September 22, 2009

Stage 6, The Grand Finale!

I was out kayak racing last night and thinking about my race report while trying not to puke on myself in the boat. I realized a few things, mainly that I have probably made this all sound a bit too easy so far. Yes we instituted and followed a great race plan, which I believe left us to suffer less than most, but we weren't without our own daily struggles, both mentally and physically.

Each days routine focused solely on what would allow us to recover faster and race stronger than our competitors on the following stage. As soon as we finished the daily grind we jammed our mouths full of as much food and fluids as we could handle. We kept up a steady stream of Thermolyte electrolyte tablets before, during, and especially after each days running. We were always adamant about getting our recovery drinks in as quickly as possible and consuming amino acids such as Recover like they were candy. After the first few stages we realized the benefits of a daily massage to help 'flush' the legs. We'd follow up later in the evening with self massage via 'the stick' or a myo ball, and before bed each night we'd take ten minutes to stretch each others legs out. We'd then wear compression socks n shorts as pj's and call it a night!

By the third stage the snooze button was getting slammed regularly, and by day six we just decided to set the alarm as late as we possibly could while still making the race start on time! I most certainly thoroughly enjoyed every single stage of The Trans Rockies Run, but by the final day I found myself more than ready to take a few days off of running...and to sleep in an actual a hotel...with heat!!

Stage 6: Vail - Beaver Creek

Distance: 21 miles / 34 km
Climbing: 4623 feet
Descending: 4718 feet
Low/High Elevation: 7420/10512

It was another beautiful morning to cap off an incredible week. It was not lost on me what a different experience it would have been had the weather turned bad for any stretch of time. As the gun went off to start us on our final steps towards the overall finish line in Beaver Creek I felt incredibly fortunate to be standing in that exact place, at that exact moment in time, and for so many different reasons that they will all have to remain implied for now. Life was good (it's still pretty damn great since returning from TRR mind you!) but as I tried to stay in the moment and appreciate where we were and what we were about to accomplish, the pains within my body seemed insignificant. I had earned every single one of them, even the stomach issues I had mentioned, which I had figured out the night before to be caused by our tow rope set up putting constant pressure on my lower abdomen. Of course I didn't share that piece of info with Tamsin until the sixth and final stage was complete.

We began with a run through Vail Village and then out along a footpath that skirted the highway. My body was taking a bit to get rolling but once we hit the singletrack, just a few miles in, it was game on!

Because there were still numerous divisional battles to be determined in the overall G.C. (general classification) the field went out hard from the start. People were going to leave it all out there on the final day, and we were no different. Those masochistic bastards at TRR had saved the biggest day of climbing for the final stage!

Thankfully, as seemed to be the case for most of the week this favored us and as the terrain grew steeper we passed and distanced ourselves from numerous teams. Nikki and Kami still had ten minutes to try to make up on Devon and Caitlin and they disappeared early as they knew they only had 21 miiles to do this in. Devon and Caitlin were running strong and just a step ahead of us as we topped out on our first and largest climb of the day. However I think they got a time split from the aid station regarding The North Face girls because they managed to dig a little deeper and find another gear from there to the finish line. (In the end the NF girls made up seven minutes on the final stage, but they needed 9 1/2min. It was a fun battle to watch unfold all week long!)

The day was glorious and as we were running through the town of Avon, which basically split our two mountain climbs for the stage, I felt like I was melting down into the ground. As usual Tamsin did not feel the heat, but we were running at our max capacity as a team and Taz was well into the biggest week of running she'd ever undertaken.

As we began our second climb of the day, and last of the entire race, there was but five miles of running left in the 2009 edition of Trans Rockies Run...and we counted down every damn step. The second climb wasn't even comparable to the initial one we'd already conquered, but with our minds already firmly planted into a finish line that did not yet exist it made every step up the mountain side complete and utter torture. At one point you are forced into a power hike as you zig zagged up a ski run. We could see Devon and Caitlin cresting up ahead of us, and by the time we'd done the same we were able to confirm that not another team was within sight of us.

From here it was pretty much a 1.5 mile cruise to the finish line. We slowed our pace so as to fully take it all in. This was the first moment since we'd learned of our open mixed lead, towards the end of stage three, that we'd allowed ourselves to admit and discuss what was about to occur...



We floated across that finish line in Beaver Creek, hand in hand, as teammates who'd set out with a clear cut goal over eight months prior, to try to win Trans Rockies. We had no idea at the time if that was even a realistic goal to set for ourselves and yet here we were, victorious on so many levels.

(Photo Credit Dan Hudson)

Tamsin and I then took great pleasure in sitting in the sunshine and cheering in the rest of the finishers of the 2009 TRR. To our surprise and delight the next open mixed team across the line were our own friends from N.V. Nicola Gildersleeve and Peter Watson! I should also mention that Aaron Heidt and Adam Campbell laid the hammer down on this stage and outright won it by almost six full minutes!

Two by two the rest of the competitors trickled in throughout the afternoon. Being that I consider myself a fairly competitive runner and that I train pretty hard I was well conditioned for what the Colorado terrain had thrown my way. What I witnessed thereafter was truly the definition of guts and glory. The pure elation upon people's faces as many completed the most grueling physical endeavor of their entire lives. The determination and unrelenting attitudes that many of these competitors displayed was one of the most inspiring things I have yet to witness. I would happily have sat there all afternoon watching this all unfold had I not smelled so damn bad and been so bloody hungry (yes I used the word bloody to create one more mental image of Tamsin's incredible nosebleeds, of which she has corrected me in saying they lasted over half an hour!). After a quick shower and some eats I returned to the finishing area once again to cheer the remaining people across the line.

(Jenn and Carolyn celebrating their open-women 80+ win! {combined age!} Photo Credit Dan Hudson)

My hat goes off to so many participants of The Trans Rockies Run, so many in fact that I won't even attempt to mention them all here right now. What I do feel the need to do however is to properly congratulate my fellow BC runners who fought so hard, through blisters, battered bodies and even a broken toe, yet not a single complaint did I hear throughout the week long run. My own personal experience down at TR was enhanced greatly by each and every one of you. Thanks so much for all the incredible memories!

(Sandra 'broken toe' Sander and Liz 'powerhouse' Collings)

In No Particular Order:

-Sandra Sander & Liz Collings
-Nina Parente & Shelly Hoodspith
-Aaron Heidt & Adam Campbell
-Jennifer Heffel & Carolyn Hutchins
-Bitsy Delany & Megan Wheatley
-Julie Flynn & Glenn Cameron
-Nicola Gildersleeve & Peter Watson
-Chantal Hilbert & Heather Hamilton
-Meredith Cale & Adam Way
-Valerie Henderson & Nancy Gilmore
-SPECIAL THANKS to Jeff Delany for being such an incredible support crew for all of us and transporting some of our gear. I loved having an actual pillow each night!

Ahh hell, I might as well finish this thing off right or I'll regret not doing so later. The people who I'd never met before, or had gotten to know a hell of a lot better than I already did, and each of whom I will never forget:

(the four Newfoundlanders down at Trans Rockies!)

-Thomas & Monica Miller
-Phil Villeneuve & Gavin Hamilton
-Ted Russell & Greg Kotzbauer
-Hal Koerner & Andy Martin
-Blaine Penny & Trevor Baine
-Julie Leasure & Peter Courogen
-Deb Russell & Steve Russell
-Tim Watson & Doone Watson
-Keith Brodsky & Leslie Gerein-brodsky
-Caitlin Smith & Devon Crosby-helms
-Kami Semick & Nikki Kimball
-Toby Radcliffe & Will Kelsay
-The names I've overlooked in my quick scan of the stage six results, you know who you are, it's 1am, I'm sorry my eyes were closed and I missed you!

Last but certainly not least, my wonderful sponsors:

-Montrail: I rocked the Mountain Masochists all week long and loved every step I took in them!

-Mountain Hardwear: My 'Monkey Man Jacket' was my choice piece of the week!

-Carbo-Pro / 1200 / Thermolytes / Recover: I overlooked mentioning that I was able to carry a half bottle full of 1200 throughout the entire race and would simply use it for my single handheld refills at aid stations approx every ten km. I basically fueled my entire run on 1200, a few gels, and a shit load of thermolytes!

-Princeton Tec: Although none of our racing was done at night we spent the entire time camping. I love my new 'Remix' and it's become my fav all rounder. Packs down to nothing too so I always carry it along on my evening runs just in case.

-North Shore Athletics: Quite simply we would not have been there without them...and they sign my paycheques so I'd better stay in the good books here!


That's it! I think I've managed to do a decent job of recreating our experiences down in Colorado, although words can't fully express what an incredible journey we had and what a phenomenal organization TRR really is. The countdown is on to 2010, rego opens next week! WHOA, HOLD YOUR HORSES, if you can hold out till early 2010 and you register through North Shore Athletics we'll be able to provide a discounted entry fee...more info to follow in the coming's few pics to leave you with,

(Just a glimpse at what/who it takes to pull off such a grand event such as TRR!)

(Thomas and Monica Miller in all their glory!)

(Keith and Leslie showing us what team work is all about!)

C'est Fini


ONE LAST ADDITION, for people who were there...



Thank you for your time in writing this post. I don't know what took more effort for you, running the race... or writing the report! Fabulous run for both of you!! Nice to see she rocked the Frosty 50 K I participated in also! you are both very inspirational.Keep doing what inspires you!

The Chaser said...

thanks for the study break gary...

don't know you really, but u are one of the few blogs i still read so i expect you to keep on winning ;)

garobbins said...

Thanks Heather, how did Frosty treat you?
Hannah, how's school going? I'm sorry but lately I've fallen out of touch with the blogging world and am trying my best to catch up on people again. You are both regulars that I check in on when I can!