Race 17:00:00 
USARA Nationals: Team Noah Racing/SLOC w/ Mickey and Kevin
Whee!!! Nats after a 14 yr. hiatus. In 2004, I teamed up with ebuckley and David F. in Frenchlick, IN and we had a fabulous time. I hoped there might be some similarities in terrain/format. There were!
But first, I had a bit of mental uncertainty to overcome. Earlier in the week, I was super-discouraged w/ how my L leg was feeling and wasn’t sure I would be a very good teammate for the guys. If I learned one thing from this race, it was that it’s OK to not feel fully prepared physically and to just go for it, for gosh sakes!
EDIT: The course format was sort of modified rogaine-style. The only required checkpoint was CP1 at the end of the 1st paddle. Aside from that & a few additional sequence/mode of travel rules, teams could choose any remaining CPs to obtain as long as they were at the finish w/ in 30 hrs. Strategy galore!
Treasure Tree/Foggy Paddle/CPs 1-4: We made a somewhat spur of the moment decision to hit the “Treasure Tree”, an optional extra 1.5 mi. run before the paddle in hopes of obtaining one of 10 tickets for special sponsor schwag for the team. A running sprint w/ my iffy leg at the start of a 30 hr. race is basically my worst nightmare but I sucked it up and got it done w/ no repercussions. Take chances! Then we got our boat, sorted out some team number issues, and hit lovely Lake Monroe in extremely dense fog. I navigated all of the paddle sections and my strategy here was to hug the W shoreline to a northern attackpoint where we would head across the lake on a compass bearing and hopefully hit the cove to CP1. We were close to last place so we didn’t see any teams but I was pretty confident of our location as we slowly clicked off fuzzy shoreline features. However, as we hit our attackpoint, everything suddenly changed. We saw unexpected treelines, teams converged on us from all directions, and we heard cheering. Somehow we were magically at the CP1 cove! It was extremely disorienting, like we had hit a space-time continuum or??? This was a source of chuckles and wonder for the rest of the race. We were now approximately mid-pack and field-plotted CPs 2-4 which were straightforward (albeit chilly) woods points w/ Mickey navigating.
Big O&B Paddle/CPs 5-7/Paddle to TA1: We briefly considered skipping the O&B paddle and going straight to TA1 to the bikes, but decided to stay on the full course as long as possible. Here’s a revelation – one paddle session within the past nine months does not fully prepare you for 22 mi. of flat/windy/choppy lake paddling. I think we all suffered equally along our slowww journey. In between paddle torture sessions, we had issue-free woods navigation by Mickey for CPs 5-7.
Triple-Triple/CPs 8-10: We treated lake water then split up w/ me and Mickey on the bike and Kevin on foot. It was handy to have 3 navigators. I got 5 of the 9 points. I had trouble on 8A (I think? Maybe 8B). We finished shortly after dark.
Bike/Trek/CPs 11,12,13,14,15,17,18,19: At this point, we were feeling a tiny bit down. It was pretty clear we would not have time to make it to the dogbone O’ course and likely much of the biking, our area of strength. We wondered if we had made a tactical error by doing the full paddle which is clearly NOT an area of strength. We certainly didn’t regret the adventure of it all, but as Mickey so accurately put it once, we settled into a rather “pedestrian” pace. We (primarily Mickey navigating) had no significant issues with any of the CPs in this section with the notable exception of our nemesis, CP11. Each of us took a shot at this one with slightly different routes, and each of us failed. We finally gave up after investing hours. Yes, hours! UGH. On the plus side, my concerns regarding my questionable MTB skills and general lack of quality bike training this summer turned out to be non-issues. I was perfectly capable and felt strong throughout.