Monday, May 13, 2013

Adventure Tri - Bike, Paddle, Run 2013 (Ice-tacular)

Adventure Triathlon (18 mile bike, 3 mile paddle, 8 mile run)
Team Time - 3:50:51.232
My Average Pace 11:58/mile (I think this is actually wrong, more below)

While you were all either sleeping in or enjoying the warmth and comfort of being indoors this past Saturday, I was being my usual idiot self... and staring at a start line waiting to hear a gun go off.

But unlike the usual, I wasn't standing behind the start.  My husband was.  Say whaaaa???

Somehow, a few months back, I managed to talk my mother in law and my husband into splitting the Adventure Triathlon in Grantsburg, WI with me.  And at the time it sounded like loads of fun.  Get a team together, enjoy the camaraderie, add a dash of competition... what's not to like?

Oh... I don't know... how about 30 degree weather, 40MPH wind gusts, and rain/sleet/snow/hail?  I kid you not.  Worst. Race-weather. Ever!

First of all, let me introduce to you what I now call team Cobb Squared (our results said Cobb, Cobb, Cobb in the name line, and it kinda made me laugh):

Some general information about the start of the race:

First, I should say that 2013 was the inaugural year for the Adventure Tri, and it unfortunately showed.  While overall the race was a great experience, and the volunteers were fabulous, there were lots of things that I hope they fix for next year. 

One of the major concerns I had was about last minute tweaks to the race course - lots of initial mistakes were made in judging distance of each leg, difficulty of the terrain, etc., and this lead to lots of revisions to course information on the week leading up to the race.  And, I still wonder at the actual distances we traveled... especially given my Nike+ estimated I ran 9.5 miles... more on this later.  Additionally, I was actually honestly worried that some folks didn't understand how hard the course was... I saw someone trying to use an old school 10 speed Schwinn bike with skinny tires on an off road gravel course.  Yikes!  (In case you're wondering, yes, Schwinn did make it to the transition point).  I'm sure the race coordinators will perfect the race route next year and get this ironed out.  So, no big deal.

One other thing which could really use some help, and will be easy for them to fix for next year, was check-in.  It was pretty disorganized, with racers roaming around trying to figure out what to do.  I think if they just separate out tables (IE check in at one table, get bib numbers at the next, etc), and put up some signs, things should be fine next year.

But anyhow!  Enough bad news bears.  Let's talk the actual race!

As I said, I managed to talk my "mates" into being a 3 person team.  So, as my MIL and I were wiggling around trying to keep warm, my husband wheeled over to the start as part of wave #4 and awaited the gun (we were placed in the last wave based on our anticipated finish time):


And they're off!


As my husband wheeled off into the sunrise, MIL/FIL and I hopped into the car and drove to the first transition point to await the arrival of the bikers, post 18 mile journey.

Unfortunately, as we drove to transition, and not even 10 minutes into the bike ride, it started to dump sleet.  My poor husband.  All I could think is "I wish he would have worn some pants, too".  (Note the bike shorts above).  I felt even worse about this later when I heard a girl roll into transition and say "I was afraid to use only one hand to steer while I reached for my water bottle because I thought I'd be blown of my bike."  Whoops.  Not exactly a good day to be on a bike.

Since I wasn't on the bike course, I can't say much about what it was like.  But, my husband informed me that while he wasn't a fan of literally having a layer of ice on him as he biked, and that the 40MPH winds were not exactly his cup of tea, it was actually a nice gravel bike course.  And that it was also a great spot for people who like to bird watch.  He recommended we head back and check it out some time... in nicer weather, of course.

And despite the sleet, in the last 5-6 miles of the course, the sun finally started to peek out.  So, my husband had somewhat "defrosted" as he rolled into transition.  Hoorah:


Cobb Squared whipped through transition - I grabbed hubby's bike and they ran off to get my MIL in the kayak:


Actually, this transition point was pretty organized.  Some minor improvements (IE better signage as to where to place bikes and boats, and some better restrictions on where spectators should park cars), and next year this place will be perfect!

As my MIL paddled off down the St. Croix River, FIL/hubby and I hopped into the car and drove to the second transition point, awaiting her post 3-4 mile journey.  (I'm still not entirely clear how long the paddle portion was due to the constant course updates by race organizers.)

Just in case we were getting our hopes up that weather was improving, only minutes into MIL starting her race portion, the skies opened up again.  And this time, it was BAD.  Heavy downpour of mostly rain with some sleet/snow, which lasted a good 10-15 minutes.  I can't imagine how miserable that was on the river.  I heard the current was very fast due to the high waters this year, and MIL said the wind gusts actually turned her sideways a few times.  Scary.

I'm not sure if this portion of the course was good or not, since the poor conditions seemed to keep everyone focused on just staying afloat.  Yuck!


Worth noting - the second transition area was somewhat of a disorganized mess.  On a positive note, the volunteers here were great.  They worked HARD to make sure you got out of your boat and up the stairs quickly and safely... and even helped carry boats!!  But, there were lots of spectators just wandering and getting in the way of racers, and I think race officials actually missed some team transition splits because of it.  If anything, I hope race organizers work to better organize  this transition point for next year. 

Regardless, MIL made it to transition in no time, and then it was my turn.  Woot!

My portion of the run started down a short wooded trail, through a parking lot which I assume is one of the boat access points for the St. Croix, and then down a trail in Governor Knowles State Forest.  Eeek - this was quite the trail.  Up, down, up down, rocks, rocks, mud and more rocks.  I am definitely NOT used to trail running.  It was challenging and also a little scary.  With my bad ankles, I'm always afraid I'm going to roll them (as I seem to do at least a few times a year).  My time definitely suffered in this portion, I estimate I walked about 25% due to the rugged terrain... and the giant cliff at the end didn't help, LOL!

Even though I'm not a trail runner fan, I sure was glad for the trees when the next round of sleet started.  I managed to stay mostly dry under the canopy as the storm passed through.  And I was also glad that the trail was VERY well marked by race coordinators - spray painted arrows in the grass, plastic ties in the trees and cones / signs ensured you didn't stray off the beaten path.

Two miles in, the course climbed out of the forest/river valley and onto a country road.  That's where the first water stop was.  Wow the people were nice!  They even offered to take my jacket to the finish line, which I shed after a few minutes into the run and was carrying in my hand.  I opted to keep the jacket in case another sleet storm blew in, skipped the water with a "thanks", and kept on going.

The rest of the race from 2 through 7 or 8 was your typical back country road.  Some flats, some rollers and some more challenging hills, but nothing too drastic.  At mile 4, the water stop folks were lots of fun, as were the folks at the final water stop who cheered "only 1.5 miles to go... ONLY (lol, lol, lol)".  Too funny.

At some point along the run, I saw a guy cheering in the grass.  At first I saw him about 1/2 mile in the distance, and thought "gee that's nice"... until I saw him grab the ass of a guy running buy, LOL!  Then I thought "well... that's nice as long as I'm not next".  HAHAHA!  When I got closer I saw the guy had a bike and helmet, so I assume he had biked backwards on course to find out how his teammate was fairing.  BTW, major props to this guy.  He whole heartedly cheered everyone on, even me.  Twice.  Although the second time he cheered me on was when he was biking past me to catch up to his buddy again, and it somewhat scared the shit out of me since I wasn't expecting it.  LOL!

---- This is where I'll insert my soap box comment on race distance.  I'm almost 100% positive this was closer to a 9 mile run.  While I'll admit my Nike+ isn't 100% accurate to distance, I know it's not off by 1.5 miles on an 8 mile run.  When you factor in that I was delayed getting the distance meter started, and I missed recording the first 1/4 to 1/2 mile as I ran and pushed buttons at the same time...well, something just doesn't make sense. My Nike+ was telling me 9.5+/- miles at the finish.  I'd be even willing to accept this course was 9 miles or 8.5 (maybe).  But this was definitely not an 8 mile course.  So I don't buy my 11:58/mile pace for a hot second.  End soap box. ----

Somewhere around mile 6, I began to admit to myself that running this just 5 days after a half marathon (and still teaching aerobics class on Tuesday, running 5 miles on Wednesday, and doing hot yoga on Thursday) MAAAYYYY have not been my wisest decision in life.  But, thinking back to the water stop I took at mile 9 in the half, and how my knee locked up when I was resting, I resolved to just keep running.

Then the hail started.  And more 40MPH gusts.  OMG!  Ugh.  I actually started yelling at the wind.  Like that would make it stop, LOL!

But, as if the gods knew I was nearing the finish line, the weather calmed down,  and I realized I was back in Grantsburg.  I only had about 1/2 mile left on course... all down hill, and no more hail.  Wahoo!

The husband, who lost track of time and wasn't sure when I'd wander in, diligently watched for me in the wind and hail (despite still being frozen post race himself):


And before you knew it, there I was:


The finish line was a bit confusing - I think I was supposed to run down the center of the street, but it was open to traffic and cars were all over the place.  I opted to run the grassy shoulder on the side of the road, and then down the hill into the park. 

Finally, as I have many times before, I stomped on the finish mat with gusto.  Victory!

Race bib # 26 is now in my collection. It reads "Tortoise & Hare Timing, #990".
I can officially say not even hail and 40MPH will make me quit, and since this is my first ever "8 mile" (LOL) distance, I can still claim PR at 1:35:42.109.

Here's to another race soon... actually, AGAIN next weekend.  At least it's only a 5K this time!

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