Thursday, February 05, 2015

Arrowhead 135 recap (and 2 others), 2015

So before I recap this year's Arrowhead, let me give a quick recap of my 2 races prior.

Sostice Chase
It has been awhile now, but I did the race as a "tune up" race before Tuscobia.  Went something like this: piss poor start position, then stuck behind crash, rode really strong through the field, moved up to 5th with 4th place in sight halfway through after removing my mask, breathing got all messed up, faded hard, put mask on, rolled in for 8th or so.  Throat locked up for a few minutes after the finish, lungs messed up as a result.

Tuscobia 150
Jay Petervary would show up, lungs messed up still, legs felt great, after 3 hours my lungs revolted and I could barely ride on flat terrain.  DNF.  Big difference from winning the same race last year.

My uber fast Whiteout ready to race.

Before the start in my White Avenger costume.  Thanks Sveta for the pic!

Arrowhead 135
Last year I didn't finish this race as I was still having troubles from illness.  This year I was extremely confident I would have a good race.  At no time was not finishing a thought in my mind.  Lungs felt good, I felt good.  On the same note I picked 5 guys that, to me, anyone of them could win:

-Jay Petervary, previous Arrowhead, Tuscobia, Iditarod (350 and 1,100), and Great Divide winner.
-Kevin Breitenbach, previous Arrowhead and Iditarod winner.
-Todd McFadden, course record holder at Arrowhead, super fast mountian biker
-Tim Berntson, 2nd place (barely) at both Arrowhead and Iditarods
-Jorden Wakeley, Stupid fast XC mountain bike racer, the wildcard

My plan for the race was to shadow these gentleman, let them fight it out and beat each other up, and seize on opportunities.  With my asthma I didn't want to follow their surges stroke for stroke.  With an inch of fresh snow on the ground the start was anything but quick as no one wanted to set track for everyone else.  Temps were in the 10-20F range, so no one struggled with the cold.  The leadout was so low that the lead pack 8 miles in was long enough for me to stop and relieve myself without ever seeing the tail end of the group.

Following Steve Yore into the 1st checkpoint, he would pull over and have me go by as we left.  Thanks Tom Morgan for the pic!

So, I did what I intended; followed wheels.  Into Gateway (the first checkpoint at mile 35 miles in) the group was still fairly large, but breaking up.  A few miles out and it was 6 of us 'off the front' (me and the 5 people mentioned before).  I stayed with my game plan letting others set the pace.  For some reason I was battling some nausea and light headedness.  Nothing severe, but noticeable.  As we rolled into Melgeorge's I was feeling a little crappy, more nausea, but I was still with the lead group and had not been dropped on any of the hike a bike hills which was my biggest concern.  Legs and body felt completely in control.

Rolling across Elephant Lake towards the halfway point.  Thanks Chris Gibbs for such a great photo,

Walking into Melgeorge's I was calm and focused.  Mary Pramann (the Legend's wife) poured Coke into my bottle (to help the stomach) as I set out to the bathroom to fill the reservoir (there was a line at the kitchen sink).  With a freshly made grilled cheese and a bottle full of Coke I was second out the door behind Jay knowing others would join me and at least most of us would get back together.  That was the best dammed grilled cheese of my life and my stomach was incredibly happy with the meal.  Seriously, it was just some bread and cheese, but for some reason it just made everything in the world glorious at that moment.

We would all join forces once again.  Working our way through the trail the pace dropped some.  It was actually pretty funny how slow we went for awhile, almost like the calm before the storm.  I continued to hang at the back of the group, mentally I wanted them to count me out as a contender, which at that point was the exact opposite of how I felt. 

The sun had gone down and we were now in the 10 miles leading up to the last checkpoint: ski pulk.  My nausea had returned, but nothing severe.  I had been eating and was not worried about calories.  The terrain was a lot of steep up and down with a fair bit of pushing, and my legs felt GREAT.  Roughly 100 miles in and my legs were feeling almost the best all race.  I knew I was going to the finish with this group and couldn't help but relish the fact I can lay down a mean sprint.  Under my mask I was smiling, but I made sure not to hint this to the fellow racers.

Then it hit.  I am still not 100% what IT was, but every time I blinked my eyes were rolling back in my head.  Really quickly I became disoriented, dizzy, and using the bike to stand.  It felt like despite my body working on on cylinders, my brain had a lack of blood sugar.  With my asthma I have grown use to not carrying sugar laden food with me, so I slammed a 5 hour energy; the only thing I thought could help. A Red Bull (RED BULL!) would have been perfect in the situation as I think the sugar would have been the fix.  Soon, the brain would get out of its funk.

I rolled into that last checkpoint, grabbed a couple of cookies and drank a small bit of coke and set off right away.  I had a 15 minute deficit to try to make up, but I figured with how my legs felt there was a chance I could catch up.  But as I descended wakemup hill, my stomach started tightening up on me.  Then it completely locked up (I blame the 5 hour energy).  My body wanted to curl up in a ball from the pain, my mind wanted to try to snap my pedals off in power trying to catch up.  My body won out, I limped along, stopping frequently to eat a handful of the fallen snow in hopes it would help (they give ice chips it to women in labor for the same reason).  The snow helped a tad, and I rolled into the finish 51 minutes behind for 6th place.  The top four sprinted, with 1st and 2nd going to exactly who I thought it would go to when I unhitched from the group; Jorden and Tim.  Jay was third, Todd fourth, Kevin would come in 10 minutes back for 5th.  Steven Yore, a super strong rider whom I had not see since Gateway rolled in for 7th about 20 minutes behind me.

At the finish, feeling quite uncomfortable.  Thanks to the Arrowhead FB page for the pic!

As I laid on the ground in pain and discomfort with a small bit of water and broth in my tummy, Lynn Scotch would make the "I am finished and alive" call to the wife for me.  Soon, my stomach would open up and I felt great again, ready to get some food and hit the trail again if needed.  Oh well, too little too late.

My 9:Zero:7 Whiteout loaded up with Bike Bag Dude gear, Nextie Carbon Rims, and Wolftooth Components goodies all worked flawlessly.  The Coldavenger mask was on during the whole race and I had very little problems with my asthma.  Rochester Cycling continues to help me make my races happen, and is THE place to get your fatbike goodies in Southern MN.

Next up is Iditarod on March 1st, giddy up!


GSoroos said...

Awesome job, great write up. Kill it in Alaska!

Ben said...

Nice report! 3 weeks and counting!