Sunday, November 23, 2008

A cold start, but a great day.......

Today our group ran on the Cumberland Trail (Rock Creek Segment) The temperatures were cold when we started and we were all dressed with gloves, toboggans, tights and vest. It didn't matter to me how much clothing was required... I was running no matter what. If I don't get my time on the trail.... I tend to get grouchy!

Once we were a couple of miles in... I unzipped my vest to cool-down a bit. Sure didn't take long to warm-up! The leaves were thick and this always makes it harder to maneuver over unknown objects below such as rocks, roots and more..... a small price to pay for a run on beautiful trails. I've learned to proceed with caution in the fall and winter months in order to avoid injuring's all good.

We stopped at one of the overlooks for a quick break to enjoy the scenery (picture attached). Then once we arrived at the new bridge I had to have pictures of that too! Last week when I ran through there I was running in a race so I didn't get the camera out and really walk around to inspect this incredibly constructed beauty. Before this bridge was there it was almost impossible to cross the creek without getting drenched. Now it's so easy!

Our total time running on the trail today was around 3.5 hours. This did not include some of the times we stopped to "play" along the way. Trey and Sergio even stopped at one point to do some rock climbing! Wow... what a fun day!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Upchuck 50K Race Report....

Whew.... it's over... thank-god. Today was a really tough 31 miles on the trail! For one.... the weather was absolutely nasty with rainy conditions making everything slippery and wet and the temperatures plummeted all day.... secondly... the course was extremely technical! Even with all this said..... The insane "I liked it in a sick sort-a-way" part of me is grinning from ear to ear!

Since this was a point to point 50K.... we all met this morning at the location of where the race would end to be shuttled to the race start via bus. Sergio and I carpooled up and gathered our things for our really long day on the trail and boarded the bus. Once we were at the start.... we stood around for 7-8 minutes and then we were off for our run!

We started out slowly....knowing what was to come on this very hard trail. It rained on and off.... and even started SLEETING about half way through the race! The trail was wet, slippery and covered with leaves..... which kept things interesting the entire time. The first part of the race I enjoyed the company of Kathy Johns, Joanna Crooks and Sergio, but somehow we were separated before the first aid station. I began to run with two other fellas who were enamoured with my knowledge of the trails. It wasn't long before I was separated from them and ran the rest of the race solo. Along the way I would see deer, squirrels, and even chipmunks as I was by myself and didn't alarm them to my presence. While I did take a chance to enjoy the "nature"..... I also closely watched every dangerous step so I did not slip or fall!

Then came a series of creek crossings that I knew would leave my shoes and socks soaking wet! Argh.... I had to toughen up and take the plunge. The first one was ankle deep. The second one was calf deep. The third one was knee deep and in order not to fall further in I had to put my arms in up to my elbows! After that nasty crossing.... I had to regroup on the other side as I seriously thought to myself "Oh my god.... I'm going to get hypothermia!". I was shaking and downright COLD. Fortunately... I had stashed a vest and Smartwool gloves in my pack and I took a minute to put these items on. Thankfully the extra clothing helped warm me up and I was able to slowly press forward. The last creek crossing had a rope to help guide you across.... I did not get wet anywhere above the ankle there.

Finally the end was near after some serious climbing!.... and then came the descent to Hotwater Road!, but it wasn't over yet. I still

had a 1.6 mile run down the mountain on the ROAD! Yes... on the HARD asphalt road! My dogs were barking! After that trek... I ran into the finish area and found out that I had taken 2nd overall female! NICE. My friend Natalie had taken 1st overall female.

Post race I am feeling soreness in my legs from the elevation gain/loss and technicality of the trail. My back and shoulders are also sore from carrying a heavier than normal pack with everything but the kitchen sink in it! Don't you know tomorrow's soreness will only be worse?!

This race was very well organized and if "epic" is what you are looking for.... put it on your list for next year!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

An amazing day in the woods.....

Sunday our little trail running group met for a run on the Cumberland Trail / Possum Creek Segment. Some of the group turned back early and 4 of us went out longer.

This particular segment is known as the "the hardest" segment around here. When we run it.....we know what we are in for (lots of elevation gain/loss & some really technical areas). With the freshly fallen leaves on the trail it made things a bit harder as well.... as you can imagine. Not knowing what exactly is under them can sometimes lead to slipping or twisting an ankle, but it's all worth it to me. Seeing all of the brilliant colors each tree had to offer was simply breathtaking. Why can't it last longer?! Seems like there is a 2-3 week window of opportunity to soak it all up.... and then it's gone..... The trees are left bare and everything is ugly again till spring arrives.

The lack of foliage does not keep us off the trail for the harsh winter months as many would think. Instead we engage heavily in big miles and "train up" for some rather grueling events. I am certain I would go mad if I were told I could not run on trail in the winter months as it's the only type of running that I find peace within. With all this said..... I'd like to tell Old Man Winter...."bring it can't stop me"!

Here is a picture of the new bridge just built at the first creek crossing.

Monday, November 3, 2008

M3 (Mystery Mountain Trail Marathon).....

Sunday morning I woke at 4:50am and proceeded to gather up my race gear and eat a quick breakfast for the long run ahead. At 5:30am Cat and I were off to pick-up Sergio and on our way to Fort Mountain for the Mystery Mountain Trail Marathon and 1/2. Once there.... we grabbed our race packets and suited up for a long day in the woods. Sergio and I had made a pact to run the entire marathon together so I could closely monitor his nutrition. Cat was running the 1/2 marathon.

The race begins..... Sergio are together from the start. I told him we would start easy and gradually build on pace from there. We were mixed in with the 1/2 marathoners until around mile 11... where we would split and go up a hill that very closely resembled a ski slope!

Little did we know that this hill was the beginning of many similar to it that we would encounter as the race progressed.
It was all I could do to power walk up this nasty beast! After this it seemed as if we went down and back up the mountain 5-6 times! This was beginning to wreak havoc on my knees with the steep grades. Still... even with the nasty ups and downs..... Sergio and I remained together. A few times we would stop and take a picture or two along the way as the foliage was spectacular.

I knew that there were two girls in front of me, but I wasn't sure if there were any others. We had caught and passed one of them around mile 22-23, but still not sure who all might have been in front of me. When we passed by the last aid station... the lady yells out "you are the second place female!". This fired me up and I told Sergio.... "hurry up.... we gotta go!". Little did I know that I would catch and pass female #1 right at the end of the race! Holy cow!..... I just won a freaking trail marathon! Knowing I just won overall female at such a greuling event was almost surreal......

In the end Michael Green (aka Lucky) took 3rd overall and I was 1st overall female. Quite honestly.... I think everyone of us walked away with a good feeling about our race out there. What a great day!

VeloVixens Mountain Bike Clinic......

Saturday the Vixens had a skills clinic at Harrison Bay. Cat and I carpooled over there and met up with everyone else. On the way into the park we spotted two deer.... awww.... we had to stop and observe for a minute. Once there..... we unloaded the bikes and did a little "obstacle" course in the parking lot that John had set-up. We also got a crash course on how to fix a broken chain... this could be useful at some point in the future. As always.... John made sure to

supply us all with freebies.... we love free stuff! Knowing this would be a beginner friendly was perfect for me since I needed to take it easy with a trail marathon the next day.

That was the first time I have ridden out there in about 8 years! Going back.... I remember being afraid to attempt riding over roots and such, but now it seems way too easy! To make it more interesting we did two full laps and then decided we were hungry and it was time to eat. Karen met Cat and I for lunch and afterwards we ventured over to the Goodwill for some second hand shopping. I think Karen was sceptical at first, but then she was shopping like a pro! She even found me a Nike jacket! What a fun day with the girls... a little exercise, food and shopping... can't beat that!