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5 Days And Counting...

I have been waiting for this weekend for awhile. Don't believe me?
My official countdown started 80 days ago...
It actually started way before that, but that is when I started to put it on paper to really focus to keep myself motivated. I am a visual person, so it helped. (Another trick I did is here.) Seeing the mileage go up gave me confidence and a sense of accomplishment. If I were to doubt myself, I just look at my training. 

People have been asking how I am feeling?
My mom was astonished when I talked to her on Sunday that I wasn't frazzled - both for the race and the planning, packing, etc. and I thought about this and figured out why...

Did the research.
There are a number of resources you can tap into to prepare yourself for any race: internet, blogs, friends, books, etc. Not only can you research the actual race, but on all the components that might affect you as well on race day: long distance nutrition, running in heat, running up hill, etc. Thankfully, Comrades has a great website and numerous fanatics, so information was not at a minimum. I have read articles, reached out to Comrades veterans, grilled friends on their ultra experiences, etc. to help gain some insight on how to make this a successful day for me. 

Did the training.
No matter what you are training for, there comes a time when no matter what you do from there to raceday, it's not going to matter. At this point, you need to sit back and trust your training.

Mentally ready.
To me, I have been thinking about this for the past 6-9 months, so I pretty much have it in my head what I want to do. I have thought about all the "what if"s and thought about how I would answer them.
I think that is an important thing for each athlete, to have in your head what you want to do and how you are going to do it. It's the unknowns that make me nervous and, in this case, I have eliminated a number of the unknowns and feel prepared to handle those that come my way.

Ready to take what the day gives me.
All the factors above make it really easy for me to roll with what the day gives me. I feel like I have done everything in my power to prepare myself and now it is just a matter of putting my body to the test and seeing what happens.

So here I sit. Ready to Roll.

Running Collegiate Peaks

What better way to top out a weekend in Buena Vista without a little jaunt up into the mountains?

I missed the Collegiate Peaks Trail Run by a weekend, so I thought I would just run the course. After all, I had all the information on how to do it. The race itself is one or two 25-mile loops depending on which distance you register for. And, for those of you not familiar with it, it is a doozy of a climbing race.
Elevation map ~ 8,000 - 9,400 ft.
 Sunday morning I woke up and just prayed the weather - and my body - would hold up on me for my last long training run before Comrades. Ideally, I wanted to do a 25 mile loop and then an out-and-back somewhere between 10-15 miles more.

I started out with cloudy skies and cold weather and just plugged along. With the weather, the beautiful scenery was muted and, honestly, I was more worried about what the day would bring me. I ran a mile into town and then started the course. As I ran back out of the town, I settled into a nice pace. I got to where the road turns to dirt road and it wasn't so bad. Whew! Looks like the rest would be runnable.

Got to mile 3.5 and realized I was supposed to hit a trail. Couldn't find a trail, so I ventured up the fire road more. Then onto another road and hit the trail I wanted to be on. While trail is ALWAYS fun, there were a lot of steep ups and downs (more so than the fire road). What it made me extremely aware of were my quads and how much they hurt on the way down.

 I looked up and... was that snow up there?
 Surely I wasn't going to go up that high.

I continued on and hit about mile 7.5 and found the water Ross and I had left. Then it was my first real downhill. Yay!
But as you can see by the elevation map above. All good downhills are only followed by uphills. And there was definitely plenty of that on this course. So, up, up, up I went.

I guess I was going that high. Snow. Seriously? It was 70 the day before down below.

As I continued climbing I really worried about my quads and the second half of the loop. Not so much the uphills, but I knew there was a long, STEEP downhill towards the end of the loop and I was worried about my quads. They were already screaming at me. So instead of looping around, I opted for an out and back and turned myself around at little over 13 miles.
Turn around point
As I headed back I realized a little HOW MUCH I had gone up. I now had gravity on my side and watched my average pace tick down. Never as much as you want, but down none-the-less. I was VERY happy to see my water station again. Refilled and on my way. About this point, I realized how much my legs hurt. A lot. It was odd because generally it is something else that hurts, but today it was my legs. 
On the way down. I look like I feel. Tired.
 As I bottomed out and headed back to town, I really assessed my leg situation and weighed my options. My nutrition was good, so I had the energy, but was it worth it? Once I hit the 25-mile mark where Ross was to meet me, I called Charley to chat and we decided to cut it short. Probably the best decision EVA. Two weeks away from my race I really did not want to do anything stupid or push myself too hard. I had had a good climbing run at 8,000 - 9,250 ft and worked on my nutrition (one of my major goals). It was time to call her quits and finish her up in the morning. I was happy and so was my family.

From there, it was some chili, Mix1 and onto the hot springs for recovery.

As for the run the next day - the "last" 15 miles - KILLED IT. And I feel great about it! 

Ordinarily, I think I would have felt like a failure for not completing my 35-40 mile goal that I set out to do, but I don't. 40 miles on that course so close to my race was an ambitious goal. I am proud of what I did do and that I had the wherewithal to do the right thing in this situation. As I was told by a Comrades veteran the next day, "You probably saved your Comrades by stopping when you did."

Here I sit 12 days out from Comrades. Tapering and ready for whatever the day brings me. That run may have taught me more about myself than my legs, nutrition, etc. It taught me to (smartly) go for a lofty goal and if, by chance, it doesn't happen then to be very proud of what you do achieve. I have put in the training and the day will be bring me what the day brings me. No regrets.

Ross' Xtreme Adventure!!! (race)

After Ironman, Ross really didn't feel like racing for awhile. He had had his share of swim/bike/running to last him a lifetime. Or so he thought.

This past winter Ken decided to ask him to do an adventure race and... game on!

Adventure Racing involves a number of disciplines that all vary depending on the race, but what they all DO include is finding (a) your own course and (b) multiple checkpoints over the course, which make it in the "not for me" category. I like WELL-MARKED courses and I HATE being lost.  But, I DO love supporting my husband in his endeavors and new places, so staying home was not really an option.

So, it was off to Buena Vista for us this weekend. For those of you who have never been here, it is GORGEOUS! It is about 8,000 feet in altitude with fifteen 14'ers in view. It's beautiful just about any way you turn.

Friday evening, Ross and Ken went to the pre-race meeting and got all their info. Fortunately, Lori came along as crew (as I would have no clue what I was doing) and Friday night night was devoted to a good dinner and the guys getting their logistics together.

Saturday morning was off and to "downtown" Buena Vista.  I let Lori and the guys go ahead to get all situated. Believe it or not, traveling with our kiddos can be a little distracting.
I know this picture is blurry, but I like it b/c it kinda captured Ross' pre-race jitters before we arrived.
He didn't know I was there. 
I think having the boys there actually helped.
Last minute plotting of where they think they need to run for their race.
Before the big dance
And off they go
They started off running and had to navigate up trails and such, visiting checkpoints along the way-- if they miss a checkpoint, they have to go back and find them before they are allowed to go to the next leg. The only thing anyone knows is where the transition to the next leg is. So that is where I took the boys.
Ross and Ken heading in to the transition after running for 1:07 up trails and through the mountains.
Ross' run report: Very challenging, but scenic and beautiful.

The guys were both in good spirits after the run and thankful to be done. They quickly changed into rain gear. I can only imagine how cold that water was. Yikes. Now it was off to the kayak.
All decked out

Down to the water
 Here is where my camera battery died. Ultimate bummer. I really wanted to get some picts of them getting into the water. The river was high and the rapids looked not-so-nice. Regardless, I was excited for them and their trip. Ross had never kayaked before, so this was gonna be interesting.

After putting in, we rushed to the next transition. With the water running so high, we figured they would be done pretty fast... and they were. About 40 minutes later I spotted Ross' neon yellow jacket paddling up to the shore. Again, both in high spirits. I guess a number of racers had rolled, so they were happy they managed to keep upright through the whole ordeal. Success!

This transition, Lori and I had a bit of trouble putting Ross' wheel on, so we thought he knew the "secret", but he did not. Oh no! Lori and I put on our biggest puppy dog eyes and asked another team's support crew if they could help us out with Ross' bike (they totally looked like they knew what they were doing). And they did. Thankfully they were able to do a short-term fix for Ross' bike- a feat I will forever be grateful for. Lori offered them money but they would not take it by any means. I love nice people. So, after a 35 minute transition, Ross and Ken were on their way to their last leg.
For me, I took the kids to a park, had a picnic and charged my camera battery. Then it was off to the finish line to cheer them in.

Ross' Bike Report: A little technical, a lot of climbing, exciting/the downhill was very fun. Glad they didn't miss the last checkpoint and have to go back UP (like some other teams).
Riding through the finish line together!

Boys VERY proud of their father

Glad to be done. Smiling, just like they were all day!
Time for some recovery drink
Mixes just right with post-race food