March 04, 2007

Vision Quest 2007 Race Report

The Vision Quest was here and it was time to prepare for the long day. Despite the lack of sleep, I awoke and felt equipped to face the day. I grabbed my bags and was off to meet Marius for some coffee. When we arrived at the Black Star canyon minutes later the crowd of some 350 participants were busy about their race prep business and everyone was commenting on how unusually warm it was. Marius and I met up with Georgina and Christi and as we talked I noticed that Ryan and his crew were parked right behind them. Ryan had been riding the course the last few weekends (starting at 5:30am to simulate race day) and had warned me through an email about cold chill that the training rides left them with. I think we were both relieved to have the warm breeze joining the excitement in the air. It was also a full moon and the sky was picturesque. Light clouds partially covering a full moon as it lay over the hills to the south of trail where we would be heading up on our way to the soccer ball.

At just before 5:30am, Chris gave out a few race updates, words of encouragement and then we were off into the darkness. In just a few miles and a few thousand feet in elevation gain, the sun was out and I had reached the soccer ball in just over an hour. Crap! I think I went out a little too fast… According to the Warriors Society we were in for 11,000 feet of climbing in our 56+ mile course so pace was paramount. I tried to keep that in the front of my mind and in my legs on the next few smaller accents. These were easier to keep pace on and before I knew I had reached the start of the motorway trail. Time for some downhill! This was such a fun part of the course and the pack was already starting to thin out.

About twelve minutes later I rolled into to the first aid station at Maple Springs and was surprised to hear Steve calling me. I was so stoked to see him! I didn’t know he was going to be there but he would be supporting Georgina, Marius and I all day. Steve gave me some pointers last year in Mammoth that forever changed my riding. He has a real charisma for encouraging people too. He grabbed my backpack and filled my water and I shoved down a banana. We talked a little and he gave me some encouraging words. I would need them in the miles ahead.

(Elevation map from

When we rode this part of the course a few weeks back it took us a little over 3 1/2 hours so when I arrived in just under 2 1/2 I was more worried than anything. Did I go out to fast? When was I going to feel the repercussions of this one? I knew the next climb would be the longest continuous climb of the day and so I was off to get r' done while I was still feeling fresh.

The Maple Springs road to four corners was a long continuous, grinding and surprisingly cold climb. I met my decision here and found what I was looking for in this challenge. Interestingly enough, it had to do with vision too. Maybe it was the paved road that turns into dirt with nothing exciting. Maybe it was the long climb that lay ahead or the consequences I was starting to feel from going out faster than I should have. In the start of the climb I found myself alone and continued to eat but my pace starting to slip early on. Where was my power? I started to eat and eat more. About half way up the climb to Santiago peak and a little over four hours into the race I started to feel nocuous. What was going on here? I realized that I didn’t actually drink the coffee I had with Marius this morning and maybe it was a caffeine issue. I need to quit that Starbucks kick. I reached into my backpack and started to dig into my bag of chocolate covered espresso beans. That helped for a little while but soon I was getting dizzy and my vision started making the rocks in front of me dance around. Woohh.. This is new. At the same time I felt like I had no power and found myself pushing my bike on some sections I had climbed before with my middle ring. What was I missing? I actually didn’t worry when the first few people passed me but when more than a dozen people rode by me I started to question myself. My thoughts started to turn negative and then I got the question. Why am I doing this again? At this point my vision was not just a few seconds here and there but I had to actually stop and sit. I took inventory and went through my requirements logically. I went through my motives and started thinking positive. I just need to get to the peak and then I can have some downhill. Hold on. You have been through worse. I have plenty of water and food but what else does my body need now? . . . Electrolytes? I had not taken anything yet so I popped two ECAPs and stretched, walked and rode at a pace I could manage. I was making progress.

(Polar Heart Rate statistics)

I passed four corners and just a few miles short of the peak I started feeling better. I remembered the Ultra that Monique and I ran on this same road just four weeks ago. She was so strong. I was and am so proud of her and that fueled me with everything I needed. After the ECAPs I stopped eating and took only small amounts of water in. I had made it to the peak and I had pushed through that “spot” for now.

At just over 30 miles I was heading into the Holy Jim canyon trail. I had never been down the trail before and it was an experience in itself. One part of the trial had a fallen tree that I managed to duck under the first branch only to be caught by my helmet on the last branch. Georgina later told us that she locked up the breaks and went over the handle bars at the sight of it. Good times on the trail.

(the good part of the trail - A picture stolen from

Reaching the bottom of Holy Jim marked the end of the Counting Coup race and the closing in on the last cut off for the VQ. Once again, Steve was at the transition area to encourage me and fill up my water. At this point I did not know where I was in the race but Steve told me I had about an hour and a half to get to the next cutoff and it was only about 30min from the transition area but the hike a bike section would follow.

The hike a bike was a concern for me because of my recent IT band issue but at this point I was feeling so much better that I was not so worried about it. I didn’t have any problems with them so far; even when I was pushing my bike up Santiago peak. I had the time to slow down even more but I wouldn’t need it. After I made the cut and started out on West Horse Thief trail I stopped to stretch. I took some Advil for some insurance on my IT bands, a couple more ECAPs and found my Ipod in my backpack. Music!! I was ready now.

I felt the best I had the entire race heading up the hike a bike section. Yeah, I was tired and started to feel the fatigue but I was so relieved not to have any issues with my IT bands and to be over the vision/nausea problem. Now I was into my music and pushing with the energy I just could not find earlier. I can run these hills, I kept thinking. People run 100 milers on stuff much harder than this. My legs were still strong from our ultra and it was nice to change up the muscles from the bike. We were in multisport land now! I actually passed six people on the hike a bike and felt so refueled by the time we reached main divide that I was back into my “normal” cadenance and power on the last few climbs. This is awesome! My thoughts were all positive now and I was so thankful. 50 miles and no flats, 50 miles and no mechanicals, 50 miles and I'm loving this course!

I made record time down the Trabuco trail and by the time I got back to the dirt road leading to the finish I was in top gear and pounding. It was nice to finish strong… It was nice to finish. I believe I crossed in about seven hours and twenty minutes. Somewhere around there. After talking with everyone at the finish line I was stoked to learn that there were no major injuries or DNF's. I got to chat it up with a few friends and meet some new people too. Another day in paradise.

The Stats

According to my Polar Watch I averaged a 145BPM heart rate and burned just under 5,000 calories during the ride. Besides my electrolyte episode (if it was from that) I felt good with my calorie intake and H20.

Fuel for the ride.
-2 handful of Mrs Mays Sunflower crunch
-2 hand fulls of pretzels
-4 hand fulls of chocolate espresso beans
-1 chocolate power bar
-1 nature valley bar
-1 bag cliff shots
-6 Accel Gel's
-1 banana
-1 bottle of accelerade
-4 advil

Stuff that I carried the entire time and didn’t use
-3 nature valley bars
-1 power bar
-2 Accel Gel's
-C02 pump and spare tube
-backup pump
-leg warmers
-space blanket
-TP (same roll from the Ultra and I'm still glad I havn’t had to use it yet) ; - P

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