February 2006
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Month February 2006

thumbs up!

dr julien finally called me this afternoon confirming some good news: there is no fracture! it is likely that i have a bone bruise, but am not at risk for anything further. he has cleared me to do anything that feels ok, including the race next weekend. now i have a big decision ahead of me. i plan to take the weekend to get used to putting full pressure back on my heel and if all goes well, try a light run on Sunday or Monday. i don’t want to jump into something too soon and risk my spring season, but the doc wouldn’t give me his blessing unless he felt solid. my fingers and toes are crossed!


so i’ve been injected with some radioactive materials and am chilling at panera waiting the mandatory 3 hrs before it seeps deep enough into my bones to show up (or rather, hopefully NOT show up) on the bone scan. soon i’ll be glowing like mr. burns. meanwhile, i am sipping coffee, designing some banner ads for The Raid World Championships for CPZ and eavesdropping on the exciting lives of all the housewives here in suburbia. (time for some ipod action.)

bittersweet defeat

The first race of the season came 1 month late: originally scheduled for mid-January, Odyssey had to move their One Day Xtreme to mid-February due to permitting issues. I’m not sure if this worked in our favor or not. Daniel and I were able to get Tony Berwald on our team – great, since he knows the Blue Ridge/Blairsville area well from the races he puts on there. However, with Tony comes his curse of weather. True, the SMAR this past October was pretty decent, but in general, his races have been notorious for bad weather (SMAR1 cancelled due to hurricane damage, with the rescheduled race called due to an April blizzard; NGAR1 snowstorm, NGAR2 rain showers…)

Destiny was not on our side. The balmy winter we’ve been having took a turn to traditional frigidness a few days before the race. Race check-in Friday night at Vogel State Park was chilly and drizzly. The drive up revealed snow on the hidden side of the mountains. I knew I’d be seeing this up close real soon. Check-in went very smoothly and it was good to catch up with people I haven’t seen in awhile (Chilton is growing up so much!). After the pre-race meeting we dashed to our hotel to plot points and pack for the morning. We realized that we had no contact paper to waterproof the maps, so I dashed out to grab some. What I didn’t realize was how small mountain towns close up shop early. 10:15pm, and everything was closed! We’d have to be super careful now… around 12:30am, lights were out.

4:45am, alarms went off. Amazingly I got a few good winks. We got dressed and dashed out at 5:15. The start location, a nearby marina at Lake Nottely, was only a few miles away. We still managed to take a wrong turn which did nothing to settle the butterflies in my stomach. We were however one of the first teams on the water to line up for the start. As soon as the 27 teams were in, go wasa yelled, and the paddling began. The cove narrowed before emptying into the main channel, so we hung back a bit and just followed the teams out. It was 6am, still pitch black out, and a light drizzle/sleet falling; no need to take a swim this early! We paddled for a bit and saw some teams coming back at us.. however, they said the lake ended ahead with no CP. Hmm… we found a channel going in another direction, and everyone went that way. We proceeded paddling up a river to a bridge where the CP was to be. But with 15 teams scrambling around looking, it became evident we were not in the right spot. I’ll jump ahead a bit and simply say that in the hustle and bustle of the start, everyone seemed to miss the small curve coming out of the marina where the actual lake went. Basically, we all went the wrong direction (well, all but the 2 teams that got to the start late and actually looked at their maps). This was an embarrassing and ridiculous way to start the race, not to mention tiring as we wasted about 2.5 hrs!

The rest of the paddle went uneventfully for the most part. We did come across a team (ironically called Conspiracy) that was portaging across a sandbar. It was clearly stated in our passports, as well as verbalized in our pre-race meeting) that portaging was NOT allowed. We were frustrated and told the race director Ronny when he pulled up near us in his pontoon boat a little while later. His response: “oh, that’s not what I meant.. because that’s normally under water.” Our jaws dropped. He had not declared any contingencies or other intentions in his rules. We hoped he would make the right decision regarding that team, and paddled on. Because we wasted time earlier, our paddle was much longer than expected and my body started to wear out. My muscles inbetween my shoulders were knotting up and causing much pain. We were all cold and the TA couldn’t come soon enough. As we pulled our boat out, I’m scared to see the look on my face that the race photographer likely captured… definitely not a kodak moment. Lorna (a friend and fellow racer that was running support for another team) immediately helped me out of my wet outerwear (luckily my gear kept me pretty dry) and put my in their truck with the heat blasting. Hot cocoa and cheesey instant potatoes warmed me up.

The next leg was biking. We bundled up and hit the road around 11th place, feeling remarkably refreshed. We were on some roads for a bit, trying to find an elusive path/dirt road that would take us to Chestnut Gap. There was a newly made lake where our road was supposed to be, so eventually we went behind a church and saw a nice little sign “Bike” pointing us the right way. Once back in the woods, a maze of roads challenged us. Up here there was probably about 2 inches of snow on the ground, enough to show where people ahead of us had gone. Sometimes this is helpful; othertimes it makes it hard for you to make your own decision… and after this morning’s paddling mistakes, we chose our route carefully. The rest of the bike went pretty well. At Chestnut Gap, we had moved into 7th place. We proceeded down some forest service roads and got to enjoy sleet hitting our face at 20+mph – not fun, even when I had a balaclava and glasses covering 90% of my skin. We caught up to Snickers Marathon during a portion of the ride and hung with them most of the way to TA2. We arrived there around 5:15pm in 5th place and feeling great!

Our support crew (friends of Daniel’s) has been doing a fabulous job so far… they had the EZup tent up, clothes hanging and drying, hot food ready to go and was ready to help in any way possible. They kept us on task and didn’t let us dilly dally much, keeping our momentum going. We headed out on the trek after 15 minutes in transition. This section, nearly entirely on the Benton Mackaye Trail, was going to be challenging and certainly snowy with the elevation we would gain. Luckily we got about an hour of daylight to enjoy the surroundings. Tony answered a question I had asked earlier: “This is why we race in the winter.” No doubt. It was a wonderland. The climbs on the trail were tough and we enjoyed running the flats and downhills. This was the first time I’ve run in the snow and an interesting experience. There was about 3-6″ on the ground, with drifts I estimate of 8-10″. I wiped out a few times, but had a soft landing luckily.

As night fell, my energy took a bit of a dive too. The cold prevented me from eating what I should. I was only drinking enough because if I didn’t keep the water moving in my camelbak every 5 minutes, it was freezing up. My running turned into more of a shuffle, but we kept the forward movement up. The guys were helpful in giving my pack a push during some of the climbs. I had turned down a tow for a bit (i had some slight nausea and didn’t want to puke on my teammates), but once we came up on Rhodes Mtn, I gladly accepted. We gained 1000′ in about 1 mile and was greeting with increasing wind gusts at the top. We traveled the ridgelines for a bit unable to escape the wind which sucked. Soon we came upon Licklog Mtn (last visited during the ’05 NGAR). I knew we were then 4miles from our next TA, but I also knew this would be a tough hike out. We took it carefully and fina
lly made it into TA3 at Skeenah Mill Campground shortly before 1am.

Here we learned we were now in 4th place, as Snickers chose to withdraw. With one of the top teams being 2person male, that meant we were in 3rd place in the co-ed elite division. WOW! This news knocked the sleepmonsters out of me and got me jazzed. Tony was now in a bit of a low point and needed some major warming up. I got the heaters in the women’s bathroom cranked up full blast and gathered the guys to dethaw and get into warm dry clothes. Tony took a nap (which looked so nice I took a 10min “rest” (as I can’t really nap well). Tony & Daniel went to get some new course revisions while I finished getting ready (which seemed to take an abnormally long time… not sure if it was sleepiness, chilliness, or just trying to super prepare for the final section, which would be a long, tough one).

We left around 3am on our bikes as the snow started to fall again and I immediately discovered all the important stuff was frozen: I had no brakes and no front/rear derailleur. This was the first time this has happened to me and although I’ve asked around to all my maintenance guys, no one seems to have an answer on how to prevent/fix this. I kept moving things and got my brakes to about 50% and manually adjusted my gears to something I thought might work ok (around 2/4). Daniel & Tony also had shifting problems, so the ride to the next CP was a lot of stop & go. It was all familiar territory and really should have taken us no more than an hour; but these 8 miles took nearly 2.5. When we got to CP10, we quizzed Ed (the official there) on what the next section entailed. While we felt fine, we knew the condition of our bikes would cause us to move slowly. Our route took us up and over Mulky Gap, a significant climb & descent which would mark the approximate halfway point to our next CP. Seeing the snowfall pick up where we were (it was now accumulating on our bikes), we knew on top of the gap it could be much worse. We quizzed Ed at what lie between us and the next CP, in case of emergency. He confirmed there was nothing and reiterated our important our decision was. We tried to contact the race director to see if any new changes had been made to the course in light of the coming storm, but we apparently were in a hole with no communication via radio or cell. After much deliberation, we decided to play it safe and withdraw at this point. Ed drove Daniel back to the last TA to get our support crew… by the time he came back (just 4 miles down the road), their tire marks on the road had already been covered by the falling snow. Yeah, we made the right decision.

We spent the next few hours huddled in the womens bathroom trying to sleep and stay warm (although every 15 minutes the heater turned off so I had to get back up). Bill & Alisa were volunteers at the TA and whipped us up a fabulous breakfast in their camper, with fresh coffee, OJ, donuts, toast, sausage (for the meat eaters), and eggs fresh off their farm. Refreshed, we packed up our stuff and headed on to race HQ.

(then my awful car-pushing incident occurred. I mean really. nearly 24 hours racing in the conditions you just read, and I don’t even get a scratch. then, in my post-race delirium, I get my foot run over. not a very glamorous story.)

The Conclusion:
Despite the late injury, I was still elated with our performance. No one had passed us or went beyond CP10, so we deduced we were basically the 4th team overall and the 3rd co-ed team. I had a strong race for the most part, my teammates were fabulous (both helpful, encouraging, focused and fun) and our virgin support crew was simply amazing (thanks to Robby & Christy for the pictures you see here!) Then, a few days later, Odyssey updates the leaderboard with some unexpected twists: while we were down as a DNF, the 3 teams behind us listed as official finishers; the RD cited poor weather conditions, causing him to close the course. We cited those exact same reasons when choosing to withdraw. And had we been able to contact the RD, perhaps our end fate would have been different too. Even today, over a week after the race, I’m hearing of new changes to the “final” standings that make me question Odyssey even more. The event itself was great; however, poor decision regarding immediate enforcing of the rules has now led to what seems even poorer decisions in changing standings this late in the game. I agree with a short time of protest, but 9 days is a bit overkill. This has opened my eyes up once again to the importance of finetuning the rules before the racers see them, clarifying as much as possible during the meeting, then making official rulings quickly and consistently. I feel I’ve learned a lot from this race and I’m really hoping that the events I’m involved with this summer are as close to flawless as possible.

new use for the aircast

ollie’s new scratching post!

first pic from the new phone…not too shabby! my other died last week.. :(

being off my feet this past week has been hard. i’m trying to take advantage of it to get ahead (or catch up?!) on some work for the trailblazers and checkpoint adventures (i have 3 races i’m involved in making happen, so that takes up some good time!) i’m actually about to head out for a paddle with tim (teammate for the woodstock race). lovely weather to do so in – 30 degrees. yikes! it actually might be a little colder than the race last weekend! but it is dry out, thankfully.

i survived the weekend!

i’m still catching up on sleeping, eating and dethawing my body, so a full report is forthcoming. the weekend was wonderful, the race well organized and my teammates & support crew simply kicked ass. we battled rain, sleet, snow and frozen mud. luckily we had no injuries during the race… but leave it to me to get injured after the race. daniel’s car wouldn’t start, so tony and i helped out with some pushing. well, i somehow didn’t have my foot in the right spot and his jeep ran over my heel. i was more shocked at what happened than in pain. what’s funny is that there was an ambulance behind us when it happened. i went to see dr. julien (again) and x-rays showed nothing broken. YEAH!! what a close call. another inch and my ankle would likely have been shattered. it looks like i just have a bad bone bruise. i am sporting a very sexy walking aircast for the next week while i hang low. if it’s feeling better by the weekend, i can do some road cycling (on the road bike i don’t have)… and will hopefully gain clearance to run at next week’s checkup. he expects me to be able to do the woodstock 24hr race coming up – fingers crossed!

here’s a quick race shot… heading off from TA1….

another pic i grabbed from the brasstown cam. this was taken sunday afternoon – this is pretty much what it looked like later saturday night and sunday morn.

the view from above

the forest service has some webcams atop brasstown bald – i don’t think we’ll be here, as the surrounding area is designated wilderness (and therefore doesn’t allow events like ours), but this is close to where we’ll be. the pictures (grabbed from the cam) were from around 4pm this afternoon. i don’t think we’ll see the sun like this all weekend unfortunately.

North Cam
South Cam

looking south

getting ready for an x-treme weekend…

in every sense of the word. I’m kicking off the ’06 season with the Odyssey 1-Day X-treme Adventure Race this weekend: 30 glorious hours wandering through the Chattahoochee National Forest in North Georgia. The weather lately has been unseasonably warm; a dream to train in! But of course mother nature has to throw the winter wild card at us. It looks like the coldest temperatures of the season will converge on us. Lows in Blairsville are predicted at 21F Saturday night. That’s the town, in the valley… knowing how sadistic race directors are, we’ll tend to be at much higher elevations for the duration – so what, another 8-10degrees colder? And sure, throw in some of those nice nippy wind gusts that will surely greet us on the ridges. Right now there is a 30% chance of rain/snow. I’m hoping for the white stuff… A) it’s exciting for me and B) nothing is worse that cold cold rain. I’m in for quite an extreme treat as you can see!

I am excited though… my teammates Tony & Daniel are great guys and lots of fun. Tony is the director of the SMAR & NGAR races that I’ve done in the past (with NGAR #2 coming up in March), so he knows this area pretty well. Daniel is a senior at UGA, a young whippersnapper with tons of energy. Despite the fact he is a bulldawg fan, he’ll be a great teammate.

It’s way too late for me to be up, but somehow I always get super busy the week before a race or vacation. Not that I need this extra stress, with gear to sort, clothes to figure out and food to plan for. I hope I can sleep tonight… tons of nervous energy running through me….

A bit about the race (we really don’t know much more… that’s part of adventure racing: the unknown).
approximately 115 miles total, including
-15-18 miles paddling
- 75 miles mountain biking
- 20 miles trekking
- navigation throughout

Get Live Updates! We’re Team UnderDawgs….
We will be having live updates on our leader board for the One Day Xtreme. The leader board will be available to view on our website Friday night before the race. Have your friends and loved ones go to http://www.oarevents.com/event.asp?id=65&catID;=1. This will take them to the One Day Xtreme page. In the right hand orange block, there will be a leader board tab to click on. The leader board will be updated as soon as the information comes in from the checkpoints.

the doc’s report

i’ve been having these random sharp pains in my right ankle for a few months now. it’s just a sharp lil YEOWSERS, then it’s over and everything is fine. i figured it was due to the shoes i was wearing to work sometimes (possible culprit = black boots), so i retired them hoping it would go away; not the case. i’ve sort of ignored it as it has never bothered me during my training. lately the pain has been happening more, so i went to visit dr. perry julien (one of the best sports podiatrists around)… his assessment: a subluxing peroneal tendon. he took a quick look, applied some pressure that i had to resist, then said something like “hey cool! shelley, check this out.” (shelley is friend/fellow training buddy, that is his assistant). the problem was quite clear to see: the peroneal tendon has been basically dislocated and is riding atop my ankle bone; normally, it should be positioned behind/below the joint. an xray confirmed all. the little groove under the ankle that basically guides the tendon is all but nonexistent.

so now what?
well, maybe nothing. as long as it continues to be relatively dormant, i can likely forego any treatment.. just some interim icing as needed. however if it decides to rear its ugly head and cause me mucho pain, then surgery is the only option (and not exactly a minor one at that; i’d likely be off my foot for 3 months).

so meanwhile, i will give my ankle much love. at least now i have a doctor’s note to stay away from all those girly, pointed, heeled shoes that i despise so much! :-)