Sunday, August 10, 2008

Extreme Heat Dreamy Draw AR 2008

Team ODP represents for the ladies - #1 WOOHOO!

The second of the Extreme Heat ARs was this past weekend in Phoenix and the name lived up to it's billing. The race director received some flack last year for making this race too easy/short so he decided to pretty well double the difficulty of both the biking and the trekking. I am glad I didn't know that ahead of time because I never would have predicted what happened.

I didn't say much about this race this past week because, frankly I was a bit nervous. I was fighting off this weird upper foot tendon **pain on my good foot that I screwed up a week ago and the two times I tried to run this past week resulted in quite a bit of pain. I only mentioned it to my teammate Friday night because I didn't want to alarm her, but the reality was that once it would get inflamed, even walking was painful. So basically I did nothing all week but ride my bike and tried to baby it.

So Saturday rolled around and I just put it out of my mind for the 7am start. They started the race with a team challenge (find a ball in a field with your team number) and then passed out the map one you started. This basically gave us no time to study the map before we were off running. The first five checkpoints were basically mountain tops in a nearby range, with one of them being a mystery event a park on the way. We decided to skip this for later since we didn't want to have to wait for a line.

We decided to go from North to South along the ridge of mountains while most everyone else did the opposite. I think there was less backtracking on our route and we avoided the mass chaos of the group. I set a nice steady pace that I thought I could sustain for the long run over to the mountains and tried not to care when people blew by me. Looking at the map, we estimated that the trekking was going to be around 8 miles which was fairly long considering most was on trail and it was freaking hot already.

The first three checkpoints consisted of running up to the top of a steep point, grab the next checkpoint, descend the other side and then go up the next one. Not very challenging navigation but the heart rate was extremely high. I had a strategy of eat a shock block at each checkpoint so I wouldn't bonk like I did in the last one. I felt pretty good for most of this and we tried to run the few flats we had, fast hike up the steep grades and job the downs that were not loose.

We had no idea where we were in relation to the other women's teams since we were sort of on our own for the direction we had taken, but the couple of men's teams with us seemed fairly althletic (always a good sign). We finally got our fourth mountain checkpoint and descended back onto the road to head to a park for one last event. After tossing hula hoop over a cone, we had the mile road run back to the park. This was hot, tiring and I was just plain ready to be done with the running. My knee was definitely at a point where I could feel it had tightened up and no amount of effort could make my limp go away. But the good news was, no foot pain, only the occasional manageable twinge.

We arrived at the TA for another mystery event, which turned out to be diving into a pool to pick up 15 pennies from the bottom. Water never felt so good. We were told that there were a couple of womens teams ahead of us and that we were around 15th overall (out of 35 teams). Okay, not bad for the running part, we knew that was our weakness. They gave us a new passport (map) for the next five checkpoints on the bike and we quickly refilled water and studied the map.

I know the trails in all the mountains around this course and they put together a dynamic set of points that hit a lot of the good ones. It was much harder than I would have guessed and I knew immediately that new riders were going to have a tough time on this course. Sarah and I were thrilled, this is what we hoped for... the tougher the biking the better.

We were off ready to real in some women's teams. The first checkpoint was easy at the edge of the trails. We saw some teams leaving it as we rode us so we knew were could get them. Sure enough our second CP we already reeled in a women's team and two guys teams. Next started the actual hard trail. There was some hike a bike up some unrideable steep hills and the bomb down the other side. The trail conditions were bad for this area. We had water dumped on us two days ago and everything was completely washed out with huge football sized rocks everywhere.

We finally hit Trail 100 (on of the more ridden trails) and it got slightly better but Sarah and I were loving it. We were flying and soon caught two other men's teams and passed them. We had one more checkpoint at the top of a ridge which is hard climb and then a long fun decent back towards the park entrance. We caught up with another men's team and were following them for awhile.

The final checkpoint of the race was across the highway around the back side of a mountain. We had two choice of trails left or right around the mountain. Right was obviously closer, but we knew it was a shitty hike a bike over that side followed by an unrideable down hill. We decided to take our chances on going left around the longer side. The men's team went right. We soon realized that this was a stupid move as we still had a hike a bike to the top but then the trail dropped steeply down the wrong side and we then had to hike a bike up the back side again to get to the checkpoint. Easily a 10 minute mistake three hours into a race with temps easily closing in on 105 degrees.

After a little cursing we hit the checkpoint and with a team we had passed more than 30 minutes ago. We let the go ahead and then took a hidden shortcut through a back yard onto the road and put the hammer down back for the three mile road ride to the finish. We pulled in a little discouraged from our recent blunder, but were immediately cheered up with they told us we were the first women's team in and 7th overall.

As far as I can tell, we lost 1 or 2 spots to men's teams with our mistake but other than that, it didn't really affect us. I was pretty pumped as this is my best finish ever and made me realize two things: 1) Sarah and I have become pretty competitive in biking, at least in the venue of ARs where the trails are typically easier and people are typically more runners than bikers and 2) If we could actually become good trail runners and better navigators, we would be more competitive.

I am not sure of our time (I think around 3 hours) but I think that were only beat by two coed sponsored national teams Big Fish/Monster and four men's teams (2 of which are also sponsored and were training for an expedition race). We were pretty pumped also that our team name Team ODP is becoming recognized as many people realized that we have won the women's division the last three races and have been competitive with the good teams. When we created this concept of this women's Team ODP over a year ago, this was one of our goals. Now we just need to get sponsored so we don't have our spray painted jerseys...haha. Joking, those rock.

I can see it now, our new motto:
Team ODP: CHicking your butt from trailer park to peak. Bam.

Our next competition is in about 5 weeks at the Gilmore Adventure Race which is a longer race of trekking and biking held in one of our favorite locales, Prescott. Angel will be joining us for a three person time.

**It may seem as though I am always hurt, the reality is that this is almost completely expected. When you start to run again after something major like ACL reconstruction, you always favor your bad leg and this leads to complications on your good leg. It happened with my first surgery and I am sure it will happen again with this one.

1 comment:

megan said...

love the motto. congratulations you two!