Friday, September 14, 2007
I've been putting off writing this post. I frankly am kind of over it already but I know some of you out there (maybe one of the 4 or 5 who read this blog) are aching to know. LOTOJA was last Saturday. Everything was in place for a good ride, I had a great nights sleep, I had eaten well the week or so before, I felt good. The only thing that was worrying me was my hamstring had been acting up. On Thursday Eugie, Jansen and I went for a short 30 miler road ride. About half way into the ride my hamstring started to hurt (my biceps femoris muscle for the anatomists). It has been a minor injury I've been nursing for a month or so. This ride though it was killing me. It hurt so bad that I pretty much hobbled home. Scared that this was going to destroy my race in a day I iced it, and rolled it out really well that evening. The next day it felt great, no worries there right?
Race morning was pretty good. I woke up early and started getting ready. We had all my family and some friends staying at our place so things were a little busy around the house but not too bad. The weather report looked great for the day and we were getting excited. After some last m minute things Jansen, Eugie, Kellen and I took off for a small warm up on our way to the start. We timed it perfectly and rolled to the start about 3 minutes before our scheduled start time. All the pirates gathered and waited. We had myself, Cap'n, Jansen, Kellen, Eugie, and Scott all riding in the same group so it was great. And Jay the dentist was only starting 6 minutes behind. They started us and off we went rolling through Logan towards Preston, ID. Jansen, Kellen and I had planned on racing with the pack so we planned on skipping the first feed zone in Preston to avoid the huge crowds and ball of nervousness in Preston. We took enough food and water to get us to the Montpelier feed zone. From Preston the road begins to climb towards strawberry summit. Once the climbing really began some of the guys in the group turned up the pace and I just follow their wheels. Once guy really cranked up the pace and blew what was left of the group apart. Kellen and Jansen could hold on and rode at their own pace the rest of the day. As we neared the top of strawberry summit we looked around and there were only 6 or 7 of us left from our group. I was right where I wanted to be, the only problem was that my left was starting to bother me a little bit.
We dropped down to Montpelier for the feed. I got my stuff with out a problem (except my Ibuprofen that I forgot to take...) and started to climb with the other 6 guys up the towards the next challenges of the day, Geneva summit and Salt River pass. Going up those climbs the pace was fast but not killer. The King/Queen of the mountain was on salt river pass and I decided that I wanted to "win" the KOM for our group even though I wouldn't get anything for it (they only give a prize to the top king/queen for the whole race!). It was more a matter of trying to save face since by then my hamstring was on fire. I took off from my comrades around 1.5-2 kilometers from the top and scorched my way to the top. We regrouped on the descent and rode well together into the next feed zone of Afton.
I got my feed in Afton from Kellen's wife Rachel (she switched to support me since I was ahead of Kellen and Jansen). I had a small croissant sandwich that I ate and finally took some Ibuprofen. The road turned up Star valley and we had a 10-13 mph head/cross wind to make things nice. After we left Afton I started to feel sick. My stomach went into anarchy mode and was cramping severely. Plus my leg was starting to turn into a stabbing pain instead of the aching that it had been the previous 130 miles. My stomach got worse, my leg got worse and I fell off the back of the other 5 or 6 guys. So long......I was gone. I knew I had at least a 20 mile ride into the next feed zone at Alpine Junction. The wind was relentless, the stomach cramps never let up and I was practically pedaling one legged because it hurt too much to put power into my right leg. It was a long and painful 20 miles. I fought and fought to get into Alpine. I made up my mind that I was going to call it a day once I got there. I did not think I was capable of riding the last 46 miles or so to the finish.
I rolled into Alpine defeated. I saw Rachel and told her I was done. She coerced me into riding up a little ways where she could try to massage my legs out a bit (I was lucky that she happens to be a massage therapist). I sat on the ground in Alpine for 25 minutes, trying not to throw up, and having Rachel rub out my right leg. I used the restroom and told her I would try to ride a little farther. She said she would meet me in Hoback junction (some 25 miles from the finish). Luckily the wind had turned up the canyon so we had a nice tail wind to push us along. I felt better but was still struggling. I made it to Hoback, and Rachel gave me another 20 minute leg rub massage. I knew at that point that I could finish. The last 20 miles or so are a blur. I had enough energy and pain management to grab onto the tail end of a 4 person group into Jackson. One of the worst parts about this race is that you hit Jackson Hole around mile 200, but the finish is actually in Teton Village, another 6 miles away! I pushed as hard as I could that last 1/2 hour. It was painful and was not pretty but I rolled across the line with a finish time of 11 hours and 1 minute. My bike computer gives me a ride time of 10 hours and 14 minutes, so I spent around 45 minutes on the side of the road trying not to die. After the race I felt even worse. My stomach in an attempt to destroy me was cramping so badly that I hardly made it back to the finish line to see Eugena and my dad finish (her story of extreme suffering and incredible fortitude is a story for her to tell).
So almost one week later, I feel pretty good. The seasons are changing and its been great to get out on the mountain bike (the sugar and I went for a 24 mile mountain ride deep in the Wasatch today that was incredible). I'm a little disappointed in how my race turned out, but since bike racing isn't my life's purpose I'm ok with it. I know I could have done well (the guys I was riding with until mile 130 took 1,2,3,4 for our group), and I always have plenty of biking seasons ahead of me. I would like to get a sub 10 hour race some day, maybe next year, maybe the year after (I'm trying to talk Eugie into riding it next year on a tandem with me). So for now, I have a lot of cool mountain biking to do.
PS. I finished my 2nd week of clinical rotations and have already learned more about real, practical medicine than a whole quarter of school. I love being out helping patients.