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Notorious D.A.D.'s 2017 race (Read 2362 times)
08/28/17 at 16:49:40

Notorious D.A.D.   Offline
3X MR340 Veteran
Wichita KS/Scottsdale AZ

Posts: 215
Hey Guys,

I do these write-ups for myself, so that I can look back next year and see what worked etc. but in case anybody's interested, here are the majority of my ramblings for my 2017 race.

...After the Freedom race, family vacation put a halt to my routine.  For the next week, other that 2 hours in a rec boat, I didnít paddle at all.  When we got home I paddled about 3 times a week, 10 miles each for the next couple of weeks.  The week before the 340 I paddled one 10 mile training day and that was it.  I was now officially in recovery/taper mode and was just resting up.

Because of family schedules, my wife was unavailable on race week.  My friend Craig drove me and my boat to K.C. on Sunday and then took my Jeep back to Wichita.  The plan was for him to meet me on Wednesday mid day wherever I happened to be at that point and then chase me the rest of the way to the finish.

In 2016, I was 100% self supported, so this idea of a ground crew following me for the back 1/2 of the race was new and I have to confess that I didnít take advantage of it in the most efficient way.  Looking back, I can see where I wasted lots of time and effort on stuff that he could have taken care of for me if I had known enough to ask.

Monday was uneventful.  My boat had spent the night in my friend KCDanís garage, so he and I staged both his boat and mine mid-day on Monday.  I also had lunch with him, his brother and his nephew at a local BBQ joint, which was wonderful. 

I made some new friends while I was hanging around the point on Monday afternoon, including Terry Merritt and also Lynn Buckalew, who had come up from Mississippi for the race. 

It was obvious that a lot of people had been viewing Chris Luedkeís great videos because there was an abundance of his tips in evidence.  There were also a ton of people throughout wanting to shake his hand and thanking him for his contributions.  Chris may not ever get you-tube rich from his videos, but heís certainly you-tube famous, at least in this little community.

In 2016, Monday night was awful for me.  I was excited and nervous like a kid before Christmas and had an terrible night of fitful sleep without much real rest.  This year I popped a Benadryl, (which I normally try to stay away from as they make me sleepy) right after dinner and actually had a good night sleep until about 3:30 am.

Because my ground crew (my friend Craig) wasnít meeting me until Wednesday, I didnít have a ride down to Kaw point from the hotel.  By 4:00 am I was in the lobby shooting the breeze with Hoot Foss, who was waiting for his paddler to come down, but rather than wait until I could bum a ride with somebody, I just chose to walk and burn off some nervous energy.  For those who donít know, itís only about a 10 minute walk from the hotel to the point, with well lit sidewalk and a pedestrian bridge making it no big deal.

I spend a little bit of time getting stuff organized in the boat and based on my previous experience with the outriggers not causing any problems during normal daytime operations, I elected to just go ahead and get them out of the hatch and install them before the start, rather than having to stop to do it later.

Some random person helped carry the boat down the ramp (thanks random person!) and I was on the water by around 6:30.

The start was uneventful, but it seemed like a ton of people were taking the line to the left of the confluence, presumably because Scott had covered that in in the safety meeting and it was also mentioned in the Luedke videos if I recall correctly. 

In any event, Iím more comfortable taking a minute to zero out my GPS and get up to speed than making a mad dash the second the gun goes off, but this year that practice resulted in me being in a little bit of congestion on the left hand side.

For the next hour of so, it seemed like I was in the middle of a pack of boats, some of which were faster boats who were intentionally holding a slower pace, and some of which were rec boats.  Part of the fun of the first morning, for me anyway, is to pass people and move up to where I seem to naturally reside in the pecking order, but for a while there I was unintentionally slower than the pace I was attempting to hold just because of traffic congestion.

After an hour or so, the pack started to thin out, and I got a little space around me.  For this year, I had downloaded a track of the channel into my Garmin and I started to focus on trying to stay more in the channel track than not. 

It was a little surprising to me to discover that in many cases, the channel track showed a more sweeping turn than the crossing markers would indicate and there were several times during the race where I passed people who were going in a straight line between markers while I was following the channel as indicated on my GPS.  I experimented a little bit along the way and discovered that if I just ballpark where I thought channel should be based on the markers and bends in the river, I was 0.2-0.3 mph slower than if I followed the line on the GPS.

I had 6 liters of water on board, as well as a couple of bottles of gatorade, so I was able to blow past Lexington without stopping.  According to race owl, I checked through at 2:24 pm, which bears out the 6.9 mph moving average that my GPS was showing. 

The temperature was only in the 80ís, so I wasnít drinking as much as I had expected, and I still  had enough fluid on board to skip Waverly as well, although I did stop for about 10 minutes to stretch my legs and use the bathroom.  After I got back in the boat, I realized that I had forgotten to check in, so I checked in/out after I pushed back from the ramp, but I was actually there for about 10 minutes.  Race owl shows me texting through at 5:55 pm, so with the stop, I was still at about a 6.8 mph average.

Just like last year, I had planned to eat about 100 calories an hour in the boat, and just like last year, I was failing to keep up that intake.  I had started the race with about 2400 calories in various forms in the boat and I had only eaten probably about 1/3 of it or even less at this point.  I think that Iíve conclusively proven to myself that 50 calories an hour is about all I can deal with on the 340.

When I got to Miami, I was still feeling good and had lots of food/liquid left, so I elected to pass it by, even though it looked and sounded like people were having a ton of fun on shore.  I donít remember what time it was.  I do remember that it was still daylight when I passed Hillís Island but dark when I passed Miami, so based on my moving average it had to be somewhere around 10:30-11:00 pm.

By about 1:30 am I was starting to get tired, and seeing tendrils of fog on the river.  There was still a little breeze and as long as it held I thought that the fog probably wouldnít build up, but based on Scott saying in the safety meeting that there were a couple of barges that werenít going to lay up at night, the potential for fog to build, and the fact that I was in an almost new boat that I didnít want to bash into the rocks if I had to get off the river in the boondocks, I decided that I should probably stop at Dalton Bottoms.

At this point, I was still navigating with my Garmin GPS, and was hoarding the battery on the backup phone that I had bought used specifically so I could run the pro paddler app, but this seemed to be a prime time to break it out so that I could see the wing dikes and boat ramps.  I had never been to Dalton Bottoms before and wasnít confident that I could find it at night without the app. 

Turns out I didnít need to worry about it.  When I got there, the Blistered Sisters ground crew was standing on the ramp with a flashlight waiting for their paddlers to come in and they guided me in as well as carried my boat up to the grass for me.  At that point, I think that it was probably somewhere around 2:00 am.

Iíve carried a space blanket for years, but this is was the first time I tried to actually sleep under one and it was a miserable experience.  The blanket was actually a sleeping bag type, and since there were mosquitos I pulled it over my head to try to get away from them.  The thing crinkled like cellophane every time that I moved, and after a couple of hours my breath and body heat had caused it to get wet inside with condensation.  I woke up around 4:00 and debated getting back on the river, but ultimately decided to wait for sunrise.

I got back on the river probably around 7:00 and within about an hour I started to feel twinges in my left elbow with every paddle stroke.  Iíve never had tendonitis, but figured there was a first time for everything, so I floated for a while and tried to find a blade angle and reclined seat position that would give me some relief.  I also popped a couple of Advil, which helped quite a bit.

I texted through Glasgow without stopping at 8:39 a.m. and then met Craig late morning at Franklin Island.  By that point I had shooting pains out of my elbow with every paddle stroke so I was babying my left side quite a bit and floating for a couple of minutes here and there to try to give it a rest.  There was a great spread at Franklin with food, gatorade etc.  (Trevor Tilton from Farmerís Insurance adopted that ramp and did a great job for all involved).  I topped off my hydration, ditched my overnight gear,  and got some icy hot plus an ice pack from Craig and was back in the boat in probably 1/2 hour.  I floated for a while and ate a slice of home made pizza that he had also brought for me and it was just about the best thing that Iíd ever eaten.

I didnít stop again until Jeff City, at 10:01 p.m.  Again, I forgot to text in, so just texted in/out when I got back in the boat, but I was there for probably around 15 minutes. 

Before my arrival, the safety boat folks had texted that there was a barge coming upstream overnight, but I didnít know how fast it was moving or when it had left the location that the text had referenced, so It made it hard to know if I was going to have to deal with it in the dark.

Craig had gotten a clarification on where the barge was from somebody at the checkpoint, and had also taken a look at the weather forecast, which indicated that if I stayed at Jeff City I would likely get caught in the rain the following day, but if I pressed on Iíd likely beat it.  With that information, we decided to press on to Chamois.  I got another ice pack for my elbow and shoved off, but immediately had to pull back in because the rudder on the 18x was full of mud and wouldnít extend.  Craig and one of the checkpoint volunteers were able to work it loose without me having to get back out of the boat, so it was just couple of extra minutes lost.

I arrived at Chamois probably around 2:00 a.m. and Craig gave me a chick-fillet sandwich.  A couple of hours before, I had tried to eat some energy beans, but had started gagging and had to spit them out.  My appetite was now back and I chowed down.  I also had a shower and changed into dry clothes before crawling into the back of the Jeep for some sleep.

I woke up around 5:30 a.m., changed batteries in my GPS, checked my Band-Aid and Advil supply and otherwise got ready to shove off.  Craig pointed out that my elbow was starting to swell up, and he gave me a bursa band that he had evidently picked up the night before.  The bursa band worked great and I went most of the day without more than a few twinges after that.

While we were getting ready, somebody who was sleeping next to a paddle board by the ramp woke up and it turned out to be Lauren Rodriguez,  whom I had met last year. We talked for a few minutes and while we were standing there, the overnight barge came chugging upstream past the ramp, so I waited a few minutes for it to pass and the water to settle down before putting in.  Other than a barge that was just getting underway as I passed Hermann (I think?)  that was the only barge I saw the entire race.

Before I left Chamois, Craig pointed out that given the speed I was averaging, I was right on the cusp of a 60 hour race.  Later on when I checked my texts, I saw that he had sent me a message that said essentially, if I beat 60 hours, he would do the race next year with me as a tandem, so I decided that elbow or not, I was going to stay in the boat to the finish if at all possible.

I never did have hallucinations this year, but thereís no doubt that my mental acuity took a hit.  Even leaving Jeff City the night before, I remember looking at my boat on the beach and thinking that it was a somebody elseís surf-ski instead of my 18x because of the funny angle it way laying at.  Now, it was broad daylight and I was paddling strong and generally having a good time, but by late afternoon I was having trouble with simple math like; given the speed I was moving, would I make the finish by 7:00 p.m. (60 hours).  I went from thinking that I had it made with an hour to spare to thinking that there was no way it was happening, to finally arriving at the correct answer (it was iffy but doable) at least 2 or 3 times.

I texted through Hermann without stopping at 10:02 a.m. and Klondike at 3:39 p.m. still on the bubble for a 60 hour race.  The current was starting to pick up and I was feeling pretty good and moving faster than I had all race, but right after blowing past Klondike, I ran out of water.

I had started in Chamois with a 3 liter camelback of water and I think 2 bottles of Gatorade.  The camelback was in the day hatch with the tube running through a hole in the bulkhead behind the seat and the nipple velcroed to the cockpit coaming where I could grab it without fumbling around.  During the day I had drank the Gatoraid and most of the water.  A couple of hours before, I had reached back there, felt the Camelback and estimated that I had enough to make it the whole way, which was why I was able to blow past Klondike.

Craig had been on the ramp at Klondike, so when I ran out of water I called him and asked that he meet me at the next downstream ramp (Weldon Springs) and toss me a couple of Gatorades.  Turns out that he was already there waiting for me to pass.

As I got close to the ramp, he shouted out what, in retrospect, has to be one of the funniest questions in the history of the 340;  ďDoes Gatorade float?!Ē  I had no idea, but it seemed like it would, so I yelled back something like  ďI think so, just chuck Ďem!Ē

He fired both of them perfectly, about a 10 feet in front of and to port of the boat, whereupon they both immediately sank to the bottom of the river, never to be seen again.  WellÖHuh?  how could they not float?

Once I got the stupid look off my face, I did a 180 and powered into the eddy and up to the ramp while he was grabbing a couple of more bottles.  I aimed for what I though was a sandy area to the right of the ramp and beached the boat, but it turned out to be a thin layer of sand on top of more ramp, and I heard an really unpleasant composite on concrete scraping sound, which fortunately, later inspection revealed to be only a small scratch in the gel coat.

He threw me a couple more bottles at this point and I shoved back into the river, once again without getting out of the boat.

Shortly afterward, I started going through the arithmetic again and after once again struggling with the simple math, discovered that thanks to the bump in speed from the faster current, a 60 hour finish was still within reach, but still just barely.  By this time my elbow was starting throb again and I think that I took a couple more Advil as well as reclining the seat back and backing off the feather on my paddle to try to find an angle that didnít put so much stress on my elbow, which was really starting to swell noticeably and turn a little red.  It was around this point that the fingertips on that side started to go numb.

I went on like this for a while and at 5:00 pm I had around 18 miles to go and was paddling at close to 9 mph.  I floated for a couple of minutes with a guy in a V10 surfski (Joe Manis) who was also trying for a 60 hour finish, but he was having shoulder problems and was single blading it with his backup paddle at this point.  He didnít have a GPS, so when I told him that meant a 9 mph pace, he asked me to set the pace for him, but donít slow down if he couldnít keep up.

For the next 2 hours, I just concentrated on staying in the channel and keeping my speed above 9 mph.  The details are a little fuzzy, but I got it done.  I rolled around the Ameristar and saw the finish line with a few minutes to spare and there were people yelling etc. which was really appreciated.

A tandem boat had just finished before me and I coasted in while the volunteers were getting it out of the way.  Later Craig told me that he thought that I had lost it when he saw me stop paddling, but I was watching the countdown timer on my GPS and knew that at this point, I had it in the bag, albeit by less than a minute.  If it had looked like I was going to run out of time, I had already decided that I would power onto the shore next to the tandem at ramming speed, whether there was a volunteer there to catch me or not.

My official time was 59:59:23.  I donít think that I could have cut it much closer than that.

On the drive home, Craig didnít exactly have second thoughts about his commitment, but he did float the idea that instead of doing a tandem boat next year, if he supported me from start to finish and if we minimized bank time, what would I think about going for sub 50? 

Honestly, I still havenít decided which way would be more fun.  On the one hand, it seems like we all want to be in the 50 hour club, but on the other, it sure seems like the tandem guys have lots of fun, especially if they arenít watching the clock.

Thatís about it, other than to say that I couldnít have even finished, let alone finished within my time goal, without the support of my family and friends both old and new.  You know who you are.  Thanks for everything.
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Reply #1 - 08/28/17 at 20:15:35

Scott Mansker   Offline
Race Staff
13X MR340 Safety Boat Pilot

Posts: 8043
LOVE it.  Great race, great telling of the tale.

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Reply #2 - 08/28/17 at 21:05:27

Rusty Coons   Offline
6X MR340 Veteran
Gritty Fitty Veteran

Posts: 200
I Love it! I was cracking up over the Gatorade.  I woulda bet they would float.  Looking forward to seeing what next year brings.
Rusty Coons
Calico Moon
Boat 3337
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Reply #3 - 08/28/17 at 23:56:01

Hannah   Offline
Ground Crew Veteran
Race Volunteer
Shawnee, KS

Posts: 23
Thanks for sharing your story!  I don't think I've had a chance to meet you yet--looks like you passed by all the ramps at which my hubby and I were volunteering.  We're hoping to race next year and your recollections help us to be prepared.

P.S.--You use "whom."  You make this English major happy. Smiley

Hannah Turley
Kiddie pool paddler
2017 race volunteer
2018 ground crew
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Reply #4 - 08/29/17 at 03:17:52

JCraw   Offline
2X Race Volunteer
MR340 Veteran

Posts: 11
Great tale and FYI, if Craig had taken a drink out of each bottle, it would have floated (not sure on the aspect ratio of air to liquid tho).
Congrats on a sub 60 time!
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Reply #5 - 09/22/17 at 12:01:24

SalliOD   Offline
MR340 Veteran

Posts: 10
Always love reading race reports, thanks!
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Reply #6 - 11/05/17 at 19:11:24

brice   Offline
Future Participant

Posts: 14
That is super cool!  Your fabrication abilities are awesome!      I just got an OC2 and in the few times I have used it, it seems way more stable than the traditional surfski that I tried before it.  I will give it a try with my son in the MR340 next year.
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Reply #7 - 11/05/17 at 19:46:06

brice   Offline
Future Participant

Posts: 14
My comment was in reference to your outrigger posting, but this was a great story also.  I will be re-reading all of them before we go next year.
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Reply #8 - 11/06/17 at 11:42:15

Notorious D.A.D.   Offline
3X MR340 Veteran
Wichita KS/Scottsdale AZ

Posts: 215
Thanks for the kind words.
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