Sunday, June 28, 2009

Stony Death March

For 3 years this race has haunted me. Severe cramps, 2 flat tires, and over training. So this year I wanted it to be different. I was not looking for a win or even a podium, I just wanted to finish! And finish with out any mechanicals or cramps. I wanted to beat Stony itself! Of all 3 years, this 4th year would be the toughest Stony XC Marathon yet for me. Now that I am racing expert, my mileage would increase from just over 40 to 63 and some change. Going into the race, a couple things crossed my mind. The longest ride I had done this year on my mountain bike was 40 miles, and the longest mountain bike ride I have ever done was 60 -- and that was not a race. So I was expecting to feel some pain. But would I survive?

I felt great at the start. This was my last week of my "race" period so if I was going to perform at my best, this would be the week to do it. The first 2 laps I felt like a rock star! And my bike handling was finally razor sharp for the first time this year. I stuck to the wheel of Brad Lako and Greg Donnie. We caught Adam Naish, and finally dropped Greg. I thought I may be having a race of a lifetime. The pace was not phasing me. Then Adam said he would not be able to hold Brad's pace for the entire race and decided to back off (Smart move by Adam). I stayed back with Adam, but then decided to try and catch back to Brad's wheel. But could not. I put a gap in Adam again, but he soon caught back up. We talk a bit and decided if we both had the legs we would work together like many times before. As we made our way to the pines on the 3 lap, my legs started to feel it. I told Adam, I was not sure I would be able to hold on and told him to go. Him did. Soon out of sight, I was by myself. This killed my morale, but I still had my basic goals to go after. My neck shoulders and wrist were killing me. But I pushed on. Around the end of lap 4, Greg caught and passed me. And I still pushed on. As much as I wanted to quit, I told myself I would not unless I began to cramp. But I never did. After each lap, I would see other racers fixing chains, rubbing cramps out of thighs and I thought if I could just push through a lot of other guys would DNF and this would improve my chances of cracking the top 10. It worked! 8 guys in my class DNF'ed. I am glad I stuck to my guns as I was awarded 7th place out of 15. It was not my most stellar performance, but as I saw a few weeks ago at Ruby, my team mate Todd Shorkey stuck out his race with a bent wheel that had duct taped spokes to earn his first podium ever. Thanks for the inspiration Todd. I will never give up so easily in a race, because anything truly can happen.

My hats off for some awesome performances by the follow folks. YOU GUYS ROCKED!
Adam Naish -- 3rd (his highest expert podium so far!)
Brad Lako -- 5th (Finally cracking the top 5 in the toughest MTB race in the Tailwind series!)
Greg Donnie -- 6th (What a come back!)
Tom Payn -- 1st (I am gald I could help! You were flying)
Shawn Schaffert 2nd (You were riding like a freight train! Great job!)

Things learned --

Don't train for 20-30 miles for 60+ mile mountain bike events and call it your "A" race.
I would rather line up for a 45 min cross race than a 5 1/2 hour mountain bike race.
I am starting not to like mountain bike races that are longer than 30 miles. So we will see if I do this race next year.
I finally got my nutrition and hydration down during a race. No cramps!

Well it is time for a nice week off the bike. I will be leaving for my out of start bike trip in a few weeks to New Hampshire, Vermont, and possibly a day in Maine. This will be the beginning of base 3 for me as I start my training for Cyclocross in a few months! That is when my real season begins....


Paynful said...

Way to stick it out bud... Thanks for the pull!!

You should definitely do this race next year, we can suffer together!!

Todd Shorkey said...

Way to hang in there and get the top ten finish, John!

The mental aspect and pushing your body to do more when it doesn't want to is one of the biggest challenges, for me anyway.

I am glad you were able to fight it out and finish the 60 miles! Awesome!!!

Brad said...

Way to stick it out Chunky!

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