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Volunteering Rattlesnake!!!

I opted not to do the Rattlesnake Back2Back due to time commitment, but then I ended up volunteering for the sprint on Sunday so... go figure that one out? Anyways, it was a real fun time I had and volunteering at a race is always a blast.

The morning started out with Keith and Tom and I hanging by the swim beach soaking it all in. The sunrises out at the res are always awesome!
Another awesome sunrise at the res
Chillin' before the chaos begins
Then it was up into transition to start kicking people out and down to the beach. Here I ran into friends, including Michelle and Jon, whom I haven't seen all season. After catching up with them, I took on my volunteering duties and went to the swim beach to help out. Basically, I was letting people know the swim course and when (approximately) to get into the corral.
One of the best lane buddies a girl can have.
After making sure that everyone was safely in the corral, I headed over to the swim exit to lend my expertise in STRIPPING!!!  Get your mind out of the gutter... think this:
I have only been to 3 races with strippers and the other 2 were quite a lot longer distances, so I think that it is a real novelty to have wetsuit strippers at races and I was happy to help out.

And, boy did I have fun. I really do like to feel useful and this was position that allowed me to do so. Knowing the race mentality of some of the more competitive racers, I was all over helping out those who wanted to be quick and speedy. (Michelle even told me I was the best wetsuit stripper she had ever had. What an honor.) I got it down to a science of where to grab on the wetsuit and yanking just so to get the suits off with the least resistance and all.

But then there were also those racers who were stumbling up the beach, depleted after the swim, barely even able to get their wetsuit unzipped. Those racers I slowed down and helped out every which way I could. From unzipping, to helping get their arms out, to pulling it off. I did everything I could to get them in there and out of there efficiently without making them feel rushed.

It was awesome and I had such a fun time. The one thing I didn't realize about wetsuit stripping is you get COMPLETELY soaked. Like drenched. Water is flying at you from their wetsuits. When all was said and done, minus the mostly dry hair, I looked like I had just done the swim, seriously.
Your Rattlesnake stripper extraordinaires. You can't tell, but we are all soaked through.
After the last swimmer came through, it was onto the run to cheer people out onto the run and then a little bit later to the finish. I was excited to see the Ford family and catch a shot of Michelle as she headed into the finish looking strong!
Michelle finishing strong!!!
Is that a smile?
Then to hang with everyone else as the race finished. It was great to see all the Back2Back'ers and the smiles on their faces that they finished. It is a unique and interesting challenge and the race director always gives the back2back'ers something special. This year it was a very sweet running jacket and I was super-bummed I missed out on that! Next year...

While I didn't get to do the "official" back2back, I made my own back2back racing and volunteering!
Treat I found for the race... I thought it was appropriate.
Time to celebrate a great weekend!
Yum! If only every race could have a shot named after them.

Racing Rattlesnake!!!

This weekend is the weekend of EVERYTHING it seems - Leadville 100, Pikes Peak Ascent & marathon, Warrior Dash, age group nationals and...
 Rattlesnake is a two-day triathlon series out here at the Aurora Reservoir, and olympic on Saturday and a sprint on Sunday. Some people do the Back2back. I considered it, but at the time of signing up, didn't know if I could commit to both days, so I opted for the olympic.  Figured it would be a great training race for the Harvest Moon 1/2 Ironman next month, as HM is also in the res. Plus, our family loves the Aurora Res, our kids could dig in the sand forever.

So, Saturday morning it was off to the res for me. Since it was only a few miles, I rode in on my bike. It was a nice, relaxing ride at 6 in the morning with no traffic and a great little warm-up. I got there, into transition, found a few friends and then it was off on a short warm-up run. I timed it well, maybe a little too close, but it wasn't too hectic or stressed of an atmosphere, so all was good. I got down to the water just in time to dunk in before finding Ross and the kids and getting into the corral.

The swim is a time trial start, which I had never done before. Basically, they lined us up oldest to youngest, women first, then men. Everyone entered the water one at a time in 4-5 second intervals. This was actually very nice avoiding the mass chaos of a wave start. As I swam out, I realized that the buoys were strung together by a yellow rope. Sweet! Since I breathe to my right and the buoys were on my right, this was optimal for me. No need to sight, just keep the yellow rope right there by side. This worked well for the first lap, but then everyone caught on and there was a little more chaos the second loop around as now everyone was in the water. I still didn't mind it though. Looking to my right beat sighting into the sun AND I found some feet. Cool. I practiced drafting - not entirely sure if I was doing it right - but liking it. After awhile, I kept tapping the toes in front of me. I am sure the woman/man was probably annoyed and was thinking "just pass me already!", so I did. Around them I went and on my way. I was pretty happy with the swim as one of my weaknesses is sighting and swimming straight and I seemed to conquer it!

I got out of the water and Ross was there excited and cheering me on! (The boys were digging in the sand, go figure.) I ran up and through transition and off on the bike.

In Loveland earlier this year I realized I don't know how to "race" a bike. I just ride a bike course and when I am done, I am done. My goal for this bike was to be uncomfortable. Not redlining, but a bit out of my comfort zone. Thankfully, this course was FILLED with hills, so it was not an issue getting my heart rate elevated. I just had to keep it that way. And I did, so I was pretty proud of myself for that. Before I knew it, I was back at the reservoir and into T2. {Where I heard my kids screaming. "GO MOMMY!" - it is awesome having a small transition where the kids can watch and cheer!}

On with my race belt, run shoes and out on the course. I didn't really know what to expect, but I did want to run the second half of my run faster than my first, so I settled into what I thought I could maintain for 6 miles. And that I did. As I progressed, I wasn't feeling so good nutritionally. I tried to keep my heartrate in check where I could take on some water and calories without wanting to yack. It was a tad bit hot and my nutrition was off so I just continued doing what I could to make my way through the run. Again, I was on my way back before I knew it. I can do anything for 6 miles, right?

Hit the end and saw the kids in their swimsuits. They ran out to the shoot with me and were able to cross the finish line - all smiles!

I was done, yay! What I realized was that with the time trial start, I had NO CLUE what I had done, what time I had done, where I had placed, nothing. Hmph. And, figuring that I am never the "fastest" at shorter distances and such, I just went along figuring I was somewhere in the middle of the pack - like usual... I got some food, hung out with some friends, the kids, enjoyed the post-party (which was a nice set-up).

It wasn't till the results were posted that I realized I placed - 2nd in my age group! This is fun for me. I haven't placed in anything in triathlon, ever. I have plenty of friends who do. All the time. But, me, well... it's not really a consideration. But today it was. And that felt good and I was proud of my accomplishment for me.
Accepting my award with Yon, announcer and friend.
Krista and I with our age group awards (and Lincoln who wants to be in every pict)
And then, of course, was an afternoon of playing at the beach!!!
All you have to do is bring sand toys and my kids are in heaven.
The two reservoirs + two cities they created next to the big reservoir.

Copper Triangle Ride

It is no secret that biking is my weakness when it comes to triathlon. I haven't been riding it for very long and I have been enjoying it for even less of that time. I have been riding just over two years and not until last summer did I real find a joy in riding, and mostly that is when I am in the mountains. I found that out a little more with all of our training for the Triple Bypass. Give me a spin ride - no fun. Give me a long ride up a few mountain passes - I can't wait to do it!

So when the RMTC announced they were going to do a self-supported ride of the Copper Triangle, I put it on our calendar as a must do. The Copper Triangle is a "classic Colorado ride" that goes over 3 passes - Fremont, Tennessee and Vail, totaling 80ish miles overall.
What a good looking group we have. Who's that handsome fellow in the gray?
 As we got ready for the ride, we were briefed by Peter, who was going to ride along with us, take pictures and be a sag. (Check him out, he is an awesome photographer and all-around nice guy!) We were instructed "not to smile" the whole day, but I wasn't really good at it.
There I am, accidentally smiling. In my defense, so is Julie.
Up Fremont Pass was good. I was worried I might be chilly, as I had forgotten a riding coat, but you start of climbing right away, so I warmed up almost immediately. Fremont is just plug, plug, plug. I was amazed at how well everyone stuck together at the beginning and there was loads of conversation all around - always makes time pass quicker. As the pass got longer, it thinned out a little bit.

At the top of Fremont we regrouped, but I couldn't find Ross. As almost everyone was up, and the group started off again as Ross rode up. He had twisted his ankle a few weeks ago and this was his first real exercise since and he wasn't feeling it. We talked and he decided to go back down Fremont, get the van and follow us as a sag. {This turned out to be a tremendous help and mental relief for the ride.}

Left without the group, I had some serious catching up to do. I went down to Leadville, turned and started up Tennessee Pass. I climbed and climbed, probably pushed harder than I would have had I been with the group, but I just didn't want to be left behind. As I got part way up Tennessee Pass, I started catching some people and that was a relief, plus it was fun having people to talk to. At the top of Tennessee, I found the masses. Yay!
What an awesome picture of the group climbing. Me = still trying to catch up.

Arriving at the top of Tennessee (I think)
Hey! Hey! The gang's all here. Top of Tennessee Pass.
Then it was down to Minturn. Along the way, there were some mechanical failures, a couple cables broke. Joe came along and fixed one, Julie ended up jumping in the Peter's car and along came Ross. I was happy to see him. But I was even happier to be descending!
It's always fun going DOWN!
You can't beat views like this. I LOVE CO!

Once we were in Minturn, it was time to refuel and we descended on a gas station. I am not sure they knew what hit them with that many people coming in, buying Gatorade, using the restroom, refilling water bottles, etc. 

We also took the opportunity to do a group shot for Honey Stinger,
one of our sponsors who gave us plenty of fuel for the ride.
After Minturn, we were off and rolling. Everyone kind of was at their own pace, and I was loosely following Michelle, Bill and Matt through Vail. We came to a roundabout and I lost sight of them. Since they weren't directly ahead, I assumed that they went around the roundabout to the north frontage road. (Side note: I had told Patty I just *knew* I was going to get lost in Vail and she told me to "just stay on the frontage road".) So when I got to the roundabout and saw a sign directing me to the north frontage road, I thought I was money. Took it and off I went, looking for more RMTC'ers. Aways down the north frontage road, I looked over and saw a bunch of jerseys on the SOUTH frontage road. THE OTHER SIDE of 70. Zoinks! How was I going to get over there? Back to the roundabout, around and up. I was certain I was REALLY far behind everyone now. Oh well.

On the east side of Vail, I came across Ross waiting for me. :) I stopped to talk to him and made sure I was on the right route. He said I was. As we were talking, another Michelle passed and I hurriedly kissed him goodbye as I told him "I need someone to follow so I don't get lost". (Have I mentioned how much I HATE getting lost?)

So from there on out, it was plug, plug, plug up the mountain. Now, this was my second time up Vail Pass. The first time was on the Triple Bypass in the rain and I flatted twice on it - it was horrible. This time I was on tired legs and feeling a little down nutritionally, but determined not to make it so bad.

As I made my way up Vail I realized how I really don't like it, but in honor of the promise I made to myself to make it better this time around, I had to learn to love it. Love it like an annoying little brother (which I can say because I don't have a little brother). Vail is a bike path so it is not graded like a road is graded. It has very steep pitches at points, which makes for the "annoying" part, but in learning to love it, I had to realize there is a fair share of not so steep pitches that allow your hear rate to settle down after climbing those steep pitches. So... you take the good with the bad. And I did. I used this opportunity to look around, take some pictures and enjoy what I could. It was hard, but definitely worth it.
View going up Vail Pass.
Could it be? Am I leveling out? Is that the top in sight?
I reached the top of Vail, happy and little depleted on the salt (note to self: TAKE SALT, even on overcast days/not-so-hot days). From the top of Vail it is alllllllll downhill, which is precisely what I like. Ross and I always call it our "reward" for climbing the mountain- the descent!

When I got to Copper, Ross was waiting for me with a cup of soup and a sandwich. I immediately wanted the soup, he told me to wait a minute and I told him, "no, NOW!" (normally not so rude to my husband - I swear). He handed it over and I drank the broth straight from the soup - no spoon or anything. It was the salt. I needed it. And I felt amazingly good after it. Enough to sit around, chill and have a few recovery drinks - Mix1 and Sierra Nevada's - both club sponsors... I ask you can this club get any cooler? Oh, wait, yes they can. Because then it was dinner and drinks at Old Chicago with not only Sierra Nevada, but 109 other beers. :)