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.
Doh!
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!

video

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

Jackrabbit...

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. 

Year End...

I spent the second half of November and the first half of December in Boulder Colorado, working in a different office to try out the idea of moving there and working on different stuff in 2013.  It went really well and I can tell that Boulder would be a good fit for me: tons of opportunities for recreation etc. 

After that, I had more travel to California for the annual holiday party, then my parents, bro and I spent Christmas week in Jackson Wyoming.  It was a really nice fall and winter, but the travel and a cold left me abandoning my workouts a bit. 

At any rate, here are my totals for 2012...

228 workouts
Total Time: 289.5 hours
Distance: 1809 miles

110 runs
355 miles
~ 7 miles/week


61 rides
1191 miles
~23 miles/week

In summary, this isn't terrible, though it isn't quite as good as the last two years.  I rode my bike a bit less and had shorter runs on average.  I hope that I can make up for the slack in the next year...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

NCARS #4

In August, we raced the 26.2 hour NCARS race number 4 in Lake James.  I'm just now getting around to posting this.  My bro, Jenn and I tackled this race expecting a lot of fun:  the other races that we'd done with these guys at the whitewater center were well-run and fun.  We were dissapointed, but at least we got to spend some time in the woods in a beautiful area with fun people. 

The race worked like this:  30 checkpoints, split into the following legs or segments:

Prologue/Hike
Bike
Rapel
Waterfall O-Course
Bike
Fike: Foot/Bike O-Course
Bike
Lake Paddle
Portage
River Paddle
Challenge Course

Each of the major segments had a minimum number of CPs you needed: for eample, the initial bike leg you had to get 4 CPs out of 8.  We were told ahead of time that very few folks had finished this race the 2 prior years and that you needed to train on the hills to prepare for the tough terrain.  So, we  were prepared to suffer and were planning on taking the most conservative approach possible with a goal of just finishing with the bare minimum of CPs.  The rapel and the challenge course were mandatory and there was a 7pm cut-off for reaching the rapel. 

Part of the way to the rapel, we knew we were going to be cutting it close on time.  There was a ton of climbing, and we were going slowly, but so were a bunch of other teams who we saw frequently as we made our way up the Blue Ridge escarpment. It turns out a few teams like us had realized that you only needed 2 CPs before getting 7 in order to still be official, so fortunately we adjusted and changed our route.

We finally got a reprieve from the climbing with a bit of fun downhill single-track.  Yay!  However, this 10-20 minutes was the only fun singletrack riding we had in the race.  We came to a tricky intersection:  nothing matched the maps.  Yes, there were about 3 different maps that we were carrying and none of them were adequate.  This annoys me: I don't get why RDs don't GPS-in the correct trails if we are using custom MyTopo sheets. I mean, I get that it is an extra piece of work for the RD- but this turned out to be a fairly important intersection and a place to avoid an out-of-bounds area. 

At any rate, about 6 teams wound up at this intersection and debated the merits of going one way or another.  There was no consensus and some folks had already wasted a lot of time.  We ended up getting cliffed out looking down on a lovely waterfall.  After going back up a different splay of the trail we were on, we found the turn we needed and were able to get to CP 7 without going out-of-bounds.  It also sounds like a few (a lot?) of teams wound up just going across the out-of-bounds Kawana area to get out of there. 

Even though we were pretty successful at navigating this-- it took longer than it should have.  We all ran out of water and cheered for joy when we found a spring tapped at the side of the forest service road.  Thirst and hunger had been super high and morale super low until that spring saved our bacon.  We finally got to the first TA about 1.5 hours after the rapel cutoff, and thus, at 11 hours in to the race, we were already unofficial.  It was cold comfort that 17 teams were unofficial at this point and only 3 made it to the TA in time to do the rapel.  Several teams had dropped at this point as well, I guess partially because it was TOUGH and partially it is a little demoralizing to get DQed so early on in a race. 

Here, we all debated what to do next, but we ate a few grilled cheese sandwiches provided by the volunteers (mad props for that!), got some water, and added layers.  We quickly decided to skip the waterfall trek points, since we were already DQed, it seemed foolish to hike at least 800 vertical feet to get one CP.  Plus, it was dark so our enjoyment of the scenery would have been limited.  We decided to head out and bike to the next TA, as it seemed marginally better to do that than to  have to bike back to Morganton in order to quit without a ride available at this TA.  However, I found myself extremely envious of the racer who climbed into a car at the TA after crashing his bike: he had fluid draining from his ears!  And I was still jealous! 

The next bike leg was a mixed bag:  I was still jet-lagged from recent travel to Africa, so I had a hard time staying awake.  Plus, there was lots of uphill, so we were moving slowly.  Plus my sit-bones were super bruised already, so we did a lot of walking the bike instead of pedaling it.  This was my worst time during the race, mostly from being drowsy, although 5 hours for 2 CPs wasn't very satisfying either.  The cold air on the downhills helped wake me up, and I felt better by the time we got to the next TA.

Here the volunteers had chicken soup for us!  And we finally got our food bags!  Three cheers for potato-salad-and-turkey sandwiches, pringles, and chocolate milk!  The food helped a lot, but we were completely focused on just getting to the finish line, and not worried about collecting CPs, so we went out on foot for one really close CP on the FIKE course: 19.  It was a boulder you climbed on top of and had a sweet view of the night sky and city lights in the distance.  A very cool place. 

We then tackled the big downhill to get to the paddle TA.  It was fun and scary, and then leveled off into some easy road riding to get to the TA.  It was early morning hours, maybe 5 am, and my ass was killing me with every pedal stroke.  Good times. 

We transitioned to the boat and headed out on the lake-- the nav was pretty easy and the sky continually lightened up as we paddled.  We were all a bit delirous, so we told stories, laughed at stupid jokes, and sang to keep outselves awake.  We always seem to be a bit nutty by the end of the paddle, and this is some of my favorite times during races. 

Then we began the nasty portage around the dam to start the river-portion of the paddle.  The portage was about a mile long, some on a grassy trail and some on a road.  It completely sucked.  I wish portage wheels had been on the 'recommended gear' list, but I'm totally pissed at myself for not bringing them just in case.  At any rate, we get to the river to see that the dam release was in full swing and the water was high and fast.  We were stoked about this, wanting to shorten the race any way we could. 

Unfortunately, it completely shortened it.  We totally underestimated the strength of the river, got a ton of water in the boat in the first rapid and went swimming within a minute of starting.  The water quickly moved the three of us and the boat downstream.  Unfortunately, the shore was steep, and the water deep.  Our canoe got trapped in a tangle of trees and we climbed ashore, though my third  teammate had to do some scary manouvering to get her leg freed from between the boat and a rock first.  We lost two paddles, our map case, and the minimal amount of wind that was in our sails. 

Unable to free the boat, we had to bail.  We hiked out and got a fisherman to give us a ride to the truck.  What a crummy end to the race. That was our first DNF as a team, so we were all really disappointed.  We came back at 8:30 pm on Sunday night and watched the water level drop as they turned off the turbines.  It was a cool sight to see, and fortunately, left our boat in a position to be able to pull it out and take it home.     
 
Good:
Beautiful area
Grilled cheese & chicken soup!
CP 19
view of the waterfall while hunting for trail to CP 7
in theory: this would have been a cool race, in reality very few (1?) teams got to enjoy all the fun of it. 


Bad:
missing the rapel-- total bummer
maps weren't great
feeling like the RDs didn't care if the teams suceeded.  I mean their track record indicated that, yet I ignored that and signed up anyways, thinking they were on an upward trajectory.  Shame on me.