With Nationals officially a week away, it’s time for me and Brent to get our butts in gear with race prep and packing!
First, there was the little matter of bikes. It’s been three months since Costa Rica and three months since my beloved Bruce-mobile has seen the light of day.
This isn’t the first time I’ve been so neglectful. After IM Wisconsin 2008, my road bike sat boxed up in the basement until this past summer, when Natalie borrowed it for her first tri. It’s not that I wasn’t riding – I was just in the midst of a longstanding love affair with my mountain bike and had no use for an ill-fitting frame on skinny tires. (Using that as my measuring stick, three months really isn’t that bad!),
Finally, last weekend, Brent and I decided it was time to put away the commuter bikes we’ve been relying on and open up those dreaded Thule boxes.
We dragged them out of storage, opened them up (no Costa Rican pit vipers waiting to pounce!), and got our first look at two very muddy frames with grit-filled gears and near-rusty chains.
This is actually a pre-Costa Rica picture. Imagine just as many pieces, with a lot more mud and muck.
Brent got to his right away but I was headed out for a long run. We ended up being out that night later than anticipated so I pushed my bike prep back to Sunday morning. Then, of course, there were errands to deal with and papers to grade, and when I finally made my way to the basement that afternoon, I discovered Brent, hunched over my drivetrain with a bottle of degreaser in one hand and an old rag in the other.
Seriously, best husband ever.
A few hours later, my bike was back in one piece, clean and shiny and ready to race.
With that taken care of, it was time to check the next thing off my list: shoes.
For the past several seasons I’ve sworn by the Montrail Streaks, and since they discontinued them last year, I’ve found myself in trail shoe limbo.
Over the past couple months, I’ve been heading out in a pair of Peregrines, Saucony’s latest trail shoe, described by one reviewer as “an option for trail runners who want a lighter shoe, but don’t necessarily drink the ultra-minimalist Kool-Aid.”
The problem for me is that these shoes seem to have compromised their stability in favor of less weight, and even though I usually run comfortably in a neutral shoe, the Peregrines have done a number on my feet. With each step, whether I’m on roads or trails or gravel paths, I get a sharp pain in the spot where my ankle meets the top of my foot.
I’ve tried to deny it, blaming the pain on a rolled ankle or a tight tendon, but the reality is, I don’t think I could make it through a 30-hour race in them without injury.
Which means, of course, that I have exactly one week to find a new trail shoe and break it in.
In desperation, I headed to EMS today, ready to try on every shoe they had in stock – which, when you take away the Peregrines, was exactly three. They had two models of Salomon’s, with which I’ve had mixed results, and the new Brooks Trailblade.
The Brooks Cascadia’s, their premiere trail shoe, are too narrow for me, so I didn’t have high hopes for the trailblades, but when I tried them on, my feet squealed in cautious delight. They were roomy and cushioned, with far less give than the Peregrine and enough tread to make me think that the requisite AR transition from road to trail would be smooth and seamless.
Under the gun for time and with no other in-store options, I took a chance and went with the Trailblades (only $53, with the help of a Club discount and $15 in EMS gear bucks!). I wore them around for the rest of the day and my ankles felt good. Here’s hoping they do the job next weekend!
Finally, it was time for food.
We still have a ton of stuff left over from our abbreviated outing in Costa Rica – bars and fruit snacks and trailmix up the wazoo – but when it comes to salty snacks and denser stuff, our supply is dwindling.
After struggling all season with being able to choke down enough fuel, I opted for less “race” food and more “real” food.
Into my Target basket went Elio’s pizza and pre-cooked (sauce-less) ravioli, canned chicken soup and frozen pretzel bites, sandwich thins and cheese slices, tastykake cupcakes (one of the few things that were remotely appetizing in CR ) and chocolate-covered espresso beans (c/o Dean Karnazes).
Sure, I’ll pack plenty of the requisite cliff bars and peanut butter crackers and shotblocks and goldfish, but I’m hoping that with all this variety, I’ll be able to find something edible at 4:00 in the morning in the middle of Kentucky’s Cumberland State Forest.
Our dining room table is starting to look like this again...
Next up, one final long ride, a couple frenzied trips to REI, and a few nights of tracking down gear and organizing bins and bags.
Come Wednesday afternoon, we’ll load up my new little hatchback, strap on the bikes, and hit the road for southeastern Kentucky.
USARA Nationals or Bust.