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, April 27, 2007

Please Donate to the MS Society

Go to my MS-150 page and donate! Do it! Plus, there are photos up:

Kenny's MS-150 Page

Monday, April 23, 2007

MS-150: Day 2 Suunto T6 Log

* encountered technical difficulties with bike pod after BP 6

MS-150: Day 1 Suunto T6 Log

* Log started about 45min late (right before BP 2)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Ugh, it's like there's a party in my mouth and everyone's throwing up

ha, ha, ha! they fell into my trap!That's kinda how I felt after the RunBikePaddle weekend...okay, not that bad, but I did fall off of my fitness high for a little bit. I was feeling like I was on a mini-peak as I was feeling great during most of my workouts. Heck, I even dropped 15secs on my 300yd swim time the week before! Well, Tuesday's training the week after the race was the dip that follows the peak. Of course, it was a sprint interval day on the track--those are always painful as is. We did some pullups and then rode our bikes to the track. I felt okay on the 200m, 400m, and 800m intervals. But on the 1600m, something happened. Well, at first, I tried to pace at exactly what Rick wanted to go, 7:15. I was right on, but I was getting pains in my stomach after the first loop. I struggled to keep the same pace, but I was able to do it, until the last loop. It was like a screw fell out--I was in pain and starting to get nauseous. As soon as I got to the line, I almost puked. I had to lay down. Dave Tucker asked if I needed a stretch and all I could do is shake my head as I was afraid that something other than words would come out if I opened my mouth. The little rest seemed to help as I was slowly getting back to even.

We rode back to the pullup bars and did more pullups and then a random assortment of cals mixed in with bike sprints. I definitely felt better when we were on the bike--it was my magic elixir! So the nausea passed and I was back to normal, at least as close to normal as possible. Wednesday I went for a swim and then for a bike ride. It was apparently an unofficial HART training day as I saw a whole ton of other HART members at the park, doing their own thing. I rode, planning just an easy spin, but I was afraid of getting bored after the first lap, so I sprinted up to a group that was going about 25mph. I figured it would be short-lived as it is rare to get a group of people who can rotate in a paceline at that speed for very long, but I was mistaken! We were able to maintain that speed for about 30mins. Then all of the sudden the group splintered to take a break, so I kept on going. About 20mins later I was able to hook up with another group, but we were going a little slower, about 22mph average. I kept pulling at around 23mph whenever it was my turn and apparently that was eventually too much as people started to peel off after 30mins of riding. I felt good again...I was relieved.

Thursday's training was a lot better for me. We rode our bikes to the seldom-used "rollercoaster" trail next to the bayou at Memorial and did a brick. 2x run, 5x bike, 3x run. I felt alright on the first run--I usually need to get warmed up first. Then the bike came. I was determined to clear the course and not get off my bike, but it wasn't going to happen that day. I eventually was able to make the whole loop, except everytime I got to the final climb out of the rollercoaster, there would always be someone there, pushing their bike and I wasn't that good of the rider to be able to maintain my momentum while riding around them through that eroded section. At one point during the bike, Monty asked me if his tire was flat. Well, it did look a bit spongy, so I said "yes". He stopped and that was the last time we would see him. Tommy thought I was practicing my race tactics and applauded my cunning, but I really did think it looked flat. Oh well.

Friday was weights and then Saturday we went on our last "long" training ride before the MS-150. It was the Warship and Sly. After much waffling, we ended up starting out of Katy. The wind was ridiculous, with gusts above 30mph at times! As soon as we got started, it was straight into the wind. It wasn't too bad at first, but it slowly ramped up as we got going. We then went along HWY90, which turned it into a nasty crosswind. I knew I should have taken off my aero wheels! I couldn't take my hands off of my bars for a second! We were going at very sad, slow speeds, but it would get even slower once we went back northward on 359. We hesitantly made that turn and we immediately got slapped in the face with several gusts. I screamed, "this is ludicrous!" BTW, who says "ludicrous" on a bike ride? Anyway, it was obscene. We had started later than the other groups, so by this time they were enjoying their fabulous tailwind and I was very jealous. Among the return trippers was Nikki and Dave P. The wind got so bad that we were struggling to keep our speed in the double digits! No lie! We reached Monaville and everyone was thinking the same thing--turn back! I wasn't having any fun at all. So we turned around and immediately were going 30mph+! That is sick. We were buzzing by riders left and right. Now this was fun!

At the final turn off of hwy90, we caught up with Nikki and Dave P, sad to realize that they went the whole 60 miles. But, to our credit, the wind didn't pick up until later into their ride. Still, we had been beaten back by the wind gods. Tail between my legs, I went to the office to finish up some work and then headed home to get ready for Nikki's housewarming/birthday shindig. Good times. We didn't stay long as I had to get up early the next morning to do some paddle practice with the SYW team. I suprisingly arrived at Rick's lakehouse on time, with Tracie. I was on time because I needed to be at my company's picnic that afternoon, way over past Tomball. The rest of the crew arrived and we launched the boats. I brought the green eliminator for Monty to paddle. Apparently he was still mad at me for the "flat tire" incident, so he took it out on my rudder, which he snapped completely off. JK. It was an accident--he was trying to get residual water out of the hatch. Nothing several yards of duct tape can't fix! We went out and paddled for an hour and everything went smoothly. I jetted out of there right as soon as the boats were loaded. This was the first company picnic I've gone to at Stress and it was a lot of fun! Tug of war, bingo, dunking booth (money went to the MS-150 team), and I actually rode a mechanical bull! It wasn't Gilly's, but it was still fun! I yelled "bring it!", rode my 8 seconds, and was summarily dumped on my tush a few seconds later. After Mo cleaned out some poor guy at the Texas Hold'em table, we went home since Mo had to work later that night. A fun-packed weekend indeed!

This week started off nicely too, with a party of a HART practice. It was a cross between boot camp and football camp. The rainy weather played right into Rick's hands. I was about to rename our team to HART Corps. Thankfully I was having one of my good days and was able to take full advantage of the workout (i.e., no nausea spells). Sprints, lunges, horses, bear/low crawls, pushups, situps, 8-counts, tempo runs--you name it we did it! It reminded me of my track and football workouts (yes, my coach was the same for both sports). And yes, Rick, I was able to run 11sec 100m, thank you very much. Anyway, after getting all muddied up, I ran to the hose to clean myself up (I had a date that night). Of course, I found out a way to lock my keys in the T-reg even though the salesman said it was impossible. Pretty much the same way I locked my keys in the trunk of Audi, also a car supposed to be Kenny-proof. So, obviously, Mo would have to push back our reservation and come and scoop me up. It all ended up working out, so no worries. Yesterday was weights and then I went for a 9-mile trek with a 25lb pack. Mo joined me for the first 5 miles and then I met up with her at Starbucks. Neeless to say, my legs and feet are a bit sore from my last two workouts at the park.

Well, that's pretty much it. Going for a swim today and then its rest time before the big MS-150 ride this weekend. Maybe we'll throw in some running after our rides to spice it up a bit. Then again, who am I kidding! :)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Run Bike Paddle More Than It Advertises

freakin' MOAT!
Yes, false advertising. It was more like Run, Run, Bike, Hike-N-Bike, Run, Paddle, Run...I guess that would be a lot more cumbersome race name. Anyway, regardless, I was pretty relaxed about this race. I felt good and I just wanted to do it for training. Hopefully it would go better than my last training race. I knew this one would be better because I wasn't going into it injured. After a bit of shuffling, I finally paired up with Turnbull for the race. I was thinking, "what am I thinking?!" Basically I was asking for pain and misery as he would most likely drag me all over the course, specifically during the runs. Oh well, like they say, no pain, no pain...

Mo and I get there pretty early, but Double Lake is already filled with racers. Mo had specific cheffing duties, so she was busy with her own thing for most of the race. I just went on my own merry way and set up our TA. Rick predicted that Tom would show up at 8:59, a minute before race start. While it wasn't that bad, he did arrive a bit later than we had agreed to. No matter--I just got our spot ready and then went on a short warm-up bike ride through the trails. By the time I got back, Tom was there, so I got him all caught up and then we went on a short warm-up run. With the cold temps, I could use all the warming up I could get. We discussed strategy during the run, being MOAT was again there as the team to gun for. It was Carlos and Chris, trying for a repeat from last year. Considering they won the race last year despite a broken chain and having to run one of the bikes in during the bike portion, we had our work cut out for us. We knew we would just blow ourselves up trying to keep up with them for 10 seconds during the run, so we decided to run our own pace and then hopefully we could make some time on the bike.

Kenny's Baaaack!Team Tommy was also there, so we had to be aware of them at all times as well. He was racing with Ali. As for the coed division, Ashley was racing with a guy I didn't know and Bobby and Helena would represent as the top team from HART. It looked to be a very exciting race, which it turned out to be. During the pre-race meeting, we were told to put our passports inside a bin. Unfortunately, Tom didn't leave ours on the lanyard I gave him, which would turn out to be somewhat critical. We went through the race instructions. While discussing the mandatory PFDs for the paddle, Rick slips in a comment about not being sure if they would be mandatory for when in the water, hinting at a swim leg. Crap. I was hoping he was joking...thankfully, he was. It was so cold we probably would have gotten hypothermia or something! Once the meeting was done, Rick announces that the race will start in 30secs. WTF?!? Okay, so we quickly decide that we don't have to bring water since it was a short run to reclaim our passports out of the bin. We quickly line up and as soon as the prayer was said, the horn goes off. MOAT sprints off, verbally goading Tom. I laugh out loud as to say, "whatever!" We obviously let them speed off to a crazy lead while we remain neck and neck with Team Tommy and Ashley. Towards the 2nd half of the run to the passport bin, close to the park entrance, we start to pull away from the other teams. Tom and I are pacing each other pretty well and I'm getting close to my limit, but am able to keep calm. We get to the bin a few minutes after MOAT, but Tom is having trouble finding our passport. That's when I blurt out, "you didn't keep it on the lanyard?!" Oh well. Team Tommy finds theirs quickly and right before Ashley finds theirs, I look down and spot it. 306. We sprint back towards TA. But I then realized that we didn't have to go all the way to TA to start the first run since it was on the way. That's when I was worried because we had decided not to bring a water bottle. I figured I would be okay as long as I rehydrated on the bike.

We're cruising pretty nicely down the double track trails and we catch back up to Team Tommy and run side-by-side for a couple of minutes. The trail was getting narrow, so I decide to put on a burst to get in front. It works and I actually feel really good, so I keep the burst pace on for a little longer. This is where we start to gap them. We get to the turnaround, punch our passport, and head back to TA. Coming into TA, we seem to have a minute or so lead on Ashley and then Team Tommy. We quickly transition onto our bikes and head into the trail. This is where I want to mash hard and try to gain back some time on MOAT, but Tom is admittedly not as fast on the singletrack. Plus, he apparently scratched his cornea somewhere along the way and that slowed him down a bit more. I was chomping on the bit, but I exercised patience. As long as Team Tommy didn't catch up to us I was fine. The ride is pretty clean, despite the rain and hail, and we make it to the final road crossing and Rick is suprised to see us as he yells, "30 seconds!" Wow, we were that close?! Something must have happened. We keep going, hoping for the best. A few minutes into the last section and I start hearing voices. I slow down and ask if Tom said something. No. Usually that means someone is coming up on us--I'm pretty good at this after a few years of mtb racing. We get to a sharp turn right before the end of the trail and it is confirmed like a Don King perm--Team Tommy has caught up! Crap. I usually try to kill on the bike so I won't have to rely on my anemic running to keep in front, but I had no choice here. We get back to TA and we are only seconds in front of Team Tommy. What's more amazing is that we actually see MOAT leave TA on the hike-n-bike, meaning we're not too far back from them either!

We transition into running shoes and head out. Tom runs first, up to the gate of the dirt road--its the same route as the run leg. I reluctantly get off and run...reluctant because I don't know if I can keep up with MOAT or even keep Team Tommy at bay. We are able to keep steady at 15km/hr (Tom's bike) so that seems to be fine for now. Carlos, about 30 seconds in front of Chris, who is on the bike (WTF?!) encourages us again. We get to the turnaround, punch, switch riders, and are off. We are able to spread our lead a bit, but on the return trip, they make the time back up. That's when Tom says, go a bit faster. 16km/hr. Its working, but I have to switch out again at the gate. We do fine on the last stretch and keep our lead. We run to the paddle, similar route as the Solo race, with sevy seats in hand. I'm barely keeping up with Tom, but I do it. We get to the put-in and it seems that the paddle gods start to conspire against us. (1) the boat is flat, (2) Tom's seat goes flat, and (3) my paddle is two teaspoons taped together. I don't realize that my paddle is different from 90% of the other paddles until after I take a couple futile strokes. I finally scream, "whatthefu...?!?" I don't realize it yet, but Tom has more distressing problems of his own. He has to deal with most of the flat boat since he is in the back, and he finally decides to sit in the kneeling position because the seat is now useless. Wonderful--we actually almost spin. I'm thinking, "not this way, we can't lose to Tommy this way!" Somehow we get it all back together and we make some headway. I can hear the flat sevy dragging all kinds of water, but I keep digging. We reach the buoy and somehow we are holding off Team Tommy. However, they did make most of their time on us on this leg.

friends againThe final sprint to the finish. It seemed that I was more in a hurry than Tom because I was in front telling him they were just behind us. I think in his mind we already had it sewn up. Actually, his legs had gone numb from kneeling that whole time in the boat and they started to kick in once we got to the other side of the lake. I drafted off of him and in no time we were back to the main road leading to TA. We had done it, with seconds to spare. Mo had taken time out of her cooking duties to welcome me into the finish. We scream our team number and Tom follows up by telling them that they need to take our passport since no one at the finish took it when we came in. Team Tommy (and Ali) finish and says, "freakin' Kenny!" Funny. We finish the course in 2hrs. Meanwhile, in the coed division, Bobby and Helena are able to get close to Ashley, but they our out of 1st by 15secs! So close!

I quickly go into the lodge and make use of the wonderful fire that Mo had made. The hotdogs were good as well. This is where I find out from Carlos that Chris forgot his bike shoes on the bike, which was the most likely reason we were so close to them! Oh well. We wait for people to finish then we claim our awards. Good times, good times. After quick well-wishes and goodbyes, Mo and I jam outta dodge so I can get a hot shower! Overall, a wonderful race with wonderful volunteers and wonderfully run.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Look Out MS-150, Here Comes the NP-140!

Nip and SlyAfter the Expedition camp weekend, I decided to take a couple of days or so off so that the swelling in my back could have a chance to calm down. Otherwise, I felt pretty good despite being out in the cold, wet world for 30+ hrs straight. I started back up with a swim during lunch on Tuesday and then weights and a 20mile ride around the fruit loop on Wednesday. I came back to HART training on Thursday. Lucky me, it would be on a day when Rick had concocted a 100% full-out brick course for us to perform. Fun! It was two loops on the run TT course, 3 loops on the same course on bike, and then one more run. After a warm up run to familiarize ourselves with the course, we were off. I decided to pace myself because Rick said he would be timing us and I didn't want to die at the end. As usual, Tommy was there, hounding me, calling me names, and throwing rocks at me. Okay, so he didn't do any of that, but I'm sure he was thinking about it. We get back from the first loop and Rick is disappointed at our times and reminded us that he was only timing the first run. Oh! In that case, I decided to turn it on since I could then just coast through the bike and the 2nd run. Tommy had gone for a run before training and I guess was experiencing some cramping, so I left him behind. I really wasn't going super fast, but I was feeling pretty good.

pre-rolloutI got back after my 2nd loop and Rick says I had a good time. I proceeded to walk over to my bike--I was no longer in a hurry as Tommy and Co were just coming in on the run. I took it pretty steady on the bike and didn't try to force anything and risk getting into a wreck, which I usually do on simple, non-technical courses (e.g., Double Lake). Anyway, the rest of the brick was pretty uneventful. I felt pretty fresh throughout and even throughout the rest of the workout. We then moved over to the hill west of our usual meeting spot, but they were growing new wildflowers, so Rick had to modify the course a bit. No matter, we still got a good hill workout in. To close the week off I had another weights session on Friday.

I was KOM on this oneAll this week, I had been hearing about Nick's brainchild of a ride from NW Houston over to Chappell Hill and back--and this was for his Birthday, nonetheless! I actually wanted to join him and Tommy but they were leaving during the day on Friday and I didn't want to take another half day off from work. So I eventually agreed to meet up with them in Chappell Hill and we would ride back together on Saturday. Mo had to work Saturday morning, so I was going solo. All the other rides were cancelled that day in town because of the foul weather--I was hoping it would clear up by the time we hit the road. I drove up to Chappell Hill, over to Nick's friends, the Youngbloods. He was good friends with their son and had a really good friendship with them as well. They had survived the harrowing ride up 290, so I decided it was okay to ride back with them. They actually said it wasn't too bad as the shoulders were wide enough to where they had a lesser chance of getting clipped. The Youngbloods' home was sweet--large, with a pool, and the bluebonnets had already carpeted every inch of their land. No wonder Nick and Jaunda loved visiting! They were just finishing up breakfast, so they offered some of Jaunda's wonderful cooking. Who was I to say no? After several minutes of chatting the morning away, we finally get to the riding portion of our day.

no masWe had decided that, to make it all worthwhile, we should ride a loop in town as well to get some hilly mileage in. Boy, was it hilly. It was good, though. I was still feeling good...perhaps I'm in a mini-peak? Anyway, we rode 40 miles around town, listening to Nick act like he was hurting. Along the way we got to see great views of prairies full of flowers in bloom. The sun was out and the roads were dry--it was a great ride! We circle back into the town square and run into Jaunda and Vera on the way back to the house. We chat for a short while then continue on--we still had to refuel and ride back into Houston. Nick and Tommy warn me to take my time on the dirt road leading to the house (dubbed Chappell-Roubaix) as Nick had a puncture the day before on a bridge along the way. Apparently the bridge has rows upon rows of exposed nail heads, most likely the culprit of his flat. So we take it slow and I take extra precaution crossing the bridge. We're scott free...until we hear Tommy announce, "flat!" Man. So they walked the rest of the way, but I figured I had a nice, functioning bike so why not use it?! We finally make it to the house and we all decide to take a dip in the pool before our final ride to Houston.

Nip and TuckNick and I go in first while Tommy is busy fixing his flat. But before we could get in, we had to maneuver our way around a dingo! Okay, not a real dingo, a dingo-mix dog. "A dingo ate your baby." Oh, that never gets old! Anyway, we make it past the dingo defense and jump into the pool. Nick tries to goad me into diving into the pool to chase a ring, but I explain to him my fear of losing my contact lenses in the process. Tommy joins us and Nick relays to him my plight. Tommy continues to tell me of these wonderful devices he has that protect his contacts. While I'm thinking, duh, yah, goggles, he proceeds to close his eyelids. Jackass. Anyway, he explains that he has gone underwater before and never has lost his contact lenses. Whatever--with my luck I would still lose them somehow. We swim for a bit longer and then jump out and get ready for the last leg of the Nikoli Payne 140 (NP-140)...yes, two days, 140 miles. Of course I would eventually only do 90 of the 140 since they had already did 50 the day before, but still I feel priviledged. We get dressed, load up and say our final goodbyes to the Youngbloods, our wonderful hosts.

picturesqueWhile they had a glorious tailwind the day before, of course, today I would join them with at best a slight cross/tail wind combo. We start off pretty nicely along 290, the hills getting more moderate to flat. Other than the occasional honks and jeers, the ride is uneventful...well, then there was that stretch near Hempstead where I was able to lead the bus at around 30mph. I was feeling really good! We make good time and roll into town at around 5pm, finishing up at Tommy's house. Jaunda and Miss Vera were supposed to meet us at the house, but they were nowhere to be seen. We give them a call, but no answer. I just wanted to get home and get out of these smelly clothes and take a shower! We finally get a hold of the women and they explain that they are just leaving Chappell Hill. Neither Nick or I wanted to wait any longer so Nick decided to take me home and that we could get together later for dinner at their place and I could pick up Touareg there. It was his birthday, so I figure he had diplomatic priviledges to do whatever he wanted. So he proceeded to plan a dinner at their place on the way home. Good times, good times. All in all, a successful inaugural NP-140. Kudos!

The next day was pretty lax until Weihan, Tommy and I went over to Cypress to test drive a boat or two. Other than that, it was a pretty lazy Sunday.

Yes, RBP Sprint report is up next...

HART Expedition AR Training Camp Recap

E-Mo surveying the areaI have some catching up to do! So I'll just start with the week after the TdH weekend. That week was pretty lax as I took the rest of Sunday and the entirety of Monday off. Tuesday was HART practice and we had our BMR testing done with Talamini (our 1st place prize from the Talm-O Meet). We found out that I had a pretty normal metabolic rate while the Warship burns around 3000 calories by just sitting around. Unbelievable! Its gotta be all that muscle! I got a swim and a weights session in during lunch then Thursday night I went for a short 1hr trail run at Memorial. It hadn't rained, so I figured the backdoor trail would be open to the green trail, so I tried it again. It wasn't as muddy, which was a good thing for me, being so clumsy! But to my disappointment, the water was this time high right away, at the first water crossing about a 10th of a mile into my run! I would not be denied, so I looked for a crossing and after a bit of bushwhacking I found one! Then I went cruising along, the trails being a lot better this time around. Then came my next obstacle--the water crossing that is usually deep after the rains...and yes, it was deep. I have gotten this far so I wasn't gonna turn back again like last week, so I searched again for a crossing. This time, I had to use a downed tree as the creek was deep throughout. Vines and trash were additional obstacles, but somehow I was able to make it across...I would not be denied! I had made it all the way to the green trail and took it back to the parking lot.

The next day I had to leave Houston early to get to the HART Expedition AR training camp, which started at Rick's lakehouse. I met up with the Bludworths at around 3pm for our "last meal"...our last hot meal at least. We were all excited and couldn't wait to get started! As soon as we got to Rick's place, we loaded up our packs. It was an expedition-style camp, so no central transition area...meaning we would have to pack and carry everything with us...except for our boats and paddles. Yes, we even had to carry our pfds with us, which was a bulky pain in the buttocks! There were 12 of us and we were each assigned "swim buddies," people we would be teamed with for the whole camp. I was with Jackie, naturally. After a few minutes of final packing, we went over to the house to get our maps and camp instructions. We waited for a few stragglers and then proceeded to bike over to the boat drop about a mile away. The first leg was an upstream paddle on the Trinity, all the way to the Lake Livingston Dam. We started off in daylight, but it didn't take long for darkness to set in and the river began to take a totally new feel. Everything that jumped in the water seemed to spook Jackie and we even paddled by something obviously dead (obvious by the smell, but it was too dark to make it out). Then minutes later after passing the carcass, we here coyotes howling, apparently finding the rotting flesh for themselves. Nice. We paddled a bit faster.

We reached the US-59 bridge and as I expected Rick was there at the boat ramp to check our progress. We were the first ones to cross this checkpoint, so he apparently thought we were mashing. We weren't. He told us to slow down, so we kinda did. We slowly maneuvered through the derelics in the water, floating by the bridge as this was not the time to get caught up on a branch and flipping over. We continued on and this dam dam never seemed to show. We had to stop off on the bank a couple of times because we didn't want to experiment with in-boat urination. I think it was a good call. A little after our first pit stop, Monty and Melissa cruise by us in the yellow cruise missle...bring a handgun to the party, someone else comes with a street howitzer. Their glowsticks slowly bob away in the distance, the pattern of lights kinda looking like a cruise ship. Then again, we are alone. We are dazzled by an array of lightning bugs on the shore, but that too loses its awe after a while. How the hell do these people paddle for a hundred miles and not go nuts?! Then there's the Safari...ludicrous!

After a few more miles of twists, turns, sandbars, weeds, and alligator gars, we finally see lights that are unmistakenably for a dam. We first see the lights on the bridge before it, but then we see the red warning lights on the top of the dam--we are here! By this time, my lower back was screaming because I had forgotten to bring my inflatable lower back support. My back muscle on the left side was obviously swollen. I had to switch paddling positions with Jackie because having to put pressure on the pedals to steer just made my back feel worse. It was a lot better up front. So the fun didn't end there--we had to drag our boat up the steep boat launch. Happy, happy, joy, joy! I had to lay down somewhere and stretch my back, immediately. I took some drugs, but I had to be careful since too much of this stuff would make me drowsy. Thankfully, the next leg was a short trek to the next paddle put in, giving my back a break. We waited for Tommy and Frank to come in and then we proceeded to the next point while Rick transported our boats there. It was a good time to rest up and relax before paddling for a couple more hours. We arrived at Browder's marina and loaded back into the boats and headed west for Indian Creek Marina. We have been there before, but again we never tried getting there in the dark.

Monty and Melissa took off again, and pretty much the whole time we saw the cruise ship bobbing and weaving in the distance. We paddled the whole way with Tommy and Frank, eventually feeling out the shore to find the Indian Creek inlet. We eventually found it, but there were several fingers and we had to decide which one was the right one. The cruise ship went right and we went left, through some nasty tall weeds that were breeding some kind of bug population. We followed the finger for about half a mile, then it pretty much dead-ended. We eventually decided to turn back and go where we saw the cruise ship go. We get there and we see Monty and Melissa going back. Okay, this is getting ridiculous. We try a bit to the north now, but nothing. Finally, Tommy remembers a bit from the last time we were here and go back where we ran into M&M and go right instead of left at a fork--this of course is the right way and Tommy does not hesitate to remind us that he found the right way. This from the guy who had to follow us all the way here because he didn't have his GPS (we were allowed to use our GPS for the lake paddles).

Ray-Ray loading gearRick was there and we beached our boats and prepped for the bike up to the next checkpoint, which would be a dark zone. So I couldn't wait to get there! After dragging our boats out of the way, we headed up 224...and I mean up. Right away, it was a climb out from the marina. Neat! This portion of the ride would be the hilliest, so we took our time. It actually took less time than I thought it would as we were at hwy 156 in no time. Left and then right on 150 and then left on 2025. The dark zone was at one of the Lone Star Hiking Trail parking lots off of 2025. As soon as we got there, Tommy and Frank, Monty and Melissa, and Jackie and I, we quickly bedded down for our 2hr dark zone. It was about 5am at that time, so it would be daylight by the time we got up. We were allowed one luxury item and Rick had suggested a sleeping pad, which I thought was a great idea! But everyone was suprised that I had actually packed it--I believe I was the only one who did. It wasn't that heavy and fit snugly in my pack, so I figured it would pay off during our dark zone, which it did! It was so comfy! Other than being abruptly disturbed by the other group arriving at the parking lot, I slept all the way to 7am. The little nap actually helped a ton and I was up like sunshine! It seemed that Jackie and I simultaneously got up, so we started packing our gear and did our business in the woods--well synchronized!

After loading our bikes in the trailer and getting a few choice chunks of advice from Rick, we were off on the next leg which was a trekking leg where we had to pick off 5 cps. We were again the first ones out, just at a walk. We had agreed before hand that we would not run a lick since this was just a training session and we didn't feel like running with 30lbs hanging off of our backs. We took the LSHT east and then veered south down a dirt road. The CP was right off of an intersection and we spotted it quickly. Tommy and Frank were there at the same time. Then back north to CP2, which was on a pipeline trail, next to a downed tree. Got it. Monty and Melissa had caught up to us too, but both the other teams decided to stop momentarily to shed clothing as the temp was getting a bit warmer. We continued on without them as we figured they would catch up with us again anyway. CP3 was at a creek crossing. We followed the pipeline east and I had to count creeks/peaks. We got to the creek and had to head north a bit and there it was. We were supposed to call Rick at this CP, which we did. He said we were making good time. CP4 looked to be easy since it was at a road intersection. As soon as we got to the intersection, we saw it right there. One more CP, at a creek. I again started counting creeks and hill peaks. We got to the creek I thought it was at, but we couldn't find it. I was starting to get suspicious because the clue said it was on a fence and we didn't see a fence anywhere. That's when I asked if we had crossed a road, which Jackie confirmed we didn't. She then said that perhaps we weren't there yet, and I agreed. As we were about to head further south, Monty and Melissa caught up with us. So we continued on as a group and along the way Tommy and Frank caught up too. We arrive at the correct creek as there we immediately see a fence. The CP was right in the creek so one of us had to get our feet wet. I volunteer.

yup, everything's in there!Our next transition to bike was at a parking lot off of 2666. After slogging through a couple of creeks with no definite trail markings, we head further south on a dirt road. We follow it until we hit Red Road. We take a left, intending to take it all the way to 2666. We actually cross the LSHT again and apparently this is what we were supposed to take. Oh well. We follow the road southeast to the intersection with 217, then take a nondistinct trail southwest to 2666. We follow 2666 west and finally get to the parking lot. Rick informs us that we were supposed to use only the trail system to get here, but it wasn't very obvious by the wording. Oh well. We took a rest period as we waited for the other group to arrive. I took advantage of this time and took a nap. Of course, to our dismay, the other group of Caroline, Eric, Ross, Raymund, Nikki, and Dave P arrive through the LSHT. Nice. As they arrive, Rick tells us to mount our bikes and navigate the backroads to the intersection of 220 and 220C. After a bit of bikewhacking, we get to the main dirt road again and its smooth sailing from then on. Along the way we see some Houston Fit people training--we didn't use Double Lake much because of this--we didn't want to disturb their training session. We get to the intersection and there's Rick, waiting on us...of course saying we took too long.

We sat there, waiting for the other half of the camp attendees to show, so it was like another dark zone for us. We all sat, some of us napped. As we waited, several HoustonFit folk ran back and forth by us. At one point, one of them asked what kind of group we were...we were like "an adventure racing group". LOL. After a brief downpour, the 2nd group emerged from the LSHT and rode the hill up to our location. Rick wasted no time to tell us to load up and head out again, giving them no rest whatsoever. This is where people were starting to run into water issues as they didn't stop and refill their hydration packs. It was a pretty easy ride through the forest, having to get off once in a while for mud and downed trees, but it was obvious some were suffering from dehydration. I had a good vantage point as I was in the cleanup position...unfortunately that meant no one had my back if something were to, per se, fall out of my backpack...Anyway, we rode a loop and ended up back close to the LSHT primitive camping ground and we took a short water break. Rick caved a bit and gave us refreshments and then ordered a mandatory pit stop at the nearby Subway, both of which were not on the original agenda. He also modified the ride back to the paddle and told us we had to trek back instead due to traffic concerns.

that cool dude RossAs we rode back out west on 220 and turned right on 2025 to head back into Coldspring, Tommy notices that there is only one shoe lashed to the back of my pack. Muthafu...what's up with losing gear?!?! So I had one shoe now to complete this newly-added trek section. Wonderful. To say the least, I was a bit perturbed. Grumbling the whole way, I along with Jackie, Tommy, and Frank catch up to Monty and Melissa and roll into Subway, most likely stinking to high Heaven. I tell Rick about my missing shoe and apparently his fuzzy feelings for us are over. I now decide that I have to do the trek in my bike shoes. Fun! After refueling with sandwiches, cookies, and soft drinks, we head back out on foot in our two main groups. We were the first to leave, with the clipity clopity of my bike shoes. It actually wasn't too bad--at least we weren't running. The trek actually didn't take that long and we were back at Indian Creek in no time. We quickly switched into our padding gear as the locals gawked relentlessly--it was sure a classy marina, as Jackie could attest to. LOL. We shove off and head pretty much straight east for Lake Livingston State Park. We started off in the day, which was nice, so we could get a good bearing for the CP pretty easily. The water was pretty rough, but no white caps--it was just a disorganized series of waves occasionally coming over my bow...at least my pack that was lashed to the front of the boat shielded me from green water. It slowly turned to dark and we dug on, slowly getting closer to the other side of the lake. As we approached the park, we saw an inviting fire burning on the beach...it drew me in and I kept wanting to head straight for it...heck, the GPS said it was on the right bearing! But we then saw flashing lights to the left of us and we knew it was Rick's trailer. We corrected course and headed straight for him. Amazingly my back was doing fine on this paddle, possibly because of the combination of me being in the front and me taking some medicine. Unfortunately, I figured I couldn't have too much of a good thing and took another pill for the final paddle back home. This would turn out to be a bad mistake, in post-analysis of course.

There was a bit of a "special test" where we had to do a "tower climb." Thankfully, it was a stair climb, so it was easily done. Again we waited a while, so I took this opportunity to nap again. Beetles were crawling everywhere, but I didn't care a bit. We must have waited over an hour and I finally had to get up and see what was going on. Looking out on the water, we could see what was obviously the other group, but they were on the wrong side of the park. They stayed there for about 30mins and were growing restless, trying to figure out what they were doing. Finally, I took my headlamp out and turned on the blinking distress signal. They must have seen it because they then started to paddle straight for us. Success! A few minutes later, they arrived at the boat ramp, relaying their trials and tribulations. We started loading up the boats and readied our bikes for our ride back to the marina by the dam. Rick had given us instructions on how to get back to the dam, but he eventually escorted us back as he was worried about speeding traffic on the dimly-lighted highways that late on a Saturday night. We all made it to the marina safely and started to get back in our boats. Tommy, Frank, Jackie, and I headed out first on the water and were the lucky ones to entice the alligator gar and whatever other flying fish to jump up and scare Jackie out of her seat. I heeded her request to follow behind Team Tommy so they could clear the way. Yes, I was back to steering to give Jackie's back a break. But for some reason the drugs were not working this time around and I think they were starting to make me drowsy--not a good thing since this was about the time the sleepmonsters would be creeping in. I struggled to find a comfortable position, but it was impossible as I had to keep my feet on the pedals to steer the boat. We slowed down considerably and were playing catch up for most of the time. The fog added an extra eerieness to the paddle as sand bars and branches would appear seemingly out of nowhere.

dark zones rock!I was ready for this paddle to be done as I was starting to fade. I was sleep-paddling. My brain was as foggy as the mist we pierced through and all I knew was that the other two boats we pulling away from us and I couldn't really do much about it at this time. I didn't want to stop either and delay our finish. I just kept wishing the take out was just around the corner, but it seemed like eternity. Again, I was wondering how these lunatics could do a CR100 or Safari and not go crazy. Finally, we see something red glowing in the distance--the other two boats are drawn to it so I figure we have arrived. I was so relieved. One other thing that made the paddle so long was that 2 or 3 less floodgates were opened on the dam, making the current a trickle compared to what it was when we had to paddle against it. Figures. One by one we helped each other drag our boats up the steep, muddy embankment. I unintentionally napped a little as we waited for our turn, my paddle anchored into the muddy river bed. Finally, we scooted up and hauled Big Red up and over to the grassy field and that was it. We were done. A little over 30hrs of nonstop fun. We walked back to the Lakehouse to retrieve our vehicles then after a few moments of loading up our boats we were outta there. Sweet, sweet bed, here I come! Funny part was that Mo was just waking up for her shift at Starbucks, so as I was arriving she was leaving. I crashed and didn't wake up until she got back home from work.

So all in all, great times! It was a really great experience and gave us a good taste of what a linear expedition-style adventure race would be like. I can't wait for the real deal!

Monday, April 09, 2007

RunBikePaddle Sprint AR #1 Suunto T6 Log

* pods not used
** altitude values about 200ft below actual

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

t6 vs. Smartbelt Comparison: Final Chapter

Red = Smartbelt; Blue = t6

Okay, this was going to be the last straw for me...if the Smartbelt didn't work satisfactorily this time in the pool during my lunch swim, I was gonna drop kick it into a trash bin! I tightened the strap even more AND wore a compression t-shirt. Thankfully, it worked! You will still see some portions of the log where it lost my HR and just interpolated between the missing data, but comparing it with the t6 reading, it is obvious that it did a better job of recording data.

What is interesting to observe is that while EPOC and TE are higher for the Smartbelt as expected since both are cumulative measures based on HR, other vitals such as energy consumption, max ventilation, and average HR are higher for the t6...I'm guessing these are artifacts from interpolation of the missing data for the t6 when I was under water.

Anyway, this is the last I will test the Smartbelt since it is obvious that it can work if you tighten the bejesus out of the strap, meaning that it is a contact issue, not a communication issue.

Monday, April 02, 2007

HART Beginner-friendly Races