Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Texas Water Safari Part 6

Texas Water Safari Part 6

     Cuero (checkpoint #7) to Victoria.  40 miles with a couple stops in between.
 I've set myself on a good pace throughout the race.  Despite the day by day wear and tear I'm holding up pretty good considering.  The only thing standing in my way of finishing now is my body.  My will and determination is as strong as the day I started. Just my left side is getting beat up.
      My ankle is getting kind of nasty through this stretch.  I am definately slowing down a bit as I have to stop every couple hours and get off the board to float in the water to relieve the pain and swelling a little.  Outside of that, I can't do much for the swelling. It is what it is at this point.
       I find about anything to take my mind off of it.  Sing songs.  That dang Elmo book I read my son at night keeps haunting me.  I run through the book out loud.  "The monkeys shake the dreamland tree, and down fall dreams for you and me.."   My mind leads me to think about my family.  I know they are watching me through my spot tracker page and following my progress.  It's just difficult not being able to communicate with them for so long.  A comfort I bring for every race is a picture of my son.  I laminate a picture and duct tape it to my deck bag so when times get tough I look to him to pick me up. His pictures have brought me through the toughest times, as it does here.

                                       My inspiration through the toughest times in this race

    An interesting person I meet is a fellow named Zoltan.  Yes, that is his name.  He's a proud Hungarian.  I find him very friendly and helpful through our conversation.  I can tell in the beginning of our conversation he's curious about why i'm standing up, but never asks.  I pick his brain about the rest of the course.  He's a wealth of knowledge on the Texas Water Safari and for good reason.  This is his 22nd time racing it!  Yes, 22 years of racing.  He divulges that he's finished 11 times.  He hopes this is his 12th finish.  I learn later on that Zoltan is 72 years old! 
     He gives me valuable information about the course and the bay crossing at the end of the race.  Racers have made it all the way 255 miles only to lose their boat in the last 5 miles in the bay crossing  as they flip and the current steals their boat from them.  Zoltan is one of those racers this has happened to. 
     As we paddle, he states he's paddling ahead.  His boat is fast and he cruises effortlessly ahead of me.  An hour or so later I pass his boat pulled up on a bank and he's 10 ft up on a bank, flat on his back snoozing.  30 minutes later of paddling he catches back up.  We do this for most of the rest of the race.
                             At 72 years old, Zoltan Mraz Is a very accomplished paddler.
                                    I'm honored to have spent alot of the race with him.

    Gear, food, and supplies.  A short breakdown of what I've carried all this way.  From the rear view is a set of wheels designed for moving a kayak.  What you can't see is prior to coming to Texas I cut a piece of rain gutter, cut it open so there's a flat piece,  and taped it to the top of the wheels (facing down flat on the board in this pic). So instead of the U shape where a kayak would set into the wheel system, there's now a flat area the board will sit on top of to transport it.

 In front of the wheels is a long flat Deck bag by Sealine. In this bag I carry stuff I won't need immediately, just extras or stuff to break out once daily. Tub of peanut butter. 2 bags of bagels. oatmeal packets, flares, a ton of extra clif bars, twizzlers, more food, and some randoms. In front of that is a smaller deck bag that has stuff that I might need to grab occasionally. It has a small 5l dry bag with my repair kit (surfco quick putty, epoxy, gorilla tape, and clear packing tape). Another 5ml dry bag that has occasional stuff as well, Kidney meds, first aid kit kit, snake bite kit, nalgene with built in filter in case I run out of water I can scoop river water and drink it. And incidentals ie. benadryl for stings, and wet wipes(I'll talk about taking a dump off the side of a board in a yoga pose later, was glad to have wipes after.)

This bag has a mesh pouch on the front.  A small thing but was perfect to stow my Maui jim sunglasses in at night so I wouldn't lose them.  I've lost way too many in the past.
     The front deck bag was my go to bag.  My extra water bladders for my camelbak,  Extra fins, nalgene of electrolyte replacement, and a dry bay of quick foods.  Man I consumed alot throughout this race.

     Many hours later and a few stops to rest the now bad leg and I make it into Victoria.  I'm not walking that great but I try not to let it show.  People are excited to see the stand up guy and I don't want them to focus on my leg.   I get an introduction from my crewman Joe baisa to a local legend paddler of the Safari,  Ken Startz.  I've heard of the boats he builds and I've heard of his paddling abilities.  Both are so great only to be rivaled by his genuine spirit and love for paddling. I talk to Ken a bit and he's psyched that I'm doing this race on a stand up.  He tells me he's already making plans to build a SUP that's safari grade for next year. I like this guy already.
     Aftet chatting a bit I head up away from the ramp off to the side to pow wow with my crew.  I show them the leg, ankle, foot issue.  Joe confirms it, he says, "Shane, that's really bad". I look slike crap now.  Now club footed,  the skin is expanding so much it's hurting.  Michael grabs some ice and puts it in his own tube socks.  He hands me the socks and I lay it over my foot.  I ice everything down for 20 minutes.  This is where my time is getting sucked out.  While I had previously projected a tuesday evening finish, the icing and delays due to the swelling push me further back.  It's pretty bad.

        Post race, I learn Michael has checked in with my wife to let her know i'm still doing great.  (he makes no motion of the swelling issue. I've asked him to never tell my wife anything is wrong. I don't want to worry her).   On the other hand I learn later that Joe has called her sperately and told her how bad the swelling is! Dand ig Joe. (I forgot to tell him the deal)

                                                       Michael's genius idea of icing

                                      My left leg is swollen and the calf is now bruising. 
                                My foot can barely fit in to a flip flop and my ankle is bad.

The game has changed.  The race started as a physical race and by day 3 became a mental game.  Now it is both.  I've never been presented with  a challenge like this.  Hurting and in alot of discomfort I head out of Victoria.  Somewhere in the next section is the 1.8 mile log jam I've heard so much about.  My harness I was going to use to pull the board through the portage is gone.  The first day of the race,  a spectator picked it up out of the water as it fell off the board.  He tried to hand it to me and put it on the board.  A race official was there and said I couldn't use it (remember in this race you can receive any outside help.  Your crew captain is the only contact you can receive and he can only give you water and ice.) 
      Since day 1 this portage has been on my mind!  Maybe I'll use some vines I find.  This fills my mind until I get to the log jam.



  1. Shane,
    Was the swollen ankle and leg due to standing up so long w/o flexing or what? Ouch.

  2. I always put alot of movement in my feet/toes. Just one of those things I do without thinbking about. The issues cam from the compression pants ended above my ankle and the shoe ended below the ankle. That was the source of swelling, then it just radiated.
    I'm looking into a compression sock that will eleviate this problem for future races. I finished the mr 340 a couple weeks ago w/o a sock and the ankle was fine. Just shows that the TWS is a lot tougher!