race race (8 hour AR) 7:45  *** 35.0 mi (13 / mi)
shoes: Xodus 4.0
No Sleep 8hr AR (USARA)
To cut to the chase this is an excellent race, well planned and executed by the NoSleep adventures crew Kudos to them for putting on a great event.
First what went right. The navigation was pretty strait forward only a couple points gave me any real trouble. Control 5 a stream junction on a property boundary, I thought it would be on the park side of the boundary but turned out to be on the other side of the fence, going from 5 to 6 also proved a bit of an issue because of livestock fences. It took me a while to figure out a way across.
One other issue in navigating was finding the US forest service road that led to Control 9, it for all the world looked liked a mowed grass margin next to a fence line. luckily there was a crowed of folks going in and coming out and finally we found the road sign marker that matched the FS number. After that finding the next two controls were trivial. This was part of a relatively lengthy bike loop that took us back to the start and set up an interesting question, The primary road leading in to the park was off limits so given the layout of the course it made the most sense to approach the park from the east. The map indicated there was a road that skirted the north edge of the park and would lead back to the TA. but there were a number of shorter road options that came very close to some the trails in the park. Rumor had it that there were ATV trails that dropped into the trail systems off of these roads and that might allow me to drop in to the trail system with only a short bush whack and hike a bike.
Turned out that more than a few teams had the same idea and as the group started to come together we rolled to the final turn looking like some sort of Mad Max version of a peloton. The group spotted the first cut in the wood line and turned in mass into it and what seemed slightly sketchy at first opened up into neat and dry double track that led us down into the park we reached the first fork, then built a group consensus on the proper compass azimuth, selected the proper direction and headed right down to the marked park trails, we then turned north and dropped right in on a control and from there we rolled to the TA. Then on it was on to a trekking section. Again navigation was strait forward, following a terrain features led to the controls, flags were easy to find once within range. No issues.
And finally after using the team name that one guy for a while, someone other than me thought it was funny. So that's a win for sure.
What went wrong.
A key item for me is a need a better checklist to make sure I take everything. I always seem to forget something and that is a problem. I want to come with a sort of race kit, one that I can grab and go with only minimal preparation. Being comfortable before the race matters. I also needs spares so when things go wrong I have more options.
Before the race even started I had trouble. On my way to the start line, while I was pulling on my pack the end of my hydration pack caught on a branch and it pulled the little lever off of the end the hose. This was bad, but a small piece of duct tape applied 5 minutes before start seemed to fix it. Unfortunately that was true until I bent over to remove one of my shoes, Doing that put extra pressure on the bladder and forced the water out of hose. By the time and removed, then recovered my shoe (removed as part of the course), the bladder was empty. This water show slowed me down at the shoe recovery which slowed me down getting a kayak from the pile, and put me at the back of the pack for launching the kayak which meant I was late paddling across the lake to start the surprise PFD supported swim out to get the passport. On top of that, while launching the Kayak I broke the connecting lever on the paddle that hold the 2 pieces together. So while I was able to hold the paddle haves together, the blades basically shifted angle with each stroke. Luckily the paddle was short, . Attempts to repair the hydration bladder at TA2 failed so that really put me down on fluid since I count on the water in the bladder to work with the Gatorade in my bottles on the bike.
This meant hydration on the bike came down to the bottles on the bike only. I pushed on with that and suffered with bouts of heartburn and a bit of nausea in the final section of the ride. Add to that, the final ride down to the TA was a bit of fast slightly technical single track. this added to my pain when the trail assisted my bike in eating my pant leg. So now my favorite pair of RailRiders have to be repaired since they look like they have been attacked by a some sort of animal..
After checking in at TA3 I discovered I was missing a punch for control 10. in hindsight I think I actually over punched another control box, there was a crowd at the control and we were all talking and maybe I was in the early stages of dehydration but I messed that up. Still had to move on so I set out on the trekking section. By then the leg cramps were becoming ferocious, I was really behind on hydration and probably should have stopped there but It seemed like 2 of the controls were easy gets and with the amount of time left I felt like I had to try. The controls were easy but one of them was so deep in the greenest, non runnable stuff I had to go at it three different time from different angles before I finally gave up and walked up the creek to get to it.
At that point I was having real issues with cramping so I headed back to the finish.
Better pre- race preparation based on a checklist.
More redundancy in key items like bladder, shoes, etc. I had been experiencing issues with the lever on the bladder leading up to the race but I figured on more time wouldn't hurt. Same with the paddle. figured I could tighten up that screw one more time.
Develop a grab and go race kit.
the nutrition plan didn't work at like I hoped. The hydration plan croaked before the race even started.
I really struggle to eat when it is hot and the sweet stuff gives me heartburn. On the other hand, my old method, is slow and awkward on the move so that creates issues with trying to manage all that.
There is an answer somewhere to the hydration/ nutrition thing I just need to find it.
And finally the bad days early in the year took a much bigger toll on my endurance than I thought. I am going to have to work pretty hard to get ready for the next race.
All in all I am happy with my effort, I had some equipment issues but that's ok. I got past them and was able to continue, the navigation worked out well and other than the simple physical fitness and hydration nutrition issues. I feel like I didn't leave anything out there that I could have done differently.
The only issue I have now (other than replacing all the stuff I broke) is a serious issue with my right hamstring that is making it difficult to walk. Not sure what it is but is in the same spot that was cramping so bad Saturday. Massage helps but I think it will be a day or 2 before I am really moving around with any speed. Then it is back to work on building fitness.