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Newsletter

Blog Archives

6/1/05 Plotting

One of the less pleasant adventure racing tasks (at least in my mind) is plotting points. When I was ten years old I scored in the bottom 5% on a clerical speed and accuracy aptitude test. While I have learned to plot UTM points pretty accurately, I'm always afraid that I'm doing it wrong and take longer than I should.

Part of the fear stems from the common practice of using features that aren't on the map. If the clue says stream bend and my plot is right on a stream bend, I mark it with confidence. If there's no stream on the map, I worry if I might be putting it in the wrong place.

I don't know why course designers like using unmapped features so much. It takes no less navigational ability to get to a mapped feature as an unmapped one. Putting controls on mapped features and providing good control descriptions would make it much easier to confirm that your plots were good.

6/5/05 Hammering

David Frei and I entered the Conquer Castlewood race today. It's not really an adventure race - there's no navigation and team members split after the paddling. It feels a lot more like a triathlon, although it is all on dirt. We took a while to hit our groove, but ultimately raced well enough to win. It was a lot of fun to go really hard for 90 minutes.

6/10/05 Long Days

Sorry for going so long without a post. Between prepping our old house for sale and some extra hours at work, I've not had much time to write. At times like this, adventure racing pays some practical dividends. While I value my sleep, I can go for quite a long time without any.

All-nighters are pretty common among programmer types like me. Something about engineering school sets your internal clock to want to work at night. I find that I can go until about 2 AM easily. By 3, I'm starting to drag and usually pack it in for the night. If I have to work all night to (for example, to complete some work during an overnight outage), I find that a 20-minute run does wonders to revitalize my mind.

Along the same lines, I usually try to pick up the pace around 3 AM in an adventure race. Most teams move slowly at night. We do, too, but a brief bit at daytime speed can really help get everybody refocused in the early morning hours.

6/12/05 Trail nav

SLOC held a meet at Cliff Cave today. Mark Geldemeyer set courses. Cliff Cave is very thick in the summer, so the best routes were generally around routes on trail. This type of navigation is a lot different from typical woods navigation. I'll get the map scanned in the next few days and look at some of the more interesting legs.

6/13/05 Score format

Mission on the Muscatatuck was the first "score" format adventure race that I've done. I've done many orienteering meets with that format. I think more race organizers should consider it.

In score events, the race continues until time is up. Teams complete as much of the course as possible. Ideally, the best teams come very close to completing the entire course.

The advantage of score events is that all the teams finish at around the same time. This avoids the often long waits between the winners finishing and enough teams being in that an awards ceremony can proceed. It also allows the setting of a challenging 18-24 hour course without requiring volunteers to be out on course for 30-36 hours.

6/14/05 Bricks

The brick is a staple workout for multi-sport athletes. Conceptually, it's quite simple: do one activity and go straight into another. To get the maximum benefit there are a few more subtle things to consider.

The transition should be fairly quick. Not necessarily race speed (although that should be trained at some point, too), but quick enough that there is no significant recovery from one activity before starting the next. A break of under 5 minutes is good although up to 15 minutes is acceptable. If it goes much longer than that, then your body starts to go into recovery mode and you'll spend the first half hour of the second activity getting warmed up again.

The level of effort should be significant for each activity. The point of these workouts is to increase the time at effort by switching which skeletal muscles are used. 85-90% of competition heart rate is a reasonable target.

6/15/05 Pile up

I suppose the law of large numbers has to get you sooner or later. I've entered over 800 bike races (including around 300 crits) and never been caught in a big pileup. Until yesterday.

It wasn't as bad as some of the wrecks I've seen, but it certainly did qualify as a pileup - and a fairly high-speed one at that. We were on the fast part of the course, just entering the climb, which curves gently to the left. The front of the group slowed down as we stated to go up and there was a big surge on the left. I was still in the 14-tooth cog, so we were probably moving at just under 30 mph. The two riders leading the charge came by me on the inside just as the whole group was moving into the apex. I got hit really hard on the left elbow which turned me into the rider on my outside. At that point I still thought I might save it, but the rider on my outside got tangled with the guy on his right and started going down before I could get back on my line. He fell into me and our handlebars locked. That sent me over the bars and created a nice roadblock for the fifty or so riders behind us. About ten riders went down.

I landed hard on my back and couldn't breathe for a while. I might have a broken rib or two, but today it's feeling more like they are just bruised. At least nobody landed on top of me or my bike so nothing serious (or expensive) got broken. It looks like I will need a new front wheel.

In a strange way, it's a little liberating. It's been so long since I crashed on the road that I've become a bit fearful of crashing. Dealing with the reality of it is much easier than dealing with fear. I'm pretty sore today and will miss a little training, but overall I'm fine.

6/16/05 Healing is hard work

I mentioned last week that I hadn't been getting much sleep. This week I've been getting plenty. In fact, since the crash, it's been tough getting out of bed in the morning (something I rarely struggle with).

My resting pulse is normally in the high 40's when I wake and mid 50's during the day. Today it's running mid 70's. 20 beats per minute is pretty significant. For me, that's the difference my easy workout pace (135 bpm) and moderate tempo (155 bpm). Definitely a lot of repair work going on.

6/22/05 Carol's last days

I got word on Monday that Carol is now very close to death. I won't be doing any blog entries for a few days because I want to put together some memorial pages for her. In the mean time, you can read a good story by her husband, Paul.

The world will be just a little darker soon.

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