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Saturday, June 30, 2012

and after (Untamed New England race report)

class III whitewater during the final leg.  Pity i wasn't awake to enjoy it.

The race went well, relatively speaking.  I guess a better way of stating it is that it went well in my opinion.  If you ask the rest of the team they'll probably mention that they were hoping to do better than 9th overall, 8th in our division.  And then they'll add something about how it was the most competitive field in an expedition length AR in the US in probably five years.  True enough.
I bonked on the first day, but recovered.  I suffered from GI issues early on the third day but also recovered.  I slept about three hours over the course of the 80 we were racing.  I flirted with cramping once, but it didn't last.

I made a bad foot choice the first night during a packraft/trek leg.  Thinking that we'd be in the boats except for a short few miles I elected to wear neoprene socks and forgot to bring a regular pair as a back up.  The trek ended up taking about 8 hours and by the time it was over my feet were severely masticated - water swollen skin forming deep creases in the soles of my feet that were incredibly painful.  It felt as though the entire ball of my foot was one massive blister.

Luckily the process seemed to be reversible and I was able to dry my feet out (more or less) over the next leg of the race, bringing the pain to managable levels.  Lesson learned.

What else is there to report?  We paddled and packrafted at an elite level, leading the field through the first stage(packraft-run-paddle).  Our biking, however, was sub par - we just never moved that fast as a team.  Perhaps this was because Jason, normally the team navigator, handed the duties to daniel on the bike.  this presented a problem as daniel is the strongest biker and usually responsible for setting the pace - although he can bike and navigate at the same time (doesn't stop to consult the map), he doesn't approach his normal speed while doing so.

And because this race was pretty short as far as expedition races go, we didn't use the sleep strategy i was familiar with (2-3 hours per night).  the last 36 hours i spent pretty much in a waking dream - a lucid state where the sensory input coming from my external reality seemed less and less likely to shape my consciousness.  It was pretty fascinating and also made the last day or so pretty 'comfortable' in the sense that although my feet were still pretty wrecked i found myself at least partially detached somehow from the sensation.

Of course the sleep deprivation also made it hard to go fast - not because i was muscularly or cardiovascularly fatigued, but simply because i was so sleepy.  I've had little to no soreness following the race (other than bruising - i was hit by a bowling ball sized chunk of rock on my collar bone at the climb site - and chaffing) and i think its because i was unable to push very hard those last couple days.
I was pleased with the team - much more comparable levels of fitness than in some past races (where either i wasn't up to par as in 2010 nationals or i was noticably stronger, at least in some disciplines, than the others, as in 2011 nationals).  Chelsey in particular was insanely strong - if she had low moments she didn't show them and they were brief.  I like my fitness program and think it has alot of strengths and prepares me well for these big endeavors... but whatever she's doing works too.  She was a Dynamo - probably among the three strongest women at the race.

and finally - although our tent cabin was surrounded by lush poison ivy, the course (miraculously) was relatively urishol free.  i escaped with nary a welt from the oil, but many thousands from the swarms of black flies and mosquitos that were, they said, the worst they've ever seen.  So it goes.

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