Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Pac Crest Race Weekend Days 3 and 4

Friday: We woke up to some serious heat that turned out to be only a preview of what the weekend had in store. Spent the morning watching "Flight of the Conchords" clips on YouTube and drinking a lot of tea. For some unknown reason, my throat was (and still is) bothering me, perhaps because of pollen and the haze blowing in from the northern California wildfires.

Picked up packets and headed out to Wickiup so that the 1/2ers could set up their transition areas and get a final swim in the reservoir. The only incident of note occurred as Diane, myself and several others were waiting in the shade waiting for Randall to get out of the water.

This guy is pacing in an agitated manner near the exit of the transition area. Our group had the following exchange with him.

Him: You guys know anything about this race?
Us: Um, yeah, what's going on?
Him: I can't believe this transition area. The ELITES are supposed to be near the exit of the transition area, not the front.
Us: Um, ok.
Him: This is ridiculous. I have never been at a race where the ELITES are in this part of the transition zone.
Us: Um, yeah. Ok.
Him: More bitching and grumbling (at this point I'm focusing more on not saying something snarky than what he is saying).

Dude, we got it. You're ELITE. And you're going to have to jog an extra 100 feet in the transition area during a time in the race where no one but you and a couple of your ELITE buddies are even in the transition area. Boo hoo. At least you won't even have to share the air with the people that are racing to RAISE MONEY FOR CANCER RESEARCH and will be happy just to finish. (FYI: Not only did you totally made an ass out of yourself, but we know who you are...way to represent Portland and the Ironheads.)

I followed Wickiup with a nap before heading over the TNT pasta party. Free food and some amazing speeches by Bob and Terry Jordan. The Jordans lost their daughter Emily to leukemia more than a decade ago and tell their story to us every year. No matter how many times I hear them talk, it always reduces me to a mushy patch of tears. They are amazing people and we are so lucky to have them as a part of our team.

Saturday: Race day for the 1/2 team. By the time I rolled out of bed at 5:30, applied six layers of sunscreen and gotten dressed, most of the house has already up and had finished eating. Chris, Jane and I arrived at Wickiup around 7. Audrey had procured a VIP pass for me, so I was able to go into the transition area and mingle with the team. I would have probably gone bonkers if I had been forced to wait outside of fence.

Race started at about 9 and the highlight was the arrival of Team member Ali's boyfriend and her friends. They showed up in crazy costumes and played the drums outside of the transition area. They should seriously think about holding a spectator training camp...not only did they have drums, but they changed costumes 4 times. Ali's boyfriend is a cancer survivor and his final costumes was a full-on lycra "Lymphoma Man" superhero costume.

We stayed long enough to cheer every last swimmer out of the water, including the man who doggy-paddled the entire 1.2 miles and had his daughter waiting for him in the transition zone. It was really cute.

Then came what was truly the highlight of my weekend: supersoaking runners with Jane at the halfway point of the run. Chris, Jane and I hauled several water guns and several coolers of ice (with my beer in it) onto the course and sprayed down every runner that requested it. Considering that it was between 95-98 degrees that afternoon, we got a lot of takers. My favorite exchange of the afternoon came early on, when I was still learning to control the blast function on my water gun.

Cute guy: what can i get in exchange for a full spray down?
Me (after two beers and a lot of sun): either a beer or your phone number.

I then blasted the guy full on with ice water. In the crotch.

Cute guy: after that, you probably are going to want the beer rather than my phone number.

And so on. It was a great afternoon. I knocked some guy's hat off, sprayed water up both Seth and Doug's noses and laughed more than I had in a long time.

Towards the end of the pack, our Teammate Amy C. came through and you could tell she was in a bad, dark place. We waited for our last Teammate to come through (a beaming Julie Arts, just chugging along) and then Jane and I started to head back to the finish area. Not far from the river, we ran into Amy again. Almost immediately, I made the decision that I would finish the race with her if she wanted me to. And she did.

So Jane pedaled behind us and I walked for 5.5 miles. In flip flops. Something that I would not recommend to anyone, ever. Thank God I had a mission to get Amy to the finish line or I might have chewed my feet off by the end of the race. I finally got smart and slathered the soles of my feet with Vaseline at each aid station, but they were pretty beat up when we finished.

But we finished. I don't know whether you read this, Amy, but I am so proud of you. It is so much easier to quit than to persevere, and you fought through like a champion.

All in all, the Team survived the race with minimal carnage. I couldn't say the same thing for my feet. I babied the heck out of them all evening and hit the sack early after gathering my things together for my own race day.

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