Sleep deprivation does a funny thing to your brain. When you add that with oxygen deprivation from the high mountain summit, it creates havoc in your brain.
Legs 25 – 31
We sent Julie and Melissa down the mountain. Visited for a little bit at the summit as we enjoyed the sunrise. Loaded up the vehicles and headed down to the next transition point. As we stood in the parking lot at transition 25/26, we could hear the bleating of sheep. We kept looking around, looking around, looking around trying to find out where the noise was coming from. Sound is a tricky thing in a canyon so we weren’t sure where to look, but eventually they made their appearance. A flock of sheep, not caring that the road was there, made their way out of the forest and into the fields on either side of the road. There was a funny looking sheep, much lighter in color than the others, and it stuck out like a sore thumb. It turned out to NOT be a sheep, but a Great Pyrenees Mountain Dog. And my heart went pitter patter flippity flopping all over the place. We wondered if the flock would still be on the road when Julie arrived. They were still in the area, but not covering the road, and Julie was grinning ear to ear when she got to her finish line and announced that there was a Pyr up there with the sheep. She is definitely a sister after my own heart.
Don flew down the mountain on the bike for his 23+ mile bike ride down the canyon. The BEAUTIFUL canyon, I might add. Oh my goodness, that was a beautiful drive. Don was going so freaking fast. I think he topped out at 40 something miles per hour. That is scary-fast on a mountain road. He looked very intense and was concentrating so hard. The last thing he wanted was to bobble his handle bars and take a tumble on the pavement at 40 some-odd miles per hour. I had to chuckle at the look on his face because I recognized it. My top speed on the bike was 37 mph going down a 3% grade, and that was scary enough. But to go 40+ mph on 5% grades would have been too much for me. I was glad that Don took that leg.
Coming out of the canyon for Garrett to do his almost 6 mile Leg 27 run was such a stark contrast to the beauty we had just left. As soon as we came out of the mouth of the canyon we were greeted with high elevation Utah desert and it was HOT! It was first thing in the morning and it was HOT. I was so grateful for young kids who could take those really hot desert legs. And Garrett did not disappoint. We waited at the start of Leg 28 so that Cindi could prepare for her four and a half mile run. Swapped out the baton from Garrett to Cindi, then chit chatted for a few minutes with the other vehicle before heading out on our way. The Suburban was heading to the next transition point. The van (where I was at this point) was shadowing Cindi. Or at least we tried to. She disappeared into thin air. We followed the course signs looking for her, but she was nowhere to be seen. We hit the end of her run leg knowing that we had missed her along the route somewhere, and turned around to go find her. We called the van and Jeff’s vehicle to let them know that we had lost Cindi, then returned to the beginning point of her leg to try again. We met her on our way back. She was all smiles and seemed happy to be out of the van and running so we relaxed a little bit. We know that she missed a turn somewhere, but were not sure where that misstep occurred. All we know is that we were SO GLAD to have eyes on her again.
Once we could see the end of her leg in sight, we let her know that we were going to head to the transition point. She smiled and waved us on. We got there and found the whole family sitting in the shade of a big tree on the shores of a lake. I sat down next to Mom and asked, “What lake is this?” She said, “It’s Huntington Reservoir.” HUNTINGTON!?!?!?!?!?!?! Crap! This is where I was to do my swim and I had been so distracted by all the previous legs, mixed with sleep and oxygen deprivation, it had not occurred to me that I was going to be swimming soon. We had anticipated finishing the race at 6pm, and it was still MORNING, and we were at Huntington Reservoir. I knew that Cindi was about to hit the transition point. Once she arrived Ammon would swim, then Madison would run, and then it was my turn to get into the water.
LET THE FREAKOUT BEGIN!!!!
I changed into my swim suit and came out about the time that Ammon was coming around the final buoy of his leg (400M). This meant that Madison would run her just under 3 miles around the lake, so I had a little time to step into the water to see what I was in for. MISTAKE! If you’re expecting the water to be cold (Huntington is the coldest lake of the three that we were in), it is best to NOT test the water first, but just dive in and go. But I never do things the easy way and I waded in the water instead. I could tell that it was going to be a shock to my body, but that it was not so cold that I would be in danger of getting too cold. I was right. The water was not too cold. I sat next to Mom and tried to eat a bagel. Again with the bagels! So freaking tired of bagels. And hoagies. Ugh! But I ate a bagel because I knew I needed it.
Before I knew it, Madison was back from her Leg 30 run. Julie went along with her to keep her company, and judging by the pictures that Jeff took of them along the way, they had way too much fun. More than what should have been had at this point in our journey. But one thing I’ve learned about Julie is that providing she isn’t hangry, she can make any journey into a fun journey. And Madison – that’s an apple that didn’t fall far from the tree. Mother and daughter – making their way around the lake laughing and joking. It really made me wish that Ann would have been able to participate in the race.
Jacob ripped the baton off Madison’s leg and ran it over to me, slapping it onto my ankle. I dove into the water and within the first few kicks realized that he had put the baton higher up my ankle than it should have been, so it began slipping down towards my foot. The last thing that I wanted to happen (besides me drowning) was to lose the baton in the water, so I reached down, yanked it off my leg, and shoved it down my swim suit top. Once I got it secured between my boobs, I knew that baton wasn’t going to go anywhere, and off I went. I knew that I would be doing breast stroke for most of the way because that is my most comfortable stroke and I can breast stroke nearly endlessly. So that would be my go-to. I knew that I wanted to start off with freestyle, but also knew that I got winded easily with that stroke. One thing I did not know was how much the elevation was going to make the freestyle virtually impossible for me. Elevation is a funny thing. I knew it would be an issue running and biking. But for some reason, it never occurred to me that it would be an issue in the water. But when you get to those mountain lakes, and you live at sea level, it feels like there MUST BE more oxygen in the water than in the air. So I did not make it very far doing the freestyle.
The other thing that I did not take into consideration is how difficult the open water swim would be. I estimated 15 minutes to finish my 600M because in the pool, and in the lake at Wildwood, that is how fast I was swimming 600. However, the lake at Wildwood is missing something that Huntington Reservoir has. BOATS! The waves and current the boats caused in the lake. And, if I’m going to be a complete bitch (which I know shocks everyone), the boat drivers were the most incourteous drivers I’ve ever been around. The buoys were HUGE, BRIGHTLY COLORED buoys to mark our route. And a logical person would realize that they were there for a reason and keep their distance. But boat drivers in Utah are kind of assholes. They’d fly past the buoys without any thought to what was happening in the water around them. After all, it’s not like it was a no-wake zone or anything. (Insert HUGE eye-roll here.) So I spent the full route battling the waves, wind, and current. The wind is the only thing I’m not blaming on the stupid boats.
It was a slow swim and took me five minutes longer to do than I thought it would. But that’s OK. I plugged along and completed it with little to no trouble. I grew up swimming in the ocean, so swimming over the waves was not a big deal, just an annoyance. When I got towards the end and saw the shore getting closer and closer I noticed Jeff there with his camera. I had the thought that I should freestyle for him just for the photo op if nothing else, but the moment I changed my kick (from frog kick to flutter kick) I got the BIGGEST cramp in my calf so I immediately switch back and figured I may as well have an honest photo shot than a pretend one. And I finished my leg doing my breast stroke and frog kick and was happy as a lark to have completed all three of my legs of the race. I got out, whipped the baton out from between my boobs, handed it to Jacob who ran it up to Jared for his 1200M Leg 32 swim. I removed my goggles and swim cap, handed it to…Julie?… dove back into the water and just enjoyed the coolness of it. As I floated on my back for a bit and looked into the clear Utah sky, I felt satisfied to know that all I had worked so hard for, I had completed. Every leg slower than I anticipated, but I completed it. That is a huge deal.
When I left the water and walked up to the shade of the trees, Mom was standing there with a container of chocolate milk. She handed it to me with a huge grin on her face. That was the best chocolate milk I have ever tasted!