Jan 4, 2017

Shutting the bar down

I'm sure it's something on many bucket lists - shutting the bar down. Hasn't even been on my list of things to do before I die - after all bed time is a sacred thing to me. So when Nick and I headed to Fieldhouse Brewing Co for the third annual New Years New Beers party, I figured we'd have a pint or two and then head home and go to bed. I did have a race the next morning after all! Well, with a list of beers that made even me excited and with two new ones for Nick, my first half pint quickly became a few more. Everything was just so good and there were so many cool people! We watched one, then two, then several more of the 10 new beers tap out as we hung out. Soon enough, it was midnight and Happy New Years! And then Ben was rolling the empty kegs out the door... whoops! Way past my bed time and I had a race in the morning!

Another first - showing up to the first race of the year still slightly hung over... we parked at the Stables so I could get a bit of a warm up in before the Rescue Run. That run over wasn't fun - it was a bit rough actually! I was sleepy, had a headache and really just not motivated to run. It worked though while I ran over and though I wasn't feeling 100% at the start, I was as ready as I could be.

A decent start - my goal this year is really to be intelligent with my starts. I'm not as fast as I used to be, so going out like I did back then only ends up hurting. I was comfortably in third when we started the climb up to the mesa, but was passed by one of my fellow Fieldhouse runners - Elizabeth. Her pace was a tad quicker then I felt like running, especially with my head still pounding. So I turned my attention to maintaining my 4th place. After all, fourth was one of the best places regarding points for the Brewer's Cup! As we turned onto Yucca Flats, the wind whipped into action. Yikes! I was able to hide behind some guys for a while, but the wind was persitatant. Everyone had to face it, so I just settled in and ran. This year, the course ran the normal way - counter clockwise on the top of Yucca Flats - but the first few guy most not have gotten the memo! They were going clockwise and we saw them running against traffic on the middle miles. Whoops... at least we were all running the same distance, even if the hills were a little different!

On the sharp turn, I was able to get a quick glance back. I had a long gap ahead to the third place woman and wasn't going to be able to make it up. But there were some women close behind. I had to keep the pressure on or I was going to lose my coveted fourth place. I was starting to feel a little spunkier - the late night was wearing off! Time to start picking up the pace a little! I also knew I need to make up some time and get some distance before hitting the blacktop again. Once I hit the blacktop, I would be able to hide with the 5k runners. That would give me some breathing space, but not enough if I didn't maintain the pace. Sure enough, the crowds in the 5k changed the race. It was crazy this year with the number of 5k runners! Most of them were attentive to the 10k races - more so then last year. I was able to run hard up the last big hill and then the wind again. Wow. The wind was definitely there to play with us as well! And at that point, there was no one to hide from. The turn around at Grandview came quickly - I was able to see the leading women and knew that I was well out of top three. Fourth would have to do. I was also able to see the women behind me. Still close - closer then I would have wanted, but it was all downhill from there. I knew I'd be able to hold on as long as I just kept the pressure on myself to keep running.

After the race, it was time for a few more miles - i.e. Running back to the van. There was plenty of time hanging out waiting for the awards. The Rescue Run is the perfect time to catch up with everyone - start of a new year and everyone has new goals to reach for. Everyone is excited and happy for the start of the year.

Me? After a new bucket list item that I didn't know I had - shutting the bar down!- I was able to come back to the Rescue Run with a good performance. Team Fieldhouse has a solid group this year and I'm looking forward to the rest of the year with the Brewers Cup and getting the points!

Dec 29, 2016

Finding my direction

Or where do I see myself as an athlete? At first, it was a marathoner - maybe not the fastest, but consistent. It was what I loved and something that I thought I'd be doing forever. But the compass shifted and I reinvented myself as a triathlete. First on the road, then on the trails. It was an interesting journey as a triathlete and I learned a lot about resilience and persistence. I also got a good lesson in reality on many occasions. Which brought another swing of the compass towards the endurance mountain bike world. The riding, the racing and the preparation - all up my alley. Again, not the fastest, but consistent and always ready for whatever conditions the race would throw at me. I felt sure that I'd found my north and the compass had found it's resting point. But...

Daydreaming returned the compass to the original direction - back to running. One of my ultimate goals was always to finish a 50 mile race and I was able to do that this year. I found myself pondering the other races Colorado offered - so many races, so many adventures. I was secretly hoping that I would find another love for running, rekindling the flame from so many years. In hindsite, I should have given myself another year to build up my running before tackling a 50 miler. It was more then I had anticipated - the training and then the race. I was more happy that I was finished then looking forward to another race. Of course, that didn't last that long. I've already started pondering trails for my next attempt at a 50 miler and studying races!

Along with the 50 came another compass shift - this one brought about by someone else - a new friend who quickly became my best riding (and running!) partner. And she knows exactly who she is... The hint of an idea that became a spark and then a new goal. A turn of phrase that happened during a ride that inspired a team name. The compass is firmly turned towards True North and this time I've got a new partner for the ride. 2017 is shaping up to be an interesting year with some familiar adventures and and one new. It is the new adventure that excites me the most - yet terrifies me at the same time. I've never raced with anyone but Nick. And I've never done a team race outside of a 24 hour race. That's a different kind of team racing - it's a relay event and I'm on my own while riding, but needing to make sure I get back because Nick is waiting for me. With this new adventure? We will have to stay together - covering the entire distance together. I have confidence that we will be able to succeed and that we will have the best time during this adventure. It's not something I would have undertaken without that turn of phrase and the compass finding it's direction.

Dec 25, 2016

On Sponsors

It is very common to see amateur athletes of all kinds with more logos on their kits then a NASCAR driver. Everyone is looking for the deals and the ability to say they are a sponsored athlete. Companies see the influx of people willing to hashtag their lives away just for a few pennies off something and take advantage of that for some free marketing. There are entire websites dedicated to helping athletes find sponsorships of some kind. But there really isn't a relationship between athlete and company that works for the benefit of both. The discounts offered aren't usually worth the effort and it's difficult to really promote a product that the athlete doesn't believe in. It's even harder to believe the quality of the product when you see athletes jumping from company to company and each one is the "best they've ever used." Or when you are told that such and such is actually better, but I'll use this because I get a discount. No brand loyalty at all with the current state of marketing.

One thing that Nick and I have always done - and one of the reasons that my sponsorship page doesn't look like a NASCAR site - is only approach companies that we have used in the past and that we actually like. If it's not something that I would pay money for, then how can I in good conscious try to encourage someone else to use it? That goes for any company in any category - if it is not something that we would use, we will not seek out sponsorship of any kind. The ethics make for a small list of sponsors, but they are all ones that I use regularly for training and racing - or for daily life - and have no qualms about telling someone how great they are. So it's time for a shout-out to all of my sponsors and supporters.

Christopher Bean Coffee -  Freshly roasted beans with consistent quality and flavor. It's what I look for when making my coffee in the morning - a smooth, mellow cup that doesn't taste burnt. I get that and more with Christopher Bean Coffee - cup after cup and bag after bag. I also love that there is something for everyone with CBC. The dark bold roasts, light roasts, flavored coffee where you taste both the flavor and the coffee and even tea. CBC has been one of my longest supporters - going back to when I was just starting out as a new pro triathlete. #liveyourpassion #loveyourcoffee

Exposure Lights Distributed in the USA by IBEX Sports - Nick is fussy when it comes to lights. With Exposure Lights, we got easy to use, lightweight and reliable lights. Self contained with no cords to deal with either on helmet or on the bars, we were able to light up the night for lap after lap at many 24 hour races and the Vapor Trail 125. After many years of partnership with IBEX Sports as the distributor for Exposure Lights, due to circumstances outside of our control, this sponsorship will be ending for 2017. We wish James with IBEX Sports the best of luck in the new year.

Ibex Wool - This is new partnership for 2017 and one that I'm very excited about. I've quickly become a convert to the benfits of merino wool for both riding and running - and in all seasons - and the Ibex quality is hard to beat. The gear is well built, responsibly sourced and tough. The clothes are both functional and fashionable - easily moving from trail to town. #woolworks #artofwool

Swiftwick Socks - Nick got me my first pair years ago - a pair of Pursuit Wool 12s. While that pair has long since developed holes from near constant wear in the winter, my sock drawer is now a Swiftwick showcase. Hands (toes?) down the best socks I have every worn. From the super thin Aspires (I wear the 12s as compression socks at work) to the extra padding of the Maxus line, there is something for every foot. There is also a height for everyone from the no show zeros which I normally run in to the full calf compression of the 12s. I spent many hours on my feet this year training for Sheep Mountain Endurance Run and never had an issue as long as I had my Swiftwicks. And no alpine mountain bike adventure is complete without a pair of my pursit wools socks. #chaseadventure #beswift

ProCycling Warehouse - Our local bike shop and title sponsor of the cycling team we race for. We've been racing in the blue and yellow of ProCycling since 2013. One benefit of having the backing of a shop like ProCycling is the quality of equipment and bikes they carry. Both Nick and I race on Specialized bikes and ProCycling carries a wide variety of Specialized bikes and apparel. Finding small sizes in any bike is often challenging and I've never had an issue with getting what I need from ProCycling. They also have an extensive women's selection of bikes and gear, helping getting other women out there riding with the proper equipment.

Will we be adding more sponsors for 2017? There is always that possibility. But as always, it won't be just for the deals. It will be because we trust the product and believe that the relationship is mutually beneficial.

Dec 19, 2016

Snow Days

I have my limits when it comes to fat biking in the cold. Below 10* is about it for me - under that and I'm a wimp. Why I will run in sub-zero without too many complaints but not head out on the bike best equipped for slow snowy miles, I still haven't figured out. But anyway...  Saturday was a balmy 3* in the morning with 5 inches of fresh, fluffy snow and more falling. Skiing would have been the best as Monarch was reporting 21" of fresh snow - but I have my limits with skiing as well! And it was even colder and windier on the pass. So skiing was out, despite the lure of the fresh snow,

Instead, we went for a hike up in the canyon. We actually decided to test out some gear for potential backcountry and hut trips with our hike, and it was cold enough to be a very valid test of our new Ibex Shak Hoodies. There were only two other cars in the Mount Cultler lot and the couple getting out of their truck as we pulled in kinda gave us a strange look as we started hoofing up the road with our poles. The plan was to do a little loop - not the standard out and back up to the summit of Muscoco. Deep snow, cold temps and fresh tracks - perfect conditions! Since the hike was the "workout" for the day - I wasn't going to slug through deep snow for a 12 mile run, we pushed the pace on the climb. It took us four minutes to get to the saddle below the summit. The time for some exploring. We followed the arrows up to the summit of Muscoco, but the views were hidden by the heavy clouds. It wasn't an easy climb up, with many of the rock outcroppings buried in snow. OUr poles were quite useful for both the up and the down!
Nick at the summit of Mount Muscoco.
Back at the saddle, we took the trail down towards the junction with the Mount Cutler Trail. I was happy Nick knew where he was going and there were a set of foot prints in front of us - I had no clue where the trail led on the descent. It's still a work in progress trail I think, with some scrambling down rocks. Once we hit the trail to the parking lot it was an easy trek. Not very long, but a decent time playing in the snow.

Not much a view but the snow did add some mystery to the familiar terrain

Sunday was supposed to a little warmer - warm enough for me to want to ride. And of course, that meant I wanted to con some friends into the fun! Plowing though six inches of fresh snow is always more fun with friends....

Someone got her present a little early! Dropper!
 Amber and Todd were game for a pedal in the snow. Orignalinally, the plan was for some microlaps in Stratton - with the early morning lows, small little laps where we wouldn't be climbing too far or descending too far seemed smart. But it wasn't that cold when we got out - in fact, it was a really nice day for some fresh tracks. Because it was nicer then we'd anticipated, the boys decided against microlaps. Without talking to me or Amber...

Todd, plowing through the snow and laying some tracks for us to follow

Nick bringing up the rear for a minute
At the last junction with the chutes, the tracks turned right - uphill. Huh? We ended up riding Spring Creek - Columbine and then back up the Chamberlain extension and Chamberlain to Arroyo Grande. The boys were right - it was a good day for a big loop. Even if that big loop took twice as long as usual! Fat bikes might be fun, but they ain't fast....
But that isn't always the point. Sometimes, it's just about the pedaling and not about the distance traveled.

Dec 7, 2016

Gooseberries and Guacamole.

Timing is important on Gooseberry and has gotten more important every year as people discover how much fun the riding is up there. We figured on a Thursday Morning, it wouldn't be an issue and we would be able to get one of the nicer spots nestled in the trees. No such luck. We still found a nice quiet place to call home for a night or two, but it was more exposed to wind and sun then we would have liked. Oh well. After getting set up, time to ride!

The super moon was coming and Gooseberry was a great place for the moonrise.
We have a few favorite trails already on Gooseberry. North Rim and Hidden Canyon are among my favorites - a nice variety of trails and a great mix of what Gooseberry riding is all about. That was the goal on that first ride - ride a little shorter and find our wheels on the riding out there. It always takes me a few minutes to get used to the different styles of riding. It's not just pedaling on the dirt roads - it's darting in and out of the sage and juniper trees, up and over the domed rocks. I'm sure Hidden Canyon isn't on most people's lists of an easier intro into Gooseberry, but it always works for us. And riding in in the middle of the week meant very few other people so we could just ride.
Sunset on Goosebery - playing with my camera and trying to be creative!
As is usual, I got up early to run. The running is my time to just be out there, find some peace and reflect. There's no one else out there at that hour - just me, my breathing and my focus on the trail. And the sunrise. Things look different on foot and I had time to pause to enjoy the sun rising over Smithsonian Butte. Unlike last year, I wasn't worried about my hamstring and was able to really run. I could stay on trail instead of having to make sure I had an easy bailout back to the van.

Left before the sun on my run and was treated to a desert sunrise

The things you see on two feet instead of two wheels
We did a slightly longer ride on Friday - working on our rock and route finding skills. We were able to get away from the growing crowds and the Enduro Bros filling the trails. Always nice to be able to ride away from those kind of guys and be able to clean things that they had to walk. Doesn't always happen, but when it does...

Because of the increasing population on the mesa and our goal of exploration, we decided to head across the valley to Guacamole. Of course, we couldn't just go out the normal route. We decided to take the north half of the Smithsonian Butte Scenic Byway across to Rockville. After how bad could it be? The road right out of Gooseberry was in great shape and it's really rare that a road goes from perfect to impassable in just a few miles. Well, this one did. It was great until it wasn't. And it was bad enough looking that Nick actually parked the van and walked almost all the way down the hill to make sure that we would be able to get down! It was an interesting drive down for sure - I'm not sure I would have made it down driving the van.
Another near full moon shot! This one on Guacamole
The moon was bright enough to be acting more like the sun when trying to take pictures
Just a short ride playing on the rocks in Guacamole. We always seem to get there about when I need a break from the bike and a serious rest day. Because of that, we didn't ride much out there  - did a little lollipop and some rock work, then back to the van. We skipped the big loop that's out there and didn't do all the little loops and options available. I was wishing we could ride more but knew that I needed an easy day. And even Guacamole was starting to get crowded. The parking area was full when we finished riding. It makes sense - Guacamole is so much easier to get to then Gooseberry, even if it doesn't have the variety and different levels of riding.