|How about 6 miles of this, after an already 2-4 hours of racing?|
Unfortunately, good times did not include a good "race" time for me in the first running. It was 26 degrees at the start. Even though I got there really early, I still had to wait in line as 70+ racers were in front of me. (There was a record number of racers: 438 total and 347 that did the 34). I was brrrr! cold and for the first hour I could not feel my fingers, my legs would not open up, I could not get my HR up, and my eyeballs were frozen. That made for some interesting braking and handling skills along the first section of single track, I'm tellin' ya !But this did not mean I was not happy because I was. I was being challenged on all fronts: 6 weeks off any training plan, Day 16 post glutening, and a kick ass course. I was not at work, not on the couch, or doing chores; living the weekend warrior dream!
The first 17 miles seemed to go in slow motion. At least the creek crossing was only bottom bracket deep. I was able to half pedal the 20 yards or so across and keep my feet dry and toasty. The trail was in awesome shape for this time of the year. Since I was unable to go out like a greyhound, I had the energy reserves to clean the first half. I also chose to run bottles this year as opposed to hydration packs. This made me feel very light on the bike. My nutrition was a bit different as well. With my body fresh off The Whole 30 plan, I was still in fat-burning mode. My energy level remained consistent throughout the race; I never felt hungry or had any ups/downs that fueling primarily on sugars can cause. I did utilize sugars in the form of Rapidade and gels, but only consumed about 70% of the calories I would normally intake for a race of this distance. Note: race day is the only time that I come off the Paleo diet.
I rolled into the aid station at the halfway point, swapped bottles, changed to lighter weight gloves (fingers had thawed out), chugged a Red Bull, and motored on. It was on this first climb out of the parking lot that my legs finally decided to enter the game. Finally it felt like I was racing and not just participating in a big group ride. I don't think my time on this second half was any better than usual, but at least I was feeling better. This at least let me know where I am fitness-wise and what I need to work on to improve. Whenever I get glutened, even from contamination, it wreaks havoc on my body and immune system. In the past it usually took me about 6 weeks to recover, but with this recent episode, I could tell that my body was recovering quicker. I do believe this was a direct result of being on Whole 30.
The fire road climb up to the last section of single track was for the most part dry and fast. I had been worried because it can get really soupy here due to freeze/thaw and rain. As I approached the single track, I tried to visualize this as just a lap in an XC race. I felt the best I had all day, here in my rocky element. I appreciated the work that had been done on the washed out descent. With my trusty Niner steed, I was able to float over most of the rough stuff. I almost made it up The Wall, but spun out on a loose baby head about 2/3 of the way up. Arghhh! One day ...
|The fire road descent from the cell towers at Dug Gap. Photo courtesy of Sean Perry.|
As I railed down the pavement, I thought that my time might be better than I had anticipated. Although it is fast, it still eats up precious minutes. I ended up rolling through the finish line in 3:39; I'll take it. Body and bike were in one piece and I had a smile on my face. I just love this race.
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I cannot wait for the February edition. Typically this has the worst conditions, but maybe this year will be different. I definitely have to work on getting and staying fast. I am currently in 3rd, but there are some super strong "chickas" in this field.