LBL with Chuck; total time 23:10
Big course, lots of points and decisions to bring made. Each leg had numbered CPs which had to be found in order by the specified mode; there were also CP A-H which were any order, any time, any mode.
No mandatory CPs, but in order to be an official finisher you had to visit every TA in order. Were this not the case, I'd have advocated hard for skipping the paddle, which was light on points but heavy on headwind. As it was, the TA rule ensured that everyone went all the way to Hillman, leading to big bike miles and necessitating careful time management so as to get back to the finish on time.
We estimated our times for each leg and then marked points/times to beat/meet in order to go for some of the alphabet CPs. Note: all splits according to my fitbit and when I remembered to start it; they may not be exact but they're close.
BIKE 1 (15.4 mi)
Kenlake Resort to Sugar Bay
Over bridge onto Cedar Hardwoods trail, a chat-covered trail that contoured up up up, weaving along hillsides for a few miles, spilling us out onto the North-South Trail. Some confusion on how to get to the *trail* portion as we were forbidden to ride the road, but eventually realized the grass next to the shoulder was blazed.
As luck would have it, Chuck and I had just ridden a small chunk of the NS on Friday afternoon, and our little local knowledge was helpful from a comfort level (me) and a confidence in what kind of trail conditions to expect.
We rode much more aggressively at the start but took a more relaxed pace on NS. Surprisingly, no one passed us there. Found CP1 easily then rode/HAB up pipeline cut and into woods for CP c (?). Woods were mostly rideable. Punched that, then HAB/rode back out to trail. Passed several teams there, then more at a creek crossing where a bunch stopped to pick through and we rode around. Uneventful remainder of ride to TA1. We'd budgeted 3 hours and made it in 2:10.
About 16 minutes in transition.
PADDLE 1 (8.4 mi / 2:55)
Sugar Bay to Hwy 68 Bridge
Changed out of bike shorts, left those and bike shoes behind. Not having to carry shoes + 9 hours without swamp ass = happy day. Paddled south into wind out of the south/SW made for rough going. Got CP2, D, 3, B. We'd estimated 3+ hours and made it in 2:55. Being finished with the paddle is always a huge relief for me, and we were super stoked to beat our expectation with the wind and addition of the extra CP. Only a minute or two of transition.
TREK 1 (13 mi / 5:36)
Hwy 68 Bridge to Sugar Bay
Got CP 4-9, skipped 10-11, got 12-14. I think we'd initially planned to skip 13 but were pretty ok on our schedule and it wasn't that far out of the way. I think the only place we bobbled was on 7. Chuck was great on the nav. This is the longest trek I've done in a while, and while I was ready to get off my feet (sooo many creek crossings and wet feet) I was never miserable. While I had zero desire to run any, I felt really strong and was able to maintain a fast hike the whole time. It got dark while we were trekking, but thankfully we had our mistakes out of the way while it was still light.
BIKE 2 (15 miles)
Sugar Bay to Hillman CG
Mix of gravel and singletrack. As uncomfortable as I am riding singletrack at night, LBL was a great place to get less uncomfortable. Again I felt really good. We'd budgeted 3 hours here and did it in 3:05.
Hillman CG had three loops you could do: a bushwhack loop with points more spread out, a trail loop, and a bike set of points on the Canal Loop. I'd really wanted to ride the Canal Loop (for fun, not necessarily at night during a race) but we opted to do the trail points because they were much more closely spaced.
Got CP 16-20. Had a couple miscues here in the spaghetti of the trails and I was so thankful that Chuck was navigating and not me because trying to make sense of them just made my head hurt. I was happy to be having a break from the bike and my legs/feet felt great.
BIKE 3 (31 miles)
Hillman CG to Kenlake Resort
CP H (which unfortunately was misplaced and everyone got credit for it, so we didn't really earn anything for our time), skipped 31, looked for F and missed it, got 32. We'd initially budgeted 5 hours for the ride back, but when our first two bike legs (approximately the same distance and type of terrain we'd have to cover) added up to ab out 5:20, we changed our estimate to 6 hours and then ended up leaving Hillman with 6:30 left in the race. Rode less singletrack than I'd expected but made up for it with some heinous jeep roads.
The last couple hours of the race were really my only low time; I was struggling (with fear rather than any actual issue) on the deeply rutted roads and very frustrated with myself for that. Then the Cedar Hardwoods trail, which I'd remembered as a constant climb on the way out, ended up featuring an awful lot of climbing on the way back as well. It was like being on some Escher trail that only went up. I had nothing nice to say at that point.
Finished at 9:10. In retrospect, we should have looked more carefully for F and had time to go for 31, which would have bumped us a place or two in the standings, but we were focused on keeping all of our points. Plus, we were up against Kuat in our division, so we knew our only chance would be them missing the cutoff and losing enough points. As it turned out, they did miss the cutoff but had enough points be beat us by a long shot, and while it would have been nice to win, Chuck and I were both pulling for them to cross the finish line in time.
Really fun race, great course, and fantastic area. I'm REALLY happy with how good and strong I felt for almost the entire race. Maybe my best personal AR performance. I did a good job staying on top of nutrition, too (funny how much that helps ;-D), only falling off towards the end, which may explain the meltdown of my good attitude.