Once again, I came home from the Lumberjack without my big "F". I used to not understand why people did things "just to finish". I mean, how hard can it be just to finish something if you train properly? That was before I realized how hard 100 miles of singletrack really is and how it gets even harder if you're abnormally slow.
Basically, I started out feeling fine the first lap. The pace felt good, I was eating exactly when I needed to, etc. My aggressive rehabbing got my crash-related injuries under control to the point that my butt-pain threshold was in sync with my lactate threshold so basically my butt would tell me to back off about the same time my legs did. The pain wasn't bad, just enough to remind me when I was going too hard.
The course was divided into three almost-even sections, because there was an 8-mile inner loop that we did first, and they had an aid station 8 miles into the outer loop. Then there was a 9-mile section back to the pit that was the hardest.
The start was on a paved road and it took about 10 minutes to get to the actual singletrack. After I made it up the first hill, which turned into a bottleneck hike-a-bike for all but the very front of the pack, I just tried to settle in. Then I realized that I needed to complete each section of the course in about one hour to make the time cutoff. So I hit the first one at 1:08, which was less than an hour after the 10-minute roll-out. Then I hit 16 miles in 2:03, and I was feeling really good about my pace. Then the last 9-mile section took a lot longer and I ended up finishing my lap in 3:18. I needed to average 3:20 for the first three laps to make the time cutoff, but I really wanted my first lap to be about 3 hours so I'd have some wiggle room for pit stops and a little slowing down on the next two laps.
Since it was already over 3:20 when I left the pit, I knew that I had absolutely no wiggle room on the next two laps. I tried to pick up my pace on the first 8 mile section of the second lap, but I actually ended up going slower than I had on that section the lap before. At that point, I knew there was no way I was going to make the time cutoff, but I tried to convince myself to at least ride up to the cutoff and get 75 miles in. Unfortunately, I had pushed myself too hard on the last section and my stomach started feeling bad. I slowed down a lot and ended up skipping my next gel, telling myself I'd eat at the next aid station. I slowed down a lot after that because I really had trouble holding it together once I saw that making the cutoff time was out of the range of possibility.
So I stopped after 50 miles really disappointed but not totally surprised. My best ride up until that point was 41 miles in 6:15 and yesterday I did about 51 in 7:10, which is a reasonable improvement in distance and pace, even with feeling bad the last 17 miles. I was hoping the course would be faster than the trails I'd been training on and that the taper would give me a big bump in speed, but neither really happened. I pretty much raced like I had trained, which is what is supposed to happen. I didn't do "bad"; I just didn't have the time to get as fast as I needed to.