Loose gravel: Dirty Kanza bits and pieces

Welcome to my repository of all the Dirty Kanza-related tidbits that didn't fit into my race report(s). Most of it may be of no interest to anyone but me, but I don't want to forget.

Bike setup:

Isn't she pretty? She went to DK200 with much smaller tires.
I rode a custom Monster Bicycle Co titanium mountain bike. Continental Travel Contact tires (26 x 1.75"). The bike was fantastic, and the tires were great. Good handling and NO flats. In fact, at least 3 more of my friends were using the same tires, and NONE of us had a single flat.  Thanks to Robby for the suggestion.

Also, despite the fact that only an idiot would ride a 200 mile (or, in my case, 160 mile) race using a brand new saddle, that's exactly what I did...and it was the best decision I could have made.  Even after 160 miles, I didn't feel as bad as I did 20 miles into the 76-miler I did on Memorial Day.

I carried two water bottles in cages and a 70-oz bladder in my camelback.  On the bike were a frame bag (where I kept my tools, two spare tubes, and a bike pump as well as a little food) and a smaller bag where I carried most of my food, my map, and my phone.  Had the weather been hotter, I could have carried an additional bladder in the frame bag...and if it had been hotter, I definitely would have needed more water.  As it was, the amount of liquids I carried was about perfect.

Encouragement and support, part 1:

I alluded to this in my race report, but it really needs mention of its own. Casey trained all year for Dirty Kanza. He drove all the way from New York to race with us. He was well prepared to kill it. And then he was hit by muscle pain so debilitating that he ended up in the ER the night before the race. Despite his hopes, no way could he ride the next day.

I can only imagine how disappointing this was. My only comparison is the panic I felt when tendinitis threatened to derail my marathon in the month before the race. Factor in the expense and time of the drive AND the fact that this is his main race this year because he and his wife have a baby on the way, and you have a recipe for a world class sulk.

Instead, Casey totally stepped up and kicked ass in the support role, making sure the bikes were taken care of when we hit the checkpoints. Whatever disappointment he was feeling, any time I was around him he was upbeat and encouraging. An ex-MMA fighter, he's a huge guy, but the way he put his team above his own feelings definitely showed that his heart's his biggest muscle. Thanks, Casey!

Casey, on the right, still smiling at 2:30 a.m.  Adam, on the left, slightly comatose.

Encouragement and support, part 2:

I mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. The comments on Facebook made a HUGE difference for me. First reading the comments after I made cp2...

...and then standing there in the dark at 9:30 and then again when I was reduced to walking, it felt so good to know that people were thinking of me. I was really close to quitting, but after reading all that I couldn't let my friends down.  Thank you so much. Truly.

Encouragement and support, part 3:

I got home at about 9 p.m. Sunday evening to see this on the door.

Notice the bike made out of the _oo_ in good? :)

Since my family's support basically consists of allowing me to participate, the sign was a very touching sight.

Out of the mouths of babes:

Ever since the guys bought me the Go Girl on the way to LBL, I can't stop to pee without hearing the now familiar phrase "You go, girl!" J was asking me some questions about going to the bathroom during the race. I explained that, while I was able to wait until I got to the bathrooms at the first two stops, I peed on the side of the road (actually, in the middle of the road, just because it was pitch black, I was all alone, and I could) during the last leg.

His response? "Did you use your go girl?"

You are what you eat:

Just because you buy it and pack it in an organized manner doesn't mean you'll actually eat it.

I knew I didn't do as well with my nutrition as I should have, but I was shocked this weekend when I finished unpacking and realized that I'd eaten maybe 1/4 of the on-bike food I'd taken. Even when you consider that I didn't ride the last leg, that still put me at a serious deficit.

Here's my best guess of what I ate:

Breakfast: bagel and cream cheese, Special K meal replacement shake

At checkpoints: Jimmy John's BLT, strawberries, watermelon, 1.5 hard lemonades

On bike:
Pk chomps (2?) 180/360 cal
Pk shot bloks 200 cal
Gu 100 cal
1.5 pk sport beans 150 cal
1 clif bar (2?) 250/500
2 sm potatoes (200 cal?)
1.5 trail mix cookies 200 cal
A few grapes
2? Honey stinger waffles 320 cal
2 special k protein shake drinks (360 cal)

The on-bike stuff works out to a total of around 2,400 calories, which sounds like a lot until you realize I burned around 4,646 in the first 85 miles. There's no way I ate even close to enough.  I guess it's not so surprising that I struggled.

The Princess and the Pea (gravel)

The Princess and the Pea story (for those of you who've never heard it and are wondering WTH I'm talking about).

I've gone back and forth about including this part because I hate to dispel the idea that I have this great, positive attitude, but I strive to be real here and this is how I really feel. I want to have this next year to look back on and remember.

Despite the facts that I know 160 miles is nothing to sneeze at and that I barely trained and that I had no expectation of being able to finish Dirty Kanza, my DNF wields a surprising sting. I mean, I'm not staying up nights crying or anything, but it bothers me.

I wonder, what if I hadn't been so sure I couldn't ride that third leg, hadn't stalled at CP2, and hadn't spent so much time taking it easy after finally leaving? Other than my knee, which is still sore, the rest of my body felt fine by Tuesday, which makes me think I didn't push hard enough.

I tend to have pretty low expectations for myself ("participate" and "attempt" rather than "finish", for example), and maybe I'm too accepting of mediocrity in myself. What if I held myself to a higher standard? And, now that I realize how badly I ate during the race, I can add...what if I'd handled my nutrition better?

I mentioned during the race that I felt like the favorable -- almost miraculous -- circumstances (awesome bike, perfect weather, fantastic team and support, NO FLATS) were God's way of challenging me: "You think you're tough? Well here you go...I took care of everything but the pedaling. Either you have it or you don't, but you aren't going to have any excuses."

The fact that I didn't have it is going to be the pebble in my shoe for the next year, but it should make for good training inspiration.

And don't think it's going to make me stop attempting things that are ridiculously out of my reach. In fact, I'm pretty sure I know what my next big thing will be; I can tell it's the right decision because it makes me sick to my stomach to think about it.  Game on.


  1. Sometimes I think it takes a race (or in your case, an event) that we yearn for but are ill-trained for, to slap some training sense into us. Life gets in the way sometimes and we don't get to train like we hoped but still hold onto that glimmer of hope we can do it and give it a try. That takes a lot of guts...most would walk away and not even attempt it. But you didn't, you knew the chances were high that a fairy tale ending wasn't going to happen and that's what I love about you the most. You're going to give that race or event whatever you have. You learned so much from it, and you will carry those lessons into your next adventure and be even more super. I always say you learn something more about yourself with every race and the day we can learn more about ourselves is a successful day in my book. I am still, and forever, very proud of you!! Now take all those things you learned and kick some serious DK butt next year. I know you will!!

    So....what's on the plate next...that illustrious Ironman!?!? :)

  2. I have said it before, reading this makes me want to do it so badly. I start planning my next ride every time I read a little more about your Kanza experience. I would have never even considered trying a 200 mile ride, but you make it look like such an accomplishment and like such a fun thing regardless of the pain. I feel like I missed something meaningful. I am very proud of you. On another note, this was the first time I have been worried about you going into an event. What an awesome crew of friends and team members you have looking out for you.

  3. I don't think you would be a normal athlete if that DNF didn't sting you a little bit, regardless of your training. There's always the question, "Did I give enough?" And even if the answer is clear, it's not so clear - we question it. Hindsight, and all that.

    I'll say it again - you are awesome and inspiring. I CAN'T WAIT to see what adventure is on your horizon...

  4. Something BIGGER than DK on the horizon? Holy cow.

  5. Oh, gosh, not bigger than DK. Just well above my pay grade.

  6. I love the way you think and how you get so many positives out of this. I believe that is the only way forward. I've been there myself and experiences like this makes us very strong. Can't wait to hear about that big adventure.

  7. I know what you mean about the sting. I felt the same way about my last place finish at the Show Me Games last year. It wasn't that I wasn't pleased with having finished my 2nd sprint tri ever - just was a bit demoralizing.

    We are all crazy proud of you and anxious to hear what the next great adventure is. You know I'm all about the stuff that scares us a bit.

  8. Your feelings on the DNF really resonate with me. My DNF for the Frozen Otter stung like that feeling you get when you pinch your finger in a door.

    I'm definitely going to be a Kanza newbie trying to figure out a way to draft behind you next year.

    Keep battling, and maybe someday you'll fine a way to beat us at something. :)

  9. A life spent jumping from one crazy adventure to another sounds pretty awesome to me.

  10. One of the most inspirational post race reflections I have ever read. You have such a gift for putting the intrinsic into words.

  11. I still think you are selling yourself short here, love. You did give it all you had on that given day. Go back and read the things you wrote when it happened. Those tears were proof of how little you had left. On another given day, yes, you might have 40 miles more. But those 40 additional miles won't mean you did less than you could this time. They will just mean that you managed to grow some more Super in Kate.

    That's the beauty in trying to do things that you simply cannot do. Seeing how much muchness you already have, and how much more you can build given the opportunity.

  12. Oh man. poor Casey! Love the note from your son. Did I miss it///////what is your next thing?

  13. Absolutely love the note from your son! You are a positive role model for sure. You did awesome at DK! I think I would have been too scared to bike alone in the middle of no where, but not SuperKate. Keep up the great work! You are a positive role model and inspiration for us adults too.

  14. A few things:

    1. You kicked ass, and you did our team proud. Seriously.

    2. The note from your son is fantastic. I didn't notice the bike until you pointed it out. Even better.

    3. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it), DNF's don't ever get easier to take. Trust me, I've had more than my share.

    4. I think one of you sell yourself short. I, too, am way too accepting of mediocrity. Let's do something about that, okay?

    5. Great write-up on your thoughts about the race. You'll look back at this when we start training next year, and it will serve as serious motivation.

    Again, great job out there! You rock!

  15. what a recap
    you should be so proud of yourself Kate. I believe you gave ALL that you had to give.

    that note from you son is wonderful and you need to frame it

  16. Beautiful bike, a real jewel.
    Glad you receive all that support from your family, the your son's note is something of special. He is proud of you and I am sure you are proud of him.
    Waiting for your next big adventure.


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