Monday, April 12, 2010

Heart of the South

My work schedule opened up at the last minute to allow me to enter the Heart of the South. I've done this race many times, so I thought it might be a good indication of whether or not I've made any progress on the bike. The ultimate result was a DNF at mile 380. I probably rode a little too hard early on. Considering I slept 1.5 hours last year near the finish, I expect that I was on pace to finish about 1 hour slower this year.

I was a little disappointed to be starting the race with only 3 crew members, but that's what happens when these things get done at the last minute. Crewing is tough enough and I was afraid that I would scare these guys away from RAAM with a short handed effort. Roger, Danny, and Gator did great and will all crew for me on RAAM, so I feel like it turned out to be a very positive learning experience for all of us.

I made a ton of last minute preparations, which included a car rental, hotel reservations, mapping the route into our GPS, prepping the van for a race, getting a crew, establishing time off from work, and getting my bike tuned up. This race was not part of my training schedule, so I didn't do a proper taper leading into it and my sleeping was sporadic. I did get some good sleep Thursday night before the race, but I didn't sleep at all between 2pm and the race start (8pm).

I didn't do a very good job of taking it easy on this ride, and I probably would have felt better at mile 380 if I slowed it down 1-2mph. I also didn't take many breaks, my first of which came at mile 220. I was specifically told by my coach not to race this event (just ride it for training), but it was hard to resist when I was in the company of greatness (Paul Carpenter and Tony O'Keefe).

My digestion slowly became an issue starting around mile 300 and it gradually got worse until mile 380. This has happened to me many times on the HOS, but in the past I've gone on to finish without much consumption for the final half of the race. This time I decided that it might not be in my best interests of my training to continue. It was getting cold, I was sleepy, and I knew that I absolutely hated the next 50 miles of the route. I'm not saying anything bad about the HOS, but I've done it way too many times.

I thought about getting a room, showering, sleeping for about 6 hours, and then continuing. However, this once again might have put too much pressure on my crew chief that needed to be back at work on Monday. I decided that all in all, it was a good experience and I decided to save the real suffering for RAAM. I had a ride that went like this before RAAM last year, and I think ultimately it was a good thing because it kept me down to Earth for the big event. It would be much more scary to enter RAAM feeling strong and not respecting how hard of a race it really is.