Monday, August 27, 2007

E100 - 100k Race Report

Michelle and I were looking forward to the E100 for very different reasons this year. I wanted to have a solid race but mainly I was trying to add some quality training miles while enjoying Park City singletrack. Michelle was coming back to the E100 to face her demons after a DNF in last year’s 50-mile race.

There was a different vibe at the race this year and prior to the race some folks were down on the course design because it had changed dramatically from last year’s. Overall, attendance was down and that is too bad. I am not going to comment on the drama or rumors circulating around Park City about the E100 but I will say that I thought that the race was very well done this year. The pre-race meeting started on time and was concise, the course was brutally hard but incredibly fun at times, I thought the course was well marked and staffed with helpful volunteers, and most people walked away from the awards ceremony with at least something in hand. I also liked the common start/finish line of Park City because it kept everyone together and made it possible to cheer on your friends and offer support after you finished.

Before I jump into it, I want to thank Nate Carey for helping Michelle and I at every pit stop during the race. Nate is a super-fast racer but had decided to crew for his fiancée, Amanda Riley, and sit this one out. Nate was so helpful and encouraging throughout the day. Thanks again Nate!

Joel, Nate, & Michelle post-race

I knew Michelle was going to have a good race when we climbed John’s Trail during our pre-ride Friday and she cleaned almost every root without much trouble. We had a great pre-ride, saw a moose, talked about pacing up the initial climb, and managed to not break anything on our bikes the day before the race. Success! I did forget the camera in the car though.

After a miserable night of sleep (not sure I actually slept at all) the alarm went off at 4am and it was game time. After some strong coffee and a small breakfast we were loading the coolers and preparing for the battle which starts in the dark at 6am.

Go! As we climbed the Park City service road in the dark I could hear a lot of heavy breathing around me and it reminded me that my goal for the day was to ride steady and finish strong. The 1-mile service road spread things out nicely and the fast guys were off the front doing what fast guys do. I settled into a good pace and felt great when we hit John’s rooted, twisty climb where it seemed every corner would claim another victim and force them off of their bike.

Random Race Note #1 – While climbing John’s Trail I met and rode with Team Giant’s Erica Tieszen. Erica is one of the most polite, friendly, and positive people I have met during a race and I really enjoyed riding with her until I decided I needed to back it down a notch and let her go by. I was sorry to see that Erica did not finish the 100-mile race due to missing a turn somewhere on Stage 4 and getting lost.

Two hours and nineteen fast minutes later I was at Aid #1 and Nate was on it. He helped me change out my glasses, helmet, and calories so quick that I passed several folks in transition that had passed me a couple of miles back on the trail. Sweet! Stage two was a blur and it seemed I rode most of it all alone until I caught a small group with about 5 miles to go. I was really feeling good about my pace, my hydration, etc when I clipped a grass-covered trailside rock with a pedal and did a spectacular over-the-bars Superman and landed with a thud. I had to laugh when I thought about what it must have looked like from behind so I stood up, took inventory of body and bike parts, and had a little talk with myself as I pedaled on.

Random Race Note #2 – The E100 course is relentless. I felt as if this year’s course was the hardest of the three times I have raced there. Any 10 or 20 mile section of trail would be a wonderful ride by itself but when strung together by a crazy Russian they can be brutal. And just about the time you are ready to crack, the trail tilts down or you jump onto the rolling goodness of the Mid-Mountain Trail and the mojo returns…briefly.

Stage 3 did not go as well as I had hoped and I think that I might have paid for drinking too little during Stage 2. My stomach started to go south during the climb up Spiro and I had to back off the pace and simply sip plain water for the next hour to get things back on track. Stomach management, when the day is warm, is a challenge for me.

Rolling into my final pit stop Nate was again there to help and to offer some encouraging words. My mental state was good and I was looking forward to “emptying the tank” on the last stage but I knew the initial climb was a beast. When I reached the top of the Jupiter Chairlift a happy volunteer said I was the third or fourth person through. What did he say? Since the 100-mile folks had to do Stage 3 twice and the 100K folks only do Stage 3 once I guess it was possible but I couldn’t believe it. So I asked if he knew how many green number plates (100K racers) had been through and he said zero. Whoa…it took a second for me to wrap my brain around this one. I might be in the lead?! I have never won a bike race of any kind nor have I ever been on the podium. The “training ride” mentality was now out the window and I was racing full speed. I may have got a little too excited though because I almost inner-thigh-cramped myself to a stop while pinning it up the final big climb. Ha! I rode the downhill sections well and kept looking back for the next rider but I never saw anyone.

Random Race Note #3 – when the crazy Russian says that the final 11 miles of the stage “are all rolling downhill”, do not believe him. There was a lot of uphill in the last 11 miles of rolling downhill but luckily I know the crazy Russian well enough to have been mentally prepared for it.

Crossing the line, I wondered if I had won but I quickly learned that Jeff Ward of Jackson, WY had blazed the 100K in 7:14:00. Holy crap that is fast! Having finished her 50-mile race, Michelle was there to greet me at the finish and I could tell by her big smile that she had a good race as well. Michelle went from a DNF due to not making a cutoff time in 2006 to 2nd overall female in 07 in the 50-mile!
As I drank a recovery drink and sat in the shade of our EZ-UP canopy I met several new friends and we shared race stories from the day. As usual, a lot of the best memories will be of the people and not the race itself. There was one more racer in our “group” still out there but it didn’t take long for her to finish. Amanda Riley crushed the women’s field with a time of 11:27:19, 5th overall, and looked like she could have kept going at the end.

Amanda looking happy and strong at the finish (sorry for the blur but she was still going fast!)

The past three weeks have been big so a little rest is on the schedule now before I ramp it up for my first 24 hour solo race at the Ghee on Sept 15th. Woohoo!


JenyJo said...

*love* the transition from 'training ride mentality' to racing mentality.... beautiful moment, d! amazing what happens inside when one gets a clearer picture of what's going on outside ... when it's something that feels slighly out of reach and yet you're standing right smak in the middle of it!

SO happy to hear of your success ... and MICHELLE'S!! Way to rock it, woman!

so inspiring you two!


Jill Homer said...

Congratulations, guys! Sounds like a brutally beautiful race. When do we get to read Michelle's report?

Chris said...

great race report. sounds like you're coming on strong for the 24 solo :)

Geoff said...

nice race and thanks for the great report. good luck in next month's 24.

Grizzly Adam said...

Good race, and great result! Congrats!