 pm now. It has been 12 hours since the start of the race and the winner would be finishing any minute. Terri sent us a text with a much desired course spoiler! The next 15 miles would suck with climbs and head winds but then it would end with tailwind and downhills. Thank God for Terri. She had finished 111.4 "fucking" miles and had ridden the last part of our race. Yes, I am racing again. Racing to finish. Plus, PavLoveGrub had COKE at this stop! I feel better. As soon as we start going uphill my mood starts going downhill. I make it through those awful 15 miles and am ready for an easy cruise back in. Nathan decides to push it and I am uncomfortable. This last 35 miles I fall apart. At this point I get an uncontrollable urge to shit. I even am ok with the thought of crapping myself, but nothing happens, not even a toot. My body starts to fail. I start begging God, then I start to bargain with him. “Oh, please, I promise to be good and not gossip for a week. A month.....! PLEASE!! Just get me through this”.  That didn’t work so I started to abandon Him and start having a pity party. Then I apologize and try to harden up. I think of GI Jane and the Fire Academy: “A small bird will drop frozen dead without ever having felt sorry for itself”. I am desperate to finish. It got dark. I whimpered. Nathan pushed me up a hill. 10 miles left. My left calf cramped for the first time in my life (on the bike), Jim pushed me. Jim encouraged me. I wonder if I am the only one suffering. I can’t be. The anchor. 5miles left. I can’t see my Garmin anymore but I know we are on the last bit of gravel and I am confident for the first time all day that I will finish. I thanked God. Then it happened. We were sailing in at 21mph when I saw it. I was right behind Doug as he called out “CATTLE GUARD”. I didn’t see the details and treated it like a normal cattle guard by just unwieghting my bike. But this was not a normal cattle guard, this was an angry, fucked up, killer cattle guard that had bike eating longitudinal gaps between the rectangle grates. I was unlucky and my front wheel was lined up with the gap. I lost my front wheel in all the way to my fork dropouts and I hit the ground hard. My elbow had busted and the top of my hip hit the ground so hard that my skin lacerated. My glasses were in my sports bra and the impact knocked the wind out of me. Nathan and Doug examined my bike while Doctor Jim checked me out. The hoods were ripped off my shifters and my saddle was now even more toasted. But I would be able to finish on it. It was a miracle that my wheel didn't rub the brakes and that the tire didn't flat. Nathan carried my camelbak and noticed I lost the bite valve in the crash. He was forced to either finish drinking it or let it leak on him. We finished the last mile in a half and it felt so good to cross the line. Under 16 hours. About 50% of starters finished this year.
Lee, serious Doug, Nathan, Jason, me, Terri, Will, Jim, Nathan

Normal Cattle Guard

Poopy cattle guard (not the same one from DK, but similar idea).  DK's had ~3 gaps

I am so thankful I had Jim, Nathan, and Doug with me. Hard times always reveal true friends. Terri had pizza waiting for us. Jason had finished well, and Kevin finished 40 minutes before us. Lee had a crash and had to bail at mile 100. I went over to the medics and they did a good job of cleaning around my injuries. I had to go back to the haunted house and soak in the bath and clean my wounds. Jim took out his medical kit and stapled the laceration on my hip. No one was partying as they had planned on doing.  It was a train wreck. We swapped stories with Terri and Kevin and then all just went to bed. A lot can happen in 15 hours, no matter how many bad things happen and how badly you hurt, DO NOT QUIT.

Sunday. 4:30am. Cannot sleep. It hurts to move. It hurts to breathe. White sheets. That is what was on my bed. These white sheets now had oozing blood stains on them. I get on facebook and see Nathan and Doug are awake. The coffee shops in Emporia are closed on Sundays. Today would be a long drive back to San Antonio. 

Hands down the DK was harder than Ironman TX. DK there was blood, sweat, and tears. IMTX there was only sweat. At DK I bargained with God, I praised God, and I threatened God. I am pretty sure Doug needs a skin graph on his taint, pretty sure Jim will only wear sandals from now on, and pretty sure Nathan will not take those aero bars off his dirty cockpit bike. 

Every epic race/ride has memorable quotes:

“The maps don’t really help you” - JS
“110miles?! Might as well do the full 200.” -TS
“What is that??!! I didn’t get one!” -TS
“I already got my tattoo. It says rumple....” - DF
“That looks like a penis, only smaller” -
“There is somebody for everybody” -JP
“Saving it for good” -DF
“Cows are no different than people” - JS
“Drilling it for 200th place...couple of cat 5s” -JS
“Leg tats- we will catch them and we will pass them” -JS
“Carmichael- I didn’t buy the training package, I bought the drug package” -NP
“Idiots and maniacs” -TS

Emmy, our PavLoveGrub HOTTIE