Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pinhoti 100

I never knew something could tear me down.... yet build me up at the same time... until I did The Pinhoti 100 Mile Trail Race.

Description of the course from the Pinhoti 100 website-

"Pinhoti 100 is a point-to-point trail run starting in Heflin, Alabama on the unmolested Pinhoti single-track trail. Runners will make their way over the highest point in Alabama while navigating over rocks, through creeks and across beautiful ridge lines of the Talladega National Forest. The course will consist of 80.62 miles of single-track trail, 16.98 miles of jeep road and 4.52 miles of pavement and will finish on the rubberized track in the Sylacauga High School Football Stadium."

Last year I made a pact with friend and fellow runner Sarah Woerner that we would attempt a 100 mile trail race. It was all set... we would enter the Pinhoti 100. We structured our races and training around this race in hopes that it would prepare us for what was to come on November 6th. Our training consisted of several LONG runs and some back to back running along with several 50k distance trail races, a 60k distance trail race, two 50 mile trail races and one 77 mile trail race. Little did we know that even with all this training.... WE HAD NO IDEA what we were in for.

The day before the race I rode down with Sarah, Carl (Sarah's dad) and Rock/Creek teammate Sal Coll (who also entered the race). Trey would drive down later after he had put in some time at the office and meet me for dinner. We drove to the finish line where the recreation center was to pick up our race packets and get any information that may be important to know on race day. After leaving there... we headed north to the race start to check out the beginning of the trail.

Race Morning -

IT WAS COLD, but it warmed up quickly as we got moving. Amongst the crowd at the start line were GUTS runner and multiple 100 mile finisher Christian Griffith and crew and they were a lively bunch to start the morning with. Christian would hoop and holler for the first few miles of the race and this took my mind off how nervous I was inside. After settling into a nice comfortable pace I found myself behind a gal named Kim from Atlanta who provided good conversation up until around mile 18-20. At one point Christian yelled up at us and said " would you guys quit running the hills... you are making us guys look like wussies". I jokingly replied back and said "we wanna give you something chase today!". After about the 3rd aid station I decided to put my ipod on and jam out to some tunes. I ran by myself for quite a ways and felt very comfortable in my pace. Eventually I ran up on a guy named Chris who is a stay at home dad and nanny from North Carolina. We chatted for several miles until somewhere along the way we must have gotten separated at an aid station. At aid station #5 I saw Trey who handed an Ensure to me and two other friends down from Chattanooga (Cat Thornton and Celeste Sneed) waiting to run sweep for the next two segments. Seeing their smiling faces lifted my spirits and motivated me. It seemed like the miles went quickly and before I knew it I was at Bald Rock on Mount Cheaha. The next aid station after this would be mile 45 and Trey would be waiting there to pace me.

Mile 45-68 -

At mile 45 Trey joined in after giving me some Gatorade and nutrition. I was still moving pretty well even though I had just come down a nasty stretch of forest service road. Did I mention that I hate running on forest service roads? Luckily... after this aid station we were back onto single track and I found myself picking up the pace for a bit. I knew that daylight hours were numbered and when darkness fell things were gonna slow way down. Trey gave me an update and said that Sarah and Sal were moving nicely and ahead of me by a good bit. I was happy for them and hoped they would keep it going. As for me... I was on 24 hour pace at the time. When darkness fell... it got cold... BONE CHILLING COLD. At aid station #10 (mile 55-Porter's Gap) I picked up my one and only drop bag and proceeded to change into a fresh set of clothes for warmth and another pair of running shoes and new socks. The La Sportiva Crosslites had gotten me to mile 55 and were very comfortable, but changing shoes would switch things up and hopefully prevent blistering. Also at aid station #10 was a hooping and hollering Christian Griffith. He had dropped earlier in the race due to heart issues he told me, but wanted to stay and cheer on folks at all of the accessible aid stations along the way. From here we would travel for what seemed to be an eternity on forest service roads. Time seemed to stand still on those darn roads, but at last we cleared the next two aid stations and had made it to aid station #13 where Trey would drop off and my next pacer Michael Green (aka Lucky) would pick me up.

Mile 68-95 -

Did I mention it was COLD? Trey was glad to drop at mile 68... he said he was nearly frozen at that point and he had failed to pack more clothing on the previous segment not thinking temperatures would get so low. Lucky looked like he was ready to roll though... he was appropriately dressed for the blast of cold we would face throughout the night and early morning hours. I ended up breaking out my second jacket and put a second layer of gloves and socks on as well. Later we would learn that temperatures plummeted to 25 degrees! At mile 75 or so we hit a nasty climb... The Pinnacle. We didn't think we would ever reach that muther! The aid station at the top was manned by the GUTS folks out of Atlanta and I was ever so glad to see my precious friend Mark Elson waiting to serve me with an egg and cheese sandwich! Lucky and I sat in front of the warm fire for a bit as I scarfed my delicious sandwich down and then we were back onto the cold and dark trail. I felt good for the next 10-12 miles, but then things turned ugly. I knew my 24 hour pace was shot to hell, but the ultimate goal was to finish this damn thing... even if I had to crawl in.

And then the cramps started. Every time I would squat to use the bathroom my leg muscles would lock up from the cold air.... and I went to the bathroom ALOT! Lucky and I joked about the numerous bathroom breaks along the way. It wasn't just me having to go. Finally... we were able to sync up and make it a one stop deal for both us each time one of us had to go from there on out. Lucky made the joke at one point about how he was never running in the cold again. He said he was marching straight into the YMCA and getting a membership and would run all winter on a treadmill after this experience. All I could think about was how I wanted to curl up and go to sleep on the side of the trail, but knew I couldn't or hypothermia would be sure to set in. It wasn't long after feeling this way that I downed a 5 hour energy drink which would only work for 3 hours.

And then the hallucinations started. I started seeing things that weren't there. At one point I swore I saw a grey van parked in the middle of nowhere on the side of the trail. When I got to what I thought was the van... it wasn't there at all. Sleep deprivation can do some weird things to your mind! Lucky kept talking about how he couldn't wait to get to mile 95 so he could get into a warm car and thaw out. The only thing I was thinking was "5 more slow and cold miles for me". Finally we reached mile 95 where Trey would pick me back up and Lucky would drop off. I changed shoes as speedily as I could since I knew there were roads coming up soon and wanted to get the trail shoes off.

Mile 95-100.5 -

So you think 5.5 miles to go..... you got it from here... right? WRO-ONG. Those were the hardest miles of the entire race. About 3 miles out my dear friend Mark Mason was waiting at the end of a road for us and seeing him cheer me on brought a smile to my face. He gave me a hug and said "you are almost there... that belt buckle is waiting for you". By the time we were 2.5 miles from the finish line I was tapped out physically and mentally. The last mile of the race was so emotional for me. I staggered and cried and went through a whole range of emotions that I have never experienced before. It still makes me tear up and gives me chills to think about it. Trey was so encouraging and said to me "come on... let's go get our belt buckle"! I drug myself within sight of that track and somehow managed to burst into a trot and crossed that finish line with tears streaming down my face. Yeah... I was a train wreck. Once across the finish line my friend and fellow ultra runner from Florida Jeff Bryan presented me with my belt buckle and gave me a big warm hug. Christian Griffith was at the finish line as well and he greeted me with kind words and a hug too. The world of ultra running has been so great to be a part of. There is a great sense of community and everyone has such a positive outlook on life. I feel like it is a second family and am blessed to have these wonderful people in my life.

My final finish time: 28:12
121 started the race 73 finished
18 women started the race / 9 finished (I was one of the lucky ones)

I found out later that Sarah and Sal both finished with solid times and Sarah was able to clench the overall woman's title for the race. I was extremely proud of both of them.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cumberland Trail 50k... Not My Day...

Last year I did the Cumberland Trail 50K and fell in love with the beautiful trails up there. I swore I'd do it again this year... so I registered for the race.

Trey and I went up the night before and stayed in Knoxville so we could visit with our friends Michelle and Alan. We would wake early the next morning to drive up to the race site some 30-40 minutes away. After the race we would head up to the Smokies for some hiking adventures and family time.

Race Morning-

The race starts in the dark and a headlamp is required for the first 40 minutes or so. I started up front with Sarah Woerner and Sally Brooking thinking I would hang onto them for a bit and hopefully on the climb that would come all too soon. We ran a good pace all the way to the base of the climb and then when we started going up.... I lost sight of them pretty quickly. I couldn't understand what was wrong with me... I had no energy, my heels were jacked up again and my overall attitude was poor. The climb is LONG and HARD and STEEP and the more elevation I gained... the slower I got. I decided at the 3rd aid station that was it for me and pulled myself out of the race. Obviously... not my day and my body was trying to tell me something.

Once arriving to the 3rd aid station I told volunteers I was quiting the race. Most of them thought I was kidding, but it didn't take them long to figure out that I wasn't kidding at all. Susan Donnelly (the race director and multiple 100 mile finisher) told me I could ride around with her and eventually we'd make our way back to the finish. This was fine with me since Trey and Xian were off to spot Elk and nowhere near the race site.

Susan and I drove from aid station to aid station along the course and it allowed me to see some of my friends running the race. It was actually fun spectating for once! I saw Sarah tearing up the course and she would eventually take the lead for a 1st place female finish. Other friends along the course were Mark Mason, Sal Coll and Wendy Oates. Eventually we made our way back to the finish where I called Trey to come get me. I was able to see the first 3 men come in before Trey got there. Once Trey arrived.... we got on the road and headed for our next adventure... The Great Smoky Mountains.

The next couple of days we spent doing some hiking... including a trip to Mount LeConte. It was so much fun to spend time with my precious family doing something we all love.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Stump Jump 50K

Stump Jump 50K is a race right here in my own back yard... how could I pass it up? Not only is it one of the most technical and harder 50k's around... it also features some of the most breath taking views you'll ever see during an ultra distance race.

Trey and I started the race together and ran a strong pace out of the gate. We ran up on our friend Brian about 3-4 miles in and yo-yoed back and forth with him until Snooper's Rock. At Snooper's Rock I kept running the same pace, but Trey said he was going to back off. He just didn't "feel it" during the race. I kept waiting on Brian to appear again, but he did not. I rolled through the Haley Road aid station only to stop for a quick refill of water in my pack and then ran thru the Mullen's Cove aid station only to drop down to the Indian Rock House in less than a mile. I was hoping that I wouldn't need to refill again. Finally after making it back across Suck Creek Road and then to Mushroom Rock... my pack was bone dry and I was bonking hard. I stopped for a water refill and saw teammate Sal Coll volunteering. He knew I wasn't feeling well and decided to run it back in with me. That last 3 miles seemed like 10!!! Finally the finish line appeared after a short trek on some asphalt. It was so nice to be done!! Immediately upon finishing... I saw Trey. Crap... he dropped! It didn't seem to bother him though... so I was happy he wasn't upset about it. Sometimes we have days like this. It is inevitable that it happens to us all at some point. After sitting around for a bit... we saw Brian finish and he looked good. He too was surprised Trey had dropped, but knew he had not been feeling well.

I ended up nabbing 7th overall female out of a solid field of women competitors and beating my time from the previous year by 8 minutes.

After talking with fellow runners.... Dee Martin of Archer Physical Therapy took a look at the backs of my ankles and ended up taping my right one. This may sound crazy..., but I think it actually helped!

Stump Jump 50k is likely an event that I will continue to do year after year simply because it is on some of the best trails around!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Big South Fork 17.5 Mile Trail Race

Big South Fork is a place I've always wanted to see... so I figured going up and doing a trail race in the park was probably one of the best ways to see it! Let's face it... 17.5 miles is a very manageable distance compared to what I usually run and it is so much fun to explore new trail too.

Prior to the race I had been having some issues with the back of my heels and had backed off running a bit. I thought the issue had mostly resolved itself, but I would find that was not the case about mile 5 of the race. In addition to that... I was having one of those days where it felt like I was running with two left feet. Somehow I managed to roll in with a decent time and a 6th overall female finish. Later I found out that I had indeed earned an award and luckily my friend John Meek (who ran his longest distance yet that day) was still there for the awards ceremony and picked the award up for me.
Hopefully next year I will make it back up for this race and feel like I am running a bit stronger by then too! The race course covers some amazing terrain and views.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Long Cane 50 Mile Trail Run

A few of us headed down to South Carolina for a low key 50 mile trail run called Long Cane. Sarah and I rode down together while Wendy, Mark, Yoli and Warren went down a bit earlier on Friday the day before the race. Our friends Kris, Randy and Roxanne met us down there that night.

Myself, Sarah and Warren ran together for the first few miles of the run and while Warren and I decided to hold steady with the pace we were running and Sarah powered on ahead.The rest of our group was behind us except for Randy who had taken off at a fairly fast pace from the gate. The course was rolling and non-technical... a great place to set a PR no doubt. Warren and I kept steady and made it to the turn around where I changed shoes and grabbed some nutrition. We had seen Sarah right before the turn around and she was moving pretty well. We also saw Randy and he was slowed to a walk and not feeling so good from stomach issues. Later we found out he dropped at the turn around.

Sooo... then things get complicated for Warren and I. On the way back the course was not clearly marked and Warren and I took the wrong way back to the finish. We sorta knew it was wrong since there was no aid stations and we ran out of fluids. Not a good thing... for sure! We kept going hoping we would find our way out... AND we did. Unfortunately for us... it was just a shade under 50 miles, but even more unfortunate for the finishers of the run... they ended up getting over 50 miles as the director had under estimated mileage. Everyone there wearing a GPS was showing anywhere from 53-56 miles.

The aid stations were well stocked and volunteers did a great job, but I was very disappointed in the course markings and inaccurate mileage. Hopefully it is something the director of the run can get straightened out by next year. I would love to go back and give it another go.

Sarah ended up coming in as 1st female and I think 3rd overall... which was strong. Wendy, Yoli and Warren all ended up running their longest distances ever as well!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Fall Creek Falls Triathlon

Fall Creek Falls Triathlon is a fun Olympic distance race with a great venue. It is right smack dab in the middle of Fall Creek Falls State Park. The swim is in the lake next to the Inn and other lodging and the bike portion is an out and back on rolling roads. I love the run leg as it meanders through the forest on a paved sidewalk... so there is ample shade on hot summer days unlike many other triathlons.

Many friends did the race this year with me. Just to name a few: Lance, Sarah, Nik, Leslie, Lisa, Chris, Cecilia and many more........ Our friend Spider won the race.

Chattanooga represented well and we brought home some hardwear to prove it!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Headlands 50 Mile Trail Race

July 15th I traveled to California with my family (Trey, Xian and Gage) for an adventure in California. Our first stop would be San Francisco..... then the next morning we would head over to Mill Valley where we'd stay the next two nights as it was close to Rodeo Beach in the Golden Gate Recreation Area where my 50 mile trail race would be on Saturday.
(Me standing at the race start)

The night before the race we had checked into our room, gone over to check out the race start and then found some Italian food in Mill Valley to eat. The Morning of the race we all got up and headed over to the race start where I would pick my packet up and try to wrap my mind around what I was about to do.

Race Day:

It was cool and somewhat foggy when the race began and seemed to stay this way for most of the day. My arm warmers weren't rolled down much during the race... as you can imagine.

Miles 1-5 seemed to be pretty brutal right out of the gate. The first hill we climbed took me over 25 minutes! The first climb was then preceded by some single track and a lengthy descent near a horse track and stables.
(Just some of the scenery from the trail)

The next portion gave a break of climbing for a bit, but it wasn't long before we were faced with yet another LONG climb followed by a nice descent. Then came a segment that was a mother of a climb both going out and coming back (especially back). These climbs are nothing like what we have in Tennessee... they are way long and every single time are followed by down, down, down. Not too much technicality... just super long and wear on you after a while. Near the end of the first 25 miles I had convinced myself that I just simply couldn't finish the last 25 miles. During this time I met a gal named Karen Hanke who said "oh... no... you can't quit... you can do this". That is when I volunteered her to run with me the last 25 as she wasn't exactly feeling it today either. Misery does love company. Karen rounded up her friend Henry Hobbs at the turn around and from there we would all 3 finish this race up together.

The last 25 miles were a bit slower... just as myself, Karen and Henry thought they would be. We power walked and slow jogged the uphills and tried to run most of the downhills and flats.
(Karen and Henry trucking up the hill)

Both Karen and Henry went up those hills like it was nothing. I actually had to work to keep them close. Turns out my specialty in this particular race was the downhills and technical areas. Having the company of my new friends was just what I needed to make it through this grueling 50 miles. It is crazy how conversation can take your mind off of pain! Once we neared closer to the end I started to perk up. We all crossed the finish line together!
(The 3 amigos.. couldn't have done it without them!)

What an amazing day this turned out to be after all! To top off this great day... my friend Harry Williamson (former Chattanoogan now living in Santa Rosa) was waiting at the finish line with Trey and the boys! If you are looking for a challenging race on the Pacific Coast to do.... check this one out!

I hope to keep in touch with Karen and Henry and hope that we will do another trail race together in the near future... what fun people they are!

(catching up with Harry after the 50 at dinner )

Monday, June 14, 2010

Laurel Highlands 77 Mile Trail Race

Thursday June 8th I loaded up with 5 other warped individuals to do something that at one time I'd have sworn I would never attempt in my life. We were headed north for a long and grueling trail race. Luckily... Mark had rented us a pimped out minivan to make travel more comfortable.
(our pimped out minivan)
We rolled into Ohiopyle Pennsylvania that night and tucked ourselves into bed for a good night's rest. The next morning we checked out the small town and found the trail head in which the race would start.

(us standing in front of the Youghiogheny River)

Little did we know this was one of the easiest segments. That afternoon we headed to the packet pick-up and pre-race dinner.

(Sarah at the beginning of the trail)

Sooo... you know you are crazy when you ride all the way up to Pennsylvania for a 77 mile trail race. AND... you know you are amongst even crazier people than yourself when you see folks at the pre-race dinner wearing Western States 100 belt buckles and Copper Canyon Race Shirts. These people meant business... What had I gotten myself into?!! What was I in store for the next day?

The next morning we awoke at 4:00am and checked ourselves over and over again to make sure we had everything we needed for the long day and night ahead. We placed our drop bags at the Mile 44 pile

and then waited around for the start of the race. And before long.... we were off!!!

I started with arm warmers and after about 20 minutes pushed them down. Warming up took far less time than I had imagined. Sarah and I ran together for quite a while until she had to take a series of bathroom breaks along the trail. Later she would pass me. Sal and Tyler were way ahead and moving along at top speeds (as usual). Mark was behind us. The miles went by slowly and I tried not to pay

(mile marker #1 of 77)

attention to the mile markers on the trail. Sometimes it's just better not to know where you are!

The day became very hot and humid as the sun shone through the trees. This made for miserable running conditions when paired with the rocky and technical terrain on the trail. I managed to do very well with my hydration and nutrition and only found myself to suffer more from just being plain tired more towards the end of the race.

At around mile 30 something I picked up Sal. He was in real bad shape. I told him to stick with me and we'd get his hydration and nutrition in check. He managed to run a ways, but eventually fell to pieces and would sit at the next aid station for quite some time after I left him. Carl was crewing for all of us and had refilled our water between the aid stations before mile 44. I honestly don't know what we would have done without his support out there. From here... I ran a ways with Mark, but he stopped for a restroom break and I powered on not seeing him again until the next aid station as I was taking off. He looked bad... said he couldn't make it. I told him to sit down and rest for a bit and then give it another go. Between this aid station and mile 64 there were 12 lonely miles ahead of me. It seemed like FOREVER. This segment was covered by a sea of ferns that were above waist high which made visibility of the trail more difficult. I ran in the dark by myself and that was just creepy!!! Before it had turned dark... I swore I saw a bear in a tree. This didn't help the creepy factor at all either! Boy was I ever glad to see that next aid station!

After heading out of the mile 64 aid station I ran up on two guys and decided that I would stick with them the rest of the way. The company was nice and I didn't wanna be alone in the dark by my lonesome anymore. When we hit the last aid station we picked up another guy who ran the rest of the way in with us. On this segment we would see a porcupine and a skunk. I was really thankful to have some company here!

(me standing with the 3 guys I finished with)

Finally we saw headlamps and knew we were close to the finish line.... then... I heard Carl yelling for me. I took off running as fast as my tired body would go until I crossed that line! Man... was I ever so glad to be done with that!!! 77 miles... who would have ever thought?! It was also very nice to see Sarah and Tyler at the finish line in good shape as well. Sal didn't fair out so well and was pulled from the race due to being dehydrated and is body was a total wreck. We found out later that 118 started the race and only 58 finished. If you do the math... that's a 50% finish rate. That's some serious stuff! I feel lucky to have finished such a grueling race against these odds! This race taught me much about my body, how it reacts to longer mileage and what it feels like to run through the night and into the early morning hours.

Congrats to Sarah, Tyler and Mark for finishing the longest trail race to date!!! It was fun in a sick and twisted way! I am lucky to have such good friends to share misery and happiness with on the trail!

(finisher's award)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

McMinnville Triathlon

Early on Saturday May 29th myself, Trey, and Xian headed over to the McMinnville Triathon in McMinnville TN. It is a sprint triathlon that is loads of fun before, during and after the race.

This year I would go to support a good friend and client... Nik Meeks. It would be his first triathlon. Not to mention... this distance race was good for me so I could remember what it is like to race short and faster distances in the world of triathlon. In addition to myself racing... Xian would participate in the Small Fry Tri.

The swim is a 200 meter pool swim. I'm okay with that as this pool in enormous and gives plenty of room for swimming in a TT start format. The bike is an 11 mile trek on rollers and is for the most part pretty fast. The run is a 2 mile fast course with only slight rollers.

I finished up 6th overall female and 2nd in my age group. Not bad for me since my short distance triathloning has been a thing of the past for a while now. These short ones are good for keeping me on my toes!

Nik finished up quite well also. I was so proud of him for doing his first tri ever!!! Next is the Waterfront Triathlon for him! Others from Chattanooga included Truman Smith and Charlie (in the picture above).

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Scenic City Trail Marathon

On Saturday May 22nd I drove up to Raccoon Mountain for a local race that is tons of fun... The Scenic City Trail Marathon. This year's race would bring some stiff competition since the field had been greatly expanded in comparison to last year.

I knew going into this race that my fitness wasn't quite as good as last year, but it just wouldn't have been right to miss this event. Last year I was 2nd overall female and had a stellar race. This year the goal was to finish up not feeling completely wasted.

The first loop went pretty well and the pace was spot on. Then... comes the second loop... I accidentally lost all of my endurolytes. Apparently when they fall out of the bag and encounter sweat... they disintegrate!!! BUMMER. Shortly after this... I fell apart on the switch backs before the visitor's center. This is where Leslie and Sergio would pass me and go on to finish up with strong times.

I was never so glad to see that finish line! My time was off from last year's time by 14 minutes! OUCH!

All in all a good day with great friends. I just feel lucky to be healthy enough to run these distances and hang out with such awesome trail peeps! : )

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Twisted Ankle 1/2 Marathon

On Saturday May 15th I headed down to Summerville GA for the Twisted Ankle 1/2 Marathon. Sarah Woerner rode down with me so she could watch the race since there were others from Chattanooga going down to race as well.

This really isn't my distance race, but It is a well organized event and I just really wanted to race this weekend! I could have opted for the full trail marathon had I not already committed to doing the Scenic City Trail Marathon the next weekend.

The race starts going around a small lake and then meanders into the woods shortly after. Within the first 2.5-3 miles you begin to climb a huge ridge. It feels like you are going to the sun due to the steepness. I really thought about dropping out during this climb, but once I got to the top I decided to give it a go. I must have felt better as I was able to pick it up a bit. I stayed consistent the rest of the race. Approaching the finish line I learned I was 3rd overall female. Not bad for someone who despises shorter race distances... LOL! Good friend Mark Mason was already in and waiting at the finish line.

Now we would wait on Yoli Bell and Wendy Oates. Unfortunately... Yoli took a wrong turn

and ended up running a 17 miler and was DQ'ed. We like to joke with her that she was the winner of the 17 mile race. All jokes aside.. she would have schooled the other females on the course had she stayed the right path. Wendy came in with a smile on her face and finished up very strong thru the chute!

I just love my trail running friends! : )

Monday, May 10, 2010

Gulf Coast 1/2 Ironman Triathlon

On May 6th we headed down to Panama City for the Gulf Coast 1/2 Ironman Triathlon. It's definitely one of my favorite races every year even though I am rarely 100% ready for it. I always say I'm gonna be trained and ready, but I am usually lacking in swim and bike fitness no matter what.

We arrived to the beach that Thursday so we had time to play and enjoy ourselves before the race on Saturday. Shell Island is most always on the "to do" list. The rest of the time we hung out on the beach and pool. It was very nice indeed.

Race day came and and I took off with my swim wave for a very rough swim. It was like being in a washing machine and there were breakers as far as the eye could see. Later I found out that many folks were drug off course and some even threw up once they reached shore.
The bike went very well for me... which was nice. I didn't have much bike time on the legs so I was more than happy with my split here. Many complained about winds, but it really didn't seem to bother me all that much.

The run was overcast for the first half. This made things a bit more tolerable compared to the sun beating down and ungodly heat. Somehow I turned in a decent run split, but I could have gone a bit harder and left too much in the tank afterwards. Later I would learn that I was 10th in my age group. Had I known I was going to be on the podium... I would have tried to earn a better spot... LOL!!!

Many others from Chattanooga were there and all of them placed nicely in the race. Kevin Boucher took 7th overall and 2nd in his age group. John O'Brien and John Wiygul both took home 1st in age group and Lance Steele walked away with a nice age group award as well.

Good times with great friends for sure. It's just a shame that the oil spill may ruin any future trips to the Gulf Coast. Those are some of the most beautiful beached in the United States.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

3 State 3 Mountain

The first weekend in May is always 3 State 3 Mountain here in Chattanooga. It is a bicyle ride with 3 options for distance. There is a 25, 62 or 100 mile to choose from. This year I would opt for the 62 mile since my legs had hardly any bike fitness to date.

I arrived to the start of the event and met up with several teammates and friends. I was proud to be riding with my fellow VeloVixens and flying the colors that day. Most of us stayed together until the 62 mile split. I happily went my own way, but sent the other girls on their way with encouraging words! There was no doubt they would easily make the 100 in style.
Here is the event's website should you ever decide to do this event. It is very well supported and the course is beautiful as well.

My good friend Jim Johnson was the title sponsor this year as well and puts on some great bicycle tours in Europe.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Sweet H20 50K

WOW! That was one hard course, extra long and the weather was way warmer than what we are used to running so far this year!!!

I drove down Friday with Carl and Sarah and then we met up with Mark, Wendy and her mother for dinner at Carrabba's for a pre-race meal. We all left there completely stuffed and went back to the hotel for a good night's sleep.

Race morning we all got up and prepared ourselves a small breakfast in our room. Then we jetted over to the race start. It was cool out (at least for me and Sarah... Carl didn't think it was cool at all), but I figured running in shorts and a sleeveless top would serve me well since the temperatures would climb steadily during the day. I put my Rock/Creek race hat on and I was ready to roll.

We all stood around holding our ears waiting on the race director to fire a cannon for one LOUD start. At last... the cannon fired and we were off!! We ran along an asphalt road for what seemed to be nearly 2 miles and were then dumped onto nice single track trail. My legs were thankful to see the trail.... I run trails so I don't have to pound the pavement... LOL! We then ran along the creek for quite a ways and meandered in and out of the forest until we encountered the dreadful powerline trails. Sarah and I were together for most all of the first lap of this until nature started calling for her. In between the first and second lap there were two creek crossings and a little 2 mile loop. The creek crossings were rope assisted as the creek was flowing very swiftly. As I was coming off the 2 mile loop a gal named Jenna had caught me. We crossed the creek together and then proceeded to run together for the rest of the race for the most part. I really did enjoy her company and chatting with her took my mind off of the pain my body was going through. I think we helped each other during this race in some crazy way.

Jenna and I both shared our dislike for the powerline trails and agreed that our legs were pretty much trashed. At one point I had drained my Ultimate Direction race pack for the second time and Jenna was nice enough to let me have some of her water (thanks again for that Jenna). When we arrived at the top of the last bad climb we both were desperate for water and I milled around a bit longer here for some ice to put inside my hydration pack. On my way to the next aid station... I saw Rock/Creek teammate Sal walking and I knew something must be the matter. He said he wasn't feeling well and was thinking about dropping. I told him that he had gotten this far and he miswell finish it up. Jenna had gotten ahead by a bit, but I caught up to her just after the next aid station. I didn't want to see her go since she had kept my mind off all the pain I was going through out there. Once I reeled her back in... I told her I was thankful to have caught her since I needed her company and enjoyed the chatting. Not long after this we saw my friend Sarah on the out and back segment. I was glad to see that she had made up a lot of time despite her numerous and unwanted bathroom breaks on the trail.

We ran 90% of the rest of the race together until the very end... Jenna had taken a nasty spill over some roots and went flying into the air with a "thud" onto the ground. I stopped and picked up her water bottle and said "come on... you've come this far and we are gonna finish this thing strong". She insisted that I run ahead and that she'd shake it off and be right up there. I reluctantly went on and hoped she be right behind me. The finish line seemed like it would never come. I kept thinking... this seems WAY longer than 50K. Where is the freaking finish line?!!! And finally... up a hill and around the corner was the long awaited finish line and Jenna was just behind me! I was so glad to see her and so glad to be done that I hugged her neck when she came in! We were both glad THAT race was over and not at all surprised to find out that the race was something like 3 miles long!!!

Shortly after finishing the race... I heard my name announced over the speaker. I could not understand what they said, but a man came up to me and handed me a mug that said 3rd Place Woman! WOW.... what a nice surprise! I felt like I needed to share this mug with Jenna since we had commiserated together and pulled each other through most of the race.

After settling down and taking off the shoes to let the feet air out.... I waited around for my other friends to finish. First came in Sarah, next Mark, Sal, Carl and then a very chipper Wendy. Wendy's mother had decided she'd run as much of the course as she could while we were all out there and ended up running 11 miles! WOW... no wonder Wendy is so strong and determined! She comes from a very strong woman!

Congrats to all my friends who did this race! It was tough!
(Christian is resting after the race)
(Mark takes a "shower" in the parking lot after the race)