Friday, February 2nd, 2007
Anytime I have ever left for a race I have received phone calls, text messages, or well-wishes in person of the following variety: “Good Luck and race hard!”, “Go Fast and try to win!”, “You’re going to have a great time, good luck!”. This time I was sent off with serious faces and only one plea: “Please be careful. It’s going to be freezing out there”. Oh, and there was my friend that suggested I “Run. Run while you still can and hide because they’d never find you, you know.”
We pack up the car and are headed down to the Ozarks by 2 p.m. When we arrive and check in to the hotel around 5 I notice that the wind is pretty nippy and I’m wondering if it will warm up at all for race day. We unloaded the gear, went to the race check in, and, yeah, it’s still freezing outside. During the pre-race meeting we find that we will only be given half of our checkpoints to be plotted that night and we’ll receive the other portion at some point during the race. We are also informed that there is ice on the lake, more than they thought, and the course might have to be changed at the last minute. Given all this, and the weather, I’m not worried or nervous at all. I remember my main concern being flying down a single-track trail on my mountain bike, hitting a rock covered in ice, and having my body flung into a gigantic tree, which would add a degree of difficulty to every day activities thereafter…..like walking.
Back at the hotel (10 p.m.), we start plotting points on the map. Okay, Dave and Chad plotted them but I was really close by for moral support. This situation gave me the opportunity to watch the weather report for the next day. “High of 18 degrees, wind chill of 0, partially cloudy”. This was a full 10 to 15 degrees colder than anything we had trained in, but I still wasn’t nervous. I had plenty of base layers to wear the next day, my gear was ready to go, and the guys were having their final beers of the evening. All seemed right with the world as I hit the sack at midnight.
Saturday, February 3rd, 2007
Note to self: I should not be in charge of setting the alarm in the future. Fortunately I had woken up approximately 28 times between midnight and 4:08 so I decided to just get up. Alarm never went off. We put a few layers on and went down to breakfast. There were all ready quite a few racers down in the breakfast area and what luck! The door to the parking lot was right there, complete with people going in and out and adding a nice -4 degree breeze to the room as we were trying to eat 1,000 calorie breakfasts. After loading the car with all the gear we were headed to the main TA at 5:30.
Pre-race meeting was held at 5:45 and we found out for sure that the course had been changed due to ice on the lake. We still weren’t sure we’d have to canoe at all and I think we were all hoping beyond hope we wouldn’t have to. Since we knew some new points would have to be plotted and strategies changed, the race start was moved from 6 to 6:45. We headed back to the car to drink some Red Bulls and try to stay warm.
6:45 comes and we have a ½ mile run to get our new check points and then the ½ mile back to the main TA. We decide to plot the new points at the next transition area, in a cabin with a fireplace, after a 5 mile bike. Not 5 minutes into the bike one of us gets a flat. The heat we had built up on the run is rapidly dissipating; the sun has barely come up and my fingers are starting to hurt. After getting it fixed, we take off again only to stop 10 feet later because my pant leg is getting caught in my gears. It’s great being the newbie. We take off again, and we’ve been riding for a few minutes when I feel that my back is a little chilly. Someone rides up next to me and says “hey, I think the water in your pack is leaking. There is water dripping from your jacket”. Nice. I’m sure that won’t t