30 March 2017

TEAM COMMIE BAR 3rd Place at Meltdown Adventure Race

Given some old age and a long 2016 season, I was thankful to get some R&R over the winter.  A few pounds heavier (I sure love the holidays!) and some time away from the gym sure helped to reduce my ibuprofen habit.  As 2017 started to develop, I sat down and made my list of races for the year. My goal is to build on the success of last season and compete in a few 24+ hour races this year.  The logical first step would be the relatively new GOALS Meltdown.  Although usually held in February, the GOALS schedule was completely modified this year since they are hosting the USARA Nationals in the Poconos.  The meltdown skips the paddle and includes a foot and bike course (but always dependent on what mother nature throws our way). This year, it was held outside of Elkton MD in Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area.  I had never been to this park and was excited to give it a try.

My mantra for the weeks leading up to the race was “its just a warm-up.”  This became a reality after my loose plan of action for the season became real with several new and old teammates confirming almost all of the races I was interested in completing.  With three races planned in the span of 5 weeks, I just wanted to make a decent showing and have some fun. Bonnie had a few 6-hour races on her agenda and was looking forward to breaking in her new 29er.

Arrival at the park around 0800.  Signed in, saw some friendly faces, and got our gear in order.  The race was pretty simple.  Two legs, one bike and one foot.  A prologue would lead us to a choice, bike first or foot first, and our decision would provide the associated map.  Despite getting foot last almost every race (and hating it) we decided it made the most sense to start with Bike.  There were 15 CPs worth 30 points total and compared to a mix and match (no map yet) of 1 and 2 point foot CPS, seemed to suggest Bike would have to be first.  I drew short straw and was tasked with the prologue…a little over 1K jog to volunteers with maps.

In our discussion with some other teams pre-race, we decided there was value in doing bike first, and after getting the maps, we also overheard them discussing a counter clockwise progression.  It must be early in the season when we both looked at each other, agreed to counter clockwise, drew a clockwise progression on the map, and headed out in a clockwise direction.  While out on the course, we commented how few racers there were and couldn’t figure out why!

CP 1 was relatively easy. CP2 got us a little turned around.  We realized the map was a little wanky.  At 1:15000, I wasn’t used to the perceived distance.  What I should have done is stopped, taken some measurements, calibrated, and moved forward.  Nope.  A little frustrated we headed to CP3.  Found it easily and moved to CP4.  Despite a 750m separation on map, we somehow got so turned around that it took over an hour to actually figure out where we were.  Apparently small tree lines, rolling hills, and meadows all pretty much look the same this time of year and without solid contour lines and a 12 year old map, makes it more difficult than I had imagined.  The short story is that we traveled over 4k to hit the mark.  This put us over 2.5 hours into a 6 hour race.

Once I thought I figured out the map, we were on a solid, albeit angry, mission to hit as many CPs as possible.  If you have ever raced before, you know that feeling of everything clicking. You just move, get absorbed in the map and the race.  Some call it the zone or finding flow.  We had it.  No pain, no thinking, just CPs. Nine of them, just short of 45 minutes.

Now came the easy part, two more, relatively easy locations, and drift into transition.  Get some food, change our socks, put on our running shoes.  Ahh, I can taste the hot chocolate.  Just turn right off the road into the park on a marked trail.  Not sure what happened.  We even saw another team making the turn, but we overshot.  Found a trail, found the tree line, found the meadow.  Did not find the CP.  We searched for a while.  Bushwhacked without bikes and took a look at the map.  Found some water marked on the map.  Searched again.  No dice.  We decided to skip it but one last look at the map and a plan for hitting the last CP and transition, made me question our location and realize we had over shot.  EXPLETIVE!!  Head back down and to the correct location.  Okay things match, but no CP.  It has to be here we thought…rode up and down again.  Separated to attack the point from opposite sides.  In my rush to find it, I took a minor but painful spill on my hip.  To provide some context, while wooded, the lack of foliage provided us a clear view of anything fluorescent orange.  This should be simple we thought so we re-checked the clue.  I told Bonnie to wait and I went on a mad bike-whacking search, but this time from the opposite side.  EXPLETIVE!! I found it.  Has it really taken over an hour for this stupid CP? Just warming up.

Back on the bikes, final CP, and transition.  Maybe 45 minutes left in the race.  Given our 5 hour bike ride, the RDs breathed a sigh of relief at our sight and encouraged us to press on.  So we grabbed the new map, found a few 2 point foot CPs and headed out.  We went back the way we came so we had some knowledge of the area.  We needed to hurry though, 10 minutes out, meant 10 minutes back, and that meant 25 minutes max to search.  After hitting the first CP we realized the further CP would be a struggle and that we would be hustling to hit a further 2 pointer when another closer 2 pointer was around the corner.  Just warming up, so we made the smart choice.

We continued our 1-minute run, 30 seconds rest, and made good time heading back.  We grabbed some grub to warm us up, and shared some stories with fellow racers . It was nice to hear that I wasn’t the only one with some map issues.  As we spoke, we saw the numbers, looked like 3rd place.  Despite the frustrations, we pushed forward, and the lesson learned was clear.  You never know where you actually stand until the end and I’m glad we pressed on, overcoming our obstacles.  This little meltdown turned out to be quite the warm-up. I look forward to taking this experience and translating it to some additional TCB podiums.  Until next time…

No Adventure Team Races More than Team Commie Bar..!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment