Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Escape from Granogue

This past Saturday I did the MASS Series Race called the Escape from Granogue, which was held on a huge, beautiful estate owned by the Dupont Family. The estate is just across the Pennsylvania State Line in Delaware, so the location of this race is only about a 15 minutes drive away from my current, but temporary residence. All in all, the course was very nice with a good mix of single track, fields, roads and just about everything else in between. With the next NUE Series Race, the Mohican 100, coming up, I decided to do the four hour endurance race instead of a cross country race, so that I could get a long hard effort in before my next 100 mile race.
I did not really prepare for this race in the best way possible, considering that I was up all night because I had to work the midnight shift until 6:30 am that morning. I have raced many times with no sleep because of working the midnight shift with my job and I will tell you that it is never a good experience. Most times I have second thoughts about doing the race all together because I am just so tired; this past Saturday was not an exception to how I usually feel. I will say, however, that almost ever time that I have raced with no sleep, I do end up either doing very well or even winning the race. Once again this held true on Saturday, but it was a much harder and more painful win than I expected.
The race initially started off like I wanted it to begin; I was the first racer into the single track and held onto my lead for the first part of the 7 mile loop. Soon after the start that I wanted to have, though, Rob Lichtenwalner came around me very easily and then put about two minutes on me by the end of the second lap. I was comfortably in second, though, so I just continued to ride my own race. People standing out on the course were giving me time splits, which I never really believe in completely because they are not often too accurate, but I did notice that the splits were consistently being cut down during the third lap. By the end of the third lap, I had actually caught Rob and taken the lead of the race.
Feeling strong and confident because of catching Rob, I decided to put a little extra speed into my riding to hopefully increase the gap between us. My plan seemed to be working until I crashed hard while riding down a long, fast, gradual downhill. This was not your typical fall, get back-up quickly kind of crash. It was more like the superman style crash where you go airborne for an extended period of time, hit the ground hard and then slowly get up to take an inventory of all your body parts and your bike.
I will admit I was a little dazed from the crash because my head took a major impact and I also definitely jacked up something in my left shoulder, but I decided to get back on my bike slowly and start racing again anyway. During the first few pedal strokes, the only thing going through my head was that I was feeling a lot of pain and that I would probably be better off by not finishing this race. For some crazy reason or another, which I am still trying to figure out, I did decide to continue racing, though.
With about a lap and a half to go, I caught Rob again in the single track. We rode to the finish line together with one lap to go and then went back out onto the course together, after grabbing some water in the pit area. I lead through the first part of the last loop of the race and also through the first technical single track section. While riding in the lead position, I noticed that I was starting to gap rob, so I again decided to put the hammer down to try and increase the gap between us. My strategy seemed to work this time without incident and soon thereafter Rob was not in my sight any longer. I rode steady during the last part of the race, trying my best to not to crash again. Fortunately, things did go well for me on the last lap and I ended up finishing about four minutes up on Rob, doing six 7 mile laps (42 miles) in 3 hours and 58 minutes.
It was a painful victory, but sometimes those are the most special kind to have. Now all that I have to do is convince my body that the pain it is feeling was worth the victory.