Running In Circles
Wednesday, June 6th
Yesterday evening, I competed in a BEAST event. BEAST stands for Barebones Evening Adventure Sprint Tournament, and this one was particularly urban. It started and finished near Husky Stadium on the University of Washington campus. I did the same event last year, and I performed horribly, mostly due to poor preparation. This year I'd vowed I'd be better organized. I was, but I still preformed horribly.
The race began with a canoe-based orienteering course, which determined the start times, pursuit-style, for the rest of the course. The canoeing went well, but things progressed rapidly downhill from there.
Though I was competing solo, I teamed up with Jake for the canoe part. Our time of 44 minutes meant our start time for the rest of the course was 8:14 p.m. I moved my car around to the back side of the stadium and started getting my bike gear together. That's when I realized I'd left my biking gloves at the dock. (I'd planned to use them for paddling, but forgot to put them on before we got going.) Hopping one my freshly assembled bike, I tore back over there. Luckily, someone had turned them in so I got them back. I raced back over to the pursuit start so I wouldn't miss the briefing.
Chasing after my gloves left me a little flustered, so I didn't pay much attention to gathering the rest of my gear. I nearly forgot to put the headlight on my bike. I had to turn back to get my safety glasses, which I almost left in the car. Finally, I had everything together (or so I thought) and was waiting to start.
Mere minutes later, Jake and I were off on the first of two biking legs. He quickly started out-distancing me when I badly misinterpreted the clue for the first checkpoint. Then I took the long way around to the University Bridge, mostly because I can't read a map while riding a bike. Just when I thought I had things together, I managed to bike past Volunteer Park. Twice. One way in each direction. I finally found the Transition Area for the beginning of the trekking leg, which I'd expected to be visible from the road for some reason. It was only then that I realized I'd forgotten to bring my running shoes with me.
I wasn't going back for better shoes, so I did the whole trekking course in my bike shoes. Luckily, the cleats were well recessed, though I did slip on them while negotiating some wooden steps. The shoes were fairly snug, so it didn't take long for my toes to start throbbing. The most frustrating part of it all was that I just couldn't run very fast. The trekking leg was my one opportunity to really make up ground, but I couldn't move quickly.
Volunteer Park has a reputation for . . . how to put this . . . furtive gay trysting. I'd thought this reputation was a bit exaggerated, but now I've changed my mind. Near the end of the trekking leg, well after sunset, I was taking a line through some vegetation to find the final control. I realized I was heading toward two people who were facing each other. One was standing, and one was on his knees. Just in case it actually was what it looked like, I decided to change course and take the long way. Approaching the thicket I believed contained the control, I heard two male voices. One whispered, "Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah," while the other just grunted. I skipped the control, not caring about the time penalty for doing so.
Back at the Transition Area, it was time for the "special challenge," which was a 100-piece jigsaw puzzle. Large teams completed them quickly, but solo competitors, like me, struggled. It took me well over twenty minutes to finish it, and mosquitoes were munching on me the whole time.
After handing in my completed puzzle, I began the second biking leg, which was also the final leg of the race. I was riding a road bike, so I felt every crack and pebble in the road. When I went off the curb separating the jogging path from the main drive of the park, the housing on my lamp popped open, breaking the circuit with the batteries and killing the light. I fixed it and continued on, only to hit a major pothole. This time the housing popped open and my batteries went skittering down the pavement. I searched for them in the dark and finally rounded them all up. I would need light to find controls and see down darkened streets, otherwise I would have just left them.
Just when I thought I had things under control, I discovered my route went down a steeply-sloped COBBLED road. Cobblestones are bad enough in the light. In the dark with a lamp that kept flying apart, they would be impassable. I headed over a block to see if that road was any better. It was likewise cobbled. I said, loudly, "Fuck this." I pushed my bike up to 23rd (the road was too steep to start pedaling from a stop). Wary for potholes, I coasted down the wide arterial back to the finish. I didn't know what my time penalty would be for skipping the entire leg, but I didn't care either.
I packed up my gear, ate a bowl of chili, drove home through a rainstorm, and pulled into my garage at midnight. What a day.