Capitol Forest 50 Recap

"How far are you hoping to ride today?"

The 15 year old I caught around Mile 28 asked me this as we were grinding uphill. What a cool question.  I didn't even know how to answer.  The time cut off was at Mile 42 and we were aware of how much more we had to go. But I started to think of the beauty of that question.  At Mile 16 I was hating life and if he had asked me then I would have said "I'm hoping to ride to the top of the hill and see if Life Flight is available."  At the downhill section around Mile 24 I was having so much fun and riding so well that I would have said "Forever, Dude! Let's ride forever."  Later when we made the cut off at Mile 42 together I would have said "I'm hoping to ride 8 miles more."  And at Mile 46 after a grueling 2 mile uphill I would have said "I'm hoping to ride no more."

The beauty of the question spoke to me because that's how competition goes.  It's not all fun, it's not all heinous, and it's changeable with our moods.  It's our mental strength that keep us moving when we aren't having fun and energizes us to go harder when we are. I play games in my head during the good times and bad. The uphill game consists of counting to 15 really slowly and committing to pedaling till I get to 15. Then, it's pretending I don't know that I'm going to make myself do it again. And again, until the hill ends. The downhill game is different. I give myself kudos out loud when I fly over something I didn't think I could do, or when I leave my brakes alone and work on my leaning. Yes, I'm the embarrassing old lady saying "Way to go! Nice job! " to herself as you pass her.  Every good race ends, as does every bad race. The key is appreciating both in the moment when they appear and remembering that both are temporary.

Vert Fest 2017


I'm into month two of my self-imposed 12 month challenge to race once a month for all of 2017. Today was the Vert Fest, a backcountry ski race at Mt. Bachelor in Oregon.  

I often write blogs and FaceBook posts while I race.  This is not the most competitive of practices, but it keeps me busy and avoids the other questions that I'm pummeled with.  Like why are you doing this? Unfortunately after the lactic acid sets in I don't seem to be able to access the incredibly witty rapport that's going thru my head to distract me, but here's my post race effort anyway.

This race was an experience in doing most things wrong.  Standard things that I remind racers to do all the time. Like pack your gear the night before. This would have been a great idea since I forgot a essential backpack I was going to need to hold my gear on the up and downhill. Luckily I had a good friend coming up to the mountain and she grabbed one for me.  Unluckily was the fact that her family is perpetually late getting to the mountain and forgets every weekend that Saturday traffic to Mt. Bachelor is at a standstill if you don't leave by 7:45am.  This gave me plenty of time to warm up as I ran thru the parking lot looking for her car in a panic to expedite the transfer and increase my adrenaline. By the time I got to the staging area I was properly warm and thirsty.

Mistake number 2.  I didn't bring water.  No problem - there is always water or a product at the starting line.  Except this time.  The only fluids available were coffee and beer.  Since I'd done the former this morning and didn't think the latter was a good pre-race choice, I went without, hoping there would be an aid station somewhere along the way.  Which there wasn't.  Note to self: bring water. Always.

Mistake number 3 was a doozy.  I found a friend who had actually won the Recreational category last year (a misnomer - there is nothing recreational about skinning uphill.) That was the moment when I said "Tell me what the route is like."  Had I looked at the route ahead of time (or listened to my husband) I could have wrapped my head around just how much uphill was in store for me. And maybe I would have eaten more than said coffee and pretzels for energy two hours earlier.  All of a sudden there was some clarity in what the morning was going to require and there was no question that bringing my headphones was the best item I packed.

The rest of the race was really a blur (an hour and forty-seven minute blur). Since I had no real race plan, I maximized my strengths and put up with my weaknesses.  Unfortunately downhills are my strengths and uphills are not.  So in a predominantly uphill race (like 90%) I did not have a lot of time to shine and scare other racers.  Except when I fell on a steeper section of an uphill track and a really nice bald man helped me up.

So I finished! And not dead last - which is always my goal even though I know as a sports therapist to avoid making an outcome goal as your goal.  I know I wasn't dead last because I went online to find race results immediately. This is my favorite part of most races.  I've learned at my ripe age of racing off the couch that the the only way to appreciate results is to create enough categories until you find something positive.  Today was a great day for this strategy.  I was 30th overall (we never ask out of how many). I was the 5th woman (again, follow the rule about not asking).  And most importantly I was the oldest woman racing by 10-15 years. So I won that category! It made me wonder where all the other 49 year olds were.  Either they are a bunch of slackers or they've gained some wisdom in life and enjoyed a blue bird day going downhill. I'll just leave it at that.