Saturday, February 25, 2012

How to Train for an Adventure Race

"You know it's true the other shoe
It waits for you, what can you do?
Remember to show gratitude
The darkest night is nothing new."

The day before Dave and I start the ITI 350 (, and a recap of our adventure to get here and some helpful hints for anyone interested in trying was in order. I suppose this time frame is called "tapering", or in my universe "too late to make a difference". An "adventure race", for people not familiar, is something people do because they can't stay home and knit. It is a ridiculous form of testing oneself in which at least one essential body part could be lost.

First, try to find a sponsor.

Dave chose Matador jerky. We're still waiting for a call back.

Next, be sure to take Before and After pictures of any overnight trips.

We left for a Red Shirt Lake Cabin from our house bright-eyed and sled-tailed. By the time was got back home, It had snowed 6 inches overnight. We snowshoed back 16 miles. Ugh.
So these pics tell you a couple things. What you come back wearing is what you probably should have started in. And it shows you how this training business can age you 10 years in 2 days:

Make sure you try out all of your gear during training. Sometimes all at the same time. And sometimes, all of you gear is not enough for a Willow winter:

Intimate knowledge of various fasteners and plastic thingies is essential- duct tape, trash compactor bags, black trash bags, thin orange string, bungees, tarps, foam padded stuff. Oh. Or you could be very wealthy and buy everything from REI. But what's the fun in that?

It's very important to train in weather similar to that for the race. Unfortunately, our thermometer was stuck at those temps for about 3 weeks:

In the process of training for a long race, your friends begin to believe that you have died or moved out of state. In order to avoid this from happening, invite them up for a weekend of running with you. Make sure you invite them up when you've got the above temperatures to which they are not acclimated. Take them out to Vera Lake. Just when their face freezes, tell them it's time to eat cookies:
Check in periodically with the veterans. Take 'em for a run, get some advice on pulling to McGrath, harness fit,  the Happy River Steps, pace etc. Hmm. They're still laughing at us. "Retirement's the way to go, people. Who actually WANTS to pull a sled all the way to McGrath?" Silliness, Cedar says:
And let's not forget about color. Find the most colorful clothes you can, for several reasons. It brightens up a white day, full of snow and drab, dull scenery. It makes you easier to get hit, oh, I mean seen, by fast moving, drunk snowmachiners. And it throws off the competition. You see, no one will take you seriously if you look like Dr. Seuss out there:
If you are having a crap ass day training, the snowshoes are a pain in the ass, your girlfriend is being bitchy (who, me, blink, blink?) you're tired and if you punch through with one more foot in the Kepler fields, the least you can do is enjoy the f*cking scenery:
If you are going to practice melting snow for water and putting up the tent for the first time, don't pick a -35 day. It's just not good for the morale. Seriously. You're 2 miles from home, you can't feel your hands and you have to get to McGrath. From this little excursion, we promptly went home and checked the refund policy. Nope. Guess we're going:
Be sure to master the art of the self-portrait. Here are a couple of my favorites:
From New Year's Day:

Don't let the weather predictions upset your calm, relaxed demeanor. 22 inches predicted in the Susitna Valley in the next two days. Awesome. Don't worry. You've already seen it all in the last 4 months. Including the moose. We've got the siren for them.

"Was I wrong
Off all night long
So high
As the stinking sun
I came alive
Then I felt
Oh Uh Oh.."


  1. This is great. I will be watching your progress and cheering!

  2. Holy crap that looks cold! But I would still love to be there.

    Matt E

  3. huge congrats to you and dave. you guys are awesome.
    this post so perfectly depicts the pre ITI mindset. wish i had seen it before the race.