Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Race Report: True Grit 100

Ah yes, the True Grit 100, a mountain biker's version of March Madness.  When I stepped out of the motel door at 6am in St George, Utah it was lightly misting.  I shivered all the way to the race start located in the neighboring town of Santa Clara.  After a winter full of multiple colds and trips back to the Midwest so family could ogle over my incredibly adorable ginger-son, my only goal for the day was to finish while having fun.

I was still shivering when the race started at 7am.  Being that cold may have been why I started out so fast with the head of the pack.  After a good half hour of pushing my heart into the red zone (aka zone 5), my legs told me it was going to be one of those days.  Once again, like every first race I've had for last several years, I was feeling a bit over trained.  What can I say, I'm really good at beating myself up during winter training; perhaps a little too good.  Despite cutting back on training, it still wasn't enough.   I really needed an extra week of recovery.  Just something to remember for next year.

Two things can happen when you're in a very long endurance race and your legs are telling you "not today"; A) You can accept that it just isn't going to be a "competitive day" and back off early so you can at least enjoy the ride B) You can bury yourself and have a miserable day.  One way or another, you ain't landing a top spot.  During the first lap, I wisely choose option 'A'.  I may have got passed a lot, but I always had a good enough gap to enjoy the downhills.  The True Grit has so many oh so good downhills too.  Lots of fun was had the first lap.

I completed lap one in around four hours, and started lap two feeling good when it happened; mountain bike race purgatory!  What is mountain bike race purgatory you ask?  It's when you have one or more racers who are fast enough to pass you on the uphills, and then ruin you downhills with their lack of skills.  Sure, you may finally pass them on the downhill, but by that time most of the downhill goodness is over.  There was two of them riding together in my case.  After they ruined one of my downhills, I couldn't let it happen again.  Between the gap I put on them on the last downhill I was able to salvage and pushing the pace on the uphills, I was able to ward them off for all the good stuff.

All the pushing the pace on the uphills to get myself out of mountain bike race purgatory put me quite a bit over the edge.  Luckily though, there is a long rolling section between the good trails in the True Grit 100.  I was pretty gassed, so I very slowly pedaled through this section.  When you're that gassed, that's when experience really comes in.  I've done enough endurance races to know that when you feel like you can't go on, you still have more in you then what you think.  It's a nice metaphor to life.  You can't quit when the chips are down; that's when you just have to suffer through and believe it's going to get better.  It did get better, and I was smiling again by the time I reached the last bit of singletrack goodness.

Any day you can complete 10k of climbing in 100 miles (85 miles technically on the Garmin) is a victory in my opinion.  Having beers while chatting with new and old friends makes it even sweeter.  I can officially check the whole True Grit 100 off my bucket list.  After a couple weeks of training in Vegas/Phoenix, I'll be back in Colorado preparing for the Gunnision Growler.  Come ride and be warm with me if you can!