100 Miles. Stick a fork in me.

This past weekend was my big event for the year. Bike Ride. 100 Miles Saturday, 50 miles on Sunday. Or maybe just 100 miles on Saturday…

After finishing my 100 mile ride (!) in sunny, 90 degree, 75 percent humidity weather, I stopped to receive my medal for finishing, and then collapsed. About 15 minutes later, I hurled. About 15 minutes after that, The Great Spousal Unit decided that I needed to go to the ER. So I spent a few hours at Chester River Hospital Center getting nearly four liters of intravenous fluid pumped into my body. On top of that, I had a potassium count that was way too high, and that had to be remedied.

Needless to say, we decided to bag the Sunday ride, pack up our stuff, and drive home Saturday night.

How did it get to this? How did I finish the ride, then fall apart? Let me count the ways:

1. I only got about an hour and a half’s sleep on Friday night, thanks to a scummy dorm room at Washington College. Great to get riders hooked up with low price housing for the event, but the dorms were awful. I expected typical college dorm room ambiance, but these rooms were nasty. We were afraid to sit on the furniture, let alone sleep in the beds. Made our decision to leave a day early much easier.

2. I was part of the largest team in this event. A friend of mine was volunteer of the year last year, and since this was about the fifth year she asked me to ride, I finally decided to do it. What does that have to do with it? Well, early on a lot of us (10 or 11 of us) got into a pace group, where the person at the front helps pull the line of riders along, then drops back, and the next person takes over for a while. It really helps everyone behind the leader conserve energy. I planned to stay with this group until mile 80 or so, especially since they were making decent time early on. But here’s the problem: when you have 10 or 11 riders, of different levels of fitness, your group can’t maintain a workable pace for long. On top of that, when that many people go into rest stops along the way, they take a long time leaving. Too long. As the day wore on, it was clear that their pace wasn’t working for me. I left them around mile 45. (Note: many in this group dropped out of the ride along the way, and only about 5 of them finished about 1/2 hour behind me).

3. I stayed very hydrated… all day… really. Drank one bottle of 1/2 water, 1/2 Gatorade between each rest stop; and a full bottle of water after arriving at each stop. There were rest stops about every 12 or 13 miles along the route. I also had a banana at every other rest stop. When we were talking about it later, it became obvious. I had pretty much eliminated the salty carbs from my diet the past two weeks. And I skipped all of the salty stuff they were handing out during the ride. Because it was a hot day with a minimal amount of shade, no matter how much I drank, it wasn’t going to be enough. I was just sweating it right back out again. Some extra sodium would have helped me hold some of that in longer. Four liters of fluid post-race told me that. Sorry to be gross, but here’s the evidence: At the stop at mile 49, about 11:00, I stopped to pee. I didn’t pee again until about 9:15 that night.

4. I tried too hard at the end. Mile 90 was the last rest stop. I made a quick stop, then I was back at it to the finish. I knew I was tired, that my quads were barking, but I just felt that this was the way you felt after 90 miles. Also, I was running way later than I thought I should be. I didn’t want to have the embarrassment of being pulled off of the ride when they closed the course (turns out, I was way ahead of that). But I was definitely thinking that the sooner I got going, the more mileage I put behind me, the better my chances were that I would finish. Add to that the fact that I am always a strong finisher who’s fastest hundred yards are often the final hundred, so to speak. I probably pushed way too hard in the final few miles.

So that’s the story. I loved doing the ride, but in the end, it’s probably my last 100 miler. Metric centuries (63 miles) are probably all my 50 year old body can handle now. Here was the exchange between Maureen and I Saturday night:

The Great Spousal Unit: So what have you learned from this experience?
Me: One Hundred miles? Never again.
TGSU: Damn Skippy.

Now, a few more points about the experience:

– Maureen was fantastic again. She was up with me at 5:00 a.m., she volunteered all day at the 80 mile rest stop, she stayed with me at the hospital, and then she drove all the way home Saturday night. She’s right when she says, “I get first refusal on your next big exercise thing”.

– The local medical staff on hand for the event? Not so great. One helper (I think he was a helper), who was nice, helpful, but couldn’t do much, because he didn’t have any authority. And one doctor, who, while I was convulsing in the grass after the finish, wanted to explain how I probably don’t have type 1 diabetes at all, because they probably didn’t know enough about it then, and if I exercised enough and maintained a proper diet, I could probably go off of the pump, and possibly wean myself off of the insulin. Really? Now, while I’m gasping for air and my quads are spasming? I looked at him, and gasped six broken words… “21 years. Type 1. Trust me”.

– Temp basal rate for the event: 0.575 units per hour, for 9 hours. Worked great. BG at mile 49 (lunch stop): 140. BG at mile 80: 130. BG right after the ride: 160. Thank you Dr. Pao.

– On the other hand, the medical staff on hand that were hired by the event promoters? They were great. Asked the right questions, gave me the right answers, without a lot of medical double-speak crap. Even helped transport me to the ER, which I’m sure is not in their job descriptions.

– By the way, at the hospital I learned that there were 5 or 6 other riders who were being treated upstairs, all worse off than I was. Doesn’t make me feel any better about my experience; but yeah, it sort of does.

– Okay, seriously… I know how bad I felt when they wheeled me in there (literally). I really, really feel bad for those people if they were worse off than me.

– The staff at Chester River Hospital Center were Sen..sa…tion…al. Sensational. Very attentive, very helpful, asked all of the right questions. We were definitely in good hands. Thanks.

– All of the volunteers at the rest stops were nice, and helpful, and giving, all day long. Sometimes in the direct blazing heat with no shade. That kind of job is way harder than you can imagine.

– When you do a long ride like that, the crowd gets pretty thin at the end. In the last 40 miles, there were a few times where I would go 30 minutes at a time without encountering another rider. Just going along by myself. For the first time, I really had to rely on my cue sheets and the signs volunteers put up at intersections. Again, thanks volunteers.

– I always seem to forget until I’m out there, but Maryland’s eastern shore is just beautiful. Early on in the ride, I saw an eagle at one of the rest stops. A golden eagle, I think. Later, a blue heron flew right over us. And near the end, around mile 85 or so, a big bald eagle swooped down over a farmer’s field and up into a tall tree. I think that picked up my spirits enough to keep me going the rest of the way. Coming back into Chestertown at the end of the ride, you ride along the river, past the marinas, and through their beautiful little downtown. Definitely worth the visit anytime.

So when I think back, I think, “Wow, I can’t believe I did that”. But I’m also glad it’s over. I was going to post some pictures, but this post is long enough. So I think I’ll put those up tomorrow.

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  • Scott K. Johnson  On June 11, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    Hey Stephen! Thanks for stopping by my place and commenting. I’m so behind on my blog reading that I probably would have missed this post if you hadn’t.

    Congrats on finishing, but I’m sorry you felt so yucky afterward! That’s no fun. Glad to hear that you were back up and on your feet before too long.

    As my team captain, Heather, always says – keep the rubber side down! Stay well brother!


  • Jeff  On June 13, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    Wow. It’s a bummer about having to go to the hospital at the end of your ride.

    I bet that you could do another 100 again in the future if you applied the electrolyte and pacing lessons from this ride. Just saying.

    Keep riding and having fun!


    • StephenS  On June 13, 2012 at 8:47 pm

      Jeff, you’re right. Going to the hospital sucks anytime. Not that I make a habit of it. I can’t believe it, but we’re already talking about the possibility of trying the 100 again.

      By the way, I’ve enjoyed reading your posts over the last several months. Thanks for commenting!



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