By Thursday morning, I already knew this wasn’t going to be a good race. I woke up feeling awful, like I was coming down with something. My head felt terrible and my chest felt like semi-bronchitis. With the race only two days away, I had a feeling I wouldn’t be able to shake whatever this was in time. I ended up leaving work early, I felt so lousy. Friday was a little better, but made worse by the fact that I still knew I was feeling lousy and it probably wouldn’t pass in time. I haven’t been sick since January, and that made me irritated beyond all hell. At the beginning of the week I felt ready to kick some serious ass. I went right by the book and tapered intelligently. But sometimes, well…who knows. Sh*t happens.
I slept maybe 5 hours the night before the race. I had one of the worst times ever trying to fall asleep. My head was just swimming with garbage for about 2.5 hours after I hit the pillow. I was up around 5 o’clock and went right into my get-ready routine. At this point you’re on autopilot and any feeling of fatigue disappears. It won’t present itself until some point during the race.
Grampie and I are in the field at the base of the mountain spinning on our trainers, and it is getting really, really warm. In fact, I cut my warmup short in both duration and intensity because after 30 minutes I was already dripping with sweat and I was far too hot for my liking. The sun was hitting us square on as we sat there. It wasn’t even 8:30 and it was already 70 degrees, reaching 75 at the time the gun went off. Heat is not and never has been my friend. It would kick my ass today. Big time.
Mile 1 was casual and ridiculous. So many mechanical issues for other people. Never-ending clangs of malfunctioning hardware and streams of expletives. Riders already riding back down the hill. I was very confident in my setup, having worked out my issues on Wednesday. It was a bit of a mental boost.
In spite of a very conservative first mile, right on track, things just never went anywhere. I was so damn hot. I didn’t feel right at all.
I always take 1 large bottle up the mountain and never finish it. Today, by mile 4 of 7.6, my bottle was completely empty and I was on the verge of quitting. My plan to eat nothing during the race – a plan that works for many people – completely failed. If many circumstances had been different, this plan would have worked, but today was not the day. One hour into the race I was only halfway done and starving. I had emergency gels, but I was far too gone by the time I needed them. Somewhere between mile 5 and 6 out of nowhere I started sobbing. I was completely falling apart. It took everything I had not to quit. I don’t know how many times I seriously considered just stopping. Definitely a shell of the person who rode this mountain in 1:34 just a year prior. In the back of my head I knew today was going to be two hour territory. And I didn’t care. I just wanted out – wanted it over, wanted it to be done.
As I come onto the finishing grade, I can sense a guy trying to take me on the inside. Not today. I bury it and absolutely crush any dreams he has of cherry picking my sorry ass today. I finished looking like a monster. If people only knew what it took to get there. 1 hour 59 minutes and 50 seconds.