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 : )