It’s a very fine place to start.
I’ve always loved a good adventure! I’m not alone in this. My family is insane! If it is over the top crazy, you can bet that we’re gonna give it a whirl.
As we gathered together at my daughter’s house to have dinner together and go over the plan for the following day – race day – there was much laughter and joking around and hugging and loudness! LOUD.NESS! I do not have a quiet family. After dinner we all huddled in the living room to talk about final logistics: How long is it going to take to get to Starvation Reservoir (the starting point), what time will each vehicle need to leave to arrive on time, how freaking insane our legs were. The norm. During the course of the conversation, it turned toward the extra legs that three people took on when Rachel had to withdraw. Having spent a day and a half with Jackie and her family, I knew that Ammon (my wonderful son in law) was a strong cyclist. Having spent MONTHS texting with Julie and Melissa, I knew that Julie was very, very nervous about her Leg 24 bike ride up the mountain. With Rachel’s withdrawal, the task had fallen to her to do the climb up the mountain at the beginning of the race. Two monster climbs, separated by 18 legs of other types of racing. So I threw Ammon under the bus. Boomp boomp! Right under the bus.
“Ammon could probably do that Leg 6 climb so that you don’t have to.”
Julie’s face lit up. Ammon looked like a deer in the headlights.
She goes, “Do you really want to??”
He hemmed and hawed and nervously shifted from leg to leg. We rarely know what is actually going on in Ammon’s brain because he’s fairly quiet, and our family is not. It feels like he’s constantly overwhelmed when we’re all together, but I suppose that holds true for pretty much anyone who comes in contact with a large group of my family members. After he said that he would do the first mountain climb, I apologized for throwing him under the bus like that, but explained that I was concerned for Julie doing BOTH of the major mountain passes. We made a couple of other minor adjustments based on this big change – nothing that affected vehicle assignments because THAT, my friends, was a nightmare to create.
Everything was completed. The people staying north in Park City took off and headed for the condo so that they could try and get some sleep in preparation for the early morning departure time. The people staying south at Jackie’s house got everything together and got the van loaded except for the bikes. Those we left in the garage so we didn’t have to worry about them being stolen. And then it was bedtime. Hugs. Kisses. Tears. Laughter. Jitters. You know, normal pre-race emotions. We all went to our separate rooms, and if anyone else was like me, we laid in our respective beds and looked at our clocks every hour on the hour so that we didn’t sleep through our 3:30am alarms. And we slept fitfully.
For a short night, it dragged. DRAGGED!
When my alarm went off at 3:30 I popped out of bed and headed out of the house to load the bikes. A final check around the house to make sure we weren’t missing anything and we all headed out the door.
I have a weird nervous stomach and race mornings are always a little funky. It is usually not a big deal because walking from Ann’s downtown loft apartment (or now, riding from her house) to race start lines are no big deal. A less than 5 minute process, so that I’m near a port-a-potty in case things get out of hand. It was not quite as simple as all that with this race because we had a two hour drive. I felt fairly calm, though, and was hopeful that my pre-race nerves would not hit me until we reached Starvation Reservoir. Did I mention it was a two hour drive?????
My stomach held up. Wasn’t nervous at all. Strange. My bladder, however, wasn’t as cooperative. I’ve known for years that I have a one hour bladder. And now ALL my team members know this about me. We were about 45 minutes away from Starvation and I knew that my bladder wouldn’t last, and there is nothing in that area. So I did what any normal, rational person with a super full bladder would do. I requested that my sister, Rose, pull off the side of the road. I announced, “Look or don’t! I don’t even care. I just gotta pee!” I stepped out into the brisk morning air and just let it all hang out right there on the side of the road next to the van. This became a common topic of conversation throughout the rest of the race.
Legs 1 – 3
About half hour out Jared’s phone rang. None of us paid attention to his conversation. He is a friend of Melissa’s and Don’s and the rest of us didn’t know him so we just continued on with our own chit chatting. When he got off the phone he announced that he’d be swimming first thing in the morning. Jacob (my nephew) was having a major panic attack about the open water swim at Starvation Reservoir. He has been struggling with the open water concept for a month now, so it wasn’t surprising when his panic escalated as everyone was driving. Jared is a strong swimmer and said he’d be happy to take that Leg 2 swim (725M). When Melissa got out of the water after her Leg 1 swim (800M) she was SO GLAD that Jacob decided to not do it. It’s nerve wracking for an adult to be out there in the open water, and being Leg 2, Jacob would have been thrown off for the rest of the trip, providing he didn’t have to be scooped out of the water by a life guard. It turned out well for the whole team to make the switch, and I know Jacob was grateful for Jared stepping in for him.
Julie left for her Leg 3 swim (1 mile!!!). Hers was a point to point instead of an out and back, so we hopped in the vehicles and headed to her end point. Something I didn’t know about her swim, and I’m glad I didn’t because I would have been SUPER WORRIED, is that there were no life guards along her route. A full mile long swim in open water and no life guard support. No kayaks. No boat. No nothing, but multiple teams with their Leg 3 swimmers heading out around the point. The 7AM start time was for the slower teams. To me, this means the less experienced teams. And they didn’t send support along with the mile swimmers. Me no likey!
As we were waiting for Julie to arrive, Rose and ???? I don’t even know who (Sarah? Madison??) decorated our vans.
Our team name was the Van-Trapped Racers. Get it? Sound of Music. The Von Trapps. My family are huge musical buffs and the Sound of Music is one of our faves. So it seemed fitting.
As we piled back into the van after Melissa left on her Leg 4 bike ride, we were discussing the “Ye-Old-Lady-Who?” written on the van. If you’ve never played Mad Gab you might be confused. I HAVE played Mad Gab and didn’t get it until someone in the van said the words out loud, and then I started singing, “Yodel-ay-he-hoo!” Hello! Sound of Music! And then we all laughed that at Leg 4 we were already so sleep deprived that we couldn’t catch a simple word play.
Legs 4 – 7
Once we got Melissa on the bike (28+ miles), the van was supposed to head to Leg 6 to rest up for Ammon’s monster climb over the mountain. We waved and shouted and cheered as we passed Melissa tooling along on her bike, and turned the corner towards Hannah. We had barely turned the corner when my phone rang. It was Don. Melissa’s bike was broken and she couldn’t shift gears and we needed a different bike for her to ride. So we turned around and headed back to the corner where the Suburban was waiting for her to make sure she made the turn. We pulled in and I hollered at Julie that Melissa’s gear shifting capabilities were caput and we needed her bike. Everyone in both vehicles jumped into action to make sure that when Melissa hit the corner we would have everything she needed. Bike pulled off the van. Bike shoes pulled out of the suburban in case Melissa’s shoes didn’t clip the way Julie’s bike needed them to. Ready with words of encouragement for a sister who was bound to be spitting fire at her stupid bike.
She came around the corner and pulled in when she saw us. Took off one shoe. THREW IT as far as she could. Took off the other shoe and THREW IT as far as she could. “I’m so pissed.” She said on repeat. “Stupid bike. Stupid bike. Stupid bike!” As she was getting ready to hop on Julie’s bike I patted her shoulder and off she went again on Julie’s shiny new pretty red road bike. When we passed Melissa again, her whole demeanor was 100% flip flopped. Ear to ear grin riding that shiny new bike.
When Melissa joined those of us waiting at the appointed spot I asked if riding Julie’s bike intensified her desire for a new bike (she’s been wanting one for a while). She crazily shook her head and said, “I agree. I agree. I agree.” And if you don’t know why that’s funny, watch the clip. This was our mantra for the whole duration of the race.
“I am in love. Are you in love?”
“I am in love. Are you in love?”
“I agree. I agree. I agree. I agree.”
Julie ran Leg 5 (6+ miles) after Melissa finished her bike ride and really struggled. The elevation is a spiteful bitch and sucked the will to live out of most of us. Melissa asked Jeff to take her to find Julie along her run route, and she got out and ran the last half of Julie’s Leg 5 with her. Melissa is a rock star. Julie was having a hard time catching her breath and having Melissa join her gave her the boost that she needed to relax and get on a more normal breathing pattern so that she could finish. And finish she did! She looked happy, albeit tired. And off Ammon headed for the first monster climb of the race. Leg 6 (16+ miles). The climb to Wolf Creek Summit.
It was a BEAUTIFUL drive up the mountain and I am not the only one who was grateful to not be riding the bike 16 miles up it. But Ammon is a freak of nature on the bike. He made it look so easy. We stopped every now and again along the drive to hand him new gatorade to make sure that he stayed hydrated. It began raining a little bit and for a sweaty biker, it was a welcome relief. Jackie and my cute little grandbabies were waiting at the top of the summit for Ammon to arrive! They are freaking CUTE!!!!!!
Melissa’s son, Garrett, took the baton (translated: ankle bracelet with velcro and a timing chip) and headed down the other side of the mountain towards Jordanelle reservoir. All down hill. Loose gravel on the road. Raining. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? I’d guess it wasn’t. Garrett has young knees and managed it without incident, AND ahead of his predicted time! Both vehicles headed for the end point of Garrett’s Leg 7 run leg (7+ miles) to get Sarah pumped up to ride the bike to Jordanelle.
Legs 8 – 13
Sarah. Oh my goodness, Sarah. Sarah has never done a race of any kind. No 5k. No fun mud runs. Nothing. And she started with THIS ONE! This is something that made her wonder every day why she had ever agreed to it. That, my friends, is overwhelming. She was in tears after our dinner prior to leaving for the race because she was so concerned about it. I took her out to get her seat height marked on Julie’s blue bike so that we’d know how to adjust it once it was time for her to ride. She had been training on a mountain bike and after riding Julie’s nice blue bike, she began grinning from ear to ear. “Oh my gosh! I LOVE this bike!” I get it. I had the same response when I rode the bike to test my seat height. After getting a feel for how nice the blue bike was, she relaxed and was able to breathe. She estimated her Leg 8 (16+ miles) to take her about an hour and a half. She did it in 53 minutes!!!!!!!!!!! She totally rocked the socks off her bike leg of the race. I was so proud of her.
Jordanelle Reservoir had a weird vortex type course set up. It was a triangular swim for legs 9 through 12, with the first leg (Don’s) being 400M, then 600M for Jared, 800M and 1000M for Cindi. Don was so disappointed because halfway through his 400M his legs started cramping up. He held onto the kayak for a minute to try and work the cramp out, then tried again to get going, but his legs would not un-cramp. The life guard ended up pulling him from the water. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Don so discouraged. He had worked so hard on the swim part of it. Harder than any of the other parts, and he was so frustrated that he wasn’t able to finish it. That was my biggest fear during the race – that I would not be able to finish one of my legs (or all of them, for that matter). My heart went out to Don, and it was at this point where the nerves for my own legs finally started settling in.
With Don out of the water, and him scheduled to do the Leg 13 bike ride (16+ miles to the start of my Leg 14 run), we were a little concerned for him. Madison was slated to do the Leg 15 bike ride (15+ miles down Provo canyon), but after having driven it prior to the race she was SO FREAKED OUT about how close the vehicles sped alongside the bikes, so she didn’t want to do it.
The nice thing about having a plan is that you know where you are able to make adjustments to the plan. And adjust we did. We all felt strongly that Don needed more time to recover from his swim before getting on the bike, especially since it was his legs that were doing the cramping. So we all agreed that it would be better for Jared to head out on the bike for Leg 13 and let Don rest up so that he could take Madison’s Leg 15 instead. This would give him about three hours to recover (an estimated one hour for Leg 13 and estimated two hours for Leg 14).
Once we got all that figured out, the van headed out to take me to the start of my dreaded Leg 14 – the isolated 7+ mile run.