July started off with a bang (no pun intended of course) I was really looking forward to the Thunderdown 10 Hour Solo and rightfully so considering this was a home race for me. This course is hard enough to eliminate any advantage you think you have as the Underdown and Bill himself has mysterious ways of inflicting pain upon those who dare to take his or her opponents to war at his homestead. I made the threat of ripping apart the course and Mr. Underdown didn't take too kindly to my first shot fired at his direction. He made me pay unleashing insects, taking the chain off my crank, turning open trails into a virtual oven, and this would leave me and my battered soul for dead, but I wouldn't let it end that way and despite my stomach distress and other pain that I care not to mention, I felt the reward of sticking it out and Bill gave me that last push of energy to finish a final strong 3/4 of lap 3 to finish the race in 3rd place. No growler would be in the cards for me this year but the taste of redeye's finest brew was well worth the punishment that the Underdown had bestowed upon me.
Wait.....there's more....Thunderdown was July 2nd I would again be called upon to toe the line on Independence Day for a 5K run beatdown as part of Tomahawk's annual Pow-Wow Days celebration and I wasn't sure what to expect here since I haven't devoted any time to running since just before the WEMS opener at the Stump Farm so no running since mid April...I was to die out there for sure with the heat index close to 100 again, but I abandoned all fear cause in the end it was only going to be a run of less than a half hour or so "I can ride a bike for over 24 hours I should be able to survive a 5K with no problem" Is what I said to myself as I was heading to the start line ready to take off with over 350 starters. I along with an old teammate of mine from back on the Tomahawk Cross Country Team used old tactics to quickly make our way to the chase group of around 20 people where he clearly had the legs that day and I was happy to maintain visual contact for the duration and finished with a time of 21:32 and 26th overall out of 340 finishers. I would then circle back and jog backwards on the course to locate my two cousins and uncle who were running the 10K in which I would run with each one to the finish line until all have crossed. I would need a couple of days to recover after that sequence of training.
Not less than a week later I would start to get a feel for this whole bikepacking thing. I loaded up my Kona Jake and Ergon BD1 pack and headed for Minocqua and more specifically The Minocqua Brewing Company. I thoroughly enjoyed riding the hiawatha-bearskin trails for the 80 mile out and back journey loaded up with around 20lbs of random gear.
This week and going foward my heart will race and I will dream in anticipation for the biggest journey into the darkness of the pain cave I will face this season. It's about two weeks away and I am slowly transitioning over to full on Wausau24 mode. I am already thinking about how to break my laps down to get the number of laps I need or feel will need to be competitive. I spend time telling myself that I am in a place where I can be a legitimate threat for the podium barring the unknown. I constantly think through my nutrition and where I went wrong last year and how to improve upon it based on weather, terrain, competition and other variables. There are so many things to consider when going into a 24 hour solo race besides just riding your bike till your racing heart pumps battery acid, for example: Battery life and charging, Pace, Setting up for the run, when to pick up lights and eat, how many calories are going in, weather, pit area location, support, battery charging (yes, I mentioned this twice), list goes on.... So as of today 7/15/2011 I grow more and more excited to roll out onto the course for the first of many laps and will continue to dream/daydream of descending down trail #1 and crossing over redbud road again after the midnight hour to be greeted by the superfans and music so loud it gives you goose bumps each and every time you pass by.
This is no time for excuses or to forget the lessons that the ghost of Bill Underdown has taught me. I will be victorious in some sense of the word, victory and accomplishment is based upon the goals you set for yourself along with your faith in yourself and knowing that there are much larger forces watching over you and at times protecting you from yourself, I will live and die by that very sword on race day. Oh and a little extra motivation never hurts either and how just a single comment can give you that extra push with about 2 weeks to go. I am ready for 25 hours of pain probably more so than years past. As Tim Wilcox would say.....GET SOME!!