Wednesday, February 11, 2009


The Cheetah:
is an atypical member of the cat family (Felidae) that is unique in its speed, while lacking climbing abilities. It is the fastest land animal, reaching speeds between 112 and 120 km/h (70 and 75 mph) in short bursts covering distances up to 460 m (1,500 ft), and has the ability to accelerate from 0 to 110 km/h (68 mph) in three seconds, faster than most super cars.
This means my friend/co-worker, Becca, and the Cheetah have something in common: SPEED. Paired with her super-sonic running ability, the girl's got an eye for style. As a fan of the running skirt, she found one online in cheetah print. And, at the Greenville News 5K - Becca did the Cheetah proud! The fem feline FLEW to a fantastic win.
And, who did she run down the finish stretch with? The G-man himself. I think the Cheetah skirt was just the fuel G needed to hunt her down in the closing strides.
*Or, maybe G'man is jealous of the Cheetah? He's pretty good with Photoshop. Here's G's current Facebook profile pic:

Since that race - and Becca's "Cheetah Girl" picture in the paper - the skirt has become famous in our little running community.
Well, last weekend was the Green Valley Road Race - and Becca was in Colorado. So, the Cheetah was left in my care. I had many requests to race in it... but, I'm no Cheetah. I don't think I could do it justice.

Green Valley 10 Miler race report:
The morning started out very early... I had to take my parents to the airport. So, at 4:45 I was knocking on their door, taxi service ready! An easy ride to and from GSP airport - then a long wait for an 8:45 race start. What to do?
Have a bowl of oatmeal, play on the internet (thank you facebook), look at the weather report, listen to music... I have never had that much time the morning of a race.

At 7:50 I headed over to Gail and Rick Kattouf's house. Rick was headed out the door to make his way over for the 8K (8:30 start).
I met up with Gail, and we jogged across the street to Furman University. The morning was perfect for running - really, we couldn't have had better weather. The sun was out, already nearing 50 degrees, and hundreds of people were ready to run!

I got my race number, talked with friends, watched the 8K start - then Gail and I made our way to the 10 mile start. We had both been planning to wear long sleeves and gloves... but ditched those near a tree. Shorts and short sleeves, wooHOO!

Being at the start was like being amongst friends going for a group run... everywhere I looked, I saw another running buddy! Joe, Rich, Kimberley, Juergen, Beth, Sam, G'man - what a fun group!

Before I knew it, we were off. Road race starts get me every time - so different than a triathlon. A heard of footsteps unleashed... I tried to control the first mile, but seemed to be caught up in the race energy. Immediately, I saw a few girls just ahead of me (Gail was already further ahead, with the lead guys). We tore through the Furman Mall - only flat 1/2 mile stretch on this course and headed for the hills!

Kerri's loud cheering made me smile as we exited the campus gates. I know this course well... as I've said, Furman is an athlete's dream playground. A constant influx of runners and cyclists meeting for play dates. With it's proximity to Paris mountain and scenic roads, what more could you want?

I knew each of the hills I'd have to charge, each of the hills I'd descend. Well, training is one thing... racing the Green Valley course is a MUCH different story. By the 2nd mile, I'd caught 2 girls in front of me - and the field spread out. The sun was shining, I felt myself breathing hard, I'd pass someone on a downhill, we'd battle it out going back up...

I actually found myself smiling - looking across the fields, and seeing blue skies, and people running ahead of me.
Around mile 5, I heard a volunteer say, "2nd Girl". Knowing Gail was in front, I got excited knowing she was the only female ahead of me.

Well, the smile lasted until around mile 7. That's when the blister from H#%$ formed on my right heel. I'd raced in the shoes 6 times already - no problems. For some reason, they chose mile 7 of the GVRR to rub a HOLE in my heel. I clenched my jaw and forged on. Down, through Traveler's Rest, UP past the baseball field... and then I felt it POP. I knew the shoe was going to be bloody, but I didn't expect to feel a squish with each right step. Niiiiiiice.
Well, at least it took my mind off the pain in my quads/calves!

We were getting close, about 2 miles to go. At this point, you're going down a false flat... usually, this is a "speed up to the finish" kind of course. Notsomuch for me on Saturday - pesky headwind had other plans. Head down, screaming blister, begging for a finish line.

Going down the final hill (back into campus), I see my friend Juergen come up on my left! Claiming this was a "long temp run" in prep for the Myrtle Beach Marathon - I couldn't believe how easily he swept by my side.
This turned out to be just the boost I needed. About .75 miles to the finish - and Juergen was pulling me in. I remember his words, "come on Ashley, we're almost there... fight up this hill... strong, you're strong."
We dashed back down the mall area (again, only flat) - and in true "gentleman" form, Juergen stepped aside and let me cross just ahead. Hey Juergen, don't be so nice in Myrtle Beach!!

It was not an easy race - actually, it was much tougher than I'd expected it to feel. That being said, I LOVED it. I loved the course, the athletes, the weather, the speed. It was a good day... and I quickly found Gail and Rick. Gail had been the 1st female, and I came in many people behind her - 2nd female. I think it was the 6th or 7th time she's won this race! Gail actually holds the course record - set when she was 18, running for Furman.

We made our way back to the clothes we'd stashed near the start. As we were putting them back on, the Furman baseball coach approached us. He said, "hey, what's going on.... there's clothes all over the place." Gail said, "oh, the Green Valley Road Race."
I had to chime in, "yeah, a bunch of runners showed up this morning - and we decided to go streaking through campus."
Coach laughed and shook his head... "crazy runners."

So, I'd taken the Cheetah with me to the race. Really, I think only Becca can pull the skirt off during a race - but, I wasn't afraid to put it on for awards! Luckily G'man and Janis were there to capture my catwalk on film.

CHEETAH POWER, Prrrrrrrrrrrrr!


Marit Chrislock-Lauterbach said...

My South Carolina Soul Sister! WOW - you cut quite the dashing figure in your cheetah skirt. :) LOVE the black Run In top... I might just have to get myself one of those sometime... :) Way to push through the squelch of a bad blister. Um - gross? But we've all had them before! You are amazing and awesome, not just because of your athletic prowess (roar for the Cheetah! Ha - I got it in!) - but for YOU. Glad to see you back!

Amanda said...

Hi, I just ran across your blog and had to comment. I got that skirt for Christmas and am wearing it in a half marathon this weekend, although I don't look nearly as hardcore in it as you!

BriGaal said...

I love the skirt - you totally could've rocked that in the race.

Carolina John said...

Good race! sounds like a lot of fun. and is it wrong to think that g-man totally pulled off the skirt?

Anonymous said...


It was nice meeting you this weekend at the marathon. Good luck with the surgery today. Hope everything goes well. Before you post that pic of me and Brad, photoshop a cheetah skirt on me!!! :0


Gotta Run said...

What a great report. I think this shirt on Chris is the best. Can we put that on a billboard on 385? Just thinking.... lol!!

You smoked it and it only shows what this year will be for you. Stronger than ever!

Katie said...

Good Luck today! Fun seeing you at MB! You are going to come back stronger than ever and we are gonna have some FUN this year at the races - get ready to be crazy...and fast :o)

Kyler! said...

Awesome job at both GV and Myrtle...Good luck with that surgery!

Jennifer Harrison said...

STUDDDDDDDDDDD! I am so glad you had such a great race, you DESERVED it and glad the surgery went well. I miss you! xo