Ultraman Race Report: Day 2
Starting day two I felt much better than expected. All the extra little steps we took after day one paid off in how I would feel for the long ride on day two. The story of Humpty Dumpty is not that he fell off of the wall but that all of the kings horses and all of the kings men could not put him back together again. Recovery and getting back together again for the next day would be a huge part of racing for three days in a row. My friend Anthony from Vitargo had written me out a before/during/after fueling plan and I had plenty of practice all year with mini training camps about how to get back for the next big day. This was just a three day camp with all the easy stuff taken out. All buff and no fluff! I usually do not have an issue with eating my face off either and with Keevin and Monique taking care of all the details I had time to focus on recovery and just relaxing. I was rested and with no big swim before the ride I felt pretty fresh when we started rolling in the early morning.
After an initial COLD drop from Volcano down to Pahoa we completed a loop with an extension riding along the red road. Even Jonas had mentioned that this was one of the most beautiful roads in all of the world. While a lot of the time was spent focused on the patch of road ahead I was glad I was able to take in some of the views on day two. We rode from the south side of the island up to the north point in Hawi and the climate was as diverse as the scenery along the way.
I still had no pacing plans or goal for the ride but I wanted to and knew I could “race it”. After lining up towards the middle of the pack at the start I moved to the front part of the pack on the first downhill. We were all traveling at about 30mph on a wet road and everyone was pretty close. It was safer at the front of the pack and once things heated up and the pace got quick I found myself just putting in the extra effort to stay close to the front.
By the time I ditched my jacket and warm gloves we were in full on TT race mode. How do you pace a ride that is 171.4 miles anyways? Don’t hold back! I tried to break away heading into the first few climbs but Jonas caught me on the last climb and then dropped the hammer on the downhill to the red road turn. I put in another effort to get back in front on the red road until Mike caught us both heading onto highway 130.
Heading into Hilo we hit some rollers with long downhills off the back. It was more like a false flat with wind, a mix of tropical down pouring rain and chickens flying in the road. Full of adventure…and some focused effort. Jonas was putting in a massive effort on the way into Hilo and was pulling out of sight. I managed to stay ahead of Mike but I was working overtime for it and I was more worried about keeping Jonas in view. I could see him about three rollers ahead but three turned to four and then to five… These guys were both bigger than me and were dropping the hammer on the flats! From my power meter we were holding just over 24mph for the next 40min into town but it still was not enough and Jonas slowly got out of sight. We were about 65 miles into the ride and the thoughts of “only a little over a hundred miles to go” were starting to fill my mind. I am still not sure if I was happy about it or not at that point.
Reaching Hilo I got stopped at a red light and Mike rolled up to me and then we caught a few more lights together. It was strange to be stopped at a light after a few hours of racing but it was nice to chat with Mike. Nice day for a ride eh! I tried to keep my fueling up and really never hit a low spot throughout the day. The next section was pretty stressful for the support teams as we had a few turns and some navigation through the city and being close to the front kept everyone on their toes. Monique and Keevin had the notes they made for the course the night before flying all over the car and would try to get out and stand on the corners of some turns to make sure I was not going to get lost. They kept me fueled and always knew what to tell me to keep me peppy.
The rain was off and on as we made our way over some rolling hills until we were at about the 130 mile mark and would start our biggest climb of the day up the Kohala mountains. At that point the rain stopped and the heat was on. I dropped my arm warmers, gloves and glasses and felt heat rolling out of every pore of my body as my speed no longer afforded me a breeze to cool off. It felt like riding the trainer in a hot room but with a much, much better view. I started thinking about the climb and knew if I did have any advantage it was going to be climbing so I just had to do be strong and patient. I think I was about 7min back from Jonas as we rolled into the climb and I just kept pushing my own pace and waiting for the road to get steep. Steve King was out giving splits and buckets of inspiration as we rode by and my splits from Jonas started dropping. I went from five to four minutes, then to three and then inside of two minutes. Things were getting interesting and I was keeping my power and effort about the same and still felt strong going into the climb after about five hours of riding. Not thinking about what was ahead, the effort behind or anything but the moment. I’m racing! I love this!
When I got within a minute of Jonas on the climbs I could see his support crew packing up after he had just gone by. There was fresh water on the streets and the melted ice cubes began to retain their shape…the gap was closing. In some ways the day had already felt so long but it was slipping by so fast at the same time. As I rounded the next corner I saw Jonas again for the first time in hours. The numbers would give a clear indication that if I kept at my same pace/power I could catch and pass him. By the numbers is was clear in my head but actually seeing him put me in a weird place… Should I pass him? Why am I asking questions like this?! The essence of dream crushing was all around me. I started increasing my watts and effort more and more over the next few minutes but I was now not getting any closer. After already pushing an uncomfortable pace all day I tried to step it up but this was getting into the effort level of deep and frequent questions. I have been there a few times before but never with this much excitement. This was an interesting place for me and I must admit and I struggled with whether I should pace my race or push deeper into the pain cave and possibly crack. There is a point in every race where we need to abandon numbers and just trust. Stop thinking and just do. Race! Just then, we reached the next town of Pukalani and we hit a few lights and a few flatter rolling sections and Jonas was out of sight once again.
We hit the final climb over Wiamea and it felt like we were in the tour de France or something. Big switchbacks and rolling green hills with 150 miles in our back pockets and a final break away ahead. Maybe I waited to long or didn’t dig deep enough when I should have… Maybe I do not have “what it takes” mentally to make a pass or maybe I was just keeping to my own race and keeping the big picture of a three day race in mind. When I came around the last switchbacks I put in some hard efforts with Jonas again in sight but realized we were running out of climbing before I could catch him. As much as I was uncomfortably acknowledging this to myself I also realized that I had saved something and I let it rip over the last few rollers “just for fun” and to feel my legs out. Its not often you get the chance to see what north of 400 watts feel like after seven hours of riding! It was a great feeling and confirmed a few things for me…The well is deep and fast is fun! I was so caught up in trying to catch Jonas I didn’t think about how long the ride was or what effort I was putting in. It felt like it went by so fast and was for sure one of the funnest rides of my life so far. Maybe I did not take the lead but I was so set on racing that I pushed myself to some new places and Jonas helped me get there. Day two was a huge win for me personally. I took comfort knowing that I was chalked full of excitement and ready to run long the next day.
~172 miles and 5,168kJ of fun!
Jonas ended up setting the new course record and I rolled with the fourth fastest time in the 26 year history. Cool! This also moved me up in the overall rankings to second place. Top five dudes after day two below with Amber right behind Nino after crushing the woman’s course record by over 40 minutes.
|3||520||Mike Le Roux||M34||2:28:50||5:10:31||7:44:51||15:24:12|
Monique and Keevin were quick to get me in a trash can and we were all pretty happy I only blew past one turn at the end. The turn that everyone told me about at least four times but I didn’t get lost and that is a huge step in the right direction for me. Our team work was so dialed by now that we thought the next day running would be so much easier at a slow pace. We had no idea!