Ironman Oceanside 70.3 – April 2, 2016

dmc Team members Johnna Davis, Sue Strause and Mia Okinaga (Kristin Chambers was our super cheerleader and awesome support)

The glow afterwards, the emotions throughout, the training with friends, Kristin for cheering and giving us strength, encouragement from dmc and friends, and the coaching from Patricia LaSalle will be what I remember from my first 70.3. For Johnna and Sue, this was yet another endurance race to line up next to their multiple Ironman and Half Ironman finisher medals.

Sue got us a great timeshare apartment (Wyndam Resorts) right at the athlete’s village and finish which is about a mile from the start and transition area. We had a two bedroom apartment with a kitchen and two baths. Thank you to Sue for taking care of this. Thank you to Kim Cooke for the recommendation.

The weekend starts on Friday with registration, shopping for Ironman logo stuff (Sue also got some cool Rudy glasses). Mayor Sue bumps into a friend and made many friends at the race. We then went to the noon athlete briefing session. Learned about the route, the penalties for drafting (have 25 seconds to pass someone 6 bike lengths ahead of you), blocking, passing on the right, passing in no pass zones and one area that the speed was limited to 25 mph. Johnna was listening closely on how this would be detected. They have monitors at the beginning and at the end of this zone and time each rider.

We put our numbers on our bikes and headed to transition to check them in. So many beautiful “wheels” mounted on the racks. Kristin and I calculated that there was at least $6 million of bikes alone resting for the day ahead. IMG_0033

The anticipation of unexpected weather conditions drives some of the anxiety level. Apparently it was so windy on Thursday; a rider was blown on to the street. James (Johnna’s husband and most likely to be the 1st male dmc Team member when dmc opens up to include men) provided calming assurances about conditions and bikes. I also ran through some of the questions that Jaimee (Johnna’s daughter who also raced) share with me – like what if I lose my nutrition, what if I get a flat, what if no goggles, what if, what if, what if…

Lots of great restaurants are in the vicinity and neighboring Carlsbad. Mexican, Italian, burgers and BEER places so don’t have to worry.


Holy moly, race day starts at 4 am with breakfast. We catch a shuttle shortly after 5 am with our gear just across the street from the Wyndam to take us to the transition and start. We are dropped off about a half mile away. It is 40-50 degrees, but of a chilly wait. We setup our stuff under our bikes (18 inches, 8 bikes to a rack), go to the restroom and get body marked. We waited for almost two hours to start. Sue and I worried about Johnna not being there because usually she’s early. Turns out she planned to be in transition at 6 am.


FullSizeRender_1The three of us are the third to the last wave to start, 7:29 am. Sue goes to the restroom one last time with her wetsuit half on. Not sure how she managed that. We then line up in the chute and then we begin to see the first wave people run past us as they have finished their swim. They were running at a pretty good pace. The two at the front were keeping up with each other.

Meanwhile James finds Johnna and gives her the best wetsuit lift before zipping her up. Watching people get into their wetsuits is entertaining.

The swim starts at a boat ramp. The water felt relatively warm compared to the outside temperature. We have five minutes to get to the starting buoy and then the horn starts. Lots of splashing, kicking and arms moving – so I decided to wait a bit. It’s relatively easy to site because we are swimming between the boats in the harbor. As we make the turn, as Patricia warned, we begin to feel the swells and some choppiness. I enjoyed finding the different balance but I also found the people in the wave behind me catching up and bumping me, etc. Note to self, stay away from the buoys. Making the turn back into the harbor is a nice feeling because it’s almost over. A bunch of volunteers are standing at the boat ramp almost grabbing people out of the water I think to see if we are ok. Walk/jog out of the fairly long chute to the transition area where most of the bikes have already left. It was so heartwarming to hear Kristin calling my name, ringing a cowbell and holding up her GO sign.


Sue’s bike was gone as I ran past her area. So happy to feel the warmth of the sun and not worry about having to wear a jacket to stay warm. Heeded Sue’s advice to not bend over to avoid falling from dizziness. As I was putting on my shoes, I heard Johnna say go Mia. Saw a guy fall in transition so I carefully jogged my bike to the bike out sign. I got on my bike and started rolling into lots of other bikes thinking I would bang into one of them but didn’t. Ha! Started pedaling and then I heard Kristin calling my name again! Still puts a smile on my face.FullSizeRender_3

Heading north, within the 2nd mile, Johnna passed me. I saw her again on a short out and back and then that was it. The outbound route is along the 5 with beautiful ocean views and air. After that there’s a turn on to the Camp Pendleton Base which reminds me a little like riding Tassajara except that there are tanks and loud cannon noises.   About mile 22 or 23, the climbing begins from basically sea level to maybe 750 feet (nothing compared to what the double century and death riders are used to) but it is up and down (fun) for a total of 2,150 feet. There are 3 steep hills which I made up without walking – saw some people walking.

Last 10 miles had a pretty good headwind. Near the bike in, Kristin was there cheering. She was across from an 11/12 year old who was also encouraging every rider and runner. Another super happy moment.

Course was well marked for holes and bumps. Volunteers warned us of obstacles and the course was easy to follow.


Kristin was there at the start the run. It’s two loops – some athletes were making their turn for the second loop and I could hear, “water, water”. The run heads south along the strand/ocean. Johnna was finishing her first loop. Was feeling good and thinking about what to do during the first 5 miles. I wanted to negative split the last 8 (btw that didn’t happen). By mile 3, I started to feel IMG_9879dizzy – maybe hyperventilating or dehydrated, not sure. So many things come and go through one’s mind – enjoy vs. push. At one point I felt thirsty, at another I could only think one foot at a time, at another felt my chest was tight, at another threw out the Gu. I saw Sue at my mile 6, her mile 8. She gave me a big hug- perhaps as delirious as me? Somehow made it to mile 12 and decided to run it in. YAY, and then the finish – Johnna, Sue and Kristin saying “you did it, you did it”. Nice. And then I felt ill – nauseous and having hard time breathing. However, I felt surrounded by support – had my recovery drink, Sue and Johnna encouraging me to eat stuff and Kristin went to get my bike and stuff at the transition. Within a few hours I was feeling better, enough so that we went out to get a beer and real food.


Johnna had a personal best at 6:10 from 2 years ago; Sue did an amazing job with a bum knee at 7:22 and I finished at 7:39. Jaimee (Johnna’s daughter) podiumed in 5th place at 5:52.

An amazing experience that I will remember for a long time. I think I want to try again. Having friends and dmc support with shout outs, texts, emails, Facebook made it a richer experience. Thank you very much. I’m grateful and proud to be an Ironman!IMG_9868


Got cleaned up and went to Bagby Beer – it looks like Drake’s Dealership in Oakland with lots on tap and very good cocktails – Kristin had a beautiful mojito and Sue and I had beers. We had to wait a long time for dinner but the drinks were PDG and so was the company!  Finished the evening at Cold Stone Creamery with some yummy concoctions.

Went to Beach Break Café on Sunday morning for breakfast before our drive home. We had a very short wait, but when we finished around 9:30 am they had a lobby full of people waiting.

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Terrible Two – June 2015

On June 20, 2015,  Johnna Davis and Nancy Morrow completed the Terrible Two.  The Terrible Two is a 200 mile bike ride on a circular route through Sonoma County starting and ending in Sebastopol. This ride is part of the California Triple Crown Stage Race series. One of the things that make this course challenging is the strict cut off times for the various parts of the course. Not only do you have to conquer steep climbs, technical descents and scorching heat, you have to do all of that with a good average pace.

At 5:20 am. Johnna, Nancy and Todd Meier, a Renaissance Club Sport friend,  lined up for the race day briefing, and then rolled out  at5:30 am.  For the first 16 miles a pilot car lead the way through town to help trip the stop lights.

Outside of town, after a few rollers. the first climb began at Trinity grade. Our goal was to ride a smart race at a good pace and make it through the day, with the time limitations and no crashes. Our first rest stop would be in Calistoga at mile 55. This was 3 1/2 hours into our ride and the first opportunity for a porta potty. We had to keep our hydration to a minimum early in the morning as we did not want to have to stop on the side of the road (like many of the guys were). We were in and out of the rest stop in record time.

After the first rest stop at approximately 9 a.m., we headed out ready for the first serious climb up the Geysers.  The Geysers is a 10 mile double summit climb. After all this climbing one would hope for a fun descent.  However, it wasn’t the case on the Geysers.  Instead we faced a steep technical descent with drop offs, potholes and cracked roads and long sections of gravel.  All in all, it made for some tricky and slow descending.

Our lunch stop was at mile 110.  We picked up our drop bags, restocked our bento boxes and were ready to tackle the harder half of the ride starting with Skaggs Springs Road.  Skaggs Springs road is an endless (15 mile) series of steep sun baked climbs and false summits. The temperature was about 102 degrees on this exposed section and it was just grueling. The best rest stop was at mile 118 where the volunteers draped cold wet towels over us. It was getting hard to take in calories from food so we relied on our Hammer Nutrition products, for example, Perpetuem and Hammer bars which are soft and moist and go down easily. This was also the first time we both experienced leg cramps, so we took in extra Endurolytes which helped.

About this time is when Nancy and I had to do some serious talking to ourselves and remember Rule #5, which to put it in polite terms here, is basically “Suck it up buttercup!”  Just keep pedaling!  On a 200 mile ride with significant time restrictions, you have to keep moving because you never know what lies ahead (mechanicals, bonking, muscle cramps) and time cannot be wasted.

We finally get some much needed downhill/rollers along the Gualala River.

Nothing good lasts on the Terrible Two, so before the rest stop at mile 143, there is a 1.7 mile 900′ wall. This is just cruel. Luckily for us, about a month ago we came out and did a training ride over this section so we knew exactly what to expect. Knowing it was there didn’t make it any easier. Ignorance might have been bliss in this situation!  Finally I arrived at the coast and headed down to the Fort Ross rest stop at mile 162. Here they gave us chicken noodle soup with saltine crackers in it and it was delicious!  I picked up my lights and as I was about to leave Nancy rolled in. I was so happy to see her!  I hadn’t seen her since about mile 120. She was dealing with some bad leg cramps but kept on pedaling.

Now to climb Fort Ross!   It is 2.6 miles; it averages an 11% grade, but it feels steeper. Fort Ross is followed by a bumpy narrow descent and then of course more climbing as it’s another double summit. Descending into Cazadero is long and technical and it was getting dark.  At mile 184 the last rest stop is  Monte Rio and we were surprised by our support crew showing up to cheer us on.  My husband James, RCS friend Kristin Penick, and dmc team mates Kelly Weissburg. and Laurie Anderson. The last 15 miles were in completely after sunset, which I had been very worried about, having never before ridden at night. It was not as bad as I expected.  The pace was relaxed and we were going to finish with no problem. Our awesome support crew was waiting at the finish cheering us in.

Wow!  The Terrible Two is aptly named!  It was one extremely difficult ride and we did it! There were 244 riders at the start and 167 finished by the  11:00 p.m.  cutoff time. Proud to say we are 2 of 13 women who finished that day. This was the hardest and longest ride I’ve ever done.

After my cycling season got off to a rough start I am grateful to have the strength to do this extremely challenging ride. The Terrible Two has been on my Bucket List for 10 years.  Since I had Nancy to train with this was the year I decided to give it a try. Mission accomplished, one and done for me! I may be back next year but only as a volunteer if Nancy is crazy enough to do it again (and she is). Nancy has now completed two out of three of the California Triple Crown Stage Races! She is certainly Double Crazy and Double Awesome!

Johnna Davis

Pacific Crest Weekend Sports Festival – June 26-28

A dmc reunion was held in Sunriver, Oregon.  Alum Debby Ofstedahl and Wendy McCall, who recently moved to Bend, joined Sue Strause, Judi Warehouse, Kristin Chambers, Dianne Dunlap, Mia Okinaga, Kelli Rantz, and Maria Knutson for a weekend of riding, hiking, swimming, floating, stand up paddle boarding, shopping and RACING.
The Pacific Crest Sports Festival takes place during the last weekend in June at the Sunriver Resort in central Oregon, about 30 minutes from Bend.  The events begin on Friday with Tour de Crest rides – 26 and 55 milers.  While the rides are short, Sunriver is at 4200 feet above sea level.  You double centurions can easily add on beautiful scenic miles on buttery roads.  There are views of Mt Hood, Three Sisters, Broken Top, Mt Bachelor, Adams, and Jefferson along with evergreens, lakes, and wild flowers.  Mountain biking is huge and is Wendy’s passion.
FinishersOn Saturday, there is a marathon, half marathon, half Ironman distance triathlon and duathlon.  There are kid races too.  On Sunday there is a 10k, 5k, Olympic triathlon and duathlon.  Finishers receive massive medals and if you do more than one event, you get a second “beast” medal that Debby got in addition to her age group finishes for both the half marathon and 10k.
7 of us started our trek on Thursday morning in three cars.  It was a beautiful drive up and back.  It took about 8.5 hours.  Sue found/rented a house through Village Properties.  It was $300 per person for 5 nights for a 3 bedroom, 3.5 bath 2-story house with all amenities (except air conditioning – it was a hot weekend).  There were trails for walking and riding, paved and fire roads.  There is a smooth paved trail to the lava lands too.  There are two golf courses, two or three pools, horses, and tennis courts.  The Deschutes River runs through the area.  We had a light dinner at The Lodge which overlooks the golf course and open space.
On Friday, Debby and Wendy took us on a 34 mile bike ride around Sisters, a cute town with a great coffee shop.  We rode through flat and rolling country roads.  After the somewhat leisurely ride though challenging because of the altitude, we had a great lunch including Deschutes Notty Blonde Ale.  We went back to the Sunriver Athlete’s Village to pick up our packets and shop at the expo.  Kristin was featured on one of the sponsor’s website because she looked beautiful in their cap.  We had a fun dinner at Wendy and Debby’s and got to play with Cooper and Sammy, the luckiest dogs on earth.  Cooper took a special liking to Dianne.
Three Sisters RideOn Saturday, we went for a short run on the trail near The Lodge.  Kelli then led us through a short Pilate’s session.  We went to the finish line to cheer on Debby.  By then it was in the high 80’s.  Regardless, Debby placed in her age group for the half marathon.  Woot woot!
Kelli and Mia rode their bikes to the Deschutes River so that Mia could practice swimming.  It was beautiful and not so cold with a wetsuit but challenging to swim upstream.  Felt a little like Huckleberry Finn with equipment.  We saw some of the long course athletes running in the heat.  We dropped off our bikes off at the Athlete’s Village so they could be transported to T1 (about 30 min. away).  Only $10 per bike, well worth it.  Had an early dinner and got ready for the race.
Race day Sunday:  Debby and Maria did the 10k; the rest of us took a shuttle to the start at the Wickiup Reservoir.  Wendy, Kelli, Kristin, Judi, and Dianne did the duathlon (29 mile bike and 10k run); Sue and Mia did the triathlon which included two swim loops.  We all started around 9 am.
The 10k is on rolling paved trails through the resort.  There is some tree cover, water stops, sprinklers, and misters (along with a handful of aid stations).  Kudos to Debby for winning her age group.  She’s a beast!The duathlon is a timed start.  Athletes line up two-by-two and are released every 15 seconds.  Kelli and Wendy were a good match.  Kelli killed the bike averaging 20 miles per hour with hills and altitude.  Wendy caught up with her at T2 and ran the wrong way out of T2 as Kelli looked for her hat.  It was neck and neck and in the end Kelli prevailed by 30 seconds.  Kelli and Wendy placed 1st and 2nd, respectively in their age group.  Judi rocked her AG by placing first.  Dianne also placed 2nd in her AG.  Special kudos to Kristin who had a fast bike split even though she is still recovering from ankle surgery. Woot woot woot woot woot woot!Sue, aka fish, swam the mile in a speedy 32 minutes, 2nd fastest in her AG.  She was also 3rd fastest on the bike.  Great job in placing 4th in her AG.  Mia finished strong with a big smile on her face.  We all celebrated by enjoying some post race food and beer at the Deschutes beer garden.
During the awards ceremony, there was a lot of cheering coming from the “Lafayette” table.  In addition to cheering for our team wins, we enjoyed trying to catch caps, visors, water bottles, race belts and other free stuff the staff were throwing out to the crowd.
It felt great to finish, overcome the heat, and be cheered on by friends and teammates. It was fun to meet others like the elite athletes, SF Tri Club members and people from all over.  There was a glow from all of us that shined through the evening.  We celebrated at Wendy and Debby’s with barbecue, coleslaw and baked beans.  We also celebrated Maria’s birthday with chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream, well deserved treat!
Shevlin ParkMonday was our gift to ourselves.  We went to Shevlin Park with Cooper and Sammy, walked along a river, saw pretty pink flowers and enjoyed each other’s company.  We hydrated and ate delicious ocean rolls at a cutesy bakery in Bend.  We then went downtown to shop – shoes, clothing, and jewelry.  We had lunch at Barrio which had delicious tapas and draft beer.  We topped the afternoon off at the Deschutes River – some did stand up paddle boarding, and others floated down the river in inner tubes, sipping beer.
We are all grateful for the time together and our accomplishments, with the most major one being able to navigate to and from the house to the Village without taking wrong turns!   Who’s in next year?

Du Toes Duathlon – June 2015

Tanya Parmley Harding, Sue Strause and Mia Okinaga placed in the Du Toes Duathlon on June 20, 2015.   This Duathlon starts with a 3.6 trail run, followed by a 22 mile bike ride around the Bears, and ends with a 1.8 trail mile run.

Wolf Pack Events put this race on.  It is low key with very friendly and supportive race volunteers.  Mr. Wolf was there and also did the race.  There’s lots of great fruit and other snacks at the end.  It is held at the San Pablo Damn boat ramp.  Parking is easy.

Du Toes DuathlonThe race starts in the parking lot and you start climbing almost immediately.  Once you climb to the upper level trail, it is easy rollers.  It is an out and back. There is water at mile 1.

The bike ride is straightforward.  Once you get out of the park, keep taking rights through the bears and back to the park.

The second run uses most of the same route as the first run.   The hardest part is climbing right away.

This was Tanya’s first Duathlon and she did super well with her pacing and transitions.  It was fun watching from behind, how effortlessly she rode and ran.

Bike the Bridges – June 2015

Martha Porritt, Kimberle Kelleher, Elise Nai, Laurie Andersen,Johnna Davis, Nancy Morrow, Dianne Dunlap and other Clubsport riders took on the Bridges on June 13, 2015.  It was a beautiful day with the usual winds.   The race benefitted Special Olympics.Bike the Bridges

Nancy and Johnna challenged themselves with a time trial to be “queen of the mountain”.

The 25  and 29 mile rides have spectacular views of the Bay.  There’s lots of climbing with over 2000 feet and crossing two bridges.

The after party is great.  There were live bands and barbecue meats and salads included in the ride.   There were also food trucks offering other great stuff to eat.   The really cool thing is that there was a beer garden with at least 7 different booths, including a Martinez startup.  Can either buy $5 per glass or purchase all you can drink for $20 which included a glass online or $25 on that day.

Resevoir Dogs Trail Race – May 2015

What a fun day at San Pablo Dam.   There were ten us:  Theresa, Diana,  Beth, Sue S, Susan H, Kirsten, Mia, Diane D, Carol and Kelli.  Thank you Carol for bringing the banner which got some attention.Reservoir Dogs Trail Race

Kudos to Theresa, Diana and Kirsten for their podium finishes.  Diana let it rip going up the steep hills.  Lost sight of her within minutes of the start and saw her only on her way back.

It was a perfect morning, clear and cool.  Inside trails is known for their more challenging routes and consistent with that, the race starts with a steep hill.  The trail starts with mashed asphalt and uneven thick grass.  The run is almost all trail and the turnaround is at the reservoir off of Bear Creek Road.  The run back (if you still have quads) is fast.

Good job dmc’ers!  #runfast

Xterra Lake

Lake Las Vegas, Henderson, NV – April 25th | 1500 K Swim | 28 K MTB | 10K Run

Xterra Lake was a test race for me. I’m signed up for Xterra Maui on Nov 1.

This was my first race flying with my bike alone. I’ve flown to other races but I’ve always had my mechanic/husband with me. Tuesday night at home – I get a lesson on taking my bike apart and how to wrap it for our soft bike bags.

Wednesday afternoon I catch my flight to Las Vegas.

I get my rental car, stop by the local bike shop on the way to Henderson pick up some lube which was the only thing I forgot, and then I check into my hotel. I’m slated for a short run which I do on the treadmill in the hotel gym.

I hit the shower, the grocery store and then I start pulling out my bike. I do great until I get to the derailer. Somehow I got it all twisted and I knew it wasn’t right but I couldn’t see how to get the chain in the correct position. Nothing a quick photo and call to my husband couldn’t undo – he helped me straighten things out – literally. So big accomplishment #1 down.

Thursday: I have some friends who are also doing this race, we schedule a time to pre-ride the course. I drive to the race site about 15 minutes from my hotel. We head out to scope out the course. Lake Las Vegas is a man made lake with some beautiful luxury hotels and golf courses surrounding it. But the Xterra course is a hot, gravely, dusty, rocky, sandy desert landscape. The day is dry and hot under a cloudless blue sky.

There are loose steep climbs, sharp turns, a very loose rocky ‘chute’ downhill, a sandy river bed and then across a hard sandstone wash dubbed “the lunar landscape”, finally ending up at the shoreline of the lake for a fun, fast single track – heading back to the start (race day will be 2 laps). I admit I’m a bit nervous and intimidated by the rocks and loose terrain.

Friday: I head back out to the race site for packet pick up, to scope out the swim area and listen to the pre race talk. It’s warm but very windy. We are all hoping for a calmer day the next day.

Saturday: I head to the race at about 6:30 am. It’s calm overcast. I rack my bike and set up my transition. It is determined that the water temp is 68º which is wetsuit legal. I take my Hammer Race Supreme Caps – which I take daily – and nibble on my banana and eat some yogurt. We all put on our wetsuits and start prepping for the swim. The Pros get sent off at 8am, the sprint group goes at 8:30 and the full course age group (which is my race) go at 8:45 Men / 8:48 Women.

The swim is a long rectangle, with the short end at the far end, and at the shore – 2 laps with a beach run in between. I get in the water after the sprint group takes off and swim around and get acclimated to the water for about 10 min.

Just a bit before our gun time I take a Hammer gel (Montana Huckleberry). At 8:48 our time has come. I start out. I’m actually thinking to myself. “What the heck am I doing here? I hate this swimming thing”… All the way up the first long leg I’m really having to convince myself to keep going. I come up to the first turn buoy and then it’s only a short distance to the second buoy which turns you back toward shore… I’m getting in my grove but still not loving it. I make it to shore, exit, run on the beach about 200 feet, then back in for lap two… now I’m feeling warmed up. I forget about my earlier grumbling and get into my rhythm. And sure enough next thing I know there’s the beach.

3rd Place in Age Group!
3rd Place in Age Group!

I exit the water and start heading up the golf cart path to transition. It’s a couple of minute run/walk while stripping off goggles, caps, and wetsuit.

I find my bike/transition spot and finish removing my wetsuit. Don all of my bike gear and head out! My earlier nerves from swimming are gone but my bike nerves kick in. Happily I find that from my pre-ride Thursday to race day the trails have gotten some use and much of the worst parts are quite a bit better. From advice from the pros at the pre-race talk, they encouraged the age groupers to fuel early – I had Hammer Sustain in my bottle and began drinking it. The long gravely chute that I had planned on walking had a clear line which I followed and went right down it with ease (on both laps). I focused on staying strong and pedaling on the flats and before I knew it I was back at the intersection for lap 2. Nerves completely gone now – I’m feeling confident and I push hard. Running is my weakest of the 3 sports so I know I need to gain while I can on the bike. Nearing the end of the bike I see one of my friends and I am able to pass her.

Back to transition, and I’m out on the run. Thankfully the overcast has remained and it’s staying fairly cool. Though the wind picked up somewhat. The outbound on a run is always tough, I take another Hammer gel, then begin the climbs. I was feeling pretty tired. The run course was pretty much the same as the bike course so I knew what to expect – but that meant the tough hills came in the first half of the loop. I admit there was some walking. The friend who I had passed on the bike, now got me back and ran ahead. About halfway through I met up with another gal going my same pace and we stuck together and chatted a bit. Nearing the end of the run I was really getting drained, and another runner caught us. Those two had more ‘get up and go’ than I did and I fell a behind. But the end was near so I just kept plugging away. There was a short run on the road back to the finish line so I just concentrated on keeping moving. I was happy to be done! 3:58! My goal was to come in under 4 hours.

I came through the finish line, and got some water and electrolyte drink, and waited with my friend for our other friend to finish. It was a great early season race for me. I took 3rd in my age group! (But Xterra is so funny – they did podiums before all the racers were in. So I “missed my podium” which apparently happened about 5 min after my finish.)

Next time! Cheers, Carol

Boggs Mountain Race – May 2015

On Saturday May 2nd I was a part of a 3 woman relay team for the 8 hours of Boggs mountain bike race.  The race site was located in the Boggs demonstration forest near Clearlake and Middletown, CA (just a bit north of Calistoga). There are all levels of riders for this race and there are many events all going at the same time: Solo 8 hour riders, 2-person (M/W/Coed) and 3-person (M/W/Coed) teams. Boggs is a popular race and usually sells out within days. The format is to do as many laps as you can in 8 hours. The scoring is based on number of laps, then time.

My husband also did this race on a 3 man team, so we headed out about 1pm on Friday to beat the traffic. We arrived on-site and got our race packets. My husband pre-rode the course but I didn’t because I preferred to rest my legs.

Boggs is HUGE for camping. Most racers camp – but I really need a bed, a bathroom and a shower the night before a race. So we booked a modest little hotel just 10 minutes from the site.

My husband did his pre-ride and I hung out at the campsite where we had a gang all camping together. We BBQ’d there and when it got dark and started cooling down we headed to hour hotel. That night we prepped our bikes with the number plates, re-lubed the chains (very dusty conditions) and checked tire air pressure.

On Saturday we got up at 6am and got our breakfast and showers! Packed everything and headed to the site at 7. We arrived in plenty of time and parked at our gang’s campsite. I took my Hammer Race Supreme and my Hammer Anti-fatique capsules and sipped water until it was time to head to the starting line. In my bottle was a Hammer Fizz tablet (today it was Mango).

This was the 10th annual Boggs race so they have things pretty well organized. The race is a mass start at 8am and I was the opening rider for my team. The opening lap is tough because you are fighting A LOT of other riders and we go an extra loop of almost 4 miles (a crowd thinning technique – and it may not seem like a lot of miles to a road rider but when your total lap is only 10 miles – making the opener 14 is a big difference).

The race started right on time and off we went. I hung in the middle to the back of the pack, which is where I belong pace-wise but does put you in the thick of things. Even with a modest fire road climb you are still elbow to elbow with fellow racers, shortly the course turns onto a single-track and we came to a complete stop while everyone filed in (this is commonly known in mountain bike races as a “conga line”). I take things in stride and wait my turn. This year the event producer incorporated more single-track into the course (and less fire road), while this makes for a funner course for the racers it’s also more challenging both from a skills perspective and a crowds/other riders view point.

After getting moving on the single track with several hundred of my ‘best friends’ – we were able to finally keep it moving. After just under 30 minutes I actually passed through the Start/Transition/Finish arch – in case you’re wondering – yes this initial 4 miles is still timed and part of the course. But any subsequent laps don’t include it. Then the ‘real’ fun begins. We pass through the main race area and begin to climb. It was a rocky technical climb with lots of walking involved on this first lap especially, but it gets better. Soon after I’m able to really get going. The course offers a bit of everything terrain-wise in a shady cool forest setting. We would pop out onto a short fire road here and there, sometimes in the sun, but thankfully about 80% of the race is in the shade. During this lap I faced tight switchbacks, several hard rocky climbs, and smooth single track (watch out for the trees wanting to grab your handlebars!). After almost 2 hours, 14.5 miles and 1850 vertical the course drops you right back down into “race central” – as I came over the timing mat and headed for the bike exit, I saw my teammate take off. One lap down who knows how many to go.

The riders on my team anticipated about a 1:20-1:30 loop for each of us – remember they didn’t have to do the add-on 4 miles that I did on my opener. So I had about 2.5 to 3 hours of wait time before my next lap. I chatted with some of our friends at the relay area, and saw a few friends who I didn’t know were racing – some of them coming in, some of them waiting for their teammates to finish a lap so they could head out. It’s actually really fun format and you get to see a lot of people in various states of racing.

I headed back to our campsite and cleaned up a little. Changed out my bike shorts and tried to put my feet up and rest.  I had a half of a PBJ and some other nibbles and water. Since you would NEVER want to be late for your teammate arriving in and sending you back out on the course – after about 2 hours I head back down to the transition area waiting for my rider to come in. I see her! And off I go on my team’s 4th lap. It’s now 1 pm and I’ve already ridden a hard 2 hour ride. I hit the technical climb again and I’m not doing and feeling so well. I walked up about 1/2 of it, get to the top and jump on my bike again. Meanwhile the ‘fast’ people are also coming around on their 5th-6th or more laps. On the technical downhill I had some riders close on my tail – so I ended up getting a little stressed out and going too fast and I took a slight spill. Nothing big. I jump back on my bike and continue the decent. Things got much better for me after that. I settled down and got my heart rate down, high-but within range. Again I’m hitting these pretty tough gravely climbs, and rolling fun single track downhills. Several of the climbs I wanted to give up and walk but I could see other riders – guys, younger gals some walking – and I knew I had to try and stay on the bike. I did. I was super happy I rode all the climbs. I’m a better climber than I am on the downhills so I was playing cat and mouse with a few riders – I’d pass them on the climbs and they’d get me on the downhills. In the end some got me and I got some others. Because of the race format, and that I was on a 3 Woman team – I knew none of the guys was my competitor – but there’s no age brackets on the relays so any gal could have been racing against me (and my team). I was shooting to make about a 1:25 lap time, but I came in a bit over that at 1:29. I’m still happy with that time. Mountain bike racing is funny in that they always change the courses from year-to-year. So it’s hard to compare my last year’s times. Overall I felt strong and it is such a fun race and weekend.

Relaxing post race
Relaxing post race
Since we weren’t racing on Sunday I agreed to ‘camp’ the second night – we partook of the flowing Lagunitas beer and the delicious meal that came with the race. We shared race stories and beers around the camp fire and not long after dark tired and dirty I headed for the tent and my sleeping bag. Hey that’s what camping’s all about right?
My team took 7th out of 10 – completing 5 laps in 7:50:55.  We were the fastest of the 3–Women teams completing 5 laps (there were teams that completed 6, and 7 laps).

Wine Country Century – Santa Rose May 2015

This was a super fun ride and recommend that we do it again next year.   Kimberle, Sue S, Sue G, Greg G, Beth and Jeff Mikesell and I started a little after 8.  It was chilly…note to self for next year, is to wear two or three layers no matter how warm it is in Walnut Creek.  I sucked on Perpetuum solids for the entire ride.  I think I was able to make three last 4 hours – slow fueling in between tons of snacks at the rest stops.  Speaking of snacks, I enjoyed the slice of banana topped with peanut butter and an M&M.
Our 200k riders by the ocean trying to stay warm

The first rest stop comes quickly at 10 miles.  The hot coffee was especially great among all the things that were available to put in our mouthes. Also appreciated clean port-a-potties.  The caffeine must have kicked in for Sue S because she and Greg G shot off and we didn’t see them until the lunch stop at the dam.  At lunch we connected with Diana and Theresa and Clubsport cohorts, Glenda, Peggy, Beth and many others.

100k riders at the finish
100k riders at the finish

After lunch we practiced pace-lining with Greg G doing a lot of the heavy lifting.The time flew by.  It warmed up and was just a beautiful day among the vineyards.

 There was lots of food and Lagunitas IPA at the end.

Devil Mountain Run – Danville – May 2015

Conquering the 10k Run
Conquering the 10k Run

Judi W and I did this to celebrate her upcoming birthday.  It’s a wonderful community event with families and local business support.  There is a kids run and 5K too.  It starts out in downtown Danville and parallel 680 until San Ramon and then loop back around on the Iron Horse Trail.  It is slightly uphill for the first half and then downhill all the way back.

It was perfect running weather, cool but not cold, didn’t get hot and the sun was out.