Saturday, June 9, 2018

Whiteface 100K

This is year to check off some bucket list races and Leadville is definitely one of the races on that list for me. Since I have been unsuccessful in the lottery in the last few years, I decided to make the trek up to Lake Placid to race the Whiteface 100k qualifier, and I convinced Jeff to skip Mohican and drive with me. Unfortunately, I only had 3 days off of work so that meant a 12 hour drive up on Friday, race on Saturday and 12 hour drive home on Sunday. Despite not having a ton of time to spend in the Adirondacks, the trip was definitely worth it!

A view on the way to our motel

We arrived in Lake Placid on Friday night in a raging thunderstorm that instantly flooded the main street. Having spent the last week in Roanoke riding in the rain, we were looking forward to escaping to a different weather pattern but the rain seemed to follow us all the way north. We sat in the car for what seemed like forever to wait out the storm, which was the worst part of the trip because I desperately needed to pee. Finally, the deluge let up somewhat, and we made a mad dash into this cute little pasta shop to find a bathroom and also do some carbo loading. Jeff found a craft beer store next door to augment his carb intake for the night.

Jeff continued carbo loading at the motel

We stayed right across the street from the race start which was super convenient and also had great views from the balcony overlooking the mountains.

Sunset from our motel balcony 

Saturday morning we woke up at 5, ate some blueberry muffins, geared up, and biked across the road to the start line to register and get our numbers. It was chilly and there was a misty cold fog in the air. The race start was my worst nightmare, about 3-4 miles almost all downhill, which meant a lot of time riding in a huge pack of sketchy mountain bikers trying to be roadies. Luckily, I held my position, avoided crashes and took off as soon as we got to the first climb.

This is not a race to do if you are expecting to ride rad singletrack in the Adirondacks. This turned out to be mainly a gravel race with 3 short trails thrown in almost as an afterthought. Which was fine with me! I have been having a great time recently on my procal exploring a lot of awesome gravel forest service roads in the Jefferson National Forest so I was ready to attack to the gravel climbs here.

There is not a ton of recovery in this race, you are either climbing or descending on gravel or working through pretty tight, twisty rooty trails. I got in with a good group of guys and we traded pulls in the second half of the course. My legs felt good and the climbs didn't even seem that long compared to some of the climbs I have been doing in training.

Almost at the finish line

At the start of the race, the director announced the course was about 62 miles. I popped out of the last singletrack at about mile 60 and started gunning it up the road because I thought the finish line was right around the corner. Unfortunately, as we turned into the Whiteface resort, the course did not immediately take us to the finish line, but instead wound us up and around the mountain for another 5 miles. I had plenty of energy left for the final climb, but I was a little bit bummed because I missed the time cut off for seeding in the gold corral at Leadville by about 8 minutes. I was still the first female finisher and 12th overall and felt like I had a really solid performance at this race.

At the finish line

It was still misty at the finish and I got cold waiting for Jeff to come in. Luckily, I did not have to wait very long because Jeff also had a great race and only finished about 20 minutes behind me. We biked back to the hotel, took long showers and I put on every layer I had brought. The nice thing about these shorter races is that we can race, shower and be sitting on the balcony drinking beer before noon!

Hanging out at Whiteface after the race

In the afternoon, we headed back to the race venue for awards and to get our Leadville entry letters. The sun came out, and I was now extremely hot in my many layers. There were about 50 Leadville entries available at this race with half being awarded based on placement in your age group and half available in a lottery style drawing. Jeff finished 17th in his age group so we figured we would have to get lucky in the lottery to get him a spot. As it turned out, there were 8 coins being awarded in Jeff's age group since his age group had the most participants racing. They called the first 5 people up to the podium and amazingly, not a single person was around. You have to be present to claim your Leadville entry and if you are not there, then they go down the list until all the entry spots are claimed. The race director started calling out names in finishing order. 6th place, 7th place, 8th place, 9th, 10th place and still only a couple of the 8 coins were claimed. Jeff and I were getting super excited and as it turned out, Jeff got one the coins and a spot to race at Leadville too!

The two coins we came to get!

Jeff wanted to chill for the rest of the afternoon and I convinced him it would be more fun to do that on a mountain top than in the hotel room. Around every turn in the roads around Lake Placid, there are pull offs for different hiking trails - a perfect place for adventuring. We found a great spot to finish the day, but I definitely want to go back to check out more of the trails and mountains that are out there.

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