April 2006
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Month April 2006

it’s may

And that means 2 things: my birthday is coming up and I get to see a new page on my favorite calendar put out by IMBA. (for some reason, it isn’t up on their site right now – sold out maybe?) Anyways, May includes this quote by John Muir: The mountains call and I must go. I hear them too : ) and they will successfully tear me away from the bustling smoggy concrete jungle of Atlanta. As soon as I find a place to live, I will be moving over the border to Chattanooga. I was looking here and Asheville, letting the business opportunities sorta lead the way. Something quite promising has popped up in TN so there I will go and hopefully find/make success.

Tour de Georgia

The Tour de Georgia was back this week and finally I was in town and able to catch some of the action. On Thursday I actually spent the day up in Chattanooga, doing some stuff for work then enjoying the finish of stage 3, the individual time trial. The cyclists started in Chickamauga, GA and ended in downtown Chatty, about 40km. Then on Saturday Shelley and I drove up to Brasstown Bald, meeting Ken & John for the finish of stage 5. We parked on the back side of Jack’s Gap about a mile or so from the base of BB. Then we began the 5k, 2000′ climb to the top. A nice lil workout, but we were rewarded with passes to the VIP/Hospitality area that Shelley hooked us up with. Inside, we were treated to complimentary wine & beer, and a huge assortment of food, including chocolate covered strawberries, cheeses, shrimp, kabobs right off the grill, etc. Greg LeMond was also there (3-time Tour de France winner), signing posters. As the racers got closer (video feeds were set up everywhere), we found prime spots about 25m from the finish to see the action. And it was fabulous! Danielson and Landis flew by and I wasn’t quite ready with my camera. It was amazing to see them look so strong after that climb up. (I seriously think I’d go backwards if I tried it!)

After the awards, things were all downhill for me. Besides the hike all the way down, I started feeling sick. I hardly made it to my car before I was doubled over. The car ride was less than enjoyable too – damn curvy mtn roads. Ken was behind the wheel now and had to pull over several times for me. (John & Shelley followed, documenting the whole thing. I’ll elect to not post those photos here). The night was a long one and now 2 days later I’m still not right. I thought it was food poisoning, but 2 people over at WebMD have it too, so it must be a virus going around. Meanwhile I am quite miserable while I wait for it to go away. Anyways, more tour pics to come later, but here are a few:

Blue Ridge Mountain Adventure Race

The Blue Ridge AR is one of the banner events of the southeast. Now in it’s 9th year, it began more or less as an offroad multisport sprint race. While still considered a sprint, the race director has incorporated new territory and navigation to challenge us racers that continually want bigger & better. After sitting out last year to run support for some friends, I was anxious to get out there and race. Luckily I think my foot would cooperate!

I was racing with my good friends Sam & Ken for the first time as Blazing Saddles. Sam’s wife Mary Ester and dog Bella would act as our indispensible support crew. We met up in Blue Ridge for the pre-race dinner & meeting, then retired to our posh cabin to go over the maps, organize our packs, and take a pre-race hot tub dip (to loosen the muscles up of course).

Saturday morning we drove to the start near Skeenah Mill Campground. Luckily the horrible storms we had last night (high winds, hail, rain) cleared and we had just a fine mist and some fog to deal with. For the first checkpoint, racers could choose between 3 points to grab, each with it’s own set of pluses/minuses. We went for B, which included the most bushwacking, but was more direct in leading us to CP2. We continued on foot for several more points, getting them all pretty easily.

After about 3 hours, we rolled into TA1 to pick up our canoes. With the previous night’s storm, the river was running high and fast – although this was the same section paddled during the NGAR 2 weeks ago, Sam & Ken both said it looked VERY different. The rules stated that we had to put in within sight of the swinging bridge. Most teams chose to put in before the bridge; however, there were some mean looking rapids there flipping boats left and right. We instead walked downstream a bit, avoiding the rough waters. A wise choice as we stayed rightside up! We did pull over to bail the boat several times, as the rapids we encountered splashed us a good bit, but I am proud to say we did not go swimming once! (I heard of most teams flipping 2-3 times).

7 miles later we got to our next TA at Newport Bridge. Mary Ester, Lorna, Tony (our spin instructor finally experienced his first AR!) helped us out of wet clothing and got us on our bikes pretty quickly. We had a nice cruise on pavement until we reached a CP at Wilscot where we had to drop our bikes. We chose to not carry running shoes for this foot section (although I might have chosen differently – sure, it adds weight carrying extra shoes, but it may have sped up our time a little). We ran up the Benton Mackaye up to Free Knob, then down to Shallowford Bridge, where we encountered our first mystery events.
First we had to climb The Wall: a 12′ wall with a knotted rope. Sam went up first, then Ken hoisted me up and Sam grabbed me, not so gently yanking me over the top. Ken was on his own to scurry up until we could reach him . Unfortunately after a few attempts his energy was zapped, so we took the 15min penalty and moved on. Next we had to ford the Toccoa and grab a card hung from the bridge on the other side. It wasn’t very deep here (mid-thigh for me), but again post-storm current made things challenging. Ken & Sam initially tried to hoist me up to get the card, but it freaked me out and Sam had to do it. Then I got to crawl up the bank and K&S; had to ford back across the river to a net ladder thing that was hung from the bridge. Sam monkey’d on up, then we were on our way back to our bikes.

This next section was singletrack and probably the worst conditions we had seen yet. It got pretty muddy and being on a descent, I was a bit slower than the norm. I let a few people pass me, then one guy flew by, did a jump on a waterbar, and promptly wiped out upon landing. It was actually a nice mid-air somersault. I stopped to see if he was ok – negatory, as he held his shoulder and grimaced. Luckily one of his teammates in front turned around quick, but the other was long gone. I had to deliver the bad news to him at the bottom. (however, I think this team finished, so perhaps the injury wasn’t as bad as initially thought).

Soon we came to our next mystery event: a swim across part of Lake Blue Ridge. Yes, and take our bikes. There was a rope line set up to follow and we were given innertubes to lay our bikes on so they would not be submerged. But that means we were. And damn, was that water cold. Downright freezing. It had to be in the 50s or so and here we were in bike shorts and jerseys. I still had my arm warmers on which provided some protection, but after a .2mile swim (about 10-15 min when dragging our bikes carefully), there’s really no way to stay warm. Every part of you just felt constricted. At the other side, we got back on our bikes and had a nice climb up to the Turkey Farm to warm us up. There was an aid station with food/drink here, but the thought of it just made me sick. Then I had problems catching my breath, in a way unlike any I’ve experienced before. Ken could tell something was wrong, but I couldn’t really talk as I was just concentrating on getting a breath. This was freaking me out a bit which of course didn’t help matters. (was this what a full-on asthma attack was like? i get the wheezing a decent amount, but this was unreal. and of course I didn’t have my inhaler with me.) I couldn’t drink either, as my stomach would just tense up and I had some “unpleasant” burps coming forth. For the next 45 min I wasn’t quite myself. The only thing kept me going was knowing we were doing pretty ok so far (15th at the CP after the Turkey Farm) and the cute boy in the UGA jersey that we were yoyo-ing with.

Next up on the bikes was the Green Mountain Trail. After a nasty hike a bike uphill, it was a nice singletrack section until we tried to bow out early and came to a new neighborhood (with INCREDIBLE cabins) with unexpected roads. After realizing our mistake, we finally made it to the last bike CP when the rain came. Luckily we just had a road ride to downtown, then we dropped our bikes and ran to the square where we encountered a twist to the classic finish: There was a bit of a balancing obstacle course we had to get thru before the slippery mountain. First there was a 2×4 above us that we had to use our hands to get across (without touching the ground). My upper body strength for this modified monkey bar was nada, but luckily someone suggested I throw my feet over and shuffle across. Success (luckily with no splinters!) Next we had to walk across a 2×4 (skinny side up) then hoist ourselves over the top of the slipper mountain (a 12′ wall set at a 45degree angle, coated with soap). We slid down safely then ran across the finish line in 7:46:11 – We had predicted our time the night before at 7:50 (and wrote it on our map too) – great estimating of the course Sam! With our penalty, our official time was 8:10:11, good enough for 14th overall and 11th in the co-ed elite division. A great finish for my first race back!

The rest of the evening was spent eating mexican, kicking back in the hot tub a few times and watching the Wedding Crashers. A fabulous weekend all around!

a new toy

not racing related, but it will help me get my work done faster so i can play more (be it outside, or online with bbom or tbarc stuff). next toy is a new digital camera.. hopefully before i catch some of the tour de georgia next week!

also, i’m finally back online as of last night – yeah!

River Gorge Run

2 weekends ago was the big test for me: am I ready to race again? I have already pulled out of 2 big races this season to let my foot heal and with a few more on the horizon (and a green light from the doc), it was time to test things out. I drove up to Chattanooga Friday night to attend an AIGA event (graphic design), then crashed at a friend’s place so I could run in the River Gorge Trail Run Saturday morning. My plan was to just run the shorter distance (a 6.5 and 10.2 mile course was available), take it somewhat easy, and see how I felt.

I set off around the back of the first third of racers. After a short FSR section, we turned onto some singletrack and headed into trees. Soon enough we started a steep descent, a bit slick after all the rain the night before. Then we got our climbing on. and then some. I had been holding my own up till this point, but then began to yoyo back and forth with a few runners as my breathing got the best of me (at least the foot was feeling fine!). I guess after not doing much cardio for the past 7 weeks, something was going to go downhill a bit. Plus, this was the warmest weather we’d had to date and the humidity was high. Of course I could have slowed down and not tried to race… but something inside just doesn’t want to sit back.

At the almost halfway point I was hurting. I saw Jim there which gave me a bit of a push, but in general I felt a bit lightheaded and sick. We hit another FSR here with some steep grades – a good place to slow, lengthen my stride, and stretch my muscles a bit. This section I had never seen before; most of the rest I had run previously. Finally a nice descent put some pep in my step and thoughts of the finish kept me going. I knew we were getting near the end and I could hear some voices coming up behind me, which was enough to push me to the top of the hill and the finish line. Exhausted, but I did it with basically no pain. (now to work on the rest of my body!)

I ended up finishing in 41/102 overall, and 11/43 in the women’s division (time: 1:17:10). Not too bad for all the walking I did. I really think under normal circumstances I could have easily saved 10min, which would have put me in the top 5. A goal for next year!

Here are 2 pics Robert took out there…