Monday, July 31, 2006

against the odds

No, not the sappy Phil Collins song.

That's just how I feel about our performance after we won our most recent adv race despite making several mistakes that I thought WOULD have cost us the race.
Thankfully, we didn't have to travel too far for this one. The next race in the Blue Hills adventure Race series took us to Smithville Lake which us Trail Nerds have trained on before and I've raced this park last year. It was projected to be about 93 degrees with a heat index of around 110. In reality, the temp got up to 102 ACTUAL temperature later that day, but it didn't hurt anyone too badly. We had a puker, and someone stopped sweating halfway through her race, but other than that, most everyone hydrated pretty well and I didn't even notice the heat. The rude locals were harder to deal with than the heat, but that's just another part of the challenge in an adventure race.
After the pre-race meeting, everyone started off running down a short road toward an open grassy area strewn with ziplock bags with race numbers on them. These contained maps and the directions we were to follow for the race. After getting these we returned to the Transition Area and got on our bikes. We were warned/advised to take our running shoes with us on the bike leg. Of course I listened to this part due to some past mistakes. Certainly I wouldn't make it again...
We got about a minute and a half into the trails when I realized that in our transition rush, I in fact DID NOT strap my running shoes to my camelback! Not wanting to risk it this time, we turned around and headed back to the transition area to retrieve my running shoes and then continued on the first mountain biking section. We lost what seemed like about 3 or 4 minutes on this mental error, but it was probably only maybe 2 mins. Still, it wasn't good for our mental state so early in the race.
We hammered pretty hard on these trails passing what was a mostly courteous field, but once we got to the front few teams we had a little harder time passing them and their egoes. We did about 4-5 miles in the trails on the bike punching checkpoints along the way when the map brought us to a second Transition Area (TA2).
From here, we were instructed to drop the bikes and proceed on foot through the next four checkpoints. This portion was approximately 4 miles. The heat didn't really bother me, but for some reason, I was having a hard time catching my breath on this part and consequently, was running much slower than I wanted. Still, we didn't get caught by any other teams and we also caught the final (lead) team back at the Transition Area as we got back on the bikes. They took off a little before us, but we eventually caught them in the trails and left them behind. From here, we rode another 3 or 4 miles back to the start/Transition Area 1 for our next set of instructions. We received a special test telling us to run the half-mile down the road out of the park to a "General Store". Here we were to use 4 quarters that was in our ziplock bag to purchase an item (less than a dollar) and bring that item, the receipt, and any change back to the race officials. Shane picked up some sunflower seeds and we were out and on our way. This was a quick mile run and we were in the store for just at a minute.

Once back in the Transition Area, we had to get a kayak 2 paddles and 2 PFDs and head down to the kayak put in point on the lake. There were 3 check points to hit during this leg and although we saw several teams enter the water after us, we were well enough ahead that was never any threat of getting caught. After having raced together in several of these, Shane and I work well together in the inflatable boats and as long as it stays inflated, we normally gain ground of the rest of the field while paddling.
After exiting the water, we had to portage the boat, paddles and PFDs back to the TA and get our next special test.
This test was a word/number game with a set of 10 instructions for doing simple addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division to get certain letters from their corresponding numbers. If you followed the directions carefully, it was very easy and we blew through it quickly spelling our words (appropriately enough) "the winner".
After this we were handed another set of instructions stating that the FINAL mountain bike leg would take us east in the park along some paved trail approximately 3 miles to the last checkpoint. Thankfully, Shane had a functional computer on his bike and he clocked the mileage. During this ride, my legs began to tire. When we hit the three mile mark, Shane let me know so we both started to keep an eye out for the checkpoint. After passing it and turning around, we saw it lying on the ground. I thought this to be odd since they're normally hanging securely from a tree in plain sight. We approached it and Shane grabbed the punch to punch our control card. I mentioned that we should probably hang it back up in the tree since I assumed it had fallen by accident when we both smelled this horrible stench of feces! After asking my teammate if he was feeling alright, we noticed that someone had intentionally ripped the checkpoint down and then did their own business on it! HOW RUDE! We were able to avoid the mess and still got the CP hung back up in the tree so that other teams didn't pass it like we did.
I don't mind helping out other teams, but I'm glad that others benefitting from our misfortune didn't cost us any placement in the race.
After this last punch on the control card, we rode the final three miles back to the Finish line with huge smiles on our faces. This race was a great win for us as we had to overcome several obstacles and some mental errors. This really helps build confidence.
Tonight, I think I'll do a recovery run of about 6-7 easy miles with the KC Track club. Then it's back to training as usual.


Anonymous said...

Nice going, you guys ROCK!

Too bad I couldn't have mustered up enough of a sack to enter this one. Or the other ones. They sound like hella fun.

angie's pink fuzzy said...

yay, that's awesome!

shliknik said...

Keep truckin', good buddy!

Ben, aka BadBen said...

You guys rock at AR!

princessliak said...

Yowzer! My friend and I are thinking of doing one of the races, but aren't in near as good as shape as you guys appear. Would it be just stupid for us to try and gut it out?

Ben aka "Good Ben" said...

Wouldn't be stupid at all. Regardless of how you finish, you'll find out just how much fun it can be to "gut it out"!
If you plan on winning, you may want to come out and train with Shane and I to find out what we do for training. We gladly offer advice. You'll also discover that we're probably not in as good of a shape as you think we might be. Experience in these races helps a LOT!