2007/04/14 – Too Cool Inks Lake Sprint

Location

Inks Lake State Park

What Is It?

  • Mountain Biking (7-10 miles)
  • Flat Water Paddle (4-5 miles)
  • Trekking/Orienteering (5-8 miles)
  • Team Challenges

Team Name: Team Maple

Team Mates

  • Steve Mertz (Lead Boat Anchor)
  • Jason Maloney (Lead Navigator)

Category

  • 2 Person Male

Placing

  • 4th place Male (out of 16)
  • 11th place over all (out of 51)

Copy of Official Results:

Inks Lake Results - Coed

Inks Lake Results - Coed

Inks Lake Results - Male and Female

Inks Lake Results - Male and Female

Experience

Firstly, a HUGE thanks to Jason for racing with me. I know I am must slower and not as experienced as him, and he still wanted to race with me. We went out and had some fun, even with the Paddle from Hell.

I got to Inks Lake Friday afternoon around 2pm. My plan was to check it out and if it was stormy, like it was predicted to be, then I was going to go back to one of the closer town and get a motel for the night. But when I got there, it was absolutely brilliant out. Sun was shining it was warm/hot, dry air. Absolutely perfect. So I decided to stay and camp. I threw down my tent put it in a protected area in case it did decide to rain and be seriously windy. A bunch of other people from our crew starts to show up and I help them out getting their tents setup, etc.

Then shortly before 8pm, we look up and see this nasty wall of black clouds approaching. It was really weird, as it was literally a straight line of black clouds, like it was drawn with a straight edge. Then *WHOOSH* came the wind blowing very hard, gusts up wards of 30 MPH or more. Some of the tents started to collapse from the wind, so we ran around moving a couple of them to get them protected as much as possible.

After about 30 minutes of that, the black clouds were gone, and light clouds moved in and it started to sprinkle a little bit. No serious rain at all. Based on those clouds it should have just opened up and dumped water on us like Niagara Falls or something. After a while it did start to rain fairly heavily, but nothing serious.

Race day morning. Brrrr. It was a little chilly outside. Sign in started at 7am, so as soon as Jason got there and started to unpack we had to go over and get signed in and our swag! We were allowed to pick up our maps at 8:30, so at about that time I went over grabbed the maps.

I started plotting the points and again, in a race situation I started to screw up again. I don’t know what it is about me doing navigation work in a race situation, but I completely muck things up. I started off plotting the map the wrong way around. Jason noticed that after the third point I plotted didn’t make much sense. A paddle point in the middle of land. So we change it around and I started plotting again, only to mis-plot TA for a second time due to mixing up the northings and eastings, but we didn’t know it until Jason spent time trying to make the map orient to the lay of the land so we knew where we were. So during the pre-race meeting he discovered that. I have since added TA to the map, in Red. Great start to the race for me! We also didn’t get the bike map that they handed out that was coloured that some other teams got. So we finally got that to look at which was nice as it got heavily used later on.

We went off to make a couple changes before the race and went back to the start for the actual start of the race. We got handed the pass port and a new map and clue sheet. And we were off! The first leg was a Melee. Basically we just ran around to four different spots on the map to get to four check points. The clue sheet just gave pictures of what we had to find on the state park map we got, and then we had to run over there. I told Jason what we were doing and off we went, and *poof* he was gone and I was trying to follow. The first place we went to was the store. It was completely mobbed as that was where everyone went. After about 5 seconds Jason said “let’s go” and off we went. Not sure where we were going as I was just trying to follow at this point, not able to keep with his speed even a little bit!

I thought we were heading for the maintenance shed, but then we ended up at the amphitheater. Not sure how that happened but again, I was just holding on for dear life as we ran around! After that we ran, to the maintenance shed, then a pier, which was tricky for some people as there were two piers. One close and one quite a bit further away. Both of which would have worked but just more running. Then after that we headed back to the store for the first one we were going to get but was too busy. We headed back to check-in and we were off to the next leg, the Paddle From Hell.

After the run I was quite warm, even though it was a tad chilly. And not really thinking straight I took my coat off and we headed to the kayaks. We were using a friends sit on top kayak, which didn’t have any seat backs and was to cause some issues later on.

We hit the water, and started off. The paddle was so long, strenuous and painful that it’s pretty much a blur. We started off well though, as we were in a bit of a protected cove to start. Then when we moved out and started heading out into the open water where the wind was really whipping it started to get pretty hard, fairly quickly. About 10 minutes into the paddling I realized how much pain I was in for.

Hit the checkpoints in this order: 7, 8, 5, 6 (go look at the kayak topo map below to check it out.) The boats were in TA, which we paddled out of that little cove area, and hugged the southern side of the lake to get to our check points. It was brutal out in the cold and wind. After a while I realized the mistake that I had made in taking my coat off. I was getting soaked with water and with the wind, it was making me cold. Very cold. And for those of you who know me, I rarely get cold, so you can only imagine how cold it really was out there!

We were being blown back and forth a bit, the large waves crashing into us. I was in the back trying to steer. In hindsight, it probably would have been better for me to be in the front. The reasoning is because of the weight difference between myself and Jason. He was so light, that he was almost always up in the air as I was always way down deep in the water. If it was the other way around we might have been able to cut through the water better instead of bouncing over the waves causing us massive issues.

We finally come around the bend to get to CP 7, in a more or less isolated cove which helped shelter us from the serious winds, it was still quite windy, but we weren’t being blown around too badly now. We got to the CP without much problems, then turned around and headed over to CP8. By this point my legs and lower back are starting to give out on me from trying to stay upright in the boat with no back support. I’m moving fairly slow and having to re-adjust myself often, which doesn’t help us move any quicker, but we get to CP8. This next leg of the paddle was the most treacherous and dangerous for us.

We had to cross the lake to get to CP5. And this was the windiest, longest, unprotected part of the lake where we had to go. We were going into the wind, and into the waves. It was very slow going for a while, then it slowed down to the point we were being blown and pushed backwards. We decided it was futile to keep trying to do it this way, so we turned around and road the waves and surfed back to the other side of the lake. We then tried again closer to the north/east side of the lake (where the two peninsulas almost meet) and follow close to the shore line there. We still struggled along the shore line, but at least we were able to move forward. I had to start to paddle laying backwards as I couldn’t keep upright any more. But as we hit the larger waves, I had to try and sit back up to try and put more weight in the middle of the kayak so that Jason wasn’t floating around in the air! It was during this leg to CP5, that I seriously started to think that it might best to skip it or quit altogether. I didn’t mention it out loud though, as I didn’t really want to quit, but definitely felt like quitting.

After we got CP5, we headed down to CP6. This was a bit easier going, but it was still rough, even with going with the wind and waves. And I was very cold at this point, I started to shiver pretty bad and was having problems paddling because of this on top of the sore back and legs. But we made it to CP6 and headed back to TA, thankfully most of this area was protected from the worse of the wind and waves and we managed to get back fairly quickly. On the way back to TA, I told Jason that I would need to change, and eat once in TA. Then offhandedly mentioned a nap too.

We got back to TA and my teeth started to chatter uncontrollably, I was starting to get hypothermia symptoms, and knew I had to get dried off and changed. So once in TA, I headed to my tent and changed. Jason exclaimed “Are you really going for a nap?!” I replied “Of course!” but I did dry off and change out of the wet clothes into dry ones and more of them to try to start the process of warming up. In the mean time, Jason plotted out the bike points and I came out and ate quickly and got the bike stuff and off we went to the bike leg of the race.

The bike leg was simple enough. We just had to follow the green flagging around the trails. Now, these are not biking trails, but hiking trails. We were warned that there were sections where you could either ride it or you could not ride it. Normally I am decent on the bike, not great, but decent. But after the paddle, my hip flexors were completely toast so it felt like I was trying to pedal with two lead legs (or maybe it was two of Lindsey’s paddles?) Either way, I was having problems getting up and going. Jason on the other hand is a phenomenal biker and was just pedaling away without much effort at all (at least it looked that way from where I was, way behind!)

After about 15 minutes of pedaling though, I did start to warm up and the shivering stopped, so that was good. And since it was a simple follow the trail, there wasn’t much thinking to do, just go for it. After a while we did start to get into the stuff that would be classified as the “you could not ride” and everyone had to dismount and climb up or down the rocks, drops, and what knots.

About 1/2 through the leg, I did end up spilling down one of the short down hills, and in the process tweaked my ankle really well. It was tender and I could not easily clip in anymore, so I was forced to attempt to clip in quickly, before several obstacles, but never quite made it and would have to dismount and walk through them. I definitely would like to go back and try to ride those trails again, in a non-race format so that I can get practice at those harder drops and climbs. Since my ankle was tweaked and took a while for it to get to the point where I could get clipped in quickly, I had to walk a lot more of the trails than I would have liked since I could pedal through them.

We finally make it through the bike leg and end up back in TA. One more leg of the race to go, the orienteering leg. I start to get out of my bike stuff, and eat and start to get ready, while Jason quickly plots the points. I am feeling very tired and sore at this point but it is only one leg left and we are done (so we think.)

We start off slow, as Jason studies the map and I try to find my running legs. This is hard for me to find at this point, as I normally don’t have much running legs to start with. But with the thrashing my legs took on the paddle and then the bike, I was down to a pretty slow trot. But we are off none the less, heading for CP 14. This was the only problem CP that we had. We ran the same trails we biked to start with. And then we jumped down into the creek to start our search. But something happened and we ended up way too far to West of it. We had to trudge through the creek quite a ways until we finally found it. Quite a bit of time was wasted on this CP. I should really get into the habit of timing the searching of each CP so that I have a better grasp of just how much time was spent on each one so we can know in advance when a good time to quite would be.

But CP14 was eventually found, and we were on our way. One thing I noticed Jason doing, was looking at the bike map more than the topo map. He was mentally overlaying the trails onto he topo map so that he knew how to get to the check points quickest without having to bush whack. This is a skill that I think I will start to work more on as it worked great for us, after CP14.

We headed off to CP15 which we found with little trouble. It was at this CP I also found, what I believe to be a pencil cactus. The hard way. I turned to walk up the hill back up to the trail, and walked right into, and grabbed it, to move what I thought was just a branch. And it was so brittle that the light pressure I put on it with my legs was enough to break sections off. So on both shins, I had two pieces of the cactus, and two chunks in my hand where I had grabbed it. At which point I had to hauler at Jason to stop so I could remove the piece. And I didn’t bother with the quills as it was a race, and they were not in any joints so they wouldn’t really bother me at this point. This was also the turning point of the race for me where I actually started to enjoy the race. How weird, I get stuck with cactus, and start to have fun!

And with CP15 found, and the cactus pulled off my body, were were off to CP16. Which we again, found with little trouble. Jason had me calling out bearings as we moved along the trail, like all the other CPs and we came upon it fairly quickly. And we were off to CP17. This one was a bit trickier, as we did decide to bush whack this one as it was a short distance, but it was a bit dense brush. So we took a bearing and kept it in mind as we bolted. Then we got to a point where we could see where we were going and noticed that the bearing led us to a rock out crop “on top of the world” which just so happened to be the clue for this one. So off we ran there and found the checkpoint that was hiding in a open ended cave in the rocks. We took notice of where we were, and off to the next CP.

The quickest way back at this time was to run the power lines to the trail and then run the trail to CP13. Which we did with no problems. Well, the only problem was me trying to keep up with Jason this whole time as he would quickly bound out of sight while I tried to go as fast as I could. But other than that, no problems. And we headed for the final CP, CP12. With hopes that this is the last leg of the race and that we can be finally done with it.

CP12 only gave us a minor issue of trying to locate it. Then when we realized the clue was on top of a hill, we realized we needed to just go up the hill we were standing beside, and found it and started back. At this time we met up with a couple other teams, and that revitalized me enough to let Jason know I could run, and so we did. We put distance between us and that other team, so that we could finish ahead of them. Nothing like realizing that you could lose a place if you aren’t able to run, so I forced myself to run. Although I was in all kinds of pain, completely exhausted and ready to fall over, I ran.

We got back to TA ahead of the other team by a minute. We find out that we are definitely done with the race! YAY! And on top of that they inform us that we are in fifth place. And then we found out the team we sprinted ahead of, missed two check points! So we we definitely beat them in. And I was completely and utterly spent. I don’t know if I could have continued if I had to at that point. But it didn’t matter, it was all over.

 

Multimedia

Steve and Jason - Pre Race

Steve and Jason - Pre Race

Steve and Jason - Post Race

Steve and Jason - Post Race

The HFAR Gang

The HFAR Gang

Maps

Here are the maps that we used for the race. These maps are huge, so please be patient if you download them.

 

Inks Lake State Park - Topo

Inks Lake State Park - Topo (4.9M)

Inks Lake State Park - Trails

Inks Lake State Park - Trails (3.3M)

Inks Lake State Park - Campground

Inks Lake State Park - Campground (4.5M)

Inks Lake State Park - Topo - Kayak Route

Inks Lake State Park - Topo - Kayak Route (4.7M)

Inks Lake State Park - Topo - Trek Route

Inks Lake State Park - Topo - Trek Route (4.6M)

Final Thoughts

This was a brutal race. Made even more so by racing with someone who is so much better at it than myself. I spent most of my energy on the paddle, and then trying to keep up to Jason was extremely hard. But I learned many things racing with him, and it better prepares me for my next race having this knowledge. It was very fun racing with Jason, and would love to race with him again, should he want to do so as well.

I need a lot of work though. In all aspects of racing. I couldn’t believe how I screwed up the plotting of the points right up front. That is so not me. I usually am able to plot fast and accurate without thinking much about it. So I need to go back to practicing that. I need to work on my running, becoming faster and more endurance. My biking needs more technical work and my paddling… Well… That just needs to be completely overhauled. I need to work on my core more, get it stronger so that I don’t tire out so fast when faced with things like the kayaking issues we had.

I also need to re-think my nutrition while racing. I didn’t have any problems during the race, but I’m sure I can figure something better out so that I also perform better out there. I used a little bit of HEED, with a Juice/Gel combo, and then ate cold pizza for my solid foods. I believe I should have had more Gel and HEED and maybe more Perpetuem as well, and less pizza, and I might have had more energy, or something. Definitely something to play around with while I work on everything else.

Days Later… (2007/04/17)

Pain. That’s the word to describe how I feel today. Everything pretty much hurts still from the race. Yesterday I was in pretty bad shape all day. Legs, arms, core, feet shoulders, arms were all sore and stiff. We also had a running practice last night which was for recovery. I felt much better after doing that. But today my left ankle/shin area is really bothering me. I think I twisted it worse than I thought during the race since it’s still hurting.

It was another real eye opener racing with Jason. Racing with someone who is stratospheres better than you is always a learning experience. Not on just racing tactics and such. But learning more about yourself as you get pushed physically and mentally to your limits. There were several times during the paddle section that I thought it would be nice to just give up and go back to bed. I never mentioned this to my team, just thought about it. And we pushed through and made it. That broke down a mental wall that I had, and now know that I can break it down again when I need to.

The breaking down the physical walls also occurred through out the race. Starting with the initial Melee where I was doing everything I could just to keep Jason in sight. Then again on the paddle to just make it through the pain brought on by the hip flexors from trying to paddle with no back support. Again on the bike right after the paddle, when the hip flexors were toast and I could barely pedal. And once again during the trekking as I once again tried to keep Jason in sight as he effortlessly sprang off.

Reflecting back on the race, it was a good race. It was fun racing with Jason and I would love to do another race with him any time he wants. I have much that I need to work on, like everything, and will continue to do so.

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