Monday, August 9, 2010

Hermann to St. Charles

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I was fairly certain that I was going to suffer yesterday, the entire day devoted to experiencing the pain again, necessary for the MR340 build up. It was fiercely disappointing that the race was moved to August 24th from July, a month change. I have been training and working up to somewhat of an optimal timing on that date. There is an amazing amount of energy and focus needed to do this race. So yesterday was the first time I have been in the boat since they announced the delay, and what better way to kick start the body than a 8.5 hour kick from Hermann to St. Charles.

Now, there are ways to get acclimated to the stress that these efforts will put out. Since my boat is powered by a Mirage Drive, a pedaling system designed by Hobie Kayaks, the motion is purely in the legs, not the arms. But it appears that I will be doing both in order to keep my legs fresh during the long days. It is obvious now that I will spend a round 16 hours a day in the boat. If I am not "on" the water, I am basically are wasting time. So the challenge is to stay on the current. The current runs around 4.5 miles an hour, we averaged 8.1 yesterday for the 70 miles. The MR340 is the longest continuous river race in the world.

So yesterday was all about getting bitch slapped back in to reality. I should have been training this past two weeks but rarely found time to do anything. I usually step back a bit from it all this time of year to get geared up for business. This year things have been busy. I have not been on my bike since the last Dirt Crits over 10 days ago. And that is no big effort. I was to have a major painful day.

I started out fine. In fact, I slowed my pace with the understanding that I was going to need to ave the knees for the last 10 miles. I let Chris go and in little time he had a quarter mile leap on me. I didn't care, and while it is indeed a strange place to be when you are by yourself, I found a pretty awful genius pick on my Ipod from Intern Dave, some kind of dance techno stuff. That carried me through for an hour or so, then I went directly to swamp rock with Scots Band. I was feeling pretty good and I knew that Chris was putting the hammer down. About halfway, just past Washington the sun got high and literally started cooking me. We had a tail wind of about 5 miles an hour so there was nothing to help dry the sweat, that which creates the evaporation and cooling. For three hours I baked like a pie in the sweltering heat. Splashing water helps. Then I noticed that the mesh from my hat did not keep the sun from my bald head. I was getting burned through my hat. That explains the headache.

In the middle of that was something that I was hoping to see. A BARGE! This massive barge creeping up the side of the river, barely moving but putting out more energy than I have ever seen. Pushing four containers and some other floating thing. The next several miles would be rollers, for the next half hour anyway. This changed things up, you have to concentrate more when the barges go by because the waves come up over your bow. It is really quite nice if you go with it. Though you do not want to get near them. Very scary.

The heat robs you of just about everything and raises your heartbeat. This kind of energy requires a low heart rate, never going near anaerobic. The more heat, the higher the heart rate, the more calories burned. My nutrition got off a bit too. And because of the heat, I tended not to want to eat. I needed sugar in the midst of the heat so I downed a red bull, usually helps balance out the blood. I saved my finishing treat for the ride home, a 20 ounce Coke. I think the body was shocked by this effort, because of the heat, the effort. The current was down quit a bit from the last time we did this. We finished in 7:15 last time. This was an hour later. I slowed a bit, but the current had more to do with it. The river has been up since spring, it is coming down and, while it is a much more pleasant peaceful place when down, the current is not nearly what it was. Our max was just over 10 miles and hour, yesterday. We were well over 12 at times a couple months ago.

Nope, I have two weeks to recover from this one, do another one and get my head right. This is going to be much harder than I imagined. I am feeling very fatigued right now. Wracking the boat in the heat after that effort yesterday made me wonder if I can even do it. The heat was not my friend, never is since I hit 45. I used to be able to fend it off. I think the non-peak hours will be key, going at night, early morning, late afternoon. I will likely take my time in the middle of the day. I am also going to make sure I have the right head gear, one of those stupid looking umbrella hats. I am so down with one of those.

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