Monday, December 17, 2012

Off Season Before RAAM

Between my 200 mile race, and my training camp that starts on December 28th, I have had a bit of an off season. My training has been pretty low (about 12 hours a week), and not particularly intense. Nonethelss, I have had some  goals that I have been working on:

Bike Fitting

I went to see Eddie O'dea again at 55Nine. We worked on my pedal stroke, my fit, my posture, my cleats, and replacing my saddles. Working with him in invaluable.

Nutrition Redux

I went back to Ilana Katz to work on my nutrition plan. She has been working with my coach on periodizing my nutrition based on my training and setting goals for progress. It is tough to be on a plan around the holidays (and trust me, I haven't been perfect), but it was good to get a jump start on my goals.


Dani and I had an awesome fundraiser at All3 Sports where Craig Alexander spoke and went on a group run. Thanks to sponors, friends, and donors, we raised almost $4000 in a weekend for Camp Twin Lakes!

My awesome partner Dani--I am lucky to be partnered with someone who works SO hard.

Family Time

I am close with my family, and I have really enjoyed spending some great days with them. We went to see Circdu Soleil together, we have had some great holiday dinners, we still have a "girls christmas dinner," and Christmas day celebrations. I love having some time to spend with my family.

Mind Games

This topic deserves, and will receive it's own blog post. After my last race, I knew I needed to work on my head. So, I met with a sports pscologist and a regular psycologist that specializes in anxiety. They were both amazing. It was incredible how quickly they figured me out and the tools that they have given me to work on. George and I are also reading a handful of books about the mind and sports. This is certainly an ongoing process that I truly believe is vital to my training and racing RAAM.

Enjoying Christmas-Time!

Contrary to the nutrition plan above, I have baked a lot of cookies for us, family, friends and a cookie swap this week! Pictured below are my hot chocolate cookies (with mini marshmallows!).

Decorating our tree!

Running with Friends

It was really good to get out on the trails and just run. I also ran a half marathon on Thanksgiving day. I did some runs with my mom. No real need to pay attention to time or distance, but just to get out there and run with some friends and enjoy their company.

Dinners with Friends

In my version of an off season, I have the time (and am not so tired I just want to sleep) to have some time with people I just really enjoy being around.


Completing RAAM is more than just riding a bike. We have been working on sponsorships, fundraising, logistics, crew seminars, training camps, setting up finances, and well...register for RAAM.

Guess it's real now.

Only a few more precious off season days, and then to training camp in South Florida!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Kona Spectator Report!

So this has taken a while to put this together, but it was a really wonderful long weekend in Hawaii.

We flew into Kona on Wednesday. That's a lot later than most, but we can only be away from our students for so long. I was determined to get the most out of my time on the island!

After we landed, George's parents and I found the house that our friend Laura booked the year before. We said hello to our friend Scott Rigbsy who was staying across the street, and we headed out to explore. George's parents picked Anne up for the airport and we all had a wonderful dinner at Huggos overlooking the water.

This place has purple sweet potatoes on their menu. What else could I need in a restaurant?

By the time we made it to bed, we were exhausted.

Thursday was all about getting George ready for the big dance. We woke early and George and I saw that Chrissie Wellington was headed to the practice swim from Twitter. So we hopped in the car and went to meet her. So cool. We went for a beautiful and fun practice swim. That water was just stunning! Then we went back and got the whole family and walked in to get George registered...

I would share pictures of registration, but apparently I am not invited!

So we waited for him to come back, and then took some lovely family photos at the giant flowery M-dot.

Then, we all headed to the Kona Brewing Company to have some great food, and look at all of George's numbers and swag! Starting to get real!

Then, we enjoyed the craziness around the expo, and drove George down the Queen K so he could ride up to Hawi. Anne and I went shopping in a delightful store before Hawi and ate dragon fruit! I love this stuff. We ate a ton of it when I was in Vietnam on Semester-at-Sea in college, but have not really gotten my hands on it since then. Plus, it looks really really pretty!

That evening, George, Anne, and I went to the athletes banquet. They ran out of chairs, so we sat on the ground, but it was fun to see all of the videos. The banquet was long, and we had to leave eventually to go get George's parents, but they did have people who threw these awesome fire batons around. That wins me over!

Friday was my day to go play! George was all about relaxing and staying out of the craziness, so Anne and I started the day off right with macadamia nut pancakes with coconut syrup at Lava Java and Kona coffee. That place lives up to the hype! Yum!

Then Anne, and I headed out to our paddle boarding lessons! We had SO much fun! We went about 3 miles AND we learned how to do back flips off of those thing. I might go pro.

We finished the lessons and bought some delightful hawaiian dresses. So necessary.

Then, headed back to the house to hang with George. He was very very chill.

That night, Anne and I went snorkeling in the dark with manta rays. Might be one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. They were like 15 foot giant ocean angels! I love them.

This is not my picture--I stole it from the internets :-)

Race morning! The reason we came (other than paddle boarding and manta rays of course!).

We parked and started getting George through all of the check in business.

George sends me a text that he needs a paperclip. So I went on a mission to find one. Morning of an Ironman, you don't ask WHY your athlete needs to combine papers neatly, you just find the paperclip (I think it wasn't for papers actually). While begging for paperclips at 5 am, I see a map of the roads that will be shut down until 1am, and realize that is where we parked. So, I frantically called George's dad Buddy. I brought him the map, and he said, "no problem," dissapeared, and saved the day. He figured out where to part the car so we wouldn't be trapped.

In the meantime, we got sunscreen on George and gave him lots of good luck hugs!  I could tell he was really nervous.

So I decided to be a little goofy to lighten the mood! It took a while to break through--

And finally, a smile! And I feel ok to leave him to go through the race.

After we dropped George, we all settled in, and got ready to watch the start. The start in Hawaii is truly unlike anything else I have ever seen.

We moved our way onto the bike course and waited. Waited past the "hopeful goal time." Waited past the "more likely" goal time. Waited past the "bad swim goal time." And waited. And waited. And waited. This is when I started to freak out some. There are no pictures of me going to the medical tent--or asking if I could go out and look for George on the kayak. Or talking to the family tent and having them tell me, "we have kayaks, boat, scuba divers out there. We have never lost a swimmer, and your husband is doing going to be the first." It all sounds kind of funny now, but at the time it was ANYTHING but funny.

This is where I will direct you to George's race report. I can't tell you how poorly the swim went for him, because they wouldn't let me go out there and swim/paddle board/kayak to go find him (I tried). 

Needless to say, it wasn't good.

Then he had a great bike--but we never saw him. I still don't know how this happened, except that I was in a panic. But, I did have some great friends (Laura and Erik) texting me as soon as he appeared on the tracker. That was so wonderful. I was so happy to just see his times come up and know he was safely trucking away and killing it on the bike course.

We all went out for a breakfast, Anne and I went exploring, and then we all met up at Lava Java to cheer for the runners (along with MANY other people! Check out this tunnel of people cheering!).

As soon as George went by, I hopped on my bike and started following him. He chatted with me a little bit, and I would ride ahead and then catch him again. He started to look stronger and stronger. 

I darted around and we met back up on the Queen K. He started having stomach problems and was falling apart. I don't know if I have mentioned that it was hot on the lava fields. Really hot. It was tough to be on my bike and watch him struggle so much. I just wanted to take some of the pain off of his hands. That's not how it works though. Instead, I just encouraged, I read him facebook posts, tweets, emails, and texts. I tried to give him all of the love that people were sending him.

Then he had to run the 4 miles in the energy lab. You can't follow them on bikes down there. You just have to let them go--that was tough. I had to just wait on the corner for him to come back--and that was where it was the hardest. 

When he finally came back out, he was not running like he normally runs at all. It didn't even look like running for him--but his face looked different. He had a new resolve, and I knew it was going to get better.

I talked him through getting more from the aid stations. I knew he was READY to come back to life, we just had to get him there. Ever aid station, he took on as much as he could, and then I would ride next to him and continue to give him encouragement from me  and from friends that were sending messages to me. 

His entire body started to change, and he was able to start moving again. He picked it up, and was not really talking to me, but he was running again. It was incredible to watch him come back out of the awful place he had been. I knew he was going to be fine.

He told me to go ahead so I could see the finish, so I pedaled up about a mile, but I just couldn't leave him yet, so I waited and cheered for him one more time. I am glad I did. I missed the finish, but I saw him at 25, I sent a message to Anne and his parents to get ready, and they really saw him finish. 

I locked the bike, and went to wait for him to come out. I knew where he had been mentally, so I wasn't sure what I was going to see when I finally got him out of the athlete area. He was a shell of George, but I was so proud of him I could hardly stand it.

We brought George back to the house, and cleaned up.

We got George some food, and then we headed back to the finish line. Even really exhausted (as George was), the midnight finish is amazing. This one was particularly spectacular. The people crossing the finish line at this point are stories of overcoming the odds.

In the end, I couldn't be any prouder of George.

The day after the race, we got on up, had some breakfast, and went exploring. We had a flight that evening, but we wanted to soak in as much of Kona as possible before we had to leave. George's parents gave George finisher gear presents, which was a blast.

This kind of scenery is just the usual in Kona. It is amazing we came home!

That afternoon, I had booked a boat ride on this crazy navy SEAL boat. We went looking for some whales, and ended up seeing some dolphins. They did some wild maneuvering and Anne almost lost her breakfast :-) But, all was well, and it was beautiful. 

One last dinner, and we had to pack up and say goodbye to this amazing island. I truly hope that we spend time here again. Thanks to everyone who made it possible--my incredible husband, my loving in-laws, my adventurous friend Anne, and of course, my always supportive adopted big sister Laura.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

RAAM Challenge Series 200 Mile Race Report

This weekend, George, Anne, and I headed down to Daytona, Florida for the RAAM Challenge Series 200 mile race.

This was intended to be a check-in race to see where my fitness is. Then, after this race, I have a period of recovery, and after Christmas a RAAM kick off training camp, and then Janurary begins real RAAM training.

The week before, we were experimenting with doing a really long ride. Not gonna lie, it wore me out. I was really struggling to recover throughout the week. I was trying to sleep more, but work was also stressful, and the combination meant that I just wasn't bouncing back like I wanted. Live and learn. Fortunately, I have a coach who is willing to look at our training and adjust it for the next time.

As evidence of my pre-race exhaustion--here's a serious blonde moment. I put my race bike inside the car. But, I decided to bring my road bike as back up, and we put it on the bike rack. And locked it. And I forgot my key to the lock.

Clearly, this bike was completely useless to me, since we tried to cut through it. At least I know it's a pretty good lock now.

I tried to ride it attached to the rack. Yeah, that doesn't work.

So, we arrived in Florida, went to the check-in and headed to the #1 rated resturant in Daytona on trip advisor--Don Vitos. This place was a gem. Goodfella's posters, GIANT plates of pasta, and George got accused of being in the FBI. If you find yourself in Daytona pre-race, please, do yourself a favor, and head over to Don Vitos.

The race started at 5am, so we were up at the lovely hour of 3:30 to get rolling. It's pretty dark then. My garmin file didn't load, so I didn't know where I was going. The race director said we could stick together for a about 10 ish miles and chat, plus our crew cars couldn't get to us yet. "super easy and relaxed first hour" race plan was thrown out the window. I was riding with the group, talking to people, and nervous about getting dropped and not knowing where I was in the state of Florida. Eventually the group split up, and I found myself off the back with my car. After not following my race plan, and being totally alone off the back of the group, I was not in a very good mental place.

I try really hard to be very positive in my online presense--but I had close to no fun for 100 miles. I was miserable, unhappy, and my legs were tired. I am glad that no one can see inside my head. It was a bad place. One of the lighter moments was when I just started listing things that I hate. You should try it sometime. I also started writing texts and emails to people. They were ugly. I am glad that I had no internet access. AND, I started quitting things. Lots of things.

Eventually we made it to Sugarloaf Mountain. I was a little nervous, because I hadn't been doing any climbing lately. I turned onto the road, and George yelled, "This is what they call a mountain in Florida, you can see the top!" I saw it, and kind of giggled.

 It was short, steep, and really really fun! A quick climb and descent, and I loved it. Fred and Rick who own RAAM were cheering for me at the top along with George and Anne. What a cool way to run a race.

Then I started picking it up. The conditions were windier on the way back, but I started to feel better. I fell back into the bad mental trap one more time, but was able to pull it together. About mile 175, I passed Daniela Genovesi, who was the other woman in the field. And not just any woman--Daniela is a RAAM solo champion. Amazing.

My last 20 miles were super fast. Like, the fastest I have ridden 20 solo miles in months. That's pretty cool, but twisted. Why can't I feel that good in the beginning?

In the end, I finished in 11:07, and my Garmin had my ride time as 10:50. I lost 17 minutes at stoplights and nature breaks. Mid pack and first female.  Not bad. Not what I wanted, but I learned a lot.

I must say that I have some mixed feelings about this race. Glad I did it, learned a lot. I know what my weaknesses are, and I know what I need to work on. I think the best part of the race was spending 2 hours on Sunday talking with Fred and Rick about RAAM. It was like a private tutorial about how to succeed at RAAM.

My biggest regret is that I wasn't as nice to my crew as I should have been. Anne and George were SO good to me. They took care of me, and they treated me really well. When I was in a tough place, I mostly just ignored them. As evidenced from Anne's clothing choice after the race, it is just as exhausting to be crew as it is to ride.

I am beyond lucky to have supportive and loving people in my life. Even more lucky to have people who push me to be my best, and who accept me at my worst. For now, it is time to relax, recover, spend time with people that I love, and prepare myself mentally for the biggest adventure of my life next summer.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tracking George in Kona!

We are headed to the Big Island tomorrow for my amazing husband, George, to race in the Ironman World Championships.

This has been a big goal for him, and I couldn't be a prouder wife!!! Seeing someone you love so much achieve their goals through hard work, dedication, and sacrifice is truly one of the great joys in life.

So here goes!

His number is 1375, and you should watch for his run times :-)

Here the link to his blog where he goes into a great deal more detail about his training and such!

Oh, and I might also be paddle boarding, snorkeling with manta rays, and going on a speed boat ride.

Just sayin'

If you can spare any good thoughts/vibes/prayers for his success on Saturday, I'll take it!


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

6 Gap Down and 200 Miler to Go!

On my quest for the biggie (2 Person-style):

Coach Will has broken up my training into some early sections.

First we were just working on a big old fat base. Low stress, high volume, get it done. The final event of this section of training was the Six Gap Century this weekend.

If you are not familiar with this little gem of a bicycle ride, here is the description:
"The Six Gap Century's ultra challenging route takes you up and down six of the steepest climbs in the North Georgia Mountains. Test your stamina with more than 11,200 feet of vertical climbing over the 104 mile course."

Fun, right?! Well it is! This is one of our favorite places to ride anyway, but add a few thousand other people to the mix, and you have a downright party while climbing!

I got a personal PR on the biggest climbs, which made me happy.

Now we are at the end of this part of the training, and I get to have 6 weeks of focusing on an actual race!

I am registered for the 200 mile event, and I am looking forward to doing it! 5 weeks from Saturday, and I have a few mega weekends on the calendar! Hopefully, I'll have some good weather.

Now, in 8 days, I'll be in Hawaii......But who's counting?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Huge Announcement! Race Across America 2013!

Dani and Kacie are Racing in
Race Across America to Support Camp Twin Lakes June 2013!

Race Across America (RAAM) is one the most respected and longest running endurance sports events in the world. RAAM is seen as a pinnacle of athletic achievement not only in cycling circles but the greater sporting community as well. RAAM has a rich and storied history. In 1982 four individuals raced from the Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles to the Empire State Building in New York City. Covered by national television, the race captivated the public’s imagination. Teams were added in 1992 and quickly became the most popular and fastest growing segment of the race. The 2013 race will be the 32nd edition of RAAM. There is no other race in the world like RAAM. The Race inspires everyone who has been a part of it - racer, crew, staff and fans alike. RAAM is the true test of speed, endurance, strength and camaraderie, the ideal combination of work and fun! There is no race that matches the distance, terrain and weather, no other event that tests a team’s spirit from beginning to end.
RAAMis a race! But unlike the three great Europeon Grand Tours (Tour de France, Vuelta a Espana and Giro de Italia), RAAM is not a stage race. RAAM is one continual stage, similar to a time trial. Once the clock starts it does not stop until the finish line. RAAMis about 30% longer than the Tour de France. Moreover, racers must complete the distance in roughly half the time allowed for the Tour.More importantly, RAAM is not limited to professional cyclists. RAAM is open to professional and amateur athletes alike. While solo racers must qualify to compete, anyone may organize a team and race. Racersmust traverse 3000miles across 12 states and climb over 170,000 vertical feet.
Team racers have a maximum of nine days and most finish in about seven and a half
days. Teams will ride 350-500 miles a day, racing non-stop.

Dani and Kacie will race as a two person relay team for 3000 continuous miles. The clock will start when they leave from Oceanside, California, and it will not stop until the arrive in Annapolis, Maryland.

In 2005 Dani Grabol went to her doctor for a routine physical and was told "if you don't do something about your weight, you will be dead by the time you are 40." Haunted by those words, Dani went home and committed herself to a complete overhaul of her lifestyle. After losing 70 pounds Dani competed in her first triathlon in 2006. On November 1st, 2006 while on a training ride in Florida, Dani was struck by a drunk driver, crushing her left tibia and fibula. Doctors were skeptical that Dani would ever run or be able to compete again. After months of intensive therapy Dani returned to multi-sport, completing her first Ironman in 2008.

In December 2011 Dani became the first woman to ride solo across the state of Florida, setting a record for 422 miles in 27 hours and 58 minutes. Most recently she competed in a double Iron distance triathon that consisted of a 4.8 mile swim, 224 mile bike and 52.4 mile run. Dani was the 4th overall and 2nd female finisher.

Dani works in an independent retirement facility with older adults. Through her work with the senior population, Dani strives to show older adults how to commit to a healthy lifestyle. When Dani isn't on her bike she can be found in the kitchen inventing new recipes, reading autobiographies, or spending time with her two dogs.

A native of north Georgia, Kacie began competing in endurance events in 2008 while training for a duathlon with her husband, George. Since completing the first race, Kacie has fallen in love with endurance sports Despite her late start, she has become an accomplished triathlete, having now completed four Ironman triathlons. Most recently, Kacie placed third in the women’s division and fifth overall at the Florida Double Iron Distance Triathlon by swimming 4.8 miles, cycling 224 miles, and running 52.4 miles in under twenty-nine hours. Kacie has also raced some long distance swimming and won a 50k trail race. Kacie completed RAAM as part of an 8-person team in 2011 and loved every minute of it! After her team completed the event Kacie immediately began planning her participation as a two-person female team.

Kacie is a member of Team Rev 3, and the blog that she writes about her racing and training experiences has been nationally recognized. Kacie is a middle school science teacher at High Meadows Middle School, where she enjoys sharing her inspirational stories and passion for living life to the fullest with her students. When she isn't training Kacie enjoys reading, spending time with family, and cheering on her husband, George, in his endurance races.

Power, Pedals, and Ponytails is the name of team! At 29 and 31 respectivley, Kacie and Dani will be the first 2-person woman team from Georgia to cross the RAAM finish line. In the 31 year history of the race, only 2 two-person women teams have completed the event in the allotted time of 12 days. They wil be the youngest 2-person woman team to ever complete RAAM. Kacie and Dani will be using their participation in RAAM to promote Camp Twin Lakes.

RAAM is an outstanding platform for raising money for charitable causes. Racers annually raise collectively in excess of $2 million for a wide range of charitable causes.

Dani and Kacie are racing to support and promote the work and mission of Camp Twin Lakes.
Camp Twin Lakes is a network of camps providing life-changing camp experiences to thousands of Georgia's children with serious illnesses, disabilities and other challenges each year. We collaborate with over 50 different organizations (our Camp Partners), each serving a different population, to create customized programs that teach our campers to overcome obstacles and grow in their confidence and capabilities. Camp Twin Lakes is thrilled to provide programs at various state-of-the-art locations throughout the state of Georgia, including camps in Rutledge, Winder, Warm Springs, children's hospitals, and more. Prior to Camp Twin Lakes' opening in 1993, special needs groups in Georgia lacked adequate facilities to hold their camp programs. Today, Camp Twin Lakes partners with these organizations to provide high quality, fully-accessible recreational activities in a medically supportive environment. Camp programs are customized for each group of campers.
Since its opening, Camp Twin Lakes has welcomed more than 50,000 children and volunteers. Each year, thousands of campers and volunteers head to CTL-Rutledge and CTL- Will-A-Way fo weeklong summer sessions and year-round weekend retreats.
As our Director of Camping Services Dan Mathews puts it, “CTL campers constantly comment on how powerful it is to feel normal, to be one of the group, and not to stand out because of their various illnesses or challenges. Kids build camaraderie and friendships that will last a lifetime, not to mention support systems that will see them through their hard times back at home, which often entail doctor’s appointments, hospital visits and ongoing treatments.”

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