Ouachita Trail 50k Race Report

Yes, that’s 50 kilometers (over 30 miles) of (mostly) trail running (and walking).

The race started just before dawn this morning from Maumelle Park near Little Rock, AR. The first three miles or so were on the road, so there was just enough light to see the trail once we got there. I had to exercise a lot of self control on that part- there were a few hills, and I promised myself that I wouldn’t make the same mistake that I’d made in my first 50k a few years ago when I ran uphill for several miles while my legs were fresh, but then nearly died towards the end of the race! Within the first 5 miles, we crossed Pinnacle Mountain. This part of the race was my absolute favorite, and it almost didn’t happen because of the rain forecast. However, we lucked out and the rain passed by to the south overnight, and the crossing was able to go on. The awesome thing about the mountain is that the last 400 yards or so is nearly straight up a boulder garden. I used my crazy spiderwoman skillz to scale the rocks and my mountain goat descending skillz to (unknowingly) put a giant gap between me & the 2nd place woman.

When I made it down the trail to the next aid station, someone let me know that I was in first place. WHAT?!?! I seriously was just trying to plod my way along- I had no intentions of trying to be competitive! So, I did just that- plodded along with my usual strategy- walk up hills, jog the flat spots, and run down hills. Doing this, I held on to first until just before the next aid station. The woman who would go on to run caught up to me and left the aid station first, and I didn’t see her again until the turnaround. Honestly, I didn’t care at all.

The next 22 miles or so went on pretty uneventfully- I ate a lot of gel, turned my ankles a few times, drank some pickle juice at an aid station (that one had beer! I can’t say I wasn’t tempted…), almost got lost once or twice, and wished that it would pour down rain so I wouldn’t have to stop when I had to pee. You know- the usual trail racing stuff…

I ended up finishing in 6 hours and 15 minutes- about 10 minutes back from a woman who, from what I heard from aid station staff, was being a real beotch because she’d missed a turn and didn’t like that the course description hadn’t mentioned that the trail was rocky and technical. I was like, SRSLY?!?! Maybe she should stick to road racing. The next gal back came in about 15 minutes after me. She’d caught up to me as I was leaving the turnaround aid station, but she looked pretty tired, and I happened to get a nice little energy burst after I left, so I never saw her again.

I’m not gonna lie to you- I’m in some pain right now like you wouldn’t believe (unless, of course, you run Ultras, too), but I had an outstanding race! I’ve never felt so good for so long during a run of that length! I’m usually dragging pretty hard by about mile 25, though today I kept a good plod going the entire way.I was surprised because I knew I hadn’t really trained that much…

I went back and looked- Since before X-mas, when I was doing some short runs for x-training, my first run to prepare for this race was exactly 1 month ago today. Whoa.

So the epic Summer of 2009 begins.


…do you dress to run 32 miles in the rain when the temps are in the low 60s? Not cold enough for the warm stuff, but too warm to go in the usual shorts/t-shirt. Hmmm…

Countdown to Ouachita

Two more days & I’ll be leaving for Arkansas for the Ouachita Trail 50k. I’m looking forward to getting back on the trail for a long run. Yesterday I had a great “tune up” run at the Lakeland Trails. Short of driving 45 minutes out to Shelby Forest, they’re the best trails for some hill practice. After a quick warmup on the mostly flat blue & red trails, I did a few repeats on the much more technical yellow trail. I felt really good, but held back a bit & practiced my powerwalk on the uphills (in the world of ultramarathon-ing, it’s universally accepted that you walk up long, steep parts). I did, however, let loose on the downhill sections, and even managed to practice grabbing/slinging around a well placed tree in the corner of a fast switchback.

How is it that I can be so incredibly comfortable running down a steep, rooty trail a breakneck speed, but then chicken out when I try to do the same thing on a bike?!

I digress… I’ve got my hill legs back. The race is still going to wreck me, but it’ll be good endurance practice for my next adventure.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention… I’m seriously considering an entry into the solo division of a 12 hour MTB race on May 9th. I briefly tried to find someone to join me for a duo, but she’s already planning on racing solo, so I gave up & decided I should just go at it alone. Between now & then, I’ll have a 50k run, then the weekend of the 25th, I’ll be going to an adventure racing clinic in Little Rock, so I’ll probably stick around on Sunday & head out for an all day epic of some sort on the Ouachita and/or Womble trail(s). After that, I’ll likely just stick to conditioning on the road bike and practicing some tech-ey stuff on the MTB until the 9th.

Anyone who is reading this interested in going to Arkansas on the 25th?

Verminator Fail

Last month, I posted that Indy sucessfully caught a mole: Verminatior

Today, he spent about an hour digging around in the mud (it’s been raining a lot lately). He didn’t catch anything. Except for mud…





If I were on a rollercoaster right now…

…I’d be sitting in the first car with the lap-bar locked down, slowly creeping up the first gigantic hill on an insane set of tracks.

I just got word from the bike shop that my Jet 9 frame is on its way, and all of the components are probably getting ordered as I type this. It looks as if things will begin arriving on Thursday this week!!

Just like when I bought my first road bike, I’ll be heading out to Arkansas this weekend to run a 50k (though this time, it’s the Ouachita Trail 50k & last time it was the Midnight 50k). And, just like last time, I’ll come home so incredibly sore and beaten up that I’ll hardly be able to throw a leg over the bike to take it for a lap around the block!

It’s OK, though.

Weekend after this one, I’ll be going back to Little Rock for an adventure racing clinic. Hopefully I’ll make some connections over there and will get advice (and maybe some company!) for where to go in the area for some good trail riding. After that, it’s anyone’s guess. There are some TBRA XC races coming up, and there’s an adventure race at Village Creek State Park in June as well as a few other trail (running) races to round things out!

So right now I feel like I’m moving through molasses, but hopefully once my bike gets here and school wraps up @ the end of the month, it’ll be the start of an incredibly epic summer. Stay tuned…

Call me a Pansy.

Pansies- you know, those little purple, yellow, and white flowers that everyone plants in the fall? Think about it- you stick them into any quality of soil, and they bloom and thrive all winter- through snow, ice, whatever… those are some tough effin’ flowers. My thoughts were confirmed today when I was looking at my flower bed. I sprayed some stinging nettle with Roundup a week ago, and today, the nettle is dried up &Â brown. The pansy next to it that got a bit of overspray has a couple of wilted leaves, but is generally alright. They’re like the Flahutes of the flower world!

So, yeah. Next time you are wanting to complement someone for being tough, up’n call them a pansy. It’s a complement.

Want to try a group bike ride?

…but have been scared of getting dropped, exhausted, ridiculed, etc? Well, now you’ve got a chance to try one without the worry. There’s a slow-paced, no-drop ride that begins from McVay Park in Germantown on Tuesday nights at 5:45. The pace is somewhere around 10-13mph, distance somewhere around 10 miles, and no one will get left behind. If you’ve been wanting to try a group ride, but have been putting it off because you’re unsure of yourself, then this is your chance! Now go out & ride!

(Those of you that are Tuesday night world champions know where to go)

Jet9 Update

Just got a text message from Karen @ Bikes Plus- my Jet9 frame is set to ship from Niner on Monday next week! Woohoo!

I am wrapping up the decisions on the build up. It’s prettymuch gonna be SRAM-ed out:

Rock Shox Reba Fork
SRAM X0/x9 DRs & shifters (jury is still out on whether I want grip shift or trigger)
Truvativ Noir Crank (2 chainrings/bash guard)
Avid hydraulic brakes
Tires? Not sure yet. They’ll be set up tubeless, though.
Wheels- probably some hand-builts from lacemine29.com

Talk about your champagne taste on a beer budget! It’s gonna be a work in progress as I gather the necessary funds, but it will be absolutely perfect when I’m finished!

Road & Trail

What a weekend! Saturday, I rode 72 miles at RB’s Ride Into Spring. After some lunch and a change of clothes, I headed out to Shelby Forest for a 25k trail run (that’s 15.5 miles for the metrically challenged). It was a really good run because I finally got my downhill legs back. It took me right at 3 hours- which included a sort-of long break at the turnaround point so I could refill my hydration pack, dump the grit out of my shoes, and walk for a few minutes while I ate a couple of fig newtons. Oh yeah- and I stopped to get a photo of a little snake that was sunbathing on the trail:


After taking its photo, I grabbed a twig and encouraged it to move off of the trail so that it wouldn’t get stepped on (accidentally or otherwise) by the next person coming through. It protested a bit and struck at the stick a couple of times, but eventually decided that the stick wasn’t backing down, so it retreated into the leaves.

By the time I was at around 12 miles, it was getting tough to convince myself to keep running. It was my longest run so far, but still only half the distance I’ll cover in a couple of weeks when I go to the Ouachita Trail 50k. I ran my first 50k a few years ago w/my longest run beforehand being 14 miles, so I think I’ll make it…

Anyway, I was pretty beat when I got home. Ryan was hungry and wanted to know what was for dinner. With little hesitation, I told him to order pizza delivery. It’s literally been years since I had Pizza Hut pizza and even longer since it’s been delivered to my door, and, considering I’d performed about 7 hours worth of physical activity, I wasn’t concerned about calories. It was freaking delicious. I sprawled out on the couch and ate half of a medium pan pizza (cheese!) while watching Cops on TV.

So what does a normal person do the day after training for 7 hours? Trick question- normal people don’t train for 7 hours!

I woke up yesterday morning and suited up for our usual 70+ mile Sunday ride. It was tough- We rode in to the Outdoors store on Union with a breeze of a headwind, then rode out with a big group to the Shelby Forest General Store. I rode hard with the group part of the way, but then split off and did my own sub-threshold interval for the last few miles before the store. My legs felt surprisingly good considering what they’d done the day before.
On the way back, Ryan and I didn’t ride with the group. There were probably about 30 people out, and I don’t really like being with such a large group going 27-28mph down Watkins because the likelihood of hitting random road garbage and wrecking is higher than usual. This meant that we had to battle a pretty tough wind most of the way until we were back downtown. Ok, I’ll admit- we should have stayed with the group…

It was a tough ride back. I think I got close to my limit on physical activity for the weekend, because by the time we were a few miles from home, the power I was able to sustain for any period of time was about 50 watts lower than normal. Once we were home, I had leftover pizza and a protein shake and passed out on the couch with Indy for about two hours.

So this is probably going to be a normal weekend for me from now on. Hopefully it will prepare me for whatever long-duration endurance fun I come across- I just want to be prepared for whatever comes along, be it adventure race, MTB race, trail run, etc… you get the idea. I’m sometimes amazed at the capacity I’ve built myself up to while still being incredibly eager to see just how much more I can do.

Best graf EVER!

Here’s an article out of Denver. Seems there’s a new graffiti crew in town- The Ladies Fancywork Society. Their brand of street art includes hand-crocheted art attached to various surfaces around the city. Check it out: Channel 9 News, Denver