This weekend Megan McTavish and I went, for the first time to Le Tour du Mt. Valin, a loppet near Chicoutimi which is steadily growing in popularity. This year, about six-hundred and fifty participants took part in events ranging from 12 to 50kms in both techniques.
The organization was superb and the course spectacular, including perhaps the longest climb I have ever seen on a race course. While not particularly steep, this basically uphill stretch lasts about 10kms. Of course, what goes up must come down, and down we came a very exciting and somewhat hairy downhill in the last 5kms.
For both of us, this was the first race of this length that we had done this year. We tried hard to remember all the little things that can make a difference in long races like eating and drinking properly in the days before, not training too much, and keeping energy and hydration levels high during the race.
Now I can't speak for what Megan felt like when she was out racing, but it is fair to say that she felt pretty bloody good because she won the women's 50k classic by about five minutes!
As for me, normally in a race of this length I like to drink quite a lot because, as my team mates at xcottawa.ca can attest, for some reason I sweat some ridiculous amounts. Whether related to my sweating problem or not I am not sure, I also have a history of cramps in my quads during long races. In part, this is why for the last few years I have been using e load during long races and training. As soon as I started using it my cramping problems pretty much vanished. Needless to say, I would now feel at a significant disadvantage if I did not have e load with me. I should also mention that I do use the e load Zone Caps as well, which allow pigs like me to add more electrolytes to regular e load.
As I was not in a situation where I could get more e load on the course, my solution was to bring a 1 litre bottle of it with me in a drink-belt.
Needless to say, by the time I got to the top of that 10k climb, I was glad I had been drinking it. For sure, I was tired, but my legs were not cramping up and I was tied for the lead with Olympic biathlete Steve Cyr. As the next stretches were mostly rolling and downhill, I was pretty sure things would come down to a sprint at the finish. At the end he showed me what years of training and experience will do for you, and nipped me at the line by about half a second.
Despite the narrow loss, this was a good race for me, and it was also a lot of fun! A big thanks to e load for their great products which help to take a lot of the pain out of a tough race like the Tour du Mt. Valin.