May 31, 2021 - A hard day in the saddle...
Hanson Hills 50. This race is always on my calendar, as it fits in the training plan with the bigger 100 mile races coming in the following weeks. The race is always very demanding because of the local hitters that show up and how it is raced. This year, I was targeting a podium again...but also trying to focus on making sure my 11 year old son made it to the finish since he decided to give it a go.
Armed with our custom Infinit blends,we struggled with clothing choices of all things. It was 42 at the start and by the time I planned to finish it would be about 60. Of course we both over dressed, but I am not sure that would have made the difference for me in the end.
The race starts out of the Hanson Hills ski area with a controlled roll out on pavement and on the way back, it goes uncontrolled for the positioning battles leading into the single track. I knew who was going to make the jump into the single track first and I was watching very carefully as we wound up the pace to a max of 30 mph on the pavement. I was initially well positioned going into the single track but the rider in front of me started to fade 4 miles in. We were slowly losing touch of the lead group and on the first big climb, they went out of sight. Passing is near impossible due to the growth and narrow deep single track, so by the time I could pass, the leaders were barely visible. I lit the fuse and burned the entire matchbook to try and get back on the lead group, but it was too late and the gap was just too big to close. Looking back at my data, I was in Z5 for about 30 minutes before I had to back off. I struggled to regain focus and made several mistakes on hairpin corners causing me to unclip several times. It was as if I was riding on marbles....
I was coming in for lap 2 and my wife and I totally botched the hand up. She was off the course and I could not go wide enough to make the bottle grab. All of my frustration did not make it any better when I may have yelled in the heat of the moment. We got it done, only losing about 30 seconds in the end. Lap 2 was absolutely horrid. I kept pushing in Z4 until about mile 39.4. Then....cramps! Too hard for too long. I struggled to keep Z3/4 until the end fighting cramps but was still able to maintain my position until the finish.
I finished 6th in 3:31 taking 7 minutes off from the previous running of the race in 2019 (3:38 for 2nd place). Very respectable...but clearly everyone else trained just as hard and showed up to race. Some races are good, some are bad, but you can learn from them all. Key takeaway from this one is communication before the race on expectations :) .
On a more positive note, my 11 year old son Donald finished his first endurance race. He is the youngest finisher for the race ever and he did it completely on his own. He even had a smile on his face at the end...which is something else I can learn from. 5:12 was his finish time.