I started at 6:46am with the whole women’s race category field just as the sun was coming up. I fell off the group at mile 6 when there was a surge I didn’t follow. I was afraid to start burning matches so early in the day on my first LOTOJA. It started to sprinkle then full on rain for about 40miles. My shoes were sloshing with water and my braids were soaked like I just went swimming, it would be hours before I didn’t feel soaked through and I never felt warm.
I enjoyed the rolling countryside before heading into the Strawberry Climb. I took the Strawberry climb at a sustainable pace but my legs started cramping at mile 52 and would continue cramping on and off the rest of the ride. I stopped to refill bottles at the Strawberry feed zone. I ran on Perpetuum, SIS Beta Fuel, SIS gels and boiled potatoes all day and had no energy problems.
I enjoyed a fast descent and a good pace heading to Montpelier. I had to take the next two climbs at a pace that I hoped wouldn’t cause my legs to start cramping again. I still had some cramping, my quads felt cold and my knees were locking up but I was able to work through the climbs and make it to the top of the KOM. Making it the first 100 miles was a big mental milestone for me. I had been looking forward to finishing the first century of the ride and the bulk of the climbing.
Working through the country roads alone from Afton to Alpine was hard. I kept focusing on making it to Alpine where I would be able to check in with my husband and let him know I was less than 50miles from the finish. I started cramping so badly that I had to stop at the relay stop in Etna just to stand up straight, put pressure through my legs and eat a potato.
When I made it to Alpine I mixed up the stops and missed the neutral feed zone. I knew this would be a problem because my bottles were already low but I just had to keep going. The stretch from Alpine to Jackson was the most mentally challenging. My legs were toast from the climbs and I had nothing to push through the little uphill sections along the snake river. I kept praying to pick up some speed and make it to the finish line. I also ran out of water and really started to struggle.
I had a mental breakdown when I realised at my current pace I wouldn’t make the 8:30pm cut off time. But after letting myself be upset for a short time I decided that I had an hour and a half left of ride time and would get as far as I could. When I made it to the Game Creek Feed zone by sunset and was able to not only get water but heard that anyone who made it there by sunset would be allowed to finish I was so relieved and had a second wind.
By the time I made it on the bike trail heading to the finish line it was getting so dark it was hard to see and I didn’t have lights so I had to slow down and carefully navigate the trail until a group with lights caught me. I rode in the final miles on the wheel of someone with lights and was so grateful to have been picked up by a group with lights as it was by that point pitch black. When I reached the finish line I saw Hoz waiting for me. I sat up and waved. Hearing him yell “hell ya!” brought a huge smile to my face as I crossed the finish line. I was so overwhelmed and happy to have finished. I could have cried if I hadn’t been so exhausted and dehydrated. I thanked the group that picked me up and couldn’t have been more proud to have made it to the finish.
If you had asked me during that stretch from Alpine to Jackson if I would ever do LOTOJA again I would have told you “hell no!” but by the next day I already found myself making plans for LOTOJA 2022. Can someone explain to me why we do this to ourselves?