Friday, March 27, 2009

Battered and Bruised

Wow, what a race!

It's 0C today in Yellowknife - abnormally warm for this time of the year...but a great day to enjoy the Caribou Festival activities taking part in the YK downtown core. Unfortunately, I'm having a hard time getting my butt off the Argue's couch today. Here's my injury/body damage report...

- the balls of my swollen feet are killing me (bruised from trying to get grip on loose snow)
- my rib cage/diaphragm is abnormally tight from the pressure of the pulk harness I think...hurts when I walk
- the right side of my face is all ballooned up from frostbite on Day 5
- left wrist has tendonitis from poling in soft deep snow
- elbow pain from skiing with the added weight of the pulk
- blister on right heel

I'd say that this list is fairly average compared to other finishers...So needless to say that t
he act of sitting is about the only activity that brings me pleasure at this exact moment!

Some thoughts on the race...

First off - Congrats to Mike for a great race. Without him by my side over the past week, the Rock and Ice wouldn't have been the same experience for me (and for him I'm sure), as it truly made the event one of the hardest challenges I've ever completed in my life. One always hopes to come out on top when faced with a dual of this type. In this case, Mike was the strongest in the latter stages and for that he deserves the diamond - well done!

As for finishing Kershaw would say: "I'm not going to sucks!"

I came to the Rock and Ice to win - and not achieving this goal is disappointing. For the most part, the race actually unfolded as I thought it would, until the end that is...where it was my (and not Mike's) endurance level that failed to keep the pace. Did I underestimated Mike's ability to last...? Perhaps I did, but I think my biggest mistake was in my own training preparation, letting 'life' get in the way of good old fashioned hard training. One of the questions that was fired to me at the end of the race was: "What would you change differently for the next time around?" I quickly answered in joke like fashion: "Ha, I would train more...". But after having thought about it more, I was actually right on the money. Experience and mental strength will only take you part of the way - You have to come to this event fully prepared - it's the only way you will complete the event, let alone winning it!

So, another lesson learned...I'll be back next year ready to chase the diamond once again!

As for the event - again, Wow! Event director Scott Smith did a fantastic job from my perspective. All assets that make a great event were present here: the route, the course marking, water stations, camp locations/accommodations, safety/first aid checks and information updates were all right on the money. Behind the scenes, his team of volunteers and staff were on the ball 24hrs/day and ready to act on a moments notice - often going out of their way to accommodate the participants. Hats off to the Rock and Ice team!

And the didn't disappoint! It wasn't the coldest year on record, but we were certainly tested by the elements. The first day was probably one of the worst days I've encountered in a while, with a memorable blizzard on the 14km stretch across Prelude Lake (I think that most of the drop-outs occurred on this section!). The rest of the week was cold, but not abnormal from my perspective. Once in camp, the 6 to 8 person dome tents provided amazing cover and were toasty warm. Most of the afternoons were spent lounging around the tents refueling our energy stores and trading war stories with other participants. At night, my -20C sleeping bag was perfect and I never had to crack out the additional liner I brought to meet the mandatory -30C sleeping bag limit. In the morning, Scott would stop by for a morning wake up call and check on all participants to make sure everyone was moving on...and off we went for another stage!

Ok...I think I'll pause brain is still a wee bit foggy - I might even shuffle my way into town to check out some dogsled racing action! Tonight is the big Bacardi Rock and Ice party where all the winners will receive their diamonds...A big congrats to: Mike, Greg, Denise, Liza, Denis, Shawne, Thomsen and Sara! Should be some good times...Either way, I'm sure that all the bumps and bruises will temporarily disappear after a few RBV's!

A few pics of our post race KFC chow fest...

Greg, Mike, Liza and Denise get ready to celebrate their victories with Colonel Sanders KFC! The last time I visited this fine establishment was 9 years ago with my brother in Burns Lake, BC (after a week of tree planting!)

Hmmm...greasy goodness!

Denise McHale shakes her head at Greg's bottomless pit as he chows down on 4-piece meal

Thanks to everyone who posted and cheered me on - A special thanks to Will, EJ, Rob, GMac, Scott and Bill for the gear, prep advice and words of wisdom. I'm looking forward to catching with everyone soon!


Cyrus said...

Huge props!

One year soon, I'll be up for the challenge.

Mark Thomas said...

Nice work Phil - quite the journey!

Maybe I should have made you one of my patented (and ultra-sexy) nose/cheek masks. You may still want one, I found it got worse for a few days before it got better. I still use it (as you've seen) when it gets below about minus 10 and/or windy. The chicks really dig it!

Bruce J said...

I can't believe the difference in the before and after picture, you look wrecked. Well you look more wrecked in the after one to tell the truth. Great job on a great race with Mike, my money was on you.

Adamo said...

Congrats on the solid epic Phil. Sounds like you deserve some sit time.
It was fun to follow along on sleepmonsters.
Sorry you didn't come out on top of this one, but it sounds like you got the test you were looking for too.
On the bright side, you don't have to bling out your grill with a diamond in your tooth. It was going to look kind of stupid :)

Derrick said...

Congrats Phil on a great race. It was nice getting to know you a bit in YK.

Looking forward to next year.

BarbC said...

Congrats on a great performance in a very tough competition, and thank you for sharing your story with such honesty and detail. It made me feel like I was there - oh wait... :-)

It was great to meet you at last, Mr. PCS. We look forward to sharing your adventures online and hopefully in person again one day. Take care.

Barb & Richard