“You’re going to Emporia!”
I was equally excited and terrified when I received a confirmation email accepting my lottery entry into Dirty Kanza’s 200-mile bike ride in and around Emporia, KS.
Excited because I have so many friends also taking on the 200-mile and even the 350-mile XL race, and I cannot wait to do it with them.
Terrified because the hard work hasn’t even begun yet. I am still feeling quite unfit on the bike. I’m feeling anxious because May 30th will be here before we know it. And I’m feeling nervous about letting myself down.
I’ve never taken on a challenge like this, and it reminded me of the day I signed up for the Walt Disney World Marathon back in 2015. At the time, I’d never taken on a challenge like that. Every so often, during a long run or a slow day at work, I would have visions of myself crossing that marathon finish line, and I’d get emotional about it. And when I finally, actually crossed the marathon finish line in January 2016, I hobbled over to my mom and hugged her with tears streaming down my face. I remembered and reflected on all of that when I read through my acceptance email. I can’t wait to cross the line in Kansas, and I just hope nothing gets in the way of that.
Ok, so, we’re doing this thing.
But how are we doing this thing? Last weekend, after a late morning hike with a friend, she asked me if I had a training plan and what it looked like. I took a sip of coffee. I don’t have one, and right now I guess my plan is to not have a plan. I want to fit in early morning and evening rides during the week, and I want to ride until my legs fall off every weekend, and I want to have a hell of a time doing it with friends. Honestly, it’s probably a great race-day simulation.
For my marathon, I downloaded a loose plan off Pinterest with shorter weekday runs and progressively longer weekend miles, and I’m thinking I will take the same approach to this 200-miler – minus Pinterest – with my longest ride hopefully around 150-175 miles. After that, I’m counting on adrenaline, fading daylight, and all the snacks to carry me to the finish line.
Let’s get going then.
Thanks to my relationship and recent freelance work with and for the team at Wahoo, I was sent some awesome gear that will be a huge asset to my non-plan training plan like a KICKR smart trainer, KICKR CLIMB grade simulator, ROAM bike computer, and TICKR heart rate monitor. I am so pumped and extremely grateful for their generosity.
I wouldn’t have been able to purchase all of that on my own. And while none of these tools are necessary, being able to do things like log my miles indoors is a huge motivator. I am very data-driven and when I can see the numbers, I feel like I’m making progress.
All biking all the time?
My initial instinct is to go full-force into cycling, but there does need to be a balance here. I’ve been doing a lot more running lately since cyclocross season ended and winter blanketed Colorado, and I don’t plan to drop running completely while training for DK. I feel best physically and mentally with variety, and I took the same approach during marathon training. I biked a couple times per week to give my joints and brain a break; I was still running about 4-5 days per week on average, but I always looked forward to the days I could ride.
Same deal with Dirty Kanza. I love love love riding, but when I’ve ridden all week, getting on the bike one more time starts to feel like a chore, not a treat.
Even though real training hasn’t quite kicked in yet, it’s time to start assembling my team…
One funny stipulation of riding DK is that you MUST have a crew to support you at aid stations. No questions. You must have a team ready to wrap a cold towel around your neck or load your bags back up with snacks and fluids. You must have people to give you hugs in case you crack with 20 miles to go. I was part of my uncle’s crew (kinda – he hired other people since we surprised him on the day of the race) when he rode DK in 2018 and it was such a blast welcoming him into the aid stations, then sending him back out onto the hot and dusty course.
My mom has volunteered to be part of my crew (of course she did) even though she doesn’t know anything about bike maintenance or endurance racing. She’s great at hugs, though, and I feel like those might be essential when I’m on the verge of a mental breakdown deep into the day.
I’m planning on kicking off some big miles this weekend, and I’m so excited to get this thing going and track my progress.
Do you have any big goals? Hope you’re having a great week!