I can’t believe it’s been a year already. Another LJ100 is in the books. While last year I prepared with almost laser like focus, from training to diet to research, this year I took a slightly relaxed approach. I still trained like crazy, dragging my buddy Newt Cole into XC endurance racing as a training partner. We were doing 4hr endurance rides in January and February in 20 degree weather, and 6hr leg-busting hammerfests in April and May. I got a bit stronger and added more fitness to my already pretty decent base from last year. However, I eased up on the diet a tad, didn’t bother with researching the race or obsessing over tire choices since I had that figured out from last year. More or less, I cruised into the final weeks before LJ100 with some confidence and an intent to do better than last year, hopefully breaking the 8hr mark this year.
I did make the mistake of overdoing it the weekend before the race helping move a ton of event material for my wife’s floral business though. By Tuesday, my lower back was blown out and I only had 4 days to recover. I felt OK by Friday, the day before LJ100, and hoped for the best. Newt and I lined up early. Way early. We were the first ones to line up, a drastic difference from last year when everyone made a mad dash to the start line. We ended up 2nd row behind some NUE series racers, one of which went on to win the overall. I had a good start, hit the holeshot into the woods in maybe 20th place, and proceeded to go as fast as I could.
About 10mi into the race, my lower back tightened up horribly. And then a bumpy downhill ejected a bottle and I had to get off the bike and run back and get it and get going again. Not a good start. I managed to tough out the first lap to finish it in 2:35, but I gave up a ton of spots as the back was definitely hurting and slowing me down. The second lap was even worse, and I slowed down a bit so the back could recover (and lost another bottle). That helped, but at this point I didn’t even feel like I was racing. Coming into the transition for lap 3 at a time of 2:48, I was only behind Newt by 4min or so, with Nevada Dave of The Bonebell about 30min ahead us. I decided to drill it on lap 3, knowing the fitness would let me go as hard as I could, and just hoped the back hung in there. I was able to make up some decent ground, and caught a bunch of people that had previously passed me. By mile 80 I figured I could make the finish in under 8:15 if I gave it full gas, so I went as hard as I could. The course being backwards meant it was hard to compare to last year’s effort/time, but I still wanted to beat last year’s time. I ended up finishing in 8:06. So close to sub-8, so close…
Looking back at last year’s time and pace on the chip timing, I did 12.05 mph avg to finish in 8:18 for 37th in the Men’s open and 63rd overall, while this year I did 12.34 mph avg to finish in 8:06 for 40th in the Men’s open and 64th overall. An improvement, at least in terms of speed, and super close result wise, so I’m happy with that.
It was also great to see Dave kill it for a top 20 in the Men’s open with a mind-bending time of 7:27 for 16th in the Men’s Open.