Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Been gone so long!!

Greetings to all my friends, family and whoever may happen to stumble onto this blog. I know that it has been ages since I last sat down and filled you all in on life with my gang so please just accept my apology and know that it will probably happen again. I was torn about whether or not to write about Ironman Coeur d'Alene 2006 and finally decided to wait until I was ready because it did not go as planned and the disappointment was great. I think I went into a semi-depressed state for at least 6 weeks. Anyway, I am blessed to say that now as I look at it objectively it was a great lesson for me and the results were positive in that I was able to be there for my family as they have always been there for me. I will post about it just not right now... NOW is time for some pictures and race report of my latest adventure. Seriously, it was an adventure!

Thunder Rolls Adventure Race 2006

September 8-10th Rapid City, IA

I joined a team, Team Farside, that was short a person for the 3 person event. It was a 36 hour adventure race (shortened due to unforeseen circumstances to 30 hours) covering about 120 miles in Central and Eastern Illinois. The notice was really short as I got a call the Friday before the race and agreed to race with Team Farside. Rich Zak, Steve Perez and I were to meet for the first time at the race packet pick up the day of the race. Brave guys if you ask me!

Sept. 8th 12:30pm
Drive 3 1/2 hours to Davenport, IA to meet my team and get the registration completed and get the directions to the race briefing and dinner. I was so relieved when I saw the two of them and realized that they were not GI Joe types who were looking to make their mark in the AR world. They were normal guys who just wanted to have fun and finish the race giving it their best. I was immediately put at ease and we proceeded to find some last minute gear and get our vehicles rearranged with stuff we were taking on the course and stuff we were leaving behind in my car. We still didn't have a support crew yet but we were assured that there would be a volunteer to support us at the race. The pre-race brief and meal was held in Rapid City and so around 6:40 we headed to the restaurant for the low down on race. We still didn't know where it was going to start at or finish. They fed us first and it was simply wonderful. Salad or potato soup, bread and Fettucini alfredo with your choice of shrimp, chicken or vegetable. I didn't finish all of my pasta because it was so rich and I knew in a few hours we would be doing something strenuous.. Dinner was from 7-8 and the race info, maps and course rules were given from 8-9. We finally got to meet our support crew, Marianne, around 9:30pm and when she saw the rental car that we were needing her to drive for us from TA to TA she asked so politely if we would mind if she drove her Xterra. Praise God!!! Rich had rented a sedan and we had a three bike rack on the trunk which meant taking the bikes and rack off at every point to get the gear out of the trunk. Her vehicle was a dream AND it had a four bike rack on the back with access to the rear of the SUV without taking everything off!!! God is so good!! Special thanks to Marianne for the wonderful pictures and the super special care in getting us through this race!! She's the greatest!!

We didn't have the time or space to plot our maps but I decided to just trust Rich completely and know that it is his team and he would do his very best. (Turns out we only had one slight mishap with maps and that was not a big deal except for the time lost.. Small fry in the big picture!) We caravaned to the start which was about 20 minutes from the restaurant. It is now very dark and almost 11pm. Race starts at 12:00am! We find out from the rumor mill that the start of the race is a 13.8 mile run/trek to the first transition area. (TA1) Rich told me on the phone days earlier that he was not able to do a lot of running and that he would trek most of the course. He said he was maybe good for a mile. We ran the first 6 miles and I was thinking that he must have been just messing with me! He wasn't. That was the last we ran. It was all good though. If I had ran more I would have been more exhausted on the bike..? Anyway, we had a great start and at TA1 we got into the canoes for the paddle section. We entered the water around 3:15 am. At this time we weren't sure how far the paddle was because we hadn't had the time to go through all 16 maps!

The paddle was great at first as we all settled into a rhythm. We weren't fighting wind or current as we were on the Hennepin Canal. The forecast had been calling for thunderstorms and rain but the sky was still clear and life was good.
Around 6am I was thinking that I was going to die from exposure.. (I was trying not to mention this but as Rich was climbing into the canoe at the launch... We tipped!) Yes, we started the paddle section out wet. Water was warm though and I didn't think it would be a problem until early dawn as it got chilly and I was sitting in the bottom of the canoe for 3 hours not getting a lot of circulation to my limbs.
I was so glad to see the lock ahead and find out we were going to portage the canoe because it meant I would get some blood flowing and be able to warm myself up some. I ended up wrapping a towel and blanket around me for the next segment and continually thanked God for the wonderful sunrise as it meant warmth was on the way!
Around 8:45 we saw a tall bridge and realized it was time for the rappel. We were told at the briefing that there was a special rope section added to the paddle. Halfway through the paddle we would approach a bridge where two of us would get out of the canoe and head to the top of the bridge where we would then rappel down into the canoe while the remaining teammate would position the canoe to 'catch' us. Then the third person would be taken to shore where they would do the same thing. We did it like we had practiced for months. It was fun and we all said we wouldn't mind doing it again except for the fact that this is a race and we had caught up with two teams at the ropes and as we were leaving two other teams were catching up with us... One of the volunteers told us we were only halfway through the paddle and that meant it would be another four hours or so before we would get off the water. We sang, we hallucinated, we talked but mostly we paddled.. Turns out the paddle was roughly 30 miles on a completely flat canal. Took us about 9 hours of paddling!

Finally, we see the transition area ahead and it was only 11:55am! TA2 and Marianne were the the best thing in the world at that point. DRY CLOTHES! We all changed, ate and relieved ourselves (9 hours is a long time!!) before heading out on the first of two O' Courses. Orienteering for this course would be on foot the second course would be on mountain bike. We were dry, warm (sun was out and we were all confident in out navigational skills. We said goodbye to Marianne and headed out with compass and map. It took us several hours and a few misteps before we located all of the CP's but around 5:45 we made it to the third transition area. It had started raining around 4:30 and we only had to trek through the rain for about an hour. (This is the section where we had a slight misreading of the map as I alluded to earlier) It was in pretty good spirits that we got into TA3 where we would head out for the second orienteering section and the ropes section. I once again changed out of wet clothes and into dry clothes this time putting on my rain suit and warm wool hat and gloves. The rain was easing up but we were told by the race officials that part of the course was being closed and we had missed it but we could still race the 'short course' and finish. Of course we were going to finish this race. We had ran and paddled and dug through the underbrush for 18 hours at this point and we were not quitting! We were told that the ropes were closing at 8:30 and by now it was almost 7:00 (Yes, we took way too long in TA3 but frankly we needed it after being wet for more than 13 hours of the 18. We also took additional time reviewing maps so we would not have repeat of the little misdirection. Once we started off again on foot we realized that the terrain was not in our favor and if we were to make the ropes we had better head there first. The rope section was a 420 ft traverse across a strip mine lake. It was 75 ft above the gorge and the water was 70ft deep. By now it is getting really dark and headlamps are a must so we get into our harnesses and wait for the line to clear so we can cross and hopefully still get to a few of the CPs There were still 4 CP's that were open after the ropes. We were told that they were likely to close at 8:30 also since the area was a park and there were permit issues. The traverse was fun but HARD!! I need to lose about 50 pounds to do that comfortably again! It was more like a zip line for the first two thirds and then the last third (100+ ft) was hand over hand with a PFD, Pack and rainsuit on. I thought I was going to be out there for a long, long time as it was simply one hand at a time. I need to work on upper body strength for sure. : ) We all made it successfully and at that point decided to skip the other CPs because of the darkness, rain and difficult terrain. It was an area of strip mines, quarries and deep embankments with heavy foliage.

Back to the transition onto the bikes and off for our final leg of the race. The bike section would take us about 55 miles from check point to check point until we finally reached the finish line. We were all very tired by now and there were parts of the bike leg that I think we were all sleeping in our saddles because we were weaving pretty bad. We finally pulled in across the finish line at 3:55 am on Sunday and the cutoff was 6am so we were happy and even thought that if they had allowed us to do the second O'course we would have possibly made it. (NOT!) I think that we had just enough to make it fun and keep it safe. I am so proud of my team and so glad that they took a chance on me. It was definitely the best race yet! 18 teams started the race and 10 finished. We were second to last to cross the finish line but only missed the 8 points that were taken out of our course to shorten it. I am proud of my team and crew (best crew ever!!) and would love to do it again.

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I love Jesus and want my life to be a reflection of His life in me!

A Good Read...

  • Rooms by James L. Rubart
  • C.S. Lewis
  • Any book written by Terri Blackstock
  • O'Malley Series by Dee Henderson
  • Black, White, Red (trilogy) by Ted Dekker
  • Driven by Eternity & Rescued by John Bevere
  • Under Cover by John Bevere