Monday, March 14, 2016

Green Gobbler 6hr Race

 I loaded up and headed down to Conyers, GA for the Green Gobbler 6hr race.  I made good time and got the the hotel with plenty of time to spare.  After getting checked in to the crappiest Quality Inn ever, I headed out to find a cup of coffee and then decided to get my hair cut too.  With the forecast temps to be up close to 80,  it was one attempt to keep from overheating.   This was going to be the hottest ride that I had done in a long time and I was concerned.
Before the haircut.

I found a Super Cuts and got my hair chopped,  except for a rat tail.... I've never had a rat tail and it was the first time for the hair stylist too.  I told her that this is about as wild as I get!  She said that it made her day. 
Rat Tail

 As we know, I don't tend to do well in the heat.  I had fleeting moments of regret.  I should have stayed home,  why did I register etc.  Not to mention that I had gotten the death cold too weeks ago and there was still some lingering fatigue.  Oh well,  nothing to do but get out there and see how my body responds.

After an interesting evening in  a crappy hotel with thin walls, I was able to get some sleep and then head out to the venue to get ready to race.  I found a premium spot that would be in the shade after about 11am and for the remainder of the day.   I set up my cooler filled with prepared bottles, lined up my nutrition and waited for the start time to finally creep around.  I found Carey Lowery and Zeke Lilly and we chatted for a bit,  getting some semi local knowledge of the course.

Most of the day blurs together but things turned out really well for me.

Lap 1:  Always hectic and hard to go my own pace.  I was a little above where I wanted to be, but not too much so I rolled with it.  It was my first time on the course so I tried to take it in and get a feel for the terrain.  The 8 ish mile trail snaked back and forth through the woods and into some open fields.  It was warm, but I knew that it was going to be hot later.  Two major climbs, that would involved walking in order to keep my heart rate from skyrocketing and my  core temp from exploding.   I was walking as fast as the geared riders around me.   I finished my bottle as I came through the finish line, stopped briefly to get a new bottle then headed back out.

Lap 2:  Traffic cleared up and I was able to ride my pace.  Steady, trying not to brake as much as possible and letting the bike rolled through the corners.  Only a few short techy sections and a lot of swoopy drops, two into creeks with a punchy climb up the other side.  I was having fun.  I had no idea where I was but I just rode.

Lap 3: It was starting to warm up,  I stayed steady and continued riding my pace.  A couple of geared riders latched onto my wheel and I upped the pace a hair.  I felt good and used the momentum.  After about 20 minutes, I slowed back down and felt the first affects of the heat.  Did I have 3 more laps in me after this?  Not sure.  I could definitely get 2 more in, but not sure about 3.   After crossing the finish line, I stopped to check the standings.  I was in 6th place.  Cool,  2 more laps and I would call it a day.

 Lap 4:  Keeping my pace steady and glad I only needed to do 1 more lap after this.  I got really bored on this lap and everything was hurting.  I started to put more focus on my form.  With the fatigue, I was getting lazy.  Working on my form help a bit, but I was still tired and motivation was running low. I was now drinking a bottle of Powerbar Performance drink mix and another bottle of Nuun per lap.  I was staying hydrated but barely.   I was eating regularly and my body was responding well to the heat.  I pushed through the doldrums and finished the lap.  A quick check of the results and I was now in 5th place.  I realized I might have to do 2 more laps. The lady from Smyrna at the car next to me was very encouraging. 

Lap 5:   Trying to do the math in my head, and figure out what would happen if I stopped doing laps after this.  Would I stay in 5th?  Top 5 was good enough.  I would be satisfied with my effort and feel good about the saddle time.  I spent the entire lap debating with myself about what would be best.  I also didn't want to over do it.    After finishing the lap,  I stopped to check the results.  I was now in 3rd place....

Lap 6:  I rolled out at and looked at my watch.  I glanced back and the guy in 4th place was still at his truck.  I knew that if I upped my pace, I would drive myself into the ground.  I wondered if I could complete a 7th lap.  I rode steady and forced myself to drink and eat.  At one spot where the trail doubles back I spotted 4th place.  I reminded myself that since he had not caught me in the past 5 hrs, that he was hurting as much or more than I was.  Pedal, form, relax, ride.   I monitored the time vs my energy level vs my body's reaction to the heat.  I was getting a headache and feeling a little light headed here and there.  I wanted to get another lap, but for the sake of my health, I knew that it would not be wise.  I stayed steady.  I rolled across the finish line right around 3:15pm, leaving me 45 minutes to finish one more lap.  I checked the results and was still in 3rd.  One more lap might get me into 2nd, if I finished by the 4pm cut-off.   After a minute or two of pondering, I pulled the plug.  4th place rolled in and pulled the plug too. 

I am pleasantly surprised with my finish and super happy with how I rode my race and handled the heat.  It has been a long road, learning about racing and I'm glad that things have finally come together and I'm able to get on the podium.  It feels good.  Hats off to all the fellow racers who suffered out there. 

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