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Year 2008


well, not an official caving outing, but we were in one so that counts, right?! granted i was in new running tights and vest (not the onesie official suits my crazy friend e.bee sports) so i wasn’t eager to slide through the tight spots, but i did get sufficiently muddy and had a ton of fun.

the caves – or really cave, as i believe it was one long one with a few entrances – was on top of montlake, near the town of sewanee. officially, it is called Mr. and Mrs. Harry Lee Carter Natural Area. there was a 2 mile hike to the caves and with the rainy conditions as of late, it was a bit treacherous (and tiresome after racing wauhatchie this morning), with lots of rocks surrounded by clay-like mud. the caves themselves were awesome! i’m not sure i’ve ever really been in one. maybe a small one that you peer into, but this was huge – the entrance (of Peter I believe) was apparently 80ft high and 100ft wide. we climbed down and once over a lip, headlamps were on as it was completely dark. not 1 fleck of natural light anywhere.

middle cave entrance

the creek is right behind me… hard to see though

what’s supercool about this cave is that a river runs right through it! it was flowing fast too – definitely some class 2 stuff inside, and 3+ outside. i did get a bit nervous at times. ever since the race at fall creek falls (and that damn canyoneering section), i don’t trust myself enough on slick rocks and the last thing i wanted to do was have an impromptu swim. we must have been inside 1-1.5 hrs exploring. unfortunately the high water levels forced us to make it a there & back trek. would be cool to go back and hike the whole thing when the creek is lower.

above: the end of today’s trek

the next 3 pics are standing in 1 spot…. creek exiting buggytop,
churning rapids, then the creek raging onward.

72 & (partly) sunny

sunset at lafayette blue springs, florida
our journey begins

over thanksgiving weekend, i joined some friends (well, 1 friend and 3 strangers-aka-soon-to-be-new-friends) on a canoe camping trip way down upon the suwannee river. the next 3 days were spent driving (we started in TN afterall), telling stories, and of course a whole lotta paddling. in all, it was one of the best weekends i can remember having. too much to recap here, so i’ll list just a bunch of memories that may make sense only to me. :)

- stars reflecting on the water
- ninja training
- cherry moonshine
- omg there’s rapids ahead!
- the BEST (insert food here) i’ve EVER had!
- 101 uses for a tortilla
- getting juiced
- random acts of kindness
- brad (heart) 911
- bug + butterflies
- birthday suits vs wetsuits
- stealing trucks & toast
- duckweed
- ambrosia
- kumbuya
- laughing gas
- mitch:1; everyone else: 0

springs we visited:
- Lafayette Blue Springs, our launch
- unknown springs, dinner night #1
- Peacock Springs. great swimming!
- Royal Springs
- Running Springs
- Troy Springs, our take out point. great swimming!
- Ruth Springs, camping night #2

the crew at adams tract river camp: katie, courtney, brad, cathi, mitch

an old swinging railway bridge

my paddling partner

being mermaids at peacock springs

yes we swam in this. duckweed, not icky algae. peacock springs state park

katie at troy springs

mitch getting a ride
old friends & new at “troy springs manor”

more pictures here and here

winter training

from frazz:

always remember your headlamp.
maybe santa will bring new bike lights….

upchuck 50k

Our weekend adventures on the Cumberland Trail continued today with the 6th event in the Rock/Creek Trail Series: The Upchuck 50k. While I’ve been running much more lately, I didn’t want to commit to the full 50, so some friends joined me on a tour of the Soddy Segment – about 16 miles of fun.

The story of the beginning of the Upchuck is a funny one (yes, it did deal with one of my teammate’s upchucking during a training run on these trails). The Cumberland Trail is awesome, but tough. Opportunities for aid stations along the way are few and far between. So when we wanted to include this race in our series this year, we emphasized that this was NOT for beginners; that it would be primarily self-supported; that you would get wet from creek crossings. As if that wasn’t epic enough, today’s weather added to the adventure. The temp when I left my house at 8:30 was 52. It was a few degrees colder at the start, and only dropped as the day went on. The rain continued intermittently throughout the day (as it has for the previous 24hrs), with a few sleet showers thrown in and wind gusts up to 25mph. Yeah, not a day for the faint of heart.

Luckily though, we were only out for 4 hrs; I don’t know how long it took the winners, or my friends sweeping the course (by then I was dethawing in a hot shower :P ) Anyways, here’s a few pics from the day…

Oh, and the race logo was courtesy of me… thanks to chad for being my model!

the sleet was really coming down here although it’s hard to see

Stephen Smith, 3rd place male at this point

Autumn on the Cumberland Trail

This is the BEST time to explore the trails… color everywhere! It does make for tricky footing though… Here are 2 recent runs:


Since I’ve been so bad at reporting back lately, I’ll write something quick while I can instead of waiting months… (uh, Leadville!)

One of my favorite races of the year is the Shut-In Ridge Trail Run, over in Asheville. It has quite the cult following, with the starting line crammed full of local, regional, and even some national hotshots. It sells out quickly and I was lucky to snag an entry again this year.

Autumn colors were at their peak, the skies blue and sunshine abundant, with small patches of snow greeting me in the Mt. Pisgah parking lot as a friend and I dropped a car by the finish early. While it was probably in the upper 30s to 40 at the start of the race (at the Arboretum), we warmed up quickly and I shed my long sleeves at the 2nd aid station. (I was wearing our new team shirt from Icebreaker, which was the perfect weight. And while I’m at it, my shoes were Vasque Velocity – definitely my current fav, although I’m itching to test their VSTs.)
I started off too quick as always, but that tends to be my MO. I knew after a mile or two I’d settle into my pace and all would be good for the next few hours. With this new heart thing going on, I’m trying to be more aware of my heart rate so that I can actually make it to the finish line. (although my tight achilles was worrying more race morning!) It took longer than I anticipated to settle in, due in part to the nice climbs that greet us from the start – afterall, the race is basically uphill! Most of the time we run along the ridge, following the Blue Ridge Parkway. Crossing it usually meant a steep downhill and uphill; otherwise it was a nice rolling ascent. The colors were stunning – sometimes you’d just be glowing from the sunlight filtering through the leaves. 
I was feeling great and running strong… amazing what a bit of frustration can do to power you up the mountain. I did see 2 girls on a switchback that made me nervous, but I dug in a bit deeper and never saw them again. All too soon, the final 2 miles were upon us – this is the epic section that goes (almost) straight up & is nearly unrunnable. (I’d love to see the leaders tear this up!) I had a girl on my heels most of this time and she didn’t want to pass…. but eventually did and unfortunately I never saw her again. I kept a good forward momentum, but my hammies & quads were quivering – I was really noticing my lack of hill work here. Once at the top, we had a short downhill that had my calves all but giving out on me. Finally the finish line cheers greeted me – yeah! 
My final time – for the 17.8 brutal miles with about 3000+’ of elevation gain* – was 3:41, 17 minutes faster than last year! This was good enough for 15th female and 97th overall (out of 195 finishers). The awesome stained glass awards were still out of reach though…  so my quest for a top 7 finish will continue next year hopefully :)
Big thanks to Lorrin & Jay for providing impromptu support (I left my gels in my car!) and cheering loudly along the way. 
* I need to confirm this, as my watch said 5000′… I’ve seen a few different references online.

StumpJump 08

This is one of those events that makes my race calendar every year – not only because it’s sponsored by my team and the Boonies, but because it’s a great course in a beautiful location that is always well organized and a ton of fun.

a picture-perfect morning
The past few years I’ve run the 50k, but I just didn’t have the miles under me this year since I focused so much on Leadville. The 11 miler I thought should be doable. As the race got closer, I still had the breathing problems that was forcing me to walk a lot more than normal. It was the Wed before the race that I found out the basics of my heart condition. I didn’t get the full description yet (and refused to Google it, lest I come across something less than positive), but the dr gave me the thumbs up to run…. so it couldn’t be that bad, right?! Race morning came and I was ready to run, although honestly not sure if I’d be able to finish. I’ll just see what I can do…

This year the race started at the new Signal Mountain Middle/High School; this meant more parking, more space, and real bathrooms! The beginning of the course changed slightly – starting now with a short paved section (uphill – but that meant a downhill finish), and some new trails before dropping on to the standard course. I started off easily and was 3rd woman into the woods. I kept the pace consistent and within myself, trying not to be concerned when people passed. The first half of the race went well. I walked up the 1 gorge climb as expected and took the technical downhills a bit easy. At the turnaround I was told I was 4th woman; fab!

On the way back we had 2 big gorge climbs that I took easy. One woman from Atl had been on my heels for awhile and I was hoping I’d hold her off. We talked a bit but she didn’t want to pass. Fine; I’ll set the pace. At the Mushroom Rock aid station, she veered towards aid; I shook my bottle, felt there was enough to finish, and pressed on, hoping to gain a minute or two. (even though Sheridan took it personally that I didn’t get aid from him!). I tried to pick things up a bit, but a few climbs forced me to walk (I can tell when my heart & breathing rate is getting a bit too high, so some walking is better than sitting on the side of the trail trying to recover). I looked back during some curving areas and didn’t see her; great! I kept on… then bam, she appeared out of nowhere. Dang! We exited the woods together and had about a half mile of paved road before the finish line. There was a bit of a climb first; I picked it up slightly. I didn’t hear the footsteps responding. So a bit more… at the top of the hill I glanced back and saw I did in fact put some distance on her. Yeah! Next came that nice long descent to the finish line. I pushed it a bit more, not wanting to have a finish line sprint. Thankfully I didn’t have to, and I crossed the finish line in 2:10.27, good enough for 4th place overall female and 44th overall (out of 170 finishers). I lucked out when awards went through 4th place, so I snagged some new Salomon shoes, La Sportiva bottle, and my fav “this is not a plastic bag” cotton grocery bag from R/C.

4th thru 1st place, women’s 11 miler

Overall, I felt pretty good, but knew I had to walk a lot more than I usually do on that course. The key though will be to listen to my body and do what I need to do; sometimes hard when you have that competitiveness set in (and someone nipping at your heels). After I crossed the finish line, I had the same thing happen to me that happened at Tsali. I finish strong, then walk around to get the breathing regulated… but it gets worse instead of better, and next thing I know I’m doubled over gasping for air (almost like hyperventilating a bit.) Thanks to of my fav people to making sure I was feeling ok (Sara from North Shore Yoga and Christian from Body Wisdom massage- check these ladies out; they’re the best!) To complete the fab weekend, my old adv racing teammates Hunter & Daniel came up & stayed for a few days & rocked the 50. It was good to catch up!

r/c team member matt sims

r/c race team members michael green & john anderson

the start of the 50k


kevin, me, michael

more pics here

TN River Blueway Canoe & Kayak Race

This is a local event that Outdoor Chattanooga puts on, so I wanted to join in the fun and support them. Originally I was going to borrow one of Ted’s kickass fast boats, but seeing as how I didn’t have the time to practice (they are a bit tippy), I teamed up with Dale Tillman who’s teammate backed out last minute. I knew we’d be in for a good workout after lifting that barge off her car – plastic sit on top tandems just aren’t light :)

It was a gorgeous day out and we had a ton of fun out there, finishing 3rd in the recreational tandem division (and I think we were the first all-female tandem team too). A few pics are below! (I LOVE my new NUMA sunglasses!!)

broken things…

#1. my road bike. yup, i’ve joined the ranks of Those That Drive Their Cars Into Their Garages With Their Bikes Still on Top. dumbdumbdumb. that distinct sound of a hollow carbon fiber fork snapping in two is unmistakeable. It sits in 2 pieces right now. fingers crossed it is not a total loss. Anyone want to hook me up with a 52cm loaner for a little bit? (I guess this means i won’t be buying that new cyclocross bike i was hoping for!)

#2. heart. ok, in this case it isn’t really broken, but rather, problematic. i’ve had breathing issues for awhile, coupled with some annoying palpitations on occasion (sidelined me at the Blankets Duathlon, Raccoon SERC Race, Tsali Challenge, Leadville…). Asthma? Who knows… my pulmonary dr a few weeks ago said that my chest xray was normal and any asthma i has was slight. (but here’s a bunch of meds to try and see if symptoms are alleviated. uh, yeah doc. whatever.) so on to the next dr – my cardiologist, dr steve austin (awesome guy!). he found a few inconsistencies in one test and referred me to a cardiac electrophysiologist, who i saw today. dr david wendt (super awesome guy!) told me that i have type 1 second degree heart blockages. WTF! it’s not arterial blockage as may first come to mind, but rather interruption in electrical conduction. thankfully it is a benign condition and i don’t need to do anything about it. in fact, he wasn’t really surprised that i had this either – said it is not uncommon in high performing athletes.

so, what next? of course i could just cut back the intensity of my training and racing, since that is when most of the problems arise. but the doc said that didn’t seem to fit my lifestyle. (WOW, a dr that understands me!!), so it’s on to a few more tests. we’ll do what we can locally, then make the decision on whether or not to seek treatment with someone that specializes in working with athletes. (he recommended either CO Springs, or the Cooper Institute in TX.) so, we’ll see…. but it’s nice to know that i’m not going to keel over dead. (i must say i totally freaked out when i was first told what was up. thanks to all my friends for being there for me!)

Moronic Bicyclists In Clown Suits


some interesting points (there are a few cyclists out there that don’t follow the rules of the road that really ruin it for the rest of us), but it is sad to see the thoughts of some motorists out there.