Monday, October 27, 2014

2013 Stats

Now that I'm most of the way through 2014, I figured I'd finally get around to looking at how I did mileage wise last year.

2239 miles in 284 activities (some of them things like kayaking and hiking, but I don't really give myself credit for those activities like I do for running and biking)

I ran 115 times, for a total of 347 miles
Averaged ~7 miles/week

I went for 93 bike rides: covering 1693 miles.
Averaged 33 miles/week

Considering  I was injured and unable to run from mid-July to mid-October, I did pretty well.
I also ran my first half-marathon at the end of the year and felt really happy with my 2:18 time.
The only other half-marathons I've done have been either in triathlons, or the crazy Malibu Creek Trail Challenge.  (that's not my GPS from doing it, I completed that half in 2002, way before the fancy GPS watches became de rigueur).   So at least if I get a wild hair to do another 13.1, I now have  a good baseline to compare my time with.

Of course it is the end of October, so I'm sweating to see whether I meet my goals for 2014.  It's not looking great, I think my goals were a little too lofty.  But we'll see.

Checkpoint Tracker Championship

Oh man! I'd just realized I'd forgotten to post this from last October!

This past weekend, the Checkpoint Tracker Championship race went down in Knoxville, TN.
The racers competing were the hardest of core (except for us, hahaha!).  The course looked to have some really cool aspects, including cave trekking, a shooting challenge and two different rappels.  As we plotted the night before, we were all pretty stoked to be tackling the race.  However, I have to admit it was a little intimidating, and we knew from the start that we would not clear the course, and started planning what checkpoints to potentially cut from the To Do list.  However, they'd only given us the last map of several, along with rough mileage estimates of a few of the earlier legs.

We started after getting bused to a huge ATV park, called Wind River.  We were also given a crazy big map and several checkpoints that were really far apart.  Bummer.  The trails were gnarly and not very mountain-bike friendly, but we tackled what we could.  We definitely made a few mistakes and had a hell of a time finding one of the CPs that had been removed.  Realizing that all the climbing was taking us forever, we opted to return relatively early and do the other legs.

The next portion of the race involved a shooting exercise, which was really loud to me, but Jof enjoyed it.  I think we farted around the TA for a while during these hours, which are a little hazy to me.  We took off for one more bike CP on the way to paddle put-in.  This CP looked to be accessible from singletrack, so we were excited!  However, the trail wasn't really rideable and we made a gnarly nav mistake and missed the CP.  It was now dark and missing a CP put a damper on our spirits.  The next 20-30 mile road ride was nice, a net downhill and uneventful.  Oh, but we did make a much-needed pitstop at an Arbys for some fuel and to warm up a little bit, chatting with another team or two who were doing the same.

The paddle started off really cool:  stars above, quiet water etc.  However, it was LONG.  It took our slow asses forever to get down that river.  Also, there was very little 'bang for your buck' in terms of opportunities to pick up CPs along the way.  Near the morning we paddled into a thick mist of fog that meant we could no longer see the shoreline, so it was very spooky.  We were very happy to arrive at the TA for a short O-course at IC King park a little after sunrise. The jog on those trails did wonders for our psyche and we headed out on the boats again to head toward the finish.

This next section of the race was more harsh:  a long slog of paddling, and the lack of sleep was catching up to me.  I kept envisioning out boat capsizing as I fell asleep and fell over the side.  To prevent that from happening, Jenn and I played a rousing game of "Screw, Marry, Kill" and poor Jof had to just paddle along in his solo kayak.  We did get a chance to pull over and hit another couple of CPs, one of which was inside a cave.  I was feeling a little claustrophobic, so I let Jenn and Jof punch it alone and after scrambling around in some thorns for another CP or two, we headed out for the final section of paddling.  

After finally finishing the paddle, it was near the cut-off time, so we transitioned, and followed a marked trail to a huge culvert with rushing water that ran under the city. In the dark, we walked, very happy to finally be near the finish, and made our way to the finish line. We finished officially right behind another team.  We chilled at the finish to see how many other teams made it in during the last half-hour or so, then ate and headed back for some sleep.

Altogether it was an interesting race. I think we'd have opted to do things differently if we had to do it again: skip a ton of the early mountain biking, which was very slow, and then try to get more CPs at the end.  Also I should probably try to be a better paddler.  Next time Gadget!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Summer times...

I've been on a little hiatus this summer from my sporty blogging etc because of two things. The first is a hip injury that flared up in July and has left me unable to run or do pretty much anything except for ride my bike.  The second was a crazy work/vacation trip that kept expanding and really wrecked my training.

In July I spent a week with my family in honor of Kurt's death, and then rode my bike a ton.  I checked out the Watermelon Festival in Pageland, SC and then did another 60 mile ride along with the Covington Century.  It was an excellent event. 

August was another big bike month and I spent a long weekend in Charleston with some girlfriends that was a lot of fun.  But I probably had too many pina coladas, if you catch my drift.  At the end of August I headed to California for work and then on to Hawaii for vacation.

Hawaii was deluxe, and I did a tiny bit of running, but got a hike or two in, including a kickass hike to see flowing lava with my friend Anna.  It was a wonderful 7 mile trip. 

After Hawaii, work got ridiculously busy and kept me in California basically until last week.  I got sick, of course, which stunk, but the work was pretty fun, albeit bad for my training. I did manage to get some 'trench gymnastics' in, as well as a run or two to this lovely beauty: Burney Falls.
Burney Falls, CA

When I returned to Georgia, I've been cramming in training, with a lot of hiking in Great Smoky Mountain National Park last weekend.  This weekend I went for a solo paddle and today got in a nice bike ride.   
Jenn and I at Charlie's Bunion

Next weekend (or in two days, gulp!)  Jenn, Joe and I hit up the wilderness in and around Knoxville, TN for the 30 hour Checkpoint Tracker Championship.  Jenn and I are racing as Will Race For Food and Jof as Solo Joe.  You may be able to get some updates starting Friday am and finishing Saturday afternoon.

My bro chilling with Daisy

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Siege on Ft. Yargo

A kick-ass, fun race put on by the Trailblazer Adventure Racing Club.
Low entry fees, beginner friendly (6 hours), great venue with fun trails.
If you are thinking about trying an AR, do this race!

Ok, done with the preaching.

Jenn and I raced as 2 females.  Several AR pals were there volunteering or racing and it was a good atmosphere.

A short prologue involved running to three nearby checkpoints.  We did fine on this, but because I was running, we started the next section in the back of the pack, I'd say.
Actually, yes, that is us in the back of the pack.
We quickly changed out of our now soaked and sand-riddled running shoes into bike shoes and hit the trail.  Jenn and I passed a team or two on the way to the first of four bike drops where teams could pick up 3 trekking CPs.  I'd guess we arrived at the first bike drop in mid-to-back pack position.  We quickly headed out, and got the first two CPs on trails no problem. After collected the third CP we opted to bushwack back to the bike drop rather than follow a trail that took us out of the way (and lost & regained a bit of elevation).

It was the right choice.  I think we passed several teams who had a hard time with some of those CPs and/or wasted time on the trails.  It was clear when we arrived at the next bike drop, there were far fewer bikes there, and we stayed near the front-ish of the people who opted to bike first.

The rest of the biking and trekking was straightforward and didn't allow for any sneaky shortcuts.  Jenn and I hustled a bit, jogging much more than usual for longer races.  We arrived back to the TA, I climbed a rope ladder to retrieve a poker chip and we headed out on the canoe.

Here's the thing about paddling.

We suck at it.

OK, we probably aren't that terrible, but it just never feels 'right' for me and Jenn.  I was trying to steer, but the boat kept listing to the right.  Perhaps because of wind, or damage sustained during the NCARS race last summer, I dunno.  That was somewhat annoying, but nonetheless, we made it to the first 4 paddle CPs without disaster.

On our way to the 4th one, we debated the merits of going out for the farthest away and last CP.  We calculated that it would take us nearly the rest of available race time and decided we just didn't want to risk getting caught out without enough time to finish by the cutoff.  We can't really 'sprint' in the canoe if we have to.  So, we finished up with all but the one paddle CP, and about 50 minutes early.

Maybe we would have made it, but we weren't really competing for any glory with this race, so it was OK to just call it a good day in the woods.  I think we wound up in like 10th place or so, out of 41 teams.  Second fastest team with a girl on it.  We headed back to Atlanta to stuff ourselves with tacos and margaritas.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Atomic AR

This past weekend I raced the Atomic AR for the first time, with new teammates: Andy McCann and Eddie Lent of Crossfit Garage.  There was no sun, and some periods of lots of rain, but we managed to finish officially in pretty good standing about 24 hours after we started.  I've still managed to avoid racing for a full 30 hours. :)

 We started with picking up our maps and doing a little bit of rushed route planning at about 6:30-7 am on Saturday.  We were bused to the start at a cool mill and began with a trek of about 12k.  During this period we ran more than I typically do in a long race, but it was ok.  It was a little follow the leader at the beginning, but around CP3, the trail wasn't mapped correctly and we had to work for the CP.  I dropped back down to the road and reattacked, getting to within 25 meters of the CP and seeing it right as another team or two noticed it.  We continued on cleanly, but decided to race conservatively and skip CP 8 because it involved lots of uphill.  We had a fun creek crossing and then walked into the TA to find that we were the 3rd team to arrive.  Even with skipping one CP that seemed fast.

Next was a sketchy paddle down the Toccoa river.  The boat was very tippy, we had three people in it, and Eddie is tall.  He would slightly move and it felt like we were all going in.  Amazingly, Andy kept us from going in the water all but once.  I was abnormally scared and whiny on this section, so I'm sorry for freaking out, but we made it out with getting all the CPs easily and mostly feeling pretty good, although a little cold. I think we got passed by a team or two during this paddle.

Next was an easy road bike, no problem except for getting drenched with sweat from the inside and water being flung up from the road on the outside.  At the Stanley TA, we had access to food and I changed into less soggy socks and shorts/tights.  We were ahead of schedule again because we'd also skipped a couple of road bike CPs, so we decided to attempt the easiest of the 3 mountain bike CPs that we'd originally planned to skip. It was a long uphill bike push, and quick fast bike back down, but seemed worth it.

It was still daylight as we transitioned for the long night trek.  After changing again into clean socks, I realized that the first step of the trek section was to cross a creek.
Like 10 feet from the TA.
This section was challenging, and I really liked it.  I did mis-nav the first point and we had to try the next ridge over before Andy found it.  The next CP involved a 2 km bushwack on a sidehill.  My teammates were ready to revolt pretty early into it and I had to convince them that I knew where we were going.  Finally, as they were ready to go another route, we had reached the trail and minutes later the CP.  We knocked out the next three no problem, finally seeing other teams again.  After picking up the last of the CPs we'd planned on, we evaluated getting a couple of trickier ones.  Again, we decided to be conservative and save our energy for a mountain biking leg, and then a short paddle & trek section that supposedly had lots of CPs relatively close together.

However, upon returning to the TA, we found out that the bike section had been canceled because of the rain.  Basically this would cut off access to about 12 CPs that we were planning on getting rather than the 6 that we'd ignored on the forest service bike and trek sections.  Going back out to attempt the points we'd left behind would mean a ton of climbing and an even bigger ton of back tracking.  UGH.  We rested a little, ate, and felt pretty bummed because on top of our race strategy being blown, it freaking started raining again.    We pouted, and considered sleeping there for a little while, but I was feeling relatively awake and knew I would get cold soon, so we decided to slog through a road ride to get to the finish line where the last paddle/trek section awaited us.  There we would either sleep in the comfort of the car, or keep racing.

Upon arriving to the finish line TA, we opted to keep racing and sleep off the clock when the race was over. After a little TA chaos and point plotting, we headed out in a boat without our regular paddle gear, so I was reclining in style on a pile of PFDs.  It was maybe 3:30 am, so very dark and tough to nav the lake paddle.  Fortunately, we found the first paddle CP without incident and then started on a trek section.

We all walked past the first CP, and then wasted some time looking for it (and each other) before we punched it.  The next one was going to involve a long bushwack.  I got us about halfway there, then got disoriented on a ridge top as a downpour cut our visibility to 10 feet.  Basically my teammates acted cool despite the fact that I couldn't read the map well in this area and didn't have a good plan for re-attacking.  Andy was very practical and cheerful, so we managed to get out of that bermuda triangle and walk down to a road and I started to feel more confident I knew where I was.  Eddie just got quiet as he fell prey to sleepiness, cold, and fatigue.  However, we tried attacking the next CP to find that again the trail didn't match the map and we all felt really frustrated, lost, and miserable.  I haven't been that lost in a race in a long time.

Fortunately, we ran into some other racers, including some who offered helpful advice about where the CP was, and we reattacked with a group.  Success!  We found the CP, and now it was getting a little light so we were able to very easily find the earlier elusive one by coming from the lower road (rather than the upper ridge).  The next couple were easy, but we were still cold and somewhat hungry.  We'd underestimated how long it would take us to get those CPs and overestimated the temperature.

We now had to finish the lake paddle while exhausted and shivering with cold.   Andy fell asleep in the boat and/or had a bit of a hallucination.  Fortunately the paddle was short.   Finally, we were able to finish up a few trek points and be done with the race.  The sun came out during our last bit of trekking and the walking woke us up, so we finished in  much better spirits than we'd been in recently.

All in all, we finished very early and with enough CPs for 5th place out of 19 teams.  It seems as if the teams with the most CPs all did as much of the easy trek/paddle at the end as possible.  But I still don't know how we got that great of a standing racing as conservatively as we did, but we'll take it!


In summary: great race.  I've never done a Pangea event before, but I won't hesitate to do more. It was well organized, with great volunteers and the course was fun! I loved changing disciplines frequently, and the nav was tough (and fun).  The weather could have been kinder, but I've certainly been through worse.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


March 30th Jenn and I had planned to do the Jackrabbit AR near Hayesville NC.  Unfortunately a miscalculation on a turn that am left me with a truck that needed to be towed away and a late start for the race.

We did, however, manage to start without my truck (which was now in the shop getting a new tire), and one of the RDs kindly pointed out that we could just bike the canoe section rather than paddle it.  We opted to do just that and succeeded in getting the paddle CPs without incident, but starting about an hour or hour and a half after the rest of the teams.

The rest of the bike section went smoothly, with a tiny bit of bushwacking after picking up a paddle CP on the north side of the river.  We got to the TA happy to enjoy our favorite turkey and potato salad sandwiches and planned our trek.  We opted to have the RD transport our bikes further east and go completely on foot from the trek section to the next TA. We reached a point where we had to decide to whether or not to get CP 8: it involved a long, steep downhill off-trail route and we'd given ourselves a time cut off to determine whether to attempt it.  We were well ahead of our cutoff so we got the CP, but after climbing back out of the reentrant, we realized it had sucked a lot of time and energy from us.

We got another CP or two, but eventually realized we'd have to skip CPs in order to make it back to our bikes, and back to the finish line in time.  We ran into a few other racers at a saddle and chatted, but I knew sadly that we had to descend pretty far on foot, and then come back up pushing a bike to this very point before heading to the finish line.  It took me about 30 minutes to push my bike back up to the top of the ridge and I was pretty tired.

Once we were able to ride again, the bike cps were found easily by Jenn who was naving that section.  It got pretty dark on us as we rode on the last paved section to return to town.  Although we'd thought we needed to be in by the 8 pm cutoff, the RD didn't penalize us for starting late and let us have a full 12 hours, allowing us to have a pretty decent placing. We were happy to enjoy chili and brownies afterwards and then homemade brisket (dinner number 2) provided by friends.

My friend Kathy owns a house up there that provided a lovely spot to rest before and after the race.  And she has her own hiking trail out the backdoor that we all took advantage of the next morning.  It was a lovely weekend, despite the snafus.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Misc. Fall Activities

Once again, I'm publishing this well after I meant to...  Things are looking a little out of order and unkempt on the blog, so I apologize. 

This fall I've been fairly busy with doing some fun things.  Most of which I've forgotten about but...
I joined a womens rec soccer league.  I had a ton of fun doing this, and hope to do more of it. However, I lost a toenail in the process. Yuck!

I also traveled a bit: I went to California for some nice hiking and to spread some of Kurt's ashes in the White Mountains and in Yosemite. 

I spent Halloween weekend visiting my friend Natanya in New Orleans.  We went to the Voodoo music festival and saw some great acts.  Oh and we ran in another zombie run!  It was a pretty great weekend.