I ended up doing quite a good write up of my race with the Spot Messenger Adventures. The link is to the right in the sidebar. I hadn’t really decided to use a Spot until the last minute. It was a good investment for my Team Captain, Kate, as she could see my exact location and progress along the river. It was quite funny a 5 hour paddle for me to a checkpoint took her 15-20 minutes to drive. So she had enough time to find food and water for herself and check up on her new iPad where I was.
Here’s my account of the race I posted on Spot Adventures. There’s interesting maps and some pictures there too.
“The Colorado 100 is an ultra-marathon canoe and kayak race held Labor Day Weekend in Texas. It begins in Bastrop and 100 miles later ends in Columbus. There is a time limit of 32 hours; people do not stop and sleep, but paddle through the night. In addition, there are deadlines for each of the checkpoints throughout the race course.
I trained 13 weeks specifically for the CR100. Training consisted of many miles logged in the Oakland Estuary and SF Bay. In the last month most of my miles were in the Stanislaus and San Juaquin Rivers. My longest training day prior to the race was 45 miles (done twice). I am paddling a Current Designs Solstice GTS. This race is open to many types of boats; both solo and tandem canoes and kayaks.
Kate and I flew to TX on Thurs. before the race. It rained on Fri. and weather predictions for race day were great; it would be in the low 90’s! Friday afternoon I checked in, completed boat preparation with my Team Captain, and attended the mandatory evening meeting. Race start was 7 AM the next day.
There were 2 divisions, an adventure (that’s me) and competition class, and both had a tandem and solo division. The solo adventure class started first and 100 boats started getting into the river about 6:40 AM. A bit of a challenge as you were required to either be standing by your boat or holding onto a piece of the shore if you were in your boat. There just wasn’t much real estate for 100 boats!
Checkpoints were at 26, 42 and 63 miles. I was hoping to maintain at least a 5 mph average. If so, I should reach the first checkpoint in Smithville around 12:15 PM. It’s amazing how fast 5 hours passes when you’re on a river you’ve never paddled before. Much of your attention is picking the fastest line of water or maybe avoiding obstructions. Then there’s making sure you hydrate enough; my cycle was taking in about 5 oz. every 15 min. and sipping liquid food every 20-30 min. Then at each hour I took electrolyte supplements and hit my “OK” button on the Spot Messenger.
I had no problems with the heat. They thought there’d even be a tailwind but that never panned out. In fact, I had some good headwinds a few sections on the river. Regardless, the first leg of the race went well and I pulled into the first checkpoint at 12:05 PM. My team captain, Kate, was waiting for me. I got out of the boat turned in my timing tag (a little bar code to registers you and your time) and rested awhile with a very cold drink and an orange. I didn’t want to stay here long, so we started re-stocking water and food on the kayak, and re-applying chapstick, sunscreen, and Hydropel (keeps hands from blistering). I was back on the water in 20 min., and hoping to be at the next checkpoint in 3 hrs.
Psychologically, the second checkpoint seemed to be an easy task; only 16 miles, but somewhere on that leg of the river my right wrist began to ache. Sixteen miles went by pretty fast and I was at Plum Park, the second checkpoint by 3 PM, but with pretty good wrist pain. I was now worried about it getting worse. If it stayed the way it was, I might be able to complete the race with icing at the checkpoints and taking ibuprofin. As soon as I got out of the boat I got ice on my wrist, drank and ate, and decided to rest longer to help my wrist. I was making good time and would rather risk a slower time than not completing the race. I stayed at Plum Park 45 min. and wrapped my wrist for support and took off.
At 4:30 PM I was allowed more ibuprofin and took 800mg. hoping that would knock out the pain, or at least, help it not to get worse. The next checkpoint, LaGrange, was 20 miles away (63 total river miles). I knew I could make it that far and it would be a good test to see how my wrist was going to behave. I should pull into LaGrange somewhere around 8 PM.
I was now over half way into the race, and others racers were really starting to thin out. I passed a few and a few passed me. We mostly greeted each other, and usually found out if this was your first CR100 or whether you were a veteran. Most offered tidbits about what to expect or what to watch out for. I passed one guy, we were both first-timers and I warned him about rapids at mile 49, granite rocks, and you should pass either to the right or left side. He said, “thanks,” and I moved on. Well I paddled too far to the right and got stuck, and then the guy I warned went right passed me!
The river was beautiful. I saw no other boat traffic besides racers. Most of the shore was desolate with the occassional cattle herd, and one Brahman bull who seriously checked me out at the water’s edge. Generally, I was feeling very good; I felt like my fitness was adequate to complete the race. But, my wrist was getting worse, not better. It had changed to episodes of sharp pain, and at times I was having to alter my paddling technique to get the left blade in the water. Now I was really worried. There was nothing I could do but get into LaGrange, see how my wrist felt at that time, and re-access.
I made incredible time to LaGrange; I pulled in by 7:30 PM. That was 20 miles in 3-1/2 hrs. I had completed almost 2/3 of the race; 63 miles! Unfortunately, I could barely hold my paddle in my right hand. The last 3 miles had been incredibly painful and though I hadn’t made a decision to abandon at that time, I seriously didn’t think I could make the last 37 miles. But I received a really warm welcome and decided to delay my decision until I talked to my team captain.
I was helped out of the boat and Kate was waiting for me at the top of the boat ramp with ice, a cold drink and food. Oh no, Wayne was there too! He had passed me while I was resting at Plum Park, and he had abandoned because he had already dumped 4 times and wasn’t optimistic about his chances the last 37 miles in the dark.
After consulting friends and the race director, I sadly announced that I would not be continuing. I could have paddled longer, but I wasn’t at all sure I’d be able to go the whole way. Besides the last leg being 37 miles in the dark, it’s also the most desolate section of the river, and the most dangerous. At mile 80, with a very strong current around an island there’s a few dangerous sweepers, and obstacles in the water. I did not feel confident about the performance of my stroke when I would most need it. If I had to abandon in this section, it would be dark (also no moon) and take at least 2 hrs. before rescue. Rescue is only bodies; they leave your boat!
So, I unwrapped my wrist to apply ice and viewed a very swollen and hot forearm. I could not bend my wrist and I had no grip strength. At that point I realized I had already done some damage to my arm, and if I had continued, it could be a lot worse. Friends pulled my kayak out, unloaded all my stuff, and got it atop the car. Because I’d planned to paddle through the night (Sat.) we had no place to stay. We said goodbye to friends and Kate and I attacked the next challenge, where to spend the night.
It’s disappointing not to finish. I think to most athletes this is the ultimate goal, no matter the event. Then there’s all the sub-goals; time, splits, evaluating all the parameters of one’s fitness. Yes, I’m disappointed I didn’t finish. That was my ultimate goal. A sub-goal was to finish in 24 hrs., and looking at my splits I know if it had not been for my arm, I would have finished in less than 24 hrs. I am really happy with my sub-goals. My body performed well. I had no issues with the heat; my fueling and hydrating plan worked excellently. So, mostly I’d have to say it was a great race. I learned a lot; a lot participating in the race and a lot preparing for the race. And I couldn’t have done it without my team captain, Kate. Thanks Kate!”
Anyways, an enlightening and fun experience overall. I vaguely remember eating some nachos after the container had blown off the roof as we departed LaGrange. We circled back and there it was in the middle of the road with the top waving in the wind. We’d only lost 5 or 6 chips! We slept in Sun. and headed for a fun-filled day in Austin, a smallish city we really liked. Maybe again next year? (pssst, I’m trying to get my Team Captain in a tandem)!
This is my last post before the race. My boat’s already in TX, awaiting my arrival tomorrow. I’ll spend a day and-a-half in Bastrop before the race start at 7AM Sat. They’re staggering starts with the adventure class first and the competitor class 2 hours later. Things will start to heat up when we visit the race start Fri. afternoon to complete the final outfitting of my kayak, visit with other racers and land crew, and attend the mandatory meeting in the evening. Wayne, who drove my boat to TX sent this picture of the river today.
I received a “Pre-race” email on Monday which caused my first butterflies. People are wishing me well and asking if I’m ready. I wish I could say unequivocally, “YES.” I feel like the most difficult part will be with my mind, not so much my body. I believe it’s our mind with the invisible, and unmeasurable spirit that helps us do extraordinary things. It will be my mind and spirit which keep me going when my body is screaming to stop. I know the body can do this; many people have paddled more than 100 miles, non-stop through the night. I dream of joining their ranks.
Today my boat leaves my protection and is under the care of my friend who’s driving to TX, transporting not only his boat but two others for the CR100. Here’s my boat, all “packaged” on my car. In a couple of hours I’ll drive all my gear and equipment for delivery to my friend’s house. He starts a long trip to Bastrop early tomorrow; the start of the race on Sept. 4.
It’s going to be very strange just hanging out the next week. I begin my vacation next Tues., but don’t fly to Austin until Thurs. morning. No paddling; that’s strange. No gear to clean or organize; that’s strange. My bathroom totally uncluttered of drying gear; that’s strange. No checking for wind advisories; that’s strange. In fact, I’m wondering what I’m going to do with myself this weekend and the first 2 days of vacation since my kayak and gear is all gone? Very strange.
eat well, sleep well….paddle fast! Training miles: all done (strange)
The mileage has started to wind down during the week. This has afforded me time to think; oh yea, the race is 2 weeks away. Originally I’d planned to drive (1700+ miles one way), but now a friend is taking my boat and I’m flying into Austin Thurs. before the race. That means I virtually have to be ALL organized by this upcoming Thurs. as that’s when Wayne is leaving with my boat. OMG! I want everything I need for the race to go with him. What if my bags get lost on the flight? A whole new level of worries. (-: So I’m getting together all the clothes (not much as it’s almost guaranteed to be 100º), gear, mandatory equipment, and food so it’s ready to go. I only have 4 more training paddles, one with a borrowed boat next Saturday as mine will be somewhere west of California.
One night this week I got the mandatory equipment list together, printed driving directions for my crew, and maps for each section of the river between checkpoints.
Then I spent time putting together all my supplements which I take each and every hour of the race. While I’ve been training I’ve dialed in what and how I will eat; mostly liquid food with the occassional Clif Bar, gel, peanut butter pretzels, and fruit at the checkpoints. I will have gone as long as 9 hours under this regimen while training and hope it serves me well for the race. I’m hoping to finish in 24 hours, but 32 is the official cut-off time.
Tomorrow Wayne and I are returning to the San Juaquin River, Two Rivers park to Dos Reis park, about a 22 mile route, down river. Thanks to Kate (my land crew at the race), again, for shuttling us back and forth; we’re going to run that route twice for a total day’s paddle of 44 miles.
So, now I’ve had my morning coffee and it’s time to go do a quick 5 miles, putting in at Redwood City.
Eat well, sleep well………..paddle fast. Training miles: hundreds
Here’s a post before my long, weekend paddle. I’m returning to the San Juaquin River tomorrow to paddle a new section, solo. Sixteen and-a-half miles down river; Two Rivers to Mossdale County Park. My partner’s taking me back to the beginning, and I’ll be starting over for a total of 33 miles. I want to continue training in rivers and I can’t even think about going against the current for that long of a time. Even though last weekend was down river (43 miles), we were slowed by so many trees in the water. I wanted to get a better feel for trying to keep a sort of, “race pace.” I’m suppose to do more mileage, but next weekend will be 45 to 50, so I feel OK about taking it a little easy this weekend.
It’s starting to get exciting (and anxious; it’s friggin’ far). A couple of people who read my blog sent me good wishes for the race. Today I received a package in the mail from a friend; a nice T-shirt and some stickers.
Then this afternoon I started some preparations for my kayak. I put one inch letters to add my name to my boat.
And because I paddle for all 28 million cancer survivors, I paddle for two special friends. One long-time friend has a sticker with her name on it.
eat well, sleep well………paddle fast! Training miles: hundreds
Yesterday completed one month of official training for the Colorado 100 race in early Sept. In general, I’d rate it a success. I’ve really learned a lot (and paddled a lot). I was worried how I’d handle the stress of logistics; getting on the water 4 days a week while being a full-time employee. I’d have to say, this has been the easiest of challenges. There have been a couple of days at work which were physically demanding where I’ve thought, “I’d just like to go home.” But I didn’t think twice about it and found myself at the end of the day in my cockpit where I belonged. There have been 2 days I didn’t paddle that were scheduled; one due to winds and another where, psychologically, I just needed to go home and do nothing.
What has been more stressful is the wind. How windy will it be after work? How windy will it get when a small craft advisory is predicted (almost every day now). How reliable are the wind predictions? How will I perform in the wind?Recently a local weatherman said our weather to date has been like early spring. With regard to the winds, that’s the windiest season here in the Bay Area. I’ve been looking for to the normal decline of wind as the summer progresses. Now it’s almost July, and we’re often getting warnings of winds at 25-30 kt.
I didn’t really have doubts my body would handle the long paddle days as long as I put in the required daily training. After the first 20 miler I began to feel the stress. The hours after that first 20-mile paddle and the day after were the first time I felt a little soreness and “systemic tiredness.” Yesterday a 25 miler was scheduled and from the beginning I knew it was going to be a challenge. It felt more about “mental wrestling” than physical. I just couldn’t get my mind around being in the cockpit for 6 hours or more, and I was obsessing about what the route was actually going to be. I wanted to get around the island, but there were no guarantees the north point would be passable. And yesterday as I approached the northern tip three kayakers came towards me and warned how windy and choppy it was. They had decided to turn back. A wind advisory was already posted and the tide was racing out (wind/tide in opposite directions), so I wasn’t optimistic. After taking a look myself, I too retreated; I was solo.
On a more optimistic note the wind was negligible in the channel. Now I was only going against the tide for less than an hour. This then created the dilemma of the route I would take to cover the required 25 miles. While I was paddling I began all the mathematical computations and ways I could go to make the mileage. I paddled all along the east side of the island and around the southern tip but was halted by an extremely low tide. No getting into the Bay this way for a few hours. Back I went the way I’d come and figured I’d get back to the starting point with about 20 miles under my belt. Well, I’d just have to paddle around in circles I guess to get those extra 5 miles in. Then on the way back I hit the incoming tide which was incredibly strong, and the first time in this channel where I could barely make headway against it. Maybe I haven’t used enough adjectives as yet to describe to you the horrible day I was having. Oh, that’s right, this rant is public!
After a couple of miles fighting the current those core muscles were really tired (good sign my arms weren’t). I had a neckache, a headache and I just kept making bargains with myself to get to next selected spot ahead of me to keep me going. I tried to tell myself this would pass, pretty soon I’d feel OK. But I just kept feeling worse, physically and mentally. When I spied my starting point I told myself 20 miles was enough! I was not having fun. I was really spent as I exited my kayak and stood (or tried) on the dock. At that point I was sure I had made the right decision to cut my day short. I just wanted to get packed up and get home.
So, I felt a little failure with regard to my expectations yesterday, but it was the 2nd weekend in a row I’d completed 20 miles. And, next Sat. no increase in mileage. Yes, 25 miles again! I learned the shoes I was wearing were not going to work (my old kayak shoes disintegrated last Mon.). My MSR Dromlite is working great. I’m remembering to eat and drink on time. The clothing I’m going to wear for the race is being tested and all is well, I just need to get a short sleeve top for all this summer training. The training miles are adding up. I think the first month ended with a total of 118.
So begins the SECOND month with 9 miles tomorrow. Wed. is a 6 mile time trail. I get to compare it to the 6 miles done a month ago. July 10, calls for 30 miles and my coach is taking me to the lower Sacramento river where we’ll be paddling together. Now the biggest challenge seems to be completing the super, long Saturdays, and WHERE to paddle the super, long Saturdays!
eat well, sleep well……….paddle fast! Total training miles: 118
I was blessed with beautiful weather; neither high winds, fog nor wintery clouds. Out on the water, solo yesterday, by 7 AM. It was a big day for me. Twelve miles in an area I hadn’t gone before. Used my dromedary for water. Johnny hadn’t finished the fabrication for it’s suspension behind my sit (in the cockpit). So I put it behind me on deck. Wasn’t the greatest and the cap somehow unscrewed about midway out. But I was able to get it back on and had enough water for the rest of the paddle. Also used Perpeteum, the liquid food for endurance athletes for the first time. Had the cafe latte flavor. It was very palatable (actually tasted quite good); I didn’t get hungry and supplemented that with water for a little over 3 hours.
A happy ending to my first, full week of training. Thirty miles. At weeks end, I realize I had some anxiety about it all beginning. First, how would I feel dealing with the logistics of loading and unloading gear four days a week, 3 of them during the work week. I worried about not only being up to the physical challenge, but also emotionally with the stress of it all. I worried about the winds a lot. One day was pretty horrible. Interestingly enough, that was my “easy” day, which it was NOT because of the wind. Thank goodness I didn’t have to put in more than 6 miles. I definitely felt tired after my 12 miles, but I wasn’t wiped out the rest of the day, and this morning felt really good physically and psychologically. I’m ready for week two: 7 miles at a moderate pace tomorrow.
eat well, sleep well……….paddle fast (training miles: 30)