Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Firecracker 50 Recap

The Firecracker 50 took place last Saturday, fortunately this time I finished. I was planning on a time of 5-6 hours, knowing that a steady pace would be key to finishing and the time not nearly as important to me as going the distance. At 50 miles and with 10,800 vertical feet of climbing (all above 9,500 feet and much above 11,000) the Firecracker 50 is a hard day of riding. I managed to finish in 5:34, a good time but not great.

The race is always a blast, riding down Main Street in Breckenridge with literally thousands of people cheering and watching, as the race starts the 4th of July parade. Given the fact most races have a few dozen spectators, all of whom know racers it is a great feeling to have people who have never seen a race before in their lives cheering you on. I tried to ride a steady and somewhat conservative first lap (25 miles) knowing that the hard part of the race would be the second lap. I tried to draft on the open sections and follow others lines on the technical sections of the course to save energy and pick good lines. The flume trail coming down from Little French was a blast, fast singletrack and the ability to just ride. Coming to the end of the first lap I crashed on the last downhill, misjudging the gap between two trees. It wasn’t a bad crash, but enough to delay me a few minutes. I finished the first lap in 2:34, feeling good and knowing I had fueled well the entire first lap.

Lap 2 was tough, from the top of the climb up to the Iowa Mill I felt like I was maintaining a similar pace, but when I started up Little French for the second time my speed went from slow to really slow. At this point in the race 3:30-4:00 into the race my mind started playing tricks on me and I think the mental aspect slowed me as much if not more than being physically tired. I had to keep refocusing my attention on the positive, stop thinking about how hard the race was, how bad I felt, how a nap on the side of the trail sounded good. After the downhill leading to the third feed zone I knew I’d be able to finish and rode steady and probably faster again up to Sallie Barber Mine. From there it was all downhill and my mind switched from dwelling on the negative to knowing I’d finish.

During the race I followed my nutrition plan perfectly, eating gels, energy bars and Clif Blocks (a new favorite) through the race. I’m not sure of the total food I took in but somewhere in the range of 8-10 gels, 2 bars and 3 Clif Blocks. In addition to the food I went through 10-12 bottles of water or Gatorade (probably a 50/50 split) and 8 Endurolyte pills to keep the electrolytes up in the race. I did start to feel like eating something “real” would be nice about 4:30 into the race so will have to figure something out for a more substantial bite for Laramie.

Now that I know I can physically handle a 5-6 hour race as hard as the Firecracker 50 I hope the mental game gets easier. One of the reasons I race is the challenges I face getting ready for races and in races. Breaking the barrier on the Firecracker 50 was a huge win for me as there are many points where the mind tries to overcome the body and tell you to stop, get off the bike and go home. Saturday I pushed through those thoughts and am more ready than ever to push forward with racing and embrace the challenges and learn from the challenges.


Richard said...

I'd be thrilled to do 50 in less than 6 hours.

RF said...

nice write up! I must've been just behind you for most of that. after flatting on lap 1, i finished lap 1 in 2:35 and came in with a total time of 5:40. Good work!

Racing Green said...

Richard - thrilled I was to finish in less than 6, next year though, less than 5.

RF - I was 2:34 for the first and 5:34 overall, raced in the Maverick group, must have been close to each other out there.