Please… just 4 more hours…

Yesterday’s “Cat Smacker” run was tough- 7200 feet of elevation gain in about 20.5 miles. I was happy to run it in just over 4 hours.

So, with approximately 8 hours of the Ouachitas in my legs over the past two days, I’m pretty beat today. Time to wrap the weekend up with a 70 mile bike ride. My legs are protesting this descision. I told them that if they just get me through it, I promise they’ll get an ice bath when we get home.

Not only did they give me 70 more miles, they gave me a kickass sprint at the end of Watkins mid-ride. Thank you, legs!

Afternoon in the Ouachitas

This morning, I left behind Ryan (who was on his way to Tulsa Tough) to go to Lake Sylvia for some forest road MTBing and a bit of trail running tomorrow morning. I ended up setting up camp and rolling out around 2:00.

I had my Garmin 205 with me, so it’s easy to describe my ride today in objective terms: ~35 miles, 9.9 mph average speed, 8844ft of climbing, 3.5hours rolling time.

I can’t really describe it otherwise. Beautiful is an understatement. Here are some photos:

North Fork Saline River






Remove shoes/socks, wade through thigh-deep creek, stop for a snack on the other side while feet dry off...

I've passed this overlook "road" many times, but never ventured up until today

The ride up made the view at the top even more excellent


Can I stay here forever?

And for my NEXT trick… (and motivational rant/speech)

I think I’ll run a 23 mile trail (er, forest road) race (The Catsmacker). Sure, I doubt I’ve run more than 10 miles since the Ouachita 50k, but I keep telling myself:

It’s only 23 miles.”

And, no matter how hard I think about it, I cannot see the absurdity of this statement. I know that it’s almost a marathon, that rocks on the forest roads are hard on the joints, that the hills will be long and hot… I honestly think it’s not going to be that big of a deal. Sure, I’ll be sore, but that’s to be expected.

I’ll run ~7 miles today and probably throw in a couple more before the weekend. I think I’m gonna leave early on Friday and do some MTB riding from Lake Sylvia since my last attempt at doing so resulted in massive amounts of FAIL when I arrived to the campsite only to find it closed until the next weekend.

So yes, I plan on riding a bike for upwards of 4 hours on Friday and following it up with a difficult 23 mile run on Saturday. I’ve been thinking about stuff like this for a while. It goes without saying that the general population of people who don’t exercise on a regular basis are dumbfounded by just the thought of riding a bike a couple of hours or even running more than a few miles. However, I’ve grown increasingly aware of the fact that even some of my active “peers” view some of my outings as extraordinary.

I disagree. I think you’re all capable.

I think that everyone has their own standards of what’s “possible.” As long as you have these standards, you view anyone who surpasses them is doing something “crazy” or “amazing.” You’re also setting limits for yourself when you have such standards because, to you, such things are “impossible.” So I’m writing this to encourage everyone who reads it to open their minds a bit and stop thinking in terms of what is within your perception of “normal” physiological limitations and start exploring just how hard you can push yourself. Go ahead- do some two-a-days. Go for a ride or run that’s twice the distance that you’ve ever gone. Do those things on back to back days. Hell, do them on the same day. My point is, stop limiting yourself to the accepted standards of what’s “possible” or “normal.” You can be better than that.

In case you haven’t heard:

I’m on a boat.

(This is the uncensored version. They use the “S” word and the “F” word. A lot. You’ve been warned)

Yeah, it’s been out a while, but I found out this weekend that some people haven’t heard the good news. Enjoy.

West Feliciana Stage Race: Day 2

After yesterday’s shennanigans, I wasn’t sure how my legs would feel today. Though with a 1:50 minute advantage in the General Classification, I wasn’t too worried. The race started out at a nice clip. A lot of the first 15 miles or so was downhill, and we rolled through it quickly with everyone taking a pull or two at the front.

Around mile 15, we turned onto Highway 421. At that point, there was an attack from one of three S3 riders up front. I was sitting at about 4th wheel and decided to let the others chase and just sit in. Ashley Leech (Tiger Cycling) took off. About halfway across the gap, she pulled through to let the next rider continue to close. However, the next rider was from S3. My inner monologue told me that she’d slow down and let her teammate open the gap back up. However, she seeed to be confused and kept slowly pulling the group back up towards her teammate!

Suddenly, I saw all of the stars in the Counter-Attack galaxy align. Two S3 riders hanging out in the wind, unsure of what to do… Ashley, who is normally capable of chasing me down, was gassed and trying to drop back into the group… the rest of the group was behind me and seemed to be waiting for something to happen.

So, I countered.

A few seconds of hard pedaling later, I looked over my shoulder. Gap. Time to go solo again. At least this time, it was at mile 15.5 instead of mile 14, Right?!? Well, it wasn’t any easier. I was slower than yesterday. My wattage was lower. Fatigue was ripping through my quads. I thought for sure I’d be caught.

But I wasn’t.

After the race, I talked to some of the other girls. Apparently, the group was unorganized and the chase prettymuch fell apart. Lucky for me, because if just one of the teams had decided to work hard to catch/counter, I probably would have been too tired to keep up, and they could have made some GC time back up.

That sealed the GC deal. I crossed the finish line absolutely exhausted, but very happy. Not bad for a first race back from the brink of wanting to feed my road bike to the catfish in the Mississippi River!

West Feliciana Classic Stage Race: Day 1

Time Trial
The course was 5 rolling miles. Luckily, most of the uphills were preceded by good downhills, which were helpful for creating some momentum. I ended up rolling an 11:58, which was awesome, because the next person back sat at 12:35 (I think?). Being a stage race (fastest cumulative time wins), this was exactly what I wanted.

Road Race
Our race started a few minutes late, in the rain. That’s OK. I like rain when it’s warm. The 36 mile course had one KOM spot near mile 14, and many more gentle, rolling hills. The race started slow. The Tiger Cycling girls and I took turns pulling for most of the way towards the KOM (King of the Mountain time bonus spot- good for 7 seconds off of your total time).

Oh yeah- and the instruction we received as to WHERE the KOM was went something like, “you make a couple of turns in the first 7 miles, then it’s about 3 or 4 miles up the road from there, and has either a sign or something painted on the road so you know where it is.”

So once we started getting close, everyone was a bit antsy. There were a couple of attacks up some non-KOM hills, one of which I countered on the hill just before the KOM hill. The counter softened everyone up a little for the real thing. We passed a “KOM 1K” mark on the road, and the pace quickened. However, the people up front started to blow up. I held steady and passed them. As I neared the line, I looked back and saw that I had ~20 yards on the group. Seeing my opportunity, I didn’t let off of the pace. I got the KOM bonus and hit the drops and began to hammer out my best effort. Did I mention that this was at mile 14 of 36? Yeah. I had a long row to hoe…

The remainder of the race was pretty uneventful. I just rode my butt off. I yelled at a grcoup of cat 5 men that didn’t seem to understand what “on your left” meant (sorry guys- I was in a hurry!) The rest of the time, I just watched the miles, looked over my shoulder occasionally, and tried to keep the wattage going as best I could. It was a good thing, too, because, though I crossed the finishline solo, by the time I rolled up the road a little and slowly coasted back, I saw my chasers sprinting for 2nd. They’d never given up- it’s a good thing I didn’t, either…

So I enter day 2 (another 36 mile road race) with a very comfortable time gap: 37 seconds from the TT, 7 seconds bonus for the KOM, 10 for winning the RR, and whatever gap I had on the group from the solo finish- I’m guessing somewhere around 40-60 more seconds. I really just have to finish with the leaders tomorrow to win the GC. It’s a good feeling for sure.

Pre-Race Rambling

This weekend will be my first road race (West Feliciana Classic) since I temporarily “quit“Â back in March. I’ll admit, I’m not in top form for road racing at the moment. However, I am feeling much better psychologically. I had no idea how crazy my situation had been making me. Looking back at training camp posts, I can see how the burnout started and eventually became bad enough that I decided to stay home and lose the $200something I’d spent on a plane ticket to California for the San Dimas race.

Now I finally want to race. So, I’m really just looking to go and have a fun time. Good results would be a plus. Since I sold my TT bike to help put Jens the Niner together, I’ve got clip-on aero bars in full effect!

I went for a short ride last night, and they felt pretty good. The TT will be important since it’s the first stage, and, if I do well, could make the remainder of the weekend a bit easier as far as strategy…

Monkey Grinder XC Race


When I arrived at Montgomery Bell, I quickly set up camp (luckily, I was able to find a spot away from the multitude of screeching children that seemed to be inundating the campgrounds like an invasion of fire ants at a picnic for double arm amputees).

I changed and headed over to the trails for a preride. Luckily, the course was very well marked. I did my best to just spin in order to save my legs, which were a little stiff from riding my butt off earlier then sitting in the car for 3 hours. I have to admit, a sections of the course were intimidating. I don’t know who Tommy is or why he wants revenge, but I found that section (a rocky, switchbacked, steep section of trail labeled as “Tommy’s Revenge” by a well-placed tree sign) to be the worst. Even so, I felt alright about most of it. I especially loved the “Esses” and “Chain Reaction” portions. They were both perfectly cut and banked downhill switchback rollercoasters. Up until then, I’ve never spontaneously burst into laughter when riding, but those things were better than anything you’d find at the fair…

Afterward, I cleaned up and got in the car to scout out some dinner. Not far from the campground, I passed a place called Catfish Kitchen. A U-Turn was in order. It was awesome. I highly recommend the spicy fried catfish and plenty of hushpuppies. When I got back to the campground, some other racers had set up camp across from me. We hung out around the (sort-of) campfire for a couple of hours exchanging stories about DSG 2009 and meet Nick- the “creepy guy who comments on my blog sometimes.” (just kidding, Nick… I appreciate anyone who actually thinks what I write is interesting!)

The Race

Only two other women showed up to race the Cat 2 race this morning. Turns out, they were both in the >30 category, which meant that technically, I’d win no matter what. I still wanted to race, though. When the started gave the signal, I went after (and got) the holeshot. However, in my over-excitement, I soon overshot a turn and got behind one of the other racers. She was tough. I tailed her for a few miles. She schooled me through turns, but I found that I had the legs to overtake her on hills, so I sat behind her and learned how to ride the technical sections while I waited for the “Charlotte’s Ridge” climb- a pretty long one that came about mid-lap. I almost didn’t make it there with her when I wrecked on “Tommy’s Revenge,” but thankfully I caught back on and passed her about 1/4 of the way up.

From there, all I could do was ride as hard as possible. With the the combination of adrenaline and being chased, I took chances in turns that I have no idea I was capable of taking. When I passed thorough the end of the 1st lap, everyone cheered. I was too busy turning myself inside out to smile or acknowledge them. Not far down the trail, I could hear them yelling at my chaser. It was like a jockey bat to my ass. I continued to go as hard as possible…

It was very much like a hard criterium. With trees. And roots.

I never considered the race to be won until I actually saw the finish line, but it eventually came. I was incredibly exhausted. I cooled down and looped back to the finish area where the next woman had already finished. She was only a minute or so back… it’s a good thing I didn’t back off! We chatted a bit before she headed off to ride another loop and I went back to the car for food and a beer. Once prize money was given out, I said my goodbyes and hit the road.

The race was fun, even though it was like its own special type of hell. I think I’m more apt to go for the endurance-type events, but who doesn’t like to mix it up with something slightly more dangerous where your heartrate is pegged for a couple of hours?