The personal learning just never ever ends...you think I would know all there is to know about myself by now, but it just never seems to end...
First off, it is now a fact that I do not do well without a proper night's sleep. I can work all night on software projects and really fascinate myself with some of the solutions I come up with, but I cannot actually go to sleep and then wake up in the middle of a heavy REM cycle and start performing properly again.
The Rivers Edge 50 Mile Marathon at US National Whitewater Center was not a race I was planning on entering, but being that I knew the course so well, I was curious to see how it would go for me racing from memory. Well, with no real preparation, the battle was over before it started...
I left the house at 4am on Saturday morning and drove my caffeinated butt up to Charlotte, NC for the race. I was prepacked and very organized before getting to bed and left in a seemingly awake state. The drive up was very uneventful. So far, so good...
About 10 minutes before I arrive at the USNWC, I start to feel groggy. Not good..I park, start unloading my cooler and simply stare at my equipment before me for about 5 solid minutes in complete and utter indecision. This was the first sign! (I definitely was not entirely awake).
I finally start toting some of my stuff down to the feed area since this was a lap race and I had to setup my station for my bottles and food. I find a spot way down at the far end and upon returning to my car to suit up, I run into Stephen Janes of Siren Bicycles! He greets me and offers me a spot under his feed station tent and I move my stuff over there. I meet his friend OJ and his lady friend whose name I cannot recall. Then Mark Sackett shows up with Mike Pierce and his lady friend Krystal...all good friends ready to have some fun racing. At this point, I find out the race has been postponed because of the prior night's rain by an hour, and I simply start to settle back under the tent and forget to start preparing. I start checking out all the cool bikes everywhere, and find out this is the largest single speed group I had ever raced in. I watch everyone shuffle around and suddenly snap to attention, run back to my car, suit up and head back not knowing what to do next. I realize I am in a groggy haze.
Before I know how to snap out of it, the race is being started in a stretched out mass group format...basically a free-for-all! I suddenly wake up knowing if I am not in a good position entering the woods, I will be hike-a-biking, so I start flying up through the pack and find myself a few nice temporary spots and then catch Mark Sackett up ahead doing the same thing...I catch his wheel and start pacing him flying right into the woods on his tail. We find a steady flow for the first 5 minutes and then start encountering lots of mass traffic. Mark starts navigating traffic really well, so I slipstream into his wake and flow past most of the stragglers undetected. This works really well and we end up passing well over 30 people in the process. I know we went into the woods upper lead pack so I start thinking about how hard I am going and try to set my own pace at this time. Mark also eases off the throttle and we find a smooth group of riders cruising at about the same pace. Body feels good, legs feel great, bike is handling perfectly...Now we are racing! Too much fun!
Reality check: This would have worked well if it were not for how eel-skin slippery the trails were because of the rain. People were slipping left and right on any little root in any given spot.
I had not realized the severity of this critical situation even after watching a guy go down nearly 10 riders in front of us (and find out later he had broken his hip)! In my mind, my only concerns were to set and keep my pace, drink often and ride a strong first and second lap, backing off on the third and punching out the last. All of a sudden, I am flat on my left side, helmet grinding across a root face, with my body soaking up the entire blow. The air being forced from my body let out a massive bellow and I simply slid right off the trail into the bushes. I had slipped on a massive angled root. It was over before I knew it and later I would realize the damage that had been done. Some riders from behind witnessed it and stopped to make sure I was alright, shocked by the hard crash they had seen. I simply said go on, I will be fine...(not!) I let/watched 5-6 riders fly by me and limped my way back on my bike hoping I could shake this off. For the time being, I lost my entire focus on the race and simply ghost pedaled my way through the remaining few miles left in lap #1 thinking I should go ahead and DNF. Upon arrival, I decided to not DNF and try and ride a slow second lap to find my pace again. Did not happen...I entered the woods for my second lap and really started to feel the pain setting in. Left hip, elbow, neck, mid back...all over the left side...pain. I cruise through lap# 2 in good form, but the pain was really wearing on me. I enter lap# 3 and think I should have stopped to relax a bit before taking off again, but I really wanted to find my speed again. I lose a ton of energy from my body at this point trying to manage the pain and stop to pop some Advil to help out with that. It seems to make things worse as my legs start locking up and I start getting wicked cramps. Nothing seems to help with the pain and onset of fatigue...
The downward spiral begins...
1/3rd of the way through lap# 3, I start to feel a rush of riders start passing me. I simply had given up the fight. It was not my day to race. I hadn't felt this terribly during a race since Cowbell and only because of extreme heat had that happened. I decided I did not want to DNF, so I start the deathmarch. It was some ugly deathmarch...Stephen Janes catches me at a open spot in the field as I was waiting out some debilitating cramps and looks in great form! He asks if everything was ok and if I needed anything, I say no thanks quickly to him to allow him to keep his speed and he flies by as I cheer him on! A few minutes later, Mike Pierce comes up on me crawling up goat hill and also checks on me. I basically tell him I am not going to quit and will figure out a way to finish this thing...He is also moving along at a great pace! I start back up and do the cramp dance every 2-3 miles pissed at myself for falling, not sleeping enough, not eating enough, possibly overdrinking too much fluid, etc...simply pissed. Fully upset with myself, I feed on that energy and get a little momentum going. I finish Lap# 3 and stop to guzzle down some cold water. Before I let myself relax, I go out for Lap# 4. I find routine in this lap and also a little comfort knowing I won't have to trudge up this trail anymore today. I find myself climbing areas I had not earlier and although still shaky, I am not cramping up as often. I actually clean the clay hill climb from earlier which I had only cleaned during lap# 1. I am shocked that my legs are actually semi-working again. Pissed at myself again for coming back to life so late in the game. I actually felt more in control during this lap than #3. I finish Lap# 4 satisfied I had not quit.
Total Time: 5:58:41
Place: "DFL" (last place SS) :(
Pain factor during race: 85%
Overall in-race fun: 90%
Hanging out with friends after the race: Priceless...(Beer and Advil really helped)
Today I am truly feeling the after effects. MY hip is purple. My elbow slightly bruised and tender and my neck muscles are super sore...my back keeps spasming and my body all over has a truly worked over feel to it. I haven't really felt this poorly after a race in a very long time. Not to mention the scores are posted and I left thinking I was in 15th place to find out I am in DFL place...
This might mean a little time off the bike to let things work their way back into place...but I think its for the best...(we shall see how long that lasts)
more thoughts on this race fiasco to come I am sure...
2010 Events Schedule
- Nov 7: Swank 65 (Pisgah)
- Sep 18: Pedaling For Peanuts (TEAM) (6th place)
- Sep 14-18: Pisgah Stage Race (CANCELLED)
- July 25: ORAMM (Pisgah) (40 miles+ DNF)
- May 23: Catawba Riverfront Classic XC(4th SS)
- May 8: 6 Hour Grind on the Greenway (12th Mens Open)
- May 1: Tour de Cure (Little Mountain, SC) (CANCELLED)
- Apr 3: 6 Hours of Warrior Creek (12th Place SS)
- Mar 28: After Bridge Run Ride (82miles 3:58)
- Mar 27: Cooper River Bridge Run (58:00)
- Mar 6: Snake Creek Gap Time Trial#3 (4hrs 26min SS)
- Feb 20: 12 Hours of Santos (Ocala Florida) (5th Place SS)
- Feb 6: Snake Creek Gap Time Trial#2 (5hrs 11mins SS)
2009 Events Schedule
- Nov 8: Swank 65 (87th 5:46:06)
- Oct 10:Dirty Spokes 12hrs of Unicoi
- Sep 6: Shenandoah 100(cancelled)
- Aug 20: Daniel Island Twilight Fun Run 5K Series #4 (32:43)
- Aug 15: Fools Gold 100 (50mile-10th SS- 5:43:00)
- Aug 6: Daniel Island Twilight Fun Run 5K Series #3 (27:45)
- Jul 26: Off Road Assault on Mt Mitchell (7:49:00)
- Jul 23: Daniel Island Twilight Fun Run 5K Series #2 (skipped)
- Jul 9: Daniel Island Twilight Fun Run 5K Series #1 (22:00:00)
- Jun 20: Cowbell Challenge Marathon (8th SS)
- Jun 13: Tour de Cure Century (4hrs:45mins)
- Jun 7: Catawba Riverfront Classic (3rd SS)
- Apr 25: Cohutta 100 (cancelled)
- Apr 5: After Bridge Run Ride Century (cancelled)
- Apr 4: Charleston Bridge Run 10k (52:59)
- Feb 15:Myrtle Beach Marathon Bike Ride 63 miles (28th)
- Feb 21: 6 Hours of Santos (35th-Overall, ?? SingleSpeed)