For the past couple of years David Wilson, Puzzler race director and my spouse, have been kicking around the idea of holding a trail run in conjunction with the Puzzler Mountain Bike Race. This year a marathon and half-marathon were held the day before the mountain bike race and a dozen or so of us signed up for the Completely Insane: marathon/50 mile mountain bike race! I was excited by the challenge and curious as to how I would do riding less and running a lot.
Having a 2 1/2 year old kid is challenging but when trying to “train” for a long event it is often down right comical. Weekdays are spent either pushing a jogging stroller or pulling a bike trailer and my passenger is not always in the mood to fly. So, most of my rides are to a playground, park, or some other place where the little guy is able to get out and run free. Weekends are spent out on the trails logging in some serious miles by foot and bike. Not exactly ideal for optimal race fitness and speed but a heck of a lot of fun and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
To say the Puzzler Endurance weekend did not go exactly as planned is an understatement. Due to an injury sustained at the half-way point in the run I was out on course for almost 2-hours longer than planned. That was two less hours spent eating chips, pizza, tacos, cake, etc with my feet up. When I finally limped across the finish line I thought my chances for even starting the mountain bike race the next day were slim to none. I spent the next couple of hours stuffing my face with whatever food I could get my hands on and just before dark I decided to throw a leg over my bike and see if I could pedal. It was not pretty but each pedal stroke became a little easier. I contacted teammate Alison, who happens to be an orthopedic surgeon, and decided I would likely go for it.
Race day morning came too early and all the coffee in the world wasn’t enough to get me feeling the love for a long day in the saddle. Alas, once I hopped on the saddle and the sun started to warm the air my mood changed and I knew it was going to be a beautiful day. Since Alison and I had been riding on the weekends together I knew she was flying and extra motivated as she was deploying to Afghanistan two weeks later. She would be tough to beat. The start was relatively calm. There was no way I was going to push it, my legs were a wee bit tired. After the first start loop we headed out the Lazy Cow mellow single track and I was riding behind some dude when I looked up and saw four deer cresting over a ridge. Amazing. I am not going to go deep into race details other than Alison passed me shortly there after and I knew I wouldn’t see her again till the taco truck at the finish. I don’t know what I expected after running a marathon the day before, perhaps I was hoping I would be a little faster, but it doesn’t matter, I enjoyed the ride and went as fast as my legs would allow. I was so grateful to be able to pedal, the weather was perfect, and I love riding our trails. Perhaps I shouldn’t have spent so much time in the feed zones, perhaps I shouldn’t have stopped to dole out Sports Legs to cramping racers, perhaps I shouldn’t have been going slow enough to notice the deer on the ridge, perhaps I shouldn’t have talked so much with the Canadian dude on the last loop, perhaps I should have had Dave put on some more chain-rings up front, or whatever. I was glad to finish and knew there was no way I was catching Alison. She was flying. Perhaps if I hadn’t run the day before I could have given her a better race. Perhaps. All that really matters to me is that I was able to push myself to my limits and I could have not done any more. It was a beautiful day!
My bike worked flawlessly; no flats and no mechanical. For that, I have my own personal mechanic to thanks, Mr. Dave Wilson. Of course I have to thank Dave for more than being my mechanic. The race was awesome! Dave, Brent, and DJ bust their butts to put it on and have everything run smoothly. The trails keep getting better and better thanks to Franklin Mountain State Park, the volunteers, the crew at Bicycle Co, Robert Newman, and the BMBA.
Can’t wait to do it again next year! Rumor has it the run is being bumped from a marathon to a 50K. Now, that, will truly be INSANE!