Thursday, September 29, 2011

Stage 3 - Leadville to Nova Guides

Stage 3 started in Leadville on Main Street.  We started over 10,000 ft and stayed high most of the day.  The begining of this stage was on road then we turned onto a jeep road that climbed up, up, up.  This was also the longest stage of the week, so it was not to be taken for granted.  I think this stage is where things started coming together for us, it wasn't our best stage but it got things rolling.  We finished in 4:27:22 for the 24.3 mile stage.  There was nothing exciting about this stage but it was a good day, we ended in Camp Hale where we would be staying for 2 nights, this meant we didn't have to get all our crap together the next morning.

When we finished stage 3 we jumped in another pond, soaked the legs then grabbed a burger and a beer.  I was finally feeling like myself and came out of this stage with a positive attitude.  I would say the highlight of stage 3 was the after stage question and answer session that happened in the back of the Budget truck.  This is a Transrockies tradition, the luggage man Memphis Joe serves margarita's and has the elite runners in the Budget truck where we can ask all the questions we want.  Max King, Ryan Bak, Rickey Gates, Anna Frost, Nikki Kimball and others were in attendance.  It was an informal event with only a few of us hanging out listening to what these folks had to say.  I had great position bellied up to the bumper, so I got in good with the bumper tender and received quick refills and had a perfect spot to hear what everyone had to say.  This was a lot of fun and made the afternoon go by pretty quickly.

As you can see this stage was uneventful, at this point in the week we were getting into a good routine and just trying to get to the next enjoy some photos!

Up we go...

Looking back at the views.

So many places, so little time.

Can't get enough of these views


Running down the road trying to...

Colorado field.

Bike jeep

Bunkers at Camp Hale

Jackie telling me to get going!

Ian Torrence, I didn't think he saw me...until I looked at the photo.  Sorry Ian!

Views from the deck.

Memphis Joe's Margarita's!

Some big names in there!


Camp life.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Stage 2 - Vickburg-Twin Lakes Dam

Stage 2 was a stage that I had been looking forward to since signing up for the TRANSROCKIES RUN.  On this day we would peak out at 12,600 ft above see level, that's over 14 times higher than the highest point in Rhode Island.  We decided to take today's stage at a more lesiurley pace.  I still wasn't feeling great and was super crampy, so the goal was to take the climb easy, take lots of photos and hope to feel good coming down the other side and finish strong. 

The run started out on a wide dirt road for about 1.7 miles to the first aid station which is also the start of the climb up to Hope Pass.  In the next 2+ miles we would gain just over 3000 ft.  The climb was steep and narrow in the woods for quite a while and then you pop out of the trees and the climb was steep but with more switch backs.  Since we started out so easy we were stuck behind a long train of runners, and we hiked 95% of this climb, and it was not a fast hike.

Once up top I looked at my watch to see a running time of over 1 hour and 44 mins, and this was to travel less than 5 miles.  After the long grind up the mountain, we took in all the views, took a photo for some lady, then snapped a few photos of my own.  We then started the decent, we had under 9 miles to go with about 3 down and the rest "flat" better known as slightly rolling.  There were only two aid stations on this loop because of the difficulty of brining supplies up the narrow steep trails, the last aid station was at about 6 miles and they were low on supplies because the llamas that brought the stuff up to this section were lazy and didn't want to carry much water!  So we were limited to what we could take.  The bright note was that it was not as warm as stage 1 and there was a lot of shade in the last part of this course.

As I had hoped I was feeling better on the descent, so Jackie and I were able to cruise pretty good, today we would be passing people in the final stages instead of being passed.  We must have passed 10 teams in the last 5 miles.  As uplifting as that was, this stage seemed to never end for me, I kept wondering when the hell we would see the finish line in the distance.  Finally we came out of a wooded area on to a dirt road and we could start hearing the music in the distance.  We picked up the pace a little bit and finished the stage strong in a SLOOOWWW time of 3:29:59.  This was our worst stage as far as placing in our division, but taking this stage easy set us up for a better rest of the week.

After grabbing some food, we headed over to a small pond and soaked the legs for a bit, then jumped on a bus and took the 30 min ride to Leadville where we would be spending the night camped out on a baseball field at over 10,000 feet.

Hightlights of Leadville:
- Just seeing Main Street was cool because I have seen it in so many Leadville 100 photos.

-Going to the Silver Dollar Saloon with Jackie, Thor, and Jay for lunch.  Don't ask "What's on tap" in this establishment becuase you will just get a weird look.  It is a bottle or nothing here and that was fine with us...a Fat Tire please.  They also had "Chicken Shit Bingo"

-At the nightly festivities we were given Inov-8 Wraps and a Windstopper Blanket

The flat before the "hill"

Some views

A rocky trail

Almost at the top!

Hope Pass!  Only 9 miles to go...

More views.

Back to the flat near the finish

Monday's in Leadville are cheap!

This is where they play chicken shit bingo.

Main Street Leadville

By the way Chicken Shit Bingo is this...At the Silver Dollar Saloon there were photos of Chicken Shit Bingo.  They make a bingo board on the floor and fence it in, they then put a chicken in there and wherever the chicken the letter/# called out.  They do things differently at 10,000+ ft above sea level!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Stage 1 Buena Vista to Railway Bridge

We woke up on race morning to blue skies and cool air, unfortunatley the cool air would only last until the sun was high in the sky.  We threw our bags in front of the Lakeside Motel and starting making the trek down Main Street to eat breakfast in the very place we ate the night before.  The food that TRANSROCKIES put out is crazy, and most people would not want to eat this stuff before running.  Jackie and I ate enough but stayed true to normal foods like oatmeal and toast, there were no breakfast burrito's for either of us on Day 1.

Because we got to breakfast so early we had a lot of time to kill before the 9am start.  We hung around outside and met up with Thor and Jay.  On day 1 we did not have to carry the mandatory gear (rain jacket, gloves, winter hat, survival blanket) but we did have to check into the starting chute about 20 mins early.  There was plenty of room to move around the chute, so were not corralled in there like cattle.  When it was getting closer to gun time they rocked the music and the field moved closer to the starting line and things tightened up.  We made sure to get near the front but not too close!  We had 20.8 miles to sort this whole mess out and plenty of wide road at the start before the single track began.  At 9am on the dot; BANG!  the first stage of the TRANSROCKIES RUN had finally started.  We made are way down Main Street towards a dirt road and over the Arkansas River.  The course stayed flat for about 1 mile and then started a gradual climb.

As the race started climbing we started passing some teams that started out fast on the road.  We eventually caught up to the Inov-8 team of Amy Lane and Sabrina Moran and ran with them for a little bit chatting about New England running and the RI 6 Hour.  After another steep climb we pulled away from them as well which was a big surprise because they are a strong team.  Throughout the middle part of the race we caught up to many teams which kept the confidence high.  Niether of us was having a hard time with the breathing, but it was getting pretty hot and we both had some short bad patches that we had to get through during the middle to late parts of the stage.  As things worked themseleves out we ended up going back and forth with two teams for quite a while from probably miles 14-16 or so.  Rachel Cieslewicz of Team Good People Run for Neways/Newton-CW-X was having some GI issues and we would go by every time she had to stop and then they would pass us again.  We also were running with Team PNB of AJ and Keri Wheeler.  Running with them on Day 1 set us up for a great friendship for the rest of the week and hopefully for years to come.

Our good fortune in Stage 1 started to come to an end with about 3 miles to go.  I was getting dizzy and the legs just did not want to move anymore.  The funny thing about this whole episode was we went through all the steep hills of the mountainous section of this stage and I start bonking on a pancake flat dirt road.  I finally had to walk run for the last 2 or so miles and teams started to come back by us, including Amy and Sabrina.  When we finally saw the finish line I was happy as hell.  We ran it in and crossed the finish line in 3:20:55 we made are way over to the food table to get replenished.  I went through a few minute period where I was super dizzy and my vision was blurred but I seemed to come out of it after some fluid and a dip in the river.

With Stage 1 completed mostly intact, we took the shuttle back to camp.  This was our first night in camp and to our dismay when we arrived we saw that there was another huge hill we had to walk up to get to our tents!  The good thing was that they had a truck to bring our 50+ pound bags up for us.

When at top we picked out a tent and started getting our shit together.  At this point I started to feel like hell again.  This went on for most of the afternoon with numerous trips to the bathroom because I felt like I was going to throw up.  I continued pushing fluids all day and by the time dinner came around I was happy t see that I was able to eat!

At dinner we met up with AJ and Keri, Thor and Jay.  This would be ritual everynight of the week.  It was nice to have regulars to look for every night at dinner.  On top of a great dinner, Stage 1 photos and video and a preview of Stage 2 we also were given some more merchdandise, on this day it was a pair of Windstopper Gloves.

After all the day 1 festivities were finally over, we headed up to our tent, zipped it all up and feel asleep  to the wind which turned into a heavy over night rain.  We needed all the rest we could get (especially me) if we were going to be ready to climb up and over the 12,600 ft Hope Pass in the morning.  Stage 2 coming "soon"...

Jackie and Me ready to roll...

Stage 1 fun

Cool tunnel

River bathing

Tent life

Inov-8 snacks...yummm

Monday, September 12, 2011

TransRockies Camp Life

Since I am slow with putting out my next post, here is a good description on what camp life was like at the TransRockies Run.

Team Everyman Tri Camp Life blog post


Friday, September 9, 2011

Pre-Race Buena Vista

So we were to stay 2 nights in Buena Vista before the race started on August 21st.  Our bus dropped us off at the Central Colorado Regional Airport which was over a mile from the Lakeside Motel which we were staying.  This isn't usually a big deal, but we had 4 bags with us, 2 which were carry-on rolling bags and over half the distance was on a gravel path/road.  My Dockers bag held up well, but if I am ever in the market for another bag, I will be looking for one with much larger wheels!  We finally jumped on some pavement and were walking through a small residential section of Buena Vista when Jackie said "I wonder what these people are thinking when they see us walking down the street with all this baggage"  a moment later a woman and her husband asked us where we were going and if we needed a ride.  I jumped right on that, so we threw our stuff in the trunk of their car, explained what the hell we were doing and 5 mins later we were at the hotel giving them thanks and were checking in for the night.
Shortly after arriving we headed out for our first run at 8000+ feet.  We went down Main Street and into the trails where the race would be starting.  It was so much better then running in downtown Denver that I wished we could have kept on going, but with the race starting in two days we had to keep it easy and only ran 35 mins.

To stick with the routine, after we ran, we showered and headed to a brewpub.  The fact that Buena Vista had a brewpub was amazing because this is a pretty small town with a population under 2,200.  The Eddyline Restaurant & Brewery did not disappoint.  They had a well rounded beer selection and some tasty food.  Since the TRANSROCKIES race basically doubles the population of Buena Vista, there was a short wait for a table at Eddyline, so we made our way to the bar and ordered a round  of the Pine Creek Porter.  After about 25 mins we sat and order up some grub, we started with the Dough Twists and then I had the Cheddar Penne Macaroni with Salad and Jackie had the Creamy Pesto Pasta with a Salad.  During dinner we also sampled the South Main Stout and Crank Yanker IPA.  And just for the record everything we consumed at Eddyline was great.

August 20th.  This was our last night before the race and our last night in Buena Vista.  We headed out around 9 a.m. to get an easy 25 min run in then walked over to the Buena Vista Roastery and picked up some coffee.  From there we walked over to the trail and checked out some of the sites including an old mining cave entrance.  We went back to the hotel for a bit then headed back to Eddyline for lunch.  We again had a good meal and were satisfied with our last meal before the TRANSROCKIES race catering took over at dinner.  On our way back to the motel we stopped by the Buena Vista Heritage Museum to pick up our race packets which included two huge bags to lug around all of our 'stuff' for the week.  We also were given a race shirt, hat, Peet shoe dryers, and some other miscellaneous schwag.  Now that we had our race bags we had some work to do, we had to fit all of our gear for the week in these bags.  The positive thing is all we had to do once packed was leave them in front of the motel on race morning and a race truck would come by and pick them up and have them for us at the end of Stage 1.  They also took our other luggage and put it on a truck and it would make its way to the final stage where we would pick it up.

This shows how big these bags were!
After some packing and some relaxing it was finally time to get on with the pre-race dinner/info session.  We made our way back down Main Street and what would become a common occurence all week, we were one of the first to arrive at dinner.  The pre-race dinner was something we would have to get used to because we had alot of it all week, fajitas.  There was a buffet line set-up with chicken, beef, onions, peppers, cheese and all the other mexican fixens.  There were also cookies...and I like cookies.  We bellied up to a table and met a team that consisted of a dude from Colorado and a woman from South Africa, after that we met a big group that was from Washington D.C.  A little while later Thor and Jay of Team HumpMe & DumpMe showed up with their wives.

After dinner we went through the first pre-race course preview and got a bit of an overview of all things TRANSROCKIES.  We were finally feeling like the race was on and went back to the motel with full stomachs and excitment for what the first race day would bring.  All that was left to do was finish packing and get a good nights sleep, especially since this would be our last night during the race that we had a real bed in a room...  Stay Tuned for Stage 1 Buena Vista to Red Bridge.  In the meantime enjoy some photos.

Some Buena Vista scenery

Abandoned Mine
Cool old place


Some more old town.

Inside Eddyline

Lunch @ Eddyline

Monday, September 5, 2011


On August 17th Jackie and I started our journey to Colorado for the TRANSROCKIES RUN.  We had been looking forward to this race since February.  However before we were to race we had to fly into Denver Airport and then take a 30+ minute trip to get to our hotel in downtown Denver.  We were to stay in Denver for two nights and we had two goals while we were there.  1.) Start acclimating to the higher elevation and 2.)  Visit many brewpubs.

Upon arriving at our hotel we checked in and headed down Denver's 16th Street Mall and hit the Rock Bottom Brewery.  Rock Bottom is a chain, but they brew a lot of different beers and had some pretty damn good food.  I would say this was my favorite of the three brewpubs we hit in Denver.

Rock Bottom beer list
A few hours after eating at Rock Bottom and sampling the Mad Cow Milk Stout and the Whiskey Aged Raspberry Porter, Jackie and I went out for a short run through Denver.  We were a bit tired from the day of traveling and the 95+ degree heat, but overall we had a good first run at a mile high.

Wynkoop Brewing Company
After resting in our hotel room for some time we ventured out for dinner.  We walked the short stretch to the 16th Street Mall and jumped on the free mall bus that would bring us about a mile downtown and then walked the next 1/2 mile to get to the Wynkoop Brewing Company.  A very cool brewpub that claims to be Colorado's FIRST.  I ordered the Cowtown Milk Stout while Jackie went with the St. Charles ESB, which happened to be on cask!  Both were tasty brews and the food was good as well, I however didn't like part of my meal but it had nothing to do with the quality of the food.

August 18th brought much of the same with the addition of a trip to the Denver Zoo.  We woke up went for a 40 minute run, changed up, scarfed down some free breakfast at the hotel then took a bus to the zoo.  It was a nice way to pass a couple hours during the day while being outside instead of stuck in our hotel room.  We got back from the Zoo and headed back to the Rock Bottom Brewery for lunch which was the closest to our hotel room and they had other beers on the menu that I wanted to try out.  We grabbed a seat at the bar and ordered two different meals and shared them in order to try out as much food as we could.  We had a vegetarian pizza and a chicken quesadilla, both were super tasty.  On the beer front I had the Chocolate Rye Porter and Jackie the Belgian Style White.  Both great brews.  We went to pay the bill and had to wait maybe 3 minutes because the computers shut down...the bartender thought that was long enough to give us both another 12 oz beer for our troubles, and that was OK with us.

Before dinner we headed over to the largest REI store I have ever seen in my life.  This place is huge.  We didn't even bother climbing the three flights of stairs because just looking at them made us tired.  This place has a rock climbing wall in the center of the store and a mountain bike test trail outside.  We just needed some GU's and some camping pillows, so there was no testing out rock walls or mountain bikes on this trip.

For dinner we headed to the Breckenridge Brewery near Coors Field.  This brewery recently started distributing in RI so I was familiar with their beers.  I went with the Thunder Stout which is a nitro tap version of their Oatmeal Stout and Jackie went with the Vanilla Porter.  Both beers were much better then the bottle versions.  The food was uneventful; I don't even remember what I ordered, but it was good enough to scarf down with a beer.  We grabbed two brownies on the way out, one made with the Vanilla Porter and one made with the Oatmeal Stout.

Finally it was the night before we were to jump on a bus to Buena Vista, where we would be staying for two nights prior to the official race start on August 21st.  Buena Vista is over 8000 ft, so it was another step in acclimation to the higher altitude.

August 19th we woke up headed down stairs for some more free breakfast, packed up our things and at noon started the half mile walk to the bus station where we would jump on a mini bus to take the almost 3 hour trip to Buena Vista.  Upon arrival at said bus station we noticed that bus stations are full of 'interesting' people, people that I wouldn't want to share a bus with and we were stuck there for about an hour.  Fortunately for us most of these interesting people were not on our bus, they were waiting for a bus to California!

Some Denver scenery
Finally our bus arrived; we jumped on and met one other couple that would be racing at TRANSROCKIES, all the other people were staying on the bus past our destination to another small town in Colorado.  The long trip was uneventful, we saw some beautiful countryside, stopped at some small ass towns to see if there was anyone to pick-up (there never was) and finally arrived at our destination in Buena Vista, actually we still had to walk over a mile to our hotel...but we will get to that in Part 2 of the story Pre-Race Buena Vista. Stay Tuned...