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29 March 2011

Clemson Off Road Triathlon 2011

Spring Break Kick Off Event
Team Foie Gras

Betsy, Melissa, John

John and I agreed to an early start on Friday, probably sign the kids out of school around lunch time. Instead I was late picking Abbey & Jake up at the end of the school day, and we pulled on to I-26 @ 4:40 pm on Friday. But we had a great lunch @ Three Little Birds, my favorite, veggie burger on a plate, no bun, ketchup & spicy mustard, red potato salad on the side, and an American Classic Island Green Tea.

By the time we got to Columbia @ 7 pm we decided to eat dinner. Using Urban Spoon on the i-phone, we found Mai Thai - the reviews impressed John.

Jake had chicken satay & rice, Jonathan, sweet & sour chicken that he shared with John who also had chicken & rice soup, which Amanda ate too with some of the cashew nut chicken she shared with me, while Abbey enjoyed steamed dumplings. The place was authentic, balanced, exact proportions of satisfaction physically and emotionally. We discovered a reason other than Kim to visit Columbia.

@ 8, we ventured back to the interstate to Anderson. I leaned my head back to relax and heard Abbey's powdery sugar voice say, "Jake, you can lay your head on my pillow pet on my lap."

We arrived sometime after 10 pm at the condo on Lake Hartwell. A 3 bedroom overlooking a trail that winds down to the lake.

After checking everything out, the closets, the view, the rooms, the games, then unpacking the food, and watching the kids play Uno, I went to bed. Jake and Jonathan planned to stay up much later, but we insisted they get some sleep. We had a big race in the morning.

I wouldn't exactly say I trained for this, but I did some form of exercise every single day except for three since Ash Wednesday. I punched the speed bag for arm strength; I walked; I rode my bike, and I kayaked. This race would be the first time I kayaked competitively. I wasn't training to win. I needed to make sure I could do it. It's all in the head.

I packed everything I might possibly need to wear: boat shorts, Keens, Nike Dri Fit short sleeve, long sleeve, windbreaker, rain jacket, and running pants in my Camelbak to the race. The morning was cool, but paddling would warm me up. We loaded the kids in the Explorer, boat on top, bike on back, and a cooler with lunch. The sky shifted to grey on the 20 mile ride from Anderson to Issaqueena Forest.

When we pulled down the red clay trail to unload the boat at the lake, the rain steadily began. "An adventure triathlon," the host reminded us as we huddled under the leaking white tent listening to the instructions. "If there's lightening," he said, "get off the water." I found the warning unsettling, but it was just raining in the mountains, there wouldn't be any lightening.

Betsy and Bryan showed up around 9. Betsy was dressed for the nicer, cooler day, with her Soffee shorts, t-shirt, pretty silver bracelet and earrings to match. The rain was steady now, so I gave her a red wind breaker.

The run would be four miles: head up the hill, turn left, make a loop like a T, come back down the hill to the boats.

The boats were supposed to loop around the lake 2 times, 3 miles, but due to the weather they changed this to 1 loop around. Ha! I chuckled in my head, a sprint. I can definitely do this.

The bike would then finish, racing 10 miles through the technical woods. "The roots will be slippery," the host warned over the microphone, "take it slow." the Issaqueena Forest's roots would be no match for John's Ellsworth with disc brakes.

The emergency vehicles in place, the runners took off.

Just around 30 minutes in, the runners started arriving at the lake. I adjusted my paddle and tightened my life vest. Betsy would be there any minute.

After about five boats took off, one of the coordinators came down, sent the emergency boat out, and canceled the kayak portion of the race. Not long after, Betsy came down the trail. I wasn't going to get to play in the rain.

John jumped on his bike and took off.

Betsy and I were walking up the hill in the downpour, listening to the thunder, when the entire sky crackled electric white. Seriously frightened we ran to our cars. The children (4 in my car, 3 and a dog in hers) were huddled together in the back seats, Jake shaking in Amanda's arms, Betsy's dog howling in hers.

John biked up the hill 2 miles to the bike trail and just made the turn onto the single track when the Emergency ATV's rode in telling them the race was cancelled, get off the trail.

Soaked, cold, and covered in red clay mud, we drove back to Anderson for the night. Buff joined us for dinner and the Florida basketball game. The organic peppers, onions, garlic, squash, mushrooms and spinach, sauteed and served with chicken over pasta with red sauce and red Bordeaux compensated for the dreary race.

We observed Earth hour for 15 minutes, and Buff disconnected the television in some permanent way.

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