Sunday, January 27, 2013

Holy Shit, what've I gotten in to!

Today marks the end of my second week on the Arrogant Bastards Trail Race Team.  I've attended 4 of 6 sessions and each one has gotten progressively more challenging.  I realized yesterday as I was laying down and recovering from the hardest yet, that joining this team has created my greatest goal since the AIDSRide in 2007.  It warrants regular blogging of the journey, so let's go backwards before we go forward...

(Eric posts our workouts on the ABTR Facebook page, if you haven't been there yet, I set a link.  I reflect them here in highlight)

Tuesday January 15th:
Bastards! A few notes...
1. There are still about TWENTY Bastards that still need to requalify. You know that you have until this Thursday to get it done.
2. Tonight's 6:30pm practice will be at the Mt. Wilson Trailhead. There will be a quick meeting about the new ability groups and and overview of the next cycle of training.
3. We'll be launching the new line of tech. t-shirts, so be on the lookout for those and zip-up hoodies or jackets.
4. RSVP in comments.

First session with Dave O on Point: Veterans got a nice easy jog up to First Water... Cherries had to race it to The Ropes.   The only cherries were me, Marleigh, Jessica, and I think Chad's brother.  I was the only one of us who knew where we were going, but I knew I wouldn't be fast enough to lead.  Let's start with, it was DARK and the first time I had been on the trails at night in over 3 years.  AMAZINGLY beautiful and scary.  I tailed Perla all the way to First Water, and while I know she wasn't pushing hard, it was all I could to do keep up.  I didn't rest there and kept pushing hard to The Ropes.  I was sure I was the last Bastard up and the rest of my team would be waiting either at the end, or would pass me on their way back down.  Surprisingly, I caught Jessica, Chad and his brother right as they were arriving at the ropes.  A minute later, Marleigh's headlamp came in sight and we were a complete team.  Together we ran back down the mountain, Marleigh leading with a crazy quick pace that we all held until the trail got technical then we started spreading out.  No one opted to pass me in second place, so I must have been holding my own.  It was a VERY GOOD first night out, and reaffirmed for me exactly why I had fought so hard to make the team.

Saturday January 18th
BASTARDS! Early roll-call tomorrow morning. 6am practice at Chantry Flats (yes, due to parking issues). Come prepared to break into Teams of 2 runners (like fitness abilities). We have a great game planned for all those in attendance. RSVP in comments...
Hoegee's Loop with the Twist... Summer changed the game to unlike fitness teams with teammates running in opposite directions.  I was matched with Monty of all people...Super nice, but super competitive!  All of us slower folk opted to run up the mountain first, with the finish line back at the exact gate where we started.  I kept up with the gals for the first mile, then started to fall off.  By the canyon descent, I could only catch the occasional glimpse of Lynn.  So, I ran my fastest while keeping myself in check, the one time I started to panic, I immediately rolled my ankle slightly, and it focused me enough to keep my wits and just not let up.  When I got to the top of the concrete hill, everyone was there cheering, but I still needed to run up to my starting gate... that cost me another 2 minutes, giving me a total time of 1:08.  Monty was only 48 minutes, so we finished at 1:56.  The winning teams were 1:52 but apparently some of the gals in front of me didn't run all the way to their proper finish, so who knows what their true finish time would have been.  Normally, I wouldn't care about rule infringements, but when you put us in a race, it needs to be fair or why bother recording the times at all.  It seemed like the rest of the teams must have been used to that kind of stuff since no one questioned the results, so I kept my mouth shut and put it behind me.

Thursday, January 24, 2013
BASTARDS! Tonight's 6:30pm practice will commence at the top of Baldwin Ave. in Sierra Madre. You may choose street shoes, as 75% of practice will be on cement. If its raining, we'll informally gather at Lucky Baldwin's...RSVP in comments!
Tonight was absolutely spectacular from a team building perspective... there were SEVEN of us back of the packers to form our own unit.  (me, Marleigh, Kathy, Julie, Maggie, Carrie, Joyce)  The goal for our team was 2-3 rounds of  hill repeats and sprints around the grounds of the housing development at the top of Baldwin.  We never ended up going off road, but I was wearing my trail shoes just in case.  The route called for one climb at an easy pace, followed by a second climb at race pace.  Our team held together, with me still pulling up the rear, but not by more than seconds.  We finished our first two rounds and a couple of the gals had to go, leaving the rest of us to finish what we'd decided would just be another half round... instead we peer pressured each other in to finishing the entire route.  After we were done Eric asked me to hang out on his buzzards roost to chat... as I related the highlights of the night, he quietly reminded me that I may be "Road kill" on the team but I am also still the owner of TCA and can not ever take short cuts, quit, or behave badly.  We lead by example, even when it is from the back.  I totally get it and completely agree.  I also appreciate the extra incentive as yet another tool for keeping my head quiet when the going gets rough.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

BASTARDS! For Saturday's 7am practice: I don't care which starting point/parking lot/ or gate you park at but practice STARTS at 7am on the WHITE BRIDGE at Eaton Canyon. Be in uniform and be sharp...RSVP in comments.

Yesterday was the first real day of what I've always visualized the Arrogant Bastards were about... adventure!  We met at the bridge and broke in to ability groups, this time I was teamed with Marleigh, Julie, Maggie, Amy (with Lucy!) and Carrie.  Then Eric double-teamed us with the next fastest team who included Dave O and Jim Siegrist and Linda.  The course.... run down to the horse trail connector, and up the horse trail to the Mt. Wilson Toll Road, up to Henniger Flats for 50 push ups... then back home again.

WOW!  I don't know what the mileage was, but it felt like at least ten.  Hope says is was actually closer to  five. Too funny.  The bottom line was it was HARD.  As soon as we hit the horse trail it turned in to steep single track with lots of switch backs.  The teams spread out and the majority of them slowly started pulling away from me.  At some point Carrie was the only one behind me, and while she never said it, I suspect she was designated sweep for our group.  Whatever her reason for being back there, I was very grateful because it set in my head the game of not letting her catch me.

When we popped out on the toll road I was able to see the majority of our team and realized I wasn't really all that far behind.  As we kept climbing Carrie gained on me and we both gained on Jim and Dave O.  Then Carrie with them pulled away and I had to chase them all most of the way to the top.  It was an amazing climb.  I had no idea I could move so fast for such a distance.  I had no idea I could still break in to a run in the more level areas when I was so tired... but since that was what Carrie, Dave and Jim were doing it I had to.  I was determined to not be left, so I dug deep and held on... Welcome to the true power of the team... I will do for the group what I will never do for myself.  Awesome.

The push-ups were the pits and I'm ashamed to admit that I was the only one on my knees. I didn't like it and I need to change it.  Now.

The way down was absolutely glorious.  Just was we were getting ready to start, the fast teams rolled in... it seems they had an even further checkpoint than we had... not to mention quite a few more push-ups to chew through.  Ugh.

As we started down it began to lightly rain.  Seriously.  I've never run downhill in the rain. It was too damn much fun... except maybe the having to constantly blink part.  The ground was already wet, and perfectly stable in most areas but slippery in others.  I found it easy to find the firm ground and never had trouble with slipping.  Downhill is a whole other animal... and the Bastards are very FAST animals. Dave and Jim quickly pulled away and dusted the entire group.  Julie, Linda and Marleigh were all moving really fast too, so I hung on Carrie's heels and Maggie hung on my heels.  By the time we hit the horse connector Marleigh had fallen back with Maggie... (Marleigh is going to be an absolute trail terror when she figures out how to control her breathing and stops getting side stitches.)  By the time we reached the Eaton Canyon trail the rain had stopped again and we just needed to jog/walk back to the bridge.

I am so grateful for having Carrie there and her willingness to lead. She is a very fast runner and yet she set a beautiful pace the entire course and maintained an attitude and demeanor of staying well within her ability level. I don't think she broke a sweat the entire morning.  I asked her why, and she just said something to the effect that it was just a training day and not one that required race effort.  Whew, it sure did for me!

Afterwards, Hope and I changed into dry clothes and met Amy for a perfectly paleo breakfast.  It was a great ending to the morning and segued nicely in to my much needed noon nap.

I love this team because they are all generous of spirit, giving of their time, and relentless in their pursuit for adventure.  I sent Eric a text yesterday afternoon that said "I can def say joining the AB has created my biggest goal since the AIDSRide.  I have not felt this alive and motivated in years.  Thank you for setting the bar so high."  

I used to think the AB entry was too hard and that they needed to be more accessible to newcomers. I now understand that the Arrogant Bastards can't lower their standard without bringing everyone down which would quickly destroy the cohesiveness of the whole team.

I now understand and am living proof that with sufficient determination and patience anyone can make this team and join us.  It took me a year and it was worth every second of the effort.

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