I did my first Marathon XC race this weekend and wanted to post my thoughts. First off… The course was incredible. It was very technical at times which is something I really enjoy. The race was well supported and there were unofficial aid stations added by local citizens and businesses that were a great addition to the official rest stops. My favorite was the one at the top of the big climb that offered Bacon and Whiskey Shots. Too cool.
I was able to complete SSB1 and SSB2 prior to this event having only recently discovered TrainerRoad. While working on those plans I learned and planned for proper on bike nutrition for an event of this distance. My plan was to take on 2000 calories during the race. Although I felt like I was eating and drinking the whole time I could not consume all that I had planned to. I failed to consume 2 gels and one Maurten 160. All else was eaten. No idea how Nate does it. Using a hydration pack with Scratch and bottles with Maurten was a great last minute decision because if I used just bottles it would have been very tough to stay hydrated. It was hard to keep a pace and drink from bottles on that course.
I did a good job letting the rabbits run from the start knowing many of them would blow up at some point but not having a PM on my bike. (Stages has been out of stock for weeks) I had to rely on HR and perceived effort. My max HR is 198 and I never got above 171. This basically means I went too easy for too long and really didn’t burn any matches. At about 23 miles I started cramping on the inside of my thighs. Weird because I never cramp but these are also the muscles that have been affected most by my TR workouts. Almost like I was never using them prior to structured training. Anyway I just kept riding, downed some Pickle Juice and they went away.
When setting my time goal of 5 hours there were a couple of things that I overlooked. First, the optional sections. I was not here to win so I took the Moby option as well as the Happy Ending option. These were REALLY FUN but certainly added time that I didn’t plan for. The second thing was the sheer volume of people on this course. I passed countless people but each pass involved riding at a much slower pace for a bit, politely asking to pass, eventually passing and then thanking and complimenting the person passed. This REALLY added time. It didn’t bother me though for several reasons. One, I had no hope of a podium finish, two, those passed had just as much right to be where they were on the course as I did, etc. I really didn’t see anyone being rude about passing but maybe that was because I was father back.
In the end, I wish my PM had arrived in time for the race to help with proper pacing but my actual goal was to complete the event and not feel like I just fought a war single handedly. With those goals It was a huge success. TR helped me so much. It is amazing. I climbed EVERYTHING with no real problem. Being able to complete Cramp Hill and similar sections while others were walking was a real victory. Being able to ride every part of the course while tons of folks were sitting in the bushes was a huge win. Without TR I would have been one of those sitting in the bushes.
Total Moving time was 5hr 28min at 47.7 miles and 6,500 ft of climbing.