12-hour AR + 26.2 miles = :)

Well, I lived. My epic weekend—a 12-hour adventure race on Saturday, then a marathon on Sunday (this blog describes the ordeal: http://thegearjunkie.com/12-hours-262-miles)—went pretty much as planned: I pushed hard on Sat. during the adventure race, then laid low for a couple hours, driving from North Dakota to Minneapolis, getting three hours of sleep, before toeing the line at the start of the 26.2-mile run.

During the marathon, I kept my head high, kept a slow-ish pace, and pounded the darn thing out in about 4.5 hours. Not a time to write home about, but one I was happy enough with considering the circumstance.

What did I learn?

I have a theory that if you. . .
» pace yourself
» eat (a lot)
» drink (just enough)
» keep (utterly) motivated
. . . then you can push through most any physical challenge. This weekend reinforced that.

Adventure Race Recap
The 12-hour Extreme North Dakota Adventure Race, or END-AR (http://web.mac.com/Yogaslackers/iweb/end-ar/Welcome.html), entailed trail running (5-8 miles), mountain biking (40-50 miles), canoeing (8 miles), and orienteering (throughout the entire course). There were also Sudoku and spelling challenges thrown in.

About 20 teams signed up for the event, which was North Dakota’s first-ever adventure race. We started at 8a.m. on Saturday at Turtle River State Park, a (sort of) hilly preserve west of Grand Forks. It was rainy, misty and cool, probably 50 degrees at that point. At the ready-set-GO! we dashed off to run an orienteering course. I held the map, and my partner, Stanley Joel, followed close behind. (Our team name: Covert Loons.)

NDAR-scratstart.jpg
This is me at the END-AR start line getting ready for the rain.

We ran hard to what I thought was the first orienteering checkpoint, arriving there ahead of everyone by about a minute. But halfway to the next point, I realized that I had mistaken CP2 for CP1. We had missed the first point! So we ran back, and 10 minutes later we were in dead last place.

Bad move.

Next, there was a trail biking leg in the park. We scooted through this segment, passing a few teams before a spelling challenge. But Stanley boofed on spelling “mayonnaise” backwards, and our penalty was that we had to change a bike tire.

Five minutes later we were back riding, heading due east in some of the flattest country on the continent. There were essentially no contour lines on the map, just a gridwork of country roads and an occasional wetland. The key was to keep on the map, making sure you always knew where you were at.

The roads were muddy and slow. I used a Kona cyclocross bike; Stanley rode mtb. We drafted some, but the mud spray, ruts and slow going made it not the most pleasant or efficient means of ticking miles off. Our average speed was just 11mph.

Twenty or so miles into the course we almost got killed. Bullets whizzed by our heads. No joke! Some local (yokel?) was sighting in his rifle, shooting at a target on a road. Our route went straight up that road, and before we could tell what he was doing—bzzztttchiiingggg—a ricocheting bullet zipped by, ringing in my ear. I have no idea how close that bullet came, but it was loud and close. We screamed at him. He put his gun down. We pedaled forward, exchanging a few choice words with the idiot, then warning him that there were several teams behind us. His response: “Isn’t that scary when that happens,” referring to a bullet whizzing by your ear. (!) “Well yeah!” I yelled.

I wanted to push him into the swamp.

We rode on, now in first place. We’d taken a few short-cuts and pedaled hard, passing a few teams in the process.

A culvert under Highway 29 lead into Grand Forks, where we biked down to the river for some more CPs before a transition to another orienteering leg.

A long canoe ended the race, including downstream and upstream paddling. Highlights of that section included CPs placed deep in culvert tunnels and one that was strung 10 feet above the river’s surface on a creaking piece of dead wood. (Stanley made me climb out and get it.)

We finished in first, quite a ways ahead of the second place team, taking about 10 hours to do the course. Bonus: We won $200! Rarely are cash prizes given out on small adventure races like this.

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Stanley at the finish line.

Congrats to the YogaSlackers.com crew for pulling off a cool event. Many teams were first-time AR’ers, so it was great to see so many people pushing their limits.

Marathon Recap
Speaking of limits. . . after the adventure race, Stanley and I drove home to Minneapolis, a 4.5-hour ride, getting home at 2a.m. I slept for three hours then got up, ate some oatmeal, and put on my running shoes.

Was at the start line for the Twin Cities Marathon at 7:30 a.m.

Ouch.

At the blare of the horn, the pack started bouncing. We crossed the start line and jogged into downtown Minneapolis. It was temperate, though humid. Kind of a hard day to breathe, actually.

I maintained an 8.5-minute-per-mile pace for the first quarter of the course. Then I slowed. I stretched. Stopped to eat. Stopped to drink. Walked some. Worked out the kinks in my ankle and back.

By mile 12 I was bonking some, though a road-side donut stop (a spectator giving out slices of glazed donuts) gave me a little boost. Then I hit the halfway mark, which always feels good. You think: “OK, I can run that same distance one more time.”

Cloud cover and a nice breeze near mile 19 made the run a bit more enjoyable. But then I hit the course’s infamous neverending hill, a street that climbs subtly for about five miles.

By the end, I was sore, though not terribly down and out. I sprinted in the last half-mile, crossing the finish line at 4 hours, 38 minutes.

An average marathon for me is more like 3 hours, 45 minutes. But given the weekend, and the lack of sleep, I was just happy during this year’s run to be done, to cross the finish line sane and in (fairly) high spirits.

Watch for a report on my gear tests from these races on this blog later in the week . . .

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