13 March 2015

Race Report: FLX Sea 2 Sea 72hr AR, Part 1 (Pre-Race)

One of the first lessons you learn in adventure racing is: getting to the starting line is actually the hardest part of the race. You've got a team to assemble, people to get fit, body parts to keep uninjured, travel to complete, mountains of gear to sort and pack and unpack and repack and unpack and repack, thousands of calories to prep, and you still need to get some sleep and do some "real" work in between. The road to my first non-stop expedition race was no different.
It started with an email from one of the top teams in the country, Rev3/Mountain Khakis. They won the Sea2Sea in 2014 and were looking for a repeat, but their normal girl (Britt) was unable to race. At that point in time I was already planning to assemble a team with Erl from GearJunkie/WEDALI, one of the most experienced multi-day racers I know and also one of my favorite people. But it turned out that Rev3 had room for both of us so we jumped at the chance to join Jeff and Joe of Rev3/MK. A few weeks later, Britt's schedule opened up and was able to join us as well, so we shuffled the teams into one 3-person coed (Jeff, Joe, and Britt) and one 2-person coed (me and Erl). Since Erl and I aren't known for our navigation skills, Rev3 promised to stick together and guide us through the swamps of Florida. Game on!

Now the biggest issue we were facing was a team name. Jeff, Joe and Britt, obviously, would be racing for Rev3/Mountain Khakis. But I would be representing Alpine Shop and Erl would be representing GearJunkie/WEDALI. Normally in these situations we come up with a really creative team name mash-up, but nothing was making sense. Then Erl and I raced with Rachel, Jeff, David, and the Garrison at POCAR and had a hilarious team joke about underwear. Kind of a long story, but all you need to know is that Erl and I would be racing Sea2Sea honoring the movie Mean Girls...our team name was On Wednesdays We Wear Pink.
the photo that started it all!
OWWWP fo eva!
In the weeks and months leading up to March, Erl and I took our pink-wearing duties very seriously. Pink visors were purchased and bedazzled. Pink duct tape was acquired and applied to all gear. Pink arm sleeves and calf sleeves were bought and worn. Pink bracelets were made. We even thought about dying our hair pink but didn't want the dye to run into our eyes during the race. Team mojo was through the roof when Erl rolled into St. Louis on Saturday and we started Part 1 of gear prep.
Race food from the grocery store. This doesn't include the bars/gels/sports drink stuff either.
gear bomb.
Then on Monday, Britt drove in from Illinois and we started our 3-person road trip to Florida. We had many hours to drive but used the time to get to know Britt and talk through potential race situations. Everything went really well and we rolled into Cedar Key late Tuesday night, just in time to grab our hotel keys and eat an amazing seafood dinner at the only restaurant open on the tiny island. Jeff and Joe arrived late that night as well and finally we were the 5-person mash-up team we'd been planning for so many months.
adventure racers like to have fun, too!
our home on Cedar Key, the Beach Front Hotel.
Wednesday morning the 5 of us grabbed cruiser bikes from the hotel and rode to a leisurely breakfast on island time...meaning nothing is ever in a hurry. Then it was back to the hotel to explode our gear all over the parking lot for last minute prep. Fittingly, our hotel was painted pink and purple so Erl and I immediately felt at home. The pre-race meeting had to be rescheduled a few times, but thankfully everything on Cedar Key is a 3min bike ride away so we used the down time to get dinner and ice cream and finish up bike prep. At the meeting, we were handed a race summary page, race book (aka "the powerpoint"), and maps for the first half of the course. The maps were small, mostly 8.5" x 11", pre-plotted, and not waterproof. We had a combination of aerial photos and some sort of topo (not USGS). We took everything back to the hotel to put the finishing touches on our clothes and food based on the race information. Then it was another 3min ride to load the bikes and bins onto race trucks, and finally collapse into sleep!
Race summary sheet. Sean Clancy is complaining about it already. Can you tell why?
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