So, the other other big race this year......the Berryman Trail Epic.... roughly 56 miles in the Steelville, MO area.
I drove down with my coach (Andy Gibbs) and another buddy of his Skip (that's not his name nor do I know his name). We stayed at a cabin at the campground that hosted the race. It was pretty primitive but not a tent. However, when I retrieved my sleeping bag from the car, it was soaking wet.....made for a cold night.
We prepped everything the night before - bikes, nutrition, clothing - and then got up at 6am to put some fuel in the tank. Andy and Skip had their oatmeal with additives pre-made and all they had to do was add water and nuke it. I went to the shop at the campground for some oatmeal but guess what, they did not open till 8. So, I sponged left overs from Andy and Skip and ate a protein bar or two and a bagel.
As we lined up for the race, I noticed the people at the start line did not have the diversity of a normal race. What I mean is they all looked Ironman Triathlete fit (shout out to Rick and Tracy my IM buddies here!). I found out later that was because this race is long and hard. This was the first time I had ridden down there and my first time on this trail was this race (not recommended).
The first 25 miles were glorious. I was flying, average speed was very high....then, all of a sudden....OW, MY HAMSTRING!!! the cramps started. What I didn't tell you was that I thought I would try this one without a camelpak. A camelpak is a hydration pack that holds 80 ounces of water or so. It also holds other nutrition and salt tabs. Guess what, I needed it....not that fit yet....well, the pros do it! But without a crew at the aid stations it is a little tough without a pack. Anyway, the next 30 miles were excruciating. I cramped early and often. At one point I was on the trail and couldn't move and sent everyone around me through the woods. The thought of throwing in the towel actually did float through my head for a couple of minutes, and I had to play mind games with myself to keep going. With about 5 miles left the course opened up to a fire road and I started to feel good. I opened her up and started hammering, and passing racer after racer and then,,,,,, BOTH HAMSTRINGS about 2 miles from finish. All those racers passed me back and they all were saying "Do you need anything?"......"Yes, not to be so stupid not bring a pack on a 56 mile race with no crew!"
All in all, it was a great learning experience as I had felt great all year and not cramped in any race but it re-emphasized how important nutrition is before and during a race. I can't wait to go back and ride the Berryman as they are some of the best trails in the Midwest. And if anyone is looking for a great race to train for next year, these guys know how to do it.... Berryman Epic
Also, my buddy Andy finished 8th out of 300 or so.... With some pros in the race and in the top ten, this is a very impressive performance! Way to go coach! Yours truly was 154th in 7 hours and 5 minutes...
Well, I finished....
Go Big or Stay Home