Pic above 65 miles into the 2016 DK200.
Note: this post is about my first-ever Dirty Kanza 200 experience on June 4, 2016.
Part VI – Hitting The Wall
Only 65 miles into the Dirty Kanza 200 and already getting worried; running at higher levels than anticipated. Heart rate was a full 10 beats per minute over the expected. Was this a malfunction in the HR monitor? No, it’s working correctly. This terrain was far more challenging than what I’d trained for and was causing me to work harder maintaining a decent pace. I knew that going in but hearing about something and experiencing it firsthand are two different things.
By this time Checkpoint One was 15 miles behind. That is when I began to sense the trouble. Stomach had just stopped working. I could nibble but had lost a real appetite. I knew eating was the only way keep going. At mile 50 you are fueling for mile 100. Stop eating and run out of gas fifty miles later – he’s dead Jim.
Checkpoint One is where the mistake was made of replenishing all fluids (about 3L) with a combination electrolyte and calorie replacement mix. The reasoning was sound. Didn’t want to eat, maybe could compensate by drinking. Normally on a day like this (hot), it would be half pure water, half EFS (chosen mix). Ten miles past that checkpoint the mixture had become warm/syrupy/sweet/salty and it took everything I had just to continue drinking – it.
What I’d have given for a cold bottle of plain water! My body was becoming dehydrated and that plays tricks on the mind. Began to fantasize about how good that water would taste. Longing for it. Yet I still had over 35 miles before Checkpoint Two, during an unsupported race, no aid stations, towns, quickmarts or help from my support team – unless I wanted to quit.
Around this time a jeep was passed, parked on a hilltop, off the road about 20 meters. I stopped and hailed the driver.
“I’ll give you five bucks for a bottle of water,” I told him, only half joking.
The driver chuckled and replied he’d be happy to “give” me one. I found out later he was a member of a Kansas City jeep club that patrols the area every year. Not sure what their mission is specifically but suspect it’s to act as first responders when things go awry for riders who get in over their head.
That bottle was a small one, but got me another 10 miles, before once again thoughts of dehydration set in. Knowing these races are as much mental as physical I squelched the negative thoughts, took another swig of the knarly mix, and dug in for the next big climb. Whoever said Kansas was flat never rode these sections. Checkpoint Two was still over 25 miles away so I had to make the most out of the resources I had. Nasty or no I’m gonna drink that swill.
About halfway into the next hill my left quad began cramping. Brief stabs of excruciating pain. Felt like a sharp knife being inserted deep into the muscle. “No!” I proclaimed loudly and pounded on the leg using my left fist as a hammer, followed by an attempt to massage away the spasm by grasping it fully and squeezing hard. I’m sure any riders who were nearby thought I had gone stark raving mad.
“This is NOT going to happen!” I cried again, nearly at the top of my voice. After months of training, with it’s thousands of miles and expenditures, not gonna end here, like this. As the cramp eased I worked my way, slowly, over the top of the hill, pedaled gently down and steadied myself for the next big climb, with it a new concern…
Next Post: Part VII – Checkpoint Two