Adventure Racing 6:59:34 
The Chill Winter AR - GOALS ARA with Kevin. Super rough day, nothing went very well. 3rd overall.
Ending up getting a last minute switch to a 10AM start, so we left West Chester at 4 to make it to our 8:30 check-in. Nothing of note on the trip except that my bike bottles froze and never thawed; those electrolytes would have helped.
We prepped maps in the car to stay warm. Temps didn't reach 30 until after 11, with the high being 40 in the mid afternoon. The course was set-up with an opening trek (could be done last, but that didn't make any sense), a bike ride to a larger trek, a bike including a MTBOish section, then a bike drop with a trek back to the finish.
We started right at 10 with a much-too-fast pace. It took some time to get used to the maps; the contours were 10 ft, and it was tough to discern what was on the map and what wasn't. CP 1 was ok, 2 was fine, but then I sent us off south instead of west, which ended up being a 1 mile round trip mistake. 3 was the first of many parallel errors; Kevin spotted the flag from 2 spurs away (his flag spotting was fantastic, more so considering my shaky feature identification). 4, 5, 6 were simple enough, and we returned to the TA after minutes. After catching glimpses of some TanZ finishing, I figured that we were 5 minutes behind. We also crossed paths with Jesse Tubb and assumed that they were in a similar spot.
The TA to bikes was fast (we had chosen flat pedals to help speed things along). It took us about an hour to travel the 9 miles out to TA2 while grabbing 7, 8, and 9. The road travel was quick, but the trails were technical and sloppy; the lack of speed was compounded with the pedal choice (it was still the correct choice). As we approached the TA, we saw TanZ exiting, so I estimated that they were able to complete the next trek in about 75 minutes. It seemed ambitious for us considering my nav struggles.
We got the final UTMs and set off on a counterclockwise route. I really like the setup of this leg, with lots of route choice and CPs, but essentially no trails to be used. We hit 11, 12, and 13 cleanly, but preemptively searched for 14 and then somehow missed it as we descended the spur - I readjusted well. 15 was another parallel error, but again I self-corrected and found the correct saddle. 16 might have been the biggest blunder of the day. We thought that we had found the correct reentrant, but there was nothing there. We reset from the creek and found it - the tracker shows that we didn't go far enough. We hit 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 20 alright. I struggled through the back half with nutrition; we had taken the first section way too quickly, and I was having some strange reactions to the cold weather. I struggled to get deep breaths and my arms, hand and feet were near hypothermic while my midsection was on fire from my layers - I almost needed a reverse-vest. I also rolled my right foot 3 times in the last 30 minutes, and hobbled into the TA while trying to stomach some food. My slower moving (which Kevin claims to have never noticed) and the hesitant nav got us back in about 100 minutes; we had dropped more time.
We grabbed our bikes and left via a bikewhack, returning past CP 11 to a trail. This was the one decision that we made that seemed to save time over the alternative. We snagged 23 and 24 on the ride, with a sketchy and slow moving trail between them that took too much time. We also had to wait our turn in line at the swinging bridge at 24. We passed ARMD and This Ability on the ride towards the pack of points, which could be grabbed with a series of out-and-backs or a few bikewhacks. We agreed that the only way to get back into overall contention would be to try the bikewhacks - whoops. Way too thick and steep and Kevin picked up a flat. By the time we got 25, 26, 28, 27, 29 and 30 we needed to spend 5 minutes changing the flat (Kevin was planning a switch to tubeless after the race regardless...). We grabbed 31 on the way out to the swinging bridge. The round trip took us 65 minutes, and also put Kevin into a hole. He was a step behind on the bikewhacks and only got slower. By just riding the trails I estimate that we could have done the section in 40 minutes :(. All we had left on the bikes was a ride to the last TA.
The pace on this leg was comparable to "leisurely afternoon ride with the kids". Kevin fully bonked, and I didn't have anyway of helping him with me (no tow). We limped into TA4 and dropped bikes, knowing that the last leg bled much more time then could possibly be made up.
Kevin's pace didn't quicken much over the first half of the trek, which matched how I was feeling. Having taken over the passport and grunt work, I was feeling rather depleted. Additionally, I was cautious to keep ourselves found on trail, especially after we blew past 33 and had to backtrack. 34 ended up being easy to find just after a stream crossing, but we took a long time to get there; a casual C2 team was able to put time into our abysmal pace here (the same team who we couldn't catch on the previous bike ride). 35 was right along a creek, and with it came the sight of some other teams catching up to us. It coincided with Kevin getting some legs back, and we were able to run out to a road which took us towards 36 and a ...misplaced... SBB team. We ran in from the last CP to the finish, just under 7 hours.
I felt defeated during that final track, and I assumed that we would be lucky to be top 5. Our spirits were lifted in the post-race when we learned that we beat a number of team by 5-15 minutes and ended up in 2nd overall (it became 3rd once we discovered the results). A disappointing day in regards to performance and feel (and partially the results), but we were really happy to be racing again, and the race itself was impeccably done - kudos to Michelle and Liz! While I wasn't happy with my nav, I was really pleased with the number of times that I found myself and successfully reattacked.