Goal + miniSuccess + miniSuccess=VICTORY

100 miles. 24 hours. A team of three: Two Men and a Babe. “Babe” being short for “baby”, I think I was the youngest racer and certainly much younger than my two amazing teammates. It’s been far too long to remember each and every detail of this race, I probably should have written this a month ago have been far too busy with other adventures and excitement. That and I’m lazy and uninspired lately. So in leau of not remembering everything I’m going to write about the emotion behind The Adventure Race.

 

Doug is the race director behind American Adventure Sports—I’ve volunteered for him many times, hung out with his awesome staff and talked endlessly about what this endurance sport does, not only for your body, but for your soul. Doug knows what’s up when it comes to this sport, he understands it’s not about the end result it’s about the team work and the journey and the anticipation of getting there.

 

I’ve gone into these races telling myself three things: I’m not going to cry, I’m going to smile through it all, and I’m going to finish. These three things are all really, really hard.

 

I didn’t cry this time. I did, however, jump into Ross’s arms at 3:30am at a crack of the loudest thunder I’ve ever heard in my life. (I’m still going to claim that it WAS 20 hours into the race, zero sleep and nothing but Honey Stinger Waffles in my system.) Or maybe I just wanted to be held, but can you blame me?

Smiling is tough when you’re sitting in a duckie in 100 degree heat, your water is nasty luke warm and all you want is iced coffee. Maybe and iced mocha. With extra mocha. At this point I probably wasn’t smiling. I was smiling at the thought of being off the river. My inner smile translated to an outer smile. That, or I was drunk on dehydration and Clif Bars—both are equally possible.

 

Mountain biking down a single track switch back with only the light from your headlamp and Mike’s voice behind, Ross’s ahead with words of encouragement and tips were helpful but not what I wanted—it’s hard to smile when you’re feeling inadequate and slow. I tried, but it was dark, so no one saw me scowling when we made four wrong turns. I did smile when we passed a team of four men, I felt a bit faster and like a legit racer at that point.

 

We just need a success. One right turn and a check-point and my spirits will lift. I see Doug and Julia’s campfire at the CP, they ask how we are and at that point I’m happy to see anyone, seeing check-point 11 was an added bonus. We warm by the fire, talk, relax and then I convince the team to be on our way. I needed that accomplishment; Doug and Julia’s smiles helped me keep a smile on.

 

The storm was looming at this point. It’s 2:45am and we’re walking in what we thought was the right direction, (notice this allusion here, thought,) miles of elevation gain and loss we reached an intersection—not the intersection we wanted to see. In fact, the exact intersection we did not want to see. Rain is falling harder than I’ve ever stood in, thunder rumbles, lightening flashes, and we turn around to retrace our tired steps. We use an emergency life-line phone call and Mike is picked up because his knee can’t take the stress. The stress put on his body is equal to the emotional stress of having gone the wrong direction for hours, this race is tough physically but Mike beat himself up mentally too.  Ross and I hitch a ride back to the check-point, we’re not smiling but we’re determined to finish.

The check-point is manned by friendly faces, John, my medic friend huddles with me under a tent, everyone is wet and cold. Ross and I eat and hydrate and get back on our bikes. Bomb the hill, I say hill now—it was a mountain at that moment. The last leg of our journey was a time of much needed reflection.

 

Ross has done a few of these, this was my second; as we rode our bikes on flat ground to the last check-point we rehashed some of the race. The rain, the wrong turns, the flat tires, the broken lights, the stomach upsets… but also the team work, the encouragement, the bits of tips we gave one another, the laughs, the general smelliness and dirtiness of team Two Men and a Babe.

We worked well together, I wish we would have finished together, but hey, shit happens!

Adventure Racing is more than a sport. It’s a group of amazing people going out into the woods and doing something absolutely incredible and then talking about it after, sharing war stories over a hot breakfast and supporting each other through the next race. I’ve met some incredible people this summer and have been given some incredible things; both words of wisdom and gifts of support and gear.

 

I have to keep reminding myself to use my adventure racing philosophy in other parts of my life: I’m not going to cry (though it’s okay to,) I’m going to smile through it all (however being true to how you feel is important) and I’m going to finish (what I start.) Just one small success makes such a difference, one success can mean the difference between accomplishing one goal, or accomplishing many goals on this path. I choose to take it one step at a time, one success no matter how big or small and using it to push me to my next victory!

A Ranting Race Report [and some fun alliteration]

All times and dialogue are an approximation. This is neither fact nor fiction, just my memory of the first 24 hour 100 mile race I competed in on July 23 in New Castle, VA.

 

 3:45am:

I don’t think I fell asleep.

My ass is on the ground in the hammock the I attempted slumber in.

It’s still dark.

Racers mill around. Check lights on their bikes. Eat bananas. Gu. Honey waffles. 5 hour energy. Caffeinated water.

I want coffee.

I have no coffee.

 

4:28am:

Why the hell did I sign up for this?

 

4:30am:

Gun shot, 103 racers on mountain bikes tumble after each other in the dark. I’m keeping an eye on my race partner, Mike, and we too are off. Ready to climb the mountain.

 

6:57am:

We crest what we think is the top of the mountain. Take photos. Smile.

I don’t even remember 3:30 this morning. I actually feel good!

 

7:22am:

It wasn’t the top. We’re climbing again.

Mike, where the hell is CP [check point] 1?

 

7:30am:

Found it.

CP 1. Fuck yes! Only 19 more to go!

 

11:42am:

Off the bikes.

Thank god.

 

1:03pm:

Mother fucking fucking bees fuck fuck fuck. This is the only time I’m crying today Mike. Fucking bees mother fuck fuck.

Bee attack while bush wacking through the woods.

 

2:38pm:

Walking. On a road. In the middle of fucking nowhere. 103 degrees.

Is it bad I haven’t peed all day? I think I’ve drank 8 gallons of water and haven’t peed once. I must be dehydrated. I think I’m drunk. I…I …

 

3:45pm:

A nice lady give us water. And Diet Coke.

I could marry you right now.

Mike beats me to the proposal.

 

4:32pm:

We miss the paddle portion due to a huge storm and are bussed to the next CP.

I’m pissed.

 

5:00pm

Opting out of optional check point seems like the logical answer.

Let’s go.

Holy fuck that bike seat does not feel good. Hoooooo man.

Note to self: if I do this again BODY GLIDE.

Note taken.

 

5:01-10:40pm

Sunset happens. I don’t really remember this section to be honest. My mind probably blocked it out on purpose.  We rest. Mike and our new friends lay down, I stand.

I don’t want lactic acid to pool in my legs. You guys will regret lying for so long.

They do. Back on the bikes. More hills. More elevation gained and lost.

I’m not even tired any more. My ass just hurts. I’m sick of Sport Beans. Clif Bars. Beef jerky. Honey stuff. I want a burger. No, pizza. Ice cream, yes, ice cream. And pretzels.

 

10:53pm:

It feels like we’re in a green house. The temperature and humidity are in the 90s and it’s hard to breath.

I just want to sleep. No. I just want to not be walking on the fucking road anymore.

 

11:56pm:

We lost our new friends.

I’m over it. They’ll find their way.

 

12:21am:

Holy shit Mike, we’re done.

We’d been racing for what feels like years. Ronny, the race director welcomes us, shakes my hands, I think I’m high.

Holy shit. I just did this. I need a shower. I still haven’t peed.

 

1:00am

I sleep I my car.

 

6:22am

Real food.

Hell yes. I’m doing another. I know what not to do now.

 

Next post: the OTHER 100 miles, 24-hour race I competed in. Yes. I did it again. And it was glorious.

A few things found in DE.

 

Like I’ve said in previous posts, I basically travel for a living. This past week I was in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.  This was as far east as I’ve ever been in Delaware and had been excited about heading that direction all week. Because it’s February and off-season in a beach town, hotel rooms on the beach are super duper cheap—so I took full advantage!

Arriving early evening on Wednesday, I took myself for a drive along the coast and around the town, I got a little lost and found myself and finally checked into The Breakers Hotel and took a stroll around Rehoboth beach on foot. Of course I’d done research and knew that Dogfish Head Brewpub was stumbling…I mean walking distance from my hotel. I had made plans to meet friends the following evening at the brewery for a tour and tasting session. But the Brewpub serves local beer, local food and local charm.

Tasty

My first dinner at a bar—alone. I ordered a 90 minute IPA and a club sandwich and looked around, trying to appear less awkward than I felt. I pulled out my book, (Going Long: The Best Stories from Runner\’s World) and pretended to read. Sip. Glance around. Sip. Sip. Food. My new distraction! The bar wasn’t busy, but busy enough to people watch, read every sign hanging on the walls and enjoy every bite of my meal.

The next thing I know a man in his 50’s sits two stools down from my and asked me about my book, asks me if I’ve read Born to Run (uhh, duh, yes!) This led to another beer and more conversation about running, training, life on the road, dinners alone, more running and finally the exchange of cards and the promise to keep in touch and maybe get a run in in the future if our traveling lives pass again on the road. Successful solo dinner!

Lunch at the Boardwalk

The next day I woke to a 50-degree morning, sunny with a slight wind off the ocean. I took off with no other idea than the one that I needed to run for about 50 minutes. I ran down Second St, where the road wound through neighborhoods, across a couple bridges and into Dewy Beach. The storefronts abandoned in October when the tourist left, neon signs flash vacancy, or signs taped to the door reading Thanks for a great season! See you in March! A ghost town on the beach.

 

Retracing my steps, I turn right after the last bridge to get closer to the water. I’d heard that there was a mile long boardwalk: wooden planks AKA: my favorite running surface of all time! The next mile I looked and listened to the waves, heard every footfall on the wood below me and felt a soft, oddly warm February breeze on my face. Bliss. I’d found, great conversation, great beer, a great run and bliss in Delaware.