Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hard day's night

Last Saturday night I rolled a little after 9 PM on another Vapor Trail 125 toughening ride. (To call it a training ride doesn't really cover it. Finishing the VT125 takes more than fitness.)

My plan was to ride the first half (a bit more than half by distance) of the VT125 course. For those who've reviewed the course on the website, sections 1 through 5.

I rolled up to Blank's Cabin to start the Colorado Trail and everything was going fine. I was on schedule with race pace more or less, even with a stop to oil my chain. (Hopefully before the actual race I will have remembered to do that prior to the 10 PM start.) An orange waning gibbous moon rose behind me soon after I left town. Must have been a fire somewhere, since the sky was also hazy and there was a faint wood smoke scent in the air.

I ran the singletrack in roughly normal time and arrived at the old railroad grade above Chalk Creek to appreciate a spooky, hazy moonlit view of the Chalk Cliffs across the valley on the slopes of Mt Princeton.

That's when things started going downhill for me. Around 3 AM, as I started the grind up toward the Alpine Tunnel, I began to feel that weak, fatigued feeling I've been getting in the last month or so on long rides.

It took an eternity to reach St Elmo. I actually got off and walked the bike a couple times before I got there. Before even a glimmer of dawn, I downed the 2nd of the two Red Bulls I had brought. My eyes felt heavy and I was yawning and swaying, so I knocked down the wonder cure. It had almost no effect.

It took an eternity plus 5 to get to the base of the tunnel. Dawn greeted me on the approach.

Back toward where I came from, east toward the rising sun

Normally the coming of dawn gives me a kick in the ass when I've ridden all night. This time I just felt like my ass had been kicked.

Soft dawn light

I sat at the base of the hike-a-bike up to the divide in despair. The idea that I have a chance of finishing this year's Vapor Trail 125 sounded like a pipe dream. I ate some cold oatmeal and stared east down the glorious valley but my head was full of negative.

As Shawn pointed out, I should have turned around long before and gone back to bed. But I didn't do that.

After a while, I heaved a heavy sigh and put my pack back on. I pulled the bike upright. I trudged up the trail.

The rest of the story is what you might expect. Joyless pain. I made Tomichi Pass. It hurt. I decided to skip Canyon Creek, which should have been the funnest part of the whole ride. I was way behind schedule, and was worried that I wouldn't be able to contact Kathy until after she started worrying.

Climbing to Old Monarch was a nightmare. If I could have gotten cell service I would have called Kathy to come get me with the truck.

I'm discouraged. I don't know if there's any way that I'll have the fitness to do it. I wish I knew why. It certainly isn't overtraining. But I'm not sure it's undertraining either. I've done some nice big rides this summer, and thanks to my schedule I've done lots of recovering from them.

I'm not done preparing. But my confidence is a bit challenged.

But it's important for me to remember, 50% of this game is half mental. I've got to overcome this negativity. Working on it. Working.


JenyJo said...

oh honeyyyyyy!!!!!


Ed said...

Your circadian rhythm messed you up and you couldn't shake the gloom.

Your mind and body wanted to sleep and you defied them. With nothing else to focus on (other riders, the event itself, motivation, etc.) you sunk into darkness and couldn't escape. I'm surprised the rising sun had no effect. I think on event day you'll be able to rally.

The 10pm start SUCKS!



JenyJo said...

OH -- and on event day -- you'll have my company to bolster the sunshine energy --- once that sun comes up i'm sure to start screaming and whoopin' and singing at the TOP OF MY LUNGS!!!!!



Chris said...

Don't despair, with night starts there are some things you can't control. Your body is used to sleeping then, no matter your fitness. Race day is usually much better. If that doesn't work, lay down and take a 5 minute nap. Sometimes I have to do it twice but it usually has the right effect.

You can do it, I advise no more super crazy all night runs. You know how to do them and in my experience more "training" by doing them before the event just is a bad idea.