50 Miles in Emporia

Tomorrow is the big day (before the BIG day): Dirty Kanza Training Camp.

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I’m not sure what got the idea of Dirty Kanza in my head. Biking has always been my weakest triathlon sport.. and my relationship with my bike has always been love/hate.

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So… why would a 200 mile bike race worm itself into my brain and never make it out? I’m still trying to figure that one out.

I THOUGHT it would easy. Barely any cars! No curbs! Dirt! Cows! Sunshine! This would totally be my scene.

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Not so true. I’ve struggled making the transition to gravel riding.

Things I hate about gravel:

1. All gravel is NOT created equal: One road is paved, one road is flat with a few rocks, the next road is all mud, the next road is muddier mud. You make a turn and you hit gravel so deep its like riding through water. Sometimes the gravel is tiny flint. Sometimes the gravel is larger than ping-pong balls. You never know what you are going to get until you are there… for a type-A personality this was and IS the hardest hurdle.. I don’t know what to expect until I get there.

2. Higher chances of dogs chasing you. This hasn’t been a real problem, but out in the country, more unleashed dogs live outside.. and it’s a bigger risk. Finally got some pepper spray attached to my bike.. but usually yelling “GO HOME” works.

3. It’s hard to find a good route. No strapping on my helmet and going for a ride around the block. I do live closer to the country and found a small gravel trail (seriously small, about 0.25 mile in length that I go up and down), but it helps. Otherwise I need to get in my car and go somewhere. And again, once I get there I don’t know what to expect the conditions of the road to be like.

Things I love about gravel:

1. The country is DANG pretty.

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2. There are less cars.

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3. It is an adventure.

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4. I like cows

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So after a few miserable attempts at getting long rides in (the awful trail in Topeka, the weather, etc), we finally bit the bullet and drove out to Emporia, KS last weekend to take a hack at the REAL deal.

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We won’t know the actual race course until about a week or two from race day, but we used a route from a previous course map to get in 50 miles.

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And how did it go? AWESOME.

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We rode 50 miles in 5 hours and 40 minutes. Typically we would be going a lot faster (10 min/miles will be required for the race itself), but we took our time and I took a lot of photos.

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We parked in downtown Emporia and then did a 50 mile loop that took us through a few other towns, but mostly miles and miles of farm, gravel, dirt, and cows.

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(Farmers are in the process of burning their fields, so the scenery is pretty neat in a end-of-the-world type of way).

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One thing I learned on this ride is that I HATE the ‘virtual rider’ feature on my Garmin 810. Basically the computer creates a fictionalized rider that goes at whatever pace you set. So if you want to go 15mph, you set him for that pace and then it will tell you how far off (or ahead) of pave you are.

I THOUGHT that it was showing my actual distance, but it was actually how many miles I was BEHIND him (he rides at a 15 mph pace). So I did have a mental lapse when I thought I was at 35 miles, but I was only at 25. Ouch. Like when you find out it is only Thursday when you thought it was Friday. THE WORST.

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Other than that, we had no flats or issues (KNOCK ON WOOD) and our gear worked well.

This time last week, I was terrified of how well I could preform at camp. I knew I would be one of (okay, probably THE) slowest person there, but I know better now what to expect from myself and the course, and I am prepared to have my butt sufficiently kicked.

Camp is going to be a huge determining factor in how I will do in the race, I am prepared to show up and try my hardest.

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So tomorrow after work we are heading out to Emporia. There is a book signing and check-in on Thursday, then 50 miles of riding on Friday, 100 miles of on Saturday, and then 50 miles on Sunday with seminars throughout.

Wish me luck!

Have you ever attended a training camp? Or band camp? Or Girl Scout camp?

There will be NO camping at this camp, thankfully. That hotel bed is going to be my best friend after covering 200 miles this weekend.

And if you are interested, here is a neat video about Dirty Kanza from the New York Times:

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Mrs. Robinson’s Romp Trail 10k: Race Recap!

Well, I didn’t mean to fall off the face of the planet, but I’m going to blame it on SPRING FEVER.

Paul has been working a lot of Saturdays lately, so to spice things up, I registered last minute for a local trail run LAST Saturday (3/14).

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I’ve run a couple Trail Nerds events before and they are known for their low-key, laid-back approach, but with EXCELLENT race logistics, markings, and communication. Great swag, too!

I never run trails on my own (but I keep wanting to), so before my first race, I terrified of trail races thinking that I would constantly get lost.

Not true! Just follow the little pink flags! And they are pretty tough to miss!

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The race didn’t start until 9am, and it was only about a 15 minute drive from my house (win!).

There wasn’t a lot of parking, but I did manage to score a primo parking spot:

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Packet pickup was a breeze (there were only 100ish people running the race). Then I waited it out until the start in my car.

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Representing Iowa State! We had just nailed a spot in the Big 12 tournament finals the night before. IMAG4503

The starting line was SUPER casual. We all just stood behind a white line and then started running when someone yelled “GO!”. The race started off a tad crowded and with the single-track trail it was difficult to really get anywhere for a while.

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But eventually the starting line jitters wear off and people slow down and paces start to spread out. There were more people than normal that I had to ask if I could pass them, but it was touted as a beginning friendly race. If someone is tailing you, I always shout back and tell them to let know if they want to pass.

Wiiiiiide open spaaaaces.

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Even with a really slow start, I was super impressed that I managed to cross the 5k line in 27:49. There was only 1 hill in the first half that I had to walk, but the 2nd half was CRAZY hilly.

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(Free race photos, a neat bonus)

I tried to capture here on how people just ahead and just behind me were far different in elevation. It didn’t work so well.

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But it was really Midwest pretty.

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Since there were 3 aid stations on the 10k course, I skipped bringing any water with me. I typically love my Orange Mud HydraQuiver, but I didn’t need it today.

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I crossed the finish line just around 1:10. I was SUPER happy with my time considering I walked a bunch of hills in the 2nd 5k. Kansas is NOT flat, I promise you.

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My GPS was also NOT happy with the twisting turns and switchbacks. It registered less than 5 miles on 10k course. Isn’t it the BEST when your GPS is wrong in your favor (and you’ve gone LONGER than you think you have) :) :)

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No medals, but we did get a sticker. And a really nice t-shirt.

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Afterwards I met up with some friends for the best post-run fuel: Arthur Bryant’s BBQ

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(Yep, this counted as a day of eating out!)

Once Paul got off work, we headed down to Power and Light District to pre-game for the final game of the Big 12 tournament.

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Just a little CYCLONE red, no?

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The game was AWESOME. Beating KU is always a good feeling.

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As for March Madness, notsomuch. My bracket was dead before noon on Day 1. Oh, well…

The rest of last week was spent riding my bike and a couple runs. My new VanderKitten VIP team kit came in and I LOVE it.

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And we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day like all typical adults do: Green Macaroni & Cheese and Green Eggs & Spam:

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Ninja Turtle shaped in case you are curious

This coming weekend is DIRTY KANZA TRAINING CAMP. I’m terrified, but I had an awesome ride yesterday (which I’ll recap soon) that makes me feel like I can actually show my face at camp.

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