- November 19, 2018 at 10:29 am #18874
So i just did my first ever six hour race on Saturday and it was fun but exceptionally painful. Aside from being my first six hour race, this also is my first bike race period in almost ten years, i.e. since i was about 26 years old. I just started mountain biking casually again about two years ago and just started riding seriously about the time i started training for the race, which was a few months ago.
I had partially followed the 12 week base program, but wasn’t entirely able to because work and life intervened, followed by the 6 hour PR plan.
I drove out to my hotel at the race area the day before. That morning that I drove out, I woke up with a resting heart rate that was about 20 beats higher than normal, felt feverish and with muscle aches, and almost immediately started having some GI “issues” again and again and again. I won’t say more, but i’m pretty sure you know what i mean. I tried to stay hydrated but I wasn’t really able to eat a lot that day and I didn’t really eat much for dinner. But, i tried to stay positive, figuring in the morning i might feel better. After all, I had prepped for this for a long time, and no way was I going to pull the plug without at least giving it a shot first!
I went to bed early and set an alarm for six AM, and woke up feeling a lot better. So my girlfriend and I made some coffee, I ate some oatmeal, and tried to cram as many cliff bars in me as i could while we drove to the course before the 9 AM start. But, I only managed to get in about half a bar as i still felt pretty crappy.
The course is a ten mile loop with plenty of tight swoopy singletrack. It normally is not technical although there are lots of roots and rocks and some chunky downhills. However, the morning of the race it was about 42 degrees Fahrenheit and WET and muddy and pretty slick as a result. I had a Specialized Stumpjumper 29er with 2.35 inch Hans Dampf tires.
I lined up at the start about 1/3rd of the way up. I wanted to get into the singletrack somewhat early but not with teh fastest guys because I wasn’t super confident about my handling in the mud. The gun went off and the start went fine for me, although my legs felt tired from the get go. I think i was feeling hte effect of not having been able to eat and recovering from the 24 hour bug of the day before.
After this, the first lap didn’t go well. I dropped the chain going over some choppy roots (it just popped off) and because i have a 1by in front, i had no front deraileur to use to pick the chain back up and so had to pull off, fix it manually, and then get back on. About 2/3rds of hte field passed me at this point. I got back on but was stressed about how many places I had lost and then subsequently crashed trying to make an ill advised pass. I then dropped the chain AGAIN.
I finished the first lap and spent the next two trying to move up. I did this successfully but I immediately felt the power start to drop, and I realized i hadn’t really been eating or drinking, probably because i was too focused on moving back up. I started eating some gus and drinking, but the damage i think was already done. I limped through the fourth lap with my entire body hurting. I think i went about 2/3ds the speed of my earlier faster laps. At this point hte course was drier, but i was way too beat / gassed to really do anything with this new open speed space.
At the pit area, I got off the bike and laid down on the ground and lamented feeling so shitty. I took about a five minute break to drink a bunch of water, have some coffee and eat a few more gels. I decided I would give it a shot to get in one more lap, but then under the circumstances, pull the plug.
I went back out and felt amazing this time. the food and stretch break had done me well. the fifth lap was my fastest of hte day. I came around and decided to shoot again for a sixth, and this time the wheels fully came off. I finished the sixth lap but was a lot slower with significant cramping / charlie horses that just wouldn’t go away. I finished the sixth lap in 6:04, just about.
End result: 10th in the men’s open category, probably about 15th overall, so not bad under the circumstances. 3 guys had done 8 laps, 5 had done 7 laps, and me and one other guy in the Open category did 6 laps and the rest did fewer. Most people in the other categories did 6 or fewer, but one or two men and one or two women did 7 laps. Average power was 197, mix of zone 2 and 3. Average HR was 171, or mix of zone 3 and 4. I think that HR to power difference was very telling: I think the difficulties I had with illness and nutrition did make it so it was harder to get the watts out, even though i was clearly pushing.
I am happy with how the race went under the circumstances, but I learned some important lessons for next time, namely:
– start preparing earlier: I think I could have done better to hit my goals if i had been fitter at the start, and the best way to do that would have been to give myself more time. As i noted above, work interfered with my base training, but if i had started base training earlier it would have had less of an impact
– I underestimated the impact of the ten year layoff. Fortunately, this is something that will fix itself as i just keep riding and training 🙂
– I underestimated the importance of routine. I stayed in a hotel, and wasn’t really in a position to eat the way i wanted to either the night before or hte morning of. I know this probably had a big impact. Next year my girlfriend and I (and whoever else wants to come) are going to rent an AirBnB nearby so that we have a full kitchen and can do our thang however we want.
– I didn’t do strategy well. I had a bad start, crashed and had a few mechanicals trying to get around slower traffic, and found myself not eating the first three laps because I was too focused on regaining ground. Well, I think that was a mistake.
– I didn’t spend enough time on the mountain bike. Because i live in the city, most of my prep was on the trainer (it’s hard to find places outside to do uninterrupted intervals). I tried to get out to the trails as much as I could, but it wasn’t enough. My whole body was beat up and by the time the trails had dried out from the muddy morning, i was too beat to really make use of the flow. But, i’m going to keep one of my mountain bikes with me in the city from now on, and plan to go out to the parks in Long Island and Yonkers at least once a weekend.
But i’m 100% hooked and will be back next year 🙂
- November 19, 2018 at 4:11 pm #18876
That’s the best race report I’ve had in a long time – awesome!!
Congrats on gutting out a hard race and doing so well. You have a solid list of things to work on for the next one. I love that you are hooked 🙂 That brought a big smile to my face.
- November 19, 2018 at 4:26 pm #18877
Thanks! I’m really looking forward to next one. My plan is to recover from this (probably for about a week or so), then start a slow re-build for the 28 Below Fat Bike 50K in South Dakota halfway through March. I think i still have enough left in the tank because although i started riding about March this year, i only really started going hard in about May/June. And, I only did one race.
Then, i’ll start hitting the weights / yoga studio while i plan next year 😀
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