I am here.
I arrived in Leadville today. It seems like the last month has been a whirlwind. This is it. This is the true test. I’m not going to spend a lot of time rehashing the past but I will just provide some hi-lights since it is important to know the whole journey.
My next big event after base camp in May was a 100 mile mountain bike race on June 6th. It was 10 x 10 mile loops near Green Bay called Stump Farm. I came in 2nd in my age group out of 2. It took me 10 hours and 30 minutes. Yes, I spent over 10 hours on my mountain bike. It was not as technical as the Greenbush 100 miler I attempted in May. But there were some tough sections, especially between miles 6-8 where it was like riding on a wash board – very tough on the body. My dexcom fell out about 4 hours into the race so tested the rest… I calculated that I consumed about 36G carbs per hour. I used UCAN in my bottle but also ate a variety of bars and blocks. I didn’t reduce my basil and basically tested at about 100 every few hours… I was quite pleased with the race and my blood sugars. As much as I think UCAN probably works I’m not sold on it, I wish it had different flavors. I will say I had a couple of mechanicals… chain suck where I had to spend some time trying to wrench my chain out of the derailleur. I finished, collected my medal washed up and got in the car to drive home. Unfortunately on my way home I hit a deer. I had never killed anything before it was very upsetting. Not only that Tom’s car was wrecked. I had to get towed all the way from Sheboygan, WI to home a $600 tab. I got home at about 2am absolutely exhausted. We had planned on doing the Tour de Cure Chicago on Sunday but without a car we decided to not go. The race was a great confidence booster knowing that I had spent over 10 hours in the saddle on rough terrain and finished 100 miles.
The next weekend was the Horribly Hilly Hundred a ride that started in Blue Mounds State Park, Wisconsin. We (VQ’ers) were told to do the ride on our road bikes rather than our mountain bikes because doing so on the mtn bike would be too hard. We were told that if we could do the HHH then we could do Leadville. It was 10,000 feet of climbing over 200 K. I finished in about 10 hours. So add 20% for altitude and that puts me at 12 hours for Leadville. Just in time to get a buckle. My plan was to practice my nutrition and I had filled my camel back with enough food for the whole ride but ended up munching at the aid stations, having sandwiches, pickles, chips and other goodies. Again it was another confidence builder considering I had a crazy work week, dealing with the disappearance of the Team WILD founder Mari Ruddy and arriving at my hotel on Friday night only to find out that they had given my room away. I slept in their back room behind the check in desk. I did the ride on very little rest. My carbs per hour were about 40 g/hour again no basil decrease and a couple of mini boluses. Another dexcom fail due to disorganization, I heard the monitor beeping in my car in the morning but for the life of me I couldn’t find it… knowing I hadn’t lost it and that time was ticking I went again sans dexcom, very annoying.
That week I left for Camp WILD (WE INSPIRE LIFE WITH DIABETES). This was the same group that I had done IM Wisconsin with. This time I was helping to coach a group of athletes ranging in all ages and abilities. It was bitter sweet to arrive given the news that Mari, the founder had been found and had tried to take her life with the very drug that keeps us alive. Insulin. I had made the decision to drive to Colorado given that I was going to be there for 2 ½ weeks and had to transport my mountain bike. So I packed the bug up after work on June 18th and said a teary good bye to Tom and Ruby. The drive was pretty brutal it was 2 am before I got to the hotel I had booked in Nebraska. I’m pretty sure there were some points where I actually may have closed my eyes. I slept in my room for 3 ½ hours in order to get up early enough to make it to Boulder in time for the camp start. Let’s just say that there was lots of caffeinated beverages drank. I arrived in Boulder as did the athletes. I won’t go into the camp in this post because it would take too long. There are lots of great pictures and experiences to share let’s just say that it was a very powerful and emotional experience. I was completely and utterly honored to have been in the company and to be given the chance to help these other T1 diabetic athletes. It was an amazing experience. Many friendships were forged in those 5 days of camp.
We were lucky to have Allen Lim give the opening speech to camp. I had seen him speak in the past at Vision Quest. I could seriously listen to him speak all day long. He is so insightful about nutrition and athletics. I have learned two valuable lessons from each of the times that I have heard him speak. The first time he spoke about the word “should” and how it shouldn’t be part of an athlete’s vocabulary. You should never say “I should ride in the morning” either do or don’t. This last time we learned to “Trust the Struggle” where he spoke of elite athletes who when training don’t look nearly as in control as they do in races… they are struggling and look a mess just like you and me! Trust that the struggle will make you stronger. This alone has stuck with me throughout this trip especially in light of my recent doubts regarding the Leadville race. Allen wrote this recent blog which I thought was amazing: – http://bit.ly/TrustTheStruggle . Also if you haven’t seen his cookbook for athletes, get it. He is a big believer in eating real food vs. bars and gels etc. http://www.skratchlabs.com/collections/food/products/feed-zone-portables
While we were in Boulder Chris Navin (who also was one of the coaches) and I did a couple of rides. Chris had picked one of the hardest climbs in Boulder to do (of course). According to the website if you are going to climb anything in Boulder climb Flagstaff. So we woke up early one morning got on our rented road bikes and headed out to the climb. Starting at 5,000 feet the ride took us up to 7,500 in just over 4 miles. We both were heaving at the top and felt light headed with the elevation. The grades near the end got pretty tough. Of course he was whipping up and down and riding circles around me.
The next ride took me up four mile canyon. This one I did on my mountain bike, a bit easier with the mountain bike gears. It was about 3,700 feet of climbing in 2 hours. On the way up there was a teeny tiny town where I stopped t o take a few snaps. I also caught a deer staring me down and I thought for sure this was a relative of the deer I killed and he was going to charge me!
On the second to last day of camp I was to help out on the trail run. I left the trail run experts to run ahead and I stuck behind for a slower group and ran back and fourth a bit. Well, apparently you can’t run as fast on trails. I fell, and fell hard. My knee was heavily bleeding. I continued the hike/ run with a couple of the athletes only feeling the bleeding knee. By the time I got back to camp and the adrenaline was gone I realized I couldn’t move my arm. My shoulder was in a great deal of pain, so much so that I contemplated going to have it checked out. This did not sit well given that I had Leadville camp in a couple of weeks. I dressed my bleeding wounds, drugged up on ibuprofen and went to bed. By the morning it felt slightly better but really for the following week I wasn’t able to put much pressure on it. I was able to ride however getting on and off the bike wasn’t easy. I had also bruised my toenails!
I was able to ride, however getting on and off the bike wasn’t easy. I rode the flagstaff ride again, hit Marshall Mesa a mountain biking trail system outside of Boulder this was the first time I had been on trails in a while and was definitely an awakening as I realized once again the difficulty of trails over road. I then headed out with Tony, Karen Lipinsky’s man on Friday night on the Betasso Trail.
This is where everything turned to shit. It was more technical than anything I had been on lately. Tony zipped up the rocks with no problems where I walked. On one of the descents I lost control on a curve and crashed into a very large tombstone type rock. My handle bars went one way and my wheel went the other, my grips also broke and I landed on the same arm that was finally feeling better. This certainly didn’t help my fears and doubts any. The rest of the ride went ok. The next morning Tony arranged for a few of his friends to come with me to Breckenridge where we were going to ride part of the Breckenridge 100 mountain bike race. We left Boulder at 7am and started on the trail at 10am. I started off with a steep switch back incline. I started to think that I was in serious trouble. It just went up and up and up. Long story short I was very cautious on some of the steep rocky downhills and had to walk up some of the 18% plus grade rocky sections, the hills didn’t really bother me , just the technical rock garden stuff. We ended up riding 5 ½ hours and covered only 32 miles. We had planned on 68 we just ran out of time. I really started to wonder what the hell I was doing. I know I have had doubts in the past but this time I really was questioning if I should even do this race.I didn’t eat too much on this ride which meant I lugged around a few pounds of bars for nothing! With so many ups and downs it was hard to get a chance. After I got back, I emailed my coach who assured me that Leadville was not as technical as Breckenridge. Whew!
From Breckenridge I headed to Vail where I was staying with my friend Clare from Chicago. She had moved to Vail from Chicago… lucky girl. Let me say, that I LOVE Colorado. I arrived at Clare’s which was a pretty chalet type house sitting on the side of a mountain.
I worked from her front room looking onto mountains with a nice breeze coming in the window. Clare’s dog Beacon had had some surgery and the poor thing was wearing a cone. Spending time at Clare’s was the much needed escape from biking that I needed. The day after I arrived we went on a hike with a few of her friends. We hiked for 2 ½ hours and climbed 2,500 feet. The best part was that enjoyed an amazing buffet brunch at the top and got to take a gondola down! On the hike we saw some pretty amazing scenery.
The next day we worked then went to the local amphitheatre where the Dallas Symphony Orchestra played Beethoven’s 5th. We packed some great snacks and drank sparkling rose out of champagne glasses. It was fabulous and just what the doctor ordered!
We both had some pretty long days of work and just laid low the rest of the time. I didn’t get on my bike once.
This brings me to today. Today I arrived in Leadville. After a short ride on the Mineral Belt Trail I noticed my shoulder was quite painful. The ride is pretty and got the blood flowing. The trail was interesting and had historical points of interest telling the story of the old Leadville mining days in the 1900’s. You could really get a sense of what I must have been like back then. After the trail I stopped to get some pizza and explored the town a bit. I can’t wait to hit the main street tomorrow, it seriously looks like something from the wild wild west. LOVE IT!!!
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