Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Next Up - 12 Hours of Lodi

So what makes a mountain biker desire to start a race at MIDNIGHT, and keep riding 8 mile laps, rotating laps with a team mate for a 12 hour period ending at noon the next day? I dunno... I certainly can't stay up much pass 9:00, let alone attempt to stay up all night! But there's something unique about the 12- and 24-hour races...something cult-like, something luring that makes us want to go back for more repeatedly. Here's a really cool race report from some 12-hour groupies from last year. This will be my 6 or 7th (can't remember!) 12 or 24 hour race...and I've just realized all but 1 have been with my teammate for many years now, the one and only Donna Weiser. Her hubby and her have been doing these types of races for much longer than I. In fact, it was THEM who got me into these thangs with Ole Bull Midnight Madness being my first 12 hour race. There's ALWAYS comraderie and a family atmostphere at most mountain bike races and Xterra races, but its more family like when you do a sleepover -- or is that lack of sleep-over -- in a commune like situation. We're gathered around campfires (sometimes), sipping on pressed coffee to stay awake, bundled in blankets to stay warm, and if we're really lucky, we may have some mud and raindrops to play in too. We eat food off a tiny little grill or propane-fired bunson burner, or better yet, packets of dehydrated yumyums make it to our plates. Sounds like fun, huh! Well, it actually is. Its nothing but shits and giggles the whole weekend. So early Saturday, we're heading south to Fredericksburg Virignia to the 12 Hours of Lodi. Last year, Amy Breyla and Loretta Torres, two MASS regulars, were the only duo girl team. They turned laps between 1:05 and 1:15 -- nothing less of mega-fast for girls! (the boys were averaging about 1 hour laps). Donna has always been the strategist of our team races, and she's strategizing on this one too. At first, we planned to do double laps; but we've since found out some interesting facts about the body's adaption during and shutting down after endurance riding and we'd be better off doing single laps to keep things in check. Donna hasn't confirmed that yet, but I believe that's the route we may go since the source of our info is a reliable, reputable source. So off to Virginny we go in a day or two. Watch for the race report on Monday morning!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Savage Adventure Race Official Pics and Results

From the Goals Adventure Racing Website, the RESULTS and PICS are UP from the April 20 Adventure Race. And here's THEIR race report -- nice write-up!

The Savage Adventure Race Kicks Off the 2008 GOALS ARA Season
GOALS Adventure Racing Association kicked off it's 5 year anniversary season with The Savage Adventure Race. The event, held in Brandywine Creek State Park, DE, was a new location for this 6 hour sprint race. In keeping with the spirit of adventure racing and Earth Day, this race directly benefited the environment, by raising funds for the Friends of the Brandywine Creek State Park.
105 teams took to the starting line, as team representatives wound their way down and up a narrow trail to get their passports from an awaiting volunteer. Tension filled the air, as teams scampered to see if they would bike, canoe, run, or complete team challenges first. The teams would then rotate sequences. Teams that went to the team challenges first encountered a razor scooter course, knot tying challenge, and team stretcher carry. Most teams were quick to get through these, and were on their way to foot, bike or canoe. We knew it would be a tough race course when teams came running back from the initial opening activity with bloodied legs from the terrain. The "rolling" hills of northern Delaware were also deceptive, in that there was a lot more elevation change in the course than many teams anticipated.
A missing CP flag (stolen ,blown away, tampered with?...the mystery continues) on the canoe section, left the opening canoe teams on a hunt for the non-existent. Volunteers were soon notified, and word got to the rest of the race course as they came to that section. Time credits that first handful of teams for their search efforts. The wind proved to be an additional challenge to the paddle section on the Brandywine River, leaving many teams struggling to paddle the loop upstream, then down again. This added to many teams race times, especially the 2 person teams, making the course longer in time than originally anticipated. That's the beauty of adventure never know what Mother Nature will throw at you. Storms threatened the skies in the afternoon, but fortunately only a few teams were affected by the inpempending thunderstorms. Mother Nature once again!
The bike section proved to be more challenging than many teams anticipated with lots of ups and downs and ups and downs. Along the bike section, teams encountered volunteers who stopped them to take the Adventure Jeopardy Challenge. Teams had answer questions from a choice of categories, in order to advance in the course.
The winning over all team was a Masters Male Team of 2,Team Trail Creek Outfitters, with a finish time of 4:21:40. Team GOALS ARA (Coed 3) followed with a time of 4:23:26. Team Satori (Male 3) came in 3rd over all with a finish time of 4:32:07. All teams should be congratulated, it was by no means an easy race course.
From teams with wigs to teams with kids, it was great to see so many returning racers, and so many new faces. We hope that the new faces have caught the adventure racing bug!
A special thanks goes out to all the volunteers and the park who made this race possible. Thank you to Trail Creek Outfitters, The North Face, Fuel Belt, Hammer Nutrition, REI, and Trail Runner Magazine for their prizes.
The top 10 finishers in the coed/3 division are on their way to eligiblity to compete in the GOALS ARA Championship in the fall. Championship race is open to coed/3 teams who place in top 10 in any 2 GOALS ARA 2008 season races.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Broken Dog Legs and Willie Fisher (or is that Villy Fisha?)

"So who's fault is it when you roll over a dog's legs and break them?" I didn't really break the dog's leg(s), at least I don't think I did. Rick said, "the owner -- the dog wasn't tied. He even had a shock collar on, but obviously wasn't being used. It's not your's like a dog running out in front of car..the car isn't at fault." I just started my 6 minute interval (BTW, a new post is coming on my new training tactics which I LOVE and feel like a million bucks again!), and wasn't paying much attention to anything but getting the HR up. All of a sudden, I look up, and this dog is running straight at me and next thing I know, he's in front of my front tire and I'm going over his legs. I rolled on the ground, said "Jesus Christ!!" loud enough for the owner to hear me, gave them a really ugly, mean glare, acted like maybe I hurt myself (but I didn't) and immediately got back on my bike and continued the interval -- noticing the dog was holding his leg up as I rode off. I used to LOVE dogs, but since I've been riding bike and discovered it takes a speed of 37 mph to outrun a pit bull, I have much less compassion for a barking dog chasing my bike. So my inconsiderate side didn't feel bad about the dog. Geez. Tie your dogs, please!
Later in the ride, we went by Fisher's Greenhouse. (This isn't really training related, but its a cute story about riding a bike by an old friend's house). Fisher's dad, Willie, had a greenhouse in Gratz when we first moved into our house many years ago. I swear I kept him in business for 2 years straight. I bought every herb from him he got in -- in multiple quantities. I was there so much I grew to know some of his kids -- Miriam and Allen, and of course his dog Rosie would follow me around. Miriam's least favorite job in the Greenhouse was separating sweet potatoe plants. Willie was my buddy. He loved to talk plants and herbs and so did I. That year (I think it was 1994), I was 2nd place in the Patriot News "How Does Your Garden Grow" Contest and I mentioned Fisher's Greenhouse in the Article and he claimed that brought him a lot of business (he was grateful). We shared plants (I grew herbs at the time he didn't have -- Sweet Annie was a huge hit!), and I helped him out when times got tough for him when he had his heart attack and his wife had brain surgery. He shut down the greenhouse, and moved down the valley. We'd see Willie every now and then, but not much. Now, he's about 3 miles from me (again!), working with his son who now has a greenhouse. Willie was out watering his grass and I just had to stop and say hi. A half hour later, we left with big smiles on our faces as we laughed at how Willie was trying to sell us his miracle cure -- GoJi Juice. He swears it cured his arthritic thumbs, and his wife is feeling much, much better (she was partially paralyzed and in a wheel chair, and is now walking around and doing quite well). Rick and I (well, more me) get a kick out of Willie. He's about as friendly as they come. Willie is Amish. It felt sorta awkward standing in an Amish family's kitchen in skin-tight spandex drinking GoJi juice. Rick said did I think Willie, his wife and young grandson thought we were in our underwear. Ha! Willie's an elder, and his wife Anna is as sweet and quiet as can be. I'm proud to have Willie as my friend. He said I should stop again when I ride bike by his place -- and I think I will!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Savage Adventure Race Pictures

My dear hubby got bunches of photos at the they are:

Monday, April 21, 2008

Savage Adventure Race Report

And the word of the day was... "F___!!!" That's the easiest way to describe today's venture in the woods, creek and hillsides of Brandywine Creek State Park in Delaware. For those that race the MASS Mountain Bike series, this Park borders the Granogue mountain bike race course to give you an idea of the terrain we raced on. Now take your mountain bike race at Granogue on an unmarked course (but you DO have a map with checkpoints you must find), add a running race, a canoe race, finding and recording 17 checkpoints along the way, lifting and carrying 80 pounds, and balancing and guiding your blind-folded teammate on a scooter around cones and that's the race today. Chrissy and Sam finished a little early after the run and bike portions. Sam was not feeling up-to-power and pulled out. Dick and Cathy did quite well at about 6 hours and 15 minutes (I think), and Miss Sheena and Team blazed through the course in about 5:30! The fastest team of the day took 4:20 minutes to finish the race. Donna and I eeked out 5:49. Adventure racing holds true to its name. Think small-scale "The Amazing Race" and that's fairly close. Donna and I were not at a loss for choice words at many parts of the race. This race was full of surprises, like a checkpoint up the side of a very steep hill (it may as well would have been a mountain), numerous trails unmarked on the map...leading us in a variety of directions we couldn't be sure of since we were both unfamiliar with the Park, making us double back at spots and stopping at every intersection. Donna used her orienteering skills to figure where we were..using the map's features as a guide (i.e., open fields, root stock, creek crossing). She did a great job getting us through the course, contrary to her belief she wasn't as good a navigator as she thought (you done did REAL good girl!). She got pissy at a couple points (don't we all?), as did I at the start. One of us had to run about a mile to get the passport (the chart that records where you've been through certain sections and reached the checkpoints -- race officials mark your passport after each section). It was decided the flatter, easier (longer) trail would be best for faster running. The other option was a washed out ditch down an steeper section (shorter distance). Well, it was the case of many trails to choose from while running and I chose a wrong trail following everyone else (forgot the map -- didn't think I'd need it for a 1 mile run! - DOH), and ran about 10 minutes out of the way. That sort of set the tone for the race at first, but we both loosened up at about the 3 hour marker when we were getting too tired to think about the wrong trails. By the 4th hour, after finishing the bike leg, the special tasks (carrying that heavyweight in a stretcher - ouch), and the run leg, we wanted to be done. But the canoe remained. Have you ever tried to paddle a canoe upstream in faster moving shallow water after you've been racing for 4 hours already? doesn't happen. So there were many spots I was out of the boat pushing. At one point I fell, which was actually pretty funny at the 5 hour marker. The canoe was L.O.N.G. - maybe 5 or more miles (as was the run - had to be about 6 miles) and both of us had hurting arms. All said and done, we finished in 5:49 minutes. No other women enter the two-person Master Women class, so we took home the blue ribbons by default. But we like to compare ourselves to the other women finishers when there are no others in our class, and we were 3rd of the 9 women's teams that entered. The majority of them either didn't finish, took time penalties for not completing certain sections, or didn't find all the checkpoints. That's part of the results -- did you do it all, did your find all the checkpionts. We were proud to have found all our checkpoints. This race was really hard given the terrain and my lack of endurance and strength like previous years. Adventure racing is being crossed off the list of things to do for next year. One down and one to go - the Capital City Adventure Challenge is in September and that will be my last Adventure race - ever!

Friday, April 18, 2008

1st Adventure Race of the Year this Weekend

Adventure Races are about as fun as it gets for racing. Most times, racing can be SO serious that you let the fun aspect slip through the cracks -- especially when you are racing solo and the focus is competing and being your best. There's little time for laughter when wheezing up a hill on the bike or run, or focusing on your stroke to stay on the heels of the swimmer in front of you. You still wheeze in adventure races, but you're wheezing with a partner and in most cases, there's some jokes and fun going on inbetween the gasps for air. Goals Adventure Racing Association based in Downingtown puts on the best of races. They are organized, have fair categories for competitors (MASTER WOMEN!!!), and reward the entrants with decent swag and goodies. On Sunday is the SAVAGE. About 150 teams are entered (300 racers or so). My teamate, Donna Weiser, is the organizer of the her and me team..., and has been combing the gear list and making sure her/me have all the required gear covered - not to mention our attire is matched perfectly (watch for the Paradise Pink skirts this year!) She's a tremendous navigator too. Adventure racing requires you to be able to follow a map. Some races have marked courses, others do not. Some adventure races actually require you to plot coordinates on a map and determine the course based on those coordinates. Those are some hard races and you need a really good navigator who can read maps/longitudes/latitudes,etc. (not one of my forte's!) Sunday's race is fairly easy and will likely be marked AND they'll give us a map with the course also. On race day, we'll get the map of the course and Donna will take it, study it, memorize it, and we'll be on our merry way finding the tokens and getting back to the start in about 4-5 hours. We make a really good team and that's part of the energy of adventure racing - team compatibility. There's nothing worse than two team mates fighting in a race - and it happens! There's 8 of us that will be racing -- Dick Mansberger and Cathy are a Team (Dick is Donna's co-worker). Christina Bohensky and her Teammate Sam Bashore are racing (Sam is a bigwig at EL Heim - another of Donna's co-workers), and Christina's sister, Sheena Perry is racing with one of Chrissy's teamates from the Cap City Challenge, Chris. Donna's hubby, Brett, is sitting this one out and will be the official cheering section and make sure Donna and I actually USE the kayak paddles this year (we left them lay last year because SOMEONE was too lazy to run to transition and get them!) Of course my dear hubby will be around the race with camera in hand.... although he talked about paddling too - so he may be out on the water with us. So Sunday is the day, and we're ready. We've both been training for months, so physically we are ready. And mentally? We're always ready for fun Adventure Racing!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Swim Tip - the Breath

At last week's swim clinic, one of the topics was taking a breath and not turning your head too much. Candy and Andy said, if you see the ceiling, you are turning your head too much. The best swimmers turn their heads SO slightly, you barely notice they are taking a breath. One goggle should be in the water when you turn your head to breath. They demonstrated a slight head turn, then actually turning your mouth toward the air to breath and I just found this perfect description:

Cigar Mouth: For a streamlined breathing pattern, attempt to take as little of the head as possible out of the water when breathing. The best way to think about this is "smoking a cigar" when you inhale, meaning, for you healthy, non-smoking triathletes, that the breath only comes from the outside corner of the mouth while the inside corner of the mouth is under the water. As you learn this breathing method, you may end up swallowing a bit of water, but long term practice will result in more efficient swimming.

Swallowing water? That's an understatement! I'll keep plugging away at this, but I feel like I'm starting learn to breath water! There's actually several drills that the breathing can be practiced nicely with. The shark fin is good for practicing this. You swim on your side with one arm extended in front of you, head down, and slowly pull drag your hand/elbow along your side with your elbow straight up in the air like a shark. You can either just keep doing this on one side (and practice your breathing with this), or switch and do the other side. All in all, its a good time to focus on smoking a cigar too.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Training Adjustment

With the official start of Xterra races just about 4 weeks away, the training focus is now officially switched to higher intensity with a bit more concentration on improving run speed and swimming. I'd certainly like to get faster at swimming, but for now (after my clinic on Saturday), I really need to concentrate on getting the stroke corrected first, then, maybe, I can think about some speed. Rick didn't realize it, but he said something last night that made me feel MUCH better about my swim. Rick is a difficult guy to get to say much that you know he's serious -- he never wants to say the wrong thing, so he'll say what he thinks I want to hear. But last night I caught him in a serious moment (its rare, but I know when it happens!), and I asked him if he saw any improvement in my swimming. He swam with me, and hasn't for at least 3 months. And he said, yes, a little! So thank you Ricky Brown! My training is now 3 sessions of each sport per week, with a paddle with Mr. Brown and crew thrown in on the weekends (he wants me to slip one in during the week too, which is doable). Yes, only 3 bike rides a week!! This is the biggest of changes...the past two years were 7-day a week biking alternating ez/hard days. So I'm actually enjoying the idea of laying off the bike for a change. When I DO do the bike sessions, they will be intervals. No more ez days. The training schedule on the sidebar was updated.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Xterra pre-Swim at King of the Hill NOT allowed

To my Xterra buds planning to do the King of the Hill Preride on April 26 at Round Valley Recreation Area in New Jersey, the lake is NOT, repeat NOT open to swim. I had this brainy idea to take my brand spanking new wetsuit to swim, and swimming is restricted. So don't get the same brainy idea as me! It's a ride/run day only. You could always stop at Blue Marsh Lake on the way home a take a dip.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Candy Angle and Andrew Noble Swim Clinic Wrap-up

It was quite a learning experience for old wiggly - and that was the goal today. 7 swimmers joined World Champs Candy Angle and Andrew Noble today at Suburban Swim Center near Philadelphia for 4 hours of instruction of techniques for a perfect swim stroke to make us faster. The idea was to show us what and what not to do, videotape us, critique us, show us dry-land practice drills, then send us on our way to practice, practice, practice and embed these new-found skills in our brains. We received a DVD of everything we learned today, laminated drill sheets to take along to the pool, and tons of insight from two very talented swimmers. A summary:

  • Head - forehead in the water, not the entire head. You should be able to see your hand enter the water all the time. Think of a "V" at your forehead - like the hull of a boat.

  • Elbows up - makes you naturally turn on your side and be thin in the water. Think small space to glide in the water. No big bodies in the water.

  • One goggle in the water to breath. Move your head to breath as little as possible -- only enough to the mouth just barely out of the water for a breath.

  • The pull - think of your arms around a barrel and pull the barrel back along your side.

  • Arms entry - in front of you -- not across the front of you. Always keeps your arms straight in front. Across the side will make you wiggle.

  • Timing - Pulling arm pulls as the entry arm enters. This is harder than it sounds

Dry land drills -- one of them is pictured above. Surgical tubing on a paddle-like board to practice pulls. Another is lying on your side on the floor and "zipping" up the side of your shirt. Wall touches - reach to the wall like you are doing a stroke, then pull back (correct form) with the other arm. The focus is keeping the arms straight in front of you to eliminate the crossing over the center line. When you cross over, you wiggle and lose the straight line and forward moments. I'm a BIG wiggler. (ha!). Candy and Andy are incredible athletes and I couldn't help but be impressed with not only their knowledge of the sport, but their genuine interest in helping people. It was obvious they enjoy what they do and were the bestest of instructors. I learned tons and can't wait to get in the pool on Tuesday and practice.

Prior to the Swim clinic, Candy and Andy gave a talk in the morning on Xterra racing in general. They spent a lot of time on training ideas and suggestions. I thought it was interesting that THEY put an emphasis on Swimming (they are swimmers), contrary to Melanie McQuaid's emphasis on biking (she's a biker). Hmmm... Here's a summary of the AM talk and training for Xterras:

  • They never do weight training. It's all sport specific training
  • Bike training is 80-85% on the road.
  • Quality training, not quantity.
  • Running - no need to log miles upon miles. Train for time. Maybe its only 30 minutes, but if good, quality interval training, that's all you need. One endurance run a week - doesn't have to be super long (an hour for Xterra races).
  • 3 workouts on the bike, 3 workouts on running and 3 workouts swimming is all that's really needed in a week.
  • 3 weeks training, 1 week cut back and resting a little.
  • Swimming in the AM is fine, bike or run in the evening is good too. (two in one day ok).
  • They always do a day of swim/bike/run together.
  • They seldom train in open water - all swim training is in the pool.
  • They use perceived effort for training - not Heart Rate monitors. Too many folks get fixated on what the HR monitor says and worry about that rather than the training.

And some side notes - bike style (hard tail vs full suspension) is personal preference. Pressure is personal preference.

The race promoters from Xterra Trimax (RB Winter) was there, as was the PA Xterra Trail Run series guru, Don Morrison. 13 folks in all attended the AM talk. Special thanks to Xterra Ambassador, Sue Ann Clarke for pulling it all together.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Three County Tour

One of the reasons I took up biking was for the plethora of country roads surrounding us. Living on the corner of Schuylkill, Dauphin, and Northumberland Counties in Central PA rewards me with miles upon miles of beautiful countryside. This picture is looking into Mahantango Valley, Northumberland County. The site I was standing on is known as "The Sac" which is one of the very few North facing hang gliding launch areas (Weiser State Forest has a West Slope). "Sac" is short for Sacramento in Schuylkill County. The tour today took me through all three counties and after two hours, 5 cars passed me. This picture is one of the most picturesque farms in the valley. Its completely off the beaten path and is as peaceful as it looks. There were some geese on the pond. Love the country... love the ride.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Pro Advice on "Aging" Training

I think I need to get a Master Female coach. After spending some time on the phone yesterday with one of Carmichael's coaches whom specializes in Women Master Athletes, Tracy Drews, I come to realize I'm just fooling myself and maybe, just maybe Ricky Brown is right -- I'm doing too much and not paying attention to my aging body. Tracy was incredibly helpful. After asking many, many lifestyle questions such as stress at work/home, family medical history, my training/nutrition patterns, sleep, etc. she started narrowing down potential sources of my fatique and how to combat them. The one point I found most interesting is lack of sleep and getting up at 3:30-4:00 am every morning. For aging women, 8-10 hours of sleep is recommended - and that's for a non-athletic woman. I sleep about 6.5-7 hours and sometimes that's not sound. Another interesting fact was the most recovery in sleep occurs between 3:00 and 5:00 am. Well I'm waking up in the middle of recovery! She mentioned something else I'm just kidding myself about all the time - my days off. I always thought my Mondays and Fridays off were "off." But just because I don't swim/bike/run on those "off" days, its really not off. You see, I fill my "off" days with kayaking with Ricky, gardening, maybe ez road riding with Ricky, or doing trail work cutting down trees. Well, that's not actually taking off. I'm still doing activities -- even though I think its not much, it is (yes, even active recovery can be harmful in this case) and its affecting my ability to recovery properly. I'm an idiot. Tracy also mentioned hormone levels and getting them checked. Obviously an imbalance in hormones can have many physical effects, thus, enhance the aging issues. So I have some work to do... can the budget afford a professional training plan? The benefit of it would be if I'm paying for it, I'll use it -- not to mention I might just being doing something right then!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Nailing Down an "Adjustable" Training Plan

Can it be done? A training plan that can be adjusted as necessary to accomodate kayaking, tiredness, Ricky Brown's road rides once it finally gets nice enuf, grass mowing, gardening, and American Idol? Sure, why not... There finally seems to be some sense to this crazy how-do-I-train-and-what-am-I-training for confusion with long rides, Xterras, swimming and now on top of it all, crashing fatigue which actually was what helped figure it all out.
  1. I mentioned earlier the focus - short (sprint and olympic distance) multi-sport. Xterra and Adventure racing mostly.
  2. Now that I know ANY race I do -- even if I term it "for training" -- is going to wipe me out, it was easy to cross off some races to open some weekends for easier training (and flexibility with kayking/gardening/etc).
  3. Kayaking and road bike rides with Mr. Brown are EZ days (recovery!), thus, once he tells me what and when he has planned in a week, I can adjust the harder days to the day before these ez days - niiiccceee.
  4. Non-race weekends are just like the sidebar training plan says -- 3, 4 hours of any combo of swim/bike/run/paddle. If I'm tired, I'll only do one day. The key is one, good, long endurance day each week.

Bottom line? I'm gonna attempt to do two hard workouts during the week (bike,swim,run combos), ez days in between the hard workouts, then endurance on the weekend, totalling about 10-12 hours a week. Every 4th week is a rest week with training hours cut to 60-70% of the norm. I think this will work!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Red Mo Downriver Race Final Results

The results are up of the 2008 Red Mo Downriver Race. For those that haven't been following previous posts, this is a 7.1 mile kayak (or canoe) race on the Moshannon River above State College. They've been holding the race for 41 years and this is the first year I entered to compete. There were 27 divisions and the results of my division were:

Kristan Wyland 59:17
Sara McConnell 59:37
Chaterine Grigor 1:01:24
Jill Wiest 1:03:27
Janet Jastremski 1:04:04
Megan O’Riley 1:07:07
Mary Whitehead 1:07:52
Andrea Muller 1:15:25

Full results can be found at Tussey Mountain Outfitters Website