Monday, September 30, 2013

On Land! I am Working in French land in the middle of Baltimore that is!

A good friend once told me, There’s no reason you shouldn't be first’.

And I think of that every time I am faced with a challenge.   Looking for a job? I should be the one they pick.  Racing through the woods, I should be the one on the tallest podium (besides, I am in most cases the most vertically challenged).  You can make an excuse for anything, or you can make anything happen. 
I don’t always come in first, but I always do much better, work much harder and have a much better result when I have that mentality.  I recently spent 4 months traveling around the American continent on a Disney Cruise ship.  The stories I have are endless and will come out with time, don’t worry!   As of today, I am a waitress at a little French bistro in Baltimore city! So many reasons why I love and hate it.  And why I need the ‘There is no reason I shouldn't be in first’ mentality.  These are a couple reason why I love it and hate it:
It is now my job to make people feel like they are in a Parisian bistro! What?! Love it! That’s what I usually do when I’m out.  Now I am getting paid for it!  It is looked down upon to present the menu with a French accent at work though.  Hate it!

Rules: Hate it! I should have known what I was getting into when I took the job.  I struggled to learn French for 8 years because of the rules.  They are based on something somewhere that no longer applies and then spun off and intensified.  Every rule has 30 exceptions.  I didn’t have a patience or self control for that growing up, but I am living by it now! Not only am I serving French cuisine, the ambiance is Parisian, and my managers are French.  Of course there’s going to be more exceptions to the thousands of rules than the thousands of ridiculous rules.  And my earning a living depends on it!

 Everything movement we (the French servers) (I am French ;) ) make has a purpose.  The purpose is usually to abide by some sort of French rule or regulation.  Whether said rule or regulation makes logical sense is up for debate.  So I join the team, I learn a whole new way of serving, working, socializing and eating, governed by social standards and regulations.  Then,  I learn the rules doesn't actually ever apply because there are 20 exceptions in varying conditions.  After all, and I repeat, the rules have no logical base, so they will probably need to change to accommodate real life situations!


I thought living with CF was a challenge. Try living with the French! I am learning more and more every day.   I suppose I can attribute my new love for an old frustration on a more mature me, more focused me, more interested and  semi immersed  me (not to mention it has now become a necessity). It also could be that I’m scared shitless to do something wrong. And I love it!  The stress never goes away, the learning is endless and the rewards come frequently in small packages.  That is exactly how I love to live life.   Small moments, big rewards and lots of work based in love.  

And then, there’s the whine list. I mean wine list…

Shining Star Award: Of course I walked out of my heals in the middle of the dance floor.

I showed up with 14 of my closest relatives to the CYSTIC FIBROSIS FOUNDATIONS' WINTER BALL.  Eileen Miley, the director of the Delaware Valley Chapter of the CFF had informed me that I was being awarded the Shining Star Award…but had no idea EVERYONE was going to be there!
What would you say if you walked into a room and had the eyes and ears of everyone who ever helped you get through your adolescence, pushing through the hard times, and celebrate the good?
I say, let's Dance!  

The entire team of doctors who helped raise me at Dupont were there.  They were the ones who told me time and time again to keep on being me, and send pictures to them along the way.  My current team of doctors were there! My family was there. Team CF members and mechanical support (epic biking dads Matt and Shane) were there!

Once realized that I have 90% of everyone who has ever helped me get to where I currently was, my heart started to pound.

Usually I am most comfortable thinking about what I am going to say, and then finding the words as I start to say them.  But when Dr. Jim Wilson introduced me with an excellent speech about where I was coming from and where I was going and called me up to accept I had no idea where to begin.  I have received awards before, but nothing has ever meant so much.  

The Shining Star Award was for an award that was received by everyone in the room.  And I was to say thank you.

I started off by walking out of my heals on my way to the Podium. (Typical. I figured that I would when I put on the stilettos this afternoon.) In the middle of the dance floor with all eyes on me, I turned around and took a bow while I put my shoe back on.

When I finally got on stage, I looked down at my notes and stepped away.  I was in a elegantly decorated ball room adorned with ribbons, flowers, gowns and smiles. I had the attention of the biggest hearts in Philly.  I wanted to speak from my heart.  I don't know what I actually said, but  I hope it sounded something like this:

I feel like I do not deserve an award like this, but I am certainly not going to turn away the opportunity to be in-front of a large crowd!  What do I want to say to the room filled with everyone who means everything to my health and happiness? I can't say thank you enough.   I am saying thank you because I was nominated to receive this award, and because I was given the opportunity to be nominated to receive this award.  Three cross country mountain bike seasons ago, I was given a bike, and the advice and friendship of some of the most amazing people in the biking community.  Thank you Dr. Wilson, for looking at me straight in the eye and saying, this will not be easy.  I realized at my first race I attended that I was on an elite team. Thank You to Nikki, Selene, Cheryl, Kathleen, Jesse and the rest of the team for taking an individual sport and turning into a team mission, and a team to be reckoned with!  

Kristin Gavin, my trainer, found me when I had no idea what I wanted to be.  She not only taught me how to ride a bike, but showed me the person I want to be.  She showed me how to push through when no one understands why riding a bike is more important than a 'real job'.  Sometimes, you have bigger fish to fry.

Dr. Wilson, the biggest thank you of all goes to you, because when I was in kindergarten, I didn't know I would make it through elementary school.  Because of your work and your innovative ideas and determination to change lives, and make them better, after 5 years of college, all I want to do is ride my bike!

Thank you!

I want to mention three special men in my life:  Shane Watters, Matt Gindlesparger, and Nate Cross.  Because for a week these guys picked me out of the mud, (literally) pushed me up mountain sides (literally) and made me laugh when all I wanted to do was cry (literally). And at the end of every race, they waited for me (sometimes for over an hour) and told me I was last but not least. 

They are Team CF.  They are everyone here.  Everyone is here has someone they want to help pick out of the mud.  Everyone here has a CFer that they are trying to push up a mountain side.  Well, Thank you!!  I don't know if you saw the slide show about the medicines, or if you realize the effect they are having on us CFers, but if you haven't realized yet:  I am here, Craig (an unsung hero of the night!) is here, and everyone else with CF is hanging around a little longer and living life a little fuller because the medicines you helped to fund. 

I think we can all agree that Team CF, even with all the champions, muscles, determination and skill on the team, would have never won a bike race without a bike.  Funding for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and its support of medical research is the bike to Team CF.  We cannot push the life expectancy back without improved treatments and medicines.  Dr. Wilson gave us tools to motivate and inspire ourselves and others, let’s keep the inspiration moving!

I will gladly accept this Shining Star award because everyone in this room has put so much into the hope that is Team CF and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.  Team CF is a meteor shower of shining, flipping, slamming, jumping and mostly winning stars. I am honored to represent the CFers and keep on riding!

I said thank you today at 24, and with your help, I’ll be thanking you at 35, 45 and If I haven't flipped over my bike handle bars one too many times, I will be thanking you at 75!

Now, we are fighting so hard for tomorrows, honoring yesterday’s fight, so let’s dance our pants off tonight!

Day 7: The Last Day!

After day 6, after the disappointment that turned into a greater realization, and after the hope and loss of hope, the support and the exhaustion, I thought day 7 would be a walk in the park! Didn’t I notice NOONE WAS WALKING! This is a bike race! Now Peddle!

The course on the last day was 15 beautiful bouncy mountain miles.  On this day my bike dads/ Team CF support, Matt and Shane, rode with me.  The starting line was the same as it was the first day, but we were miles away from where we began.  I thought this ride was going to be nothing, but It sure was something!

I could hardly move my legs, but we had fun. The last day of rocks, mud and screaming crowds.  The last ride, the last bit of A&D cream, the last push.  And as I turned the last corner and heard the crowd, I thought ‘ This is it!’ Hahaha silly me! I had one final hill. I pushed my way up (and pushed the tears down). I came through the trees to the clearing and saw Dominic at the finish line! It was a movie scene, all of the effort was paying off and there was a handsome man waiting for me in the end. ALRIGHT!!! As I approached the yellow tape and Dom with fortitude, I noticed everyone (including Dom) was pointing to my left. 

NOOO!!!! The course finished with a victory lap around the lake! No movie scene for me! Hahaha I was so close! As I rounded the lake, I never took my eyes off the finish line.  I came through the redbull arc with my hands in the air: I couldn’t believe it! DONE!

I wanted to hug everyone and everything! I threw my bike down and did a little dance! THANK GOD! THANK TEAM CF! THANK MATT AND SHANE AND DOM AND KRISTIN AND NIKKI AND MY DAD AND MY MOM AND THANK GOD IT WAS OVER!!!  Within two minutes I was handed a beer, and there was a cameraman interviewing me.  I was one happy Duck!   

The epic didn’t turn out how I had hoped: The epic, was more epic than I ever imagined!

Let’s do it again next year!

Day 6: The Lost Day...

I tend to live in Land of the Lost.  I get lost driving my car, going out for a run, lost in my thoughts, and quite frankly I was lost trying to make breakfast in the morning.  I don’t know why I didn’t consider getting lost during the longest mount bike race on the east coast a possibility.

Spoiler Alert: I GOT LOST!

I didn’t just miss a turn.  I didn’t just go down a side street, I WENT DOWN THE WRONG SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN!

Oy Vey!

Here I was bee bopping along, last as usual, and we hadn’t even hit the road.  The race had just begun, and we were projected to end back at camp.  It was the ‘QUEEN STAGE’ as they call it. (Though no one really knows what a ‘Queen Stage’ entitles).  Every racer, spectator and support road their bikes 3 miles to the starting line. It was a gravel road, we lined up, and we were off!  As I was settling into my pace, I guess I was too into my own rhythm, because I looked up and everyone was gone.  That’s fine.  It was day 6 and I was used to that. But after a few more miles, I noticed the arrows were not appearing as frequently as usual.  Actually, I figured I hadn’t seen them for a notable amount of distance.  I figured I had just missed the last arrow and that I would see one soon.  Did I mention it was day 6? I was finally going downhill and that was a much appreciated relief.


I was speeding down this mountain,  looking for an arrow, or just a sign of human life. I had left my map at the cabin after the never ending day 4. The mileage and elevation were daunting, so I decided to leave my course map at home today. 

Finally at the bottom of the downhill was an intersection.  I stopped the only truck I had seen in an hour.

“Have you seen any bikers” I asked

“Two guys were going at it, coming up the other side of the mountain.” He told me. He had an accent that was not like mine, and he sped away. 

The leaders were racing up the other side of the mountain.  Huh! I turned around and looked up at the road that was once some much needed relief. Welp, this is nothing new. (referring to the climb) It was time to turn around and find the trail.


At an agonizingly slow pace, I peddled back up the mountain.  Knowing I was only trying to catch up with time, I realized that I was so far behind this might be the end of the day for me.  It was not a good feeling.


I made it to a level road that I remembered, and tried to follow my footsteps back but that didn’t even work.  As time and trees passed, I realized that I was circling around new landmarks.  I was completely off course.  I had no phone to call anyone, no GPS to pull up a map, no map, and (obviously) no sense of direction.  To top it off, I hadn’t seen anyone since the man in the truck. 


I decided to keep peddling along this direction.  More road, more curves and then suddenly when I looked up from a turn, and there it was! A beautiful, wonderful, oasis of a BIG BLACK ARROW! (On a yellow background of course).


My heart jumped!  I MADE IT! I was back on course.  This must be where I made the wrong turn, because it was pointing into the woods! Alright! Now all I have to do is make it to the first check point before they send out a search and rescue crew for me.

I was literally dancing on my peddles as I made my way into the woods.  I was seeing arrows left and right.  Go left! Go Right!


And then I saw a fence. I immediately remembered the description of the finish line that Mike Koon gave to all the racers the night before. “You will pass through two open fences, make a right and the course will continue.  When you see this, you’re almost there!”

My heart dropped.  I only been though one fence so far, but I knew something was wrong.  Low and behold, I approach another fence, follow it through and make a right.  I was not back on course.  I jumped the course.  I didn’t want to let this thought have its way with my hope for the day, so I peddled on.

A quarter mile past the second fence when my doubts were confirmed.  There was Zack, one of the race coordinators.  He had 4 cones, a dog, and an obvious expression of disappointment when he spotted me.


“What are you doing here?” He asked

“I got lost” I responded.  Seeing his disappointment reminded me of everything I was riding for and I tried to hold back the lump in my throat that was forming.


“You beat Tim Johnson today!” Zack said in an attempt to make light of the situation. It was funny and we both laughed a little but I couldn’t shake my disappointment.  This was the queen stage, and I had made it through 5 days already.  I didn’t fall off or break my leg, I hadn’t had a mechanical yet.  Today, I just made a dumb mistake.  I hate that feeling. Zach told me how far I was from the finish and I decided to go though. 


As I went through the huge blow up Red Bull arch, there was a boy reading a book at a table not yet lined with recovery drinks. He looked up, surprised at first that Tim Johnson was in so soon.  Then, he was more surprised that Tim Johnson was a slow moving little lady decked out in CF blue.


I just nodded and passed him.  I made my way back to camp and wanted to find a way to let Matt, Shane, and Dominic know that they could stop waiting for me at the checkpoint. 

I didn’t have my phone.  I went to the cabin and saw Kristin’s phone.  I picked it up and called Matt the mechanic.  No answer.  I called my phone which I had given to Dominic that morning.  Matt answered

“Kristin what are you doing!?”

“This is Kaitlyn, Who is this!?”

“It’s Matt.  Why are you calling from Kristin’s phone?”

“I’m at the cabin.”

“That’s not part of the course!” Matt is one of the most joyful and jolly men I have ever met.  We are privileged to have him.  He is always cheering the people around him.  He emits joy.


After a confusing series of phone calls between me on Kristin’s phone, Matt on my phone, and Kurtis (the documentary filmmaker that joined us the night before) on Dom’s phone, we came up with a plan.

Matt and Shane were immediately ready to ride and they wanted to take me to the top of Tussy Ridge.  When Shane showed up, we was dressed and ready to go! “Wanna ride!?” He said. 

I can’t believe how fortunate I am to be surrounded by such amazing people.  These guys did not have to do this.

Shane drove and Kurtis, camera ready, rolling and very close to my face filmed my disappointment as I tried to look at the bright side, and snuck in a few hugs from Jeb. We drove to the first check point.  Along the way on a winding mountainside road, we spotted Dom’s truck carrying Matt and Dom.  Matt, seeing an opportunity to ride, changed into riding gear on the side of the road and hopped in our car. After a much needed hug from Dom, we split again and Dom took Matt’s dog, Jeb, back to base camp.


I was out of the race, trying to keep in good spirits and being lead by Matt and Shane across the one of the most beautiful views in Pennsylvania, Tussy Ridge.  It was covered in gnarly rocks and the view of seven other mountain tops courtesy of a wild fire just a few years previous, and the reason this stage was ‘The Queen Stage’


We were off! I tried to keep up with what looked like two teenage boys out for the time of their lives.  I was trying not to show how worn down I had become.  I attempted to jump over a large rock, and landed with my leg caught between a different rock and my bike.  It hurt and I lost it.  I was tired and emotionally drained.  Shane turned off the Go Pro (an extreme sport camera he had been catching shots with all day) and sat with me for a while.  After a few minutes he said “Kait, you are on the top of a mountain and all you have to do is ride your bike.”

He had been motivating me with that sentiment throughout the race.  “If you think about it, all you have to do is ride your bike today”.  A simple thought. 

He was right.  I couldn’t be luckier! Tired Shmired, it’s boogie time! I was back on course, riding the ridge of a mountain to be exact, and all I had to do was have fun with it.  Sometimes all you need is a little perspective.


We hopped and swooped and jumped and pumped our way through the last 17 miles of the course before we saw the two fences again.  This time I was glad to see them.  The boy who was reading the book the first time around was now deflating the finish line.  As we pulled in, we rode in side by side. Team CF has done it again! 


I went on that night to explain to everyone what had happened, and as I looked for my DNF (did not finish) at dinner, I saw instead a time. Something along the lines of 5 hours and some odd minutes.  Zack had kept my time and posted it.  Not everyone racing with a team needed to complete each stage, so it wouldn’t have disqualified me.  It was a sentiment that shows the values of the TSE.  Everyone was there to ride.

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Epic ExperienceDay 4 & 5: When Everything You Ever Wanted Gets Under Your Bike

Team CF was asked to write about our experience for the tsEpic blog. Here is what we put together. 

Team CF:  As a new mountain biker, the sport grew in my heart like wildfire. (Speaking of, I hear tomorrows ride on Tussy’s Trail views were made epic by a recent wildfire.)
Today was so much fun! No, yesterday’s course was pure fun, with the ups and downs and smooth riding and all you had to do was keep on keepin’ on.  Today was nothing like that.  Today, riding was a battle with the rocks.  The trail was a line of rocks that were hidden underneath grass, sand, dirt and mud.  You could barely see the trail beneath your feet and when you did see it under the shrubbery, it was because there were too many rocks condensed into one area to support any sort of life form.   Today around 150 people risked their lives to cross the rocks for what?
Because of descents that left me so happy I couldn’t cheer loud enough.  At the end of one of the second descent, I was so happy I couldn’t remember why I hated my bike on the third days’ road ride.  I couldn’t be happier!  I ride with the ease of knowing my time doesn’t count.  But Chip on the other hand, rides with the pressure of having not only the team counting but if he keeps up his amazing rides, we could get loads more publicity for Team CF.  The point of Team CF is to promote healthy living for people living with Cystic Fibrosis.  Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic disease that mainly affects the lungs and digestive system.  The idea behind Team CF is to get people with CF out active and using their lungs.  My personal motto is ‘use it or lose it’.  So here I am, as an athlete with Cystic Fibrosis, in a 7 day stage race with athletes I’ve read about in magazines.  I’ve never been more inspired and welcomed by the people who have supported me and the entire effort of Team CF.  I am on a team motivated by their loved one’s.  It’s an experience that is inspirational down to the soul.  Being part of this effort has been awe inspiring and if I could convince everyone to join the biking community, I would.  Chip rides in with the very first group of men who are taking the Epic by storm and I have been riding in as they clear up the cones and I have never felt like a champ with my team waiting at the finish line. 
Kaitlyn, Chip, Nate, Jesse and Jack 

Day 3: When Things Go Dark Inside My Soul

Today was LONG! As I rode the emotional roller coaster, I was literally riding PA’s finest roller coasteresque gravel roads.  (But there was no motor powered crank to get me to the top.)
It felt like a 40 mile uphill climb on gravel road that you cannot gain or keep momentum.  Each push of the peddle was its own effort.  Yesterday was so fun.  Yesterday, I was excited to hear that today’s stage was on the road to give my legs a bit of a break.  But it was a different pain today.  Today I felt lazy.  I left this morning without my heart rate monitor, but I quickly realized I would not need it.  My legs were moving too slow to get my heart in a furry. 

The first 17 miles were enjoyable.  The sun was shining, and the views of the small towns were great.  People were on their poaches, well some were still there by the time I rolled through.  We followed a river.  But, and I learned this today, if you are next to a river, it only means that you are at the bottom of the valley.  And we NEVER finish at the bottom of the valley.   

All day I pulled out my self-laminated elevation map to see where the dreaded 1000ft climb was.  THIS the big climb, I would think.  Then I would realized what I had just done was too small.  Rinse and Repeat.      
I had been peddling along and feeling good and happy and moving when I hit the check point at the 17 mile mark and joined a group of riders.   I saw them and wanted some company, so I pushed it harder to catch up with them for about a mile and found my place in the group.  A little down hill, a little more up hill, and we hit a trail.  This is called ‘Fishermen’s Trail’….self explanatory. It runs along the river bank. There was no trail! It was all broken down mossy boulders that trees had pushed their way through.  I don’t know that I have seen such a beautiful and enchanting forest, but there was no way I could efficiently and safely ride it.  

Not many people in the whole race could (I come to learn upon finishing).
It was here that I lost my newly found riding mates as they passed through fisherman’s Trail.  This was very discouraging.  I don’t know why, but I was at an emotional low point. The trail opened up to a gravel rock covered road that you could look straight uphill for at least a mile.  I just couldn’t motivate myself to get the drive to pump it out.  I stopped at the creek, rinsed off my face and talked to my legs.  I took a pile of salt from my bag and knew there was no way out but up. And so I trucked on.  The next part was the worst.
I hit the rail trial.  The challenge of a hill was stolen gone, the beauty of the forest; gone.  I was left with a no speed, straight, grassy, sandy trail.  It felt like at least ever before I saw a change of scenery.  I couldn’t even push myself to push myself, I lost a lot of momentum there. 

It was emotionally and physically all up hill from there.  I hit the tunnel.  Imagine riding into a black hole in the side of a mountain after not having seen a soul for what felt like hours.  I had no idea if it was paved, and I had heard a rumor that there was a boulder somewhere in the middle. If I crash into this boulder, who will ever know? I was pretty sure I was the last one on course.  So I turned on my go pro so I could at least have some good footage of my last moments.  There was no boulder, but there was a vampire handing out beer on the other side!!! That worked wonders for my attitude as I raised in altitude.  I was never more released to see the dreaded 1000ft climb.  FINALLY SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO!
The climb was gorgeous! Sandy rocky terrain and about 24 feet wide before it dropped on either side.  I literally biked straight up to the top of that mountain.  I felt like a champ! I absolutely loved the climb and everything that came with it.  At the top I saw my Pops, and Matt from the crew.  They threw ice-cold water and hugs at me and I was on my way. The last 13 miles!

I knew I was on the last leg.  I was cursing the monotony of the gravel road when the arrow pointed to a trail.  “WHAT THE HECK! I THOUGHT THE REST OF THE COURSE WAS GRAVEL ROAD?!?!” That’s when I realized I was crazy.  And the thunder cracked and the skies opened up.  I had just spent 40 miles in 90 degree weather fighting the gravel road asking for a trail, I get one and the rain comes pouring down.  I realized that this was exactly what I was asking for all day, and so I had no right to complain.  I thanked those responsible for such luck. 

At ¾ of a mile to the finish line a support truck came and tried to pick me up.  I knew I was one of the last, but I had just riden all that way and you want to take the glory of the finish line away by driving me in?!? NO WAY! I can take a little rain J

And so I did! And as I pulled in, 5hours and 9 minutes after starting, my Pops and Team mate Nate Cross were there cheering me on. 


The more I think about 43 miles, the smaller the number sounds.  After I did a 7 mile bike race, a 5k running race sounded tiny.  Today, I was a lot less scared of the endurance aspect and I had faith that, at my own pace, I could finish.
I nearly didn’t get to the starting line in time. I was up a the mess hall filling my goo container with goo.  They played the national anthem.  I love the national anthem.  It allows me to humble myself and think about how lucky I am to be where I am.  Pride is a wonderful thing to have and uphold. When I hear the national anthem I am motivated to make the day, the event, or the moment something to be proud of.  Whitney Huston was the singer that brought me to my zen place. 
The entire first half of the race, I was waiting for the uphill to be over, but not out of exhaustion, just because I knew when I was done the HUGE up hill, it was ALL downhill.  One of the speakers mentioned that if you’re not ‘in it to win it’ then stop and enjoy the scenery today.  Fact: On my team of 5, I am the slowest.  I am racing myself and challenging my body.   At one point during a gravel road 5 mile uphill (I’ll get to the mossy dark forest of black magic in a minute) a clearing to the right opened up to a gorgeous view of a valley with rolling hills behind.  I thought, this is AMAZING!  I am so lucky to soak it in.  I knew that no matter the outcome of the day, I was blessed to be given this opportunity to ride.
Having said that, I was recently dislodged from what might have been the wicked witches summer layer.  It was a single track 1.5 mile uphill climb. Not one person was riding! The trail had barely enough space for your bike, so pushing it was dangerous as you were stuck between the falling off the side of the earth and you were combating mossy loose and freshly wet rocks to avoid imminent death.   My extremely optimistic point of view stated because I came from seeing the dark side.
As I reached the top of the climb I hit one of the most fun and rocky sections of trail I have ever ridden.  It was challenging, wide, rocky, mossy, and FAST! There was a lot of standing above the saddle, and just trusting that your bike wouldn’t crash, and then getting back up when it did.  It was, as my friend Jim would say, ‘miles of smiles’.  I loved every second of it.  Coming off of that, I hit a creek and was verbally reminding myself ‘let it roll just keep rolling’ as I tried to climb out of the woods onto the gravel road.  I stopped dead in the middle and a couple just ahead of me laughed and said ‘well it was a good try!’ I went back and for the with them for the rest of the day. 
I was coming up on mile 28, and check point two.  I was feeling like the boss, and moving along and nothing in the world was going bad.  I felt a little crampy, so as I rode away from the check point.  I turned around and went back to get a banana, and continued. 
Crampy is not a world used lightly.  Not 3 miles later my entire legs cramped up so bad that I fell off the bike and couldn’t get my leg to straighten for 3 mins.  No exaggeration.  I talked to my legs, rubbed my muscles, promised my feet a foot rub if only they would calm down enough to bend.  Eventually I punched out the cramps, and slowly made my bike move.   I was slow as a molasses stick from there though.  If one muscle cramped while my leg was straight, an opposing muscle cramped when it was bent. If my legs felt good, my toes cramped.  At one point I couldn’t clip back into my shoes because my foot was at a completely perpendicular position playing freeze tag with my calf muscles.
This was EXACTLY my concern coming into the race.  NO SALT = NO MUSCLE MOVEMENT. NONE.
I pushed it through making more promises to my legs and more punching and rubbing.  Finally, I turned the corner to finish, and I felt like THE BOSS.  All of the other riders did not waited for the boss to come in though.  I guess they were all showering. 
Dom was there!  Cheering and whooping with Nate Cross, a team mate who is just absolutely amazing to be around. He is high spirited and a real team rallier! I came into these two guys and was so proud.  It took me (officially) 5 hrs and 20 minutes and 35 seconds to finish. I was so proud and astonished.  Now I know what tomorrow will bring…ish
Tomorrows’ course is HILL CITY CENTRAL. Maybe even HILL COUNTRY right by HILLS VILLE USA.  I’m nervous about cramping up big time, but I got some ELETE formula that is high in salt content from an ELETE rep and trans rider Sarah.  She told me lots of CF athletes use it! I am so relieved to have it, and am praying it will work.  I am also going to carry table salt with me and take handfuls of that!
It’s currently 10:30 and my roommates have  retired and my vest just powered down, so off I am to bed. I’ll catch up with you tomorrow!!! Fun fun fun!!1