Monday, June 30, 2008

tag, I'll bite

10 years ago I was
Enjoying summer vacation… between my Junior and Senior years in High School! Living with my parents in St. Charles, Illinois. Starting to think about college. Going to cheerleading camp and hanging out with my BFF, Lindsay. (our favorite summer activity was setting a sprinkler up next to my trampoline and jumping through the spray… this could last for hours)

5 years ago I was
Fresh out of college. Using my marketing degree from UGA as a Territory Sales Rep for Rubbermaid. Spent most of my time driving between accounts in Atlanta and Birmingham.

1 year ago I was
Pretty much doing the same thing. Raising money for MDA, having fun training for triathlons, enjoying all Greenville has to offer…

5 things on my to-do list today
Pack for my 4th of July getaway (going to Franklin, NC: family time, and mountain time!)
Watch more swimming on NBC! Love, love, love the Olympic Trials!
Do a few loads of laundry
Call Leah about Chattanooga
Oh, right… stay dialed in at work until 5:00 (darn Holiday weeks are distracting)

5 snacks I enjoy
Ants on a log (celery w/ peanut butter and raisins)
Lara bars (cherry pie)
Soy chai latte
Anything including the following flavor combinations
- mint/chocolate
- chocolate/peanut
- peanut butter/banana
- chocolate/banana

If I were a billionaire I would
Try to donate, aid, fund many things close to my heart (college funds for family members, medical bills for friends, help our MDA office make budget for the year…)
But, on a more fun note… I’d buy an island, build an amazing house, get a plane & pilot (heck, maybe get my pilots license) and bring everyone I know over for Vacation Time!

6 people I want to lunch with tomorrow
Sorry, I really can’t narrow it down… and this blog has a power to make people mad w/out me even knowing. So, for that reason I plead the 5th.

5 places I have lived

Manila, Philippines (where I was born)
Peoria, IL
St. Charles, IL
Athens, GA
Greenville, SC

5 jobs I’ve had
- Sales associate, Champs Sports
- Intern with the American Jr. Golf Association
- Super CDA (cheer & dance association) camp counselor through regional director
- Delnor Heath & Wellness membership coordinator
- MDA Program Coordinator

Thursday, June 26, 2008

RUN IN rocks

Ladies of HTFU... way to show RUN IN some national love!! (sporting their shirts: Jen in IL; Marit in FL; and Mary in NY)
While we're saluting the #1 store of all things RUNNING, and I'm still working my double RR, I thought I'd post some pictures from Saturday's Candlelight 5K.

RUN IN race tops were all over the place - including the front of the pack, taking both the OA Male and Female titles. Actually, the winning "flock" was a 4 (or maybe 5) way tie... Man those Kenyans can run. Greenville's Becca Prichard (amazing runner and RUN IN employee) claimed first in the female division! Another RUN IN athlete, Julie Seymour, followed quickly behind in 4th.

The race started at 9:00 pm... the entire course was lit on both sides by luminaries & Set Up did a great job with the timing (it couldn't have been easy to direct a 1,900 person race in the dark)!
RUN IN employees: Andrew, Anthony, and Sam

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

hUMp dAy

I've been trying to muster up energy to do a double race report; a recount of my Saturday races: Tri the Midlands Sprint and the Candlelight 5K. But, after basically redlining to the brink of "wet my pants status" for 85 minutes in total that day... I've put off trying to remember the details and write about both races.
I do, however, recall seeing stars as I crossed the finish line of that 5K - it was 9:20 pm... but the stars weren't pretty little specks of light twinkling in the night sky, I think the stars were more a sign that I was about to pass out.

Instead, I'd like to thank Matt for an awesome Wednesday morning ride. We celebrated hump day by doing repeats on Greenville's own little hump: Paris Mountain. What a way to kick off the day... up at 5:00 am, setting off in the dark to meet Matt at 6:00 (yes Mom, I did wear the reflective vest you got me), riding into the sunrise via Furman Univ, and up/down Paris for a bit. It was a perfect morning - still, cool, with only the sounds of my heavy breathing and pedals churning.

It's amazing how I can begin a day with such calm and beauty, only to be slammed back to reality after coming off the mountain and joining the downtown traffic. Even still, I'll smile throughout the day as I think back to the morning ride! How awesome it is to have friends that'll get on their bike to join you, even before the sun comes up.

~Thanks again, Matt (hope you made it to that meeting on time)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Midlands Race Article

Local uses knowledge of area to win title

The first Tri the Midlands triathlon attracted competitors from as far away as Pennsylvania and Indiana. But it was a local woman who used her knowledge of the surprisingly hilly Lake Carolina terrain to win the inaugural sprint-distance race Saturday morning at the planned community in Richland Northeast.

Lindsay Agostini, who lives in Wildewood but often trains at Lake Carolina, built a comfortable lead during the 500-meter lake swim and held off Greenville’s Ashley Long during the bike and run portions to capture the women’s title in one hour, five minutes and 27 seconds.

Long, the former Georgia cheerleader who won the female open division at the Lake Murray sprint last month, finished second in 1:05:45.

“(Long) is an awesome runner and an awesome cyclist, so I knew I had to be the first one off the bike to win,” Agostini said.

Spartanburg’s Chris Olson was the top overall finisher in 56 minutes, 30 seconds. Agostini, a distance swimmer at her Michigan high school, held a 78-second edge on Long leaving the water. The 41-year-old Agostini said her familiarity with the roads surrounding the community helped her stay in the right gears and maintain good speed during the 12-mile bike loop.

“It was a huge home-field advantage,” she said. “I’d never beaten Ashley, but I knew the course. She usually beats me quite handily.”

By the turnaround point of the 3-mile run course, Agostini’s lead was down to 40 seconds on the 27-year-old Long, who made a strong kick but could not catch her older rival.

“She’s a phenomenal swimmer, so I knew I’d have to go hard to catch her (after the swim),” Long said.

Agostini began doing triathlons in 2000 and has developed into one of the country’s top competitors in the women’s 40-44 age group. She finished fifth last summer at the Long Course World Championship in France and qualified again this year, but is racing in Ironman Wisconsin the same weekend.

Agostini said she was grateful for a race where she did not need to bring a passport or carry-on luggage. The Lake Carolina event had 367 individual finishers, including 85 in the novice division and several hundred from South Carolina.

Said Agostini: “It was nice to only drive 10 minutes.”
And nicer still to win by 18 seconds.

**Lindsay: GREAT race... I had a blast! Thanks for your kind words.

Friday, June 20, 2008

College Days

Sometimes I wish I was back in college, so that’s exactly where I go… and there are so many great campuses to choose from! Furman University is about 10 min from my house, Clemson is 45 min away, and The University of Georgia (aka, heaven on earth) is a 1.5 hour drive.

Furman is always crawling with Greenville athletes. Runners meet in the morning to organize group runs; cyclists are able to assemble in a parking lot and ride off into the mountains (or across the street for Paris Mountain repeats); and now, there are track meets every Tuesday night – open for anyone to race: Long Jump, 100 Meters, 200 Meters, 400 Meters, 800 Meters, 1 Mile (or 1600 Meters), or 3200 Meters (all free, thanks to Run-In). Many races go through the campus… because it’s beautiful and so close to the city!

A bit further away, we’ve got Clemson University… the campus is no UGA, but they have a great lake. Thanks to G’ville friend/swimmer, Steve, there are organized group swims every other Wednesday night. After getting in his own swim, Steve kayaks while our group takes off from the East Street Beach. Sometimes we’ve got so many people, it feels like the wave of a triathlon taking off. Then, Steve has a cooler with cold drinks and beer waiting on the beach. Dare I say it… I LOVE these swim workouts! Lake Harwell is fantastic. You see the Clemson Crew teams out practicing, students running along the dam, sail boats, people enjoying the summer in boats, on jet skis, etc…

Ah, and The University of Georgia……………

Let’s have a moment.

We’ve all been talking about escalating gas prices, so it’s not often I can justify the 1.5 hour drive to Athens. But, sometimes the stars align… and I can find an excuse to drive to UGA.

This past Sunday, I had a long run on my schedule…. And nothing else pending. Nothing else to do during the day. The day was wide open, and I heard Athens calling. So, I filled up some water bottles, packed up the cooler, grabbed my running shoes and a visor, and got in the car. I love cycling, but it can feel amazing to just get up and go (without all the steps required to get ready for a ride).

*Before leaving, I even rummaged around in my CD’s for country albums I’d gotten in college.

After one hour on I85 south, with Tim McGraw blasting, windows open, I got off at the Commerce exit and knew I was 20 miles away from God’s Country. As I pulled my car into the parking lot at the intramural fields, I realized the air just smelled better. I felt like I’d gotten home. And as far as my running is concerned, Athens is home. It’s where I started running… where I fell in love with running.

I looked around as saw familiar sights: college students playing tennis, throwing the frisbee, napping in the sun, walking dogs, running. It felt so normal, it’s like I’d never been away.

I started the run with two laps around the trails (about 1.2 miles each), then crossed the street toward campus… I apologize, the rest of this description might not mean much to you. So, I write for myself. Around the Ramsey Student Center (home to an amazing aquatics facility), along River Road up to the football stadium, left toward Stegeman Coliseum, around the Coliseum past the Astroturf practice fields, up to the track and once around, to five points (past Smoothie King, where I promised myself a smoothie after the run), all the way down Milledge Avenue (smiling at each frat/sorority house), and dooooown --- uppppp to Broad St. Downtown Athens!to North Campus, right under the arch and through the quad, stop at the library for water, past the business school, down the hill to the open horseshoe side of the stadium [pause at the stadium to smile at the field], up and through the math/science buildings (hummmm, maybe that’s why I sped up), back to the intramural fields and one last lap around.

So many times I’ve run by these things… I can close my eyes and picture each step. There’s no way to describe how good it felt to run around my old stomping ground. After finishing the workout, I changed, downed the drinks I’d packed, and headed to Smoothie King for my post run treat.

Sometimes you’ve just got to go home.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I heart nuun

In case you don't live here, or you haven't read about the Festival of Flowers race day conditions, or you don't watch the national weather... let me tell you: it's been HOT down (or up, depending on where you're located) in these parts.

Summer introduced itself FULL force - and my body has responded, by sweating. And I sweat, heavily, there is no glistening or glowing about it. When I started running for exercise (college - Athens, GA), I had no idea my body could produce enough sweat to actually SOAK every stitch of apparel I had on. I'd finish a run looking as though I'd jumped in a lake, shoes and all. What's a girl to do with clothes so wet you could wring 'em out?! Well, that's when I began showering with my running clothes on. Strange, you say?

It was either shower with the nasty clothes on - and at least provide an initial rinse - or build a pile of gross running stuff that was liable to grow visible mold in less than 24 hours. (I'm single and I don't have kids, so I'm not about to start doing laundry on a daily basis).

Since college, I've actually learned a thing or two about hydration. After running miles around Athens, in the heat/hills/humidity, I'd down a bottle of water... then wonder why, later that day, I felt like I was going to die.

Now, I take a more proactive approach. Thank you nuun. I can sit at my desk all day and enjoy nice flavors (citrus fruit is my favorite)... without the calories or sugar found in other sports drinks. Then, during training, I can add nuun to my other mixes. (or for a Super Duper pick-me-up, try mixing Burn with nuun! Sally and I call it an energy elixir)

I used to suffer from horrible foot/toe cramps during swimming. But, by drinking a bottle w/ nuun before the workout - I'm able to kick hard without cramping up. Like I said, I heart nuun.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


MOM - 3rd place 55-59 at the Age Group WORLD Championships!! In her first trip to World's, she races her way to a top 3 finish (1st American). Amazing... I only hope it runs in the family.

Jen - 9th place AG!!

Way to represent.

FOF Race Report

Usually I spend too much time detailing events leading up to the race; traveling to the site, packet pick-up, pre race dinner, wake-up call, etc… etc… Then, by the time I’ve typed about everything but the race, I’m bored of writing about the race – and briefly mention something about swimming, biking, running, and crossing a finish line.

Well, this time I’m going for a real “race report.” What a concept.

I will say one thing about race preparation… I’ve continued to adhere to my new season’s resolution: going to packet pick-up the day before the race. Woohoo, go me.

Morning of the race, I got to the Greenwood State Park plenty early. Body marked, check (#11, nice); timing chip, check; transition set up, check; quick spin on my bike… uh, ohhhh… shifting, no check. Special thanks to Peter (my bike’s original architect) for helping adjust my shifting, more than once. I get a bit anxious before a race (ha, who doesn’t?!) and when my bike isn’t shifting right, it seriously amplifies the nerves. It was nice of him to take time out of his own preparation and help me out.

Out for a short warm-up jog… here’s where I realized just how bad the heat was going to affect the race. I was literally dripping sweat after 5 minutes. The forecasted high was 101 degrees. Luckily we’d be done before it hit that, but it was already in the 80’s and I knew it would be in the mid 90’s by the time we got out on the run. Downed an entire water bottle w/ nuun, check.

Now, since this was the SE Regional Championships (national qualifier) this race would be slightly different than other races in the South Carolina Triathlon Series. First, there would be no open division wave. For this, I was stoked. Ha, I might not be swimming alone! Instead of starting with the open men/women, I’d be in wave 4 with all the women. Second, there were some new faces in the crowd. Excellent, it’s always fun to compete with different, fast women (super tri-ladies that would certainly increase the level of competition). The race just had a “bigger” feel.

The first 3 waves, various age groups of men, set off. Before I knew it, it was time to strap the goggles on and get in the water. YEAH, no wetsuits (now, since swimming isn’t my strength… most people think I’d prefer a wetsuit. Not the case. Don’t get me wrong, a wetsuit certainly makes me “faster”. But, I think they benefit other people more? I’d rather just not deal with the thing. Especially when it’s 90 degrees outside.) Another bonus: Set Up Events had adjusted the swim course. In years past, the swim set off STRAIGHT into the rising sun. Sighting was impossible, and many people cut off the 1st turn buoy.

This year, as I did a few strokes for warm-up, I tried to get my bearings. We’d be swimming out, at a diagonal, around the peninsula, further to the 2nd turn buoy, then in toward transition. The women’s wave was ready to go… spread out, treading water, waiting for the gun. I heard 30 seconds, and my heart skipped a beat.

Countdown and GO… I put my head down and swam, swam, swam. I was determined to have a good (for me) swim here. Right from the start, this swim was different. Usually, with the “open” wave, I’m instantly demoralized. On Sunday, I didn’t fall into last place after 100 meters. I didn’t get frustrated, I didn’t feel out of my league, I didn’t want to quit… instead, I wanted to push harder. Suddenly, I was passing men from the earlier waves. I concentrated on my form (follow through, finish the stroke – thanks Andrew!!). I stayed on course. I fought hard throughout the swim and harder during the final 500 to the ramp.

Pleased with my swim time, I jogged to my bike and realized it wasn’t the only female bike on the rack. But, the bike next to mine was Gail Kattouf’s… so I was left wondering how many miles I could get in before she sailed by ;) Anyway, I got everything on and headed out. Yet again, posting a rather sad T time. Maybe I should make a mid season resolution: DROP time in transition. Ohmygosh.

There’s a slight hill out of transition, then it’s a fast mile to get out of the park. With so many men starting before the wave of women – we had plenty of people to chase! As I pumped my pedals into race mode, I started to feel the sun beat down. Gotta love some spf 40.

The course is one rolling loop. Glad my shifting was working better than it did during the warm-up. I tried to make myself fight… but, during the ride, I felt one notch below “normal.” It’s the 1st race of the year, where I’ve worried about forcing too much on my legs during the bike… since I’ve been known to suffer muscle cramps on the run. It was HOT, and I drank much more than normal over 40K.

I think it was around mile 10, on an uphill, that Ms. Gail “I make cycling look like child’s play” Kattouf came by. She gave me some words of encouragement then proceeded to shift and drop her chain. I’m even laughing as I type this. She and I both chuckled as I passed her back. She came around again, and was off.

I made it my new goal to keep her in sight for as long as possible. Well, it was a good goal while it lasted. Gail, I think I could see you until that hard left turn. From there, I lost ya.

It was exciting turning back into the park. I could tell I was going to better my bike split from last year. On a rolling course, on a HOT day, I was please with my ride…. Now, hummmm… about that run.

Again with the s.l.o.w. transition. But, I would have taken 15 more seconds to have an ice cold artic shatter flavored Powerade (the white colored type – very rare – but delicious – my favorite, and when I find it I by ‘em out).

The 1st mile out of the park is shaded. Knowing what the remainder of the course held, I wanted to take advantage of the little shade we had. A race official told me there were 6 girls ahead of me. This was the first indication I’d gotten about where I was in the race. Alright, ladies to look for.

Taking that right turn out of the park… well, it just sucks. SUCKS your energy. I could feel heat radiating off the road and it’s uphill. Heat, Hills, Humidity – the triple H challenge I met upon moving south. Yes, this race had them all.

I was pleased with my time at mile 2, but wondered if I could hold on. Nearing the turn around, I’d moved into 4th place… but was out of 3rd by minutes. The way back was just as much a mental challenge as it was physical. It was hot, my breathing was labored, my quads gave early signs of cramping, and being realistic – there was no way I was going to catch the top three.

Yeah buddy, those last 2 miles were killer. You know the feeling… you want to finish strong, you want to negative split the out-and-back, you want to race to the finish line. Yes, all wonderful goals. But, looking at my times, even though I thought I was holding a steady pace… I must have been slowing. Somehow I made it around the park and up that hellacious (heck, this race was in Greenwood, SC – I’ve got to pull out the southernisms) hill to the finish arch.

I bettered my time from 2007… but reproduced the results: 4th female overall, receiving the 3rd place Open division award. Because the 3rd place woman, Kris Kester of GA, had raced age group. Way to go Gail (2nd female) on a Fantastic race. Folks, she had the #1 bike and run splits. (and dropped 3 min on her swim time from last year). She’s moving from super du-stud to super tri-stud.

Great job: Charlie, Hank, Nicole, Forrest, Kat, Jay, Keith, Peter, Tracey, Dean, Ashli

Thanks to Regina and Susan… you girls were great cheerleaders.

BIG SPECIAL thanks to Hank – I had a race wheel malfunction on Friday. After scrambling around and making many calls… My friend, Matt, could see the panic in my eyes. He made a call to Hank, who not only allowed me to use a set of his wheels – he delivered them to my house. Another reminder, I’d never be able to compete in this sport alone.

EXTRA special thanks to Charlie for the Bruster’s Peach sorbet waffle cone after the race. You know it's HOT when I order sorbet over ice cream?!

Monday, June 9, 2008

FOF article

Festival triathlon tests endurance of its participants
By MATT ANDERSON/Index-Journal sports writer
Published: Sunday, June 8, 2008 11:53 PM EDT

After completing Sunday’s Festival of Flowers triathlon at the Lake Greenwood State Recreation Area with the temperature near 90 degrees, Daniel Moss referred to the conditions as “pancake hot.”

Even that extreme heat, however, wasn’t enough to slow Moss. Moss, of Simpsonville, won the men’s race in a course-record 1:55:16. Michelle Shoup, of Buford, Ga., completed the 1.5 kilometer swim, 24-mile bike ride and 10-kilometer run race in 2:13:15 to win the women’s title.

Moss finished more three minutes in front of Spartanburg’s Chris Olson, the men’s second-place finisher in 1:58:20. Gail Koutoff, of Greenville, placed second in the women’s race with a time of 2:14:03.

“The run’s just brutal,” Moss said. “There’s a good bit of shade, but still by mile two or three or fourish, it’s in the sun. ... It’s just ridiculous.”

On the men’s side, defending champion Peter Kotland, of Moore, placed third (2:00:15), Atlanta’s Dylan Rist finished fourth (2:03:36) and former Greenwood resident Derick Williamson, now of Austin, Texas, was fifth (2:05:00).

Kristine Kester, of Duluth, Ga., was third in the women’s race (2:15:08), Greenville’s Ashley Long took fourth (2:19:12), and Jennifer Walz, of Savannah, rounded out the top five (2:20:21).

With the weather playing such a big factor Sunday, Moss prepared for the finishing run during the bicycle portion of the race. “Normally, I don’t drink as much fluids as I did on the bike (Sunday),” Moss said. “Normally, I have a third of a bottle, and I drank a whole bottle (Sunday), trying to prepare for the run.

“Unfortunately, they didn’t have a water station right off transition. That would have been a big help to most of the athletes, but other than that, it was a great race.”

Sunday’s race served as the USA Triathlon Southeast Regional Championship, with the top 33 percent of each age group’s finishers qualifying for the USAT Age Group National Championships on Sept. 20 in Portland.

Among those who qualified was Juan Adritico, of Greenwood, the top area finisher in the race. Adritico placed 32nd in 2:19:57. Fourth among area finishers was Greenwood’s David Bridges, who was 71st in 2:29:48. Like most every other competitor in the triathlon, Bridges said the heat played a factor in his race. “It’s hard to breathe; it’s hard to run,” Bridges said. “Every time I hit the sun, I slowed down. It’s good to have it done.”

Walz, 17, fifth overall in the women’s race, repeated as the event’s girls junior champion. She led the junior competitors from the swim-bike transition through the end of the race. While she said there was some pressure being chased over the final two portions of the triathlon, being in the lead helped with the hot weather. “The run was really hot,” Walz said. “I really tried to push it on the run, to keep the lead.”

Friday, June 6, 2008

Lost & Found

That’s pretty much what my blog mindset is right now, a messy hodgepodge of topics, stories, thoughts, etc… if you opened my head, you’d see a jumble – much like that of a gym’s lost and found bin. An enormous Rubbermaid container filled with random t’shirts, water bottles, goggles, singular flip-flops, a brush full of hair, moldy towels…

So, here’s the deal: I’m going to list topics (in order they come to me) in bold. Scan through them, read about one that stands out, read them all, read some and come back later… I’ve just got to get these things written down!

Vancouver – Worlds! (Saturday)
Go Mom (Sally), Grrrrrrrr Jen, Smoke it up Ness! Get ‘em Ladies. From what I’ve heard, via quick email from my mom, the area is gorgeous. She talked about watching planes take off from the water?! Well, anyway, the conditions sound chilly. Maybe having one of the longest, coldest, most miserable winters in Illinois history will pay off! Heck, Sally and Jen have been training in freezing temps since the end of last season.
Come on Team USA.

Festival of Flowers (Sunday)
While everyone tries to stay warm at age group Worlds… I’ll try to push through some HEAT here on Sunday. Greenwood, SC is hosting the SE Regional Championships: aka Set Up Events – Festival of Flowers OD triathlon. It’s been toasty all week (93 today; 97 tomorrow), and I think it’ll be in the high 90’s on Sunday. Alrighty, Summer has arrived!

TEAM LONG (August 17th)
It’s official, Team Long will be making a race debut at the Greenville Sprint Triathlon! I’ve always wanted to do a relay tri with my family… and since they’re moving down here later this month, I figured 2008 would be the year! We’ve got Doug Long swimming (400 meter, pool), Sally Long on the bike (15 miles), and myself running (5K). I’m stoked… and in preparation for this team appearance, I’ll be on the lookout for a royal blue speedo for Dad (my sister, Sarah, is begging for jammers). Of course, we’ll all need ‘LONG’ across the derriere.

Memorial Day Memories I
Queue song: “Playing with The Boys.”
I had a BLAST! My friend (teammate) from Charleston, Hugh, was spending the long weekend at his cabin in Saluda… nope, not alone: it was Boyz Weekend. Hugh had roped 3 other guys into bringing their bikes and attacking the hills. Luckily, they invited me to join them for some good cycling. I was forewarned that evening activities, however, were “no girls allowed.” To that I said, “No problem.” Riding sounds fun, boys night… I could do without.

I got up early, and met them at the Folk Art Center (along the Blue Ridge Parkway) on Saturday morning. Awesome! I couldn’t wait to get going – I had no idea how well I’d be able to hang with 4 male triathlete/cyclists… but, I was ready to give it a go (and I prayed that they’d had a few too many beers the night before ;)

Hugh wanted to ride along the parkway and up Mt. Mitchell, but we found trouble ahead. The Pkwy was closed for miles on the way to Mitchell. Hum, plans foiled, I headed to a park ranger for alternate route and map. (huh, having a female along pays off… good for direction asking and such. I, unfortunately, let them down on the other “female” duty: taking pictures. Darn, forgot my camera).

We ended up riding the opposite direction (toward Mt. Pisgah) with plans to stay on the Pkwy. We climbed up hills, we made friends with pelotons of motorcycles, we took in breathtaking views (or maybe the hills were breathtaking because of the altitude/gradient/length… either way, they were beautiful and challenging), we almost had a pileup while riding through tunnel #1 (of about 7 – note to self, take light when riding the Pkwy), we rode through low hanging clouds (very cool), and we all made it back without incident.

After a quick bathroom change and face washing we drove into downtown Asheville. A great, fun, earthy city only a little over an hour from Greenville. Perfect for weekend getaways. Mellow Mushroom was calling… PIZZA! Now that’s a perfect Saturday: 60 miles in the Blue Ridge Mtns, with a fun group of guys, followed up by pizza at Mellow Mushroom.

Memorial Day Memories II
A mysterious “boyz night” preceded Sunday’s ride. Actually, not so mysterious… I think they watched “Super Bad” – evidenced by the one-liner after one-liner I listened to throughout the day.

Sunday’s plan was to ride from Furman University up Caesar’s Head and back. I asked my friend, Chris Giordanelli…G-man… to come along. You know you’re on the verge of crazy when you ride the pkwy one day, only to turn around and ride Caesar’s Head with the guy who just placed 3rd OA at long course du Nationals. (pic below: Furman Univ... which also displays a portion of the MDA 5K course)

And, by pure chance, as we were pulling out – who did I almost ride into?! Gail Kattouf, super duper du stud (wow, with Gail in SC and Amy Kloner in GA… the SE boasts some rockindu ladies. Take that CO ;) He he he, with Gail in the mix, it only got more “fun.” But really, it was such an awesome group. It’s not often you get so many talented athletes in one group ride.

We all got to the base of Caesar’s Head – and then made our own way up the roughly 6.5 mile climb. After a tough week, and 60 miles on the pkwy, there was no way I could hang with G-man, Gail, Hugh, or Caskie… my goal became to not fall too far behind. Going up long climbs like that will play with your mind – it gives you physical strength and mental toughness. Your state can change from one mile to the next, and I went though my share of ups and downs. (pic: view from Caesar's Head)

Here’s an up: realizing how far I’ve come as a “cyclist.” In 2004 I posted a 1:18 bike split at Memphis in May (40 K, basically flat course)… the next year, I road a 1:04 (road bike with clip on aero bars and no race wheels). I loved seeing what a year’s worth of hard work could do! At that time, I was learning to ride harder and push through the sweeping winds of IL. Moving to the SE, I’ve found the challenge of climbing… and I love it! There are days that mountains feel effortless, your feet dance on the pedals, you find a groove, you ride the rhythm. Then, there are days you suffer, you feel muscle fibers screaming at you, your cadence feels labored… but, either way, when you get to the top… you feel accomplished! (and you get to sail down at warp speed)
The group took some time at the top, refilled on water, and prepared for the way home. Fyi, the way out to Caesar’s Head trends downhill. Therefore, the way home is difficult! You’ve climbed all the way up – but the 20 some miles home are no cake walk. (a little tid bit I learned on my 1st Furman-Caesar’s Head and back journey) Thankfully, Gail pulled us… HA, I mean it was a group effort – but there is no holding that girl back. (side note: she invited me to do the same ride the following Saturday… too bad I had plans to cheer on friends at the Middle Tyger YMCA tri)

Following our ride, nobody jumped on the brick run train (phew, it wasn’t on my schedule). But, food was on the plan! I was craving some Chicora Alley hummus and a nap in the park: check!
Thanks for a GREAT weekend Hugh… hi to the “dudes” for me. Ps. I still haven’t seen “Super Bad.” It’s on my list.

Memorial Day Memories III
… and you thought training was over for the weekend, wrong! Monday was a Holiday! Long run time baby. I headed back over to Furman. The Green Valley 10 mile course is beautiful, and I needed something scenic to get me moving for anything over 2 miles. As I pulled into the PAC parking lot, I looked over to Paris Mtn. The tower at the top winked at me – wasn’t that the theme of the weekend? Climbing? YES. Up the Blue Ridge Parkway, Up Caesar’s Head, and now up Paris Mtn (via road, not trail Jen!). So I pushed through the 1st portion of the run… and then PUSHED up Paris.

I made it to the top 3 days in a row.

S. and the City
I’m sure you know the full title of this movie, but let me explain why I haven’t typed it out. Many of you have posted about sitemeter’s “referrals” function. (how people find, or search, and get to your blog). Things like, google search: “elf in the magical woods with wizard” and coming upon Elizabeth Fedofsky’s blog.

Well, here’s a tip: do not google search my name. Here’s a safe ( clue.

Needless to say, there are many inappropriate searches for my name… and I don’t think they’re looking for triathlon results. When I glance at the referrals section of sitemeter, I have to chuckle when I see “Ashley Long, pictures.” Something tells me that person was not looking for a shot of me running out of a lake in wetsuit/goggles. So, I’m afraid what using the “S” word in one of my posts could trigger?!

But, back to “S. and the City”
My younger sister, Sarah, just accepted a job in the Spartanburg County School System. She’ll be an elementary PE teacher and swim coach at Burns High School! Luck would have it that the movie was opening the same weekend she had to come here for a meeting with her new AD.

I am a huge fan, and have been looking fwd to this movie for months. It did not disappoint! If you’re a SATC groupie, it’s a must see… and if you’re not, don’t worry – you won’t be lost. They do a great job of introducing the story/characters.

Middle Tyger YMCA tri
Great job to everyone who raced! My friends Gerald and Sarah Kolb put together a defunct relay… Sarah is very pregnant, G is getting over an injury, and they found a woman to run for them (also suffering from an injury) – and appropriately named their team: “Two Gimps and a Blimp.” Hilarious. Looked like you guys had a lot of fun.

Drive – swim – Drive
While running at Furman on Tuesday, I ran right into Gail and Rick Kattouf. (in case you’re wondering why we’re at Furman all the time - just know that it’s a hot spot for athletes. Great place to run, meet for a ride, etc… the place is crawling with athletes, especially Sat/Sun mornings! I didn’t even know it, but they have open track meets throughout the summer. Gail actually thought I was there for the meet?!)

The three of us had fun chatting, and then I mentioned going to Lake Hartwell for open water swimming the next day. So, Gail and I made plans to meet after work and drive over to Clemson Univ.

After work on Wednesday, I drove to meet her at Port City Java… and what did I see: Ms Kattouf sporting high heels, running shorts, and Rudy sunglasses. Fashion at its finest ;) We had a great time talking on the drive there/back. The swim was fantastic (no wetsuit, and the water was really warm). We did laugh, though, about driving 45 min away for a 45 min swim. The things we do for a workout….

CD Recommendations
I will leave you with some good music I’ve recently discovered:

Virginia Coalition, “Home This Year”
Don’t you just love buying a CD and finding that you love EVERY song?! Yes, this is the one… a CD you can listen to without hitting the skip button.

3 Doors Down, “3 Doors Down”
It just Rocks

Sarah Bareilles, “Little Voice”
Fun, female, sing along in the shower type of tunes.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Lake Murray RR

Even though I now have a tan, which I certainly wasn't sporting at the Lake Murray race, I'll try to jog my memory....

After driving to Panama City Beach, having a Blast w/ Marit & Mary, racing, getting an IV, driving back, organizing a 5K, and directing that 5K... I didn't know if my body had a sprint tri in it.

Leading up to the MDA 5K - I was already planning to pull out of Lake Murray. And then, getting up at 4:00 am to set up for the race - I really had decided to skip the tri. Setting up, standing and working all day (luckily the weather was perfect, sunny - but not at all hot), then tearing down and packing up... my body said "no go." I ran the 5K course, as part of my prescribed training schedule, and to grab anything we might have missed (a Set Up Events arrow marker, btw - which I then carried for 1.5 miles).

So, I drove my sorry & exhausted butt home. The week leading up to the race, I'd been emailing back and forth w/ Nicole R about race travel arrangements. She was planning to drive there with Jeff - and meet up with Tracy. There was room if I wanted to stay with them. I told them that I was in.....

but after a long day at the 5K.... would they be mad if I backed out?! Just as I got home, Nicole called my cell phone. "are you driving yourself, or do you want to ride with me and Jeff?" she asked. I told her my hesitations, I told her I really didn't want to race, I told her that I was too tired and just wanted to stay home...
that's when she said, "well Jeff and I just finished 100 - so get your stuff together and get over here. I'm tired too, I don't want to race either, so let's just go and have fun!"

Huh, can't argue with a pair that just rode 100 the day before a sprint tri. (fyi, they are training for IM Austria)

Ok, Ok... I mentally tried to remove any expectations or pressures about this race from my thoughts, grabbed my transition bag (still full of PCB sand), got my bike in the car, and drove to Nicole's house.

Jeff, Nicole, and I packed into Jeff's truck and made our way toward Columbia. fyi, even on the ride there... I still wasn't convinced that I'd race ;) he he he. This is by far, the most I'd ever vacillated about racing. I've made it a point to race for fun - as a hobby, but this race wasn't feeling fun. Being into it, mentally, is so important - and if your mind isn't in the game, it can make for a long day.

We went to packet pick-up and then to the hotel. Tracy was there waiting. Her opening line was something like this, "I need a beer - do we really have to race in the morning?!" HA, good to know we were all on the same page. I have never seen such a group of deflated triathletes dragging around the day before a stinking race!!!

Much to Princess Nicole's dismay, we walked across the parking lot for a Fazoli's feast. Pasta in hand, we walked back to our rooms, changed for bed, and crawled under the covers to eat dinner. Mind you, it was about 6:30 pm.

I'm pretty sure I fell asleep by 7:00 pm. Yes, the sun was still out.

Unfortunately, there was no new race ZING when I woke up. We all seemed to go through the motions, packed up, and drove to Lake Murray. The only pre-race excitement was my wetsuit zipper getting stuck. Thank God Tracy was able to get it fixed. The zipper actually had me stuck in the thing... because if it just wouldn't have zipped initially, I'm sure I would have said - "forget it, I'll go without."

We made our way to the chilly water (yes, I was really glad to have a wetsuit on). The waves were a bit larger than normal (come to find out, there was a wind advisory being announced on the news). But, just coming off 5 ft swells at Gulf Coast - the lake waves didn't appear too bad.

Our small open wave went off first... and I actually felt like I held on longer than normal. The swim seemed to finish quickly and I made my way to transition. Always such a joy to get to the "open wave rack" to see your LONE bike waiting. Bryan BN gave me a smile, clapped a bit in jest, and said, "go get 'em on the bike Long." Getting my wetsuit off provided a challenge and I vividly remember looking at Bryan and saying, "I feel like I'm going to die."
He just laughed (what a teammate)

After 7 attempts at getting my shoe clipped in (I was not functioning properly, seriously).... I was finally off and riding. Right after getting out of the park, I caught sight of my right wrist. There, in all it's shiny, silver glory was my Gulf Coast participant band. My teeth gritted down and I pushed harder. Suddenly this race took a redemption tone.

I rode that course like it was a bike TT. Up the hills, into the wind, trying to find anyone ahead of me. As I made my way back to the transition area I heard volunteers say, "first female." Well, riding with some anger will pay off.

The run was lonely. A 5K within the park grounds. The lead men were already well ahead. I pushed to a hard, but manageable pace. After training for a 1/2 IM - running a 5K is quite a shock to the system! Tracy and Lindsay were right behind me - both looking strong.

Crossing the finish line felt great... but, I knew there were many waves of females yet to come in. People always ask what place you got, and I'm usually at a loss for what to say. Maybe I finished 3rd in the open category - but 5th overall?! Or, I was the 1st female to finish Lake Murray, but like the results show: Kat posted the fastest time of the day. It didn't really matter. I felt like I had redeemed my GC performance. I felt good. On a windy day, one week after a 1/2 IM, I turned in a time faster than I'd achieved at the same race in 2007. Sweet.

Forced myself to do a cool down run with Jeff, Nicole, Kat, Troy (Kat's proclaimed "boy toy"). This was the highlight of my day... weak, and NOT wanting to run another step... I trotted around the course with these ya-hoo's. See pic, as I think Kat is a Sam McGlone look alike.
Troy told some story about blowing snot rockets at the gym, while on a treadmill. My legs were so weak, I almost collapsed in laughter.

At the end of the day, I was so glad I'd HTFU'd and done this race. It's amazing how you can sometimes surprise yourself. In training, there are days I feel like poo - and assume my workout will suffer... but, then you go and PR something! Same with races. I was tired, I didn't really want to race, but I found that fire as I set out on my bike.

Thanks to Nicole for "making" me go. I had a great time with you, Jeff, and Tracy. Also great to meet Kat (OA winner) and Troy. What a trip, what a race, what a cool down run, what a group of tri-people. Love it! (and ps, I cut off my GC wristband)