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Posts Tagged ‘Pre-Race Report’

Justin, Jim and I will all be doing RAGBRAI this year. This will be Jim’s 5th RAGBRAI- he’s 73. Also: he’s awesome.

So it’s the Friday before RAGBRAI- The Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa- the weeklong trip now in its 40th year, and all week I’ve been trying to think of what to say on my blog as I embark on the journey.

Most of the last week has been spent trying to figure out how to deal with the heat on this ride.  My hopes were for mid-eighties during the ride and sixties at night, but that’s not going to be the case.  The 10 day forecast now includes the entirety of the ride and every single day’s high temp starts with a 9 and ends with a heat advisory.  I’ve ridden in high temps before and survived; in fact, one of our training rides had a heat index of 115.  That’s not the problem.  The problem is sleeping at night in a stifling hot tent when it’s still 90 at 10 pm and then getting up the next day to do it all over again.  I’d say in order to perform my best, I really need to recover with a good night’s sleep.  We’re doing everything we can to prepare, including bringing fans for the tent, but I have the feeling sleep is going to be tough at times.

RAGBRAI Map 2012

The route itself is going to be a challenge of course.  The quick overview is:

Sunday: Sioux Center to Cherokee, 54 miles, 1675 ft of climb

Monday: Cherokee to Lake view, 62 miles, 2173 ft of climb

Tuesday: Lake View to Webster City: 81.2 miles, 1657ft of climb

Wednesday: Webster City to Marshalltown: 77 miles 1,997 ft of climb

Thursday: Marshalltown to Cedar Rapids: 84.5 miles 3576 ft of climb

Friday: Cedar Rapids to Anamosa: 42.2 miles 1907 ft of climb

Saturday: Anamosa to Clinton 69.4 miles 2,811 ft of climb

The standout as “Toughest Day” is already looking like the stretch from Marshalltown to Cedar Rapids.  Besides having the longest mileage and far and away the most climbing, it looks to be the day with the highest predicted temperatures. At least at the end of this day I can look forward to the Party on the Island; Cedar Rapids is throwing a big celebration for RAGBRAI’s 40th Anniversary and is featuring the band Counting Crows on the main stage!

The stretch from Lakeview to Webster City also is making a good case for possible “Toughest Day” contention.  This day is the one where you have the option to do the Karras Loop.  Karras is a tack on loop that adds enough mileage to give you a full century (100 mile) day.  This particular loop features 2 enormous climbs out of the Des Moines River Valley and is billed as the toughest Karras ever.  Riders who take on the loop and succeed earn a patch and a lot of pride.  We’ll just have to see how we’re doing when we get there.

It’s not all worry for me though.  I’m very much looking forward to getting out of the office, unplugging, and seeing Iowa again.  My friends Jim Cate, Jeff Spencer and David Mochnig are joining myself and my husband for the trip.  We’re going with the Keokuk, Iowa Bike Club- which has been organizing this group for many, many years now and seem to really know how to plan for every eventuality.   I’m also looking forward to seeing friends on the road including Marinan, Scott, and Jen, who all cycled the Tour of the Mississippi River Valley event with me this year.

One of the things I’m really looking forward to is the food.  There’s no excuse like riding 500 miles to eat… well … pretty much whatever you want.  What do I want? Pie, mostly.  Lots of pie.

Photo Credit Christopher Gannon/The Des Moines Register

My hopes for the trip are kind of simple.  I hope everyone, first and foremost, rides safe.  There will be a ton of riders and a lot of hazards, and I wish for a RAGBRAI free of injury and flat tires.  I hope that the sun is tempered with clouds and a beautiful tailwind to push us across the Hawkeye state.  I hope the food is as good as I’ve heard, and I hope that we take the time to stop and enjoy it.  I am confident I’ll have fun with my friends and that I’ll make some new ones.  I hope that when pedaling gets hard friends will lift me up, and I hope I can do the same for them. I also hope I don’t get to cranky about camping and I apologize in advance if I do.

I was just commenting to a friend today about the interesting nature of club sports like running or cycling.  You train with friends, you ride with friends and there is always someone experienced to learn from close at hand, but when the rubber meets the road, every pedal stroke or footfall belongs to you.  Nobody is getting my bike across Iowa but me.  But at the end, if I can do this, it’s going to be a goal that was 20 years in the making and one I can really be proud of.

Now listen, I’m not making any promises, but since we should be hitting the road early and arriving midday at our destination most days, I am planning on doing some mini-blogging from my iphone in my spare time.  Conditions, charging my phone, and distractions like pie may change that, but I’d really love it if you guys followed along next week for updates.  And I always appreciate comments on my blog, but I would especially like them while we’re out on the road.

Only one way to end this blog:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4ANP8g8wrE

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(and other pre-race thoughts)

Well here I am again, dear readers, sitting just days away from my second half-marathon.  This weekend, 20,000 runners will be gathering in Champaign/Urbana for the Illinois Marathon, and among them, about 30 runners from the local Heartland Roadrunners and Walkers Club.

Many of these members of the Heartland Road Runners will be participating in the Illinois Full and Half Marathons this weekend!

I’m trying to decide if I feel more or less nervous going into my second half-marathon.  As you might recall, it was only a few weeks ago that I ran my first half marathon (13.1 miles) in Little Rock, AR.  That event went relatively well.  I had friends start the race with me, found a groove, and (except for a leg cramp in mile 10) the whole thing went off without a hitch.  I had a lot of worries going into that race: crowds, nutrition, hydration, sleeping in a hotel the night before…finishing.  None of that really ended up being a problem though.  I guess I had good coaches, because I seemed pretty prepared and the race went just fine.

My training partner Doug and I after the St. Louis "Frozen Buns Run"

For this Illinois Half, my worry list looks different.  I’m not so concerned about finishing it- seeing as I’ve got several more double-digit mile runs under my belt now.  I am running it with a partner, which will present its own challenges and advantages.  Doug and I have been training together for quite a while now, so we’re used to running as a pair.  When we run though, we tend to chat, and the cumulative effect can be somewhat bad for our overall time.  Talking and laughing does make miles go down easier though, and that could be good for our time!

And while we’re talking about time- I think that’s my biggest worry.  I don’t need to smash my Little Rock finish, but I certainly would like to think that I could shave off a few minutes this go round.  I didn’t have expectations in Little Rock.  Illinois is billed as flat and fast, and I’m going to be bummed if I can’t do at least as well as Little Rock.

One interesting wrinkle in the story for Illinois is the I-Challenge.  The challenge is to run a 5K the night before the half marathon (or the 10K or full marathon, depending on your entry).  The main reason to do this? The Bling.  You earn a medal for the 5K, the half, and completing the challenge, for a total of 3 pieces of bling to wear home. The real dilemma is how to run the 5K.   I’ve really, really wanted to clock a time of under 30 minutes for a 5K this year.  I’ve come close, but haven’t broken it in a timed event yet.  I don’t think the I-Challenge is the place to go all out though…  I can’t imagine that it’s a good idea to push myself too hard the night before a half-marathon.

Adding to the worries of Illinois is a weather report that seems to be in constant flux.  First it was going rainy and warm.  Then they’re calling for dry and chilly.  I checked this morning and now we’re talking about 17 mph winds with race temps in the low 40s and a 50% chance of precipitation.  How’s a girl supposed to dress for this!?  *Ugh* I would really rather not deal with wind.  (And on a personal note: 50% chance of precipitation? I feel like that’s a terrible forecast.  I’ll give you 50% chance of precipitation every day guys! Tell me something I don’t know!)

Anyway, I imagine this will go just fine.  These events usually do- regardless of how worked up I get about them beforehand. I hope Doug and I and the rest of the club all have great runs, reach our goals, and get to enjoy the fruits of all of our hard training.  When the going gets tough at this race, I’ll try to remember the advice of my friend Jared:

It’s about not quitting.  It’s about continual forward progress.

*Speaking of Jared… I’m headed out to Vermont to be a crew member for his attempt at the 200 mile McNaughton Trail Ultra Marathon early in May.  Expect a pre-race blog on this soon, and updates throughout his event.

** And speaking of Half Marathons!  Good luck to my friend Jennifer who will be running a half in Nashville this weekend too!  Maybe I can talk her in to doing a race report.. hint hint!

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