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.


Marit Chrislock-Lauterbach said...

Great Post Ashley! I think this is your longest ever. Ha ha - didn't know that about your name. Hhhmmmmm? A new Camp HTFU rapper name for you? Alas, I think not. "The Sleepr" has a new meaning. ;) hee hee hee. Hey great job on the climbing - I WISH I could have been with you. You describe it so well: getting into the zone and just going up and up and up. Your body and mind will play all sorts of tricks on you... very well put. SOunds like a great weekend!

Good luck at the races!

Pedergraham said...

I enjoyed reading your post via Blackberry on my way home in the car yesterday...and then tried to figure out how you manage to fit all of that into just a few days. Whew! I enjoy all of your posts about the area and pictures from your bike rides...I live in fear of Andrew being transferred to Charlotte, (I would really miss VT), but it makes me feel so much better to see on your blog that there are cool mountains and lakes and things not too far away. Have a nice week.