Epic Loop…twice


Man, that loop really needs a new name.

Apparently it didn’t help that Fox News aired a piece the night before slamming cyclists and the legislation we are trying to get passed in Colorado so that we have a legal 3 foot barrier around ourselves on the roads (among other things). The mountain folk that reside along the hills we ride were out in FULL FORM yesterday. In my two years of riding we had more “incidences” yesterday than all my other days…combined.

The day started off very cold at 5am. It seemed not so cold at our starting point and I made the horrible decision to abandon my knee warmers. The first 2.5 hours were spent telling myself “This coldness will pass”, and “Someday I’ll be warm again”. Just before that happened I encountered a chilly descent that left me and my bike bike shaking uncontrollably the entire way down it. Not so safe.

Several hours into the ride the sun made an appearance and warmth was finally to be had. By the end of the first loop my shoulders were aching pretty bad, from the hours of shivering, I think. When we got down to the car 65 miles in and 8K of climbing done I knew I had another loop in me but wasn’t all together too sure how it would go down. Our group of David, Michelle, Anthony, Steve and I was being reduced to just Anthony, Steve, and I. We refueled and got back on the road.

Things really started to perk up on the second loop. The climbs were flying by and we were laughing a lot. Giddy moments abound. All of this despite the fact that we had been passed by large diesel trucks within 6 inches of our handlebars, yelled at, had dust spun out on us on purpose, honked at, and just generally disdained the entire day. We were starting to find all of it pretty comical despite our adherence to the laws.

About half way through the loop we started to get really excited. We were all feeling super great, all our issues had gone away and we were jazzed. We had a great last half loop despite a motorcyclist descending Highgrade at 85mph and taking a bad line, thus scooting himself within 12 inches of Steve. That was grrrreat. Loved that part!

All in all we beat it back to our starting location, strong, happy, and realizing that the next time we endeavored in a 135 mile, 16,000 feet of gain, double Epic ride, we were gonna bring the TT bikes and hit it hard.

Quote from Steve at mile 128….”Dam, we’re in great shape”.

..Uh, yea, ya think?

Finally, a few words for some choice Conifer/Evergreen Drivers:

– when you pass me and your car/truck is within 12 inches of my handlebars, that’s so not cool
– when you accelerate past me in your diesel truck spraying fumes all over me on purpose, that’s not cool.
– when you decide that racing past a group of us 15 feet from a stop sign, cutting us off, than then slamming on your breaks for the stop sign, yea, not cool
– when you make a quick left in front of us despite the fact that you watched us coming in the other direction for a good 20 seconds, and we have to swerve to miss your bumper, that’s not cool
– when you pass us on a motorcycle going 85 in a 45, when we are going 40, again, not cool
– when you pass me and my elbow bumps your mirror, not cool
– when you pass me and your dog is hanging out the window barking at me, not cool
– when you honk for no reason, not cool
– when you accelerate aggressively around us, not cool

Did you wake up in the morning and decide to kill a cyclist? Do you hate us that much? Because that’s what all of this behavior will eventually result in. We are wearing spandex, there is no power struggle, we are at your mercy. Please, for the sake of my daughter, let us obey the law and ride our bikes without such disdain.

One that note…it really was a totally awesome ride, even with all the jerks out there.

Some Thoughts…


We had our monthly 17 hour training day meeting last night and some interesting topics of conversation were hashed. We were sitting around the table, 4 of us had run the Grand Canyon a week prior and we were taking inventory of our bodies. No injuries and everyone is 85% or more recovered. Wow. I was aware how quickly I myself recovered from the adventure, almost too soon as the soreness wore off, so did my physical attachment to the experience. I was in a little slump over the weekend, how do you emotionally recover from such a grand adventure? It’s addicting, the highs are high, and the lows are spent trying to think up what you are going to do next.

Also, we had a nice discussion about how we got into going long, and how that was working for us. We have always maintained that this extended distance training was to give us a LARGE base for Ironman. And truly, Ironman and triathlon is what beats strongest in all of our hearts. This foray into ultrarunning, is really just a term that describes how we are preparing for our Ironman, what path we are choosing to take to gain our fitness. We are running and racing ultras with much less running that most ultrarunners, but we bike and we swim, so the cross over gives us a boost.

So, with the “I’m not really an ultrarunner” caveats, check this out. The Western States 100. Man, doesn’t a 100 mile race sound cool? Okay, so maybe it sounds totally wild and insane, but you know what sounds like way more fun? The Western States 100 Training Camp. For $215 which includes food, camping, and transportation to the runs you can spend three days with all sorts of other ultrarunners running 70 miles of the WS100 course. Day one is 32 miles, day two is 20 miles and day three is 20 miles.

And, it just so happens that I am going to be in California visiting mom and dad for the week surrounding this camp. Steve-O gave me the go ahead and wrote the runs into my schedule. Now I just need to convince my mom and dad…

I guess that mourning period after I do something wild and fun is usually when I come up with the next wild and crazy fun adventure.

Ooh, and just in case you all didn’t want to wait until the end of May to hear about something epic, tomorrow, the team is going to ride our Epic loop….twice. The fastest I’ve ridden it once is 4:45, so yup, we’re looking at a 11-12 hour day, 160 miles. But! It’s on the bike, so won’t that be fun! I find it hilarious that our “Epic” loop ain’t so epic anymore. Steve brought this up last night and I said “Yea, epic is just it’s name, not a description any more”.

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.

Rage in the Sage Long Course

Ahh, I love firsts. You know, when you have no idea what to expect, a guaranteed PR. There is something refreshing about doing something for the first time. Rage in the Sage was to be my first long course triathlon, or half Iron distance (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.2 mile run). The trip out to Vegas was a total hoot. Three families, all these kiddos, and tons of bikes, wetsuits, etc. I was lucky in that I got to get into the Normatec pants for an hour late the night before my race. It gave me a sense of calm to get in the pants, and I felt really ready to go come race morning.

I slept like a baby that night. Comfy bed. Also, I had Troy and Annie in bed with me, so it felt like home! 4am couldn’t come early enough. Transition setup was a breeze, although the actual breeze had me worried that my shoes would blow away! Luckily the wind calmed down. The water temp was 56. Brrr! That’s like Alcatraz! I got into my new DeSoto wetsuit for the first time and warmed up in the water for about 10 minutes. I think I’m the only one that warmed up for that long. It was really hard to put my face in the water but I knew that once I swam for awhile that everything would get numb. Sure enough after ten minutes my face, hands and feet were numb and I felt great. The half start was a ladies and guys start and it was really fun to be on the start line with Steve, Anthony, Keith, Tyler…all my peeps!

We got going in a mellow fashion and almost right away I found a lady that was swimming close to my speed. I swam next to her for a little while and realized that she swam pretty straight, and very consistently, so I hopped on her feet. She was just fast enough that I had to fight to stay on them, but that I wasn’t going too hard. I stuck to those feet the entire swim. It was AWESOME, a real dream come true. The swim didn’t feel any longer than an Olympic distance swim, and before I knew it I was getting to the shore.

So I get into transition and do my thing and I’m off really quickly. I look over and there is Tyler right next to me. I think he is pretty shocked because he’s a faster swimmer than me, but, huh, there I was??? On the sweet Isaac bike and I’m off. Steve told me earlier to take it really mellow for the first five miles, so I did and guess who passes me? Anthony. Now Anthony is definitely a faster swimmer than me, so I’m pretty confused that this point. I take it easy for the first 5-10 miles and then I start getting into my groove. I really LOVED this bike course. It’s rollers. You go up, you go down, no flats to be heard of. I got a good rhythm going and just had a lot of fun with it. I was cat and mousing with one guy and we were having a lot of fun with that. When I would go by him I would say “Meow”. I was the cat…he was the mouse! I passed one lady in the first 15 miles or so and I had no idea where I was at in the race. As we approached the first of two turn around spots I started looking for ladies. I was pretty shocked when Anthony gestured that I was in third. What. Really? That meant I got out of the water in 4th? Are there like 5 people doing this race (that was my first thought).

At the turn I settled into my groove and just had fun. I didn’t chase down the lead, I just biked within myself and figured if it was meant to happen, then it would. My mouse tried to take another pass at me, saying I had already “chicked” him twice that day. Ha, I just like saying that word…”chicked”. Ha! Meow! Sure enough, at mile 50 right as I was passing by Troy, I passed the lead lady. I knew I had plenty in the tank. She passed me back to ask directions, which I thought was really funny. I told her the route and complimented her on her totally cute bike, and then worked on passing her back in a legal fashion. At mile 53 we had the second turn around. I checked the ladies behind me and the one in third looked very solid and seemed to be making up a lot of time on the bike.

Into transition and my “mouse” was racing me to the line, we both got a big giggle out of that one. Whoosh, and I was back out, thinking to myself….”Self, you are actually leading a triathlon, going into the run, which is your strong suit.” “Who are you”? It was pretty funny to me. I just couldn’t wipe the silly grin off my face.

The first three miles of the run course were brutal. It was hot and there were hills. I stayed very within myself and took it out at about 8:15 miles. I wanted to see where my legs were and I knew there were flat sections of the course that I could pick it up if needed. I had a lot of fun once I started passing the guys coming the other direction. I kept telling each of them what place they were in in. It kept me aware. I saw Anthony come by in 12th and Steve in 15th. I was pretty proud of my guys, they were doing really well. At the turn around I started timing to see what kind of lead I had. I got a bit scared, it was about 2.5 minutes. Eeek. I picked it up and ran a harder 3.5 miles. That section was tough because I was a little scared and I’m not used to running in that situation (scared…in the lead…both are new to me). At the 10 mile mark I took a look behind me and couldn’t see anyone in sight.

Being that I had a 46 mile run to do in two days, I cruised it into the finish. The clock said 5:05, the results say 5:07. Either way, that sounds like a pretty good number to me. :)


Immediately afterwards I drove to Anthony’s hotel room and got in the Normatec pants for 30 minutes. This was key and I’m so glad I did it. My legs needed to do some serious recovering. Then I got to go back, watch another teammate finish and pick up my award…A HUGE MAGNUM of wine. Too Fun!


The rest of the afternoon was spent back at the rental house catching up on everyones race stories of the day. It’s definitely my favorite part of racing. I love sitting around and hearing about everyones experiences and adventures. It’s fun to listen to peoples interpretations of the course and what silly things happened along the way (Michelle PIC put her helmet on backwards…that just cracks me up).

Later that night we hired a babysitter for the kids and went out to the strip to see Zumanity. It was so nice to go out with my team and Zumanity was totally AWESOME! I loved it! Then it was back home to the rental house to get a good nights sleep and to get ready to run a double crossing of the Grand Canyon…

Troy and I in front of the Belagio fountains.

Troy giving me a piggy back ride b/c my shoes hurt

BY FAR the most hilarious photo of the entire trip.

R2R2R Tracking Online!

Hi! Sonja’s mom here–putting in a quick report for anyone that would like to track Sonja’s R2R2R run tomorrow at the Grand Canyon. She is carrying a SPOT device set to tracking. She plans to start her run at 3:30 a.m. MST. I’m putting a link in this blog to the shared screen where you will be able to see her progress. If you have any questions tomorrow you can email me at hikerhel at gmail.com.
SPOT Grand Canyon Link

Sonja’s mom signing off now–Go Sonja! :)

Very quick because I’m on the road and will loose coverage soon. Rage in the Sage was awesome. The course was tough and I had so much fun! I had a great day from start to finish. I exited the water fourth woman, not really sure how that happened! At mile 52 on the bike I took the lead. The run was challenging but cool at the same time, lots of hills. I kept my lead and put a 6 min gap on second. I won my first half ironman! Insane! 5:07 on a challenging course. Full report when I get home. You all need to help me drink the engraved magnum of wine they gave me!

Huge thanks to Steve at practical coaching. He knows how to turn a stay at home mom into a chick who can win a race!

Also thanks to Trakkers, Beyond, and Core Concepts for your support!

And We’re Off…

We got a nice start to our vacation today. Everything fit in the car with some space left over. We hit the road at about 1:30pm and had a relatively flawless drive to Grand Junction. Annie puked once, but that seems to be par for the course. Tomorrow should be pretty exciting as we make our way to Vegas as a caravan of three families with 6 total kiddos. I’m updating my twitter account, so if you don’t have an account yet, you gotta get on it!

Good night, sleep tight!

Holy Bum-Bum

I was furthering along my 100 things challenge, sorting through a box of crafts when I found a long lost pair of pants in the bottom of the bin.

Ahh, these were my favorite pants. They fit really well and I thought that I looked pretty catching in them. I turned them over and there was a PATCHED hole under my left bum-cheek, and an UNPATCHED hole under the right bum cheek. I’m pretty sure that they were in the sewing box so that I could patch the bum, SO THAT I COULD KEEP WEARING THEM.

I got quite the kick out of them before tossing them in the Goodwill bin. I should have taken a picture of the bum area, but they are now happily at the Goodwill.