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6 Hours of Lake Norman

The first race in the new Southern Endurance series was held at Lake Norman state park, a place I have been maybe 3 times but very good trials there. So the Sunday before myself and Phillip Craver decided to make a trip up to pre-ride the course! Upon our arrival we actually met up with teammate Dave Williams who was also there to pre-ride. Not knowing much about the course Dave had already done a lap around and was showing us the way! He was flying around the course and after doing the 63 mile Bike Luck charity road ride Saturday with Phil my legs were struggling to hang onto him. We put in a 3 good laps around the course and I noticed it was a very fast and fun race layout ~10 miles long and not a ton of climbing per lap or real technical areas.

So after doing 6hr's of Warrior Creek in early April my next A race for the year was actually the 70.3 Ironman in Raleigh. I wanted to use the 6hrs of Lake Norman since it fell right between my 2 early season A races to really see where I was endurance wise and come into the event fatigued and see how my body and mind would handle it. So I did just that putting in a solid 5 days prior to the event with no tapering. So race morning comes and here I am feeling OK and ready to race and see what happens.

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Race morning I started with a good breakfast and getting in some pre-race nutrition and on my way! Get up to the lake and all setup and ready to go with my race bottles all setup and also my Camelbak just in case I couldn't get in enough nutrition during a lap. Most of my buddies are there racing Duo class and most of the other people I recognize from seeing them at other endurance events so looks like a strong field of cyclist for sure even though I heard the entries were limited by the park.  I can see from the start a few of the yellow number plates and guys that I am racing against. My buddy I meet while doing the 70.3 in Augusta Robert Duggan is there and I know he's a strong rider and in my class along with Bruce Stauffer who is always strong on the bike. So I'm lined up mid pack and thinking ok get a good start and settle in and let's see how you feel. I was thinking lap times around 45 min or less for solo would be pretty good and get close to 8 laps.

So after a little pre-race meeting we start in the lower lot and head up around the parking lot and then into the trails. I made my way into a pretty good spot and just trying to find a comfortable pace since I know how easy one can blow up early in these long events. I get comfortable and legs feel pretty good. Most around me are going pretty fast and we roll out the first lap around 41:50 and I look at my avg HR and its a little higher than I would like so Im thinking OK your pace is good just back off a little and run my race and see how it progresses. 2nd lap in was pretty good also, I catch a few people and pass them and my avg HR is starting to come down some which I would have expected since the early race excitement is now worn off! So end of second lap I stop and put my camelbak on since it's getting warm and I want to make sure I get enough fluids since there are not many spots on the trails other than the road exits to take on fluids or nutrition. All is good rolling the 3rd lap and I and a few others get caught behind a slower rider not a big deal we are making our way around and my buddy Robert comes up behind me. We make our way around a few riders and have a good conversation in the woods and we are both on a good 8 lap pace at this point so we have a good laugh about how long of a day this is going to be, finish our lap and back out to the lot. I stop to exchange my bottle and he keeps going so I'm thinking I need to get back quick. Look down at my Garmin and all still good I have a nice pace going I can maintain (I think) and everything looks good. Head out for lap 4 and all is still OK so Im thinking OK I'm halfway there and feeling like all the work Ive put in since Warrior is paying off. Finish up lap 4 and my time is dropping off as that lap would finish at little over 45, so I'm still OK exchange my bottles and get my nutrition taken care off and off for lap 5.

Lap 5 got me and I felt it! Got thru hawk loop and once I hit monbo the mind started to take over as I knew the little climbs were coming up and the legs were not feeling as good as earlier so im thinking ok I need to charge up a little when this is done and I'll gut this out. I get done with lap 5 and I dropped to 48 min lap. So in the pits I exchange my bottles, refill my CamelBak and hit the caffeine to hopefully kick start me again for a good final push. It didnt work! Legs really didn't come back and during lap 6 a few guys pass me with yellow plates on so I'm thinking I'm losing ground here. I come out of Monbo loop and its a little road section back before you hit the short single track to the pits. I check my bottle and still have enough in there for one more and I know my CamelBak is good since I just filled it so I blow thru my pits at mid 47min lap and start lap 7. I hear someone say 1hr 29mins to go so I know its a long shot to get that 8th lap but I'm pushing thru. I'm maintaining a pretty good pace on Lap 7 and meet up and pass back the guys that got me the lap before so I'm thinking ok get out ahead of these guys and push hard. I get past them and ride a decent lap 7 right at 47min flat but race time was 5hrs 18mins and if you didn't finish by 4pm (6hrs from start) then the last lap didn't count so I knew I was done legs didn't have a 42 minute lap in them.

Overall I finished 4th in my group Solo 40+ and happy with the way I finished up especially given the training load I've been going thru the past few weeks. I wanted to try and push myself into a deep fatigue hole and see how I responded and overall I was pleased with my effort. Now it's time to take a few days off before getting back into the grind as my 70.3 in Raleigh will be here in 3 weeks.

See you on the Trails soon!
Brian


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