Monday, May 19, 2014

Pole Pedal Paddle 2014

The Pole Pedal Paddle relay race that takes place here in Bend every May has become an incredibly enjoyable tradition among the Kittelson employees and families.  For years before we moved to Bend the company would sometimes put together a team and make the trip out here to compete for fun.  But when we decided to make Bend our home and we fell in love with all of the outdoor activities central Oregon has to offer, Joe made it his mission to make the PPP a (mandatory) tradition.  Starting with the year we moved out here (2008, which was also Joe's PPP debut) I believe they've only missed out on one.  And while I loved watching from the sidelines and cheering them on, in 2012 I decided I'd rather create my own team and join in as a competitor.  The racing bug bit me and I knew I'd be repeating the role as team captain for many PPPs to come.

The race is a 6-legged relay that begins with a short downhill ski up on Mt. Bachelor, then an 8k cross country ski, a 22 mile bike down the mountain into Bend, a 5 mile run course handing off to a 1.8 mile kayak course then a 1/2 mile sprint to the finish. Joe and I have both always taken on the kayak leg for our teams as Joe's kayak obsession has left us with an advantage over all of the other "non-kayakers."  Though we've talked about changing it up and giving the kayak leg to someone else (or even doing a tandem pairs team which would require one of us to learn how to downhill ski!) We'll see what the future holds.  It always seems to be such a stressful endeavor for me attempting to establish a team in the first place.  I even gave up at one point, telling Joe this year "I quit... I'm not doing a team this year... I can't find anyone who will commit and participate!" so I give him credit for jumping on board and asking around which is how I ended up with the Lucky Ladies. Jana LaFrenier (one of his coworker's wives) on the downhill, Caroline Marks (Brendan's good friend's mom) on the skate ski, Susie Wright (one of his Portland coworkers) on the bike, Lisa Stoica (his younger sister) on the run, me on the kayak and Lisa on the sprint.  So I was set with a team and running only on adrenaline last week as the date drew near and the preparations began.  Packet was picked up, bibs were being handed out, and I received a text Friday evening before the race that sent me into a slight panic.  Caroline was in urgent care and wouldn't be able to compete.  I spent a good hour or more trying to find a replacement as Caroline offered up her husband, Josh, to race in her place.  While I knew we'd be breaking the rules since we were registered as a women's team, I had no other options besides forfeiting the entire race.  And I wasn't about to do that to my team.  So we welcomed Josh to the team and praised him for jumping in at the last minute.  But while I knew we would do fairly well on our time, I figured we'd never actually win any real awards (the top three times in each category/bracket receive a special mug as an award) and no one would be the wiser. Which is why I was in shock and a little panicked when that's exactly what we did.  We came in third in our women's age division.  It left me both thrilled and dismayed.  Since I could never live with myself for lying, I immediately sent an email to the race director admitting my "indiscretion" so that the "real" third place contender could receive their mug.  I have yet to hear back from her and I dread that response with my entire being.  Most importantly, we all had such a good time and the experience is something I look forward to replicating for years to come.

It has been such a joy to see the progression from 2008 until now in the number of people from Kittelson who come out to support and participate.  Of course it may have something to do with the fact that Joe starts "trash talking" and sending out intimidating emails for the following year as soon as the race is over.  But if the result of his competitive (albeit incredibly annoying to his coworkers) behavior is the outcome of this year's attendance then I say keep it up Joe, whatever you're doing is working.  We filled our clubhouse with at least 50 people (employees, families, friends) who came to celebrate and have fun as we ate, drank, and handed out fun "awards" at our traditional PPP after party. Eight teams included three Portland teams, a Boise team, an Orlando team, a Calizona (California and Arizona employees) team, the Bend team and the women's team.  And as the cowboy trophy (given to the Kittelson team with the best race time) was handed over to the Bend office, each team was already strategically creating training plans for next year with their eye on being #1.

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