This was a great race for me. I took 20 minutes off of my time, and in the process learned more about my pace, how hard to go...and how hard not to.
The weather was awesome upon arrival to Dalton. We got checked in on Friday afternoon then took off to find a playground for Jubal. We were successful and while he and Rhonda played I chilled on the park bench, watching the world go by around me.
I was peaceful, excited, but not anxious. I knew my numbers, I knew how hard I had trained and I knew that I would control my instinct to go hard. I also remembered the good feeling of finishing last time and not feeling like I was going to die. That is a feeling I will always cherish, even if my time was not a personal record.
Saturday morning came early, and since we had all slept well, we were all ready to go. I took off for some coffee and chai from Starbucks, ( chai for Rhonda ), and then to registration. At 7am I intended to beat the crowd. Although they had advertised a 7 am check in, they were still sleeping when I got there. That was fine though, I decided to come back later. I just don't do well with the large amounts of chaos before a race. I like to get to the start, and get my stuff together. I know what I came to do, and I am ready to do it.
I went back to the hotel for breakfast with the fam, we loaded up, went back to check in, then to the start line. I was feeling really good and in my excitement, I warmed up about 30 minutes too early. Oops. Not a big deal, I'll just eat some more.
I got to the start line first, in a group with Andy and Wild Bill. 3-2-1 - GO!! We took off pretty fast and a pace line formed quickly. I missed it then decided to expend the energy to get on. I think that was a good move, but then I was feeling good and kept that pace for the next hour, that was a bad move. I should have let up at the first long climb, I didn't know it then but I would pay later.
I had decided to use this race as a test to see what my target race pace should be. After getting some advice from people I trust ( you know who you are, thanks for the great advice!!) I settled on a pace. But then I thought my numbers my be a little bit off, and since this was not an A race, I should go just a little bit harder and see how I felt. That rationale was that I had never really gone race pace for this amount of time and I didn't really know what my race pace was/is. I now know what my race pace is, and am excited to try it out in 4 weeks.
So, after 1 hr, I finally slowed down, to a pace that was more manageable/survivable. I made it to the halfway point and felt good. In the first 17 miles I got passed by Harlan Price, who pulled a group of 5 other guys past me, (thanks Harlan), Nate Wyatt, and Garth Prosser. (Really, the only reason I try to get on the start line first is so that I will get to see these guys out in the woods, doing their thing).
After the halfway point, I let Todd Branham pass me.....and go on without me!!!
It was the long gravel climb up to the last 8 miles of single track that things started to go bad. I was actually feeling good, and had a decent pace, was relaxed, and felt that I was going to make good time. Then a girl passed me and said that she would give me $10 for one of my water bottles. I had been thinking about an hour ago that I would do really well at a race where they decided who was the winner, according to who helped other racers the most. Anyway, I debated quickly which bottle to give her. One bottle had some nuun/energy mix and the other had my meal replacement shake mix. I decided to give her the bottle with the meal replacement shake. Assuming she would not want the shake, would dump it out and fill it at the next rest stop, I chugged it, most of it, and gave it to her. I let her know what was in the bottle, but she took it anyway. Then all of a sudden my gut felt heavy, uh oh. So, to compensate, I started sipping at the nuun mixture in my Camelbak. Then, for the last hour of the race, I felt slightly nauseous.
I think the combo of chugging and the hard start finally got to me. I slowed down a lot. I walked a lot more sections, and bobbled a lot more than the first race, when I was sick and rode under my targeted race pace.
I ate a gel about 4 miles from the finish, and felt a little bit better. At 2 miles, I was ready to be done and kept spinning. When I hit the dirt road at the water tower, I was so relieved. I was also pleased that I did not see anyone behind me. I cruised down the dirt road and hit the pavement. A voice startled me. Two guys whipped around me. Awww, I was NOT going to let someone pass me on the pavement and beat me to the line. I sprinted and latched on to the closed one while the other pulled away. I thought about trying to gap to the first rider, but decided not to. I drafted, waited, looked ahead, the guy was drafting a car, I drafted some more, the guy in the lead, 100yds up was not drafting anymore, I hit the gas, dropped the guy I had been drafting, stayed on the gas. The guy in front went around the last hairpin turn, 200 yrds to the finish, I hit the turn, 150 yds to the finish, 100 yds to the finish, I cranked it up, 50 yds, kept pushing, 30 yds, passed the dude and crossed the finish. At least one of the guys I had started with, so that felt really good!!!
So, now I have chosen a pace that was too hard for me, one that was not quite hard enough. Next time should be my personal record.....unless it snows!!!
If for no other reason, you should come check out the SCG Time Trial, because you never know what you will see:
In the middle of my warm up this limo complete with rack pulled up, sweet!!!
Here is a picture of me stalking Andy Applegate, watching his every move......
The start line
Jubal helping me with race prep, he is one cool kid, so is his mom ( my wife ).
Kookie was there for me on the drive home:
Sunday I did an easy road ride with Stephanie and Brian. Two cool cats!!! Snow up on the parkway.
One of the many views.
We got up to this gate and were disappointed. Why in the world they don't want bicycles up there I do not know. I'm glad that we were not planning a ride to Mt Mitchell, this was already disappointing.
Here is a great picture of one of the tunnels. I had gotten a gap on Stephanie and Brian hoping to get a good pic of them coming out of the tunnel, which I did, but I almost didn't. I came through the tunnel at a cautious speed, got out of the tunnel, slowed, stood up to get ready to unclip. The front wheel locked, skidded, I felt the earth ram into my side, I groaned, sat up, did a self check. Nothing hurt, I looked around, some hikers down the road were looking at me, I threw my arm up in the air and said " I'm alright!!", reminded me of a commercial on tv. I got the camera out and took the picture. All that in about a 1 minute span of time.
Fortunately, nothing really hurts. I have some sore muscles, which I am sure will be more sore tomorrow, but I got off without any permanent or even long term damage. And this is a rest week!!!
And lastly, our foundation and footers are dug, need to get them inspected before pouring some concrete!! Sweet..
Have a great day!!