November 2008
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Month November 2008

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.