Friday, September 28, 2007



There is a dangerous virus being passed around electronically, orally, and by hand. This virus is called Weary-Overload-Recreational-Killer (WORK). If you receive WORK from any of your colleagues, your boss, or anyone else via any means DO NOT TOUCH IT. This virus will wipe out your private (or athletic) life completely.

If you should come into contact with WORK, put your jacket on and take two good friends to the nearest grocery store. Purchase the antidote known as Work-Isolating-Neutralizer-Extract (WINE) or Bothersome-Employer-Elimination-Rebooter (BEER). Take the antidote repeatedly until WORK has been completely eliminated from your system.

*sorry if you've been disappointed with my blog regression... I've been plagued with WORK. You'll find me looking for the antidote soon. Will try to abstain from taking the antidote until after this weekend's 1/2 IM race. Hum, after Sunday... I'll probably need a double dose.

** a nice response I got from M.M. via email:

"I've found that there is a proactive measure that can be taken as well. Consumption of Long-term Isolation and Quarantine of Unusual Occupational Ramifications serum is quite effective in preventing the WORK virus, although side-effects are more severe than W.I.N.E. or B.E.E.R., and may include severe headache, loss of memory, speech/motor skill impairment, and poor(er) judgement, with some participants experiencing more rare side-effects in the following days such as epidermis pore alcohol effusion, a gasoline-like odor, and pregnancy, especially when used in the form of TEQUILA [LIQUOR made me forget the acronym]."

Monday, September 24, 2007

Beyond Fabrications!

Drum Roll…. I got a NEW BIKE!
Beyond Fabrications Blink Carbon TT

It is sleek, sexy, shiny, smooth, swift… and it ROCKS MY WORLD! Actually, it makes my world fly by as I hammer down the roadways. I am in love.

Jim @ Beyond Fabrications – Thank you! You have been amazing to work with throughout the “build process”! Thanks so much for clearly explaining my options, making the whole process extremely easy, shipping everything quickly, dealing with my specific color requests, and… for making AWESOME BIKES!

Peter – Thanks for taking all the parts from the process mentioned above… and turning them into a functioning bicycle ;) Looking at the frame, surrounded by cables, chains, derailleurs, cogs, shifters, peddles, and a bunch of other parts (which I can’t name)… was a bit frightening (speaking of frightening: please, don’t ever take that air compressor drum tool near her again!). Somehow, on Friday, you took all that stuff – pieced it together – and I was riding it the next day!! WOW!

So, on Saturday, Peter and I joined Robin and Keith for part of their IM training ride. (I was SUPER excited about getting on my new bike… but, even this couldn’t have motivated me to ride 6 hours.) And, although the calendar tells me that Fall has begun, I’m thinking South Carolina didn’t get the memo. This weekend, our temps continued to climb into the mid 90’s.

Luckily, the new bike distracted me from the heat. I had so much fun out there. On the other hand, Peter came close to death by dehydration… but, Robin saved his life with a sip from her water bottle (oh the drama… Peter should be up for an Academy Award). Sunshine, good friends, new bike (with sweet red saddle and matching handlebar tape)… it was a Good Day.

Here are some pics. A few taken during the measuring stages… then one w/ Peter to commemorate the first ride! How cute, we have matching bicycles. *After looking over my bike… Peter has decided that he wants a red saddle too.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Fab (ulous) NEWS!

Oh yeah... BIG news on the way. The masterpiece isn't complete yet, so I'm not ready to make a formal announcement. But, let the anticipation begin!

I'm so excited, and I just can't hide it. Quite frankly, it IS Beyond Fabulous...

"Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak."
~ John Adams

"There are worlds of experience beyond the world of the aggressive man, beyond history, and beyond science. The moods and qualities of nature and the revelations of great art are equally difficult to define; we can grasp them only in the depths of our perceptive spirit."
~ Ansel Adams

"Set your heights more than what you see around you, see beyond."
~ Anthony Anderson

"Because your own strength is unequal to the task, do not assume that it is beyond the powers of man; but if anything is within the powers and province of man, believe that it is within your own compass also."
~ Marcus Aurelius

"We may win when we lose, if we have done what we can; for by so doing we have made real at least some part of that finished product in whose fabrication we are most concerned: ourselves."
~ Learned Hand

hint, hint...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Boulder Wedding Pics

Ceremony up on the Mountain
Jen and Ashley... all dressed up
The Sunrise Amphitheater on Flagstaff Mountain
Connie and Neil, exchanging vows
View from the reception... Downtown Boulder, CO

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Off to Boulder

Ye-haw! Connie & Neil are getting married on Saturday!

Tomorrow (very early am) I leave GSP for Denver, CO. There, I'll meet up with my wedding date: the one-and-only, Jen Harrison. I think it's safe to say, aside from the bride and groom, we just might be the best looking couple there.

Sounds like there are fun activities planned for tomorrow afternoon. Some shopping, a party bus ride, exploring Boulder... slapping some sense into Neil for being a Gamecock, etc...

Saturday morning is a male vs. FEMALE trail running race. Ladies, it's GO TIME! To be honest, I'm more nervous for this than any other race I've done recently.

At 3:00 pm, we'll witness Connie and Neil exchange their vows at an outdoor amphitheater. Following the ceremony is the reception... usually this is a time to dance, drink, and be crazy. However, I have been instructed by my date that there will be no alcohol consumption.

You see, I'm going to this wedding with a tri-geek ;) She's already "made reservations" for us at the Boulder Aquatic Masters swim practice on Sunday morning. That should be interesting.

So, off I go for a wedding... which has really become a weekend training camp in Boulder. Connie, Neil, and Jen - Can't wait to see you!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Family Tree 3

Oh how I love my little sister! Sarah Bear, you are my sunshine!

Although she’s a student at Auburn University… I love her to pieces. (not everyone can be a DAWG!) Sorry, now that football season has begun, the rivalries tend to flair up. And, since we’ve both started the season out with a loss (Augh, I’m really starting to despise Gamecock fans: that’s you Dean, Neil, and anyone else who’s emailed me to rub it in)… the UGA/AU game could be interesting.

So, football aside… Sarah is a fantastic sister. We’ve got a bond. That “sister connection.” If you’ve got a sibling, you know what I’m talking about… it’s that “built in best friend” thing. You know that no matter what, they will be there for you (or, if you dislike your born-into-best friend… well, then they’re just there).

Sarah and I have never been similar to one another. In fact, we’re very different. I was the cheerleader, serious student, worry wart type. On the other hand, she was the swimmer, go to class to catch up with friends, have fun kind.

With a 4 year age gap, we were never close friends growing up. She was the pesky little person always in my business.

Now, that’s changed. We don’t see each other very often, but I love knowing she’s a phone call away. Thanks to cell phones and email, our family 4 some stays pretty connected. We may all live in different states (well, Mom and Dad are currently under the same roof… but, if Mom continues on the property acquisition train… they may soon live in separate states as well ;).. but, I digress. What I’m trying to get across is that we’re each very independent in our own lives. At the same time, we rely on each other for moral support, advice, a sounding board, etc... It’s a great family dynamic, really.

Sarah, you make me smile for so many reasons. I love the person you’ve become. *I'm posting these pics to make up for what you called, "a really sick picture of yourself."

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Hartsville Race Pics

Let's take a vote... who do you think has the best finishing pic? Peter taking a stroll across the line, or Ashley about to Yack?! And yes, this was an Olympic Distance race. In looking at my pic, you'd think I just did an IM.

Peter or Ashley?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Matching Bags!

Hartsville International Tri RR

What a weekend… full of more ups than downs, so lots of good news to report!

Friday night: Dinner (cooked by Peter) at Gerald & Sarah’s. A wonderful, relaxing evening with friends. Thankfully, Sarah is not easily offended. It’s either because Peter is European… or, because he’s European, people chalk it up to his culture. Whichever, we’ve discovered many “areas” in which we consider him a snob. He’s picky about wine, pizza stones, cleaning techniques, filtered water, hot sauce, olive oil, coffee, etc… Don’t worry Peter; we know you’re just particular.

Saturday morning: Short run followed by a short bike ride. Legs were feeling good and I felt ready for Sunday’s race! Then, while Peter got the bikes “race ready,” I packed other tri-essential items. Around 4:30 pm, Peter’s VW Golf packed with 2 bikes, 6 wheels, 2 transition bags, overnight bags, and 2 athletes left for Camden , SC.

My Great Aunt Sarah & Uncle Ken offered to take us in for the night, as the drive to Hartsville is too far for a race morning commute. Pulling into Camden was like driving back in time. Not only is it known for historic beauty, it’s a place my family visited every Christmas break throughout my childhood.

Sarah & Ken were the perfect pre-race hosts! Beds ready, towels out, and plans for dinner at an Italian restaurant. We spent some time catching up and describing the triathlon world. I was most impressed that Aunt Sarah had spent some time researching triathlons. Very few people, outside the tri community, know to ask the race distance. She already knew the Hartsville race was not an Ironman.

Dinner at the Camden Pizza House was great. While Sarah & Ken split (and didn’t finish) a baked spaghetti entrĂ©e… Peter and I split the large Greek Salad, Pizza with olives/feta/tomatoes, and spaghetti with olive oil. I think we shocked Uncle Ken with our eating abilities.

Once home, we began planning for the morning. Sarah, who called prior to our visit for food requests, had already picked up plain bagels! Peter had packed his stove top espresso maker, so we were set for breakfast. We got the maps out and planned the drive, played musical-cars in the driveway, and sat down to relax… or so I thought as I turned on the Carolina/Georgia game. Yuck, yuck, yuck… a UGA loss, to Spurrier and the Gamecocks. Now there is some race fuel.

We actually got to bed early! Then, for the 1st time this season, I woke up at 4:50… 10 minutes before my alarm was set to go off. I felt rested. Peter made coffee, we got our things together, talked with Sarah in the kitchen (she was coming to watch, but didn’t need to leave at 5:30am), then headed on our way.

Thankfully, Sarah had given us great directions to the park (helps to know a local). Most of the trip was on one road… known as Old Stagecoach Rd, W. Camden Rd, Hwy 15, or New Hwy 23. I’m pretty sure Peter averaged about 80mph and we got there in about 35 min. How nice, to get to a race an hour before the start! I’ve almost gotten accustomed to setting up my transition area by opening my bag, turning it over, and dumping the contents on a towel next to my bike.

This time, we were stress free. Got our numbers, unloaded the car, set up transition, located places like swim start/finish, bike mount line, run out…. I took off for a quick warm up jog, and almost ran into Aunt Sarah! I was so excited to have her at the race. Admittedly, she knew nothing about being a triathlon spectator, but just having her there was motivating.

Athletes began heading to the water, so I stripped off my t’shirt, grabbed my cap & goggles, and followed the mass. The forecast called for high 90’s during the day… but, at the start of the race, it was in the high 60 / low 70 range. However, any chill I felt was erased the second I touched the water!

*Hum, there was a Nuclear Power Plant just off the lake. Supposedly they use the water too cool their machines…. Leaving the lake in the low 90’s. Seriously, it was warmer than bathwater. I’d rather not think about it (the nuclear power plant, that is). We got in, warmed up, tried to locate the buoys through thick fog, and waited for the go-ahead.

The Elite field was pretty small for this race. Missing regular faces: Katie – IM crash injury; Amy – health problems; Sarah – moved to Texas … and the Tracy’s racing the Sprint Distance. We were left with 4 Elite Females in the Olympic Distance. As 2 of the ladies are known swimmers, Kimberly and I stood together knowing that Lindsay, Kelly, and the guys would quickly leave us behind.

The gun sent us off, and we swam away into the nuclear bath. Luckily, I didn’t have to swim the 1500 meters alone, because I quickly found myself near Kimberly. We swam next to each other for a short distance and I pushed to stay with her. As she pulled away, I followed into the turns. After tapping her feet a few times, I propelled myself to her side. If she wanted me to take a turn pulling, now was her chance. She seemed strong, and continued increasing the pace right into the shore… Thanks Kimberly for your strength, good pace, and straight sighting!

We were the last elites out of the water… and I ran behind her into T1. As I was getting “bike equip,” I thought about my goal. Today I wanted to be tough on the bike. After some recent sub-par bike splits, I wanted to do better. The air temp was still on the chilly side, and it took some time to warm up. The course was totally new to me…. Therefore, I was not expecting such hills. I took advantage of the down hills and while riding uphill, I thought about climbing to the Blue Ridge Parkway (if I can climb for over an hour, I can power up these “bumps”). Thanks Katie for your encouragement on the course!

Coming into T2, I was happy with my ride. Since there was a Sprint race going on as well, many people were already out on the run course. I got my shoes on and got out of T2 quickly. The slight uphill out of the park forced me to calm my breathing and find a rhythm.

As I took a left out of the park, I spotted Lindsay. She looked strong and comfortable in her pace. As I passed, she gave me encouragement. Hitting the 1st mile mark, I was right on goal pace and feeling good. That’s when I spotted Kimberly. Surprising, as she usually puts 3+ min on me during the bike. I was amazed to move past her so early in the run. That’s when I knew I’d delivered a good bike time.

From 2 miles on, I simply forced myself to hold the pace. It didn’t feel great, I wasn’t floating, and I grabbed for more water than normal. Then, I got the push I needed… the lead cyclist riding in front of… Peter! He had a huge smile on his face as he said, “Awesome!” We were both in the lead, very cool.

Not long after that, Aubrey (one of Peter’s athletes) passed me like I was standing still. Seriously, his pace was faster than my 100m sprints. Check it out: Aubrey’s 10k split was a 33:47! No kidding: flying.

I rounded the out and backs, up and down the hills, and ran most of the way with Blain Peerson. The downhill for most of mile 4 was fantastic. I was ready to cross that finish line. We made our way back into the park, and I pushed my way to that lovely FINISH inflatable arch. I heard Jeremey say, “and here’s Ashley Long from Greenville… our 1st female in the International Distance.”

Crossing the line and being able to stop felt so good. Peter was waiting near the water supply station…. Drinking what was probably his 10th Coke (as he’d been done for about 20 min ;) We had a short, sweaty celebration hug…. And then I downed 2 bottles of water and a Mmmmmm…. Orange Powerade. Ah.

I found Aunt Sarah who seemed to have enjoyed her first triathlon experience. She told me, “well… I now know what you’re supposed to yell at all the competitors: ‘way to go; great job; keep going!” Yeah, I think she’s got the hang of it. Soon, she’ll be recording splits.

Peter left for a cool down run with Bryan… while I talked with Kimberly. She asked if I wanted to join her for run as well. Having someone to talk with during a post-race run was wonderful. I enjoyed learning about her athletic history and comparing training/race stories.

In looking back on the race, I’m really happy with the performance. I wanted to improve on the bike, and I did seem to ride with a bit more intensity. Then, although I’d pushed harder on the bike… I was still able to keep my legs turning over on the run.

The post race food and awards ceremony were nice. As Elite winners, Peter and I got matching bags embroidered with the race logo and "1st place." Very useful "trophies," and won't we look cool traveling with identical Hartsville tri-champ bags. Oh yeah.

Thanks again to Aunt Sarah & Uncle Ken for having us! Hopefully, now that I’ve added this blog to your “favorites,” you’ll be able to keep up on all the triathlon happenings. I know it’s your new favorite sport. He he.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

getting HIGH

Don’t worry… I’m talking altitude here. Not illegal drugs, although after the Telethon, I considered trying weed. (not really, but this past weekend drove me to the brink of sleep-deprived insanity).

Let me rewind to before I experienced my televised version of hell.

Yeah! Sally was in town. The lovely Long Ladies got cleaned up (the first time in a looong time I’ve actually primped for a night out). Then, thanks to her VIP status, we got into the pre-race party at the Wyche Pavilion (cool brick structure now used for receptions, parties, and dinners by the river). Great spread of yummy foods, champaign, wine, beer, and yes… powerade (looks like they knew their guests!). We sat with the “Successful Living” team see:

Next to the pavilion, they were filming a spot for the local news channel. Hincapie spoke and they asked him questions about the race (ps. He looked quite nice in his Euro jeans, crisp white t’shirt, and black blazer). They also interviewed Saul Raisin… wow, what a story! I’m actually reading the book about his comeback right now (Tour de Life – From Coma to Competition).

After a fun night cycle-glam style… I had to make a tough decision. Either go for a helicopter ride and watch the National Pro time trial… or…. Go with Peter and G for an 80 mile ride up, down, and around the Blue Ridge Parkway. AH! It was a win/win situation, but I was so torn. After much deliberation, I opted for the ride with Peter and G.

So, on Saturday morning at 6:30… Peter, G, and I packed up G’s car and headed to Brevard, NC. I can’t even describe the ride. It was amazing… an awesome 80 miles of climbing, pushing, forcing myself to keeping going. We ascended above the clouds, rode through a tunnel, flew down the mountains (well, Peter and G flew… I tried to keep up). The views were spectacular. We passed so many waterfalls, I lost count. G sent me a cool graph of the ride… altitude (in meters), time, and mile points (in blocks). About 7,268 feet of climbing in the 80 mile ride. Normally, I would have many stories about such a long day of training. But, this ride was different. Although the 3 of us did ride together, the climbs separated us. It was a solitary effort upward. The beauty, struggle, and sense of accomplishment just can’t be put into words.
We had parked at a Bi-Lo (grocery store), thank God! After a 2 mile brick run: single file, out and back on a busy road… nice. I forced myself to keep up with their 7 min pace (just because I was in fear of my life). We took our tired, sore, spandex clad selves into the store for some drinks.

Now, Sunday: off to Asheville, NC for the MDA Telethon. Let’s just say, it was the longest Labor Day of my life. Note to self: working 24 hours straight to produce a televised fundraiser is NO WAY to recover from 5 hours of climbing. Here’s what I will say about the telethon… I don’t have to do it again for another 12 months.