I signed up. Finally. Thursday night. The weather forecast improved and I decided, "Why not go for it, and see what happens". I know where and when to bail and if I can't make it, I'll at least start.
That 5:30am alarm though, its a real downer. I got up, got my stuff together and drove to the start just outside of Brevard. As I was getting dressed and ready, I realized that I had forgotten my race sammies at home. A quick text to the wife and plans were made to have them delivered to Yellow Gap. (mistake #1)
Less than 100 of us started off, with partly cloudy skies and perfect temps. Up 276, right on the gravel, then right on Clawhammer. I maintained my pace well, and while my heart rate was slightly higher than I would have liked, I was enjoying the momentum and definitely not burying myself. Although, when I caught the Simril Train, I wondered if I should back off.
The week before the race, I switched my gearing to 32x21, from the 33x22 happy legs gear. It felt good as the 33x22 had become too spinny over the past couple of rides.
Up and over Buckhorn Gap, down to the river, Squirrel and Cantrell Creek, then finally up to rest stop #1 at Turkey Pen Trailhead.
The Motion Makers crew did an amazing job getting me rolling again, I grabbed some pb n j and took off.
I was feeling good and walking some of the steeper stuff to conserve energy. Bradley Creek Trail and Road went by pretty quickly and I arrived at Yellow Gap by 11:30am. Not bad. The Liberty guys at rest stop #2 were chipper but could not find my bag. After what seemed like 5 minutes, I finally found it, on the tarp, 10 feet from where I laid my bike down.
I had planned on eating a sandwich here, but with the stress of not finding my bag, I didn't think about grabbing what was available. I figured that I would eat my Ally's Bar on the N Mills Loop and eat a sammie when I got back. (mistake #3).
On the way down to the campground, I passed the wife and kid. She offered me the sammie, but I refused because outside support outside of the rest stops are illegal...... (mistake #4)
I continued on, and started getting really hungry. I ate gels and the Ally's Bar. Still hungry. I realized that the Ally's Bar, while good n tasty, does not have quite the calories that I needed. I'm pretty sure that at this point in the ride, I started dipping into reserves that would be impossible to replace while still on the bike.
I ground my way around N Mills River and finally back up to Yellow Gap. I stopped to refill and finally ate a sammich. I was feeling ok, and not worried about making it. I took off. But then I started to fade. Loss of power, sleepy, a couple of dizzy moments. I stopped on the side of the trail for about 5 minutes. I was at mile 51. I was looking at another 4-5 hours of riding/hiking if things went well.
I stood on the edge of that hole looking in. I was hydrated so that was good. I felt ok, except the dizziness kind of worried me. I could keep going and keep eating and drinking, trying not to go too deep into that hole. I was pretty sure that my body was burning everything it had. I could also keep going and drop off the edge of the hole and require rescue... hafway up Laurel, that could take a while.
51 miles and still have the energy to get back to Yellow Gap. Not bad. 7 ish hours in the woods on a beautiful day. Still having fun. Still feel good. Still reaching my goal of being fit and feeling good. I could press on. I might finish. I'm not going to go there today.
Turning around was easy. I was a little bummed at not finishing, but I don't want to go down that hole right now, so it was ok.
I called the wife and she gladly came and rescued me. She is awesome!
Back at the start finish, got cleaned up and had a burrito and a Coke.
I'm already planning on how to train better for next year!