Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Verdict is in!

Well, they FINALLY tabulated the results for Sandmann. CP 16 was indeed in the wrong place, so they threw it out. They were not able to issue time credits to teams that spent forever looking for it (mainly US!) because it would have been too difficult to get accurate times from every single team. So we ended up Second in the Coed Division, which isn't terrible, but it is aggravating to know that had we skipped CP 16 entirely, we could have cleared the rest of the course with plenty of time to spare, and avoided all the drama in the last 5 minutes of the race.

Some people don't care about standings, but some of us do and when races have these types of issues, it just doesn't keep a level playing field for anyone. When points are in the wrong spot, it is generally the teams with good navigators that suffer most, as they go directly to the plotted location without stumbling around in every drainage and tree stump that they come across. I've also found that being in the lead is also a bad thing because you get to be the guinea pig and find all the problems with the course. (Fall Creek Falls 2007) While you run around wondering why the CP isn't where its supposed to be, other teams start showing up and benefit from your misfortune. As I get older and more cranky, I have less and less patience for races that have these types of issues. I KNOW putting on a race is hard work because I'm doing it right now, but PLEASE!!!! Take the time to have someone competent vet your courses and make sure that the folks hanging the CPs know exactly where to hang them. End Rant.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

This should be fun...keeping track of lost gear

So I've decided to start keeping a tally of all the gear I lose in a year. I figure if you add up all the socks, gloves, sharpies, first aid kit supplies, bike tools, hats, shoes, etc. that manage to disappear everytime I go to a race, it would end up being in the hundreds of dollars. Also included are items that disappear from being left on the roof of my car (and me driving off with them up there), which range from sports bras to shoe covers. We shall see. I'm off to a good start, as I can't find my $50 gore-tex hat that I used during the canoe section of the race yesterday. Oh well, at least I have an REI dividend coming so I can replace some of the stuff I've lost.

Still no word from the Sandmann folks on the race results. Not being able to tabulate the results and give awards at the conclusion of the race really annoys me. Not only do we not get to represent our sponsors at a podium ceremony, but it leaves you wondering how you actually did.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Sandmann AR

Bo, Julia, James, Tony, Andy and I all ran the Sandmann AR today. The course was again a wide open format where you could obtain the points in any order, by any means of travel. Some were obvious, like the paddle points, and some were in "no bike" zones, but it still gave teams a lot of route choice.

We started with the orienteering section on Vineyard Mtn. This was a sprint section with a prize for the fastest time which was a Hang gliding Trip off of Lookout Mountain. Hells yeah, I wanted to go hang gliding for free so we booked it on this section and pretty easily nailed all the points.

Next it was a paddle on the Etowah River - not very eventful until the end when we had to drag our canoes up a shoaly section of the river. By drag I mean get out of the boat, wade in the FREEZING COLD water, and pull the boat along. Did I mention it was 35 degrees??? Our feet were blocks of ice and we weren't very coordinated so Julia and I managed to slip and submerge ourselves in the damn cold river. She got the worst of it, going in except for her head, and I went in up to my waist. No worries though, as I had plenty of clothes for the both of us at the Bike Drop.

After everyone thawed out and put on what dry clothes they had, we hopped on our bikes and rode to the summit of Pine Mtn. We picked up a point, then dropped our bikes to go on what should have been a short foot o-section. We nailed the first three points and continued on a bushwhack to the last one. I took us right to where the point plotted on the map, but no CP. It was pretty overgrown, so I wasn't 100% sure (but I was at least 80% sure) we were in the right place so we reattacked from a bend in a known trail. This took us forever since the underbrush was really thick. Again we ended up at the same place and STILL NO CP!! Argh!!!!!! I could feel the displeasure of my five teammates who were likely wondering if I knew what the hell I was doing and when this death march through over-seeded pine trees would be over. But this time I was 100% sure we were where the point was shown on the map. We even checked the coordinates again just to be sure. So we had to bail and head back to our bikes, which was no small task since it was all uphill, my teammates were wearing out, and it was a little confusing to find the bike trail again. After CP 16, I was discouraged and all the nav from this point seemed sooo much harder....I was just fried mentally becuase I HATE to let my teammates down.

Once we finally found the trail it was more uphill back to our bikes and we were running out of time. The outlook was dismal at best. The penalty for missing the 4 pm cutoff was DQ, and it wasn't looking good for us. James' team was done, Julia was tired, and Bo was on his way to checking out mentally as well. It seemed hopeless. I felt responsible for this entire debaccle, so I was up front pushing the pace, trying to keep my teammates motivated and moving forward. We kept plodding through the mud up to our bikes. We finally got to the bikes, I grabbed mine and Julia's and started jogging back down the trail with both bikes to save some precious time. Thankfully she kept pushing on the hike up and it wasn't long until I ran into her and could give her bike back. Time-3:46...we can still MAYBE make it...or at least we wouldn't miss it by much.

It was a slip and slide back down on peanut butter mud back down to the trailhead, then a short ride back to the canoes. We saw James and company on the way back down...they appeared to not be in a hurry anymore at this point. We arrived at the canoe drop and just dumped our bikes, grabbed the boat and jumped in the water. Time-3:55. We still had to paddle back through all those freaking shoals to the boat ramp, leave our boat there, then run to the finsh to be official...so the outlook was still incredibly dismal. Instead of stumbling on the rocks in our bike shoes, we opted to portage along the shore for the last 700 meters. It was physically demanding and pretty much sucked, but missing the cutoff by 30 seconds would have sucked even more. As we went past the finish on the way to the boat drop it was 3:58:30. We had to lug that damn canoe another 100 meters or so and then run back to the finish. Amazingly, and to my teammates suprise (ok..and mine too) we made it back in with a scant 30 seconds or so to spare. So we were still official....whew! What a rush!

We aren't sure of the results or the ruling on CP 16 as they need to go check it out tomorrow. The point was supposed to be near a trail, but there were no trails within over a quarter mile of the plot location. It appeared that the coordinates we were given were just incorrect, as the race volunteers said they hung the bag right off a trail - even visible from the trail.

Unfortunately we spent so much time on CP 16 and didn't really pay close enough attention to our time, so we missed a few easy points that we intended to get. I'm sure that will hurt us in the final standings, as I'm pretty sure there were many teams that didn't even attempt CP 16 due to its apparent difficulty. We also found out that the Hang Gliding prize was likely going to go to the fastest beginner team on the O-course - they had a faster time than us, but they had two less (way far out) points to get on their course so I don't see how that is fair. Grumble Grumble. Despite all the CP 16 frustration, it was still a good day in the woods and a good workout. We'll see how everything shakes out in the next couple of days.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Race Prep

Tomorrow is the Sandmann Adventure Race, so time to break out the Adventure Racing gear. We have two three person teams racing together, so it should be interesting. The weather is following its crappy trend for the week and it is supposed to sleet tonight and then be cloudy and 40 degrees tomorrow. I'm glad I spend ridiculous amounts of cash on warm weather gear, as I think I'll be needing it. Pics and race report to follow!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Bike O??!!

The last challenge in the Extreme-O...sometimes being short is a good thing!

Back to the Bike

Well, the Navigator Cup is over so now I'm back to focusing on my riding with a few adventure races sprinkled in. The Extreme-O was pretty fun, except for the last 5 minutes where we had to crawl under a wet tarp over the muddy lakebed. I was clean up to that point, so to have to get my clothes, shoes, and pack all nasty for really no good reason was a bit annoying. The final test was to ride a micro-mini bike a short distance. It had absolutely nothing to do with orienteering, but was entertaining nonetheless. Despite my bad second day run, I still had a good time at the Navigator Cup and have proven once again that a bad day on the trail is STILL WAY BETTER than a good day at the office.

The weather seems to not be cooperating with my training rides. Its been wet, so all the local trails are closed and tomorrow is supposed to be pretty cold, so I'll likely be suffering on my road ride.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Georgia Navigator Cup - Day 2

Day Two of the Navigator Cup didn't quite go as planned. Perhaps it was the sunny weather breaking my concentration..I'm not sure, but I just couldn't quite pull it together. I started off blowing the first point, running around in circles until I finally figured out my mistake, which was a very silly one to make. I wasn't paying close enough attention to my map and ended up running up the wrong creekbed. Argh. The next few points went ok, except that several of my bearings were slightly off so I ended up going a bit out of my way. About an hour in is when the wheels really came off. I attacked from hilltop that looked distinct enough on the map, but in real life, it was a pretty confusing area. There were so many little undulations in the terrain that weren't showing up on the map that I started second guessing myself, thinking I might not be in the right area. Several features matched up, but there were some that just didn't seem right. I was really frustrated and not sure what to do. I'd already wasted so much time, but reattacking would certainly take at least another 10 minutes. I was about to go all the way back to the lake to reattack, but instead just went a little farther over the next spur...and there the damn point was! I totally didn't expect it there and even after seeing the terrain, I was still a bit confused..oh well..moving on. Going to the next point, I was running so fast (to make up for my previous blunder) that I got off my bearing and ended up running way further than I needed to. Grrr! The next two points went ok, but by that point my run was completely ruined, so all I could hope for was to hold onto second place. Luckily my time was still faster than third place, but nowhere close to the winner's time so I stayed in second place overall. Not bad considering that I'm convinced that the girl I lost to can walk on water and fly, and apparently reads a compass and map better than I!

Tomorrow is the Extreme_O, which is a military style orienteering competition. Its longer and more up my alley...swamps, culverts, muck, and other nastiness. I'm hoping to redeem myself, but not really looking forward to full submersion in the 20 degree weather we have been having.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Georgia Navigator Cup - Day 1

Day One of the Georgia Navigator Cup was pretty freaking miserable. 38 degrees and raining for the entire time. (Actually, it let up about 15 mins before I started, then decided to come down even harder about 5 mins before I started.) I was completely saturated by 10 minutes in, and had to really hustle to keep myself warm. The course itself wasn't too bad. I moved quickly due to my newfound running fitness, but I chose some conservative routes that took me a bit out of my way. I wore my new spiked shoes and they worked great on the mud and wet leaves. There wasn't anything that I couldn't run full speed on, so hooray for that, but I ended up 2.5 minutes down for the day due to my route choices. So now I'm sitting in second place, but the door is definitely open. Unfortunately the competitor I'm chasing is crazy fast, so I still have a lot of work to do. We'll have to wait and see how tomorrow goes.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The competition is heating up!

Entries are rolling in for the Dirty Duathlon every day. The most popular category thus far is the Individual Men's 30-40. In fact, all of the men's categories have a good number of entries. Come on girls...get those entries in and represent! We have also expanded the categories to include a Men's 50+, a Women's 40+ and a Parent/Child relay division.

And then there were three..

Well, now there are a whopping three people in my category for the Navigator Cup, one of which usually wins all the local meets (including beating all the men) so I've got a lot of work to do. The weather is supposed to take a turn for the worse later this week, so I'm glad that we'll be on foot rather than having to log hours and hours on the bike.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

PAIN! Argh!!!

In an act of poor judgement, I followed yesterday's twenty miles of hilly running with an out and back on the Pinhoti Trail from Snake Creek Gap to Dug Gap. From the moment I got on my bike, my legs were aching, and 4.5 hours later...well, you can guess how I'm feeling right now. I strongly DO NOT recommend trying that. I can't wait to see how decrepid I'm gonna be tomorrow morning when I have to walk down the stairs.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Bear Creek Navigation Training

We headed up to the Bear Creek Campground on Friday night to camp out for the TrailBlazers Training event on Saturday. When we arrived there, there was an Old School car-camping tent set up. I assumed it was left by the TrailBlazers, to be used for sign in, but I was wrong. After setting up about 75' away, we soon learned that the tent's inhabitants were 4 obnoxiously loud teenage stoners who decided to go out into the woods and have some sort of drug-induced orgy.

There were two other TrailBlazers camped out there as well, so while we stood around a nice well-made fire, we watched two of the kids nearly blow themselves up on several occasions in an attempt to get a fire started. The ground was wet, so these geniouses decided to start burning random items they had with them to get the fire going. When that didn't work they started spraying hairspray on the wet wood and eventually threw the whole bottle in which violently exploded. They then proceeded to steal all the TP out of the bathroom and lit all that on fire. Then it was pillows, plastic bags, and some other bottles that exploded. Figuring that it wouldn't be long before they tried to burn the tires off their car, we picked up our tent and moved it WAY FAR away. Good thing too, as when they finally gave up on the fire, they all went into their tent and started making all kinds of strange, and very loud, noises. Damn annoying punks...

Despite our rowdy neighbors and the 30 degree temps, I slept pretty well in my zero degree down sleeping bag. I woke up and slowly got ready for the training. I plotted my points while still in my sleeping bag and then reluctantly headed out on foot. The first few points were pretty easy, and although maybe not 100% accurate, they were still findable. The crux of the rogaine appeared to be four points in the vicinity of the Pinhoti and Mountaintown Creek Trails. I chose a wise route and cleared this section with relative ease, except for the leg burning climb from Heady Creek up to the ridge. Once there, it was a 3/4 mile bushwhack along a VERY LONELY ridge. The pines started to thicken and I could see signs of wildlife..scrathed up ground and rootstocks that appeared to be beat down. I was really hoping that there weren't any wild boars hanging around, as they are generally fairly honery and stubborn animals that aren't very scared of humans. Instead of running away like black bears, they tend to size you up to see if its worth it or not to chase and attack....just for the hell of it. Thankfully, there were no wildlife encounters, and I really didn't see many other TrailBlazer folks, despite the fact that I started later than most of them. I managed to grab all the points in 5 hours and 24 minutes and didn't damage myself too bad other than some bruises on my legs from tripping over rhododenderons. I'm feeling pretty good about my fitness level for the Navigator Cup, so hopefully I will have good luck with the compass as well.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Guess who's 30th Birthday is tomorrow!

Hell no, NOT MINE thank goodness! (I still have 5 months to go..) My wonderful husband Chris turns 30 tomorrow. I'm sure he'll be overjoyed that I've posted that fact on my blog. We're celebrating by enjoying a nice dinner, then we're headed to the Bear Creek Campground to camp out for the TrailBlazers Training Day. I'm trying to talk him into a night ride, as its a whole new world up there at night, complete with predatory animals that could possibly eat us. He said it sounded cold, but I'll charge up the lights and pack his warm gear just in case. Perhaps I'll bring some champaign up there along with my plastic "camping" wine glasses. I've got quite a few bottles of not-so-high-quality stuff lying around from races this past year - might as well use it up and maybe there will be some folks up there to share with.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Busy Again!

After a lull at work, it now seems that I have too much to do..at least momentarily. I have to complete a quality control audit on my department this week, so that is eating up a lot of my time. Sounds exciting, eh? Yup, I'D RATHER BE MOUNTAIN BIKING...

I had a good fast run on the treadmill this morning, so I feel like I'm ready for the upcoming Navigator Cup in terms of my running. The problem is that presently there are no other competitors in my category! I'd hate to think I did all this running just to compete against myself! Usually the Womens Red Course (that's the elite course in the orienteering world) has a good number of entires, but this year...nada. Perhaps all my competitors are frightened of my new go-fast spiked orienteering shoes that Chris got me for Christmas. Hopefully I can put the smack down with those babies, and if not, at least they'll keep me from busting azz on the red clay. I may have to move to the men's division if they'll let me. Not a big deal, and certainly nothing new for me.

We've decided to camp out at Bear Creek this weekend so I'm looking forward to that as well. Any time I get to use my zero degree sleeping bag I get excited because it's so warm and poofy and well, I like being surrounded by poof. I think I'd live in a house made of down if it was possible.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Mid Winter Heat Wave

We went for a road ride today up at White..legs were a bit tired from yesterday but the weather was beautiful.

Ride Highlights:

  • Lots of random livestock roaming the streets..literally...deer, horse, turkeys, and a COW that was running in circles
  • Being chased by Cujo's Hell-Spawn (again)
It is supposed to be close to 70 during the next few days, so hopefully I'll get some more good rides in.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Snake Creek Gap Time Trial #1

Today was the first of three "time trials" on the Pinhoti Trail System in Dalton, GA and my introduction back into the world of "short" MTB races. While my ride wasn't completely stellar, it wasn't terribly bad either. I felt good for the first half with the exception of the descent off Horn Mtn where I blew a switchback and narrowly missed flying off the trail, and then I caused a 4-guy-bike-pile-up behind me when I spaced out and had to lock it up around another abrupt corner. I was feeling ok for the first climb of the second half, but once I hit a rolling section with some short, steep uphill sections, the wheels started to come off. I just wasn't carrying my momentum well and all I could think about was getting to the next long downhill. I started to get a bit of a sour stomach on the gravel road climb section, so motivation wasn't great. I felt sluggish and knew I had to get some calories in, so I choked down a Gel and a half PB&J. The final 8 miles were quite a slog..I'd have some "moments" when I felt good, but the majority of it was just suffering...pretty indicative for me of poor race nutrition. I drank an Ensure at the halfway point, which just didn't sit well, given how hard I was working. Coke seems to be the way to go for me for high intensity endurance events, so I'll definitely have that at the sag next time. I also don't think I drank enough - only two small bottles for a 4+ hour race. I'm not sure what my "official" time was, but I got 4:12 ish on my computer.

I feel pretty good about the ride, as it is a good starting point and actually quite a shock for just coming out of base and spending the holidays away from my bike. In two weeks I have the Georgia Navigator Cup, which I've been doing a lot of running to prepare for. Once that has passed, I'll be able to donate 80+% of my training time to riding in preparation for the TransRockies.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

There's No Place Like Home..

Well, we're back in Atlanta. Time to go back to work and get back on the wagon. I was happy to sleep in my own bed last night, but it was really hard to drag myself into the office this morning. We managed to get sick while in Chicago, so I haven't been able to do much to prepare for the upcoming Snake Creek Gap time trial - unless you consider running in the snow good training for a 4 hour mountain bike race.

Registrations are steadily coming in for the Blankets Duathlon, so that is exciting to see. I am amazed that folks are registering so early - lots of women too, especially in the 2 person division.