The Dirt on Dirty Kanza


If you’ve looked at my race schedule for this year you may have noticed the “Dirty Kanza” aka The Dirty.  A couple of things to note –  there is no “tri” in the name and there is “dirt” in the name.  You know that can mean only one thing  “off road bike”.

This is a 200 mile gravel race in Kansas.  Yes, you read that correct 200 miles.  Am I crazy? Yeah, a lil’ bit.  It is self-supported which means that you supply all your own food and drink.  I have 20 hours to finish the race.  So I’ll likely be on the bike for a little less than a day.  Another fact is that the race is at the end of May.  That is less than 6 weeks.

This video from the website helps to put into perspective what it is that I’m doing.  I like the part when the guys says all he could see was green, blue and a strip of gravel.

Racing the Sun

My training has been less than stellar.  I am working with the same coach I used for Leadville, Mike. He’s definitely one in a million.  I haven’t known him long but this guy knows what to say and when to say it, he gets it and he has great philosophy on life, riding and training.

I say that my training has been less than stellar because I haven’t been able to stick to my training plan.  I usually am very regimented about completing my training plan.  If there is a way to get it done I will find it.  Where did that mental strength and tenacity go?  Here’s my laundry list of why my motivations fizzled.

  1. The weather.  It is impossible (or extremely hard) to do large training blocks on a trainer.  I just don’t have 5 hours in me.
  2. The weather.  It is depressing me.  I have been commuting most of the winter and the cold weather just hurts, it’s the only way I can describe it.  It has sunk so deep into my bones that I can’t get it out.  It has made me weary and stiff. The couple of days that have been warm were glorious I felt like a rocket on my bike.
  3. The weather.  It is making me not want to get up in the morning.  Somehow I managed in Jan and Feb but lately I am just a suck.  I set my alarm for 5 and I get up at 6 or later. I don’t remember ever needing so much sleep or not having the mental will power to get up and get it done.
  4. Work.  As the miles ramped up so did work.  I have a very seasonal job.  The only month that I had a bit of a break so far this year was March, even then it was unusually busy this time around and of course (once again) the weather was shite.
  5. Work. Is also depressing me.  I’m not a huge fan of what I do and having to work long hours has been hard.  My races and workouts are my escape and without that I had fallen into a vicious cycle and am/was sinking in to a pit. I wasn’t able to get away somewhere warm to get some rides in because of work.
  6. Sadness.  My sadness from Katie’s passing runs very deep, I miss her more than anything. In fact, this list are things that I would normally talk about with her and she would know exactly what to say.  What I didn’t realize was what a physical and emotional toll it has taken on me.  This is something my coach had to point out.  I really didn’t put it together but my lack of spring in my step (pedal) is directly related to this.
  7. Lonely. Partly due to the cold and the sadness, I think the extra long rides by myself were tough because I was just lonely.  I usually ride on my own but somehow I think planning to ride with some buddies wouldn’t be a bad idea.
  8. Diabetes.  At my last doctor’s appointment my A1C ( measure of how controlled my blood sugar is) increased to 8.0 not a huge # but I had been in the 7’s for so long.  Ideally you want this # to be lower than 7.  In the past few weeks I have not been good at monitoring my blood sugars because of work which has been tough on my body and on my mental health.
  9. Weight.  I’m not over weight by any means but I’ve packed on a few pounds and I can feel it.  I am probably 5 pounds or so above what I like to be.  I can’t seem to shake it.  I am an emotional eater (and drinker) I am having trouble finding that will power to stick to a good diet.  The long hours at work and Katie have made me seek comfort in food (and wine).


I turned over a new leaf this week. Just like I do with my diabetes all the time I will do it with this training. I can’t get myself down because of what happened in the past I can just look to the future and make it better than yesterday. So this week,  I just rode when I could even if it was just a commute.  And I didn’t push myself particularly hard when I did ride. Today, Friday, I got up early(ish) with a plan to hit the path before work at 6.  I left the house at 6:30, returned at 6:35 because it was so cold that I needed to change into my winter jacket.  I didn’t worry about speed or time.  I just rode my bike for the sake of riding my bike.  I rode 30 miles on my heavy commuter and took in the sun and the water and just had a nice ride. I even stopped to snap a glorious picture.

The view from my morning ride!

The view from my morning ride!

So with only 6 weeks to go I have a lot of work to do but I’m not going to sweat it.  I admit I thought about not doing it but I really want to, I think it’s going to be a blast (ok some of it might feel like hell). I will finish this ride not because I have or have not done the training, I will finish because mentally I am tough and I am not a quitter.  As my coach says this should not feel like a second job I should be doing it because I like it and I want to do it.  So, with 2 hours in today, the plan is to ride tomorrow  7:30-11 have some lunch then I’m volunteering at another Tour de Cure event for a couple of hours.  Sunday I have plans with a couple of VQ’ers to ride from about 6 to 11 or so, then hit the in-laws for Easter dinner.

Stay tuned for my progress!


About Gillian

I am a type 1 diabetic diagnosed at the age of 30. I run marathons, participate in bike races , ironman triathlons and everything in between.
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