Here is part 2 of my 3 part TransRockies race report.
Day 3: “I breathe the air of faith and pain And hear what they say”…. “Back to the Sheep!”
The longest stage of the race was upon us, my partner needed the day off to try and shake the altitude sickness. I would be going solo, during the first three days of TransRockies, you had the possibility of going solo. If your partner needs the day off in the last 3 days, you need to partner up with another team to continue running. For those that wanted a shorter version of the six day staged race, they had the option of running the first 3 days. This was the Run3 race and stage 3 would be their last day. Some of them decided to stay and run the whole 6 days though.
The crowd was excited as we piled into the chute in Leadville. We would get a little pavement running to start off, we had a controlled start as we ran on the longest length of pavement for the race. I paced the first place 80+ women’s team for the first 3 miles as we left pavement and started the climb of Mt Zion.
I liked the climb and I started making some good time, it felt good to let the legs go and run. I saw people with tow ropes, I had never seen this before. Pretty much, the stronger and faster team member will have a rope attached to the slower partner and they will help keep them on pace and get up the hills. I later talked to one of the towers and he said that it can be taxing, not only running but pulling up the weight of the other team member.
Soon I reached the top the climb, just under 11,000 feet. I then started picking up speed heading down the hill. About half way down, there was a videographer, he had a camera set up in the middle of the trail. He said jump over the camera, I did, and almost ate it, but I continued on down the hill. Soon, the hill evened out and I rolled into the first check point. I didn’t really take much, I hadn’t taken in too much on my camelback, so I was good to go.
It was hard regaining momentum, but I soon got into a comfortable pace. I reminded myself, that I wasn’t going to place and there was still 3 days left after today. So, I continued on enjoying the scenery and the stage. There was a short water crossing on the stage, it was merely puddles compared to what we would see in the next stage. Some runners had fun with the water crossing and used it as a chance to keep their shoes dry.
I had chosen to wear my other trail running shoes, and let my Nike Trail S+ have the day off. I think I paid for it a little bit by the end of the day as my toes had been a little sore from the distance. The shoes were a little stiffer than my usual trail shoes. I continued on, the path between the first check point and the second was a 4WD road, nice to run on, but lacking in the adventure of the trail system.
I pulled into the 2nd checkpoint still feeling really good, another lady was taking off her shoes to tend to blisters, so I considered myself lucky to have my feet feeling good. I refilled my camelback grabbed a couple things and was off again. There was a fork in the road and another runner pointed me in the right direction. We were off downhill soon leaving the 4WD road and entered the great trail system of the Rockies.
The trail zigged and zagged and provided that adventure that I love with trail running. Not knowing what was around the next corner. It turned into some great single track and I fell into step behind some people as we trekked across an open prairie. I was hoping to use the “Back to the Sheep” phrase, but never got a chance. Soon, we were going up the bank and crossed Highway 24 and ran back into the trees and cover of the Continental Divide Trail.
After more running, I came to the final check point. Some of the volunteers asked about my partner and hoped that she was doing well. Soon after that Dean came out of the cover of the trees and had a group of runners with him. I continued on, but soon he caught up to me. I could hear them coming up behind me chatting away, so I decided to step aside and let them pass. We were 21 miles into the run, and I was still taking it relatively easy.
Soon the trails gave way, to my dismay to the usual gravel road that signaled the end of the stage was near. This was the final 3 miles of the stage all on that gravel road. I plodded along for about a mile and then the 3rd place 80+ women’s group caught up to me. For the last 2 miles I paced them to the finish at Nova Guides. The place nestled in the mountains; we would end up spending two nights there. It was very chilly in the morning, and the tents were situated in a field that wasn’t as plush as the 2nd day grassy field or the 5th day grassy field.
A couple hours after rolling into the finish, I took a 7 minute sit in the IcoolSport ice bath. Wow, first 90 seconds was shocking, then when everything went numb it felt good. The quads felt great after that, I will definitely need to look into that next year at TRR 2011!
Day 4: “Keep on running when you feel like dying Keep on laughing while you’re crying Keep on fighting while you’re broken And you’ll make it anyway”
Every day, I followed a regimen for my own nutrition. I started each morning with a Shakeology shake and added my amla to it. Then I would have a hearty breakfast that was prepared by the TRR staff. I was then fueled for the run. During the run, I kept fueled at the aid stations, usually I didn’t take too much, but an occasional piece of watermelon, peach, or chocolate bar tasted great. On some of the longer days, I also had a cliff bar or two.
After my run, I would pull into tent city, rehydrate, have a results and recovery drink and a peanut butter and Jelly sandwich. This would usually hold me to dinner, but there were cliff bars a plenty along with other snacks to be found. Soon it would be dinner time, and another great meal was laid out for the runners. For a full report of the daily meal check out – http://transrockies.com/transrockiesrun/transrockies/race_food.htm
The fourth day had a chilly morning that greeted us, this was a shorter stage today, but still had some good climbs. The thing I was looking forward to most though was the river crossings! The stage preview had boasted at least 6 crossings toward the end of the stage. Plus the stage ended at Mango’s in Red Cliff, the home of fish tacos and more. Sounded like a great day of running to me.
We started at Nova Guides and ran down the gravel road for a couple miles. Then we turned on the 4WD road and started to climb. It was steep in places and the going was a little slow. I fell into place with another team and paced them up to the midpoint of the hill. As I climbed I heard a muffled noise, and my imagination pictured a moose far off. Then I realized I had gotten a cell signal and my phone was delivering a couple days of messages. I took a couple seconds to see what the outside world had to say.
“When you see the blue sky, you are almost there.” The previous night’s festivities told us to look for blue sky to signify that the climb was almost over. Finally the blue sky peaked through and we literally popped out of the trees into a wide vista with great views. This was literally just over a quarter of a mile from the first check point. I spent a little time here snapping pictures for people and met up with Team Silver Bullet. These two ladies were from Phoenix and running through the Rockies, the home of the silver Bullet. Over the next couple days, I would flip flop with them and capture a few photos for them.
The first check point was soon upon us. This was the checkpoint that always had an island motif. They were a party crowd, and the main guy at the checkpoint sported a flamingo hat and was always helpful on getting you exactly what you needed. I soon was donning the hat and taking a picture and getting a flamingo put onto my camelback.
The aid stations were always top notch. They had your assortment of anything you could want, water, GUBrew, soda, GU, fruits (peaches tended to taste very good), bars, chips, Vaseline, sun block, salt tablets, and a host of other things. The people manning the stations always were helpful and full of energy and vitality. It was always a welcome site to see a check station in the distance. If not for a refueling station for the body, it was a refueling station for the mind.
Soon after the check point, the course headed downhill, my feet protested a little as I headed down. The trail wasn’t too terrible, but try telling that to toes that are bunched up and being pushed further into the fronts of the shoes. Again, I was not wearing my Nike’s but I knew that with all of the water at the end, I wanted to keep my shoes dry for the last two stages. Soon, the first water crossing came into view.
There is a great feeling in plunging stinging feet into icy water, I really enjoyed this last part of the stage running through the stream. The trail kept crossing over the stream, I think there was six or seven crossings. We even ran down the middle of the stream. Great stuff all around, I had been looking forward to the water crossing since before the first day, and I wasn’t disappointed. With the last water crossing behind us, we ran across a bridge and stopped at the final check point.
It was about 2 ½ miles of that gravel road again until we reached Mango’s in Red Cliff. We were soon on our way and I saw a sign that said don’t contaminate the stream, it is the city’s water supply. If they knew that I was running through it, they might have told me to skip the water crossings. Before we knew it we were rounding a corner and Bam, there was a city all of the sudden and paved roads. Then we were there, at the finish, at Mango’s and ready to dine on some tacos.
All in all, stage 4 was a fun stage. Ending at Mango’s was a small treat, and as we ate, teams continued to stream in. We were then transported back to Nova Guides for another restful night. The evenings at the TransRockies Run always gave it that summer camp feel. After dinner, awards, videos, pictures, and previews came the camp fire, s’mores, & songs.
People would huddle around the campfire roasting marshmallows, sipping hot chocolate, or enjoying a Michelob Ultra. Every night we were led into song by the guitar player. He had a bag of percussion instruments that he passed around to compliment his guitar and voice. On Wednesday night, he actually recorded a video of his own song, so there may be a music video highlighting an evening at a TRR campfire.
Here is the stage 4 recap video… this version doesn’t show Gary and the streaker though…
Stay tuned for the final portion of my 3 part TransRockies report coming soon!