April 2007
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Month April 2007

boogying to a PR

i can tell myself i wasn’t expecting to run that well, since i don’t run on pavement much and i haven’t been training for/focusing on the half marathon distance. but of course i wanted to kick ass. it’s one of those inherent qualities of a competitive person… even though i’m not fast enough to be competitive with other people, i do so with myself. my previous top time was at that atlanta half in ’05… 1:49.40. my friend jim paced me and i couldn’t have done it without him (and the personal frustrations i poured into the race). but oh, did i hurt bad that night.

while i wasn’t excited to pound 13 miles of asphalt, i was looking forward to the weekend and helping my sister reach her goal of running another big race (we did the disney full marathon in ’03). liz came up on thursday and we drove to nashville on friday. we stayed with my teammate mark and his fiance beth, who was running her first half. the last weather report we got before going to bed had us expecting lows in the mid 50s and showers likely in the morning. we got up around 5am CST and headed to the start at 6:15. they live right by vandy, so we had about 1.5miles to the start – a perfect warmup. this race is huge – over 32k people, so runners were divided into something like 32 corrals based on estimated finish times. i made my way up to corral #5 – for my estimated 1:48 finish time. i tried to hit the port-o-john one last time, but after standing in line 8 minutes and barely moving, i gave up and just hoped i would start sweating quick :)

liz, me and beth before the start

once i hopped into my group, i saw the official pace guy for those hoping for a 1:45 finish. hmm, that sounds nice. i figured i’d latch on for as long as possible, then hope that any difference would keep me close enough to my goal. luckily the morning warmed up quickly and i was able to shed my longsleeve shirt before the start. the first few miles went well, each right under an 8min pace. it was tough staying near the pace dude with all the people around. it’s really amazing how many people we passed, and even more amazing how many of these people were barely moving along. (did they really expect to finish in less than 1:45??!) the course was great – a few rolling ups and downs, but nothing too bad. live bands every mile or so kept the spirits up (thankfully it wasn’t all country music!) around mile 7, i felt an odd twinge in both of my calves. over the next few miles i had some hammer gel & ecaps and slowed my pace a tad, hoping to avoid a full on charlie horse. i kept checking my watch, hoping my overall time was still looking good. it was. unfortunately the twinges never went away and were kept at the forefront of my mind. quite annoying and unsettling. finally, we got to the bridge that would bring us to the finish line. i stepped it up the last mile, hoping the adrenaline would prevent any last minute cramps. it did, and i finished with a personal best of 1:48.36. i am quite happy with the time, although know that i could have really smashed my record if my calves had been beeling better.

after being herded through the finish line corrals (which was madness, but there was lots of good swag & food), i hung out looking for beth & liz. both had great races and finished just ahead of their goals as well. after showering & eating too much food at Noshville (great deli!), we hit the road and headed back to chatt.

post race!

Nashvegas, here we come…

Liz arrived yesterday and we are about to head to Nashville for the Country Music Half Marathon (which is on Saturday). You can follow us live here.

Finally, back on track…

I had a great weekend of training! The last few months have been a bit weird… sure, I’ve been “training” and racing, but my intensity has been lacking. This was proven recently when my VO2 max tests at ATS came back with dismal numbers. (ok, not dismal.. I topped out at 55, which is still pretty damn good, but not even comparable to the 62 I had last time). The graphs that the machine/program spit out did not hide anything… Coach Tony explained the numbers (aerobic & lactate threshold, recovery heart rate, etc) and why he thought things had dropped: lack of intensity in my workouts had caused my body to reclaim the extra blood vessels it had created in my legs, thereby reducing how much oxygen my body was utilizing. It does make sense – all winter I ran long, collecting basemiles for my ultra adventures. There was no speed work, no tempo work, no intervals. Gosh, I sound like a slacker….

Anyways, my challenge lately has been to add this intensity into my weekly training schedule. With so many group trainings, it’s difficult sometimes to make them hard. I guess I need to take some of the socialness out of the workouts? (without making it seem like I’m ignoring my friends). Hmm… it will be an effort in progress… The speedwork on Thursdays will be a good addition. Then if I can incorporate a ride like I did this past weekend, improvements will come!

Saturday, I met Dreama out in Soddy for a road ride. 4 SCV guys came out as well. Oh boy, the pace just went up! All I knew about this ride was to expect about 60 miles, and about 3.5/4 hours. Things started off ok…. a bit cool in the morning, but knowing it would heat up, opted for short sleeves + arm warmers. We wound all through Soddy, Sale Creek & Graysville, before starting our first climb up Brayton Mountain. Up on top, we were amazed at how long we rode on flat/rolling terrain – yet we were on top of a mountain! Then came our descent on Pitts Gap Road. I have one word – YIKES! I don’t like descents to begin with, but this has got to be the worst I’ve had to suffer through. The views of the valley on the west side were amazing, which did nothing to calm my fears. I even stopped once because my hands hurt from braking so much. (I reallly gotta improve on this soon. somehow. please send me tips!) Once I caught up to everyone (who kindly waited for me), we battled some wind as we headed south towards our next ascent – something very special apparently: Henson Gap Road. It had some killer switchbacks where you had to stand and really muscle over them. Something easier said than done when you’re already tired! Once on top, my water bottles were nearly drained. I rationed the last few ounces, but still had about 20 minutes of nothing. This section was pretty exposed to both wind and sun (oops, really should have put more sunscreen on since the arm warmers were now off!). Finally we hit a mini mart and fueled up on ice cold drinks. After a decent on Hotwater Road, we were done. Yeah!!

It was a hard workout and I chased them the whole time… but it was nice to do that and not just go out for a casual ride. I really appreciated everyone helping me out and (seemingly) not get frustrated by having a slower person along for the ride. It’s rides like this that will help me get better.

Check out the map here… this is my first attempt at creating a map on Google.. pretty cool stuff! (although not quite as handy and detailed as those rockin’ Garmin 305s.)

Sunday was no rest! The running crew hit the Cumberland Trail for a point-to-point run of the Possum Creek Gorge Segment – the absolute hardest 10 miles of trail to run I’ve ever been on. And yes, on tired legs, they seemed nearly impossible at times. It took us about 2hrs 50min, including a break at the waterfall where most of the guys actually jumped in (they said it was like ice!) Dreama and I had stashed our bikes in Joey’s car at the end and worked out the lactic acid with an “easy” 15 mile ride back to our cars… easy, except for the killer, long, exposed climb up 111. A brutal way to end the weekend!

Here are some more pictures…

Tour Pics

I was lucky to catch Stage 5 of the Tour today (Dalton to Brasstown). Cat and I dodged clients and made our way to the top of Fort Mountain (where we were just a few weeks ago for Saul’s Raisin Hope ride). It was definitely fun, although not as much excitement as the top of Brasstown (where I hung out last year).

See more pics here

Stage 3 in Chattanooga (above)
Stage 5 on Fort Mountain (below)

speed kills

speed workouts, that is. i joined the running crew for their weekly speed workout, something i tried a few months back (1/2 mile bridge repeats), but didn’t stick with consistently. (not sure why i can’t get it together on thursday evenings). tonight after a warmup around coolidge park, we headed over to the track at GPS (girls prep school) for some speed games. joey paired us up in teams, then we each ran 400m laps, alternating until we hit 4 miles. i ran each of my 8 laps hard, and since i’m not used to going all out, boy did they hurt. my fastest split was 1:28 and my slowest 1:46. i definitely fell off after my first 3 laps, and hovered in the low to mid 40s for the remaining laps. what is / will be interesting is seeing improvements in the future. (if i can stick with it!)

my 15 minutes of fame…

I was recently interviewed by Competitor Southeast Magazine and voila, a 2-page spread appeared in the latest April edition. Wow! I had no idea it was going to be that big, with so many pictures (eeek!). I didn’t get to read the article before it was published, but had several friends call with congrats after they got advanced copies at last month’s Georgia ING Marathon. I finally got my copies (and send a few to my family to surprise them) and must say it sounds pretty good! A new adventure racing discipline was created (canyon + pioneering… whoopsie! that should be canyoneering, but hey, that sounds a bit more Lewis + Clark-ish.

I want to give big props and thank yous to Robert at Wilderness Adventure Photography who supplied me with some great high-res pics and failed to get a mention. Robert is one of the most dedicated photographers out there, chasing us crazy enduro athletes around, day & night, rain/snow/ice/sun, throughout many states in the SE. Buy his stuff so that he can afford to keep coming out in the woods with us!

Here is a link to the article online… or you can pick up your free copy of the magazine throughout the Atlanta area (REI, Smoothie King, YMCA…)

link doesn’t seem to work anymore, so i’m posting some jpgs…

My first road cycling race!

Really, it was only a matter of time before I tried this out, so the Raccoon Mountain Road Race made perfect sense for me to jump in on, especially with so many of my teammates also riding. What wasn’t so perfect that day was the weather: drizzly and temps in the mid 40s, with wind chills dropping things to around freezing with gusts up to 30mph. Ick!! But hey, I’m an adventure racer and have been through much worse… right?!

The women’s Cat-4 race (basically that means beginner) was the last division to start, at 2:50pm. This was definitely weird, as I got to sleep in a bit, have a big breakfast (Lorraine’s Oatmeal Bar – good fuel!), and get some cleaning done around the house. I headed over to Raccoon Mountain around 1 to get checked in and organized. Our coach John had reserved 2 campgrounds at the front for us, complete with an EZup tent filled with wonderful things from our sponsors (the new Tea Cakes & Elixir from LunaBar are amazing!), mobile bike shop for last minute tuneups, and 5 trainers set up for us to warm up on – which was definitely needed on a nasty day like this! I think we all changed at least 3 times, trying to figure out the best combination to keep warm, but not overheat in.

We rolled down to the start, circling to keep warm & calm the nerves until the juniors took off. A few minutes later, our motorcycle (guide? marshal? leader? I gotta get this road lingo down…) signalled it was our turn. The first 2 (or was it 4?) miles were neutral, meaning the race wasn’t yet started. Finally, we were turned loose…. I expected to launch forward, but we didn’t. In fact, we continued in a nice easy pace for awhile (thanks to the controlling games Cat & Dreama had going on – nice work!) Early on, the wind was horrible. I remember one gust of wind that pushed Star a good foot to the right… definitely a scary moment! It was on this stretch towards Nickajack that it started sleeting on us. *lovely*! There was a small decent at some point where the leaders picked up some speed. It took some effort, but I kept up with them, latching on wisely as I knew if I was dropped here, I likely wouldn’t get back with them.

We hit Nickajack Lake (mile 15.2) seemingly quick, which meant the Stair Steps were right around the corner: a series of 6 hills where we would gain about 600′ of elevation. Here I dropped off the back of this front group a bit and worked hard not to fall too far behind. I did pass Cat, telling her I’d see her soon (that woman can descend like nobody’s business!) Upon reaching the top (and seeing fellow Vixens & company cheering us on), I kicked it into high gear, trying to gain every second I could. The break ahead didn’t look that far away, but they benefited from having eachother, whereas I was fighting the wind all by my lonesome. About halfway through this last stretch, I hear a voice – the downhill diva herself has arrived! I jumped on Cat’s wheel and we worked together for the next few miles until the final ascent. We had closed the gap significantly with 1 mile till the finish.

Soon, Jesus signalled 1km to go (seriously… there’s a huge sign that reads Jesus is Coming). I pumped it up one final notch, trying to ignore the lactic acid tearing up my legs. In the end, I finished in 11th place (out of 23), with a time of 1:35:34.989 on the 27mile course. (yes, all the way down to the thousandth of a second!) Teammates Gina & Collette easily took 1st & 2nd, with a time of 1:32:25. Dreama & Star also rocked it with top 10 finishes. Lisa is who really amazed me though… she fell early on (just a few miles after the neutral zone ended) after catching someone’s rear wheel. She was ok, but flatted in the process and found out the hard way we had no wheel truck following. Luckily the good graces of a support vehicle helped her out with a wheel and she hopped back in the race, finishing strongly.

Big thanks to everyone braving the elements and cheering us on, and to photographer friend Tim who came out and snapped a gazillion pictures, certainly catching every bit of emotion that ran across my face (and I’m sure a few nose-clearing shots that hopefully won’t be publicized!)

I definitely walked away with a very positive feeling… I really don’t think I knew what to expect, and what I did experience was much different than any other event I’ve raced in. Definitely looking forward to the next one!

Tour de Georgia in Tennessee

I’m not sure how time has flown by… I still haven’t written more about the Checkpoint Zero AR, and already I have several other happenings to post about.

Today, the Tour de Georgia rolled into Chatt and the Vixens were on hand to help make sure everything happened smoothly. We were originally going to be at the finish line (and then part of the awards ceremony), but apparently a truckload of barricades never made it downtown, so we were shipped off to block roads. Yeah, it sucked not to see the finish line festivities, but knew the need was important. Once the roads were blocked, we had to be on our toes with rush hour traffic starting and cars pulling out of lots, not happy about us saying they couldn’t go anywhere. We were expecting riders to come through starting at 4:05, but they didn’t show up for about another 25 minutes – talk about ancy! The leader and first chase group came flying by… and few others… then it was another 20 minutes before the peloton came racing thru. And in that whirlwind, it was over. Oh, except for some of the SCV guys and other random riders trying to catch a tailwind.

Afterwards, we headed to Big River for a post-event part sponsored by Litespeed. (And I ended up hanging out there till I headed home.. missing the Suck Creek/Lynskey party, and feeling pretty guilty….sorry guys!)

Amino Vital in 2007!

I just got word that Amino Vital wants me back on the team for 2007! This will be my third year with them… and each year, it gets a bit tougher to make the cut. (I think we had 10 people in 05, 6 in 06, and it looks like 4 this year… and only 120 nationwide.) I’m glad they see Chattanooga as close enough to Atlanta to include me in the mix.

Learn more about Amino Vital here!


My normal teammates decided this morning that we weren’t going to do the annual Blue Ridge Mtn Adventure Race – an event in north GA that I’ve done/been at for the last 4 years. Ironically, I received an email from an old friend last night who was looking for a replacement for herself on her team. Both her and her husband are great people and solid athletes, although they don’t race a lot. Since it’s last minute, the team spot would be complimentary…


The Raccoon Mountain Road Race is going on the same weekend. I had already told the Vixens I was committed to another race. But now, committments are gone and my schedule is mine for the planning. It would be a good first road race to do – I’m familiar with the course (riding it again tomorrow night) and it is a bit favorable to me (decent climbing which I’m pretty ok with, and the descent (my worst thing!) is not bad and I can let loose on it. Also… the Vixens are volunteering as Bike Valets at the museum Saturday and there is a big party that night at the museum – Cycledelic. (The race is Sunday).


trying something new, while staying in town (and maybe getting caught up/ahead on stuff so I can play hookie the next week and watch the Tour de Georgia)? or… be gone basically all weekend, attend the reunion that is Blue Ridge, race hard for 8 hrs with people I don’t really know, then chill at the cabin (hot tub?!)

too many pluses and minuses for both to count. and there really isn’t a wrong decision (just a hard one!)
let me know what you think!