A Mental Battle



Dirty Dozen 12hr Mountain Bike RaceThis past weekend, I raced the Dirty Dozen 12hr Mountain Bike Race just outside of Austin, TX. Being my first 12 hour solo race, I tried to plan as much as possible, but one thing I didn’t count on was battling food poisoning for 5 days prior. With only 3 full meals in my belly before Saturday morning, I wasn’t exactly toeing the line at 100%. It didn’t matter though because I had worked my ass off for months leading up to this and I wasn’t going to let a little sickness keep me from giving it everything I had.

What I didn’t realize was that not only would this race be immensely physically challenging, but by the end, it would be a massive mental battle as well.  I can’t count how many times I wanted to quit throughout the day. Sometimes because of the physical pain I was in, other times because I knew what was still to come. But time and time again, I found a way to push through. Some times it wasn’t me who gave the push, it was my amazing girlfriend (and support crew) Jennifer. She’d tell me to suck it up and just keep pushing.

Dirty Dozen 12hr MTB RaceThat reminds me of one of the biggest surprised I discovered on that day. You’re support crew is INSANELY important! Had I not had Jennifer there with a fresh bottle of PowerBar Perform every lap, handing me food and words of encouragement along the way, I couldn’t have gone half as far as I did. A huge thank you to her!

Throughout the race, I had many ups and downs both physically and mentally. Some easier to push through than others. The toughest downer started about 7 laps in (I completed 18 laps total = 134miles). Due to my depleted levels of energy stores going into the race (I had lost 5lbs in 5 days), I started having severe cramping. I had to back off my pace greatly and even get off the bike a few times to stretch out my twitching muscles. It took Jennifer’s encouragement and a lot of internal cursing at myself to push through the pain. I drank like a fish the next few laps and started to rebound a bit by around 3pm.

Dirty Dozen 12hr Mountain Bike RaceDuring those difficult laps, I lost the 20 minute lead that I had built up over the first 7 laps, and was never able to make a charge back up to the lead. By the end of the day, it was pretty obvious talking with the timing crew that I was set in 3rd place. That made the last few laps in the dark a bit more enjoyable because I was no longer having to worry about racing, just having fun cruising.

Dirty Dozen 12hr Mountain Bike RaceA few things I was incredibly thankful for were that the bike worked perfect, all of my Rudy Project gear (helmet, sunglasses, and kit) worked perfectly throughout the day, I never had to dab (other than to get off for cramps), I never had a flat, and my lights were amazing! Not having to worry about your gear was a big stress reliever. It was the bio-mechanical issues that left me hurting.

So would I do it again? I’m not sure. I feel if I hadn’t been sick for 5 days, I would have been able to hold the pace I set early on in the race and victory would have been mine. But at the same time, 12 hours is a LONG FREAKIN TIME and I’m not sure I want to punish myself for that long again. So for the time being, I think I’ll stick with 5-6 hour races max and see if the bug comes back for a 12hour.

Big thanks to the guys at BobCat13 Photo for being out there all day getting some great shots!


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