Monday, March 30, 2009

ING Half Marathon

Whew, another 13.1 done! Always an Atlantan favorite, the ING is a HUGE race of 15,000 people. Not sure if they reached that number this year, but it is always amazing to see seas of people running down Piedmont St!

The morning went well, I woke up bright and early around 5am, I like to be wide awake at least a couple of hours before the race. Ate some oatmeal, and banana, and my OJ/H20 mix with some much needed coffee.

My cousin Eddy, Martha, and a friend David, met up at the loft around 6am. Eddy and David were doing the full 26.2, and Martha was running the half after having her baby Polly.

I was shooting for under 2:30, while trying to stay in the lower HR zones. My times the previous years were;
2007 ~ 2:23:44

2008 ~ 2:33:19

2007 was a tough course, but I had a lot of training. The worst part of the course then was the out and back from Glen Iris down Freedom parkway towards 85/75. You looped around at the Tribute lofts, ugh! I almost got heat stroke from the lack of water stations and void of energy drinks on the course.

2008 was different, and they modified the course a little better. This year was tougher for me. I had not been training well and the weather was really windy and C O L D ! I was just glad to finish, that year I felt like my legs were going to fall off around Techwood Ave. !

2009 was relaxed. I did not have high expectations of the race and honestly wouldn't of even ran unless James paid for my entry, a whooping $75 (what a rip!) Coach wanted me to stay in Zones 1-3 for the race, and I knew if I did that there would be a lot of people passing me; but that was ok, because I have ulterior motives (X T E R R A ! )

Miles 1-3 were a breeze, I felt great and I was running about a 10min /mile. I knew at that point I would need to slow down a bit if I was going to survive the entire 13.1. The 4:00 pace group passed me at mile 3 and they were relentless with their pace, I didn't even try to hang with them! Oh, I had to pee so B A D at this point, I was going to stop at SciTrek, but they had 2 potties with already 6 people in line! Eh! I knew there would be more, so I pushed on.

Inman park was great. Fleet Feet had a little cheering section and everyone in the neighborhood was out with coffee in hand watching the racers. It had to be a sight, we filled the streets with color and hot sweat!

Once I got to Moreland, I was about ready to pop. I ran into the Starbucks (corporate in L5P, never been there), and flushed my system! Ready to rock, I ran out and towards Freedom Park. Running past the Poncey-Highlands band, I was soo glad we didn't have to take that left onto Freedom parkway, instead, we headed right and right on North Ave towards the Half/Full split. This is where the Half runner head left on highland towards the Highlands, and the Full runners head straight towards Decatur, the long way.

Highland was a breeze, mostly flat and even slightly downhill. I waved "Hi" to Van Michael Salon as I ran by, thanking them for my awesome highlights! :) Stuart told me he'd be chilling at Taco Mac in the Highlands, but when I got there, I was disappointed to 1) not see the band jamming & 2) nowhere in sight! The turn out in Va Highlands was poor this year! :(

Mostly downhill from here towards Piedmont Park, then at the school I ran by one fan was animate; she was yelling "ITS NOT RAINING!!!". Over and over I heard her yell this as her neck veins were swelling! EhH! But, I had to agree, Hell YES, it's not raining! That would have been miserable, like Blankets Creek all over again, but I had to R U N the whole time, nightmarish!

Piedmont is always a runner's favorite, with the rolling hills, midtown skyline, and sparkling? lake. I wish the course took us through more of the park, that 10th street climb is never a crowd favorite. Whew, I was pushing my heart limits making this one, I had to slow it down for a sec. Once I peaked the top, I started thinking about Rachel! I hoped that she was waiting for me at Juniper and 5th! I was soo tired from that hill and running, I just wanted to walk and give my bones a break from all the relentless pounding! My arch was hurting a little on that uphill, so I ran anyway that made it feel better.

Once we turned left on Piedmont, it was a long slight uphill, ugh! I was so determined to get over that hill! I made it over, and there was Rachel and Gus!! That was so awesome, I ran over and stole a Hi five from Rachel, which was exactly what I needed to get over the next hill to Peachtree St. Running towards Tech, I knew the end was in sight, finally, but this last 3 miles was my least favorite. Left on Techwood towards the GT Stadium, at this point my legs were pretty tired, and my joints were feeling worn... Right on North Ave, and then down the GT rd., I always remember how they put the parking lot strips on the left side of the road here. Then they had to change them to the right, crazy mix-up I think, like the GA 400 exit stripping! lol. Anyways, left on Marietta, the homestretch. I always think of this last mile, as the worst part of the race, slightly uphill and long, it's not very scenic, and the finish is blocked by building a mass buildings. When I could finally see the CNN sign, I started to get a little more hopeful.

I upped my pace, and started to head strong for the finish. At this point, I just wanted to get this over with! The slight uphill, then left onto Centennial toward the finish, I was relieved to see that this was a wide open area, instead of the cramped maze they had last year! YES, I was DONE!


Thursday, March 26, 2009

The New & Improved BWade hits the Trail at Fort Yargo

After successfully sticking on a fresh new violet Roxy sticker onto my seat post, The Specialized Safire is now officially Roxy~Safire, aka the new & improved bwade.

Anxious to hit the trail, Saturday am I was up early, tweaking my bike and getting my bags packed. James had a late night after.. Ryan Adams at the Fox. Tried to get him to get up and ride with me to no avail.. :( ... Luckily, my buddy Lee was up for a ride! We met up at the park around 1pm, to a beautiful, bright, sunny day with a slight chill breeze = perfecto!

It was so nice to get out of the city; yet once again I find pleasure in the pathless (or pathed) woods..

Since it was Saturday the trail went counterclockwise. I had never been this direction before. It was tough coming onto all the uphill after the Root Garden.. I was feeling winded... But the terrain was easily absorbed by the new & improved bwade! Lee told me more about "the brain" and how it reacts and adjusts to different terrains! It could certainly tell a difference! I was taking on roots and rolling loops with no hesitation!

Whew, that way seems so hilly in the first 30 minutes! I was huffing and puffing my way thro. Roxy-Safire could def take some hits, and then on the flatter terrain, she was just as smooth and stiff as ever, S W E E T !!

I realized that I def prefer the downhill sections, but I was so GRATEFUL that Nick, some random dude from Dunwoody, was cool enough to let me borrow his spd pedals. Roxy-Safire has some bad ass sram pedals, and damn lameo performance did not have the crank brother cleats I was in dire need on. Going on James' word that I would be able to use my spd cleats in my new pedals, I went on to Yargo anyhow. But, of course, just like at home, I could not force those bitches in to the pedals! About to give-up and find a bike store, some fellow riders were checking out my new Safire, nice bike they complemented! To which I replied, yeah, but I don't have the right cleats for my pedals! Dough! Well, to my luck, Nick was cool enough to have an extra set of pedals, the spds! They were all riding on the egg beaters, I am ready for that new clip-in experience!

After all the winding upphills, Lee and I finally made it to the power lines. A sweet rolling, curing downhill to the clearing was just what I needed!

I was hauling downhill and my new bike absorbs everything on the terrain, the big humps, the small bumps, and allows me to sit in my seat so much more than before! So bad ASS!! We started to climb the longer powerlines heading to the long downhill I had hated so much before going uphill! At the top, I cranker her down and started pedaling, the wind blowing in my face and my adrenaline pumping as I decent down the hard packed mudd. For the first time, I felt like my mtn bike was my dirt bike. The suspension felt AMAZING and I was able to HAUL much more ASS than ever before! WOOOOOOOHOOOO!!!!!! Already, I couldn't wait to take this bike to another trail. So many to conquer; Chicopee, Blankets Creeks, the new Harbins, Sobe Creek for sure, and good ole Bull Mtn for the finale!! Finally I feel like I can make some serious improvement on the mtn bike!

This ride was tough, but towards the end, I felt like my HR was much lower and I was still hauling ass, that's how I like to feel the whole time! My avg HR at the Dirty Duathlon was 180, and I was not really pushing it, but still after being sick, still not too bad! :)

After the short yet steep ascent out of the trails, I was smiling the whole way knowing that this bike was going to take me to some incredible places. :)

Hell Yeah.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

EXTRA Dirty Duathlon, 10 Bananas, and A super HAPPY Girl!

Whew, what a weekend for a Dirty Duathlon. Leaving home it was 41 degrees and raining. Just starting to get over my cold, my coach said I shouldn't race, but I didn't feel too bad?! I grabbed my poncho and decided to try anyway, even if I had to take it easy.

The race started for the women around 9:30am, it was raining and cold as crap! The run was good, MY HR was around 196 as I attempted to stay on with the other ladies. I decided to slow down a tad, to save my HR for the bike. I finished the 4.7 mile run in about 45 minutes. I was HOT from the poncho and decided to leave it behind for the bike as well as my wind jacket.

I grabbed my bike, and only had on my jersey and arm warmers along with my thermafleece pants. I started along to Van Michael trail, it was a little colder on the bike than the run, the wind was really brutal and the rain was relentless! Ugh! The course was in decent condition, so I pushed thro all the mud and water. About halfway tho Van Michael, I lost my rear brakes. They were caked in mud and I had to stop and try to get my brake cable tighter. I was thinking at the time that having disc brakes would be ideal right now! When we ride dirt bikes, it seems like I always had stopping power even when I'm caked in MUD. Luckily, since I didn't have an allen wrench on me, a nice guy let me borrow his and I tightened my brake cable. It was great, for about 5 minutes, until I had the same problem again.

On to Dwelling loop, I started to up my pace a little knowing that Dwelling is flat and I had just ran the course looking at all the intimate details a few minutes before. Then, my poor fingers, they were soooo NUMB, I thought they were going to fall off. I don't think they have ever felt so NUMB before. I soon realized that is not just a physical race, but also very mental. These elements were brutal. I soon regreted leaving my wind jacket at the transition area. It may not have kept me dry, but the wind on top of the 41 degrees and rain was BRUTAL!! I had to stop about 2 times just to pump blood back into my hands. I pondered the onset of frost bite, but shrugged it off since the conditions were not freezing. This whole trail, I had no rear brakes. I had to rely on my front only, and freezing hands to not send me over the handle bars. Needless to say, I was not hauling downhill like I wished I could be! Hanging in there, I was almost to end of Dwelling, headed for South Loop, Final LOOP!

Thanks to all the supporters on the trails with their cowbells and cheers! It made me smile, and made me warmer! South Loop = Unknown! I never got a chance to ride this loop before the race. All I knew is, it was really rock, like boulder sized. I pedaled on, keeping caution with my lack of stopping ability. Not so tough, I was hauling thro, then it came. The tree ramp-up, the big ramp, bigger than the others. I slowed down a wee bit and starting pedaling as I hit the logs, then, slip, CRASH! I crashed to the right tearing 3 holes in my tights and a nasty scrape on my shin and butt! OUCH! BUt, it wasn't any worse than the numbness in my hands, so I pushed on, I could hardly feel the damage in the freezing cold raining wind. South loop was definitely a bit more difficult and technical. I kept my eyes open and didn't take any more obstacles lightly. As I finally reached the turn around, I knew I was getting closer to finish. I couldn't wait to get dry and warmer, these elements were so brutal! Then I started uphill, in MUD LAND! Ugh, It was soo muddy, I thought I had a flat tire. It was like pedaling my bike uphill with a flat, just bogged down. I had hardly any energy left, and I was starting to feel the sting on my wounds as I pushed harder on the pedals. But, I knew it would be over soon, and I pedaled faster, making it thro the pine trees to the final exit. I almost crashed on the downhill to mosquito flats with only my front brakes to rely on, I wasn't about to flip over the handle bars, I was too close.

I was free, out of the woods, and onto Mosquito FLats. Slightly uphill and lots of rocks, I was POOPED! I was dead, but almost done! Then it came, the finish!! I DID it!! Despite the elements and being sick!!!

I got 2nd in my age group with my time of 49:12/run, 2:01/bike, TOTAL 2:50 !!!

After the race they decided to raffle off the two Specialized MTN bikes, with an eating contest! James didn't get chosen for the men, so he went to get the truck. I stayed hoping that with the limited amount of women in the crowd, I would be magically chosen. She called about about 10 numbers before they found 5 good contestants. I was lucky #5 ! Woo-HOO! The challenge: Eat 7 bananas faster than the other girls. I focused in on the yellow on my plate, strategizing how to maximize their swallow ability. Squish 'em I thought! So, when they yelled start! I smashed them into my mouth making a huge mess, but accomplishing a lot. I tied with one other girl. We had a face off with 2 more bananas, then tied AGAIN! OK, this is it, I thought, I HAVE to win, I am way too close to a new bad ass mtn bike! I CAN DO THIS. Face off with 1 banana. I shoved it in my mouth and swallowed, FIRST !!! I WON!!!!!!!!!!!! HELL YEAH!!!!! I was jumping up in down, I was so STOKED!! I can't believe me of all people could win a eating contest. I walked away with a brand new Specialized Safire MTN bike, top of the line, and stomach full of Bananas. I was the HAPPIEST girl alive!

Thanks to OutSpokin Bicycles for being so RAD to donate such BAD ASS bikes! And thanks to my competitor, she put up a huge challenge, it was only by seconds that I beat her!


Monday, March 9, 2009

Blankets Creek Bike/Run

Countdown to: Blankets Creek: >7 days !! Xterra: 47 days

Saturday: Mission; accomplish Blankets Creek!!

So, I thought it would probably be smart to actually get the chance to ride the entire race course before the big day on Saturday.
After a long day in a hot room to get my CPR cert, I was ready to head to Blankets. The class was suppose to be done at 3, but complications pushed it till 3:30ish.. I was running out the door to my honda after we were freed.. I pushed play on my mtn biking play list, rolled all the windows down, and made my way NW!
When I got to the parking lot, it was packed! I just imagined where they were going to have the transition set-up for all 300 racers. Speaking of which, what the hell would 300 bikers do to a trail in one day? I was pondering this as I hunted for a parking spot. I geared up, got my running shoes in place, and rode onto the trail.
First, the Van Michael Loop, I had never been on this trail. All I knew from looking at the map, was it was hilly and windy. I was excited and started off a little fast. Then the hills hit me! Ek! I was starting to realize how fucking it HOT it was, the sun was blaring on this side of the trail. I knew it must have been at least 78 in the sun. I had to stop a few times to catch my breath. I think the problem was, it was a lot of work for being so fresh on the trail. I regained my composure, and heart rate, and carried on. It started going down hill, so I flew into the cool air. Down over the bridge, what a fun little jump. Even with the people stopped, I had to grab some air! After all that effort downhill, it began again, the UP HILL! Ugh! So HOT! Trying to keep my rear wheel from slipping I hunkered down low to the bike, trying to keep my momentum. More climbing, I was HOT, and tired! I need to start this trail way slower! After a few windies, I started to reach the top, I knew it must be mostly downhill from here. With the lake in site, I started to whined my way downward. Coming to the ledge of this one hairpin turn, I knew that I need to take it nice and easy here during the race. The large rocks with dirt on the cliff side can certainly spell disaster, I guess that is what the rope is for! :) A little more ledge time and I was rolling to the bottom of the trail landing on mosquito flats. I put my polar speed on my mtn bike, I kept thinking it wasn't working because I did not see the distance change, and I was looking at 0, but in fact it was cadence, and I had forgot to start the workout! So much for that map! I started the timer, and went on my way.

Next, Dwelling Loop. Luckily today was Saturday, so I get to try Dwelling loop in the direction of the race, and the opposite of the two previous times I've ridden it. Feeling amped after tackling Van Michael, I was ready to ride fast on the mostly flat Dwelling loop. Somewhat experienced at this trail, I felt confident I could rock it. It felt great, and I was moving along pretty quickly, jamming out to my mtn biking mix... The sun started to get lower and as much as I wanted that so I could be less hot, I knew I was limited in my time on the trail, especially for the run (which I really needed to do). Towards the end of Dwelling loop, I found where they had blazed the new trail, it was rough and bumpy, with loose dirt instead of packed. It smelled of fresh dirt, and roots. At least I knew that if I was at this point, the end was near. I pushed on, and came out on top!

Transition: at the car, I packed my bike on, threw off my helmet, shades, and layers.. Pulled on my trail running shoes and headed back to Dwelling Loop. To my dismay, I've realized that the race is actually, a run then bike, but oh well! Atleast that means I will be warmer for the 4 miles of the hilly Van Michael trail. The run felt great, and I feel confident that I should do ok on race day!

An evening of recovery is exactly what I need. My couch, some pasta, a glass of wine, and True Blood on my tube.