Friday, March 18, 2011

Bonk Hard Chill

Yes, I know I am a little behind on blogging what has been going on. The chill was a race that nearly did not happen for me. I had planned on racing with Chris, he had even planned on the race. However when he was picking up days for flight shifts he forgot the date and scheduled a shift the day before the race. This took him out of the race. I still wanted to do the race but it seemed that no one else was interested in it, or already had plans. I dropped some hints here and there but did not get any takers. I had pretty given up hope and just started thinking about what race I could try to do next. Then on the Monday before the race while scanning Facebook I came across my opportunity. Kelly Sumner of Offroad Fixation posted that a member of his 4 person co-ed team had been injured and could not race. He was looking for someone to fill in. I thought to myself, hmmm this could be a good opportunity. Even though I had not really been training for the race, at least not on a serious level. I sent him a message and told him I would be more than happy to race with him. I honestly figured that he could probably find someone else, or at least someone that they already knew. Later that evening I received word that I was in. Oh great, what had I gotten myself into? I had never met any of the people I would be racing with. They were probably all in great shape and I was going to be dragging them down. I didn't have any of my stuff ready or organized or even close to being ready to race. I normally get a room at the Quail's Nest and when I called they were full. I was really excited to get to race, but there were so many things to get figured out.

The week before the race flew by, but I got all my gear gathered up and ready. I sent and received a few emails from the other team members, and they all seemed to be very nice. They assured me that my fitness level would not be an issue, as long as I was willing to have a good time and finish the race. I made contact with Bob and Luke of Team Virtus, who had decided kind of last minute to do the race, and the agreed to let me stay in their cabin with them. It was really amazing how things came together for me, even with it being last moment.

I left my house Friday afternoon with the truck loaded down, and headed to Lake of The Ozarks. I had arranged to meet my teammates at the church where check in and the pre-race would be held. My teammates were running a little behind so I had plenty of time to run and get a few necessities, ie. gatorade, bananas, snickers, and of course beer. While waiting for everyone back at the church I had the pleasure of visiting with Wendy Davis, whom has been absolutely wonderful in giving me a few pointers on training and sharing her personal thoughts about the DK200. She actually had brought along some "top secret" information on a training plan for me, ok maybe not top secret, but if you aren't in the loop you are probably not going to get it. Suzanne and Jacqueline, the females of the team, arrived and we got out intoductions out of the way. Kelly was still going to be a few minutes so we were all able to visit for a few minutes. Sometime during all of this Bob and Luke showed up. This was the first time I had ever met Luke. Even if it seemed like we already knew each other from the blogs and Facebook. I had met Bob once last year at the Berryman Adventure race, so we were old friends. This weekend was going to be full of new experiences for me and I have to say that I was pretty stoked. Kelly arrived and we got checked in, got our information about the bike drop, and about the pre-race meeting. Kelly and the ladies took off pretty quick to head to the bike drop, I had elected to follow Bob and Luke so that I could find out where the cabin was, if we had time. We headed down to the bike drop at Swinging Bridges Road, couple of interesting facts about this moment of the weekend. The bridges were one lane, actual swinging bridges, we had to stop and back up after making it almost across the second one because of oncoming traffic. Earlier in the week, prior to the race, Luke had announced that they had a suprise coming in the near future. Several guesses were made but no one expected what was to come. A reporter from The Pitch in Kansas City was going to following along with the guys during the race. He had also brought along a photographer, and they would be staying with us in the cabin. We all met just prior to heading to the bike drop. While dropping off the bikes Ben began to talk about how long it had been since he had ridden a bike, and it became apparent that this was going to be an adventure for him and Team Virtus. After the bike drop we headed back into town to find some grub before the meeting. We ended up at Applebee's , which is always a favorite of mine. We all sat down, ordered our drinks ( I think everyone except for me and Bob had water, we of course had a beer, for the carbs of course ), and Ben ( the reporter) pulled out his tape recorder. There were a couple of minutes following where everyone seemed to be a little uneasy, well not really but kinda unsure about being recorded. Ben assured us that he wanted everyone to just be normal, and Brooke ( photographer) assured us that she was not easily offended. Probably a good thing since she was going to stay in a cabin with four guys, in the woods. We all enjoyed a good dinner and headed down to the pre-race meeting. Jason went over his normal stuff, all the rules, start time, time to be on the buses, and handed out the maps. We received all of our maps and cluesheets to plot them. I had gotten some vague directions to the cabin and agreed to follow Kelly back to the condo where he and the ladies were staying so we could plot the maps. I have to say at this point in the night I was not really feeling that great about anything ( probably a combination of sleep deprivation from the 48 hr shift prior to, and maybe just missing Crystal and Ethan). We arrived at the condo, spread out our maps and prepared to plot. Kelly explained to me the way he wanted me to read the coordinates to him ( at first it seemed that he was being a little particular, but it actually worked out great). We knocked the plotting out pretty quickly, some of my anxiety was gone after seeing the course, which actually appeared a little bit short at the time, and I headed back to the cabin. I eventually found the cabin and found everyone to be having a great time. The cabin was a pretty neat little place that you have to walk down a trail to, no running water or electricity, showers nearby, it had a woodstove for heat, a little table and a quaint loft with beds upstairs. I made quick work of preparing my pack since it was mostly already done and got to hang out with the guys, and Brooke. I could probably write a lot about the cabin, but since this report is already getting long and I am not even to the actual race, I will just say a lot of fun was had.

Race morning came upon us pretty quickly after what seemed to be a short night. I headed out before Bob and Luke, I thought they were going to be right behind me. They apparently decided they would not have time to catch the buses and drove to the bike drop. I found my teammates, we boarded the buses and were off to the starting line. You will have to forgive me if you were there and I leave some of the details out about the race. The race started out with about 2.5 to 3 miles of running on the gravel roads. Everyone spread out pretty quickly as the faster teams sprinted away and others walked or jogged. I wasn't prepared to run very far so I was glad to see the pace that the rest of the team was setting. We hit the first checkpoint probably somewhere mid to back of the pack. Interesting thing that I saw during this part of the race.... we were running along and here came a young girl, probably about my age, who looked alot like a girl that I went to school with, and an older lady, probably her mom came by. The young girl whom was probably about 120 pound, was carrying both of their packs on her back! I later found out her original parter had backed out last minute and her mom who was home on leave from the military jumped in to do the race with her. How awesome is that? We got to the canoes and hit the river. We had been told to be prepared to get our feet wet. At first the river appeared to be flowing good, but we did eventually come to a place where we had to get out and drag the canoe. I can tell you right now, the water was freezing cold! The paddling leg went off without a hitch for us. One team was not so fortunate, they had turned their canoe over and it was lodged in a log jam. We offered to help in any way we could, but they assured us they were ok. I guess they got out ok, I never did hear. We arrived back at the TA/ bike drop and headed out for the first biking leg. Things were going pretty good, we were making steady progress and then it happened. I was pedaling up a slight incline and heard something snap and felt my pedals slip. I stopped, looked down and saw what had happened. My heart instantly sank, the hanger for my rear deraileur was snapped in two pieces. Basically this meant that I would no longer be able to shift gears on my rear sprocket. =( This could potentially make for a long day. I was prepared to make a single speed of my bike, but then Kelly came through in the pinch. Kelly was riding a Giant bike even though it was not the same model as mine. He just happened to have a hanger in his bike pouch, crisis averted, and we were back on the road in a matter of minutes. Another couple of miles down the road we had our second mechanical of the day. After riding across a creek Jacqueline got a flat, no big deal, it was changed out quickly and we continued on. Back at the TA we headed out for the short orienteering leg. It went very smoothly. Kelly was great at following the terrain and relating it to the map. We walked almost straight to the points. After gather the points there, we headed back out on the bikes for some more road riding. Somewhere during this part I started to feel sluggish and even like I was going to cramp up in my legs. The fact that it started to rain on us during this part did not help. We hit a couple more points along the way and eventually made it to the final orienteering leg. There were a lot more points here and each team was allowed to skip one point. I think everyone was starting to drag a little bit by this point, but we headed off anyway. Several points came with relative ease, but then they started to get farther apart and the forest got thicker and harder to stay on track. We came to the creek we were looking for and went this way and then that way, and to no avail. The checkpoint should have been there, or were we in the right place? By now we realized that we were not going to have enough time to get all the points and finish in time. Even though we never really verbalized what we were doing, everyone knew it. We were all exhausted and just wanted to get back to the finish line, back to beer and baked potatoes. We hiked back to the bikes, hit one final checkpoint on the way in, and rode back to the finish line. There were lots of people still there, cheering us in. Just before the finish line we rode past Bob, Luke, Ben, and Brooke, oddly enough they were walking, they should have been biking. For the story of what happened you will have to read about it on their blog. We all made it back, got to see the awards ceremony and enjoyed some good food and beer.

All in all, it was a great day. Thanks to Kelly, Suzanne, and Jacqueline for letting me race with them. I really enjoyed it and would be more than willing to race with them again anytime. Thanks to Bob and Luke of Team Virtus for letting me hang out and stay with them. You guys are great, maybe someday we will all get to race together. Thanks to Jason and Laura for putting on a great race and thanks to all the volunteers.