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Skating 104 miles then 125 miles on the American Tobacco Trail, Durham NC

roadskater's picture

Well it's my last chance to tell a story before we get the news from Montréal about the 24-hour skate race and see how Mark, Brian, Marcia and others did. My story is a much less dramatic one, but kind of fun anyway.

I got news that Mark was doing these long slow skates on the American Tobacco Trail to train for the Montréal event where he and several others were planning to do SOLO 24-hour efforts. I asked if company (even mine) while doing the training would be a help or hindrance. Of course, he was nice enough to say it would help to have company. So on June 23 I drove over to meet Mark at 10 a.m. or so to give a go at a long skate. I figured I had 45 miles or so in me. Each "lap" of the trails Mark used to train added up to 17.25 or so (more on my GPS but I'm not sure mine was right).

Tom W was out there to start with us, and he did 2 laps. Mark was doing what he said, keeping his heart rate below 150. On that day, that meant I kept mine under 155. Tom was a great help and we were sad to see him go when he had to leave. It was still not terribly hot so we kept on going.

By the middle of lap 4 I was feeling a bit weak or unwell, but along came Dave W and David K, and they were doing all the pulling or almost all of it. As we got to the end of lap 4 I noticed Mark was skating differently, tipping his shoulders a bit more than is usual for him. I asked how he was doing and I think as badly as I had earlier in that lap. He had been trying trail mix as a snack and didn't think that was working too well. Also, I thought he needed some carbs but there was no way to get him to eat some gel at the time. He seemed hot and low on calories.

So the four of us took a break between laps 4 and 5 for Mark and me at our cars, getting into the ice, Gatorade, hammer gel and anything else in sight. I pulled out a chilled Diet Mountain Dew and offered it, and it seemed to hit the spot somehow in a really strange way for both of us. I guess the caffeine helped. We cut the tops of my frozen solid water bottles off to dump the chunks of ice in our water packs and used cold water to mix Gatorade (mine with a couple of tablespoons of Morton light salt, which is potassium and sodium).

Dave and David did half the next lap with us and helped a great deal to rest both of us. I knew it would be much harder to go on without them. With their help and the rest stop, though we had become refreshed and aside from some ankle pain and under foot pain, I was feeling happy and good. On this day my heartrate was especially good and I think that was because I was well rested. I was able to stay below 155 most of the day, which is very good for me compared to the usual.

We finished up the day at 104 miles in roughly 10.5 hours and I got to pick where to eat. That was easy. I had been craving an Outback Special 12 oz. medium rare steak with a salad with spicy ranch and tangy tomato on the side, and a sweet potato with butter and brown sugar on a separate plate (which would be my dessert). It was an awesome meal! When I left to go home, I realized intellectually that I had eaten, but I was not feeling overly full, and in fact, I could have eaten another meal most likely and been happy to do so. But I didn't, of course!

The next weekend, Elizabeth wanted to help and to try the next level with us, perhaps 12 hours, so we went over to the American Tobacco Trail in hopes of meeting up with Mark again. Somehow, we crossed wires somehow and Mark was unwell, too, so we ended up being the only ones there at the trailhead. We did one lap of the whole trail and took photos and talked with people, taking it slowly because of me as I was not feeling particularly strong and was way too distracted by taking photos. We met up with Tom W at the Mellow Mushroom, a place that has great pizza crust for starters, and great pizza altogether. Elizabeth and I walked around the interesting fountains and fabricated waterfalls of the American Tobacco Warehouse district and drifted around outside the Durham Bulls stadium area and had a nice slow afternoon before returning back to Greensboro so she could drive back to northeast Atlanta! Sorry it didn't work out this time, but we'll try again I'm sure.

By July 3, Mark was feeling better (he had been sick on the previous weekend) and was ready to go and not feeling he should wait even one more day I think. I headed over to meet at 8 a.m. for another long skate for his preparation, after which I was hoping Mark would not do any more long distance before the 24-hour skate in Montréal.

As I recall, Mark and I started off alone this time, and along the way Marc S skated up and joined us for a couple of laps. Marc was making skating seem easy and I wasn't feeling it so easy on this day! Tom W joined us for parts of three laps, I think it was, and Dave W pulled us along for the last two. I'm not so sure now! I know my heartrate was much higher on this day, and I had not slept well before this, so most of the day, Mark or Marc or Tom or Dave was pulling. Only toward the last lap or two when I started to feel stronger, probably because of the cooler temps, was I doing anyone any good other than being company, distraction and likely annoyance tolerance training.

What I do know is that Mark and I did 125 miles and skated over 12 hours and that was Mark's goal for the day. I was leaving all that up to him and hoping to keep him going somehow just by being there and flailing along drafting him! Everything else is a blur other than a huge burrito that was quite good, and great company including Dave, Mark and Mark's galpal before I rolled on home in the car a little worse for wear indeed, but happy to have put in some heavy calorie burning miles even if painfully slowly!

I paid for my miles later I'm sure, especially when this was added to some tricky new gravel chat on the fresh pavement at Ken's T2T training ride on the long downhill into the NC highway, plus some grass walking on another downhill there into a busy stoplight intersection. By the Elon T2T training ride, I was still looking for solutions to my under foot problems and did not have it worked out. More on this subject later, but basically my boots are OK for short distances, but over 40 miles or so, some of my repairs in the insole of my boot are not smooth enough, and some sort of bruising is a result. I think I've worked out a good solution as of today's Paceline Bicycles Greensboro training ride, and a subsequent few test laps in Greensboro Country Park afterward, but my feet are still somewhat sore from many miles of skating on what is not but feels like standing on a half dollar or so under each foot.

Meanwhile, thanks to Mark I had a couple of long days of skating at a pace I can manage on a nice rail trail, and while my best is not as good as what most could do in the same amount of time, it's still the most I've done. Hopefully we'll do some more ultraskating here in NC, maybe as a fundraiser for MS? Hmmm. Sounds fun.

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