Once a source of "Not all you want to know about Texas Adventure Racing," but now just some "leisure" adventure through the eyes of "The K-SPoT"

Friday, December 30, 2005

New Years Eve Eve Training

Revving Up
Alright, so I jumped up out of bed early today. Relatively early compared to the times I've been getting up during my vacation. Got my running clothes on and started psyching myself up to get out there. Spent some time upstairs playing with the cats, then just went out the door to meet whatever what was in store. It wasn't as cold as I was imagining, but it was misting again. Thank goodness this run would be shorter. I waited for my Forerunner to get a gps fix and then I was off.

I ran the opposite way I did a couple of days ago--the hills were less severe this way. I figured since this was a recovery run I should stay away from hills. That said, there were still rolling hills along the way. Traffic was really light. Two miles came relatively quick and just like that I was heading back. That's when I saw Danny driving out for work. Then it was done, just like that. 30mins, 4 miles...a lot better than 14miles and 2.5hrs! I was running a little bit faster this time, so I was a bit winded this time.

I was then off to run some errands, like taking my Mom to Fairchild and the commissary. Now I'm about to head back to the Hangman compound to meet up with Danny. Then we're heading to Jon Neil's place for dinner. Should be fun.

Going Aero
Okay, you're probably wondering where these pics are from in this blog. I just got photos from the Martindale Triathlon a couple of months ago and they turned out great! I just thought these photos were great shots of the Masi Machine in action. Man, that definitely gave me a shot in the arm--can't wait to get on my bike again!! Just talked to Nick earlier about doing hillwork on the Hartman and Kemah bridges...KOJ is coming...

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Real Hills in Austin, Huh?

Hangman Valley Fog

BS. Come to Spokane and realize "small" hills. These are hills. And if you want mountains, you can just go a few miles east for the Rockies or a few miles West for the Cascades. There were all kinds of hills: gradual but long, steep but short, steep and long...all degrees of painful. The good part was that I had most of them at the beginning. The bad part was that I had most of them at the beginning. I charted my course on Harra's Runomatic. Here, you will see what I'm talking about. All was actually going good despite the nasty weather. It was about 36 degrees and misting constantly. I was drenched by the first couple of miles. But I still felt good after the hills, after mile 6. I was a little scared at first because all the roads in Hangman Valley barely had shoulders. It didn't improve much once I got to the South Hill, and it actually got worse for a second once I got to Palouse Highway and Regal--the shoulder just disappeared! But thankfully people were generally courteous in their cars.

I stopped at the Mikey D's at that corner for a bathroom break and continued on into civilization where there were sidewalks, but now the intersections would be a bit more dangerous with the increase in traffic. There was a good downhill section here, going by my old high school, Ferris, down to 29th (Lincoln Heights). So many crazy memories went through my mind as I ran through these neighborhoods. Down 29th I went, dodging traffic as the daylight that was peeking through the ever present clouds started to wane. This is where I got worried--I didn't think that the days would be this short, but I am a bit higher in latitude than Houston. 10plus miles and I stopped at the Super 1 to refill on hydration. An old man in line asked me if I was a skateboarder. I snickered and told him I was running. The checker asked me if it was raining still, possibly referring to my drenched clothes. It had actually stopped, but it was now getting colder. I changed my cap and then headed back out.

The problem with stopping is that you get cold. I started to shiver as I started off again. Bad news...wasting energy. I finally warmed up again and was feeling fine. There was still ice and snow in spots along 29th, passing Manito Blvd. and Comstock Park, but I made it to High Drive, the final stretch until the big downhill. That's where my legs started to give in. This section was still rolling, so I don't think my legs liked that at all. And this was at the edge of civilization, so lighting was bad and I was starting to fear for my life as the sidewalks disappeared too. I weaved back and forth on High Dr., picking the safest line, but I finally gave in. I saw the Rocket Market at the corner of High Dr. and Hatch Rd. (about mile 14.25) and decided to call it. I was cold, wet, and on the verge of meeting head on with an SUV, so I slipped into the bakery/market/coffee shop/gas station for refuge. I broke out the emergency phone and called Danny to be extracted. While I waited, I chatted with Zack behind the counter and a couple of guys enjoying a microbrew as a break on their bike ride...I told them that I wished I was on my bike, which was the truth. On a bike, I would make it back somehow, but on foot I am no good.

That's when I asked about bike shops around town and they told me about the one, Wheel Sport, that was just down the road, but burned down and reopened down on 29th and Regal. When Nick told me he wanted a pint glass from a bike store, I figured this would be a great one to get it from. I went there today, but they only had one or two that survived the fire and those are gone. I asked the owner when it happened and then another guy quickly chimed in, "November 7th." Apparently, that was his birthday and remembered it vividly since he came back from his party to see the place burn down. Now that's a birthday candle! So I then called around to all the bikestores I knew about, but no dice. So Nick will have to settle for a mug that I retrieved from a place with an interesting story of its own. Sorry, Nick.

And that was it. I sipped coffee as I waited (thank God I did decide to bring some emergency money on my run) for my ride to show up with my special request of Jack in the Box. So I didn't finish the 20miler, but I figure with so many hills, it should be equivalent. Now its time to taper. Thank you, taper gods.
Brown Derby, Fergusons, and Milk Bottle
This morning I was quite energized despite my sore hammies. Taking a rest day today, but have a running date with Chadwick, Jeeves. Probably 3-6 miles along the centennial trail. Gonna be colder and possibly some snow, but at least it will be a shorter run. To celebrate the yesterday's run, I went to the historic Garland district and had breakfast at Ferguson's, which is next to the Milk Bottle (Bennie and Joon, anyone?) I won't tell you what I had, but it certainly was filling.

So when people want to talk to me about the "real hills" of Austin, come home with me sometime.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Getting Soft (Around the Midsection)

Spoke Chariot
Now its snowing. Its just been crappy all weekend long and it has spilled into the week. If you haven't guessed yet, no I haven't done any of my runs this weekend. I was really planning to do it today, after seeing all these people running down Hangman Valley Road, just in front of Danny's compound, but with temps in the mid 30s and the rain/snow still coming down, it just doesn't seem too inviting. Like Thanksgiving, I get to see if I find my balls and actually get out there this time around. I was on the south hill, at the Starbucks, but something wierd happenend to the WiFi, so I just went down the hill to Gonzaga. I needed to get some stuff at the bookstore, so I figured I might as well make my way down here. Can't wait for the GU-St. Joe's game on New Year's eve! Danny gave me a ticket for Christmas, so that was cool. I'm mostly excitied because this will be my first time in the new "Kennel"...and its in their "corporate seats."
Hangman Valley
So far the visit has been great. It was crowded in Bruce and Emma's house, so now I'm bunking in Danny's cabin. It is so nice up here--the views are great. I rented a Subaru Forester for the AWD since I thought it would be snowy and icy, but as soon as I arrived all the snow had melted. It was icy early this morning, at about 6am (I had to take Neesha to the airport for her flight back) and I got a chance to refresh my skid control maneuvers...check. I'm thinking a Subaru may be my next car, either that or an Audi Allroad. Whatever it is, it definitely needs more cargo room. The sweet feature of the car was the heated seats. It was on without my knowledge and after a few minutes driving away from the airport, I was seriously concerned about my butt being so hot! I looked down and saw the heated seats controls. Nice. I had that option in the Audi, but this is only needed up here in the north, when its crazy cold.
How to Transform 101
So we did the Xmas thing and Ethan came out big. I got him the Robopet--its nice. He also got a lot of transformers from the rest of the family and Santa. I got clothes from ExpressMen and some cologne...it was a tech free Xmas for me this time. They told me that they figured I already had everything tech, so they didn't know what to get me. Funny. One thing I forgot to tell them that I needed was a new sports watch--I lost my 9 dollar special sometime a couple of weeks ago. Bummer. I guess I should get something nice this time.
The Men
Xmas night seems to be a big going out night here at the Spoke, so we went out to Pepperdines again this year...didn't even try the Wild Weasel this time--figured standing in a line for a Spokane bar on Xmas is ridiculous. It did get packed at Pepperdines after a while. Chad, Estela, Darren, Chris, Trent, Lisa, Rob, April, etc. It was crazy. I was in trouble that night because I didn't stay with just one type of drink...when the shots came out it was over. I had to think of a Texas themed shot, so I went for the Prairie Fire...they LOVED me for that one. I'm surprised they didn't toss me in a ditch. It was really good to see those guys again. We closed the place down and then, like last year, continued on to Kirahara's house. Man, that place definitely needs a man's touch. But I do like the drink fridge downstairs...and there's the crazy game of "Mexican Train"...someone needs to tell me why, when you are screwed with your own train, you can dump a domino on the "Mexican Train." I'm thinking this is a bit racist. But, I'm just sensitive that way. Lisa had the same question. Anyway, Rob, the aryan that he is, was expert at this game and won both rounds. I just wanted to yell "Domino M-F!"
Ethan Hides Behind Stuffing
I must have been drunk out of my mind because I handed the Subaru keys to Chad so he and Darren could go home. Oh well, it was returned in one piece. I just stayed there at Lisa's overnight with Estela and Rob. The next day seemed to go by really quickly as I slept most of the day away--the downstairs in Danny's house is so dark and it doesn't help when its overcast clouds for the whole day. I finally got up and went over to visit the family.
Trent's Tongue Strikes Again
Not much planned for today. Heading to the bookstore after this, having a GU gamewatch at Danny's and then possibly hanging with Estela tonight since she'll be leaving for Florida tomorrow. I also have to return Chad's military ID...not exactly sure how I came into possession of it. I guess I turn into a clepto when I get shots. Okay, I just looked at the weather and its not good. It looks like my best chance is tomorrow. Should have less to do then, so I have to force myself to do it. 80% chance of rain/snow, high of 41. Crap.
Stormy and K-SPoT
Okay, that's all I got. No training stories. But I can say that Danny's cats, Ty (for Ty Willingham) and Jule (Juliani), are cute and nice. Tis the season to enjoy family, friends, and fudge.
UFC or NC-17?

Friday, December 23, 2005

So Let It Be Said, So Let It Be Done

Alright, I'm gonna get the training part of this blog out of the way because we have a side story to concentrate on...Monday, I decided to get some mileage on my road bike since I haven't been on it for a while, and I could feel it. I was actually struggling to keep my speed over 20mph consistently...I did sprints of up to 24mph, but my legs were weak. I need to get back to my bike training--I've been doing a lot of running as of late. Went for 12 miles and then called it a day. It was cold that day and it was just me and that Southern Elite guy I always see there, with the Subary WRX. I remember him from a training ride where we blew up the field and then he just kept on accelerating and took care of the rest of us. That was just wrong. He is obviously Cat 1 or 2. Someday I will be that ass destroying the paceline by going 30mph.


Tuesday was HART training and it was a tough one. It was a strength session where we ran to the pullup bars and started with 3 sets of 10. Again, I could barely do 2 in a row a year ago. Then we did sprints, planks, and pushups in circuits. We finished up the session with drills on the horizontal bars, the usual going over, then under, then over and going across without touching the ground. My arms are still sore from that day. My speed conditioning is also faltering as I was struggling to keep up a fast clip on the runs. Either that or my legs are still a little mush from the 18mi run on Saturday...man, I can't believe its already been a week! I'm not ready for my next long run of 20mi...not even sure if I'll be able to get it in since I'll be heading to the Spoke this weekend.


Wednesday I took the day off and did some work on Xmas stuff. I did drive to the Fruit loop with my road bike, but Jaunda called me just as I was about to hop on my bike. I had to pick up part of Caroline's gift from her that night. So I packed everything back up and jetted downtown to Sake Lounge for the drop. It was funny because I just did a drive by and Jaunda ran out of the restaurant with this bag that dwarfed her...apparently she can fit in it. Scary.

tribal sun

Thursday, I went to the park early and knocked out an hour of trail riding. Man, its either the bike or I just forgot how it feels to ride fast...there were times where I really felt like the bike was going fast on its own...like it wants to go fast! I pretty much did all the trails except for the triangle--I just ran out of time and daylight. About 10mi. I said hi to the strong few people who came to practice and then headed to Caroline's party down in Clear Lake...

Which leads me to the main subject of this blog. So, we went through with it. In the 11th hour, Ross was starting to toss up smoke screens and was seriously doubting that he would go through with it. Even when we were at the tattoo place and he was in the chair, he had to make the final decision. It was a go. We went right after Caroline opened her gifts, which were mostly for her new pup, Lulu (it was partly a "dog shower"). To help out with our confidence, Andrea went first with her daisy. It was cute. Then I was the last one since it took the longest--about an hour while theirs took about 10mins each. Man, that hurt, but the pain was managable. Actually, getting my teeth cleaned hurt more than that. I'm really pumped about it right now--it turned out great! Jaunda and Cynthia accompanied us for moral support. Afterwards, we came back to Caroline's party to show off our new ink and then we finally ended up at a Waffle House because, apparently, getting a tattoo or watching someone get a tattoo makes you really hungry. It was a really fun night. The Tattoo Crew--in a nice coincidence, the ones who got the tats that night also raced together at USARA sprint championships last year. Too funny. I'll post a few pics from last night--any of the Tattoo Crew can let me know if they rather me take the photos down. Unfortunately Nick was on the boat, so he couldn't participate. But we did update him throughout the night and we even pix messaged him.

Well, that's all I got. Until my next tattoo....

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

A (Very Sad) Christmas Story

This entry is a contribution from Mike "Bike" Drost...my heart drops whenever I look at the photos. I'm posting this just to show you what kind of random stuff can happen when you're minding your own adventure racing business.

"At the end of every year I try and reflect on a lesson learned for that year. This years lesson learned is that when a carbon paddle touches the exposed battery posts of a marine battery (stored in theback of your SUV) a fire is sure to ensure. Add a GPS a few single blades and your entire wardrobe of winter fleece and gortex clothing for extra kindling. Tuck it all in a nicely packed jeep cherokee and break out the marshmallows. Merry Christmas to all. Mike :-)"

yard sale


damage at daylight

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Marathon/Mid-fall Madness

Side Note: Go Zags! AP Top 10 (11th in Coaches Poll) Gonzaga beat UVA last night. Is it Morrison's mustache? Must be.

My legs hurt. Why am I doing this again? I started to ask this question at about mile 10 of my run this time, right before I had to do the jogging track two times and then run back home from there. I put the jogging track at the end because I knew seeing other people would give me some distraction from the pain...SOME distraction. I did see Tara and Kacey...about 3 times. Heading out from the house I thought this time would be different--the first few miles I was feeling really strong and couldn't contemplate feeling like crap...until midway through. It started to happen at about Sabine bridge. I stopped for a pee break at a port-a-potty and it was tough getting back going again. After that I swore not to stop unless I really had to...it was hard to get going again. Then I saw a couple guys on bikes on my way back to Shepherd...I SO wished I was on my bike. In fact, I might take my road bike out later today just to remember what it feels like and to have some kind of recovery workout. Then my run back along Memorial was okay...actually was able to shut out the pain. Then the loops in Memorial Park were just plain painful. My legs felt like the weekend before at the end of the Dare--like tree stumps. They were really stiff and didn't want to move. The pounding just were fatigueing my muscles. Even so, I was able to keep my training pace of about 9min/mile pretty much throughout the run. I started fast (sub-8) and kept telling myself to slow down. I am so glad I did, otherwise I would probably still be out there in a ditch somewhere, unconcious. On the final lap I kept telling myself "You're almost there, Farrow." But I knew I was lying to myself...I still had the ~3mi run back to the house. That was the worst part of it. It was just me out there in the darkened streets, hoping a car would just come over and end it already...at every intersection I wished there was a car to make me stop, but of course they never came this time. I kept running and running...Forrest Gump, I applaud you. I finally got to our gate and I stopped instantly. I thought it was funny because usually after a "hard" run I'm out of breath and the pain is in my chest, but almost always after these long runs my breathing is almost like when I'm sitting around--it was my legs that were screaming at me.

The best part was that I, being an idiot, did my run right before the Christmas parties last night. So right as I got home, I limped into the shower, hung out there for about half an hour, got dressed and headed out to Stan's. It retrospect, it would probably have been a crazy night for me if I skipped the run--I was so tired that I had to call it a night right after midnight, when everyone else was heading out to the Red Door. But, I know in my heart if I skipped the run, I would have been torn up this morning and there would be no way I would have done the run today...then I would have been in a deeper hole. So I think I made the right decision. Bu it was a fun night. A good crew of HART members hit Stan's party...and then I found out that Marc's birthday was yesterday and was having a party at our place...would have been nice if he gave me a little warning. Anyway, it was fun. Lawyers. I learned back in grad school that I can only hang with them for so long...then they keep going.

I got a lot of my shopping done yesterday...only have one person left...yes, Nick, that's who the titanium is for...won't say their name just in case. So there, now you know.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Comments on this Design

Alright, look at the artwork here. What do you think? Feel free to comment here or shoot me an email. As for the meaning, the compass is there because of my love of navigation. Plus, it means to signify my mission to be self aware or to get my "bearings". The phoenix, of course, means a rebirth. My rebirth has been continuous since my arrival at Notre Dame. Then the Kanji in the middle is japanese for "strong legs"...I'm very proud of my legs and their strenght in biking and their newly-found strenght in running. Anyway, that's it. Just let me know if its cool or needs the boot...

This week has been relatively quiet, especially since it is the week after the big Texas Dare. Plus, Rick has reduced the number of practices back to the previous 2 times a week, Tues and Thurs. I was able to swim twice this week. I was having trouble on Wed for some reason, probably still tired from the race, so I reduced the usual distance. Felt a lot stronger yesterday, but then I was having trouble with my flip turns when I have fins on. Obviously it slows my turn a bit...don't have that trouble with fins off. I did clock a 36sec 50meter, which is 3secs better than my last pr. I just need to work on my endurance more...once I can do 3 lengths continuously then I think I'm close to where I want to be.

Both practices were mostly on the bike. We did sprint intervals on the fruit loop and I can feel how much my legs have degraded in strength...I just haven't been on the bike enough lately. Hopefully I can ride with Weihan tomorrow. We ended Tuesday's practice with strength exercises and Rick told Tom and I can be adventure racers someday. I can't wait. Doing those fruit loop rides can be extremely boring, but it definitely helps your endurance...that's how I got where I am today. No one wants to do it, so that's where I get the leg up, so to speak. I make it a race, so I'm always entertained no matter if the scenery never changes...there's always some other guy out there to race against.

Oh did I say that Nick made me a "dope" mix CD right before the race?! I can say that contributed a little to our good performance. NWA, PE, Eric B and Rakim, LL, HOP....what a combo...he says they're all connected somehow, the songs that is. We had our HART Xmas party Wednesday night at Los Cucos--it was a lot of fun and somehow it ended up at my place. Nick volunteered Caroline's place first, but some people weren't willing to drive that far so it turned into my place, which was closer. BTW, our second place performance put us as high as 2nd in the nation on the USARA rankings...we're now 3rd. Pretty funny.

That's pretty much it...I'm supposed to do my long run today, but the weather is nasty. I will try to go a little later--hopefully it stops raining by then.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Fw: Texas Dare

> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Tfadventure@aol.com
> To: rns@swbell.net
> Sent: Wednesday, December 14, 2005 10:44 AM
> Subject: Texas Dare
> I posted the results from your race onto the USARA
> website. Check it out!
> http://www.usara.com/current_rankings.aspx - HART
> is dominating! :)
> She

Kenny Farrow
Houston Adventure Racing Team
kspot_quake at yahoo.com

Do You Yahoo!?
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Monday, December 12, 2005

The Texas Dare! How Dare I say!

The Texas Dare! How about the Jekyl and Hyde show! Where did all my buddies go? I felt like the coyote in the cartoon with the sheep dog. Once the dog punches in for work its all business. Here is my favorite line of the race "Im not yelling at you, I'm just trying to tell you what you should do." Hmmm change in tone, raise in decibals some would call that yelling. "Can't you see Im trying to do a pace count Nick?" What the hell is a pace count? ET TU Will Will. Seems like just yesterday we were all sitting between two fruit orchards in CO. talking about this race and we agreed that it would be 75% fun and 25% competitive. Boy did that change! I told Will for the first 6 hours he couldn't be militant. I should have said the first 6 he could because boy was it pent up for the last 6 and 30 min. The man is good though he really digs this adventure racing stuff. And it makes him seems to make him happy. I myself am going to have to kick it down a notch so "BAM!" in reverse. I think I am built for short distances, 6 hours seems to be my limit for adventure type races. The serious vibes where strong the smiles didn't seem the same, almost sinister like almost like saying "I see you..Im gonna act like everything is all right by smiling but your a little to close for comfort." Except for Monty I think he has one of those gag shop laughing boxes stuck in his throat. That guy is always laughing and has a permagrin. Thats cool as shit I dig that. There are a few rules I try and live by. I work to live I dont live to go to work. And the same goes with my hobby. Too serious and it becomes just another job. But thats just me. To each their own. I learned quite a bit during my first real adventure race I tried to be a sponge and soak up everything. The only thing I still didn't learn was what did "OSR" stand for? Its driving me nuts. And who is getting that damn titanium watch? Anyway I don't know is this was much of a point and counterpoint. Or just two Point of Views. So untill next time I am stepping down off the soap box with my rants and raves. Thanks Kenny for the invite to comment.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

MOAT Dares for First, RunBikePaddle Snares First Runner Up

Alright, finally, a race weekend to fill in this blog. I do expect a separate race report from the newest contributor to K-SPoT's AR Blog, Nick. He had mentioned he was thinking of starting his own blog (eg, Blogga the Hut, Drop it Like its Blog, Mama Said Blog You Out, etc.) but this would be a good venue to have a "blog, counter blog" collab. We'll see...I think it will be Nick's Rants vs. my unbridled "excitement" about racing.

Okay, back to the subject of this session: The Texas Dare. I really didn't know what to expect since this race would be run by Tom and Rick. I made sure not to ask anything too in depth of the race so as not to have an unfair advantage over the non-HART racers...then again, Rick never tells me anything, so I had nothing to worry about. All we would know of the race details would come to us right before race start when we got the instructions and maps...that's all we got. We didn't have to check in after each leg, there was no official "pre race briefing", and there would be no special tests. All these were nice concepts for me, as there wouldn't be any worry about how to prepare for special tests...don't get me wrong, I really do like special tests when they are well thought out and really test your athletic skills, but there are some that are just plain dumb and should never be in an adventure race...I will not go into that rant right now. I finally got my team together and we raced under the banner of Team RunBikePaddle, partially sponsored. It would be Lisa, Stan, and Jason. This was so last minute that we all didn't even train once as a full team before the race. I had raced with Stan and Jason before, so I was confident in their abilities. Lisa I of course was already confident with because of her success with the Rough Riders and she had raced with Jason before, last year. I just didn't know how all 4 of us would mesh together at short notice. The good thing is that Jason is so positive and always cracking jokes, that I knew the mood would be light for the most part.

So I saw Kip right before race time, who was racing under TooCoolRacing.com, with Art, Robyn, and Tom Lane. BTW, I'm at Salento right now because is was pretty tough to blog from home--I get distracted so easily, especially if The Lord of the Rings and Matrix are on TV for most of the day...BBTW, Nick, I did a search on my blog on Google and it showed up! Finally! Still not on Yahoo though...screw them...anyway, where was I? Oh yah, Kip. So we quipped a little with each other and we both agreed we were having strategy meetings on how to beat MOAT, the 2005 USARA Open and Masters champions...haven't they already won enough from us amateurs!? Why don't they go elite already. :) Alright, the fact that there were cash prizes for 1st thru 3rd may have had an influence on their participation. So, we pretty much knew MOAT would smoke the field unless something big happened to them during the race, so I was racing for 2nd. There were so many things conflicting at this time, with my want to taper down for the off season, the struggles of putting a team together, and the general burnout from a long season that I wasn't coming into the race pumped up at all...I even told Nick that I was retiring from AR. I had not even planned to race until Rick asked me to race for RunBikePaddle, so I thought that would be fun. That all changed of course come race day...I was pumped, but relaxed at the same time because I had no real expectations. Except to beat Tommy "The Sly" Fuchs. So in general I was there just to have fun. But the cold weather was definitely cutting into my fun time. It dipped into the upper 20's overnight and race time temp was just cold. Not happy. Hence the debate on how many layers to wear started. It did warm up a little bit, so I decided to just go with a long sleeve layer and the HART jersey with long pants and AR shorts and bike shorts.

The night before we stayed at the Fairfield in Bryan and had dinner at this local Italian place which had great bread sticks! Tina remarked that they were like funnel cakes! I agreed...just put some powdered sugar on them and that's what they were. Tina and one of her teammates were there at dinner too...Lance, who had gone to Southern Texas, now called Texas State, was glued to the TV because his alma mater was playing in the Div I-AA football semis. It was a great game and we followed it to conclusion at the hotel, where TX State fell in OT against Northern Iowa. Geez, where was this going...oh yeah, Lance was also hinting about going out that night before to the Fox and Hound, which apparently wasn't that far away. Thankfully no one on my team bit. We went to bed pretty much right as the game ended and got up the next morn at about 630. Light breakfast downstairs and we were off to Lake Bryan.

The pre-race "meeting" was interesting not only because it wasn't officially a pre-race meeting but a pre-race Q and A session, but also because we were so connected with the race directors that it almost felt like just another training camp or something similar. Another thing that was unique was the morning prayer by Mr. Escobar and the singing of the Star Spangled Banner by Deann Brown. That combination made me even more pumped up about the race, especially when in the prayer he said may the Lord "guide our decisions"--as a navigator, I say Amen to that! So we got our race instructions, maps, coordinates and were instructed to meet by the shore in 6mins. We had a brief moment to read the instructions and plot about 5 points before we had to run off to the start. The first leg was a 2.4mile run on a marked course. This was done pretty well with race volunteers standing at most of the turns in the course. There was a section of the course that had went deep into the woods where there was a little confusion of where to go, but other than that there were no problems following the course. MOAT took the lead early, not at a blistering pace, but at a steady pace that slowly the other teams would fall off of. We were doing alright, but Lisa was already sick as a dog the day before so was already feeling weakness because of it. We had to back off and let them go, which I thought was fine...we had a lot of race left to go. The paddle would be next, but before we left we decided to plot all the points right then. It seemed like only a few other teams did the same thing as a lot of the other teams were already out in front of us on the paddle. No worries, we knew we would catch up to all of them along the way as they had to plot sooner or later. First paddle had 2 points. We the first point head on and then had to portage across the middle big island to the 2nd point. We then decided to portage back to west side of the lake since paddling back on the east side would be significantly longer. It was no fun carrying the boats, but it had to be done.

We got back to TA and got on our bikes. We were off in no time, but Lisa was still suffering from something...oh yah, and Jason apparently has Leptosperosis from Nationals! Unbelievable...we should have changed our team name to Team Lepto. Anyway, we were cruising right along when we start hearing this hissing sound. That's almost always bad news when on the bike. The thing was that it was Jason's bike that we were hearing the hissing from, but he has tubeless tires! That damn crap didn't work! He kept spinning the tire hoping that Stan stuff would plug the hole but it never did--it just bubbled up like it was laughing at us. All the while, teams were passing. TooCoolRacing eventually passed and that's when I knew we would be in trouble in terms of getting 2nd place--I figured they would be the 2nd best competitor behind MOAT. Jason finally gave up on his tubeless praising and we put a tube in and pumped it up. That took way too long. Anyway, at least we didn't have any other mechanicals throughout the race. So we putted along and slowly passed other teams...but where was Jaunda, Nick, Will, and Cynthia?! Not much later after I thought that, I saw them riding the levy on the way back! WTF?! How did they get so far ahead?! I can only summise that they were one of the teams that decided not to plot all the points at one time. That definitely put a fire under me. So basically I had no tabs on 2 teams on Kenny's "To Watch" list: houstonadventureracing.com and Black HART, Tommy's team. After finishing the western trail section, it was off to the eastern trail setion for the 2nd checkpoint on the bike leg. About a mile or 2 into the eastern trails, we rode past TooCoolRacing! They had some kind of bike mechanical as well, so it was even, Steven. We got to the 2nd checkpoint of the leg and saw Jaunda's team just a few minutes ahead...we were gaining. So we tried to keep a steady pace and Lisa was slowly coming back to life, which was great news. We got back to transition and prepped for a trek leg with 2 points, both of which were off of a bridge in a creek. That's where we caught up with Nick's team and after a few times of switching back and forth we started to gap them on the run back. This is of course right after a near fatal navigational blunder. We didn't read the instructions fully and thought we had to run to the next checkpoint. But Will was heading back to Lake Bryan while CP7 was the other way. We decided to let them go and do our own thing, but I knew Will was a good navigator so there's no way he would make such a huge mistake. We started on our way when we then saw MOAT on the bikes heading our same way. That was the red flag for me. I immediately stopped and told Lisa to read us the rules again. Sure enough, 7 was a bike point. Man that would have been catastophic. From then on I made sure to confirm what checkpoints were for the current leg. Regardless, we were feeling pretty strong at this point. We were now in 2nd place, behind MOAT who was already well on their way on the 2nd bike leg.

One thing we could have improved were our transistions. When I'm the first one to be ready out of TA, that's bad. I'm usually the last one because I have to wrangle the maps, but almost everytime this race, I was either the first one ready or 2nd. We were off again on our bikes for a long road ride to a coasteering portion west of the park. This time it was Stan's turn to not feel so well. The wind was palpable so that didn't help the situation. We got into a paceline to help out, but we were at most portions barely going 13mph. I know we lost a lot of time to other teams on this leg. I knew Nick and co. would catch up since they were so good on the bike. To add to the discomfort, there was a pack of dogs right at the turnoff onto the dirt road to the river and one of them looked rabid! One good thing came of that encounter--adrenaline started to pump. We got the points along the way and finally arrived at the coasteering leg. I was feeling spry on this leg so I hammed it up a little bit when Deb drove by blasting "Take my picture, Smack my bitch up". The coasteering took us a little more time than I thought it would take, mostly because the water was a little bit lower than usual, but no major snafus here. In no time we were back on our bikes, but my greatest fear was realized--two teams, both HART, were right there crossing the field to get to the bike drop. TooCoolRacing was not too far behind. I think it was Jaunda's team and Tommy's team in hot pursuit. This is where I pleaded that we go a little faster, maybe around 14-15mph if possible. Jason heeded my plea and said "I'll see what I can do" like what Lance Armstrong said in a wind tunnel when they said they needed the test to go at around 30mph or faster for a duration of time and he was thinking he would have to do that himself (not the wind tunnel)...so he took turns towing up the hills and encouraging us to bust up them like they weren't there. I'm so glad he agreed to race with us! And the whole time he was still joking around and trying to keep spirits up. I knew we were now pretty beaten up after all that running and biking, so I'm glad another paddle session was coming up...the only problem is that I saw no way around another portage, this one being substantially longer. First CP was hit dead on again, our boat pretty much pointing at the CP. Then came the portage. The portage began at the same spot we portaged to during the first paddle. We had to portage along a pipeline road to CP 15. I was pretty tired so carrying this 100lb monster was no easy task for me. So there was Jason again dragging the boats singlehandedly for us. I also forgot my tow straps made specifically for dragging the boats, so that contributed to our misery. But we finally found techniques that worked and got to 15, seeing CP20 along the way. That was a nice bonus. From 15 was CP16 which was on a small island on the western side of the lake. This started to remind me of the Lake Somerville race with the sun setting and everything turning to sillouettes, but I had an easier time finding this island and again landed with our boats pointing at the CP again. We were off quickly back to TA for the final trek leg.

We thought we had a good lead over all the other teams, but on our paddle back to TA we started hearing voices in the distance, so we knew someone was coming up fast behind us. Regardless, we decided for comfort on this last leg and took a bit more time in TA to change into warm, dry clothes. CP17 was along the eastern levy trail, where we had seen MOAT running back from earlier on the start of our 2nd paddle. No problem. Off to 18 which was back on the middle island, along the shore. On the run back along the levy, that's when my heart dropped--TooCoolRacing was mere minutes behind us! We all got serious again. Before then we were walking quite a bit, but now we would only stop to walk when we really needed a break. 18 took a short time to do the search, but no real problems. Then 19 was outside the park at an intersection, which we found bushwhacking through thorns and thick brush. Then it was off to the final point, CP20, which we already knew the location of. We now were in stealth (SR-71 as Nick would say) mode, turning our headlamps off as to not reveal our location. We ran back to the park and were relieved not to see Kip and co along the way. As we hopped back onto the pipeline trail, that's when we saw them, right after they had found CP18. I kinda knew we had it in the bag then, but I wanted to push a little longer and have 20 in hand then reassess. So we ran down the rough, bumpy, uneven road until we got back to CP20. Right as we got to 20, we saw another team portaging to CP15. Man, I was just thinking doing the paddle nav at night would be brutal. So we pretty much turned it off on the way back, especially for me as I twisted my ankle twice on that damn road. We briskly walked the whole time as we didn't see TooCoolRacing again. Once we got back to the main road of the park, we jogged it in for our victory lap...man, this was one of the times 2nd place felt like 1st, considering who beat us for 1st. We finished in about 10.5 hours. All the feelgood stimulants that the body releases started to rush in and I was hugging anyone within a 10 meter radius. We got cash booty! I think this is the first non-academic cash prize I've won!

So Nick's team slipped in after Tommy's and Kip's teams. It sounded like Caroline, Raymund, Eric, and Weihan had a tough time of it all day. Caroline started it off bad early as she slipped and fell in the shower! Not good. Overall, I would think the Dare was a great success! It was as advertised--straightforward without any easter egg hunt sessions. I'm already looking forward to the race next year...hopefully MOAT won't show so we could have a shot at the 1.5k! JK, kinda. Nick, your turn...

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Blogger is full of Syrup

Alright, I've been fighting with my laptop for the last hour, so I haven't been able to update my blog...I just installed Firefox and that has seemed to solve it for now, which means something in Internet Explorer is corrupt. No time to get into it now. I'm running out of lunchtime and battery power, so I will just leave you a picture of my kayak on Audi...it was a center of attention for most of this weekend. I will expound on this on a later date. I gotta go.