Wednesday, September 10, 2014

2014 PepsiCo TransRockies Run - A Team Win!

After having very up and down training cycles since last fall, culminating in several doctor visits this spring and a Western States DNF, it was needless to say I was nervous about lining up for a 6-day stage race consisting of 120-miles.  I was very afraid that I'd hit one of my unexpected low points at some point during the week and hold back my partner Ian.  Ultimately, I only ended up having one of these days and overall we had a solid week of running!  More on the current approach to figuring out these weird issues I've been having below....

This year I lined up with Ian Torrence in the Open Mixed Division for the Pepsico TransRockies Run representing adidas Ultra Team and Nathan Hydration.  Luckily, Ian had run the race previously so it was nice having the word of experience along the way. 

All photos are courtesy of Chris Hunter (Hunter Imagery) unless otherwise noted.  

Stage One: Buena Vista to Railroad Bridge - 20.9 Miles

Get ready for a week of camping!  Day one went well for us, as we were the first team across the line and was the first day we earned our leader's jerseys.  Ian is very good at being able to run hard every day and I expected him to get stronger as the week went on.  On the other hand, I've never done a race like this before so I was a little unsure of how hard to push.

Coming up the biggest climb of the day:

The hill being a dirt road was conducive for

Ian looking to see how much further
till the aid station and top of the hill.

Views from Stage One.
Today's podium prizes came from Nathan Hydration, which happened to be the hydration systems Ian and I used all week.

Stage Two: Oh Sh*# Day! In reality, Hope Pass - 13.3 Miles

My first time over Hope Pass and unfortunately the day I was dreading already came on day 2....the awful flatline happened.  Ian had to wait for me as I was struggling to even run the final flat miles.  

Luckily, we still held onto the leader's jerseys and my SNAFU didn't cost us the day's lead.  

Hope Pass.  My appreciation for Leadville 100 Mile went up.
Leadville 100M goes over this twice at the half way point.

McMillan Running athlete Mary Haskins (in green) is all
smiles at the end of Stage 2.

We camped in Leadville this evening which meant gluten-free pizza and real coffee for an afternoon snack.  The mission was also to find a deck of cards, which was harder than you'd think.  Fellow McMillan Running Coach and Altra athlete Jacob Puzey saved the day by scrounging up some cards. 

Stage Three: Leadville to Camp Hale - 24.2 Miles

Thank goodness Stage 3 was better for me than Stage 2.  I actually felt like a runner again!  Stage 3 is a long day complete with a lot of rolling terrain.  Similar to day one, this stage ended with a few miles on a dirt road....a slightly-uphill-into-the-head-wind dirt road.

All smiles at the start in Leadville and rocking our leader's jerseys.

Woops, we lost the jerseys along the way!  Happy to be done
at the finish line in Camp Hale.

We spent the next two nights in Camp Hale.  Only fitting it to it's name, we actually did get a hail storm one afternoon that nearly flooded our tent.  

Stage Four: Camp Hale to Red Cliff - 14.1 Miles

Finally, Ian and I were both on fire on the same day!  Besides Stage One, I consider this one of our strongest stages.  The lingering soreness I'd had was gone, more than likely due to the massage I got the day before.  This stage is another long climb and descent similar to Hope Pass.  To my favor, this was more two-track/road running compared to Hope Pass so I was able to make better time.  

View from Stage Four.

Running as a team.
Photo by Raven Eye Photography.

Stage Five: Red Cliff to Vail - 23.6 Miles

So close yet so far to the final finish line.  The majority of the runners loathed the long, gradual uphill start on a dirt road, but this was my bread and butter.  But they all got their just revenge as we had another long descent into Vail...that was hard!  Today was filled with more awesome views of the Rockies.

Just awesome pics of things other than us for this stage:

The cute fuzzy critter on the slideshow made miss
Bee and Zoroaster who had to stay at home this trip.

Stage 6: Vail to Beaver Creek - ???? Miles

Apparently it's becoming tradition that the final stage keeps changing and subsequently the mileage seems to vary.  At the briefing the night before, it turned out today was going to be longer than originally planned.  It was a little rough.  I had gotten the creeping crud in Leadville and it finally caught up to me.  Plus, it was the last day and we were ready to see the finish line. 

We successfully held on to our leader's jerseys each day and came away with the win in the Open Mixed Division!  I'm not sure which was more difficult, the running or trying to zip and carry my huge duffel bag each morning.

Awesome shot, but I was not feeling the love.
Photo by Raven Eye Photography.

Beaver Creek!!  We did it!

And we're still talking to each other.  Added bonus points!

This was a great event and we will probably be next year to take on another six days of TransRockies.  
Thanks to all the wonderful volunteers and race management who made each day go smoothly for all the runners.  

Elimination Diet

After having another up and down training cycle leading into Western States, I started be more aggressive with my approach to resolving the issue. Before WS, I had blood work done that showed my ferritin had dropped again and also indicated low B12, a long-standing norm in my lab results over the years.  We addressed these in the typical manner with increased B12 and iron.  My menstrual cycle had also been worse than usual and really took a toll on me.  Loe and behold, it was that time of the month right smack on WS weekend.  I started the race according to plan (run by my own effort), and started tanking well before Robinson Flat.  Upon leaving Robinson, I began hiking....downhill.  I was ready to drop at Dusty Corners, but logistically it was a nightmare.  When I saw Ian at Michigan Bluff, he persuaded me to keep going to Foresthill and had me hammer the calories.   The calories helped some but I was mentally done and had no desire to be on the course anymore.

Post-WS, we did extensive blood work-ups that showed some numbers were off, but nothing too severe.  The next step has been to go with an elimination diet.  Currently, I'm two weeks in and feeling like a runner again.  Already the GI has improved and energy levels are increasing.  I don't think I realized how bad I truly felt again...the last time I had this realization was when I went gluten-free after a massive body shut down.  Going gluten-free took time, but the difference was night and day.  The same process seems to be taking place again.  Fingers are crossed this helps me be more consistent with my training and with less frustrations. 

Last race before the elimination diet, Gaspin in the Aspen 15k.
I came away with the win and unexpectedly lowered my
Course Record from last year under new RD Ian Torrence.
  Photo by Neil Weintraub. 

Upcoming Race Schedule

9/20 - Flagstaff Half Marathon
9/27 - Flagstaff to Grand Canyon Stagecoach Line 100M Relay
10/11 - Soulstice Trail Race
10/18 - NAU Parkinson's 10k
10/31 - 50km World Trophy Final
11/21 - IAU 100km World Championships

Super Bee and Zoroaster waiting for the ball from
their babysitter.


Pat said...

Awesome! Almost as good as being there.You two make a great team.

Nicolas Nouvel said...

Great Job to both of you!! Glad you are figuring out diet issues. This race, in its 3-days version is definitely on my list! maybe 2015...

Susan DeBruin said...

Just found your blog. Maybe you've posted something like this already, but I would love to read about the logistics involved in this kind of race. It sounds like an amazing experience!