Monday, August 03, 2009

Moving on...

I will no longer be updating this blog. Instead, everything will be at - see you over there!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

drama, lactic acid, and 'cross

I'm still here. I have gotten away from the blogging a little bit in favor for twitter, facebook, and..oh yeah, TRAINING. Next up for me is the Ore 2 Shore 48 mile race in the upper peninsula of Michigan. It's really really far from Georgia, but I've never been up that far and Michigan is my home state. I only know one thing about this will be fast. Really fast. I think the Women's field is up around 75 people! Crazy.

Last weekend was ORAMM, which I chose to skip in favor of the closer and free (I don't have a job, remember?) Drama Queen "70 miler" put on by Cartecay Bikes. The start and finish was at Mulberry Gap so the dogs could come along for the trip, too. Perfect! Last year the Drama Queen was Laurie (complete badass) and she won a crown. This year, I really wanted that crown. My plan was to go out hard, like I did at Lumberjack 100..I wanted to see how long I could hold that pace and then back off a bit into tempo or endurance mode for the duration. Laurie was there but said she was doing the 35 miler this year. Loretta and Emily were both also there. Both of them are f-a-s-t.

photo by Mike Palmeri

We started at 10am and immediately went uphill on the gravel road. I expected the usual uncontrolled breathing and flood of lactic acid into the legs, especially since I had not warmed up for a second.! I felt fantastic! I started out at the back and followed Eddie as he worked his way through the pack of 70 riders close to the front. I was holding his wheel and feeling like I could go even faster but decided to just stay there as he (obviously) knows what he's doing. I hung out there for awhile with Eddie, Troy Adams, FarmerG, and others. We caught the front group as we hit the pavement to go up Hwy 52. Once it went up, things started to spread out. Eddie and Troy put a gap on everyone, which was expected. I tried to stay with the main front group, which, to be honest was not that hard to do on this particular day. I would notice that a lot of them would stand on the steeps, but I would just sit and make up time in the saddle. I've really been working on my pedal stroke and technique and I really noticed that it helped me on this climb. I entered the Pinhoti singletrack as the first female but Laurie was not far behind. I started riding with my friend Marc and we would stick together for the rest of the day. He is a phenomenal climber and a great descender. I just tried to match his pace and let him pull me through all the road sections. The rest of the ride had it's ups and downs as usual, but overall, I will say that I have never felt this good on the bike...ever. I felt strong, and fast (except for on Tibbs!) all day. At the end of the ride I was still able to hammer in the big ring with my HR at threshold. The bonus was that I did win the title of Drama Queen(!) and got to take home one of these handmade cups (Thanks, Kit!)

What a great ride...thanks to Mike Palmeri and Terri of Cartecay Bikes, Larry and Kit for the SAG support, and Mulberry Gap for the hospitality. I hope to be there again next year!

Two days later I decided I felt like taking part in the last of the Paulding SORBA Off-road time trials. The course was 2.1 miles out on the paved rail trail, and then a turnaround onto the Silver Comet Side Trail singletrack for a total of 4.2 miles. On my preride, I got lost..go figure. I went way too far and had a nice 50 minute warmup. On my TT run, I totally missed a fast turn onto a sketchy bridge from the pavement and almost slid my entire body across the pavement. That's the closest I've ever been to crashing on the road! I had to turn around to get back across the bridge and lost some time. My legs were so tired that I could barely turn over the pedals on the last rise before the finish line. It reminded me of the feeling I got in my VO2max test..ouch. I crossed the line in 16:39, 11 seconds behind Al, who was feeling very happy that he beat me. Haha. I decided to go back out for another try since I knew where the bridge was this time. However, I wasn't sure I could even pedal hard on a second try. I was right...I felt like I was pedaling through mollasses the whole time...4.2 miles seemed like legs were flooded with lactic acid and I caught myself briefly hoping for a mechanical. I think that time was 30 seconds or so slower than my first run. Julia also beat me by 11 seconds and she even crashed on her run! Oh well, it was really fun and hopefully they will do more of these. It's a great way to work on intensity during the week. While I'm at it, I'll put in a request for a local mid-week Short Track series, too. OK? Thanks.

photo by Brigette Dusack

Yesterday, as if my legs weren't tired enough....I had a 5 hour ride on the schedule. I was sort of dreading it because I only got 5 hours of sleep the night before and it was looking like rain all day. I needed a stimulating route to keep me motivated so I picked the Paulding County Mixed Loop Ride. It was 40+ miles of pavement, gravel, and singletrack. We parked further down the Silver Comet so added another 20 or so miles of pavement. The ride was pretty slow, but great. The bike is really fun to ride but I do need to change the saddle out. Other than that, the ride was pretty perfect. 5 miles of wet, rooty, rocky singletrack was also a true challenge on a 'cross bike. Great for the handling skills, definitely.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Big day, small post

In no particular order, today I:

1) Passed the Registered Dietitian (RD) certification exam. That picks up a few more letters...Namrita K. O'Dea, MS, RD, LD.

2) Received the letter that I can start in the PhD program at Georgia Tech next month. I'll be working on my PhD in Applied Physiology. Another cool thing about this is that GT has a collegiate cycling team!

3) Celebrated with some really great friends at The Grange.

Tomorrow is officially my first day of "real" vacation. No work, no studying to do. I plan to clean the house since I've neglected that since...oh, probably New Years Day. After that, I plan to thoroughly enjoy the next four weeks until I start school AGAIN for the next 4+ years! YIKES!!!

Monday, July 06, 2009

Long weekend: Days 2 & 3

I actually got 15.5 hours of training in this week! That is the most I've ridden in one week (by A LOT) since March. Yes!! The next official race is Ore To Shore in Michigan on August 8. After that, it's Fool's Gold 50. The weekend rides were pretty chill...spent the weekend at Mulberry Gap in Ellijay and finally got to explore some of the Pinhoti 4/Tatum Lead area. Didn't make it to Fort Mountain as time. Wildlife spotted this weekend: 2 bears (one mom, one cub) and a bobcat! That's enough for me!

Friday, July 03, 2009

Long weekend: Day 1

The Fool's Gold 50/100 preride today was awesome. I only wanted to ride 4 hours (see post a few back about temporary retirement from endurance racing..) so didn't get to ride the whole 50 miles. However, it was an excellent day. The No-Tell and Black Branch trails are pretty rutted and rooty as always, but the Turner Creek area was super buff and fast. The Rotwild R.R2 hardtail really surprised me today. I have really liked it on everything so far, but I had my doubts about the rooty/rough Bull Mt. area trails. It rode so smooth, though! I think I will probably race it for the Fool's Gold 50. The XTR parts arrived today, so the bike is about to get even lighter...sub 20 lb. maybe?? We'll see. Fitness-wise, I felt pretty good. I was able to hammer a little bit just to test things out, but didn't want to go crazy as I have three more long days of riding ahead of me. I probably will not race the XC this weekend as I couldn't get an answer on whether the women's race was going to get shortened from the 30-mile distance or not. I left the camera at home today, but I'll share any good pics I come across of the course and/or today's ride.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Raccoon Mtn SERC race (and why endurance racing is way cooler)

I went up on Saturday evening to preride the Raccoon Mtn. race course. As soon as I pulled up to the parking lot I noticed thunder and some really dark clouds. The course was supposed to be a long 12.5 miles using all the technical sections. The Pro/Open women field was to do 3 laps for a total of 37.5 miles. I knew it was going to be hot, so I had my hydration and nutrition strategy all worked out with nuun and PowerBar Endurance.

The preride was long, but decent even though it rained for most of the ride. My Race King tires weren't great on wet roots, but I knew the course would most likely be fast and dry on Sunday. There were several rock garden-y sections..some with good/fast lines and many with bad/slow lines. I tried really hard to make mental notes of all the turns I didn't want to blow into and of all the better/faster lines. The trail is all rideable, everything is just different when you are racing. So, I felt pretty good about it and decided to call it a day and head to Cathi's house. She took us to a really good brewpub called the Terminal in Chattanooga. The food & beer were great..we even met up with the Faster Mustache guys who were in town to race, as well.

I got to the race venue early enough to set up my bottles with Wild Bill from the Terrapin Racing Team (THANKS) and early enough to warm up really well. As 9:30 approached they had the Pro men line up with the women just after them. Here is where they announced that they had decided that the women would only do 2 laps, one less than the men. Here is where I say "WTF"????????? Are you kidding me? Because it's going to be hot?? So what? I prepared for the heat, didn't everyone else? 1) I feel like Pro Women should ride just as far as Pro Men. 2) EVEN if the Pro Women do one less lap, it should be advertised that way on the sign-up. I probably never would have paid and driven 2 hours and stayed overnight to race 25 miles. The entire appeal of this race in the first place was that it was a technical course that would require some endurance and toughness to race the 3 laps in the heat. Not sure why this seems to be a trend where they vote on the line on how many laps to do in XC races. Except this time, there was not even a vote. I most certainly would have voted for the complete 3 laps. It's not like that in an endurance race. If you sign up for 100 miles, you race for 100 miles or DNF. If you sign up for a 12 hour, you race for 12 hours. You don't vote on the line to make it an 8 hour race because it might be hot or it might rain. I really do hate complaining about races as I know first-hand how hard it is to put one on. But, seriously, I think it's extremely ridiculous that this happened.

Anyway, on to the race.......

I started out towards the back (mistake #1) because I assumed everyone would be faster than me, and the course started out with tight, rocky singletrack so I thought I would just follow lines. Right of the bat, one girl crashed, causing a bit of a split in the pack. Then, another girl fumbled on an easy rock section which caused a huge split in the field. Suck. This is when I realized I should have started towards the front. Soon after that, I got stung by a bee on my neck. Ouch..this ended up hurting much worse than my legs did for the rest of the race! Then, there was a split in the trail where you could take a low, off-camber chunky rocky line or a high, rocky line. I chose the highy rocky line and totally botched it because... I don't know why (mistake #2). It was stupid but I think only one girl ended up passing me on the low line in the process.

While I was riding, I felt really good. I felt good climbing and through the twisty singletrack and fast downhills. I could definitely tell I was losing time through the tricky technical stuff, even though I could ride most of them I wasn't riding them as fast as all the local girls (and there were a lot of them). The worst part of my first lap came when I was FLYING into the rock drop #1 behind a guy (mistake #3)...he flew through with ease but my wheel must have kicked slightly to the right with a big boulder stopping it dead on, sending me straight onto said boulder. My shoulder, knee, and knuckle broke the fall...I spent a few minutes standing to the side while at least 20 people passed by. I didn't think I was hurt, but I wasn't sure...and I wasn't sure about my bike. My shifting was messed up in the rear and that made the next rocky climb a bitch to get through. Finally, I got the shifting straightened out and I started to come around slowly. I started passing people back and finally felt like myself again. I felt like I had lost about 5 minutes because of my crash, so I wanted to make that time up on my 2nd lap. I was feeling really good, but not experienced enough to know how hard to go without risking blowing up before the end of the race. The worst thing would be to be passed right before the finish, I think I ended up getting too comfortable sitting behind some Sport guys that really didn't want to let me pass (mistake #4). The pace was good, but I wasn't working hard enough. Finally, I came around and dropped them on the climb and downhill, and never saw them again. I had a great 2nd lap (slightly faster than my first lap) and was starting to finally learn the lines, and I finished with enough energy to do another lap...which sucked because there were only TWO!! Bummer for me, I think I would have caught some people had the race been longer. Still, I ended up 9th, I think several girls DNF'd. I also know everyone that finished ahead of me is much more experienced in the XC racing I was happy that I finished with no mechanicals and no broken bones!! I really had a blast and would love to do some more of these. That also tells me that I probably didn't ride hard enough :)

I hung out for awhile after the race, and then headed to Mulberry Gap in Ellijay for the evening. I met up with Emily for a short hour-long ride, and then out for a beer and Mexican food in Ellijay. I went to bed pretty sore, but mostly from my bee sting and somewhat from my crash. We woke up this morning to roasted potatoes, eggs, bacon, toast, and coffee..compliments of Ginny at Mulberry Gap. It was sooooo good. We got in a great 3 hour training ride on gravel road this morning before I hit the road.

Yeah, it was an amazing weekend!!

Friday, June 26, 2009

midlife crisis?

I'm sort of being forced into temporary "retirement" from endurance racing because of my (formerly knee, now hip) issues and, therefore, being forced into short/fast/painful racing. This is definitely stepping OUT of my comfort zone as the last short/fast race I did was the Cohutta 35 over a year ago. And, before that, it was 5-10K road races several years ago. Hmmph.

I'm trying to keep a good attitude, though..eventually I will get faster and at least I can start trying some new things. The track racing didn't really pan out since my knee didn't agree with the fixed gear. So, I just bought a BH Cross Bike so I can start getting familiar with the technique and handling..we have a really great CX series here in Georgia. Plus, it takes much less time to train for than 12-24 hour racing..and seeing that I don't have the time to train anyway.....

So, I just registered for my first official XC race EVER this Sunday @ Raccoon Mountain. I'm not going to hope for anything great, just to ride a steady pace in the heat and finish in one piece. If my hip/knee don't bother me, I'll consider it a victory regardless of how I finish. The big question is, is it OK to wear my new Topeak-Ergon skinsuit??? I love it! If I'm not going to win, then I might as well LOOK good, right?? (edit: OK, the consensus seems to be that it's too hot to wear a skinsuit. fine. the forecasted heat index is 102 deg.!)

By the way, there are three spots left in the Women's Beginner Mountain Bike Clinic Series. Go here for more info.