Sunday, May 31, 2009

Raising the Bar

Other accounts of how it went down: - Sat, May 30

This year for the Mohican 100 mile race I set an ambitious goal to cut a half an hour off of my 8 hour time from last year, but it turned out that I was able to accomplish much more during my visit to the pain cave yesterday. Taking a look around at the starting line I had no doubts that I could accomplish the goal that I had set for myself, but it seemed that if I were to get a top 10 result I would have to push myself even harder. Some of those present included last year's series winner, Jeff Schalk, national champion, Jeremiah Bishop, Tinker, who has won just about every title thinkable, 6-time 24 hour solo world champion, Chris Eatough, and some other endurance maniacs such as Michael Simonson, Christian Tanguy, Josh Tostado, Harlan Price, Chris Beck, and my winter training partner and 2-time Granny Gear 24 hour series winner, Rob, who I drove down to the race with on Friday night. I am usually pretty calm and collective at the start of a race but all it took was one glance at this crowd and the nerves began to fire. At the start I took advantage of the draft and sat in until we reached the trail where I began to move towards the front of the race. My plan was to get with the leaders, hold on as long as I could, and finish strong and steady. Before we filed into the singletrack, I moved up into 3rd place behind Bishop and Simonson with Tinker, Schalk, and Tanguy in tow. We ripped up the first 25 miles of singletrack and put a large gap on the rest of the field, which left me with a nervous feeling for the rest of the day. I was constantly looking back waiting to get freight trained by a hungry pack of chasers. In our group of six, we kept a steady pace up to the second aid station, where Bishop stopped to grab some bottles, and I stopped to grab a bottle and my Hydrapak. I had to stay a bit longer so that I could fill up a bottle before continuing on. Once I got back on my bike, nobody else was in sight.... Shit!, time to chase. For the next 8 miles, I went into time trial mode to catch back on. After joining back up with the rest of the group, I ate and drank as much as possible to try to recover and did as little work as I could. Once I recovered, it was game on. The course flattened out for 10 miles on a railroad bed before the climbing would resume, so I took my pulls and recovered the rest of the time. As soon as the climbing began I launched some small attacks up each and every one riding side by side or slightly behind Schalk. Though I was hurting, I felt like I could keep up with this for the rest of the race, which I did, but was unable to wear down any of the other racers in my group enough to have them drop back. We continued to ride together until the final 5 miles of singletrack where the finale of the race turned into an all out sprint. Going into the singletrack ahead of me was Bishop, Schalk, Simonson, and Tanguy, while Tinker was behind me. The four ahead took off and out of sight. I made every effort I could to not let them get away, but that had turned into a lost cause. Tinker was right on my wheel the entire time, and I knew it would be a battle between the two of us until the finish. Almost at the end of the race, I saw the campground where the finish was so I let out what I thought would be one final finishing sprint, but theen the course took a turn and went up one last leg burning climb where I struggled to stay ahead of Tinker. Once at the top of the climb I knew the finish was even closer and I pegged it until the end finishing a second up on Tinker, which has been a goal of mine for the past few years as he has been someone that I had looked up to since I began racing. It was a truly incredible experience which I immediately celebrated post race by having a beer and relaxing in the shade with the man in dread locks. And the finishing time for the race..... 6:53: and a couple of seconds! What made the trip to Ohio even better was seeing Rob come in 3 places later killing it in under 7:15:00. I don't care how far away the two of us are living now. Having Rob as my winter training partner will always be worth the drive. I also want to give a mention to Travis, my new local training partner who kicked some ass in the 100k race, placing in the top 3.