G and I had driven up the day prior to the big race and spent the night in the cute little town of Peterborough, NH. It was only minutes from the Hampshire 100 start/finish and we had a bed to sleep in instead of camping. It did not seem to matter much since I did not get a good night sleep anyway. I was probably overly anxious about the long day ahead and the fact that my alarm was going to go off at 5 am. I do not wake up that early on purpose- ever!
I had no idea what to expect that morning.
It was less than 50 degrees at the start and the sun was shining. It was an amazingly beautiful morning for a bike ride and was a huge relief from the insanely hot and humid weather we have had this summer on New York.
6:45 am came quickly and we were off! There were 400+ racers in total but not everyone was racing the 100 mile option. The past 5 years of this event has “only” been a 100 K and this was the first year they were added to the NUE race series with the extra mileage option. Of course I signed up for the 100 mile category.
The race started off pretty quickly and I tried to just settle into my own race. It was hard to do. I look back now and I am sure that the ‘bike buzz’ got the best of me for the first 20 or so miles. I started out with a couple other women. One of them was a single speeder- Hannah. And the other was a woman that I knew from New York, Chrissy. It was nice to have a familiar face to start off with and she has done a 100 miler before. I figured if I just stick with her for a bit, I could maybe find a good steady pace. It was working for a while.
G had decided to wait for me at the first aide station and we quickly headed off together.
We pedaled with our friend Shoogs for a while. We pedaled the course with no idea what was ahead of us. I had read the course description but when you are out there in the mix, nothing really is what you thought it would be.
We had a pretty good pace and my spirits were high. The course started to pick up some steam. Railroad tie bridges; ‘the beach’; jeep trails with techy descents and loose steep climbs; the power line climb- which apparently had a great view if you turned around. I didn’t look behind me all day. Freshly cut single track that sapped my legs on ever pedal. Mud, roots, rocks. It was never ending.
Rolling up on a man playing the fiddle in a field was probably one the highlights for me. We were having a great time but suffering all the same.
We pedaled through people’s back yards as we looped through 7 different towns. They cheered us on and waived from their porches. We waived back and thanked them as we heading into the woods. The smell of pine trees kept me sane. I said out loud to G, “2 years ago, almost to the date- our lives were so different” I was feeling so lucky to be out there suffering on my own terms and soaking in the day.
|At "the beach"|
Somewhere around mile 40-45, my stomach started to bubble up. The pressure started to build and the cramping got worse. I kept pedaling and hoping it would just subside a bit. I had a Dixie cup of coke at one of the aide stations hoping it would settle my stomach. I had stopped eating. I was heading for trouble.
I was still with G and he was calling out to me to make sure I ate something. I just couldn’t do it. I felt too sick. It was either the Heed or the Perpetuem chews. I have used both before without any problems but I could not figure out what else it could be.
We pressed on. More mud, more climbs and a water bog that was thigh high deep. There was no way through it without lifting your bike and slogging your way through hoping not to twist you ankle on the invisible rocks below. Needless to say, this was not a highlight of the race for me. Although my bike is light, my ability to lift anything over my shoulders since my mastectomy and reconstruction surgeries has been a challenge. The cold water felt nice on my legs except it really triggered my neuropathy in my right foot. It was already bother me the same as usual but it was now hurting badly, especially when I would have to walk a section.
|Me- Attempting to get back on the bike. G had his GoPro on photo instead of video.|
I tried to remember some of the many suggestions this awesome lady gave me. “No matter how good or bad you feel it will not last, just keep moving forward no matter what the pace”. It did get a bit better but at that point, my nutrition was malfunctioning and my pace dropped off so much that I was not even sure we would make the 4:00 pm cut off to head out for the second part of the course. For the safety of all racers, they had time cut offs that would make sure you were off the course by 7:30 PM- for obvious reasons.
The modified second lap for the 100 milers began at the start/finish. This is brutal on the psyche. I should also mention we only rolled in with 3 minutes under the cut off time and it looked like a fun party happening on the start/finish site with all those that had already finished the 100 K and a few top racers that had finished the 100 miles. We decided to head back out on the course, but this was not an easy decision.
I started to do the math as I looked at the cut off times that I had taped to my handle bars. Could I keep up over a 10 mile an hour pace for the next 35 miles? I was not keeping that pace as it was, so it was not likely I could then. A couple miles into that second lap, G and I agreed that we were done.
I will not lie, I shed a few tears as we pedaled back to the score tent to let them know that we were quitting. My disappointment ran high. In all reality, we would never have made the cut off time at the next feed station and I would rather pedal myself back than have to take the support car back to camp.
Had I signed up for the 100 K, I would have had a finish. But as G said to me as we headed back to the start/finish area to tell the officials we were out- “You have to dare to be great. We will come back another day and finish our 100 mile race”.
We ended up with 70 miles, over 7000 feet of climbing and over 9.5 hours of riding. Not bad for a day on the bike and I am proud of that. Had I not had a GI issue, my race could have been much different. My arm cording never hurt and my hand did not swell in my glove. Probably because I did not use a camel back and the humidity was low. Amazing my back never hurt either. I was even climbing well. I had a fun day and I learned a lot about endurance racing. I need more practice and need to dial in my nutrition better. At the very least, find something to eat that does not make my stomach sick while riding. I also think I will try a different 100 miler next year. The New Hampshire 100 was supposedly one of the hardest in all of the NUE series- and it just so happens to be the one I chose for my first attempt.
This quote has always been a favorite of my guys and his “dare to be great” comment is inspired by this quote:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt
Many others did not finish the 100 mile race on that Sunday, but we were all out there- Daring to be great!