Marathon on a Bike
I was aiming for Sub-6 (time for new shoes). I’d been training hard over the winter, and totally believed it possible. However, it would still be a challenging day for me in an unexpected way.
My morning started with a 4:30 wake-up. I got dressed, then jumped on a trainer to do a 30 minute warmup (thanks coach). I got to the bridge at 5:45, and slowly rolled towards the front corral. As I rode towards the middle of the bridge, I reflected on the last 6 times I've done this event. My first year, 2012, I didn't finish. 2013, the year it was 55F / 12C and rained all day, was the first year I finished. Each year after that I've taken training more seriously and have been able to knock off 45 minutes of each previous time.
The race started fast, as always, so the warmup really helped wake my legs up and prepare them for the effort. I rode with teammate Peter most of the way to Bear. We got to "Baby Bear" at around 8:45am, which is pretty fast for me. At this point in the past I've always seen the front of the race descending, and have used that moment to gauge how quickly I was going. When I didn't see the leaders until I was halfway up Bear Mountain, I knew to expect a good time.
Peter is much more fit than I am, so I stuck to my plan and dropped off to find my own rhythm. Eventually I ran into Michael and we both took it easy on the climb to the top of Bear Mountain. We talked a lot about cycling, specifically about pacing on long climbs; it was his first time doing this event, but I could see he would be on track to have a great result if he didn't go too hard at this point. I assured him that the real challenge of the course present itself in the next 20 miles.
Peter and I reconnected after Bear, but he and the group he was with were a little too fast so I let them go. Gate Hill and Overlook were challenging and I could feel that I worked hard on those climbs. I could start to feel low. My original plan was to complete the course non-stop, and I prepared for that by bringing all the food I could possibly require for a 6.5 hour ride.
Problem was, I had eaten most of it.
Running on Fumes
That low feeling I mentioned only got worse, and when I finally made it back to River Road with 12 miles left in the race, I had no more. To clarify I could still ride, just very very slowly. I didn't want to stop, but eventually I had to get off the bike and take a minute to rest. So much for sub-6!
The End of the Beginning
What a sight it must have been, seeing me slowly pedaling up the final climb. Others must have been wondering if I was too tired to continue. I wasn't, I just didn't have the energy to go any faster than I was going! Anyway, I still had my best result.
I finished in 6:05:02, and I completed my last GFNY.