Sunday, June 6, 2010
Before I get started, I must insert a funny here. The Bike Dougster was in charge of putting lights on Stumpy. Well, midway through Lap 11, I turned on my lights. Helmet light, perfect. When I turned on my bar light, the beam was directed up at the treetops. For a brief moment, I thought that Batman might come swooping down, having been called into action by my light. I must say, it takes some skill to adjust lights while riding in the dark, but I got it done.
One of Coach Lynda's pieces of wisdom pre-race was to have a plan, but expect and allow for that plan to change. No matter if you have done 1 or 100 24's, there is always a surprise lurking around the corner. And it is how you deal with this surprise that will determine the success of your race.
My surprise was that my stomach was heading South ... quickly. Silly me for thinking I could exist on blueberry newtons and Cliff Shot Roks the entire race, when the longest I had trained on them was 8 hours. I was OD'ing on simple sugar. Thankfully Mom was there, cooking potatoes. They would be ready by lap 13.
I headed out on Lap 12, knowing that the plan was going to have to change. I knew what to do; now to get it done. I backed off the intensity just a bit and thought positive. The only time I got sick at a race was the 2009 Firecracker 50 and that was because of the altitude. My thoughts turned to Kip and his DNF here one year when his stomach turned sour. I was determined not to become a casualty here tonight.
I was not in my place of happiness during laps 12-16. I told myself a couple times that a slow lap was better than no lap. I was only able to take in about 50% of the calories I needed. However, after switching my foods from sugary to salty, potatoes and chicken rice soup, I started returning to normal around 3am.
Besides my sour stomach, the other evil at night were the roots. They got wet and slicker n snot due to the high humidity and the moisture retained within the trail from the previous day's rains. There were enough floundering racers on the course to keep me alert and cautious. Even with my Light n Motion Seca 900 helmet light and HID bar light, some of those roots were able to hide in ambush. During lap 19, one grabbed my front wheel on a descent on the Exit trail and threw me down hard. Only my pride was hurt or so I thought, until I made it into the pits and Zeke's motherly instincts kicked in when he saw all the blood on my forearm and glove. Wow, there was quite a bit! Once we got the mud and blood cleaned off, it turned out to be only a little flesh wound.
Lap 20 was the sunrise lap. This is my favorite lap, no matter if I am sparkly or deep in the pain cave. The birds alert you first, even before you see the faint hint of light. At this point, even though there are still at least 6 hours to race, you know it is almost over. Yes, I was tired, but new life seemed to run through my being. The legs can push harder, the heart can pump faster, and your alertness rises 10-fold. A can of Monster Java always helps, too!
Lap 21 my good friend Kip came rolling up behind me. I actually heard his voice before I saw him. Chatting with others, that's Kip! He helped my mojo and power transfer. By this time, I knew the course pretty well and knowing that I would not get lost, I was happy to chat back! He he :)! (inside joke). That was a great and fun lap. Even with the dufus that wanted us to get off HIS trail on a tricky descent since his team was racing for 5th!
During lap 23 which was around 8:30am, I started doing the math. A 26th lap was definitely doable, but could I squeak out a 27th? Feeling strong again, I was able to pick the pace up.
On lap 24, I crashed going in to the hardest switchback of The Snake. A slow speed crash due to exhaustion, but I ended up tweaking my right ankle. Ughh! The ensuing laps came with varying degrees of Achilles pain.
From lap 24 to the finish, I changed nutrition to fluids and gels. Thankfully, I was able to take in sugar again without nausea or bloating. At this point, solids became intolerable. I fueled on HammerGel, Silk chocolate milk, and Rapidade.
My lap times hovered in the low 50's and with 5 minutes to spare, I went out for my 27th lap. Now this one hurt! The climbs were fine. It was the descents that were so painful! Every fiber of my being was jarred to death. I was never so happy to see that final descent. One more time hitting those curves horizontally. Hoo-rah!
24 hours and 48 minutes later, my journey was finished.
Thanks to my pit crew for making it possible. Zeke was able to add some fun and make me smile in the wee hours of the night. He managed to borrow some glowing balls to make a lighted pit row entrance. It reminded me of the lights you see on an airport runway in the middle of the night. It made it really easy to find my pit, too. Zeke also ran 8 100 yard dashes from our pit to the Start/Finish line to give me words of encouragement on those night laps.
The Ergon GR2 Leichtbau carbon grips were SWEET. The pain I experienced in my palms on the last lap went away later that night. No blisters! I used the bar ends not as levers during climbing, but for just different hand placement which helped tremendously.
My bikes were flawless, thanks to Bruce and Specialized. And I really noticed a big difference in braking power between the Magura Marta SL's on Stumpy and Magura Marta Mags on Indy. No chamois brand this race, thank you very much Chamois Butt'r!
I challenge every racer to do at least one race for a cause. It takes a bit of extra work, but the rewards are endless. And I do believe it makes you faster!
Thursday, June 3, 2010
This 24 hour race was near perfect. But I guess it is darn near impossible to reach perfection in a race of this magnitude. Zeke was able to secure a pit area close to the wood line where racers exit the single track and make the parade loop around the venue to the Start/Finish area. I arrived a bit later Thursday evening, 2 days before the race.
On Friday, we worked to set up the pits and waterproof it as best we could. Yes, I, aka The Tennessee Tornado, did not forget to bring the inclement weather. We double staked the EZ-Ups and bungeed a tarp to their tops. We were sandwiched between good friends, the Boone Bike brigade and the Clyburn posse.
I then went back to the hotel and lounged while Zeke rode the OVT. Mom and Doug arrived Friday evening, we ate my home cooked meal, and then went over the pit crew duties. It was more of a refresher course as all present had pitted for me at the 2009 Cowbell Challenge. Mom was eying my Oreo cookies; I knew she was making calculations as to how many potential cookies she could take and still have enough for me.
Around 8pm, the thunderstorms, wind, and hail showed up. The cell was primed for a twister, but none developed. Unfortunately for a lot of racers, their EZ-Ups were turned into twisted sticks of metal. Ours survived, however.
I slept well, having already committed myself to riding in rain and mud. Saturday morning was foggy; the forcast was calling for a chance of more violent thunderstorms in the afternoon, but for now, the sun burned the fog off and blue skies greeted the racers at the Dark Mountain trails. After eating breakfast, we drove over to the venue.
Time seemed to fly by as we were prepping the pit area and the bikes. At the racer's meeting, Jason announced both Cricket Butler and my fund raising efforts. I had a "bag o schwag guess how many laps I will race" contest and made some additional $$$$ for the schools.
At noon, we were off. First I had to run around the venue, about 1/3 mile. I took it easy to keep not only my feet happy, but to keep from trashing my legs. The first lap is always a train anyway; no sense in killing yourself on the run and then having to come to several complete stops on the trail.
Jason decided to make the first bit of the race spectator friendly. He mistakenly forgot to take down a piece of tape half way up the double track climb. So instead of going all the way to the top and then dumping into the single track, 90% of us went up and dumped into the new section of single track and ended up riding it backwards back down to the Start/Finish area. That was an extra mile's worth of work. Plenty were upset because they and I did not know how many in front of us went the correct way (we later found out that everyone save the back of the packers had ridden that extra bit. I was upset for about 1 minute. I quickly got over it as there was still 23 hours and 48 minutes left to race. No sense wasting precious energy whining like a three year old when what was done was done. As far as I am concerned, that's just racing. It is not like any of us are doing brain surgery out there.
The first lap was difficult only for the fact that I was resisting going into greyhound mode. I still ended up riding a bit harder than I should have. I was racing with a PowerTap ... a good way to keep me honest. There is a water/checkpoint station halfway through the lap which is a really good idea. Thankfully I never had the need to stop. As I came by the first time, someone shouted out that I was in third place. At this point in the race, I was really not wanting to know my placing as I was afraid that might incite the greyhound in me.
At the end of the lap is a dual slalom style descent. A series of big-bermed "S" curves where you can let go of the brakes and hang on to your bike for dear life. For me, a little reward for completing each lap.
The first lap had a few muddy spots, but overall the trail had held up extremely well under the torrential rains the night before. Kudos to BMCC for the awesome trail work!
Each lap I was greeted to this poster made by a first grade class at City Park ... pretty cool and also inspiring.
The first 6 laps were pretty similar in time and character. I met some interesting people, gave some encouragement to the other solos and just enjoyed the day. I rode with Denelle almost one full lap and we talked quite a bit ... well, she did most of the talking. Very nice getting to know her more. Dan was racing his first 24 as was Mark. Both did very well and reminded me of the suffering I experienced doing my first. Stephen, a friend of Stan's, was out there, attacking it as well. Stan had given him strict instructions to give way when I came up on him and he politely obliged. For the most part, the passers and passees were very courteous.
Up until 6 pm, I was eating on the trail as well as grabbing food at the pits and shoving it down. My belly was happy and the legs sparkly. Each time I came out of the woods I looked up and was greeted by blue sky and a few white clouds. Would it be a rain-free race?
After the 7th lap, I made a slightly longer pit and had a mini meal consisting of 2 pop tarts, 2 cooked egg whites, and a Dr. Pepper. Just in time as my stomach was growling. I also reapplied Chamois Butt'r. Having been branded by my chamois in a 12 hour race, I was not wanting to relive that most painful experience. While I ate, Zeke and Bike Dougster cleaned and lubed my bike. I don't know who was being better taken care of: me or Stumpy!
Laps 8, 9, and 10 were still sub 50 minutes. I was still in a groove, eating and pacing were perfect. I rode the 10th lap on Indy ('09 Era) so that Stumpy could be fitted with lights. Indy was a different beast: quicker, lighter, firmer. She was o.k. for a lap or two, but riding her for 24 would have hurt.
Lap 11 started off no different thatn the previous 10. However, midway through, I felt really full. I did not eat during this lap. As I came to my pit after finishing this lap, my stomach started feeling queasy. NOT GOOD!
Mom had just started cooking some potatoes. I thought my issues were probably related to a simple sugar overload. I swapped out my Camelbaks and headed out for number 12 praying that my food would stay down.
(to be continued ...)