(Another wonderful post from Jason Gaikowski. We're both headed to MDH100. Here are his thoughts as he approaches this monster of a race. - Nick)
“We must dare to be great; and we must realize that greatness is the fruit of toil and sacrifice and high courage.” “Let us rather run the risk of wearing out than rusting out.” - Theodore Roosevelt
That’s the kind of audacious thinking that makes people stick your name on a National Park in a place called the Badlands. Powerful and inspiring; unfit for the genteel civilized folk.
106 miles of singletrack awaits alongside 12,000 feet of climbing to throw a bit of pepper into the day. A record stands a shade shy of nine hours. Minneapolis Mafioso Tommy “Hurl” Everstone spent a clean 15:15 on trail. The website says the race is EXTREME; death or serious injury could occur. Quitters need not apply.
This is going to be a long day.
Set yourself on fire
I’m not ready. Not in any rational or conventional sense. Early this summer life jumped out screaming“SURPRISE! HERE’S LOTS OF REALLY GREAT STUFF ALL AT THE SAME TIME!!!” and since then I’ve logged more air miles than training miles; more airport time than saddle time. Under fit, over fat and more than a little fatigued from a few hyper-active couple of months.
This is going to hurt.
But like Glassow says, “Success isn’t the result of spontaneous combustion, you must set yourself on fire.”
So there you have it, I’m heading to the Maah Daah Hey 100.
Embrace the “L”
You’ve probably heard that three is a magic number. I believe that L is a magic letter. I’ve learned over the years that embracing the L is the difference between a bad day and a hard one; between suffering in misery and suffering in joy (and there will be suffering).
Embracing the L is the difference between compete and complete.
Compete: to strive to defeat and establish superiority
Complete: having all that is necessary; to the greatest extent possible
The Badlands are bigger than I am, and vast and more powerful that I could ever be. Striving to establish superiority will generate vastly powerful misery. Others are faster than I have ever been, more talented and blessed with the fitness of youth. Striving to defeat others will generate a cramp-filled and very bad day.
I go to the Badlands simply to gain something necessary, to make myself greater and more complete. I will embrace the L. I will suffer joyfully.
And in doing so, I will win the long hard day.
Fortunately, 20 years of foibles, what-the-hell-have-I-gotten-myself-into’s and hard-earned lessons have left some accumulated knowledge in their wake. I have an idea of what to expect, and how to plan for this kind of day.
Eat, drink, eat, drink. Managing my fuel tank is my top priority. Simply, I plan to fuel my way through the day. Job number one is to manage my fuel and hydration with a combination of complex carbs, protein, salt, and more salt. I’ll avoid sugar as much as possible, as I know it will give me gastro issues. A favorite of mine is almond-butter and fig jam sandwiches with a generous layer of salt. I’ll carry matcha green-tea bags with me to throw into water bottles for a change of pace.
Go slow, take it easy on the climbs, and don’t think too much. Over the course of a long day, any athlete’s power over 10 hours will be equal to his 10-hour average power. You can get there with a combination of highs and lows (attack, recover, attack, recover) or by settling intoyour endurance pace and steadily hanging out in Zone 3 all day. On this climbs, steady zone 3 feels really easy, so climbs become an automatic cue to enjoy a little snack on the way up.
And most importantly (for me) keep it simple: eat, drink, breathe, pedal, drink, breathe, pedal. Zone out and let the miles flow by. The day will unfold on it’s own terms, so simply be.
This too shall pass. The forecast calls for cool morning temps (this shall pass) and a warm afternoon (this shall pass). I know we’ll all feel excited and energetic at the start (this shall pass) and struggle with the grind of a late day climb (this shall pass.) The day will be a roller coaster filled with highs and lows, strength and weakness, confidence and doubt. The key is to fully embrace the joys, for they pass too soon; and to accept the suffering, secure in the knowledge that joy that lies ahead somewhere. The pain and pleasure are impermanent. The day is impermanent.
And what we take away lasts forever.
Sometimes people ask why I do these things. Crossing a mountain pass at night in a snowstorm. Debating the merits of drinking from an oil slicked mud puddle. Pedaling beyond the limits of common sense. I’m never quite sure how to answer.
I’m grateful for the bonds I’ve forged, the deep friendships and the character these experiences give. They are essential to how I see the world and who I strive to be. Honestly, I’m tempted to respond by asking why they don’t do such things; curious to learn how they build character.
I go to the Badlands to gain something necessary; to make myself more complete. I will embrace the L and I will suffer joyfully.
I am under fit and over fat. I am not prepared, and I am so ready.