In a day when Google is replacing encyclopedias and when smartphones are replacing phonebooks and road atlases, it is no longer necessary to be able to read a map to get where you are going. Instead, you can follow the little blue dot or listen to the navigation voice as she tells you when and where to turn. I am guilty of depending on my smartphone or, in the case of Adventure Racing (where all the navigation is done by map and compass), my smart-fiancé. In most races, I don’t even look at the map, choosing instead to simply follow his navigation cues as we race through the wilderness.
Two weeks ago, all that changed during my first race without him. My soon to be sister-in-law asked me to race with her and another woman—we were called Team Kali (Google Kali to see why this is such a perfect name for a team of three strong women hoping to beat all the men). Since Tammy and Marcy live and train in the area where the race was held and practiced navigating there, we decided that they would deal with the maps. I would be the team motivator and drill sergeant to keep everyone moving as fast as possible. Though all of us had previous racing experience, none of us had ever assumed the role of a team captain or navigator. We were all rookies in that sense, but we were confident and strong—what possibly could go wrong?
An hour and a half into the race, we were lost, confused, and had made all of the most classic mistakes in the book—multiple times. “I am demorilized,” one of us moaned. “It has to be here!” another exclaimed. “Did they mark it wrong?” I asked. We had been running in circles and were wrong. What should have taken us 30 minutes, took us two hours. When we finally ran into the bike transition, my fiancé Jason ran up to us. “Where have you guys been?”
We were in last place, more than an hour behind the second-to-last team. We got on our bikes and rode as fast as we could. The rest of the race was a blur. We clocked the fastest times on the biking leg, mystery challenges, and pack-rafting. Tammy didn’t miss another beat on the navigation, and we finished the race 3 minutes before the time cutoff. While we didn’t manage to catch the lead teams, we finished somewhere in the middle of the pack. It wasn’t quite the showing that we had hoped for, but we didn’t give up and had a blast while learning a lot!
Jason and I are on our way down to California to meet our teammate Daniel and compete in our Team YogaSlackers first race of the season. Instead of turning on the GPS, I looked at the atlas while traveling along the highway. And—on our mountain bike ride yesterday—I took the map and made sure I knew where we were and where we were going. While I am not quite ready to take over Jason’s job as the team navigator, I have started paying attention to the maps. This month, I learned to appreciate, but not totally rely on, my smart-fiancé.
Chelsey Gribbon of Team Yogaslackers is our Yoga guru and a world-class adventure-racer to boot. She regularly contributes blogs and V.I.B.E., or Vinyasa Inspired by Experience, videos. Stay tuned for more ways to incorporate yoga into your adventures and find your own way, even when it’s easier to depend on a smartphone or person.