Sunday, September 16, 2012

Mud Sweat + Tears Adventure Race

For years, I have wanted to do the Mud Sweat + Tears Adventure Race, but was a bit intimidated by it. Usually, an adventure race has a water event, and if that event was swimming, I am at a severe disadvantage. I sink, and I am very afraid of drowning! I faced my fear at the Port to Fort race, and with a life vest, thrashed my way 100 yards and went on to have a fun time. The MST has usually had a canoeing event, although a couple of years they have had a swim/wade portion through nasty pond water. This years even was some trail running, mountain biking, riding the mt bike on pavement, some road running, more pavement riding, and a couple easy challenges.
My partner, long time running buddy Mitch Drummond, is a multi-year veteran to this race, and had represented the mid-to-back-of-the-pack, a place where I also fit right in. Mitch created our team name: 100 Acre Wood Runners. Very Pooh-ish. We were both riding on borrowed bikes. Tom Robinson had loaned me his Giant mt bike since my modified hybrid was equipped more for road riding The first bike segment, about 2 miles, was on trails, and I would have trashed the hybrid. Thank you Tom. Old Blue did me proud.
RD Scott Herbst gave the pre-race directions, and what we took from this, was to study the maps, and MAKE SURE we did not skip any check points.
We started at 9:00 sharp, and we headed uphill, opposite of how most of the teams went. The first check point was easy--in plain sight. An elite team led the way, and all we had to do was keep them in sight to find the first one. The second check point was not easy. From the map, it seemed to be right at the end of the dam between the ponds at the Y, but I think it was at the head of the smaller nearly dried up pond. We had to get 4 of the 5 checkpoints, so I made the call to skip this one. The other three seemed easy, and they were. We seemed to blaze right through the first portion of the race. We were ahead of a lot of very strong looking teams. I even heard one team say they had only found one check point when we were heading to our last. I was accepting of the probability of being DFL in the race, so this was encouraging to see we were doing well early on.

The first challenge was to toss a disc into the basket. I've played a little disc golf, but from this distance (about 30 feet) it was easy. My first toss missed by about a foot. The second was buried in the chains. And the crowds roared. (not really)

Mitch and I were fairly quick through all the transitions, since we were not clipped in, and did not have to switch from running to bike shoes. I almost left without my helmet though but Mitch caught me in time. The first bit of riding was on sidewalks, and then the trail was pretty tame--a short rocky section here and there. We were loving it. About a quarter mile in or so, Mitch thought we might have missed a check point. We stopped to look at the map and 3 or 4 teams passed us. We asked if they had seen a check point, and they had not. (They could have been fibbing.) But we noticed that just around the next bend, they all stopped. DARN! We were 100 feet from the spot, and had let several teams pass us. We hurried up there, and got ahead of one team who was having bike chain trouble. After that check point, there was a long hill. Some teams ahead tried to ride it, some pushed. Mitch and I pushed our bikes up, and actually passed another team on the way up. At the top,a large group consulted their maps, and we buzzed by them.
When we crossed the Snake Trail, we remounted and road the rest of the way. We played cat and mouse with another team, and I finally let them pass. We were near the upper parking lot, and in a section that I run all the time, there was a short technical spot where I intended to hop off the bike. But I had been doing so well, I thought I could pop my front wheel up and hop over an elevated root. BAD IDEA! Something went wrong, and my front wheel hit the root and I was thrown over the top of the bike and landed in a no-hands headstand with only my helmet and forehead breaking my fall. My bike followed and landed on top of me. I immediately reached for my head to see if I had cracked my helmet. No crack, but I did find some blood. The padding on my helmet scraped my forehead, but I seemed alright. I quickly got back on the bike and things were fine--but it was a scary crash.

At the top of Lipbuster, We talked about strategies for riding down. I have rode down it before a few times, but today it was muddy. I told Mitch it would be ok, but to ride the brakes on the steeper sections. He chose to walk his bike down, and I inched my way down. On a steep section where the trail sloped sideways, my tires slid sideways and in slow motion, I went down and my bike climbed right on top of me. Sliding about six feet, I picked up some mud, and left some skin from my elbow. Not a good trade!

Finally down the hill, the rest of the race was on pavement. Mitch tended to a low tire, and we were off. A check point near the lower parking lot, and we were off racing down the 71st street bridge. I suspect I was going about half the speed that I usually do on my hybrid bike, but still we were speeding along. We rode medium and furious to 51st street where we picked up the next checkpoint. It was one where a few people were sure to miss it, but we nailed it. Then we made our way to Runners World, another checkpoint and transition area.
Next was a three mile road run, with 5 checkpoints to find. This was easy, and Team 100 Acre Wood Runners ran like champs. Mitch said we averaged 9:30 m/m and that was with our Camelbacks. We hit the next checkpoint and had to guess several celebrities based on their hair styles. We eked our way through this, and headed to Zink Park for the next one.
I have played tennis here, and have ran on the road by here many times, but have never explored the wooded area. It was beautiful--very zombie-trailish, but it's a small park. My friend Shorty was here taking numbers. She's a great volunteer. Thanks, Shorty!!

Then, we basically retraced our steps, picking up two more checkpoints on the way back. It was really seeming easy. We actually passed another team on the way back.
Another challenge at RunnersWorld was tossing shoes into a tub--about 20 feet--BACKWARDS! We failed miserably, using our allotted time with zero baskets. But we did not lose a place. We sped off, and rode at our bikes max pace for the rest of the way. The next 3 check points were right alongside the trail, but were not overly marked. If you were not looking out for them, it would have been super easy to blow right by.

We rolled across the finish line in 2:09:30. I was super stoked about our time--I seriously thought we would have been 4-5 hours. Maybe it was an easier course than last year. I actually thought it was easy.
We were 9th overall out of 19 teams (proud of that too) and 8th men's team. Pizza was served--and we even beat the pizza delivery guy! First time EVER I've finished a race and had HOT PIZZA! Mitch and I hung out and watched the remaining races come in. We beat out some much more capable looking teams. We decided that they must have missed checkpoints, or gotten lost. And we just had a good day.

My head was not scraped as bad as I thought, but it does feel bruised.

No neck pain.

I still have this silly grin though.

And things just got better.

They had door prizes, and I was drawn second, and had a choice of several prizes.

I chose this Kuat Vagabond roof-mounted bike rack--something that costs about $300 if you were buy one.

I hope it fits my Prius!!
How do you top a day like this?!?

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