First, I need solid food for races that go over 5 or 6 hours. I had been experimenting with an all liquid race diet in training all winter and it seemed to work but when it came down to racing, it kinda left me hanging. I discount my experience at the Cohutta because I was sick and felt like hell anyway. At Tsali though, I started feeling bad and finally had some solid food and felt much better. It was a little late but better late than never. At the Burn and the Mohican I ate a combination of solid food and Heed/Perpetuem and also just plain water. For the last 15 miles of the Mohican, I just had water. I was craving it. Looking at the results for both the hundie and the hamster wheel races and the tale is the same. I was beaten by people younger(mostly), lighter and stronger than me. Age is what it is and I am not worried about that. I am getting better the older I get just like a fine Scotch whiskey.
As for the lighter and stronger parts, well that's just something I will have to work on. I have always struggled with weight and beyond that, I am a fairly muscular guy. Underneath my fat I have a body more suited to track racing than endurance racing but that never stopped guys like Miguel Indurain, Oscar Camenzind, Phillip Meirhaeghe and others that have similar body types. Granted all those guys probably have better genetics than me and that's surely a factor, I still have loads of room to improve. Working full time and having a family is hard on people trying to be competitive in endurance sports. It's much harder to judge in the hundies but in the lap races, my lap times early were nearly as fast as the top gun. The main difference is I slowed down, they didn't.
I did notice that during the three weeks of racing that even though my enthusiasm decreased somewhat, my recovery time also decreased dramatically. After Tsali, I felt really tired for several days, after the Burn, only for a few days and after the Mohican, I was riding and feeling fairly good on the Tuesday following the race.
I think the take home lesson for me is that I am continually improving. Each race is a little better than the one before it. There are plateaus and peaks and I guess that's just the way it should be. My body responds well to a high stress load followed by short rest, more stress and a little longer rest. I need to learn more about eating and fueling for different efforts - especially long days in the heat. Lastly, I need to still lose some more weight to improve my power to weight ratio. That will probably help me more than anything else I can do.