8 Hour AR
Rock Cut State Park, IL
Team: Eyes of the World 1 &2
Kim Chou & Heather Kluch, John Paddock & Joe
Ugh. That’s all I can say about the night before the race. Chuck (the race director and usually my teamie), his wife, and I decide to have a nice hearty meal the day before the race. Applebee’s should be safe, right? Not for me! I don’t know if it was my steak, my spinach, or the artichoke dip appetizer that Chuck ordered, but the ride back to Chuck’s house after eating was the beginning of my own personal hell. I started to feel a little hot and floaty headed in the car, and as soon as we pulled into the garage, I sprinted for the bathroom. Goodbye steak, spinach and artichoke dip, we didn’t get to hang out for very long! I thought now that was out of my system, I’d feel a ton better. I thought wrong. I sit down on the couch and my lovely teamie Kim arrives, she is also sick, but with a fever, so this was all starting out great. I’m trying to have a normal conversation with her and out of nowhere I start sweating balls. I mean dripping sweat to the point that my clothes are soaked. I was so dizzy that I had to plant my lifeless sweaty body right in the middle of the living room floor. I rolled my pant legs up to my knees because in my current world of brilliancy, that was going to cool me off. Of course I was wrong again. I laid there like a dead fish trying to pretend this wasn’t happening, so I strike another conversation with Kim, which that conversation turned into “You don’t look so good. You look green. Why are your eyes doing that?” Apparently my eyes kept getting bigger and then small again, I had no idea this was happening. Somebody help me! I felt like I need orange juice all of a sudden. I don’t know why but my head wanted it so I agreed. Chuck’s wife offered to go pick some up for me since I’m guessing she didn’t want me dying on her floor. Finally Don, one of our teammates racing on another team showed up to slumber party it up with us. He looked at me like holy crap, what’s wrong with you, so I had to explain my crappy state to him. I finally get enough energy to crawl up onto the couch and look semi normal. I still felt like death so I decided to go to bed early. If I couldn’t sleep it off, there was no way I was racing the next day!
I trudge down to my own room in the basement. I’m going to sleep this nonsense out of me if I have to. Well I hardly sleep at all. I’m awake, I’m asleep, I’m awake, I’m asleep….this went on for the entire night. I do however remember a dream I had when I did actually fall asleep. There is a guy that recently came into my life that we all call Abercrombie (he’s a model). He was in my dream, and so was Justin Timberlake. For the first part of it, all I can remember is Abercrombie grasping my arm firmly, and glaring into my eyes while repeating “You can do this. I have confidence in you..” At the time I had no idea what this meant, it freaked me out, but these words eventually become words to race by. This phrase made me wake up, and I noticed I had to pee extremely bad. I ping ponged my way to the bathroom. I had the worst case of vertigo I’ve ever had. I kept falling into walls but luckily I made it to the bathroom without peeing on myself. I went back to sleep and dreamed that I was BFFs with Justin Timberlake. At one point he ditched me and disappeared on me so I was really upset. I realized that he wasn’t my BFF so I was crushed. Then out of nowhere he came back and life was good again. Everything seemed perfect and then I woke up. When I woke up I came to the real realization that JT and I weren’t BFFs. I was deeply saddened by this for about 5 minutes. Then I remembered how sick I was the night before. I walked around the room a few times to make a decision if I was ok to race. Since I could walk without falling into walls, I decided I was good to go, even though I wasn’t feeling awesome. I’m stubborn like that.
So we’re gearing up for the race and I’m not feeling so hot, Kim isn’t feeling so hot, but we figure oh well, we can be hot messes together. At least we’re compatible. We get our instructions and Chuck has a quick pre race meeting. We’re at the starting line, ready to go and at 830am sharp, we’re off! One teammate has to ride down to an intersection while the other has to run. I run first since downhills aren’t good for Kim’s knee problem and Kim bikes. She gets to use my midget bike since I wouldn’t be able to fit on hers for the ride back. I get down to the intersection, put on my helmet and ride back to the start to collect our map for the first Orienteering section where we have to find all 12 CPs in order.
The O map isn’t super detailed but we’re all used to that in adventure racing. We’re not finding the CPs as fast as we normally do but we’re trudging along….until we get to CP6. The clue is a man made barricade or something along those lines and Joe thinks he knows where it is since he’s been to the park before. So we attack this thing, and attack it again, and attack it again, and we can’t find it. We finally decide to go back to the road and attack it from there since the supplemental trail map isn’t helping either. Damn you CP6! We finally figure out where we are on the road and head into the nasty thorny thickness. Finally Joe and Mike stumble up on it. I have no idea how long it took us to find this, but this one definitely set us back behind a lot of teams. Once we get over our humiliation of CP6, we find the rest without any major issues. After hitting our final CP, we know of a secret culvert to get back to the TA so we don’t have to go all the way around the road. The culvert is wet and moist, but feels amazing on our feet. We run back to the TA to gear up for the biking section. This is my shining moment.
Mountain Bike (Single Track)
The object of this section was to find the CPs on the map that were little red flags stuck in the ground which had words on them. We had to write down the words on our passport. Seems easy enough, but when you’re me, it’s more challenging to complicate things for myself. The map was pretty easy to figure out, the trails were almost dead on, it was my riding skills that suffered and caused me awesome pain. We set out on our single track glory and I’m feeling confident until we get to an EASY section across a flat prairie. Did I mention this section was EASY? Well the trail we’re on is a pretty deep rut. For some reason I can’t keep my front tire in this rut and I keep wiggling out of it. Then finally an “Oh shit!”, and then a splat! I topple over because my tire sweeps out from under me and I land on my side, still clipped into my pedals. I feel special, and not only do I feel special, but the food poisoning vertigo that I had the night before hits me in full force. I can actually see the sky spinning and I feel like I’m going to hurl all over myself. I’m still laughing because Kim is laughing and I know how stupid I look, but I feel like death, and have to lay there for a few minutes until the trees stop swirling around my head. I bounce back pretty quickly and we continue our ride. I don’t remember much after this because I was in my own little screwy world. Good thing I was navigating this section while feeling like a dizzy pile of crap. The next thing I remember is we’re trying to find CP 18 but we somehow pass up a trial or a road and turn down the wrong one. We figure out our small mistake and backtrack just a bit on a paved trail. Yes, this trail is paved so there shouldn’t be any carnage or near death experiences, right? Well I prove that theory wrong! Not noticing my super huge map case’s strap dangling down near the front of my tire, I haul ass on that paved trail. Suddenly, my bike just stops moving, it was like it hit a brick wall, and I go catapulting forward off the damn thing. I have no time to brace myself since it all happened so fast. I land smack on my face, and when I come to reality as I’m lying face down on the ground, I’m thinking oh man, my face has got to be so jacked up right now. I’m in pain, I’m confused and all I could yell in a trembling voice was “Kiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiim, Kiiiiiiiiiiiiiim, Kiiiiiiiiiiiiim, I fell on my head baaaaaaaaad!” I don’t even think that’s proper English, but I wasn’t really focusing on my speaking abilities at that moment. Kim turned around and came to my rescue. For some reason when I fall, my first instinct is to stand up. I guess that’s reassurance for me that I’m not dead and nothing is broken, so I start to stand up and Kim yells at me. She’s like “You look messed up, stay on the ground.” At that point I could feel my whole body trembling. It was like I was freezing even though I was sweating my ass off. I sat there for a bit, had people check my face to make sure it wasn’t smashed, and decided I was ok to keep racing and navigating even though my head hurts like hell and I’m in floaty head balloon land. At least I still had a face, if I wasn’t wearing a helmet, I would need a new face. At this moment, my dream came back to me. Abercrombie appeared in my head saying “You can do this, I have confidence in you.” So I get my ass up, we continue riding and come to a single track section with 10 foot high piles of logs. Ok well maybe I’m exaggerating, but with my head injury, everything felt bigger and more complicated than it actually was. We see Chuck along this trail, and as you can see from the picture below, I’m not too excited about these logs that I decide to walk my bike over, and I think I was telling him that he sucks, but in a nice way. After surviving my two fiascos, we finally finish the course, and move on to the next torture.
One word to describe this paddle section is poosludge. I think a monster took a big juicy crap in a big hole and that’s what we were paddling in. I’ve never flung so much crap around during a paddle before. This goobery goo was landing on my own head. I would scream, gag, and laugh all at the same time. Not only did this stuff feel fantastic, it also smelled just as fantastic. Throwing around all this poo stank started to bring back the effects of my food poisoning. I could feel my stomach start to rumble, but I try to ignore it. We paddle to the take out points on the map to get out of the boat and get the CPs on foot. Joe is like Tigger and bounces around the woods so freakin fast. I swear in two seconds that guy can be 3 miles into the woods. He’s a machine, so we have to yell for him a few times just make sure he’s not in the next state. We find some CPs, but all this in and out of the boat accompanied by the poo flinging starts to make me feel really sick. I’m nauseous, my eyes start rolling in the back of my head, I feel like I’m going to pass out, and the turtle heads start creeping up on me. To put it bluntly, I need to take a shit, and I need to take it now! I tell Kim this dazzling information and she’s like well you can poop when we get out to find the next CP. I’m like if I poop now, it’s going to be a mess so I’ll wait until we’re done paddling. All I could think about for the rest of the paddle is don’t poop, don’t poop, don’t poop. Once again Abercrombie appeared to me, “You can do this, I have confidence in you.” I wanted to tell him to shut the hell up because I was trying to concentrate on not pooping but he wasn’t real. I actually made it without pooping myself but as soon as we got back to the take out, I sprinted over to that outhouse and did my duty. Next up is the sprint orienteering, so Kim got the map ready while I was taking care of business. I felt so much better after that, I felt like I lost about 20 pounds.
This section was easy. It was designed to be easy. We had to find a bulk of CPs that were all right off the trail. I wasn’t feeling so hot, we had to run this whole section, but I dealt with my poopy self and pushed through it. There isn’t much to say about this section because I was in post poop euphoria, so I was pretty much zombie-ing my way through this one. All I know is we finished without any mistakes, so that’s all that matters.
Since we’re all pretty decent bikers, we figure this is the section we can really hammer out and make up for some lost time. Given that I’m a mess and Kim is still sick, we’re still pumping out pretty strong. Well since the race gods were not on our side for this race, all that changed. We weren’t making any mistakes but Kim’s illness started to take it’s toll. I could see it in her face, she looked miserable, and when she tried to talk to me, it was a mumble I could barely understand. She started to fall back a little bit on the up hills, so we would slow down so she could catch up. I had to keep yelling for Mike to slow down. I was getting frustrated because I would yell as loud as I could and he still wasn’t hearing me. Wtf? Did he suddenly go deaf during this race? When he finally turned around to come back for us, I happen to look at his ears. No freaking wonder why he can’t hear shit! He’s wearing his freakin iPod!!! Normally I would’ve given him crap about this, but since I wasn’t feeling so awesome, I just kept my mouth shut. I wanted to save my energy for finishing the race, and talking seemed like a lot of effort at that moment. We continued on and Kim pushed through the rest of the ride. Kim was exhausted, I was exhausted, so Abercombie’s little pep talk repeated over and over in my head to keep me on track. It felt like such an accomplishment for both of us to finish that ride since we both felt like death on wheels. We also found out after the race that Kim's rear wheel was barely even spinning, so she had to put in extra effort just to ride that thing.
By this point, we were running out of time and the map had a kajillion CPs on it. We know that in 1.5 hours, we will not clear this course. Actually I don’t think any of the teams cleared it, but they at least came close. We’re not close. Since this last O section wasn’t setup as rogaine style, we had to get the CPs in order, which meant that we would have to go pretty far out of the way to get some of the CPs. We get the first and second without any issues, but Mike is having calf problems, so he can’t run that much, and my stomach starts beating me up again. We decide to attempt the 3rd CP, but watch our time carefully to make sure we’ll have enough time to make it back before the cutoff. We head up a trail that we think is going to intersect with another one, which should make it easy to find this CP, but of course we see no intersection. We don’t want to keep going because we’re cutting it too close, and if Mike’s calves get any worse, we’ll be moving slower and won’t make it back in time. We decide to call it a day and head back to the finish to be done with it and eat some delicious food. This definitely wasn’t one of our best races, but even though we had some nav issues, some body issues, sick issues, and falling on face issues, we still pushed through it all and still had fun. The thought of eating real food and pooping in a bathroom motivated me to finish this race! Thanks to my teamies for helping me get through this race, thanks to Abercombie for his motivational phrase even though he never really actually said it, and thank you to the toilet for being there for me at the finish. I love you all! Oh and I forgot to mention….out of the two years I’ve worn my race tights, they have never ripped until this race. I think Chuck has it on video where I’m yelling at him….“Bitch, you better buy me new tights!” Chuck, I’m still waiting for those tights. ;o)