Norseman 2015 The Run up the Big Mountain

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I’m off and running out of T2, and the first feeling I have is that I’m scared. Having been passed continuously all day it feels like 39 more people passing me is a likely option. And if that happens, I won’t be allowed to finish at the top, and I won’t get a black shirt. As I’m thinking about that and getting my self settled in the first mile, a girl goes whizzing by me, running at a pace 30 seconds per mile faster. Oof-Da… This was when I started to look inside myself. I needed a game plan.

We are running on the left side of the road along the edge of this beautiful lake called Tinnsja. I look ahead and see many athletes strung out ahead of me. I’m trying to find a level of effort that keeps me clipping along, but doesn’t get my cough worked up into a tizzy. Oddly enough, that pace seems to be in the 8:10-range. I find it funny that I have raced literally 11 Ironman races at 8:00-8:10 pace. I’ve tried hard over the years to get this number down, and it seems even on my bad day, here I am again at 8:10 pace.


About a mile into the race I pass a man and I think to myself, Okay, I’m back in 121st now, and that gives me an idea. I set a goal of making it to Zombie hill at mile 15.5 in 100th place. Pass 21 people in the next 14 miles. I have no idea where that came to me, and in retrospect I don’t think it was necessarily a good idea, although Troy disagrees. I’m not a fan of outcome goals. I would rather set goals that I am in control of, but this 100 goal really motivated me in the moment.


I took it person by person and I would repeat the number in my head “There’s 120, There’s 120, There’s 120” until I caught them, then it was “There’s 119, There’s 119, There’s 119” I was making good progress in this area. Running down people one by one by one, staying in the low 8s. Troy and Andrew were crewing me every 10-15 minutes and I ran into a few logistical problems here that I didn’t think about going into the race.


So in an Ironman, on the run, everyone has access to the same aid stations. So you get into a routine of going through the aid station and if you get a hankering for something you can pull into the buffet and take your pick. In Norseman your crew is providing you aid and your options are what you packed and what you told them to offer you. So again, a similar thing was happening as did on the bike, I would be running someone down and their crew would be hopping out every 1/4 or 1/2 mile to provide aid, whereas my crew was more like every 1.5 miles. I became incredibly jealous of the other competitors and their crew system.


At one point I am passing a girl on her right side, and her crew is running along her left side, and she looks to have her three best girlfriends crewing for her, and they are offering her fresh cut up pears. It made me angry. Because I had been so sick before the race I didn’t pick up things at the store that I thought would feel really decadent like that. So my crew could offer me Osmo, water, Honey Stinger chews, or Picky bars. The same stuff I train with every day and race with every race. Fresh pears….I’m still jealous of her.


Around mile 10 I started asking the boys, begging the boys, for Coke. Every around me had been offered Coke from their crews and I was super jealous. A few miles later, the boys appeared with Coke. I took a sip and it was fully carbonated, warm coke. I spit it back out. There was no way. I couldn’t stomach warm coke. I continued to try to sip on my Osmo, also warm, as I had neglected to purchase ice. To be honest, Norway doesn’t really have ice for sale. I asked Troy for ice thinking maybe he could find some where he found the coke, and he pretty much said “Nope.”

On I ran. Around mile 13 I started to feel like I was slowing down. Just two more miles to Zombie hill and I was in 106th or so. Every time I would see the boys I would update them on my placing. I started to really feel the effects by mile 15 and wasn’t communicating too well with my team any more, just trying to make it to Zombie hill. Finally I pull in there, just having passed the person in 100th place. I had met my goal. They had an aid station there too. I was so excited. They had food and different energy drink. I took both. They tasted excellent.

Troy had taken my jacket and dipped it in a river and was trying to pass it off to me as “ice.” I just remember thinking…what if I need my jacket later, now it’s all wet? Poor Troy, he was problem solving so well and I was just unresponsive and confused. 


Oh Zombie hill. I was so excited to reach Zombie hill. I finally get my first look at the first switchback and I’m ready, let’s do this. I’m running up it and there is a guy ahead of me walking up it. I’m making very little progress on him, but I am making some, so I keep running. I pass him after a long time. I make it about a mile and then I’m walking. Troy and Andrew are there and you are allowed to have a pacer starting at Zombie hill so Andrew hops out and joins me.

We do some talking and walking. The next 5 miles go about like this: there is a group of men walking the whole thing, but they walk faster than me. So they pass me walking. Then once they all pass me, I start running and pass all of them back. Then I walk and they catch me and pass me back, then I run and pass all of them back. So they are walking the whole thing, but I am walk/running. We are making the same progress. Those Norwegian men have long legs and they walk really fast. They are super hikers!

Around mile 5 of Zombie hill, so mile 20ish in the race, I start to get in a pretty low spot. Andrew keeps offering me grapes and keeps asking me to drink. I take the grapes one at a time, and I drink when he tells me to. As we climb in elevation, my lungs start to misbehave again, and my energy starts to get low, very similar to the tops of each of the climbs on the bike. I stop talking to Andrew and we just walk. I try to walk fast, but my head is screaming such icky nonsense at me. Lots of “you suck” “you’re washed up” “why do you even try” It was bad, and I just walked along and listened to it. I tried to keep combating it by saying “you are going to get a black shirt”

Somewhere in here, I think in the 20 or 21 mile range there is an aid station and checkpoint and a timing mat. Andrew and I get to this spot and they have bread. I grab some of that bread and the medical lady looks at me. I can tell she is worried and she starts talking to me, asking me if I am okay and if I have been eating and drinking. I tell her yes and high tail it out of there, she scared me. I hear Andrew tell Troy that medical is watching me. All this time, Andrew is a major champ and is really trying to keep me eating and drinking. He has come up with these little sugary gummy men and I am eating them when he offers them to me. I really liked those gummy men, especially the red ones.


At some point in here the road just never ends. This race is brutal in that the last 10.5 miles of the race, you climb 5,400 feet of elevation. Yea, it’s steep. Towards the top of Zombie hill (a 7.5 mile road up to the top where the road then turns into a hiking trail) there are many false summits. You think you are almost at the famous 23 mile checkpoint only to be disappointed by yet another stretch of road. With 1 mile to go Andrew goes ahead to prepare my gear bag and get it checked and approved at the mile 23 checkpoint and I am alone for a bit. Troy comes back after dropping him off and parks and walks with me.

At this point I am pretty done, and all I can think of is making it to mile 23 and hearing what place I’m in. This final stretch with Troy people start passing me again. A couple ladies pass me and my brain just curses over and over again. F bombs, F-it bombs, Screw-it bombs. I’m so dejected. Troy is walking next to me and he’s got stuff shoved in every pocket that he’s offering to me. It’s all the stuff he could find in the car, he’s trying to get me to eat more, but I don’t understand why. He actually pulls out a jar of olives and offers it me. I look at him like he’s gone mad. In my brain I am livid…olives…really Troy..olives? But I keep my mouth shut as I get passed by a few more people.


Somewhere in here I start crying. Troy is telling me I’m going to get a black shirt and I’m crying and telling him how horrible I feel. I’m coughing and just really done, so little energy, and I’m sad. He lets me cry and is there for me and I eventually stop. We keep walking, and I hold his hand.

We come around yet another corner and there is this big arch and I know I’m finally at “the gate.” I walk through the check point and they tell me I’m in 95th, which means I can go on to the top, and Andrew is there with my gear bag. At Norseman it’s required that you have a pacer the last three miles, and you and your pacer must wear a backpack with emergency gear. You have to have spare clothes, headlamp, money, phone, spare food, and spare water. All this gets checked before you can head onto the trail portion of the race up the mountain.

The lady asks me where I am from and I say “Denver, Colorado” and a few people cheer, mostly Troy. I say bye to him and head up the mountain with Andrew. I haven’t seen Andrew in a mile, and now I know I’m going to get a black shirt and I’m really chatty. The cheering at the checkpoint gave me a rush of adrenaline and I’m running solely on it. Andrew and I are talking about life, and racing, and it’s like I’m totally fine.

The trail is rugged and very uneven. There are many little trails all mixed together and you are constantly picking the best route and making your way. My legs are really tired. Picking up my feet is hard and I’m not traveling very fast. I get passed by a few racers, and then a few more, and then a few more. Whatever.

Somewhere around mile 24 I am utterly done. I stop talking and pretty much feel dead to the world. I keep climbing the best I can. I lead sometimes, and other times Andrew takes over, and when he leads I cry silent tears, I just let them roll. He would hand me gummy men, or my hand bottle and I would try to eat and drink, but I was pretty over it all.

There are many other people on the trail. It’s a Saturday afternoon on one of the more busy hiking trails in Norway. There are lots of people up there who don’t really know what we are all about. And then there are the crews of people who already finished coming back down. So I am constantly looking not for the best path up, but really for a clear path up. People seem to be doing a pretty decent job at giving the racers the right of way, but not all the time.

At one such point I was in a low place and a couple comes hiking down and we are stepping from rock to rock and the woman bumps into me and knocks me off balance. This  encounter literally obliterates me. I stumble around a little bit to regain my balance and when I do I just start balling. Just crying heaving sobs and the lady stands there saying “I’m Sorry, I’m so sorry” I can’t even look at her and my head is screaming inside “do you have any idea what I’ve done today” but I just cry. There’s that awkward moment where nobody quite knows what to do with me, I’m making a spectacle of myself, and then I just start walking onwards. I never looked at her, or talked to her, but man, she absolutely knocked out of me the last bit of resolve I had.

And then came the ladies. Every single woman I passed in the first 15 miles started passing me back. One after another after another and I didn’t care, and I hated that I didn’t care. I have been the girl to run down someone late in the race who went out too fast and now I was the girl that went out too fast, and I hated that. I felt embarrassed mostly. I walked on. Some more tears were shed.

Towards the top Andrew starts telling me we are almost there. I can see the finish line and it still looks like so many steps away. At this point the trail is more like uneven stairs, many rocks piled all over and you are stepping from rock to rock. There is also an exposure element and I started walking really close to the edge. I have always liked edges and I often run on the edge of things, the edge of the white line, or the edge of the road. Edges comfort me. But they scared Andrew who knew I was in a pretty bad way. I will admit, I did let my mind wander to what might happen if I fell off. It was a comforting feeling. I also thought about what would need to happen for me to quit the race. I came up with: if a helicopter arrived, I would quit. If a 4×4 vehicle arrived, I would quit. That was all I could come up with. Walking back down was not an option. So I walked the final steps to the top.

As I took the final steps to the top Andrew is telling me “you arrived, you made it.” I’m standing on the timing mat, and I’m looking down, and I’m crying, because I’ve pretty much been crying for the last 1/2 mile. Not tears of success, just of pain, and sadness, and bonking, and feeling like doggy poo poo. I know I have finished because my timing chip is beeping but I look up and nobody is acknowledging that I am even in the race. There wasn’t a single clap, or good job, or even recognition that I am a participant, no photo, nothing. A man comes up to me and says “timing chip?” I reach down, take it off, and hand it to him. Then he said “gps” and I hand him my race belt. He takes the GPS unit out and hands it back to me. Then he walks away. No “you’re done, or congrats” Nada. Another man walks up to me and hands me a rolled up blanket. No good job, he just walks away after I take it. I see the camera man there and I look at him. He says “you are from the morning, you made it.” and I nod, and cry. He had interviewed me that morning and I think back to the interview and how peppy I was, full of optimism, sucking on a cough drop. I felt like a completely different person standing there now, completely empty, and just tapped out, done, so over it. There is a line for soup, so Andrew and I get in that line. The soup is a cream soup, potato maybe. I take 2 bites and that’s about all of that. The soup lady says “good job.”

We go into the hut that is on top and I put warm clothes over what I am wearing. No spot to change without getting naked and that’s not happening. I had been really excited about the advertised waffles at the top so I ask Andrew if we can get a waffle. We get to the counter and ask “waffle” and the guy looks at me and says “Oh we ran out of those a long time ago”..ouch..insult to injury. I wasn’t fast enough for a waffle. They have nothing else there except soda. Andrew buys one for his trip down the mountain and I walk out empty handed. We get back outside and nasty weather has rolled in. It was clear and nice when I finished 20 minutes prior. I ask if we can take a picture because when I finished we didn’t take a picture and there wasn’t anyone there taking pictures. I think they only take your picture if you are winning or a top contender. So Andrew dug out his goPRO and snapped few.


Thank you Andrew!

We started walking down to the funicular entrance and that was so painful. I was not happy about that walk down. I was coughing bad and in a low low place. It’s warm in the funicular line andI am relieved. Andrew leaves me there and starts his hike back down the mountain. The funicular line took a long time, maybe an hour, and the two guys ahead of me were very kind. They actually were the guys who produce the Norseman movie every year. They could tell I was not doing well and made me sit down. All the ladies that had passed me at the end were in line with me as well and they were chatting and happy. I just sat there wrapped in my blanket and tried to cough the lungs out of my body.

Finally on the funicular we rode that down into the belly of the mountain. Then you get off the funicular car and onto a strange and tiny little railroad car that takes you from the depths of the belly of the mountain to the exit of the mountain. Then you get off and you are on a completely different side of the mountain than you left your crew. I knew this so Troy and I had agreed I would meet him at the host hotel. At the funicular exit I waited for the shuttle to the hotel, and that was like a 20 min drive. Finally the shuttle delivers me to the hotel but Troy isn’t there. I have his phone in my bag so I crash onto one of the lobby couches, connect to wifi and text him. He’s still waiting for Andrew to get off the mountain.

I am so tired and bonking at this point. I just sit there and cry. I took a video and posted it to Facebook and then I just cried and coughed all the way until Troy arrived. Finally, it was over.


Tomorrow…my insights…


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33 things before 33

I stole this idea from Erin at Just Run With It. Every year after her birthday she posts a list of things she wants to do before her next birthday. I have followed her blog for several years and I always love seeing the lists and then seeing what she gets done, what doesn’t get done, and how much fun she has along the way. So, I’m stealing it this birth-year. Next year is the big 33…an AWESOME YEAR because it’s 3×11..and 11 is a wicked rad prime.

33 Things Before 33 (in no particular order)

  1. Break 10 hours for 140.6 miles of swim bike run.
  2. Swim a mile in the pool faster than 24:00
  3. Go kayaking in the Blackwater Wildlife Refuge
  4. Go to the top of the Sun sphere
  5. Attend Engine2 Immersion or something similar with Troy
  6. Qualify for Kona
  7. Go camping with Annie and Troy
  8. Run a winter Ultramarathon
  9. Plant a garden in the backyard
  10. Make Annies Halloween costume from scratch
  11. Write a cookbook
  12. Run the Boston Marathon
  13. See Cirque Du Soleil
  14. Decorate my triathlon cave room
  15. Learn about bike fitting
  16. Swim 100×100
  17. Learn to glue on tubeless tires
  18. Hike a 14er
  19. Do something on my own that I didn’t think I could
  20. Learn to make a really good Veggie Terrine
  21. Go down an alpine slide
  22. Get Annie reading
  23. Start a monthly group call with my athletes
  24. Paint something at one of those paint your own ceramic places
  25. Run a race with Troy
  26. Paint some walls in the house
  27. Learn how to make Risotto
  28. Get some stamps in my passport
  29. See all the movies nominated for 2011 Best Picture
  30. Be an Ironsherpa for an Ironman this year
  31. Take Ukulele I at Swallow Hill Music
  32. Read 10 of the 100 Best Novels
  33. Buy a real camera

Whew, I’m getting old, that’s a lot of things! Should be oodles of fun.


Mt.Evans Winter Summit


Last year I did a running adventure on Mt.Evans. My knee was smarting pretty bad at the time so I turned around at mile 7, and the boys went all the way to 9.5 before turning around at the lake. I knew, ever since that trip, that one day I wanted to run all the way up to the top. Mt.Evans is what we who live in Colorado call a 14er. It’s a peak who’s summit is 14,000 feet elevation or higher. We have 52-54 of these in Colorado, depending on which list you believe. I have been up 9 of them and none in the winter.

Mt.Evans is one of 2 Co 14ers with a road all the way to the top. I have ridden my bike to the top of Evans, but never run, or walked, for that matter. Saturday I was going for it. I convinced PIC to come some of the way with me since she had a three hour run to do, and at the last minute I convinced Dave to come all the way with me. He said “I haven’t done anything crazy in awhile”. Hang out with Sonja on a regular basis and you’ll get roped into something crazy! Here we are, leaving the parking lot at the Mt. Evans toll booth (closed for the season).


My plan was to run all the way up Mt.Evans. I thought it was 11 miles to the top, and then Dave told me he looked it up and it was 14.7. Humm, let’s just ignore that fact for a little while. The first three miles of the road have the most snow because they are in the shady tree line. The road has been closed for several months now and those first 3 are painful as your calves adjust to the hillage and you get warmed up.

Dave in the shade with some road peeking through

At about 3 miles you turn a corner and there is the glorious sun shining upon you, with the most amazing views. Suddenly, you feel very happy to be alive, and very happy to be healthy and on the mountain. It’s an Ah-Hah moment and all three of us couldn’t help but get a little giddy.

Michelle in the sun

Me in the sun

You wind your way around, and when the road is in the sun you have no snow to deal with. It’s runnable, although the effect of the altitude really starts to hit. There are no guard rails on the Mt.Evans road so at times you feel like you are running on the edge of the world. It was so clear, and so crisp.

Michelle running on the edge


The views are spectacular, as we wound our way up up up. We didn’t see anyone out there, just some bighorn sheep (in the same place I saw them last year and pointed them out in my video). We ran together most the time, and always within close sight. One person would stop for some reason, the others would go ahead and we rotated around like that for awhile.

Dave having a little solo time.

Pointing out sheep

Too soon, just before mile 7, it came time for PIC to turn back. She’s got a marathon in January and she was being diligent towards that goal (something I’ve just got to break her of…hahahaha). We took some parting shots. Behind us is the summit of Mt.Evans.

The three musketeers, that road behind us is the first of the big switchbacks, at about mile 10ish

Finding training partners that you are compatible with is one of the best things in life.

And then off PIC went, back down the mountian

As we ran towards the lake, passing the 9 mile mark we encountered some crazy wind. We hunkered down and just persevered. You would never know it’s windy by this shot. Also, I didn’t notice that it looks like a rainbow threw up on me. That’s kinda my style…I match, by not matching.

Me, on the way to the lake.

I had been munchin’ on Sport Beans all along but as we got through the 2.5 hour mark I was craving a little more substance. Justin’s Nut Butter to the rescue. 200 calories of honey almond butter bliss. I have a mouthful of it here, shut me up for awhile too.


Dave and I were having an absolute blast and both felt really good. After the lake, around mile 10 the wind was just whipping across the road and it was gorgeous. This also marked the point, mile 10 (on the first switchback) where we realized that it was not 11 to the top, but indeed we had 5 more miles of up up up. We were both feeling great, and were game for it.

wind whipping

We wound our way up through switchback after switchback. Back (headwind) and forth (tailwind). We hit a rhythm together and would run in unison without a spoken word. Dave is a great adventure partner, he never complains, he always sees the beauty in things, and when the work needs to be done, he just settles in and does it.

We come around a switchback, and ahhhhhh, there are those views that we so love here in the rockies!

At mile 12 we hit a road block. We had been navigating the switchbacks, but boom, we we encountered a wall of snow. Not knowing what the other side looked like, we opted for a little rock climb instead. That was fun!

wall o snow

an accidental picture (I was zoomed in) but kinda cool none the less

Through the last 5 miles we would alternate “run to the next pole, walk to the next pole”. The running sections felt like intervals on the track. The legs were just loaded and in pain. Then we would walk and they were immediately fine. Walk run walk run. The last 2 miles, we walked. Fast, but walked. The altitude was just crazy, and it was cold, and windy. We arrived at the parking lot at the top, threw on all our down layers, and made the short rock climb up to the summit block. The view was phenominal.

Here’s Dave on top

It was time for a mix1 on top…and another Justin’s Nut Butter, and sone Nuun.

Dave and I on top

We spent 30 minutes or so at the top, and were able to pick out tons of 14ers: Longs Peak, Pikes Peak, Beirstadt, Greys, Torreys, Harvard, Columbia, Lincoln, Democrat, Bross, and Holy Cross. Wow! We were both hesitant to head back down, but alas, it was time to get a move on.

Instead of the switchbacks we off-roaded and rock-hopped our way straight dawn, saving like 3 miles of running. Once we hit the bottom switchback it was pure running all the way home. We ran into one guy on skiis skinning up to the lake at about 7 miles from the car. He was enjoying himself, but rather hung over as well. Ha Ha!

We came around the big horn sheep section and boom, in all his glory, guarding his pack.

The last few miles you are always ready to see the parking lot, and before we knew it we were back down to the car. We couldn’t help but be happy to be done and pleased with a fantastic day. 27.4 miles round trip in just a little over 7 hours. 4,000 ft of elevation climb or so. I can now say that I’ve bagged my 10th Colorado 14er (I have 2 in CA, 1 in WA). PIC’s car was gone which meant she was safe. We changed clothes and headed home, with silly grins plastered all over our faces.

2010 Epic Fun

What epic things am I going to endeavor in during the year 2010?

2010 is a big year. Ten years in the 2000’s. What better than to make it extra special by running, biking and swimming all over the place.

My 2010 schedule is set, and I’m sure that you want in on some of the action. The year will be divided between epic adventures, and kick butt racing.


~ Moab 100 miler, 3/27 – 3/28 (running)

~ Double Crossing of the Grand Canyon, Monday 4/19

~ Ride Across Colorado in 3 days, 470 miles, 7/16-7/18, taking the north route through Poudre Canyon/Steamboat.

~ Double Summit of Mt. Evans, bike up then run up, late August

~ Something in the summer in the Tahoe region. Not quite sure yet, but the Tahoe Rim Trail will be incorporated. Still scheming.

KICK BUTT RACING (the big races)

~ Rev3 Knoxville, 5/8, Olympic distance

~ Rev3 Middlebury CT, 6/5, 1/2 Iron distance

~ IM Coeur d’Alene, 6/27

~ A second Iron Distance Race, either the big island one, or this one.

~ USAT Age Group Nationals, 9/25

~ IM Arizona, 11/21

So, who’s in for some fun? Did my Grand Canyon video last year make you want to join me? My goal this year is to inspire others to do a little more than they thought was possible. To that aim, all my adventures will be well supported, well schwaged, and well planned. If you want to come along, contact me, ask questions, leave a comment, hunt me down…

Sport Science


Have you received any of these crazy Sport Science shirts in your race packet lately? You can tell because they have the little bright yellow tag on the sleeve. Last year our Phidipides shirts were Sport Science and I found myslelf working out in it a lot. At first glance it looked like your run of the mill cotton t-shirt. The first time I put it on I couldn’t believe how well it fit. They make women’s and mens shirts separately. The other track club members were pretty jazzed about it too.

A little about their philosophy:

In 2003, we launched sport science™ smarter performance™ for the fun-having, sport-playing, running, walking, hiking, commuting, climbing, training, traveling, going, doing active people of the world.

Our mission is to create products that do more so you can do more – clothing that can go anywhere and do anything, not just in regards to function, but to comfort and style as well. When true technical performance fuses with incredible comfort and versatility, smarter performance™ is the result.

Then I worked out in it and I knew something was different about it. The fabric that Sport Science uses feels soft and nice like cotton, but it wicks. Normal race shirts are either cotton, or tech. I never feel like I can wear my race t-shirts that are tech shirts around town because they are a little thin and breezy, and somewhat see through. I definitely can’t wear the cotton race tshirts to workout in. Not for any considerable workout at least. But these sport science shirts really bridge the gap. Practical Coaching used this company for their shirts this year…I bought three!



Cruising through their website it looks like they make all different cuts of shirts. I would love to try out a sleeveless and a long sleeve, I definitely see a tied dyed shirt in my future, and the wool line looks really enticing.

Oh, and this isn’t just a chick thing. Troy has a habit of wearing things he likes over and over again until they die (usually beyond when they die). Despite the fact that our 17 hour training day shirts are pink, he wears it every other day (when he’s not wearing the grey Practical Coaching shirt). I haven’t told him it’s pink (he’s color blind). He hasn’t worn them out yet, and he said that if it was his choice he would wear only this brand of t-shirts. Pretty strong feelings from my mellow-smellow hubby!

If you haven’t raced a race that has Sport Science shirts you’ve got to find one! You wont be disappointed. If you know of a race that is putting Sport Science in their packets, leave the name and link in a comment below. And if you are Sport Science and you are reading this, I really love your product!

R2R2R Movie Night

Have you been good? Did you do your homework? Are you ready for my Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim Movie? It’s 17 minutes long, and I hope you enjoy it. Pop some popcorn and have a great Saturday Movie Night.

Please let me know what you thought about it by commenting here afterwards, I’m curious.


Watch it HERE.

Grand Canyon Double Crossing R2R2R

The day has come. The alarm goes off at 2:45am. It’s pitch dark, and silent out. A quick call to the Beeson’s room and Michelle agreed to come over and watch Annie while Troy takes Dave and I to THE RIM (Thank You again Michelle). I walk outside into the dark and it’s warm. No need for tights or much extra clothing. I decide to just wear my Core Concepts long Sleeve Convertible Top and do the sports bra thing when it gets hot. I grab a Mix1 and some Trader Joes snacks and Dave and I get in the car. We are buzzing with excitement. Both of us are jittering and can’t wait to get started. The SPOT is on and in tracking mode.


Troy drops us at the Bright Angel Trailhead and with a quick kiss Dave and I are off into the canyon. The stars were amazing. There was no moon and it was pitch black. You knew there was a huge HOLE just off the trail but we couldn’t see a thing. When Dave and I would stop for potty breaks we would turn off our headlamps and check out the Milky Way. We took our time going down and hit the 3 mile rest house at 4:30. 20 minute miles downhill, now that’s slow!


As we pulled into Indian Gardens at about 4.5 miles in we saw some runners just heading out. We were shocked to see other runners since it was Monday. Another mile or so and we realized those runners were Michelle and Keith. We hooked up with them and ran down to the mighty Colorado River. It was teal green and gorgeous. We crossed the Bright Angle footbridge as a group and continued on towards Phantom Ranch. The Cantina at Phantom was closed just as we expected so we watered up and headed out at 6:15am. It was warm enough to loose my long sleeve top.


The next 9 miles were insane. The box canyon lived up to it’s accolades and it was just like I remembered it when I was 17. The reverberation of the water off the steep canyon walls made it loud. Rather than making our way up as a group of four, we traveled as two groups of two so that everyone could run at a pace they felt comfortable. I could feel my pack start to chafe my back, so I put my top back on.


At the end of the box canyon we ran by Ribbon Falls, it’s a separate jaunt over to the falls which we did not take. We encountered the infamous water crossing which we though would be high due to recent rains. It was a joke, barely ankle deep. There is a little six foot waterfall directly under the crossing and I can see how someone might get skittish if the water is deep.



Onwards through Cottonwood campground (very cute) and up to the Roaring Springs Ranger Cottage. This was the water stop that I was so worried about. I wasn’t sure if the water would be hard to find or what. Luckily as we rolled in the first thing we saw was a sign that said drinking water. It was very clear, and obvious. We stopped to refill. I did a little doctoring on my top (sorry Core Concepts) and shoved down some beef jerky. Michelle was feeling her knee and made the wise decision to turn around and head back to the South Rim, she was in for a 36 mile day.



From here it gets steep. It’s 5 miles to the top, and you go from 4,650ft to 8,250ft. It’s steep, and up up up. About a half mile into it Dave’s achilles started to act up and there was a popping sound involved. He was feeling so good, but made the wise decision to turn back. He’s headed on a big backpacking trip to alaska soon and I would have been so bummed if he compromised that trip.

So, it was Keith and I. We were feeling really good and having a blast and we just pushed onwards up the canyon. The climb to the North Rim is amazing, red canyon walls all around and at times the trail is cut out of the wall. You look in front of you and you have no idea where the trail goes, it’s hidden. Each segment is revealed in its own time. We ran into a trail crew that told us Andrea was about a half hour ahead of us and that we had 2 1/2 miles to go. It was actually about 3 1/2!



We finally hit the Supai Tunnel, which is the two mile to go mark. We were so jazzed about it, mostly because we felt so good. Both Keith and I were really on top of our nutrition and hydration. We were both still peeing, and downing calories every 30 minutes. We were also keeping a pace that was very maintainable for the both of us. All was good.


Then we ran into Andrea! She was coming back down from the North Rim and she told us we were about 1/2 mile from the top. She looked great all decked out in her trail running gear with camera, SPOT, and coats hanging off all her stash spots. She was running down at a great clip and looked very alert and within herself. We pressed on and sure enough, just a short time later we were at the top. Lots of hoots and hollers happened. We took some pictures and about 5 minutes after we got there we headed back down. There really is nothing to see up there, no view, just a parking lot and a bathroom. It’s all about the journey, ya know?


Back down we went and after running for 10 minutes we ran into Anthony and Steve. Anthony was looking a bit out of it and Steve looked good. I pushed some beef jerky and almonds on Anthony, and watched him wolf it down. They were close to the top so we let them head upwards and expected to see them on the downhill where they would probably catch us. Keith and I then enjoyed a very quick rip roaring descent. Towards the end I started to get a blister on my left foot and it was one of those really painful ones. Most blisters don’t even bother me until the running is over, but this one was very painful. I stopped immediately and changed to a clean sock and put a blister Band-aid on it. When we got back to Roaring Springs I washed my foot, dried it thoroughly, put a fresh blister Band-aid on it, put the clean sock on it and loosened my shoe. That did the trick and it didn’t bother me the rest of the run, although even today it’s still painful, and oddly, its quite tiny, but deep, more of a tear in my foot than a blister.

Next up was 9 miles of gentle rolling downhill and Keith and I were ready to do some real running. We picked up the pace, kept up with nutrition and let our legs run run run. This section’s highlights were passing Andrea and getting to see her running strong, the temps heating up to near 100 degrees, and me taking a fall. I was filming and I didn’t hop high enough over these “speed bumps” that they have million of in the trail. I clipped my foot and went down. A little scrape to the hand and ankle, nothing big at all. We were off and running 15 seconds later.

We arrived at Phantom Ranch 87 minutes after leaving Roaring Springs. Keith and I were pretty pleased that we ran sub 10 minute miles for the last 9 miles and that we enjoyed it and felt good. I downed some lemonade, bought some M&M’s and pretzels, and mailed out a postcard. We spent about 15 minutes here regrouping and then we headed off to climb the South Rim. Keith and I were happy and peppy. It was so hot, but we continually dunked our hats in the water. We did a lot of hiking up the first steep part of the South Rim, but when the trail became runnable, we ran. And we just continued to run. We hit Indian Gardens at the twelve hours running mark and refueled. I slipped 3 NUUN tabs into my bladder, I love those things. At Indian Gardens we started thinking about the clock. All day we ignored how long it was going to take us, but at Indian Garden we started setting goals. Keith had started at 3:15 and wanted to beat the 14 hour mark.

I knew we could do it if we kept a hard pace and ran when we could. So, that’s what we did. It look us 30 minutes to get from Indian Garden to the Three Mile Resthouse (1.5 miles, pulled in at 4pm). I knew then that if we did a push like that two more times we would be at the top at 5pm, putting us within our goals. We hiked so hard, we ran whenever we could. We hit the 1 1/2 mile resthouse at 4:30, right on track. Then it was the final push and we were still running.

We start to hear the shouts and cheers of lots of people. It was Troy and the support crew. We were visible to them at the top. We ran the rest of the way from that point on. We were so excited and both of us got a major adrenaline rush. Then there it was, the top, and everyone was there waiting: Troy, Michael, Michelle, Dave, Michelle B, and the three kids.


They had this great spot on the top that we hung out and waited for the rest of our group:


Andrea came up right about 6pm, and the boys hit the top at about 7:15. I let out a big sigh of relief. Everyone was safe. I think Steve and Anthony had a bit of a death march, but they were safe, and unharmed, and for that I was very happy.

In retrospect Keith and I had an absolutely phenomenal day. Just amazing. We never had a single down period. Some parts were harder than others but our attitude remained positive the entire way through. We both felt very lucky to have this experience. Having Keith with me throughout the day made my experience so grand, I feel very lucky to have such great training (and adventure) buddies.

Lastly, Troy, oh my goodness. This man takes care of me like no tomorrow. I am the luckiest woman alive. I am constantly coming up with all of these new “dreams” and he always helps me make them happen. He is my rock and if I didn’t have such a stable man to come back to after these adventures, I would be sunk. A big hug to Annie too for being such a good girl the entire trip, we are very proud of her, and although I doubt she will remember the Grand Canyon, we’ll be sure to take her back!

Also a big thanks to Core Concepts who supports me and keeps me clothed, even though I continually put their items through the ringer.

Items that made this trip great were: NUUN, Spot, HEED, Clif ShotBloks, Strawberry Clif Gels, PowerSox, and Second Skin Blister Pads.

Let me guess, you have been stalking my blog for a week because you are waiting for the video….? Your homework…make sure the most recent version of QuickTime is on your computer. The video is 17 minutes long, and it has music and thus YouTube won’t let me upload it. So, you are going to be viewing it on my MobileMe Gallery, and your gonna need an updated QuickTime.

Leave me some comment love, and if I get enough love, I’ll think about posting it for a Saturday night movie for you all.


Prelude to the Big Ditch

I wake up on Sunday morning, and my legs are shockingly….fine! The balls of me feet are pretty sore because I ran the 1/2 marathon of the long course in racing flats. The course was very rocky and my flats just didn’t have the support I needed. I knew that going into the race and had I brought my light weight trainers I would have worn those.

So, I’m the last one in the house to wake up, as usual…this girl loves her beauty sleep! I actually didn’t wake up on my own, Troy came in and told me that Michelle was heading out for one hour of active recovery. I was out of bed in 5 seconds. I can’t miss this! We decided that a bike ride was in order. The thought of running when we were going to run 46 the next day just sounded silly.

We hopped on our bikes and had a great jaunt down the local Henderson NV bike path. We ran into a guy that does a marathon training program for local Vegas runners and stopped to talk to him for awhile. Turns out he is good friends with the RAGE race director, so we had a laugh about that. The biking felt so good on my body, except the whole “sitting” on my saddle part. My uhhh, “area where I sit on my saddle” was extremely sore. I rode on the nose of my saddle for most the race and since we haven’t been doing much bike speed work, I was, lets say, “a little tender”. Other than that…I was in great shape!

Back to the house, goodbye to Tyler and family and we hit the road. First off was an amazing and extremely decadent trip to Trader Joes where I proceeded to purchase half of the store. Man do we need one of those in Denver, I love that place. Then it was off to the Grand Canyon. The trip went really fast, I was so excited to see the canyon.

Let me say, it was every bit as exciting as I remembered it. From the Bright Angel Lodge I could see the entire canyon I was about to run through laid out right in front of me. Click on the link below for a picture that shows the canyon where we will run. What a canyon huh???



So, we are pulling into the lodge parking lot and I get a call from Steve. He told me that he drove to the Grand Canyon yesterday, took one look into it and he and Andrea decided to drive home. What!? I was like “You are joking”. He said “I’m serious as a heart attack, that canyon was crazy, we said no way and drove home”. I was floored, and a little sad. After a couple minutes of conversation I start to hear Dave in the background. Dave flew in just to run the canyon with us. I called his bluff and told him I could hear Dave. That was such a mean joke to play on me, and I’m so gullible. After all the planning I did for this adventure, Steve-O was definitely taking advantage of me. Stinker!

The whole group met up for dinner, except Andrea who was asleep for her 1am start time. Everyone was ready and there wasn’t a whole lot to say except good luck! Michelle and Keith were to start at 3am, Dave and I at 3:30 and the boys at 4am. We were ready to get it on!

I fell asleep after dinner and slept the most peaceful sleep. It was dark and quiet there on the canyon rim.


Nothing too specific is going on right now, just a lot of little things. Here is a smattering.

– Training is going well, but my Masters Coach quit and I’m pretty sad over it. However, it looks like with adversity comes opportunity. I might just get to swim with a super stud hot chick swimmer/triathlete from now on. Hopefully those times will come down because of it!

– THEME DAY this Wednesday (4/1): Firefighters. It will involve books, crafts and a visit to the Denver Firefighter Museum. If you are intersted, send me an email and I’ll send over the itinerary.

Rev3 triathlon still has slots…and you can get $10 off registration using the code NSS146. If you are looking for someone to room with or hang with for the weekend of Rev3 I am traveling alone as of right now. Would love to have some company! Ooh, and there is now video footage of the bike and run on the website…like the ENTIRE course…on video. How cool is that?

– You may have noticed that my most favorite pro triathlete BREE WEE commented on my blog. I can officially die a happy woman now.

– My TT bike Scarlett just busted out of the spa today. Her goods have been touched up and she is ready to rumble. A test ride is in order tomorrow. I can’t believe my new fantastico bike Stella will have to stay home. This is just insane.

– R2R2R is so totally on. Peeps are hopping on board left and right and hotel reservations have been made. A meeting will happen soon to debrief the rest of the bold-runners on the up and down of the route. Should be grandiose.

– I ran up City View again this last weekend and felt like total poo, but for some reason was only 8 minutes slower over the 24 miles than when I felt like the shiz-nick. I persevered through a hard day and built a little character…as if I needed any more of that.

– I really want to run a 100 miler and have been scouring the web for a fun one. Hummm…

Beyond the Epic Run. Troy and I are going to the screening. Hope to see you there.

– I’ve read two books in 5 days, and inhaled an entire COSTCO box of Cashews in the process.

– My coach gives me homework now. I’m not even going to elaborate on this one….

– Troy and Annie are happy snappy and doing well. Annie is talking a bit too much, like the same phrase over and over. Troy is mello smello, chill cool dude that he is. He SAGed last weekends run…SAG support is sexy.

– Nobody in Denver is happy about the recent snow storm.

Rim to Rim to Rim (R2R2R) Research

Do you have a life list? I have one, but I’m constantly adding to it as well. One thing that has been on my life list since 1997 is a double crossing of the Grand Canyon. As a senior in High School my family backpacked down into the Grand Canyon, stayed two nights, and backpacked back out. We went down the Bright Angel trail, and back via the South Kaibab trail. One of my all time most amazing runs was a serendipitous accident of a run I did in the bottom of the Grand Canyon, along what is called the Box canyon on the North Kaibab trail. As a 17 year old I just took off for a run while my parents went hiking, and ended up having an amazing experience in this surreal canyon. Hiking out of the Grand Canyon was one of the most challenging experiences of my High School years. I was in great shape, and I hiked as hard as I knew how and made it out in just over 3 hours. I felt awesome. I came across a few ultra runners while hiking out and seeing them heading down for a double crossing made me jealous.

So, here I am, 29 years old, 12 years have passed and for the first time in my life this infamous double crossing seems like a plausible endeavor. It’s 46 miles round trip, with about 11,000 feet of climbing…but on the positive side, there are only two hills. When? Well, here’s the thing. I just happen to be heading to Las Vegas for my first long course triathlon in April. AND the Grand Canyon just happens to be on the way home. AND, April just happens to be the best month to attempt a double crossing (that and October). So, when in Rome? If the shoe fits?

I’m going to give it a go. Yes, I will have raced a half Ironman two days prior. Yes, I will have gone out on the town with my team after the race. And will I be ready for a long long run two days later? Yes. This is my life, it’s an adventure.

I am currently recruiting other like minded crazy folks. Hopefully Steve-O, hopefully Keith, Anthony already shot me down. I talked with Troy and he is game with taking a few extra days on the return trip home. He is also willing to chill on the rim with Annie, do some hiking, wait around for me.

The research has been fun. Here are some great blog entries if you are thinking about a double crossing:
Chris: Nov 2006 crossing
Davy Crockett: has crossed 6 times, has a great blog
Viswanath Vinod: a very nice account
Tony Maldonado: A great two day double crossing
AZ Speedgoat: A night time fast double crossing by a group of fast guys
Anton: ultra-stud, going for the record
YouTube: a fun little video giving you an idea of just how scenic it is

So, in making my plans, and doing my due-diligence on the research side I realized that I needed a bigger running pack. I am running with a one bottle pack right now and I need a backpack/vest type of pack for this distance. AND, our REI dividend just came. I am shocked that we got a dividend at all this year. We stopped using our REI credit card at the end of 2007 so who knows where it came from. BUT, I got a pack that I have been eying for some time. Troy said I need to get a hand bottle too, that way I will have one of every possible type of hydration devise that is on the market for runners. Teee-HeHeHe. What can I say to that?


I ran an easy 5 miles today with the pack, and so far…it ROCKS the house. I can actually breathe in it, and I couldn’t believe that I was running with two liters of water. I couldn’t even tell! It’s got lots of spots for goo flasks, iPods, cameras, and jackets. Allright, I’ve got a pack, can I go run the Grand Canyon now?? Anyone else?