Tuesday, October 25, 2011

TNT-NRA Showdown

In 2009 someone thought it would be a good idea to have a dual meet type race between the Tuesday Night Turtles and the Narragansett Running Association.  Our two clubs have done training runs together, had coffee together and drank a beer or two together.  So we thought it would be fun to have a club versus club 5k.  On July 29, 2009 it happened, and the Tuesday Night Turtles came out victorious!

Overall the race was a great success; we had good weather, a descent turnout and a well put together after-party with pizza and beer.  So of course, we said, "We should do this again next year".  But 2010 came and went, and although it was talked about here and there the race never happened.

Flash forward to 2011: Another push was on, mostly by the NRA, to have another club race.  After a couple of dates were set and postponed, the teams finally decided on October 5th.  Since TNT did most of the organizing of the 2009 event, it was up to the NRA to do the work in 2011.  They came up with a crazy scoring system - as opposed to the cross country style scoring we used in 2009 - they picked the venue, set-up the course and picked the after-party location.  In the end, all of these things came together just fine.

Now it was said that the NRA was super-stoked for this race, trash talking etc.  They also have a much bigger club than we do, and Turtles don't usually show up en masse to races these days.  So I was in major recruiting mode.  I was emailing Turtles that I haven't seen in years, emailing the club with weekly pleas to show up.  I made every effort possible to get a good showing, and surprisingly, it paid off!  We had 27 runners on the starting line, with a couple more there for support. The NRA only mustered 13!  Right away it was a moral victory.

The race started at 6:45 p.m. and would be run in the dark.  From the gun, I knew that the NRA's Mike Galoob would take it out and get the victory.  I am not in any kind of 5k shape, so I just wanted to hold second place and hope my teammates came through behind me.  Standing at the finish line after I crossed, I couldn't even see the runners coming in because it was so dark.  But it soon became clear that we had more runners in then they did, and before half the runners were in, I headed off with Jackie to do the second part of our workout knowing we were probably victorious once again.

Jackie and I ran the course again with a few intervals and pulled back into the parking lot to see pretty much every NRA runner gone and the Turtles were still BS'ing in the lot.  It was great to see everyone come together and get excited about a single race.

Afterward, many of us headed over to the Sonoma Pub and enjoyed some food and beer with our enemies - er - friends, the NRA.  It was a good turnout all around.  Next year, we set the rules and pick the venue, so it should be interesting!

TNT Pre-Race

Friday, October 21, 2011

TransRockies Wrap-up

So all the racing was finally done.  We checked in to our hotel, went through our bags yadda yadda...showered up and headed downstairs to the hotel lobby to check into our flight which was scheduled to fly out on Saturday @ 1:45pm.  I go to the computer, put in the info and AHHH, CANCELLED!  Damn Hurricane Irene had caused chaos in the flights around the U.S. especially in New England.  So now we had about an hour and a half to figure something out before the after party.  I attempted to book another flight heading out earlier, and got to the PURCHASE button and bam...someone got the last seat before me.  So when all was said and done we booked a flight for Monday instead of Saturday and were going to stay for 2 extra nights in a rinky dink hotel near the Denver Airport for two nights before heading back to RI.

Before we got there however, we had some celebrating to do.  The final dinner for the Transrockies was in the Beaver Creek Resort Ballroom.  The food was great, there was some free beer, and good company with AJ and Keri Wheeler and Thor, Jay, and their wives.  This was our finally hurrah with these guys and we enjoyed every minute of it.

After dinner it was the same ol' routine.  Awards, photos, and videos...but this time it was an accumulation of the whole week!  There was a lot to watch and crazy how some of the events seemed so long ago even though it was only a few days.

Once all that was over we had to say our goodbyes to AJ and Keri.  They were not going to the 7th Stage, as the Transrockies people called it, instead they had to get back to their hotel because they had an early departure in the AM.  It was pretty weird saying goodbye to them as we had spent most of the week hanging out, and now we wouldn't see them in the morning and didn't know if or when we would ever see them again.

On the other had we were STUCK with Thor and Jay.  They were going to the 7th Stage, which by the way is the after party to the final banquet, and not only that they lived in Massachusetts, so it will be hard going more than a few months without seeing them...DAMN!  (I hope they don't read this)

The 7th stage was held at some bar I can't remember the name of and this place, even though was in a resort, looked very "Colorado" to me, it probably looked that way because it was a resort.  There were animals hanging from the wall, there was a red glow to the place, and it was packed!  We were fortunate enough to get in there pretty early and get a table for the 6 or us.  We had a few Colorado brews took in the scenes and around midnight decided to call it a day.  We said our goodbyes to the Kirleiss' and Newtons' and headed back to a night in a BED, no more air mattress for us!

The rest of the story is unimportant and irrelevant to Transrockies the race, so I will keep it short.  With our whole travel debacle, we took our reserved shuttle from Vail to the Denver airport...but we had no plane, so we took the Comfort Inn Hotel shuttle to our hotel.  On the way we passed a few dozen hotels, all nice and close to all the restaurants that Avon, CO had to offer, our hotel was just over a mile from those - damn.  So for the next day and a half we walked over to these restaurants for lunch and dinner, we ran one of the days, and other then that we sat in the hotel watching movies.  I was a little scared to go in the pool, and one of the vending machines had expired food, but other than that it was a good time :).

Finally Monday came and we made our way to the airport to get out of Colorado and back home to see if there was any damage and hoping we had power as many were still out.  We were good on all matters, so that was a relief.

Sooo...Tranrockies was a cool experience.  It was one of those races I saw in an ad for awhile and couldn't get my mind off of, so I decided we should do it.  Would we do it again?  Yes, but it wouldn't be anytime soon, the race is just too damn expensive.

I do think running this race is a cool way to roam the Colorado mountains without having to worry about much other than running, so that was nice and I would definitely recommend the race if anyone asked about it.

Before we left for CO, a lot of people said "you are going to want to move out there when you get back"  etc.  So many people said this that I was planning on moving out there before we even left!  But Jackie and I both felt Colorado isn't the place to be.  It is nice, but we still love RI too much to leave everything behind!

...and because I forgot about this in all of these posts, here is a short list of some of the gear that we had with us, not including all the obvious shorts and tops etc.
Brooks Cascadia
Brooks Arm Sleeves
Salomon XT Advance Skin 5 S-Lab Set Pack  (I carried everything so Jackie didn't have to)
Ultimate Direction Fastdraw Plus Handheld Bottles
Nuun Electrolyte Tabs

Final Results

Here are a few final photos...finally I can write about something else!

Final awards dinner

Wall art...

Some more of that.

This is what everything looks like at Stage 7

Friday, October 14, 2011

Stage 6 - Vail to Beaver Creek

The last day...

Of course with any long journey there are mixed emotions going into the final day.  There is excitement and relief, but also sadness that the event will be over, we will be leaving our new friends and will have to go back to our regular lives and not be just running and eating all day everyday!

Stage 6 would have us leaving Vail Mountain, starting straight uphill for a short bit, then running on roads, yes roads for about 3 miles, crossing over route 70 and switchbacking up some mountain.  Then we would come back down, cross the highway again, and head back up the other side to the top of Beaver Creek before the final descent into the beautiful Beaver Creek Resort and our soft hotel bed that awaited!!

After the uphill start we got into a pretty good groove on the roads.  We didn't go crazy early because this stage had the most elevation gain of all six stage with 5100 ft!

As you can see from the elevation graph, there was a lot of work to be done, so this 3 miles of road didn't have to be rushed.  Going into this stage I don't remember the legs being horribly tired or anything, I think they were past that point and were just running on there own.  I do belive that Jackie and I got stronger as the week went on and stage 6 was no execption as we both felt pretty damn good throughout the stage.  We climbed well on the first climb and the second...the last climb was a bitch and Jackie finally showed that she was human and wasn't pulling me up the hills anymore.  Once we popped out of the trees and onto the access road for that last final descent, it was a great relief that we knew we had accomplished our goal and in the final stage I felt like we were actually racing as we had some back and forth action with a few treams, including two in our division that we were able to beat out and finish in 8th for the day in 4:28:00, finishing one spot behind our good friends Keri and AJ Wheeler.

Once finshed we rounded up our suitcases etc and waited for Thor and Jay to come down the mountain, and we didn't have to wait long as they saved their best day for last and rocked the stage in a solid 5:02:23.  After they celebrated a bit with their wives we headed into the Beaver Creek Chophouse and had a celebratory beer.  Thor wanted a photo of this and as he whipped out his camera someone was walking by, so he asked her to take a photo, however it wasn't just somebody it was Tracy Garneau!  She was happy to help and we got a great photo of us enjoying a local Colorado brew.

After trading stories everyone went their separate ways to check in to our hotels and get ready for the after parties...that story in the next post!

Final Results!

Start of Stage 6

Running through Vail

Across the highway

Running through the trees

They don't mess around with trail marking here...that marker is 5 ft long!

Heading up the last climb

Monday, October 10, 2011

Stage 5 Red Cliff to Vail

Stage 5!  Stage 5 for me was like running the next to last interval of a workout, you say to yourself this is the last hard one, because you can always get through the last one.  In this case however the last two intervals were 23+ miles each!  So as close as were to the end we had two long days ahead of us, a lot could go wrong!

Today's stage started where we finished on day 4.  We were in Mango's to stay warm, as the morning temps were in the 40's.  We started on the same gradual downhill road that we finished on the day before, but in the opposite direction which meant it was now a gradual uphill.

After what we felt was a strong showing in Stage 4, we had some confidence starting this stage.  We moved further up in the starting chute, and since we were on a wide dirt road, and we are mostly road runners, this start suited us well even if it was uphill!  This gradual uphill was about 9 miles long.  After that we jumped onto some single track for a little more climbing but by 10 or so we reached the max elevation which was over 11,000 ft.  We stayed up there winding through the trails on the top of Vail Ski Mountain until about 15 miles where we started the long descent to the finish.  These were mostly mountian bike trails that were twisting and turning with some steep slightly rocky downhills, not east coast rocky though!.

I would say the last 8 miles you could see where the finish was below but you kept winding back and forth down the mountain, in and out of tree covered areas, which made it feel like you would never reach the bottom.  With about a mile to go, you ran into a much more wooded area than we had been running in, and it was rocky and rooty until you came out of this random spot onto an access road where you could open it up down to the finish.  We continued with our late race push and finished stronger in the Mixed Open Division with a 9th place in 4:20:41, over an hour behind Rickey Gates and Anna Frost!

Tonight we would stay in Vail and it just so happened that the US Pro Cycling Challenge was starting their 3rd stage about a half mile from where we had finished.  We headed over there to see some of the riders pass by, and since this was their time trial we were able to see some of the fastest riders start their 10 mile "sprint".

Since this was our last night in camp, the dinner was a little more over the top.  They had steak, chicken, salads, corn on the cob, grilled veggies, baked potatoes, and a whole bunch of other items I can't remember!  It made for easy fueling for the next day.  After dinner, it was same ol' same ol'; awards, photos, video, and off to bed we went, to rest up for stage 6!

Good morning sun...almost.

Welcome to Vail

Vail is down there somewhere

Creek of the day

Cadel Evans

Gourmet Cowboy

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Stage 4 - Nova Guides-Red Cliff

Stage 4, I returned from the dead.  After running really conservative on stages 2 and 3 I felt good enough before stage 4 that I thought we could run more like ourselves.  As good as I felt, we were both starting to get pretty sore from the first three days of running.  We still started out on the slow side but right from the start we saw that we were closer to some of the teams that we hadn't been around since stage 1.  Stage 4 was only 14.2 miles but you start out climbing for the first 5 miles.  After all that climbing you pop out on the top of the mountain, at least what you think is the top, there was still one more climb from about 7 to 7.5 miles that we needed to get up before descending for the remainder of the run.  Most of this course seemed to be dirt roads that were wide, but when we started to come off the mountain there was a good amount of loose rock, which we navigated well enough, but technical down hill running was not our strength at TRANSROCKIES!

One of the cool things about this stage was with about 3 miles to go you began a 1 mile trek through a riverbed.  There were times that the water was just a few inches deep, but other times it was calf deep or more.  Once through that mess you popped out onto a dirt road that was a gradual 2 miles all the way to the finish.  On this road we were really able to open it up and passed multiple teams.  This was by far the strongest we had finished for the week, and it was a good day to feel good at the end because Mango's Mountain Grill and taco's were waiting for us when we were done!

Today's creek to bath in was by far the coldest!  We were lucky to get in and out of there before the temperatures dropped a little bit and some rain rolled in.  Finally we used the mandatory gear, but it wasn't for the race, it was for sitting on the balcony at Mango's sipping on a Guinness and eating some tacos.  

Once back at camp we had a lot of time to waste, we listened to a talk from the founder of Salt Stick and had a drink courtesy of the roaming Margarita bar.   And to sound like a broken record, dinner was wonderful again, with the photos, videos, etc. etc.  

4 days down two to go!

Up we go.

Running in the river.

Have I told you about Red Cliff?


Our group hanging out on the balcony.

Roaming Margarita Bar

Some of the ladies were lonely, so they found a friend.