My first race of the year and (I suspect) the hardest race of the year too! I am now typing with a strained wrist, a sprained toe (I think), an aching body and numerous numerous bruises! R's actually worse off than me because during the team biathlon bit he was nice enough to offer to do the running bit whilst I peddled away on the bike. So I got away relatively easy.
The race started a bit on the late side, which meant a lot of it was done under the bleeding hot sun. Actually I think it was all of it. Which explains my red nose and the sunburnt back of my hands. Two areas I stupidly forgot to put sunscreen on. You'd think it'd be easy enough to remember to apply sunscreen on your nose, when it's right in front of you. But no. I have proven that I'm not that bright.
After not running in...days and days and days, the run at the start just winded me. I don't even know how far I ran, but it felt way too far. And I was trotting most of the time. Again, R was an angel and stuck around and trotted with me...and egging me on to run a little. So...bad start to the race. And it didn't get much better.
When I had done more running than I've done in ages, we jumped on the bikes and thought 'Phew! It's gonna be easier now!'. Obviously I was wrong. In fairness though, it was pretty nice cycling around at first in some army camp and then past some path where there was a reservoir on one end and the sea on the other....all that was picturesque...but I'm skipping ahead of the bit that I was actually good at...the one sad bit. At checkpoint 3 we had to stop to do a wordsearch. Now I'm a big Scramble fan on Facebook and I am proud to say that I found 9 out of 10 words! Give me a FB game and I'm ace at it - anything else, I'll settle for bottom place.
So I was at how picturesque and blue and green everything was. Which it was. And it was nice. There were a bunch of checkpoints after that we just had to cycle by, but the one that cost us was the bit where there was another challenge. We had to deflate our tyres completely. That was it. Of course with our crappy rental bikes, after deflating our tyres, we couldn't pump it back up. I'd try to explain how we eventually did it (we had to ask a lot of people!) but I really don't know bike parts and I'd just end up confusing everyone. Long story short, we were at the checkpoint a long long time.
More cycling and on to the nightmare checkpoint that is Checkpoint 7. Which is a lie. Because Checkpoint 7 is made out of Checkpoint 7A, 7B, 7C, 7D and (the mystery) 7E. That's 6 checkpoints (including Checkpoint 7 itself) and we had to go to Checkpoint 7 three times! Checkpoint 7 (and all the rest of the sub-7 checkpoints) was a biathlon segment. As I mentioned before, R was very nice about it and offered to do the running whilst I biked (or he recognised that I was probably not going to run at all and me biking would be a wee bit faster). I think this was the 'orienteering' part of the race and I really really wanted to use my compass (generously loaned to me from C), but really, we didn't need it. (In fact, we didn't need any of the rope stuff that we lugged along the whole way because we didn't even get to that bit of the race!). So after running from 7A to 7D, we got back to Checkpoint 7 to get our second map for Checkpoint 7E. By this time, R and I are more or less sick of everything linked with Checkpoint 7 but it's not like we had anywhere better to go, so Checkpoin 7E it was.
Kayaking at 7E. We thought we'd get to rest our legs. I thought I'd get to rest my poor aching back. I was lugging a bunch of crap around and 2litres of water and my back was really starting to ache immensely. After dragging a canoe to the water and hopping into it, I tossed my (by now, much hated) backpack to my feet and R told me to put it back on my back on the offchance we capsized. Bah!!!!! So on went the dreaded backpack again. Kayaking was approximately 5k of paddling to nowhere in particular. R thought it was dull. I thought my arms would fall off. Poor R had to do most of the paddling because I was pretty hopeless. I did the best I could, but I suspect my best was pretty darn pathetic. Bringing the kayak back to shore was a real pain in the ass. Well bringing it into sea was already a pain, but after kayaking for ages and having pretty much no feeling left in your arms, bringing it back pretty much sucked. And I got my foot caught in some weeds and fell, hence the sprained toe. And bruised ego. But mainly what broke us was after lugging the kayak back, they made us move it further up a couple more meters. It sounds like nothing. But when you're dead tired and sunburnt and aching, it really is the last thing you want to do.
So after all that, we had to get back to Checkpoint 7 (again!) and R collected his bike. Which, considering how unlucky we were the whole day, had now been completely deflated thanks to a puncture. Of course, the tyre tube didn't work on his bike. And secretly I was hoping that our race would end there and then. But no, we found someone who could swap tyres with us and about a half hour to 45 mins later, we had our asses back on our bikes and were on the way to Checkpoint 8.
And we made it to Checkpoint 8 after the cut-off time. So essentially that was the end of our race. We were sunburnt, miserable and very very tired. The race wasn't so bad in all. And I know I pushed my lazy untrained self harder than I have in a long long time, thanks a great deal to R. Overall, I had a great partner and a bitter-sweet takeaway from the race!