After a great night of sleep at the historic Wellston Inn, I started my day at 5am with a wonderful breakfast courtesy of my Paula Deen Breakfast Sandwich Maker. Everyone should have one of these. It poaches an egg and warms up a sausage patty or ham slices while cooking your toast. Everything is done in less than five minutes. Amazing!
We began loading up the car, and a Bald-Faced Hornet promptly flew into our cabin. When it landed on the wall, I tried to sneak up on it with a rolled up magazine, and recoiled in horror as the tiny head swivelled around and glared at me. Did you know they could do that?! I was useless after that, and Tony bravely trapped it in his Lumberjack pint glass and let it go several hundred feet away. We began loading up the car again, only to find the same or another hornet in the room again. Tony did his glass trick again, and we headed to the venue around 6am. We made several trips lugging supplies to our tent in the feed zone. There were four of us sharing an EZ-Up and it was amazing to me how much stuff we all had. Looking back, I'd say I could've easily fit everything that I actually used into one milk crate. But you never know what you'll need, right?
The race started, and for those of us whose goal was simply to finish, the mood was cheerful. In fact, for most of the first lap I was chatting with different people. The second lap I picked up the pace a little but was still having plenty of fun. I was drinking 40-70 oz of Cytomax on every lap, plus I had a flask of Hammer gel in my pocket. I still haven't learned to get it out of there while riding, though. I would probably use it a lot more if I didn't have to actually stop and get off my bike every time I wanted some.
We had Paula and Scott as our pit crew and they did a fantastic job. I had a mental checklist of things to do in between laps. Paula refilled my Camelbak while Scott lubed my chain and I popped Endurolytes and chowed down PowerBars for a little fat and protein. After my second lap and pit break I was feeling really good about things till Paula abruptly announced, "It's time to go." I was kind of flustered after that, and her words kept haunting me for the whole third lap. Sure enough, when I pulled into the chute everyone was yelling to keep going, that I had just made the cutoff. I asked if I had time to stop at my tent and get more water and was told NO. Luckily some nice ladies at the end of the feed zone filled up my Camelbak as the race official was walking up to tape off the course! So, I never got to try out my new super-endurance food of choice: cheese and potato pierogies... *sigh*
I was trudging up the first big climb when fellow Dark Horse teamie Lynn joined me. She had just made the cutoff too, and only had one half-filled water bottle left. She traded me a Gu and some Endurolytes for some Ibuprofen and a couple of Clif Blocks, and we headed out, praying that they would keep the feed station open for us. That fourth lap just about killed me.. I've gradually figured out through the course of training for Lumberjack that my bike frame is too small for me, and climbing while seated was giving me a lot of knee pain. At the same time, I didn't have enough energy to stand on the long hills, and when I gave up and walked I was getting horrible cramps just above my ankle.
We came up on the feed station halfway through the course and found them still there waiting for us, with a fantastic array of food and endurance products. I told them they were best and most wonderful people in the world, and helped myself to some Twizzlers and Coke. It's kinda funny how I've been trying for the past month to perfect a way of quickly rendering fizzy Coke flat, yet when presented with the choice of a warm semi-flat one and an ice-cold fizzy one, I gulped the cold one with no hesitation and no regrets.
The last ten miles seemed to go on forever. I kept thinking that last big hill was just around the corner, but then it wasn't. There were additional hills that I didn't even remember.. somebody must've added them in between laps. The pinkie fingers of both my hands were completely numb. At one point I thought I saw an Indian in full headdress out of the corner of my eye. Crazy! Then I was finally rocketing down the last hill, laughing out loud because I was so happy to be finished.