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!!!