Saturday, March 29, 2008

Twice in one day..

NO, its not what you're thinking...get your mind out of the gutter... What I meant to say was that I went riding TWICE today and got rained on TWICE...phooey!

This morning Chris and I hit Blankets Creek only to get hit with a downpour after an hour and a half of riding. Knowing it was still early and with home only being a 10 minute ride from the trail, I figured I'd head home and see what the weather did. I wasn't in the mood to ride with standing water on the trail, but I knew if the rain passed through and then cleared up, that the trail would be dry in a couple of hours.

And so it did, and I headed out for round two later that afternoon. I managed to get almost two and a half hours in before a massive thunderstorm hit. As I hit the halfway point on Dwelling, I started to hear thunder, but took a chance anyway that I'd get home before all hell broke loose. Plus I figured if it got really nasty, Chris would drive over to the trailhead and "rescue" me.

Then came the lightening..I really really REALLY don't like lightening. I picked up the pace, and hoped that it wouldn't get any worse. I finished the trail before the heavy rain came and then bolted back to the house. As I was riding up Sixes Rd, I could see the lightening bolts coming down behind my neighborhood. I felt incredibly exposed and vulnerable so I spun as fast as my one gear would take me to get home. The rain picked up just in time for me to be thoroughly drenched by the time I hit the front door...again.

At least I was able to get in nearly four hours, so I met my goal for the day. On the downside, I've got two helmets, two pairs of gloves, and two pairs of bike shoes that I have to dry out.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Effective Training : Part 2

This is part two of Lisa's Effective training series...

Start with an already long and difficult ride with 12,000' of climbing. Add an extra 2500' of climbing to the start of it (in lieu of spending more $$ on gas), forget to bring your PB&J, gels, and coke, wear a pack that weighs an extra 12 lbs, and just for $hits and giggles, decide to do the entire ride in your middle chainring. Argh!!!!!!

That was my Wednesday, but at least I'm stronger for it. 82 miles including the Cohutta Death March Loop. I was going to do the same ride tomorrow, but its looking like rain, and the thought of having wet grit grind into the saddle sore I already have just doesn't sound very appealing. I'll likely just do some riding closer to home or part of the Death March if the weather looks decent.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


With the race finally behind me, its time to get back on the training wagon and concentrate on my riding. I've had so many work, health, family, and volunteer issues going on lately, my training has been fairly sporadic. I definitely haven't gotten in the bike time that I had hoped to by this time. No time like the present though, so time to get back on it. The only good thing is that I might actually be able to peak for August, since I'm getting a later start.

Today I headed out to Pine Log with Kim for some much needed rejuvenation. I was still a bit tired from all the race activities over the last few days, but it was great to get in a good techy fix.

Got Leaves?

Quite possibly the world's most perfect ledgy rock garden.

The ride was was exactly what I needed to get motivated again. This Wednesday I'm hoping to do the Cohutta Death March, or at least part of it.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Blankets Duathlon..a Success..

Well after six months of planning, we finally arrived at the day of the Blankets Creek Dirty Duathlon. I was worried that when all the cars started showing up to registration this morning that THIS RACE WAS REALLY GOING TO HAPPEN. Thanks to all my great volunteers, everything went very well and from the feedback I've received so far, the racers seemed to really enjoy the event. So maybe it was worth all the work...

Two people were instrumental in pulling this event off...First my mom, who flew 700 miles from Chicago to stuff swag bags for 8 hours, stand in the sun for 7 hours setting up the transition area, then get up at 4 am the next morning to stand outside and freeze, lug around boxes, cut a gazillion oranges, all for just a stinkin' T-Shirt. She said she would have rather done support at an adventure race in the middle of winter...

Then there was my husband Chris, who got the T-shirt layout together when I was frustrated and ready to toss the laptop out a window, set up the entire transition area, including getting massive blisters on his hands from driving stakes into the parking lot, lugged around a bunch of crap, also got up at 4 am to freeze, made countless trips to pick up bike racks and prizes. Now he got two T-Shirts out of the deal, but its still a pretty bum deal!

I love you guys and couldn't have done it without thanks! (And I know where you both live should this happen again next year)

All members of the Randall House are thoroughly worn out and lounging around. We are going out tonight for a celebratory "Thank goodness it's finally over" dinner. Hoo ya!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

4 days and counting...

For once the weather actually was nicer once I left the office, so I had quite a sunny and enjoyable ride after work. My mom is in town to help out with the race, so everything is coming together nicely. I'm going to try to sneak in another ride in the morning before it rains, but the rest of the day will be spent doing race prep. We have LOTS of swag bags to stuff. It looks like we are moving, with the number of boxes piled up everywhere. My car has been kicked out of the garage and our master bedroom is swag bag central. I can't wait to get all this stuff outta here, although it will probably take 5 trips just to get it all to the trailhead.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Yay, finally feeling better!

After a week of feeling like total crap, I'm FINALLY starting to get back to normal. I ended up riding up in the Bear Creek/Pinhoti area today with Danielle, Namrita, Carey, and Eddie. Just to make sure I was good and tired when they all arrived, I got an early start and rode for about two hours before meeting them (Ok, it was really to make sure I wasn't going to completely self destruct again). Thankfully everyone had some sort of issue going on, be it illness, tired, or aches and pains, so the pace was pretty mellow. I tried to keep my HR relatively low (max for the ride was 171), so as not to do too much too soon. I wanted to get some zone 3 time in rather than blow myself out in the first hour. Once I was over the four hour mark, I bid farewell to my riding companions and headed back to the car. I was starting to feel a bit tired, so I finished up with an hour of really easy spinning back up the Bear Creek trail to the Pinhoti Connector, and then back down the side of Bear Creek that we didn't ride..I love that downhill! I scared the crap out of some hikers as I went spashing through the final creek. I don't think they expected me to ride across, as they just stood there at the exit looking at me and essentially blocking my path. Grrrr....

Hopefully I'll be able to sneak some ride time in this week in between running errands and getting things ready for the Dirty Du. Unfortunately it will probably be a'la Blankets Creek or the road (gasp!) as I definitely won't have time to drive anywhere. Either way, I have to start building myself back up now that I'm finally recovering from CPZ. My mom arrives Tuesday to help with the race..maybe I'll just put her in charge so I can go ride!

Saturday, March 15, 2008


Woke up this morning feeling unmotivated about the Dirty Spokes 6 hour race, especially when I heard the thunder and rain beating against my bedroom windows. I half-heartedly got dressed, dragged the hubby out of bed and we loaded up the car and headed out for Heritage Park. I wasn't terribly jazzed about racing, as I'm still feeling run down from last weeks adventure race. We were about 5 minutes from the house when I got the was Carey and she said they were all thinking about bailing on the 6 hour race. Chris immediately pulled the car over (guess he didn't want to stand out in the rain for 6 hours) while I talked to Carey and made the decision to bail as well. Chances are, it would have been a lousy race for me, and the thought of driving all the way out there, getting muddy and nasty, and then having to clean all the gear was just not all that appealing. We headed home, and since we were up so early, we got some much needed race prep taken care of.

When we thought the storm clouds had parted, we headed up to Pine Log Creek Trail to run.

We ran for about an hour, and then round two rolled in with thunder and lightening and some heavy rain. We made it back to the car right before all hell broke loose. We had some errands to run so we figured we'd stop at the Canton Super-Wal-Mart (yes, scary, I know...) We stopped to get gas first, and then the tornado sirens all started going off. Chris, checked the weather on his phone and sure enough, there was a tornado warning for the entire area. The front was still about 30 minutes from us, so we ended up heading home to take cover. The last thing I wanted was for my car to get pounded with huge hail...not to mention the brunt of the storm was heading right for the Riverstone Pkwy area (funny how Wal-Marts attract tornadoes..)

We made it home right before the big rain hit, so riding is probably out for this evening, as I really don't want to deal with cleaning my bike. I'm still debating over tomorrow's plans..I might just stay close to home so I can get some more race prep taken care of.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Went for a ride up at Chilhowee today with some fast chicks. It started out in the 30's but was around 60 by the time we were finishing up. Definitely a nice turn in the weather. Unfortunately, my lungs still have crap in them from CP Zero, so after about 2 hours of riding, I was starting to feel really sluggish like in the race. I was back to two pedal strokes uphill and out of breath - really annoying. I signed up for the Dirty Spokes 6 hour race at Heritage this weekend so there's no telling how that is going to go. Depends if my lungs clear up I guess. I'm doing my rain dance and praying for slop.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Checkpoint Zero AR

Argh, this one hurts..First and foremost, I am typing this as I recover from my lungs filling up with mucus and goo and ultimately causing me and my team to withdraw from the race. I had a similar problem a couple of years ago at a cold NGAR and sure enough, 20 hours out in the 20 degree dry air was enough to do me in. Not even an inhaler was helping me to breathe. It was very difficult to withdraw even though we were safely in second place, but I was essentially drowning in my own mucus and I could barely exert myself enough to keep moving, even on the road. It was truly aggravating, as most of my body was saying go go go, but the parts that actually keep you alive were going haywire. Our pace had slowed so much due to my issues that we were no longer able to keep warm. Heading out onto the more remote O-points probably would have resulted in a search and rescue operation and me having to lay freezing in our sleeping bag until help arrived. So it was a difficult decision, as things were going pretty well up to that point, but sometimes its wiser to call it a night.

Pre Race:
First gripe..enormous maps that were larger than a standard yard stick. Yes, there were corner tics but you still had to line them up and eyeballing can lead to errors. We made a run to the Ace Hardware and bought an enormous T-Square. Other than that, the map work was relatively easy. The bike was pretty straightforward with the exception of one bike whack. The crux of the race appeared to be the trek, which we would encounter at night after we were already tired, hungry, and likely pretty cold.

Leg One - Paddle:
We awoke to the howling of 35-40 mph wind gusts - not the type of thing you want when the first thing you have to do is jump in a canoe. Thankfully, the wind died down a bit and there was minimal chop out on Lake Chatuge. Did I mention it was snowing? Hard? We were dreading this leg, as the creek we had to paddle up was swollen from recent rain. We ended up being able to paddle most of the way and thankfully we never had to get out of the boat in waist deep water, and were able to paddle up most of the creek. We must have had one heck of a tailwind, because we paddled 8.6 miles in 1:18. We arrived at TA 1 with 3 other leading teams. We transitioned and were the first ones out on bikes.

Leg Two - Bike:
This section featured a short bikewhack, frozen waterbottles, frozen drivetrains, and a bunch of hub-deep creek crossings..and snow. The snow was annoying, as we ended up laying tracks for everyone behind us. The nav was easy and mostly on familiar terrain, with the exception of the bike whack. We hit all the points without incident and rolled into the TA with EMS and Black Dome. I was slightly annoyed that we let them catch us, because we basically ended up showing them the way on a trail that wasn't shown on the map. Guess we should have gone faster, but then you never know what's going on behind you. My drivetrain was starting to freeze from all the water crossings so there were only limited gears available. I started to get dehydrated as my camelbak hose froze and Accelerade turned into a blue slushy. Great for summertime use, not so good for right now...

Leg Three - Paddle #2:
We were REALLY hoping this one was cancelled..but no, we had to suffer through this 3.5 hour slog on some tenuously choppy water into a ferocious headwind. Bo was working hard to keep the boat pointed in the correct general direction, and at times, we were paddling our asses off but not making any forward progress due to heavy wind gusts. I was just thankful that we didn't capsize, as that surely would have been a race ender. (We were later told 2 boats did flip..eeek!) The wind chill was causing everything to freeze..our bladders, pfds, shoes, and I had a nice array of icicles forming on the brim of my hat. My compass was encased in a sheet of ice and our feet had absolutely no feeling in them. What type of idiot goes out on the lake in those types of conditions??? Needless to say we were glad to be done with this one.

Leg Four - Bike #2:
This ended up being longer than expected and I ran out of unfrozen food and again, all our waterbottles froze up. To make matters worse, we discovered a hole in my bladder at the TA, so we just tossed it and only took waterbottles, which conveniently froze in about an hour. So I again rode on without adequate hydration and after about an hour was having trouble breathing and casually shrugged it off to not eating enough. I downed some food, and while my spirits were higher, I continued to wheeze away. Pressing on, we rode to Tate Branch and crossed the Tallulah River. Coming into the bikewhack area, we had waning daylight. We found the summit trail and followed it for a while, but I then tried to contour instead of going all the way to the summit. If I had looked at the map closely, I would have noticed that the long ridgeline that we needed to cross was nearly as high as the summit, so we didn't really save much, and likely wasted much more effort, since we were off trail, and lost some elevation in the process. In retrospect, I shouldn't have changed my attack strategy mid-race, and just stuck to the summit plan, which would have been much faster. EMS snuck by us while we were dragging our bikes up the side of the mountain. The whack down the back side was kind of a pain too, and somewhere in there I slipped and rolled down the hillside and my bike landed on top of me. No one saw though, so it must not have really happened. After losing elevation, we arrived on an old roadbed and I had to resort to standing in a creek to get the ice to melt off my cleats so I could actually clip in. I was now definitely having breathing difficulty and my HR was sky high while riding relatively easily in an attempt to deliver more oxygen to my muscles. I didn't say much about it to my teammates, as I was hoping it wouldn't get much worse. (denial) I also had an Enervit, mostly because it wasn't frozen solid, and it nearly gave me a heart attack.. On we went to collect the next two CP's, one of which involved a long climb up a gravel road. I had to go pretty slow, as I was getting light headed when my heartrate got too high from the lack of oxygen. I wanted to hammer out the climb but my respiratory system was on strike. Thankfully I was still able to go fast enough to keep warm...probably not fast enough though for my teammates to be warm. We rolled into the TA still in second place, but a now a half hour down to EMS.

Leg Five: Trek
We fueled up, changed clothes, and I took some hits off my inhaler. It helped momentarily, but really doesn't get the job done when you need to be able to breathe under exertion. I was really frustrated, as I knew my situation was rapidly deteriorating, but I didn't want to let my teammates down. I'd hoped that I would feel better on the trek, as steep rhodo crawling is one of my stronger disciplines. There was a lot of off-trail travel, so I thought I might be able to hang in there. We headed out for Moccassin Creek Falls, which I knew from the previous years race, so finding it was not too big of an issue. Continuing on from there, however, was nasty and slowgoing. After about a mile of sideslope-deadfall-rhodo hell, I decided we needed to get the hell outta that tangled mess. My tall teammates were getting hung up in the tight, overgrown areas, and I was hacking and wheezing anytime I had to take two steps uphill. I headed on a southwest bearing to hit the road and after quite a few ups and downs and doing our "well, we SHOULD have hit the road by now"s, we finally came out on the gravel road which led to Addis Gap. It was a real struggle just to get to the road, and I was quickly going from bad to worse. As I stauntered up the road, pissed off because I couldn't hike fast enough uphill to really stay warm, I assessed the upcoming CPs and my current situation. Based on how quickly I was deteriorating, I'd never make it up the upcoming long bushwhack climbs, and even if I did, my teammates would freeze in the process. I was choking on myself and the temperature at elevation was around 20 degrees with a strong 20 mph wind. The other option was to make it to CP 14 and hump it back in, call it a night and see how things shook out the next day. Unfortunately, the extra 7-8 miles back to the Finish would have taken us over two hours at the pace I was forced to travel, and it was likely that two more hours in the cold dry air would have landed me in the EMT truck. I didn't think we'd hold onto second without getting some other points, so it wasn't a risk I really wanted to take. Hobbling in on a twisted ankle is one thing, but when something can actually kill you, that's where I start to take notice. I didn't hear a lot of opposition from my teammates, so we bailed at CP 14 so I could get out of the cold, dry air and give my lungs a chance to drain. Bummer, but sometimes $hit just happens.

We headed back to the hotel, which apparently caught fire during the night, and I drank a ton of water and slept a couple of hours. I've been lethargic and riding the couch all day, hoping that I'm good to go by Tuesday. I wish the weather had been better, as I don't seem to have these issues when it is above freezing. I heard rumors that the trekking points we missed we're pretty heinous, so I'll save those for another day : )

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

CPZ - Let it SNOW!

So somehow we're getting some freak weather in GA that is basically sandwiching a 30 degree day in between a bunch of 60 and 70 degree days. And of course that is the day of the Checkpoint Zero race. I say bring it ON! We thrive on misery and laugh in the face of attrition. James has been training for this by driving around all winter in a car without heat. I'm excited to actually have a reason to use the hefty arsenal of warm clothing that I have accumulated over the last couple of years. I would love to see some snow, just like at SMAR.

I'm off for a ride - 37 and sunny in Chi-town today, so good weather.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Weird White Stuff

We arrived in Chicago today and there was all this strange white stuff on the ground...lots of it. I think I'll be running until some of this snow melts.