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Old September 11th, 2008, 07:20 PM   #41
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Excellent report Johnny!
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Old September 11th, 2008, 08:38 PM   #42
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Johnny, Thanks for the report. It's great to get your perspective... See you around...
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Old September 11th, 2008, 10:02 PM   #43
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Fantastic story ,Johnny, from an "on the course" perspective... good mixture of comedy and pain and sacrifice and plain smart racing from a 24hr solo animal!

The difference in 24h racing style of the principals in your replay I can almost see, but the toenail is the topper... !!

Your description of Phillipe Cousey's racing style, shows why he is "Top Dog" of the 24hr relay race solo division - another animal and he's only like 26..

Thanks for a great read!
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Old September 12th, 2008, 03:02 AM   #44
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Johnny - Awesome race report, I was reliving the race as I read your post. I remember shaking Lawrence's hand at least three different times as I passed him during various times of the race, and I remember your determination all through the night and Sunday. Congratulations to you from me and the entire Skater's Quest team.

Yes, after doing the 24-hour race, it takes a few days for reality to set back in.

Let me know if you are ever in the Baltimore/DC area, I will make sure that we hook up for a short(!) skate. Take care.
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Old September 12th, 2008, 03:11 AM   #45
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It's been many moons since I've been able to type these words:

Longest... skate... ever!

315.55 miles/508.13 km in 24:04:39 (13.1 mph/21.1 kph), HR 74%.

Montreal 2008 started at 1:00pm Saturday afternoon with temperature in the high 70s and overcast skies. Prediction: rain, obviously. Why did I bother checking the forecast every day last week? As long as there is a 24Hours Inline Montreal, it will rain. Count on it, accept it, make peace with it.

We solo skaters clustered at the back of the pack, shaking hands and wishing one another good luck. The gun sounded and we set off, skating through humid air that to this Colorado boy felt like pushing through a wet wool blanket -- I missed Denver's thin, crisp air. This year, instead of immediately dropping into last place, I jumped into a pack of solo skaters and commenced to cruising. I only hung with them for a few laps, though. We were moving fast and it was tempting to stick with them, but my heart rate monitor showed that I was exceeding the 80% redline -- dangerous in a 24hr race.

So I lowered my speed and concentrated on piling up laps. I tried to find drafting partners from the relay teams but I'm lousy at this -- they are usually too fast or too slow, and if they are skating exactly the right speed they are on the opposite side of the track. So I skated by myself most of the race; I estimate I was in the draft 25% of the time. At the end of the first hour an enormous paceline of 14 solo skaters ripped past me like an express train. "You want in?" someone shouted. No, I did not want in. That pack continued to lap me once an hour while I mulishly fought the wind and stamped out laps like license plates.

Sometime around 3 hours the first rainstorm hit -- a short one, but intense enough to soak the track and send me into the paddocks for my rain wheels (MPC Storm Surges), rain bearings, and boot covers. The transition burned about 10-15 minutes, which was an equipment error on my part. The smart soloists wore MPC Street Fights, which work well in both dry and wet conditions.

I returned to the wet track and kept grinding. I felt fine in the early going -- my feet and ankles did not hurt nearly as much as I had expected they would, and I hit 100 miles shortly before 8 hours. Rick, my support guy, shouted that I was in 15th place, trailing the entire lead pack. Not long before sunset, a vicious rainstorm lashed the track, soaking me to the skin and leaving large, speed-sucking puddles. Sweat and sunblock washed into my eyes, blinding me for short stretches while I pawed at my eyes like a dog after a skunk attack. My boot covers failed completely and I could feel my bare feet squishing inside my boots. Fortunately the temperature didn't drop too much, but as the sun set I ducked into the paddocks again to change into a dry jersey, grab my headlamp and red rear blinker, and pull on a pair of tights. My injured leg was starting to feel tight and I wanted to keep it warm.

But at 8 hours the first cramp hit -- the same muscle that I injured during the overnight practice skate in Austin. The muscle clenched painfully like a fist inside my inner quad. I slowed and rubbed the area, skating gingerly for the next lap until the muscle loosened.

Soon after that I started working with Johnny, who was among the race leaders. We skated together for a few laps and were making great time, not to mention that I was grateful for the company. I hoped we could work together for the rest of the race, but at 10 hours another cramp struck the same leg and I dropped. Fortunately I was near the end of a lap, so I skated slowly to the paddocks and left the track for about 15 minutes. I massaged the cramping muscle while I helped Rick change back into my fast wheels for dry pavement. “Hey, look at this,” I said, and plucked my big toenail from my right foot. (This was not as awful as it sounds. That nail had been damaged by skating in my other speed boots, and another nail had grown in halfway underneath. The toe was a little sensitive but caused only trivial pain for the rest of the race.)

Then I skated for 14 straight hours.

As soon as I left the paddock I felt better. The cool air felt good and the fast wheels made me feel like I had been shot out of a cannon. I changed my stride to avoid cramping again -- I stood up straighter, stiffened my legs, and began taking short, fast strokes to keep from pushing too much power through the weakened muscle. Unfortunately this began to strain the connective tissue below my left kneecap, so I shortened my stride on that side even more and started exaggeratedly picking up that foot to stretch my knee. This felt (and looked, I'm sure) ridiculous, but it held the cramping at bay and allowed me to move at a decent clip. I also doubled my electrolyte intake and stopped going into a deep crouch to coast downhill. If I’m proud of anything about this race, it’s that I refused to allow this injury to ruin my race. Adapt and overcome!

And I was gaining ground. Every hour or two, Rick shouted that I had picked up another slot in the standings. I banged out my second century a little faster than the first century, and at 17 hours Rick handed me a piece of paper showing that I was in fifth, 5 laps behind Johnny in fourth, and 7 laps behind third place. I decided that if I was going to have a shot at the podium, I needed to make a move.

I pushed hard for the next hour and clocked some fast laps, but as the 18th hour passed I realized that I could not maintain that intensity for 6 more hours. I had moved into 4th place but I still trailed Johnny by 5 laps and I was hurting. I decided that, barring a cruise missile or a plague of locusts attacking the leaders, I probably could not improve my placement, and focused on breaking 500km (118 laps) under 24 hours.

I barely made it. I needed 29 laps to make my new goal, and with each circuit my legs grew stiffer and more painful, and the hills seemed to grow steeper each time I climbed them. Even though I was slightly ahead of goal pace, my right leg felt like it could seize completely at any time, and my left knee felt ready to rupture. I wondered if I had ever endured pain this bad and decided that I had not. Maybe this is because I’ve been lucky enough to lead a relatively painless life -- no major illnesses, no serious injuries or broken bones, no detention in Guantanamo Bay or renditions to Egypt. But I think the pain was pretty bad.

At around 19 hours I caught Luke Sawh, a British-American-Indian-Guyanese skater, and we worked together for much of the rest of the race. Luke was trying to get 100 laps, and he would knock off a few and then take a 10-minute nap while I kept tottering forward. At one point, some women on bikes stopped to cheer for us. “You know, I think this 24-hour solo skating is kind of a chick magnet,” said Luke.

“Yes,” I agreed. “But if you’re able to do anything about it after this, you’re more man than I am.”

The laps drifted endlessly past, 12 minutes at a time, and I started to reach little milestones: at 20:22 I set a new PR, at 22:01 I broke the race record, at 23:01 I reached 300 miles, at 23:28 I helped Luke celebrate his 100th lap. With a couple of hours to go the relay skaters started coming out to support us, and with each lap the cheering grew louder until, with 8 minutes to spare, I had my 500 kilometers. I finished the final lap in tears.


(photo by Bryan)

I stumbled toward the paddocks and shook hands with Bryan, who invited me to that evening’s social skate (uh, thanks) and offered to buy me a beer (I have not forgotten this, Bryan, and I intend to collect when you expect it least). I hugged Rick and we exchanged words of mutual admiration. Then it was time to sit down. Within minutes my quads congealed into twin masses of screaming inertia. Johnny finished and I congratulated him on his awesome performance. I couldn’t move without massive pain, and Rick wanted to see Johnny get his medal, so I told him to go ahead. Everyone left for the awards ceremony. That’s when the trouble started.

I started to feel cold, then I started to shiver. I found a towel and my lacrosse jersey within arm’s reach and tried to keep myself warm, but the shivering got worse. The awards ceremony droned on in the distance and I felt too lethargic to reach for my clothes or call anyone to help me. Finally Luke happened by and, concerned, dug my warm clothes out, fetched me a blanket, and made me some warm noodle soup, all of which helped immensely. Finally the awards ceremony ended and I had to be helped to a cab as my legs were too weak to support me. When we got to the hotel and Rick helped me out of the cab, several Montrealers stared at the man swaddled in blankets and wearing layers of clothes and a balaclava on a pleasant summer day, with bleeding and swollen feet, walking slowly with the assistance of a man twice his age. After an hour in bed I finally stopped shivering, but that was scary. I guess that’s one way to know you gave it everything you had.

Aftermath
Last year I set a goal of 500km for this race. I exceeded that goal and improved my performance by more than 18 percent. I battled through injury and finished more exhausted than I have ever been. I feel great about all of this. (Incidentally, my pacing was strangely steady, even for me... First 8 hours: 12.9 mph, middle 8 hours: 13.1 mph, final 8 hours: 13.3 mph.)

Last year I also set a goal to win, and I finished fourth. Out-teamworked or not, this stings.

Last year I saw how important an organized approach to drafting can be. In fact, shortly before the race I approached the captain of a rec team about the possibility of working with them to improve both of our performances, an offer that was politely (and wisely) refused. Still, it wasn’t until the day after the race, while swapping war stories with other solos, that I realized that drafting strategies had taken a quantum leap forward in sophistication. I had no idea that some solos had entered for the sole purpose of acting as pacers/domestiques/drafthorses for other solos.

There is nothing wrong with this, of course. It is entirely within the rules and within accepted skating strategies. I can complain all I want about how I would have done in a time trial, but it wasn't a time trial, and I knew that going in. I brought a knife to a gun fight and got my butt whupped. Now here's the question I face: do I get myself a gun? Do I spend the next year learning to skate in packs, developing my ability to surge, widening my range of available speeds, learning team tactics, and recruiting my own pacing team? I could do those things.

But I think I'll stick to knife fighting. My ongoing goal for 2009 has been to break the 24hr time trial world record, and developing the skills above will divert time and energy from achieving that goal. I might return to Montreal next year, but not with the intention of winning -- I might skate on a relay team, or serve as a domestique for another solo. We'll see.

Thanks to Rick for staying up all night to support me. I could not have done this without you. Likewise, thanks to Andrea and Renee.

Thanks to my fellow solo buddies: Johnny, Brian, Bryan, Biff, and Luke, for your camaraderie, your support and friendship, and your noodle soup.

Thanks to everyone at the SkateLog Forum who supported me during this long training cycle. It helps to have imaginary friends who get it.
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Old September 12th, 2008, 07:01 AM   #46
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Great story CowBell, brings tears to my eyes... especially the part about you being alone after your finish... the worst time to be alone, when you really need some support....

This ultra stuff will change you, make you see things differently, give you strength from confronting your inner demons (weaknesses) that will affect you the rest of your life.

I think you have a good chance to make a credible attempt on the "solo 24 hr " wr....you poor bastard you!
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Old September 12th, 2008, 01:08 PM   #47
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You solos have war stories that ressemble a never ending pokergame.

Interesting to see how startegies apply during the race. Can't calculate everything...

I'm still hesitating between 2 choices for 24h Mlt 2009 :

1-Form my own team and strive for a sub 8 min lap
OR
2-Going solo, let it roll and make an alliance with the elves...

Chances are i'll be going solo.

_______________
One thing I'll make sure to do is to get my own skates !

Last year I was on 4X90mm and using teammate's skate, Thanks Bryan !(4X100mm) I substrated 54 sec to best lap time.

Are 110 mm faster than 100mm ?

See you all in Montreal !
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Old September 12th, 2008, 02:52 PM   #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by More Cowbell View Post
At the end of the first hour an enormous paceline of 14 solo skaters ripped past me like an express train. "You want in?" someone shouted. No, I did not want in. That pack continued to lap me once an hour while I mulishly fought the wind and stamped out laps like license plates.
After Lawrence politely turned down the ride, Bryan shouted "Don't worry, Lawrence, I'll tire them out so you can win."
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Old September 12th, 2008, 03:04 PM   #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mastro View Post

Are 110 mm faster than 100mm ?

See you all in Montreal !
I couldn't decide either 'til the 12 hour practice. Climbing became difficult toward the end I wished for smaller wheels. And yes, that little slope in Montreal counts as hill.

As a reference point, going from 80 mm to 100 mm required little adjustment for me; going to 3x110 + 100 changed my push significantly.
110's are supposed to be marginally more efficient at high speed.

I would do 110 mm for relay; 90 or 100 for solo.
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Old September 12th, 2008, 03:54 PM   #50
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Quote:
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After Lawrence politely turned down the ride, Bryan shouted "Don't worry, Lawrence, I'll tire them out so you can win."
Yeah, that was a fun comment since we were talking about the fact that the pace was not sustainable shortly before we passed him (at least I think we were, but I may have just been thinking it)

Quote:
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Climbing became difficult toward the end I wished for smaller wheels. And yes, that little slope in Montreal counts as hill.
The last month leading up to Montreal I kept thinking about that hill, and how hard it was last year. Once I did my first lap I thought "What's the problem, even after being in the flatlands this isn't a hill". I swear about 3 AM somebody pushed a button and increased the climb while nobody was looking.

I really think that for events like this, as a solo skater, smaller wheels are the way to go (of course, I also think that for A2A, marathon and 1/2 marathon distances).
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Old September 12th, 2008, 05:04 PM   #51
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Wow!!!

After reading Jonney's and MC's race report, I'm exhausted and teary eyed. Great reports and congratulations to both of you and the other racers on your accomplishments.

Lawrence, thank you for giving Luke props for his encouragement and help. He is a giving, helping person and a heck of a skater. I got to spend time with him at Eddy's road clinic in Clearwater in 2005. I see him on the trail from time to time, but I'm not fast enough to hang with him. Way to go Luke!

Thanks Bryan for the great pics that included a number of skaters that I admire and have profited from knowing. Bless you all, and ...

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Old September 12th, 2008, 06:05 PM   #52
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Great report Lawrence. If you wanted to you probably could recruit some pacers from the forum. Folks who can consistently knock out 16 mph laps. If that's the way the event is set up then I think you should think about it for next year.
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Old September 12th, 2008, 06:15 PM   #53
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^^^Honestly, that's something for me to think about. I've been saying I want to try skating solo, but I wouldn't be super serious about it. I would probably end up skating fast most of the time and taking longer breaks.
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Old September 12th, 2008, 07:13 PM   #54
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Hmm, wonder what the woman's solo record is .......
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Old September 12th, 2008, 07:33 PM   #55
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"Hmm, wonder what the woman's solo record is ....... "

Do you mean "solo record" as in the most km's skated by a "solo" skater during one of the 24 hour relay races?

Or do you mean "wonder what the SOLO (wr) woman's record" is ? Very different situations, and different km totals.

The existing woman's SOLO (no draft, no pacing) road mark is about 455km, set in 1993 by Kim Ames , USA (5x80mm)

I am not sure what the 24 hr relay race "solo division" (drafting, pacing ok) record (most km's) is.
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Old September 12th, 2008, 07:49 PM   #56
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Quote:
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Hmm, wonder what the woman's solo record is .......
For this event it looks like 334.70k from last year is still the record, this years winner did 78 laps at 4.27k each.

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Old September 12th, 2008, 09:07 PM   #57
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Lawrence - Congratulations on an unbelievable race. You were one of the few soloists still skating when I was doing my relay laps at 2am and 4am Sunday morning. You probably don't remember me slowing down to shake your hand and give you a few words of encouragement in the dark. Sorry I could not skate the lap with you but I had a teammate waiting for me at the handoff zone and we were trying to prove a point since we were bumped from rec to fitness (and our fitness team was bumped to elite).

I have video of you crossing the finish line on your next-to-last and last laps. I will make sure that it is included in the DVD. Send me your pix when you get a chance.

It was great seeing you at dinner on Friday night.
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Old September 12th, 2008, 09:12 PM   #58
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Quote:
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At around 19 hours I caught Luke Sawh, a British-American-Indian-Guyanese skater, and we worked together for much of the rest of the race. Luke was trying to get 100 laps, and he would knock off a few and then take a 10-minute nap while I kept tottering forward. At one point, some women on bikes stopped to cheer for us. “You know, I think this 24-hour solo skating is kind of a chick magnet,” said Luke.

“Yes,” I agreed. “But if you’re able to do anything about it after this, you’re more man than I am.”
Sometime in the morning Luke asked how I felt; I told him.
He put me in the draft and pulled couple laps. When it was my turn, he just wished me good luck and left the track.

One of my favorite moment:
Lawrence was consuming the noodles. I asked Luke's mom if she was there all night.
She rolled her eyes and went "yeeeeaaah...." A difficult lady to impress.
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Old September 12th, 2008, 09:18 PM   #59
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Johnny, Lawrence, you guys are inspirations!

Edit: Everyone there is, sorry I missed the list!

Who's the oldest solo (or SOLO) skater to finish?

Are there age categories? If I ever make it, I'd be 49. Might make a nice pre 50th bucket list

It sort of bugs me that there's solo and SOLO, frankly - it seems like cheating, but from the 1 1/2 Marathons I've been to, it seems to just be part of the sport. It just seems odd, but I understand that I probably don't
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Old September 12th, 2008, 09:36 PM   #60
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it seems to just be part of the sport. It just seems odd, but I understand that I probably don't
It just bothers me that there aren't enough SLOW skaters at races for ME to draft with. :-)
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