Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dusk till Dawn

Game face? :-)

Night races are hard to prep for. I stayed up Thursday night and got all my gear rounded up. Friday night we went out with friends, but still ended up in bed by 11pm. Got up Saturday around 10am - fixed pancakes with peanut butter and syrup - yummy. Showered up, went to Wal-mart to pick up some last minute supplies - gummi bears, twizzlers, jolly ranchers, etc. After going back home I put together the rest of my essentials then laid down on the couch for about 30-45 minutes just to chill out and relax. Got back up and fixed some pasta with marinara for lunch and loaded the car. We ate then headed out about 2:15pm. We spent the road trip up there playing 'guess that artist' by scanning through radio stations and using Shazamm on the iPhone when necessary. We made a pit stop close to KC for a bathroom break and we each got a cheeseburger. Made it to race headquarters around 5:30pm. Pulled out the gear and bike. Decided to rotate my break pads - the back one's were ate up and the front one's hadn't really been used so I just switched them out and they worked like champs. Lubed the chain, aired the tires, mounted the headlight and the bike was ready to rock.

During that time my teammate showed up so we headed up to the main tent and got our numbers and t-shirts. Went back to our campsite (well, our support crew campsite - it wasn't like we would be getting any shut eye!) and finished packing up our gear and changed into our race wear. For me I decided I was going to do pants this race - my mountain hardware trekking pants. They have drawstrings around the ankle's so I was able to roll them up to the knee and secure them with the cord for biking which was nice. Went with a black t-back tank - I usually go with sleeveless to keep from having chaffing from the pack, but I utilized lots of body glide on the shoulders and didn't have any issues. Then, of course I went with the rastaman buff, salomon XT wings & smartwool socks with the Camelbak LUXE pack.

Here we are getting ready to head up to pre-race meeting:

At the pre-race meeting we received our maps and clue sheets for the race and since it was early decided we would start the race at 8:30pm instead of 9pm. We headed back to camp and started determining our strategy.

Here we are plotting the course:

We went back to headquarters to find out the start was postponed until 8:45pm so we stood around and chatted with our friends and other teams until time to start. At 8:45pm we lined up and sang along to the National Anthem then took off. We started off with trekking - made it to the first and second checkpoints with no issues. Checkpoint three was another story - we looked on both sides of the ponds (the point should have been in between two ponds on a creek bed) and had about decided to give up and head back since the area was full of teams that had not found it. But, I have to hand it to my teammate - she spotted it and we both turned off our headlamps, punched our card and headed back to HQ to get our bikes. At that point we were rocking.

So, out on the bikes next. We had a lot of trouble with checkpoint 5 - we had both managed to get a bit lost because none of the roads were marked. About an hour into it we finally figured out where we were and that we still had a few km left to get to the point. After a dumb mid-road fall and scuffing of the knee we got going and found the point. Check point 6 we went right too, but not sure we would have found it if there wouldn't have been another team there. Some not so high on my list volunteers had hung the punch up in the tree where it wasn't visible - OK in a day race, but at night that's just silly. Regardless we got it. We found check point 7 with only a slight detour and dropped our bikes and headed out for more trekking - this time on single track. Checkpoints 8 & 9 were fairly easy. We stumbled upon checkpoint 10 a little under 1000 meters sooner than we thought we should have. At this point it was 4am and we decided we would skip the next two trekking points and go ahead and begin the canoe section so we could finish by the 9am cut-off. This was a great strategy - except for one thing - we misread where the canoe started. :( So we headed back to checkpoint 7, which was also 13, where are bikes were and we thought the canoe put in was. Well, it wasn't, it was at 12. Oops - little mistake. So, this put us up to 5am and we knew we had quite a few biking miles ahead of us - including single track. We really didn't have a choice from here - we had to just grab our bikes and head to the next biking checkpoint - 21. This meant we skipped 9 checkpoints. This is when you remind yourself that you are just out there for fun and that we were!! We biked to checkpoints 21, 22, & 23 without issue. Checkpoints 24 & 25 were single track - very rocky, steep in some areas single track. We made it through it a little slow, but we made it. My gut was giving me serious grief at this point so each bump was killing me, but my teammate was supportive and we managed to work our way through it all. Got back to headquarters in a little under 12 hours.

Just a side note - last year the teams that won finished in 8 hours - these are the people who are paid to do this stuff - they are serious about it. Last year we finished in 12 hours - we aren't paid - we do this for fun! ;-)

So, taking that into consideration the top teams finished in around 11 hours - we should have finished in around 15 hours. Not sure if it was a good idea or not, but since cut-off was 9am we just tried to get as many checkpoints as we could in that amount of time. I figure since it took everyone so long they will extend the cut-off and our strategy will be for not, but that's a chance you take.
I had the best time working with a great supportive teammate. Maybe it wasn't our day, maybe it was just a hard course, but it didn't matter we had fun and that was the real name of the game.
After the race we got back in the car - stopped off for a snack in Lawrence then I slept for a couple hours before we made another stop for actual lunch in Lamar. Pizza hut buffet - I must say it was one of the worst PH buffet's, but we ate a little then headed on home. Brady watched a movie while I slept another couple hours then woke up - hesitantly - and we hoped on the bikes to grab a bite. I was hungry for a seafood tostada, but they were closed so we went back home and had leftovers. We watched a couple episodes of Supernatural - well, I watched two then feel asleep - Brady watched four and then we went to bed. It was a great night's sleep!! Long day!
I was so sore Sunday, but I was glad we hopped back on the bikes to ride for dinner because I felt better yesterday. We even did a 18.5 mile ride on the tandem yesterday. Back to basically normal today. Tomorrow I will try to run again - we shall see!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Mini taper

Ah, had a great time in San Francisco last week. Only got in 1 actual run, but lots of hiking and walking the city. Oh well!
This has been a chill week - Monday I was so tired I just took off. Tuesday we just went for a tandem bike ride around town. Today I met Brooke for a pre-work 6 miler. She had Spot (her dad's dog) with her so that was a fun change. We averaged 9:30's with a couple quick water stops. I was happy with that.
Tomorrow the plan is to hit single track on the bikes. Friday will be an off day and Saturday is the big Adventure Race!
I'm pretty sure I'm ready - I've just been feeling a little funky - probably just off schedule from vacation, etc. I'll have to give myself some pep talks this week, but there's no backing out now!!
I still need to pack up gear - decide what to wear (really decide if I want my legs to be torn up from the trekking or if I want to be hot and wear pants!) ;-) I guess I don't really care about the scratches - I just worry about the poison ivy. We'll see - I'll probably decide all that Thursday night. Just have to remember safety glasses this year - when dawn hits the bugs are horrendous!! I can deal with eating them, but getting them in your eyes sucks. However, if that's the worst we have to deal with for this race I'll be happy!
Till the post-race recap....

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sprints, Kids, & Trails

So, I'm a little behind I guess. I meant to put a post about doing speedwork last Wednesday. It was tough as always, but Brooke went with me so it made it better to have a partner. There were a lot of people out on the track that night so we ended up having to do some weaving through traffic, but all in all it was good - we finished! (I could make some side notes about how it's rude to walk on inside lanes of the track when people are trying to run - especially when they were there first, but I'll hold off on that rant for now.) Afterwards we went back to Brooke's for dinner - grilled chicken, grilled zucchini & yellow squash, broccoli salad, 3-bean salad, & cherries - yummy!

Next up was a ride on Thursday night - I did 20 miles - at a fast pace for me, but not quite fast enough for the group I was riding with. I've got some more work to do here - I think I'm in a limbo stage - to fast for a beginner group, too slow for the serious road cyclist group. I can hang with them if they work with me, but if not I get hung out. In time...

Friday was a 4 mile run in the morning.

Saturday I had planned to do Tornado Alley bike ride, but given my performance on Thursday I decided it would be better to hold off on doing something like that until I had people in town that would ride and work with me. So, given my upcoming races I decided I would hit single track trails. After sleeping in a bit to get caught up from the week I ended up hitting the trails around 9am. I started off by running a mile on the Frisco trail to hit the single track. I did get a few weirdo looks from people out for their morning walks - I guess it's not that usual to see some chic decked out in a full hydration pack running the Frisco (only 3 miles long). So, I ducked in the first single track loop I came too - ended up doing 6 miles. It's so weird how much different the trails look on foot vs. the bike. It was fun weaving down the switchbacks on foot - the same switchbacks that have a tendancy to scare me a bit on the bike. I practiced pushing up the hills and using as little energy as possible going down.

After running the mile back to my car I did a quick transition, changed shoes, grabbed my bike and headed back to the trails on the bike. Not sure about mileage for the bike, but was there for 3 hours total with no real rest breaks. I felt pretty good about the effort put forth.

After trails I went by the house and showered and then to pick up the niece & nephews. I had to make a trip to Monett before we did anything so I told them to bring their bikes and we would go for a ride in Monett Park before heading back home. We ended up riding for 1-1/2 hours - very slow with lots of water stops - it was really, really hot. I was so surprised at how easily they got tried. I figured they would run me into the ground after my morning workout, but it wasn't the case. I really need to toughen those little buggers up! They did get to appreciate riding downhills (although they complained about riding up). The youngest was so excited about how fast he would get going on the downhills. They thought the hills in the park were huge - they have a lot to learn - lol!! We took a break from the bikes to climb up the gravel staircase on the east side of the park & then run back down. It brought back memories - it's the hill we used to run 'hills' on in cross country - although the stairs weren't there back then.

You can see in the picture that one of them is wearing my riding gloves - they took turns using them. They thought they were the coolest things ever and now they all think they need some! It was one of the first things they told their dad when he picked them up the next day! ;-)

We did another ride on Sunday - it ended up being around 4 miles on fairly flat roads - they had drank both bottles of water I brought for them by the end of 3 and were ready to go home. I just wonder if they are bigger sissies than most kids? After talking to some friends I don't think they are. I just remember riding bikes for hours and hours and never feeling tired as a kid - even in the heat - it didn't seem to stop us. I have to blame a bit of it on TV & video games. I do like where video games are going - as far as being more interactive, but is Wii Fit really going to solve the problem? Or is it really a problem? Childhood obesity is, but these kids aren't overweight in any way - they just aren't overly active. Hopefully they will hang out with me enough that will change in the near future! ;-)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tandems & Tempos

Went for our chill ride last night and I just thought I would drop in some of the pics I've been taking of us riding for fun!
After the ride we went home and fixed some dinner. I laid out hamburger before the ride, but that's all I knew. I decided it would be a clean up the frig night. I started by dicing up some onion, zucchini, yellow squash, and garlic and added to the burger. Followed that up with a couple jars of canned tomatoes and a little EVOO. Cooked up some mini-bow tie pasta and added to the mix along with some basil, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper. It turned out pretty darn good. If I did it again I would add just a bit of tomato sauce or more tomatoes, but overall it was one of my better post workout, need food now creations! Don't we all have those? ;-)

This morning was my big tempo run and I'm happy to say it went well. Ran the first & second miles at 8:30 pace. The third I got a little closer to my goal and ran 8:40. I slowed down too much for the fourth at 8:48. (btw - goal is 8:45) Shortly after the fourth the Garmin did the dreaded and died on me. I think even if I was a little slow on the last two it wasn't enough to bring me below an 8:45 average so I'm happy! I will make a mental note to make sure the Garmin is charged up and ready for my tempo run next week!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Trail times

It was a great weekend for hitting trails! It started out Friday morning doing a little single track mountain biking in Jefferson City at Binder Park. They were very nice trails (with very little exception) compared to some of the rocky stuff we usually ride. Nothing too technical - nothing I couldn't ride (even though I had some moments of fear). It was a slow, but fun ride once I got into it. We only rode the blue and green trails - took us around an 1-1/2 hours.

I was planning to do a 12 mile run on the Katy Trail while in Columbia on Saturday, but there was just too much going on (or really, I was trying to fit too much in!). So, I skipped it and just did it Sunday. I finally hit the road around 10:30am - decked out in Adventure Race gear - pack and trail shoes. I had 2.25 miles of road before I was able to hit the Ruby Jack Trail head. Then, 7.5 miles out and back on it and followed it up with the 2.25 miles home on roads. It was a really nice day out - although it was still really humid and I was drenched by the time I was done. The animals again helped me get through it - I saw a deer first - just standing right in the middle of the trail:
Of course by the time I stopped, got my camera out of the pack it was gone and all I got was the trail! ;-) Oh well, next time. Then, there were 3 or 4 turtles:
This little guy didn't move nearly as fast as the deer! I also saw multiple bunnies (nope, didn't even attempt to get the camera out for those fast little buggers). At one point I felt to be the queen of the dragonflies with them all circling around my ankles as I ran past. All in all it was a great run - very peaceful. In the 1+ hour I spent on the trail I only saw 5 other people out - which is a shame, but also nice for me. I'm torn, the more people that use it the more the trail condition will improve (because of increased awareness and funding), but also the busier it will be and possibly cause the trails to not be quite as peaceful or so heavily populated by wildlife?? Hmmm, which is better??
I was disappointed to see that some people - I assume from the housing on either side of the trail - had decided to use the trail as a place to launch fireworks - not a bad idea in itself - but leaving the trash from it is. I hope that they just had not made it back to clean it up. I'm heading back out there tonight on a group bike ride and I'll be taking my trash sack just in case.
After the run, I showered up and we took the dogs to do a picnic lunch by the lake. They loved it - there are so many smells there that they can be entertained for hours!! Then, a quick trip to the nursing home to visit the Grandpa then back to the single track trails in Joplin.
We made it to the trails around 5:45pm and were able to ride around an hour. It was a good ride for me - I didn't fall! ;-) Also was able to ride a little faster - not bad considering I had 12 miles on my legs for the day. My confidence was up a bit after the ride - I'm ready to go again soon - so, I think we're putting it on the calendar for tomorrow. With an Adventure Race coming up the more trail miles the better.
Today is just going to be a chill group ride (us on the tandem) on Ruby Jack Trail. Pretty excited about that. Then, I'm planning to get up tomorrow morning for a 6 mile tempo run - I hope I can hit the mark! Tomorrow evening we'll hit single track with mountain bikes. Wednesday morning will be speed work at the track. Thursday will be a 4 mile easy run, then a 24+ mile ride that night. Friday will be weights and Saturday will be the Tornado Alley - still not sure if I'll do 50 or 77 miles - we'll see how the legs are feeling!! :-)
Ride/Run on!

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Something sad got me to thinking this morning about animals. While on my run I saw a cat that had been hit (presumably anyway, I did not see the act, but I can't fathom a cat just walking out in the street to die). It made me think about the poor people that had to wake up this morning - on what should be a happy morning (last day of work before a holiday) and find that their pet is no longer with them.

First I thought that they should have kept a better watch on their animal, but then I thought maybe they usually do. Maybe this was a unique circumstance - as an owner of my very own four legged escape artist I can understand how this happens.

My next thought was on a city street that is very wide with a speed limit of 30mph how can you hit a cat? My mind went back to some 'not so highly intelligent' individuals that I knew in my much younger days that thought it was fun to try to hit animals (needless to say they weren't my friends). I really hoped that wasn't what happened. I have seen animals get scared and basically run right into cars too. Especially at night - headlights cause confusion. Or, maybe the cat was distracted with the pursuit of something tasty (to the cat anyway).

Knowing that all these thoughts weren't really getting me anywhere I started thinking more about my run. As I was moving along I see a squirrel up ahead and on my side of the road. He was watching me, scampering along just a few feet ahead. You could tell he wanted to cross the road, but didn't know what to do about me. There was no traffic so I scooted over and gave him more room where he felt comfortable enough to hop up a tree and watched as I went on by. Shortly after that, I watched a rabbit sitting quiet and still in a yard. He was watching me too. I just smiled as I glanced at him - not wanting to give him cause for concern.

It was pretty funny that when I really start focusing on my run I start seeing all these animals again. They are always there - I always notice them (well, most of them anyway, I'm sure there are a few sneaky bunnies I miss). The squirrels, rabbits, birds, and cats - especially early in the morning - are always out and playing around before most people are even out of bed. My running partner and I have been known on multiple occasion to count bunnies - we try to find one for each mile we run - it can be hard when you are running 10-20 miles. :-)

Anyway, I know the owners are going to miss that poor cat, but so am I. Not that I know 'that' cat in particular, but I love seeing all the cats out when I'm on my morning runs. Before their owners have woken and they've slipped back in their respective homes to snooze the day away - they are out carousing the streets - entertaining us early morning runners.

So, take care of your pets, watch out for other people's pets when you hit the roads, and give them all a little love when you can - I know mine got some extra doses this morning!
As a side note - on my way home - when I ran back by the cat a truck had just pulled over next to it - an older man got out and picked it up & put it in his truck. In a weird way it made me feel better to know that someone had cared enough about the cat to go look for it. I'll be thinking of that guy and his cat today. :'(