2018 Year in review

I had actually declared 2017 to be a cutback year of sorts, one where I scaled back on racing so I could have more family time and leave room in my schedule for adventure. Despite my good intentions, I think I raced as much as ever that year. 2018, however, was a different story. Little surprise to anyone who's ever waited on my late arrival to a group ride, I was just running a year behind schedule.

January:

Bike miles:  326.1
Foot miles:  48.6
Training/racing hours: ~43

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Just three girls, wondering why the hell they got out of bed early for this.
January started off strong, a combination of two trail races and the gift of a smart trainer (thanks, Christine!) that actually got me excited about riding my bike inside.

Once again my year began with a foot race, where I logged a decidedly non-ultra 12 miles at the Little Woods Progressive Ultra. This was a particularly fun year because my sister-in-law and friend joined me. It was also remarkable for the weather; a start temp of 0 degrees gave me a new cold weather PR.

That 12 miles at Little Woods was the majority of my training for the Frozen Feet Half Marathon a couple weeks later, remarkable for being my slowest half ever and the first time I've missed every single starting wave. Thank goodness for chip timing.

Those January events were my last foot races until December, continuing my tradition of book-ending the year with trail runs.

February:

Bike miles:  260.9
Foot miles:  21.2
Training/racing hours: ~37

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I returned to the Rocheport Roubaix, tackling the long route for the first time and taking first in my age group, which is impressive only if you don't know I was the only person in my age group. Still, I had a good race, logging new PRs on many of the segments I'd ridden before. It was a good objective look at my early-season fitness, which had been helped along by lots of trainer rides (thanks, Christine!). It was probably also my peak bike fitness, because I pretty much abandoned the trainer once it got nice enough to ride outside.

March:

Bike miles:  272.3
Foot miles:  32.8
Training/racing hours: ~44

Oh, March. What a good month. First off was my first adventure race of the year. Chuck was busy with a family thing, so Mickey and I teamed up for the LBL Challenge 24 hour., basically my dream race this year since the paddle was cancelled due to flooding. We had a strong race and it was a lot of fun.

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Starting our trip on a gorgeous March day.
Next up, Chuck and I did a weekend bikepacking trip in the Shawnee National Forest. I'd become enamored with the idea of bikepacking the River to River Trail in Southern Illinois. This was the first such trip I'd planned, so I had no one to blame but myself when we found ourselves pushing our bikes for long sections of singletrack. Hike-a-bike notwithstanding, it was a fantastic weekend and only whetted my appetite for more such trips.

Also in March, I bought a new (to me) mountain bike. With gears and full suspension, it was basically the opposite of my beloved singlespeed, but it sure is fun to ride.

April:

Bike miles:  346.3
Foot miles:  
Training/racing hours: ~39

(crickets)

While I should have been logging serious bike miles in preparation for May's 200-mile gravel race, instead I logged one (paved) 100-mile day, a 75-mile night ride, and a few mountain bike rides. All told, it added up to nearly 350 bike miles, or less than twice what I hoped to ride in one day the next month. I also had a pretty fun orienteering meet at Greensfelder park, followed by a very short mtb ride that left me in tears.

May:

Bike miles:  300.4
Foot miles:  27.1
Training/racing hours: ~40

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My new Michigan friends


Mickey, Eric, and I tackled the inaugural Coast to Coast Gravel Race in Michigan with my son Daniel as our support crew. Though he was a first-timer, he did a great job running support for the three of us despite our vastly different paces (and by that I mean I was a lot slower than the guys). I spent a lot of time riding alone and a bunch of time riding with some really cool people from Michigan.  The course was beautiful and challenging, particularly since I didn't really put in the kind of training you need to have a good long race, but I gutted out the 213 miles and came home with a finisher's cup.

June:

Bike miles:  109.7
Foot miles:  50.4
Training hours: ~39
Hours in the car: infinite over a 5,000 mile trip out west.

Hiking up the Bright Angel trail on day 2

We left at the beginning of the month for our family vacation and spent the next two weeks exploring Mesa Verde, the Grand Canyon, Arches, and Canyonlands National Parks. Of course, as with any family vacation, there was the continuing tension between how I'd like to see the parks (hike all the trails!!) and how my husband prefers to (take pictures at all the scenic overlooks!). That said, it was Jeff who pushed for us to hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and camp overnight before hiking back up, and that was the peak experience of my trip.

Shawnee  bikepack v2

Later in June, Jacob went out of town for a couple days, leaving me with a guilt-free opportunity to go bikepacking. I threw it out there to some friends, and when no one bit on a mid-week adventure (my free summer would be exponentially better if my bike friends were teachers too), I decided to go on my own. Jeff wasn't particularly thrilled about this plan, but despite heat, storms, and a slightly nervous overnight (I'm sure with time solo travel will seem natural, but it's still new to me), I had a good trip and made it back safely and feeling a little empowered.

July:

Bike miles:  199.7
Foot miles:  18.7
Training/racing hours: ~38

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Post-race legs. 
My only race in July was a return to the Leadbelt MTB race, where a combination of course conditions (torrential rain on race eve) and poor training (you mean if I barely ride my bike all summer I won't be in good bike shape?) led to a pretty ugly effort on my part. It certainly didn't help that I took my singlespeed after barely riding it since falling back in love with gears and suspension in March.

August:

Bike miles:  395.3
Foot miles:  15.4
Training/racing hours: ~38

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How could I leave this beauty at home?
Speaking of making questionable decisions when choosing from my bike stable, in August I took my brand new Salsa Fargo to 24 Hours of Cumming for its maiden voyage. Well, not quite maiden voyage. I mean, I picked it up from the bike shop the day we left town and rode it around the block to make sure it fit ok. I'm not completely crazy. The unfamiliar bike didn't seem to be a liability, and the race went as well as can be expected considering my summer of sloth, by which I mean Mickey's strong performance carried our team to a second place finish.

Once 24HOC was over, I actually spent a decent amount of time on my beloved new bike. Someday maybe I'll do my training in advance of a race instead of the aftermath.

September:

Bike miles:  350
Foot miles:  27.2
Training/racing hours: ~50



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Wolf Creek podium
Team Noah Foundation hosted the second annual Wolf Creek mountain bike race, and for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to sign up for the 12-hour solo division. Mostly, I guess, because my training still pretty much sucked and I needed a long ride before October's Spotted Horse 200 and BT Epic. It was a long, hot day, and I regretted my 12-hour hubris for about 6 of those hours, but I did come away with a first place finish, which is a rare thing for me when anyone else is in my division.
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The bikes posing at Giant City State Park
A week later, Chuck and I set off for our final bikepack of the year, covering yet more of the River to River trail in spite of learning what a dumb idea that is during our first such trip. The adventure quotient was increased by things like last minute plan changes, me accidentally leaving half my gear at home, a day's worth of rain, seemingly endless hike-a-bike, and unfriendly people, but it was redeemed by other really lovely people and a beautiful ride home.


October:

Bike miles:  271.7
Foot miles:  25.5
Training/racing hours: ~39

The month kicked off with a solo trip back to Iowa for the Spotted Horse 200 150. Crap conditions made the easiest (a very relative term) of my three Spotted Horse courses seem nearly impossible. In fact, at mile 84 miles I was about a hair from quitting before rallying and eventually (18 hours after the start) crossing the finish line. I'm pretty sure I'm the only girl who's finished every year at Spotted Horse, but I'm equally sure I hold the record for the most time spent on the course.

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"WTF, Iowa??"


Confidence well-crushed by by Spotted Horse performance, I seriously considered skipping BT Epic two weeks later. Instead I set all expectations aside and just went for a fun day on the trails. I got exactly that. Not a fast time, but a fun day.

2018 BT epic
Not quite halfway through BT Epic.
Photo credit: Brandi Keltner
September had one more notable event. Early in the month I finally stepped on the scale after a spring of medicating stress with margaritas and a summer of hiding from the heat inside. The number I saw was pretty terrible, and it gave me the impetus to start getting more serious about watching what I ate (and drank) and being more active.

November:

Bike miles:  116.7
Foot miles:  40.2
Training/racing hours: ~30

Chuck and I returned to 361 Adventures' fall AR, The Fig. The amazing Red River Gorge location and awesome race organization make it a perennial favorite of ours, and this year was no exception. We both brought our drop-bar mountain bikes for the race and never once regretted the decision.

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Doesn't this look like fun?

December:
Bike miles: 203.6 
Foot miles: 62.4 
Training/racing hours: ~35

I finished up the year the way I started it, with a trail race, the once since January. I'd planned to skip Pere Marquette this year but just couldn't break the 8-year tradition. It's a good thing I went! Maybe it was the limited but regular running I'd been doing for the past month or so, maybe it was the 15ish pounds I'd lost since September, but whatever the reason I came home with a shiny new PR. Pretty nice way to wrap up a year of racing.

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Photo credit: Robin Misukonis
Overall, it was a good year. I had a lot of fun, had no major injuries, and got in three bikepacking trips. Once spring hit and I ignored my trainer in favor of riding outside, I never really put in enough training to support the races I did. Even so, I got to do a lot of really cool stuff and, if I maybe suffered more than necessary, at least I had no one to blame but myself.

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