NAVIGATION

Do Something That Scares You – My First Adventure Race

Share

© Kaori Photo / kaoriphoto.com

It was once said and has been repeated for years, do something that scares you. These are often the reasons people jump out of perfectly functioning airplanes, jump from tall bridges with their feet attached to a rubber cord, jump off cliffs and other activities. These are the things that make us feel alive, make us connect to our deep inner animals, and simply make us human.

For years, deep down, I had wanted to try an Adventure Race. Seriously, I binge watched the Discovery Channel in the 90’s watching Eco-Challenge whenever it was on. I loved the idea of exploring in the woods for days and marveled at friends who compete or have competed in events. Several had humored me when I asked them endless questions. While not something I put out there to the world it always seemed like something that I would want to try.

Adventure Racing isn’t new; it’s been around for a while. I grew up spending time outdoors, hiking, kayaking, and exploring. A did a tiny bit of mountain biking. But definitely not trained for an Adventure Race. But recently, life has been about trying new things. When the opportunity arose to try an Adventure Race in California called Checkpoint Challenge, I said yes, then thought about what it meant after the fact.

The Checkpoint Challenge is put on by All Out Events as part of All Out Adventure Series. The race offered two options a 2-4 hour option and 6-hour option.

Yishai and Kristin Horowitz invited me to come, told me they would let me borrow a bike and kayak, all I needed to do was bring my harness and hydration pack, and be ready to move for 6-7 hours.

Moab in 2015, last time I was on a bike.

I figured, I went to Moab and biked once two years ago, otherwise, it had been nearly 20 years before that I was on a mountain bike. But one trip to Moab is enough, right? I grew up kayaking, so I knew how to do it, but in the race realized knowing how to kayak and kayaking four-miles continuously was a different experience. Then it came to navigation, trekking, and such. Well, I use to run ultras and a lot of obstacle races, so I should be good there, maybe. But in the last year or so, my running has dropped to almost zero other than a race here or there, and my training leading up to the event was 10-weeks of the Wim Hof Method.

Then there was that navigation and map reading. I was a girl scout, and we learned that a bit, I can look at a topo and know what it means, but my experience, yeah not so much. Oh and there way that time I got my whole family lost on a mountain creating my trail, and that other time when I was a kid and lost on a mountain for a couple of hours after my siblings were too slow and I ended up on the other side of the mountain. Did I mention it was also my mom’s birthday that day? Not one of my finer moments as a kid, freaking my mom out on her birthday. Although arguably better than her birthday I accidentally singed her eyebrows off when I didn’t check for a pilot light on the stove. But that’s another story.

Back to Adventure Racing, so with my pretty much lack of experience and preparation, I headed into my first 6-Hour Adventure Race. What could go wrong? 

Before the race, I called Yishai the race director (also a friend) a couple of times figuring out what you wear to an Adventure Race. I pulled out my bike shorts that I gotten years ago from Hammer Nutrition still basically new, a trail running shirt, and my Dirt in Your Skirt Merino wool pullover in case it was chilly. I crammed my harness, computer, Inov-8 trail running shoes, a change of clothes or two in my backpack and boarded a plane to San Luis Obispo, California.

© Kaori Photo / kaoriphoto.com

Landing in one of the world’s smallest airports I was picked up by a familiar face, Kaori Funahashi, who had been a photographer at Survival Run (and my roommate), just a few weeks earlier. She brought me to a local pub for lunch, and my race prep began (day drinking). After two beers and some pep talk from her, I was feeling a little better about the race. A friend and longtime fellow OCR racer Corinne Kohlen met us at lunch, and I tried to convince her unsuccessfully to race with me the next day. From there we headed to one of the many vineyards in the valley and proceeded to have a wine tasting, because what better way to prep, then taste some amazing local wine. Then headed to Corinne’s house to spend the night in the guest cottage and two glasses of wine with dinner.

© Kaori Photo / kaoriphoto.com

Dreams that night consisted of missing race starts, failing in amazing ways, and another dream that we all just said eff it and laid in bed watching tv. Weird dreams. But woke up the next day, feeling good, but ended up leaving a little late to get to the race venue, were dreams coming true. I show up to Kaori telling me I was late, the bike was being worked on for me, and Yishai told me all was good.

© Kaori Photo / kaoriphoto.com

Being late was good as I was feeling totally in over my head and if I had time to think about it, I probably would have just wanted to bail out on it all.

Seriously, what had I been thinking? 

But I listened to the pre-race briefing, was handed a small map and we were told to run up the hill “over there” to find the race maps. Years of obstacle racing, Survival Run, Death Race, and training with Joe De Sena back in 2011 taught me to expect the unexpected. So I trudged off with a bunch of racers (mostly in teams but I was solo) found my map, ran down and got on the bike for an 8-10 mile mountain bike.

© Kaori Photo / kaoriphoto.com

But before I could leave I realized I hadn’t adjusted the seat so I ran to the bike guy, and thankfully he helped me get that set. It was only a slight moment of panic. Deep breath, you are okay, go with the flow and just do it. I biked along basically a dirt road and got use to the bike as I went.

© Kaori Photo / kaoriphoto.com

The giant hill on the course I got off the bike and hiked it, along the way realizing it was all good, they mean it when they say the phrase “it’s like riding a bike.” When the hills were too big, I got off and hiked and slowed when the downhills or turns were big. Luckily the bike course was not too challenging so I was okay for most of it.

© Kaori Photo / kaoriphoto.com

All was good; I only fell over once into a bank. I even laughed on the downhills and let it rip a little. After a fun cross country section, I saw the transition area, took a deep breath, I was almost done!

Then, BOOM!

I hit a bump weird, and endo’d over the bike somehow banging my groin/hip area into the end of the handlebar and just gave myself a scare. My hip hurt but a quick spot check (thank god for my EMT training and years on Killington Fire/Rescue) I realized it was “merely a flesh wound.” I was shaken but headed down to the transition area, Yishai asked me how the bike ride was, and I did my best not to cry still a shaken from the fall as I talked. Deep breaths, and put the pain aside and headed into the trekking and navigation part of the race.

© Kaori Photo / kaoriphoto.com

Being shaken still reading the map took a little longer but once I got my bearings and got the bearings of the next checkpoint I headed up a big hill and started off on the run/hike/trek part of the race. The next checkpoint was optional but was only a little swim in a pond; YES OBSTACLE RACING taught me well! While others complained it was cold Wim Hof Training came into practice, and the cold was an awesome feeling. Unlike OCR, I could strip down and swim in my sports bra and undies (worn specifically for this reason in case there was swimming).

© Kaori Photo / kaoriphoto.com

Moving along, the course was partly marked, partly unmarked and required navigation and bushwhacking. We ran along a creekbed, and I gingerly hopped from rock to rock my hip throbbing. As I went, I kept breathing into the hip (Thanks, Wim!) and kept reminding myself when minor panic attacks were brewing that “everything was fine and just breath.”

© Kaori Photo / kaoriphoto.com

Then the fun came! Two Tyrolean Traverses on the course, but not like the kind in obstacle racing. Instead, it was more like zip lining. I was talked into doing the 6-hour over the 2-4 hour just because I would get to do this feature! Even better was Kaori there to cheer me on and snap some amazing photos!

© Kaori Photo / kaoriphoto.com

Continuing along was a part of the course that required navigation and reading the map. Kaori was following the group I was in capturing photos, me leading the way. As part of the race ops team she couldn’t tell us if we were going in the right direction or not so I ended up leading the group to the top of a wrong ridge but not more than 5-10 minutes out of the way. All good just breath. I reached another checkpoint and then kept going on another marked part of the course pushing my way through bushes, again thanks to years of doing interesting races this all seemed normal.

© Kaori Photo / kaoriphoto.com

Reaching the next checkpoint, I entered into a couple of miles of easy trails and found jogging was easier than walking on my hip, don’t ask how. When I started to have self-doubts, I breathed into it, taking those deep breaths in and letting go on the exhale, calming my body and mind. (Thanks, Wim!) I spent a while by myself at this point and had time to think and just be with me. The scenery was fantastic, and the solitude was welcome. Normally, people race Adventure Races in teams but this race had a solo option which for me was probably the best bet to start my AR adventures.

© Kaori Photo / kaoriphoto.com

I finally got to the next transition, and it was time to get the kayak and portage it back to the river. I struggled with the kayak for a few minutes and was attempting to balance it on my head when a team of three men told me I could put my kayak on theirs which was on a roller thing and we could all go together. This was only one of the moments of kindness that were a theme throughout the race. People everywhere were willing to help a newbie like me and offer encouragement.

We got to the river/stream, and they insisted I put in my kayak first. I said thank you a ton of times and was so incredibly grateful for the kindness in the midst of a race. I began to paddle alone again and embarked on a 4+ mile kayak. At this point, I had been racing almost 6 hours and had been told we needed to be done by 7 hours to be a finisher or incur penalties.

© Kaori Photo / kaoriphoto.com

I paddled in a kayak made for the ocean and not speed, found my rhythm and just tried to keep my heart rate in a healthy zone but push it to try to make the cutoff. Two teams passed me but offered encouragement, again the kindness was incredible. Finally, after just over an hour of kayaking against the wind I made my way to the landing, and there was Kaori to capture my final push. I pulled the boat to shore and ran to the finish line being cheered on by racers along the way who were enjoying a post race beer and food. Greated by Yishai and Kristin at the finish.

© Kaori Photo / kaoriphoto.com

After talking with a few racers, again all super encouraging, I washed off and then when awards were called my name was called as the third female solo finisher. WHAT! How did this happen? Nevermind, I went and picked up my award, super excited, not to get the award but to have finished, stared down some demons, and most importantly tried something new and totally out of my wheelhouse.

© Kaori Photo / kaoriphoto.com

What got me through the race?

So, day drinking before a race is probably not the best idea, but for me, it helped keep me calm and probably helped with anxiety. But what really got me through the race? A good attitude and the ability to laugh at myself and “be in the moment.”

© Kaori Photo / kaoriphoto.com

The last couple of months of the Wim Hof Method training really in many ways was the best training I could have ever done, throughout the race I employed the breathing to relax and kept going when in the past I would have freaked out, cried, and wanted to quit. Not a side most people know of me but it is there and deeply in me.

I credit years of training to bring able to get through all the different elements but don’t recommend my method for most people. Seriously, train or at least get on a bike before racing. But it can be done my way; training would have made it more fun and less painful the next day.

© Kaori Photo / kaoriphoto.com

Overall, I am so grateful for the opportunity, the experience, and most of all the kindness of all those around me while racing and everyone who made the trip possible. Oh, and do I want to do it again, yup! I highly recommend if you want to try Adventure Racing head out to California and try out Checkpoint Challenge. You won’t regret it.

 

Margaret Schlachter

About Margaret Schlachter

Margaret Schlachter is Founder of DirtinYourSkirt.com. She has been part of the OCR Community since 2010. When not working on the next article she can be found running from race-to-race. She is Editor-in-Chief of MudRunGuide.com. She authored the book Obstacle Race Training.
This entry was posted in Race Recap and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Do Something That Scares You – My First Adventure Race

  1. Pingback: Adventure Racing: First Time for Everything – The Obstacle Blog

  2. Pingback: Gear Review: TomTom Adventurer Watch | Dirt in Your Skirt™ - The Female Resource for Obstacle Course Racing, Mud Runs, and Endurance Endeavors

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to posts:


  •   Hyper Vest SXY and FIT from Hyperwear.com
  • Instagram

    • Donna Cameron was always nice but realized being nice and being kind were two different things.
.
She started an experiment - a year of living kindly - and blogged about it along the way. She researched the science behind kindness as she experienced kindness in real life.
.
Her experiment led to a book deal and ultimately her book - A Year of Living Kindly - out next week.
.
She joined me on the podcast to talk about kindness - both giving and receiving it - and how we can truly change the world with the power of kindness for ourselves and others.
.
#kindnessmatters #podcast🎧 #gratitude #spreadingkindness #livinginkindness #womenauthors #kindnessismagic #kindnesschallenge #kindnesschangestheworld #womensvoices
    • It’s fall in the mountains! It’s hard to believe that wildfires are taking over more than 70,000 acres of wilderness and inching closer to homes about an hour from our house.
.
Lucky for me the wind changed direction making the air clean enough here for a morning trail run with my favorite running partners.
.
Can you spot one of our trail dogs?
.
#fallcolors #utahfall #millcreekcanyon #womenwhotrailrun #optoutside #utahisrad #trailrunningviews #weekdayrun #selfcare #trailtherapy #utahgram #womenrunstrong
    • New hidden gem in Salt Lake City... @elevatedfloat
.
A friend recently told me about this magical float, apothecary, massage, and overall rad place. Like walking back into VT in downtown SLC.
.
This place is one you have to see to believe. After driving by it for months (it’s right down the road from @meanmugspotteryco) I finally got to step in, take a float, and have a great conversation with the owner (who happens to be from VT) and some on tap Kombucha. Some might say stepping into the apothecary is like stepping into a hobbit house but for me it immediately felt like home.
.
I can’t wait to go back and so happy that @primal.love.warrior told me about this place and I was able to experience it.
.
I’ve floated before at other places and each float is illuminating. This float an interesting theme came up. I constantly had to remind myself I can take this time for myself, it’s not selfish, it’s nourishing, it’s self-care, and I deserve it.
.
Now I need to sit with why the feeling of guilt and not worthy of the time for myself completely came up.
.
It’s amazing what complete silence brings up. If you haven’t floated, I recommend it. If you find a magical place like @elevatedfloat 💯 go!!
.
#floattank #floattherapy #elevatedfloatcenterslc #slc #slchiddengems #smallbusiness #apothecary #feelingthevibe #findyourtribe #floattanklove #saltlakeisrad #selfcare #selfcarematters
    • Danielle and I met in Nicaragua both muddy, sleep deprived, and having the time of our lives at @thesurvivalrun working on the race.
.
It was only later I found out she was a world renowned Raw Food Chef who has a @tedx_official talk and has traveled and taught raw food around the world.
.
I invited her on the podcast to talk about her passion for food and her work. We recorded at the beginning of the summer and it’s been fun experimenting with some of her recipes this summer and adding more diversity into our diet.
.
While I’m not planning to go plant-based anytime soon it’s great to get a different perspective on food, some new tools in my food tool belt, and new ideas.
.
Even if you aren’t plant-based you might get inspired by a recipe or two @pachavega shares on this episode!
.
#podcast #rawfood #plantbased #pachavega #keeplearningkeepgrowing #womenpodcast #foodwisdom #rawfoodchef #rawfooddiet #rawfoodtraining
    • Mountain Adventure Journal: This summer a group of friends made a decision. We wanted to spend more time together, in nature, in the mountains, doing fun things.
⛰
Nearly weekly we have ventured to the Uintas for hiking, fishing, exploring, swimming, and good vitamin D and Community.
⛰
Yesterday was our most ambitious outing covering over 15 miles, hours of fishing, and high elevation.
⛰
Fueling for a 12-hour backcountry adventure was a little tastier with @drinkorgain Simple Bars. Clean, simple, plant-based bars with 12g of Organic Protein that helped me bounce back after a frustrating fishing line tangle.
⛰
As I jumped up and down (literally like a child in frustration) I remembered I hadn’t eaten in a while and took the moment, sat on a rock and enjoyed the scenery and a OrgainBar then went on to catch three more fish before running back to the car finishing the journey.
⛰
I’ll be picking up another box at orgain.com and using code RAISETHEBAR to save 30% before 9/30 to have a few bars to fuel some upcoming adventures (more on that soon)
⛰
#mountainadventures #fishinggirls #uintas #optoutside #womenwhohike #getpickywithyourpassion #drinkorgain #ambosimpbar #ambcollab #mountainwoman #backcountryfishing #nature_brilliance #outdoorwomen
    • Fancy is currently dreaming of her next adventure. After a weekend home she is already itching to be back in the mountains - running, fishing, cuddling, and chashing squirrels into trees.
⛰
She is ready to adventure, where are your favorite places to backpack with dogs?
🐕
#adventuredog #boardercollie #hikingdogsofinstagram #ruffwear #backpackingdog #dirtinyourskirt #backpackingutah #uintas #weekendadventures #reiproject1440 #campingdog #dogswhohike
    • Anne Champagne @annechampagne made @spartan history when she crossed the finish line at the Stoneham Ultra Beast. She outright won the race by over 45 minutes!
.
Only one other time since the series began in 2010 has a woman outright won a Spartan race. That was @fayestenning_ocr in Tuxedo, NY Spartan Sprint in 2016.
.
Anne sat down to talk about the race, training, her background, and goals for the rest of the season.
.
UPDATE: actually more than one time before has a woman outright won a Spartan Race the initial info I got from Spartan was wrong and @reakolbl actually outright won a couple events in 2017 in Hawaii and day 2 Tahoe Beast. My apologies and correction will be noted next episode on air :) Anne is still the first and only woman to outright win an Ultra Beast.
.
#podcast #ocr #spartanrace #spartan #inspiringwomen #obstacleracing #womenrunning #ultrabeast #obstacleracingwomen #northmanocr
    • Even though I don’t have kids and I’m not in school anymore this time always feels like the end of summer.
.
It’s always a time to think about the adventures and reflect. Time to clean some of the well worn and well loved summer gear before the one or two last big adventures and start to begin to pull out the fall/winter gear.
.
The theme of this summer has been recapturing and cultivating the love of just doing. Finding joy in the moment and just being in nature. It’s been about recapturing a love of trailrunning... this time with no goal, no race to train for, and no invisible dragon 🐉 I’m running after.
.
For the first time in forever I’ve been out fishing, hiking, and running for pure joy.
.
It’s been a huge summer of growth in that aspect. At the same time other parts of my life have been extremely challenging.. the yin and yang of it all.
.
But it’s fun to sit, reflect, and know some good miles have been run, yummy fish caught, and quality family time had.
.
#naturelovers #optoutside #getoutside #utahisrad #fisherwoman #hiking #backpacking #windetergent #findingadventure #adventurewomen #utahgram #uintas #fallreflections
    • The world can be so chaotic... nature reminds us of the simple and real complexities in this world. It’s so incredibly easy to get sucked into the latest dumpster fire online. Sometimes it feels like a sport.
.
Then you step away, step into nature, drive by it actually burning - living in the West - and you realize how insignificant our online world and online fueds are.
.
Instead I realize the things that really matter, the tactial things like catching a fish, petting my dog, stumbling on a trail, picking up trash, and the people who are around us everyday when we remember to put the phone down.
.
I love social media, I get to share a message, get to share my world, my work, and hopefully through that work help create a better version of myself and the world around me.
.
I interview incredible people who constantly remind me all the ways I can be a better person. A kinder person, and as one author wrote remind me to live for my eulogy not my resume. Weird sounding at first but living how I want to be remembered as a person not my accolades.
.
Time in nature is a reset and today I was grateful for the time IRL (in real life) instead of spiraled into a dumpster fire on social media.
.
#grateful #gratitude #natureheals

    Follow Me!