Monday, April 23, 2007

Cohutta 100 Pre-race and Race Report

Thursday: Eddie and I arrived in Copperhill, TN after a last minute stop at Outspokin' in Woodstock.

Many thanks to Kevin and the crew for replacing my BB..I wouldn't have made it through the race without it. I really should have replaced my cleats and pedals too....but hindsight is 20/20. We got in a short pre-ride with the dogs on the Brush Creek trail, it is smooth and non-technical, and not much climbing. This would be the first piece of singletrack of the day, after a 2 mile gradual paved road climb.

We headed to our cabin in McCaysville..we stayed there last year and it is perfect! It is right on a small lake, has a hottub, and a huge wraparound porch. Thanks to Harvey for renting it and taking care of the details. Soon after us, Harlan and Mark arrived..and then Andy and Jeff. Eddie and I (and our Konas) were fully outnumbered by the IF mafia. Harlan was putting together his new 29er, he had never ridden one at all and he had a lot of work to do to get it built (it would have stressed me out..but he is obviously quite the mechanic..among other things).

Friday: I tried to sleep in, but it didn't happen. The guys were up early again, building bikes and such. Here is the early AM crew, notice Harlan still hard at work with everyone else..supervising.

I needed some stuff from the shop, so we drove down to Cycle South in Blue Ridge. I got a chance to meet Sam (owner), and guess what he had?

Yup, a Jabberwocky. This is the same frame I will be getting. I took it for a spin around the parking lot while I was there, it felt really nice..even though it was an 18". Mine should be here any day now.

We met up with Harvey, Lauren, Andy, and Jeff for a pre-ride of some of the Tanasi singletrack. My legs felt great that I wished the race was on Friday..I really didn't want to push it. I had never ridden 100 miles on my singlespeed..only 70..and that extra 30 miles was really intimidating me. I didn't know who else would be there besides SS freak Leslie Williams, a girl from Michigan, and my friend Carol Ann (formerly from Knoxville-now in Cali). I figured a few more SS chicks would show up too. Going into it, I figured Leslie would be the one to beat, but I also knew that it wouldn't be me that could even come close to beating her. She is an animal, and of course SO nice. I really didn't know what to expect out of my race. I felt good and I wanted to see what I can do..and that's about it. I would only race me, no one else.

We hung out for awhile after the pre-ride saying hello and catching up with enduro-freaks from around the country.

Here's Andy showing off his lucky number 69

Jackson guarding the purple unit (which would take me to great heights..literally..on Saturday)

Eddie intimidating his competition with his new hawk and Tifosis

I guess guarding the purple unit was too much work. Or maybe it was the 2 days in a row of riding with Eddie O

Jackson and Fontana (you may recognize him from the podium..with his dad Harvey)

I decided I would not carry my Wingnut since I haven't been training with a pack. My strategy would involve carrying 2 bottles and refilling with my powder at 3 SAG stops. Here is the problem..we ran out of our special powdery mix the week before the race, so I was forced to go to really expensive tri-geek store and spend way too much money ($85 to be exact) on 1 canister of Sustained Energy, 1 canister of HEED, and 4 packs of CLIF Blocks. I have not used SE or HEED since any races last year..mostly because it ruined my stomach and several of my races..but for some reason I thought it would be OK this time around..looking back on it, I should have dropped stuff I would really use (NOT CLIF Blocks, bars and the evil powder). Mark dropped a can of Iron City and pringles for his SAG..yeah, now that would have been a good idea.

Saturday: 5am..ouch. Everyone was up making (some were burning) their bacon & eggs :) I always have a hard time eating much this early. The race would start cold (in the 40s) but would warm up nicely, so I didn't wear much..just shorts, jersey, Defeet Un-d-shirt, and arm warmers. We arrived 20 min. before the start and of course missed the pre-race meeting. Apparently, important information was discussed at this meeting, I would find this out later, around mile 60..

OK, so for the race:
Mile 0- I was so involved in talking to people around me that I didn't know the 100 had started..oops. I looked around and everyone was racing the 35..which would start 15 min. after the 100. I quickly caught up with a group and soon found Carol Ann. We rode together for the first couple sections, until the first steep singletrack climb. She said to go around her because she thought she might dab and didn't want to screw me up. I knew I could clean it, from the Friday I went around. What I didn't know is that where we turned off on our pre-ride was right before the trail got more steep and rooty. I did OK until I dabbed at the very top, but that was fine with me. I felt very relaxed (unusual for me), and reminded myself that I probably would not ride EVERYTHING that day and not to be too hard on myself. I turned around and looked for Carol Ann, but no sight. I plugged along.

SAG 1- everything was right on, I was feeling GREAT, eating, drinking, yes, perfect.

The next section was FLAT. That sucked. I passed lots of people on the climbs and then EVERYONE left me on the flat. Next year I will be stronger to push a bigger gear and hopefully reduce the painfulness of the slow flat section.

SAG 2- The climbing had finally started again (Huh? Since when do I like to climb??) I caught several more at the stop, and had my bottles refilled with my evil powder mixture (I say evil because this was the beginning of terrible terrible sour stomach). I also grabbed a pack of cookies and a CLIF bar in case I got hungry.

SAG 3- My stomach felt terrible, I had heartburn, nothing (especially nothing sweet) sounded good. I chose to just fill up with water at this one, and didn't pick up any more food. The climbs after SAG 3 to Potatopatch were getting brutally steep (I've ridden down this section, never I know why). My right cleat was squeaking and I thought it or my pedal was loose. I think I started compensating to stop the squeaking, and eventually my knee started hurting. I shoved the pack of cookies into my mouth and I just wanted to hurl, but I knew I needed calories. I wanted to eat a lot here because there would be a long descent during this leg, where I could hopefully digest and fix my stomach issues. About 2/3 through this long descent, there was a 4-way intersection. No arrows. Crap, instead of going straight on the road (FS17), my instinct told me to keep switchbacking down the road (which changes names to FS 630)..oh wait, I have no directional instinct. Nor did I see any tire tracks..I descended a ways..but slowly..waiting for someone to catch up so I could reassure myself. However, I didn't see anyone. I decided to be safer than sorry even if I lost time and I turned around and climbed back towards the intersection. I didn't want to end up like Leslie did last year (15 miles off course, hitching a ride back, and getting DQd). I found another guy that I had passed awhile back (damn) and he said he thought we went straight on FS 17. About 50 feet in, I saw the arrow sign that someone had picked up and thrown over the edge. Nice. Apparently, the yellow ribbons that were hanging from the trees were backup course markers and I didn't know it. It would have saved me 20 minutes that I had wasted straying off course...but that's what I get for missing the pre-race meeting.

SAG 4- I was getting tired and hungry, but the only thing that sounded good was salt. I grabbed about 10 pringles and refilled with plain water again. If I was smart and/or aware, I would have realized at this point that I was going into what would be a major calorie deficit.

After SAG 4 was another really long and painful flat section on which it took me forever to get nowhere. I was really excited when the road turned up. I wasn't anticipating the steep grades ahead, though. I thought SAGS 4-6 were all relatively close together, but I was bonking now and it felt like eternity. I only had 1/2 a bottle of plain water and no calories. I was so desperate that I found a PowerGel wrapper from the race start in my jersey pocket and tried to suck out any remaining gel in it. I was scouring the side of the road for gel packs or bars or anything that racers ahead of me may have dropped. No luck, all I found was one sport bean but I didn't bother picking it up.

SAG 5- I had a drop bag at SAG 5 but by the time I got there I was sooo out of it. I asked for a Coke, but he didn't have any. He said SAG 6 had Coke and that's all I heard. I refilled plain water again, grabbed a few pringles (but nothing from my drop bag..I forgot!) and kept going. I knew SAG 6 was 8 miles hard could pedaling 8 miles be? don't want to know.

SAG 6- By the time I got to SAG 6 I pretty much wanted to die. I was 90 miles in, and all I wanted to do was ride downhill singletrack. I asked for a Coke, and the volunteer filled up a bottle (only half way though), and I ate a piece of plain wheat bread. Off to singletrack.

For some reason, I was under the impression that the last bit of trail was mostly going to be fun descending. NO. I started climbing..climbing..and climbing...I wanted to cry. I was so bonked, and could barely see straight. That trail lasted forever, holy crap did they make us work for that last 1.4 miles of sweet downhill singletrack. I saw a girl ahead of me (turned out to be Shannon Greenhill) but I didn't think I was racing the Womens Open category so I didn't bother expending the effort to chase her down. I do wonder, though, if she heard me screaming all the F-bombs everytime I hit another climb :) My right knee was now really hurting too. I tried not to think about it. When I saw Thunder Rock, all was good. I reached the bottom and knew I had another flat paved section to go to the finish. There was a guy about 1/2 mile behind me..but I didn't want ANYONE catching me. I pedaled like seemed like forever. I heard cheering, but I felt like I was in a dream. I saw the finish line..crossed it..and about collapsed. I saw faces, but didn't really recognize people that I was crazy, I knew I had given everything I had to make it through the last bit of that race..I finished in 10:22, I think. Definitely not good enough (or even close to good enough) to beat Leslie, but I still came in 2nd of the Women SSrs. I had accomplished what I came to do, and I was happy with that. The first half of the race was great for me (under 5 hours), but the second half was 5.5 hours even though it had less climbing..that is what a bonk will do to you...but I suppose it could have been worse. I really didn't have the energy to hang out, so we made a beeline to the cabin and proceeded to eat lots of food, drink a couple beers, and trade race stories. Everyone in the cabin did really well..and some of them even had some nice road rash to show off.

I liked the 100 format..I wasn't sure about it on Saturday, but looking back on it I will definitely do more of them. I had a bad taste in my mouth before from DNF-ing at Shenandoah 100 twice (but I was definitely not in any shape to race that when I did). I will do the Cohutta 100 again, also...but with stronger legs and a bigger gear..hoping to drop significant time off the 10:22.

Now, it's time for some rest, followed by training for the next one..Dirty Spokes 12 hour race on May 5.

This coming weekend, I will be at the DSG 12 hour supporting the Kona boys, Eddie O and Scott O. I'm sure I'll see many familiar faces at that one too.


Blogger Danielle said...

I don't know how you did that race on a SS. You looked so strong coming through the finish was awesome. CONGRATS!

If I did the race with one gear I would probably still be racing :-)

12:57 PM  
Blogger namrita o'dea said...

yeeeaaah..miss MI SS State Champion ;)

oh btw--if we are keeping track of all the post-race beers we were supposed to drink together and haven't (because we are lame), we are totally drinking a case right about now after Nationals!


1:24 PM  
Blogger allan said...

Awesome job Namrita. Heck, I'd probably still be riding on my geared bike.

2:02 PM  
Blogger Danielle said...

OK, I'll bring a variety so that we can mix it up a bit! Our pit crews can drive us home :-)

3:49 PM  
Blogger Cellarrat said...

Very Nicely done!

6:11 PM  
Blogger The Goat said...

Great Job, Nam! Way to pace yourself and pull off such a strong finish. Can't wait to see ya on the new Ernie Orange Jaberwocky!

7:39 PM  
Blogger ExtrmTao said...

Excellent work, good reading. I HATE HEED 8-) I think Shenandoah will do that to you.


6:00 AM  
Blogger Andy said...

them were good times!
looking forward to the next time we all meet.

7:01 AM  
Blogger Harvey said...

Nice work and report, and that's a great pic of Fontana and Jackson!

8:05 AM  
Blogger Joe Partridge said...

Great report! Way to represent for the ss... :)

1:34 PM  
Blogger jeff said...

namrita, great ride on the SS!! bad-as.

7:19 AM  

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