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From the monthly archives: March 2012

Jared, followed by TJ, arrive at CP 23 to discover a fiesta of bocce and bourbon. Custom gel in flask at chest.

Contributed by Jared Macary | Race Date: 3/17/12 | www.AdventureAddictsRacing.com

Vitals

The 12-hr Adrenaline Race Elite Race by Adventure Addicts Racing (AAR) encompassed 15-20 miles of mountain biking, 10-15 miles of trekking, 6-9 miles of paddling, and intermediate-advanced navigation.  This was my first race of 2012 and I was joined by racers Andi Ballou and TJ Hoff.

Andi, TJ, and myself registered as TeamHalfwayThere.com/Spokes, Etc. and were the fourth team to do so.  That’s right, there were four TeamHalfwayThere presences at the Elite race.  I served as principal navigator, but welcomed input from my teammates in efficient route selection.  From 9 AM to 9 PM we maneuvered inside Andy Guest State Park, along the Shenandoah River, and outside the towns of Bentonville and Browntown, Virginia.

The 12-hr Adrenaline Race Elite Race was Adventure Addicts Racing’s first-ever adventure race.  Race Directors Andy and Michelle, who have become important figures in my life, started AAR late last year.  Not only did I want to support them in their new endeavor, I wanted to see what madness they cooked up.

Experience

There were several reasons I wanted to do this race.  The first being that I wanted to start off the racing season early and with a bang; 12 hours sounded like just the ticket.  The second being that I wanted to get some direction as to my development for the season.  For example, last season was about becoming familiar with racing.  I think this season is shaping up to be about moving quicker and smarter (e.g. thinking strategically).  Third, I wanted to test some new equipment and nutrition.

The high point of the race for me was arriving at the last TA with roughly and hour or so left in the race.  Our team decided to hit the O-course to see what damage we could do.  Damage was done as we worked together to quickly snag 8 CPs in the dark.  This was my first time navigating and leading a team in the dark.  I found that when night fell I had a new intensity.

The lowest point for the team, I believe, was more about dread than anything else.  The rules of travel stipulated that Elite teams had to make a 2 p.m. cut-off in order to get to the paddle section.  We wanted to get on the water badly for the sole fact that it would be fun.  We made an effort to find CP 20, but ultimately decided to abandon the charge in favor making sure we could do the water event.  We pulled it together and made steady, positive strides all the way to the put-in.  We were one of the final teams to get on the water.  The views were amazing from the river.

On the paddle I saw turtles, darting fish, and bocce-ball-tossing, bourbon-drinking race volunteers.  I thought my eyes and ears were playing tricks on me as I looked onto the shore.  I was no sooner at CP 23 and staring at Paul Morris’ hip-flask.  The man volunteers in style.

The moment that will stay with me for some time was nearing the finish line flanked by several great teams, and hearing the cheers of volunteers and other finished competitors.  TJ insisted that our team cross the finish line together.  We complied by adjusted our pace, running down a cement path, and cresting a small incline to meet flash bulbs, smiles, and wonderful AAR gifts – pint glasses!

Barry, Victor, Michelle, Andy, Cathy, Shane, Candy, Kelly and other TeamHalfwayThere teammates were alongside me.  They shook my hand and congratulated me.  Receiving their kind words at the end of a slog was comforting and motivating.

Outcome

In the end, our team placed 21 out of 34 teams of all categories and with 31 of 48 possible CPs.  I highly recommend the 12-hr Adrenaline Rush Elite Race from Adventure Addicts Race.  It is fun, challenging, exciting and certainly cheaper than therapy.  I must give shout-outs to the race directors and all of the volunteers who were awake earlier than and went to sleep later than many racers.  I must also give a shout-out to my teammates, Andi and TJ, as they taught me about keen leadership, patience, and teamwork.

Lessons Learned

My Osprey Talon 22 pack was perfect in terms of fit and functionality.  The folks at Osprey really know what they’re doing.  This is my 3rd pack with them, but my first adventure race style pack.  I also used lock-laces for the first time.  I found them to be very easy, but I found myself adjusting them frequently, especially during the paddle.  The tops of my ankles swelled and I fiddle with the lock-laces a fair amount to relieve pressure.  Perhaps this was much more about my anatomy than a product.  At any rate, loosening the lock-laces was very easy.  In terms of nutrition, I created my own sports gel from a recipe in the Thrive Diet. Thrive is a vegan-based endurance race-focused diet.  The gel had a base of dates and agave mixed with lemon juice and raw cocoa.  It provided me with the performance I had hoped it would and it tasted good.

Next Race

10-hr Yough Extreme as a solo racer.

Brian, Todd, and Antoinette stomp toward CP 23

Contributed by Todd Davis | Race Dates: Saturday, March 17, 2012 | Shenandoah River “Andy Guest” State Park | Adventure Addicts Racing

“This is really out there!  I mean I’ve done ultras and stuff, but you guys – well – this is hard” – That’s a quote from our rookie teammate Antoinette somewhere late in the race on Saturday.  And it was delivered with a supremely satisfied smile.  I think she also said something beaming about this “being really just a big kid’s game on a huge scale” too, but the smile was great because as any adventure racer will tell you, we knew at that moment she was hooked.

Ultimately, this race report is going to focus on “lessons learned,” because we learned a few big ones the hard way Saturday, but we want to first focus on the positives.  Brian, Antoinette, and I were racing together for the fi

rst time Saturday and we were thrilled to be a part of our friends from Adventure Addicts Racing’s inaugural race!

The Basics

Started on trek/O-course, then mountain-biked park trails, then trekked to paddle, then paddled, then trekked back to bikes, then big road biking section, and finally back for a big O-Course.

The Good Stuff

1) Our top team goal was simple: Make sure Antoinette wants to go again.  And despite a somewhat disappointing result, we definitely achieved that since she’s charged up about Wild Wonderful already.  This was her first AR of any kind and she rocked it.  I’ve been touting her prowess for over a year and she did not disappo

int.  Her fitness level on foot and while road-biking are truly impressive and she dove right in to punch points deep in re0entrants late in the race when us tough guys were struggling.

2) The weather was spectacular and made for a really fun, stress-free race experience.  Even what might have been a monotonous paddle section was a breeze enjoying weather like that.

3) Andy and Michelle – What can we say?  Just a fantastic job putting on their first race!  The maps were outstanding and there wasn’t a single point (that we got anyways) misplaced or misplotted.  Also got a pint glass, a t-shirt, a bottle, and oh yeah, discounts for Spokes and REI.  They’ve set the bar high for themselves in future races for sure.

4) Nav/Strategy (Micro) – This was really only the third race of any length I’ve navigated for a team.  Unfortunately for Hyland he’s been a part of two of them.  But fortunately for him, I’ve improved a good bit and generally with his help, we did a great job point-to-point and on our strategy within each section.

5) Maybe I really am a masochist, but despite the travails we’re about to share, I always take a bit of perverse pride in being the final team to check back in before the finish cutoff.  As usual, that was us, including finishing up with me swimming back from that island and that creepy statue that I guarantee was 100x creepier in the dark than it was for those who did it during the day.  Or maybe I’m just a fraidy cat.  Very proud of the team for hanging together and milking that course as best we could to come back from our bad decision.

Best Decisions

1) Brian making the call to quickly transpose the points for the second O-Course onto the map from the first bike section that had the park trails on it.  This was huge!  I’m incredibly familiar with the park trail system by now and as soon as we did this, I was immediately able to identify our best route that saved us some serious up and down bushwhacking and allowed us to cut from trail to trail when possible.

2) Bike-whacking during the middle of our mountain bike section.  We decided to bike-whack for 5 brutal minutes straight up a 100 meter hill, but this saved us both a long road climb and an initial climb on the next trail loop.  Needless to say, prior knowledge of the park was huge for us on this one.  It was also just kind of bad-ass.

Scariest Moment

Guess we should have learned from Ben Affleck’s Dazed and Confused character O’Banion that you just shouldn’t prod a bully, but man did the guy driving the very same bright orange muscle car from the movie scare the hell out of us after we saw him try to murder solo racer Scott Pleban.  We were pretty sure the redneck was wasted and definitely sure he was pissed that a bunch of citified folks in fluorescent spandex were out ruining his Saturday cruising, but after he tried to mow down Scott, he hooked a U-Turn and waited until he was abreast of us to rev his ridiculously over-the-top engine and near about scare us off our bikes into the ditch.  Then we even passed his “compound” later on the Bentonville/Browntown road where he appeared to have a weekend Stars & Bars fiesta under way in all its drunken bigot glory.

Lessons Learned (the hard way)

1) Nav/Strategy (Macro) – For our team, this race came down to a single strategy decision: Choosing to do the second bike leg.  It basically turned into a three-hour time-suck for three points, of which we only got one.  Even going for those points pretty much cost us a chance to clear the second O-Course.  Of course, it wasn’t until we were way the hell out on the bike leg and fully committed that we realized what a blunder this had been.  In the end, I’m not sure we would have made the decision any differently had we known because when we set out on that section we still really thought we might be able to clear the course.  (Plus the three teams that ended up on the podium did clear the course, so it wouldn’t have gained us anything in terms of hardware).  But seeing Jeremy and Jeff’s team happily finishing up the second O-Course with the sun just fading in the sky while we desperately were just beginning scraping around out there after all that biking was a real blow.  (Fabulous recognition of the bigger picture by Jeremy and co. by the way!)

In hindsight, maybe the biggest lesson is that this bad decision was really the culmination of a lot of smaller bad decisions that started even before the starting  gun went off.  First, because we weren’t staying the night before the race and we felt confident in our knowledge of the area, we arrived fairly late to the race.  This prevented us, at least in part, from spending enough time with our maps that we might have realized this was a potential strategy.  Second, I need to think more seriously when switching between maps of different scales.  After zipping through the first trek on the 1:15,000 map of the park, I needed to account better for the scope difference moving to the 1:24,000 for the bike loop.  Third, we should have focused on our strengths, which in this race were foot sections and navigation.  Although Brian’s incredibly strong on the bike, since this was our first race together we weren’t overly organized in terms of paceline or towing on the bikes.  While on foot, Ant and I felt great and we had a huge home-field advantage with our knowledge of the park terrain and trail system.  We had even guessed the second O-Course would be back in the park on the other side.  Overall though, I’ve just got to keep an eye on the bigger picture (i.e. 45 out of 48 CP’s would’ve been better than 37) and we have to manage our own egos.

I also got a random flat on this purely road section, which thankfully Brian fixed in no time, but definitely didn’t help the morale.  Tubeless by my next race for sure!

Oh yeah, on the bike leg, just because you’ve committed an error and then you’re down because you’ve realized your mistake, you don’t have license to get lazy like we did with the clue sheet and blow right by a CP without looking in the storm drain either.  Needless to say, this was entirely my fault and had we at least nabbed that CP it might’ve at least cheered us up about the effort.

2) Help each other earlier in the race – We were slow on the road biking for two reasons.  First because I’m just slow out there.  But second because we didn’t get organized in paceline/towing setup early on.  Part of this may have been due to the scariest moment previously mentioned which happened right at the start of this section.  But we should have forced ourselves to get organized.

Maybe more importantly, I should’ve towed Brian more on the trek-to-boat and trek-to-bike mid-race.  Probably should’ve even made Antoinette give Brian a pull too.  He was hurting a bit on his feet in the unexpected heat and sweating a ton.  I towed him a bit, but then got concerned with using up my own energy.  Would’ve been better off spending it while I had it, because I couldn’t help him nearly as much on the second O-Course later on.  Again, we all have to check our egos.  Brian could’ve asked for the help and I shouldn’t have hesitated to give it in order to save myself.

Best Piece of Gear

Can’t speak for the team, but as a navigator, I borrowed a great bike map board for the first time and it makes a world of difference.  I used the AR Nav MBO-2 Rotating Map Holder and it was outstanding.  With just the straps and a couple of binder clips I was able to move it around easily while riding and save serious time and headaches from looking down at a map around my neck.

Shane and Candy: Lovers, Racers, Snappy Dressers

Contributed by Candy Hagerman | Race Date: March 17, 2012 | http://bit.ly/GBQJCF

Why did I sign up for this race?

I signed up for this race because our good friends, Andy and Michelle started an adventure racing company, Adventure Addicts Racing, and this was going to be their inaugural race.  It was an opportunity to support them and to race with my favorite person, my husband Shane!

Shane and I were both so excited to race together in the 6 hour race.  We have raced together in the past and loved it.  Many people say, “How can you race with your husband?”  My response is “I love to race with him!”  He is so strong and incredibly helpful and encouraging.

Before I ever raced with him, I knew what I was getting in to.  He is very competitive and focused.  I made it very clear to him years ago that I wanted to race to have FUN!  And secretly, I am competitive too.  I knew whenever I raced with him, we would have fun and if I wanted to push myself, he would happily support that!

This brings us to getting ready for the race.

Yes, we even had a lot of fun getting ready for the race.  The majority of our friends to include Shane are very experienced racers, so “getting ready” for a 6 hour race is probably very different for them as it is for me.  Shane has spoiled me with every piece of gear imaginable, so it is hard to come up with something that I need to buy for racing.  But, that wasn’t going to stand in my way of shopping for fun gear.  I love to shop and knew that more cool gear would add to the excitement.

The race was on St. Patty’s Day, so of course I bought some green shirts at REI to wear post race.  Two of my favorite purchases were a new pink smaller Gregory pack and new trail running shoes, the Cascadia 7’s.  Shane insisted that the new shoes would help me run faster through the woods and have better grip.  While trying them on at REI, a girl said she had a pair and loved them.  That sealed the deal and off I went with new (cute blue) trail shoes and they proved to be the most comfortable trail shoes ever with great stability and grip.  And of course, I wanted a lighter weight pack so it didn’t weigh me down and if I needed to give it to Shane it would fit in his pack.  The pack was so comfortable and light weight that I didn’t need to take it off and always had my water ready to drink.  Definitely a good purchase!

As you can tell, we both are really excited for this race.  We spend the night before packing and talking about how great it is going to be to race and see all of our friends.  I’m hoping we can get to bed early so that we have a good night’s sleep before waking up at 4am to drive to Front Royal.  Life doesn’t always go as planned.  We stayed up too late and I got about 3 hours of sleep and Shane 2.  Early morning was here before we knew it and off we went to Front Royal.

When we arrived, we were greeted by the friendliest volunteers and the vibe of the event was amazing.  Everyone was in good spirits and the weather was going to be at perfect temperatures.  This was going to be a great day!

Shane and I had the biggest smiles on our faces as the race started.  I was focused on having fun and not putting any pressure on what place we finished.  There were so many teams with countless years of experience.  I wasn’t worried about how we were going to finish…until we saw three Marines with green t-shirts and Joey and Shannon Baird.  These two teams soon became the reason why I went from wanting to have fun to wanting to compete.  Of course Shane loves when this happens and he definitely likes to see what buttons will make me go even faster.  I’m in the Navy Reserves so naturally, he had some jokes about what the Marines are probably saying about the Navy.  This didn’t motivate me as much as wanting to stay in front of Joey and his wife.  Wherever I looked, they seemed to be there; slightly in front of us and smiling and joking with a great attitude.  I thought, well, we can stay with them and hopefully get in front of them.

We had to climb a lot of hills and to me they felt like mountains!  One specifically on the second trek section we climbed happened to have some sort of animal trail, so we climbed right up it.  I was so happy when I got to the top.  It didn’t matter that I was huffing and puffing, I had made it up that hill!  We start running and I asked Shane where the passport was.  He is very specific about putting it in a pouch right away to avoid losing it.  He grabbed the pouch and said, “I don’t have it!”  I wanted to cry as soon as I heard these words and looked down the hill “mountain” we had just climbed.  He said, “We have to back track and trace all of our steps so we can find it.”  I was thinking, “Yah right, we will never find it, I was looking at piles of leaves and literally wanted to sit down and start crying.  I knew he was more mad at himself than I could ever be, so I kept quiet and started backtracking with him.  And, just as we climbed what appeared to be a deer trail, he was running just like a deer.  I figured, “Oh well, we worked really hard and it is ok if we don’t have an official finish.”  As soon as I thought this, I hear him say, “I found it!”  I snapped my head back and looked up at the sky as the sun was shining in my face and I threw my hands up saying, “Thank God!”

The only bad part was Joey and his wife were long gone and so were the Marines.  I didn’t think we would ever catch up to them after this.  The next part of the event was going to be the paddle section.  I knew we would do well on the water.  One of our favorite things to do together is go paddling.  We got to the boats and saw a bunch of teams in front of us.  We quickly got in the water and were off.  Paddling with Shane is like having a motor in the boat.  He is the strongest paddler I have ever met.  We paddled hard and ended up passing at least 7 teams.  There is something so motivating about passing a team.  It is almost like it gives you twice the energy than you had before, no matter how tired you are.

The good news was, we were able to get in front of Joey and the three Marines.  I know, this seemed to be the only thing I was worried about.  After the paddle, we had a long trek section.  It seemed to go on forever!!!  As we were running, I would look back hoping I did not see their shirts.  I was running, trekking and bushwhacking faster at this point than I was at the beginning of the race.

One of my favorite points on this trek section was a point on the mountain with a breathtaking view.  Shane had pointed it out during the paddle and it was great to finally arrive there.  Yes, I did stop to drink it in.  It gave me chills and made me feel so alive!  I knew immediately that Michelle and Andy put a lot of thought into the placement of this checkpoint.  Wow, I so appreciated it and needed it!

We were running long and hard during the trek and finally reached our bikes with no sign of our made up nemesis’s.  I was happy we were doing so well.  We were right where we wanted to be and were on our way to the finish.  As we were leaving on our bikes, we saw Joey and Shannon.  I thought, “NO!!!”  So, we knew we had to bike extra hard so they didn’t catch us.  Shane kept telling me what strong bikers they were and how important it was for us to push hard to the finish.  I was peddling my little heart out and didn’t care how much it hurt because I knew we were almost finished and we could beat them if we went fast and hard.

So, we come riding in as fast as we could into the race finish.  Kelly says, wow, you guys are doing good.  We are like, “Yah, we are done, this is the finish!”  She tells us, “No, this is not the finish, there is one more checkpoint #19.”  I couldn’t believe my ears.  I just gave everything I had and we still had to go find another checkpoint?  I couldn’t believe it.  I wanted to cry and stop but knew if we could just hurry up and find the checkpoint maybe we could finish before Joey and Shannon.  Sorry to use your name so much Joey, I told you when we finished that I never need to hear your name again – now you know why!

This begins my lowest and highest point of the race.  Giving up wasn’t an option, so we went right back out to find checkpoint 19.  The pressure was really on Shane to make sure he knew exactly where it was.  He knew I was empty and was trying my very best.  We ended up getting slightly turned around in the woods and finally figured out exactly where we needed to go.  And, unfortunately, as we were out there, who do we see?  The Bairds – looking strong as they rode up to us, along with us and then slowly pulled away on a big climb.  When I saw them my heart sank.  I thought, oh no, after all this hard work they caught back up to us.  Then I thought, well they are really good and at this point what can we do?  So, Shane started towing me on bike up the hills.  I was so frustrated and as they pulled away I thought, wow, we are going to come in after them even though we tried so hard.  I was feeling sorry for myself and the hills seemed like mountains once again.  We were going up a very steep section, Joey and Shannon were nearly out of sight, the tow system broke and I wiped out.  I was hurting and for a second thought, I can just throw my bike off the mountain and give up.  Then, I thought, no, now is the time to dig deep.  I will give everything until I see the finish.

I got back on the bike we climbed a bit more and the trail leveled out.  Then Shane tells me to get off my bike and follow him through the woods.  I was like, come on, are you crazy!  Let’s just try to keep up with them.  So, he said “trust me.”  Of course I trust him so without hesitation we cut through the woods and end up coming out on the trail.  In a few seconds we see Joey and his wife behind us.  I thought, yes!  Maybe we can keep up.  Well, they kept going and I thought, oh no my legs can’t go as fast as theirs.

I kept riding and we finally could see checkpoint 19.  Joey got there a few seconds before Shane and Shannon and I turned around to start pedaling.  We both were so tired.  I started pedaling and knew this time for sure we were biking to the finish.  Something inside me thought, come on Candy don’t give up, you worked so hard, finish strong!  So, I pedaled harder and harder and went faster and faster.  It felt so good to be going fast and not struggling up the same hills.  I didn’t care about whether or not I would wipe out.  I wanted to ride as fast and as hard as I could so that when I finished, I knew I did not give up.  I didn’t know how close people were behind me, but I knew I was riding as fast and as hard as I have ever ridden a mountain bike.  And I learned that the faster you go, the easier it is!

We came out of the woods and up to the finish line and yes, I still looked to see if Joey and Shannon had beaten us to the finish line and thankfully they hadn’t!

This race wasn’t really about finishing before Joey and Shannon.  It was about reminding myself of the things I already know and that is to never give up no matter how difficult something is.  The Bairds happened to be something I could focus on and use to channel my determination.  It has been only a few years since I had battled cancer and I knew how important it was to not only be physically strong, but to be mentally strong too.  After all, life is about putting one foot in front of the other and not giving up.

Thank you Adventure Addicts Racing for putting on a great race.  I felt the adrenaline, enjoyed the people and scenery and most importantly, pushed myself beyond what I thought I was capable of.  I will use this experience as a positive touch stone throughout life and remind myself that giving up is not an option.  And a special thank you to Joey and Shannon, you guys are absolutely amazing.

Shane, I love you and I love having you as my partner in life.  Your strength, love and encouragement inspire me daily.  Thank you!!!