Thursday, February 26, 2015

Marc Pro

I currently use and love my Marc Pro Plus after every training or race. It is used for Pain Relief, Muscle Recovery, Electrical Muscle Stimulation.

If you wanted to get your own you can use code "Beata" and get a discount on your own so you can start recovery quicker and easier.

Everything you know about recovery is wrong – ice doesn’t help, it may actually hurt, compression and massage may be the right idea, but an inefficient way to get it done, your Monday recovery ride is just right, but 24hours too late. This is the world according to MarcPro, and if they are right, it will change everything.

MarcPro has a solution. Their unit stimulates muscles with small electrical pulses delivered from reusable electrodes. The muscle stimulation creates no fatigue within the muscle, does not require any aerobic effort and after the initial shock of having your muscles seemingly grow a mind of their own, the effect is quite relaxing. Recent studies have not only shown that electrical stimulation for recovery works, it may actually be a cue to tell your body to create more capillaries. This not only turbo-charges recovery further, it allows the muscle to do more work in the first place.

Monday, February 23, 2015

12 Hours of Santos - Santos Trails - Ocala, FL

12 Hours of Santos - Vortex Trail Head

12 Hours Solo - 2nd Place Female, 6th Overall

12 Hour Solo Podium: Beata Wronska, Ally Stacher, Heather Davis

I rode 118.5 miles through the most grueling and technical terrain Florida has to offer. Four of those 12 hours were in complete darkness. The steep and rocky climbs and descents and numerous roots and rock gardens made things even more difficult. I crashed 3 times in the first 4.5 hours, one time going totally over the handlebars therefore most of the race was in complete pain. Almost 5 thousand feet of climbing and 4500 calories burnt later with a scratched up body and blistered hands I crossed the finish line just 2 minutes off the 12th hour of the race.

I did the same distance and amount of laps as the only woman ahead of me today who was Pro Ally Stacher (Specialized-lululemon rider) who competed in events like Giro Rosa (formerly the Giro d’Italia Femminile) and Brazil Ride as a teammate of famous Rebecca Rusch "The Queen of Pain" in a 7 day brutal stage race which they won. Quite amazing to have an opportunity to chase down a rider of this caliber for a long 12 hours, who is not new to suffering.

This was more than a testing day. It was a journey of highs and lows that I hit during it and immersed myself in the constant internal battle that had to be won again and again in order for me to keep on going. I could not have accomplish that without the selfless support from my husband and all the incredible people that cheered me on throughout the day..

The massive trophy that I received will be reminding me for a long time about this unforgettable day.

Some Videos of the Race...

Full story:

I’m always happy to come back to Santos and especially to race on the Vortex Trails. It is just so challenging here and all the rocks, drops, rock gardens and never ending steep short climbs and descents with twisty and bumpy elements in them make the track super exhausting.

Craig Evans and I right before our group pre-ride
This year we had a nice crew of six pre riding the course. Starting with XTERRA Pro Craig Evans who led most of the time our practice lap, to myself and my husband Pax and two other XTERRA friends, Jonathan and Jeremy and another friendly rider. It was just an 8 mile long lap but from the start would shoot us in the Vortex section, than for some smooth and fast miles and then back once again to the Vortex for more grueling miles. In this section we had some rough rocky and very technical climbs, tough rock gardens and a fun wall ride with a very steep uphill right after that. It was definitely a very impressive course to ride on but wow, I was tired just riding today one lap with the boys. Knowing that I will be riding the same course tomorrow for 12 hours was a little bit mind boggling.

So the last time I did a 12 hour race here was a whole 2 years back, it’s weird since back than I was just a beginner rider and somehow all taped up in KT tape with pure determination I made through the whole race. So knowing that with being so much more experienced now and also much stronger I knew that if nothing horribly goes wrong I should have no problem with riding for the long day at a decent speed. Especially that I just raced on a little bit easier course just three weeks back for a whole 9 hours. So I knew I’m quite capable and didn’t have the smallest feeling of doubt. I was confident and didn’t even care that much who is going to be racing with me as far and female competition goes and it didn’t add at all to any pressure to find out that our ladies field was going to be the biggest and probably strongest that it ever been for this particular distance.

I hardly knew anyone since most of the riders did come down from up north and we got some strong ladies including Pro Ally Stacher on the start line. So that made things a little more exciting since it is always better to have more people in the class. I was torn a little because each time I listened to my heart I just felt that a 6 hour race was going to be so much exciting to me. I felt it would bring me more joy and challenge and keep me charged 100 percent and positive throughout. When I envisioned 12 hours however I could only see the bleak 12 hours of constant pedaling through the day into the night and even though I knew that was going to be physically way more challenging and exhausting at the same time I didn’t find it would be as exciting.

So I was really looking forward shorter race but did sign up for the long one since I just felt it was the right thing to do at this point and if I was ever going to be ready for challenges like this it would definitely be now. So the way I went.

The weather was going to be on the cold side for the race but nothing to what it was just a night before when everything dropped to 28 degrees. I think the low preceding race morning was maybe in the 30s, the high of the day was going to be in the low 70s and then drop down to 50 later on at night. To be honest those were just perfect temperatures and it was going to stay dry which was a very good thing for this type of terrain. We did just a minimal warm up in the morning and scouted the parade lap section, it was a short double track all the way down to the quarry and back up and after that we were going to get into the easier part of the single track to keep riders separated as much as possible by the time we get to the tough sections.

Staging of the bikes on the top of the hill

We rested our bikes on the top of the hill and gathered for the race start on the bottom of the query. I was not nervous and really didn’t think much about the fact that the moment this horns blows I will be on my feet until 10 PM at night. What was important however was to have all my water and nutrition set and my husband Pax by my side who had everything under control and ready when needed. Like usual it was a big team effort…

Race start 10 AM in the Vortex Pit area

There was a big group of us representing what I estimate 1/3 of the racing field, since plenty of riders were going to race teams, therefor were awaiting their turn later on in the race. Just to the right of me I have a few of my friends including Scott and Jonathan and the brave guy in the speedos. It is quite normal on our bike races to find some really special characters that push the fun part of racing to another level. And we were off, we ran uphill in our riding gear and by the time we made a left turn and got to the bikes everyone started lifting bikes, jumping on and it was so crowded it was almost impossible to run in the mid of all of it. I had to hold one guys tush on the bike while I was still running and he was riding to make sure he doesn’t ride me over.

And the race begun with the parade lap. Coming up same uphill we just run to get to the bikes...
Finally I spotted my bike and I was off. The parade loop was fast and shortly we got to the single track. Everything was smooth, pace was pretty good until we got to the rough sections of the course. I could just see from far away a huge line of people just standing and waiting to go over the rock garden, and then another and another. It was a little frustrating but most of us were in the same boat. There were two riders who were playing on my nerves since they would not let me go by but had to pretty much almost stop on every uphill, therefore breaking my rhythm and overall slowing down my time. I was looking forward the moment when the traffic will spread and I will be able to ride my own race and not to have to worry about others. Surely this moment came and things got more relaxed, on the following laps I saw many new faces and riders around since there were those who were going fresh into their laps as a team.

Checkered speedo charging up and leaving in dust some serious riders
After a few laps around at a decent pace I found out that I was in top 3 including 12 and 6 hour female racers. That was good, since I knew that 6 hour ladies (and it was plenty of them, I think over 20) should have a way faster pace since they are racing half the time and a totally different race. But I felt pretty good now and didn’t feel like slowing down, I was kind of pumped and in the zone and it was exciting for me to be part of the 6 hour race leaders which I was really looking forward to racing in the first place. Two and a half hours in and I was still top 3 and had two 6 hour ladies approaching and hanging on my tail for quite a while. We rode together and chatted and it was really sweet to get a complement on my riding from Kimberly who thought I was doing awesome considering I still have a whole day of riding ahead. By the time we hit the transition zone I did slow down to grab a new bottle, Kimberly biked away and another girl also stopped. I took off into the trails again.

On one of many twisty uphills
It was all definitely taxing and I knew I was slightly above the pace that I should be for the 12 hour race and I realized at some point I will have to let the girls that did 6 go by and it made me sad. I really still enjoyed being part of the excitement and now having to leave it kind of brought my spirit down. And I think from the moment things started to go downhill for me. By the 4.5 hours I was really mentally broken, I crashed already 3 times and I was slowly dissolving into pieces. My crashes were not bad thankfully and rather slow mo falling once to the left, once to the right on the rock gardens. On the first one I tilted my saddle and my brakes broke off the end of the brake lever which I realized some hours later. On the second fall I scratched up my whole right leg and elbow and therefore was bleeding. However the third fall is what got into me big time, it was another go over big boulder part and I just didn’t have enough speed and/or power or hesitated and all of the sudden I was going over the bars. I fell well below the front of the boulder and my bike landed on me. I had a rider behind who stopped and was the most kind. When I was getting up he asked me if I was OK and asked me to stay on the side and rest and shake it off. I was grateful and thanked him and in the crying voice I said “I am OK, I need to keep going”.

In a company on the fast sections
But I was not OK, I was really mentally broken now and biked away pretty much weeping away. I was just sad and depressed, it was not about the fall and I never fell apart in any race that badly. But it was this low moment that I knew I was going to most likely hit but just didn’t think it would be so early in the race and so powerful. I kept on spinning the wheels and tackling the technical stuff but my mind was just sad and gloomy, I knew I still had almost 8 hours of biking ahead of me and I just could not wrap myself around it. It was like having this never ending road ahead that you really don’t want to follow. I was angry now I was not racing 6 hours, I knew that if I only had 1.5 hours ahead I would never mentally let myself to this dark place and rather be still very driven to stay in the lead and fight for a great finish on the podium. I wanted it so much now and could not have it. I could not forgive myself that I let myself on this long journey while I really wanted to race the shorter race deep in my heart.

Leaving our pit area and feed zone
One cannot have everything however but I kind of wanted both in different ways and could not have them. Even though it all was on the same track racing 6 or 12 it’s a totally different race and different dynamic. So I went through the transition and into another lap. I remember from sadness and my little crying that I got so emotional that my chest just started to get really tight and I started having problems breathing. I told myself if I don’t relax now I will run myself into trouble since I hardly could breathe now and still felt like I wanted to keep crying. I had to stop myself now however before it gets really serious. So I fought now to stop feeling sorry for myself and to turn off the negative thoughts. I guess I could have done it right at the beginning but it just felt so good to just let myself be in my misery when I wanted. Though to explain but it was kind of necessary evil that in the end made me stronger.

Man made features are everywhere
Somewhere around this time is when my spirit leveled a bit the 3rd 6th hour racer did catch up to me and we stayed for a while together and chatter and wondered if she will be able to put still one more lap in after that. I was not sad anymore but rather happy for her. I was now in my monotonic trance like zone of spinning the wheels and keeping the pace that I know I can hold for very long time. But also what I knew is that I didn’t take any breaks now and the moment I heard the end of the 6 hour race countdown I told myself most of the riders will stop now and so will I. I needed to just give myself a little break. So I charged out of the forest to the transition zone with all the team tents and vans, got off the bike, placed it on the grass, plopped to the ground and just laid there totally flat. I had my husband with me and rider Josselyn who stopped earlier on and was now relaxing but also cheering me on and assisting. So they both made sure I was OK, Pax gave me fresh drinks and Clif gels while Josselyn applied fresh chafing cream to my already burning hands from gripping the bars for so long.  I told my husband I didn’t want to ride anymore and kind of looked up silently interested in his reaction. I knew in my heart I still had a long journey ahead but at the same time wanted him to feel at least partially what I feel and see what he thinks. He looked at me and said “Beata you have to keep going”. I don’t know what made me get up, I was still gloomy inside and not very driven at that point. I got slowly on my bike and before I started pedaling away suddenly this silence what it seemed around me turned to almost standing ovation of some 30 people around and loud; yelling and clapping and cheering. I was like “wow”, that was special, really special, this single short moment with so many people encouraging me to go and applauding for the courage to keep going even when all my body tells me to stop. I waived to everyone, bowed my head and biked away.

Rock garden

From there on I hardly remember what was happening on the trails, it was pretty peaceful there and silent. I felt lonely in a way since not that many riders were nearby for most of the time. Sometimes it was hardly anyone and then a group of team racers would go by, it kind of came in waves. I was craving my music now and for some weird reasons my Ipod died on me just a few hours into the race. Wonder if my spirit would be more elevated if I had my music for longer. I listened to my favorite Remix of Rammstein and on the end of the set I had my recent new favorite track from the latest Nine Inch Nails concert Tension with songs from the new album “Hesitation marks” and some really awesome older songs. When I had this music on I felt great and everything was falling beautify in the place, and all the riding was smooth and flawless besides the technical terrain. I was really tired but having Trent Reznor singing in my ears made me almost completely forget that I was biking and even though I was too tired to sing out loud I was singing right inside with joy.

But unfortunately this time was over now and it was still gloomy out and very silent. As far as food, my husband would just run next to me in the transition zones and hand me a peace of sandwich, banana, new Clif gel or Clif electrolyte or water. I lost my banana once and a piece of sandwich and the worst was that the bread this time felt pretty dry and It was just so difficult to get it down and the section to eat was so short that only time I had to take a sip of water was when I was climbing and turning into the next rocky single track. It did work out somehow and I never felt really very hungry so that was good.

Another fast section
And then we go to the point when the day was nearing the end and slowly creeping darkness was taking over the scenery. Even though the terrain was so ever-changing and testing I remember a lot of peace, quiet and really not much thought. I was silent and gloomy in and out for many hours just like the forest was.

Generating some watts

It was time now to stop quickly and grab a new helmet with a pre-mounted Light and Motion Seca and have a Taz set on my bars and of course Vis 360 for my back light. All of it with quick assistance of Pax while I was busy reapplying this chaffing cream as quickly as I could. I took off without lights on but just seconds after getting into the rolling hills and dim single track I knew the light will be my company for quite a few hours from now on.

Somehow this time I was not very scared or thought much about darkness. I just knew I have a few laps I have to put in there and just be strong. I remember riding through the more flowy sections and just very quickly glazing up from under naked trees and seeing just a little smear of the pinkish-reddish clouds on the already almost dark sky. That was it, that’s it, this tiny last speck of day on the sky was all that was left. Besides it there was darkness. The moment the day left suddenly it become really really cold. I knew I will have to stop quickly and put something warm on. This is when after those long 9 hours of racing I put my extra layer on had my first and only bathroom stop.

Technical climb
In matter of a short couple minutes I was off. My lap times now were somewhere in 53 minutes and after 2nd dark lap I stopped to change the batteries. I could have ran them on med-low settings, but enjoyed the full brightness so much that I decided to swap for new charged one and go on full high the reminding of the race. The battery in, I’m biking away and am going through the shoot and the light just goes off. Its pitch black out now and I need to hit the rough single-track and my main light is dead. I stopped and played around with cables but it was no go. I thought about riding back to the car but there was no guarantee my husband will be near it, he literary can be anywhere now. I stood there for minute or two looking around and really hoping I will spot him so he can just give me the other battery back. The problem here was the longer I was waiting the more time I was giving leading Ally to get away even further but also I had the 3rd place girl as from what I hear making some good time and creeping in behind from some deficit. So the option was to waste my days’ worth of racing and possibly lose my second position or risk slow and pretty dangerous lap in pretty uncomfortable darkness. I shook my head and just went into the woods. I still had my Taz on the handlebars so I was still fine.

Right after the first sharp turn I knew it was going to be tough but the moment I rolled up the super steep pitchy uphill and while on top things turned downwards instantly, I froze and got terrified since the light on the bar was still facing straight and I looked where I was going and all I could see was a black hole, just complete darkness. Simply the bar light was not catching up quickly enough and I found myself throughout this lap relying into the semi dark corners and descents and just hoping for the best. It was not fun. The helmet light is much more desirable for this type of riding since you see where you will be going next a few fractions of the seconds earlier. That’s why I love to have both lights on so when wide light from the bar gives me nice overall hue the helmet one is for spotting more of the technical details in the trails.

Almost out of the trail and once again into the feed zone
I was happy that somehow I managed through this lap. But the issue was here that I already wasted a lot of time just standing around and then biking way slower than I should, therefore making my lap time somewhat longer. I was sure that was going to be my final lap. There was less than an hour left and my slow lap time hovered somewhere in the 57 min mark.  I was already tired, there was no way 3rd place was going to catch me most likely and 1st was already ahead. I really could and really considered stopping now, after all I biked already for a full 11 hours and I had my share. But but but I put so much work in now not to give up in the final hour, kind of “finish the job that you started” mind set, even if it was not going to change much. Problem was if I was going to go I better hurry since biking another hour in the dark just for fun was not what I was after. I had to make sure I actually ride this lap mishap free and relatively fast to make sure I don’t miss the 12 hour cut off and my lap counts! It was little stressful and the moment I agreed to it and jumped into the single track once again, I think the 14th time I felt I was riding under small pressure.

4 hours in the darkness
Now I just had to “make it happen”, like my husband likes to say. Yea, he loves to just set me up for bunch of crazy and impossible tasks and say just that line. Easier said than done, but he knows better than I’m not the one to back off from a challenge. And of course right before that the first chance I could I grabbed back my original battery and hoped it had some life left in it. Instantly I put my Seca to the lowest setting to make sure it lasts for almost an hour. So the light was definitely dimmer now than my supernova brightness on the first two laps, buy hey at least I had now two working lights. Well for now at least, because the moment I left the Vortex area the handlebar light had enough and just started blinking and went to some kind of energy save mode and for a minute I thought It was totally gone but when I put my hand in front of it I realized it still had a little faint light coming out of it. So I rode this lap like a maniac, exhausted but focused and charged, pressured by time and with hope that my last lamp is not going to die on me and leave me in the middle of the night in the dark deep forest alone. I looked around and there was hardly no one. The previous lap I talked to some guys next to me and they said it was their final lap and they will not have most likely enough time to complete one more, I agreed.

But here I am now actually somehow trying to make the extra lap. For the longest time I was alone in this dark quiet place and for sure now I thought I was the last rider that decided to go in the final lap and whomever is also doing it got earlier and is probably way ahead. After the longest time alone I thought I saw some lights very far ahead. Ok I was not alone this direction but each time I looked back there was still nothing. I didn’t want to be last, because if anything goes wrong now I can’t rely on anyone but myself, it was simply pretty scary. I had to be somewhere half way or even two thirds through the lap when I had actually someone coming from behind. It was little relieving knowing I’m not last. Going one last time through all those brutal little climbs and forcing your body to push and raise your heart rate up to go over one more time was really tough, not only mentally but on the body too.

Finally done
You can just feel it that your system is not interested in stressing itself for any longer. It was very tough to tell myself each section one by one, just one more, and another, I’m almost there. Finally I heard the noise from the pit and the lights below. Now I was on the last demanding section and so near and I even had some riders near me. When I was speeding through the forest I heard announcement “2 minutes go!”  I accelerated even more, went to the last turn, tents, hump, and into the shoot and the dismount/finish line. I actually made it right before the cut off time with an extra spare minute, I managed a 53 minute lap time which was really good for this time of the race. I walked through, got off the bike and stood there for a few seconds just looking for the spot where I can simply collapse. I laid down on the grass with camera bag under my head and I didn’t want to move a muscle. I didn’t feel good however and each time I tried to close my eyes everything was moving, the ground was moving, my brain was still biking and going through all the hills. I felt very woozy and felt like I was on a system shutdown.

My body couldn’t make sense now of what was going on after riding a bike for 12 hours with an elevated heart rate. Now I didn’t have to do anything and it was a shock and reality actually. So I spent the longest time just lying there and had my husband running back and forth to the car getting me something to drink (Clif Recovery) and some clothes to put on since I was suddenly just freezing and shivering intensely. I also had a nice man who was a chiropractor here for the race day watching me and making sure I’m doing alright and even gave me his spare jacket so I could cover up my trembling body. The aftermath was even more challenging than the race itself. I really didn’t like the spot that I was in right now and just wanted to make sure I will recover from it shortly.

Yes it was a long day in the saddle!
Little later I sat on the chair and just fought to keep my head up straight and waited that way until the presentation. The moment I crawled up this big step with some help (thx Austin!) and grabbed this big trophy we were as quick as possible on our way home. We still had almost a 4 hour drive home if this day was not long enough already. It was rough, really rough on both of us. I was sore, scratched up, exhausted and sleep deprived now. Thankfully I didn’t have to work the next day like my husband had to since I took a day off so I have some time to sleep in and recover. I was extremely happy to just get home and I just remember being really tired but even hungrier for something nutritious, therefore forgetting it’s in the middle of the night I made myself a delicious salad that I devoured while soaking in the warm bath… Now we are talking about better things in life…  I was glad this so insanely long day was finally over and I could simply lay down in my soft and comfortable bed and not to worry about anything. I was just hoping my brain now will be done biking and let me relax and go to sleep, but it thankfully did just that.

I'm very glad Austin is still full of energy. At least someone is!
I could simply say that race was piece of cake filled with rainbows, pink flowers and butterflies but the reality is that racing a bike for 12 hours is simply rough.  It’s a journey that brings you to very dark places which you might not have known existed. But overall it is an experience and test of your own physical limits and also an incredible self-discovery and check of own mental toughness. All and all it is worth trying to find out what you are made of.

I think I did pretty awesome job and I’m proud of my performance and there is nothing more I could ask for. After all I biked for the full 12 hours and 118.5 miles which is the record for me time and distance wise. Also having the same lap count, mileage and standing on the same podium, and being second two only someone like Ally who is a professional bike racer and does it for a living is pretty neat.

When in the contrary myself having a full 45 hour desk job and to only be able to train and race after hours and on the weekends my placing in this race it’s a big accomplishment and great success. I can only imagine how enjoyable and fulfilling is to live your dream life full time like some do.

Huge thanks goes to as always to my Pit Crew Pax who did an incredible job during this long day!
I could not achieve what I did without my incredible bike, I simply LOVE my Sonia S-Works WC Epic which did amazing on this technical track. It is important to love and trust equipment that is being used, it gives peace of mind to know you can rely on your closest company, in this case the bike during a long journey as a 12 hour race.
And also big thank  you to everyone who contributed to the journey, started with Light and Motion with the amazing lights which were perfect for this mighty adventure, but also everyone else who contributed to bringing my race bike to life and also supported all my nutritional and gear needs. The bike’s chain was perfect for all 12 hours because prior I used ProGold Xtreme Chain Lubricant. And my first stop after this grueling race was to the Health-Fit Chiropractic & Sports Medicine in Boca Raton which assured that in a short time I will be back to being myself again! Thank you so much everyone!

Thank you goes to:

Syntace, Magura, Stan’s Notubes, Schwalbe, ESI Grips, Clif, Xpedo, Trainer Road, Garden of Life, Pro Gold Lubricants, Kuat Racks, Light & Motion, KT Tape, Cycleops and New for 2014 - Mack Cycles, Oakley, Pocketfinder, Hawk Racing, Specialized, Louis Garneau, Selle Italia, KMC Chains and Rotor Bike Components

One of the albums I listened to during my race: