Kathy’s Race Report on the True GRIT 50 , March 17th
I have raced two 50+ miles in my career and both of those were last year in Spain when Jenny Smith (now a teammate!!) and I had an opportunity to go there and race a 6-day MTB stage race called the Andalucía Bike Race. And yep, that was pretty much the first and last time I saw 50 + miles on the bike.
The only thing I had going for me for the True Grit Epic 50 in Utah was that I knew the course. I didn’t know it like the back of my hand, but I do consider St. George my winter training destination, so I know a lot of the trails down there. I also knew that they were using some of the amazing trails that I have ridden a ton. Just knowing what trails were being used was one reason I chose to race, because they are awesome. The other factor was the weather was looking good, unlike last year when all he** broke loose when racers had to endure hypothermic conditions mid race. The final reason was that I was gonna ride anyway, so why not race some sweet trails and see what happens?!
With the late decision to race I had to never mind even thinking about carbo loading – so I didn’t bother. There just wasn’t enough time. In fact, I barely had enough time to get to St. George, get a quick ride, have Over the Edge Sports in Hurricane, UT dial my bike in, get settled and shove dinner down before a very early morning the next day.
By the looks of how unprepared I was, things could have gotten ugly pretty fast on race day. Did I mention that I didn’t bother to warm up? Not sure where my casual nature has come in to play, but I am finding this to be the case now. Maybe I should not take things so seriously anymore?! Perhaps that is my ticket!
Chris was with me, but I was on my own for feeds during the race because I wanted him to go ride his bike instead of hanging around for 5 hours to see me 4 times for 10 seconds at a time. That meant that I had 2 feed bags that I literally threw a bunch of GU Chomps, bars, GU gels and loaded up water bottles in at random. I had no idea what I would want or need. Plus what you think you might want and may taste good now could sound awful later so it’s best to have a variety. I do remember that lesson learned from Spain at least. But really it was still a random last minute “throw some stuff in a bag and go” situation. Again, ignorance can be bliss. I stuffed those suckers full with all the above and more, not realizing that really, I was the sucker.
We lucked out with temps that were completely manageable for a 50-mile race. An early start helped with that along with some welcomed cloud cover. The wind was supposed to roll in hard and my plan of attack was to get as far ahead as possible before that happened. In other words drill it until then. That way when the violent winds struck I would have to endure it for a shorter amount of time and be further along. Drilling it may be an overstatement, but let’s just say I would go as hard as untrained and very rested legs could go.
The plan worked. It was still windy but I caught it at a good time in my ride. I followed a mantra as I rode and stuffed my face like a kid on Halloween. My mantra was that I wanted to “feel good after the race” which would of course require taking care of myself while on the bike for 5 hours. It was just a deceptive way of tricking my brain. We cyclists are good at mind games while racing.
What I wasn’t aware of is that my gut didn’t like that mantra. It was not happy with me at about the 2 hour mark. In fact, I held on to one single GU Chomp in my mouth for 45 minutes. My brain said eat it and my body said, “Girl you should have prepared your system for this”. Uh oh. While I had thoughts of running off into the bushes, barfing or having gas or maybe all three, I also had to entertain the fact that I may have to DNF which is never part of my game plan. In fact, when I even think about DNFing I just chuckle to myself out of fear because I know I won’t. But the ignorance thing I had going on for me took hold and I kept pedaling. I pedaled for 1.5 hours more without ingesting one thing except my sports drink. Oh boy. Remember I didn’t carbo load for this either??! Eeeeek. After dropping the pace for a good 45 minutes my stomach and gut calmed down. Luckily it calmed down in time for another fun lap on the Barrel Roll, and from that point forward I started feeling really strong again. Really? Ok!! The body is such an amazing thing and it was a good feeling to come across the finish line first while feeling good. I was really happy and quite surprised to take home the win!
I think that with all I am going through with Chris and all the other major life changes going on that there must be something to be said for needing to blast out emotion through the pedals. I am sure that is what propelled me over the finish line first along with some super stellar sponsors like Stan’s NoTubes! I had no bike issues and it was a really fun day in the saddle. Needless to say it was a GREAT last minute decision!
I guess I have many years in the saddle to thank for that win along with Stan’s NoTubes, Cannondale, Alpine Orthopaedics, Elete Electrolytes, Kenda, Adidas eyewear, Verge, Ergon, Fi’zi:k, Gu energy labs, Lazer helmets, Jet Black trainers, Crank Brothers, Light & Motion, Pro Gold lubricants, Genuine Innovations and Showers Pass for the opportunity to compete and to represent them. Also have to give some love to Slim and Knobbys in Heber City, UT for getting my race wheel . . . race ready!! Thanks everyone!
You can check out race photos here.