This is my friend and race partner Melinda, and I after our first adventure race two weeks ago.
Melinda is 12 years younger than me, a faster runner and biker and a much friendlier person. We thought we’d try adventure racing together as a bit of a lark. I haven’t done anything terribly adventurous since having a go at the trapeze this time last year, where I failed to become brilliant after three lessons and wisely gave up.
Going through the race calendar, I was all for trying the 24 hour eco challenge summit extreme until Melinda suggested we start with the more friendly sounding Tex’s Challenge. And it was fun, though by the photo my hair clearly had the best time of all. We finished the race in just over two hours. This included an extra 20 minutes or so of not paying attention and doing the bike loop twice and thus slipping from 2nd place female team to fifth place. But it was all quite relaxed and some of the other teams had brought little picnics with them and kids and dogs and there were racers who looked far more bewildered and fat than we were.
Given our talent and potential brilliance, we decided to do another. The next local event happened to be the National Sprint and Collegiate Championships. As the race director pointed out afterwards, that’s an interesting choice for your second race but as we didn’t need to qualify and it sounded a bit more badass we thought we’d try it. There were 25 teams, most of them had matching shirts. Melinda and I didn’t and came in 21st. But we did finish 2nd in the women’s division. Out of three teams. Our finishing time was 4 hours 11 minutes, an hour behind the winning team, but I think we can take the credit for pushing them to their limit. I hope they’re grateful. The third place team still hadn’t finished by the time we left.
We lost a lot of time on the mountain biking bit. About 9 miles into the 12 mile (but felt like 20) ride I fell. It was nothing spectacular because I never really ride fast enough to have one of those fly through the air moments. But I did manage to fall on top of my bike and jab the handle bar into my ribs. Melinda was too far ahead to see me and by the time I caught up with her I decided to have a bit of a panic attack and started hyperventilating and gurgling. Once I realised the futility of sitting on the trail, 3 miles from the aid station, I managed to carry on – that’s not as noble as it reads, as I was making wincing sounds and cursing every time I hit a bump which was every two seconds. I’d approach any kind of steep up or down hill with motivating self-talk like, ‘oh for god’s sake’, or ‘this is ridiculous’
We finally made it back to the transition area. To then enjoy a 4 mile ride on the road to the kayaks, a 35 minute paddle and a one mile run carrying the kayaks, lifejackets and paddles to the finish.
At the end of the race Melinda was her usual sparky self, chatting to other teams and packing up our stuff in the car, while I could barely unlace my shoes and hoped no-one would ask me what my name was or how many fingers they were holding up.
We got back to Austin and I drove myself home where I ate half a bag of crisps and drank a glass of wine, then burst into tears, accused Erik of various wrong-doings and hyper-ventilated again for a couple of hours. Meanwhile Melinda probably repainted her house and did something good for needy orphans before going out for a wonderful dinner with her husband.
So I’m considering a new race partner. Much as I like Melinda and aspire to be like her, I think I’m best suited to someone with far less admirable character traits. This means someone that makes me look good. They have to be older than me, far less fit, a very slow thinker and if possible, be more grouchy or at least no sunnier.
Confidence does not come from within. It comes from knowing you’re better than the person you’re with.