Changing plans – Midt24 Race Debrief

Caroline Midt24

Preparation is the key to success in 24-hour races – or is it? I do not know. What I do know is that I prefer to be prepared and have as much as possible planned before I do anything. How that worked out for me at Midt24 you can read in my race debrief here below.

A weekend in June Mads and I drove to Snejbjerg to check out the route for Midt24. A 41.7 km route for the day, 13.7 km for the night and a final 3.4 km route for the last hour of Midt24. I will not waist your time describing the route of Midt24 in details in this race debrief but the theme for the routes were a lot of wind and technical corners in the final part of Midt24.

Back home after the recon Mads made my pacing plan for Midt24 – I just had to follow. My job before most races is to make sure there is a detailed plan for nutrition and hydration. I love trying to find the most suitable nutrition and hydration – experimenting with recipes , making it delicious, easy to eat and full of energy. The plans were set and the race was soon to begin. What could possibly go wrong?

Caroline at night in Midt24 ultra race

Race day

June 19th at 10:00 AM. We were ready at the start line. I was supposed to stick to the pacing plan but I started out a bit too fast. Headwind and many riders trying to find their position, made me push a bit more watts than planned. But my legs felt good and I was comfortable on the bike. I slowly went into my planned pace and found the rhythm. During the afternoon the wind increased and the temperature dropped. It was not what the weather forecast had promised, so the plan had to be changed. I needed some more clothing. Arm- and knee-warmers and then back on the bike.

With the temperature drop the mental game had begun. My legs were still feeling good, but my head was not with me. I struggled with the planned nutrition plan. Changing plans were a necessity. With a couple of adjustments I had the nutrition back on track. But still I felt like I was struggling a bit. More than once I caught myself thinking “why am I doing this”. I ended up concluding that there was no way out. I would regret if I did not finish the race. Furthermore the whole crew were there for me and I was not going to stop “just because” of a little mental struggle. I tried putting my focus on the pacing plan and execute accordingly.

The night is long in ultra races

The late afternoon changed to evening which changed to night. And with the night the darkness arrived. The first hours were no problem. I was feeling good. The changing plans regarding nutrition had worked. My watts were according to plan and the wind had settled during the evening. But as always with ultra races the nights are long. The temperature had dropped further. It was cold and I was beginning to feel sleepy. A quick stop at the pit was needed. A cup of coffee and a bit of neck massage and then back on the bike. The focus was still on the pacing plan. The crew called me on the route to keep my mind busy.

With the morning came the light. Nothing beats the first rays of sunlight after a dark night. Shortly after the birds started to sing. It kept my mind of things and I kept on pushing through the night lap with its corners and twisting turns. When I passed the pit area my parents had arrived and were ready cheering for me. It gave a little extra motivation. I had overcome the night despite of the changing plans. The most critical part of any 24-hour race was over. Still with around 6 hours of the work I had to keep focused, pushing the planned watts. I did and my legs were actually still feeling fine. Maybe the singing birds and rays of light had helped.

Caroline in final hours midt24 race debrief

Rain & Missing tracking system

Rain. Around 30 minutes before the finish of the race heavy rain arrived. I rode one last lap and crossed the finish line together with Mads. My second 24-hour race finally over. I was the only women doing the entire 24-hour so I had asked to be ranked against the men. I ended up as 4th overall (check out the results here). Not far away from the podium in Midt24! But we only found out after the race. Something had went terribly wrong with the tracking system and the race directors were not capable of supplying the crew with the right split times and time gaps. Multiple faults had sneaked in to the timing system and the crew told me I couldn’t close the final gap in the last 25min of the race.

Afterwards we found out about the short gap I had to third place. But in one part I won – I won my own mental game and finished the race. The changing of plans during the race had been necessary and an important lesson. The plans had been changed more than once along the way. But only 7 km from reaching the exact distance of the pacing plan the changes had worked. Even though I prefer having a plan, I need to accept that chaining plans is part of ultra cycling and the only way to win my own mental game. It worked.

A huge thanks to our amazing crew for taking so good care of both Mads and I when we come up with our crazy ideas!

If you liked this post you might like the race debrief from Mads as well. You can find it right here. All pictures by Simon Roesskov Photo