Sunday, February 24, 2013

Ride the High Horse - Thrill in the Hills 21K race report

So, you know how I hate it when people drop trash outside of designated trash receptacles?  Today, I am going to get on my soapbox/high horse and vent about it.  If you are a litterer or think that you are too good for trash can usage, stop reading now. 

But first, the race!  
About a month ago, Natalie, Karen, and I decided to do the Thrill in the Hills Marathon at Fort Yargo State Park in Winder, GA.  Sure, Natalie was scheduled for a marathon 3 weeks prior to the race, Karen was coming back from Hawaii, and I was undertrained.  Our friend James was running, it is a lovely trail race, and what a grand adventure it would be! 

Then, life intervened.  I have been sick for two weeks, Karen was exhausted from her trip, and the weather was cold and rainy.  So, it ended up that only Natalie was tough enough for the full, I ran the half with James, and Karen got some much-needed rest. 

It was a beautiful race, though, even with the muddy conditions, and I had a grand time running through the woods.  I sang songs ("Gilligan's Island," when the dude in front of me turned up the bottom of his white hat which reminded me of Gilligan's hat; "Bootylicious" after I slipped off of the trail and landed on my well-padded posterior; and the "Rocky" theme after another runner requested it), chatted with other runners and generally had a glorious time.  I challenged some young dudes to a swim across the freezing lake (I totally could have taken them on the swim, not so much on the run).  And, I only fell three times!  The first time, I face-planted and James picked me up.  The second time I slid out of a turn, which led to the Bootylicious discussion with my fellow runners.  The last time was 1/2 mile from the finish where I thought I could leap over the puddle like the dude in front of me.  Alas, no.  My feet slipped out from under me and I landed IN the puddle.

So, my shoes look very clean here because I had hosed them off before this photo.  You would have thought that trail shoes would have been necessary for this race, but my Ghost 5s performed admirably and shucked each layer of mud and dousing of water within about 4-5 steps.

NOW, on to the horsing around:

Our race instructions were very specific about waste disposal: 

Aid Stations: 3.95 (water), 6.95 (water / gatorade / gel packets), 10.3 (water), 13.25 (water / drop station for 42K runners)... please note at each of these stations we will have trash cans located just beyond the station... please help us keep the trails clean by putting the "gel packets" and "cups" in the trash cans.

Note that last part.  The "putting the gel packets and cups in the trash cans" part.  Is that ambiguous?  Does it not mean "put your trash in the can"?  Well?

Apparently, my fellow runners (people consuming jet blackberry GU, blueberry pomegranate ROCTANE, and Powerbar gel, I am especially talking to you), interpreted this sentence differently because they dropped trash everywhere.  They left stuff at road crossings, at the directional signs, after each aid staion, in the middle of the trail.  Seriously.  I picked up at least three gel containers, plus tear tabs, cups, and other trash between each aid station.  Consider that (a) I only did the half, (b) I did not get every piece of trash, and (c) there were a lot of people behind me, and you start to realize that those runners are a bunch of pigs.

Now, it was good for me to look for the trash because it kept my eyes sweeping the trail, which helped me maintain my footing, but really?  How about a brief tutorial in proper gel management? 

Dagny and Annika will demonstrate:
 First, tear the top off of your gel:
 Next, mash the gel out of the sachet, squeezing from the bottom up:
After you have eaten most of the gel, tuck the opening tab against the bottom of the sachet as you roll it up to squeeze the rest of the gel out:
Continue squeezing the sachet from the bottom and rolling the sachet up until you have eaten all of the delicious GU.  Notice that the tear tab is securely stowed in the center of the roll and the squeeze/roll process has extracted all GU from the sachet.
Completely rolled GU sachets are empty (no sticky leakage!), small, and easily stowed in your pocket, jog-bra, handbottle pocket, etc.
Until you find a proper trash receptable.
Please keep the trails (and roads) clean, people.  No one wants to pick up (or even touch) your saliva-covered, half-empty gel containers.  ICK.

Please note that I am a GU Ambassador and a Brooks Fanatic, so I receive reduced-price products (and sometimes free stuff!) from them.  However, regardless of these relationships, GU is my fueling method and Brooks are my shoes of choice, neither company commissioned this post (littering really is my pet peeve), and I paid to enter myself in the Thrill in the Hills marathon.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Red Top Cadillac - Red Top Rumble Race report

Bear with me. . .

Throughout the Red Top Rumble 11.5 mile trail race  today, I kept singing the refrain from Pink Cadillac because that song was playing as we ran through the first aid station.  Bruce Springsteen does a masterful job with this song.

Pink Cadillac
crushed velvet seats
riding down the track
cru-u-u-sin' down the street
wa-a-avin' to the girls
fee-e-lin' outta sight
spendin' all my money on Saturday night

Anyway, today we joined 400 or so of our buddies for the 6th running of my favorite trail race this morning.  Here are Annika, Michelle, Dagny, John, Greg, Owen, Adam and Doug pre-race.  It was chilly for the start, but as the other racers filtered in, we found more and more buddies.

Thank you Jeffrey Galinas for following photos.  First, here is the former RD, Jaydene, finally getting to run this year!
And here, with Jeffrey (who I do not actually know) is new RD and fellow Brooks Fanatic Jim Bickelhaupt.  Jim did a fabulous job this year and we all had a great time!
Here are Team Bachman and Team Dasher (minus John because he took this photo) before the start.  John brought snacks and kept the kids safe while Doug, Michelle, and I ran.  He also took lots of great photos!

The official plan for today's run included some miles and half-miles in Z4.  After my first mile came in at 8:05 (a hair above Z4) and with the knowledge that the second half of the race was very hilly, I decided that I was going to ignore the plan and just run along.  This turned out to be delightful.  I ran with (behind) some guys whose shirts said "choice, not chance, determines your destiny", with my friend Eric, with my friend James, and with a very nice lady whose name I did not think to ask.  I missed running with Natalie, though, so we will have to run together another day.  I ate a Just Plain GU somewhere around the half-way point after I decided that I would feel awful at the finish if I did not eat something, even though my heartrate was likely too high to absorb the GU very well.  I slowed down a bit to help it along and it did help me feel better.  Mmm, just plain is so good.  All the while, Pink Cadillac kept repeating in my head.  It had a nice beat and although I did not do The Boss justice, I enjoyed singing along.  We jumped several logs in the first few miles and ran around the lake as the sun rose and the sun glinted off of the water.  We came upon the loudest and happiest course monitor ever (thanks again, Jeffrey Galinas, for the photo).  Jason was yelling and cow-belling to beat the band and he kept up a constant stream of encouragement.  It made me smile.  He was still doing it on the return trip and you could hear him a full quarter of a mile away!  Thanks Jason!
At mile 4.5, we arrived at the vistors center.  Yes!  This race runs right past a real bathroom with running water, soap, and paper towels.  : ) Perfect for me!

Then, the hills began in earnest and I chugged up them (small steps!) until I got dizzy and then power-walked the rest.  I airplaned around the curves on the downhills and generally had a fabulous time.  At some point, John and the kids were out to give us all high-fives!

You can see Dags greeting Doug.  Owen is the one in the teal hat.
 Here I am!  Annika's hand is in the blue glove.
 Here comes Michelle!
Owen in his angry birds hat/mask.
I picked up trash on the course, sang to myself, encouraged the folks around me, joked around, and generally had a good time for the rest of the race.  I won't tell a lie, though, those last 4 miles were pretty hard.  Possibly, 8:05 was a bit fast for the first two miles.  The only downer was that the guy in front of me fell down on one of the downhill curves in mile 8 or so.  He twisted his ankle and it hurt a lot.  He got back up, though, and finished the race, so that is good news.  Tough guy.

Here is Michelle at the finish.  Notice that we have matching vests.  : )   I was in charge of picking the color of her vest, so we are twinsies.
 After I finished, we got to see the kids come in from the kids' race.  Each kid got a wooden medal and a bag-ful of goodies.  They LOVED it. 

After Owen beat Annika last year, she was out for blood.  She gave it all she had to keep in front this time.  Owen does not appear quite as tired, so he might have taken one for the team.
 Dagny came in on her own (quite the ham, this one) looking strong.
I made Doug take my photo before I changed into dry clothes.

In addition to GU, Montrail, and a bunch of other sponsors, the race was sponsored by the Great American Cookie Company, who gave out free cookies from their truck and made everyone's day.  Who doesn't want delicious fresh-baked cookies after a race!  And, a giant cookie running around - how cool is that?
The post-race spread was awesome, as usual:  hot chocolate, chobani yogurt, the cookies, turkey, pork, and tofu BBQ, potato salad, cole slaw, and fixins.  Dagny wanted only cole slaw.  Ha!

We stuck around until the finish and had a lovely time.  I even won a door prize from Village Naturals!  A basket of bath salts and body wash that I got to share with my buddies!  All in all, it was a fabulous day.  I love this race.  Thanks Jim for the great event!

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Kiss the Dirt - Last Chance 50K race report

Wow, this song takes me back.  In high school, Kim, Jennie, and I were intimately familiar with the collected works of INXS so it is always a bit nostalgic for me to hear them.  And with the falling and dirt theme, this was a natural pick for the title of my Last Chance 50K race report.

Sometimes I have fabulous ideas for adventures.  Eagle Endurance's Last Chance 50K was one of them.  A 50K race, near Charleston, on a flat trail through the country.  What more could you ask for?  Doug and I have been eyeing 50K races for several years as we volunteered at various GUTS events and met a lot of cool ultra runners.  We love the low-key atmosphere of the ultra events and discovered that we can camp!   Who would have thought?

So, last year, I emailed the race director (Chad) to ask about the distance and race particulars.  He responded immediately with a blast of positivity:  "Yes! You should do the race!  It will be great!"  And with that, the die was cast.

All that was lacking was talking some friends into joining me.  Becky and Katie were taking time off.  Natalie just started a new job.  Karen was game, though, and Doug modified a plan for us to train.  My friend from the Savannah Marathon and the Goofy Challenge, Cathy, and her run buddy Noah were racing too, so that made it feel perfect.

So, how do you train for a 50K? 

You run A LOT.

Doug made up a plan for us that looked a lot like a plan I found online and we plunged into training.  Because of the late start on training, we were a little behind from the beginning, but it was OK.  Karen did the whole plan and ended up way better trained than I did.  I fell down [insert foreshadowing music here - BUM BUM BUMMMMMM] on a couple of morning runs, and pulled my hamstring both times, so I missed a couple of long runs but thought I would be all right since the leg healed quickly.  Better undertrained that injured, right?  Training was really empowering, though.  Something about busting out a 13 or 15 mile run in the middle of the week makes you feel like Superman.  Me, myself, and I had plenty of good talks on those mid-week runs.  On the weekends, I tried to cajole Natalie or Karen into solving the problems of the world with me, but sometimes those runs were solo also.

As the race drew nearer, I got a little full of myself.  Chad published the race packet here and it did not even make me nervous.  [more foreshadowing music]  I was more worried about the "facilities" than the race.  We drove to Summerville the night before the race and my tummy was a mess, so maybe all of my nerves were subconscious.  Luckily, in addition to my trusty GU, I packed the ginger chews that show up in all ultra race bags.

Race morning dawned cloudy and cool.  We met Karen and Tom in the lobby of the beloved Hampton Inn, where I promptly spilled my water all over the floor not once, but twice.  We caravaned to the race start where Doug and Tom would leave one car for Karen and me while they went out for breakfast.

I was dressed not in my planned race shirt and vest with the pockets, but in most of my soft post-race gear, because someone was not focusing and neglected to pack the planned race shirt and vest.  Luckily, I remembered the headband at the last minute, and Doug was willing to return home to get it, so my ears did not freeze.  I secreted my GU in handbottle, capri pockets, and jogbra and Karen and I milled about and met a bunch of neat ladies (the Quick Chicks, I think?).  We finally found Cathy and Noah before the start.   I ate two ginger chews during this time and I think they helped my tummy calm down.

Then, Chad said "go" and we were off!  We started off into the pine forest along a pinestraw covered trail.  The trees met overhead and the trail was narrow, so it was hard to find my own pace and pass when necessary.  Miles 1- 3 were 11:17; 10:20; 10:22

The inevitable potty stop happened in mile 4.  I was pleased to have made it three miles without needing to stop.  As I came back out of the woods, Karen happened by and needed to stop also, so I waited and then tried to run her back up to the lady with the blue flowery socks, who was her beacon.  That was fun because I like a job!  Miles 4-7 were fast because of this and because my new experienced ultrarunner friend with the skull shorts dropped her hankie and I picked it up to run it back up to her:  13:27; 9:56; 10:24; 10:17  I fell for the first time during this section.  I was following the lady that eventually passed me in the last two miles of the race with her two run buddies when I tripped on a root and supermanned into the peaty trail.  It didn't hurt, but I was quite surprised to suddenly be facedown sliding through the leaves and dirt.  I must have been extra stealthy because they people ahead of me did not seem to notice the fall.  Later on, I stepped into a hole and did not realize it until my foot went down instead of springing forward into the next step and suddenly I was on the ground - WHUMP!  It was disorienting, but did not hurt and I don't think anyone else saw me.  I kept finding Accel-gel packets and beer cans on the trail, so I picked them up and carried them until the aid stations.  Littering is a huge pet peeve for me, so it made me angry to keep finding these things.  Whoever raced with Accel gels and Chocolate Raspberry Roctane has lost some serious karma points, I am telling you!

The aid station in mile 8 was lovely, with a beautiful porto-john.  Yes!  I had a party for myself, visited the potty, used my hand sanitizer, grabbed a handful of pretzels and continued on my way:  12:31  Somewhere after this, the wheels fell off of my running train.  As promised by Chad's detailed race packet, we exited the pine forest and entered the hardwood forest.  Chad had thoughtfully blown the leaves from the trail so that it was easy to follow the path through the trees and so that it would be easier to see the roots.  Unfortunately, I don't look down when I run, so I fell here at least twice more.  These falls were onto packed soil and roots, though, and they hurt a lot.  And, for each fall, there were several trips on which I managed not to fall, which were sometimes more jarring than the actual falls.  I hit the valley of darkness in this section and after the 4th or 5th fall, I gave myself a stern talking-to.  I was running like a mack truck and I needed to run like a deer.  This gave full opportunity for a flashback to my fat years and a cataloging of the character flaws that cause me to do this kind of thing to myself.

     "Look at the ground!"
     "Stop being so stubborn!  You can't muscle through this!"
     "You must adapt to this terrain and pick up your feet!"
     "Get your head out of your . . . . !"

This got me past the 10 mile tree without turning around and quitting, so that was a huge victory.

It was not a pretty time for me and luckily the guy in the blue shirt that kept flickering in the corner of my eye was not actually the mirage I thought he was and when I caught up with him, we ran together for several miles to the halfway point.  I fell one last time onto some roots after finding blue shirt guy (who is doing Ironman Nice this year because of a family reunion), and we had some good conversation after that point.  Miles 9 - 16: 11:00; 10:41; 11:03; 12:46; 11:03; 10:44; 10:22; 12:34

I had two handfuls of pretzels at the half-way mark and continued on with some modicum of mojo.  This portion of the race was through a narrow passage that looked like a cross between something out of Children of the Corn and running through someone's backyard.  The footing was still dicey, but I stayed relatively upright without falling.  10:14; 10:15; 10:22  Then, sometime around mile 20, I found the pain. 

Later, I realized that the pain was probably because I was undertrained and underestimated the course and went out too fast, but also because my body was sore from all of the falling and trying-not-to-fall-ing.  In a marathon, this pain does not usually happen until mile 22 or so, at which point you can suck it up because you are almost done.  In this race, though, I still had ten miles to go, which led to another valley of darkness.  This time, however, the valley was wider than the Grand Canyon, and I could not find any path out.  Miles 20-24: 11:48; 11:23; 10:59; 12:12; 13:38  Sometime during this stretch, I found Noah in my punch-drunk state and we battled to the final aid station together.  He had given away his water and was cramping badly, so I gave him some of my mine.  We must have been quite a sight because I was not making sense at that point and though I knew the aid station was coming up, I could not articulate this concept with any clarity.  I had a banana and some pretzels at the aid station and got back underway.  Miles 25-31 were run-walking as I battled to keep moving.  I ran with a very nice lady during this section who was so sweet and positive that I had to leave her behind.  Usually I am that positive person, but the nice Steph I used to know was long gone.  I just wanted to lie down.  I whimpered a lot, but was too tired to cry.  Miles 25-27:  11:25; 12:39; 11:57

I tried to run as much as possible, adhering to the ultra-running adage that if it hurts to walk and it hurts to run, you should just run.  At times it was too much, though, and I walked for longer and longer stretches before talking myself into running again.  I passed a guy in this section who had given away his water, so I gave him mine, which immediately made me feel as thirsty as if I were in the Sahara.  It was just in my head, I knew, because the darkness was making me negative.  The dark-haired woman and her two running buddies passed thirsty man and me at this point and I jumped on the back of their group thinking I could just tail them to the finish.  Alas, their pace may have been steady as a rock, but it felt herky-jerky (constantly speeding up and slowing down) to me in my cloud of funk and I had to walk just to get away from them.  During this whole section, I could not sing songs, not even my happy song, and I was reduced to counting the miles as I do laps in the pool:  28, 28, 28, 28, 28, 28, 28, yes!, 29, 29, 29, 29, 29, 29, 29, 29, etc.  You might think this would cause insanity, but it was oddly comforting. 

I had thought that the race was 31.5 miles long, and when the finish line appeared just after 31 miles (what I thought was half-a-mile early), though I felt a pang of guilt at it being short and briefly contemplated running the rest after the finish, I was completely relieved.  It turns out, 50K is 31.06 miles, so I was wrong.  Whew!  The last splits were : 12:28; 12:51; 12:27; 10:57 partial  Doug got me some water and I lay on the ground for a while before changing into my warmer clothes.

Cathy had finished just in front of the dark-haired woman and her buddies, so we hung out until Noah arrived.

Then, Karen arrived and was not (as I feared) mad at me for talking her into this ridiculous endeavor, but was beaming!  She had had a great race.  : )  We drove to Charleston, checked into our hotel, and proceeded to sample the local brews and snacks until bedtime.

It has taken me several weeks to come to terms with this race.  Physically, I had a pretty good race.  My legs were sore, but not destroyed at the end, and my GU every 5 miles plan worked very well so I had plenty of fuel.  My plan B outfit and trusty Brooks Ghost 5s held up fine, but I lost the mental battle. 

You may ask, "why would you want to run so far when it is so unpleasant?"   I don't think it has to be unpleasant, so I can do a better job than this and I will try again.

Maybe next year.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Good Day Sunshine - 2012 Roswell GA 100 Miles to Nowhere Part 2

Part 2 - The Ride

We started out at a slow pace only a few minutes behind schedule. Yes! A huge improvement over last year's chaos.

Harvey and Edin were running even later than me, so they joined in on the fun for on lap 2. Steve and Jay were training for Ironman Lake Placid, so their strong bike legs hung with Karen and me for 2 laps and then left us in the dust.

Laps 1-3 were cool and delightful. All was going well. Groups of riders arrived throughout the day and joined in for as many laps as they wanted. Lap 4 started getting harder and I told myself that after 5 laps, we would be past halfway and it would get easier. Katie joined Karen and me on laps 6 and 7 (I think) and explained her sister's new diet plan (hard-core paleo), which gave us lots to talk and think about as Karen rode up the hill away from us. Katie dropped off for a food break on Lap 8, but I caught back up with Karen and we had a low-glycogen laugh when Harvey passed us on THE hill while regaling us with a story about how he had eaten deep-fried twinkies with bacon on them at dinner the previous evening. Somehow, I missed the segueway into this conversation from the previous discussion and the result was so comical that we ended up laughing the whole way up the hill, which was a welcome distraction. Lap 9 was tough, but I had told Karen on Lap 8 that it would be my turn to lead so she could draft.  Yes, I realize that 2 out of 10 laps is not much leading, but Karen likes to be first so she resists drafting just like Natalie does.  So, I had to bring it on Lap 9 so that Karen didn't pass me. Katie and Paul joined us for Lap 10 while Karen went into honey-badger mode and stopped talking. I decided that she needed some encouragement, so I channeled my inner Natalie and sang songs for the entire lap. Unfortunately, on the last 10 miles of a hilly hundred, your mind does not always work exactly right, so I could not remember all of the lyrics to any song. A sound early in the ride had put Prince's "When Doves Cry" into my ear, so I sang that. Some Journey, some Neil Diamond ("Sweet Caroline"), some Britney ("3"), some Adele ("Rolling in the Deep"), and even some Billy Joel. When no one joined in except for Katie on Sweet Caroline, I decided that the problem was VOLUME! I needed to sing louder! Ha. OK, it might actually be a talent (or lack of talent) issue.  So, the singing totally worked because my last two laps were the fastest of the whole day.  BOOM!

Here, Karen and I are comparing our mileage because her Garmin had us going short.  This photo makes me giggle every time I look at it.  Natalie suggested that we caption this one "OK, we are 0.3 miles short, so we will have to do the cul-de-sac three times to get to our number."  Don't laugh.  We would definitely do that.

Photo by Tom Richardson. 
After the ride, it was time to RUN!  Brooks Running sponsored a special prize for a person who rode and ran - a certificate for a free pair of shoes!  What more could you ask for?  Because Karen had gone honey badger on the last part of the ride, I was a little concerned that she might not want to run.  However, after I went inside to visit the restroom and returned outside to start running, she was already gone!  She employed a run/walk strategy and made it very difficult to catch up.  Anyone thinking about doing a longer distance race should consider using a run/walk strategy (walk at planned intervals, walk the aid stations, walk the hills, whatever) because they really do seem faster than straight running, especially if there are big hills or if it is hot.  The walking portions, if you keep a swift pace and don't lollygag, don't lose very much time and allow your heartrate and body temperature to return to normal so that you can run better for a longer period of time.

And then there was Katie.  Katie has long sandbagged her running ability.  Sure, she swam in college and regularly kicks my behind on the bike, but she has always maintained that she is "not a runner."  Well, just let me tell you that she IS a runner.  Katie trained all spring with her local running store's team and she has gotten very fast.  It took me two miles to get anywhere near her on this run and when I clocked her pace on my Garmin, it was 8:00 minutes per mile.  I distinctly remember her telling me at Wisconsin that "I can't run 8 minutes per mile" while were were actually running at that pace.  So, I've proved it yet again.   

A nice surprise at the end of the ride was the arrival of my friends Mickey and John. Mickey and I met as members of our neighborhood's playgroup and our kids are approximately the same ages.  Mickey has recently completed her first triathlon and she runs a lot.
Mickey and John brought their friend Paul, too, and John and Paul continued riding after I was done, so they are the toughest of all.
There were tons of people that I never even spoke with, but here is what I remember: Isabel and her friend ran one ten-mile loop with their camelbacks. Karen and I were inspired and may give that a try one day. Jennifer (training for Ironman Arizona) rode at least one lap. Cindi beat last year's record of 5 laps with her platform pedals and passed a lot of people, including me. Lisa rode 3 laps. Mike and his buddy rode several laps and I think they also ran a loop after their ride. Jason, Brian, Chris and Dave all rode 3 loops and ran once around the neighborhood loop after each one.

Photo by Bill Haynes. Dave on the home stretch.

Photo by Bill Haynes. Jason taking the turn wide.

Dave's neighbor Kate rode several laps way faster than us and then she ran too!
Photo by Bill Haynes. Kate and Steve bringing it home.

Sue and Neil are training for their first Ironman races this year (Louisville and Arizona, respectively), so they each rode 70 miles with a transition run after. Sue even did her transition run on the trails at the Leita Thompson park! Bill did hill repeats. Justin rode a little with every group, which was nice because then we all got to talk to him.
Photo by Bill Hanes. Justin stays on the inside.

Katie staggered her laps with under-the-tent chill time. Becky and her sister (who are both signed up to do Augusta 70.3!) ignored my flat route cue-sheets and drove out to do full goats on Stroup Road.

Karen, Jay, Steve, Harvey, and I finished the full 100 miles plus a transition run of 2.7 miles or more.

After finished their rides/runs, folks stuck around to enjoy Doug's fabulous BBQ and the delicious dishes that people brought. Steve's wife, Buffy, made awesome broccoli salad with bacon in it and Becky made her fabulous rum cake.  Karen (after some encouragement from me) and I enjoyed the delightful coolness of the Chillinator after we finished our rides and run.
Together, we raised a total of $1,556 for the AFLAC Childrens Cancer Center at Childrens Healthcare of Atlanta.  They will use these funds to buy bio-feedback machines (similar to the heartrate monitors we wear while training) to help the kids manage their pain better.

Part of the 100 MTN was the inevitable waiver.  I told you, I am a rules girl.  However, to encourage waiver signatures, I created an elaborate system for folks to obtain their drawing tickets after signing their waivers.  Every participant received a GU Brew water bottle, but the following lucky folks won additional prizes because I drew their tickets from the magic barrels:
  • Bryan Estes won the bike grand prize, a GU Sampler Package of all of GU's nutrition products
  • Bill Haynes won a Specialized 100 Miles OF Nowhere bike bottle from my Fat Cyclist package
  • Karen Richardson won the other 100 Miles OF Nowhere bike bottle
  • Katie Pothier won the Banjo Brothers bento box from my Fat Cyclist package
  • Lisa Bennett won the Brooks Gift Certificate for a pair of free shoes
  • Shanna Rome won the Brooks Jet Blackberry t-shirt
  • Adam Teja won a sampler package of GU gels.
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you to everyone who came out to ride or run or just hang out with us or who donated to this great cause.  Thank you also to GU Energy and Brooks Running for their support and for providing free or reduced priced goods to use or give away at this event!

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Good Day Sunshine - 2012 Roswell GA 100 Miles to Nowhere Report Part 1


First, the was no sunshine at the start of this year's Roswell GA 100 Miles to Nowhere.
Photo by Doug
Second, I realized in the week before the ride that the Fat Cyclist's event (upon which our event is modeled and for which I register each year) is actually called the 100 Miles OF Nowhere.  100 MTN v. 100 MON.  Oops. 

Third, though I say it every time, I think that I overcommitted in the weeks before this event.  The Beast of the East was on May 20.  The following weekend was my sister's wedding.  And the next weekend, the Tri-the-Y kids triathlon in Athens on Saturday with 100 MTN on Sunday. Whew!  While I took the kids to Athens for the race, Doug smoked boston butts on the grill.  Each set of butts (they fit on the grill 2 at a time) took 12 hrs to cook, with checking and intervention every 2 hours.
Gratuitous photo of my kids in their new Dream Team outfits.  So proud!
This year, determined to streamline the process, I researched making screen-printed signs.  Pricey!  Instead, I used Word to make sheets of logos that I could print, copy, and paste onto foamcore sheets.  A new step was to have the helpful young man at Dick Blick Art Supply cut the foamcore for me.  It was WAY easier and more professional-looking than last year.  Dick Blick's fancy-bladed cutting machine is far superior to the dull x-acto knife I used.  My kids helped me make the signs after a last minute trip to Performance Bikes for chamois butter.  They also helped make drop boxes for donations and drawing tickets.  Who doesn't love arts and crafts?
My sister Emily and Ioannis (her new husband) stopped by on their way home from their honeymoon (Dagny calls it their moonbeam) and helped us finish the art projects and we started talking, so I was late getting out the door to put up the signs.   I forgot how to turn on the hazard lights in my car and reload staples into the staple-gun, but finally figured them both out and finished putting up the signs way after dark.
Sunday dawned cool and humid, but we got the tents up in good time.  I had a huge problem with the math for converting scoops of GU Electrolyte Brew to 1/4 cups to whole cups, but finally figured it out (with a little help from Doug) so that my GU Electrolyte brew tasted right.  Brew on the right, water on the left.
Below is a photo of me giving the pre-race instructions to the crew.  If you know me, you know that I am into rules and this race was no exception.  I laid it out very simply.  Take your bike bottle and sign the waiver.  Put your tickets in the drawing barrels.  Please donate to the AFLAC Childrens Cancer Center at CHOA.  No public urination, start out slowly, please stop at all stop-signs.  For the most part, folks complied with the rules and I definitely did not see any public urination.  : )

You can see Doug's chillinator in the background.  After last year's heat, Doug upgraded from the hose chair and built a bike-through shower to keep us cool.  He was not interested in anyone falling out in the driveway.  The chillinator was fabulous, especially in between the later laps when the day heated up.  We will have to think of a way to make a permanent outdoor shower at our house!  Because there was a cop following us on at least three of our ten loops, I think someone made a complaint about this.  The chillinator does look a bit like a gallows.
Photo by Doug.  From left to right:  me, Adam, Karen, Steve, Jay, Dave, Bryan, and Jason.
Tomorrow, Part 2 - The Ride.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

This is the End

After the pre-race meeting for the Beast of the East, where the race director (Scott) announced that this would be the last year of the race, I thought about all of the song titles that would capture my feelings about it being the last running.  This is what spoke to me the most.

I first discovered the Greater Smokey Mountains Triathlon Club in 2008 when I got plantar fasciitis and trained for its 5K swim race.  That race was an amazing experience for me and I have loved Lake Chatuge and the GSMTC ever since.

My first time at the Beast of the East was in 2010.  It was a low-key, no-frills event, but Lake Chatuge was beautiful, the bike ride was challenging and scenic, and the run was an effort.  Last year, GU allowed me to race at Rev3 Knoxville, so I missed racing with Karen and Becky, but this year I was back!  Doug, the girls, and I met Karen and Tom to camp in the Clay County Recreation Park before the race.  My second adult camping experience was great!  Car camping is the way to go for me.  We had a blast feeding the fire and testing different kinds of s'mores.  Doug and Tom know how to camp!

Tom showing off his outdoor chef skills.  He made us a killer pre-race dinner.

Doug coming in from his ride of the course - 2/3 mph faster than my race pace.
It wasn't a surprise when Scott said he was done directing races, because I knew that other races (Rev3 Knoxville, Gulf Coast, and now Mountain Madness) had moved into the late spring/early summer slot.  Still, it wasn't a bouncy "It's the End of the World as We Know It" I felt as I lined up in the lake with Karen.  It was melancholy.

Scott said "GO!" and we were off.  I veered all over the place on the way out to the first buoy like I always do, accidentally scratching some guy on his foot.  I thought it was Jay, but he said it wasn't him.  It was actually impossible for it to have been him because he was WAY in front of me.  Ha!  I forced myself to calm down and enjoy the marvelous lake.  I concentrated on swimming with a purpose and made it to the giant concrete thing in good time.  I thought I was near Steve for most of the first leg, but I didn't see him on the swim after that.  After turning around the concrete thing, I headed for the second buoy.  It didn't seem to be getting any closer, but I concentrated on reaching forward and that seemed to help.  AND, I noticed that I was following some bubbles.  For the first time in my triathlon career, I was drafting on the swim!  OK, really, I was veering in and out of the draft, but still.  It was a huge relief to let the other person worry about where we were going and just aim towards the bubbles.   I made sure to go around the last buoy and made it up onto the shore.  Doug was there waiting and shouted out "FIRST WOMAN!"

                                   45:32 for the swim and transition #1
WTH?  How did that happen?  I was sure that I had been following another girl.

Going out on the bike, I mosey-ed along and thought about what Julie Moss said about being in first place at Kona in 1982, about how first place was hers and no one was going to take it from her.

Yeah, I did not feel that way.  My bike strength can't support that kind of attitude, so I watched woman by woman pass me.  The first was turquoise shirt in mile 5.  She looked really strong as she stood to climb past me.  I made peace with the pass by telling myself I would either get her on the run (it was WAY too early to be standing on the climbs) or if she was strong enough to stand on the climbs and then run she was the stronger woman and deserved to win.  A tall, thin lady passed next and then a brother/sister team on Litespeeds who appeared to be taking turns leading.  I HATE that.  Drafting is illegal, so I made it my mission to pass the woman on the run.  Then, sometime around mile 20, Karen passed me.  I gave her the lowdown on the leaderboard and then she was gone.

The bike beast (a 4 mile hill, that requires standing at the top) was challenging and I kicked myself for not stopping at the porto-john located at the top of it.  Instead, I soldiered on and stopped at the oasis instead.  The oasis is a gas station that sponsors the race that is located out on the highway portion of the route.  Becky and I stopped during one ride of the course years ago and bought gallon jugs of water that we used to fill every bottle we had and dump on our heads because we were overheating.  The potties were locked!  After I waited for about a minute for the person in there to leave, the clerk told me they were out of order.  Curses!

"Just go on the bike," I told myself. 

"No, I don't want pee socks. They will smell and give me a blister."

So I soldiered on, bladder throbbing, and looked for some cover.  Finally, I found a warehouse building and squatted in the cover of the clover-covered hill beside it.  My hover needs work and my behind got very close to the delightfully soft and cool leaves.  Ahhhh, sweet relief.

Until the stinging started.


I sat in ants!

Ever seen a triathlete dancing around swatting ants off of their bare bottom?  I'm sure it was hilarious.

Chastened and covered in pee, I made it to the next water stop and waited while the volunteer filled my bottle and rinsed my hands after I explained to him that I had had a potty incident.  He said that the girl in front of me had the same problem.  "That is Karen," I told him, and decided that I would catch up to her because she would laugh at my story.  But, when I caught up to the girl, it wasn't Karen.  She had also stopped beside the road to potty.  I could not hang with her and she left me before we got out to the highway.  I was still in a great mood and enjoyed the beautiful day and lovely scenery, even on the not-so-fun highway part of the ride.  I knew that I would not be able to break 3 hours on the bike, which had been my stretch goal, but I abandoned the idea and just basked in the great weather.

                                3:14:19 for the bike and transition #2
Going out on the run, I was in 6th or 7th place.  I racked my bike and grabbed my shoes and GU to put on while making another pit stop.  Alas, I forgot that the lake bathroom is almost always wet and sloshed right through a puddle.  All that trouble and I would start the run with wet socks.  CURSES!  I took them off and wrung them out while using the restroom, but they were soaked.  Whatever, it was time to go to work.

Relieved to be on the run, I started out way too fast.  6:36 pace.  Oops.  I toned it down a bit as I passed the other potty girl, who settled in right behind me while we chatted.  She said that she could not run in heat.  Could have fooled me!  I passed the tall thin lady and Karen and shared good words with both of them.  I saw the drafter, but did not pass her until after climbing the run beast (entire height of the dam plus the hill before it).  I waited behind her for a minute or two, trying to time the pass to my advantage so that it would stick.  No need.  She heard me behind her (because I am quiet and graceful like a giant wheezy dump truck) and slowed down so that I had no choice but to pass.

2nd!  I was in 2nd!

My run plan (courtesy of Doug) was to hold just under 10 min/mile for the first half, and then turn it up if I felt good in the second half.  Except for the screw-up in mile 1, I stuck with the plan and after finding my lost GU in the bathroom at the turn-around (did not need to use the bathroom - just went in to find my GU), I started loop 2 feeling good.  My heel had a hot spot, but I moved my foot around in my shoe with each step to relieve the pressure.  I passed Sarah from GUTS and a guy with happy rainbow-colored sneakers.  We chatted and I felt relieved each time a cloud passed over the sun.  Coming down the other side of the dam, I looked ahead and saw that turquoise shirt girl was walking.  BOOM!  I leapt into the air and had a dance party for myself.  The rest of the run felt like a victory lap.

OK, it was a victory lap with furtive glances behind me at every corner to see if the tall lady or Karen or my "I can't run in the heat" buddy were gaining on me.  I walked up the steep part of the run beast (climbing the back of the dam) both times and encouraged the folks around me to do it too.  I walked fast, though, with powerful strides and was probably in Zone 4 both times.  Still, better Zone 4 walking than blowing up.  I think the walking was a good strategy because it gave me time for my HR and body temperature to come down a bit.

The hot spot on my heel turned out to be a huge blister.  I was pleasantly surprised to see no blood on my sock when I removed my shoes, but it was not a pretty sight.

I crossed the line in what I recall as 15:56 and change, but my official results are 6:01:55.  I was the first woman and 9th overall out of 12 women and 31 total racing.  It was an awesome day, especially the lake and camping and hanging out with Jay and Kristen and Steve and Buffy and sharing post-race Young's double chocolate stouts with Karen and Tom. 

Photo courtesy of Kristen Petillo

My bum knee did not bother me and I paced the bike well enough to run so I am not as scared about Vineman.  I may not make any time goals, but I think I can still finish feeling good enough to enjoy a post-race feast.

Beast of the East, you may be gone, but you will not be forgotten.