April 25, 2012

Carnage at the Creek

Carnage at the Creek (CAC) was the 3rd edition of the Team Virtus non-race.  The non-race affectionately known as the CAC was promised to be long and hard.  I watched the race updates from the sidelines for a few weeks, but finally all the trash talk and side bets on Facebook got the best of me.  I wanted to be there.  Robin had previously committed to a race with her daughter , so I could go solo or find another teammate.  I checked the Virtus blog and seen that Kate (aka SuperKate, maw-maw, Kage) was entered and racing solo.  We had talked about racing together before so I sent her a message and we were quickly a team.  We have trained and raced (individually or separate teams) before so I knew we would work great together as a team.  
This was also the inaugural race for the Adventure Jeep.  I finally retired the old van and got the ultimate adventure vehicle.  I’m planning a separate post about the Adventure Jeep, so for now I’ll just say It was jammed full of race gear for me and camping gear for a family of four.  We got it all in but it was kind of tight.  I think a roof rack is a necessity.

So gear was all loaded and I took a final look at Facebook for last minute updates.  The Pine Ridge campsite planned for pre-race camping had been overrun by some survivalist/woodsmanship convention and was completely filled.  I imagine this was all a little stressful for Virtus, but they came through shining in true Adventure Racer fashion.  Assessed the problem, came up with an alternate plan, and made it work.  They found an alternate campground called Dry Fork a few miles away and posted directions.  They staked out the last campsite available for us all to share.  This campground was almost filled by horse people (equestrian just sounds too formal).
Kate was still setting up her tent when we arrived, so the Vohsen tent went up right next to hers.  I didn’t count the tents on our little site, but I bet there were 8 or 10, and about 15 people.  Some people ate on the way down, some were still cooking, but eventually everyone was settled and comfortable around the campfire.

The campfire stories were rolling out one after the other, bets were made, then new bigger bets were made, then new and even bigger stories were told.  I laughed my ass off with all the jokes going around the fire.   Or did I?  Some of the subjects explored were donuts, male hairdressers, spoiled meat, eggnog, farting, plastic gun twirling, hot grease sandwiches, broom hockey, and flaming meatloaf.  But I’m just gonna say:  “You had to be there.  Stories told by the fire, stay by the fire”.  But… Damn… Did Bob really……?
So it was late to bed, I bet close to midnight.  The generator at the horse-people campsite droned on past sun-up, it was only occasionally beat out by the coyotes and snoring.  Everyone was up about the same time prepping and eating different breakfasts.  I went for the quick one, toasting a few pop tarts on the grate over the fire.  It was still pretty cold when I brushed my teeth.  It’s nice that only in a group of adventure racers can I wear a hat like this and not catch a bunch of crap for it.

But once the sun was up it started warming up quick and it was time to get to the race start.  We drove back to the original campground with about 15 minutes to spare and picked up the map, passport, and listened to a quick pre-race meeting.  We lined up and took off on a short (50m) run to the bikes. 

The bike course was a 3? mile marked loop leading us back to start/transition.  We spread out pretty quickly going through a grassy field marked by lengths of PVC pipe driven into the ground.  Somehow the group got derailed and rode down into a creek valley.  Bob did an amazing run to catch the group and re-route us back onto the original bike course.   We were making our way through a rocky section of single-track when my front tire sidewall was cut open. 

I pulled over and could tell right away that cut wasn’t going to seal with the Stan’s sealant I have in them.  I got a tube put in and used a Gu pack from Kate to boot the tire with.  Then started pumping away at it with my mini-pump.  Adventure racers are great people.  I think every team that went by asked if we needed anything.  When Team Wahoo went by they asked if I needed a C02, I was already tired of pumping and gladly accepted it.  

Tire fixed we rode back into transition. 

We changed shoes and swapped the map around, and ran out of the TA on hwy Y, turning off the hwy to pick up the trail I wanted to use as a handrail to CP1.  We ended up meeting up with Travis Hammond from Offroad Medics during this section.    

We ran most of the trail until we turned off onto an easy to follow ridgeline and found Kelly Sumner from Offroad Fixation as he was leaving it.  

When we were crossing a big field on the way to CP2 we met up with Kelly again, he was heading back towards CP1 looking for a lost compass.   Somewhere near this big field Steve Willi came up and introduced himself to us as a new adventure racer in need of some navigation help.  We gladly accepted him into our group and tried to show him some map details and nav tips as we went along.  He was totally cool, thanking us multiple times.  He is going to make an excellent adventure racer.

We found CP2 shortly after scattering a herd of cows, and getting a big ole stink eye from this guy:

Travis spotted a good way out of the reentrant and saved us some time on the way to CP3.  This one was plotted just north of a small pond.  We clambered around in the thick brush for a few minutes and finally found the CP hidden up against a cool looking cliff/waterfall.   
We climbed the next ridge and found CP4 on a great boulder overlook.  We were pretty high up here and needed to get down to the valley below.  I spotted a risky descent that would save us a ton of time vs winding around and down safely.  Kate was all up for the risky descent.  So I went first then got video of her and Steve coming down.

We wound our way through some thick thorns and came out onto a jeep/gravel trail just perfect to follow back to the TA.  We met up with two different guys and got a little talk about private property.  One was totally cool, one a little less so.  But we stayed respectful and explained there were no property markers while making our apologies. 
Kate and I picked up the pace here and ran most of the way back in, only slowing up to walk the big hills.  Travis stopped to fix a shoelace, and Steve dropped off somewhere, but they both caught up at transition.  We were really surprised when Bob told us “You guys are doing great, only the second team to come through!”

We made a pretty quick transition, eating and re-filling camelbaks while we had the opportunity.  I downed an 8oz bottle of Ensure.  Man it works great for my energy levels, but totally gives me gas a few hours later (about the same time we happened to be in the rowboat).
We rode out on the singletrack heading north toward the homestead.   

The trail started out pretty smooth and stayed easy until sometime after CP4.5, it started getting a lot less maintained and more torn up by horse hooves.

The trail dropped into a creek valley, when we were just about to climb away from the creek and out of the valley, I spotted a natural stone waterfall with a nice slope and covering of slippery green slime.  I told Kate and Travis, “That looks like a great place to waterslide.”  And I got an instant answer from Kate:  “I’ll do it!”  haha, awesome.  Then of course I had to do it too.

We put a lot of time in this bike leg, seemed like we were getting off bikes to climb over something, or to cross some horse shredded section of trail.  I kept an occasional eye on the ground watching the single trail of bikes tires of someone riding ahead of us (Todd).

At CP6 we got some great superman-bike photos:

After CP6 we came to a difficult nav point where several trails intersected.  We needed to make a decision.  1-24,000 scale maps rarely give enough trail detail for spots like this, so between me and Travis we decided to stay on the trail following the ridge line.  This turned out to be the right one.
At CP7 we found two teens obviously prepping for some private time.  Haha, they never expected an adventure race to be moving through.  The CP was hanging out on a really cool boulder overlooking a big valley.  Nice spot.  We later learned that Todd (from Hoosier Daddies) surprised them as well and asked them if they had seen any other racers, and what they looked like. (you know, trying to keeps tabs on last night’s campfire bets)  They replied “Yeah, some racers came by.  They looked like a family team, two parents and a kid.”  Funny, they must have thought I was much younger than Kate and Travis.

It wasn’t long after these guys that I was riding down a rocky descent (hindsight says I should have walked it) and bounced off some rocks right into a cedar tree.  A branch jabbed my ear and I got this cool race wound.  Awesome.

After CP7 we dropped down to cross Smith Creek.  I hadn’t been seeing any more of the bike tracks I was seeing earlier, but thought maybe the ground was hard, or I was missing them, but when we got a long muddy spot at the creek, it was definite, there were no bike tracks anymore.  I was questioning my nav up to that point and couldn’t think of anywhere we could have gone wrong, so we continued pressing on.
We left the singletrack shortly after and rode out onto some gravel roads.  Virtus had put an interesting handwritten note on our map of this section.  

Well they weren’t kidding.  This guy had a big billboard in front of his crappy trailer that said “Property owner will SHOOT TO KILL any man, woman, or child that enters this property…”  There was plenty more on the sign, but that was enough to keep us moving along.  I wanted a picture of that sign for the report, but seriously, I was afraid to take one.
We rode up to the final CP7.5 on our map expecting a water event at the winery, only to be handed another map by Emma Gossett, everyone's favorite volunteer and Orange Lederhosen team manager.  She told us we were the first team to get to her checkpoint.  Awesome!  We were in first place.  We figured Todd must have gotten on the wrong trail between 6 and 7, because I hadn’t seen any tracks at the creek.  We know he is a fast rider, so we had to make the most of our advantage.  The new map was further north, off the end of the MyTopo map.  It was the Little Dixie Lake ConservationArea.  We pushed pretty hard to the lake at CP8.  We got lots of cheers riding in and were told we were still in first place.  They pointed us down to the boat dock where there was only one creaky, leaky, dilapidated, old WWII barge rowboat tied up.

This lake would normally have ten or so boats, but since this turned out to be the best weather in weeks, they were all taken up by other visitors.  Travis had hung with us all through the race so we quickly decided to do the rowing together too.  This turned out to be a great decision.  BECAUSE ROWING SUCKS!  We took turns at it, I went first, then Travis, then Kate.  The boat was difficult to control but we slowly got the hang of it – NOT!

And like I mentioned before the Ensure I drank before the bike was working overtime on me, MAN, apologies to my teammates in the boat.
There were 3 CP’s on the water, one mandatory, two optional.  Since we were holding first place we wanted them all to protect our lead.  Kate was jumping out at each CP recording the symbols.  At the last CP she ran up, got the symbol, and climbed back in the barge at the same time Todd came gliding up in Bob’s kayak.
We rowed away from the bank hard, but we knew we had just lost our lead.  No way would we keep up with a kayak.  Luckily for us Todd is an outstanding sportsman, he hung back and we all paddled into the finish together and turned our passports in for a 3-way first place tie.

The finish line food and beer was great, baked potatoes with fixin’s, cheese dip and chips, burgers, and cookies.

Jello shots were shared

A post-race volleyball game broke out

Swag was plentiful

And all too soon, we had to leave.  I would have loved to camp another night, but new baby nephews must be baptized.
Team Virtus put on what is now one of my favorite races.  I can’t imagine how much blood and sweat went into setting it all up.  They did an outstanding job on race day and with all of the prep work they did!  And when the unexpected things popped up, they conquered them with Strength and Honor, just like their jerseys say.  (haha Bob really ran his ass off to get the first bike loop back together)

Ps.   I predict the non-race will double in size and become the event of the year for Midwest adventure racers.

April 23, 2012

CAC Pictures

Race report coming soon.  Until then, here are the non-race pictures from Lori's camera and mine.  Sorry, they are all out of order, wish I knew more about how to set it up:

Non-Race vs Road 5K

If the Non-Race, otherwise known as Carnage at the Creek and the Habitat for Humanity 5K were on the same weekend, which would you pick?  Easy question isn’t it, of course you would pick Carnage at the Creek, wouldn’t anyone….  Well it’s not that easy.  Now hear me out, before you start thinking that I went nuts, I mean I had to have gone nuts to pick a road 5K over an adventure race, well it’s really an adventure non-race. 

See Carnage at the Creek has no entry fee, and no prizes, well I guess there is sort of a prize, seeing your friends do really stupid things because they lost a bet about the outcome of the non-race, which is a prize in itself.  Oh and there is the pride of winning, not just anyone can win a non-race.  So why in the world would I miss out on this for a 5K. 

So here’s the story, my daughter Jade, who has never been a runner and always hated running, in fact, she was the furthest thing from a runner, she was a cheerleader.  Well about 6 months ago, Jade started running.  She is a student at Illinois State University in Bloomington and she saw a flyer for a 5K, she decided she wanted to run it, so she called me to asked if I would run it with her. Of course I said yes and just two days after entering the race I found out about the date of the non-race.  Oh I wanted to do it, but I also wanted to support Jade in her quest to run a 5K. 

So there you have it, although I was completely jealous of Chuck and his availability to compete in the non-race, I knew my choice was the right one.  Plus Chuck was able to pick up Kate, a good friend and fellow adventure racer as his partner for the non-race. Not only is Kate a top notch adventure racer, but she is also a fellow blogger and a very good one at that, if you haven’t read her blog, you should, check out SuperKate when you get a chance.
So as Chuck and Kate headed for the non-race, I headed to Bloomington.  My daughter China and her boyfriend Alex went with me.  My brother Joel and his family live in Bloomington, so we planned on spending the night at his house.  We had a great time, with my nephew Noah, serenading us with renditions of songs from Bruno Mars, Nickleback and Michael Jackson, he even taught us to Dougie.

We also went to Avanti’s, which serves the best Italian food in Illionis, for some carb loading and some trash talking.  That is where Jade was trashing me and telling me how she was going to kick my butt in the race. Little did she know, I already had a plan to just run along at her pace and then stomp her at the end. So I let her talk trash, because I knew I would win. 
Race morning came, Jade and I headed to the race and we drug Zach, Jade’s boyfriend along to take photos, of me kicking Jade’s butt. It was cold and windy out, so we were sitting in the student center keeping warm waiting for the start of the  race. Oh, and Jade was acting like she was sleeping in the chair trying to trick me into believing that she was too tired to run the race very fast.
We soon were on the starting line ready to go.
We took off at the back of the pack.

Jade didn’t want to start too fast and her only goals, besides beating me, was not to be last or get beat by the lady with the perfectly matched running outfit on.  I knew we wouldn’t be last and usually the women in the expensive, pressed running gear aren’t that fast, so I figured the only upset would be when I smoked her butt at the finish line.
The race was going smoothly, we were running at a pace that was much faster than I thought Jade would run.  Jade was running just one step off my shoulder and she was keeping pace without a problem.  We headed around the last turn with about 200 meters to go, Jade said, when we get to the bridge the race is on, that gave me about 100 meters to smoke her.  We hit the bridge and Jade took off like a lightning bolt, I have no idea where the energy came from and I had no idea she could sprint.

I gave it everything I had, but I don’t own any fast twitch muscles, so it was really a sad sight, especially when she crossed the finish line in front me.

I know RIGHT! she beat me, I had no idea she would be as devious as me and pull the same plan I had on me before I could pull it on her.  It’s ok though, I was so proud of her for doing it and so glad I was there with her, plus Reggie Redbird was proud of both of us.

Next year I hope the timing is better and I can make it to the non-race, but if not, I hope I can at least kick Jade’s butt.

April 1, 2012

Lightning Strikes Adv Race 2012

I know, right, after reading my post on the High Profile Adventure Camp, you have been anxiously awaiting my post on the Lightning Strikes 8 hour race that was held during adventure camp. So here it comes, I have to start by saying Gerry Voellger puts out a very challenging course, lucky for us Chuck is great at orienteering and he went directly to every CP. For our team, Chuck, Lori and I, the race was more about having fun than going fast, of course we always want to go as fast as we can, but this was a learning event and chance to try new things.

Chuck: It was a very challenging course, but totally do-able. The LIDAR orienteering maps were awesome (the USGS maps were, well, what you expect from USGS) and every checkpoint was plotted dead-on. It was a great test to navigation skills though, and there were no ‘Gimmee’ points. Most of them were well hidden in depressions, caves, boulders and logs. You absolutely had to know where you were on the map at all times. We had to pay attention to map scale too, it messed with my distance judgement once when we got off the 1:24000 bike map and started immediately trekking on the 1:5000 map. It didn’t affect the race, we just ended up at the cave WAY faster than I expected.

After two days of sleep deprivation, we were wakened earlier than we planned by our roommates, so we got up and got moving, driving our bikes to the bike drop and getting back for a quick breakfast before the race started. As we milled around near the starting line, Gerry asked me if I hurt my knee, I think someone told on me and he found out I was icing it the night before. I assured him that it was fine, just a little sore, like I said in the last post, I am an internet doctor. I said it would hold out for a good 10 hours and since the race was only 8 hours, I had no worries. It surprised me that he would have even noticed or cared, but I did appreciate his concern.

At the start line we were given last minute instructions and told to be careful entering the water or we would end up like a team during a previous camp, who had to quickly get dry after capsizing right off the bank. During the paddling presentation the night before we saw a photo of the capsized team, scrambling to get dry and when we saw it Chuck and I both said “Hey that’s……?” (I will not mention the name to protect the innocent here).

Next was the group photo, we were in the back and I’m not sure you can even see us in the photo. After the photo we had a couple minutes to relax before the start and somehow as everyone moved around we ended up in the front of the start, I did not want to be there, but there was no way to move back. The gun went off and it was a mad dash for the canoes, and I mean an all out sprint. My thought was, “do these guys realize this is an 8 hour race”. We had to portage the canoe to the river, it was about a quarter mile. After dropping the canoe on the bank, we headed out for 3 CP’s before returning to the canoe. We had no problems finding the points, but it was some tough terrain.

After some climbing through rocks and walking through the river, we were back to the canoe and being very careful not to capsize. One team had capsized and were walking down the river trying to find their passport that had gotten washed away.
Chuck: We had just learned all these cool new paddling techniques at camp the day before, and barely got to use them. The shallow fast river was more like combat than paddling technique.

As we headed down the river, I couldn’t help myself, it was so beautiful along the bluffs I kept snapping photos instead of paddling.

It was ok though the water was so shallow in places, Chuck had to keep getting out and pushing the canoe. You see, Lori and I kept pulling the GIRL card on him, he had to do all that manly work. We made it to the take out much quicker than we had planned, but we had to use our muscle to lift the canoe over a 4 foot bank, good thing me and Lori were there to help Chuck out, as skinny as he is, lifting that may have just snapped him in half.

Chuck: You know, I don’t think we’ve ever had this ‘girl card’ thing before my friend Robyn B mentioned it at camp. I’m going to have to talk to her about that. Have you seen our picture yet?

It was time for the bike leg, we had heard from other racers that the bike would be really hilly, but we had no idea what we were in for. I’m glad we didn’t know, otherwise I would have worried about it the entire morning. There was no flat to be had, and the hills were giant, we all rode them in the little ring and on one hill all three of us got off and walked the top section of it. On another hill, I was riding like a mad woman and a guy walking, pushing his bike, passed me, I started to wonder if maybe walking wasn’t a better choice.

We made it through a couple of CP’s on the bike and rolled into the O section. There were some great volunteers there waiting for us and they had ice cold coke, I wish they would have had ice cold diet coke, but “you get what you get and don’t throw a fit”. The O section held lots of challenges for us, first the ticks, I think I spent most of the section brushing the ticks off me, then there was the thorns, I’m still nursing those wounds and of course what’s an adventure race without poison ivy, I brought that home with me too. The terrain in the O section was tough, but we went right to every CP. As we left CP 11 we came across a military team, they were running and singing, well I don’t think they call it singing, but that’s what it was, and they ran right past us and the CP. After a while they realize the mistake and had to go back, they weren’t singing after that.
Chuck: I just checked with Major Chizmar. It’s called a Cadence, not a song. And apparently we heard a very tame and fit for public hearing cadence. haha

We were watching the time and we wanted to make sure we made it back to transition in time to hit the CP in the cave and do the ropes, so we skipped CP12 to save some time. (Lori: cave yes, ropes- NO, not so much!) We knew that we were getting tired and we still had a lot of hills to ride. Gravel and hills, you know how much I like both of those things, NOT! The down hills were not as fun as you would have thought though, since some sections of road had lots of loose gravel, we had to be careful coming down the hills, I certainly didn’t want to be picking gravel out of my skin, we wanted to make sure it was wheels gravel side down the entire race.

We rode back to the canoe takeout and attached our paddles and pfd’s to our packs then rode up the next hill, this one looked really bad, but I was surprised we all seemed to get up it fine, maybe it was the coke we had before leaving the O section. We even passed a team at the top of the hill, of course we passed them because they were sitting on the ground taking a break.

Chuck: I bet it was the bottle of Ensure. That stuff is like rocket fuel for adventure racers.

Finally we were back at the transition area and we didn’t have much time, so we took off, skipping the first CP to go directly to the cave. If we would have missed the Bat cave, Chuck would have never forgiven us, he had been waiting all day for the cave.

Chuck: I was really hoping for a bear or mtn lion den. Turns out there was nothing but bats and frogs.

It was really hard to see the cave opening because it was covered with big rocks and green moss, but we found it. To get to it you had to cross the river, it was only about waist deep if you stayed on the rock ledge.

The river felt cold, but after feeling the water we walked through in the cave the river was like a sauna. We saw bats hanging off the top of the cave, and it’s a good thing I had a helmet on because, I hit my head a couple times. I was too busy looking around to watch my head.

It took about 5 minutes to get to the CP, but we made it, our feet were numb from the cold water, but it was worth it.

Coming back out of the cave we jumped into the river and I decided to take a little break while in the river, good thing Chuck and Lori were not downstream from me.

Chuck: Yeah you read it right, she was pee’n.

We climbed through the rocks to a trail and headed to the finish. We did not clean the course, we missed the ropes section, but I think Lori was ok with that (Lori: made my day, this HUGE weight had just been lifted off my shoulders! A fear of DNF as the final moments on the clock counted down because I was stuck on the side of the cliff… it will not let it get me next year!!), me and Chuck were a little disappointed though.

At the finish we were met by cheers and Gerry the race director. And the first thing he said was how’s your knee, what a great guy to even remember that my knee was not quite working right.
We had a picture snapped, well maybe a few, Lori and I wanted to make sure we got one that we looked thin in to use in our post. (Lori: we eventually had to give up because I was too tired and sore to suck it in!)

After a photo or ten we went into the lodge for some food and ran into a guy who had finished and he asked if we were ROCK Racing, we said, “Yep, in the flesh”. He is a new racer and said he reads our blog all the time and that it has really helped him out. He said “I know it’s kind of creepy”, heck it’s not creepy, we love people reading our blog! So be on the lookout for team 2 Much Trouble if they get really fast we will claim it’s because of us. Hey, take it where you can get it.
Awesome race Gerry! And to all the great volunteers and Robyn, a great big THANK YOU too, without you, we have no adventure. Oh and of course Chuck can now say his personal friend Robyn, not just she is my friend on FaceBook.

Chuck: have you seen our picture yet?