Well this was this years Heerschap throwdown as my brother flew out from Durango Colorado to have a rematch. He destroyed me in 2007 at the marathon nationals in Breckenridge, CO by 28 minutes and this year I was ready to return the favor and hopefully not by minutes but hours. This year it was my turn to race on my turf at the 101 and we agreed that there was no game plan to stick together - just to thrash it and see who could come out on top.
7 am the pace truck rolls out as I barely get out of the crapper and mount my bike. Perfect timing. So we said good luck and off we went. It was forecasted to be in the low 90's and at race start it was 70's and super muggy. So muggy I ditched the glasses which I never race without. So the first climb popped up hard left and I tried the best I could to stick with the lead group. I did that for most of the first climb as I got shot off the back slightly at the top but regained my place on the downhill. We got cut off of the main group and formed a great 2nd group which included the top 2 ladies. The group was working together well for a bit but the ladies had either pacers or boyfriends with them helping to set the pace and it was too slow for my liking. So I rolled off the front and went alone dragging the faster people in that group. On the next climb it all shattered and it was just work with who's around you.
The 4 mile climb at mile 42 is my nemesis. I wanted to ride that steady and hard(SLN) and I've ridden that better than any other previous attempt. I had a good cadence and it seemed to fly by. Awesome as last time up it I was hoping to have both tires fail and have to ride the sag wagon back to the start/finish. Each time the climbs popped up it was a good effort. Some felt better than others but in general I was happy with how I climbed. I had set time goals for myself and for what I could see they were all being broken by a few minutes as I rolled through. They eliminated a climb but threw in NASTY singletrack that was insane to ride with a really sore back(don't put a roof on the few days before a big race) and they eliminated a piece of easy single track and added another mile + climb and a horribly washed out baby headed decent to follow it. So they said the race may be a little quicker, it certainly didn't feel like it.
I hit aid station 5 at mile 89 and my clock said 6:45 or 6:50 so I knew I had to set a good pace to accomplish my goal of a sub 8 hour finish. I hit the last fire road and put down all I had left to get to the one remining climb. I met up with Greg Kuhn and we decided to work together to get all of the pain over with. We traded pulls into the last climb, then he coaxed me to the top of it with some positive words as I was starting to cramp badly. We crested it and then hit the decent into fisherman's trail where we both walked as it's STOOPID techy and at 95 miles not worth the pain. So we hit the remaining rail trail Greg pulled as I started to cramp. I worked through my cramps and he was on the verge of vomiting so I pulled him the rest of the way to the line. We finished together and he said to go and pulled back as I finished in 7:48:22 with Greg a second back. I was 26th overall of 325 and 21st in open men.
It was such a hard race and every pedal stroke up some of those hills was killer. I had the drive to keep pushing and know that if I let up for a second my hungry bro was going to sneak up and eat me for lunch. So maybe there was some extra motivation there. Like I had hoped, I saw my bro at the start and never again for the entire race. He did an amazing job and ran his first 100 miler like a veteran. He was bragging about his red blood cell count coming from elevation and I'm sure it gave him an advantage. He ripped up the hills and had a great time loving every piece of singletrack. It was nice that I got to do my cool down ride, swim in the river, eat, and change before he finished though :-) He crossed the line in 9:22. That's a great time especially since he didn't really know the course. He said it's his first and last 100 miler but I think he'll be back. Either way I still got him by 1:34 so that's all that matters.
What a great day in the heart of PA!