Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Want to know a surefire way to flunk your finals?

...just spend the weekend before finals at an Adventure Race - that should do it. It certainly worked for me.

I spent a crazy weekend in beautiful Buena Vista, volunteering for the Adventure Xstream Adventure Race. Being the good student I am, I had brought my books, fully intending to study during some of the down time. If the title above is any indication, you can imagine how much time I spent studying.

I actually went up early Friday so I could get some mountain biking in before the race. Someone had told me about a great 'beginner' trail in Buena Vista, so I was planning on spending a few hours on this 'beginner' trail, which ended up being anything but a beginners trail!

The first mile of the trail was all single track, rocks and climbing - it scared the hell out of me. Being alone and the ultimate beginner, I felt completely out of my element. I ended up walking the entire first mile and finally came to a nice, simple road. From that point on it was fun - the road went about 3 miles before the trail started again and this is where the fun began!

The trail was all fairly simple single track - it followed an old railroad track and had some gorgeous views of the Collegiate Peaks and Buena Vista. I got over my disappointment from the beginning of the trail and actually had fun, which is what it is all about, isn't it?

I rode about 10 miles total, although I figure I walked about 2 miles of that. I have to admit I was frustrated and discouraged at parts - I just would like to be able to do more technical rides and it's frustrating that I can't seem to get to that point. Fear has a lot to do with it and I'm not too sure how to get beyond that. I guess that is something I have to work on.

That night I helped with the check in and registration for the race - I met some great people and got to see some people from camp. One of my all-time fav's was there, Jari from Team Salomon/Crested Butte and my mountain bike/ropes instructor from camp. She had a great present for me, some of her homemade granola (which is absolutely yummy!) plus the recipe. Her and the team were running the 24 hour race and did an Adventure Racing Q&A session before their race began at midnight.

Just as the 24 hour racers began their trek at midnight, a wet and cold snowstorm blew in. Yet none of the teams quit, they kept moving despite the crazy weather. Team Salomon/Crested Butte had some bad luck with their compass and ended up getting lost, and for what I think is the first time ever they ended up dropping out of the race. They were the expected winners so it was a big surprise to everyone.

Saturday morning was the beginning of the 6 and 12 hour races and I was there bright and early to direct traffic and parking. It was freezing and windy and miserable but I think the excitement of the race helped everyone bear it easier. My friends James and Chelsea, who I also climbed Elbert with (pic above), were there to run the 6 hour race (they placed 4th in their division, congrats guys!)

The racers took off for their race and I took off with Caroline to man one of the mountain biking checkpoints. Let me just tell you that I have a great admiration for anyone willing to do a 24 hour race - by the time they reached us they had already ran/climbed/trekked/mountain biked about 80 miles and they looked exhausted. But everyone kept pushing themselves to finish the rest of the course, which included about 20 miles more of mountain biking, a 400 foot travolean traverse and another orienteering course. Impressive!

We sat at the checkpoint for about 8 hours, keeping track of all racers and making sure they were ok and didn't need anything. The day had cleared up some by then but the wind was a brutal reminder of the storm that night. The racers came to our CP after 5 miles of what was suppose to be an "easy, downhill ride." Instead they fought into the wind, making it feel like they were climbing uphill the entire 5 miles. Just another aspect to adventure racing, the unexpected always seems to happen!

The day didn't finish until late into the night and in the end the top team for the 24 hour race was Boulder Performance Network, who finished at about 17 hours - an impressive performance despite the weather. Good job guys!

Here are some of the Pics if you want to see more.

I headed home that night, I needed to be back for mother's day. But the weekend was a blast and it makes me even more determined to try a longer race - anyone want to run a 12-hour race with me in July???

Oh, and I didn't flunk my final, although I did end up putting in a very long all-nighter, which I imagine will take me weeks to recover from. It's just not as easy as when I was 20!

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