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My First 100 Miler: Seagull Century Recap

Some rides are not meant to be raced. Your first 100 miler is probably one of them. At least that was my takeaway from this weekend. I rode the Sea Gull Century ride in Salisbury, Maryland and had the most fun checking off my first 100 miler on the bike.

Going into the ride, I was in decent cycling shape coming off training for a 70.3 in September. Still, making the jump from 60 mile long-rides to the full century was intimidating, even on a flat course. I had never fueled for a ride that long and it was more hours than I’d ever put in the saddle. In my over-anxious mind… there was much to go wrong!

Turns out, I need not have worried. The day was perfect. I rode with my entire family and, despite coming into the ride with different levels of fitness, the group of us decided to stick together and ride socially. We built our own pace line and slowed down anytime someone came close to falling off. In addition to spending a lovely day together as a family, this was also great pacing mechanism, forcing me to quell my [overly] competitive nature, focus on fueling and hydrating correctly, and truly just enjoy the day.

As an event, the Sea Gull Century is a perfect course to ride for pure fun. Over 5,000 cyclists turn out for this fundraiser for Salisbury University. It is well-organized and supported by volunteers and draws cyclist from all different abilities. In addition to the 100 mile course, there is also 62 mile “metric century”. There are rest stations every ~20-25 miles (even one that serves beer 10 miles before the finish), the terrain is incredibly flat, and the 99% of the roads are in perfect conditions.

We only stopped at two out of the five rest stations but did spend a solid 20-25 minutes at each one, using the restrooms, fueling up, filling our water bottles and stretching a bit. I did find that starting up again after stopping was one of the toughest parts of the day so will keep that mind in the future... and maybe be a little quicker at the rest stops.

Other than that, I’m going to be arrogant and give myself an "A for execution" on my first Century. Here are some things that went well:

Pacing – Riding several MPH slower than I would have normally allowed me to finish the ride with some gas in the tank… i.e. great practice for Ironman when I’ll be starting a marathon (versus cracking a beer) off the bike. My legs felt fantastic (almost fresh even!) on my 5-mile recovery run the next day, which gave me some confidence about my fitness base going into the “off season”.

Fueling and Hydration – I ate some sort of solid carb every 20 miles or so (I like having something solid in my stomach) and kept my water bottles filled at the rest stations. I ran out of Infinit powder (which is what I normally use for long rides) but filled up one bottle of water and the other with Gatorade and that seemed to work okay. The shots of pickle juice at mile 65 on Assateague Island were a game changer… I felt awesome afterwards. Note: Had it been a hotter day, my casual approach to fueling may not have worked so well (I have a pretty high sweat rate). Planning to get more precise and dial in nutrition in prepping for IMLP.

Equipment – I hadn’t spent much time on my road bike since starting triathlon race season so decided to give it some love with a proper tune up before the race. My bike felt great and I went the full 100 miles with a single mechanical issue. Woohoo! My one blunder was forgetting to transfer my tube repair kit from my tri bike to my road bike, meaning I nothing to change a flat with. Luckily, we had just one flat in our group (and it wasn’t me), so we were covered in terms of tubes and CO2… still not a great move.

Fun – I had fun from start to finish of this ride - took in the scenery, caught up with the family, and visualized cracking open the 16 oz can of Common Roots beer we each carried in our jersey pocket the full 100 miles. (This is overkill, I know). The takeaway for me was that I don't need to go "full-send" on every ride... staying in Z1 for 100 miles was super fun and gave me some self-efficacy to do it again. 

With my first 100 miler under my belt, I can't wait to sign up for my next one. Any good race (or ride) suggestions? To those of you with experience riding Centuries, what advice can you offer the rest of us? Should we get a IRLAG Century Ride on the books in 2018? I say, "hellsss yeah".

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