Sunday, June 17, 2007

Diagnosis: Dehydration

I went into the Lumberjack with a clear plan:
  • Get a good start
  • Pick up and consume at least two bottles of perpetum and two gu packets per 2hr lap
  • Keep heart rate between target rates
  • Bring home a trophy
Well, that clear plan hit the granite wall of reality.....

The night before the race, I prepped all my bottles and filled in my support crew (my mom and my cousin Kyle) on how to refill, but I forgot to tell them about the Elete and I forgot to put a dose bottle in my jersey (big oops.)

Next morning we arrive at the race, park, check in, etc. I adjust the rear wheel and everything rides fine and after the riders meeting we head out onto the paved road for a about a mile I think so that we don't enter the singletrack in a huge bunch. I positioned myself towards the front, slipped up through the pack and got a great start. Then, all the sudden, my bike comes to a complete halt, threatening to pitch me. I jump off and look at it. What could be wrong?! What am I gonna do? Turns out, the rear wheel had fallen out of the drop-outs. I fix it and tighten down the skewer, remount and pick up the pace to regain my position. I make it back up, it happens again. It was during one of these times Danielle pass me. I fixed it again, this time tightening it as tightly as I could and again chased down a group of guys I would catch and lose several times.

How you might ask? Well, I'll leave it at this. If you're going to race a mountain bike, it's a good idea to keep one around and ride it once in a while between races. In short, I spent the first two laps learning to ride my bike again. It must have been hilarious for the guys. I'd catch 'em, get impatient, pass, biff. Rinse, repeat. :D Lots of wasted energy tho, which would come and haunt me later.

After the first lap, Danielle had two minutes on me, but I was feeling good and caught and passed her on the second lap, but things started to sour a bit about halfway through the third lap. I started feeling crappy and despite Cory's reminder to not worry about Danielle but to drink, drink, and drink some more. I didn't. There just didn't seem to be lots of good places to remove my water bottle and drink. And it honestly didn't occur to me to slow down and just take care of the engine. But by the time I hit the aid station, I knew things were bad and I downed quite a bit of liquid there and a granola bar before riding off. Then I heard a squeaky bike behind me. I asked, "You want by?" and a woman's voice answers, "Sure," in a way too perky of a fashion.


I let her pass and grabbed her wheel. I figured if luck is with me, maybe I can hold it until I feel better, but every bump was making feel like my body was going to shatter. My feet had been sliding in my shoes just enough to irritate the nerve endings of my big toes and they hurt so badly I could barely concentrate on the trail, let alone take my hand off the bar and drink. All the while, Miss Perky Voice, aka Danielle, is talking to me.

She asked, "So, do you like road or mountain bike better?"

I said, "Road. Definitely road." However, I was thinking, "I hate mountain bikes. I hate trails. I hate bumps, and I especially HATE trees." See, they make me claustrophobic, flickering past my eyes, blocking my view, pushing in. All the while, I was feeling worse and worse. I would see Danielle grab the tube on her wingnut and drink and knew I should have done the same, but I didn't. I just didn't think I could take my hand off. I snatched a few sips, but it wasn't enough and a particular switchback forced me off my bike and I nearly collapsed. I walked the bike up a bit and then just felt like I needed to lay down. So, I put the bike to the side of the trail in case someone came along and crumpled.

The INSTANT I did, the forest alarm went off.... WHoop whoop whoop ... large mammal about to die! Yum!!! And I was swarmed by gnats. I didn't know if I cared about the bears anymore, but I couldn't handle gnats up my nose. So, after deciding crying and cussing would use too much energy, I stood up and began to walk my bike up the trail. It must have been a sight. Dirty, so unhappy, walking on the outer edges of my feet to spare my toes, and wondering if I'd even make it. The only solace was that even moving very slowly was enough to keep the gnats off. At the top of the hill, I remounted my bike, put it in the granniest of gears and finally made it back to the start/finish line.

I entered the area, but couldn't think of where to go or who to tell that I was done with this race. I didn't even think to go over to the aid station. I think my mind had slipped. All I could think about was laying down so I headed for where I'd left the cooler and my mom. She was looking for me because I was so late getting in on the lap and a man pointed me out to here. She quickly came over and I pretty much collapsed. I felt so bad. My head ached, I wanted to puke, I was cold, and I couldn't think of anything other than wanting to sleep. Thanks to mom, though, I managed to get ice on my toes, 800 mg of ibuprofen and some perpetum in plus a gu packet down my throat, then I asked her to put her jacket around me and I curled up in the grass. A kind woman gave my mom a folded up towel for a pillow. I think I slept or passed out for about 10 minutes. When I came to again I felt a little better and had some more to drink and a banana and began to consider the issue of quitting.

If I quit, I'd have to post it to the blog. I'd have to tell people about it, and I knew they would all give that little pause before they followed it with some variant of "you'll do better next time". Do you know what I'm talking about, or am I the only one that hears it? That moment of silence that sounds like, "Are you sure you couldn't have dug any deeper? Are you a quitter?"

Anyway, as much as I dreaded going back into those trees, any way I looked at it, DNFing sounded worse than even crawling the 25 miles of trail.

As I sat on the cooler, I saw people I'd passed heading out for the last loop and as the minutes ticked by my condition improved and shortly after Skip headed back out I decided to rally.

I told my mom I'd ride the inner loop and if I felt horrible, I'd stop after that. I thought I'd try and catch Skip and then ride with him. Maybe I could finish with the help of a friend's company. I then put on my shoes, strapping them snug to prevent sliding, stepped back on that bike and rode back out onto the course 37 minutes after I'd come in thinking I was completely cooked.

As I rode, I kept feeling better and my speed increased. I picked up a lot of people and made up 12 minutes on the third place woman, but I needed 22 to catch her (if I remember the sheet correctly). But, I wasn't thinking about that while I was riding. I was thinking about that little girl in Tulsa whose arm I signed. That really spurred me on. I kept telling myself it wasn't about winning any more, so much as finishing in good form. Not a quitter. Look adversity in the eye and step up. That's the kind of person who signed her arm.

In fact, I came close to titling this entry, "permission to fail," because until I let go of the "win" mentality, I was so crushed at how I'd messed up my chance that I could hardly think about riding. At the moment I decided that didn't matter and what was most important was finishing and being a sporting part of the race, things started getting better and I even began to look forward to attending the awards ceremony, which turned out to be a lot of fun.

Danielle got her trophy and even with my breakdown, I ended up 4th and there 21 or 22 women registered for the race. I also won a raffle for the first time and got a teeshirt. Then, my crowning achievement for the day..... two tires.... how? Arm wrestling, of course. Ha! No, it was pretty funny. They had a couple of guys arm wrestle and there was lots of cheering and hoopla, then someone, I think Anne, poked my arm and said they wanted some women up there. She was getting ready to go up, but as an athletic strong-looking blond stood up, so did I, and Anne let me go. The blond flexed her guns as she walked to the table and looked pretty tough, but I've lifted many an alfalfa bale and done some arm wrestling in my time.

(Thx, Danielle, for the pix!)
We locked hands and the bout started. My strategy was just to hold her until she got tired and then go for the kill. It worked like a charm and two Kenda 26" tires were mine. Now, I just have to figure out what to do with 'em.

All in all, a HUGE thanks to my mom, Kyle, Cory, Skip, Danielle, Mike, Janet, Kris and EVERYONE who was a part the Lumberjack 100. I learned a lot and am definitely heading back north next year - stronger, smarter, faster. So look out. ;)


Jeff Kerkove said...

Excellent effort!

Neve_r_est said...

Some lessons come the hard way, way to finish it out.

Hydration pack, anyone?


oldmanandhisbike said...

I am really frustrated I did not get to see you race or arm wrestle this weekend (see my blog later)! Once again, a pretty awesome race report. Sorry to hear about the bonking, but your determination and 4th place finish is pretty impressive. I only wish I wanted it that bad when I race.
Hope you do come back next year!

gravy said...

Yay! Let's hear it for dogged determination.

I was just telling Janna, "If it doesn't hurt, it wasn't worth it."

A body at rest is just going to sit there unless you stress it.

VeloCC said...

I can show you what to do with the tube-less tires, hey I even trade you for an Hydration Pack !!!!!
You bet your happy little behind, that I will be out there with you next year riding and I will carry an IV:) just in case.....
GOOD JOB MTB CHIC!!!! Once again mind over matter and trust me those trees are really pretty friendly once you get to know them better. They pretty much leave you alone:)

munsoned said...

The mental battle that goes on in racing is so impressive to me. The best racers can tune out all thoughts of pain, doubt, and outside stresses. They can think clearly and make wise, split-second decisions when it matters most. The mental aspect of racing is usually what determines the outcome. You can train this and also help yourself in-race to better your mental state. I'm no expert on this and have alot of training to do for myself, but I recognize this mental battle and plan on learning more about it.

Bonking basically hinders the ability to think clearly since your body goes into survival mode. Your brain lacks energy, so it stops functioning optimally and then steals energy that the rest of your body should be using. I'm sure most of you know this, and Syd, you've shown incredible mental fortitude by regathering yourself and finishing the race. I remember reading in a recent Velonews article where someone said, "There's a difference between losing and getting beat. Losing is what you do to yourself and getting beat is when others are stronger than you." (paraphrasing) You changed you situation from losing to getting beat by only 3 other riders!! That's pretty amazing. Imagine how well you would've done if everything went well(no mechanicals and enough refueling/hydration)?

Great job and thanks for continuing to provide inspiration for others to follow.

Cornbread said...

Syd, you did an awesome job to rally after the third lap. I'm very proud.

Tuesday night MWC ride? Get out at least once a week on the fat tires. Work it into your training.

mtb05girl said...

Dennis you took the words out of my mouth. I was going to suggest a hydration pack. It definitely helped me drink during our ride yesterday. On longer mountain bike rides I normally always carry a CamelBak. Reaching for bottles is a pain and you always risk the chance of losing the bottle on the trail.

Nice job on the race! Way to keep going!

Veronica said...

Nice story. Anything worth achieving always has setbacks. Way to be stubborn Syd (grin)!

LoupGarou said...

Great job Syd. Your determination and race reports are great inspirations for everyone. Keep it up.

len said...

that reports awesome! for one i just love hearing stories about people getting worked over and it is pretty awesome to hear you get your second wind and come back at it.

flirting that line of your physical limits and finding out how you deal with it is pretty damn cool.

you're definately one tough chica! maybe if you don't consume fluids on your training rides you wont have to drink during racing.

Dad said...

Great race report, Sydney. Make a plan, work your plan...been the motto and key to success in all competitions forever.

What blows the best laid plans is the failure to make the last minute final equipment and mental checks and put the people or things in place necessary to make plans come to fruitation even if you are having mental/physical motor challenges.

It is putting those little things in place that often determine the outcome of a competition. I know that mtb racing is certainly different than a rodeo, track or football competition, but yet in the minute execution of the cutting edge they are the same...make my plan...mentally replay it till it's rote...then nod for the gate and focus on the plan and execute, execute, execute.... In making those plans you must consider the probable possibilites of alteration as well. i.e. What if Plan a, part b alters? What have I got in place to counter that?

Translated to rodeo it would be like knowing that this bull leaps high to the right leaving the chute, then drops his head and left shoulder deep into the left circle and begins his spin...the storyline is he always does it...the rider decides to take his handhold from deadcenter on Toro's back down lower on the left Toro fires high to the right, drops his head and left shoulder, but lurches out to the right and cuts it back into a right we have an altered plan and the rider had better really hustle to counter b/c Toro has all the the rider has got to forego safety and begin hustling the right foot, spurring hard to pull himself topside and at the same time catch the bull's rear-end to bring his free arm forward across his body that it might pull him up against his rope. The rider immediately goes to Plan a, alteration b, and he and Mr Toro stand a fair chance of making the whisle together. He doesn't, then Mr Toro wins hands down and it is possibly lights out for the rider b/c no alternate plan is wreck city.

Remember how I used to stress that when I rode into the box that my whole world was just me, my horse and the critter. A war could be going on next door and I'd never know it. I'm zoned in, and have no distractions. Whether that works in bike racing with longer time spans and distances I don't know, for my competition world has always been measured in seconds. Somehow I think it could because you're only looking for the finish line and you get there by hustling the plan.

Oh well, so much from an ole man who enjoys seeing and hearing his gal compete...and because we are both so competitive I have a hard time just letting experience fill in your blank pages adn being a good fan... ;-)

Remember we've talked about sucking it up with injury, which is just mentally overriding pain, but when the engine is ailing things begin to shut down pay attention!!

Chris said...

Awesome job at fighting through the difficulties and finishing. Most people wouldn't have done that.

I am not sure I get the whole endurance mtb thing, but I sure respect those who do them.

Just don't injure yourself offroad, because you are fantastic on the road.

velo72 said...

Sydney. Don't fret about getting used to a new bike (you are correct; it was entertaining -- once we figured out you were okay and knew how to fall :). You were fearless and did manage to get your seat pack zipped up before anything fell out. Plus you were kicking my butt when I was with you. Good job. I couldn't attempt a trail like the Big M without a camel back. you've got heart, and you're fast too.

Kelly K said...

Holly shit those are some buff arms you have. Great race! Winning would not feel so good if you didn't have any of these experiences. AHH! Life lessons.

bbElf (a.k.a. panda) said...

That's a great story...races like that are the ones that I always look forward to in the future and the place where I really mark the annual improvements in fitness (even if they're so small only I notice!).

Plus I'm a big fan of anything associated with lumberjacks :).

Squirrel said...

Way to stay tough:) Them guns scare the shit out of me.