Most people do crazy stuff when they turn 40 - the classic midlife crisis type affair. There's buying a snazzy new car (does a 4WD Merce...

Dec 29, 2012

New Mexico Escape

Three days with nothing to do but my workouts and relaxing with Nick's parents. The perfect way to finish my last hard week - get some solid training and be able to recover well with no distractions. I could do that more often if only we had the money and time. Training hard is never the problem. It's finding the time to recover smart that is always the issue. Not this week. Sitting around the wood stove with a book was the order of the day. Even Nick was able chill out and do nothing!

We did make sure that we got some quality workouts in. I got up to run in the fresh snow Christmas morning. It was perfectly quiet, with first tracks on the road. Nick ran the first few miles with me, then returned to the house. Without a map, I had decided to just do three out and backs on the dirt road leading to his parent's house. No traffic, just a few dogs,  some crows and a bunch of horses. A brisk wind kept the temperature chilly but the sun was making quick work of the snow. It was perfect day. After my run,  it was time to stretch and take a nap before supper with Nick's parents and their friends.

The next two days called for intervals on the bike. After going into town for some food and such, Nick and I headed south on a dirt road. We had debated staying on the black top and going north but decided to risk the mud. And while the road worked great for my intervals, we were covered in mud in minutes. There was still snow on the shaded slopes which made things interesting at times. After the workout, we attempted a trail Mel had recommended. It would have been great if not for the clay. I couldn't even get clipped in! We did see a few big cat prints - the size of my hand.... and they were pretty fresh - not melted at all. And that was enough for the day. The following day we stuck to black top - both because of the animals and the mud! The pavement road was even better for the intervals with 20 miles of steady climbing. We froze riding back down though - with a stiff and cold head wind and clouds covering the sun. I had to wait a while for my feet to unthaw before running!

Next time we visit,  we will better prepared with maps and some ideas to explore. We know where we need to look and there's a lot of trail potential. Whether or not the trails are there,  who knows. But the road riding is fantastic - both paved and dirt. And the quiet is worth it. Just focus on training and recovery without distractions. 

Dec 28, 2012

Southbound for silence

Time to get away from the world. A trip south to New Mexico to visit Nick's parents turned into four days away from the world. No cell coverage, no internet - just peace and quiet. I have to admit it was nice being disconnected from the world. I knew whatever happened in the Twitterverse and Facebook didn't matter. If someone needed to get a hold of me, they could leave a message. Awesome time for some relaxing and just chilling.

I've gotten so used to having my phone all the time, it was a little odd on the last half of the drive to be in radio silence. Of course, that was when we needed the phone. We knew most of the drive - just head south on I-25 to Socorro, then west on hwy 60. Overall, it was smooth sailing. So much faster in the Subaru then the turtle! A few snowflakes, some rain near Santa Fe, but we avoided the worst of the storm. Or so we thought... We were supposed to text his parents when we reached Datil. Well, just after Socorro we hit wind and black ice. I decided to text Jean and Nick to let them know we were going to be slow in the last bit.  No luck. Off the interstate and out of range. Awesome. Slow driving and no way to tell anyone.

It was black ice and wind with very slow driving all along hwy 60. I was getting tired but needed to keep my eyes on the road. Nick's parents had warned us about elk along the road. Luckily, we saw no elk but the herd of pronghorn antelope crossing the road was enough. About 40 of them - their white coats blending in with the blowing snow. A quarter of the herd was on the road, with the rest of them not far behind. I think it was the crunching of the tires on the snow that scared them because the antelope scattered. Jumping forward and back across the road, a path just big enough for the Subaru opened up between the animals. I'm not sure how we managed to not hit or get hit by one of them. It took a bit for our heart rates to come down!

Then came the hard part. Finding Nick's parents new house - a place we had only seen in small photos - at night. And we didn't have the pdf with the exact directions. We had a general sense of where we going, but nothing more. Go past this road about a mile and a half, turn right at the cemetery that doesn't look like a cemetery. We almost missed that turn. We pulled in, but it didn't look like a road and Nick stopped. Then I saw the head stones. Right road at least. We drove around for a bit -trying to find the right house. Christmas lights threw us off the most likely place. But after reaching the dead end and turning around I saw a figure in the window. Finally - we'd found the place. Time for three days of relaxing with family, some hard workouts and no technology interfering with the quiet.

Dec 25, 2012

Gift of Time

One of the best presents anyone can offer - the gift of time and a fun ride. At the start on my planned long and hard ride at CMSP, Nick and I decided to invite Mom along for her birthday ride. It's something we've done for the last few years - instead of getting her something she doesn't need, we've taken her out for a fun mountain bike ride. This year, it worked out that we could do it on her birthday, on a very beautiful day, in a quiet park, on some great trails. We always try to challenge her skills, encouraging her to try some new obstacles and work on her technique. It's been fun to watch her improvement and the increased confidence on the bike
Getting some pointers before trying a new rock section

Over the rock! Over the rock!

This year, with a new bike under her, we decided to challenge her even more. We rode up Boulder run instead of Coyote Run, working on her weight shifting and body position on the bike. Nick made her ride some sections she hadn't tried before and repeat some other little rock gardens. We then headed up to Blackmere. Couldn't get her to ride the rock slabs at the north entrance, but she was willing to try the rock slabs in the middle. Nick gave her some pointers, lined up the entrance and stood next to the rock to spot her. Good thing too...

Don't worry, I've got you!
After leaving Mom at her car, wishing her a Happy Birthday, it was  time to finish the rest of the hard ride. I didn't get my full time on the bike - two long weeks  in the garage left me tired - but it was a good day on the bike. I was struggling to keep up with Nick on the climb back up Blackmere - and I think he was soft pedaling up some of those grades. Despite my fatigue and feeling off on the bike, I tried the rock step at the north junction with Cougar's Shadow. I've been struggling with that section for the last two years. Riding south, I can get it easily. But riding north, I've wacked my bash guard, my bottom bracket, my pedals almost every time I've tried. Last time we went to CMSP, I didn't even try. But today, I decided to try it again. Over the first rock, down the second rock. This time, I gunned it coming off the bottom of the second rock slab. I think that was the different I needed - some speed to approach the huge rock step instead of slowing down. Up and over without any contact. Smooth and easy. Maybe I should listen to Nick a little more!

Dec 23, 2012

Cookie time!

I took cookie duty for a holiday party, which meant time to play in the kitchen! Which was a good thing, because I had something I wanted to try and a can of pumpkin in the fridge. Ended up with a pile of cookies - enough for the party, enough to eat and some for the freezer! Nick liked the pumpkin cookies best, but he's not a huge chocolate fan. Yes, I think he's crazy... So here's two cookie recipes that were a big hit in the Thelen house. Hopefully, the pumpkin cookies come out right - I was winging it with some extra pumpkin for the recipe and forgot to write down exactly what I did!

Double Rich Chocolate Cookies
Preheat oven to 300
Combine and set aside
                  2 ½ c flour (I use Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Flour)
                  ¾ tsp xanthan gum
                  ½ tsp baking soda
                  ½ c cocoa powder
                  ¼ tsp salt
In separate bowl, cream:
                  1 c packed brown sugar
                  1/2 c sugar
                  1 c softened butter
                  (6 York Peppermint Patties, softened - optional if you want a hint of mint)
Add and beat until light:
                  3 eggs
                  2 tsp vanilla
Add flour mixture and 2 c chocolate chips and beat at low speed
Drop dough onto cookie sheets 1 ½ inch apart
Bake for 18-22 min
Cool on flat surface

Pumpkin Spice Cookies
Preheat oven to 375
In large bowl, cream:
                 1 1/4 c butter, softened
                 1 1/4 c white sugar
Add to creamed mixture:
                 2 eggs
                 1 1/2 c mashed pumpkin (about 1 can)
                 1 tsp vanilla extract
In separate bowl, combine:
                 4 c flour
                 1 tsp xanthan gum
                 2 tsp cinnamon
                 1 tsp cloves
                 1 tsp nutmeg
                 1 tsp cardamon
                 1 tbsp baking powder
                 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
                 1/2 tsp salt
Combine flour mixture and pumpkin mixture, adding more flour if needed to get appropriate consistnacy to dough. 
Drop onto greased cookie sheet
Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown. These are soft and light cookies and don't spread much when cooking.

New Year - New Team... ProCycling!

2013 is looking like a fun year already. New races, new goals and a new look. We've got some fun adventures planned in addition to our classic events. I'm really looking forward to the different races and rides this year. It's going to be great fun seeking out new and awesome single track with my husband. I also have some big goals for the coming year. Its gonna be a lot of hard work, but I'm ready. And I have a great support crew to help me achieve those goals. But the biggest news is the new look for the coming year.

After the end of last season, Nick was thinking of some ways to make a little extra money after a very slow summer. He decided that working at a bike shop as a mechanic might be the best idea. Something different and a way into the bike industry. Well, the week after he talked to Brian at ProCycling, he landed a good, long term contract. So much for changing careers! But we were still talking about racing for a new team after leaving Ascent (They did a great job of supporting us over the last two seasons  and are a fun group of people. We wish them all the best in riding, racing and the shop.) One of Nick's best riding buddies, Todd, had just joined ProCycling -and there were plenty of other good reasons for us to submit our resumes. After many ride discussions in the Thelen house,  we made the decision. Time to talk to Bruce about the team.

So next year, we will be riding in the blue and yellow of ProCycling. I'm sure some of you have seen us cruising the single track in our new kits. It's exciting to be part of the team, to race with some good friends. It's also a great opportunity to emphasis the fun in riding, at all levels of the sport. 
 Working on some rocks in Limbaugh Canyon
Photo - Brad Baker

Dec 19, 2012

Holiday lights

One of my holiday traditions has been the Lights Run. I've done this for the last 10 years - run after work, late enough for people to get home and turn on their lights. I pick a day where I'm just running easy and turn it into a walking tour of the Christmas lights. No route, no designated distance - just following the glow of lights. It's great fun to head out at night in the crisp air and always a treat to see how people have decorated. There's a few really well done homes in my neighborhood this year, with simple but classy lights. I like the old school style - with the string of lights on the house and neatly wrapped trees. The dangling lights a lot of people use now are also really pretty and add a bit of dimension to the house. I'm also a fan of just a few colors - light blues and whites with maybe some blue or red for added visual impact. But that doesn't mean I don't appreciate the really outrageous  hundreds of lights in all colors that some people use! It takes a lot of work to get some of these houses decorated...

This year, I decided to bring my camera and try to get some photos of my favorite homes. I think it was a little cold for the camera to work well - the photos didn't come out great. And my fingers were getting a little chilly trying adjust the settings! So instead of a gallery of pretty Christmas lights, I only have a few to offer.
A little fuzzy - but my favorite color combination - white with wintery blues. And the deer grazing in the yard!

Wishing for joy upon a shooting star - this photo didn't come out as well as I would have liked.

The classic glowing tree - always a hit when well done like this tree.

Dec 17, 2012

To the Garage

It's that time of year again - time to hide in the garage with one goal. The foundation for next year's dreams are built right now, with every pedal stroke and foot step. The season starts early and to reach my goals winter is the time to work. I can't call it suffering because I love the effort and the reward later. That doesn't mean it's easy. Coach Adam knows my goals and will push me to the edge to reach them. So into the garage I go. Each workout has a purpose and next week's, next months efforts build upon the hours in the garage. If the weather is nice, I may take to the streets for the workouts but I like the garage.

No cars to distract me from the effort. No ice to worry about. Dressing for the workout knowing it won't start snowing on me. I love the trails and I will ride in most anything for a fun mountain bike adventure. But when on the skinny tires, I tend to be a bit more cautious. And right now, to capture the numbers we need to really lay the foundation I need to ride my road bike. I will read the plan on training peaks and groan, wishing for something fun. But I've had my easy days and my goof off weeks. Now is the time to work.

Because without the work and effort on my part, those dreams will remain nothing more then dreams.

Dec 10, 2012

Cheating Winter

Usually by the second weekend in December, the big rides are either snowed or iced in. Not so this year, but the snow was coming - at least according to the weather man. With that in mind, Nick sent out the text inviting the gang on what might be the final big day of the year. Hoping the pace would be chill enough for me, I packed up my Talon 11 with lots of water, food and warm clothes. I didn't know where we were headed, but I was ready for some fun. As we rolled out thru Stratton, the riding plans tossed around ranged from 666 and Section 16 to Jones-Pipeline or even Emerald Valley. All of which sounded fun - and long. Eventually, consensus voted for a truly epic day of riding UP Jones' Downhill, then down Pipeline.

And I knew I was in for some trouble and some long stretches of riding alone. While the guys were riding comfortable, I was just below my endurance race pace. The train of Nick, me, Matt T, Todd and Cameron quickly caught up with Kim - who decided to tag along for a while. I'm not sure she really believed that we were really planning on riding up Jones. While the rest of the group stopped and waited for me before Buckhorn, at the top and at the junction with 666 and Jones, Kim kept riding. She was looking for a steady pace ride and didn't want to wait. Nick and I met her again as she was coming down CrankCase Alley on Jones. Given the weather conditions at the top and the fact she had no spare clothes and only two water bottles - probably a smart move on her part.

There were times I was questioning my own sanity for deciding to keep on riding. Jones was super sandy and I was constantly spinning out. After stopping for a few minutes to feel sorry for myself (what was I thinking? I can't keep up with the guys - this is a joke. I'm holding everyone back - that kind of stuff) I let some air out of my tires and climbed back in my bike. Time to ride - not race. Stay smooth, even power and keep my weight on that rear tire. I knew the gang would wait for me, so settled in for a nice long ride up hill. Once I recovered my composure and started having fun, I was starting to ride more of the climb. Sure, I was still walking some sections and they were waiting about 5-10 minutes at most of the major intersections. But it was a nice day in mid December and I was out riding my bike. Just a steady pace climbing up and up and up. We did see a few riders coming down - they all looked pretty amazed to see such a big group riding up.

As we climbed, the temperature began dropping. I was comfortable while climbing, but each brief stop chilled me a little. I felt sorry for everyone else having to wait for as long as they did for me. I knew the minute we started going down, I would need almost every layer I had. Every time the clouds obscured the sun, we lost 15 or more degrees. Snow covered the trail as we climbed higher, the motorbike tracks leading the way. I was pretty happy on that last section of Jones - I managed to ride more then I thought I would, especially since I was beyond tired. A four hour climb was a little more then I was ready for! Nick ride back with me on that last section of Jones and I was very happy he did. I knew I would make it, but I was a lot more comfortable with him close by.

Finally - the junction with Pipeline. We took a quick stop to bundle up - warm gloves, over gloves, heavy jersey, gore jacket - the works. My pack felt so light when I was wearing all the clothes! No time to really catch my breath since we heard motorbikes coming and we did not want to be behind them for the descent. Then it was time to point our bikes down hill and have some fun! The trail was in great shape and and was trying my hardest to stay with Nick. And while I wasn't able to keep up, I did a good job with the descent. I actually managed to ride the whole Pipeline descent this time. I did unclip in two sections, but I was never off the bike.

Cam, Todd and Matt had waited a little lower down, where it was warmer. After a very short break - just long enough for some Gu Chomps, it was back on the bikes. And while I tried my hardest, I was dropped in about two seconds! Yep, even on my "fun" bike I cannot keep up with the boys on a descent. And then we turned down onto Seven Bridges. A long, loose controlled skid with more then a few rocks. I did unclip and walk a few longish chunks and was having a good conversation with myself coming down that. Onto Seven Bridges and I knew I was in for some hiking. I gave it a go, but some of the rocks and turns were too much for me. There was even one rock outcropping in the middle of the scree field that Nick unclipped for - I was so proud when I rode it, then Nick said something to me. Yikes - happy I hadn't looked down while on that section! It was a long drop down to the river and looked painful. There were a few more hiking sections, then the fatigue set in. I started making stupid, silly mistakes and wiped out three times. All three left some bruises. I was so happy to finally pop out on to Gold Camp. I'd survived my first trip up Jones and down Seven Bridges. I was also tired enough that riding road all the way home sounded like a great plan!

It was the perfect end to our long fall. I woke up to snow and near zero temperatures Sunday morning. I think the high mountains are out for the rest of the winter and trainer time is starting up. Maybe next time we set out for an adventure that big, I won't keep everyone waiting as long!

Dec 8, 2012

Exposing the trail with Exposure Lights!

One thing that all early morning or late night exercisers face is the darkness. Before we turn the clocks back in the beginning of November, I was starting and ending my runs before the sun peeked above the horizon. In years past, I hadn't used a head light at all - but I was running on well lit residential streets and didn't really need much additional light. Now, I'm running in Bear Creek park - with no lights at all and plenty of wildlife. Last year, I was using a tiny petzl light - just enough to kinda see where I was going, but not really enough to see anything else. And not being able to see meant I wasn't getting the quality workouts in. It's hard to run fast without knowing where that next step is going to land.  It was clear that I needed something brighter to be able to get the most out of my workouts before I headed to work. Too bad the Exposure Lights we use for night riding wouldn't work for running...

Or would they? Nick had just gotten the smallest light - the Joystick, which only weighs 3.5 oz and gives off a whopping 400 lumens on high. Only problem was I didn't have a headband that would work with the Joystick and I wasn't planning on wearing my cycling helmet running. Now what? Well, from my years of fixing the toes on our booties, I had plenty of elastic. Maybe I could make something myself. It would have to have fit snugly, but not super tight, not allow the light to wiggle at all, be comfortable on my head and have room for either a hat or head band. Oh, and there would need to be room for my ponytail, so a simple headband with a Mohawk design wouldn't work. So out came the elastic, marker and scissors. Time to get creative and see what I could come up with.  And after a few days playing with the elastic and my sewing machine, I had a decent prototype headband.
Might not look pretty, but it gets the job done!
First time I wore the Joystick running, I met a large group of runners going in the opposite direction. I felt bad for nearly blinding them - my light was so much brighter. It was awesome! I could see everything, be confident in my footing and be able to get the quality workouts I needed at the time that I had open to run. Nick liked my headband so much, he decided to take that one. So I came up with another design for the second prototype. A few more dark and pre-dawn runs and the second headband was ready to go for the big test. The Manitou Incline. With winter (supposedly) coming, Nick wanted to be able to do the Incline and he wanted to have the best lights available - both for going up and coming down Barr Trail. The little petzl might work for going up, but not for running down Barr. We had the Exposure Lights and that's want he wanted to use. So last Friday, we made our first trek up the Incline with the Exposure Lights. I had the Joystick and Nick was using one of the Diablos. And the headbands worked great. We could see everything, going up and coming down. I had no worries about missing a railroad tie or tripping on rock on Barr.
Ready for action with the Joystick Headband
Gotta leave some space for the ponytail!
 Mission accomplished - we're going to be rocking the Manitou Incline nearly weekly under the cover of darkness, with the Exposure Lights we use for 24 hour racing lighting the way!

Dec 5, 2012

Worth Getting off the Couch for...

Sometimes, getting off the couch is the hardest part about night riding. It's dark and cold and the last thing you want to do is go out into the elements.  I was feeling that way on Tuesday - comfortable at home, just wanting to be a lazy bum. But when Stacy texted to ask if I was planning on coming to the ride, I was tempted. Some of the group had a party on Thursday, so they were getting together Tuesday for some giggles under the stars. I usually try to avoid Tuesdays since the boys ride then. But Nick and I have plenty of lights. And with him getting ready to go rage the Canyon and attempt to tear the legs off his buddies, my motivation kicked me off the couch. It would be a great night to ride my bike! Really quick, I got ready to go and headed over to Palmer Park.

The girls were meeting at Lazy Land, but getting out of that parking lot is a nightmare for me. I just parked at the normal location and headed over. An unusual night at Palmer Park - during my 30 minutes of goof-off time while getting to Lazy Land, I didn't see a single person. Maybe the cold had scared everyone away! It wasn't freezing, but it was as nice as the prior nights. I had a few more layers on for sure. But the crisp air and the darkness was invigorating - so worth getting off the couch for! I played around for a little bit, working on my balance and some skills before dropping down Little Moab and heading for Lazy Land. Having that alone time, with just the trail in front of me, seems to be the best time for me to practice things. At Palmer Park, it's a matter of power, timing, balance and fitness - and all four are required to be able to ride smooth and fast. There's no distractions - just the ribbon of trail and the rocks lit up by my Exposure Lights. I can block everything else out and just focus. Under darkness, I also can forget about the consequences and just visualize the line I need to take.  And it's always nice when I can see the practice paying off by riding things I struggled with before.

But then I met up with the rest of the gang - and the mood changed from focused and serious to light hearted and fun. Sure, we were planning on riding some technical trails and working on skills, but the goal of the ride was just to have fun. And fun we had. We rode parts of the 24 hour course, took some detours onto social trails to play on the rocks and managed to get one girl totally mixed around. "How did we get back here" when we hit a rock garden for the second time that night! We practiced a few things - stopped to play with shadow puppets in our lights. I wish I'd had my camera for that one! Two riders shadowed onto a cliff 50 feet away, attempting to make hand puppets! I'm also sure we woke up a few people - between four girls, quiet was not the name of the ride. We were all talking, Stacy was giggling every time we hit a technical section and our lights lit up the night. By the time we got back to the main parking lot, everyone was agreeing that night riding was so much better than staying home and watching TV.

 I have also decided that night riding in Palmer Park during December is the best for seeing holiday lights. With the park smack dab in the middle of town, there's plenty of houses all lit up. Some of them were pretty elaborate too - a lot of effort made and we were able to enjoy it from the trails.

Dec 2, 2012

Running for a happy birthday - Rock Canyon Half

Me and the birthday girl at the start
Photo - Tim Bergsten
Not to me, but one of my friends! And how do we crazy mountain bikers decided to celebrate a birthday? By running a half marathon! I'd done the Rock Canyon Half Marathon down in Pueblo last year, and off and on for a few years before that - back when I was a runner. So when Kerri posted on Facebook that she was going to run it this year, I was all in on that. I was just hoping for better weather then last year's blizzard.

Well, the weather wasn't an issue at all. It's been a very mild November and the start to December proved to have more of the same. I did bring warm clothes with me and was planning on wearing a t-shirt and arm warmers and shorts. But it was already warm when I did my warmup - with just a slight chill in the breeze. It was perfect running weather. Running in shorts and tank top was a far cry from the layers and layers of clothes last year required!

My goal at the start was to run smart and run my own race, regardless of who else was there. Without a huge base of running miles, starting out fast would have led to serious suffering in the last few miles. When the gun went off, I surged a little, found my stride and rhythm and settled into solid pace. A little faster then I wanted, but I felt relaxed. I was also in the lead, but I didn't know by how far - and I wasn't gonna look around to find out! The first two miles were two flat loops around City Park, with plenty of spectators lining the roads. I paid more attention to the Garmin during those first two miles then the rest of the race  - trying to stay relaxed and run smart. After the drop down to the Arkansas River, I pretty much ignored the Garmin for the rest of the race - just taking my splits at the miles and the occasional glance to make sure the comfortable pace didn't slow too much.
Staying focused in the first mile
Photo - Tim Bergsten
Rock Canyon is a funny course. It's not a road race, but it's not a trail run either. There's four solid miles on blacktop and concrete to start out, then dirt road for a mile or so, then double track trail for two miles. Back to blacktop for the little lolly pop at the very end - right under the Lake Pueblo Dam, and then retrace steps back to the finish line. A mix of everything, with the changing in footing that comes with dirt roads and double track. This year, the terrain was great for running - just a little sandy in spots. Without having to worry about snow and ice, I was able to just focus on the running. My mile splits were right where I wanted them and I was gradually reeling in some of the guys around. At the Dam, I was able to take a quick peek around. There were some men around, but I couldn't see any women close by. I just needed to maintain the pace.
Almost at the Dam and over halfway done!
Photo - Tim Bergsten
Heading back to City Park is always fun. Despite being over halfway done and starting to get tired, the runners still heading out provide a lift. Lots of cheers, lots of encouragements and everyone telling me I was the first women. I tried to acknowledge as many as I could, even with just a nod or a little wave. But I was starting to get a little tired and the uneven footing required some attention. Expecting my first slow mile split as I approached 10 miles and I was pleasantly surprised. Still in the goal range! Now for the hard part - running fast in those last three miles when the longest I'd run all year was 10. My endurance was great from all the long distance mountain biking, but my legs were starting to feel the pounding of running. But at that point, it's an easy count down. Just three more miles, just go find mile 11 - still where I needed to be. Then just run to mile 12 - getting closer and holding the pace! And finally, crossing the Arkansas River again and facing up at the steep, kick in the pants climb to get back to City Park. This year, I did "run" the whole hill - and was able to pick up the pace for the last little bit. Mile 13 is at the top of that hill and I was very happy to make the right hand turn for the finish line.
Heading for the finish
Photo - Tim Bergsten

And very pleased with my time (1:28:30) and the win. I've never been able to win at the Rock Canyon - second last year was my best showing. But this year, I was able to run a minute faster and hold onto the lead I grabbed at the start. And that was on a lot less run training! We kept a few runs per week in for the entire year, but nothing serious. All the long distance mountain biking gave me the endurance to run the race without issues - I just needed a few weeks of focused speed to be able to feel comfortable running fast. But now it's time to focus on the bike again - another trip to the desert is coming up in two and half short months!