Bass Lake Triathlon Race Recap

Bass Lake Triathlon has made it’s way onto my top races list. The course was beautiful but challenging. Everywhere you turned there was an amazing backdrop.

There is a LOT of stuff needed when traveling for a triathlon

There is a LOT of stuff needed when traveling for a triathlon

Transition opened the day before the race so all Team Challenge folks made their way to the little “town” of Bass Lake to set up our bikes and get in a practice swim. I just received my wet suit and my triathlon kit the day before so I was anxious to get in the water and see how they felt. The transition was set up by bib number which I appreciated since I only needed to remember the vicinity of my bike. After getting the bike racked we headed to the lake for a short swim just to test the waters.

The lake was beautiful! The entrance was murky but at 50 yards or so from shore the waters turned clear and calm. It was warm too, which I wasn’t expecting. The wetsuit fit perfectly and felt great during the swim. It wasn’t until I got out that I realized everyone around me was feeling the effects of altitude. Coming from Denver, I had dropped about 3000 feet in elevation which made the swim feel easy for me. Thankfully that feeling would carry over for the race too.

That night was the Team Challenge pasta party. There were only 50 or so participants, mostly from California and the race was very small with only 400 or so participants total. First off, the food was delicious! Probably the best food at any pasta party I’ve been to. The guest speaker was beyond inspirational. Her battle with IBD has left many scars, both physical and emotional, but she is a warrior! A true inspiration to all of us living with one of these diseases. Sometimes it’s really easy to throw your hands up in frustration or pure exhaustion, but my fellow patients are constant reminders of why we need to fight. I also made Top Fundraiser! Pretty excited  that I was able to make such a positive impact on our mission. ONE TEAM. ONE MISSION!

Bass Lake Top Fundraiser

The wake up call came early the next morning and we made our way to the transition. Everything was set up beautifully at my bike and I was lucky that my rack only had 4 bikes so there was plenty of room to make sure everything was where it needed to be. On the beach the buoys were set up but there was some confusion about which buoys we needed to follow for the sprint. I was the third wave so I figured there wouldn’t be an issues with following the pack. At the start of the swim I decided to take it easy and make sure I didn’t get kicked. I managed to find a nice spot with lots of room and maintained that to the first buoy. At the second turn I was still feeing great and passing people, to boot! It wasn’t until I got to the final turn that the men’s olympic competitors had caught up to me. That led to a few kicks and punches for the last 50 meters or so but I left the water feeling pretty good. T1 was all uphill and I took our coaches advice and walked T1 so I would still have legs at the start of the bike.

Having some fun at the end of the bike before entering T2

Having some fun at the end of the bike before entering T2

The bike started with a 15 feet window to make sure you were geared correctly because it was straight up hill out of the transition. People were getting off their bike to walk the hill so I took my time and rode the entire way. It then turned into a long downhill and so began the long rolling hills that would be my entire ride. I loved it! I was feeling great at the turnaround which led to the longest uphill of the course. I managed the ride almost the entire course at the middle or highest gear and got a great second wind when I realized I was passing people on the bike. During my first tri, the bike had been the toughest part for me so clearly all the training with the Team Challenge coaches paid off!

T2 was relatively easy and I was feeling pretty confident with the run. After all, that’s what this half marathoner does well, right? It was going great until I hit the first hill and realized this run was going to be a doozy! The hills, in contrast, were much more steep than the bike and my legs were starting to tire. I decided on a run/walk strategy that would keep me moving through to the finish.

I finished the course in 2:05 which is one minute behind my first triathlon. That folks is a HUGE success. This course was much more challenging that my first so I’m very proud of the progress I made. The coaching plan I had also worked wonders. I can’t wait to do it again!

Bass Lake Triathlon Finisher

Because we didn’t have a triathlon team in Denver, I was part of the national team. It was a different experience than other events I’ve had in the past but still so much fun. I was there with two other amazing ladies from New York and I’m so thrilled that I got to know them. They each have such an amazing story and I hope to see them at future events! I also had a national coach who I couldn’t appreciate more. This man gives his all for a lot of events and I’m incredibly thankful he was dedicated to us as well. I loved seeing his smiling face on the course, along with the rest of the coaches. I’m sure our paths will cross again in the very near future.

Bass Lake National Team

Colfax Marathon Relay Team

Last year when Brian raced a leg for the Colfax Marathon relay, I knew I had to run this year. At our company Christmas party I found 2 poor drunk suckers and convinced them that running a leg of a marathon in five months would be brilliant. I’m sure those folks were hoping I would forget but I was dead set on running this year. Lucky for me, those folks were awesome and kept their drunken agreements.

Colfax MarathonSo on Sunday, bright and early, Nick kicked us off for what would be an awesome event. It started, however, with me at City Park in Denver at 6am to cheer for Brian at the start of his third half marathon.  As I saw him off, I realized how proud I was of him to stick through and start this race. He hates running so this is a huge feat for him. I then made the trek across the golf course back to my car to head to my transition area.

The morning started with HORRIBLE stomach pain. I had incredibly painful stomach cramps that seared through my gut about every five minutes. I decided to try a banana and ended up eating about half before I couldn’t stomach anymore. I was terrified that I wasn’t going to be able to make the full six miles without having an accident. After all, I barely made it to the port-o-pottie at the transition area. Before I stepped into my transition gate, I had already pooped four times. It wasn’t going to be a fun event after all.

I sat at my transition area and waited for the text messages to come through. Handoff number one went off without a hitch. So did the next three. I had made estimates based on our times and each text message came in right on queue. Every member of this team killed it!

And then, right on queue, I see Alyson making her way to me in her bright summer gear. I grabbed the baton and was off. The first part of my leg was through Sports Authority Field. I got to run through the tunnel and pop out on the field where the Broncos play. First, I hate the Broncos. Second, despite my hatred of that team, this was really awesome. The view from the field is such a different perspective. The only thing that could have made it better was the Rocky theme song blaring through the stadium speakers. (Hint hint race coordinators)

Colfax FinishersI emerged through the other end of the stadium to run along Platte River trail before making my way onto Lawrence and 17th street. By this time, the heat index and sun were creeping a little high. Half of the water went in and half went down my neck and back to cool off. The run up 17th wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be considering the hill. I did walk up the big hill on 17th and used that opportunity to eat Shock Bloks and grab a drink. I’ve been running for a few years now and I still haven’t mastered the ability to drink and run at the same time…without choking.

Down 17th was completely open to the elements. People holding signs and cheering us on helped me to forget that there was no shade and the temps were nearing 80. I thanked all the officers handling traffic control and made sure to smile. That smile helps to trick the body into thinking you’re doing something fun! I made the final few turns into City Park and felt the excitement building as I neared the finish. My goal was to run 12:00 miles (I’m a turtle, I know!) and have the team finish around 11:15. I was so happy to see Brian cheering for me at the finish and then hear my friend’s chanting my name. It gave me the burst at the end that I needed.

I finished just under 12:00 mile pace and the final team time was 5:06:28 and we averaged an 11:41 per mile pace. I beat my goal and we exceeded our team goal. Good thing the Crohnie poops weren’t an omen! It turned out to be a beautiful day and a great race.

We finished with a few beers and great conversation before getting a ride back to our car. A nice cold shower. Some foam rolling. A huge juicy burger with sweet potato fries. And then yard work…because the joys of home ownership never cease.

Airlife Memorial 5K Race Recap

Finish Line of the Airlife Memorial 5K raceSaturday morning was our practice race for the Team Challenge Denver crew. A chance for all the racing newbies to practice eating, drinking, and standing in the port-a-pottie line. First rule of racing: nothing new on race day. Second rule of racing: immediately get in the line for the potties and then when you’re finished, get in line again.

Sitting in the helicopter at the Airlife Memorial 5K raceIt was the Airlife Memorial 5K and 10K held in Hudson Gardens in Littleton in honor of local police, fire and EMS responders that have lost their lives in the line of duty. It is coordinated by Airlife Colorado and Friends of Airlife, a Colorado nonprofit organization grown out of the grassroots effort to build the AIRLIFE Memorial Park. The AIRLIFE Memorial Park was built in 1998 in honor of those who lost their lives in the December 1997 car accident and related AIRLIFE helicopter crash in Littleton. 

After we picked up our bibs we made our way to the start. I was shocked to see all the vendors, old response vehicles and the multitude of first responders all there to cheer us on. I made a quick pitstop at the port-a-potties and then met up with the team before heading to the start. Most of the team was doing the 10K but because I have the Colfax relay next week, I opted for the 5K. There were doves released in the pre-race festivities in memory of the four first responders who lost their lives in the helicopter crash. Each wave of runners and walkers were sent off to a light and siren salute. A dozen or more police cruisers, fire trucks and ambulances turned on their lights and siren as we ran by. It was possibly the coolest start to a race that I have ever experienced. All along the course, men and women in uniform were there to cheer us on and push us to the finish.

Old Fire TruckThe finish line had a feast fit for any marathon. Boxes of fruit, bars, granola, bagels, candy, muffins, and brownies. Every participant received a long sleeve tech shirt, which I was completely impressed by considering it’s a smaller race in size and the entry fee was just $30. There were vendors along the finish line expo offering everything from more food to foam rollers and yoga matts. We cruised around looking at all the old response vehicles and got to sit in one of the AirLife helicopters. We didn’t stay for the volleyball tournaments but it was turning into a beautiful morning for a little tournament.

Old Police CarThe race went well for me. I started off way to fast and slowed myself down from the sub-10:00 pace I started at. The field took off like a rocket and I quickly realized most of these runners were very fit first responders. This trail is beautiful and a favorite of mine in the Denver metro area. I wore tights that morning because it was below 40 at the start but by the end of the race I was burning up. I walked a couple of times quickly for a drink, since I can’t drink and run without choking. My final time was just over 35 minutes. I cruised through the finish line feeling pretty good.

If you’re having a hard time imaging what it would be like to run by a dozen response vehicles, you’re in luck. The kids fun run started after all the 5K and 10K runners and walkers so I got to video the start of their run. Note the officer on the bike that completely takes out the small child at the beginning of the video. I panned in front of a lady so it’s easy to miss if you’re not paying attention. There were SO many kids which means a lot of smiles, a lot of laughter, and a lot of spills on the run.

Flatirons Vista Trail

This weekend was absolutely beautiful! Sunshine all day long and temps reaching above 80. Definitely my kind of weather!

This week’s training run was a trail run, not exactly something I’m new to but this one was a doozy! The weather was perfect to start the day. We met at the trailhead for the Flatirons Vista trail just south of Boulder and nabbed a group photo before starting out on our five mile run (for those of us training for Napa).

Team Challenge Denver in front of the Flatirons

The views only got better from there! The trail starts out on a slow incline before giving your legs a pretty decent workout at about the half mile point. The hill killed me! I didn’t think I was supposed to work that hard during a warmup. After the hill, the trail flattens out (thank goodness!) and follows a gravel jeep road for about another mile. The flat was a welcome relief so I had time to slow my heart rate down.

20140503_085650 The flat jeep road then makes a slight left and we hit the first part of the trail. It was a gradual decline for about half a mile and was pretty rocky. I have a horrible habit of gazing into the distance which means I almost rolled my ankles no fewer than seven times. There was a bend in the trail and then the trail followed a much steeper decline before coming to the creek at the bottom. Of course the bridge is washed out so we had to quick step it across the rocks.

At this point I realized that I had to back UP the beast that I just came down. I trudged forward and the remainder of the trail was gradual rolling hills. I came to the turn around point and I was so mesmerized and feeling pretty darn good that I decided to keep going. I made it across a couple of bridges before hitting the three mile mark and turning around. Going back was brutal! It was basically up hill all the way back until I made it back to the jeep road. I’m not ashamed to say that I walked a LOT on the way back, including most of the steepest part of the mountain.

20140503_094341 This was one of those runs that was indescribable. I finished at the bottom of that first hill and my team mates cheered me in and I felt like I had truly accomplished something that morning. That feeling that I can conquer the world because I just conquered that mountain. It was only a six mile run and it took me an hour and a half. In my defense I did stop for a lot of photos so my actual moving time was just a few minutes faster and the elevation gain was almost 600 feet. But to get these views, it was totally worth all the salty sweat rings I went home with that day.

My only concern with this trail is specific to people with IBD. Be sure to use the port-a-potties at the trail head. There isn’t another facility until around mile three and this is not the kind of “the world is your bathroom” trail.

 

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I hope you had an equally enjoyable run this weekend!

 

Remicade Update

Remicade InfusionToday was another Remicade appointment. I was expecting to hear some good or bad news about my antibody testing but instead I received just…news.

The good news is that my antibody testing came back negative so I am not developing antibodies to my meds. The other good news is that the blood work showed the Remicade actively working so it’s doing it’s job.

The weird news is now we don’t really know why I have the ulcers or inflammation. Our next steps are just to wait. My symptoms aren’t terrible so I have to start documenting all of my symptoms and we’ll revisit on the next Remicade appointment.

Or sooner if necessary. Let’s all hope it’s not necessary.

I have to have another colonoscopy in about six months to see if we can use a balloon to expand the stricture in my transverse colon and take a peek into the other half of my bowel.

Here’s to tracking symptoms. Now is as good a time as any to make use of the GI Buddy app developed by the CCFA. If you are a patient, what methods do you use to track your symptoms and food you eat. 

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