Wednesday, September 17, 2008

More pics from the relay..

Just a bit of my difficult leg on the Colorado Relay:

The decades..

H asked me yesterday how it felt to turn 54. This is what I thought:

1. When I was 4 years old, my mom was in the hospital, very ill and almost died. My dad was left with 5 little girls, (youngest being 5 months old) until my mom recuperated.

2. When I was 14, I got my first job. I worked at a snack bar at the local pool..I was busy on the swim team and becoming interested in boys.

3. When I was 24, my first born was a year old. My ex-husband and I bought our first real house. I was a nurse and a housewife.

4. When I was 34 years old, I was divorced and having a great time being single while working as a cardiac nurse.

5. When I was 44, I lost my ability to drink responsibly so I quit. I started getting in shape..

6. I am 54 today. I had a man 20 years my junior proposition me last week (I said no of course). I still got it!! My life is full, I love my family, my friends and my freedom..I am a triathlete, mom, Grandma and wife.

What else is there?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Part 3-you really know who your friends are..

This is where things went a little south for me..After my final leg of the race, we had some time to kill until the finish. My stomach was not doing so well and I thought, Well I must be really hungry or something.. We went to Village Inn, where we waited and waited so by the time we got served I was gobbling down OJ and wolfing the pancakes I ordered, thinking OK I just need to get some calories in.. Wrong! Then not only did my stomach feel yucky, now I had all this food sitting in it. Not a good sign..At the finish line I tried my best to find a coke or anything fizzy. The only thing they really had was beer, I don't drink so didn't go there. I did find some weird drink at the Expo that worked for awhile and I just thought it would go away with enough water and time..I did feel myself getting a little grumpier as the day wore on. We went to the Hot Springs which may not have been the best thing for possible dehydration but it kept my mind off my stomach issues that seemed to be somewhat abated by now. And it was fun!!

If you have a queasy stomach do not read on.. We got back in the van..Off we went to head to Breckenridge for a night in a nice condo with real beds where we could relax, eat and just hang out after all our hard earned work. Margaret was driving, and all of a sudden I got that feeling.. which felt vaguely familiar from my drinking days..Oh shit! I think I am going to puke! I think I said..You really know who your friends are when they immediately hand you a plastic bag and ask Do you want me to pull over? I think I said no thinking I will just have a little regurg and be done with it. But noooooo....I had to have the projectile kind that went all over me, the car, my bag, shoes and probably some people, I don't know. OK, time to pull over...WTF??? I felt so embarrassed, tired to clean up as best I could, my friends trying to help but were as tired and helpless as I felt, I am sure. I got up in front and we stopped at the nearest gas station where Jane scored me some coke and Gator Ade (you can tell she has kids-nonplussed by the whole thing). Mark reassured me I probably was going to be OK (that really helped in my foggy state). I took my pulse-no rapid pulse. The thing that worried me was I could not remember for the life of me how we had gotten on the mountain. Where we started, how we got there, little details like that. That scared me. I am thinking high altitude, exhaustion, dehydration, all of it.. being the hypochondriac I am-I immediately envisioned myself in the hospital in Breckenridge, which was in the boondocks to me. So I made the executive decision to call my daughter to come pick me up from Denver..They told me later I was near one of the most highly ranked hospitals in the country in Vail...whatever..I wanted to get out of the now..

My friends, bless all of them. They treated it like it was no big deal, did not say Oh my God she puked and it smells so bad in here-get her outta here!! Thank you!! They took care of me until Becca and Dan showed up a couple of hours later. I got back to mile high Denver, sucked down a whole bunch of Gatorade and proceeded to sleep 12 hours straight..Funny how things look different in the morning! I remembered everything by the next morning so probably little brain damage resulted..

I have been hiking in some pretty high mountains before, have seen altitude issues, dehydration, but never had first hand experience. I think I saved my friend from having to calm me down all night because my mind is a dangerous thing when it comes to illness..I felt really sad to miss that last night...but there is always next year..

Afterthoughts: We learned alot about each other in our little van and on the whole trip. Lots of profound thoughts shared Everyone is responsible for their own happiness and Life in dynamic..things like that. Things that in those circumstances seemed so funny and absurd at the time that only crazy people in a van couped up for 24 hours could appreciate.. We learned I am not such a great navigator when I am tired. Tim is a great driver in the snow. And Damon, the other driver was the best navigator gadget person I have ever met. Mark likes triple peanut butter sandwiches. Jane can sleep anywhere. Margaret loves running uphill, in the snow. On and on I could go.. I loved the whole thing (except the puking part). The weather made it interesting and challenging. Since we faced it as a team, it felt so doable and less frightening..

It took me back to when I was on the swim team as a kid and the team depended on each other to do well. Team racing is the best. I felt camaraderie this weekend like no other feeling..

Sign me up..I am ready for next year!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Colorado Relay..Part Two..

At the 100 mile point:

As we waited for Tim, the moon rose over Colorado:

As we were messing around in the van, and hanging out in a real bathroom, Tim arrived 10 minutes early. We found out as we got to the Exchange Point hearing Team 178? Anyone here? Oh shit, we just lost 10 minutes..Oh well. Off Jane went for her nighttime run. Tim was glad to be done..

Off we went to the next checkpoint where we were not late to get Margaret off on Leg 12.

I must have gone brain dead the next few legs, because there are no pictures for the next few legs of the relay, but Jane, Margaret and I got out in the dark and did our legs with headlamps, reflector vests and a very beautiful full moon and cold night. When I left on leg 15, I headed down the street to absolute nothingness into the night on the streets of Vail. At this point of the race, it was 10:30 at night and I had 9 miles to run, mostly downhill this time. It was surreal running in the dark. There were no markings on the road at this point of the race so when I got worried I was off track, I would wait for a runner to come up behind me and breathe a sigh a relief that if I was lost, then there were more than one of us..I made a pit stop into a hotel to go to the bathroom and reorient myself on the map I did have. For one split second, I thought seriously of booking a room for the night. But my team was depending on me! After about 5 miles in traffic in Vail, I finally got to run on the most beautiful bike path was surreal..The full moon and stars, the river rushing beside me, my Ipod music in one ear and not a soul in sight for what seemed like forever. By this time I could relax, because the trail was marked well for the relay..It was really one of the most serene runs I have ever done. Being mostly downhill, I was making good time. When I arrived at the Exchange point, I yelled for Dave and there he was! Then I only had one more leg to do!!!

Now we had to find a place to crash for awhile. After trying the airport, which was closed, we found a hotel, who allowed us to crash in the lobby, until 4:00 AM. I managed to sleep for about 2 hours finally..the rest of my team managed to rest a bit too..After coffee and more snacks, we were off for our final leg of our part of the trip. Here comes Misty again!

Off went Tim again, bless his heart, for the last run in the dark:

I survived and lived to tell about it..Part One.

I decided I will probably not be a good candidate of "Survivor" at this point of my life. I did however, have the time of of my life at the Colorado Relay this weekend. We left on Thursday and flew to Denver:

where we shopped as a team of 11 in the local Walmart. Snacks abound as we left for Whole Foods in Denver where we checked for the race in our 2 vans and had the team dinner:

We excitedly discussing our triathlon careers and weight loss. I didn't realize that Mike, Tim and Brian had lost a total of about 300 lbs between them in the last 5 years. They compared old license pictures:

After that, we headed to Georgetown. After a team meeting in the hot tub:

We hunkered down for our last night of sleep in a real bed for 48 hours. Up at 4:00 AM, I looked outside and it was pouring rain! Not the just dripping silent type of rain, but the kind that sounds like a deluge on the ground. OK, so we are going to run in the's official. We headed off to the starting line and there were the other 249 teams, checking in as we all anticipated a real test of endurance in these conditions. Dread Pirate, our team captain and I listened, outside in the pouring rain, as the race director said, "Some people treat this Relay as a race, some as an adventure with your friends. In these conditions, I suggest you treat this as the latter." We heard along the way that these were the worst starting conditions ever in the past 5 years anyway, of the Relay. Here we are ready to begin the adventure:

Tim, the bravest of us all, started the first leg of the race:

Jane, our fearless leader, was pretty psyched for her leg.\

Off Margaret went on leg 3, in the snow (she loves running in the snow-no kidding):

On the way up this pass, the van we were driving decided it had had enough and just slid into a stop, not 200 yds from the top:

Luckily, a nice man in a Bronco, towed up to the top of the pass, where Mark took off on his leg, down the mountain, in the snow

We slid the van down the mountain, where I waited for Mark to hand me the bracelet, which was the hand off object for the relay.

Here I go!

I started running as fast as I could down the road, Ipod on, feeling fabulous-flying..All of a sudden I hear a car honk and Tim yelling at me from the van: Debi-you missed the turn! Oh damn-I had to run up the hill to connect up with the trail head, where the real fun started. It was 5.8 miles of running straight up a mountain, to 10,700 feet and then back down to 9,000 ft. It was called Burning Bear Pass. I prefer to call it Burn My Ass Pass. It was considered "hard"... Are you kidding me? I don't even get to rate it "very hard"? I was huffing and puffing much of the way up, power walking much of it. There were large puddles of water on the trail, many streams to jump over, several inches of snow at the top, where I decided to put on my Yak Trax, which are basically little wire thingies you put on the bottom of your running shoes so you can run in the snow. These came off at the top, when I started descending on boulders and rocks and mud down a very steep narrow trail. The only thing that kept me from feeling totally like a failure was that several young looking men were even walking at the top. Note to self: Next time try practicing running at 10,000 feet! I almost bit the dust many times as I hopped and jumped my way down.. I was very stressed that my teammates would be worried about me, as I was about 45 min. off my expected arrival time but I was doing my best under the circumstances. It was raining or snowing the whole time-the only advantage of over packing, which I always do, was that I was overdressed and certainly not cold at all! I finally managed to get to the next exchange point, where Van B, the other van's first runner, Dave took over. I have never been so glad to see anyone in my life!

Next we found a place to lay down at the exchange point for our next start. We had about 5 hours to kill so DP and I found a little cubby hole in a Community Center to take a nap in. By now it was around 4:30 in the afternoon, still raining, but abating a bit.

Can I just say that I have never met anyone who could sleep as easily as Dread Pirate. She slept in the car, on the floor, anywhere she could between her running legs. I was sooo jealous!! I tried to nap here but found it very hard to sleep after all the caffeine I had consumed to run up a mountain pass.

We all met up at this point of the race to start Van A (out van) out on leg 11:

Mike had the hardest leg, up Georgia Pass, which was closed for awhile because of snow. He started out with the first group allowed to run the snow packed mountain, fell coming down and has the wounds to prove it:

He is OK, thank goodness, although road rash on your body and hand cannot feel good.

This is a picture of the masses (and Tim) as we waited for GeekGirl:

Here she is!!

Our view as we drove to meet Tim at the next exchange point:

By now it is 6:00 PM, Friday night, 12 hours after the Relay began. The sun is setting...

In the van, we laughed so much my sides hurt. We reminisced about parts of the relay, we ate and ate and ate..Margaret, Tim, Mark, Jane and I made for a very fun van ride. Tim and Mark did much of the driving (thanks guys!). Being the van driver was my previous designated job. I am so glad I got to run instead..Otherwise, we would still be up on Guinella Pass, stuck in the snow I am sure
More later as night falls...