Friday, October 26, 2012

Lighterknot Adventure Race

The Lighterknot, held in Palm Coast October 20, 2012, marked a full year of our doing Pangea Adventure Races. Something about this place is lucky for us, I guess. I do credit the fact that despite the lowest of low expectations (for ourselves) we managed to clear the course last year. Which really inspired us to keep at it. Dave admits that he went into the first one just wanting to appease me. However when he realized how fun it was and that we actually had a shot at being competitive, oh and that the people are awesome, he was hooked. And by competitive I mean not coming in the bottom 1/3 ALL the time. Not, ya know, actually winning. The fact that ARs are as much about the brains as the brawn is what makes it so attractive to us. We're never gonna top ten at a 5K or triathlon or even the obstacle races. We're just not, nor I think ever going to be, that fit/fast. But Dave is better than your average schmo at navigation due to his aviation background, so with his skills and our ever increasing level of fitness, we can actually have finishes we can be proud of.

  I broke out the pre-adventure racing jeans for the Team Photo. Size 20 to size 10. Yeah-ya!

The Lighterknot was another well run event, as we've come to expect from the Pangea Crew. Greg and everyone else associated with their events just could not possibly be more encouraging, supportive and sweet. And did I mention I have a mega-crush on their photographer? He's totes adorbs (yes, I know how that sounds and I don't care) and it doesn't hurt that he still manages to take decent pics of me despite the fact that they are taken at the potentially most unflattering moments. 

Helmet hair, sweat, dirt, etc, this pic could still be SO much worse.

Dave and I take turns drawing the marble to see which discipline we start on. It was my turn this time and I drew the Trek marble.Happy dances ensued because we have found that we both really prefer to start on foot. It's definitely my strongest of the three disciplines and I'd rather start with what I am strongest with and make the most of the energy I have. So off we went. After the first checkpoint we went off trail to cut a corner hoping to get ahead of the team of 18 year olds. With their navigation skills (they had some) and their youth, we knew they'd be tough to beat. So a trail blazing we went. Dave did a great job cutting the corner and we emerged from the woods back on to the trail, at the same time we see the kids (Team Slack Pack. No, that's really their name. I'm not being catty) come around the bend. Oh well, if we hadn't taken the woods they'd be even further in front of us.

And so it went, we leap-frogged with them and a couple of other teams all day. We ran, ok jogged, the entire Trek portion for the second race in a row. That's a big deal to us. 

Still feels wrong that in the ARs and at Crossfit the running portions are my favorite parts. What happened to me?

No navigation issues at all. Maybe others found faster or more direct ways, but Dave led us to every one all day without a hiccup. Well, there was the one CP on the paddle for which  I disembarked pre-maturely. No, I didn't fall in. This time.. The clue was that it was "on a mound." So just as we are thinking we are getting close, there was a very obvious mound alongside the river. We stopped, I hopped out, but didn't see anything. So a couple of minutes were lost there, I suppose. Just as I was giving up and getting back into the boat another team came by and assumed it was the spot. I yelled, "No, no! Keep going! It's not here. It's too soon." At least one team member seriously questioned my honesty for a moment. 

I assured him that I was not lying and we had a very fun banter with them for the rest of the paddle. Which reminds me, listen up ladies! Another bonus to the ARs, besides ya know, inspiring and being great workouts, getting you outdoors and providing a sense of accomplishment, they often provide a fair amount of eye candy in the way of cute twenty/thirty-somethings. Just sayin'.

Anycuties, we felt hella strong on the paddle. All those push-ups and pull-ups at Crossfit are definitely paying off in my paddle strength. And it continues to amaze me how well Dave and I do paddling together. I guess after 18 years together you're either going to be really good or really bad at that kind of thing. Though I know the key to our success with the races (and again the measure of our success is very personal and does not necessarily have anything to do with how we appear on the leaderboard) is that we leave it all on the trail. Do we occasionally snip at each other? HELL. YEAH. But we let it go immedi-freaking-ly. And of course, we give each other as much positive encouragement as possible as well.

On  to the bike. The bike, like the last race, was the bike. I still don't feel like I am as strong on the bike as I could be. Now that the weather is getting more friendly I definitely need to make more time to ride off road and build up a little more endurance. I'm going faster and longer every race, no doubt....but I know I have it in me to do better. 

The end of the race was actually quite exciting. On our way in we knew we had cleared the course, but we had no idea where we were in the standings. Just as we reach the homestretch we saw a team of runners giving it all they had to get back. And then another team on bikes comes flying out onto the road from the trail that took you to the Boat TA. I gave it all I had but we couldn't catch the team on bikes, though we did catch the runners. (I'm not that slow) What fun! 

We ended up in 5th place. I'm not going to lie, we'd really like that Top Three someday, but we really couldn't be happier with the progress we have made this year. In January of 2011 as I was preparing for gallbladder surgery I set the goal of doing the Missing River Race. I was over 250 lbs and I knew it was time to make some changes. Dave and I had always watched things like the Amazing Race etc and thought "we could totally do that!" When I stumbled onto the Pangea events on-line, I thought that this could be just the thing to inspire us both to eat better and start getting in shape. I started working out some, but quite frankly had not hit bottom enough to make the changes needed to have some serious weight-loss. And then in May I found that rock-bottom. If you care, you can read about it here. But my point is, we are so happy with how far we have the ARs (among other things) have resulted in a complete lifestyle change for our entire family this year. Have I mentioned Dave has lost at least 30 lbs this year and is working out regularly for the first time in all the time we've been together?

Yeah, the ARs have done that. They've inspired us to work harder, try harder, be better. It's prepared me mentally for the challenges of Crossfit which symbiotically, makes me better at Adventure Racing. Are we ready to move to the Elite class? Not quite yet. Call me Goldilocks, but for me, the 3 hour races (for now) are just right. Though I did just sign us up for next month's 4 hour Turkey Burn. Crap.

Till next time, stay dirty!


  1. Keep killin' it punks. You're the wind beneath our wings and such. :-)

  2. Great Job! Congrats on all your successes. For what it's worth, think about giving the elites a go. We started racing about 2 years ago and have been racing the elites full time for a little over a year. It's a blast. I know a "12 HOUR RACE" sounds totally daunting but try a 6 first(scary enough, right?) and see how you like it. It's been absolutely the right decision for us. As fun and satisfying as the Sport races are, its even more so to get across the finish line in the longer events. Before you know it, you'll be looking forward to the summer and the 12 hour Nocturnal Challenge ;) Either way, keep up the good work!

    Bill Dean (We Blame Javan)

    1. Thanks so much Bill! I'm sure we'll give them a try eventually. And we REALLY appreciate the words of encouragement. I signed us up for the 4 hour Turkey Burn. Baby steps, right? LOL

  3. I was really able to tell your husband had lost weight between the races. (considering I am burning through you entries in a couple days. It was REALLY obvious.) I really think my husband and I would LOVE this. We did a 1/4 marathon winter night time trail run in Jan 2012. Lots of cooperation and encouragement were needed. And I think we came out stronger for it.

  4. I guess it all depends on your dynamic as a couple, because I have seen it go either way...however, the races REALLY bring us together. When it comes to the "thinking" races like these, you do ultimately have to let one person be the leader. But the leader needs to also respect the opinions of his teammates as well. It works well for us, because due to his life experience, Dave is SO much better at navigation than I. Therefore, it's easy for me to defer to him. If he had less/I had more navigational skills the dynamic might be a bit different, admittedly. .