12 HOURS BOILS DOWN TO 1, 2, 3

submitted by : Kimmi Runner

In the car ride down to any given endurance race, my Paleo-friendly breakfast (usually ingested at some ungodly wee hour of the morning) threatens to make an unwanted reappearance as my pre-race nerves attempt to get the best of me. This past Saturday's drive down to SoCal Endurance's 12 Hours of Temecula was no exception. Years ago, however, a wise friend gave me a simple, yet effective tool to combat them.

The year was 2009, and I was one day away from providing myself with an affirmative answer to the question: "Can an asthmatic, uncoordinated, non-Lycra-wearing, untrained, partied-way-to-hard-in-her-early-20s, out-of-shape, 27 year old hair stylist complete an endurance mountain bike event on a single speed?" 

I was a nervous wreck that night, and a wise friend told me a simple phrase that has stuck with me since that evening. “Save it for the starting line.

Fast forward to this past Saturday, and my brain calmed down my nerves once again using that mantra. As I watched the sun lazily rise over the mountains, I starting reflecting on my goals for the day.

KIMMI HEADS OUT FOR ONE MORE NIGHT LAP.

KIMMI HEADS OUT FOR ONE MORE NIGHT LAP.

Goal #1) Have Fun. Goal #2) Find one beautiful thing to smile at during each lap out on the course. #3) Encourage others, especially the other women out there racing. #4) 10 Laps around the just-under 10 mile course. #5) Sub 30 second pit stops for the first 6 laps. #6) Don't let your brain stop you from pedaling.

Fairly simple goals. But as the race got under way, and as the day wore on, things got even simpler. "When all else fails, if I stick to goals one, two, and three, the rest of my day will fall into place."

The first goal is a no-brainer. If endurance mountain biking isn't fun for me, I would have thrown in the towel long before you could utter the words "threshold intervals."


My second goal for the day proved to come fairly easily for my first six laps around the course. I had one of those days where my brain was abnormally quiet, and the vistas out on the course were too stunning not to notice. Even in the thick of the pain cave towards the end of the day, I found myself taking in the reflection of the stars peeking through the dark clouds over Vail Lake as I pedaled around it. There has always been something blissfully comfortable about feeling like I am one of the blessed few who gets to take in the sights of the mountains we ride on, and enjoy them in a way that most don't.

And the third goal of encouraging others out on the course always seems to be the highlight of my day. And Saturday was no exception. I feel like there has been an explosion in women's racing the last couple of years. More and more women's teams are sprouting up. My bike shop, G2 Bike, showed up with our GirlsRide2 team, where most of these women had never tried racing before, and they crushed it out on a challenging, technical mountain bike race course. I was truly humbled by the power and strength I saw out there, and the love and support I saw in the pits. I was fortunate to have a few women who reached out to me when I was first starting out, unable to get up the courage to ride my bike up a curb. It truly warms my heart to see women pushing themselves, getting out of their comfort zones, and killing it out at these races. I have an immense amount of respect for each one, whether they're attempting their very first ride, or lapping me numerous times out on the course. And saying so throughout Saturday's race, even during my excruciating night laps, helped brighten me up considerably.

When my 12 hours were up, and it was all said and done, the rest of my goals for the day fell into place without my having to really focus on them. Was there pain? Yes. Were there some tears? Yes. But did I smile enough accomplishing goals one, two, and three to get dirt in my teeth? Yes. And for that, it's a perfect day on two wheels.