1. Plan Ahead and Prepare (with apologies to Leave No Trace)
a. Pull a butt muscle and a calf muscle in the week before the race.
b. Be sure to attend a movie, a lunch, two dinners, a happy hour and a breakfast meeting in the five days before the race.
c. Have complete emotional breakdown the whole week before the race.
d. Sleep as little as possible. Four hours on Thursday night and one hour on Friday night should do it.
e. Leave an hour to pack.
f. Remove pedals from bike. Stick them in a plastic bag that looks exactly like a doggie-poo bag so you can be sure to leave them behind.
g. Rush through racking bikes and wheels on roof, ensuring a weak connection between wheel and rack, thereby ensuring that wheel pops off roof while you are bolting down LakeShore drive, one hour late to pick up race partner and drinking partner Abby.
h. Leave Chicago at the worst possible hour, turning a three-hour drive into a five-hour epic.
i. Whatever you do, do not look at your Gmap directions until you are already on the wrong highway and on your way to St. Louis instead of Indianapolis.
j. Forget that your other race partner Lindsay is packing to leave Chicago forever and so has no gear. Also do this at the last minute.
2. Be a Good Person (with apologies to Doctor Phil)
a. Spend time with your friends. When going to the grocery store, take the race coordinator with you so that you can share psycho dashing from cold cuts aisle to granola aisle to Gatorade aisle.
b. Indulge your urges: Unpack and repack six times in an hour.
c. Be kind to others: Ask, twenty times, if everyone has everything they need.
d. Allow others to help: Ask race coordinator for CO2 gun, spare bike gloves, spare pedals, spare bladder.
e. Be self-sufficient: Provide CO2 cartridges all by yourself.
f. Encourage networking! Ask race coordinator for spare wheel. Race coordinator asks racing partner. Racing partner gives up spare wheel, which is shipped to bike drop by willing third teammate, who has sprouted some Andy-Gibb-hair in the time since the Crew Minion last saw him and is totally unrecognizable. Third teammate is thus forced to interact with the volunteer at the bike drop watching over the bikes. Ta Da!!! A new social circle is born.
3. Be active! (with apologies to Denise Austin)
a. Start each day with a bang: Awakened at 4:30 AM race day by teammate. Bolt awake immediately. Sit upright and yell, "4:30! What the hell! Sh*t!" (Earn self ten pushups for swearing; startle third teammate awake, who wonders out loud, "Geez, does she wake up like this every morning?")
b. Fuel up: Eat Cheetos for breakfast.
c. Encourage walking: Park as far away from TA as possible in order to take advantage of shade. Walk between car and TA six times.
d. Keep heartrate up: pre-race meeting is very closely followed by madcap loading of racers into buses for trip to race start. Team is split into two buses. Two team members will run from mystery start to bike drop, where we will pick up all of our bikes and then run to a meeting point with our third teammate. Lindsay is elected to run first. We meet at the designated spot in good time.
e. Keep brain active: After initial flipping of street map from side to side, struggling to orient self, am in second-to-last place. Think am in Washington DC instead of Indianapolis when see that streets of Indy are named after all states. Washington DC map in head is totally useless; re-focus on map at hand, finally get going.
f. Know your surroundings: We pick up the next three checkpoints in good order and learn a few things about Indy in the process: DID YOU KNOW THAT THERE ARE NINE LAMPPOSTS AT THE NORTHWEST ENTRANCE OF THE CONSECO FIELD HOUSE??? Write answers on arm until realize that need to mark them on passport. Points for being an airhead are awarded. Relish in irony of being biggest bubble-head on team and only non-blonde.
g. Add variety to your workouts: Drop bikes and head to stair climb. Pass a couple of teams on the way. Complete stair climb in good time. Flash back to Indianapolis Wild Onion, where we climbed the same building and DNF'ed.
First National Bank. Site of two stair climbs in the Crew Minion's life.
i. Have Exercise partners: Head back to bike drop; pick up bikes, rollerblades, and tow system for triad. Beg off running due to twinging calf and butt.
j. Keep it interesting: Visit gorgeous historic region of Indianapolis. Marvel over Victorian houses. Think to self that race fees will eat all budget before can afford such house. Drag roller-blading partner over cobblestones. Express regret. Visit "Elvis plaque" to pick up last clue before heading back to bike drop; wonder what Elvis has to do with Indy. (First person to answer this question in an e-mail gets a pair of SmartWool socks. Send your answer to: yishun (at) ARFE (dot) org
4. Slow and Steady...(Apologies to Aesop)
a. Foster community: If you can't find something, ask a townie. Particularly one who's been jogging for three hours and clearly has run the length of the trail you're on many times over.
b. Take breaks: Stop for a required checkpoint at a bar, down a pint glass of Guinness before continuing on.
c. Take Care of Yourself: Apply sunblock and chow on granola bars while waitinig for ropes harnesses to be freed up during a backyard ropes section involving some high-tension steel cables, lots of carbiners, and a cargo net.
Ropes. Way cool!
d. Play games: All those hours of cornholing paid off: Abby puts a beanbag into a board in quick order and we move on.
e. Some Girls are Bad at Football: In fact, all three members of the Fab Flab can now saw that we've attempted to throw a football through a tire and kick a field goal. Two of the three should say that we're bad at it. Abby can't say that. Stadium stairs are something we're all good at, though.
Football. The Fab Flab did not look nearly this impressive.
f. Help others: If a team is stuck trying to decipher an orienteering map, help them. And then move on in the opposite direction so as to never see them again while you pick up five points in good, speedy order.
g. Focus is good: When struggling to make it back to the paddling section on time to avoid being DQ'ed, try not to be distracted by liquor stores or volunteers yelling, "What's the Best Garbage prize today?"
h. Work Well with Others: When figuring out the paddling order, DO NOT put the tallest person in the middle of the boat, where she will get whacked in the head repeatdly by the person trying to steer the boat in the back.
i. Take Everything in Stride: When you hit a set of rapids that you can't navigate, and you get out of the boat to push, and the person holding onto the back end of the boat lets go of it so that suddenly you have a 100-pound boat bumping the back of your legs crosswise, DO NOT PANIC. Likewise for when you hit a huge rock and capsize your boat. Likewise for when you get out of the boat to push it into shore and find yourself in water you have to swim in.
Crew Minion's shoe after a wet canoe leg. See the little snail that's made a home in it? Mmmmhmmmm.
j. Confront Your Fears: If you are known to suffer from acrophobia and you see that a checkpoint is posted way up on a bridge staunchion, go get it. [This is advice you should heed about as often as you eat Cheetos for breakfast.) Under no circumstances, however, are you under advice to confront your fears of the rare fresh-water-dwelling, Fall-Creek, Indiana breed of shark, which lurks in murky shallow waters and is known to eat adventure racers . If an opportunity occurs, send in Lindsay after the checkpoint floating on a rubber ducky in the middle of Fall Creek, Indiana. Lindsay is from Florida. She understands large scaly creaures with a lot of teeth.
k. Exercise restraint: Under no conditions are you to say to your teammates, "Stop worrying. The boat is NOT going to tip over."
l. Know your strengths: You may not be the fastest team out there, but you might just have a good navigating day, nail every point without a single mistake, and manage to go through the last checkpoint just in time to qualify for second place, all-female division.
The Fab Flab. Crew Minion is sleeping to make up for lack thereof the previous two nights.
Thanks, Fab Flab! And a big thank you to Cristal Garrison for the spare wheel. And to Dave for the CO2 gun, the spare bike gloves, and the pedals. And to Andy Gibb for the bike wheel delivery. And, of course, to Planet Adventure, for yet another amazing race.
Steve (in Andy Gibb hair) and Cristal (in pigtails) are responsible for getting a spare wheel to me. Thanks, Indy Rootstock and Rachel!