January 2009
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Month January 2009

cross pics

eyeprojector treated itself to a new camera lens at the end of ’08, and with the hecticness of the new year, the cross race was the first chance i’ve had to play with it. so far i am loving it! (Canon EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS). a few shots are below…


the great thing about being a multisport athlete is that when you can’t do one thing, there’s always something else. right now, my ankles are making me gimpy. i must have done something at the lookout mtn 10k nearly 5 weeks ago. i did rest, but then did something silly (like running 15 miles in a new pair of shoes never tested on the trail) and have been suffering from what is likely an overuse injury in both ankles. (meanwhile I have a bone scan later this week to check out the original problem that is still present as well.)

so that leaves me with no running, which is untimely, as mentally i’ve been in this running mode. thankfully though, i have yoga, swimming, & cycling to fill in my time, work my body, and give me some much-needed stress release. and what better way to indulge than signing up for a race at the last minute. :)
cross-a-nooga was a weekend of cyclocross races here in chattavegas – and nothing to do with cross-dressing (as one of my not-so-cycling-oriented friends inquired!).  i did 2 or 3 cross races last year – loved them, but definitely not the type of event for an endurance person. my goals were to just go out there, have some fun, race hard (and see how my breathing problems that plagued me last fall are doing), and hopefully not wack my ankle too bad. 
the women’s cx-4 division started about 30 seconds behind the men’s cx-4 group. the horn blew and i jumped to the front, with star (old adv racing friend and current vantaggio rider) taking the lead into the first turn. the first half of the course had a lot of action. right off, there was a steep hill and a 180. then there was a twisty area where the course designer really maxed out the open sloping hillside, including one barrier + a runup. it was right after this that i slipped by star and a male rider, taking the women’s lead. 
with this race being the last of the day, the muddy spots were thick and grooved by the previous riders. good balance is key; just let the bike dance under you. one large muddy area was followed by a deep sand pit- lovely. lots of loose sand to hang on to the mud already in my tires. (since i don’t have a cross bike (yet!) i used my mtn bike – light enough to be fairly competitive, but i didn’t change out my tires, so my knobbies held in lots of crap.) next came a long out and back, great for getting some speed and hopefully putting some distance between me and second place. at the end of the course (about 1.5 miles long), there was a double barrier to jump over and another chicane before we got to do the whole thing over again. (and again and again – 4 laps total for me). the remaining laps were fairly uneventful. i was trying my best to hold on – legs & lungs both burning. i put a few seconds on star each lap, but 1 mishap could ruin it all for me. luckily that didn’t happen and i held on for the win! my vixen teammate carol nabbed 3rd place.
sunday’s course was rearranged a bit, with 2 chicanes added on steeper sections that forced (me) off the bike for some runups. one i probably could have ridden, but i didn’t think the effort would save me time (i was neck and neck with one guy for 3 laps – he rode, i ran, and we stayed together, so i think it was an ok decision). i took the lead at the start this time and stayed there till the end. i even passed a few guys :)   carol took 2nd place today, with helen (another vantaggio rider) placing 3rd.
big thanks to scenic city multisport in putting on a fantastic event! and thanks to all the volunteers out there making things happen. there is talk about expanding the series next year –  a fantastic idea!

go confidently.

one of my fav quotes is “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.” by Henry David Thoreau. i’ve tried to follow this advice with my adventures in life, but one person who has truly done this was Rob Gauntlett. i met rob last year during an incredible journey he was taking with his best friend John Hooper. the two traveled under their own power from the magnetic north pole to the south pole, to raise awareness of climate change. we were lucky to have them pass through chattanooga, where dreama and i joined them on our road bikes for a segment. they duo, only 20 years old at the time, were incredibly inspiring with both their stories of adventure and their passion for life & their beliefs. 

today i received an email saying that rob was killed in a climbing accident in france. it’s sad that someone with such an incredible life ahead was taken from us at such a young age, but we know rob has lived a life with no regrets and certainly spent his last day doing something he truly loved. while he is no longer with us, his spirit has touched the lives of adventurers young & old and will continue to inspire us in our future. 
rob, may your next journey be filled with new adventures.

a look back at ’08

One year ended and another began with 3 days of cycling (I must have tweaked my ankle during the Lookout 10k, as it’s been hurting while running ever since… so Matt says no running for a bit.) The 31st & 1st was FRIGID. (although my legs were toasty with my rockin new hincapie bib tights. merry christmas to me!) During Thursday’s 3rd annual Frosty Challenge, we even had to dodge a section of ice on the road on top of the mountain.

the starting crew: Lance, David, Dreama, Lee, Brenda, me

at the transition: David, Carol, Me, Leigh, Dreama
Now for a recap of the past 12 months…


The year began with great news – I was asked to be on the Rock/Creek Race Team. How could I say no?! :-) R/C happens to be my favorite store in Chatt and amazingly supportive of local outdoor initiatives, from running to climbing to paddling. The 16 other race team members are all kick ass and very inspiring. Huge thanks to Rock/Creek, along with Patagonia, Vasque, Icebreaker, and La Sportiva for their sponsorship & support throughout the year. (And I’m excited to be reprezentin’ again in 2009!)
There are a few races that automatically get written on my calendar – the Black Mountain Marathon is one of them. Not only is it a great event, it takes me to beautiful Black Mountain, NC, which means I get to visit with friends in Asheville I don’t get to see nearly enough. This year I was once again signed up for the 40mile challenge, but once again winter injuries had my training behind schedule, so I had to drop back to the marathon. I had a great race, nabbing a top 10 finish in the women’s race and besting last year’s time by 17 minutes. Hmm, I’m starting to like this marathon distance… what will ’09 bring?!

March was just a great month. Was my new coach working his magic this quick?! At the Blankets Dirty Duathlon, I got a 2nd place age group/3rd place overall female finish. At the end of the month, I had one of my best running races ever, finishing 2nd overall female in the Rock/Creek River Gorge 6.5mile trail run.

April showers bring…. muddy mountain bike races! The Cohutta 100 luckily featured a 65mile option this year – perfect distance for me on a mix of terrain that suited me well: about 50% singletrack/50% gravel roads, with just under 11,000′ of elevation gain. yeah baby! I was having a superb race until chain suck tortured me & my bike just after the last aid station. Lesson learned: carry a small bottle of lube. I finished in 7:32, grabbing 5th in the women’s open division. I was psyched to share the podium with studettes that usually race expert division in xc. Even better than this though was having my sister, bro-in-law, and nephews at the race to watch Aunt Cathi try to go fast. Evan thought I was pretty funny covered in mud at the end!

My shortest accomplishment… winning my age group for the Market Street Mile, and surprisingly setting a new state record for my age. How cool! I also finished in the money at the Greenway Challenge… although I lost a pair of sunglasses during the paddle and the money didn’t quite cover the replacement cost. dang.
My big June event (Cherohala Challenge) was replaced by something else (a root canal). So not much to report here, other than lots of time on my bike which took me to some beautiful areas. Big thanks to Zeke for the endless
hours of training time & touring!

Bald River Falls

The countdown to Leadville begins with a training trip out west. We rode about 80% of the course, including the toughest hill twice: Powerline. wow. I am SO not a downhiller! On July 4th, we went rafting on the Arkansas River. wow again. My first time in water that big. The weekend was complete with a party with the Melanzana folks and fireworks over Leadville that started some small sagebrush fires (quickly extinguished, of course). Exciting times!

The big day arrives – the Leadville 100 “Race Across The Sky” mountain bike race. I’ve never concentrated on one event so much. I didn’t like having all my eggs in one basket. I was either going to make it or not. Somehow I still found the gray area, finishing in 12:46, which race directors deem “officially unofficial”. So I got the finishers medal but no belt buckle. Dang! That means I’ll be back again some time…. The experience was amazing and I had an incredible time. I had some R&R; before and after in Steamboat with family & friends – life can’t get much better.

a group of friends from Chatt did the Wild West Relay, 

then stayed at Steve & Lorraine’s with me for some recovery time.
me + Tawnya riding the red to the finish line!

My favorite race, the Tsali Challenge, yielded a 4th place in the women’s solo, and a 2nd in the women’s relay. It also showed that my lungs were having problems recovering from fun at altitude. (or something like that… I’d spend the next few months getting various tests from lots of specialists around with still not much being figured out. quite frustrating!) The end of the month, I raced in the Black Bear Rampage, a 44-mile mtn bike race out at the Ocoee. I was having a great day, but a mix up with results weren’t clarified for another week. I ended up winning the women’s sport 34 & under division, but didn’t get to stand on the cool podium (that would have been my first time on a #1!). And I didn’t get cool new Oakleys that other winners got, which was a bummer since I lost another pair of sunglasses when I crashed on one tight corner.

Rock/Creek’s annual StumpJump 50k is usually on my calendar, although with all the cycling this year, I opted for the 11mile option, finishing 4th female overall. Also this month was the YMCA Strong Adventure Race that I direct, along with my friend Kevin Manning. We moved the event to Camp Ocoee, which enabled us to also add a 12hr course to the events (a 6hr and youth adventure race also occurred). The event was hugely successful, raising over $5000 for the Strong Kids Campaign!

Another favorite race… (do I have too many?!) Shut-In Ridge in Asheville. Colors are at their peak on the parkway, I get too see my Ash friends, and the race is killer – uphill for most
of the 17.8 miles. My time was 17 min faster than last year (was that this year’s magic #?) During Thanksgiving, I went on a canoe camping trip on the Suwannee River. Normally I don’t miss FL too much, but I really got to experience the best. I love the lushness of the forest with live oaks and palms and the peacefulness of padding at night and seeing stars everywhere. This was probably the highlight weekend of the year.

view from the Blueridge Parkway

Sunset on the Suwannee
Holiday adventures with my nephews! The whole family hiked the La Chua Trail, which extends into Paynes Prairie. We were treated with view of hundreds of alligators and thousands of sandhill cranes. An amazing way to end the year.