So after a string of bad luck in races (mechanical knocked me out of Savageman Half in 09, flat tire and illness in IMWI in 08, flats in other races etc....) I was due for a good race at IMLP. I put all my cards on the table, eggs in one basket (so to speak) and trained my ass off, literally, for the last 4 months leading up to the big day. Because of a limited opportunity I had the chance to train, a lot, and took advantage of it. 20 hour weeks, a couple of 30 hour weeks. 250 miles a week on the bike during recovery weeks, 300+ and a couple of 400 mile weeks on real weeks and so on. When I wrote my plan, I figured I'd either end up injured or as fit as ever come IMLP race day. Luckily, I had almost no injuries or aches and pains and completed my last big brick July 5th, which was a race simulator that consisted of a 75 mile ride at race effort (ended up being 19.9 mph on a hilly course) followed by a 2 hour run at race effort, which I ended up running 16 miles at 7:23 pace and it felt easy! All that was on no rest after a 25 hr training week. In short, I was READY!.
Spent the next 19 days leading up to IMLP tapering and focusing on staying healthy and loose. Watched my diet, carried Purel wherever I went as with 2 little kids at home I did not want to get sick. Race weekend showed up and I was as light as I'd ever been, 147 lbs and 6.8% body fat, and more importantly had no signs of any colds, congestion etc... Bullet #1 dodged as I always seemed to come down with a cold or something before big races in the past.
Near disaster #2 came Tuesday the week before race. Took my bike to bike shop at the urging of my friends for a complete overhaul to make sure there were no issues. New tubulars put on, the works. I always do all my own maintenance so it was nice for once to have a second set of eyes look at it. Got the bike back and that Tuesday took it out for a shake-out ride to make sure it was good to go in full race glory (disk wheel, deep front etc...). Plan was an easy 13 mile loop and things felt great. Then, at the end of my loop, about 3/4 mile from home I'm coasting down the road and a car backs out of it's driveway smack in front of me. With a car coming the other way I'm looking at either a head on or t-boning the car coming out of the driveway. Luckily, at the last second, the lady backing out sees me and stops, leaving me half a lane to squeeze through. I'm mad, heart rate through the roof, shout at the lady and all I can think is shit, after 3,000+ miles the last few months and countless long rides I almost bite it a mile from home on the last training ride pre IMLP.
Semi disaster #3 came a day later, wednesday, due to a bone headed move on my part. Car was loaded for the 10 hr drive, waiting for my friends that were going up too to get done working and I had a couple hours to kill so before the long ride I wanted to go for an easy 4 mile jog. The only running shoes I had that were not packed were a year or so old, but they had plenty of life in them so I grabbed them. Went out on the porch and realized I forgot socks but did not want to go back inside. No second thoughts as I run most races Oly and down sockless, these were the same brand and style shoe I've been in all year so a 4 mile easy run just to stay loose should be harmless. Well 2 miles later my right heel starts to hurt, then hurt a lot, then I look down to see red stains all over the back of my shoe. WTF, now I have a huge open blister in the matter of 2 easy miles on my right foot. Take the shoe off, walk 2 miles home, put a Disney princess bandaid on it (I have kids, remember) and think how much worse it could have been and how stupid that was.
The following trip to IMLP was uneventful. Got to Utica late Wednesday night, stayed over, up early and off to IMLP Thursday morning. In and registered around 1, then me and a friend went for an easy ride out the run course then up the bear climbs and back to town. Nothing significant that day.
Friday morning, however, in the house I was staying in I am walking through the living room bare foot and stub my pinky toe hard on the leg of an ottoman. Hard enough I hear a loud crack, 10 minutes later it's swollen and red then turns a nice plumb purple color! Shit, you have to be kidding me! Ice it for a few minutes then the people I am staying with say they are going to ride the bike course out of town, up the hill and do the full descent to get a feel for it. I have not ridden it in a year, so I decide to go and see if it hurts my toe. Luckily, other than putting on my shoe, it does not, and my toe feels fine. I feel GREAT climbing, get a refresher on the descent and meet our ride at the coffee shop at the base for our ride home. My toe hurts, but not to bad. Get back, go for a short swim of about 2/3 of the swim loop with my coach who's racing pro and we are about equal on pace. He swam a 57. I feel really good and decide to go for a short run around Mirror lake just to see if toe hurts. Amazingly, it does not at all while running so I think one more day for shit to go wrong then I'm home free.
Saturday is uneventful again, but only at first. Wake up, go for a 10 minute jog, then take bike down to check in early so I can veg out the rest of day watching movies and resting up. I'm excited, feeling good, toe hurts like a bitch to touch and is bright purple but I can walk, ride and run so I'm not worried. Time seems to take forever on Saturday. Mentally I keep going over the race in my head and can't wait until the gun goes off. My confidence is high and I have almost no nerves.
Then, about 8 pm saturday night just as I'm turning in for bed, I start to get the all too familiar pangs of a migraine headache coming on. Anyone that suffers from them knows the feelings. Slight discomfort at first, sensitivity to light and sound, I get disoriented etc... I've had them all my life, although much less frequently the last 4 years and I think the last one I had was October of 09. Unfortunately they completely wipe me out and I usually end up in the emergency room getting a shot of imotrex and reglin to stop the vomiting. I try to get in a dark quiet room, down some ibuprofen and pray I can stay this one off. Unfortunately by 11 or so I'm in a full blown migraine. Head pounding. Get nauseous and start vomiting, which once I do it's no stopping for the next 6-7 hours. Up every 10-15 minutes until I'm dry heaving, head hurting like it's got a stake through it, guys in the house coming in to see what the hell is wrong with me etc...
Get no sleep, try to get out of bed and put kit on at 5 am. Legs and arms are numb and tingly, also feel weak as a kitten due to no longer having anything in my system. Try to down a banana and it comes right back, sip some gatoraide and that doesn't help either then at 5:30 surrender to the fact that my IMLP dream, that started one year earlier by volunteering at the run course, is done and over. Go back upstairs, pass out, wake up around 1 with my phone ringing as my mom is calling from home trying to find out why I dont' have splits online. Get my bike tickets to some friends to go pick up my bike, lay around until 7 or 8 with my head pounding then, like most headaches, it goes away almost as quickly as it comes on and I'm feeling a ton better but starved and weak as a baby.
By now I just want to pack up and leave sunday night, but my friend got 3rd in his age group (60-64) so I stick around, as I'm his ride home. I go for a run the next morning feeling good, do one loop of the course, then the long ride home. Yesterday went out and did a killer hill repeat ride to punish myself, today a hard tempo run. Not what I thought I'd be doing the days immediately following the race. Looks like I'm headed to WV next week for the Mountaineer half.
Oh well, shit happens. sub-10 hour fitness means nothing if you don't even toe the line!
To all that completed the race, congrats, wish I would have been there with you.