Dirty Duo 2013: A Visit to a Dark Place

One of my favourite races of the year, the Dirty Duo, happened yesterday. The entire event was sold out, and mother nature was giving everyone a rare March gift (sunny and warm). Heather and the volunteers did an amazing job, especially considering the number of racers and the number of trails covered.

Last year, the DD was pretty much my perfect race: red-lined the whole way, and mentally tough as nails. I expected to be even faster this year, as conditions were better and i felt like i was stronger (both running and riding).

This report isn’t the full play-by-play, but more of an overview; a discussion on bonking, suffering, and getting your ass kicked.

**Let me throw in some foreshadowing now. I had made some ‘slight’ dietary changes  in my lead up to the race**

Dirty Duo Start Line 2013

8am, and we are off!

Legs feel great, lungs feel great, ready to really push myself

There is someone new running with me this year. Carl. It’s pretty obvious that Carl is strong, and the two of us trade the lead a few times on the run. I put a bit of time on him down Ned’s, and held a lead of around 2 min into transition. I feel like I ran within myself. No harder than in past years, and I was ready to absolutely fly on the bike.

I had a really slow transition (stupid knee warmers), and by the time i rode out, Carl was running in. No biggie, i was going to crush it on the bike course this year…

WHOA….what’s happening???

CRAMPING? I never cramp. It’s only two minutes into the ride. This isn’t good.

I did my best to soft-pedal and relax, and I took in some calories and water, all in hopes of getting my legs back on track. I wasn’t moving very fast at all. Carl cruised past me way too soon, but i had to let him go and to ride my own race.

I didn’t panic. It’s a long race, and i knew i had time to come back.

Once i got to the middle of Bridle though, my morale started to slowly get chipped away. Instead of getting stronger and making up ground, i started to spiral into the dark and painful world of glycogen depletion.

How could I be bonking? I followed the same race/nutrition plan as last year (which was perfect), and i wasn’t anywhere near red-lined on the run. Oh yah…I skipped my usual pre-race high-carb, glycogen loading day.

Uhhhh….why did i do that again??

**aside: I feel that a relatively higher fat/lower carbohydrate diet works really well for me day to day. With that said, topped up glycogen stores are a necessity for a race like the DD, especially with all the punchy hills.

I burn 1000 Cal/hr, and at best i take in 350 Cal/hr. My fat-burning efficiency was obviously not able to make up for my glycogen issues**

SUFFERING….I came to a dead stop on the climb up old buck. I could not push the pedals hard enough to keep moving. I got off my bike, leaned it against a tree, and just wanted to go home. I had a gel and some fluids, and took several deep breaths. I was in a very dark place at that moment.

But then i saw it…a tiny light at the end of the dark tunnel…why am i being such a pu$$y? I love this kind of stuff. I love to suffer. This is what makes racing so much fun for me. If it was all kittens and lollipops, i wouldn’t be doing this. Get the f**k back on your bike and just move forward!

Slowly but surely, i started to dig myself out of the hole. By the time i hit the top of the climb i was back on my game, and i was excited to go full-gas down Ned’s. It (Ned’s) was a real boost to my mood and to my confidence…and it was just plain old fun.

I kept my effort honest all the way back to the finish, and was moving at a good clip, but there was no sign of Carl. Way in the back of my brain i had hoped to maybe see him by the bottom on Bottle Top, but no such luck. He had dropped me and never looked back. He was more than 10 minutes ahead by the end of it….kicked my ass.

Even though i didn’t have the race that i was hoping for, i can honestly say that i enjoyed it. Obviously i had some really low moments, but those lows are what give you perspective/appreciation for the highs.

Plus, a good ass-kicking now and again keeps a guy motivated….