Wow, this past weekend was a bunch of racing in a condensed fashion! It's taken me nearly a week to let it settle in because it was an epic adventure for sure. As I sit here typing this out I can't help but think about how happy I am to have ended this year's racing season with something as challenging as this. It turns out that racing for 48hrs was a good decision and it put me over 200hrs of racing since we came down to Texas just over a year ago. ;-)

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The adventure all started on Thursday when I drove the 6hrs up to McKinney, finally getting there in the dark to setup the pit and tent for the following morning. Doreen had a conference to attend and wouldn't be on site until I had been racing for at least 14hrs. So, for the first 24hrs I relied on a pile of bottles filled with my custom Infinit blends. Infinit isn't quite a secret weapon anymore since I try to let people know about it, for sure it has helped me elevate my ultra-endurance race game. 20+ bottles sitting in a cooler acting as my pit crew, I should have given each one of them names and talked to them after every lap, hahaha.

I didn't know who I was going to be racing but as I checked in I saw the list of 48hr racers and managed to use my iPhone to Google a fellow called Dave Haase, Google took me to a YouTube video showing Dave winning RAAM this year as the Top American - and then I knew it was awwwwnnnn! Dave races Cyclocross, 24hr mtb events and is a 4 x RAAM racer, this year he did over 3000 miles in less than 10 days placing 3rd to two Europeans.



We toed the line at 1000hrs, I was next to Dave and then it was Sarah and Erik, when the gun went off I followed Dave out as he had already pre-ridden the course and I hadn't, in fact I didn't know what was beyond the porta-potties. He had a stiff pace for the first part of the race but eventually he started looking back over his shoulder after the first lap and then he got on with cranking up the heat, I stayed on for a while but eventually the pace was too hot for me as judged by my PowerTap wattage averages so I decided to let Dave get away and just race my race.

The weather started off really nice but it had other things in store for us. I remember tearing along a portion of the course at approx six hours in, looking up at the sky and thinking "Hmmmmm, last time I saw a cloud rib pattern like that it wasn't good". Yup, it wasn't good. Before I put my headlight on at 1730hrs the wind had already picked up and the temps were dropping, a couple of hours later and the winds were starting to howl and it was getting cold. When Doreen showed up I sent her and the boys off to bed because I knew I would need help during that second day of racing and it would have to be somebody with a clearer head than I was going to have. Once the family was in the sack I felt better about being out on the course, chewing away the miles.

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At this time of year it gets dark early and that meant nearly 12hrs of racing in the dark. I think it was sometime around the 16 or 18hr point that I went into the pit and crawled into a sleeping bag to try and warm up. While laying there shivering I had a chance to realize I had been racing out in those woods with no sign of life for quite a few hours, even coming into the transition area there were times when I wouldn't see anyone. Racing in a narrow beam of light at fast speeds in tight trees with nobody around you hour after hour gets a bit weird after a while - but it was a good weird. ;-)

The winds were ferocious during that first night and they lasted all night long. I've heard it got up to 30mph and those weren't gusts it was steady, all I know is those winds kicked my arse. I remember passing one of the other 48hr racers in the middle of the night and their comment was "We are in a frozen hell."

Eventually night turned to sunrise and I was back to racing in the daylight, always a good time to be on a bike. By now the course had got busier with the 6, 12 and 24hr racers starting to tear around.

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No matter how hard you push yourself in a long race, there's nothing like seeing a happy kid eat a bowl of noodles. Unfortunately noodles weren't on my menu in day two, the menu consisted of only one item: Pain Sandwiches and they just kept coming.

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Making adjustments to the bike on occasion was a good way to try different positions on the bike and a way to move muscle tension around after a block of hours. Yup, a really long science experiment.

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Speaking of science experiment, I managed to race on pretty much nothing else but liquid nutrition for approx 31hrs, it might have been Evans double hot dogs that made me abandon ship for some solid food, hahaha (no, really, I didn't eat any hot dogs during the race.) Actually, the event had a ton of food available for the racers and by the 32nd hour my body was starting to eyeball other things besides liquid fuel, so when the kids insisted I have some of their gourmet plates of raisins, potato chips, pretzels, peanuts and I think some M&M chocolate thingies I said "ok, boys". Here is a rare image of the entire family together having a laugh at dad's expense. This would have been just before heading out for my first evening lap on the second day, just before the course went dark.

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Pretty soon, feeding dad became a fun game and I found myself having to eat faster and faster as the boys raced to see who could feed dad the most. ;-)

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With a speed-plate of snacks in my belly it was time to start putting my helmet mounted light to good use and just get at it. By now the temps were low, eventually they would hit 21 degrees Fahrenheit (that's -7 Celsius for metric world) and a new problem was becoming evident... racing hard for that long in weather this cold plays havoc with core temps. I was finding it hard to stay warm out on the bike and when I'd get off the bike I was shivering pretty hard. So throughout the night it became a battle to race and a battle against hypothermia.

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The image above would have been sometime around the 39hr mark, I like giving the boys hugs but in this case I was also a fan of Keegan's body heat. ;-)

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In the image above it might look like I'm trying to sleep but I was just locking all my muscles up to try and generate some heat. Collllllllllllllld. This would have been approx 40hrs in.

Dave set up a relentless pace, over the 48hrs he only slept for one hour. Sometime during the middle of the second night I guess I got a bit soft and told Doreen I was going to go permanently cross-eyed unless I got at least 90mins of sleep, so she set her Blackberry alarm, I took off my race shoes and helmet and crawled under a sleeping bag. The alarm didn't wake either of us up, Doreen shook me awake saying "We didn't hear the alarm go off, you slept for nearly four hours!". Yikes!!! I scrambled my shoes on and jumped out on the bike and put down some back to back laps, but at that point it was a losing proposition, Dave had created a gap that I couldn't close for a win. Still, I figured I'd do some more laps to get a bit closer to his finishing lap number and to see what I had in my gas tank. I actually felt pretty good at that point and was putting in some decent riding - with a trail to ride on, a bike to jump on and a few hours sleep, life was good.

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This one is just after the 44hr mark, it was still cold in my opinion but better than during the night. Overall at this point I was still feeling pretty good, my body was tired and I was beaten up from bouncing my shoulders off some tight trees a few times while carving too tight of a slalom but luckily I still hadn't had any wipeouts that had me off the bike and I'd had very few technical errors. My bum was tender, the course is a really active course where you are shifting around a lot in the saddle and there are a lot of roots, with the temps being as cold as they were the suspension wasn't working very well which left me with a non-compliant ride - kind of like racing on a hardtail with very little front suspension, pretty rough on the everything. At this point in the race I was starting to pass Dave out on the course and during one of those times he said "I've got saddle sores on my saddle sores", yeah dude, I know what you mean.

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Take a good look at that front tire, that's ice crystal and those early morning laps were a bit sketchy into some of the fast corners because the whole course had a layer of iciness at this point. I was still pushing myself pretty hard out there and it made for some interesting times with that whole sliding sideways thing.

And finally I found myself on my last lap, something I had been looking forward to and now I was on it. I probably enjoyed that lap the most, since I knew I didn't have to hold anything in reserve and even though I couldn't improve my final placing I still got after it as hard as I could. I spent a good part of it out of the saddle mashing up the climbs and tearing through the trees. Not worrying about pacing made for a fun lap, I was basically racing as hard as possible and I was having so much fun that I would have gone out for another lap if I could but after 48hrs of racing (48:06 to be exact) that would be my final lap.

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At the end of the event and while Dave was hanging out in my pit we got interviewed by a Texas based magazine, if it gets any print I'll post it up.

Here's an image of the 48hr finalists shortly after the race and after we had all eaten at least 3lbs of food. Good racers, good people.

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And now for the million dollar question, would I do it again? Yup, in a heartbeat, in fact I'm thinking 72hrs of non-stop racing would be fun. Anyone ever heard of such a race?

For the results oriented readers who weren't interested in the verbiage and images directly above here's what it looked like in no particular order:

- I wore the same bib shorts for the entire 48.

- Finally switched socks out at 36hrs.

- Stayed on liquid nutrition for approx 31hrs, then started adding in other things but still stayed on liquid nutrition for the full 48hrs.

- Used a lot of chamois cream, a lot... is there a sponsor in the house?

- Dave Haase is as hard as nails.

- That course is awesome, I would kill to have something like that only 20mins from here, Dallas is lucky to have that in their backyard.

- The first 24hrs were insane, that freakin' wind was totally breaking us down, even in the woods it was bad but in the open fields I was putting my forearms on my grips and hanging my chin just above the bar in a mtb TT fashion in order to try and make some forward momentum into that headwind.

- It was see your breath cold and certainly below freezing with the wind chill during the first 24 stretch and the non-wind affected temps on the second 24 were definitely below freezing. On parts of the course I couldn't hang on to the bars because of frozen fingers and was left trying to steer with my fists clenched into fists, resting on top of the grips, that was a bit dicey. If I switched to a traditional grip heading into a technical section sometimes I couldn't feel the brake levers and would have to look down to see if I still had my fingers on them, in the dark I would think "pull brake levers now" as I flew into a fast corner and magically the bike would slow down even though I couldn't feel my hands doing the braking. Point being, go take a look at all of your riding clothes for inclement weather and then double it and it might have been enough. At one point I was wearing all of the following... a base layer merino wool long sleeve, then a long sleeve racing jersey, then a short sleeve racing jersey, then a light fleece lined cold weather racing jacket and then a transparent plastic racing rain jacket, double bibs, leg warmers, merino wool socks, overboots and snowboarding gloves with goretex shells over top of them, a racing hat and earmuffs and... still... I was cold. Important lesson, high intensity racing over that many hours during inclement weather leads to uncooperative core body temps - or something like that.

- My peak wattage shows 860W.

- First lap shows a Normalized Power of 230W.

- First 12hrs of racing shows 175W avg.

- First lap avg speed 11.3mph.

- Avg speed over 12hrs of racing 9.7mph.

- First lap avg cadence 83rpm.

- First 12hrs of racing avg cadence of 72rpm.

- First 12hrs of racing HR shows 83% of LTHR.

- Cardio disconnect point at approx 5.5hrs racing.

- Approx 6400 cals burned during 12hrs of racing, but that's just workload, it doesn't take into account the increased caloric loss due to freezing temps and that insano 30mph headwind, even in the trees. My core temps were suffering from the nasty conditions, the required workload output and an inability to increase calorie intake because I still had to keep a stable racing stomach. With my typical Basal Metabolic Rate + workload + environmental variable + xyz, I figure I burned the equivalent of 12-15 days worth of calories as compared to an avg person doing day to day activity.

- Not sure what I weighed after the event as there wasn't a scale nearby and as quickly as possible after the event was finished I was scarfing back huge amounts of food. I can say that two days after I finished (when I got back to our home scale) I checked my bodyfat and it showed 4% where I typically show 7%, so immediately after the event I might have been showing 3%? My weight on the scale was around my norms but I was showing a bit of edema by then.

The results, I'm very happy with, I placed 2nd to Dave's 1st place finish. He did 43 laps and I did 41 laps. I owe a lot of that result to Doreen who acted in several roles particularly on the back half of the race, including being my babysitter, motivator and all around cheering section. Three things that interested me were:

- The mileage was affected by the winds we raced against for the first 24hrs, it would have been interesting to have a neutral wind to see how much mileage I could have pushed out. I was hoping for 400 miles.

- Sleep was the real lab experiment out there, something I am still giving thought to. I know I've gone way harder and longer with very little sleep but that was under different circumstances and a different kind of stress, racing like this is a fairly pure kind of intensity and you really have to fight against the sleep monster.

- Lastly, of course, is the comparison from a 24hr race to a 48hr race and that's the diminishing ability to output on the bike. The longer it goes the weaker you get. Laps after the 30hrs mark were starting to become hard earned. There is so much more to the 48hr side of the house that it felt like a 24hr x 3, if that makes sense.

Oh yeah, did I mention I liked this style of racing. ;-)

6 comments:

Aaron said...

Shaun-
I must say this is quite the race report. It was super cool to meet you and Doreen. Hopefully all is straightened out for you; it seems there was some awards/$ snafus for a couple racers. I think the coolest thing about this race was the people. Every time you came by and cheered for *us* in the aid station or by the tents with Sarah, it brought a smile to my face. Take care!

Shaun Taylor said...

Yeah, agreed, it was all about the good times with good people.

I actually looked forward to yelling out to you guys every time I was heading out for another lap.

I'm sure I'll see you guys again!

Irene said...

Congrats Shaun!

Shaun Taylor said...

Thanks Irene!

Eddie A. said...

HOLY MOLY SHAUN!!! *bows down*

you're the man!! im proud of you, can't wait to see you at the next 12 or 24 or 6...

hi to doreen and the kids!

Shaun Taylor said...

Thanks Eddie, we'll catch up at the next one!