We make holes in teeth!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Recap

Like I said to Sean Sunday morning, they didn't ask me to be on the team based on my results. The best I can do is go out there and hope to entertain with my race reports. So it goes. Let's see what I can do.

It's now Tuesday morning and most of the race reports have come in. I'm just sitting down to write this thing. Yesterday was a family day to make up for the lost weekend. I'm not hungover from the race, since I rolled for a mere 4 hours and 51 minutes of it. Pretty paltry total, at least in the scheme of most 24 hour races. But things are what they are, and the race went more or less as planned but with some unforeseen fluctuations of circumstance.

I didn't have a race strategy all week. It wasn't until Friday that I finally figured it out. My aim was to have 2 big rides. One would start on Saturday at noon and the other would start Sunday morning sometime. Saturday I would go as long as I could continuously ride. Then I would eat, shower, go to bed, and wake up early Sunday for ride #2. Sunday I would just ride as much as I could again. So that was the plan.

I had thrown out any notions of total laps. On Friday I rode the first mile of the course and it was wet and greasy. Sean confirmed it wasn't any better for the other 9.5 miles. So going for 10 laps was out of the question. I was just going to ride, that was that. I wanted to get a huge ride in Saturday and a decent ride in Sunday. Other than that, whatever. On top of this was the heat, expected to be 96 degrees with a heat index of 100+ or something.

Looking back, that was my mistake. On Tuesday, the high was 59 degrees. So in my mind it simply could not possibly be that hot. I never really acknowledged it was going to be brutally hot and I never adjusted my approach because of it. I just planned to ride, and whatever heat we were going to get would start to fade shortly into the race. Stupid, I know. But hindsight, you know.

I took it relatively easy on the first lap, getting off whenever there was a glut of people in a rock garden. I found myself trying to direct traffic a few times, suggesting people clip out because it wasn't worth the effort. At some point I passed Sean with his one crank. For a while I was going back and forth with one of Kirt's friends, his name was Pat. He warned me the descent down Ice Cream was tough but I failed to listen (or was possibly too tentative) and lost it on a wet root and of course landed on my left shoulder, going on 2 weeks injured now. I may have cracked my tooth at this point but I'm not sure if it happened then or not. Anyway, I kept it at a good pace for lap 1 and felt fine back at the pit. I pulled a 1:32 keeping it toned down and I felt fine. I drank 32 ounces of water and filled up my bottle. Woody said he never felt so lousy on a bike ride before so he was going to pass on lap #2.

The climb on lap 2 wasn't too bad but I felt a little more drained than on lap 1. That was a hint of the heat but I wasn't listening so well. I felt fine, kept a steady pace that wasn't too fast, and did my thing. In all I cleaned more on lap 2 than the first lap just because there were fewer people out on the course. When I did have to walk, I was able to walk briskly up the hills and never had to stand there and catch my breath. I was still moving efficiently and I said to myself that 7 laps was certainly reasonable.

At some point on lap 2 I dropped a level though. Things started to get more difficult and I found myself putting a lot more effort in to clean that same hills and rock gardens. Passing the aid station, I saw a guy being treated for heat exhaustion. It may have been shortly after that when I regretted not stopping for a little water at that point. I started to get the chills slightly which meant I was overheating. I was overheating because I wasn't able to sweat enough to cool down, which was due to my being dehydrated. The strange thing about this lap was that nobody was passing me. Only 1 person on a 4 man team went by the whole lap. I wasn't going that fast at all. I think it was just so brutally hot out there people were just taking it easy.

I finished off lap 2 without much trouble and decided to take a longer break after this lap. When I sat down to figure out how much water I was short, I couldn't add up the numbers properly. Every time I did it I came up with a different total. So I sat down with a quart of ice water and rested. It was about this time Sean came in and threw in the towel for the day. He was toast. His one-legged first lap had drained him big time and he was cramping on lap 2, so when Steve asked him what he needed his reply was something to the effect of, "New legs, new arms, lungs, etc etc."

After a while I sat down again to figure out my water situation and came to the conclusion that I was close to a gallon short on how much I was supposed to be drinking. Sean looked at my notebook and started laughing at me because it was so incomprehensible to read. Eventually I figured it out. I had done sweat rate tests in the past and needed to maintain about 55 ounces an hour. After my long rest I was at a total of 144 ounces when I should have been over 220. After about 45 minutes I went out for lap 3.

This time the fire road climb was hard. I immediately wondered if it was a good idea to go out so soon. But I sure as hell wasn't going to lug myself up that half mile of hell then go right back down. So I kept at it and did the slow and steady thing. I was fine for the most part and did my best to encourage the people I met out there. Even though I was slogging along at a less than stellar pace, I was passing a decent number of people. Each time I would pass someone who was obviously not having the time of their life, I would do my best to encourage them and suggest they take their time and be safe.

I was having a tough time drinking anything and I knew it was only a matter of time before my body just shut down and refused to go anymore. I finally got to one hill I cleaned easily the first 2 laps and had to walk it. That's when I admitted to myself that I wasn't having fun anymore. So I dialed it back even more and just made as much conversation as I could along the way.

At the aid station I found Kirt. I knew he was cramping before I even asked. Woody had long since dropped me so I decided to stick with Kirt and help him get out of there. The reality is that it's a considerably easier to pull through the shit when you have someone with you and as much as he appreciated my help having him to talk to was a great lift to me as well. So we trudged our way out of the woods and shot the breeze along the way.

When I got back to camp I was done. I didn't have enough left for a 4th lap and Sean had called in and gotten a weather report which said major storms were on the horizon. I may have been able to rest up for an hour and do a 4th lap, but I wasn't thrilled with riding in the rain and it ran exactly counter to what my ride plan was. I specifically said to myself I wasn't going to add another single lap at any point just for the sake of riding one more lap. So I threw in the towel, ate some solid food, and hit the showers.

So that was day 1, in the books. A few adult beverages and a nice camp fire littered in with some good conversation and the night was a wrap.

Overnight saw the opening of the skies worthy of Biblical description. It probably downpoured for 5 of the 7 hours I laid in my tent. Of those 7 hours I may have slept for 4 of them. I woke up for good at 5:00 when a branch fell down and slammed my tent platform. That actually woke all of us up for the day and just before 6:00 we went down to the canteen for some coffee and breakfast and then to check the results board.

I guess it shouldn't have been a surprise but the results were at a considerably lower pace than the previous year's. Both solo and team numbers were off pace. With the heat and rain the weather obviously wasn't playing along. And the course was a bit longer and tougher than the previous 2 years. So those 3 things in combination meant a lack of posted laps this year.

I decided not to go out again for 2 main reasons. The first was that I didn't feel terribly good. That in itself wouldn't have been a big deal especially in a race like this. The second was that the conditions were bad enough that I would never ride in them if there wasn't a race going on. I wasn't going for a podium or a personal record or a goal and I wasn't on a team, so I had no compelling reason to press for 1 or 2 more.

It wasn't an amazing showing by any means but when I look back I'm pretty satisfied with the single ride on Saturday. I was able to ride longer in the heat than ever previously and I only caught 2 tiny cramps during that 3rd lap. Neither of them were so bad to stop me in my tracks and it wasn't until later in camp that I had the single worst cramp of my life. After reading some of the other reports I think I help up really well in the heat.

So from here on in I'm going to just crank out the season as best I can. At this point I just use Saturday as a training ride and go forward with some of the shorter races and see how the rest of the year goes. I'm pretty sure I'm going to close the season again with the All-A-Muchy 50k on the first Saturday in October. So from here until then it's a matter of nailing down the most efficient training plan I can and hoping I don't totally toast myself in the process. This year hasn't gone nearly as well as I had hoped so hopefully I can cash in on some of these training efforts with a good run or 2 at some of the H2H races as well as the 50k. This year has been a learning process to say the least. This past weekend is just another lesson in the books.

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  • At 5:05 PM, Blogger george said…

    Even though you were not totally pleased with the outcome Norm, there were positives to take away. Like you said, you rode longer in the wicked heat, and you cramped less on the trails.
    x'perience laddy, aye.

    In 24 hour events you can never predict what is going to happen. Given the unusual circumstances of the oppressive heat and torrential downpours, I'd say that it could have been worse for you out there.

    So 3 laps is really not that bad at all. You have heart, and determination Norm, balanced with enough smarts not to put yourself in a really bad position. That is known as racecraft and the more you compete, the more you will learn and streamline that craft. Good job man, and thank you for representing p9 SportsGroup.

    Good job to Sean and Kirt, and the rest from mtbnj as well! Actually, good job to everyone who participated. That is one tough event and imo just to compete takes a lot of tenacity and determination.


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