Okay friends FINALLY a race report on the Traverse, I better do it soon before I forget what it felt like!!! For more info on the Traverse go here:
A little history on how I got hooked on the Bellingham Traverse. Way back in the dark ages of 2007 another trainer at the club I work at suggested doing the Traverse, I thought, wow that would be fun!! Then she mentioned how she wanted to do it tandem and not as a team, since that would be such a better challenge. I thought hhmm you are VERY correct, so she hooked me up with another women that would tandem the Traverse with me. We planned it out very well, I would run the first running leg, she would do the mt bike leg, I would do the road bike leg, she would do the next running leg, and we would kayak together. Perfect, we finished around 3 hours and 50 minutes and were the first female tandem team to come in...that year. 2008 I convinced Chris he should tandem it with me. He said okay, this time we switched up the legs a bit, I couldn't bike hard at the time because it was bothering my knee. So I ran the two running legs and Chris did both biking legs, and we kayaked together. We were the first tandem co-ed team in, I don't really remember our finishing time, maybe around 3 hours and 20 minutes?! I started thinking about how much fun this event would be to solo...only problem being I didn't mt bike. 2009, Chris and I tandem it again, this time I run the first running leg (are you seeing a trend here, I seem to always be the one doing that first leg...its HARD), Chris does the mt bike, I do the road bike, Chris does the trail run, and we kayaked together. We improved quite a bit...especially our kayak time. Finishing first again in the co-ed tandem around 3 hours and 12 minutes. Last April I recieved a mt bike and I say to Chris "you know what this means don't you???" Chris replies..."what?" Me: "We are soloing the traverse this year"
Fast forward to summer when it's time to train. I kept my fitness up following the road racing season by competing in some mountain bike races. Following the last mt bike race I started training for the Traverse (soorta). I really started hitting it hard in August when we got home from the beach in Canada. No need to write about my training, but I should let you know that I thought this race wouldn't be "too bad". I can run and bike not a problem, and the kayak..pppssshhhh...you just paddle, it shouldn't be difficult, I don't need to train for the kayak. WRONG.
The day started out with a lot of nerves, mainly because I wasn't sure if my mother was up to the job as support. I wasn't sure if she would make it from leg to leg with the equipment I needed...so I was stressing a bit. My mom drops us off at the start line about an hour before the start. The energy in the crowd is just amazing, we run into all sorts of people we know, chat a bit, then begin to warm up. My goal for the first running leg was to finish in 45 minutes, I knew I just needed to hold around 8:00 minute miles and that would get me there with some time to spare. Well I was feeling pretty good, I checked my watch to make sure I wasn't speeding away at a faster pace (I didn't want to burn myself out before the large hill up the Lake Padden...it gets me every year). I reach the dreaded hill up Fairhaven Parkway and in front of me I see my friend Dan, who I trained a bit with, and who participated in my thesis. I realized that I was actually feeling pretty good running up the hill. I caught up to Dan, and then I just kept running, I passed quite a bit of people on this hill, realizing I did the right thing by pacing myself. Once I reached the top, I was told I was the 2nd female soloist...Susan was the first. She is such a stud athlete, of course she zoomed up that hill. Reaching the transition zone was unreal, the excitement and cheering from the crowd was amazing. I did the transition of taking my running shoes off, putting my mountin biking shoes on, got on my mt bike and headed off onto the MT bike course.
The MT bike leg is HARD. You can ask anyone that has raced it in the Traverse, or any MT biker. It starts on the lake trail, then heads up into the horse trails shortly after the first uphill. You keep going up and up and up. My legs felt slightly tired, but I just needed to get into the groove of the bike. About 5 minutes or less into the ride I passed Susan and kept going. If you don't know the course, after you do the first section of the horse trails you go back to the lake trail and then loop back up the horse trails onto this deadly climb...it's really hard. I passed SO many people on this part of the leg. I even passed a guy with a full face helmet and downhill bike walking up the trail. I felt bad for him, I'm sure his team didn't tell him what this course was like. Anyways, I passed a bunch of people and felt pretty good (as long as I didn't look at my heart rate monitor telling me my heart rate of 185 beats per minute), did all the technical crap and made it out of the course alive and back to the transition area, where the people around were CRAZY! I could hear all these people talking about how "wow that girl is soloing it herself, wow that's soo amazing" and people cheering for me, whether they knew me or not. It was so heart warming, I couldn't help but smile. In order to make the MT bike to road bike transition nothing but short and sweet, I put SPD pedals on my road bike and just hopped off my MT bike and onto my road bike. Nothing but a beautiful transition.
Onto the road bike. I felt weird going from an incredably upright bike to being in my aero bars on my roadbike. It took me about 10 minutes to figure it out and get into the groove. I felt like I was flying down the road, like I was a million dollars, going SO fast! Then I hit the east side of Lake Samish, right where the road goes slightly up, before its flat, and then the big hill. I said to myself "wow I am feeling tired right now". Then a little push from heaven came up behind me. It was nothing short of amazing, I almost saw light. Turns out it wasn't a push from above, but just from Ben Rathkamp, one of the oldies on the WWU cycling team. He races the event as a family team, and he blew by me like I was standing still. He also was only doing that leg...not that it changes how fast he would go by me anyways. So I fly down (so I feel like it when I am in my aero bars) Old Lake Samish, ride up bonk hill and reach the transition zone for the 3 mile trail run. I hand my bike off to my mom, get my running shoes on, and away I go.
WOW my legs felt TIRED! I just kept thining to myself "left, right, left, right, don't stop moving forward". The trail run enters in through Fairhaven Park and you start running in the 100acre woods. Inside these woods are many many many trails that split off in all directions. As soon as I entered the woods there were two sets of arrors pointing in the opposite direction of eachother. I had no idea where to go, so I went right, some people behind me went left, and some people followed me. As I was running up the hill, Chris passed me going down, and he told me "stay left at the top" so I stayed left and ran to the top of some hill saw some yellow tape, thought to myself, well I shouldn't go under the tape, so I went right, made a full circle before I ran into some other people running directly at me, and told me I was going the wrong way. Apparently you were supposed to go under the tape (WTF) I was irritated, I had now run about 3-5 minutes out of my way (I blocked a lot of this leg out of my memory, so this is a little foggy). Myself and another girl ducked under the tape and I followed her as we tried to navigate our way through the woods trying to follow misleading arrows. There were hardly any arrows pointing which way to go, or if there were arrows, they were pointing the wrong way, so a lot of it I just guessed. Not fun. We have almost made a full circle, when we start heading down some hill and we realize we made a wrong turn somewhere. I start to get irritated saying "hello, I don't know where to go, anyone?" Then I look across the trees and bushes and see arrows. All of the sudden I hear "follow my voice, follow my voice, hello? hello." So I follow this voice, trampling through bushes, irritated, tired, and find the right trail and run out of the woods. When we see this man (the race director) he kindly tells us there was a homeless man taking down and turning around the arrows. HOW KIND!!!! By this time I had been in the woods for about 20 minutes. I think there should have only been 1 mile in there, I was lost for far too long. I run out of the woods, slow and angry, I probably ran a good mile extra..or more. Get to the Kayak.
As soon as I reach the kayak transition zone I ask people for help, run to my kayak. No one is there to help me, so I start flagging people down waving my hands up in the air saying "I NEED HELP" 2 lovely gentleman came to help me. I got in my kayak and I realized my arms hurt. Maybe practicing the kayak leg would have been a good idea. Oh my, my arms started to hurt even more, so I tried to focus on my abdominals, and using my oliques to turn the paddles, didn't help, they still hurt. I was tired and there was no way around that feeling. The kayak I was using had a rutter type thing, but it wasn't a rutter that I used to control my kayak, it just helped me go straight. It had a lot of drag, and after I reached the bouy out in the bay I decided the thing was slowing me down, so I lifted it up, and I was going a little bit faster, not by much, but a little. I also have neglected to tell you how many people passed me. It's so embaressing...probably about 20 people. I didn't pass a single person on the kayak leg, that's how awful it was. It hurt, I wanted out of the boat. Cornwall beach was approaching!!!! I was SOOO excited that when I landed my boat I took my life jacket off and sprinted out of that kayak, I didn't want to look at it again. I took off running up the hill...if you could call it running, more like a limping jog. I had two horrible side aches, but I did my best and I made it to the finish line .5 mile later!!!!
I was the first female soloist finishing with a time of 3 hours and 39 minutes. My goal for the race was under 4 hours. I think I surpassed that goal! Next year I plan on practicing the kayak and taking 5 minutes off that time, and also not getting lost in the woods and taking atleast 5 minutes off that time. So my goal for next year: finish in 3 hours 30 minutes.
ONWARDS to my first cyclocross race in the Women's 1/2 field.
Okay I don't think I have energy to type up a race report right now. Check back in a couple of days! Maybe I will have some pictures of my pain from todays race...it was hard, no matter what category you were in. I would like to point out Whitney and Chris's race.
Whitney had a stellar performance in the Cat4 womens race. Today was her best race yet, not just with results, but she looked so strong and was enjoying her race! She placed 6th in her field and looked like a total star. She's moving on up in this world! Chris also did quite well in his race today. He worked hard as always, unzipped his jersey for a bit of air conditioning and revealed chest hair. He placed 7th in the Mens3 field. Great work friends!!!