Sunday, August 07, 2005

Jay Challenge Race Report (a week behind!)

Jenn and I packed-up the car on Friday and headed to Jay, VT to meet-up with the Rob (marathon) & Stacey (belly full of kid); Allison(1/2 marathon) & Kyle; Harry (mtb of course) & his pops. We had a relaxed group dinner chilling-out and got the best sleep we could considering how amped-up everyone in the condo was!

JAY MTN MARATHON (Jenn, Allison (1/2) and Rob):
Saturday was a perfect day for a mountain marathon, with temps in the 70s and not a cloud in the sky. I was sitting this one out, but was excited to tour the aid stations to cheer Jenn/Rob and Allison on. Harry and his dad (Mike) being the super-cool dudes they are, woke-up early and toured the aid stations with me and their dog Powder. Throughout the run it was fantastic to see Jenn coming through each aid station with a big smile. A little less than 10months after her first 8mile trail race she was tackling the hardest mtn marathon in the country - and to make it even tougher, it was 32miles instead of 26.2! Nice one - and one of the many reasons people love to hate the Race Director, Dan DesRoisers. He takes you to the edge - even if you didn't want to go!

Jenn's take:
Quick review of the "run." Allison, Rob and I were chatting at the start and the moment Dan said "go" Rob went and that was the last we saw of him until I crossed the finish line.

It was exactly what I had expected and much much more - like 4 miles more, but hey, who's counting?

We went over the river and through the woods and over the mountain too. It was a merge of Muddy Moose and the Andover race plus a few brook crossings, one water fall navigation and a river crossing. The course was well marked, the volunteers were fantastic at every aid station and the weather was perfect. Not to mention how wonderful the runners were - I'm astounded by how many wonderful people I met along the way and will hopefully stay in touch with them. My only suggestion for next year would be for some other food options - the whole time I was running I was desperate for something other than gummy bears and salted potatoes. To be fair I'm sure everyone craves something different when they're out there running. It's my first race of this nature so I'm just learning that I cannot shake the thought of a nice slice of of course I bought a whole bag yesterday and signed up for the VT 50 (50 k not miler).

Allison's take:
Good a.m. weary Jay Challenge crew . . . Well, it appears that I'm not as immune to lactic acid snapback as I thought. Was doing well until about 1 pm yesterdayand everything seemed to be seize up - ouch! It's well worth it though, just a reminder that you actually did all this crazy stuff! Just wanted to say thanks to everyone for making the Jay a whole lot of fun and comfortable. To Jenn & Jeff, thanks for coordinating the great lodging, great eats & cookin' -- and to Stacey & Rob for the great snacks, cookies and beer!!! It was the perfect environment to be in, and any pre-race jitters were felled by all the good company, positive vibes, cheering, dogs, etc. I know I felt great going into all this knowing I was in the company of a great crew! A special thanks to Stacey & Jeff for being the best faces you could hope to see at an Aid Station, your enthusiasm/energy were infectious -- and it kept us all going, you rock! And finally, I owe Jenn a huge debt of gratitude for talking me into doing this - I have you to thank for this even being possible. To come away with such a great feeling of achievement is priceless, and I'm so glad you encouraged me to do the event. It was inspiring and so much fun to run with you - look forward to many events, great and small ahead Thanks again all -- as crazy as it sounds (but it won't to this crowd), I can't wait for 2006. Congratulations to everyone for making this so much fun! p.s. Jay Peak is minus 4 slender birch trees . . . shhhhhh, don't tell. Though technically, we're just relocating themto a different PART of Vermont. p.p.s. Leave it to me to get through a 1/2 marathon and then manage to break a baby toe while walkingthrough my laundry room - OW!

Rob's take:
This was definitely the most physically demanding race I've ever done. The terain was varied and helped to keep things interesting. The course had one too many brook running sections for my taste but they were welcome when they came since you had to walk or run slow to pass. I wish I could say the race flew right by and didn't seem like 6+ hours of running - but it did. Dan, the race organizer, was right - Jay Peak was the "meat grinder". Surviving that was tough but then to have 22 more miles of running left after your legs have been toasted is a challenge.

Fueling your body for long runs is much different than biking and the "only" issue I had was bad stomach cramping from too many sweet drinks/gummy bears/gels. Stuff sloshes around much more running (duh!) The aid stations didn't have salted potatoes after the halfway point so my stomach rebeled. Chicken broth would have helped.

This race had by far the nicest specatators, aid station personnel and most of all, other competitors. I guess everyone realized what a challenge it was.

My hat's off to those who did all 3 days. That's UNBELIEVABLE. As for next year? Don't mention it for several months...

JAY 60 MTB (me):
Sunday morning was just as picture perfect as Saturday. The race started well and I got into a similar position climbing Jay Peak as last year - 100meters behind the lead group, working hard, sweat running-down my arms in the relatively cool temperature. My legs were telling me to keep it up, no problem senor, but my stomach wasn't pysched with water so i let the sweat drip, not willing to ease-up on the legs. Had to dismount, push, run, walk, push a few times, but rode some sections i couldn't clear last year. As I neared the summit with legs feeling solid, I had a burning desire to bridge-up to the lead group. To this end I was willing to use little or no brake as I rounded the final bend and began the descent. Very quickly the headwall dropped-off , speed became unrealistic and I was coming off the bike, hurtling forward - head towards the ground, but the pitch was such that the top of my helmet careened across a rock as it came forward - can't remember if the bike was attached or not, then back around to fall hard onto the ground on my shoulder. Back-up quick, grabbing the bike a few feet up the slope, untangling the cables and back on with hands squeezing brakes for dear life... then slowly easing-off the brake as the ride takes back over, the pitch behind me, wood bridges over steep perpendicular waterbars coming now, speed, brake, slamming-down onto the wood and back-out the far side with all speed possible, 5 or 6 of those, around a corner and into the first of a series of smaller waterbars, this time without planking covers, front tire down in and immediately flying back-out the 1-2' gully, bike up into the air with the back-end following suit, higher into the air than anticipated, but tires back-down with squirrly landing, arms holding it together, then pushing the bike towards the ground on exit of the next waterbar, then the next and the next, using my bike's 4" of travel to keep me on the earth versus shooting-out the far side of a waterbar high in the air - half in control...

On the bottom of the descent a mile or two past the spectators, I bridge back up to the leaders, but as i cruise into their ranks, one of them pulls a wheelie and rides uphill for quite some time as i huff and puff by him. I enter the first section of atv track in front of the pack, pace is pretty mellow, i'm debating whether i should pick it up and ditch guy who is running the "mud" puddles in front of me, but know the leaders are coming... and within a few miles the leaders open-up their legs and cruise past at a pace not reasonable for me to maintain. A couple guys offer encouragement as they go by. Unexpected. For 3-4miles I was in 2nd or 3rd place at the Jay Challenge. Does this mean anything? Nope.

As the leaders cruised by, I hung with my pace and waited for the next group of riders to approach - i'm very accustomed to racing alone and find it similar to doing a hard endurance training effort. Just keep the rpm's up and push the biggest gear I can at HRM 140-160, keeping lactic burn to a minimum at all times. I didn't see anyone until Nathan came maybe an hour after the climb? - at aid station 4 (he punctured off jay and had lost time)... at this point been mostly on really fast fireroads - not really my deal, but i can try to hang (but not with Nathan!). As Nathan passes me as well as 2 other faster fireroad fellows, he mentions he doesn't have enough air in his rear tire. No problemo, that's why I carry 48grams of CO2, just in case. I hand him up 16grams as he pulls away (where's the singletrack at! - I'm no roadie!). Anyway, not 30secs later I feel my rear tire flattening. A brand new tubeless Serac. Just put it on the night before. The sidewall is torn. How? We've only been on maybe 5 miles of ATV roads and 20miles of fireroad, how could the sidewall bust? Anyway, I patch it up and continue, losing some time, but at this point, I'm not too worried...

I catch Nathan as we search for a missing trail marker and finally enter some sweet singletrack. I'm having a friggin' blast! My legs feel solid, I'm right where I want to be in the race, the sun is streaming down through the trees and i'm seeing all the lines. Some early stomach issues have resolved themselves, I'm drinking like a fish now... Then I feel the rear tire going flat again. I pull over. New rip in the sidewall, different spot. WTF? I've been riding clean - the only part of my tire that's touched a rock are the treads, I'm not slopping through this. I try to patch, but the hole is just too big. I try to put a tube in it, but it rips through the hole and I somehow tear the tube. A group of rider swings by and someone hands me some instant patch, so I dump a bunch of super-glue in the rip with a luna wrapper and the instant patch. It holds. 10+mins gone. I get going and not 5-10mins later, psssttt... Rear tire going flat! WTF!!! Now I've got a rip right down the middle of the tire, between two treads. YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING!!! I begin to run/ride - it's only 5 miles to aid station 7, jenn should be there with my gear box, I'm pissed, frustrated, all that... Then who do I see again? Nathan. Broken chain. What the heck is happening to us!!?? Nathan offers me his rear wheel. I offer him my chain. Nathan tells me to get going and figure it out at aid station 7. I try to ride as much as i can, but it's as hard to ride a flat as it is to run... and my sweet Mavic SL rear wheel doesn't deserve being ridden over rocks and roots with a flat!

Aid station 7 wasn't accessible by car. No Jenn. How may miles to aid station 8? No one knows. Yack. Nathan offers me his wheel again, he's broken his chain yet again! I offer him my chain again. He's a better rider, he should go on, I'll take the DNF. No dice. Nathan won't do it. I get going again on the flat, nathan is trying to wait-up for me, I'm mad as hell that this is happening - I go 110%. 10 people pass me, my heart is maxed, aid station 8 can't be that much farther... I make it to aid station 8, jenn and mike (harry's dad) are there, as are our dogs. They lick. I swear. Nathan waited or was doing repairs... He offers to wait for me. I know he's faster than i at this point and i don't want him to wait, so I tell him it'll take me 10mins for me to change my UST tire. He looks perplexed that I'm that bad of a mechanic (I've already taken this tire off 3 times today!). It takes me 3-4mins to change the tubeless, I'm so pissed I want to DNF. I never DNF. Jenn tells me to just relax and enjoy the ride. I eat an orange she peeled. Mmmmm.

The ride. My legs are trashed from running/riding a flat. Thank god for the ride. After aid station 8, we hit a decent climb. I go real slow, trying to recoup some energy, but the course immediately begins the 2nd of 3 major climbs. As we enter some ATV track that wraps up and down, up and down through a Sugarbush stand, I begin moving through the field again. This is mtbiking! I've regained my composure. The next 20miles go w/o incident - and before we hit the pavement to climb Jay Pass, we get some more really nice singletrack. I take it easy and enjoy, my legs are pretty fried and I'm saving my gas for Jay Pass. I chit-chat with the guy in front of me for a couple miles and just enjoy the ride...

I get onto the asphalt and the guy who was in front of me through the woods tells me to get on his wheel. I do for a min, they pull ahead to pull. I look back and he's 25feet behind - he yells up, "see ya' at the finish." I mutter, "if i can hold this pace." Before I even get to Jay Pass I crumble. I get cold sweats, have to stop, get-off the bike and just stand in the road. I didn't eat or drink enough all day and combined with the running - i've cracked. First time i can remember this happening... a weird feeling of powerlessness... everything was shimmering. A support vehicle cruises by and asks if I'm ok. I say yes. The guy I've decided not to pace with, passes me and says, "come-on brother! don't stop now!" Other folks I'd seen earlier in the course also pass, and also offer words of encouragement.

I begin to walk, try to ride, then walk again. 5mins passes and so do the cold sweats. I'm back in the saddle - sticking to the 32-34 instead of pushing with the middle ring. I cruise up and over Jay Pass pretty slowly, Jenn and Mike are cheering, she hands me some oranges and they're just the energy i need. 35mins later, i'm an hour behind schedule, but crossing the finish. Dan "triple threat" DesRoisers is there - as he is for every racer he can be there for to congratulate. Race completed. Done. Done. Done.

Nathan would finish 30mins ahead of me - and Harry about 15mins behind. They're both animals! Awesome rides!

Overall, from my jersey pockets, i handed-out 4 electrolyte tabs and 3 succeed caps to ailing riders, gave my water bottle to a rider who lost his and was w/o fluids, gave nathan some CO2 AND RECEIVED FROM OTHER RIDER's jersey pockets, 2 pieces of patch, a tube, and lots of and lots of offers for assistance as i struggled through those miles with the defective tire. That's what a race should be. Riders helping riders. Good vibes all over the course. As Dan DesRoisers says, "it's all good."

Jenn and Allison before the race:

Jay Peak. The runners ran/walked it and the bikers rode/pushed it. Jenn and Allison are to the right of the pole in the center of the pic:
the mountain...

And they're off like a herd of turtles!
the start

Jenn getting some aid:
jenn swilling some water...

This is some burly, burly stuff:
burly stuff...

26miles into it and Jenn's still smiling and posing for the camera!
mile 26 and she's still happy

As Allison would call him, Dan "triple threat" DesRoisers - one solid race director:
the masochist

Took a nasty spill trying to go no-brakes off Jay, but back in focus at base:
a little blood on the shoulder...

Harry taking it to the line - look at the pain on his face!
look at the pain!


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