I had some time to write this after I returned home from the race, but I was trying to not get in too much of a hurry. I was really not sure what I wanted to write and I wanted to give myself some time to let everything sink in and what it really means to me. I’m still not clear on how or what I feel about this years race. I know, I know. I keep getting told this or that and that I’m too hard on myself. Who else can be my worst critic but me?
We made it to the whitewater center fairly early Friday. Took care of getting checked in and dropping off our drop bags. Some of the group we were expecting showed up and next thing I knew several people were ready to ride. I thought we were waiting on the rest, but the ants in the pants could not sit still long enough. We did the same ride that we did last year. Head up the road and do the first part of the race to the bridge. It was long enough to get a fair ride in and get the legs moving.
We then headed to our home for the weekend. We stayed in a really nice cabin that was not much more than 10 minutes from the start. We cleaned our bikes up and got them ready. Then we headed out to meet up with some others for dinner. We had a lot of laughs and the food was good enough. I way trying to minimize the amount of beers I drank and to make sure and drink plenty of water. I feel like I did fairly well on the water, but hard telling if I really did good enough.
After getting back to the cabin, most of us were busy getting things ready for the next morning and hanging out a little before going to bed early. We had to leave earlier than everyone else since we had a 100 miler in the group. As usual morning came pretty quick and I set to getting ready. I ate what I had planned and was ready to go in time and we headed to the start. I went and watched the 100 milers take off before getting the rest of the way ready to go. Before I knew it time came come to get up to the start line. I was really hoping I remembered to pack everything I had planned
After a few words and a prayer, the race was off. Up the long road to warm up. I tried to not go too hard and to really keep an eye on my heart rate. I figured I could easily blow myself up in the first 3 miles. I felt like I was going too easy, but convinced myself to not go too much harder. The top of the hill came up and we turned in to the woods. I felt like I did a good job with my pacing. I made a few passes on some riders that seemed to be going slower than I wanted. I was then stuck behind a few riders that had moments we were going too slow. There was starting to be a few people behind me and I heard some grumbling. I found a good place to pass and moved up to find the next group.
I kept looking at my heart rate and it was staying in the range that I wanted it to be. I was feeling pretty good and pretty happy about my game plan so far. As I rolled in to the first aid station I had to pee. Took care of business and topped off my one water bottle. I knew it was going to be a hot day and didn’t want to run out of water. I saw Lovins come in to the rest stop and keep going. I took off right after and soon enough I made my way up to him. Shortly after joining him we both joined Cooper. The three of us rolled together to the 3/4 aid station skipping the 2nd stop.
At this point I tried to eat, drink and take care of myself. I was feeling pretty good at this point. I was ready to take off, but not everyone was done so I waited a little bit so we could all start together. As we did this loop section I started to feel my legs some on the first climb. It was 3+ hours in to the ride, so it was not a complete shock. I backed off a little and tried to find a pace that worked for me. Cooper was riding really strong and was pulling off the front. Lovins was not dropping too far behind him, but the both of them were leaving me pretty easily. In hind sight, I could have done either of these two things. I could have left when I was ready and they would have caught me or I really should have taken more stuff in at that point so I would not have faded as much. It is really hard to say what would have been better.
The second climb in this section was very tough for me. It is a pretty good climb and it seemed like the trees were not blocking any of the sun. I felt like I was in a convection oven. I was really feeling cooked. I tried to keep eating and drinking, but I am pretty sure it was too late. I already let too much of a gap in the cycle somewhere and now I was going to pay for it. I kept moving, but at a slower pace than I wanted. This section really seems to drag on and even worse when you start feeling bad. I was very hot and could not cool down.
Eventually I rolled back in to the 3/4 aid station. Feeling more tired than I wanted to and starting to feel like my legs wanted to cramp. I saw Cooper here, but he was getting ready to take off. He said I would catch him, but I knew better. I took a little more time here and tried to take in stuff that would help me snap back. My brain was not doing too good at this point. I was already feeling defeated as I knew I was going slower than I wanted. I was already disappointed that I was not going to make the finishing time I had hoped.
I really don’t know what was wrong with my brain, but I sure didn’t do several things that I should have done. Example, I didn’t even get in my drop bag. I had several things in there that might have made a difference, but decided against it. I didn’t really look at what was on the table to eat either. I had already put failure in to motion and I was doing everything I could to make sure it was going to happen.
The climb back out of 3/4 is always tough. I had moments where I could jump on a wheel and pick the pace up. I felt pretty good at those points, but I could never hang on long enough. Eventually I would get dropped on one of the inclines. This section drug on for a long time. It is hard to tell what was before or after the rest stop at the bottom since I have never stopped there. You are rolling along too good to worry about stopping. I eventually saw a few landmarks that were familiar and knew I was going to be at the last aid station soon.
I rolled in to there and topped off my bottle. I looked around at what I could take in. I really don’t remember if I ate much or not. I had already lost my crap pills out of my pocket and should have picked something up that would have helped. At this point I had no idea where my brain was. I know what I needed to do, but I just kind of looked around and stuff and didn’t eat what I needed to. I was just ready to get done and thought this was the home stretch. I didn’t want to stand around too long so I took off. There was a lady who was rolling pretty good that went in to the woods a little before me. Not too far down the trail she was coming back. She thought she was going the wrong way. I assured her that this was the correct way and yes we were on this part before. She turned back around and followed me a little bit. I was hurting so I eventually let her pass. There was a couple other riders around me that I felt like needed around but at times they wanted behind me. A little farther down the trail I saw that same lady sitting on the side of the trail looking at a map. I guess she didn’t believe me or all the other people that were riding by her.
This section went on forever!! I was doing pretty good when the trail was flat or doing down hill, but the inclines were hurting. There were times I could put enough power down to flow through the rollers and other times I was just creeping along. I made a friend in this section, but not sure he knew it. We never really spoke much. He was a singlespeeder and we had different points that we were fast at. I knew what boat he was in and let him by when I thought it would help him. He returned the favor when I was going faster. It was really nice to run in to a familiar face so often. I have no idea who he is, but he made this section a little better. Every time I thought we were far enough apart that we would not see each other, they we were. Eventually the rubber band broke and I pulled away for the last time.
I kept thinking I could hear the road and it should be right around the corner, but then the sounds would disappear and more trail was to be had. I did not remember much of this section because last year I was in the same situation and just going along in survival mode. My legs were really cramping at this point. I was drinking often, but it didn’t seem to help. The only good thing was that most of the time when they were cramping, I could still turn the pedals over and keep moving. I have not had that happen as much to be before. I have done it for a short time, but there was a lot of time in this section that my legs were locking up, but kept moving. Eventually I heard the road again and came out on to the gravel section. I knew this was finally the section that I wanted. I crossed the bridge and headed down the high way toward the finish line. I was getting there, but I was still going pretty slow and felt like I could have fell over at any point.
I finished with a time of 7:35 and in 72nd place in open male. 114th place over all out of all Big Frog racers. After picking up my mug I rolled back to the van. I tried to sit down to take my shoes off, but as soon as I did that, both legs completely locked up tighter than I could ever remember. I jumped up and tried to find a position that was less painful. It was not easy and took me a little bit before I could move again. Of course I could hear all the peanut gallery making fun of me, but I was not in a joking mood right then. I have to say that at that moment, that was the most painful cramps that I could ever remember. It was not just one part of my leg, but both legs were full on. I had lots of funny shapes sticking out of different parts of my legs and they were moving.
It took me a long time before I could get most of my gear off and actually be able to sit there. I still kept having cramps just about any time I tried to move. I took a drink of water and really thought I was going to throw up. I eventually could make my way over to the creek and put my legs in the water. I remember that water always being so cold. This time I felt nothing. It felt like it was just warm water. I really don’t know if the water was warm or it was that my core was so hot and my legs were in so much pain I just could not tell. I then slowly made it back to the van. Everyone else was ready to go since they had all been done a while. We went back to the cabin, took a shower and headed out to eat. I was the entertainment for the evening with all the moans and groans and me jumping up with out warning trying to work out a cramp. This went on for the rest of the night. I had a hard time eating a lot even though I was hungry. My body was just not wanting anything to do with anything.
So, now for me to be Eore and my negative thinking. No matter what anyone has said to me, I can not walk away from this race with out thinking it was a complete failure. Yes I finished. Yes my body gave everything it had, but it is still a failure. I have thought a lot about this and tried to look at different angles to try and make myself think differently. Out of everything I can only find a couple things that are on the positive side. First of all I finished and did not end up in the hospital like another person in the cabin did. My finishing places of 72nd/114th is a lot better than last years 111th in class and 182nd overall. Other than that I failed at everything else. Yes that may be a bit harsh, but I feel it is the truth.
I trained a lot harder this year than last year. I am currently in the best shape that I can ever remember being in. I went in to this racing thinking that a finishing time of 6 hours should be doable. Even with the winning time being a half hour slower that would only put me at 6:30 and not 7:35. The kicker for me is that not only did I not make the time that I had hoped for, but I actually finished slower than last year and just to say I finished, is not good enough to me. I have proved several times before that cramping or exhausted I somehow keep moving and will finish if at all possible.
So as I said before, I completely failed on this one. I failed at being hydrated enough before the race. I failed at eating and drinking enough early in the race. I failed at doing things that should have helped me even after I already made several mistakes. I have done enough races wrong that by now I should not be making some of these same mistakes. Even not being as fast as a lot of other people, I know a lot of things that I need to do to make me as fast as I can. I am not doing enough of those things. I am doing a lot of things better than I did in the past, but that is really just a waste if I don’t do the rest of it. I have proven to myself that I can currently ride fairly good for 3.5-4 hours no matter how much I try to sabotage myself. I need to quit letting myself down in those 3.5 hours so I can help myself get through the rest of the race stronger.
So, yes I can be pretty hard on myself, but I feel like I should be. It is all my fault that I do as bad as I do. I have no one else to blame but myself. I have a really good support crew that tries hard to help put me in the position to do well. I feel like not only do I let myself down, but I also let them down too. It is bad enough to be self destructive, but it hurts even more when I let everyone else down.
I want to thank all the volunteers that spent all day out there helping all the racers. There are lots of thankless hours that go in to making a race like this happen. I want to thank everyone that is part of my cycling world. There are a lot of people that I share the road or trail with that play a big part of me pushing myself to be stronger and faster. I want to thank my core group of friends that share all these adventures with me and help me laugh all the time. You make all of this worth it. I have to thank Phil @ Adventure’s for everything you do for me. You go way above and beyond anything I could have ever expected. Last but not least I have to thank Becky my lovely wife. With out your support I would not be able to ride as much as I do and travel to these races. Thank you all!