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Hotter’n Hell Hundred (plus 2.6)

August 29, 2010

Yesterday morning, I woke up and rode 100 miles.

IMG00068-20100829-0959 

Ok, a little more than that – 2.62 bonus miles.

On Friday afternoon, we drove out to Wichita Falls, TX (which is close to the Oklahoma border, a little NW of the D/FW metro) for Hotter’n Hell 100.

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HHH is the largest century event in the United States and is about the largest source of tourism for Wichita Falls because, well, why the hell else would you want to go there?  :)  But in all seriousness, HHH is pretty famous for the awesome volunteers and spectators.  Apparently they appreciate their towns being taken over by 14,000 sweaty, spandex-clad cyclists for a day.  Having someone cheer you on when you’ve been riding for 6 hours makes a big difference. 

(On the flip side, I know how it is to be a volunteer and have cranky athletes, so I always made a point to say thank you to each volunteer.)

We stayed at one of the church camps in the area, bunk-style.  BIG mistake.  I learned Friday night that I am apparently very demanding about the conditions during which I can sleep – room temperature, noise, comfort of the bed itself, and light.  And I hadn’t texted Matt to tell him I was going to sleep, so he texted me 3 separate times and woke me up.  My phone, along with the dozens women coming in and out of the bunk house as well as the bathroom, pretty much made it impossible to fall asleep until after 1.

At 4:15, I was woken up by women getting up to get ready.  Do the math and you’ll see why I was rather cranky in the morning.

After I got up and threw on my clothes, we headed over to breakfast.  Since I knew there wasn’t a chance I’d be able to eat much of what was prepared, I had packed a PB&J on a Kinnikinnick english muffin (pre-toasted and prepared, which meant it had a texture not too far off from cardboard).  I ate that along with half a banana and some grapes (thank goodness they had fresh fruit) and a little bit of scrambled eggs (which they swore were only seasoned with salt & pepper – but I probably wouldn’t do it again if I had to do it over again… I blame the lack of sleep).  I made a beeline for the coffee machine, only to sadly discover that it was about a strong as hot water.

The start line was absolutely packed when we got there, but we managed to squeeze in and wait.  The best part of any event like this is the free swag and by just hanging out at the start line, waiting for the national anthem, the air force flyover, and the canon blast, I got several packs of Clif Blocks and GU.

Then the canon went off and off we went!  Actually, there were 2,000+ people in front of us, so we more or less coasted to the start line and THEN we took off.

Miles 0-25 were easy and fabulous.  The weather was great, the breeze was gentle and cool, and we were all in good spirits.  After mile 25, I was on my own as my buddies from the cycling club did the 100k (metric century) and mile 25 was where the 100 milers and 100 kers split off. 

Miles 25-60 were good. We passed through Burkburnett and one of the spectators sitting outside his house had his garden hose and was spraying anyone that asked.  I did and he got me good – this really helped for the next couple miles. I was feeling great and passing people left and right.  I stopped at most aid stations and ate GUs, banana thirds, orange slices, and filled up my bottles with gatorade.

Oh, and drank this:

IMG00060-20100828-1210

Pickle juice! 

Not all that bad when you’re seriously in need of salt.  And I swear it keeps cramps at bay.

One of the unique things about this race is Hell’s Gate.  It’s a point in the race – about 62 miles – that they close down if you don’t reach by a certain time of day (because it only gets hotter as the day goes on and if you haven’t made it to 62 by 12:30, you’ll be out on the road much longer than is safe).  If you get there after it has closed, they redirect you so that you finish 10 miles up the road at 72 miles.  Because of a bad crash around mile 22, everyone had to walk their bikes for a mile or two in the grass on the side of the road so the ambulances could get through.  Even after we made it through the crash, it was a struggle breaking through the slower riders to get ahead, so a lot of riders were very anxious about making it to Hell’s Gate before it closed.

Fortunately, I got there with plenty of time to spare.

Miles 60-75 were really difficult.  The roads were new chip seal (i.e. the absolute worst riding surface second only to gravel or sand) and we had turned straight into the wind, which was neither gentle nor cool anymore.  The vibration of riding over chip seal really sucks the energy out of you. It was at that point that I, and I’m guessing most of the people around me, starting wondering why anyone signed up for this ridiculous thing.  The sun was beating down and people were puking on their bikes.  The medical tents at the aid stations were full of people lying on the grass or cots.

After 75, I felt a little better.  Only 25 miles left to go – that’s nothing.  I ride 25 miles on easy days.  So I soldiered on and befriended anyone that looked like they were struggling still.

By mile 85, I had gotten a second wind and felt fabulous.  One of the aid stations was manned by the town’s fire department and the firefighter had his water hose.  He sprayed me down so well that my socks were dripping and it dropped my body temperature way back down.  So for the next 18 miles, I climbed hills like they were anthills and hammered away the flats.

And then it was over. 

That is the only complaint I have about this event – the ending was rather anti-climatic.  You just rolled through the big HHH arch, got off your bike, were handed a finisher’s pin and handed over your time chip.

I hung out at the PBA tent for about 30 seconds and then hopped back on my bike to ride to the car a mile or so away.  I’m encouraged at how good I felt afterwards – I seriously could have kept riding.  Clearly, my wall was at mile 60 – I wonder when my second wall would have hit?

After a quick shower, we headed back to Dallas.  I woke up this morning a little sunburnt and a little sore today, but other than a massive hunger, I’m feeling about normal.

First century is on the books!  102.62 miles (not counting riding to or from the car) in 6:45:09.  Not bad considering I stopped to help out when I saw someone down and stopped at most rest stops.

Next up?  Another triathlon in October, a few 10ks and a half marathon in December.  Can’t wait!

———-

So, if anyone is still reading this, I’m sorry that I up and disappeared.  All of this training – while one of the most fun things I’ve done in my life – means that I have less free time in general.  I’ll be the first to admit that I have never (and never plan to) spent a lot of time preparing my meals, but I’ve found that now, 5 minutes seems like too much time to spend on food.  So I’ve been eating really unexciting, really repetitive things, and I haven’t wanted to post about all of the frozen Amy’s meals and Larabars I’ve been chomping on (which are great products and fine in a pinch, but not ideally an every meal thing).

From now on, I’d like to do a mix of training talk and food talk.  Afterall, they kind of go hand in hand.  I’m going to be experimenting with making my own sports drinks (right now I drink G2 Gatorade but I’m not so happy with all of the artificial stuff that’s in it) and recovery drinks, as well as trying to find food that is both quick and easy, as well as nutritious and nourishing.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 29, 2010 9:48 PM

    Congratulations. It sounds like you had an amazing race. I am also very glad to see that you are back. I was very concerned when you stopped blogging. So excited to see what is to come!! 🙂

    • thedallasceliac permalink*
      August 31, 2010 4:55 PM

      Hi Lindsay – sorry to worry you! I promise to be a little more consistent and at the very least, let everyone know when I’m going to take some time off.

      -E.

  2. August 30, 2010 4:31 AM

    hey lady, so nice to see you pop up in my google reader!!

    Congrats on the awesome race!

    I buy an sports drink mix at my health food store and it is really awesome, gluten, sugar, soy, all those things free and it comes in a couple of different flavors. My husband is a long distance runner, as I think you already know, and he swears by it.

    • thedallasceliac permalink*
      August 31, 2010 4:57 PM

      Thanks Christie! What is the name of that sports drink? I love the idea of being able to purchase something that I felt good about putting in my body (and Gatorade just isn’t it).

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