Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Tri-City Challenge and the day that Heather Kluch tried to go all Chuck Norris on me.... Written by my teammate: Jennifer Caponi

Written by: Jennifer Caponi

The Tri-City Challenge may not have been my brightest idea. I registered Heather Kluch (aka Chuck Norris or she is compared to Chuck Norris, or can kick his get the point  Heather Kluch=badass) and I in the competitive doubles division. 

The race consisted of:
1) a 5 mile kayak (thanks Chuck White) paddle on the Fox River from Yorkville to Silver Springs State Park in Plano.  What?? I paddle a boat on average of once every 8 years?  No problem!  How hard can it be?  Keep in mind that in the 8 hour adventure race that I did with Rich McCaleb in May, he had to inform me that I was holding my paddle upside down. D'oh!

2) a 13.5 mile bike ride (we were on mountain bikes) from Plano to Sandwich.  No problem.  I have been riding hard 1-2x per week for a few months, the last few weeks with some roadies, so I am feeling pretty strong and confident.

3) a 5k run in Sandwich which ended at the YMCA.  3.1 miles, not bad.  Oh wait, I only run 1-2x per week at a 9-10 minute pace and feel like I am sprinting, as I am recovering from an achilles tendon injury.  So, now I am going to really "sprint"?  No problem.

When we signed up I told Heather I wasnt sure how the achilles would hold up, especially during the run.  She says "no worries, we will have fun with it"  Well, game day came and I caught her putting war paint on her face....Well, not really, but I knew this would be no "fun run".  Oh, did I mention I have never done a race with fast transitions?  I have only done one race ever that consisted of multiple events....Who's idea was this?

So lets start with the paddle.  First of all, the kayak had no desire to take part in this race.  It tried to fall off Heather's car like 10x before the race even started. Hmm. They release 6 kayaks/canoes every 3 minutes.  We have a rushed start, but we get going.  We try to stay on the south side of the river, as it is very low, and we had gotten pre-race intel that the south side of the river was a little more deep. Heather is in front, I am in the back.  Apparently not only do I paddle, but I steer.  Sweet!  Whatever that means....

So Heather is great about instructing when to paddle right, left, etc to navigate us through the shallow waters.  We get caught up on the river bottom a few times.  We employ several methods to free being the patented Eyes To The World Adventure Racing Team humping technique.  Just imagine two cute girls in a kayak thrusting our bodies in unison while making grunting noises and laughing. worked! I cant say I have ever humped in a kayak...there was that rowboat on Maple Lake that one time...but that is a story for a different time.   Sometimes it was just too shallow so Heather had to jump out (hey, she is the one that picked the front seat!) and pull us.  I took this opportunity to crack open a beer from the cooler that I smuggled on.  Hey, most times I have ever been paddling have been with beer, canoes and quarter sticks....just sayin'! 

We quickly realized that Chuck's kayak is defective...or there is a weird current...or there is a strong cross breeze (definitely NOT user error!) as the kayak keeps steering to one side.  Then we would paddle paddle paddle to correct it.  Then we were over corrected and then have to paddle paddle paddle on the other side.  Plus the water was shallow, so our paddling was kinda lame.  We both were working pretty hard and it was 90 degrees out.  Heather keeps yelling "f@ck me in the a$$!"  I kept thinking "I didn't bring that piece of equipment.  Was it on the gear list?"  Oh, and I definitely bashed Heather in her back at least once with my paddle.  She said it was ok.  At least I wasnt like Chuck White at adventure camp and bashing her in the head!

Despite all the comical moments and all our fishtailing of the boat, we had caught up to and passed most of the boats that were in the 3 minute wave before us.  I only saw one boat pass us and it was some super kayak man who looked all professional and crap.  We get to the boat launch and have to get that stupid kayak that hates us up the boat ramp and to our bikes.  As Heather says, my legs felt like baby giraffe legs.  WTF!  I guess I didnt realize that you use your legs so much in kayaking.  Like I said, most of my paddling experiences have been floating down a river with a beer and dynamite.

Well now it's bike time, and I have been doing killer workouts on the bike this past few weeks with the roadies and the wind, so this will be good.  Fast transition, get on the bike. First 2 minutes, awesome.  Then begins the long, sweeping ascent to get out of the state park.  My legs are now noodles.  My lungs feel like a pack a day smoker.  All I keep thinking is that Heather is going to literally kill me for sucking so bad.  I'm going to be on the "B" team of adventure racing.  Fortunately the legs loosened, the hill stopped, my breath evened out...and then came the rolling hills into the headwind.  Heather is yelling back to me to get on her back tire.  For those who are unfamiliar with biking, this is so that I can be in her "draft", thus making the biking easier for both her and I (but mostly for me).  The problem is that she is just that much faster than I where we are about 4-5 feet apart, and I am having a hard time making up that distance.  Just when I would catch up and start to draft, she would pull away again! I was silently crying inside for my mommy.

We did pretty well on the bikes.  We passed 3-4 people.  We got passed by 3 guys on separate occasions, but they were all on road bikes, and it wasn't until over 8 miles into the ride. At mile 12 some douchebag guy on a road bike passes us (not going much faster than us, mind you) and says "Hey, I know you are not being competitive or trying to win anything, but drafting is not allowed."  Really? The race directions specifically say no side-by-side riding or weaving and we are a team.  We yelled this back at him.  If I didn't have to run that darn 5k after the bike, I would have drafted off him and then shot past him at the end.  Jerk.  The positive to come from this is that the last 1.5miles went by quite quickly because I was so annoyed. 

Now we get to the part of the race I am most unsure of, the running.  My calves are always tight after a hard ride, and I have been struggling with achilles soreness on both legs in the past few weeks.  Heather is reminding me/bitching/directing me to be fast, fast, fast in the transition.  We both have our running shoes on carabiners attached to the back of our camelbacks.  I kind of forget this fact, or am at least not thinking about it right at that moment.  I start to undo my bike shoes.  Im not thinking about my running shoes yet. Im trying not to die.  I would feel bad if Heather had to carry my rotting, 90 degree corpse for 3.1 miles.  She turns her back to me and tells me to unclip her shoes, and she will do mine.  Really?  Untie your own shoes!  But Im new to adventure racing/transition stuff, so maybe that's how you conserve having your partners take your crap off?  Remember, Im trying not to die.  So I bend over and start untying her shoe.  LOL!! It would be a lot easier if her back weren't turned to me, I'm thinking.  Then she says, "no, unclip my shoes from my camelback!"  OH YEAH!  Im a moron!  Ok, shoes on, time to run.

Well "run" may not be the best word to describe what I was doing.  I couldn't tell if my legs felt like jello molds or tree stumps.  My calves are locked.  The run was uneventful.  I spent 3.1 miles trying not to die.  I have exercised induced asthma that really kicks up in the heat and humidity, and I forgot to take my inhaler.  The first 1.5 miles I was strictly focused on trying to get oxygen.  I had to walk about every 3/4 mile to stretch out my achilles. I was a disaster. Heather is yelling at me or something...looking at me with sad eyes that say "you pathetic pathetic girl".  I'm not listening because I am so focused on not dying or popping a tendon. We pass a few people.  We only got passed by maybe 2 solo guys.  It's a chute finish so Heather goes first and I finish right behind her.  Thank God its over!

Yay!  We end up getting first in the whole competitive doubles division.  We beat all the guys too!  Well..actually, come to find out, it was team for the kayak , but the rest of the race was actually solo, which makes the win that much better in my eyes.  So, Heather got first (because I LET her go first) and I got second.

I wish that one douchebag guy on the bike was around to see us get our medals because I would have put it where the sun doesn't shine.

The Tri City Challenge was overall a fun, yet challenging race....not overwhelming for a newbie like me.  I'm still alive, Heather still likes me, so all is well in the world!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

aMAYzing Race 8 Hour AR

aMAYzing Race
8 Hour AR
Rock Cut State Park, IL
Team: Eyes of the World 1 &2
Kim Chou & Heather Kluch, John Paddock & Joe

Racer’s Eve

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.

Race Start

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.

Orienteering Section

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.

Sprint Orienteering

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.

Road Biking

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. 

Final Orienteering

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)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Planet Adventure Challenge 30 hour AR

Planet Adventure Challenge
30 Hour Adventure Race
Derby, IN
Team Eyes of the World: Chuck White, Don Bart, Heather Kluch


After a 7 hour drive to our hotel with the excessive use of the words bogart, epic, and hoss, we finally arrived around 3am. Luckily they let us have a late checkout or we would’ve been zombies. We pointlessly brought all our gear into our hotel room thinking we were going to get it ready to go from there, but instead ended up loading everything back into the SUV. Smart move there. We decide we all need coffee and find this cute little shop that’s cooking up greasy fatty goodness. Even though I had already eaten, the bacon is making me drool. I resist my meaty temptations and go with the best mocha frappacrappy midgetchino (or whatever they called it) I’ve ever had. Since I don’t like coffee, they created magic.  We then head over to the prerace meeting location even though we’re super early. We figure we can hang out and get our gear together since we have nowhere to go anyway. As we’re going through our endless piles of gear, another team pulls up. They are two teamies from Team No Sleep/Adventure Capitalists. I’ve never met these dudes (Josh and Ben) before but we quickly figure out that we like them. Since I like them, I let them borrow my UTM plotter since they don’t have one with the correct scale, which I end up letting them keep because I was feeling generous. Soon after, their final team member Susan pulls up, who I’ve known from previous races and I like her too so even though they’re our competition, we decide we can be friends and go out for a pre race meal together. When we get back from stuffing our faces with deliciousness, we put on our snazzy racing gear and head over to the pre race meeting. We receive our map, which was as big as me (that’s big for a map), and we find out we have to plot ALL 46 checkpoints ourselves! This was my first curse of John Farless (the race director’s) name. Freakin’ Farless! Even though I know how to plot, I always feel rusty for the first few, I second guess myself, and I feel like my head is up my butt. After what felt like forever, we finally finished plotting and routing our route. We then head over to drop our bikes off at one of the transition areas, which we miss a turn, and this missed turn sets the precedence for how the rest of the race will go for us. We then head over to race start, and yep you guessed it, we wait for the race to start. Oh and I have to mention, this is Don’s first race over 12 hours, but we’re not worried. We think he can hang.

Race Start – Midnight  - Paddle Section – Mano Point

We gear up for the paddle and for me that means raincoat, rain pants, and my super classy hot pink dishwashing gloves with pink hearts on them, so my fingers don’t get wet and turn into corpsicles. Those of you who don’t know me that well, don’t know that I have Raynaud’s Disease. My fingers and toes lose circulation and become useless if I get cold, so I have to take extra precautions. I know I look ridiculous, but I’m ok with that. Everyone lines up at the start, they take a few group pics where my gloves stick out like an eyesore, and then they give us the go. We have a short run to the boats, grab them, and carry them back to the river. Well since we’re a team of 3, I play my girl card and have Chuck and Don carry the boat while I walk beside them. Thanks guys! You’re super! As we near the water, teams are jumping in their boats and paddling off into the night, not realizing that every single one of us is paddling in the wrong direction! First rule of adventure racing…never follow the team in front of you because they could be lost. Well apparently none of us listened to that and we all went the wrong way. We finally realize where we are on the map, and start paddling back towards where we’re supposed to be. I think there were still a few teams behind us that kept going even further in the wrong direction. We get to the bridge that we were supposed to be paddling under about 30 minutes ago, and we hear a volunteer yell from above.. “Great job guys!” Ummm yeah I think I sensed a little sarcasm in that! We are finally heading in the right direction of our first CP, Don is paddling in front, I’m in the middle and Chuck is steering in the back. Since I’m in the middle, I’m the navigator which is super challenging for me because I can’t see worth a crap at night, even with a headlamp on. I make a few mistakes by missing channels to turn down that I miss because of my blindness and eventually we end up running into our pre race pals. We decide to stick together and get lost together. We search high and low and in ditches and creeks for CP2. I swear this thing just kept getting up and moving on us because we had to be right on it, but just couldn’t see it. We all finally made the call to just skip it since we were wasting too much time on it. We kept struggling through this paddle section. This thing was like a friggen obstacle course. Tree stumps were protruding out of the water everywhere but we could barely see them. Our boats kept getting lodged on top of them where we would have to do synchronized humps to get off without tipping. We start yelling out mating calls pleasure noises since we look like animals getting it on with each other, but it works and we end up doing this about 20 more times while laughing hysterically at each other! We pretty much hump our way through that paddle, and luckily we never dumped but Susan, Josh and Ben weren’t so lucky. We stick around to help them out and rescue them because we like them.  After what feels like forever, both of us finally make the call to get to the next transition area without getting all the CPs. If we would’ve kept paddling, we would’ve had to miss out on other parts of the race, so we figure we can grab more CPs on bike or foot, rather than in a boat. We make it to the TA and start changing out of our wet gear. My hands are so cold at this point that I can’t get my rain pants off. Thanks to one of the volunteers, he gets a picture of me running with my pants around my ankles and thanks to Chuck for depantsing me! Yes I did have tights underneath so don’t get too excited!

Trekking – Orienteering

We’re finally out of the boat and on foot to obtain 8 more CPs. We are forced to carry our PFDs and our helmets for this entire section since we will have to be swimming at some point and doing a ropes course. I curse the race director at this point…friggen Farless! It feels like I’m carrying another me on my back! Oh well, I have no choice, so I can’t complain. We start navigating with Susan, Josh, and Ben but end up splitting up at the first CP and head our own direction which wasn’t the right direction. We overshoot but quickly figure out our mistake and start heading down into this rocky little canyon. It was freaking gorgeous! I wanted to stay there all day. We find the CP and we’re feeling good about ourselves again. We’re back on track to actually finding things, or so we think. We find the next CP and head over to the swim section. The water doesn’t get shallow at any point so we have no choice but to swim across. We don’t want to get wet since we’re finally dry after that paddle and we don’t want all our gear to get wet so Chuck and Don strip down to bike shorts, and I strip down to my thong. I’m not super excited about this but oh well, it’s just an ass. Everyone has one. There is another team there also, all dudes, and they strip down totally naked! One guy bends over just as Don turns around. Don gets hairy buttcrack in his face and I get swinging schlongs in mine! Woohoo! We throw our gear in dry bags and swim across. Holy balls, that water was freaking cold! It literally sucked all the breath out of me and I could feel my joints locking up! Good thing it wasn’t a long swim and good thing it wasn’t the middle of the night like it was supposed to be! That made it a little more bearable. We get out and start putting our clothes back on and pick off any ticks that we see on each other. Of course Chuck had to snap a couple pics to prove that I was racing with my ass hanging out! We head off to find the next CP. We’re wandering around for what feels like eternity and can’t find the damn thing. We sit on the side of a hill to try and figure out where we are and how to re-attack it since we’re not finding it. At this point Chuck starts to fade. He’s sitting next to me with a dumb look on his face, mouth wide open and staring off into space. I can tell by the look in his eyes that he’s mentally cashed out. I try to explain to him our next route and he mudders “Well let’s just go and see who shows up.”  What? That doesn’t even make any sense. So I say to him, Wtf, what are we going to a party? We’re out here alone, no one is showing up anywhere.” About 5 minutes later he snaps out of his creepy trance and says to me, “What just happened? What did I just say?” I told him and he said “Oh wow, I had an out of body experience. I was at a fair and there were kids around me wanting ice cream and we were supposed to go to a party.” I look at Chuck and start laughing my ass off. In my 6 years of racing, I’ve never had anyone “leave” a race and end up at a fair.  So we sit there a little longer, as I’m now trying to plan out the route with Don since Chuck is in his own little world, and out of nowhere Chuck yells “YOU SHOULDN’T EVEN SMOKE!”. Don looks at him like wtf and I say wtf? Chuck snaps out of it again and he’s like “Holy crap, I was just in a grocery store and there was a lady in front of me buying cigarettes so I told her she shouldn’t even smoke.” At this moment Chuck is banned from the map and from making any rational decisions until his acid trip wears off!!! We continue on looking for CPs and realize that we are totally in the wrong spot than where we think we are on the map. We correct our route and head to where the CP should be, or so we think, and can’t find it. I don’t know what our deal is, but we’re not finding anything. Since we spend a lot of time wandering for nothing, we decide to make the call to head to the bike TA. We’re just wasting time and it feels like we’ve wandered in the same circle about 10 times. We are all almost out of water at this point so we’re keeping an eye out for some way to refill our water bladders. We see a maintenance building off to our left as we’re walking down a road. I was so excited that we weren’t going to have to fill our bladders with nasty poo sludge from a creek! Attached to the building we see a green hose which means non poo sludgey water! I pick up the hose but I’m not very smart at this moment and can’t figure out how to work the well pumperdilly thing and the nozzle on the hose confused me just as much. So I give it a full pump, turn the nozzle and being as smart as I am, I’m holding the nozzle directly pointed at my face and set at full on spraying force. Of course I spray myself in the eyeballs! Holy crap I can’t explain the pressure of that thing! It was like a fire hose! I thought my eyeballs were going to fly out of my head. All Chuck could say was “Really?” as Don stood there laughing, and I stood there blind for a few minutes. I felt pretty awesome right then. After my moment of awesomeness, we hike down to the road. It’s about 80 degrees, no breeze, and exposed on the open road with the sun beating down on us. I’ve never sweat so much in my life. Chuck’s stomach starts acting up as we come upon a little fishing area and we notice an outhouse. Chuck’s like “I’m going in!”, throws down all his gear in the middle of the street and hauls ass to this fancy little outhouse. Apparently it was an emergency. I had to pee but I didn’t dare go in that thing after him to save my nostrils from the stank, so I just peed in the bushes! After hiking about 10 miles with major swampass, we arrive at the bike TA. The first thing that comes out of my mouth to the race director is “What the hell are you doing to us?” Of course he just gives me that devilish laugh.

Bike Section – Road and single track

As we’re transitioning to the bike, we’re told we are being short coursed. This is not a surprise to us given that our nav skills have been not so great. The race director cuts out the 4 hour ride and instead tells us to ride over to Buzzard’s Roost to do another nav section on foot. We really should’ve said no and did the other bike section instead since we were having no luck with finding things in the woods. Oh well, we do as we’re told and hop on our bikes and take off. It feels good to not be walking anymore and finally get some sort of breeze blowing in our faces. We start riding and I hear this incredibly annoying clicking noise every time I pedal downward with my right leg. When you’re so far into a race, sleep deprived, and pretty much out of your mind, little repetitive noises could drive you insane. So I start yelling at Chuck…”WTF did those bike shop guys do to my bike? I can’t take this noise any longer!!”  I have only been riding for 5 minutes, and I’m already tortured. I had to mental battle myself into pretending the noise wasn’t there so I could get through this section. Don leads us through this ride and he takes the trails like nothing. You would think he’s riding on a flat paved road. I think he just floats over rocks and stumps because I don’t get how he can go that fast without landing on his face. We hit some crazy bumpy down hills where I think I’m going to die but I come out alive as we finally make it to the road. At this point Chuck’s stomach starts acting up again. He bends over like he’s going to puke and complains that there’s too much acid in his stomach. I ask him “So um what did you eat?” His response…”Well I had about eight 5 Hour Energies so that might be it.” My response…”Holy shit! Ya think that could be it? Dumbass!!” No wonder why his body is falling apart, it’s in complete shock! Even though Chuck’s body is crumbling from the inside, he still pushes through and doesn’t complain. We continue our ride to Buzzard’s Roost as it’s getting dark. The stupid song from Dawson’s Creek keeps repeating in my head and Chuck keeps singing it so it’s not helping me try to get rid of it. “I don’t want to wait for our lives to be over…” That has got to be the least motivating song ever and I hate it! After many up hills, down hills, and more neverending up hills, we finally make it to Buzzard’s where John and a few others are waiting for us at a campfire. We’re all still in good spirits and hysterically laughing about nothing. I’m starting to chafe in my crotchel region so I apply my moo cow utter butter or whatever it’s called, and of course Chuck gets this on video. Good thing the audio didn’t pick up because it would’ve sounded like a porno. We sit down on a picnic bench and Chuck starts to eat something. I can hear his teeth smashing into each other with each bite. It sounds like his jaw is breaking and it’s driving me nuts. I even say something like “Why the hell do your teeth make that much noise?” It was the weirdest thing ever. Maybe it wasn’t so weird and I was just weird. I’ll never really know. As we are changing into our running shoes, Chuck puts his head down on the table and starts falling asleep. I have to keep nudging him to get him going so we can get out and wander around the woods some more.

Orienteering – Buzzards Roost

Don has the map and from looking at it, the first CP looks easy. It’s near a rock cliff, that has to be obvious, right? Well not when you’re us! We wander around those freaking cliffs back and forth so many times and can’t find the damn thing. It’s starting to lightning like crazy and thunder is rolling in so I put on my rain gear even though I’m sweating balls. The combination of lightning, the headlamps and sleep deprivation is starting to hit me and I’m seeing things that shouldn’t be there. I just about crap myself when I see and old man behind a tree waving at me in a creepy way. I tried to scream but nothing came out. The old man follows me for a while and keeps popping out behind trees and then a little girl on a tricycle decides to join him. I keep telling myself they’re not real but I’m so freaked out at this point that I don’t want to wander alone. So I find Chuck sitting on a rock munching on food. I sit down next to him and tell him I can’t wander even 5 feet away from someone because the old man, little girl and Dr. Suess characters are scaring me.  So I sit next to Chuck for a while and I hear that damn tooth noise again. All I can imagine is his tooth falling out and swishing around in his mouth while he chomps on it. The noise and the image grosses me out but at least it’s a distraction from my newfound imaginary friends that are roaming around in the woods. We get up and keep searching for this CP and can’t find it, so we decide to find the waterfall CP. That should be easy right? NOPE! We find a waterfall but not THE waterfall. Don wanders around the thing several times and doesn’t see a CP. Chuck is falling asleep while walking and his stomach is shot, and has this look of disappointment on his face. I ask him what’s wrong and with a sad voice he’s like, “I have boogers in my nose that won’t come out. I think they’re on my hand and I might be wiping them on my pants but I don’t know. I don’t know if they’re coming out.”  So with Chuck’s booger and stomach fiasco and our non spot on nav skills, we decide to call it a night and head back to the TA so we can make it to the finish. We don’t want Chuck’s situation getting to the point where he can’t ride back. We get back the TA we tell John Farless that we think the CP was taken since we had to be right on it. This makes him leave his cozy little campfire so he can go look for himself to check if it’s there or not. He comes back and yep, of course it’s there. Apparently there was a second waterfall! Ugh!  Damn our nav! We accept that we are sucking at everything nav for this race and hop on our bikes to head to the finish.

Bike – Nav to finish

We start heading to the finish and see there are a few CPs we can get along the way. First one was a success…FINALLY! Second one, we had to go to the top of a hill which looked easy enough on the map. We let Chuck stay at the bottom of the hill because we knew if he climbed that thing, that could be the end of him, so we let him gaze at the stars. Don and I set out to reach the top of this hill. There are roads and trails that are not on the map so we’re unsure which one to take. We choose one route, get to the top and it looks like there’s private property everywhere. We decide not to climb into the woods at this point because the signs say no. So we figure we chose the wrong road and head back to the other one. We head up that road, which is spooky, and come upon some weird trailer home type thing with what looks like concession stands. Something makes a loud slamming noise and freaks us the hell out so we get the hell out of there! Someone or something didn’t want us there! So we choose one more route and same thing! We are freaked, don’t want to get shot at, so we decide our lives are worth more than this CP. We get the hell outta there! We get back to Chuck who is all dreamy eyed from staring at the stars, and get back on our bikes to head to the finish. We crank as hard as we can to get back and make it back by I think around 230am to be greeted by a volunteer with the best damn chili ever. Mine wasn’t even hot but it was the best because it was actual food! Overall this definitely wasn’t one of our more successful races, but I have to say it was probably one of the most fun races I’ve done! We sucked, we knew it, so we just had a blast with it! This was a super tough course, we had a super tough time, but we had a ton of fun! Thanks to my teamies, the race director, and the volunteers for a great freaking time! Kudos to Chuck for pushing through when he felt horrible and left for an imaginary world, and congrats to Don for getting through his longest race ever! You are both machines! Can’t wait for the next race where we will actually find CPs!