This past weekend I headed down to Harrisonburg VA and got ready for my 3rd attempt at the SM100 and I had high hopes of a new PR and a good day in the saddle. My prep was good it seemed and this time I shared a hotel with my teammate in hopes that would add to my prep and make this race even better. It was nice having a real bed and not deal with any camping woes. The bad side is that it put us a bit further from the race start and made traveling a little more difficult but it was nice to have that bed. So with things all being good I had gamed up for a great race the next morning.
My PR was 8:41 on this course so I was hoping if everything went right I "might" be able to crack 7:59. I went out hot with the leaders and felt good through the first climb and into the second. As I rolled up to aid #2 I started feeling like I couldn't recover well and just pushed through. I hit the next Hankey Mtn. climb and the wheels started to fall off. I just couldn't put power down and there was no recovery. It felt like that climb took forever and it's not the hardest climb. I rolled in from the pavement leading into Braley's and I totally fell apart on that climb. I was so woosey that I couldn't keep pedaling uphill. I kept pulling over and letting people go by as I told them I was taking in the scenery. I felt embarrassed to be riding a bike.
I spent 20 minutes in the next aid station trying to eat and drink and feel better which didn't seem to help. I then used my granny gear to try and climb the 18 miles to aid #5 and could barely turn over the pedals. I didn't even know if I could walk up to the aid station at that point. I was embarrassed as train after train of riders flew by and there was NOTHING I could do to latch on. This was pathetic. I was pretty much debating as to where I would stop and what river I could jump in if I saw the opportunity. It was a battle just to keep moving forward. The worst part is that I know the course really well and know where I could make turns and shortcut the course to get back to the finish and bag the race - but I couldn't get myself to take the turns. I started telling myself that the race was over and just enjoy the trails and the scenery and I think that started to bring me back a bit.
I somehow got to aid 5 and then started to regain some juice as I wanted the day to be over and end this miserable journey. I tried to focus and get through the next painful sections and it all seemed to go by with less pain but still a dreadful pace. I rolled up and over the last climb and was really happy to see the final turn for the descent into the campground. The ironic part was that I was trying to cut off 42 minutes from my previous best and I added around the same to that time. I crossed the line in 9:23 amazed that I actually finished and was able to ride my bike the 100 miles.
As I diagnose things, the first issue was that on my preride the day prior I went over the bars and severely bruised both legs as they smashed the ground and frame. Enough so where I had to ice and take advil all night and hope the swelling went down so I could pedal my bike. Then the 4 hours of sleep the night before probably didn't help. It just felt like something else was off. Maybe I didn't have enough electrolytes in the week prior? I too did the endurolytes/nutrition/hydration schedule and I was right on but something was still off. Maybe it was just a long season and I was cooked. Whatever it was I was not happy. But like they say, you learn more from the failures than you do from the success. Well I have a lot to learn from this one...