Hotter N Hell Hundred and Wee-Chi-Ta race weekend was one for the ages. I cannot recall how I became registered for these events but I can say that I am glad that I decided to race them this weekend. As race day drew closer and closer the ideas for the times that we would be completing the bike ride in hovered around 5 hours and the run was discussed to be finished in 2 hours and 30 minutes. What we hadn’t planned on was that the Hotter N Hell Hundred actually meant temperature and not necessarily the mileage of the course.
This was the endurance athletes nirvana with races on back to back days. Actually there is a third race on Friday morning that is a mountain bike race but I will never complete the Triple because you have a better shot of me eating a steak than competing in anything involving a mountain bike. They scare me as much as snakes so that pretty much rules that ever happening.
This race report will get broken down into two days because of the fact that there was a bike race and a running race. That is me being a half-genius.
Hotter N Hell Hundred Race Report
On Thursday night Jeff Irvin came to my house so that we can leave Friday morning to head to Wichita Falls, Texas. Jeff is in the midst of Ironman Florida training so Friday morning we decided to go for a 1+ mile Open Water Swim and a 6 mile recovery run. Once we were done with that we took showers and hit the road for the two-hour ride to the race site in Wichita Falls, Texas which is approximately a 2 hour drive from my house.
As we pulled into the Motel 6 in Wichita Falls our jaws hit the floor of the car. Jeff’s exact words were: Is this building abandoned? From the outside, calling this anything but a sh*t hole would have been a compliment. We checked in and the lobby actually looked quite nice. To our surprise, after we parked in the middle of the grass of the hotel, the room was actually very modern. It turns out that this Motel 6 is under going renovations and so we happened to catch them in the early phase of this renovation.
At the expo we picked up our packets for both the Century Ride and Trail Race. The lines moved fast and the expo was quite expansive. It makes the Ironman expo look like a race expo for a 5k, but that is to be expected with nearly 15,000 riders participating in the ride. We hooked up with Bob Shuler, the One Hour Ironman and headed off to dinner. After eating it was early to bed and early to rise since we paid for the event breakfast which started at 5pm.
The alarm went off, we headed to breakfast and then mounted our rides for what would turn out to be the hardest bike ride I have ever done. There were some jitters at first as I questioned whether or not I could hold a 20 mph average for 100 miles considering I haven’t ridden more than 72 miles since Ironman Texas ended and while I have been training it has not been structured and has not had any particular goal in mine. The cannon sounded, literally, and we were off. Within a few minutes I could tell something was off as my bike was rattling but I was holding a 22 mph average so I just rolled with it.
As I was riding next to another racer he mentioned that my bike sounded weird and when I went to switch into the big ring nothing happened. Ruh-Roh Raggy! I rode for a bit longer and then pulled over. I fiddled with it and put the chain on the big ring. Spun the pedals and right back into the small ring. This was going to be a very long day. I had already lost Jeff, Bob and 2 of Jeff’s friends so I would be going at this alone. Our plan was to meet at the third aid station which was mile 31. I got there averaging just under 22 mph and felt pretty good. I went to the bike mechanic but the line was long and he was working on cables. I jumped back onto the road and figured I would go until Hell’s Gate at Mile 60.
It was around the 50 mile marker that I could start the feel the heat and with my bike in the small chain ring I was probably doing 100+ RPMs making me work harder to maintain a decent speed. The course if filled with rollers and tons of chip seal. It was sapping my energy but I kept telling myself to get to Hell’s Gate. I reached Hell’s Gate and this kid was talking to me but I was staring at him blankly. He must have repeated himself 4 times before I realized he was holding another bike and was asking if he could hold mine. I gladly gave it to him then went on a banana and orange search along with looking for the porto-john hoping to be able to pee. At this point of the ride, and being three hours in, I should have pee’d at least twice on the bike but I never had the urge. Sure sign dehydration was setting in. Once my business was taken care of, I re-filled my water bottles and hit the road again. I noticed that the salt line on my shorts had gone from crotch level at mile 35 to mid-quad level at Mile 60 and now the work was going to begin. Staying hydrated as much as possible would be my biggest goal.
I told myself when I started pedaling that I only had two hours left. Put your head down and work. Just pedal and ignore the rest. Nothing else mattered. Well, the rest stop at Mile 80 mattered because I was told they had 30 varieties of homemade cookies there. I got to the rest stop and wasn’t feeling hungry and dehydration was certainly there. I drank two bottles of watered down PowerAde and refilled two more bottles. I spoke with friends from Dallas and got back on my bike. I wasn’t going to stop again. I was going to pedal all the way through. I broke down the remaining ride into 5 mile increments in my mind.
At one point you pass Dean and their volunteer fire department was out and they had a sign that read like the words were sent down by God himself. ICE CREAM. I thought, long and hard, about stopping to get one but I also knew that if I did stop I may not start again and I wanted this ride over. By the time I hit mile 99 I knew I was done. I started getting excited until I saw TWO tandem bikes ahead of me and I had to beat them. I hammered hard and then when my watch went off for mile 100 and I still wasn’t finished physically, I was done mentally. Finally the finish line at mile 101.6.
As you cross they want to hand you a medal and if I tried to take one I would have just collapsed. I stopped my bike took the medal and texted Jeff to find out where he was. He was at the car and I walked over there…..gingerly! When I reached him his only words were: That was fu**ing hard. I looked at his shorts and they were caked in salt like mine. Two guys that weigh 140-145 pounds at most had probably lost 10-15 pounds of water and looked so fragile and distraught. We shared war stories and then started laughing like school kids that we not only decided to do this, but paid for it and would be running a 13 mile trail run the next day.
Bob finished while Jeff and I were at a tent with some friends. Jeff went to get him and when he came back he was without Bob. Bob chose to go into the air-conditioned auditorium to recover from the sweltering heat. Later I found out from Jeff that his Garmin registered 108* which is bananas. This race was so much harder than Ironman Texas that I can honestly say I would rather race an Ironman and possibly a double before entertaining the thought of doing this again.
That is of course until I thought about my Ironman choices for 2014 and if it is Chattanooga or Florida this ride will fit in perfectly to a training schedule. Of course, being the Endurance Idiot that I am I started looking for other 100 mile bike rides for the rest of this year and think I may have a go at one or two of them before the sun sets on 2013.
This was a tremendous ride as well as a test of will for myself. I managed to go 5:16 of pedal time with 29 minutes of stopping for 100+ miles in the small ring. My fitness is not completely lost and gives me hope for what could happen next year at my chosen Ironman. This is certainly a bucket list race and one that everybody should experience as the entire area comes out in full force to support the riders and the event. On the news the night before the race they even had coverage of the spaghetti dinner. It really is an experience and one that I am thrilled to have shared with Jeff, Bob and other friends.
Come back tomorrow to see how the Wee-Chi-Ta Half-Marathon Trail race unfolded for me.