2006/08/19 – 2006 Texas State Championship Adventure Race Series (Muleshoe)

Location

Muleshoe Bend

What Is It?

2-3 mile trail run, 7-10 mile mountain bike, 20 – 35 minute canoe, mystery events.

Team Name: Not Good Enough For Other People’s Teams

Team Mates

Matt Kulow

Category

Male

Placing

18th out of 33.

Experience

One word to describe this race. Painful. This was the first time I’ve raced with someone who could and would push me beyond my perceived limits. For that, I thank you Matt. It was a painful, but a good race. I learned much about myself in this race, mostly what I need to work on to get better.

We started off with a run that was about 3 miles someone said. Matt and I decided that it would be a good idea for him to tow me on the run so that I could get through it quickly and still have some energy left for the other events. We have never tried this before, and I’ve never been towed before. And because of this, I didn’t really know how to be towed and how much to lean back/slow down. We got going, with the plan of start slow and build up speed. We had gone over the run course earlier on the bike so we knew what we were going to be running. We were going to run slow until we got past all the cobbles, then start to speed up after we made it safely over them. And we did start slow, at least it seemed like it.

We started to pass people and that’s a great feeling. But it also means we were going to fast (thinking about it afterwards.) We get past the cobbles safely, and start to pick up speed a bit and start passing more people. Wow this is great! I start to go into run mode where I can’t really talk much as I try to keep my breathing steady.

Then it started to hit. I started to lose steam, we went out too fast. I would slowly slow down the tow rope would get taught, and it would seem like Matt would start running in place like on a tread mill. So I would try to pick up speed again. This happened pretty much the rest of the way in. There were a couple of times I had to come to a complete walk to try to recover. And again Matt would try to run while I was walking, towing me, but seeming like he wasn’t moving so I would pick up speed a bit. He kept hollering back to slow down, let the line get tight. But it just seemed like a bad idea at the time to me.

We finally get to TA. The run took us about 22 minutes And I decide not to take a swig from my gel bottle and run through while Matt grabs his Hydration and our Seats for the paddle section. I run to the paddles and grab one of those, and a PFD then we hit the kayaks pick it up and get to the water. Where we are told we have to swim out to a buoy and then get in the kayaks. I thought good. A nice little cool down and then start to work. Where I then realized that I have no upper body strength to pull myself up normally, and after that run I’m completely spent. I am normally a strong swimmer and I could barely kick my legs because they were dead.

We finally get to the buoy and I start thinking how the hell am I suppose to get into this thing. And I kind of bob down and kick up and kind of pour myself, and a lot of water into the boat. But I’m in. Matt gets in effortlessly. We start paddling away from the melee of everyone trying to do the same thing. I find out quite quickly that my arms are completely dead. It hurts to hold the paddle, and I can barely move them to paddle. I end up kind of sticking the paddle in the water and pulling back, with my back/arm/shoulder/etc while resting my hand on the side of the boat. I do this for quite some time. I slowly get some energy back and feel the pain subside in my shoulders. New problem arises, and I start to realize that putting HEED in my CamelBak was a bad idea. I normally just drink water from the CamelBak and then grab bottles with HEED when I need something else. I start to realize that I can’t seem to quench my thirst with straight HEED. But I drink it knowing it helps none the less.

We start to find a decent rhythm and start to actually pass people. Things hurt less and we paddle a bit faster. Things are feeling good out there. We come up to the turn around point and do a quick U-Turn, only to bring on more water. It feels like the Sevy has a hole as I feel like I’m sinking because of all the excess water. We start to tire out again, and slow down. I start to struggle a bit to keep the Sevy going straight. I start to just stare at the bottom of the boat and try to keep the cadence. We finally get to the first buoy where we have to get out of the boat and swim back to shore. Now my legs have recovered a bit so I can kick, but my arms are dead from the paddling so swimming is still hard.

We finally get ashore, dump out about 4 gallons of water, and get up to TA for the bike section. It took us about 56 minutes to complete the paddle. That is a looong paddle. We don our bike gear and head out for the bike. Yay! Bike! Definitely my strong event…

Unfortunately not today. My legs were dead from the run. My arms were dead from the paddle. And you need both for biking. We start off slow as that is all I have in me. I was pretty much pedaling squares, and at times it felt like it was even backwards. Muleshoe isn’t extremely technical, but I was struggling because of the exhaustion. There was one point where I bumped at tree or something and it felt like a needle went into my shoulder. It hurt so much I had to stop to investigate. Matt looked at it and couldn’t find anything, so we just continued on. The pain eventually went away.

I felt like a complete moron on the bike out there. I was having problems keeping my momentum going up, and keeping on the trail on the corners. I was slowly starting to find my groove, but I was also really feeling thirsty and dehydrated. But I couldn’t drink much more because I was sloshing something fierce. I started to feel that pretty bad and it started to slow me down again. Finally we got out of the trails and back on to the road back to TA.

We push through, drop our bikes off and cross the finish at about 2hours and 30 minutes.

Multimedia

These pictures were ‘borrowed’ from Fulton Photography: http://www.fultonphotography.com

Final Thoughts

It was a very tough race on me. Matt was always upbeat and shouting encouragements at me. Through out the race I couldn’t help be think how badly we were doing, and it was my fault. Matt’s use to racing a lot better/faster and I was just slowing him down. It’s not a good feeling, when you have that going through your head almost the entire race.

We set up the goal to finish top 20. And we made that goal! Even though I knew what we were hoping to do, when you are out there and the one that is slowing the team down, you can’t help but think negative thoughts. This is where the mental game comes into play and definitely something I should work on. Having a negative attitude during a race is pretty bad. Even if you do keep it to yourself, a lot of demons can come out to play and cause damage. And having a team mate like Matt who was always encouraging and being positive through out was definitely a good way to help beat the demons.

Matt was a great team mate through out the race, and afterwards as well. And he’s still talking to me so it couldn’t have been as bad as I perceived it!

Some of the things I learned during this race that I will try to remember for the next are, keep water in the CamelBak, learn to use a tow correctly, and more effort into training!

Putting HEED in the CamelBak did not work for me at all. I couldn’t handle that much, non-water while trying to perform beyond my limits. I need straight water for hydration, then use bottles and gels for adding calories and electrolytes on top of straight water. This would have been useful to know before the race, and goes on to show you, not to try new things on race day.

Another thing that we tried on race day that was new (to me) was towing. I’ve not towed before, and didn’t know how to use this system efficiently. I kept feeling like I was putting too my weight on it, and caused Matt to work too hard. I need to practice this more so that I know how it should feel from both ends so that when it comes time again, I know if I need to speed up or slow down while being towed.

More effort into training is a big one. When I work out, I do put a decent amount of effort in. But I don’t put enough effort into actually getting the workouts I need. I need to mix things up, add more speed work, strength work, etc to all my disciplines.

Days Later… (2006/08/21)

This was probably the first race where I actually was pushed past my limits. Normally after a race, I don’t feel bad at all. Very little stiffness or soreness. But both yesterday and today I’m quite stiff and a little sore.

Matt and I discussed several things that we could have done better which would probably have helped us. Like slow down on the run a bit. And then after getting in the boat, going back to shore to drain the water that we had acquired. And of course the big one for me was the HEED in the CamelBak. Never do that again!

Right after the race, I was thinking to myself do I really want to ever do that again? Maybe I should just stick to endurance bike races as I have enjoyed those all the way through. Today, I’m thinking I can’t wait to the next Adventure Race. Just to prove to myself that I did improve and fixed the things that didn’t work out for me.

We went into the with top 20 aspirations. I came out of the race happy to have finished it. When the results are posted later today we will find out how well (or poorly) we really did.

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