I went up to the Willamette Pass 24 Hour Race over the weekend with Eli as support. I think I cracked a rib riding Soquel Demo a few days before. It really hurt to laugh and take a deep breath. Somehow I didn't think I would be laughing too much during the race. I was however, planning on breathing, so I was a little worried.
We left for the race on Friday. The race was from 10 am Saturday to 10 am Sunday. I had heard the course was mostly dry hard pack and the description online quoted an 11 mile loop with 1100' of climbing. That was last year. This year the course was 14 miles and 1800' of climbing. The first six miles climbed to a ski resort and the remaining eight took us back down. The climb began as a gradual fireroad but then it kicked up to some pretty steep single track and it got sandier and sandier punctuated at the end by footprints instead of tiretracks. Mine were included. The course was beautiful with awesome views from the slopes and vistas of green lakes could be seen from the top. The descent was fast and twisty, mostly smooth but punctuated with stutter bumps that hurt my ribs a lot. There were a few creek crossings and rocky sections but nothing too technical.
I spoke with one of the the three solo women competitors before the race. I had raced a 12 hour against her and been beaten. I asked her how many 24 hour races she had done and she rattled off about 10 before she had to stop and think. I was intimidated.
We took off. By the third lap I felt terrible. We were only about four or five hours into the 24 but my body felt like we had done 10 or 12, I was worried. Keeping at it, I eventually blamed the heat as I felt more and more normal as the day started to cool. I didn't pee for the first seven hours of the race even though I was drinking a lot of water and had hydrated well going in. Anyway, things went along pretty smoothly for a while after that.
There was a 12 hour race running earlier and the girl that I wet my pants to beat at the last 12 hour race was racing solo. I passed her on the climb like she was standing still. I thought something was wrong so I asked how her race was going, she told me it was going well and that she felt good... I was wicked excited.
One of the other solo women dropped out after about eight hours leaving me second - or last (in the solo women category) depending upon how you looked at it. I started to make up time on the girl ahead of me. But, about 1 or 2 AM I bonked hard. Not sure why - I was eating and drinking plenty. But I had nothing. My brain disconnected from my body. Three or four times I woke up lying on the side of the trail not remembering how I had gotten there, perhaps some kind of autopilot shutdown. My split added about 45 minutes for the lap. It was time to pit.
I took about a half an hour off the bike and tried to recover. Prior to this my breaks had been really quick - just enough time to grab Ensure and some water... to pee, and to let Eli put some lube on the chain. I slept for 15 minutes, ate some real food, and changed clothes. I didn't think it was possible to recover from a bonk that deep but I did and I came out hard.
A little before six, I pitted again really fast and headed out. The cutoff for laps to count was 10 AM so I was hoping to do two, sub two hour, laps for a total lap count of 11. It was not to be - I hadn't realized how slow I was at that point and my next lap was about 2 hours 15 minutes. I was about a mile out from the finish when my nose began to bleed. I didn't know what that was about, but being so close to being done, I was not stopping. I came across the line with myself and my bike covered in blood.
The other solo woman who finished did so with 10 laps about 25 minutes ahead of me. And it turns out the two of us actually beat all ten of the solo men. I was wicked excited when I found that out. There was one guy who got 10 laps but he was half an hour down on me. We rule.
My rib complained a bit on the stutter bumps but I really don't think it was a limiting factor. Ten laps may not seem like much on a 14 mile course but that climb really took it out of us. Neither of the other 24 hour races I have done had this much climbing - I pushed myself. I went to race the course - not just finish. It would have been cool to win but I'll settle for beating all the boys. And hey, I won all of $75.00.
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