Friday, February 29, 2008

Outta Here!

That's right, we're heading to Chicago for a few days to visit family. Unfortunately its windy and cold there, but at least I'll have a good recovery week leading up to the CheckpointZero Adventure Race. Now we're frantically cleaning and packing - coming back the day before a big AR complicates things as it forces me to be mostly ready to go now, as I won't have time to pack gear later. We're having a friend house sit so the cats won't burn the place down while we're gone.

Race shirts came in today and the colors look great! I dropped them at the printers so shirt production is ahead of schedule..

Race Stats:
  • 215 Racers
  • 24 Volunteers
  • 20 Sponsors
  • $14,000 in swag and prizes
  • $11,000 raised from entry fees and sponsorship.
Now I'm starting to get nervous as it really appears that this event is going to happen!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Crap I say!

That's exactly what the weather is....C-R-A-P crap..crappity craptacular...I worked out my work schedule so that I have Wednesdays off for the next 6 months to train for the TransRockies. So far the weather gods are giving me the big middle finger, as it seems to be 60+ degrees and sunny when I'm at work, and 30 degrees when I have a chance to get out and do a decently long ride. Today was no exception..nice and sunny but what's that white powdery stuff...sigh. From inside my office it looked to be beautiful, but when I stepped outside it was like having little ice daggers driven into my face. I normally am good at putting up with lousy weather, but today was just COLD. I'm not sure why we felt so cold, as I'm pretty sure it was colder at Pine Log two weeks ago. We rode laps up Pine Mtn to get some climbing in and then attempted to ride on some roads but it was windy, exposed and fairly miserable. We were only able to suffer through two hours of riding and then we went for a trail run, which was a lot more tolerable.

To further my frustration, when I arrived home, I discovered glops of road tar all over my bike. How did I discover this you ask? Well, when I picked the damn thing up by the seatpost to take it off my rack, my hand got slathered with sticky black goo. It was all over my saddle too, so my shorts were covered in it as well as the back seat of my car. I'm sure its hiding in places I haven't found yet so that should be fun....

Sunday, February 24, 2008

On to a recovery week..yay!

Finally finished up my last week of heavy training and now I'm on to a recovery week! I've been doing a good number of long rides lately and I'm surprised that my body hasn't completely self destructed. I've been taking some new vitamins that are supposed help me recover faster after exercise, and perhaps they have been working.

I have two weeks of recovery and taper before the Checkpoint Zero Adventure Race, so I should be in good shape. We are headed up to Chicago for a week right before the race, so perhaps I will re-acclimate to the cold while I'm there. That way when its 40 and raining during the race I can just smile and skip along on my merry way.

Long Day

Met up with my CPZ teammates, Bo and James, for a little training day up in North Georgia. As usual, I planned an overly ambitious day which involved a big ride to get to a trekking section. I thought it would take us under 3 hours to reach the trekking area, but it ended up taking over four. Since I forgot my lights at home, we were trying to avoid losing daylight, so we had to shorten the trek dramatically. We hiked/ran for two hours, of which the first hour and ten minutes was 2400' of climbing that just went up and up and up. It was along a steep, bouldery mountain creek and was probably one of the prettiest hiking trails I've been on in a while. I think we covered only 7 miles in that two hours, so had we attempted my originally planned hike, we would have been on our feet for 6-8 hours! After the trek, we hopped back on our bikes for about an hour ride back to the car which involved one longish climb up and over a gap. The descent down the backside of the gap is on a steep and loose gravel road, so I wanted to get down it before dark. We made it down just in the nick of time. Unfortunately, the temperature dropped what felt like 15-20 degrees once the sun set, so we all froze for the final 3-4 mile road ride back to the car. We hit the local Mexican restaurant for some grub afterwards, but it was bland at best. I think we're ready for CPZ, so well see how it goes. Somehow I need to summon some energy so I can teach the Duathlon Clinic this afternoon!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

REAL Athletes go outdoors in the rain!!!

Sorry, just had to get that out of my system. Got lots of strange looks from the coworkers when I came back from my lunchtime run/ride looking like a drowned rat. They just don't understand...

On a positive note, I got my Maxxis account set up today, so I was able to order half of my allotment of tires for the year. Its a good thing too, as I've been needing tires for quite a while now.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008 back

I just got back from a 3 hour ride on my singlespeed. Why would I do that you ask? Well, mostly because its the only bike I have that is functional at the moment. The Turner is majorly jacked up from me trying to fix my front derailleur on Sunday, and Chris hasn't had a chance to work on it yet. The Scott needs some work too as I put some Ergon Grips on it and now I can't reach my brake levers. Even my cyclocross bike was missing pedals and I was too lazy to swap them, so the only other dirt worthy bike I had left was the singlespeed. I seriously don't know how some folks can ride a singlespeed for so long. I guess you must just build up a tolerance to it. My lower back is pretty worked, not to mention my legs feel like I rode for 6 hours and not 3. I do like the simplicity of it and it sure does go fast on the climbs...with a good bit of effort on my part, of course. I still don't think I'll be taking it on any huge climbing rides anytime soon...

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Rainy Days and a 3 speed at Tanasi

With the predicted afternoon thunderstorms today, we headed up to Tanasi early this morning to try to sneak in our ride before the major rain hit. We managed to get away from the cars before the drizzle started, however, I soon learned that my front derailleur had gotten horribly knocked out of alignment in transport so I had about three gears in my big chain ring that didn't rub. These were somewhat tolerable for Brush Creek, but I needed something easier for the Tanasi trails. I unscrewed the barrel adjuster so that I was able to use a couple of gears in my middle chainring, but I think I made matters worse, as my small chainring didn't work at all. Argh..I REALLY need to learn how to fix these types of things on my bike. So the rest of the day I had to grind my way up all the climbs in my middle chainring which made things a bit more interesting. We only got rained on for about 30 minutes, but it was enough to soak us and the trail. The rain eventually let up and we had a decent, albeit squishy, ride. We managed to get back to the cars after nearly 4 hours of riding and get packed up about two minutes before the heavy rain hit. its just a matter of cleaning all my gear. Did I mention I'm accepting applications for a gear butler? I really hate cleaning muddy gear....

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Course Vetting

Here's a few pics from the C4 Course Vetting we did this weekend. We checked out the trekking section, and that's about all I can say.

Hmm..wonder where this could be...

This is one of those places that I'd really hate to be stumbling through after dark...

Mini cliffs and rhodies...

More rhodies...

The trekking was actually pretty good - a mix of multiple types of terrain, so I think the racers will enjoy it.

We came home to find that the Blankets Creek Duathlon had filled up while we were out, so registration is now closed and we are full more than a month before the original registration deadline. Very cool!

Went for a spin around Blankets in the late afternoon on the singlespeed and actually felt halfway decent, so hopefully I'll be ok for my ride tomorrow. I've been increasing my leg weights pretty quickly, so I've been feeling pretty tired and fatigued lately. I'm almost to a recovery week, so hopefully I'll come back stronger after that.

Friday, February 15, 2008

And on went the lightbulb...

As many know, I have been having an ongoing love-hate relationship with swimming.  I've made tremendous improvements from where I used to be, even survived a triathlon without drowning, but like any uber-competitive athlete, I'm not happy unless I'm one of the first out the water and thus my frustration with my apparent inadequacies as a swimmer.  I'm frustrated when I'm at the pool and get lapped by an 8 year old swim team kid, or even worse, by some enormously large chick who is likely in the pool because its easier for her to get around by floating.    Arghhhh!!!  Well, anyways, as luck would have it, just when I'm about to throw in the towel and give in to my frustrations, I have a breakthrough workout that gives me some teeny tiny ray of hope that it might not always be this bad.  Today I figured out one of the major reasons for my lack of speed, despite working pretty hard.  It all had to do with me not dropping my elbow.  I knew this all along, but wasn't able to make the connection and thus make the correct movement under water, which resulted in a lack of forward propulsion.  I think I finally figured it out and it was like a lightbulb went on or I figured out how to ride a bike without training wheels for the first time.   So now I feel obligated to get back into the pool and see if I can actually become a respectable swimmer.  I've been slacking off lately, mostly due to lack of motivation, but now I guess I have renewed hope.   We shall see...

I'm typing this from my new MacBook Air Laptop...its the super thin laptop with the commercial where they pull it out of a mailing envelope while playing some catchy-yet-never-heard-before song in the background.  It's pretty cool, very sleek, and now I don't have to fight over the other laptop with Chris.  

Tomorrow we're doing some course vetting for one of the local AR's and I'll likely head out on the singlespeed for a couple of hours.  

The Blankets Creek Duathlon should fill up this weekend, which is AWESOME!  Not only from a fundraising perspective, but because it makes the logistics of race planning so much easier.  I can get everything done earlier than planned, which will give me more time to stress over all the little things once we get closer to the race.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Stop Pedaling and Die

Yeah, that pretty much sums up today’s ride. I was off to a great start by forgetting my sandwich for lunch at the office, so I had to settle for an Ensure that had been rolling around in the back of my car for the last three months. As I’m driving up to Pine Log, the temperature on my car’s thermometer keeps dropping…37…36…..34……..30!!!! Apparently the predicted high of 45 was at 7 am this morning…a small detail that I didn’t pay attention to. When I got up there, the wind was blowing pretty hard and it was well, I guess I’d call it snowing. I had brought a serious arsenal of clothing for just about any conditions, with the exception of my gloves. Oh well, we’ll just have to keep moving. Funny..that didn’t work out so well for us because in the first 20 minutes of the ride, Kim and I both ran over roofing nails and flatted. Luckily I had STAN’s in my tires and the huge hole sealed eventually…I just needed to pump it back up. Kim on the other hand had to deal with a full on tire change in the blistering wind with frozen fingers. Off to a lovely start aren’t we? Once we finally got rolling again, it was a big technical climb up from Hwy 140 to Pine Log Mtn. As we were winding our way up, I began to see trees flocked in ice. It was really pretty, yet eerie at the same time. The wind was howling away, making the tree limbs creak and bump each other…more eeriness that reminded us we were very, very alone in an ephemeral winter wonderland. We climbed a bit more, then started our descent via an old fireroad that is littered with rocks. I took it easy, as I wasn’t convinced that my tire would hold, and the thought of taking a header into a cold, wet pile of rocks just wasn’t giving me the warm fuzzies. Any injury or mechanical that hindered forward movement at that point would surely have resulted in hypothermia and frozen extremities. NO THANKS!

We continued on and after about two hours, I started to get a bit cold from all the downhills and the fact that my clothing was starting to get wet and sweaty. On the way down I noticed a new and very large sign at the WMA boundary saying “No Bikes, No Horses, Private Property, BLAH BLAH BLAH. “ I think I’m going to buy one of those Lake Arrowhead lots up there so I can tell the developer to bugger off.

By the time we hit the main fireroad and descended the big hill, my hands were painfully cold. I have such poor circulation in my right pinky that it is very susceptible to cold. I thought briefly that it would be nice if it just froze and fell off, but then I’d be even more freakish. Thankfully I had tossed a bag of hand warmers in my pack. I broke them out and after about 15 minutes, I was happy again. At this point I was having to chew on my camelbak hose to break up the ice chunks that were forming so I could drink my water…Are we having fun yet?

We were done with the fun, technical riding and just had about 15 miles of gravel road left. We were able to stay pretty warm and keep our effort consistent. The abundance of bumpy “lava rock” on the roads would have been excruciatingly annoying on a warmer day, but today the added effort kept us toasty.

Once we arrived back at the cars, we decided to go for a run and check out the trails at Pine Log Creek Park. The trails were nice, but after a 3.5 hour ride, a hilly run was about the last thing my legs wanted to do. There was a nice mile long climb near the end of the run that didn’t have me smiling, but at least I didn’t have any issues staying warm. I was starving after the run, and had to turn my seat heater on and sit on my Clif bar to thaw it out before I could actually take a bite. Lovely…

Despite the crappy weather (by Georgia Standards anyways..), we still got in a good bit of riding time and made use of a day where most other folks were probably spinning aimlessly on their trainers. Tomorrow is definitely a recovery ride and hopefully I can get a Valentine’s Day Massage from the hubby, because my legs are toast!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Effective Training

I think I've found the most effective way to train...Start out by planning an overly ambitious ride that involves some unverified trails. Throw in some nasty hike-a-bikes through briars and deadfall when said trails do not exist. Add a fierce headwind and ensure that the ride is a huge loop with no bailouts back to the car. For extra motivation, sprinkle in the threat of losing daylight and near frozen extremities.

I think I'll have an opportunity to test this new training regime tomorrow, as it is supposed to rain a bunch tonight and the temperature is supposed to drop into the low 40's. At least I have a training buddy as its always better to suffer together!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Weekend Fun

Another fine adventure up in North Georgia. Kim and I decided to go ride at an undisclosed location for some CPZero Race Training. It started out pretty Dismal, with a nice 1500 vertical ft straight-up hike-a-bike to a high ridgeline, only to find out that the "unverified" (and apparently nonexistent) trail that might have been going down the other side wasn't there. So we ended up going the long way around on some fire roads. Next we checked out the "route of suffering" on the TransGA route. Appropriately named it would seem. We continued to weave around going from fireroad to paved road and back again. We must have crossed at least 20 big creeks...the kind that get your feet soaked, including one major river crossing. Toes were not happy..ever. I only wiped out once, as it would appear that I'm not very good at riding my hardtail down leafy-baby head strewn descents. We even had the pleasure of riding a section of fireroad that was also the creekbed..pretty neato with little rapids and all. The last 5 miles on the road were sketchy due to the 30-40 mph wind gusts that would come by and abruptly blow us one way or another. By the time we circled back to the car, I had 57 miles on my computer. They were pretty slow miles as I'm thinking we rode for just under 6 hours and pushed our bikes for 30-40 minutes. I'm glad to be home and have some feeling back in my toes. Next time I'm wearing my shoe covers...

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Snuck a couple in!

As I walked out of my office yesterday, I thought NOOOOOOO!!! as I noticed that the parking lot was soaking wet. It didn't dawn on me to check the weather or even look out my window before leaving as all I had on my mind was the short-sleeved-perfect-riding-weather ride I was going to have in an hour. As I made my way home, I got out from the rain and conditions got drier and drier as I neared the house. As I pulled into the driveway I noticed a huge black cloud looming over the neighborhood. I sprinted inside, did a quick change, thinking "must get out the door before it rains!!!!!" Thankfully the weather held and I was able to get in a few laps at Blankets on my singlespeed. It was one of the best rides I'd had there in a long time, and I'll attribute that to being on the singlespeed. I just felt zippy! I don't think I'll be riding it for any 6 hour rides anytime soon, but it is fun for putzing around on mellow trails.

Today I was able to get a run in after the storm clouds parted. It was a bit sloppy, but the weather was perfect. It also gave me a chance to finalize the bike course for the Dirty Duathlon. We now have a loop that will be approximately 12 miles, so that is one less thing to worry about. We have met and surpassed our registration expectations, so I'm really excited at the turnout. We are also now going to be part of the Blue Ridge Outdoors Event Tour, so things keep getting bigger and better.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Orienteering at West Palisades

The temps topped 60 degrees today, and with my legs already a bit tired from yesterday, I figured I'd just tag along with Chris to the O-meet. It ended up being a nice run in the woods, and I put in a pretty respectable time on the Green Course of 42 minutes. I tried a new approach which involved slowing down, looking at the compass and map more often, and going in the right general direction. It seemed to work well, as my energy expenditure was much less and I never overran any of the points. Unfortunately Chris was able to one-up me and cleared the course in 41 minutes. Poop.

February is a pretty slow month competition-wise, but it is a big bike training month as I've got some pretty long rides planned. A couple of multi-day rides too, so it should be interesting. My Most Horrible Thing Ever teamate, Neal, is still having problems with his hand, so not sure if he's going to be able to handle Pisgah. I might be able to talk him into doing a good bit of the Trans-Georgia route instead...I'll do this by just placing a beer at 10 mile increments along the side of the road. It will help keep him motivated so that he'll forget all about that hand!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Snake Creek Gap #2

Had a nice ride at the Snake Creek Gap Time Trial, albeit a bit muddy. I tried a different nutritional strategy today...I substituted Coke for Accelerade and a Snickers bar for an Ensure. I ended up feeling much better and seemed more mentally with it. The first half was fairly muddy in spots, but in general, I feel like I rode better. I didn't have any guys on my wheel on the descents this time..actually I dropped some of them, and I didn't cause any pile ups. I put some new Specialized Storm 1.7's on last night and they worked like a charm on the sloppy sections as well as the rocks. (Haven't got my Maxxis tires yet) I ended up 5 minutes slower at the half way point (I'm blaming it on the conditions) but was slightly faster this time by the finish. I also wasn't staving off death by the time I reached the towers like I was last time. Given some drier conditions and just a bit more intensity in the legs, I'm shooting for 4 hours or less in March. While it would be great to get under 4 hours, it will still put me out of the money in the women's genetic freak class, but its all TransRockies Training and you gotta start somewhere. My TR partner, Carey, had another good ride. I'll have to figure out some way to slow her down between now and the big race...maybe she can carry my though she's pretty amazing.