Worth another mention…

The FAIL content of my weekend post overshadowed the fact that on Saturday morning, I went to a pretty kickass adventure racing clinic.

I’ve been interested in the sport of adventure racing for as long as I can remember, but I’ve either been too poor to afford the necessary equipment or just generally overwhelmed by the gear, navigation, etc. required to participate in a race. Since my recent change of competitive direction, though, I decided I’d start figuring it out.

So, I asked the internet for advice and found this site: Ozark Extreme Adventure Sprints. It’s a series of challenging, yet beginner-friendly races. The nice thing is, they offer a Solo category in both Sprint and Advanced distances. The race organizers (Brandon and Robin) are also the ones that held the clinic last weekend at Burns Park.

I’m planning on competing in my first race in June at Village Creek State Park. Fitness-wise, I am totally confident in my ability to complete the Advenced-division race. However, I feel that even though I did well with navigation at the clinic, I need more practice so that I can put my fitness to good use.
I’ve heard that there are some control point markers out at Shelby Farms, so now that I’m finished teaching for the summer, I need to get myself a decent compass, UTM reader, topo map and some coordinates & get my butt out to the park!

Who am I kidding… you know I’m gonna enter the Advanced division.

Weekend Fail Part II, The Saga Continues

So I went for my 4 hour ride this morning. I accidentally left one of my favorite water bottles at the Shelby Forest General Store. Luckily, Ryan gave me one of his when I ran out of water about an hour from home.
Once we got home, I grabbed a snack and headed back out to ride more at Stanky Creek. I wanted to ride a solid two hours in preparation for Dirt Sweat & Gears in a couple of weeks. Other than my legs feeling a bit sluggish in the first few minutes, I warmed up and actually felt pretty damn good. I really wanted to focus on not using my brakes as much, looking ahead instead of down, and generally carrying more speed into tricky spots where I usually tend to slow down.

I was doing this well.

Then I rolled over some leftover branches from a downed tree that had been cleared from the trail. I heard a stick hit my spokes, and a fraction of a second later, I felt as if someone had ripped my bike out from under me as something jammed into my rear wheel (maybe a stick between the spoke/frame?) Though the bike stopped abruptly, I kept moving, and ended up falling onto the handlebars and jamming a bar end into the meaty part of my thigh. It hurt too much for me to curse, so I just sat on the trail for a minute looking at my bike and trying to figure out WTF just happened. I’m not sure, because once I did get back on, the chain started skipping between gear and being generally noisy. I’m hoping it’s not a bent derailleur hanger, but the way my luck has been with those lately, it probably is. Whatever it was, it cut my afternoon ride time short by an hour.

So I’m officially labeling this weekend as a “fail” (though since the first part of yesterday was pretty good, I’ll reserve the label of “epic” fail).


Weekend Fail.

Well, partially, at least.

I went to the Ozark Extreme Adventure Race Clinic yesterday. That was a win. AFter some instruction about basic adventure racing equipment, I learned how to use a topo map, UTM reader, and compass to locate control points in the woods at Burns Park. After some plotting and pace counting, the 6 of us were let loose onto a ridge in the park to find 5 control points. I don’t know what order the other people went in, but I started with #4, because it was close to an unimproved road on the map and would set me up well to find #1, which was on top of the ridge. After a little wandering and a little navigating, I’d retrieved the control point codes and headed back to the starting point. I was the first one back and managed to eat most of my $5 footlong before the remander of the group showed up. I don’t think it was really navigating skillz as much as it was a good plan, some running, and a touch of luck.
After lunch, we rode our mountain bikes. It was a pretty uneventful ride other than a steep, rocky climb that stalled me out once. Not one to be defeated, I went back to the bottom of the hill and tried again, this time, making it all the way to the top. Once we arrived back to the cars, we wrapped the day up through a little trail-side bike repair.

After finishing, I headed out towards Lake Sylvia. This is where my luck ran out. After making the 40 minute drive, I find that the park is closed (a sign on the gate said “Open May 1st”). Damnint! I know from past trips up there that there are places along the nearby forest roads where you can pull off and set up camp. However, I also know from past trips that there are some really insane and unpredictable rednecks that roam the area. I wasn’t willing to camp alone unless I had a gun… or at least a really mean dog, of which I had neither.
So, I headed back towards town. I figured I’d go to Maumelle park and camp where I stayed last week for the OT50k. My plans were foiled again, though, when the woman at the front desk told me that they were full. WTF?!? She said I could try Burns Park! I’d just come from Burns Park- it was crowded and, when I asked her if it was safe, there was a definite pause in her voice before she said she thought so…

So I drove back home. Lame. I’m going to train my tail off today. After I get in 4 road hours on the Outdoors ride, I plan on heading out to Stanky Creek for a couple of hours. It won’t be nearly as cool as 6 hours on Ouachita Fire roads, but at least it’ll be 6 hours.

Weekend Excitement!

I’m getting geared up for the upcoming Burns Park Adventure Race Clinic on Saturday. I’m hoping to learn a lot- especially from the “mountain bike skills” portion of the clinic since my tech-riding skills are pretty lame right now.

I plan on camping out Saturday night. Where? I’m not quite sure yet. I was planning on venturing out to the Womble trail, but I’m wondering if my time would be better spent making the much shorter drive out to Lake Sylvia and riding the more familiar forest roads in that area. For one thing, I would have time to get in a run (stop by Pinnacle again maybe?) or ride before driving to west Little Rock for dinner (as opposed to cooking on a campfire). It would probably be better for me as far as conditioning goes since I’m planning on entering the Dirt Sweat and Gears 12 hour in a few weeks. I can also engineer my ride so that I make different loops from the campground, which would allow me to do a “self supported” 5 or 6 hour ride rather than trying to pack all at once for a day’s worth of riding into the wilderness.

What do my readers think? Womble? Ouachita? Sylvia? I’m so conflicted…

Oh yeah- before you answer, just know that I’m going to have all summer to go out that way for other adventures…

OT50K Photo

Here I am at the top of Pinnacle Mountain- it’s hard to tell from the photo, but from where I came from, you had to climb up using your hands and some mild rock-climbing skills. It was highly awesome:


P.S. The Skins tights were a little warm, but I think they had something to do with my legs staying “fresh” during the race.

Lazy Sunday

So I woke up this morning with all intentions of riding once the rain cleared up. However, when I attempted to stand up, I realized that it was not meant to be. I can hardly move today. Not only do my quads not work, all of my other lower body muscles are trashed. It’s to the point that I’m having balance issues.

So, I’ve got the laptop set up in bed, and I’m surfing the internet while watching Joel Osteen on TV. Not that I feel the need for church, but I just like the sound of his voice and the fact that he constantly smiles as if he’s got a secret that’s terribly ironic. All the while, the dogs are passed out. Turbo is snoring, and Indy periodically twitches. Today is officially cancelled.


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.