I finished at just over 11 hours - I really took my time so I was definitely one of the slow ones. The race started with a 1 mile run to the Dillon Marina, which I pretty much walked the entire way because of my sprained knee. I arrived at the Marina and saw that everyone else had already launched their kayaks for the paddling section - I was definitely at the back of the pack!
I spent the next 3 1/2 hours in an inflatable kayak (also known as a duckie) – this ended up being the hardest part of the race for me. For those of you who have never used a duckie, I would never wish that experience on you - ever! Just thinking about those 3 1/2 hours and I get tired! The things about Duckies are they are just about impossible to keep in a straight line - I spent the first hour weaving all over the place, doing lots of 360's and at one point seriously considered turning around to get a head start on the mountain biking section. Instead I looked around me and realized how amazing it was that I was even there and knew I had to do the entire 11 mile kayaking section.
So I worked a little harder and began to get the hang of it- I was doing fairly well and was heading to the last checkpoint when I ran into the leaders of the race - they had already reached all the checkpoints and were heading back to the marina. And this part is the reason I love adventure racing - each person waved and wished me luck, or encouraged me to keeping going, or admired the fact that I was going it alone in a duckie - it was a huge boost and helped me push myself even more. It's the reason why I am growing to love this sport more each day - the amazing support!
I got back to the marina and was told I was only about 30 minutes behind the last to finish. Cool, not too far behind! So I walked the mile back to the transition area, changed out of my wet clothes and got ready for the mountain biking section. Believe it or not (and most of you know this is my weakest part) I had a blast!
I took a fun path from the lake to Breckenridge for about 10 miles, which was a nice, gentle climb and good warm up for what was up next. At Breckenridge I had to head west, which meant that I would be climbing the big ole’ mountain in front of me - this is where my training paid off! I headed up the hill for a few miles of climbing to the first bike checkpoint (and only had to walk the bike 2 times at some pretty steep parts). From there I was suppose to ride up to the next checkpoint but it was all single track and by this time it was pouring rain, so I opted to skip the checkpoint. I just wasn’t comfortable with riding single track in the mud so I had a fun ride back down to the bike path and hauled ass back to the transition – I was flying and having a blast!
I got back to the transition exactly at 3pm, which was my goal and headed to the orienteering course. It was still pouring, so I had to get my rain gear out and headed out in the rain. The course was huge but it was the highlight for me – I told Sherry (the course planner and the one who has taught me everything about orienteering) afterward that she puts together the best courses – the checkpoints were in the best spots! I got to walk on the beach, do some fun climbing, walk through a marsh, and so much more. It was the highlight for me, despite the rain and being pretty tired. The race required that you get at least of the 15 checkpoints and that’s exactly what I did, 15. I was going to go for more, I had an hour left where I could of snagged a few more. But I was pretty tired, covered in mosquito bites and ready to get some warm food in me, so I decided to head back after I got my 15.
As I was running to the finish line I heard everyone yelling and cheering me on - the funny thing is all I could think was "where's all my gear?" Unknown to me my wonderful mother had loaded everything up in the car but at that moment all I could think was "someone stole my bike!" Amazing the things that come to your mind at that moment! Logic finally won out and I realized what I had just done - finished my first 12 hour adventure race. On top of that, I wasn’t the last one to finish - there were two other teams out there! I've got to admit I got a little teary eyed (I wrote this just for you Glenn - yes, I cried... again) but couldn't keep the huge smile off my face.
Besides finishing, there was a great sense of pride at finishing a race put on by the same company that gave me the tools to be able to handle this race - this was the same company that put on the camp I attended in March and since that time they have became more friends than just a "company." They were with me from the beginning and are some of my biggest supporters. I told Will after the race that I never had so much fun and thanked him for an amazing time - it really was a great experience!
I was pretty sore that night and despite wanting a warm meal, my stomach wasn't able to handle much of anything. Mom was pretty tired too, she had done lots of work as my support person and I think both of us were just ready to head to bed!
So, what did I learn from all this? Hmmm, good question. But here are a couple of things:
- That my confidence, or lack of confidence in myself is my greatest weakness. Each time I race I have to face that lack of confidence head on and when I actually conquer it, I gain a little more. The reason why I admire Jari so much? It's because she believes that anything is possible and that I can do anything I put my mind to - I love her for that. Now if I could just believe it myself.
- That laughing through the hard times makes them a lot easier.
- That at times you need to stop, take a deep breathe and look at the beautiful world around you - it's amazing how it can give you a completely different perspective on life.
- That duckies are a pain in the ass to paddle.