My 3rd try at this race was not too successful... in a word, I melted! This remains one of my favorite races, just one tough fun challenge put on by a great group of folks. I'm already looking forward to going back next year and getting a little payback for the day I had on Saturday!
The race started at 6am as the huge group (over 160 racers!) rolled out of Emporia. The day was already hot, but there was a nice 15mph wind in our faces that helped keep us cool. The first 60 miles went by pretty nicely, fun gravel and parts of the course I had seen before. My legs were pretty flat from last weekend's race, but they responsed when I asked them to push up the hills and didn't complain too loudly. MIle 20-40 was into the headwind, and I just settled down for a long day in the saddle. Lots and lots of folks changing flats on the side of the road... so I'd have faster riders coming by periodically as they fixed up their gear. The next 18 miles were fast and fun, tailwind at my back. Things did start to get warm, as I no longer had the cooling headwind... but the speed was worth a big smile!
Made it into the first aid station at mile 58, spent a little time at the gas station loading my camelback and waterbottle with ice water, and then time to take on the next leg. I headed out with a 30 minute cushion on the cutoff... right where I want to be! As I stepped out of the gas station the heat hit me in the face. Uh oh. This is going to hurt!
The first 8(ish) miles were asphault and I tried to make time, but my body began a rebellion. Not the legs, but the stomach. Tossed up the delicious coke and ice water I had drank at the last CP and felt a little better. Tried sipping on the fresh ice water I'd taken on and just rolled as easily as I could. This section just went from bad, to worse. It took nearly 5 hours to cover the 42 miles, and I hear the temps were up around 105. I haven't really ridden in heat this year, and between that and having tapped my resources last weekend... I struggled to keep anything down. The ice water turned to hot water. I stopped several times in the "shade" of a scraggly tree to try to cool down. I tried eating my Gu chews... I tried eating Gu... I puked up all manner of race food 4 times in that section, my stomach just wasn't having any of it.
I called Drew and mile 70 and told him to come get me. I called him back 5 minutes later and said I wanted to go another hour and see if things would turn around. I called Drew and mile 88 and told him I was done and gave him directions to retreive me, and called him back again before I even put my phone away and cancelled that rescue. And still the battle raged between my head and my body. After a puke, I would feel better. And, I maintained the ability to bike, just not with much oomph. I figured if I could just make it to dusk the temps would go down and my speed would pick up... but I was seriously crawling through the miles. I decided to just get to the 102 mile check point and think about things then.
And, I did. And, I DNF'd. Me head is still a bit pissy about it, but I also firmly believe it was the right thing to do. If I would have made it through this thing it would have been with alot of damage, and I have the National 24 hour race in 2 weeks that I want to do really well at. As it is, I'm still thirsty as a dog, and tearing up at the drop of a hat (both signs of how deep the hole was I dug). I've got mild sores on my bum, which will heal in a few days. And, turns out my cross bike agrees with the decision as I found a broken spoke on the front wheel when I pulled it from the car today (didn't notice it when I was riding, but something tells me I would have eventually when I hit a rock the wrong way!).
So... I'll be back next year! And, hopefully the heat will be too!!! I am in good company, although final results aren't up yet runor is that over 100 people dropped out, but I pride myself on my ability to take a beating and a DNF just doesn't sit well. This will be one of my key spring events next year, and not just a fun training day, and I'll remind that Kansas gravel that it's can't deny this Colorado girl!