Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mountains and Valleys

There is no way to avoid mountains and valleys in a race, not when the race profile looks like this:

Leadville Trail 100 Course Profile

Being adequately prepared and having done the training meant that I was ready for these mounds and dips. I knew when on the course they would appear and how long that they would last. I also knew to expect emotional highs and lows as the day went on. At the race meeting, 6 time champion Dave Wiens told us that we would all have really LOW lows, even him! I had done enough long training days and long endurance races to know this to be true. If only we could all be supplied with a emotional course profile before we lined up at the start line. I know that my profile looked nothing like the official course profile. Sure some of the peaks and valleys lined up, but my highest highs and lowest lows didn't correspond with the course chart at all. When referring to the above graph if it were to be my mental state during the race, there would be way more high peaks and the peaks would last longer. Fortunately for me, there was only one real dip and valley that I had to endure on race day. During this time, a chart to refer to would have been awesome, it would have been great to know how long the dip was going to last because even though it was short in comparison to the whole day, at the time it lasted FOREVER. I did know that the low point wouldn't last forever and that I would recover. I drew on the strength of the courageous people I was riding for and knew that I was enduring nothing in comparison to them. As soon as that reality took hold, I was once again on a peak because I WAS RIDING LEADVILLE!!

I could blither on and on about what the day was like for me and how I managed to ride my bike up this hill and down this hill and around these people, and how I passed some guys on descents and on and on and on. Instead, since a picture is worth a thousand words, here is my story in pictures.

Me, Jen and Ries race morning- AKA 'Point of Maximum Dread'

Race Morning Downtown Leadville

On Our Way, Shotgun start!

Heading Down 6th Avenue- only 11 hours until I'm back here!

Pipeline, this wasn't actually race day but this is what it looked like. I was so happy to be actually in the race at this point that I was hooting on all the little descents. I was waving wildly to all spectators and telling them 'I'm doing Leadville'!!

Me on return from Twin Lakes, over 60 miles in and still on a peak! - and pretty much on my own working into the wind for the next hour.

Powerline climb, this is not me, I was pushing this part and in a deep, dark valley! My low point corresponded with a high point on the course chart. This was about 80 miles in and a true test of my ability to dig deep and prove I am better than I think I am and can do more than I think I can. BUT, it wasn't easy! This was sure a fun part of the course on the way out when I got to go down it;)

Heading into final 15 miles and about to hit a peak again.

Coming into the finish. As soon as I crested the hill and saw the finish 5 blocks away I started braying just like Smokey suggested!

Crossing the Leadville Trail 100 Finish Line, the Highest Peak!

Me, Ken Chlouber and MY BUCKLE!!

Sir Edmund Hillary said 'It is not the mountain that we conquer but ourselves'. I think it is the valleys that truly test us and show what we are made of, being tough ain't always enough!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

No Limits?

I am fully aware that I am high maintenance. I know this better than anyone because I look after myself all day everyday. Luckily for my race, my supercrew doubled in size and I had two wonderful friends willing to take care of me for the day. Alison and Heidi earned Supercrew status in a day! (not that there was any question beforehand)   Okay, it was for more than a day, their amazingly difficult job of crewing for me began the day before the race. It seemed that there were no limits in what my crew was willing to do, but I was determined to test that thoroughly!

The day before the BIG day, was full and busy. Racers had to go and do medical check in for the race and my crew escorted me to the gym for this and then took care of Tana. Did they know that poop pick up was part of their duties? How many other crews did that? Next up, I went for a short spin on the bike, accompanied by Alison. Since my ride was short and I didn't get to see where the trail really went, she continued on and reported back to me. Honestly, how did I sneak that into crew duty? Heidi attended the pre race meeting as my official photographer, Alison was still out doing recon on a bike trail. Really readers, it was challenging at times to keep two crew members with jobs to do;)  In the afternoon the girls headed out to pre park a vehicle at Twin Lakes aid area. This gave them a home base for the day and also was huge to me in knowing exactly where they would be when I got there. The final chore of the day was to get all my bags and bottles ready for the race. We had an assembly line going of putting Infinit powder in bottles, bagging various food items and getting extra clothes where they needed to be. Luckily, Alison had a spreadsheet prepared of everything I needed and where I needed it to be. It was organized chaos. On Tana's afternoon walk they dropped off my Disney Princess bag for the top of the Columbine climb, and they might have had poop duty again. Still no complaints. Supercrew for SURE!! In case you are thinking that I didn't take care of them at all, I took them to a lovely dinner out. It was literally a dinner out, we sat at tables in a field. After dinner, Alison had more work to do as she cleaned my bike for me. Honestly, these girls were limitless in what they would do!

Race morning came bright and early, brighter and earlier for Heidi than for me. She and Jen's crew Stacey had agreed (without use of torture devices) to take our bikes to the start line at 4:15am. They got us an amazing spot to avoid the chaos of nervous, squirrely riders.

Bike is Ready, Rider is not!

The Supercrews, Stacey, Alison and Heidi

All day long my crew was amazing. I would show up at the aid area and there they would be, exactly where we had planned. My stops were very efficient as the girls would have my bottles ready to go and put them exactly where they were suppose to go according to the plan we had made. I tried throwing some challenges at them as the day went on just to see what their limits might be for future reference. I would pull in and hand off my bike as I went to pee in the bush (or near a bush at least, I am pretty sure as the day went on I cared less and less how far off the trail I was). I asked them to use the pre prepared Kool n Fit sponge on my legs, back and even my butt. Alison did all of this without complaint. She even pulled down my shorts to get my glutes properly. (I publicly apologize now to everyone who had the unfortunate view of my bare ass during the race, I hope that the mental image isn't burning your retina!). I told the girls at one point that I needed salt and the next time I saw them, they delivered me super salty rice cakes! How was I going to know where they drew the line??

Twin Lakes Aid Station

Maybe, the spectacular views and scenery that the girls got to enjoy all day was putting them in too charitable of a mood. When I came into the Twin Lakes aid station that all changed. I dropped my bike and pulling down my shorts went behind the van shouting 'LUBE ME'. The look on Alison's face, told me that 1)she misunderstood my request and 2) I had found my crews limit. I of course meant my chain, but with my shorts coming down and there being chamois cream in the emergency kit, I could see how confusion occurred. That was the only chink in the armour I could find all day, and to be frank, I have my limits on what I would let them do for me, and lubing my privates crosses my boundaries too!

The (almost) Limitless Crew and Me at the Finish

When I first decided that I wanted to take on the challenge of the Leadville Trail 100 I made a very important phone call. I called Alison, and asked if she would crew for me. I knew that my success depended on having an amazing crew and I was right. These girls got me to the finish line safely and they were awesome to have out on the course all day. I got lucky when Heidi also wanted to come to Leadville, I should have known I was too much work for one person! I want you girls to know that I truly appreciate everything you did for me on race day, you guys made my day go smoothly and you earned the buckle with me! When you line up at Leadville, I'll be there to crew for you:) Just don't expect to be lubed!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Local Knowledge

The fact that I was in Leadville one whole week before the gun went off for the start of my race gave me a huge advantage. I was able to surround myself with locals who gave me all sorts of insider tips for racing in Leadville and surrounding mountains. The week before my actual race I spent some quality time with a local racing legend named Smokey. You see, Smokey was clearly a celebrity in Leadville due to his amazing racing speed and longevity. Smokey raced over and over again in the legends burro races and you guessed it, he smoked the field. Even when Smokey wasn't at the front of the pack, he still got the most cheers from the crowd. I had a few moments to pick his brain and get his secret formula for successfully crossing the line in Leadville.

Smokey Sharing Wisdom

The most valuable tips that I got from Smokey, in no particular order are:

1) Always, no matter what, move forward. You have already seen what is behind you and going backwards just adds distance.

2) Being last ass over the pass is not a bad thing, better than being the ass that didn't get over the pass. Don't worry about your position in the long line of asses, just refer to #1.

3) If you are going to stop dead in your tracks you will lose all momentum and will require someone to give you a good tug or whipping to get you going. A merciless crew is key, and a big whip!

4) Once you are in sight of the finish line, it is important you let everyone know you are coming and BRAY loudly and often.

5) Sometimes, you just need to take a nature break, amazing how much faster you can move once the load is lightened.

6) The lighter your pack, the faster you can move (Pierce, I am sharing that tip with you for next year!).

7) Crowd support makes all the difference in the world. Make sure you are feeling the love.

The short in town burro races were referred to as the celebrity races, I think that Smokey was really the only 'celebrity' in attendance. At the same time the open race was taking place. It was a 22 mile race with a burro carrying a 35 pound pack and went up over 13,000ft. There was only one woman in the open class race and she won. (By the way, they didn't get to ride their burros they had to pull, push and coerce them along to the finish line) She annihilated the field is more accurate. I waited over 20 minutes for the first man to finish after her and then gave up waiting!

Starting Line for Celebrity Races

I didn't only get insider knowledge on racing, I also observed some of the local eating habits. I was particularly fascinated by one culinary treat that seemed to be the favorite. I wanted to know the nutritional value that it offered. I asked one of the many foodies in line waiting for this delicacy what it was and other details. He replied 'who cares what its made of, it tastes great!'. I honestly should have gotten a clue from looking at him that he didn't have a fine dining palate or that he was particular about what he put in his mouth.

Local Delicacies

The proprietor of this establishment informed me that they weren't actual Monkey Testes but were meatballs made out of pork. All I know is that even if they would have made me go sub 9 for a big buckle, there is no way I was eating those! Not once during the actual Leadville Trail 100 did I think, 'If I had just eaten some Monkey Balls!'. I think those Leadville locals weren't completely forthcoming in all of their local knowledge and might have been trying to throw us out of towners off the true secrets with this 'local delicacy'. I sure the heck didn't see Smokey standing in line to get him some Monkey Balls:)

Sunday, August 22, 2010


One of the best decisions that I made regarding the Leadville Trail 100 was to head to Leadville as soon as I had to ship back my princess canopy bed. If I couldn't be sleeping at simulated altitude I needed to be living and trying to breath at real altitude. I got myself set up in the Sugarloafin' campground in Leadville and unbeknownst to me embarked on a week of making new friends.

My Sweet Set Up

The campground defined 'United States'. I met people from so many states and we were all united by the Leadville Trail 100. There were lots of campers doing the bike ride and there were campers doing the Leadville 100 run and there were even some campers venturing to do both. There were even campers from foreign countries like Canada;)

My week of camping flew by filled with many activities. There was the day the So Cal boys and I took a drive up the Columbine mine climb, in a two wheel drive no less. Not everyone in So Cal has a 4x4 to drive on the I5 freeway!

Tommy and Gerry atop Columbine

View down towards Twin Lakes

Even though we were loafin' we were still focused on the goal ahead and most of our activities centered around the race ahead. We did have movie night, but of course we watched the Race Across the Sky. One night we watched the official movie and another night we watched Pierce's version. Last year when he did the race Pierce mounted a video camera to his handlebars. He had a friend then edit the film and put it to music and captions. After comparing the two versions of the race, I am more excited to see Pierce's version this year than the official movie! It will be a real nail biter as Pierce snuck in to buckle with only 4 minutes to spare this year. I am sure that he would have been ahead of me if he had not carried a HUGE camel back and all that extra gear, but then we wouldn't have the movie to watch. The movie I made only plays for select audiences, me and the voices in my head!

Not all the time at the campground was spent sitting around. We did manage a few taper rides. One day the boys headed out for an easy 2 hour 24 mile flat ride. I decided to head out a little later to do my ride. I left 2 hours after them and they were not back yet. I kept riding and riding expecting to see them on their way back and I was almost at my turn around point when they finally showed up. Good  thing I remembered my lesson from when I was a teenage girl that boys always try to go further than they say they will!!

View from Campground

While I was spending time in idleness and lounging about, Tana was very busy treeing squirrels and chipmunks and then guarding the trees. She had to work tirelessly from sunrise to sunset without taking a meal or water break. On race day we reversed roles and she rested all day!

In the Middle of a Two Hour Shift

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Mission Accomplished

I did it! I buckled at the Leadville Trail 100. I'm currently pretending the journey is not over by exploring more Colorado mountain towns. Oh, I'm also polishing and staring at my buckle:)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

My Pledge

Dear Readers,
The time has come, the work is done and now it's time to dig deep. Thank you to everyone who has been on this journey with me. All of your love and encouragement along the way will not be forgotten. I am about to arrive at the destination and no matter what happens today the trip has been fantastic. The memories collected are priceless. I appreciate all the sacrifices made by everyone who has gotten me to this point. I have a fantastic crew for today and to them and all the rest of you a huge mahalo!!! It's going to be a fabulous day and I will never be alone. I will hear of you in my head today and when it gets tough, which I know it will, I will not be alone. I pledge to all of you that I commit, I will not quit. Now let's go ride across the sky and get us a belt buckle!!!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


One of the most important parts of my preparation for the Leadville trail 100 was making sure I had someone who knew something about doing an event like this to advise me along the way. I didn't have to look any further than my mentor since my initiation into endurance sports. Before I took my first step into becoming an athlete I watched my friend Jason complete the 1993 Hawaii Ironman. I knew on that day that I had found my calling and Jason has been barraged by my endless questions ever since. He has always provided me with advice on how to train, what bikes to buy and he has blazed the trail ahead of me into the endurance mountain biking scene. Jason has competed in a number of stage races and 24 hour solo events so he has a wealth of knowledge. I tapped into his experience constantly and he not only helped me prepare physically, he also helped me with my equipment choices. I sent him endless emails with multitudes of questions and he always patiently responded. Jason is an amazing athlete and I am grateful that he so openly shares with me.

Jason rocking the Vineman 70.3 course

Over the winter I was lucky to have another great athlete and cyclist available to assist me with my preparation. Haywood gave me endless lessons on the mountain bike. It is because of him that I am able to ride hands free to take of my vest when needed. I will hear him telling me to stay relaxed the entire way on Saturday and hope that I can show I learned my lessons and practiced faithfully.

Who wouldn't listen to this guy!

The Todd also provided me with tons of insight into the Leadville Trail 100. The guy is a walking Leadville encyclopedia and he gave me all the answers I needed to my neurotic questions.

Having no idea how to prepare for this race a year ago I feel with the help of these three and countless others, I actually am prepared. Thanks dudes!!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Storm Trooper

The 2010 version of the Leadville Trail 100 is just days away. Like any chick, I know that for a big event you must get your outfit ready in advance. I have my super high couture outfit ready. Sure, I won't be on a red carpet, but fashion is still important and I followed the important fashion rules. White is only to be worn between memorial day and labor day, and this race being in August, white is A okay! I sent a picture of my outfit to super crew Alison and she commented that I look like a storm trooper. Perfect! Not only should I be fairly easy to spot out of over 1000 riders, but I look like a storm trooper. I couldn't pick a better outfit since I am going into battle in an unknown galaxy. I also know what weather in the Colorado mountains can be like so when the storms hit, I hope I am a trooper!


Note the resemblance!

Now dear readers, I know that wearing white at a mountain bike race is a little bit of a fashion risk and I could end up on the worst dressed list, but at least I will stand out!

Sunday, August 8, 2010


Recently my high school nemesis sent me a message that he is reading my 'shitty blog'. (I know readers, not the adjective I would have chosen either. I would have said, captivating, or even Pulitzer award winning worthy, but shitty?!) Anyways, said fella, whom I will call Patsy, mostly because I called him that in high school and it bugged him, got me to thinking. In high school we were enemies who loved to hate each other. We also thrived on exposing each others weaknesses. I will admit, I partook in giving as much as taking. I also admit I provided Patsy with plenty of ammunition over the years. I had glasses, braces, played the trumpet in the concert band, was a book worm, I was a late developer and my voluptuous breasts were a little slow in showing up. Oh wait, I'm still waiting on that last part, so I guess I am a REALLY late developer. What provided him with the most entertainment was that I was in 4-H. I was actually in sewing 4-H, which if you think about it, is the height of geekdom, but he always made cow jokes directed at me. Come on, I handed you sewing 4-H on a silver platter, and you made cow jokes?? Well, he is now reading my blog and says he finds inspiration from my athletic endeavors. (I paraphrased a little bit there). Now, this poor guy has never experienced a runners high, and he runs as part of his work. How incredible would it be to be able to run for work, maybe even run and get high at work. Too bad for him that he doesn't enjoy running. Although, the way he was built in high school, he looked like the perfect distance runner!

SHH, I might have borrowed this from his facebook!

The message that Patsy sent me (okay, I still get too much of a kick out of calling him that, I guess I haven't matured at ALL!),  was very flattering. To think that my undertakings can motivate someone to take on their own challenges is very humbling. I already feel like I have succeeded and I haven't even towed the starting line yet! I also realized, if he is reading, who else is reading and I had better start posting more flattering pictures of myself;)

Check out my sweet pooka shells, and those awesome glasses!

I look so much cooler these days!

Patty, thanks for driving me to my limits all those years ago and for letting me inspire you even just a little these days. Know, that I still have the ability to laugh at myself, a lesson you taught me the hard way. I am proud to be your nemesis ( mostly, I like the idea of being a nemesis because she was the Goddess of  Rhamnous, and I just want to be a goddess!)

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Now that my taper is in full force and I am a week out from the race my body is giving me signals. I have been through many a taper to know what is real and what is not. The time that I had sharp radiating pain in my left upper thigh area that woke me up at night, that wasn't a minor body repairing itself kinda signal. That time it was a full fledged stress fracture in my femur and that pain was real. Most of the time though, the pains are phantom pains. From my experience, when the body gets a chance to recover it doesn't hesitate and it gets to work. In turn this means that little aches and pains emerge in the regeneration process. That does not mean that I have an injury, nor does being sore one week out mean that I am going to be sore on race day. The signs my body are sending my brain say differently, but as I will demonstrate not all signs need heeding, and not all signs are correct.

Obviously, they don't heed this sign!

Coolest sign ever, but they were closed!

For now, I have been reading the signs but I have been interpreting them my own way. I know that pre race anxiety makes everything seem like it is an injury or problem, I also know that I had lots of aches and pains in training that went away as soon as I was on the bike. Amazing what a little adrenalin and fix of endorphins can do! One week to go and on race day my body better display the open for racing sign, and it better be correct!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Coming up for Air

I decided in the spring of 2007 that I really wanted to become a mountain biker. One of the first things that I did was sign up for a mountain biking skills clinic. My friends Shawn and Christine also signed up to advance our skills.  The clinic was divided into beginner, intermediate and advanced riders. Right away Shawn convinced us that the beginner group was not for us. They were learning how to shift gears and clip in to their pedals. He insisted that we would be fine in the intermediate group so off we set. Chris bailed and headed back to join the beginners but Shawn and I soldiered on. At the first obstacle we came upon to practice, I expressed my concern but Shawn confidently insisted that we would be okay. The further we progressed along the trail the less confident he became. When one instructor went off a drop and broke off his rear derailleur and another performed a slow motion endo (picture, somersault over the handlebars) Shawn looked at me and said "dude, we are in so far over our heads!".  That pretty much sums up how I have been feeling for the last year about undertaking the Leadville 100.

Not too long after this day we lost Shawn to a tragic accident when he was on his road bike. He was taken too soon and didn't get the chance to explore his new found love of mountain biking for very long. Shawn's last race was an Xterra triathlon and the joy on his face was contagious.

Shawn at Xterra Temecula 2007

If you happen to be riding near me during this years Leadville trail 100 and I am whooping it up on a descent, join me in honoring Shawn's joy for life. He couldn't ride a descent without hollering a little. If you think you hear me talking to myself, just know that I am telling Shawn "dude, I'm not in over my head anymore, I've come up for air!"

Shawn and our good friend Tony

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


In most stables the racehorses get all the glory but the workhorses do all the work. My stable is not an exception. The workhorse in my barn is my road bike. This fella puts in hours and hours of work in all kinds of weather and never gets to see a race course. He is neglected terribly and continues to click off mile after mile without complaint. He is super hardy and low maintenance. Oh sure, he occasionally gets a flat tire or needs a little chain lube but that is minor.

Flat Tire Repair

 I ride him hard, put him away wet and dirty and he still is up for anything I throw at him. No whining or squeaking when he is put on the indoor trainer and he barely makes a peep when he is made to cover super rough pavement. For eight years he has been rolling along without regular maintenance while the racing bikes get all the attention. To show my appreciation to my Pinarello for all his years of hard work and service, I promised him a special kind of spa day when I get home from Leadville. He is going to get all new cables and housing, new brake hoods and I'll even clean him! After all that, he will be feeling his oats like a young colt in the spring.

Thanks for the trials of miles and miles of trials Pinny!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Racing Weight

Athletes tend to determine if they are fit in a number of ways. One of the determining factors that is used is 'racing weight'. I too have used this term in the past. If I had been asked what formula I used to conclude what the appropriate number was, I admit I would have been flustered. I randomly picked a number out of the air. Truth be told, I have raced at a number of different weights in the past, with varied results. I have not found a direct correlation to my weight and my race performance. I have noticed that my nutrition during training and recovery does have a profound impact on my ability to race well. Instead of concerning myself with a number on the scale in preparation for Leadville, I focused on getting quality nutrients into my body for fuel.

Wheat grass, Yummy!!

Recently a good friend mentioned that she has not reached her race weight. I disagree with her judgement, she has been racing almost weekly and kicking butt. Seems to me that she is at her perfect race weight. For me, I will be at race weight when I hit the starting line because I have decided that whatever weight I am racing at is racing weight!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Building Equity

On the weekend I made the final deposits into my fitness account. From now until race day all I can do is sit back and hope that the value grows. It is going to be difficult to be a smart investor and avoid the panic that leads to cashing out too early. I can not be tempted to check the growth constantly, I will have to have faith that the fitness I accumulated exists. I hope that the risks I have taken will yield great dividends, and that I will be able to remain in the black for most of the Leadville 100. If my withdrawls do send me into the red, I hope the overdraft penalty isn't too harsh and I can recover.  Mostly I hope that when I have to dig deep, I find I  invested in a bull market and I come home with a nice shiny silver buckle.

Watertower Climb

About 9000 feet lower than I need to be!