Saturday, November 27, 2010

Recovery Week Here I Come!

Well, I made it through three weeks of running specific training and am still vertical. I only have to run three days a week, but they are hard runs, especially the track workout. I'm seeing huge gains right now, which will unfortunately start getting smaller and smaller as I get faster. I'm in the low 19's for 5k, but really would like to be around 18:30. I seem to be retarded when it comes to running really fast, so I'm not sure I could ever consistently run BELOW a 6 minute mile pace for any great distance. I guess time will tell...

Chris and I were lucky enough to get a spot in the already sold out Red Top Rumble, so at least I have a running race to look forward to in February. My goal is 1:25 or better for the 11.5 mile course. That equates to a 7:23 pace, which over a short distance is easy, but add in some large hills and the extra distance and it becomes quite a challenge. I do my long tempo runs at Red Top Mtn anyways, so I may start doing them on the race course to see what average pace I can maintain.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Running in Progress

So I bit the bullet and bought my first pair of racing flats the other day. I figured they would be better on the track than my knobby Inov-8 X-Talon shoes. I'm following an actual running training plan (gasp!) and it is awesome because it tells me how far, what pace, etc. So I really feel like I'm training with a purpose. The paces are pretty high, as it is the "Run Less, Run Faster" plan, but I can already see a huge improvement. I started a couple of weeks ago with enough running fitness to do a 20 minute 5K. After just 3 weeks, at that same perceived exertion level, I can take about 30 seconds off of that, maybe more. The best part is that I can COMFORTABLY run 6:30 pace, which before was pushing me pretty hard. It is amazing how much easier running is becoming, so I'm anxious to see where I'm at at the end of the 16 week training plan.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Marietta Cyclocross

Whew, fun day at Jim Miller Park. If last week wasn't bad enough with a three way battle for 2nd place, this week was a four way battle between Kim S., Amanda, Rebecca G. and I.

I got a good start and tried to mount an early attack through the chicane of ditches, but I took it too agressively and clipped my pedal in the grass - ok, yes I had it leaned a bit too much. I recovered, but was off my line and had to slow down so that attack failed. For the next 2.5 laps, I led my 3 chasers around the course which was both good and bad. I could ease up when I wanted, speed up when I wanted, but they were also drafting off me. I tried to keep the pace steady and hoped at least one of them would pop. I didn't want to mount an attack against a group that large as I figured there were too many of them to launch counter attacks while I was tired. Plus I just didn't have much more horsepower than what my legs were producing. I tried to push it up the run up, but never seemed to be able to shake my chasers for very long. The flattish nature of the course made it hard to get away and I'm not very good at launching attacks anywhere that isn't uphill or technical...and there wasn't a whole lot of that today. I need some lessons in being a roadie!

On the final lap, I sat up on the flat paved section, hoping someone would take the lead so I could draft. Rebecca and Kim went and I hopped on their wheel. I think this was a mistake because Rebecca led through the ditch chicane, which really slowed Kim and I down, but we couldn't pass. I passed Kim after the barriers, then passed Rebecca before the hill climb. I kept the pace high enough so that it would have been really tough for the others to pass up the climb. I figured the run up was my best bet to gain a small gap.

When I hit the run up, I ran as hard as I could, which worked well to put a bit of distance between myself and two of the chasing pack, but I could not shake Rebecca. She was right on me down into the field. I tried to hold her off but she was able to power by on the final finishing straight and cross the line first by a couple of seconds. Argh! So close! So I had to settle for 3rd for the day, but could have easily been 5th considering how strong everyone was riding.

I'm now taking a little break from cross until the season finale and State Championship in January. It has been so hard to train while racing every weekend, and I'd like to ride my bike more than 3 hours a week. I've also been doing some running specific training which I've been slowly easing into. The nice part about the running training is that the total running time is 3 hours or less a week, but the runs are hard enough to make you get faster...and fast. I've already seen an improvement from doing just a couple of runs on the track.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

How to increase male attendance at CX races...

This photo was taken by Todd Kaminski at the Life College Halloween CX Race. Thankfully I did not have any wardrobe malfunctions while wearing this outfit, and the skirt did not get caught on my saddle on the dismounts...

I CAN say that I've seen more photos taken of me in this race than any other...perhaps we need to rethink the OutSpokin' team kits for next year! I know us ladies could rock the school girl skirt!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Orienteering, Cyclocross and Halloween

Busy weekend at the Randall house... Saturday morning and afternoon was spent doing yardwork and then Chris and I headed down to Cochran Mill Park for GAOC's annual Night Orienteering Meet. You basically eat a bunch of food at a pot luck dinner, then get to run around in the woods in the dark. This year we did not get our maps until the race started so of course I just took off running like a fool without really strategizing. Since I can run faster now, I got pretty far too! I skipped some early points, thinking they were too far out but then ended up finishing with 15 mintues still left on the clock. I missed a point that I should have gotten because I didn't see it on the map and I must have run right by another, as I had to make a special out-and-back trip to get it. I also chose a route on a flat section that took me through some mangrove-style/cane field nastiness that really slowed me down for a few minutes. There was a lot of trail running on the remainder of the course, so I got in a good speed workout.

I did a track workout this week and it seems like it is already helping. Me likey!

Sunday we headed to Life College for the Cyclocross race. Since it was Halloween, several people dressed up in costumes and I couldn't resist wearing my naughty school girl costume. The course was actually a cyclocross course this time, so that was kind of nice...I wasn't in the mood for riding a mountain bike. We had a record turnout...14 girls in the Women's A race!

I had a good start but had to let a few girls pass me early on as I wasn't interested in red-lining it up the initial climbs. Kim F. rode off by herself as usual. By the end of the first full lap, I was back up with those who passed me and we rode together for much of the race. I was feeling ok and wasn't at max effort, so I slowly picked them off one by one, focusing my efforts on the climbs on the second half of the course. I managed to get a small gap after maybe the 3rd or 4th lap, but then blew it by laying my bike down in one of the gravel corners. I recovered quickly, but lost my 15 seconds and Kim S. and Amanda were right back on me and we stayed pretty close together for another lap or two. On our two-to-go lap, the Men's B leader passed us, which meant we would finish on that lap..or so we thought. Kim made sure Amanda and I knew we were on our last lap. Amanda attacked after one of the gravel corners, but Kim and I countered on the steep grunty climbs and got a small gap on her. Kim and I hit the final run-up climb nearly neck and neck. I dug deep on the run and managed to get a small gap. Another trip to the pain cave up the next little climb sent me to the top, around the corner, down the hill, and around the 90 degree right hander across the bridge to the finish, safely in second place... or so I thought. I heard conflicting messages from the timing said "you're done" another said "one to go". I knew we SHOULD have been done (and in every other cross race I've done, there has never been any confusion), so I just coasted down the hill into the grass by the pond. About 10 seconds later, Kim rolls up next to me and says were still racing! Super shit!

I was very pissed at that point because I felt like I had completely blown my wad on the last lap...surely I couldn't do that again. So it was game on again, with Kim and Amanda back on my heels. No one really attacked, though I tried to keep the pace high to make sure no one caught us from behind. Kim and I broke away through the climbs and as we were side by side going into the final run up, because of the scoring mix up, she said she was not going to try to pass, and that she just wanted to make sure we stayed ahead of Amanda. I thought that was really classy and saved us from likely taking each other out jockeying for position into the final corner before the finish. Not wanting Amanda to come anywhere close to catching us, I dug deep again on that final run up which got me my usual few second gap over the top, then pushed it up the next climb and on down to the finish. Kim rolled through a few seconds later, followed by Amanda. Ugh..what a nail biter!

Thankfully the race finish order was the same as on the previous lap, so everyone was happy with that. One thing I did not like about the course was the 90 degree, downhill, in loose gravel, essentially one-lane, turn going across the bridge right before the finish. That basically prevented a sprint finish as the first person across the bridge would most likely hit the finish first. If the three of us were still together at that turn it would have been utter mayhem as I know I would have taken a risky line and attempted a dangerous pass if it meant the difference between 2nd and 4th place.

Later that evening it was Trick-or-Treating with Jayden. She dressed up as a monkey..everyone thought she was a boy and we got tired of correcting them. Ugh. Next year she'll wear a costume that is a dress and maybe by then she'll have some hair. By the end of Trick-or-Treating, she did figure out that the candy goes in the bag and she was putting it in there on her own. Too cute! Hopefully I'll have some pictures to post later.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Georgia State Trail Run Championships

After a most excellent run at Frogtown, I was really looking forward to the State Trail Run Championships. I'm in better running shape than I have even been, and I figured I had a really good shot at the top 3. The race was at Tribble Mill Park and the promoter was offering up some nice cash prizes to draw in some competition for us local gals.

As I looked around at the start I saw one girl in a colleigate running uniform...uh oh! I saw another who was dressed as to not attract attention, but her legs gave her away. This was going to hurt!

The start was fast and furious. The collegiate runner took off with the top guys. I did not have any hope of keeping up..her form was beautiful and quick...amazing what happens when you actually train to be a runner! At about a mile in the dressed-as-to-not-attract-attention girl passed me on an uphill section. I couldn't seem to run fast enough on the uphills and had to watch her go. I continued along watching the miles go buy, which really seemed to drag on. At Frogtown, it hurt for a while, but then my body settled in and the suffering was manageable. Today, it never seemed to get better. Somewhere after mile 4 of the 8.5 mile race, another girl came by me. I kept her in sight till about mile 6 but by then my body was starting to implode. I just didn't have any giddy-up on the uphills. There was one longer hill where it seemed like I was almost walking...ugh...and I still had nearly 2 miles to go!

I pushed on the best I could and just hoped no one else caught me. I had to dig deep to drag myself up the final hill just before the finish. I ended up fourth in the open women with a pace of about 7:29/mile. Not horrible for the trail, but not a very good performance. When I finished, Chris reminded me that I was still a bit sick (I had tried to forget/ignore that fact before the race, since I didn't want to go into the race thinking I couldn't do well) so that may have been why my perceived exertion was so much higher than usual. The best I think I could have done 100% healthy was third, as the first two girls were phenominal runners.

I was totally wiped out after the race...sleepier than usual, so maybe all systems weren't 100% a go. I did feel better on Sunday morning so we went to the orienteering meet. That involves a lot of running as well, but it is mostly short bursts of speed with some rest in between...definitely not the same as a trail race. I made some navigational bobbles early on, but still managed to win the advanced course, and it was a beautiful day to be out in the woods!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Georgia Cross #3 - Monteluce

Last year's course at Monteluce was very much a mountain bike course. Word on the street this year was that they reworked the course to make it more cross bike friendly and they took out the big run-up at the end... they added some pavement and really only relocated the big run-up to near the middle of the lap. The rest of the course was even sketichier than last year with lots of shorter downhill sections that ended in 90 degree turns in loose gravel. Before we arrived, I had feared that it would be a total roadie course (after some complaints last year), but was relieved to see that they had not one, but TWO run-ups.

I had both my cross bike and my S-works full suspension MTB. I had planned to bring my IF hardtail MTB instead, but Chris was not finished converting it back to a geared bike yet. Apparently he gave my shiters to SOMEBODY (who shall remain nameless, but will know who they are once they read this blog..) so we are scouring the house trying to find another set that Chris swears we have, but I'm pretty sure they are imaginary shifters.

I chose to ride the MTB because I knew that the uphills would hurt on either bike, so I wanted to at least have some fun on the descents to offset some of the pain and suffering elsewhere. I'd lose a bit of time on the paved and flat sections, but my morale would be much improved, and isn't racing 80% mental? Plus, now I don't have sore wrists from the full-on jackhammering I would have endured racing on 50 psi skinny tires.

I got a good start and jumped behind Kim F., who as usual, took off like a rocket. I was able to stay pretty close to her going up the first run-up, but once she hit some smoother grass, she started pulling away pretty quickly. I had a small gap behind me, but I hadn't hit the paved climb yet. I figured if I could hold off the cross bikes on the pavement, I had a good shot at 2nd. No one ever caught me as I pushed it pretty hard on the paved climb and then on the next grassy climb up to the start/finish. On the subsequent laps, Kim pulled further away from me and I pulled further away from those behind me.

The long run up was the most painful part of the lap. Even if you are a good runner, it is still uber-hard work to push your bike up a hill that has 4 inch deep gravel scattered all over it, especially with a heartrate already at 170. I managed to trot up the long run up each lap, but then couldn't remount my bike gracefully at the top becauase I forgot to lower my saddle and it was off camber. Argh! Right where Chris was standing least he didn't say anything about my poor technique. The second run-up was actually pretty easy because it was short and I could just power through it.

On my second to last lap, I could see the lead B guys closing in on me. Whoo hoo!! If they lap me I won't have to do another lap and run up that damn hill again. Of course, they didn't close the gap quick enough, and I have too much pride to slow down that much, so I just squeaked through the finish for one more lap. I wasn't super motivated on my final lap, as I knew all my chasers would not be going out for another lap. There were a handful of guys around, so that ensured that I didn't lolly-gag too much. Carrots to chase..carrots to chase.

So in the end I secured second place, my first cross bike race on a full suspension mountain bike. Hopefully the last one I will have to do on that bike too!

Next weekend is the Georgia State Trail Run Championships at Tribble Mill Park. I'm in good running shape right now, but there's no telling who may come out of the woodwork and make an appeaerance. I hope I don't get too schooled by any 15 year old girl cross country runners.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Restful Weekend

Well, sort of. I was still a bit sore and fatigued on Wednesday from the previous weekend's activities. On Wednesday, I went on a short singlespeed ride with Kim - not a big deal, but then Thursday I went for a run at lunch and figured it sounded like a good idea to do a plyometrics DVD in the evening. Chris has been doing these P90X workouts and has been whining about how worked over he feels. Being a glutton for punishment, I figured that sounded pretty good - I'm not sure where the logic is there, but then that's just me.

Anyways, on Friday I wasn't sore so I assumed I was just too strong for Chris's workout DVD's to affect me (HA!). To celebrate how strong I was, later that afternoon I dragged 60 lbs of Jayden, her Chariot, and her gear around on my singlespeed for an hour and a half. No worries, Saturday was a rest day.

So I wake up on my rest day in a world of hurt. Ugh..REALLY sore adductors and my left calf felt like I had a baseball implanted in it. I figured a walk would do me some good, so I took Jayden to Boling Park where she actually walked a quarter mile of the jogging path. I told everyone we were "training" for Trick or Treating..
She could probably easily walk an entire mile if she didn't have a 5 second attention span. It takes a while to cover ground though when you have to stop every 25 feet to pick up rocks, climb on a bench, or check out a trash can. Once her pants were thoroughly soaked from the wet grass and covered in dirt from sitting on the walking path, I put her in the Chariot and walked a couple of miles with her...slowly.

I wasn't really optimistic about how I'd feel on Sunday, but we packed for the cross race just in case I woke up feeling refreshed and recovered. Fat chance..come morning, I was still pretty sore, but what was the worst was the thought of spending 5 hours in the car for a 45 minute race that I'd only felt so-so at. Not to mention my daughter's 5 second attention span does not bode well for long car trips...So we bagged the race and just hung around at home instead. I did take Jayden on another hour and a half bike ride, which is actually quite a good workout. It is not easy to drag that Chariot through gravel. Not quite a cross race, but I'm not sure I needed that so soon after last weekend. Next weekend should be a go though. The venue is only an hour away in Dahlonega, so barring any unforeseen illnesses, we should be up there.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Double Header

Let me preface this by saying "kids, don't try this at home.."

The day started before dawn, getting Jayden to the sitter and then over to the Frogtown 10 mile trail run. Frogtown is definintely my favorite running event because it includes obstacles such as ditch crossings, log crossings, a cargo net, creek running, ropes up embankments as well as a lot of off-trail running. What makes it different from weekend-warrior friendly races like the Warrior Dash and Muddy Buddy is the fact that the obstacles are spaced out and you need a decent level of fitness to complete the ten mile course in a respectable time. Last year I finished in 1:40, which sounds terrible for a 10.3 mile race, but I was in the top 20 overall finishers with that time. My goal for this year was somewhere in the 1:35 range.

The starts were staggered this year, but you had to self-assort yourself. "If you think you're fast, then start in the first group." Being confident I was in better shape than last year, I stepped on up. I looked around at my group to see what other women considered themselves fast...always interesting to see who's willing to toe the line with the big dogs. I recognized a lot of fast guys in my group, so I braced myself for a quick start.

When we were finally off, the start was actually more mellow than I expected. I was in the top 5 through the first ditches. I stayed pretty close to the leaders through the first mile, so figured I was pushing a faster pace than last year. No other women around either so that was comforting. Two guys passed me when we hit the first huge, straight-up hill, but then I didn't see anyone for a while. I felt like I was running well, and no one was catching me from behind, so that was also a good sign. I hit the creek run section earlier than I expected and managed to pass two guys that were faster runners than me, but just weren't as nimble on the technical creek bed. As the creek narrowed, it got deeper and I managed to find a huge hole to step...well, actually fall in that resulted in a 3/4 body submersion. Ughhhhh..COOOLLLLDDD!

I hit the seven mile mark right at one hour. Now I was pretty confident I could finish in 1:35 or less. The big climbs hurt but I could always push it once the ground flattened out near the top. By this time last year I was running on fumes. This year I was looking for my next victim. The final 3.3 miles are very hilly and seem to go on forever, especially if you are feeling tired. This year I knew what to expect, so the big climbs at the end didn't seem as bad. I hit the flats coming into the finish at 1:26. Holy $hit!! I took off, looked over my shoulder for anyone else with boobs or a ponytail, breathed a sigh of relief when I didn't see any, and crossed the finish line in 1:29. I was VERY happy with this result, as it is a huge improvement over last year and I'm pretty sure it landed me in the top 10 overall or pretty close to it. The next female was at least 4-5 minutes back so I definitely got the job done today.

Elated from my victory, and not feeling too run down or sore, I figured "Hey, lets go to the cross race too!" Ok, please stop me before I ever do that again... My legs felt ok and I had a good start and was swapping the lead for the first 1.5 laps, but then I dropped my chain and couldn't get the damn thing back on. I have this nifty gadget called a "chain keeper". It is supposed to keep the chain ON. It did not do its job today for some reason, and while it supposedly keeps the chain from falling off the bike, it also prevents a tired, frazzled racer from being able to put it back on very quickly. When I did get it on, I got my gloves caught between the chainrings and chain...Argh! How freaking stressful! The leaders got away and after about a minute of me fighting with my bike, the rest of the pack started coming by. I'm actively cussing at my bike at this point and about two seconds from stomping on the ground and kicking the damn thing. I FINALLY get the chain back on and am rolling again, but have lost nearly two minutes and am now somewhere mid-pack.

After some initial grumpiness and thoughts of wanting to just quit, I got back into the groove and figured I should see what kind of damage control I could do. I had to work a bit to bridge back up to Elizabeth, and once I caught and passed her, I figured I'd see if I could catch Becca. I knew Kim and Loretta were long gone and there was no way I'd be able to catch them with my tired legs. I managed to bridge up to Becca, but my legs had pretty much used up all their glycogen and I could feel myself starting to implode. I passed her and just kept on at the same pace until she eventually disappeared. Chris said she got lapped, but I didn't think the guys were that close behind us. I had to go out for a fifth lap, which was pure torture as I started to feel twinges of cramps coming on, so I slowed considerably and was just in self-preservation mode. I hit a hidden hole in the grass about 100 yards from the finish and nearly crashed...hand flew off the handlebar, crotch landed on the toptube, foot out of the I stayed upright I don't know... The sudden impact caused my leg to cramp up, so I softpedaled through the finish, thankful to be able to get off my bike. Who knew riding a bike through grass could be so damn hard!

In the end, I managed to work back up to third place, which I was happy with given the circumstances. Now I need to do some serious rolling on my legs to get all lactic acid out so I can actually survive a MTB ride tomorrow morning. At least next weekend I have work obligations on Friday-Saturday, so I should hopefully come into the next cross race a lot more rested. Maybe then it won't hurt so's to hoping : )

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Georgia State Singlespeed Race/Ride

My posts have been few and far between lately as I haven't been doing much...I got much sicker after my 8 hours of TNGA and spent the next week trying to shake whatever bug I had. The next week was just some easy runs and rides as I was still not feeling great, but was tired of sitting around feeling sorry for myself. I actually was feeling so sorry for myself, that I had to read "Touching the Void" again, so that I might be able to pull myself out of the pity pot. Of course it worked - reading about how much pain and suffering Joe Simpson went through to stay alive made my fatigue, fever, and rotten sore throat seem pretty damn insignificant.

So by Wednesday I figured I was ready for a CX practice, which I smartly went to after doing a 5 mile run and boy did I feel it in my legs. It was the first time that I had touched my CX bike since last season, and I was pretty much a mess on the practice course. I didn't know what the hell to do with all the gears I had, forgot that I had nifty top mount brake levers, was quickly reminded that I was NOT riding a 29er MTB when I nearly ate shit in almost every loose corner, and best of all my legs had zero interest in generating the instantaneous power required for quick accelerations. Lots of work to do before the first CX race, which I have the Frogtown 10 mile trail run right before, so I may have to sit the first race out if I'm completely destroyed from the run.

So that leads us to today...a little ride/race put together to replace the Georgia State Singlespeed Championships that didn't happen this year. Since this was a no entry fee - no restrictions type of event, out of staters could compete for the title (which wasn't official, but who cares right?) With that Ursula and Carey showed up representing AL and TN respectively. I thought I had made a wise gear selection with a 32-21, but soon learned that both Carey and Ursula were running 22's. Damn...they always one-up me! I knew there was a good bit of steep climbing and knowing that those two already mountain goat climbers would have it just a little bit easier was unnerving.

We started on the road in front of Mulberry Gap, heading towards Shakerag Rd and Gates Chapel towards the road that leads to the lower Bear Creek parking area. I felt ok on the initial climb but got stuck behind a fixed gear rider on the descent, was too afraid to cross the deep gravel in the middle of the road at high speed, and had to hit my brakes and watch 4-5 people come whizzing by. Grrr... Once I hit Shakerag, my legs were already revolting from all the fast spinning. Ursula passed me, Bruce passed me...things were not looking good. I kept my heartrate in check and just rode my own speed which kept Ursula and Bruce within sight.

Once we hit the Bear Creek singletrack, I cleaned the creek crossing, passed Ursula and Bruce, then promptly chose a bad line around the first switchback and had to get off my bike. I ran a bit, right next to Ursula then jumped on my bike and powered through the next steep bit. It was pretty miserable and hard, but it got me a gap so it was energy well spent. It seemed like that hard effort blew all the crap out of my legs because I seemed to feel a good bit better after that. I continued to climb, never seeing anyone in front of or behind me, so that was kind of comforting. I hit the Bear Creek descent which was bone dry and lighting fast. Somewhere along the way my clif bloks and fruit roll up flew out of my moutain feed bag, so that kind of sucked.

Pinhoti 1 was tough, but I knew I usually ride it with a 19, so I told myself that I had it easy today. The miles went by pretty fast and soon enough I was at Pinhoti 2..still no one in sight in front or behind me. Right after I hit the downhill singletrack on P2, I heard a "ping" noise and my front break lever went completely limp. Not loosing pressure limp..the pin had fallen out of the lever and it was now completely useless limp. Always some sort of adversity...I looked at Jayden's picture on my bike and laughed. I figured I lived through Fools Gold and I still had one completely functional brake and the trails were dry today, so no worries. I was riding conservatively but I guess picked up a bit too much speed on one of the steeper downhill straightaways that has a turn at the bottom. As I hit my rear brake, the back wheel started skidding like crazy on the pinestraw. I had two options at that point..1 - continue my skid trajectory and hit very large tree on outside of turn or 2 - continue straight, run off trail into woods and take chances. I chose option 2 which wasn't too bad until I had to hop a small log about 6 inches off the ground, at relatively high speed. Somehow I escaped unscathed and got myself back on the trail. Ok, ride MORE conservatively!

I made it down to the road, pushed my bike up the wall and had to basically tip-toe my way down the next steep, downhill section. Thankfully there were flatter sections between the steeper pitches where I could scrub speed without skidding. The worst was a steep gravel path right near the Finish line. I started down at nearly no speed, but was slightly out of control by the bottom...thankfully there was nothing except pavement down there to run it out on...well, that and a lot of witnesses that would probably heckle me if I crashed in such a stupid place.

Just a bit more and I was back around at the finish. I managed to hold onto second, but Ursula was not far behind. Carey took the crown as expected, and was awarded a homemade chainring-bling necklace. My race wasn't stellar, but it definitely got better as the going got tougher and my legs got warmed up. I'm sure it was a shock to my system to do any extended intensity since I've been having to take it pretty easy this month.

Tomorrow is an Orienteering race on foot, and next weekend the Frogtown 10 mile trail race. I think I'm actually in better running shape at the moment, so hopefully Frogtown will go well.

Monday, September 6, 2010

TNGA Sections 1 and 2

So rewind to about a week and a half ago... I arrive at my daughters school to drop her off and there is a big sign on the door of her classroom. "We have a confirmed case of strep throat in this room". Ugh...Seriously??? Another case of strep throat? One of the toughest parts for me of being a new parent is the constant onslaught of bacteria and viruses that Jayden is exposed to. Not only does she get sick, but it is nearly impossible to prevent the spread of germs to mom and dad.

So the Sunday a week before the race Chris says he is feeling like he's getting sick and Jayden gets a fever and is lying on the floor wailing away, miserable, and me feeling completely helpless. We give J some tylenol, which helps tremendously, and she goes to bed to sleep off her illness. Monday morning she doesn't have a fever, and she seems perky so I take her to school. I had a super busy week at work, so staying home with her would have been tough to do. When I arrive, her teacher sounds like hell and could barely speak. Fantastic.

Monday night Chris suggests we should make he passes me his germs, and I fight them off by the weekend. I should have taken him up on the offer but instead I said to stay away.

Jayden continues to have mild cold symptoms all week but I'm still good till Thursday night. I wake up Friday morning with a sore throat and slight fever...NOOOOOO!!! I had already bought all my food and gear for TNGA, taken Friday off to pack, so I got everything ready and figured I had to at least TRY to give it a go. Chris was only sick for a day, so I thought if I rested well on Friday I might have a chance of riding through it.

I felt pretty good Saturday morning so I was optimistic. We arrived at the SC border and rolled out about 8:30 am. The first four hours were pretty good. I felt ok riding at just a moderate pace. I lost about a half an hour on the way to Dillard as I didn't have a bike computer (thought my map and cue sheet would be enough) but I made a wrong turn that cost me a lot of extra elevation gain. Since I didn't have a computer, I thought a minor intersection was one I had to turn at, and ended up going down a big hill just to have to come right back up. Grrr... I wished I had gotten a chance to preride this section, as then I wouldn't have wasted that time and energy. The riding itself was pretty difficult and not terribly fun...lots of steep climbing and the descents were challenging in deep, loose gravel.

I hit 441 and waved to my boss who just happened to be up there camping for the weekend. How cool is that? To have a boss that would sit in the car for 3 hours just to watch me ride by as say "whoo hooo!". She's a keeper..

Anyways, after Dillard there was some pavement and a big climb up to Patterson Gap. That road was pretty crappy...big loose gravel, steep climbs, and a bunch of hunters with dogs doing some sort of organized hunt. Lots of traffic. When I hit FS32C, it got even worse...big RR track size gravel that was freshly dumped and hills that were straight up. I won't lie, I pushed the bike some here. I was starting to feel "feverish" and I noticed that I had a slight wheeze going on. By the time I hit 76, I was not feeling too good. My legs were fine but the fever felt like it was getting worse and I had started having to cough every so often. I was at about 8 hours in and already deteriorating. I had estimated 56 hours finishing time, so given my current state, the likelyhood of finishing was pretty low and I would only run my body down more if I kept going. I had raced for 24 hours in January with similar symptoms and ended up with pneumonia, which wiped me out for two weeks, and I didn't want a repeat of that.

I decided I would call Chris from Mocassin Creek State Park and have him pick me up there, since he was waiting in Helen. It was definitely the right decision, but watching the race now from the sidelines, I can't help but wish just a little bit that I was still out there. My strength lies in knowing that I have completed 2-3 day races before with little to no sleep and I already know how to fuel for those types of events. I'm already thinking about next year, wondering if the timing will be better.

Now it appears to be a three-man race, which is exactly what I expected. It also looks like none of those guys will finish in my expected 56 hour finish time, so I may have been out there longer..or maybe not...who knows...

Chris said I could always do the race again on my own, as an ITT, when I'm 100% healthy, but then I don't know if I have the drive to do such a long and painful endeavor if I don't get some sort of bragging rights. That makes me sound terrible, but knowing that people are watching is a huge motivator for me. Next year perhaps? At least now I've pre-ridden the first section!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Whole lotta restin' goin' on

After the Fools Gold, I felt like I needed to give my body a really good rest if I want to have a chance at finishing TNGA. Even though I almost felt like I didn't really "race" at Fools Gold, due to all the mud and mechanical issues, I'm sure it still took a lot out of me. The last thing I want to do is go into a 3 day ride with any nagging aches and pains so I'm resting up as much as possible. Didn't get on my bike this past weekend, though went for a run Saturday morning and then a hike with Jayden and Chris at Red Top Mtn State Park on Sunday. This week I need to do a lot of work and get all my gear organized for TNGA. Let the packing begin...

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Fools Gold 50

Wow, what a day! I've ridden some muddy races and beat the hell out of my equipment pretty good at times, but today takes the cake. As we lined up for the start, Eddie told us the trails were muddy, but I had no idea what I was in for. I was thinking mushy with a puddle here and there, not peanut butter and baby poop quagmire with intermittent lakes and rivers along the trail.

The rain held off until we started up the gravel road climb to Cooper Gap. I was feeling pretty good, and was happy with my decision to put a 21 on my singlespeed for this race. There was a KOM at Cooper Gap, but I wasn't really concerned with it, as I knew I needed to just race my own race. I was moving along pretty well and a little ways up the climb, Jamie passed me. She never got out of view, and I didn't chase after her. Once the road steepened and I had to get on the gas to stay on top of my gear, I caught back up to her and passed her. This burst of speed up the steepest part of the road got me to the top first and scored me some free beer (which would later be payment to the hubby for rebuilding my bike).

I rolled along the ridge trying to figure out if it was better to have glasses that I couldn't really see through, but no grit in the eyes, or no glasses and lots of grit. Since I wear contacts I opted for glasses, though it was hard to see a lot of detail on the descents so I rode a bit more cautiously than usual. Somewhere along the ridge, the rain picked up to the deluge level and all of the nasty sweat that has accumulated in my helmet pads all summer started seeping out and running into my eyes. This burned like crazy and I hoped it would stop raining soon. I held Jamie off until Winding Stair Gap, where she passed me as I was clearing my glasses off before the downhill. This time she got away, as I couldn't match her speed on the descent, especially without a big ring. As I made the turn onto Turner Creek, I realized that it was going to be a LONG day, as the trail was mushy slop completely covered in water. It was tenuous and slow. I had a picture of a "muddy" trail in my mind, but it sure didn't look like the current conditions. After the 100 miler racers went through, plus the 50 miler leaders, the trails were pretty much torn to hell. Add not being able to see out your glasses and you have a rockin' good time!

I was happy to get off Turner Creek and back onto the FS Road where I could feel like I was moving fast again. The next section across the Jones Creek Ridge Trail had some grassy red clay areas that were slick as snot. I nearly lost it on a couple of occasions through there, so I was happy once I made it over to Bull Mountain and could do some more gravel road climbing. I actually was enjoying the climbs, as the legs and body were fully functional, so I was really happy about that. About the time I hit the steep uphill singletrack at the top of Bull Mtn, we get another deluge. I had to push a good bit on the steepest parts, but the guys on geared bikes were pushing too, so I didn't feel too bad about it. When I reached the top and began the descent, it was almost comical...Tiny streams that cross the trail were raging torrents, and there was a nice little river flowing down almost the entire length of trail. This river connected a series of mountaintop lakes that were forming on the wider sections of the trail. Some were shallow, some were deep, all were wet and there were A LOT of them. As I rode through hub deep puddles, I thought to myself..."I'm glad I'm on a singlespeed so my drivetrain can't crap out on me..." As I worked my way down, moving along pretty well, my brake pads (which were by no means new) had worn down to pretty much nothing. Getting down a sloppy and wet Bull Mtn with dying brakes was quite a feat. I had to keep my speed pretty moderate as I couldn't stop quickly, and I really wasn't up for eating shit.

When I got back to the Sag stop, I refueled and made an assessment of my current situation as I rode out on the FS road. Ok...about 20 miles left, a good bit of which was sloppy singletrack with little to no brakes. My body and legs felt good and I was in no danger of DNF'ing due to a body malfunction, so I decided come hell or high water I was going finish the race. I knew I couldn't attack the descents, I could merely survive them if I was lucky, but I could attack the climbs. My mechanisms for going up were all still a go, so I focused on climbing hard when I had the opportunity and hanging on for dear life on the descents. I quit thinking about Jamie and my other competitors and rather focused my energy on going up and staying under control on the downhills. Now I was just in somewhat of a survival mode.

Each singletrack section that I completed was one step closer to the finish line. I knew if I could just make it back to the FS near the army camp, I could finish. On the way over to Black Branch, I dropped my chain for the first time. You know the conditions are bad when your singlespeed drivetrain starts falling apart. It appeared the EBB crept a bit as I had a lot of sag in my chain. I popped the chain back on, thankful it didn't break (that was my first thought).

I was dreading the Black Branch section the most, as I knew there was a pretty long, steep downhill section. Sure enough, my rear brake completely burned through the backing on this section so it was totally gone. This came at a rather inopportune moment as I was working my way down the steepest section. I couldn't slow down and started picking up speed fast. I was officially out of control. It was here that I had a serious "Oh Shit" moment and just hung on for dear life and hoped I didn't get swallowed up by the mud bog at the bottom of the hill. I dropped the guy behind me big time as I went barrelling down the hill. The next section of climbs I'm ok admitting that I had to run a good bit of - just too slippery and steep to make it up. Whenever I'd get frustrated I'd wipe the mud off the picture of Jayden I'd taped to my toptube and I immediately felt energized. I grinded up the snotty climbs, and after the last out of control descent, opted to run a couple of steep sections. Even then I almost wiped out as my bike got out in front of me and I couldn't even slow down on foot..just too slippery.

I finally made it back to the FS road and now knew I could get my bruised and battered bike to the finish. The Wahsega FS road was pleasant and I was moving well on anything uphill. Over these last seven or so miles, my chain continued to fall off at close intervals...I stopped counting at 7 times because doing so was just starting to frustrate me. For some reason, when I popped out by the army camp and hit FS 28, I had it in my mind that I just had to roll down the hill back to the camp. Nope..within about a quarter mile of downhill I see a volunteer standing in the middle of the road pointing me towards yet another slippery section of singletrack. Argh! I rode until my chain came off AGAIN, then decided to just run it out. There was a section of logs to hurdle and most of it was downhill so I figured I'd be just as fast running than having to stop and constantly put the chain back on. And so I ran my poor battered bike with its flaccid chain dragging down the hill, through the creek, and across the finish line.

Since the 100 mile race was cut short, no one really knew what place I was in. I figured second in the 50 miler. It wasn't until I was on my way to the shower that I saw Jamie come in. I had no idea where I passed her, probably at a sag stop and I didn't even notice, because like I said, I had to focus on just getting my bike through the race and wasn't worried about placing at that point. Finding out I won just made putting up with all that slop a bit more rewarding, and the thought of shelling out a bunch of cash to replace various destroyed parts on my bike a little less irritating.

Despite the chain falling off, my equipment choice was pretty good. My Niner SS worked well and my 32-21 gearing was spot on for the course...wet or dry really. Actually 3 of the 4 girls on the podium in the women's 50 mile race rode was just one of those days! My Maxxis Crossmark tires hooked up pretty good, though I think if I had brakes and could ride the downhills agressively, I probably would have wanted something a bit knobbier. I have a feeling if I had just started the day with new pads, I would have been ok. I put a Mountain Feed bag on my bike and for once was able to eat enough food because it was so easily accessible. My eyes are pretty bloodshot and irritated from all the crud, but other than that I'm feeling pretty good, so I'd say it was time and energy well spent - despite the monsterous cleanup effort that will be involved in getting all my gear race ready again.

Next up is TNGA...will likely do a test ride with all my gear next weekend.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Trans-North Georgia on my Mind

So I've been pondering the TNGA race for a while now, but after buying a new pack and borrowing a SPOT unit, I am coming to terms with the reality of the situation...I might actually have to ride my bike for three+ days straight...ugh. My good sense tells me that I have done little to no physical preparation for this endeavor, though my dumb sense seems to think it will all work out in the end. I'm going in with my longest ride being the Fools Gold 50 this weekend, and I have a pocket full of DNF's at longer events this year, which makes me think I'm in way over my head.

I seem to think that because I was pretty damn strong at the North Georgia Adventure Race, 4 months after popping out a kid and being pregnant for the previous 9 months, that I'm immune to all the problems that affect mere mortals...hunger, fatigue, cramps, bonking, falling asleep while riding, etc. The more I think about it though, I was in pretty damn good shape last year and actually logged more training hours on the bike while toting around a 16 lb basketball than I have this year. I also did a lot of moderate pace base miles, which I have done very little of this year, and it shows. I have been doing well at short events and am running faster than ever, but the wheels seem to come off quickly during the longer stuff. Meh.

My plan for this weekend is to just chill and finish the race. I have pre-ridden the entire course and know I did it in a respectably fast time, and that was without being in the "race on" mindset. I'm riding my singlespeed since I think it will keep me reeled in so I only waste energy going fast up hills, which gives me the biggest bang for my lactic acid producing buck. I'm going in with the "don't give a damn" attitude and perhaps that will work out in my favor. I also outfitted my bike with a mountain feed bag and have frozen bottles ready to go to keep my core temp down, so I don't have a ORAMM repeat. In addition, I will be writing "EAT your fu#king food!!" on my left arm as a constant reminder to consume calories.

Anyways, back to TNGA...while I do have some challenges to overcome, I am in good shape in several other areas - mainly with the acutal route navigation and the ability to suffer over a long period of time. As long as I ride at "Lisa Pace" I know I won't self least initially. Also, I know that even if I ride like total shit in TNGA, that if I just finish, I will still likely be in the top 5...and TNGA is really more about personal growth and character building than worrying about placing.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Is it hot in here or is it just me?

So somehow I managed to get through an entire summer last year of riding while big and pregnant without being a sweaty mess. Now that I'm not pregnant and should be at my peak, I'm a sweating like a pig (do pigs actually sweat?) that can't stay hydrated to save my life.

Case and point...ORAMM.. We prerode the Kitsuma downhill the day before and I was pretty stoked to race the following day. I had a good start, just a bit behind Carey and was feeling good and enjoying the gradual warmup as we rolled out of town. Once we started climbing, I settled into a nice 170 HR and rode behind Carey for a while. About halfway up, I had to let her go to keep my HR in check but was cruising along in second place feeling pretty good. Just before the top of the climb, another fast lady, Paula, came by, which is fine because I knew it was a long race and I certainly wasn't going to chase anyone early on. Did I mention it was close to 100 degrees up there?

The descent was awesome.. I jumped off at a couple sketchy sections, as either line down them was blocked by someone walking slowly. Not only did that save me from potential crashing and injury, but I passed 3-5 guys on each of those sections with my graceful 'run-a-bike' ninja skills. I ran the last bit at gazelle speed and even had one guy say "Damn, nice move!" and I wasn't even on my bike. The rest of the downhill was flowy and fast. I crept up on the guys in front of me and didn't get caught by any of the clusterf*ck behind me. When I hit the bottom of the descent, I was 1:15 in and still feeling good, though it was HOT. I had some gel and drank some water.

The next section up Star Gap is a long switchbacky, low speed climb. I was sweating buckets here and I guess I didn't keep up with the hydration and calories so well because this is where I started to feel really lethargic and lightheaded. I figured I'd recover on my way into the second aid station and then fill up on calories and coke there.

After a quick refuel, I started up Curtis Creek. I felt good for about 10 minutes but then the Coke buzz wore off and I started deteriorating quickly. I was taking in fluids, but I think I had already worked my way into such a deficit that I couldn't replenish the fluids that I lost. By 1/2 way up I was soft pedaling in my small ring just to keep moving. Then the cramps set in...foot cramps and my hip flexors. WTF? Never had my hip flexors cramp before... So by 3/4 way up I'm pretty much dying a slow death and only plodding on because I know there are cold drinks up the road a bit. I keep seeing people riding back down the hill towards me...hmmm...tempting. I don't think I could have possibly rode any slower and not fallen over. It was crazy that I was still holding 3rd place, despite my slower-than-walking-pace riding.

I hit the aid station and decided I'd hang out a while and try to regroup. I sat down on one of the coolers and drank cokes and water and shoved all kinds of food in my face. I think they were wondering when I was going to leave, because I was tearing through their supply of food. After maybe 10-15 mins, a group of ladies pulls in. Andrea asked me if I was going on and I said, "I think I'm going to camp out here." I'm pretty sure they were all happy to hear that. I finally got up, reassesed my condition and found that my cramping was getting worse and I was still lightheaded despite the massive calorie bomb I just swallowed. Fearing getting to the point where I was laying on the side of the road writhing in pain, I decided not to continue and rode back down Curtis Creek. I was bummed because I really wanted to ride the downhills, but considering I cramped up riding back down the forest road, I would have been in bad shape down Heartbreak Ridge. I still felt pretty bad riding easy back into town, so it was probably a good thing I pulled out early.

Back at the finish, and even on the ride home, I was still completely out of it and cramping up when the car would go over bumps. Now I have a headache 2.5 days later still...ugh. It is imperative that I train myself to eat and drink more WHILE racing or I'll never finish a race over three hours. Not to mention, the recovery has been painfully slow. Bad Lisa, BAD! The faster I get, the dumber I get it seems. I think for my next race Chris is going to write EAT and DRINK really big on both my arms so I remember...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Raccoon Mountain XC Race

This past Sunday I did my first XC race in 2 years. The off-road duathlons I had been doing were just as intense as an XC race - actually more intense due to the running sprint against the boys before the bike - but they were shorter. I didn't really have any expectations other than I knew I wouldn't be last, so I opted to ride my singlespeed. I figured if I did well on the singlespeed, I could do well on a geared bike at the next one (and if I did crappy, I could always blame my bike, right??)

The start went as expected...I spun out on the road start and was DFL going into the singletrack. I caught back up immediately and then chaos ensued... The first part of singletrack was moderately technical and girls were going down left and right...clipping pedals on rocks, bad lines, you name it. I fought my way through and was amazed that I was able to stay on my bike through some of the less than desirable lines I had to take to get around people. I passed a bunch of girls. I didn't count them, but we started with twelve and it seemed like I passed at least eight of them...but really wasn't sure. Loretta and a Vantaggio rider were the last two that I passed, but I wasn't sure who was in front of me, other than Kim F. I motored along at a quick pace, keeping my momentum as much as possible so I wouldn't spin out on the flats. After a short time there were no girls within sight behind me so I figured I was riding pretty well.

I felt great on the singlespeed for about an hour but then the climbs really started to take their toll. I was pushing a 19 on the rear (which is all I have, so I didn't really have other options) and by the second lap, I was really starting to slow on the moderate to steep climbs. By the time I hit the "switchbacks" again, I was thinking how much I would have loved to have gears. I lost a lot of time on the second lap because I couldn't stay on top of my gear and ended up running/walking some of the climbs. I thought Carey was crazy for running a 21, but she was much smarter than I, and had a phenominal race. I rode by myself for the rest of the race and just hoped I'd had a fast enough first lap to not have anyone catch me. When I crossed the finish line, I still had no idea what place I was in and it wasn't until Loretta informed me that I was second that I had any clue about my placing.

I was pleasantly surprised, as I figured I was at least fourth, but had I known I was second, I would have dug a little deeper on that second lap. Not that I had a chance of catching Kim, but I think I would have been a little more motivated knowing I was racing for a podium spot - and at least I would have been done and off my bike a couple of minutes faster.

I did enjoy the XC race and liked the shorter format. I'm itching to do another one, but need to cool it before ORAMM so I don't wear myself out before getting to the starting line.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

To Celebrate Father's Day, we took Chris and his Dad to the beach!

After some initial distrust in that grainy stuff called sand, Jayden relaxed a bit and was just kickin' it with daddy..soon she had sand EVERYWHERE!

Here I think they are both pondering their plan to take over the world..

Playing in the water when the waves come in!

Hanging out with "Opa" - that's Grandpa for you non-German folks.

Jayden is such a water girl and just loves to try to swim! I think she thinks that she doesn't need us to stay afloat. She holds her breath and doesn't mind going under water - much better than me at that age! I did learn that trying to keep sand off your towel is a futile endeavor when you have a little one flinging it everywhere!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Chicopee Woods Duathlon

Today was the final race in the Dirty Spokes Duathlon Series. The venue was Chicopee Woods, a place I used to frequent in my college days, but hadn’t been there since probably 5 years ago. We were warned that the run course was tough – and it was – but in a good way. It was nearly all singletrack (=SHADE) and was technical enough to slow down the fast guys who mainly run on the road.

The start horn sounded and I had a good position going into the singletrack on the first run. I was working hard, but feeling pretty good and moving well. I focused on using good technique and not crossing my arms in front of my body and it seemed to help make me more efficient...and we love efficiency. There were a good number of short steep sections but I was handling them well and holding my position. I was shocked when it wasn’t until maybe ¾ of the way through the course that Johnny passed me. He usually passes me after about 400 meters once I realize my legs and lungs can’t keep up with the pace I’m trying to maintain. I was having a good run and seemed to finish in the best overall position coming off this run than any of the other races.

Once I hopped on my bike, I started to pay the price for my great run. My legs weren’t feeling snappy and I had to work a good bit harder than I wanted to. I had decided to run my geared bike on this course, thinking I’d be faster, but I’m not so sure. I knew overall I’d suffer more with gears, but I was hoping to gain a lot more speed out of it. My puny 26er tires just didn’t roll like my Niner, and despite having 27 different gear combos, I think I was actually slower. Damn gears…hmph!! On a freaking uphill of all places, I clipped my pedal on something sticking up, which landed me with a stem and handlebar in the gut…ugh… My next mishap was when I hit the big creek before the gravel road climb. I had been told to go right and ride through the creek. I did that but managed to hit a submerged rock and get hurled into the rhodo bushes on the shore. So then I was off my bike running up the short rocky climb and my sweaty, slippery fingers slide and get stuck between my saddle and its rails. Can you say OOUUUUUCH! I was relieved when I hit the gravel climb, because that was the one place where I felt like I was moving well and it meant we were almost done. I think I maintained my overall position on the bike…getting passed early by a couple of guys on relay teams (but they didn’t run so really they don’t count, right??) but then passing a couple towards the end of the lap. The bike course wasn’t terribly great for me, just because it was so fast and the technical sections were few and far between.

I was actually looking forward to the second run, since the first went pretty well. It started off good but soon I was finding that I didn’t have a lot of horsepower to actually run hard up the steep sections. It was getting hot and I had to resort to a slow jog anytime the grade got steep. By the end I was just dripping with sweat and looking forward to being done. A guy I had passed on the bike ran past me in the final quarter mile, but I really didn’t feel like challenging him and ran in right behind. Yay, finished, now get me some damn Gatorade before I pass out!

This race SEEMED tougher than the others, but it may have been the added heat and humidity. I felt like I had the best race at Tribble Mill, but maybe that was just because it was the first one and I was in better shape at that time than a lot of the fast guys. The next woman was almost 20 minutes back, so this was my biggest victory margin, 2/3 of which was made up of time I gained on the run…crazy, huh? I think if I do these next year, I should probably race in the men’s age group, but it’s kind of nice getting tires and sunglasses at every race, because I tend to scratch them up or lose them.

Next up is Raccoon Mountain XC. I need to decide…gears or no gears. If I ride the SS, I’m sure my start position will suck, and it will likely be a decent sized field since it is such a fun course. After today, I’m leaning towards no gears, but I’ll have to do a couple more rides on the 26er, without running beforehand, and give her a fair chance to redeem herself.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Siege on Fort Yargo Adventure Race

This year our plan was for Julia, Chris and I to race as a coed team. Unfortunately, Chris came down with some nasty bug that took him out of commission for almost a week and thus he wisely decided not to race on Saturday. Since the entry was free (prize from winning last year's race), Julia and I just raced as a two person team. The competition was tougher at this years race, so we knew we would have some work to do out there.

After taking a look at the maps and instructions, we decided to bike first. We chose to do the entire bike loop (skipping the o-course at that time) so that we would have a clear trail. Anyone who has done this race in the past knows how much of a cluster the singletrack can be once you dump a bunch of adventure racers on it - so we wanted to avoid that at all costs. We would then do the trek and o-section, then finish up the trek with whatever remaining time we had left.

The prologue took about 20 minutes and thankfully Julia was in the top 10 off the water on the opening float, so we were able to get back to the TA and get out on the bike trail before anyone else.

The bike was pretty straight forward and similar to past years, but it seemed at many CP's we would spend a couple of minutes looking in various tree clumps and thickets to find the actual checkpoint. Maybe they put them out early and didn't want them to get stolen, but it sure seemed like they were much more hidden than in years past. Thankfully there was no one behind us who was capitalizing on our ferreting out the CP's. We then ran into a team who "mistakenly" took the paved road all the way to B5, and when I pointed out that it wasn't allowed, they high-tailed it out of there (perhaps before I could see their bib numbers..)on their way to CP6 via the bike trail. Not sure what they were thinking there, as we were SUPPOSED to be on the paved road for B6 and B7 (both hung close to the road). Sigh...

We finished up the bike loop then headed out on the trek. I was going to put my trekking pants on, but forgot and put my shoes on first and didn't remember the pants till afterwards. Not wanting to take my shoes off, I just said screw it on the pants....bad bad idea. Julia ended up carrying both rafts so I could have my hands free to flip through the maps. Running with those pfd's on in the hot weather was completley awful, so I was glad when we reached the O-section where we could drop all that crap.

The o-section was kind of nasty, with both gnarly vegetation and exposed, hot, sunny red clay sections. We collected the points counter clockwise, with OP5 being the first one we headed out for. We missed it the first time down, so just continued to OP6 and OP7. The vegetation around OP7 was about as nasty as I've seen at the Siege..and that was AFTER several other teams had trampled some of it down. Really regretting the no-pants decision at that point. Got clotheslined by some barbed wire type briar on my way out and let out a string of about ten curse words.... We then headed towards the dam and again had to hunt in various tree clumps to finally find the OP. The next few points weren't very eventful, with the exception of the one that was near a neck-high (for me) kudzu field. We should have attacked from the powerline where it was clearer instead of straight-lining and getting torn to shreds in the kudzu-briar thatching. Ugh...again wishing for my pants...

The points that required running on the exposed powerline were just evil in my opinion and the heat was really hurting more than I would have thought. I ran out of water near the end of the o-section but figured I had a Coke stashed at the drop, so that would get me through the remainder of the race. (after all, it IS a fluid source..) We still had to go back for OP5, which seemed much further down the reentrant than I would have expected. As we were getting close to the OP, I heard some newbie team yell out "its down here to the right" so we profited from their find. Earlier we found another team's passport that they had dropped out on the course, so we turned it in at the drop before we left.

We chugged the Coke I brought and again, Julia took both cumbersome rafts. We picked up T3 but decided to skip T4 and just run directly to T5. I thought this would be a better use of our time, as I wanted to hit T7-T9, as they were in pretty close proxmity to each other. We could then bail early if we had to. The run to T5 seemed like it took forever, running in our PFD's..getting cooked as we ran across the exposed dam. We picked up T5 and T6 without incident and headed to T7. I remembered them saying something about arrows painted on the ground for this one and sure enough, they were there. I thought the point would be across the small inlet based on the map, but it was on the same side of the inlet as the arrow was pointing. From T7 we floated across the lake to pick up the trail and run to our launch point for T8. I made the mistake of trying to get on my raft in 4 ft of water and ended up looking like a beached whale and almost had a full-on all body cramp from all the contortions I was in, trying to get on my raft. Once I finally mounted my raft, my arms were feeling tired and I was wishing the wind was blowing in the opposite direction. Thankfully it was short and Julia was able to pick up the punches. Even on a raft she has much better swimming form than I!

Once out of the water it was just a hilly run back towards the TA with one CP on the way. I opted to follow a dirt road to the back side of the cemetery, and in hindsight, we should have just stayed on the paved roads most of the way. We ended up finishing with about a minute to spare, so we made good use of our time, though we probably wasted a combined total of 30 minutes out there. We only missed one CP, but maybe we'll get credit for it since we turned in a dropped passport! (sorry couldn't resist..)

We don't have official results yet, but the 5 person Checkpoint Zero group was able to clear the course, but it is unlikely any other teams did, or even came close. Most were back to the TA long before us - opting to bail on CP's in lieu of cold beverages and food.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Fort Yargo Duathon

Yesterday we packed up the family and headed to the Fort Yargo Duathlon. No pictures because this time both Chris and I raced while our friend Kathleen watched Jayden. The weather was absolutely perfect - overcast and maybe 72 degrees. I was looking forward to this race because the runs were shorter and the bike was longer than the previous two. Of course, the shorter run just meant I had to run faster which made it all the more unpleasant. There haven't been any super fast runner girls who have shown up at these races, so I end up using the guys for motivation...and they seemed to be flying on the shorter-than-usual run. Near the end, I checked my HR and I was above 170 so I knew I was working pretty hard. My GPS showed the run being a bit longer than the posted distance so my average pace ended up being 6:28 min/mile for 2.2 miles. Excuse me a sec while I go hurl!

I did a quick transition to bike - then proceeded to pick off a bunch of relay team people and fast runners on the bike loop. I rode my SS again and was loving it. No issues keeping up with the gearies on the flats and downhills, because I was so much smoother. I was shocked when I came up upon a fast looking guy who was riding really smoothly and I actually needed to pass him. No complaints about the bike loop, as I really enjoyed it and felt good pretty much the entire time.

The last run went well and I achieved my usual goal of not getting passed by anyone on the last run. This one was more mellow, at about a 7:30 min/mile pace. I probably could have done low sevens, but I felt like I was working hard enough and knew there were no women on my no need to overly abuse myself.

I ended up winning the women's division by a large margin again, and was 8th overall in the solo men. I have had better overall finishes at the earlier races, but I think having the shorter runs in this race actually hurt me a bit. The guys were able to run faster for the short distance, whereas I'm better when the run is a bit longer because I seem to go the same speed regardless.

Chris had a good race with an exciting sprint finish at the end. A friend of ours who wasn't even in his category figured he'd give him a challenge and he accepted. I thought he was toast but he must have been saving it till the end and got the holeshot around the last corner and crossed the line first. That made me proud, because the last time I had to do a sprint finish, I didn't win : )

Thursday, May 20, 2010


I have mailed in my waiver for the first ever Trans North Georgia MTB "Adventure" so I guess now I'm committed. I'm actually pretty excited because I've been wanting to do a race like this for some time now. I love racing through the night in adventure races - something about the moonlight makes me come alive while others tend to want to go to sleep. I feed off of moves me.

I have some pretty high expectations for this race. My goal is 3 days, though I'd be happy to beat that time, because my friend Carey has already warned me that she intends to crush whatever time I happen to post if the"adventure" happens next year. Ok, so she didn't use those exact words but I know she'll be gunning for me, so I have some serious work to do.

I have a nice recovery week coming up, which is good, so I can catch back up on all the things I've been slacking off at over the past 3 weeks.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Quiet Week

By our standards, we had a slow week which was actually nice for a change. No frantic gear packing on Friday - just hanging out with Jayden, training, working, eating and sleeping. We even managed a couple of hours on Saturday night to watch "The Blind Side", which was a nice feel-good movie.

Jayden went to a birthday party on Saturday morning and later that night, we had dinner at a friends house and she got to meet their son Art, who is a month older. Jayden was more interested in Art's toys than him I think, but that's ok. She needs to learn early not to go chasing after boys.

I got in some solid road rides this past weekend, and was feeling pretty good once I recovered from the previous week's hard singlespeed rides. This coming week will be more of the same, as we have no racing planned until May 29th. Time to get caught up on work work and house work!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Happy Mothers Day!

My Mother's Day gift this year was a nice long ride with perfect weather. With PotatoPatch being freshly graded, I headed over to the Bull Mountain area to ride the Fools Gold 50 route. I have never done that particular race and I hadn't ridden many of those trails in several years. Just to make sure I didn't slack off, I rode my singlespeed, as it was supposed to be MY day, and I really didn't want to have to think about shifting gears. Another plus, was that this would be a test run for some longer races on the SS.

The route was definitely challenging and there were some trails that I'd never ride if they weren't part of the route. Unfortunately, the reason I'd never ride them is because they are just crappy in general..eroded and/or sandy. There were a couple of short singletrack connectors that just seemed like a waste of energy and didn't flow very well. Assuming I was on the right trail (Moss Branch Connector?), one had a straight-up hike-a-bike that I didn't see anyone being able to ride. I guess its just in there to up the suffer level a bit.

The Bull Mtn section ended up being much easier than I anticipated...I thought climbing the singletrack would be horrible, but it wasn't too bad. I think the worst climbs were over on Black Branch..seemed like I was climbing forever over there!

All in all, it was a good ride on a perfect day. I rode solo to minimize having to stop and managed to ride just under 5 hours without having a body meltdown - so that is very encouraging.

I returned home to find a yummy dinner waiting for me and a picture that Chris and Jayden drew with markers. It was definitely my kind of Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Conyers Duathlon

After having some mild sick symptoms all week, and still having good workouts, I figured I was good enough for an off-road Duathlon at Conyers. It was the second of a four race series being put on by Dirty Spokes. The worst part would be the 5:30 am wake up call on Saturday morning.

The morning went smoothly and we got the car packed and Jayden ready to go and actually left right on time. I felt great on Thursday night and probably pushed it a bit too much on my run, as when I did my warm up my legs weren't feeling as snappy. Oh, tired hip flexors! I wasn't terribly worried, as I knew even a tired run would get the job done, it would just mean I'd suffer more. And suffer I did...having to keep up a 6:30 mile trail run pace with a bunch of dudes ranks right up there with going to the dentist for me. The run course this time was especially mind-numbing, as there was a lot of wide, flat gravel and a lot of grass field that just made it seem like you were moving really slow. After about 17 minutes of mild torture, it was onto the bike...whoo hoo!

The bike course was two 5 mile laps and it was much more exciting. It had a good mix of everything...climbs, techy sections, swoopies, fast easy double track, creeks, rocks, roots, etc... I was in the top 10-12 people coming off the first run and my first victims on the bike were guys who were very obviously runners and not bikers. I slowly picked off a few more as they would bobble on technical sections. I was pretty taxed on the first lap, after coming off the run, but I was still making good time and no one was catching me from behind. I was staying with the gearies on the flats and wide open downhills, so I was happy with my bike/gear choice. The second lap I picked off two more guys and had a mostly open trail. My HR was lower and I was feeling good. Rockin' and rollin' on my haaa! There was one short section I had to run as it was a steep uphill with a momentum killing turn and creek right before it. I managed to whack my calf really hard with my pedal, which surprised me, as I usually am not so clumsy.

The last run was not as bad as the first since it was a bit slower, but it was even more mind-numbing since it was slower, and there was no one around me. By the end of the lap, a guy on a relay team had caught me. He was a muscular, shirtless runner looking type and at first I was just going to let him pass me. Then I decided..oh hell, were almost done, lets have some fun with this guy. So I kept the pace up enough that he didn't feel the need to challenge me...and of course it would have looked really lame if he tried to sprint a girl to the finish. Its not like you get bragging rights for beating a girl, right?

So in the end, I finished 6th overall and was the first woman by an even larger margin than last race - probably due to the much more technically demanding trail. I scored some sweet tortoise shell Tifosi's that may even make me appear stylish, and Jayden and Chris seemed to have a good time. Jay kept an eye on my transition stuff and picked honeysuckle flowers.

Now we're at home, chillin' on the back deck. I put the pack and play out in the shade so Jay could get some good ol' fresh air. She's been entertaining herself for close to an hour, so it must be working!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

On the mend, back to the grind...

Had to sit out the 6 hour race at Fort Yargo because I finally caught the cold that has been plaguing the other members of my household for the past two weeks. The symptoms seem to be pretty mild now, and I'm feeling pretty good so I started back up with my training.

I did some good force work on the singlespeed up in Ellijay but I'm disappointed to say that the Forest Service just graded the road up to Potatopatch Mtn., so now its all loose and dusty. It was actually more annoying on the downhills, so hopefully we'll get a good rain soon to pack it down. In the meantime, I think I'll head over to the Blue Ridge WMA area to do my long rides.

I'm contemplating doing the rest of my races this season on my SS. (The exception being the Trans North Georgia, if I decide to do it). I need to do a couple of test runs on some long routes that have a good deal of singletrack to decide for sure.

So speaking of the Trans North Georgia, I think I will likely do it as long as I'm healthy. I wanted to race with a partner, but Chris said I should just man-up and go solo. I mean, we will have SPOT units tracking us at all times (kind of creepy actually), so its not like he won't know where I am. Introducing a partner introduces more delay and more potential for problems, so I'll probably take his advice and just ride solo.

I think this race is right up my follow a certain route, but I doubt it will be marked, so you still need to know which way to go. There are hike-a-bikes - love those..ok, so I don't LOVE them, but I'm good at them. I also think pre-planning will be key, so we don't have to ride with pounds and pounds of extra gear. Oh, and then there is the whole no sleep/very little sleep aspect..been there, done that plenty of times. I know from past experience that I'm good to go through one night no problem, but I may stop for a bit just to get out of the saddle. Most importantly, I have the best butt cream on the planet, which I will be applying liberally, so hopefully my ass will survive all those hours on the bike.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

2011 Race Bike?

Someone posted this on the SORBA Forum, so I couldn't resist...

That's right kids..a Wally World 29er. I am almost tempted to buy one just to see how much this puppy weighs and to see how long I could ride it before

a.) it falls apart
b.) I fall apart from riding something so heavy

Perhaps this will make a good father's day present for Chris...he's been looking at new bikes because I think he's too lazy to change a flat tire on his current bike.

Insert Motivation Here

I'm trying to get motivated for the 6 Hour Race at Fort Yargo this weekend. I've already registered and paid, so I guess I should make an appearance, but I'm worried I'll have a repeat of this past weekend. I did a couple of short rides this week and the legs seem fine, but there's no telling how my body will react 3 or 4 hours in. In an attempt to keep from working too hard, I'm going to ride my singlespeed for this race. It will also help keep my lap times more consistent, which will be a good thing. Keeping my fingers crossed that I'm well enough to finish this one.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Cohutta 65..aka Titanic Sinking

So I'm sitting here drinking massive amounts of water, trying to flush my system of whatever caused my full-on body meltdown at Cohutta...we're talking an eyeballs cramping, whole body tingling, can't pedal even on the downhills type of meltdown. The worst part was I had no indication that this was going to happen, since I felt pretty good all week.

The road start didn't feel great, but I had chalked it up to going from zero to hard effort in 6 seconds. I started to feel better towards the top, but I was still a minute slower than my pre-ride. Not a great sign. Once we hit Brush Creek, I started to feel better and just kept pace with the guy in front of me. I was working in the 160 HR range and it felt pretty good, even easy, and since there weren't riders stacking up behind us, I was pretty content. I made it to the Whitewater Center, still in second place, hoping to make up some time once the trail started to steepen. I was able to churn out the steep climb pretty well, but when I hit the double track up to River View, I could tell something was wrong. I went to stand up to crank out the low grade climb and my calf cramped and arms immediately started to tingle. WTF? I never get cramps and I spend enough time on my SS to be able to at least hold myself up on the bike. When I finally hit River View (where is that river view, by the way...), the only thing that was saving me was the fact that I was riding the singletrack well. When I popped out on the double track again, I still had no giddy-up and was sitting and spinning (slowly) instead of cranking. By the time I was out on the main FS road, I was already a couple of minutes down from my moderate pre-ride pace and 5 minutes off my predicted race pace. I was still hopeful though..

When I passed Chris, he said Danielle was only two minutes up. Impossible I say! (Actually I said I felt like I was crawling) My first thought was she must be having an off day, as I figured she'd be at least 10 minutes up from the pace I was going.

I plodded up the forest road and things progressively got worse. Guys kept passing me..I wondered how much longer it would take for girls to start coming by. I kept checking my rear tire, thinking it must be flat. I could barely push my middle ring and now the left side of my body was cramping up. I thought maybe if I busted into my Coke that I had at the drop station, it would make me feel better.

Let me just say that this was a highly inconvenient place to have a meltdown. I started up the Big Frog climb thinking the Coke would kick in and I would become superwoman. Nope. Inhaler puffs? Nope. I actually started to feel worse and pretty much died a slow death up the first big climb. First Ursula came by, then another girl I didn't know. I finally reached the downhill and then realized my legs were so jacked up I couldn't stand up or pedal much, so I basically just tried to stay out of everyone else's way. Namrita came by, then some others later on - I quit paying attention after a while.

From that point on, I'd get the tingles if I got my HR above 140, so I was moving at a snails pace. I had to get off my bike three times on the climb back up to the aid station. I was having serious issues and was thinking about how hard it would be for Chris to come rescue me.

I stayed at the aid station about 20 minutes, borrowing a cell phone and walking to the top of a hill to try to get reception to call Chris. I had to leave a message, so I told my friend Rob to tell Chris to come pick me up when he saw him before the last singletrack. After a few more minutes and assessing again what a pain in the ass it would be for Chris to drive down there, I got back on my bike and continued onward, thinking I would at least be making slow progress back towards the WWC.

With about 2 miles to go, the wind picked up and the thunder and lightening started. Whoopee! An exposed forest road is always where I'd like to be in those circumstances. Since Chris had to drive really carefully, I had already made it to FS 45 and was on my way down the hill when I saw him. I had already decided to bail, since I knew the last singletrack would likely kill me and the monsoon that started made the decision that much easier.

Given that my intensity was never that high, yet I was still having issues, my thought was that this whole miserable experience was diet related or heaven forbid due to a past lung inflammation problem that is resurfacing. Perhaps Thursday's Pad Thai??? Friday's guacamole?? Who knows and unfortunately I probably won't ever figure it out....though I probably won't eat the same stuff before the next race.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Dirty Spokes Tribble Mill Duathlon

Since I didn't do as hard of a workout as originally planned on Thursday, my coach thought it would be good to race at an off-road duathlon this weekend to get one last bit of force and intensity work in before Cohutta. The best part was that if I raced, I'd earn two days of recovery afterwards...whoo hoo!

I had never been to Tribble Mill Park, but assumed it was similar to Blankets or Fort Yargo since I had heard it was a trail maintained by SORBA peeps. In order to keep it fun and low-key, I brought my singlespeed 29er. Format was 3 mile run, 8 mile bike, 3 mile run.

The first run hurt me more than it should have. I didn't feel nearly as spry as at the Boling Park Trail Run, but then again I wasn't at the end of a recovery week either. Here I am at the run start, in a sea of dudes, as usual.

I didn't wear my watch, but checked the splits afterwards. I think I averaged 6:38 min/mile pace..and there were some long hills, so that may have been the reason I wasn't really enjoying the run too much! It seemed like it was taking forever to complete the three miles and I was surrounded by way too much testosterone, so I was anxiously awaiting the bike leg.

Once on the bike, my legs immediately felt happy as I cranked out the first small hill and passed two riders like they were standing still. I caught a guy who was riding a good pace and rode much of the lap behind him until he overshot at turn.

My gearing was a little on the easy side for the trail, but it allowed me to rest a lot on the descents and flats, which meant I had plenty of oxygen to be one of those annoying types who rides up and starts chit-chatting to those who are in front of them. The climbs went by fast since I could crank them out, though I wish there were more of them. As I came off the bike I believe I was 8th overall and the first woman by a good bit.

I was kind of dreading the second run, since the first one didn't feel very good. Thankfully, it felt like it went by much quicker (probably the reduced exertion level) and was a lot more pleasant. I picked off one more guy and finished the day 7th overall in the men's race and 1st of the women.

This was a fun event, didn't require much pre-planning or post-race cleanup, and we were back home just after lunch. The course was well marked and the trails were fast and flowy. Best of all, it wasn't an all day endeavor, so Jayden and Grandma could come along!

She is a perfect little angel...most of the time....

And she already seems to know that cute girls have an easier time getting what they want...

She was all excited about the first run and bike, but got bored waiting for me to come in on the second run. I'm sure she was cheering for me in her dreams..

Friday, April 16, 2010

Mulberry Gap - Day 3

The day started with the usual yummy breakfast. Chris was feeling like he was getting sick and I was kind of on the fence we just did a short, easy ride before packing up and heading home.

I really enjoyed Mulberry Gap. It was great to have ride in/ride out trail access and the meals were fantastic. There were a lot more comforts than if we would have camped. We would have appreciated our cozy cabin a lot more had it rained at all! The hot tub was nice and relaxing too! Definitely two thumbs up, as the folks at Mulberry Gap know how to cater to mountain bikers.

I originally had planned on a duathlon this weekend, but if I have the slightest hint of "getting sick" I'm going to skip it and just rest and recover for Cohutta next weekend.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Mulberry Gap - Day 2

Our day started with WAY more breakfast than I should have ever considered eating right before a ride....belgian waffles w/ strawberries and bananas, turkey sausage, and scrambled eggs...mmmm yummmy! Ginni sure knows her way around the kitchen!

I met Kim and we headed up to Lake Conasauga since I had never actually seen the lake before. Not terribly exciting, but glad I finally saw it. From there we headed down Tibbs. Since the bridge on CCC Camp Rd is out and we figured they'd be working on it because it was a weekday, we went down lower Tibbs until we hit the private property gate. We did a quick check for cars, dogs, and rednecks and after affirming that the coast was clear, we climbed around the gate and tiptoed through to the road. We headed back to Mulberry Gap and Kim headed to her car, while I made a bee line for my apple dumpling from the day before.

Later that evening I did a quick hour loop from Mulberry Gap to Pinhoti 2 and back and returned just in time to catch a shower before another scrumptious dinner. The best part was the chocolate brownies and ice cream for dessert! I didn't think it was possible, but I'm pretty sure I had consumed more calories than I burned in the first two days of our stay!

Mulberry Gap - Day 1

Since we weren't checking into Mulberry Gap until the afternoon, we headed to the Ocoee Whitewater Center to ride the first singletrack section of the Cohutta 65. While we were getting ready, Chris suggested that I just ride from the WWC to Mulberry Gap, while he drove the car around on the highway. That way I'd get a good long ride in, and I'd still get my apple dumpling that Chris could pick up on the way by the Mercier Orchard Store.

The first singletrack section went by pretty quick and felt pretty easy. Funny how what used to be my endurance race pace is now my steady ride pace. Once we hit FS 221, Chris and I parted ways...I started towards Mulberry Gap and Chris went towards ThunderRock. I think he got the better end of that deal....

This ride reminded me why I didn't sign up for the Cohutta 100...I'm not really crazy about the section along Tumbling Creek Road from the WWC to Dally Gap that climbs super gradually, but goes on forever and ever and ever. I had to fight boredom off, especially since we just rode that section of road at the Blue Ridge AR three days before.

Since my long ride was a spur of the moment decision, I didn't quite have enough food and I would have given someone the $20 in my pack for a Coke by the time I got over to Jacks River Fields Campground. Sadly no one was there...

I knew I had just a little over an hour left to ride, so I filled up my bottle at the spring on the way up to Mountaintown and churned out the rest of the ride. Once I hit Potatopatch, it was a quick downhill to a hot shower and hearty dinner at Mulberry Gap.

Our dinner consisted of pork tenderloin, sweet potatoes, rolls, salad, broccoli and cheese, and ice cream with fruit for dessert. It was a fantastic meal and the end to a good, hard day.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Blue Ridge Mtn Adventure Race

This years race start featured all three team members being dropped off in different locations and we would then converge on Horseshoe Bend Park via different modes of travel. We figured the solo paddle would be the limiting factor, so pre-race the plan was to not break a sweat on the run and bike to the park. Yeah right....

I opted for the more directionally intensive run since we didn't want James to get lost, and Kevin was the only one of us so who was proficient at paddling a canoe solo. The run started on a downhill, so it felt easy, but it seemed like the pace picked up pretty quickly. There were a couple of guys who went off the front and then a couple of girls came up to the front. By the time we hit Copper Hill, it felt like we were at 7:00 to 7:20 min/mile pace. I knew it was just a complete waste of energy, but the competitor in me couldn't stand the thought of seeing a punch of peeps in front (especially other women), so I kept my pace high, got all sweaty, and then had to stand around and wait once we got to the park. James had made it without issue as well, so it was 8:25 and all was well.

Kevin was the first paddler to arrive at the park, so we loaded up and headed out. Despite having 500+ lbs of weight in the boat, we didn't get stuck on any rocks and stayed in the fast water. The portage at the dam was a little tricky, as the water was up and there was a lot more current on the sides of the river. James took a step out of the boat and there was no footing beneath him, so he took an unexpected morning swim. Looking back, we probably could have easily run the dam since the water was up and the drop was much less than it was at Nationals a couple of years ago...but it appeared that those behind us were portaging too, so it really didn't matter. We kept the lead in our Penobscot until we hit CP2. We had to spend about two minutes searching around at the creek/RR intersection and by then a floatilla of kevlar boats had caught up to us. We still got out first but had the fleet of kevlar attack crafts right on our six. Somehow we managed to hold our own until the take out, and while we did eventually get passed by 3 kevlar boats, we maintained contact and kept within striking distance. We were 4th out of the water and then 2nd out on bikes.

Mmm...bikes - now it was our turn to dance. Within about a minute we took the lead on the bike section and quickly got out of sight. The next section of the course appeared to be the crux of the race, and had a variety of route choices and enough uncertainty to keep me up half the night. The big question was whether there was actually a trail from CP6 to CP7 and what condition it was in...

Based on pre-race planning, these were our options:

A) Ride bikes to CP5 and CP6, then come back out to the road. Ride to CP10, then CP9, then CP7 as an out and back, then ride to CP8, then continue on the singletrack ridgeline trail to pick up the bonus CP, then CP11. This eliminated the uncertainty of the "maybe trail" to CP7. I was secretly hoping that if there was a road or trail, that it was covered in a thatching of deadfall that would bring death by a thousand pokes to any teams that attempted to go through.

B)Ride bikes to CP5 and CP6. Then take a chance and pray trail continues to CP7 without some heinous bikewhack. Pick up CP7, ride to trail intersection, then pick up CP8 on foot, then ride to CP9 and CP10, then take FS Road to CP11.

I've taken gambles before and many times they haven't paid off, so we opted for Option A - hoping the conservative route might end up being the better way to go. Before I go any further, I'll just say right now that this was WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!

Back to the antics...Since we were just doing an out and back anyways, we dropped our bikes on the way to CP5. We picked up CP5 fairly quickly, but on the way to CP6, I somehow made a 90 degree error on my bearing and we headed up the wrong drainage. I don't know how this happened really, and in retrospect, you'd think we would just follow the creek or old roadbed..piece of cake, right? When we ended up on a ridgeline, we incorrectly assessed where we were (because there was just NO WAY we headed NE when we were supposed to be heading SE...) and reattacked into the wrong drainage. We kicked around there for a while, hoping to find a CP and trying to make sense of the map. I finally figured out where we actually were and we headed back up to the hilltop where we came from and reattacked again. The narrow ridgeline we were on looked nothing like the wide and flattish topo on the map, and I was about to bail again and just go back to CP5. Kevin convinced me to go a bit further and sure enough, there was the elusive CP6. We had just wasted 45 minutes though...ughhhh.

We ran back to our bikes and high-tailed it down the road to pick up CP10, then CP9. We then rode the out and back to CP7, knowing there was a good trail on the ridgeline. When we reached CP7, my heart sank when I saw the fantastic gravel road that came up, presumably from near CP6...double ughhhh.

So back out we went, having to see many teams coming through from the route that we did not choose, obviously following option B. After about 100 yards on the singletrack, we bailed on the idea of riding to CP8, and then just picked it up on foot and rode back to the road. After seeing the condition of the trail later on in the trek, this was probably the best decision we made all day.

We made it to the trek in 5th or 6th, feeling strong, but a bit frustrated with our route and me still wondering how I screwed up so bad at CP6. James forgot his running shoes, so he was wearing his Sidi's for the entire run, which I'm sure wasn't very pleasant. We picked up CP12 first, then the bonus CP, then CP15 and then CP14. We wasted 10 more minutes at CP14, as the plot seemed to be lower down in the reentrant, below a convergence of reentrants, rather than where it was hung along an old roadbed, further up the leftmost reentrant on the hillside.

I should know by now that this race generally involves what I call "in the ballpark nav" versus precise nav. The clues are generally more helpful in finding the points than the actual plots are on the map. Being reminded of this, we stayed on the trail to the next CP, since it was at another trail intersection. Right about the time I said, "Hey, keep an eye out for any trail intersections or old roadbeds coming in", we ran right past where the CP was hung. We hit the FS road, reassessed where we were, then attacked the CP again from the road up a rhodo-infested drainage where the point was plotted. I didn't mind crawling through the thickets, but my two giant 6'+ tall teammates were probably none too thrilled. We kicked around in some nasty $hit for about 30 minutes and about the time I was ready to raise the white flag, Kevin spotted an old roadbed. We followed it and it lead right to CP13. Another 20 feet and we were back at the same trail we had run down earlier. You have got to be f#%cking kidding me! Three ugghhhs and Enduraventure is OUT! The race gods were clearly NOT smiling down on us today!

So back down to the road and we ran it back into the bike drop, with James clicking along in his bike shoes. The only thing that made me feel better about that last CP is that another team that was near us ran right past it as well and was having to reattack the same way we did.

So we arrive back at the bikes, I think in 5th - which is amazing considering how poor our execution was on the previous two sections - then take off down the hill on our bikes. It was fun to bomb that downhill and when we hit the pavement, James had us motoring along at 30 mph..on mountain bikes! I'm happy to say that we did not have anything go horribly wrong on the last bike in, but we were a bit too far behind to catch anyone in front of us. Oh, and the ride on the RR tracks sucked a$$!

We finished 5th overall, which wasn't horrible considering how much time we left out on the course through mistakes and poor route selection. We DID have to work very hard to make up for all our hiccups, so I can't complain about not getting in a good workout.