Monday, May 08, 2006
Live and Learn (or keep making the same mistakes - your choice) stupidstupidstupidstupidstupidstupid...
Shane and I had another Adventure Race on Sunday and it was a pretty exciting race day. It had been raining most of the week prior to the race and was drizzling lightly the morning of, but the precip stopped by start time. We knew it would be muddy and were hoping it would work in our favor being that our workout runs with the Trail Nerds are often muddy.
The pre-race meeting included most of the usual safety stuff and the thanking of the sponsors etc. but also included ANOTHER warning to carry our running shoes with us during the biking leg of the race. I'm not sure what's wrong with me that would lead me to dismiss such advice with so cavalier an attitude. We made this mistake in the last race and paid the price. Didn't hurt us TOO much (still finished 2nd) but we definitely could've benefitted from having our running shoes during the bike leg last time. So did we learn our lesson THIS time! Well, I refer you back to the title of this blog...
After everyone lined up at the starting line, the race director, Clay, gave some last minute directions. One teammember from each team had to grab a kayak paddle which we would carry with us for the duration of the race. We were instructed NOT to disassemble it and if it was returned broken or damaged, we'd be assessed a BIG time penalty. Hmmmm.... oh well. Not too bad I guess. The paddle was light and only a little cumbersome. Then, instead of starting us off with a gunshot, he said GO into a radio and without giving us any instructions as to where to go, we were to follow the sound of a distant air horn. We all ran in the direction we had heard it which led us to a nearby picnic area of the park and all the teams received a sudoku puzzle. My teammate Shane had never done one of these and had no idea what it was about. I had limited exposure to them, but understood the basics of it so we got started right away. It took us about 7 or 8 minutes to complete it and we then had it checked by the race staff before proceeding on to the kayak leg. If we didn't do the puzzle or did it wrong, the teams were assessed a standing 15 minute penalty. Some of the strongest teams were still standing on the shore by their boats due to this penalty when we started out on our paddle. At this point there were 5 other teams ahead of us. No biggie.
We made good time on the kayak and put ourselves into second place coming out of that event. The next special test made us peel and eat a banana without using our hands. It's tougher than it sounds and makes for some interesting pictures.
We then had to change into our bike gear and head out on the bike course (kayak paddle in hand) to get the next few checkpoints. THIS is where we should've carried our trail shoes with us. Brain fart #1!
We quickly passed the lead team while on the bikes and when heading back towards another checkpoint, we misread the directions and headed back to the transition area. Made a left instead of a right taking us out towards a dam and our next event. Brain Fart #2. We quickly realized our mistake and only went about a mile off course, but this lost us about 5 minutes of our lead. When we got back to the original point where we made the wrong turn, we could see the second and third place teams on our heels.
Getting to the dam and the next event (trail run) we were all back together again. The top three teams entered the trail run at the same time except Shane and I had to run it in our bike shoes. (Consequence of Brain fart #1) We had no idea how far it would be and it was very muddy and hilly. The 5 miles seemed like much farther, but eventually, when we made it out, we were well in 3rd place. Biking back to the Transition area/finish line, we hammered as hard as we could on the bike making up a little ground, but the damage had already been done. We finished up 1 minute behind the second place team and 7 minutes behind the winners to take the third spot in a race we SHOULD HAVE WON!
These little mental errors may happen again in the future, but it won't be the SAME ones again. This I promise you. For the next race, I have renewed determination to vindicate our team!