Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Miles of Discomfort Race in Comfort, TX on January 26th

Two days before the race, Texas skies were bringing only rain, mud, and cold air. The idea of racing 26 miles in those conditions led me to almost skip the event. It's one thing to be muddy and cold - but to be muddy, cold and wet for 26 miles... no thanks.

Well, we went.

That turned out to be a good thing because...

Lance Armstrong also entered the race. He didn't finish though. Bummer. Weirdly, his entering the race led to professional photographers all over the course. That was new for me. This first pic of Lance in his yellow and black Livestrong jersey was taken while he entered the feed zone.

This was the best organized race I've ever been to. Excellent trail markings, lots of course marshals, great concessions, and super organized registration.

The course was spectacular. I had amazing views of the Texas hill country and the trail had a lot of variety: steep technical descents, fast winding descents, steep technical climbs, and lots of rocky narrow single track.

The bike ran really well. Damn, the Yeti was a trooper. It didn't complain the whole time. I must have passed ten guys on the side of the trail dealing with technical breakdowns. BTW, what's with all the full-suspension rigs? Come on, Texas isn't British Columbia.

I didn't finish last. This was my first race of the year and the thing about marathon events is that there are no rider category distinctions - just age categories (I was 19-34). Beginner, sport, and expert riders all race in their one category. This was also the longest race I will have this year.

So here's the blow-by-blow:

I had a good start with an up-front position. I clipped in pretty fast - unusual for me.

Five minutes into the race, I realized that I had overdressed. A short sleeve jersey would have been fine. The full fingered gloves I was wearing were starting to feel hot, so I took them off. Remember this point, it's important later.

The pace was high at the beginning and the pack split into thirds. My lungs were already burning from the climb out of the start area so I drifted to somewhere in between the middle pack and back third pack.

Over the next twelve miles, I slowly moved up to catch the middle pack and was able to overtake them. After a good decent back into the camp area, I was running about 8th with the last half of the race still to go. The pic at right shows me at this point in the race.

Next came a very long steep rocky ascent that took everything I had to get to the top. Things went completely to crap at this point. Not wearing gloves had produced huge blisters on my hands that became... uncomfortable. I also ran out of water around this time. My legs began to badly cramp and every small climb became a chore. Because of my hands, going downhill wasn't fun either. Within the last two miles of the race, that middle third of the pack caught and passed me. Somewhere on the trail, one of the gloves I had taken off fell out of my jersey pocket.

Then it was over. I changed into civvies, the wife and I had lunch, we loaded up the car, I dropped by the medical tent, and then we headed home.

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