31 January 2014

Emily's Epic Birthday Adventure: Day 1 Recap

Wow. What an awesome way to kick off Emily's Epic Birthday Adventure! If you haven't heard, I turned 30 on 29-Jan and wanted to celebrate by doing 30 hours of outdoor activity, and also raise $3,000 for the Team Noah Foundation. The plan was to ride for 9hrs on Day 1 (Thursday), then run for 12hrs on Day 2 (Friday night), and then ride another 9hrs on Day 3 (Sunday). Well, yesterday was Day 1 and it was time to ride!
breakfast of champions!
Maria and I met up BEFORE SUNRISE at Strange Donuts and we shared a Mexican Hot Chocolate donut, a Pronut, and a Strawberry Glazed donut. And coffeeeee! Then the clock struck 7 bells so we headed out to our bikes and began a very long journey. The first 20ish miles were cold with temps in the mid-20s and a strong breeze! I am currently rehabbing a slightly mysterious toe injury (think it's bursitis) so I wore my summer shoes for their roomier fit, plus I thought a 9hr "ice bath" would be good for the toe. Maria and I cruised west on Clayton and I could feel my foot freezing, but in a good way! We met Dwayne around mile 23, he had parked at The Wolf and ridding backwards to find us. Getting three Team Noah riders together is a powerful combination, and we motored up Kehrs Mill Rd to The Wolf for a coffee refill, a delicious granola bar, and to unthaw my feet.
First 30 miles of the day.
At that point I discovered my ice bath idea might be a little extreme, but Dwayne suggested I use the age-old shopping bag trick. The Wolf had extra bags, I had duct tape in my repair kit, done! As we rolled back out, my feet were much happier! We rode my one of my favorite roads in West County (Shepard Rd, northbound) and then looped around the backside of Babler State Park. Hi Babs. Normally this stretch of Wild Horse Creek Rd (I think of it as the Poker Flats) is super fast, but today we had a massive headwind that made us work. Fortunately, Team Noah isn't afraid of a little work...we crushed those miles and kept cruising onto Ossenfort and Melrose. Around this point I was worried we'd be a little late into our lunch stop, but it was too cold to take gloves off and mess with my phone to alert others we were meeting. So we just kept riding and didn't stop til the entrance to Zombie Rd, where Dwayne gave me an awesome tutorial on how to ride the frozen mud ruts of Al Foster on a road bike. I gave Jeff a quick text, we rode up Zombie, couldn't see the Arch from Ridge Rd, and then missed the turn onto St. Paul, my fault!
Love me some West County roads.
Once we got to the bottom of St. Paul, I started getting uneasy. This was NOT where we were supposed to be. I pulled out the magic iPhone once again, and right at that moment Jeff called, proving we are telepathic teammates. Turns out we had to climb BACK UP the 1mi 5% hill. BONUS! We met Jeff at the top and then cruised as a foursome over to TJ Wings. Who was there to meet us...PEAT!! For anyone who doesn't know, Peat snapped his greater trochanter clean in half and is currently recovering from surgery. Best thing for healing? Meeting your teammates for lunch, 45 minutes late, and then still chatting with them when they decide to skip the lunch part. FreeAwesome for sure.
me, Jeff, Dwayne, Peat, Maria!
We did a time check at TJ Wings and decided to modify our planned route. Both Dwayne and Jeff needed to get back to their cars before sunset, which we wouldn't be able to do if we went to Jefferson County. So we rode up into Kirkwood, then east on Grant's Trail to drop off Jeff, then back to Maria's apartment to drop off Dwayne and Maria. My bike computer showed about 7:20 of ride time at that point, so I took off solo to finish out the remaining 1:40. I rode downtown, soaked in the serenity of The Arch, then back to my apartment, complete with a loop through Forest Park to make sure I hit the 9 hour mark.
last part of my ride
And that's it for Day 1 of Emily's Epic Birthday Adventure! 9hrs on the bike with some awesome people netted me about 115 miles total. I felt pretty strong the whole time. It's hard not to feel strong when you're riding with a purpose in mind: raising money for the Team Noah Foundation. Dwayne, Maria and I talked a lot about the future of the foundation and we have some BIG PLANS. They are all geared towards making it easier for families to spend time with their babies while they're getting treatment for a congenital heart defect. We want to be able to provide short-term housing, financial support for insurance/mortgage/additional medical costs, travel expenses for out of town family members, and a whole network of resources that families need during a crisis. THESE ARE BIG GOALS. But if anyone knows how to achieve them, it's the endurance cycling community. Join us by donating here: http://www.plumfund.com/pf/teamnoah
I love this shot of Noah.
What's up next? A 12hr run! Tonight! 9pm! Grafton, IL. Details here: https://runsignup.com/Race/IL/Grafton/AeriesFebruaryFreezeTrailRun  feel free to stop by any time. In an extremely meaningful show of solidarity, TWO of my Team Noah teammates are doing this with me. Dwayne and Adam both are tackling the 12hr event. Please keep in mind - these guys are mountain bikers. Very good mountain bikers, but I'm pretty sure they haven't run a whole bunch in preparation for this. But they know a thing or two about endurance events and it is amazing to me that they are throwing their hat in the ultra-running ring. ROCK ON! If you've ever wanted to hear what's inside Dwayne's mind, now is your chance, come out and run/hike with us. See you at Aerie's!

One more note - please leave a comment or get in touch with me if you are thinking of riding mountain bikes with us on Sunday. We have a few tentative plans in place, just waiting to see what the weather does this weekend to trail conditions. I will make sure you are notified! Pin It

28 January 2014

Race Report: 2014 POCAR

The Purdue Outing Club Adventure Race (POCAR) is a unique event. It gives teams of 2-6 people 48 hours to locate an unknown amount of checkpoints on foot in the Indiana woods, using only a map and compass. The checkpoints are only revealed once the race clock has started, and usually only some of them. Teams have to plot their course on the fly and adjust for additional checkpoints to be handed out as the race progresses. Some teams choose to use the entire 48 hours to find all the checkpoints, perhaps even carrying camping gear with them to sleep out in the woods. My teammates and I were planning to finish the course as fast as possible, without any sleep, a task we estimated could take up to 24 hours and covering 50+ miles on our feet.
gear explosion!
Who were my teammates for this awesome event? This year, Alpine Shop was invited to join up with our friends from Bushwhacker Adventure Racing. As I've mentioned before, normally we only get to hang out with these fine folks in race situations, when we're trying to grind each other into a pulp. But since this is an early-season, laid-back event, the fine folks at Bushwhacker reached out to us and asked if we would want to do POCAR together. Of course we would! Originally, Jeff, David and I planned to join Fredrik, Rachel, and Mike to make a team of 6, but Fredrik has some work commitments and couldn't make it. So that left the five of us to represent our combined teams, hilariously named Al's Bush Shop for Whackers for this fun event.
David and Jeff marking up maps with out-of-bounds and important roads.
Jeff, David and I drove over to Bloomington, IN on Friday night and met Mike and Rachel at our luxurious cabin located really close to the Race HQ in Yellowwood State Forest. We all brought our gear inside and started comparing clothing and food notes. It's really wonderful to race with new people because it means new perspectives on race strategy! We also compared notes about our competition tomorrow, and realized we had a target on our backs placed there by Indiana orienteering stud Mattias (US Night-Orienteering National Champion) and his team of Russians and Sedges. Wait, sedges? Damn you, autocorrect! Garrison's phone meant SWEDES! But that gave us our first race joke and that team will be hereafter referred to as The Sedges. Race morning was like any other, except noticeably colder, as we all drank our coffee, packed our stuff, and crossed our fingers that we would be returning to the cabin tomorrow morning with enough time before checkout at 11:00am. Once we make the short drive to Race HQ, we collect our maps and mark them up. We've been assigned to the first start wave at 0900. Like every race, we all seem to be consumed with details until the very last second, and then it's time to start POCAR 2014!

LEG 1 (0900-1230, 11.5 miles)
Leg 1 overview
The race starts on the honor system, no official "horn" or "go", just the race director trusting that only the teams with the 0900 start on their envelope will open them and start plotting. We are a trustworthy bunch, so at 0900 we run from the headquarters to the back of David's minivan and start plotting our 6 points on to each map. Once that's done, Rachel hustles us through final gear prep and we run out of the HQ area about 0915. There is a nice bit of road running to start, and we are all thankful to warm ourselves up a little. We attack F15 up the big spur off the road, find it cleanly, and then retrace some of our steps on the way to T13. We are able to cheer on a couple other teams in the area including Monkey's Fist! Whoop! We then descend into a major reentrant, "Cablewell (??) Hollow" on the USGS map, and then climb back up the north side. Once we crest the ridge...BOOM...T13 is right there. Garrison led the exceptional nav on this leg, and I know we're in the hands of two extremely capable navigators. This. Is. Awesome!!!!
Leg 1A
Our routes to L6 and U2 are also exceptionally clean, with David and Garrison working really well together to choose highly efficient and accurate routes. We all take extra time here and there to adjust layers, and I borrow Jeff's extra pair of homemade hand-tubes, they are awesome! Rachel and I use this time to catch up on adventure racing girl talk, a luxury we don't hardly ever get. Not that racing with boys all the time is a bad thing AT ALL, it's just fun to have another girl to talk to. I am getting really wrapped up in a story that involves "feelings" and "it's complicated" and "but I just don't knooooowwwww" as we make the climb up to Q15, I think even to the point where we distracted Garrison from his navigational duties. And then, where the control should be, there isn't anything. What the what? I feel really bad about distracting the team from the race at hand! We fan out all over the ridge, double-checking the features (where the ridge splits to the southeast, the secondary hilltop to the northwest, the minor spur to the west, etc.), and confirm that we are indeed on the correct hilltop where Q15 should be. Gahhhhh! We decide to bail to the Fire/Water Station and inform the race staff of the misplaced control. Once we get there, we realize that there's a Radio Station, AND a Fire/Water Station, and neither of them are as shown on the map. Double gahhhhh! The race staff doesn't believe that Q15 is misplaced because they "set it with a GPS in the correct spot". Oh, if I had a nickel for every time a race director said this! GPS is NEVER the right way to set an orienteering course! We decide to let them hash it out over radio with HQ while we go get D4, the last remaining control on Leg 1. 
Leg 1B
D4 is an easy out-n-back with mostly road running, but as we attack the control from the highly visible private property line, the flag isn't there. Not again! Triple gahhhhh! We descend into the reentrant junction just to be sure, and, nothing. We even check the next junction downstream, but nothing there either. Instead of wasting more time, we climb back up to the road and return to the Fire/Water Station to see what the race staff says. It's really hard to convince them that not 1 but 2 checkpoint flags are missing, especially since we are the first team to have attempted both of them. We discuss this a little bit and they finally agree to give us the Leg 2 cluesheet. Just as we're finishing up plotting the next 6 checkpoints, Mattias and the Sedges show up, reporting the exact same thing, that Q15 and D4 are missing. They started in the 0930 group, so they have a 30 minute time advantage on us. We are not happy to see them so close to us in the race, but are relieved to hear that they had the same issues. We run out of the Fire/Water Station with renewed intensity and purpose to push hard on Leg 2.

LEG 2 (1230-1500, 9.5 miles)
Leg 2 overview
We run out of the Fire/Water Station on a mission...get away from the Sedges! The first control, Z13, is a quick out-n-back with a healthy climb, and we see the outbound Sedges on our way back, which keeps the pressure on. We fly back through the Radio Station and down the spur towards C14. I mention to the team that I thought the pace on Leg 1 was pretty easy and that we should really run hard on this leg to get a gap. Garrison gives me a look like "oh, you thought that was easy, that's cute" and takes off down the creekbed. Jeff stops briefly to punch C14, and Garrison stops briefly to help a confused team, and the rest of us continue bashing through the underbrush at a wonderful pace. This is what I absolutely LOVE about adventure racing - friends running through the woods together. We have a long leg to H13 but choose to take it mostly redline, which means a fun climb! 
Leg 2A
We are all feeling really good at this point and it seems that finally I've got my layering strategy under control. We've all taken a few extra minutes here and there throughout the day to make sure we aren't sweating too much or getting too cold. In these conditions (temps from 15-30F, with snow in the overnight forecast), we need to be extremely vigilant to make sure we don't soak through our current layers, because we aren't carrying much extra and only have plans to stop once more at the HQ. We are also being careful about our calories, sharing them amongst the team whenever one person is eating. This is another reason why I love racing with new teammates - new menu items!
Leg 2B
The rest of Leg 2 isn't really anything exciting, besides keeping score of how many times each of us wipe out on the slippery downhills. We just keep eating, and talking, and laughing, and navigating, and enjoying ourselves while keeping our foot just slightly on the gas to build our gap over the Sedges. The final checkpoint is on probably the highest point on the map - a big hill called High King Hill. It's a large mamba jamba, but I'm totally loving the climb and the company. And the fast descent straight back down and into HQ. We turn in our passport to the race staff and they give us an incredulous look, "You're done? With BOTH of the first legs? You're hours ahead of our schedule!" Well, as David put it earlier in the day "We're pretty good at this stuff" and we are given the final set of checkpoints as the race staff scrambles to get volunteers in place for Leg 3. The race director confirms that this is the last section of the race, and gives us the mystical warning to "pay attention to all written instructions at the checkpoints". Hmmmmm. We are given a passport with spots for 10 punches, and coordinates for 8 checkpoints. We are told that we will receive instructions for the remaining 2 checkpoints (C10 and A9) out on the course. We reload our pockets with delicious treats and head out again into the snowy woods.

LEG 3 (1500-2030, 15.5 miles)
Leg 3 overview
The whole time we've been plotting/transitioning at HQ, we haven't seen The Sedges come in, so we think we've made up some time on them, and that only improves our already high spirits. We attack J15 confidently with the specific clue "where the ridge flattens out". We are on a ridge. It is getting flatter. Except, no flag! We all canvass the area again, and gradually move up the ridge/spur. I finally spot the flag on a secondary spur, maybe 50m from where we plotted it. Relief! We punch and continue our way up the ridge, then onto the road towards the Fire/Water Station. A light snow has begun to fall and freshen up the 3-5" already on the ground.
Rachel and Garrison, on a similarly steep hill, during last year's POCAR  (no snow that year).
We arrive at the Fire/Water Station and there are volunteers there! Awesome! Except, they're not quite sure what to do with us yet since we're the first team. We decide to run a quick out-n-back to K18 while they radio into HQ for instructions. When we get back, they're ready to go with a special challenge and 1 additional set of UTM coordinates. The volunteers ask us to nominate the most trustworthy member of our team and of course that's Jeff. He stands aside while Rachel, Mike, David and I are blindfolded (with our own hats) and tied together inside a loop of rope. Then Jeff is instructed to lead us around a bunch of trees, except he can't speak. We're all pretty used to crazy "special challenges" and this one is a piece of cake. Somehow the four of us inside the rope get stuck on Star Wars and make Darth Vader/Storm Trooper/Light Saber noises during the whole thing. Jeff leads us through unscathed and we are rewarded with extra coordinates to C10. We plot it and run out of Fire/Water Station again without seeing any other teams. Awesome!
dropping snowfall winter scenery landscape beautiful
Pretty much what our road run looked like.
The initial run to V3 involves a lot of road and we make good time on it. Then it's into the woods for the final 1k along a mostly flat ridge for the punch. The next two controls, F16 and B14, are very accurately described by David as "down, then up, then down, then up", each of the downs and ups being 250-300 feet in a considerably short distance. I find myself a sturdy stick and it really helps with the climbing. On the descent after F16, I eat one of the sandwiches I packed (turkey-cheese-Boetje's mustard on a wrap). It's one of those "you know you're an adventure racer when" moments...half-running, half-sliding down a snowy, leafy 30% grade sounds like a GREAT time to eat a sandwich! And it's delicious! We have another similar descent to X6 as the snow continues to softly fall. The sun has set and the woods are starting to turn an increasingly deep shade of blue. It is very quiet and very beautiful. I feel lucky to get to experience this part of Indiana with these awesome people. We all take a few minutes to get our lights sorted at X6 and then decide to use the eastern road to attack the 3 remaining controls.
The woods kept getting bluer and bluer.
Once we pop out onto Dubois Ridge Road, we are all feeling good enough to run. We chat along happily and all of a sudden there is a team up ahead. Who could it be? The headlamps get closer, and we eventually discern that it's the Sedges! We did not expect to see them, but it looks like they're traveling in the opposite direction as we are, and that means we've got about a half-loop lead, which could be anywhere from 1-3 hours. Good news! We attack O15 cleanly and then use a super-safe high route to L20 since it's completely dark now and conservative, accurate nav is key. Then we gear ourselves up for one last big climb up to C10 (this is the checkpoint we were given coordinates to at the Fire/Water Station earlier this leg). On the way to C10, we continue to muse over the A9 checkpoint. At 3 of the previous checkpoints (K18, V3, and L20), a message has been included on the flag, reading "X marks the spot". We don't really know what this means, but are hoping that C10 will include some further instructions about A9.
Leg 3, with "X marks the spot"
When we get to C10, there is another "X marks the spot" message, but nothing else about A9. Jeff thinks that we were supposed to punch A9 at the Fire/Water Station after completing the special challenge, but that the volunteers forgot to tell us that (remember, we were the first team there and they were not organized yet). I suggest drawing an "X" on the map between the 4 controls with messages and see where that puts us. So we all crowd around the map and draw in the "X". If we've plotted correctly, then the intersection is slightly north of a marked benchmark, but not near any other real feature (just a wide, flat ridge). But we're still not convinced that we need to physically go there. For all we know, the messages could just be a test and at the finish line, we could just be asked "which controls had special messages?". So we decide that we're done and it's time to return to Race HQ. We descend down the snowy spur and jog the road into the campground. We find the race director in the semi-heated shelter and we turn in our punchcard, proclaiming "We're done!"

Um....no. We're not done. The race director shakes his head, saying "A9 is still out there. You need to go figure out where it is." Whaaa?? Of course our first guess is at the "X" intersection we just plotted, and we ask if we're right. The race director gives us a slight nod and, instead of letting us stew on our mis-interpretation of the race route, Jeff herds us out of the shelter and gets us re-focused on running an extra 5km out-n-back. BONUS MILES, MY FAVORITE!! We are on a mission, Jeff and Rachel especially. They lead us out at a fast run, retracing our steps up onto a steep doubletrack trail that we used to start this loop, several hours earlier. We all grunt up the hill, onto the main road, and then to the area where "X marks the spot". There is another team there, headlights on full force, bashing around. Our collective heart sinks when we discover it's The Sedges! They've made up a lot of time on us, even without our mistake, and now we are looking for presumably the same control together. The terrain is really subtle here, and we can't find anything resembling a checkpoint flag within 100m of where we plotted the "X". But Mattias' crew is still looking, too, so we all keep pushing farther and farther into the woods, hunting for the elusive checkpoint. Finally, one of the Sedges hollers out in an encouraging tone, and we latch on to their location and find the flag. Relief! We quickly gather our team back together and decide to try and run hard back to the finish, even though there's no way we can make up 30min in 2-3km. We find our way back to the road, back to the doubletrack trail, and back into the Race HQ with an acceptably completed passport.

And then, we wait. No sign of the Sedges. We all change into whatever dry layers we've carried and eat our remaining race food. David starts a countdown with 10 minutes to go, shouting out minute numbers and causing people to give him even more funny looks than normal. We have no idea why the Sedges are taking so long, but after a painfully slow interval, 30 minutes have passed and we're announced as the 2014 POCAR winners! We gather up all of our things and proceed to the parking lot to drive home. On the way we see The Sedges coming back into HQ, and they tell us that after the "X" checkpoint, they still had 2 more checkpoints left, plus they had a nav error. Oh, so that explains it!

With our winning time of 11.5 hours, this is the shortest POCAR in recent memory, but none of us feel cheated from the lack of time in the woods. We have an amazing cabin just a few miles down the road, and more time to spend in it with our friends. There is even time for Garrison and me to drive into town and get PIZZA! And BEER! Want to get some weird stares? Find a Big Ten college town, go into a liquor store at 10:30pm on Saturday night, dressed in spandex and a puffy coat, with your headlamp still on, and buy some cider. Works even better if you're a guy. Try it sometime!
More pre-race prep inside the cabin.
Racing with the Alpine Shop boys is always a blast. We race hard, but we have a lot of fun while going fast. And racing WITH Bushwhacker, instead of against them, just amplified that dynamic two more teammates' worth. I absolutely loved everything about POCAR, even the confusing directions and mis-hung checkpoints. It's not meant to be world championships of the world. It's just a race that's put on by a bunch of motivated college students, bringing a great crowd into the winter woods, and spending quality time outside. I had the company of some amazing teammates, and I can't wait for next year!
The view outside our cabin on race morning.

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23 January 2014

Race Roundup: Little Woods Progressive Ultra, the SHITR, POCAR

I've been busy. Lots and lots of training leading up to my Epic Adventure Birthday Party! So forgive this conglomerate post, but really, when I do single-sport events, it seems a little harder to write about them.

This is a first-year event put on by local ultrarunner, Travis. There are several "last man standing" races out there in the big wide world of ultrarunning, but I hadn't heard about them until Travis decided to host his own here in the St. Louis area. The general principle is this: there is a loop of trail, and a set time interval. Everyone starts each loop at the same time, and if you finish under the time interval, you can continue on. If you don't finish under the time interval, you are eliminated. For the Little Woods course, our loop was 4.1 miles with 200 feet of climb, and our time interval was 1 hour. About 60 or so runners started, most of us never having participated in a "last man standing" event before, me included. And it was SO MUCH FUN! Because we were only competing against the clock, and completing 4.1 miles in 60 minutes is decidedly non-strenuous, the social aspect of the race was amped up. I ran each of my loops with different people and had a great time getting to know them.
The potluck aid station!
Another great thing about this race was the communal aid station. Travis decided that this first-year event shouldn't have an entry fee, but he wasn't going to provide much support, either. So the single aid station at the start/finish line was potluck style. And it was incredible! SuperKate made her famous chocolate chip cookies, and I also discovered a new recipe - Scott Jurek's Xocolatl Balls. Travis also ordered us pizza that was deeeelicious. I am almost positive that I ate more calories than I burned.
Completing the first loop with a bunch of new friends!
So how did it go? Great! My goal for the day was a marathon, and I ended up completing 9 loops (36.9 miles) with fairly even splits, around the 50-minute mark for each loop (which gave me plenty of time to stuff my face before starting another loop). I felt good all day, but during my 9th loop I knew I had reached the point of diminishing returns. So I pulled myself from the race and ended up 2nd female, somewhere in the top 16 overall. My Alpine Shop teammate David also ended his day on the same loop. I can't emphasize enough how much fun this event was - I can't wait for next year!

Ahhh, who doesn't love a good race acronym! This is the SHivering Icy Trail Run: a nighttime trail half-marathon put on by ROCK Racing, and it's in its second year. I won the women's race last year, and was super excited to come back and test myself again on the Lost Valley trails. Except the winter weather didn't cooperate, so Chuck and Robin re-routed us onto the gravel doubletrack instead of tearing up the wet singletrack (smart decision! GORC thanks you!). Still in training mode for my Epic Adventure Birthday Party, I pre-ran the slightly shortened course (11 miles instead of 13) by myself at 2:30p, then came back for the official start at 5p.
The opening climb up The Mound.
We started off with a sprint up The Mound, and I found myself in top women's position after the stairs, so decided to chase down the women's prime! I never go for mid-race primes but this one just sorta happened. Then I ran the outbound leg of the modified out-n-back course with David and Eric, chatting all the way. Once we hit the turn-around, David decided he needed to fully comply with the SHITR's name, leaving me and Eric to charge up the doubletrack hill. I have been feeling really strong lately thanks to a recent focus on lifting, and we pushed super hard up that hill. Then I tried to cling to Eric's heels for the remaining 4 miles to the finish. It was a tough run but I was super stoked to be able to put out that kind of effort with 20+ miles in my legs already!
And then, for the last piece of training before my Epic Adventure Birthday Party, Jeff, David and I joined up with our adventure racing friends Mike and Rachel from rival team Bushwhacker to take on this 48hr rogaine. Normally, when we hang out with Bushwhacker, it's at races where we are trying to make each other hurt as much as possible. One of my distinct memories is from 2012 Thunder Rolls, where I was racing with GearJunkie/WEDALI, and we were running close to Bushwhacker late in the race. We were all struggling with the heat, and as we passed them, Scott from Bushwhacker moaned "Stop doing this to us!". That is really what it's like racing against top teams in the Midwest - a knock-out, drag-out fight for the win. So when Bushwhacker asked Alpine Shop to team up together for POCAR, we didn't hesitate a minute to say yes. Isn't this how everyone socializes with their friends...a 48hr trek in the winter woods?
pre-POCAR gear explosion!
CHANGE OF PLANS! I intended to write about POCAR in a short little paragraph like Little Woods and the SHITR. But then Garrison sent me the map and, like any good orienteering nerd, I've found that I have a lot more to say than just one or two paragraphs. So I'll write about that in a separate blog post. Stay tuned!!
In the meantime, check out the race report from our friends at Monkey's Fist Adventure Racing!

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14 January 2014

Everyday Adventure Racer Tip #1

I've been thinking a lot lately about how adventure racing is really hard. The learning curve is incredibly steep. So steep, in fact, that teams can get discouraged really quickly and quit before the ever get to experience the joys* of racing through the night, with wet feet. And wet clothes. And wet food. But man, when the sun comes up, and that next checkpoint comes into view, the sense of team accomplishment is so incredible that it keeps me coming back for more, again and again. I. Love. Adventure racing.
And I want other people to love it too. I admit that I am certifiably obsessed with the sport, perhaps to a degree that not everyone is willing to go. But there are some simple things, beyond training a ton, that anyone can do to become a better adventure racer. And I want to share those here, so that maybe your next adventure racing experience is a tiny bit better. I have a bunch of tips in mind but I'm just going to share them one at a time to make these posts short-n-sweet.

Alpine Shop super-team at 2013 Berryman 12hr
Yes I said hug. Or at least a handshake, or at the bare minimum a high-five, if you are just meeting them. Ideally you should do this every time you see them, train with them, race with them, drink with them, etc. Share the adventure racing love!! Like I said above, this sport is HARD, and you'll be surprised at the lengths to which your teammates will go if they know that you care about them. It's important to keep this in mind during races, too. Did your teammate just wade through that swamp for the checkpoint punch so you didn't have to? Pat them on the back. Did your navigator just lead the team directly to the checkpoint flag in the middle of the night? Hug them. Did your teammate just give you their last piece of pepperoni because you didn't bring enough food on the trek? At least offer to split it, and then hug them. This is a team sport, people, and a little appreciation goes a tremendously long way.
Puppy pile optional.
Boonecrusher 12hr AR 2013, racing with Gnome Hunters!
Further reading:
Dude, It's OK To Hug Your Bro

IMG 2904
*joys: OK, maybe racing through the night soaking wet isn't exactly awesome, but, you can't always be having Type I Fun.

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11 January 2014

Emily's Epic Birthday Adventure

I hope you have been training since you read my 30th birthday announcement post here. Need a refresher? Basically I am planning to pack 30 hours of adventure into a 3-day weekend: 9hr bike ride, 12hr run, 9hr bike ride. Wham, bam, thank you ma'am, I'm turning 30!

More details are coming to fruition about this awesome weekend, and I want to share them with you so you can decide how you want to participate! First, on a suggestion from my college roommate Catherine, I am using this event to raise money for Team Noah Foundation. I just joined this incredible mountain bike team at the end of 2013, and I feel like I've found my home. The people associated with the team, from the riders to their families to our sponsors, are exactly the kind of people I want to be around. They inspire me to dig deep, push my limits, and do great things. At a recent training ride we put our heads together with our main sponsor, Dogfish Apparel, and came up with this grand scheme to use my birthday plans to raise some money. You can donate to Team Noah at any time, but I'm using my birthday to do a focused fundraiser!
Here's how to do it: go to my dedicated Emily's Epic Birthday Adventure fundraising page on plumfund.com. Make a donation. You can use PayPal or credit cards online, or you can write a check to Noah Goscinski Memorial Fund and give it to me in person (and I will record it on plumfund). In the spirit of turning-thirty-ness, I suggest you contribute $30.00, but really any amount is seriously appreciated. My goal, also in the spirit of turning-thirty-ness, is $3,000!!! We can do it! The fundraiser is set to end 1 week after the Epic Birthday Adventure on 7-Feb-2013 so hop to it!
Doesn't that Team Noah gear look amazing? I wear mine all the time! Thanks Dogfish!
ps. Hi SuperKate :)
As a special incentive, Dogfish Apparel is creating a custom Emily's Epic Birthday Adventure t-shirt for every contribution, no matter how large or small. These shirts will be distributed after the fundraiser is over so I can get everyone's correct sizes. But wait there's more! if you participate in all three events, you will receive a custom Dogfish hoodie/fleece to celebrate your sense of adventure! If you've seen the stuff that Dogfish creates, you know this is going to be awesome!!

If you want to be a part of my birthday celebration, donating to Team Noah Foundation is the first thing you should think of. It is the easiest way to get involved and doesn't require any training! The foundation supports children and families dealing with Congenital Heart Defects (CHD). And for those of you who want to get outside a little, here are more details about my 30 hours of biking and running.

We're going to kick off this party with 9 hours of road biking through West St. Louis County and Jefferson County. I've divided the ride up into two parts so if you don't have time to be there all day, you can choose your own adventure! I will be riding at an all-day pace - about 14 mph. In order to finish everything up before the sun sets, we need to stay on the move so stopping is discouraged except for the refill stops at miles 27.5, 67, and 95.5, and mechanicals as needed. The stop at mile 67 (TJ Wing's) will be a little longer so everyone can eat some delicious hot-n-honey wings, my favorite in St. Louis!!
Team Noah Memorial Ride, July 2013.
6:30AM meet at Strange Donuts in Maplewood
7:00AM depart Strange Donuts in Maplewood
appx 9:00AM stop at The Wolf, mile 27.5
appx 11:45AM stop at TJ Wing’s in Valley Park
quick lunch at TJ's
appx 12:15PM depart TJ Wing’s in Valley Park
appx 2:15PM stop at Phillips 66 gas sta, mile 95.5 (Old MO 21 & Rock Creek Rd)
5:00PM return to Strange Donuts in Maplewood (118mi total)

Please let me know if you're coming to ride and if you're in for the whole enchilada or just some parts of it. If you are just doing certain sections, there are plenty of ways to get yourself between different points on the route so fire up ye olde Google Maps and make yourself a plan. THIS RIDE IS UNSUPPORTED!!! Bring everything you need and have a plan for self-extraction if you run into trouble. If the weather is horrible, this WILL be a 9-hr trainer ride!

The adventure continues with 12 hours of trail running, in the dark! This part is largely organized by Metro Tri Club. Go check out their new race called Aerie's February Freeze Tall Timber Trail Run! I'm already entered and you should be too! There are solo and team divisions, pick your poison! The race will be held on a 6-mile loop of double/singletrack at Aerie's Winery in Grafton, IL. The goal is to complete as many loops as possible in 12 hours. The beauty of this race is you can set your own personal challenge - it might be 1 loop, or 3, or 10! Go for it!
The view from Aerie's Winery.
9:00PM race starts.
9:00AM the next day aka Saturday 1-February, race ends.

My parents will be visiting/crewing and there may be cake!!

The final chapter of Emily's Epic Birthday Adventure will be 9 hours of mountain biking. I have a venue in mind but we're working out some details. And being respectful of the weather forecast and trail conditions. SO! Stay tuned. The start and finish will be within 1 hour of Forest Park. Again, plan for an all-day pace, which will be slower than 14 mph.
Team Noah representin' at the 2013 BT Epic! Pants optional.

7:00AM mtb ride starts, location TBD.
5:00PM mtb ride ends.

Whoop! I am so excited/scared for this! But no matter what it's going to be awesome and provide tons of stories. So leave a comment if you're planning on joining for some/all of the fun! And don't forget to donate to TEAM NOAH FOUNDATION!

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