Tuesday, January 30, 2007

26th Birthday, Cross Training & Adventure Racing

A lot of athletes aren't just athlete's in one sport, but enjoy all sorts of sports. When not doing triathlons, I certainly enjoy volleyball and surfing (it doesn't get much more socal than that!), but I have also caught the "multisport" bug, and enjoy crosstraining with other multisport sports! My other favorite type of racing is called Adventure Racing, and it is as cool as it sounds!

There are all sorts of adventure races, from the 2 hour sprints, to the 7 day ecochallenges. Most AR's include mountain biking and running at a minimum, but others can include kayaking, swimming, trekking, orienteering, repelling down a mountain/rock, climbing up a mountain/rock, and most go until after the sun sets, so lights are usually mandatory! I have done 5 AR's since moving to San Diego, all put on by a guy named Barrie Adsett. He puts on 4 FREE AR's a year in the San Diego/Baja region - for the main purpose of having FUN! It really doesn't get any better than that!
Here's how AR's work (for the ones that I have done, but all are very similar):

You get a topographical map that has grid on it for mapping coordinates (the one I used is below). On another sheet of paper, you have a series of data points. You also have a little UTM plotter, and you then plot each of the data points (called check points - CP's), on the map. When the race starts, the objective is to get each of the points as quick as possible. Sounds simple right? Here are the challenges:

* You usually don't get all the coordinates for the all the points in the beginning. The missing coordinates can be found at some of the CP's out on the course - so you usually have to go in order.

* Because it's a topographical map, you should pay attention to elevation gain and how you are going to get to each point. The last thing you want to do is get to the area where you think the CP is, and have to climb a ridge, without climbing gear!

* You usually get lost at least once. You think you know where you are, but sometimes you have no idea. You can think that a CP is in the area, but sometimes you are a few hundred meters off.

* Not being able to find a CP can be extremely frustrating - especially when you are cold, hot, tired, hungry or all of the above! Do not lose your cool. It'll make everything a lot harder.

* Sometimes an AR is a lot more adventure than race - but thats part of the fun!!!

One of the great equalizers of AR'ing is you can be the fastest person out there, but if you can't read a map, then you are going to have a long day!

So, Saturday 1/27 was my 26th birthday, and since Barrie just happened to have an AR in Penasquitos Canyon that day (which you can read about the course here), I felt this would be a great thing to do for the day! I had asked a few people to do the race w/ me, but for many reasons, no one was able to do it with me, but I did have a lot of people say "I'm totally doing it with you next time!".

Not wanting to derail the plans, I decided to show up solo, and jump on with a team. After arriving and signing in, someone pointed at me and said "Mexico!" I looked over, and it was this guy Louis that Dave Bartels and I had met when we went down to La Bufadora, BC, MX over the summer to do an AR. I asked him if he was doing the race solo, which he was, and I said "No way - we're doing it together!"

So, Lou and I started off on our adventure at 1pm, and quickly nabbed the first 4 CP's. We ran into a little bit of a problem trying to get CP5, since the coordinates for it were "315 degrees from CP4, and 45 degrees from CP6". Alas, we got it, and over the course of the next 4 hours, efficiently grabbed all 12 of the bike CP's. By now, it was about 5:30pm, the sun was setting behind the hills of the canyon, and it was starting to get dark and cold, really quickly. I was not looking forward to running apx. 8-10 miles in the dark and cold air. Lou started developing some severe leg cramping on our way back to transition, so it definitely made for a slow ride back. We got back to transition pretty much at the point where there was absolutely no sunlight left.

To most people, Penasquitos Canyon is a relatively flat canyon - and it is - on the main trail. But we spent a lot of time on the north side of the main trail, where there was plenty of elevation gain. I gotta say, that there is some killer mountain biking back there! Below is the elevation profile for the bike - but this is an ideal profile. Realistically, ours is probably much more up and down since we got lost a few times :)

With Lou's condition, he was in no shape to run, and I certainly had no motivation to go run for a few hours out in the dark! I also realized that it is my birthday, and that there should be some partying to care of later in the night, so I called it a night, packed it up, went home, cleaned up and went out with some friends in La Jolla for some good times!

What a great day to spend my 26th!

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