Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Week at the Races

We got back earlier than expected. As you can guess, then, that's not really a good sign. I'll get to that soon. The lead up to the race was going well, perfectly even. John's team was getting everything done on time and the energy was high. I was co-chef and having a great time in that role (there was a lot of me saying to the crew early morning, "wakey wakey eggs and bac-ey").

My morning view of the track from the RV.
I, thankfully, was also on a pseudo vacation. Not quite Hawaii though ;) I was very ahead with work before leaving in anticipation of being cut off from service. Internet didn't work after the first day, and phone was alright but not great. It's all good - I enjoyed the idea of shutting it all off for a few days. It was the first time in a long time I pretty much just stopped checking email, twitter, fb, instagram, etc., religiously. Didn't even miss it.

So what else is there to do in downtime? Run. (No bike cuz I forgot my shoes/helmet the morning we left, F.) After going to this race last year too, I knew the area, 80 miles north of Sacramento, has become one of my favorite places to run for the nothingness it offers. You just hit the highway and go - engulfed in rolling hills, some farms, tree orchards, and the occasional puddle (we lucked out on missing a giant storm the weekend prior). No traffic lights, and rarely any cars. I ran three days in a row, and had no goals or expectations for each run, but they all went great. I'm still in offseason, so you can argue that I should have sat on my arse and rested up there, but I could not pass up those sessions. In fact, I think those runs served to bring back some fresh motivation to start training again!

Lucho mentioned he checked out the satellite view of where I was; if you're curious, see that red dot?

I love where I live, but I am jealous of all you folks out there who live in remote areas. Many times it was so desolate that is was safe enough to run in the middle of the lane to avoid the camber of the road. And the most life I saw each time I ran consisted of cows. Me being the weirdo I am, enjoyed a good "mooing" conversation with the herds, and I even got them to "talk" back - hell, I even got them to run with me! Ah, the simple things.
Gorgeous road and scenery for running... all to myself.

And at sunset... #nofilter
Oh yea, and the shower situation. The first full day there, Thursday, the track was still rather empty so I was treated to a scorching hot shower post-run. Mmmm. I was optimistic that they got a better water heater this time. Not the case. On Friday, more teams arrived so I planned my shower time to avoid "rush hour" in hopes of getting hot water. No such luck. It was a cold one (not quite freezing though) and the shower head was f-ed up so, let's just say, it was a sorry sight seeing me shoved into a corner trying to get bits of water. That said, by Saturday I did not shower, but rather used baby wipes and cottonelles. (By Sunday, I had the resources and time to venture into town and borrow a crew member's hotel shower.)

Enough about me. The race. Refresher: 25 hours of driving a freakin car around a 2.8ish mile track in the hills! No light feat!

A peek of the track.
John preparing.
"I wanna go fast!" - a wise man

The story: The guys start at 11 a.m. Saturday after a big pre-race ceremony on the track (see left). Weather is ideal. Things are going smoothly until we had a couple hiccups during a yellow flag. We get some penalties that set us back in the rankings. But then John gets in the car and has the drive of a lifetime going from 12th or so back up to 3rd. He was in the car for four-ish hours, getting back out around 8pm ish? I have a hot plate of food waiting for him :) Fast forward to 11 something, and it's cold outside. Some guys are on rest breaks gearing up for a long all-nighter ahead. I am sitting on a chair bundled up John's brother's wife watching them prep for a pit stop and driver change. The car pulls up and something's clearly wrong. Next thing you know they're rolling the car into the paddock. Not good. Next they're jacking it up and crew guys are scrambling to get under the car to diagnose. Then, within seconds, I hear, "It's over. We're done." It didn't seem real to hear that. But then they start describing the giant hole in the engine and I see the oil everywhere.... and I see John's face. I think: "Oh shit, this is no joke. We are done." There's shock, but the diagnosis is clear. Nothing can be done.
I think this was the "last pit stop" situation; still hope
at this point.

Just like in triathlon, there are some things you just can't control in a race.

Then I was thinking, "This will be a good lesson in sports psych" in that, this is where people show their true colors. You can either whine and be pissy or stand with your head high, accept it and move on graciously. John's team chose the latter.

They were the defending champions. They're an even stronger team than last year and did everything right (minus getting a new engine) to defend their title this year. But shit happens.

Instead of making the guys more coffee that night, we cracked some beers and had some laughs. Still stayed up waaay to late. I'll be honest, that night and into the morning I found myself feeling more upset than I thought I'd ever be about not getting to see them finish. I was really, really sad! It hurts more when you're still engulfed in the race. Although, by morning there were clearly a lot fewer cars out there. Many teams "died" over the night. It's a brutal race!

Sunday was another long day in the car (extra long it seemed after what had just gone down)...

Personally, now, I'm ready to get back to work!

1 comment:

  1. "enjoyed a good "mooing" conversation with the herds, and I even got them to "talk" back - hell, I even got them to run with me" < This is exactly why we are friends! Absolutely would have been on my TO DO list. :) Sorry to hear about Johns team, but I'm glad they handled it like champs.