April 2005
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Month April 2005

open water

after waking up to thunderstorms which forced the cancellation of our final scheduled open water swim (which was to be my first, believe it or not), i was able to get with 2 other triathletes (crispin & david) in the late afternoon for an icey dip into lake lanier. WOW. my feet went numb in a minute. i wished i had a full wetsuit, instead of the sleeveless one recommended. i danced around on my tippy toes, trying to delay the inevitable. finally i took a deep breath and dove under. instantly, my breath was gone… the cold water seemingly compressing my chest, forcing any air out. my first lap was rather messy: my
breathing was shallow, forcing me to come up every 2 strokes instead of 3; i was rushing my stroke, which probably didn’t help the breathing situation… took in a few mouthfuls of lovely lake water; and my siting was a bit off – those buoys look quite tiny when you are sea level! my second lap ended up being much better… took my time, evened out my stroke, which in turn improved my breathing a ton. we were freezing and called it a day after that. i was bright pink, david was turning a bluish purple, and crispin – well, he just stayed black ;-) while i only swam about 400m, i’m definitely glad i got a chance to get in the water for a swim before heading down to panama city beach (and glad i got another chance to practice squeezing in to that damn wetsuit!).

SERC Race at Tanasi

josh and i got up to tanasi saturday afternoon in time for some pre-riding. WOW!! first, the drive from chattanooga to ducktown was absolutely gorgeous. the trailhead at the whitewater center definitely unique and cool to watch. and then there was the trail….DOUBLE WOW! i think this is the best trail i’ve been on! scenic, beautiful, not too technical, the downhills quite manageable by moi, and i looooved the climbing. totally my type of course!

sunday: woke up to fat snowflakes dusting everything – lovely! luckily not a repeat of the SMAR snowstorm though…they didn’t stick around for long, but the wind that would follow for the rest of the day kept it downright frigid. the race started, and as always, i watching longingly as the riders took off. (gosh i can’t wait to make enough money to race more!) i froze for the next 2 hours as i walked around and waited (and hopefully took some cool pictures). josh looked good finishing, but said it was a hard race (seems to be a common theme with several people i talked to… RacerX from BOD definitely agreed!)

in short, this SERC race was well run and as stated previously, the course amazing. i highly recommend it to all!

AR vs IM vs TdF

came across this interesting look at who is tougher, an adventure racer, ironman triathlete, or tour de france cyclist… an interesting question, with my first half-ironman coming up in just over 2 weeks. i’ll let you know what i figure out! (initial thoughts…can’t really get into the mind of the tour…. with AR, there are so many things to consider, from multiple disciplines to your unknown surroundings to length of the race, lasting days sometimes… with the IM, the intensity seems unnaturally high for the duration, so that is tough. overall, i’d have to go with AR, although right now the 1/2IM does scare me a bit!

kickin’ it into high gear

well today ended up being one of those days where you just want to bury
yourself in something. so training it will be i ‘spose. thankfully i’m
feeling better (maybe 80% now, but the doc gave me the go ahead to do
what i want if i feel up to it). gulf coast countdown: 3 weeks. yikes.

Spring Fever

a gorgeous sunday and i am unfortunately missing what was supposed to
be my first open water swim with Team in Training. i came down with the
flu (or some other bad virus) last week… 102 temp, aches & chills
that made it seem like my skin was peeling back. i couldn’t eat (and
hardly drink) for nearly 3 days. misery! and on top of that, i got pink
eye and can’t wear my contacts for a week. i think i’ll try and get to
the doctor tomorrow to see what’s up… apparently there are a few
things going around, 1 that needs to be treated with antibiotics. the
nurse over the phone said this tends to last 1 to 7 or 8 weeks.
definitely not what i wanted to hear. terrible timing, as i was hoping
to spend this and next weekend on the road/in the water, getting ready
for the triathlon. i’ve felt fine up to this point, but missing this
weekend actually starts to make me nervous. fingers crossed this clears
up soon!

SMAR ’05: Mudpuddles & Snowflakes

First, I should tell a bit of Raceday’s history. Yes, they put on fabulous races. Yes, they always sell out. But they are known to be in cahoots with Mother Nature. NGAR’03 occurred right after a snowstorm, with 6″ of snow on the ground and temperatures ranging from -4F to 28F. In ’04, the weather was a bit warmer, but filled with rain, mud, and sleet/snow at higher elevations. ’05, my year to finally race, was freakishly gorgeous… still down to freezing, but dry with sunshine. People wondered how this fab weather snuck thru. We now know. She saved it all for the inaugural SMAR.

After a gorgeous spring week, strong thunderstorms were predicted for the Cullowhee NC area. My team, 3 Blind Mice, drove up together, arriving at check-in around 2pm. A bit of rain & fog on the way up, but clearing as we drove north. Registration went smoothly and it was like a reunion, seeing old friends everywhere. We had time to grab a bite of dinner before the pre-race mtg at 6pm. Maps were handed out afterwards and the plotting fun began! We grabbed a spot in the hotel dining area, as the rain had now found it’s way to us. After plotting our points, selecting our initial routes, and waterproofing our maps, we headed to the race start on Lake Glenville.

10pm: Race time! A light rain was falling, but we felt lucky the severe thunderstorms (w/large hail!) predicted had not come. Doug and I got the canoe ready and waited for Mike to run down with the passport. We’re off! We had planned to hit the furthest CP first, but once we started paddling, we seemed to go with the pack, attacking the 4 CPs counter clockwise. We headed across the lake and was greeted by strong gusts of wind. The lake had swells of 1-1.5′ – I’m a bad judge of stuff like that, but they seemed rather large for a lake. Our boat made loud smacking noises when hitting them and I’m certain Doug got quite wet (although we all had on waterproof pants & jackets). One early scare came as a gust of wind rocked our boat, causing me to catch my breath. Luckily we maintained our balance and was soon within a protected cove on our way to our first CP. At one point fairly early on, the race director Tony came by in a motorboat, asking our thoughts on the safety of being out there. It really didn’t seem that bad at the time. Sure, not easy paddling, but a bit of rain & wind wasn’t that bad, was it??

The next 3 came relatively easily as we hugged the shore to avoid the wind (couldn’t do much to avoid the steady rain though, now mixed with some sleet). The CPs were in great locations – each at the 3 waterfalls that feed the lake. It was sorta weird paddling at night, towards these thundering sounds. I knew it was water falling into the lake, but I still couldn’t help thinking that maybe we were getting close to the edge of going over… On the way back after grabbing our last punch at CP1, we again experienced the wind… it caught us on the side and rocked us hard. Luckily we didn’t capsize. It would not have been pretty if we did, as the shore wasn’t close at the time. (unfortunately, a few teams did capsize but luckily no one suffered any injuries.)

At 2:25am we arrived back at the start, where we transitioned to mountain biking. I grabbed my clothes bag and ran to the slightly heated bathrooms to peel off my wet clothes (even with the waterproofed gear, water ran down my arms soaking me to my elbows and my feet were blocks of ice). Feeling a million times better, I ate my new favorite hot race food: instant potatoes with velveeta cheese packets. Also ate a PBJ and drank a Red Bull – to prohibit the sleepmonsters from coming at me while on the bike. Then I learned that Doug decided to not continue (not really sure why, but he just wasn’t feeling quite right). Mike and I elected to continue on unofficially. Down to 2 Blind Mice…

After a dreadfully long transition, we left at 3:39am. (Hey, we were already unofficial. Besides, we were warm, full, and awake.) We were to follow a short mandatory route for a bit but somehow misread the road signs and missed our turn. This cost us about 45 minutes. Back on track, we enjoyed some forest service roads for a bit with 2 teams from RecruitMilitary.com. Well, enjoyed until the rain and wind picked up. Gusts nearly blew me off my bike. At dawn, the rain turned to sleet – at least it bounced off you instead of soaking you. Once at CP6 (Panthertown Trail system), we realized we were missing a detailed map of the trails. I asked some guys near us if they had it. yes. Score! oh, but their other maps suffered water damage. Ah, but ours were waterproofed. A match made in heaven! We hung out with them, Team Festina Lente (Make Haste Slowly), 3 fun guys from Asheville.

This section of the course was mostly singletrack. As we climbed in elevation, the sleet changed to snow, which of course I loved. It wasn’t sticking yet, as everything was so wet. The ground was quite a mudfest, wearing down everyone’s brakes. I was rather impressed with my riding though, as I usually slip, slide, then fall in mud. I think I was just too tired to tense up, so I had an easy hold on the bike and just trusted it to go through. (and it did! amazing!) After touring this area for 2 hours (my favorite section of the race – lots of beautiful scenery and overlooks), we hit CP7 which set us off on another section of windy forest service roads. We were having such a good time talking, we blew right by CP8. For some reason we had it in our heads that it would be manned, so we were on the lookout for a car. Once our FSR hit a paved road, we knew we had gone too far. After discussion, we figured it best to go back and get that point to have an unofficial finish for us / and an official finish for Festina, rather than a DQ for missing it. In our backtracking, 8 teams must have passed us. OUCH! oh well. (I think this cost us a bit over an hour.) What really sucked was how painfully obvious the flag was. Painful.

Our ride to CP9 was slow going. The wind was gusting and the snow accumulating. Luckily the paved road wasn’t a frozen sheet of ice yet and we made it safely to Balsam Lake Lodge, soon to be known as the Cabin of Shame. Thoughts of real bathrooms and heated rooms had kept us positive; however only teams that were dropping out were allowed to enjoy the benefits of electricity. The 5 of us huddled on the slightly sheltered porch, discussing our options: we could push onward to the next transition area (CP14) and then continue on the shortest alternate course that would lead us to a finish. The weather showed no signs of letting up. Race officials and the rescue squads informed of conditions above. We were to climb from about 4200′ to 4800′ where the weather worsened… reports of wind gusts up to 70mph, temperatures dropping well below zero, 6″+ of snow expected in addition to what was already up there. Hmmm… we actually wavered on this decision for 30 minutes. Then teams started radioing ahead of us.. from CP10 & 12, saying they could not go on and were turning back. Decision made. We would withdraw. It was a very difficult decision, but one made from necessity. It was our lives we were talking about.

The weather continued to worsen (with reports of snow drifts up to 2′ high!) and Tony was forced to call the race at 7pm that night. The unexpected weather was not something anyone was prepared for and we needed no tragedies this weekend. In all, people definitely walked away with lots of adventure, and perhaps a few frozen tingly parts to remember the weekend by. I learned a lot and believe it or not, had fun the entire time.

SMAR2 will be coming up later this year, probably around October. Many of us will be back seeking revenge!

Team Amino Vital

I mentioned a few weeks back some big news… well, maybe not huge, but cool for me. I applied for an Active.com sponsorship and was selected by Amino Vital to be on their sponsored team! My sponsorship started April 1st and runs for 1 year. I should be receiving samples of their product (an amino acid sports performance supplement, mostly in beverage form) along with some very cool looking gear to train & race in. Also, if I get media coverage I can make a few bucks too (which means I can then race more! So contact me if you are involved with media and hook me up!) Meanwhile, I’m listed on their website, although I don’t know why I’m in the running category. While I’m not exactly a triathlete, at least the multi-sport aspect is a bit closer to me.