Monday, August 30, 2010

I'm awesome...ish

Once in a while I do something that those on "the outside" might call foolish, especially for a person of my advancing decrepitcy. Those who know me, know that foolish is my middle name, and, I believe, are never surprised by my bottomless courage.

All three of my brothers and one sister-in-law compete in these crazy Adventure Races. They have a team and everything. With shirts. (click here to read more about the races, and here to read more about the team) Think The Amazing Race, with more sweat and less Frequent Flyer Miles. A couple of months ago they invited me to race with them, and because I’m completely unrealistic about the limits of my physicality, I said “Heck yes, I would love to join you as you race across the super hot desert in August with my unfit self. Thanks for asking!”

Like the true athlete I wish I were I began “training”(note-this implies some knowledge of what training actually involves, so please know I use the word loosely). I rode my bike about 7 miles a day, 4 to 5 times a week, on a flat trail, before the sun came up, which was, I concluded, obviously the best way to prepare for a 3 hour race that included mountain biking (on a real mountain), map reading, and running.

You should have seen the fear on the other competitors faces when they saw me. Or maybe it was amusement, or possibly the other kind of fear; that I was going to die, or worse, kill someone else. Whatever. They looked scared to me.

Our starting point was a swimming pool in the middle of a Phoenix neighborhood; most of the race was set to take place on a nearby trail. The mountain bike portion was first and I was feeling good about things. After all, I’d been “training” on my bike, I was sure I was ready. My team mate, a friend who has raced lots of times before, volunteered to be in charge of the map reading duties. Not wanting to be a show off, I let him.

This small gesture surely saved our lives, or at the very least my dignity.

As we got going I immediately noticed that riding up and down hills on a rocky trail is a tinsy bit more difficult than what I was used to. Also, it occurred to me that my brother might not have been joking when he stressed, two weeks before the race, that I should become familiar with the gear system and “know my bike”. In fact, my brother really buys into that whole “know your bike” business. A couple of times, when I was going downhill a little faster than I felt comfortable with, he shouted (in a motivational tone), “You’re FINE! Your bike can handle this trail!”. It was clear that he didn’t understand that it wasn’t an issue of my bike being able to handle the trail, I have no doubt my bike could have easily run the race with or without me.

The second leg of the race was the “foot race” portion. Race being a relative term, by now it was 9:30 in the morning (which translates to 6 billion degrees of hotness here in the valley of the sun) and 8 miles of trail riding had been just a tich more physically taxing than my usual ride, so our team's pace was more of a quick walk. *this is where I have to tell you that my team mate, who I had initially worried might not be a good match for me personality-wise(you know how I can be), turned out to be so patient and upbeat I almost added him to my valentines list.*

When it was all over my team mate and I ended up placing 3rd in the co-ed division (out of 6 co-ed teams) and 9th over all (out of 16 teams). I had started the day with 3 goals- not to throw-up, not to be last, and not to die. I’m happy to report I achieved all 3 (though it was touch and go on the whole death thing a few times) and I look forward to racing again.

Just as soon as I learn how to read a map.


MommyJ said...

Oh get rid of that ish! You are completely, totally, one hundred percent awesome.

So there.

Sounds really fun. I've never even heard of such a thing.

lori.huffaker said...

Again, so proud of your adventurist nature!! Hope to do it with you someday!!

Karen said...

I hope you got pictures of those bruises!

Alexis said...

Being able to read a map is so overated that it isn't even on my to do list until 2012. And I may add tying knots to the list so map reading may get bumped until 2013. But that's beside the point, the point I was trying to make is you are awesome and what say you come out here next July and race with your brothers. There won't be a pool but I guarantee you'll be drenched.

Also, I ALWAYS set mini goals. It makes me feel far more accomplished than I truly am.

Todd said...

Did you wear those ridiculous orange shoes? Cause maybe thats why the competition was looking at you funny.

Congratulations though, really. When is your next race?

Homer and Queen said...

I was kind of impressed but then quickly realized we could not be friends. I would still be laughing that they even asked me, and yet you said yes. And showed up. And trained. And finished. Really?

James said...

Impressive! Congratulations!

Charlotte said...

Sounds like ... fun? Middle of the pack would be an impossible dream id I were to try to race.

Hilary said...

I am so not a runner, I'm always impressed by those who are!

NatureGirl said...

Agreed! 100% awesome!

Shawnie said...

I'm really impressed you attempted it!