LOVE HARDER , EAT BETTER & EXPLORE FURTHER
Ever wanted to be sore, tired, hungry and dehydrated for three days straight?? Then Stage Racing is for you!
Race Recaps for a single day of racing are tough enough - putting together a little insight from THREE days of racing is always different. Following a great time at Grand Viduta Stage Race in Huntsville - I decided to take on the beastly Chattanooga Mountains Stage Race for a solid back-to-back-to-back weekend. Training hard for my 100k, taperless and signing up 4 days before the race made for an adventure!
Hydrate is the name of the game for a stage race - or any race really - especially when you see that the temperature will be approaching 90 everyday and the humidity results in swim-running.
Thursday night after work I packed up the Focus and headed towards Signal Mountain to start my mini-vacation with the Baker family. Instead of stopping or getting caught in more traffic, I packed a weeks worth of food in the car and munched on a hummus-veggie wrap and some rice cakes on my way in. Rather than strand me in the barn by my lonesome, Jenny let me stay on the couch (since hubby wasn’t coming up until Friday night with Cary Long and son). Chris and Susie (friends from Cincinnati) got there close to midnight and a few hours later it was time to head out!
(Side Note: I had not yet mentally prepared goals for this race - which I should have, and really put a damper on Day 1. I knew the fatigue in my legs from little time off and just my state of mind in general weren’t there and I should have re-arranged this race to “Have fun, try hard, but be ready for two more heavy weeks of training”.)
Friday - Day 1 - Raccoon Mountain
Early to the start line to pick up my bib; races in Chattanooga are like family reunions these days. So many familiar faces that its hard to say hi to everyone, but I sure as hell try. Randy and Kris Whorton work so hard to make these events well-organized and fun, grabbing my packet was a breeze (and the shirt was super cute!) and Franklin, Chris and I headed out for a quick warm-up. Got to meet the awesome Meg Landymore, hoping it would be us two going out for the podium this weekend.
Knowing most of my frustration was in my head, I also felt totally enslaved by my watch. On twisty, turny trails my Suunto can be up to 2 miles off. By the time I finished this 16 mile race (correct by my Milestone Pod and other GPS accounts) my watch only read 14.2 - meaning it had been feeding me crap pace estimates the whole time.
I knew it was back to my Timex for the rest of the weekend.
I went to the Baker Barn for a nap and hydration until my man made it up the mountain around 5 PM. A quick dinner with the crew and it was lights out for me before 10 PM.
Saturday - Day 2 - Lula Lake/Lookout Mountain
Lookout Mountain is probably my most favorite in Chattanooga. It’s one of the first places Luke took me to run and some place we come back to every time we’re town for some hill repeats and long runs.
Today wasn’t as sunny but OH GOD was the humidity there. As soon as the race started, well, who am I kidding, 30 minutes before the start, I was sweating bullets. [Note the ice placement in the picture below...]. Good news was my legs weren’t totally trashed after making smart decisions to ease up the day before and get some rest.
This course is beautiful, this must be why Lula Lake is only open one weekend a month. Keep that gorgeous-ness locked up tight. After a steep climb up from the creek there was some nice, rolling single track out to Covenant College. I think the worst part of this was crisscrossing the power line cuts, now, I love me some powerline cuts, but these were definitely a little muddy and with the sun coming out they were HAWT. As you head back to the start the course is mostly downhill, weaving towards the falls before taking on the technical trail to the beautiful falls and climbing back out. The 600 stairs at the end of GDR were more fun ;)
Heading to the finish all I could thing about was soaking in the cold, cold creek. Which I might say was fabulous. Until I dropped the hugest F-Bomb upon creek-sitting - you know in front of like 5 children.
The joys of trail running.
Saturday Night was probably the best part of the whole day! All the Chattanooga family (and visitors!) headed to the Baker compound for a great veggie-filled dinner, beer, conversation and a AH-mazing berry cobbler from runner-cook-extraordinaire Daniel Lucas.
Oh and Cary Long decided to whip some nipple out so we didn’t overdo the fun.
I crashed hard that night after some quality time with my roller, beet/cherry juice and compression socks. Definitely the most important part of stage racing is staying hydrated and not getting behind on calorie consumption. Which, if you’re sleepy enough, can get easy to miss snacks and water bottles while you snooze.
Sunday - Day 3 - Signal Mountain/Edwards Point
I’ve done the Suck Creek to Mushroom Rock & Edwards Point traverse several times on Chattanooga visits. I love this run, these climbs and the view off Edwards Point. This day of the race drops off from a school atop Signal Mountain, allllllllllll the way down to Mushroom Rock. You just gotta bomb this downhill because you won’t be making up much time for the miles after and why the hell not, it’s the last day of the Stage Race!
After the abrupt turnaround at Mushroom Rock you head back to Edwards Point, these lonely, rolling miles were definitely worth the view off Edwards point. Right around here the rock garden set in, and felt like it lasted forever. These things were slick and huge (that’s what she said) and slowed me down a lot with my little midget legs. Matt Taylor came flying by looking great and I tried to keep up till the aid station.
The second to last aid station is out in a neighborhood before you tour near a Retirement Home and drop back off onto trails. It felt great to open it up on the road for a minute, and I started to keep pace with Rafal of Spring Energy and enjoyed having some company for a bit.
After following a creek for what seems like forever, in a dank cave of humidity, we hit the last aid station where I got to see my hubby before cranking out the last few miles to the finish. It always comes over me to sprint to a finish like a Cross Country 5k, who knows, because I know I look ridiculous I even threw in the head lunge to the finish line.
I was happy to end up second female for the whole weekend behind Meg who put on an awesome performance. Walked away with great memories, some cool swag and even a 6 pack of Chattanooga Brewing Company beer brewed specially for Wild Trails.
I head to Beaverhead 100k in Idaho, along the Continental Divide Trail, and try to make a small mark out west. Hoping for a finish somewhere between my first 100k (a looped, very runnable Massachusetts event where I was 2nd in 13:30) and GDR (15:40). Oh and my birthday is this weekend! Hello, 26.
Three Days of Data!
Stage Race Takeaway -
-Run a Wild Trails Event - Randy and Kris are amazing and would do anything for this community, these trails, and their runners. Heck that lady figured out exactly where all that ice was going and helped shove it in my bra by Day 3.
-The Nathan Vapor Howe 4L is an amazing short distance pack - Meg and I both rocked these over the weekend (me with a bladder and her using the accompanying bottles) and I’ll be using either this or the -12L at Beaverhead
-Run Free - Check out the Milestone Pod, seriously, unless you truly care about whatever elevation gain you might get and your exact pace (which come on is a toss up anyway), the inexpensive pod (and great technology!) plus a 20 dollar Timex are your best investment.
-Get your race kit right - the last few races, I have zeroed in on exactly what I need to wear and do to prevent chafing - here was my go to this weekend and has been for several races:
Luke Hough & Liz Canty
Liz Canty and Luke Hough. Co-habitants who like to run, race, explore and drink much too expensive beer. Read along through the awesome, the sweaty, the daily life and the occasional bickering over which running shoes are the best…