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Year 2009

real winter running


Sure, I know all about winter running in the south. but how do the folks up in the great white north do it? Well, I got a taste of it last week up in CT. I finally made it to Sleeping Giant State Park (about 20 min NW of New Haven). (Trail Map Here) I had checked out the trail map previously (tons of routes to choose from!) but this was my first visit to the park. We had about 10” of snow 2 days prior, so this southen girl was smiling ear to ear. I didn’t know what to expect as far as trail conditions, so my expectations were light – no matter what, I knew that I’d be having fun. I found the trailhead and set off on what looked like a frequently traveled snowshoe path. Looking at my map, I decided to follow the blue tail – the most scenic, but also the most difficult. :-) The shoe prints ahead dwindled until there was just one set – which definitely helped mark the path and pack down the snow a tad. The few times I stepped off trail, I sunk well above mid-calf. (At that rate, my toes would have been cold quick! The breathabe mesh of my Vasque Blu SL’s are geat for running in the south, but let too much of the dry fluffy snow in. maybe gaiters would help some? or gore-tex?)


The trail lived up to my dreams – A true Winter Wonderland! White snow, blue skies, and great views fom the giant’s knee & leg :-) I was able to get a light running pace going a few times, although it wasn’t easy – high stepping (to minimize the snow covered shoes) and keeping a balanced center of gravity (to offset potential slipping). Had one close call crossing a snow covered creek – one foot broke though some ice, but I didn’t get too wet. Although time was getting short (the sun sets so early!!), I was stubbon and kept going to the tower – a beautiful rock structure built in the 30s. Instead of taking the orange or yellow back as planned, I played it safe and took the red trail south to Mt. Carmel Road and ran back to my parking spot off Chestnut. I didn’t see a soul out there (maybe because it was midday on a Monday), but I imagine it is a popular spot with the locals year round. (On a sidenote, the Quinnipiac Trail is on my to-do list: 24 miles in its entirety!)


In general, I dressed well for the run – temps were close to 30, but the wind creeping up over the west ridge blasted me a few times. I was glad I had a backup jacket in my pack. This was my first run with the Ultimate Direction Wink pack – normally I stick with thei handheld or the tiny Nathan pack, but needed the extra room and hydration tube insulation – quite comfortale to run in as well!

Gear:
(let me know you fav winter items, as this is still new to me!)

mountain hardwear gloves & fleece hat
icebreaker wool baselayer
TNF fleece and vest
patagonia nine trails jacket
tights
smartwool socks
Vasque Blur SL shoes
Ultimate Hydration Wink pack… with banananuun (to make me think of tropical warmness!)

Gettin’ Dirty in GA


Last weekend I made the trek down to Macon for the finale of the Georgia Dirty Duathlon Series. Originally scheduled for mid-Nov at Dauset Trails, the race had to be rescheduled due to a pesky hurricane that had blown thru the week prior. This go around was at the Children’s Industrial Home trails. (Earlier series stops were at Blankets Creek and Fort Yargo). After staying with an old adventure racing teammate in Atlanta Friday night, I drove the rest of the way the next morning. Unfortunately the threat of rain and cold temps in the upper 30s greeted us – perhaps this kept some folks at home. While the crowd was small, we were all enthusiastic to be there and ready to get started!

The format was a run-bike-run (3-9-3 miles). A bit short for my 3.5hr trek south – I usually have a “I have to race as long as I drive” rule, and that would not be the case today….. but, it was the finale and I had set an early season goal of podiuming in the series. Plus, it was a fund raiser for SORBA-OMBA, to raise money for new trails at Arrowhead. (With the original race and mountain bike festival being cancelled, I know they’ll be hurting to meet their fund raising goals for the year.)

We had a mass start up a short hill, breaking things up a bit. I settled on the trail in 3rd place, keeping an eye on the gals ahead. About 2/3 of the way thru 1 more passed me, but with lots of time ahead, I wasn’t too concerned. (With winter clothing covering our bodies, we couldn’t have our divisions written on our legs so it was hard to tell if any girls ahead were racing as a relay). The run was nice, through hard-packed, twisting trails that had you guessing who was ahead and who was behind. After I was barely warmed up, it was time to transition to the bike. I haven’t been riding much lately (concentrating on running!), so I was happy for a course that wasn’t too technical or had a ton of climbing. It was (as previously mentioned) full of tight, twisty sections where you couldn’t let up your concentration. Some areas were bone dry, with slippery pine needles; other times we were riding through huge mud puddles, fighting to gain traction on slippery roots. Regardless, it was lots of fun. The final run leg was a bit harder than the first. With temps so cold, normally I’d wear shoe covers; but in a short duathlon with quick transitions being key, using these was not an option. Therefore, I was running on half frozen toes for the next mile – not an easy task. Finally they felt alive and I had a normal stride again.

I ended up finishing 2nd overall female and first in the 30-39 age group.
Overall for the series, I finished first in the solo women’s division.

Big thanks to the race directors for putting on a great event and persevering the many challenges it took to make it happen. They did a great job utilizing the available trails and recruiting top notch volunteers!

Checking out the Pinhoti

The Pinhoti Trail is a huge network of trails reaching from Elijay, GA well into AL (where the Pinhoti 100 race is held each fall) – 324 miles in full! The Snake Creek Gap time trial series is also held here each winter, a 17 & 34 mile mountain bike race (I always loved the sound of this endurance event, but have always had a schedule conflict).

One particularly idyllic fall afternoon, I headed down to Dug Gap with a friend to check out a new-to-me running spot. It’s only about 35 min south of Chatt, yet somehow I hadn’t been there yet. Parking is limited, with only a few spots on the side of the road (although the nearby Dalton convention center should offer plenty of space fo carpoolers). The trail is well marked and easy to follow. With the trees bare of leaves, plenty of scenic vistas were offered. We had to keep our mind on the trail though, as the leaves were now covering all the rocks, making the footing a technical challenge. (hmm, maybe THIS is why I hvaen’t tackled the mtn bike race yet!)

Definitely put these trails on your to-do list. Easily accessible, great running, and more trail than your feet know what to do with!


Austria or bust!

I’m headed over to Austria for a week of mountain biking, trail running, and scenic lounging. Hopefully the hotel will have internet working so I can actual update a few things on here! I’ll be catching up on some writing on the plane too (until my battery dies. the lowly economy seats don’t have power chargers. boooo!) Meanwhile, Rebecca and I are chilling in the Delta Sky Club, awaiting our connection to Amsterdam in style!

a glimpse of heaven, a taste of hell… – Tahoe Rim Trail Endurance Runs


A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step. Lao Tsu

OK, it’s just going to be 50 miles, but that single step thing still holds true. I’ve been working towards this event for awhile now and feel strangely ready for it. Not that I should be surprised – Matt is awesome and he knows what he’s doing. Sure, I may have looked with wide eyes at the time and mileage I was putting in (my high week was 64 miles – I’ve never come close to that before – but somehow, my body always responded well when called upon. Of course I had the occasional bad run, but I could usually attribute that to a combination of high temps & humidity, poor nutrition that day, and maybe some lack of sleep the night before. (that’s definitely the #1 thing I need to work on!)

I’m heading out last minute this time, arriving in Reno at noon on Friday. (Last year for the Leadville100, I was at 7000′ for 8 days, then got up to 10k’ the day before. In general I felt good on the course there, but did have some late race breathing problems… cause still unknown). TRT stays between 6000′ and 9000′, so nothing quite as severe, but it should still be a big factor in my success. Our total elevation gain will be just under 10k’ so stout but not impossible. I think one of the big unknowns is how the sandy areas will affect my feet. Bringing some duct tape just in case :) Kathy, Natalie, Wendi, Jamie, Chad, Kris, Randy, Brenda & Lee are all going, so we should have a great time. Unfortunately Jaclyn has 2 torn ligaments and has to sit this one out. (stay off your feet & get better!!) After the race I’ll be hitting Steamboat for some R&R; before heading back east.

Check out the course description here, with a link to the map.

A couple of thanks to folks integral to my prep:
• the best coach around, Matt Hart
Rock/Creek Outfitters, for their support of our team.
• my magical massage therapist Christian at Body Wisdom
• to all my friends keeping me company on the trail
• to Rebecca & Dreama for watching Ollie & Lenny while I’m gone!!
• (and to my bikes for not hating me while i’ve ignored them :)

I’ll try to post something in regards to my survival soon!

the tour divide

if you want epic, look no further. this race is a beast. it starts in gorgeous banff, alberta and finishes just yonder – in antelope wells, new mexico (right on the mexico/us border). once completed, athletes will have ridden nearly 3000 miles and climbed the equivalent of almost 3 mount everests.

who would want to do such a thing? actually, many people… last year, fellow southern adventure racer artie olson did it, finishing second in 21 days & 13 hrs. this year, a friend from leadville, ccannon shockley, is out therer. his last SPOT checkin was at silver city, nm… he’s getting close!

anyways, check out the site – esp the blog area… there’s call ins from the racers and a few pictures scattered about. pretty amazing.

no, i do not want to be out there myself! :)

anti-dooring campaign


thankfully i haven’t been “doored” but have had some close calls. Dooring is when a person in a car opens a car door into or in front of a cyclist. I guess it might be more of a problem in chicago, where they actually have an awareness campaign going on. i ran across this nice poster recently when i was browsing for design inspiration…

this post has been sitting in my blogger “almost ready to post” file for awhile, but was having problems getting the photo to upload. my friend joel out in SF got doored today. thankfully he was ok, but thought i should go ahead and get this up!

so riders, don’t get too close to parked cars.
and drivers, look back before you open your door!

bug season

unfortunately, it’s still gnat season in the south. (does it ever end?)

riverbend festival

every year, madness converges upon downtown chattanooga for 9 sweaty, loud, drunken days. i biked down a few nights to help out with Outdoor Chattanooga‘s Bike Valet (free bike parking right outside the gates!), sneaking in on occasion to catch some of the groups on the smaller stages (in particular, Bluetastic Fangrass, Alejandro Escovedo and Jennifer Daniels were awesome!).

there is also the annual Riverbend 10k/5k run. i decided to jump in the 10k as the week’s speed workout. i haven’t done a road 10k since the ’05 Peachtree, so it would be interesting to see how my speed was progressing. it was one big messy mass start – 1100+ runners were participating. luckily wide roads helped people spread out quick. the course was ok – it started downtown, through the mess of early morning music festival grounds before trash cleanup, over a few bridges for some hills, along the riverwalk, and down the not-so-scenic amnicola hwy. my first 2 miles were good, the next few hurt a bit more… a bit literally, as we were mostly on nasty concrete with no give for your joints. short races are tough for me; i have to remind myself constantly that it will be over soon so there is no time to relax.

around mile 5.5 we’re back in the festival area and merge with the 5k course. normally i wouldn’t have thought this to be a problem, but with lots of walkers meandering along, it got a bit tough for us runners wanting to push through quick. in one spot i was trying to pass a pair of women chatting it up, when one veered into my path with a baby stroller. aaack!! luckily no one went flying, but my groove got out of sync. seriously race directors, this sort of course planning is simply not smart.

anyways, mishaps were avoided and i made the final turn and started the ascent to the finish line (how cruel!) i finished with a guntime of 56:50, a pr for the 10k distance. go me!! it ended up being good enough for 2nd place in my age group (out of 35 women). and because i’m a statistics junkie, that put me 6th overall woman, and 57/337 total in the 10k. not so bad for an off-road endurance runner ;)

one note of something new i tried pre-race: banananuun. MMMM! go out and get some. this stuff is fantastic and only around for a limited time!

EDIT: As I was so kindly reminded, locally in Chattavegas you can purchase nuun at my favorite running shop, Fast Break, and my favorite outdoor retailer, Rock/Creek. Show your love to these fine retailers!

$5000 raised for The Boonies at the Scenic City Trail Marathon & Half…

(from the press release:)

Locally-owned specialty outdoor retailer Rock/Creek today announces a $5,000 donation for The Boonies, the latest in a string of donations stemming from the Rock/Creek Trail Series. The Boonies will use the money to help run future events as well as secure access to single track trails. These funds came from last Saturday morning’s third annual Scenic City Trail Marathon and Half Marathon, presented by Vasque PROJECT and Rock/Creek. Other contributing sponsors include SmartWool, Marmot, The North Face, and Hammer Nutrition. Local sponsors include Greenlife Grocery and Cleveland Toyota.
…..
Proceeds from both events go to The Wilderness Trail Running Association (aka The Boonies) and will be used for future trail races, trail maintenance, and sustainability efforts in the Cumberland and Southern Appalachian Mountains. A portion of the money raised will go to help with SORBA’s trail building efforts.

read the full press release