This weekend is the Lumberjack 100, race #4 in the National Ultra Endurance Series. This will be my seventh year in a row racing in the Manistee National Forest and I'm excited...but also nervous. I'm racing my Salsa Selma Ti in the women's open division against over forty others, and competition is going to be fierce. Factor in the heat (temps are supposed to reach 90-degrees) and it's going to be a tough day in the saddle.
Even though I know I'm going to be pushed to my limits (both mentally and physically) I'm really looking forward to the race. Not only will I get to spend a full day on my favorite bike, but I get to catch up with some fellow endurance racer friends that I haven't seen in a long time. I also get to cheer on some friends who will be racing the Lumberjack for the first time. In fact, this will be their first hundred miler race and I think I might be more excited for them than I am for me.
I remember my first hundred miler and it was not an easy day. It was the Mohican 100 before the race became the Mohican 100 that we know today. It was held in conjunction with the Mohican 100 ultra-endurance running race, and I was the only female racing with about 25 other guys.
I was not prepared in the least and I think a little part of me is still surprised that I am alive to talk about it. I knew nothing about pacing or nutrition or chamois butter. I was just out there pedaling. A disgruntled farmer took down a lot of the arrows, resulting in almost all of us getting lost. Still, I managed to pedal my way to the finish and I will never forget how great it felt to cross the finish line.
So this is my message to everyone racing their first hundred miler tomorrow:
First of all, give yourself a pat on the back for signing up for a hundred miler, and then following through with all the training and sacrifices that come along with competing in one. That automatically makes you a complete rockstar! Out of the general public, only an infinitesimally small amount will ever be brave enough to show up at the start line. So you go on with your bad-ass self!
Tomorrow will undoubtedly be hard, and some of us will have great races, some mediocre, and some will not have good days at all. But just remember that we are all battling the heat, and sand, and Michigan ticks together. And be sure to enjoy every bit of it, even with the aches and cramps and anything else that comes along with racing a hundred miles for the first time. You owe yourself the chance to enjoy the ride, because training for a hundred miler does not come easy, and you had to skip a lot of sleeping in, family outings and who knows what else to prepare for the race.
And when you do cross the finish line, slow down (unless you are in a sprint), give a fist pump, and enjoy the feeling...because you only cross the finish line of your first hundred miler once. And after a few days you will probably find yourself wondering, "What next?"
One last word of advice? To quote my favorite Twin Six t-shirt,"Rock Hard and Roll Fast" my friends :-)