Category Archives: Races
Races we run (running, cycling, triathlons, etc)
Today was Thanksgiving. While most people spend the holiday with their family, the best Dallas and I could do was talk with family and friends on our phones. Traveling does cause us to miss our family and friends, and it is especially apparent during the holidays, but Dallas and I are thankful to have each other.
I started my morning off with a 5 mile running race, the Durango Turkey Trot. This was my first race since the Klondike Road Relay in September, first 5-mile race since August of 2012, and first ever race at high altitude. I didn’t do that badly, for having lived my whole life at sea level until last week, but I did feel noticeably out of breath earlier than I would have liked. Dallas couldn’t run today, but he did bring the chocolate lab, Charlie, and both of them stood around to cheered me through the race.
After the race, we cleaned ourselves up and walked over to a community Thanksgiving dinner at the Plata County Fairgrounds, where we were given a full Thanskgiving meal for free! Hundreds of people sat at long tables inside a large room, with volunteers serving food, buffet-style, from the tables along the side by the entrance. Dallas and I found two empty seats on the other side of the room, between the table with all the pies and the band (but much closer to the pies). The average age of attendees was much higher than our ages, but the people were all very friendly.
We walked back and spent the rest of the day lounging around the house, making food (including pumpkin waffles and pumpkin egg nog!), napping, playing with the pets, and studying languages on Duolingo. The house where we’re pet sitting has a trampoline in the back yard, and today the sun had finally finished melting off the last of the snow that was covering it since the first snowfall. I hope everyone else had a nice holiday, if you celebrate it – and have a great weekend!
Dallas and I decided to extend our stay in Skagway by two weeks, so we could run in the Klondike Road Relay, take advantage of an extra pay period, and of course spend a little more time with the wonderful friends we made while living there. Working as a bike guide could be terrifying at times – trusting cruise ship vacationers to navigate themselves down the White Pass on mountain bikes may be less physically demanding, but is much more stressful than pulling people around in a pedicab. If I work as a bike guide again, I hope the clientele are limited to experienced cyclists who are physically and mentally prepared to do multi-day bicycle touring. Still, this job was a worthwhile and enjoyable experience.
I have never lived with such close access to trails where I could lose myself in nature so easily. Just a 5 minute walk from home could take me to the Dewey Lake trail system, where there are miles of hiking trails. We were also just a 65 mile drive (or bike ride) from Carcross, in the Yukon, where it is always sunny and there are numerous mountain biking trails on Montana Mountain.
From what we were able to forage locally, we made things like dandelion salad, fireweed syrup, blueberry crisp, cranberry-poppy seed muffins, rose water (which I used to make baklava), and cottonwood oil/salve. I only wish I could have finished bottling the cottonwood oil and salve before the last farmer’s market. Cottonwood oil has medicinal properties and can be used as an anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and anti-microbial. As a massage oil, it can be used to ease sore muscles or joints, and it can also be used to heal chapped or scraped skin. If anyone would like to buy one, I will send you a 1oz bottle of oil for $12 or 2oz jar of salve for $15 – just e-mail me or leave a comment on this post.
Looking back at our time in Skagway, both of us are very glad that we decided to spend our summer there. We were able to make great new friends, occupy our free time with a variety of outdoor activities including hiking, running and mountain biking, and we learned so much about the environment and history of the area. Hopefully our friendships will continue far beyond this summer, and we will be able to carry what we learned to whatever awaits us in our next adventure.
The Klondike Road Relay is a running race that runs from Skagway to Whitehorse during the first weekend of September. It started on a Friday evening, and our team ran all night up the Klondike Highway before crossing the finish line, 110 miles later, in downtown Whitehorse Saturday afternoon. Our friend Jaime connected us to the National Park Service team, where I ran leg 8 and Dallas ran leg 10 (the anchor leg). Each leg was anywhere from 7 or 8 miles to 16 miles long. The first two legs run up the White Pass (the reverse of our Sockeye Cycle Klondike bike tours), gaining 3292 feet of elevation in less than 15 miles. Dallas and I each ran between 12 and 13 miles for our respective legs. Our team was able to knock off more than forty minutes from their previous year’s time!
I had seriously underestimated the difficulty of the XTerra Trail Running World Championship Race. Never had I encountered such steep terrain in a race of any distance, let alone a half marathon. Before any race, one of two things usually happens, sometimes both in the same race. 1) I have the feeling of total unpreparedness, and my biggest fear is coming in last place, or 2) I feel like maybe I have a chance of placing (and hopefully winning money) in the race, or at least placing in my age group. After looking at the times from last year, I seriously thought I might have a chance at placing. Only 15 women had finished in under 2 hours, and the first woman crossed the finish line in over an hour and a half. It was either a really non-competitive field or it was a really tough course. I should have known from the title of the race and the size of the prize purse that it would draw a competitive field, but I was in no way prepared for just how tough it would be.
If I do this race again (and I hope I do, some day), I will train by doing hill repeats up mountains at least once a week. Some parts of the race were so steep, just walking up was a challenge – my legs burning and breathing labored, I had to turn and walk sideways up some of those hills. The scenery was incredible, but I could hardly enjoy it, since I had to keep my eyes on the ground to avoid stumbling on a root or loose rock. I can’t wait to see the photos.
Dallas made the rest of us look bad by being the only one to finish in under 2 hours and crossing the finish line almost 20 minutes before anyone else on our team. Gerrit managed to pass me on one of the hills and beat me by almost 2 minutes. All six of us finished in under 3 hours, which may not be that impressive for any normal half marathon, but I am very proud of our team after conquering that course. The official results of the race can be found here: http://www.jtltiming.com/results/x-oahu-21k.html
Needless to say, our Skora’s got us through this tough race. I wish I could say we remain injury-free, but 3 of us ended up hurting after the race. However, all injuries were sustained prior to race day and while not wearing Skoras. Gerrit had stepped on a nail at work a few weeks earlier, and his foot was sore from where the nail had pierced his heel. Travis had injured his knee the day before while riding the strong surf on Oahu’s north shore. Upon returning to Portland and visiting his doctor, he found out that he had torn his meniscus and ACL (but will not need surgery). I injured my hip flexor the night before, just walking to dinner (wearing Vibrams). Miraculously, the pain disappeared the instant the cannon went off to initiate the start of the race, but it’s back stronger than ever, and I can barely walk now.
As much as Dallas and I wanted to stay in Hawaii, it was not possible for us to find a way for it to work for us out there in the short time we had. We both hope to be back some day (maybe for another Xterra race?). Now we are back in Portland, saving up for the next big adventure!
Since my last post, I completed the Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Mardi Gras marathon and finished the distance faster than I ever have, probably due to the flatness of the course. My time was 3:33:35, the weather was perfect, and I probably could have done better had I trained properly. My only complaint was the terrible music that they chose to have as entertainment along the course. Maybe my expectations were high, but I think an event in New Orleans that bears the title “Rock ‘n’ Roll” should have been able to provide better music.
The day after the marathon, I carpooled to Austin to pedicab during South by Southwest (SXSW), a huge festival consisting of interactive technology, film and music. I had to get a Texas driver’s license in order to pedicab there, and since my RI license was about to expire anyway, the timing was good. I still laugh whenever I take out my ID though. After living and working in Texas for a mere two weeks, I caught a ride with a fellow pedicabber back to New Orleans.
While I was in Austin, another friend from Newport had moved into the laundry room where I had been living, so I house-sat for a week uptown before moving my few possessions over to Sal’s house. Sal is the manager of the red pedicab company, NOLA Pedicabs. Their office is across the hall from Need A Ride, and Sal is good friends with the owner of our company. I was weary at first when he offered for me to live at his house, but it worked out beautifully. He has an addition connected to his house via the back porch, and it is really its own separate apartment, complete with a kitchen, bathroom and laundry machines. It’s also the exact same distance by bicycle from where I had been staying.
The Final Four NCAA Basketball Championships were held in New Orleans the weekend after I returned from Austin, followed by the French Quarter Festival two weekends later, and then Jazz Fest.
Sal has his own party, Sal Fest, during every jazz fest, and it goes on for 2 weekends. There has been no shortage of entertainment in this city. Even as I leave New Orleans, a steady influx of tourists and convention-goers are keeping the existing pedicabbers busy and well-fed. That said, many of us are leaving for the summer or for good, and in a few more weeks it won’t be the same. I feel similar to how I did when I moved back to Providence from Montreal. Pretty much all but one of my closest friends moved out of the city around the same time, so while I missed Montreal immensely for a few months, I knew it wouldn’t be the same if I went back there on my own.
There was a 5k race in Greenville only 3 miles from Bryon’s house, and Bryon offered to drive me there, so I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to run it. We drove down to the Caine Halter YMCA so I could register, then went to Starbucks for oatmeal and coffee. My legs were not happy with me when I started running, and I almost regretted entering the race. The pain in my legs eventually passed and was replaced with the discomfort of any tough cardio workout. There were no mile markers, and I did not have a watch, so I had no clue where I was and how much farther I needed to run. I could feel my form and pace start to fall apart, and two or three women ended up passing me in the last half mile, but I managed to hang on and place second in my age group. Definitely not my best race, but not bad for being on the road for a month with hardly any training.
It was a short ride to Anderson, which is why I ran the race in the first place, and we took our time getting ready to leave Greenville. Bryon made eggs for breakfast, and we packed up to go. Bryon rode with us for the first 10 miles, and we stopped at the Thomas Creek brewery on the way out to sample some of their beer. After this pit stop my legs felt much better, leading me to wonder if maybe I should drink more beer during all of our rides.
Bryon turned around when we reached a dead end and had to cross some railroad tracks. The rest of the ride was uneventful, but pleasant despite headwinds.
We reached Grace and Chuck’s home in Anderson around 4:30pm, with plenty of time to spare before sunset. Grace and Chuck are the parents of my friend Brendan, whom I ran with back in Rhode Island. They made us feel at home and cooked a tasty meal for dinner. (They also had plenty of ice-cream flavors to choose from in the freezer).