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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Redemption (Dirty Kanza 2014)

No one heard the glass break.  It probably happened on the trip to Emporia, but there was no telltale leak to warn me.  The first indication of a problem came at 4:40 a.m. on race morning, when I reached into my bag for my carefully packed kit and found it soaking wet...with cinnamon whiskey.  The unopened bottle that has lived in my bag since the MLK Berryman weekend, when we did more riding than drinking, had shattered during the drive.

Every item of clothing I'd packed was drenched, which was actually kind of funny, but my bike clothes were lying on tiny shards of glass. The only idea less pleasant that the antiseptic burn of whiskey on my lady parts was the thought of literally sitting on glass, but I'd only brought one chamois.  I was nervously rinsing my shorts in the tub when Bob proposed a solution: "I think I have an extra chamois in the truck."

He did, and though they fit quite comfortably, there was one more detail to check.  You see, these shorts are so comfortable that Bob has worn them a lot, and when fabric gets a lot of use it can thin, as Luke and Adam realized to their great chagrin on a pre-Kate team trip to Augusta.

I'm sorry about that, but context is important for this next part of my report.
Being Team Virtus's number one fan a la Kathy Bates in Misery, I was well acquainted with that report and picture, and that's why, at 4:50 a.m. on Saturday morning, I was bending over in front of the sink while Bob shined a flashlight on my butt so he and Crystal could check to make sure no one could see through my shorts in the sunlight. Hardly an auspicious start to the day.



"Third time's a charm."

I've heard that from friends since the moment I registered for attempt number 3 on Dirty Kanza and fervently hoped they were right.  At the same time, another numerical quote has lurked in the back of my mind: "Bad things come in threes."

Two shorter May gravel races (Cedar Cross and Hairy Hundred) had left me feeling uncharacteristically confident in my chances of a DK finish, and though obsessive weather stalking revealed increasing chances of rain, I was strangely at peace with the forecast and what it would bring, choosing to channel Bob's perspective of "It'll all work itself out."  Even so, my anxiety grew as race week progressed.  All of my blogging and incessant facebook posting about this race became a double-edged sword: I had an incredible amount of support and encouragement, so many people pulling for me, and the thought of letting them down again was terrible.

Leg 1: Emporia to Madison (mile 50.8)

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Quality start line photography
We were short a few teammates and crew members thanks to work/life commitments, but it was a gift to have any of my teammates there.  Nobody else really wanted to go back to Kansas because they'd all finished the race, but somehow there they were with me.  In addition to my teammates, we had a ton of friends lining up in the field, including Chuck, Jim, and Justin, who joined us at the back of the 16 hour group.

Though I hoped to ride with the guys that wasn't my focus. This year Dirty Kanza wasn't a fun adventure with friends; it was a mission.  I knew my best chance of finishing was to ride my own pace, and I pulled slightly ahead on the paved roads that led out of Emporia.

There was already mechanical carnage as we turned onto the first piece of gravel, and I felt for the people who were changing flats in the early 5 minutes of a 200 mile race.  No matter how much training you do, you're still at the mercy of weather, other riders, and luck.

For the first time in my DK career, the front pack was still visible in the distance as we turned onto the gravel.  That was pretty cool.  So was my feeling of comfort early on.  Instead of taking awhile to get confident on the gravel, I sailed along with the pack, and rather than watch rider after rider zoom past me, I was the one making moves to latch on to faster groups.  The gravel was much smoother than a lot of what we've ridden this year, and the weather during the first leg was amazing: cool and overcast.

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One of the early gravel roads
Jim and I rode together for long enough to laugh again about how hard we'd tried to tell Chuck a joke during our last race and intrigue another racer, who later got to hear it (he laughed, eventually).  At some point I lost track of Jim, and I never saw the guys on the course again.  Of course I wasn't alone, surrounded by so many other potential conversational partners racers -- my pink argyle socks, tossed into my bag on a whim, got much attention, and I spent the day being called "argyle", "pinkie", and "happy socks" -- and by my memories from the previous two years.

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Not the most beautiful picture, but you can see how big it is and how huge the cloud cover was. Taken around 7:30 a.m.

Following along on my Garmin track, I had no idea what my pace was, but I felt fantastic.  The flats felt great, and once we got into the first of the hills, they were fine too.

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Going up...
I rode briefly with a guy from Florida and was stunned when he told me this was his second time on gravel, the first being Thursday; he, in turn, was appalled that my longest ride this year was 113 miles.  His superior mileage trumped my gravel experience, as both Florida boys finished before 10:30. I worked hard to stay on top of my eating and drinking, alternating sips of Perpetuem with bites of banana bread/chia seed/chocolate chip mini muffins.  The cool weather made it hard to remember to keep drinking, which I guess is why I had no need to stop at the top of the hill where last year the guys had made me a man-wall to pee behind.

Pretty sure this is it. Photo credit: Chuck Vohsen
The recent rain in the Emporia area hadn't had much effect on the roads, but it had left this one slightly greasy, and I picked my way up carefully.  A man behind me asked, "Are you from this area, ma'am?" I, of course, am not, and it turned out he was from Tennessee.  In the course of our conversation I made some remark about my crappy bike handling (as in I can barely take a hand off of the handlebars without swerving off the road) and he told me, "Your lines are really good; you must do a lot of mountain biking." I think it's more a case of having to ride carefully to make up for a lack of any kind of technical skill, but any time someone compliments you it's nice to hear.

He rode on ahead, and then the route turned down through the cattle pens and a very fun downhill.  DK downhills are the best, long and fun, almost all of them straight ahead and none of the curvy nonsense that scares me and makes me slow way down.  Eventually I hit the river crossing I remembered from last year, and though it's a really cool picture spot I didn't take the time to stop for a picture. This was the only time I was off my bike during the first 50 miles, something that might be nothing for other people but is a big deal for me.

Photo credit: Chuck Vohsen
There was a family sitting in a van there cheering for racers, and they were super enthusiastic about seeing a girl come past. Last year I pushed my bike the whole way up the hill after the river; this year I got past the muddy part and hopped back on.  It wasn't much further from there until I was on the pavement leading into CP 1 in Madison, zooming downhill and across the timing mat at 9:40 a.m., just over 3.5 hours and an average of 13.87 mph for the first 50 miles.

One of my main goals for the race (other than finish) was to minimize my time at CPs.  Crystal and Michelle were all ready with the things I'd asked for.  I hadn't eaten much food on the first leg, so I just took a few things out of the food bag, got two fresh bottles of Perpetuem, and took off after what I'm told was 4 minutes.  Though last year I'd had to walk the steep climb out of Madison, this year I rode the whole thing.

Leg 2: Madison to Cassoday (mile 99.5)

I'd ridden a couple blocks and halfway up that climb when I realized I'd forgotten to ask the girls to refill my Camelbak.  I briefly considered turning around, but I was really happy with my fast transition and didn't want to backtrack.  The day had been cool so far, and I probably had half of my 100 oz bladder remaining; in addition, I had two 24 oz bottles of Perpetuem.  It wasn't ideal, but I should be OK.  I kept riding, smiling big at the sight of the Adventure Monkey at the top of the hill.  

This leg last year had been a nightmare of headwinds, an incredibly demoralizing 50 miles.  This was much different.  The cloud cover had dissipated, and the day was warming up, so any breeze was actually very welcome.  The pack had spread out so much that there were often few or no bikes in sight, and I spent a lot of time riding down memory lane.  Here's mile 60 where Bob and I convinced Austin to keep riding...here's mile 65 where I wanted to quit...here's the turn that finally gave us a tailwind...here's where Adam and Austin caught up with me...here's where I caught up with Adam and we saw that big snake...

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This picture, which was has nothing to do with what I just wrote, was taken about an hour into leg 2.
I rode the big hill in this leg, but there was some hill -- and not even a big one -- that I ended up walking for some reason, I think maybe because I was so stinking hot at that point.  As I walked my bike, I caught up with a man who was standing on the road, and he decided walking was a better plan than standing still.  Forward motion, baby!  Bent was here from Norway just for the race and was maybe rethinking that plan as he baked on the gravel (but went on to finish at 12:35 a.m. Way to go!).  We got to the peak of the very slight hill, saddled up, and rode on.

I'd just finished my first bottle of Perpetuem and switched the full one to the front when I hit a downhill.  I don't think this one was any worse than the others on the course, but I hit a rough patch and -- the only time in the entire race it happened -- one of my bottles ejected.  Of course, it was the full time.  Cursing the bad luck of having to stop on a downhill, I trudged back uphill and looked in dismay at the puddle soaking into the gravel.  The lid had popped off my bottle, spilling everything.  With over 20 miles to go on an increasingly hot day, I'd gone from maybe 40 oz of liquid to at best 15.  My failure to get my Camelbak refilled at the CP had proved to be a big mistake. Huge.



I replaced my now empty bottle, climbed back on my bike, and was coasting sadly to the bottom of the hill when Wendy flew past me and then slowed for me to catch up.  We rode together talking about whatever, and I told her about losing my water and being a little bit worried about it.  She reassured me that she had some extra and could help me out if necessary. That made me feel a lot better, but I was still actively looking for full bottles that anyone else had dropped.

We were climbing another hill when my Camelbak went dry.  Still 20 miles out, I definitely was going to need something to drink and asked Wendy if she had some spare water.  She was stopping to get some when the guy riding the hill at the same time said, "You need water? I can give you some," and proceeded to fill my entire water bottle. To call this guy my hero would be an understatement.  I was incredibly grateful at the time, and in retrospect I think that he saved my race.  So thank you, Matt, so very much.

Not only was he my hero, he was pretty darn good company too.  We were riding pretty close to the same pace and ended up riding a big chunk of the last 20 miles together.  We ran into Derrick during this stretch too; he'd gotten a strong start but was struggling in the heat. We all rode in a loose group until Wendy had to stop with a cramp.  Matt was a much stronger rider than I am, but when I dropped back towards the end he slowed down so I could latch back on and draft, and he was unfailingly positive.  We pulled into CP2 at 2:01, 8 hours into the race.  In my previous 2 Kanza attempts, I made it to CP 2 with 3 and 8 minutes to spare before the cutoff.  This year, I didn't actually know what the cutoff was, but I knew I was way ahead of it.


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So happy (and filthy) at CP2. You can see Bob, in the background, wearing Michelle's shorts since I had his.  There's no "mine" in Team Virtus.
I can't even tell you the difference between how I felt at this point in the race this year compared with the previous years...but I can show you.

Same socks, very different feeling.
Bob, Travis, and Justin were all at CP2, having dropped earlier in the race, so while Michelle and Crystal refilled my bottles and Camelbak and got me food, Bob cleaned and lubed my bike chain and Travis got my cue sheets situated for the next leg.  Our group now included Justin's girlfriend and parents, who were sticking around to see how things played out (so awesome to have them there as well!), Janie, and Lori.  In addition, Emma was nearby crewing for Derrick and the Davises.

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Party at CP2 while they waited for me.
I had planned to take a slightly longer break here for lunch, but after eating a few bites of my sandwich, a couple pickle spears, and some strawberries, I was ready to go.  My crew was awesome about getting me everything I asked for, but I was less good about figuring out just what I needed, particularly foodwise. I definitely didn't eat enough at this stop, and I paid for it on the next leg.  One thing I did make sure of was getting my Camelbak filled and, having been pretty scared by my water situation during leg 2, taking an extra bottle filled with Gatorade.  I was not running out of water again.

Leg 3: Cassoday to Cottonwood falls (151.4 miles)

I'd needed major convincing to leave this CP last year, but I remembered it as fun and rolling (until we quit, 8 miles in).  I did all right on the first paved section out of town and at first on the flat gravel, but I quickly started feeling pretty terrible.  I was panting with exertion as I rode things that should not have been a problem.  I've been pretty lucky this year in that all of my rides have been in either cold or lovely weather, and the heat was taking its toll.   

Unable to catch my breath, I climbed off my bike and started walking until I could breathe again, then rode as long as I could.  During one of these walking breaks, a man rode by and told me, "Jump on my wheel and ride my draft." I got back on my bike and tried, but after a while I had to drop off.  Remembering another ride when I hadn't been able to breathe and Chuck told me, "You just need to eat something," Realizing I was bonking, I stopped along the side of the road to go to the bathroom (for the first time all day, not a good thing to be able to wait 8 hours to pee) and nibble at a pop tart while I watched rider after rider pass me by.

Wendy was one of the ones who passed me, riding strong, and I didn't see her again until the finish line.  I got back on my bike and rode until I couldn't, then walked and ate until I could.  My average pace for the first 20 miles of leg 3 was a 8.8 mph, and there was a ten mile stretch where it was a whopping 7.2 mph.  It was frustrating, but I never got down on myself or thought about giving up.  I knew I just needed to be patient and eat until I was back to feeling good, and thankfully I had plenty of time to do so.  There were high points as well, most notably any downhill, passing the spot where we'd quit last year, and turning off that long 13 mile stretch.

17 miles into leg 3 I started feeling good. The difference was remarkable, and I felt like I was flying down the roads.  It was a huge relief to feel human again, but the sun was beating down and it was miserably hot.  The only relief was occasional shade from a cloud

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Taken at 4:08. Big sky, no shade.
I tried drinking water from my Camelbak and spitting it on myself, but that wasn't very effective.  Crossing over running water, I remembered Derrick telling me how he'd soaked his do-rag in water to cool himself off and wished I had my buff.  I thought about lying down in the water and then realized I could soak my shirt in it.

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Heaven. 
Ahhhhh.  That wet shirt was glorious, and I was quickly back to what felt like flying down the roads, though my Garmin data assures me it was only 11 or 12 mph over the next 15 miles.  Derrick and Matt caught me somewhere during this happy stretch of leg 3, and we rolled near each other for quite a while.  There were some fantastic downhills, and I was feeling super confident on them.  At one point, Matt told me, "Kate, I don't ride with many women, but you can rip a downhill better than most men!"

That was awesome to hear, especially coming from where I started...creeping downhill with my brakes locked.  Finally losing a lot of my fear (though I'll admit there were a couple times when I was pretty scared flying downhill) has been a huge benefit: I used to get dropped on the downhills while everyone else flew down, and then my lack of momentum killed me on the subsequent uphills.  Being able to carry speed back uphill has helped a lot.

Derrick had pulled ahead, and we caught up with him stopped by Sheldon, who couldn't keep any food or drink down and had had to call for a ride.  Matt rode on while I stopped to talk to the guys, and then after Sheldon's ride showed up I left.  With Derrick behind me and Matt somewhere ahead, I was free to talk to the cows grazing alongside and standing in the road.  I was only a little embarrassed when another guy rode up and caught me mid-conversation.

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The cows were udderly (ha ha) unimpressed that I wanted through. Taken at 5:30.
I never got the guy's name, but he was from New Mexico (and really enjoying the unfamiliar humidity).  This was his fourth DK, and last year had been his first year to finish.  Being in that position this year, I could well imagine what an awesome feeling it had been.  New Mexico was full of helpful intel on the course, particularly about a long paved downhill into CP3 and the fact that the last 20 miles or so of leg 4 were flat.

I caught up with Matt in the front yard of a house a little further down the road (or a road).  A woman and her granddaughter were sitting in the yard calling out that they had a hose we could use to fill up or cool off.  I chose C) All of the above. I probably would have been fine, but after my earlier scare I wasn't passing a chance to fill up with water, and soaking all of my clothes and hair felt wonderful since the sun wasn't giving us any breaks yet.

Though I still felt pretty good, I did a lot of "strategic" hill walking in the last half of leg 3.  It felt good to get off my bike and use different muscles, and since I made sure to eat while I walked I was taking in food pretty regularly.  At one point Matt stopped to stretch, and when I (taking every opportunity to stop that arose) did as well, he told me not to feel like I had to stop because he did.  I asked, "Are you saying that to be nice or because I'm getting annoying?" (Because as we all know from Tour of Hermann, some people just "like it quiet", and I'm not so quiet.)  

In retrospect, I should have phrased it "Are you saying that to be nice or because you want to do your own thing?" because he's way too nice of a person to tell me I'm annoying. Regardless, he was stuck with me for the remainder of leg 3 and I think was almost as happy for me as I was that I was finally going to make it to the third CP.  Which, after turning onto that long awaited pavement, we rode into at 7:25 p.m.

Chillin' at CP3 and sooo happy knowing that a) I have plenty of time in the bank and b) the sun has finally started to sink and let the day cool off. #dk200 #gravel #gravelgrinder In my 3 years in this race, I've never made it to CP3, so pulling in was a
Relaxing at CP3, so happy to be there and to have a huge time cushion to get to the finish.

I didn't feel great, but I felt remarkably good for having just ridden 151 miles.  None of the things I was expecting to be miserable were bad.  My MawMaw hip was behaving, I didn't feel too chafed, my toes were OK in my bike shoes.  I couldn't really complain about anything.  Best of all, despite falling apart for that 17 miles after CP2, I had such a cushion built up that it was virtually impossible for me to not finish.  With 3:00 being the cut-off, I had 7 hours to ride the final 51 miles. Short of a crash or catastrophic mechanical, I had this thing in the bag.

Once again the guys took care of my bike while the girls got me fed.  I had so many people helping me it was almost overwhelming since, once again, I wasn't exactly sure what I wanted.  I'd borrowed my friend Patrick's lights, but since Travis wasn't using his he put them on my bike.  Just in case, I also packed along the Dorcy light I just tested (and some extra batteries). Having ridden in the dark with almost no light 2 years ago, I was taking NO chances of that again.

After eating a bunch (and making sure to include carbs this time), it was about time to go.  The only things I'd asked at the beginning of the race was for them to not let me quit and not let me hang around CPs too long, and Crystal was taking me at my word (and I was glad for it).  She convinced me to change into my team jersey so I could finish in it, and around 8:00 I rolled out of CP3 with my friend Renee from Hairy Hundred.

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Team jersey on and ready to finish this thing.

Jim and Adam had pulled into the CP shortly after I did, having dropped at mile 115, and Chuck had just sent Lori a text that he was stopping at CP3, so I was officially the last of our crew going.  Looking back at the group I was leaving, I felt a little jealous that I was going to miss hanging out with such a fun bunch of people.  Of course, I also knew they'd tie me to my bike and make me leave, so it wasn't like staying was an option, even if I'd wanted to quit.

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Lori, Bob, Jim's knees, Crystal, Travis, Janie, and Adam hanging out at CP3
Leg 4: Cottonwood Falls to Emporia (total miles 202.5)

Rather than switch Garmins at the CP (Bob had lent me his so that I'd be able to follow the GPS route all day), I'd brilliantly opted to wait until mine died to switch them.  Mine died maybe 3 miles out of town, so that was a pretty stupid plan.  I got them switched over and then spent the next couple miles trying to get the map up and running.  We made one slight navigational bobble during this point, but Renee caught it almost immediately and set us right. It might have cost us 300 feet if that.

It was nice riding with Renee and hearing a little about her day, but it was obvious that she was feeling much stronger than I was. When she mentioned that she would like to finish before midnight, I looked at my watch. 8:39.  "If you want to finish before midnight, you need to drop me now," I told her, "I'm not going to be able to ride that fast."

"Well," she replied, "Let's see how it goes."  I tried hanging on for a little bit, but I was getting back to that can't catch my breath thing, and I knew I was going to be unhappy killing myself to hang on.  "Go ahead," I told her, "I'm going to need to go slow and do my own thing."  I was disappointed not to be able to ride together, and I probably would have finished stronger if I'd stayed with Renee, but I didn't want to hold her back and didn't feel like I could hang with her.

Renee rode off, and I stopped to take some pictures of the sunset.

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Going...8:47
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 Gone (9:37)

Riding alone was no hardship.  Sometimes people would pass and we'd talk briefly, sometimes it was just me and my thoughts.  I thought about getting out my ipod, but I didn't really need it for the company.

Riding itself was another story.  All those things I thought didn't bother me at CP3 had decided to kick in.  I was chafed and stinging, my lower back hurt, I had a pebble in my shoe, my Camelbak was killing my shoulders, my neck hurt from looking up...you know, all the things that are going to bother you when you've been on your bike for over 14 hours.  So it wasn't particularly pleasant, but it was nothing I couldn't get through, and every pedal stroke (or step uphill) got me that much closer to the finish.

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The road ahead.
Travis's lights were phenomenal.  I could see everything I needed to.  There were plenty of hills in the first 30 miles of this leg, and while I did a lot of walking uphill I flew downhill.  Approaching the top of a hill, it would look like the world just disappeared, but once the lights hit the road I felt completely confident shooting down.  I don't have my Garmin data from the last leg, but I'd be really interested to see how my top speed on these hills compared with my top speed for the first 3/4 (40 mph).

My friend Carrie passed me out here, crushing a hill that I walked, and I was so happy to see her going strong because I knew she'd worried about the time cutoffs.  As time went by, I had a harder and harder time making myself keep going.  I'd ride 3 miles and then stop briefly to change cue cards or to eat a bite. Several other people out there were doing the same thing, so there was much leapfrogging in the dark.

During one of my uphill hikes, my facebook friend Michael passed me and, recognizing my socks, asked if I was OK.  I told him I was walking a lot of hills and he told me to jump on his wheel.  Not feeling up to spending the next 25? 30? (No idea at this point) hanging on, I told him I wouldn't be able to keep up and then soon afterwards flew past them on a downhill.  Seriously, those lights made me feel invincible, though in the back of my mind was always the thought of how bad it would suck to crash on gravel at that speed.

Not wanting to look like an asshole, when Michael and the guy he was riding with caught up on the flats, I explained, "I wasn't trying to not ride with you, I'm just good on the downhills and struggling on everything else," an assertion I quickly proved as the road leveled out and the guys pulled far ahead of me.

With about 20 miles to go, I passed a house with a bunch of people in the yard. "Free pop! Water! Beer?" they called out.  Ooooh, yes please.  They gave me a can of Coke, and I stood there and talked to them and their kids until the can was empty.  The amount of support, from people lining the streets cheering at the 6 a.m. start to Good Samaritans along the way, was really touching, especially when it came at a relatively dark time in the race.  That break was just what I needed.

The next ten miles I alternated pedaling fast with coasting, but I got more consistent as the miles ticked away and I could almost smell my destination.  At mile 198, I briefly made a wrong turn following a group ahead of me, but my Garmin chirped "off course" and a quick look at my cue sheets confirmed the mistake.  I called to the people ahead of me, warned the ones who'd followed me, and corrected.  4 more miles.

I hit the highway and the sign for Emporia.  I turned onto campus and rode through, reading the signs written in chalk on the ground.  I rolled up to the stoplight before Commercial Street and had to wait for a couple of cars before crossing.  I flew down the street towards the finish line, tears threatening, under the banner at 1:03 a.m after 19 hours of racing.  Race director Jim Cummins handed me my finisher's glass and 200 sticker, and there was no crying, just a smile that wouldn't stop.

Looking uber-hot in my clear glasses, but all that matters in this picture is the huge smile and the finisher's glass in my hand. #dk200 #gravel #goalachieved
Finally!
It was, weirdly, the exact opposite of 2012, when all of my teammates except me who raced finished, and though I'd have preferred for all of us to be standing there with finisher's glasses I guess there's a kind of symmetry to it.  I walked out from under the finish, and there were so many friends waiting: Bob, Adam, Michelle, Andrew, Travis and Crystal, Chuck and Lori, Jim and Janie, Justin, Audrey, and his parents, Jeff and Carrie, David, Mickey and Andrea, Derrick and Emma, and Wendy.  Even Matt was there to give congratulations, having finished around 15 minutes before I did.  I can't imagine that any finisher had a bigger, more supportive group of friends there or wishing they could be there.

They say third time's a charm, but I disagree.  The charm is hard work, and favorable weather, and meeting the exact right person when you run out of water. It's good luck and no flats. It's the best group of friends a girl could ask for and goals that are finally -- finally! -- achieved.

31 comments:

  1. Great Job Kate! I got some pictures of you this year too!

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    1. Thanks, Eric! And awesome! The only thing better than looking at your DK photos is having some of myself! :-)

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  2. This is so much awesome. Very happy for you!
    I have some black swim bottoms that are wearing thin. Time to retire them after seeing that pic.

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  3. I've been waiting for this report :) So excited for you - an awesome accomplishment!

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  4. You are a champ! Great job meeting your goal and persevering. Such a wonderful story, too. Thank you for sharing.

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  5. Great story, great accomplishment. Be proud, you earned it. Glory - achieved!

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  6. So freaking awesome! Hearing that you finished added a high point to the weekend that I sorely needed. Well done, Kate!

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  7. Way to go, and good read!

    By the way, this Matt wasn't on a Salsa was he?

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    1. This is embarrassing, but I couldn't even tell you what *color* his bike is. Lol. I could, however, describe his jersey, tell you how many kids he has, and tell you his job or how long he's been married. :)

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    2. Yup, brown Fargo. Fantastic bike.
      Matt

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  8. Congrats Kate! What a great journey and a super supportive group of friends you have.

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  9. ok, YOU might have shed no tears, but here I am, crying them for you :)

    SO PROUD of you and SO HAPPY for you!! you freaking OWNED that.

    OUTSTANDING!

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  10. Awesome, awesome, awesome! I'm so happy for you! Well done Kate! You really deserve this.

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  11. Woo hoo! I'm so happy for you! Hard work paying off :)

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  12. Great job Kate, and great report - I have no idea what half of the bike stuff meant, but I know without a doubt you worked your tail off. Great job!

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  13. Took me all day to read the whole post, because it's quite the epic tale! Congratulations on your finish. You deserve it, after all your training and hard work. I'm really happy for you!

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    1. I just can't seem to write a concise race report!

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  14. Leg 1 sounds great. You are so enthusiastic and doing so well. i Love the family who was so excited to see you! It's great reading how much everyone was helping you out! Losing you water was awful but got solved so easily. When Emily did Lake Placid Ironman she lost water bottles and picked them up at the side of the road - other peoples. It sounds gross but better than being dehydrated. Okay I just finished this and I am choking up even though I knew what was coming. What a wonderful story. What a wonderful post! What a wonderful you! Loved hearing about all the families in the yards too.

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    1. The support was really awesome! Obviously, I've never gotten that far before, so while the crowds at the beginning and the little girls I didn't mention this time at the top of the hill after cp1 weren't a surprise, the people in their yards were a wonderful surprise. And even around midnight when I was coming through a small town, a woman out walking encouraged me, "Not much further now!"

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  15. All your smiles say how beautiful was this adventure. Congrats on your finish. Great job.

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  16. Congratulations again, Kate! I loved the image of you talking to cows (and getting caught), and totally agree with you that hard work, good weather, supportive friends and just a little bit of luck help these things happen.

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  17. Good for you! Wow! My husband did a 200 mile ride this past Saturday. He made the whole 200 last year but this year only made 150 due to being light headed and also he had *hot feet*..... I want to read more about the ride you did....the gravel/water crossing etc sounds way challenging!!!!

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  18. Great read Kate! Thanks for sharing.
    db

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  19. Awesome, Kate! Freakin' Awesome! And you looked so good the entire time!

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  20. Congratulations on your ride! Just found your blog via a comment you left somewhere else and very much enjoyed your ride report. A couple of cycling friends have ridden DK and it looks like an exciting event. Also, so glad you were able to have the chamois situation resolved. Eep!

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  21. You KNOW how stinking happy I am for you, SK! Your tenacity to get this done was truly remarkable. You learned what needed to be done and you did it, despite how hard the work was. I will remember this day until I'm old (er) and in a nursing home and says, "Remember SK? She was one tough cookie!!" I love you, my dear, and couldn't be happier for you!! Congratulations!

    (btw, I read this report eons ago but again from my phone and no way to comment. Of course, I mean to email you and, eh, life!!!) xo

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    1. So glad you completed the DK200. After riding parts of the Cedar Cross with you and the Hairy 100 I was sure you could do it if you rode you own ride. Good job. Dan

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    2. Thanks, Dan! It was nice running into you before the race started!

      Those two races were a great gauge for me of how ready I was and did a good job of showing me I'd do best if I did my own thing. And despite the fact that I rode more than 195 miles of the race without friends I knew prior to the race start, I was never lonely. I either had good company around me or was just content with my own thoughts. I never even turned on my iPod.

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  22. Well done! Congratulations on persevering and reaching your goal. I'm glad I wasn't the only one who talked to the cows; I think they appreciated my telling them they looked lovely.

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  23. Holy HUGENESS. What an amazing race. You blow me away with all your accomplishments. Makes me think my head is totally holding me back.
    I have a pair of shorts like that. My son pointed out to me that he could see my crack. Throwing them away now... thanks for the reminder!

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