Thursday, November 17, 2011

CFiTT 2011: FiNdiNg ViCtoRy In FaiLuRe

The months leading up to the 2011 CFiTT had me training as hard as I have ever trained.

I focused on going out hard when I did go ride and even spent 5 days in the mountains of Pisgah forest working on getting stronger. In conversations with Eddie O'dea regarding his Stellar superhuman run of the TNGA, he mentioned he spent alot of time doing LONG FAST MILES, and I decided that sounded like the right Idea.

The Days leading up to the CFiTT had me waking up on a Monday Morning and almost falling due to extreme dizziness and then Later going to Urgent Care to try and figure out what was going on.

On top of it all the week was full of emails and phone calls as I buttoned up all that the racers needed for the event and I completed my responsibilities for the race.

Takes a HUGE amount of effort to not only prepare for this event but to organize it, route it, plan it and coordinate as well makes for a crazy few hours leading up to the race.

I helped Dave Muse, Derek Bently and Jesse Durrance get to the start. Edith out of the kindness of her heart let them crash in the spare room so we could help them complete their trial.

That morning with only a few hours of sleep I got up excited and anxious.

I had every intention to go out this year and ride as hard as I could putting in my best effort hoping that I could establish the winning time for the event. I thought about it long and hard and figured the key to my success would be to follow my own pace and not get caught up chasing or being chased.

After the riders meeting and the instructions we started at 7am exactly and I at the last moment forgot to put on my good luck necklace that my Mom likes me to wear and got delayed a little bit at the start. On top of that, once I did take off I made a wrong turn that sent me off course for a few minutes. I got back on course and passed Mike Rittenhouse, but still managed to make a few more mistakes as I made my way up the gradual ascent to Tucker Hill.

I did my best to stay at my pace, slightly frustrated thinking that I would never see another person again.

It was cold. My fingers were aching from the temps. I told myself the sun would warm things up and focused on keeping my cold knees turning the pedals in a steady manner.

Up and down I meandered through Croom Forest not seeing a single soul, not seeing anything but the Occasional wide arching track of a washed out tire.

When I came out of Croom and hit Nobleton Road I was upset that it had taken me so long to complete that section. I let it go fast and focused instead on the next 18 miles to the caboose. My plan was to lean into my Freddies as I made my way up the gradual rail road grade climb to Inverness.

After what seemed like a long time I saw a rider weaving off the trail and moving over to a dirt road parallel to the rail trail.

I was closing in fast and then as the Rider made his way back on to the rail trail I noticed that It was Jesse. Again I didn't even expect to catch anyone and felt motivated that I had caught up to Jesse.

Then I noticed another shadow on the horizon. I focused on my tempo and before I knew It I was passing Dave Muse. Interesting.

Kept the pressure on. Got to the Caboose and found two more riders, Scott and Luis. I kept going, telling them I wanted to catch Team FSU and Off I went.

On the road I closed the gap on Derek and then on the dirt road as we turned into Potts Preserve, we rode side by side for a long bit.

We hopped the Barb wire fence, and continued onto the Grassy Levee and he was with me. We hopped the fence at the Levee (although I hear it had a gate) and then when I got to 200 I looked back and didn't see him anymore. I stopped and knockers and kept going thinking that on the singletrack I could close the gap to Chris, Jeff and Jack who I figured may have been riding together.

I made my way thru Haltapa and the next checkpoint, kept the tempo the best I could and had to stop a few time for horse riders.

On ward and forward the soft sand not even slowing me I hit the pavement and rode Through Ross Prarie Trailhead where I finally refilled my two bottles and continued into the singletrack.

Ern and Burn was a lot funner in this direction and I was finding the flow with Ease and again before I knew it I crossed the road into Nayl's. Somewhere along the trail I find Chris Riding towards me and he tells me that somehow he missed a turn, something about he didn't go through the trailhead.

I had ear phones on so I think I told him the best way to get back on track but honestly I don't know if I told him right or not. I had provided maps and a gpx file for that section and you know if you stop to check the route its not impossible to follow it through there.

I realized now that I was in third place and kept going. Got to the trail head and saw Team FSU was there. I told them they had been caught in a teasing voice and preceded to get my restocks done so I could get on the road.

This had been a huge victory for me.

Jeff is a fast rider. Jack is a fast rider. For me an up and coming B rider to catch up and close the gap was a huge victory and breakthrough for me. I could only imagine that If I dedicate more time and train my body harder I could do better in the future.

It was interesting seeing the mood of the Greenway Cycles Checkpoint change as I pulled in. All the Relaxation left the room as they both started buckling and filling and paying and hurrying to get out.

Jack left a minute before me, and Jeff and I left together. We chatted for a bit and we hit a new section of grassy mossy track. Jeff started pedaling away and I decided I would let him go knowing that we had another 40 miles of singletrack at the end and I could close the gap again.

Plus my tummy was hurting I needed to drink and try to get some food down, it was becoming difficult.

As I pedaled and drank and ate, I felt that my plan was fool proof and all I needed to do was to keep the tempo steady.

Flew through most everything, till I crossed 40 and started heading to Mill Dam and decided by the mail box would be a good spot to stop and try to eat the chips I had been kind of eating for about 30 miles now.

Ate the chips drank a bottle and left, again trying to stay moving, decided I would skip a water reload at the Mill dam guard house.

Onward I went. The night started getting cold. I was not enthusiastic about how loose the road had become, only a couple of weeks back it was hard packed and fast. No matter, I know I am faster then the Tomassettis in the sand and faster on the singletrack, I saw it as an advantage for me.

As I got close to Lake Eaton I could see tires with foot tracks showing me where some of the other riders were force to dismount and I was not.

More motivation.

Then there I see what looks like a red blinky. In retrospec since Jeff told me he never turned his on, it had to of been Jack leaving Lake Eaton, since his pics showed him still there for dusk and I had just finished my descent into the sinkhole a few minutes after dark.

I stopped to force food down, take a pic, drink a bottle and finish my soda, as well as strap on my helmet light. Figure the roads were loose enough that moonlight or my princeton tec alone would not afford the fastest speed, line choice and best vision was going to be critical the rest of the way.

As I got to the last checkpoint and heard a voice and was surprised to see Chris.

He was so nice and cordial and I was all Robot like asking, How the heck did you get by me. He told me he went right instead of Left, and I realized since I didn't specify I could not make a big deal out of it. Future Racers will be told the route goes LEFT, LOL. I still was surprised that he had caught up. My math had him an hour back cause of his navigational mistake, guess my Math was wrong.

I decided if I wanted to defend third it was time to break one of the first agreements I made that day.

I had made a personal agreement to only use the big ring on pavement and only use the middle on dirt. Purpose being to save some power for the final singletrack push where I would go all out.

I had to lean into the Fred's and pound out the 44.

Hopkins seemed to move away from me for what seemed like an Eternity. I looked back and saw no light as I turned onto the singletrack to cross to OLD 10. And then out of what seemed like Nowhere on 10 I saw Chris Catching up and then as we turned south towards 40, we rode for a bit fairly close since he was having to dismount on some of the climbs and my expert ninja sand skills still kept me in the saddle.

I was a little mystified by being caught, but I figured, in the Next 40 miles of singletrack I wont make any mistakes I know the trail I will close the gap.

Then the strangest thing happened. Aside from some stomach discomfort, I had been steady and strong all day. But as I closed in on 40 it seemed like my vision was fading, then my handling became unreasonably sloppy and the world seemed to be spinning as if I was on a tea cup ride at Disney World.

I stopped for a second, and let it subside, but got to Juniper feeling OFF. I didn't like it.

A monkey wrench was officially stuck in my perfectly functioning 'haul ass sprockets' and immediately made a plan B to just drink a Dr. Pepper and drink lots of fluid and wait for it to subside.

Stopping moving proved to chill me more then I wanted too and the luxury of waiting seemed to be out of reach. I had not packed hardly a thing, I had no intention of camping. In fact I had bought all my food for the race the night before the start. I put my money in the machine and it didn't spit out my soda.

Here I am, cold, dizzy and frustrated.

For a long while I thought and as my teeth started to chatter I decided that there was no immediate solution and called for a pick up.

Eventually Scott pulled in, and we talked for a minute and then he left.

Then Luis came in, telling me that there were more machines inside, which frustrated me more, cause I had it in my head that somehow that soda was going to save me, which in fact it didnt as I spent all Sunday handling dizzy spells. Before Luis rolled on he bought me a soda and waited for my girl to show up, such a good friend and competitor. By the time she came I was full on body shivering and teeth shattering, not the prettiest look to be rocking out in the middle of nowhere.

Months of hardwork, and tons of effort for the day had been dashed by the vertigo that started out of nowhere nearly a week earlier. O well.

The next 24 hours I did my best to put it all in perspective.

I rode the fastest and longest I had ever ridden in my short Ultra Career to date. Proving to myself that with a little more prep, training and no silly health complications I can actually be as competitive as some of the faster riders.

Not only did the event go smooth without any horrible incidents. Not only had I finally nailed a route that I thought neared perfection, but I had raced it hard and fast and came short only because of something that was out of my control.

New Records were set by a lot of people that day, not only the by the person who crossed the finish line just short of 18 hours, but by me and everyone, it was a day and event filled with personal accomplishments and victories.

In the end, even with the Failure of not finishing my own route, I found I had accomplished something I thought I could only do in my dreams. I'm all the more motivated now to push on to train hard for the Huracan and then conquer the TD in the summer.

Let's see what shakes eh, either way, its gonna be one heck of an adventure.

Take Care,

The NaKeD InDiaN