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An Amazing Race

eric's picture

What an amazing day!  I'm usually very good at setting expectations just beyond my reach.  I'm also very good at being annoyed when I fail to meet them.  But I never saw this coming. 

I knew I wasn't as fit as last year.  I lacked focus.  I hadn't put in the distance proving miles.  And I had been losing weight recently.  (With my physique, that's disturbing).  For most of the season, I've been thinking “Don't kill yourself like last year.  Cruise somewhere in vicinity of 7 hours”.   By race morning, my outlook had deteriorated to “Try to stay out of the sag wagon”

I had learned a few things from last year.  I gave up the notion of never stopping in favor of a simplified nutrition scheme that would be difficult to screw up.    I inhaled electrolytes the day before because I was fearful that I was running low already. 

The clock struck 7:30.  Ready or not, I was off to Atlanta.  I was a bit overcautious in Athens and burned some energy playing catchup.  My plan to catch an easy pack and stay with them wasn't going too well.  The easy packs were too unsteady on the downhills.  I surged forward on climb after climb.  I found a pack that seemed within a shakeout or two of being solid.  I was burning too much energy.  Was I going to blow up again like last year?    The supplementary Gu's helped but I was bypassed in a downhill a few miles short of Dacula.  I decided not to give chase. 

I settled into a “skate forever” pace.  Another pace line would surely catch up soon.  I passed Dacula at 9:45am.  Not bad.  I decided not to sprint after a trio climbing out of town.  The heat and slower pace was doing me good.  I no longer needed Gu.  I was getting all the calories I needed from my sport drink.  Those 87 packs behind me don't seem to be coming. Shouldn't a hot, fresh, 52mile pack pass me real soon?  No?  I teamed up with a straggler from my pre-Dacula pack for the last couple of miles into checkpoint four.  I stopped.  He went on. 

Checkpoint Four!   Halleluiah!  I returned a full, unopened water bottle I carried from Checkpoint Three and swapped out the Camelback reservoir.  I didn't miscalculate.  I didn't run out of water and I was feeling pretty good.  (Cue the James Brown).  I met Michael Wysochanski (for some reason, I keep thinking I heard “Dave” but that’s probably just typical A2A brain damage).  He was not feeling well at all.  I gave him my remaining supply of electrolyte tablets in hopes that they will settle his tummy problems.  

I briefly mingled with a loose group of four, but they were spent and I didn't really want to descend Silver Hill with an unproven pace line.  I passed them and Michael.  

I stopped at Checkpoint Five briefly to check on my water supply.  It's good and I'm still feeling pretty good.   Michael passes by as I chatter.  I caught up with and pulled Michael a few miles.  He was feeling much better but he eventually dropped off. 

I stopped again at Checkpoint Six.  All is in working order and I have energy.  It's time to rock.  I quickly recaught Michael and he latched on behind me.  Together we blasted through the remaining miles like it was Duluth, rather than A2A.  It felt so good to roar into the park rather than slog.  6H13m with Dave right behind me and I still felt good.  Can it get any better?


eebee's picture

Thanks for Posting your Story!

Hi Eric, I guess now you're just gonna have to get good at being pleased with yourself! It's a beautiful thing in a race when the leg muscles, stamina, checkpoints and planets line up to give you a good finish. Thanks also for your account of what Dave gets up to, up there an hour ahead of Blake and myself, since we never get to skate 'with' him :-)
roadskater's picture

A2A Seems Easier When You're Faster!

I've only done A2A once in the six-and-a-half hour range, and I can say it was the easiest time ever. The hardest have been the long, hot days, long because of not being in such great shape, and hot because they were hot days and I was out there in the hottest part of the afternoon. Thanks for sharing a great day where it all worked, and for reminding me what it felt like. I felt good at the very end, but Dekalb Avenue roughness was killing my hurting feet! More when I can get to my story after some deadlines this week, including the Tour to Tanglewood 2007 settlement day for the Roadskater.net team. If anyone wants to donate for this year, this is the week. Otherwise, we'll take your donations for next year! Thanks again, Eric, for joining and for contributing.
eebee's picture

Faster & Smarter = Easier

I'd have to add, Blake, that you and Craig surely skated smart(ly) that year you both achieved 6.5 hrs. I have been encouraged reading others' A2A 2007 stories who were with the lead pack until mile 82 or so (that darned DeKalb Ave again, probably!), who were finding it anything but easy, and they were fast as hell, of course. And I have lost count of the times I've seen skaters sitting in a daze on the grassy bank (went out too fast) shortly after the right turn on Old Rosser Rd around mile 66, climbing up to Silver Hill. Actually, I think I was one last year :-) So take some credit for learning the art of pacing yourself - and teaching it to others along the way! You've completed 10 A2As! You couldn't have done that without skating smart(ly).
roadskater's picture

Eight Official A2A Trips, One Outlaw, One Sidekick

I've done eight official A2As. In 2005, we participated in the Outlaw A2A, which was before the originally scheduled date and was mostly peopled with APRR folk. Eebee was the only woman to complete that 2005 Outlaw A2A.

The next week, I had planned to rest in Greensboro, but Don D had prepared for A2A and wanted a guide if possible, and David K would have happily done it alone but I worried for his safety (against his will), so I called Henry to get an opinion and with his blessing, the three of us did an unofficial Outlaw A2A which I dubbed the Sidekick, with eebee running support for us the whole day. I remember a rooster making us all laugh. It was a good day indeed.

The next day, Eddy called me and said, "You da man of A2A 2005!" and I made the mistake of being happy for awhile, and especially in writing about it! Unfortunately, I offended some folk.

Anyway, I didn't mean to offend anyone and surely didn't think anyone would think they should criticize me for doing A2A when some of the same folk did Dacula to Athens unofficially every year. Nor did I think myself better than anyone, of course.

It came down to helping make it possible for one person to do it who could only make it on the originally planned travel weekend (and who had worked hard for Tour to Tanglewood and might not have been in shape to do A2A another year).

I keep looking for the update on the Duraskater ranking on A2A.net. Since the 2005 miles don't count, I was up to 25th in 2006, and am hoping to go up to the top 20 or better, with 696 official miles skated at A2A. (I don't know how many D2A trips I've made but I could tally that from my photo pages, I'm sure, irrelevant as it is!)

I will pass two of my hero(in)es, Kendra Hudson and Barrie Hartman, on that list, so it's all guys ahead of me now. Too bad I'm only averaging just over 11 mph, but OK, I'll take it.

It's amazing how easy it is to go out too fast! You're right that Old Rosser Road is a crucial point, where the climbing to Silver Hill begins. As we skated this time, eebee and I couldn't agree quite which grassy bank she had attempted to go to sleep on in a fetal position last year. we'll have to look that up!

DeKalb Ave

It just keeps getting worse, doesn't it? Last year (8:15), I used the sidewalk where it was smoother and not too uneven. This year, I stuck to the road. My feet took a beating but the alternative was to slow way down. (Not a problem last year. I was already going slow)
shirtlessrick's picture

We here in Atlanta get the

We here in Atlanta get the pleasure to skate on Dekalb several times a year training for A2A.

It doesn't get any easier but at times we go a different route back that is way smoother but has a lot of hills.  It's a "pick your poison" scenario at that point... 

 I do have to say that the eastbound side is a lot smoother.



eebee's picture

Thanks for Coming all the Way from CA!

I just read the A2A results. You came all the way from California, Eric? Wow. Thank you for doing that. Having an irrational fear of flying (crashing), and a case of "so many skate events, so little money", I do appreciate you keeping A2A in your list of events worth doing this year.

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