After volunteers at LRS http://logsrocksandsteel.com/home.php a couple years ago, I was finally ready to tackle this Bob Miller designed course solo.
I was looking forward to it, since after a month in BC I finally fell in love with mountain biking. Don’t get me wrong I still get off the bike way to much but I’m not so chicken and frustrated as before…or so I thought.
I was a little nervous with paddling. 14km is a lot for me and I was the only solo championship racing renting a bathtub, I mean kayak.
Also, the cut-off was 2:30p.m. which no matter how I looked at it seemed very tight to me. I mean that’s only 6.5 hours, given 2.5-3hours on the kayak and 3.5-4hours on the bike. I could miss it by 30min it I was on the high end of my expectations.
I set out early so to Pinecrest, a fabulous venue I must add, so that I could pick a boat.
Although there may have been faster options out there, I had to settle with one I could actually lift and portage.
Then off to the cabin to unload the care and prep for the race. I picked a great cabin right by the bonfire (what I was most looking forward to this weekend) and the lake. The cabin was called Raven. I had it all to myself, but by evening it filled up. It was great to have Barb and Jack there giving me pointers on where to place my bike at the TA and how to be faster in transition.
At 5:15a.m. Saturday morning the dance beats of Jack’s alarm crescendo through the cabin. On the second time Gina (Jack’s mother) and I both called his name. Gina and Jack were out in a flash and one my one we all began to rise to the darkness of race day.
With my headlamp on I set off to the car to get my bike and set into place beside Jack’s. I figured he’d be so far ahead of me I’d have the extra space when I got into transition if I was beside him. Good in theory until some guy squeezed in between us.
Gathered by the boats, while Bob gave a race briefing and Jack got me a string for my SI punch, we all got ready for the race.
Into the water, paddling around while we waiting for Dobos to get into position so we could all start.
The paddle was rough. I knew it would be. I have never paddled 14km on my own. But I was prepared to be at the end, I just really didn’t think there’d be so few of us back there. I was with 3 other canoes, one with a dog. How embarrassing. However, I just settled in and took it in stride as I was positive I would pass loads of people on the bike and run. Little did I know. 😦
First 4km was good fun, got my stride and came to the first portage. I lifted the kayak no problem and took about two steps when it started to go up hill over large rocks. It took all my strength to balance myself and lift me and the boat over the rocks. The people guys behind me I think really pitied me. I dropped the kayak briefly, then hoisted it up again. Couple more steps and I was sure I was going to loose it. I was almost in tears, physically didn’t think I could do it. I managed somehow to get over the last up, then put the kayak down with a thud and decided I’m sorry to admit, to drag the heck out of it.
Back in the kayak for another 3km around and Island to the dock and another 300m up and over portage. This one really hurt. At least I only had to do it once. As people were around I did not drag it. The guys in the canoe offered to hold one end. But I stubbornly said I had to do it myself.
However, once I got close to the end where kids started riding and parents wondered around slowly in front of me, I lost it. I told them I can’t move around them, gotta love Gina, because she started hollering at everyone to get out of my way “racers coming through”. Then she said my favorite line of the race, “Everyone was dragging it down the hill, just drag it.” You didn’t have to tell me twice I dropped that thing like a hot potatoes and booted it down to the put it.
Getting myself stuck on a rock and I had to get the team behind me to push me off, my frustration and arm fatigued started to build, and the this last loop just got slower if that was at all possible. One more portage, once more around the Island, off at the dock and abandon the kayak there. Phew.
That took 2:27:58, a good 30-50min behind the majority of racers. However, I was within the low end of my expected time, so I could still make the cut-off and maybe pass some people on the bike.
I was beat after that paddle though and took 4min in transition. Too long, but I didn’t care. Just happy to be on the bike, finally.
Happy to be peddling I passed the previous canoers on the bike and was feeling good. But then my bike seat started to turning and slipping. I had to try and adjust it. I tried some tape to hold it in place. Back on the bike for 3 min and the whole seat turned 30 degrees. Off again and took anther e10min to adjust it. Worked this time, but now the top male Pinecrest course guys started to catch up. It was about 6-8 of them and the guy ahead of me kept getting off before every jump and hill, so I wasn’t getting any momentum. I grabbed my bike muscled past 4 of them and started to ride.
I was surprised I didn’t catch up to any other Championship racers and was annoyed being near these Pinecrest folks. Was really happy when I finally saw a sign splitting us up. I questioned though why it was facing the way it was. Pinecrest racers began to follow me and I told them not too. They argued with me until I rode back and should them the sign and a bunch of hikers in said yeah it’s this way. I went to the right on my own. As I continued on the path and the blue flags were so far apart at each turn it was a struggle to figure out which way to go, my frustration of this “marked” trail was getting to me. Added to the fact that I didn’t understand the signage back there and by now I should have seen the first aid station. Regardless I had no where else to go but forward, so I continued until I hit the road. Now this I know it’s right. Darn it!!!!! F%&! I swear I could have gotten an award for most cursing on a race course. I was like someone on Jerry Springer.
I knew going on the road was wrong, but I had no clue as to where I was or where on the trail I went wrong. Looking at my watch it was noon. I had already been riding for 90min and hadn’t reached the first aid station 17km in, although I was sure I had rode that much by now. If had to start the bike all over I’d never make the cut off.
Defeated, disgruntled and completely disappointed I followed the blue markers back, knowing full well I had shorted the bike route and had now DNFd.
I confirmed this when I saw a volunteer and asked if this was the end or if there was more for the championship route. She pointed from where I came and so “It’s the end, championship course is way over there.” My heart and I peddled slowly and sadly back to the TA.
Chetan, greeted me “With great ride!” To which I responded that if I’m the first girl I am sure I didn’t do the whole route and I have DNFd. The course was marked horribly. He tried to chat and joke with me, but I was so pissed I couldn’t shake it off. Regardless, for myself I wanted to have a really good run time. Kura came in shocked to see me, thinking he had done an extra 20km somewhere, until I set him straight that I messed up big.
As I checked out I grunted at Shannon’s uncle who was at the SI punch and said something nice. I scarred the guy from talking to the next 20 racers. Sorry!!!
Off for a nice run atleast. It was pretty good and I was happy to be out there and at least redeeming myself a bit.
Even played nice with racers, giving Kura a Tylenol when he caught up to me and said his back was hurting.
I continued to run at a good click when I heard screams. Looked like a crowd was behind so figured they had enough people to help them. Got the story of the screams when Kura caught up to me again and asked if I knew first aid. Apparently, he got stung by a couple of bees (so did Christine, who was the screamer, not him of course :p) and then threw up. He was okay though. The upchuck was from the horrible gel he had.
Back to the run. The water crossing and bushwhack was my favorite part by far. Mostly because I love that stuff, but also because it was the best marked part of the whole race.
Dave caught up to me and when made a great team. Ian joined us for awhile and kept us on a good pace, but once I slowed to eat a gel he was gone.
During this time I saw the sign that I had missed on the bike.
It split the Pinecrest and Championship course. It was far ahead and unless it was as your eye level you didn’t notice it as there were lots of blue flags to the right (for Pinecrest) and not to the left (for Championship). Incidentally Eric (top male), Leanne (top open female), Sian, (2nd female master), also made these wrong turns. So I don’t feel so bad. It was clearly an issue.
During the run I still had moments of “where the heck are the flags” panic. There were just so far apart and with the open Canadian shield, unless you are aware of the trail it is hard to figure it out. Thank goodness for Dave or else I would have been bushwhacking like Leanne or going the wrong way around the loop like the top 2 male team did. I’m happy with the run and who knows if I would have had that energy had I done the full bike, but I do know with the energy I had I still would have been faster if I wasn’t looking for markers. The run took 2:26:37.
Really had a great time running with Dave and even bumped in to his son Will on the way.
Gave Bob some talking to when I got back. All in good fun. He did a great job at a great venue. Found out too that Bugs and Teeth were riding all over yelling name since Amber and Teresa told them I never came to the aid station. Amazing to have so many great people involved looking out for you. Sorry to you all that I was so salty during and for a little while after the race.
Finished with chocolate milk, fully clothed dip in the lake and an evening bonfire!
What did I learn? Well, study the map. Don’t rely on the markers. Have the map handy. Most importantly I need to calm myself down sooner and not be so defeatist. I was sure going in that the time cut-off was tight. That mind set did me. As any mistake seemed epic. In retrospect I’m not sorry that I did what I did. That is how I felt at the time, and looking at the times I could have made with 10min to spare or 10min pasted the cut-off. Not doing the run would have made the day a complete disappointment for me.
What to do for next year? Oh yeah, there’s a next year.
First off, practice my paddling and get a faster, lighter boat, One to ensure I don’t sustain the brutal hip bruise from portaging. Two, to get faster so I am not so stressed about the cut off.
Have the map handy and study it.
Calm down if frustration creeps in.