Was it the heat and humidity?
Was it my nutrition/hydration leading up to the race?
Was it the not so great sleep I had from Car-camping the night before the race?
Was it the fact I turned myself inside out the week before at Fairhill after going off course?
Did I start the SM100 too hard?
...I don't know...
It is frustrating when you know what your body is capable of doing yet it doesn't want to "play nice" with you.
Cramps started tingling around mile 20. I got a great start and held a solid pace into the first climbs. I cruised through aid station 2 (quick bottle exchange) and kept to my 1 bottle mixed with Infinit Go Far nutrition every hour.
Into aid station 3, I made a three bottle swap and kept going.... The climbs between aid 3 and 4 really started to get to me. I was off and on the bike (1) due to cramps and (2) due to the steep terrain.
Cramptastic is when:
- the arches of your feet cramp every time you shift your pedal stroke,
- when your inner quads explode "charly-horsing" from the knee all the way up the leg to the hip flexors.
- add on shin cramps (that I didn't think were possible. They are)
On one of the technical rooty sections I oversteered a tad to the right and my bike went down a hole and I went over the bars. 3 guys stopped to make sure i was ok. They asked if I needed help up...and that is when I mumbled craaaaaaampsssss. They too were cramping up. At this point, I met a ton of people that has muscle explosions going on. Two guys retrieved my bike and proceeded to lift me up on a count of 1-2-3. Sigh. I was up and back on the bike...that is until I started to cramp again. Repeat this scenario on every climb...begins to sum up my day.
Into aid 4 (mile 57), Kathleen - fellow teammate, caught me. She was looking spunky happy and fresh. I mentioned I was already thinking of bailing. She said "Noooo. It's all road climbing ahead...it'll be easier than the singletrack climbs. Follow me." ---- Ok, I grabbed a handful of swedish fish, a P&J square, a few fig netwons and a coke. Fresh bottles re-loaded and I was off following K.
(should I have been eating solid food earlier? add another question to my list...I don't know)
It didn't take long before she dropped me. It was probably the highlight of my day. She was looking solid, no cramps, all smiles, and a steady strong pace that would propel her to the finish line. Well done K, well done.
Miles 57 to 76 (aid 5) marked the darkest of hours for me. All climbing. Tons of cramps. left foot, right foot. Left quad, right. repeat. Throw in a shin spasm. I didn't want to ride. I wanted to sit in the creek that lined the climb for the first half of the climb. I stopped. I'd put my head on my handlebars. I'd fight my brain to make my body continue to move.
The first 10 miles of the climb were not as steep as the second half. The second ten miles just killed me. Am I to the aid yet? Am I to the summit? No, false alarm, more climbing. Ok, I'll walk cause it hurts to ride. No I'll ride cause it sucks to walk. God, at this rate, it'll take me all night to finish.
I want to quit. My stomach hurts. I don't want to drink. Drink. i feel like arse. I want to stop. Cramps. Walk. sigh. Pain. Approaching aid 5 I had goose bumps. (just some of my internal monologue)
Finally, I arrived aid station 5! The volunteers were great. I fell to the ground, instant cramps. A Wicked Wash team friend, Chris D, was also laying on the ground looking pale. He had arrived 30 or more minutes ahead of me. Apparently he crushed the first 40 miles at personal record speeds only to unravel completely into Aid 5. His stomach upset was much worse than mine. He couldn't hold anything down. My legs were trembling and I had chills. Luckily, Chris's awesome parents were volunteering at aid 5 and offered to give us a ride back to base camp.
Would I quit? I don't want to quit anything.
Would I let myself call it a day, a celebrate a 75 mile victory over my failing body?
Answer was yes. I was finally ok with letting it go. We all have limits. We all aim to break them. Another 25 on that mountain Sunday may have crushed me all the way to the Medic tent.
Was the experience of racing SM100 worth it? Yeah. I learned a lot and it gave me an opportunity to truly share in everyone else's accomplishments for the day. Chris Lane and Greg Rittler (teammates) both hit personal records over their previous year times. Carla took 5th and made the podium. Kathleen took 45 minutes off her prior year time. Matt crushed the course on his singlespeed, his first time @ SM. And Joe, who had not trained an ounce, crossed the finish line with a pale face then a big smile.
SM100 is crazy hard. Kudos to all the finishers.
And a big shout out to those of us that fought long and hard to stay in but didn't win the fight this year.
Tillmanator says: I'll be back.