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Behind the Rocks 50k... And Beyond!

What a day! What a day! Actually, what a trip!!!
We are back from Moab – our family Spring Break trip – and I realized that this was my sixth (yes, SIXTH!!!) time there, but the first with the kids! (more on that later)
We planned the trip around my Behind the Rocks 50k, which took place on the Saturday, March 25th. I can’t recommend this race enough. It was super fun and just a great event.

On Friday, we traveled into Moab and, before we even hit the hotel we were out and climbing on stuff. First up, a giant sand dune.
Climbing up
View from the top of the dune!

After that it was onto the hotel to de-sand (ha! not possible) and onto packet pickup where I met up with Cindy (my coach) and we chatted about expectations and what to focus on.

The next morning, we were up early and it was cold. But I knew the sun would come up and I would warm up. And that I did.
Before the sun comes up!

The race began and I was off! Since I felt like last year I just ran, ran, ran, walk, walk, walk - ed, I REALLY just wanted to run this race all the way through (well, for the most part). So when the race started, off I went, at a real reasonable and easy pace.

The first couple miles are on a jeep road and I realized the sun was coming up behind me, so I stopped and took a picture.
I continued on, just plugging along and trying to figure my stuff out. I do the best is when I have clear goals in my head, so here's where I really melded one together. (I know, a little late, but better late than never.)

My Goal: Get to the end running most/all the way and feeling good and strong at the end.

My Strategy:
Miles 1 - 16: Just plug along. Keep my heartrate nice and light and just enjoy the views (this is a REALLY beautiful race).

Miles 16-24 : Push, but not too much. This was the  hard part - climbing out of one technical canyon and then up another one. I needed to push here and keep moving/running along. Walk when I must, but run everything else.

Miles 24-30: Keep it even. Now that I was out of the climbs and onto rolling terrain, just keep my heartrate even - push a little harder on the ups and recover on the downs.

Miles 30 - 32: Bring it home. Whatever I had left, I was going to use and just get. to. the. end.

Since I was just plugging along for the first half, here's some pictures of my first 16 miles:
After the first 2 miles, the trail turned to trail (not jeep road) and was more like this...

Which just made the views AMAZING!!!

Coming out of the first aid station. (I had a volunteer take my picture before I started running. Again.)

Don't be fooled - that looks WAY PRETTY, but was also lots of SAND that I had to slug through.

Still Happy at this point

I am not sure what that thing is in the distance, but I think it's famous.

This was in the last canyon we had to run DOWN before the halfway point!
It was steep and scary with much bouldering and scrambling here. 

So, I got to halfway and... no Ross or kids. :(
BUT, as I was filling up my waterpack, they drove up and jumped out only to tell me how great I was doing!!! Evidentally, I went faster than they planned, hence, the late entrance. I'll take that as a compliment.

Halfway - YAY!

After that, I knew that I was gonna tackle the hard part, so no more pictures. I worked on getting my way up and out of the canyon I was in. This part of the race was super technical and scary and, at one point, I was so stuck I couldn't get up a ledge without help from someone coming down - those short, little legs, I tell you. BUT, I will say, I enjoyed going up more than the scariness of coming down. 

Once out off of the Hunter Canyon Rim Trail, it was up Prichard Canyon (more climbing). I pushed when I could and walked when I had to. And... soon enough I was at the next aid station - YAY again. 

From there, it was rolling terrain and I ran a lot with another girl who we had been pacing close together the whole time. That was nice and kept my mind occupied, even if it caused extra exertion - hey, you pick your battles.

At mile 28, we had a SURPRISE aid station -- which was nice! But I think I ate a little too much (or the wrong thing) and didn't feel quite right coming out. It felt like it took me awhile to really get back up to speed, but now looking at the course profile, could have also been that I was going up and thought I was going flat. Either way, I hit mile 30 and was ready to rock'n roll. 

Mile 30 till the end is rolling downhill terrain, coupled with the fact that I KNEW I was CLOSE to the finish, I just booked it on in (using that term loosely, as I was only doing 10-min miles, at best). You see the finish from about .75 mile out, so I was just wanting to go-go-go till I got there. And THIS time, Ross and the kids were waiting for me!!!

World's Best Finish Line Pacers!

Can't say enough for my AMAZING BOYS!!!

So, there you have it. Step #2 in my Journey to Leadville. 20 weeks out and still loving the training. I am excited to tackle the next phase and also my first 50 miler this season. 

(It's a countdown - the numbers are counting weeks till races.)
Overall, I had a great race, finished faster than anticipated and also stronger than anticipated. In addition, my legs were good to go as early as the next day! We went mountain biking and all was great!

This was only the start to a totally fun Moab trip with the boys, where we basically spent 5 days climbing up, around and on anything possible. Rocks, sand dunes, canyons, arches, you name it. Basically, MY KID'S DREAM COME TRUE!!! 

Bicycle Tour Colorado -- Well... half of it!

Bicycle Tour Colorado is a week long bike tour around Colorado. For those of you who don't really know what that is, basically, you bike from town to town over a week and the "tour" sets up the route, aid stations, transports your luggage in between, etc. to make it all possible.

When Ross said he wanted to bike more this year, we set it out as our goal to do it together. That, along with the support of our awesome parents (who came to watch the kids), made it possible. Here is the route:

Leading up to the tour, we did a lot of training together and had a lot of fun on our bikes together...

Then, the morning that we had to check-in for the tour, Ross woke up SICK! He tried to sleep it off that morning, we packed up, headed up to Breckenridge to check-in, and then he slept more. Sometime that night, Ross' fever broke (we thought) and Sunday he woke up determined to do this tour (we HAD been training for it for 6 months or so). So, off we went...
Heading out at the "official" start
Riding with my honey
First Aid Station, that's Copper Mountain behind us.
Ross was doing well, but some of his symptoms were coming back. From here, we took it REALLY slow up Fremont Pass (like there is another way to do it). But we still made it!

Ross was really hurting by now (sickness, not out-of-shapeness), so we just focused on getting down the pass and to Leadville.

We did and made it to our hotel where Ross sacked out for the entire night and his condition just got worse. Knowing this, we/I (since Ross was knocked out) had some decisions to make. SAG was an option... but not really. It would not be comfortable for him to SAG the following day in the heat with nausea. SO, the following morning, I woke up early and rode back to Breckenridge by myself, got our car and then drove back to Leadville to pick up Ross (all before 10 am).

From there, it was rest and recovery in Breckenridge for Ross. While he was sleeping it off, I tried to get some good riding in.
Top of Vail Pass - I rode it both ways one day.
Top of Ute Pass - possibly one of my favorite views in Summit County!
When Ross recovered, he insisted we try to salvage the end of the trip. So... come Wednesday, it was off to Crested Butte! The tour had their rest day there on Thursday to which we went on an awesome hike!
Start of the hike
Hiking in between Aspen forests!

Mt. Crested Butte behind us
Wildflowers starting to bloom - we're about 2 weeks early for the season!

And then on Friday, we got back to riding!
I took off with the tour, Ross drove to the end and rode backward to meet us. I went through Cottonwood Canyon (so pretty!) and then up to Cottonwood Pass!
View of reservoir on way up to Cottonwood Pass
Patty, Julie and I at the top of Cottonwood Pass
Hanging with our new friend in Salida
Saturday, we took of together riding with our friends when Charley's derailer broke 12 miles into the ride. Knowing this, Ross rode back, got the car, picked up Charley and his bike and then they met us at the 2nd aid station. From there, Ross and I rode the rest of the way together while Charley drove our car to the end (thank you, Charley!).

It was a hard ride, but one that I will treasure forever. It was long and uphill, BUT well worth the views and time. Basically, I had been looking forward to riding with my hubby in the mountains and showing him what I had the opportunity to do a few years ago... and this was our chance to do that. True, it wasn't a full week of riding, but we took what we got and we made it count. This week made me realize how lucky I am to have a partner in life that treasures the same things I do and is willing and wanting to make things happen. Over the week, we got stronger as a couple and stronger as riders.