Monday, July 30, 2012

Wilderness 101 Recap

Another good race went down in the hills of PA this past weekend. I started off with the goal of staying with the lead group for the first main climb and hang with them as long as I could. I accomplished this as they seemed to keep it a little more tame than in previous years - or I was able to just hang with them better. Anyway I rolled in the lead group of about 30 that made it over the climb together and rolled down to the tunnel under 322 - the only problem was that the tunnel was gated off and we couldn't go through...yikes! Chris Scott was there and we had to do it old school and whip a u turn and cross the highway the old fashioned way. Of course by this time 20 other riders bridged up and now the lead pack was about 50 strong. That wouldn't last long as on the next few rollers the pace was lifted and we dropped 20 or 25 riders as I stayed calm in the lead group.

This held together til the first aid station and it started to break apart on the climb just after. That was perfect as I knew it wouldn't hold together forever and staying in that group helped conserve a bit. After it broke apart I was on my own. The trails were in decent shape but definitely a little greasy. It was wise to tone it down a little bit on the singletrack since the previous rains and humidity would make the rocks and roots greasy and treacherous. I started riding with some other racers as we hit the next climbs and yo-yo'ing back and forth. I saw a lot of Garth Prosser, for a bit then Rob Lichtenwalner, then Joe Fish and we just kept our heads down and kept it rolling. Rolling into aid #2 it was just me and Rob and we pacelined for a bit trading pulls to make up some time. We hit aid 4 and then settled in for the big climb. I let Rob go and then got back to him later on the descent off the back. We rode together until the next climb when we settled in and I let him and Joe Fish go and we once again all got back together at the top this time with Roger Masse coming up to join in the fun.

As the race went on we all stayed within a few minutes of each other. In the rugged singletrack after aid 3 I felt my legs started to cramp. Great. Here's where the wheels would fall off or I would fight through to get it together. I ignored them as they fired through the remainder of the race but it definitely was a struggle at times. Both of my gracilis(inner thigh) muscles fired like normal first but then my hamstrings and quads started to go as well. That's not fun. So I spun more to get through and still found myself with the same group as they seemed to be having some of the same issues. Rinse and repeat until the final climb. I rolled into it with Roger and Rob and I knew I had to cap this one climb and do it fast if I wanted to get near my goal. As I hit the hard left turn and the climb pitched up I put my head down and settled in as I heard Rob and Roger chatting. I knew Roger was hurting a bit and I decided to leave them but hoped they would come back to work with me for the final 5 miles or so of rail bed so I wouldn't have to hit that alone. Nope - that plan didn't work. I crested the climb and saw no one in sight. I hit the rail bed looking back for them to be rolling up but nope. I really wanted the help now as I was still in the middle of a cramp session and it hurt badly to press through, but I had to. I hit those last 5 miles alone and now it was a time trial to finish off this thing. I was pressing hard on the pedals just to get to the finish line and was creeping up on Justin Pokrivka(SS) who I had worked with a little on an earlier rail bed but he was just out of reach to catch. I finished 5 seconds behind him and crossed the line at 7:36. 12 minutes off my previous best and 19th of 171 in the open class. I finished 23rd overall of 266.

I feel pretty satisfied overall. My goal was to finish in 7:30 in the top 20 and I came really close to getting both. My nutrition seemed to work pretty well as I just used only liquids in the form of Infinit Nutrition but I still had that cramping issue that held me back a bit. If I can figure that out I might be able to go a bit deeper next year and shoot for the top 15. As always if you're ever thinking about a 100 miler this is a great one to do. It was round 5 for me and I'll be back for more.

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