March 2007
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Month March 2007

Velo Vixens!

Oh yeah… guess I haven’t said it yet. I joined the new women’s road cycling team here. Several of the gals I ride with are on it, so I thought I’d support the cause. Plus it will be a great way for me to learn more about road cycling in general and get comfortable with the many problem areas I have (like descending & drafting). And maybe even try out a race or two! (Hey, I have to try something new this year!)

Raisin Hope with the Vixens

Today a bunch of the Velo Vixens headed down to Dalton, GA to participate in the Raisin Hope Charity Ride. The event was organized by local pro cyclist Saul Raisin (team Crédit Agricole) to benefit the Shepherd Center, a spinal cord injury rehab hospital down in Atlanta that was crucial in Saul’s recover from a serious bike crash overseas last April. Riders could choose from 3 ride lengths: 13, 35 & 50. Of course, we opted for the 50 miler, which included the climb up Fort Mountain.

Dalton is only 30 minutes south, so we drove down that morning. Unfortunately we weren’t ready to make the 8am start with the group. We didn’t have to start then, but this was my first road cycling event and I thought it would be cool to do so. I got a bit ancy, but once we starting rolling, all was good – and it was fun to pass people of course :) I had to get in the mindset that this was an event, not a race!

We had a 14mile warmup before we started the climb. Dalton sits around 800′, with the summit of Fort Mtn a bit over 2800′. Luckily the grade was very doable and I just spun it on up (afterall, wasn’t I still in recovery mode from the CPZ AR last weekend?!) It went on forever, but really wasn’t as bad as I had expected! (When Rebecca & I drove over it on our way to Helen I was getting a bit concerned). The group reconvened up top before beginning the descent (which was the same route we had just climbed). Going down was ok, but I still get freaked out with speed. The switchbacks weren’t too bad so I was able to let loose a bit more than normal. Still, I was the last one down! (but I was the first one up… so does that count for something?!) That descent really took a lot out of me (funny, as most people relax here! me, just stress + tension…). We had another 20 miles to go and I started to drag on a bit. I have trouble with the whole drafting/paceline thing, so I was usually fighting the wind myself. With about an hour to go, I got a bad pain at the bottom of my neck / inbetween my shoulders that lowered my spirits a bit. (It’s not an unusual thing – had it a few times last weekend during the paddle and toward the end of long biking sessions). But regardless of these little downers, getting to the finish was great. In fact, the whole day was pretty amazing. After the ride, a big bbq was served (ok, so not my ideal lunch, but I can still appreciate it), great items raffled off, and tents from vendors to peruse. Pro cyclists Kevin Livingston & Nathon O’Neill were also present. The Vixens tracked down Saul to get a quick pick before headed back home (we had a booth at the Outdoor Expo going on at Coolidge Park).

> see more pics here

a quick report….

The Checkpoint Zero Adventure Race went well and my team, Charbon’s Outfitters, kicked some ass out there. We ended up finishing in 11th place in the coed elite division, after racing for 29.5hrs and nailing all but 3 checkpoints. a full race report will come soon – meanwhile, here is one pictures from race photographer Will Ramos. He’s got a gazillion pictures that are still being uploaded.

This week has been catching up with food, sleep, and trying to get stuff done around the house, but not being too successful. My friend Jim who has a bike tour company has been hosting one of his Slovenian tour guides, Luka, for the past few days, so it’s been fun showing him a bit of the local scene (it’s his first trip to America). I think all of us are ready to pack up and head overseas!

I’ve had two good road rides this week as well. The Tuesday Night Ride wasn’t much of a recovery ride for me, as we ended up climbing the mtn. Tonight I joined the Velo Vixens on a practice ride of the Raccoon Mtn Road Race route. I’ve joined the team too – hey, gotta try something new this year! It was fun and I held on to the front gals, but definitely need to get the whole drafting/paceline thing figured out soon.

about to head out…

last minute pre-race scrambling, no matter how early i tried to prepare properly. the weather in helen, ga is looking amazing this weekend – perhaps a bit too warm! i think we were all prepared to be racing in freezing rain & snow.

race details for the Checkpoint Zero Advenure Race
- starts tomorrow morning at 8am, ending at 2pm on sunday
- 30 hours of mtn biking, trekking, paddling, and navigation
- set in helen, ga

my teammates for this are daniel & hunter and we’re lucky to have Athens-based Charbon’s Outfitters as our sponsor. the race will have live reports from the field on Checkpoint Tracker. Send us a shout out to jazz us up when we’re sleepy, and keep track of our standing on the leaderboard. (it won’t have real-time tracking, but many updates are promised). we’re hoping to have a solid performance!

correction!

lorna pointed out that i did in fact squeeze into the top 10 in the marathon. wahooooo!!! i swear i counted differently before. perhaps the eye were tired too!

an ultra fun day…. even without the ultra

The 3 weeks since Mountain Mist went quickly… I did a lot of resting, trying to get my tibialis muscle all healed up. It was feeling good, so I joined the Wed Night Trail Run crew the week of my race for some confidence building – needed a nice run off road to ensure I was ready to go. It felt good, so I went with it… perhaps a little too much. The next day I woke up with IT Band pain on both legs. Yikes!!! The next two days were lots of self-massage, epsom baths, and some anti inflammatories.

Friday evening I drove to Asheville to check in for the Black Mountain Marathon and Mount Mitchell Challenge. I was signed up for the Challenge, the 40-mile race that takes runners over the summit of Mount Mitchell, the tallest point east of the Rockies. I had been preparing for this since… September or so? I was ready for this… but the small injury during my training run at Mountain Mist, and my ITB pain due to my silliness at the run this week seemed to be changing my plans. Jay (director of the race and a friend), understanding my conditions and desire to do the full thing, was trying to get me to run sweep on the Challenge (following the last runner to make sure they were fine). Hmmm…. long and slow, but perhaps a way to do it??

Saturday morning I woke up early and headed to the start in downtown Black Mountain. My legs just weren’t feeling it and I didn’t want to take the chance of injury so early in the season, so I decided to switch to the marathon (which sounds funny – I’m only running the marathon! As if that itself wasn’t going to be tough!) We started at 7am, with about 250 runners toeing the starting line. The first 2-3 miles were on pavement, not ideal for my sensitive legs to warm up on. It hurt. I even doubted as to whether or not I’d finish. We wound our way up through Montreat and finally find some off road stuff. It was mostly forest service road, with some single/double track thrown in. The first 15 miles were uphill check out the elevation profile here. (remember it’s showing the Challenge, so just look at the first 15 and last 6 miles). I kept my pace even and conservative to ensure that I wouldn’t blow up for the last half. Part of the course is there and back, so when I saw the first female turn pass me, I started counting so I could estimate my place. I hadn’t looked at the stats of previous marathons to see what the average female time was and guess where I could place, but I was feeling pretty good at this point and a bit optimistic at a solid finish. I counted 9 by the time I got to the 15mile turnaround point at the Blue Ridge Parkway. At the aid station there was another 4 or so… Hmm, so I’m around 14th now. Not so bad….

The aid station marked the turnaround for the Marathon folks, while the Challengers pressed on for the summit. Mount Mitchell loomed in the background. It actually made me think and almost reconsider. But while I was feeling pretty decent, the tightness in my ITB told me to play it safe. After taking a moment to put some band aids on my heel that was starting to rub, I took off feeling refreshed. It wasn’t long before I came up on 3 women taking it somewhat easy. I passed them, thinking Hmm, around 11th. I was making good time on the downhills, despite the rockiness in some sections. Usually I’m a bit more timid on stuff like this, but race adrenaline can do wonderful things :) I passed a few guys, then another woman. 10th now?? Nice!! I came to an aid station that in my mind was around 20. I managed to pass a few more guys, hoping one of these short haired people would actually be a girl – no such luck. I noted the last 5 miles (where the last aid station was.. supposedly…) were done in 45 minutes, so I thought wow, maybe 60 minutes and I’ll be done! My watch showed a time of 3h45m so far. Nice! During this last steeper section on FSR, the men’s 1st place Challenger, Will, flew by me. wow. impressive! Then we hit some pretty steep sections on pavement, as we exited Montreat College. The guy I was running near wondered how pavement could stick at this angle. After about 45 min, we hit another aid station that I wasn’t totally expected. They said another 3-4 miles till the finish. What?? By my calculations, I should be a mile or two away. Hmm… Then out of the blue another aid station appears… 2-3 more miles. I obviously didn’t have the distances right in my mind and this was quite demoralizing. The pavement was hard enough to deal with; but having to run an extra 30 minutes was killing me! Finally the lake where the finish was came into view. I could see the banners off to my right a short distance… but oh, we had to run 3/4 around the lake to the left before we can get to the finish line!

My official time was 5:09.45… 51 overall out of 129 runners, and 11th out of 40 in the women’s division. (dang! my counting was off…) Still, I’m quite happy with the time. It was only about 5 miles shorter than a 50k, where my times have been around 6 1/2 hrs… so I think I’m improving. (It was also a PR for my marathon time, but it has been 4 years since I’ve run a road marathon!)

Jay and the rest of the Black Dome Crew put on a fabulous race. The volunteers were great, the aid station packed with goodies, the post race meal by Montreat College was absolutely delicious and filling, and the swag itself worthy of the entry fee (we got custom embroidered North Face fleece pullovers for finishing, as well as SmartWool socks and a nice CamelBak water bottle). It was great to catch up with some friends there – Tony pulling in an awesome 6:22 for the Challenge, and Lorna & Stephen having solid Marathon times as well.