Monday, January 30, 2012

Endorphins and Adrenaline

My name is Rebecca and I am addicted to endorphins.  No surprise if you know me.  I NEED a daily dose of endorphins for my overall well-being.  Sometimes I get my fix from a long epic adventures and other times in quick crackhead-like fashion from short, fast runs or crossfit or the like.  Both have their time and place and either does the trick.  Yesterday, I got it from the latter.  A winter triathalon.  Short, sweet (ass-kicking), and fun.

Maybe it is winter or just a needed downtime, but lately, I’ve been taking it real easy.  I’m still get my daily dosage, but I’m certainly not anywhere close to top form.  But like a true addict, I wasn't going to miss out on the opportunity for self-ass-kicking just becuase I wasn't in shape for it or practiced in two of three techniques (biking on snow and skate skiing).  It would only make it hurt more.  So, yesterday, I made my way to a cute little cross country ski lodge just east of ButteMontana for a 5k run, 10k bike, and a 5k skate ski all on groomed cross country ski trails.

As expected, the Powderhound Winter Triathlon delivered.  I got my fix.  It was briefly painful, yet fun.  Something a little different.  The run did not feel good.  I should have run at least that far to warm up.  I said that it was all groomed, but only really for the frontrunners.  Every surface I crossed was already torn-up, making it even more of a challenge.  Especially for the bike.  Since I found out about this a week ago, I’ve gotten out on the bike a couple of times and tried to ride on snow.  Mostly I practiced on ice, which is sketchier, but easier, than torn-up snow.  There was lots of pushing.  The parts I could ride were really fun with the added element of having to have perfect balance and acute focus because you couldn’t really be sure of the surface.  I only wiped out once and it wasn’t bad.  Slow-motion.  Then there was the skate ski.  Why not have my first time skate skiing this year be in a race (and the first time I’ve every skied in a race)?  I can’t think of a reason.  Maybe because it is the last of three legs of a race I’m already not in shape for.  Ehh.  No worries.  It was ugly, but I finished.  I’m not that great at skate skiing anyway as I only have one speed.  I have no equivalent to walking, which is what I needed to do at a few points, but instead just came to a dead stop, holding myself up by my poles.  And I managed to pull off my trademark move (tripping myself by poling inside my skis) about 15 yards from the finish line.  What fun would it have been to splat out in the woods when I could do it for an audience?

It wasn't pretty, but it hit the spot.  I really just like races.  I like having everything arranged, so I can just give it my all.  It hurt so good.  And it was a great event.  These folks, who also run this lodge and resort, had it together.  The whole facility is really nice.  it was a fun, well-marked course.  Good food afterwards.  Bluegrass band.  Nice awards.  An all-around pleasant atmosphere. 

After my first shower in five days, I loaded up Mama, still buzzing on endorphins and headed out for the final leg of the journey.  I had been worried about getting to the place as it was three miles down a forest service road that was plowed, but was covered in packed snow and ice.  I had slept at the beginning of the road the night before and had my chains on to get in there early and not to hold up any traffic as it is super-slow going with chains on.  It was fine getting in.  Getting out however, was another story.  I could tell right away it was sketchy.  The road had become a sheet of ice from everyone driving in and out on it.  I was sliding on small declines.  I had to go really slow and try to keep the one set of wheels in the unpacked snow on the sides.  It was going okay and I started thinking to myself that maybe I had been holding myself back by not just putting chains on more often and heading down these types of roads (as I do in the non-snowy months).  Nope, I was right the first time.  I started to go down a hill as slow as I possibly could, when the van started sliding and I had no control.  It was a slow motion from here.  The van is slidding towards the side of the road, which was a thirty-forty foot steep bank into a ravine.  I open my door ready to jump out as Mama doesn’t seem to be stopping.  I crash into the bank.  We are still moving very slowly.  Should I jump out?  I don't want to if she is going to stop.  She stops.  I freeze.  From my angle I seem to be balancing over the edge.  In a very slow movement I put the car in park and put the parking break on and get out.  When my feet hit the ground, I fall onto all fours and start slidding down.   The ground as it is completely ice.  Holy adrenaline.  I’m nearly laughing, crying, and shitting myself at the same time. 

A few carloads of people pull up behind me, most of whom seemed to be workers at the event and locals.  They get a hold of the race director guy, who agrees to come yank me out with his loader.  One very nice lady waits with me and we sit in her car and chat and share and beer until Mama’s rescuer comes.  From behind, I can tell Mama isn’t quite hanging over as it felt like from the drivers seat, but it still looks bad.  Or like it could have been really bad.  The guy shows up and yanks her out, then drives her down this sketchy hill for me and sends me on my way.  What a race director! 

Now, with a full dose of endorphins AND adrenaline I head home, which this week is Bozeman, Montana (a story for another day).  I enjoy a beautiful ride through the Gallatin Valley just as the sun is setting, fully jacked up on chemicals of my own creation.  Good times!   

(Here is a mention in Butte paper, unfortunately not for my performance.)