Thursday, 10 January 2013

Once more unto the breach, dear friends!

Well.  Here we go again.

In an earlier post I mentioned the Kielder 100 bike race and my failed attempt this (last) year.  Sorry - it will take a while to get the hang of 2013, in my head it's still 2012.  Anyway, the Kielder 100 is a one lap MTB race over 100 miles in and around Kielder forest in Northumberland.  When I first heard about it in 2009 I was really excited - this was the sort of race I was looking for!  No laps round a muddy field for 24 hours, one big lap over varied terrain.  The sort of thing I'd been reading about in XXC Magazine (but actually held here in the UK, not the States).  Unfortunately the inaugural race was the weekend of my wedding and my (now) wife was having none of it.  I did enter in 2010 and completed the race - I wrote about it here on my friend Jason's blog Velorunner.  It was a bit epic and I didn't go as fast as I was hoping.  I entered again in 2011 but had to withdraw due to a number of circumstances, most notably just not getting the time to train.

When 2012 entries came round I once again put my name down.  Several of my friends did too but with one thing and another they gradually all pulled out until I was the last man standing.  Not to be deterred I went alone - it wasn't a problem, I met some really nice folk there and had a good time (as much as you can when there's a 100 miles of pain in front of you!)  I had spent the year riding pretty well and was probably feeling stronger than ever before.  But then July rolled around (the race is in September) and the whole process of moving up north started.  My training slipped a bit.  Not massively, but enough.  Still, in all my pre race training rides I was bang on the pace I needed so I was feeling reasonably confident.  I thought I'd finish, it was merely a matter of how quick.

What an idiot.

Race day dawned, I was up on time, ate a good breakfast, had my fuel strategy planned out and was raring to go.  What followed is an abject lesson in how NOT to race a marathon event.

  1. Do not pick race day to use different energy bars/gels to what you know but if you do at least stick to a fuelling strategy.
  2. PACE YOURSELF!!! If the race had been over 30 odd miles I'd have been very happy with my results.
  3. Keep trying, don't give up.
I got it wrong on almost every level.  I started far too fast, I didn't follow my nutritional strategy, I used energy products I wasn't used to and I let my head drop and stopped pushing at one point.  If I hadn't have done that I'd not have missed the last cut off by 47 seconds...  C'est la vie.  It taught me not to underestimate the course, it's brutal.  Simple as that.  The first 50 miles are relentless.  

No one else I met whilst rehydrating (pub) was overly keen on doing it again.  In fact everyone I spoke to after the race said they never wanted to go through it again.  I bet the vast majority of them are now sitting like me thinking they'd like another crack at it!

In hindsight just finishing it is an achievement and I'm pleased to have done so in 2010, actually getting a time will require (for me) some serious work both physically and mentally and a lot of organisation at home to structure my training around the family.  But I'm sure I can do it.  Which is why I already know I'll be back on the start line in the dark and cold in September with a lot of other like minded idiots, determined to prove that fun hurts...

See you there!

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