The day started off at 4:20am for some whole wheat pancakes and banana for a breakfst under the lantern. I mixed all of my drinks and gel flasks, stretched, got in bike clothes and was ready to go. We got to Big M around 5:45am and put up the tent(which was moved later) and I got everythig ready. The race started off on the road with 162 racers taking up the entire road. Gotta love it when the cars came through. After a faster than inticipated leadout by the van, I started passing people and went into the woods in the second large group.
I ended up passing all of these people shortly and I picked up the pace and started to find a group of people to ride with. The first 8 miles was an inner loop with some short hills thrown in all over. It ended with a nice sandy trechorous downhill. I rode the first lap with a good group of Dustin Cheney of CycleTherapy, a guy riding a 29'er from Minnesota, and a guy from State College, PA.
After lap one, I went in and out of the pits faster than anyone in the group. I felt like I could go faster than the group, and took off at a quicker pace. Just before the 8 mile mark, I was caught by the guy from MN. We rode together for another 5 miles before he took off and I crahed. It was getting sandier and warmer every loop, and that sand caught be and threw my bars into a tree. I wasn't going very fast, so I jumped up and went. The lap was slower than the first, but I was feeling good.
Lap three came and it was getting hot. At the pits, I threw down some more endurolytes and chugged some water. I took a 24 and 28oz bottle and had them both gone before the end of the lap. I rode by myself during this lap and started pushing the hills a little harder about 1/2 way through. Once you get past mile 14-15ish, it stays flat for a while and has some small hills, but it is hard to mantain speed. It turns and is bumpy, therefore you can't hammer it away. A guy from Titus passed me, then stopped at the aid station. He passed me and I immediately picked up my pace and it actually felt better. When I went by him, I kept up the pace and never saw him again. I was well into the 90's and I was just keeping hydrated and keeping myself mentally in the race.
As lap 4 came, I drank 1/2 of a nalgene bottle in around 10 seconds, and took 2 bottles of Gu20, both 28 ounces. After the innerloop, I met my GREAT support(my mom, thanks) and she filled up my already empty bottle 40 minutes in! 4 miles into my outer 17 mile loop, I crahed hard. My front tire caught some of the benchcut and shot me across the sand and into a tree. My bike hit the tree and my hip hit something. I layed in the trail for at least a minute. It is the spot where your hip meets the pevic bone and moves every pedal stroke. I knew it would hurt bad, but I got up and went. I couldn't seem to keep a fast pace up in the falst bumpy woods, but 5 miles from the end I picked it up hoping to beat the 8:30 mark. I passed a few more people, lapping them and kept on pushing. I kept looking down at my HR monitor for the time. I stood up for 1/2 mile through the BUMPY pines section 1-2 miles from the end. When my monitor hit 8:30, I sat down and brought it home.
I finished 12th overall out of 162 racers. I was happy and surprised at how well I did compared to the elite racers. I finished in a pack of excellent riders and big name sponsors. My time was 8:32:10, and I was the youngest rider to do the race. I came across the line and Rick announced I was only 18 and 12th overall. I was 10th in mens, but Dan Jansen and Eric Tompkin were ahead of me on SS, so 12 overall. After the race, I had tons and tons of people coming up to me and congratulating me over and over and saying how good I did. I didn't even know most of the people, but I was a great feeling of encouragement and I knew I did well.
It was a great weekend and I had a blast. It was hot, but I stayed hydrated unlike 100 or so racers who DNFed. It was a hard race, but I will be back for more.