MisAdventure Racing

Bonnie Moebeck

Bonnie Moebeck

  • Profile of an Ironman

    I arrived at the Urgent Care clinic.

    I arrived at the Urgent Care clinic.

    The good news is that I had my blood pressure checked today and it’s never been better, even under stress, which leads me to the part of why I had come in, bursting through the doors of the medical center looking like a wild eyed and frenzied patient, soon to be admitted to the mental ward…

    I love to swim, which is good because it’s part of my Ironman training program, and important if I don’t want to wind up face down in Lake Monona this September. It’s also one of the few exercises I can do that doesn’t hurt. With as many broken pieces, past surgeries and weird health issues as I have/had, it’s a wonder breathing doesn’t hurt. Well that hurts sometimes too. But this isn’t about my lungs. It’s about what I lost and why the nurse at the doctor’s office didn’t wait for the doctor to finish up with his current patient and get to my chart. She took action right then and there.

    So there I was, innocently preparing to enjoy my 1700 meter swim, wearing my Ironman swim cap that had recently arrived in the mail because the last cap I had was actually molding over and I just couldn’t bear to put it on and feel the slimy surface any longer. I am super stoked to be an Ironman, but compared to the last time I crossed a finish line and…. let’s just say I’m not exactly in tip-top shape with a low percentage of body fat. The good part of this situation is that fat appears to be much more buoyant and I can nearly glide on top of the water with the current ratios I’m currently sporting around  my waistline. Anyway, I’m a little self conscious and the twenty foot dash from the women’s changing room to the freezing cold water of the lap pool seemed more than  a football field away. Just as luck would have it, the place was packed. It seemed every athlete in the metro had come in early, filling every lane, even doubling up in half of them in an effort to get their training done before the water aerobics class started and we all got kicked out. I glanced around desperately for something to stand behind but was cursed to stand there in all of my glory, waiting for a lane, with an Ironman cap on my head that stood out like a giant beacon screaming “Look at me! I am (supposed to be) a fast swimmer!” ….Perfect.

    My coach may one day become famous.

    My coach may one day become famous.

    Eventually a lane opened up and I plunged in, causing nothing just short of a tidal wave. Apparently the gym didn’t want us to go into temperature shock when coming in from outside so they heated the pool up to what felt like as close to 20 degrees as possible. The water was so cold I could of sworn I saw an ice berg and a couple of penguins go floating by as I jammed my worn out swimming goggles onto my eye sockets. I also grabbed my ear plugs because for some reason, once I hit that magical age of twenty….ish…a couple of times…. water was suddenly able to go flooding into my ear drums causing me quite a bit of pain.

    I quickly reviewed my coach’s notes for the day and took off, gliding right over the top of the water like a giant torpedo. I had fifty minutes to fit my fifty minute training session in and that meant I was going to have to swim a little faster. After a few laps I adjusted my goggles and jammed the ear plugs in deep, in an effort to minimize interruptions from having to stop and re-adjust them. If there’s two things I hate it’s water in my goggles and water in my ears.

    Everything was going fine and I only got lapped by everyone wearing a swim cap, so at least I was faster than the guy who looked like he may have accidently fallen into the pool on his way to the sauna.

    After I double checked my training sheet I hoisted myself onto the side of the pool and took off my goggles. No problem there, other than I looked like a drug addict who hadn’t slept in about a decade due to the deep purple circles the goggles had entrenched around my eye sockets. I then proceeded to remove my ear plugs, which slipped out easily, and I got up and started walking towards the door to the women’s locker room. And that is when it hit me. Everything sounded weird. Really weird, like I had just lost my hearing or my ear plugs were still in. I opened my hand and counted them. Two. But one of them wasn’t quite as big as when I had started. Part of it was missing.imagesPU0VNLLR

    “Don’t panic!” I told myself. “I just have a lot of water in my ear.  So much water than I’ve probably got half the pool and maybe even a couple of life jackets in there!!” Suddenly my head started to hurt and my left ear started to throb. I dashed into the locker room and threw my towel and goggles onto a bench. I had learned a trick last winter on how to get water out of the ears in a very effective way. Basically you tilt your head to the side, sort of like you’re trying to touch the ear that is plugged to your shoulder at a forty five degree angle and you literally bounce up and down. As luck would have it, the locker room was packed. It was just after 5pm and everyone was coming in from work. I didn’t care. I kept bouncing around in my bathing suit with my head cocked over to the side, looking a lot like I was doing an old 80’s punk rock dance move or playing on an invisible pogo stick. People were actually stopping to watch. I quickly told them (maybe shouted as my hearing was only at 50%) that I had water in my ear and that this was a great trick for getting it out. Not one person responded and I knew right then and there that someone was calling the cops.

    I dashed into a bathroom stall and starting jumping up and down as high as I could. Nothing. “Ok, ok” I thought out loud. “Just calm down. I’ll just go home and have my husband take a look inside with a flashlight. He should be able to pull it out with some tweezers. It’s our anniversary after all. What a great gift that would make!” My audible thought process was interrupted by a woman loudly clearing her throat so I flushed the toilet for no good reason and ran towards the door, hopping into my sweat pants and pulling on my jacket.


    After driving safely at a very high rate of speed I did what some drivers might call ‘drifting’ and I slid right into my driveway just as the garage door lifted. I couldn’t have timed it better. My poor husband tried to decipher what exactly I was saying as I ran up the stairs shouting something about tweezers and ear plugs. He followed in cautious pursuit and came into the bathroom just as I was firing up my night riding light for my bike which literally has the same lumen as a car headlamp. I nearly went blind.untitled (8)

    “What happened?!” he said, completely confused and already stressed out. “Hurry! My ear is totally infected with wax and chlorine, and I need you to pull the plug!” I shouted, practically spitting. After a very chaotic and confusing exchange of gestures and words, my husband peered deep into my ear canal and promptly announced that he too had gone blind from the brightness of the bike light. I set the light to dim and he looked again. This time he could see the piece of ear plug, but he wasn’t able to reach it with the tweezers.


    As fate would have it, I have exceptionally small ears. I decided to try a Q-tip which only served to jam everything down even tighter, and I nearly fainted as I realized I was probably on the brink of going completely deaf, never to hear the voices of my sweet children telling me how much they love me. With that, I decided I probably needed surgery and yelled to my husband,  who was still standing about one foot in front of my face, that I was heading to the hospital. He asked if he should drive but we both knew that if one thing was true it was this- he drives like a ninety year old and I drive like a bat out of heck. I ran out the door and hot wheeled it straight to the doctors, calling them as I drove so that they would know to have the surgical team in masks and scrubs, ready to hit the deck running.

    Once inside the medical clinic I announced very loudly, just in case I had totally lost my hearing and my voice was louder to me than it was to other people, that I was the one who had just called. The woman at the desk looked up with a startled and terrified expression. “Are you okay?” she asked. “Yes, other than the fact that I have enough wax in my ear to wipe out an entire colony of bees through heavy lay-offs!” I blurted out. After some quick typing on her computer she sent me over to the seating area where I sat down to await my fate. I noticed several people looking at me so I double checked that I had removed my swim cap and realized my clothes had a bathing suit pattern of moisture that was quite obvious. “Swimming accident.” I announced. A few people nodded and offered their condolences. They knew. They had seen this before. I was doomed. I started to wonder what it would be like to be completely deaf. Would my sense of smell grow imagesKM2K5L0Ustronger? Would I be able to tell what was going on around me by vibrations, temperature changes and scents? I had so many questions. My thoughts were interrupted by a nurse calling my name. I nearly jumped out of my chair because I didn’t hear her walk up behind me. “It’s starting.” I thought to myself, feeling the gravity of my dire situation washing over me.

    After the nurse got me into a private room I told her the ugly story of how I had lost my hearing just an hour ago and how my head hurt so bad from the infection that I didn’t know how much time I had left. She shook her head in understanding and patted my hand gently. I knew right then and there that she was the one I wanted to have call my family and share the sad news. She would break it to them gently. As it should be. She rose from her chair and said she would be right back. She didn’t want to wait for the doctor as he was with another patient. Obviously, we didn’t have much time.

    A few minutes later the nurse came into the room with some sort of contraption that looked like the spray bottle I had in my garage for killing weeds. It was worse than I imagined. She was going to have to pump antibiotics straight into my ear as a last ditch effort to save me. There wasn’t even time for a shot or a pill. Just go to the source.untitled (5)

    I braced for impact as she lined up the pump and gave it a blast. Basically it was like someone stuck a hose in my ear and turned it on full power. I practically felt my eye balls roll around in their sockets. Nothing. No change. I still couldn’t hear. At that very moment I realized I might faint. “Ok,” she said, her voice now stern “I’m going to have to try again. Don’t worry if you feel faint. That’s normal.” Man, how many people have died this way, I thought to myself. What a lousy way to go! And then the second blast came. Only it lasted a lot longer. “There we go!’ she said, her voice smiling. “What? What?” I yelled. “I still can’t hear anything!” She showed me the catch bowl she had me holding on my shoulder while she had power-washed my ear  and I saw lots of pieces of swimmer’s wax floating around. “Looks pretty good!” she said, quite delighted with how the surgical procedure had gone. Suddenly I could hear again. And then I almost passed out.imagesZSM4EWNM

    I called my husband once I got in my car and asked him if he wanted anything from Noodles & Company. Obviously he wanted to wait for me to get home before hearing the gory details because he simply laughed and told me no. I hung up and drove out of the parking lot, thankful that I had cheated death once again.

  • Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout 2015

    cuyunalakeswhitout_logo_200Last year I had the privilege of participating in the Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout fat bike race for the first time. The distancing memories of -26 wind chills and nearly becoming a Yeti snack were all too quickly fading and I was anxious to rejuvenate the thrill so I signed up as soon as I felt there was a chance I wouldn’t end up crossing the finish line in an ambulance.  After three months of setbacks from multiple rounds of dastardly flu’s, pneumonia and bronchitis, I opted for the 20k course in lieu of the 30k. I figured if I was going to die, I might as well make it quick.
    Now some people may say that ice is dangerous, especially when you’re trying to ride over it like a locomotive, but I say what’s the big deal? It’s just water and how bad can that be? Last year we rode over snow, which is also water and therefore just like ice. People are always trying to figure out a way to see life through the dirty lens.  Not me. I prefer the sunglasses with shades so dark you can’t possibly see where you’re going…
    Goldie Locks
    Race day came and I rode my 9:ZERO:7 fat bike machine to the start line (tenderly referred to as Goldie Locks) ready to put my balding tires to the test. I had considered purchasing some new tires with studs but after another fifty hour work week, time was short and wisdom was dodgy, so I played the cards. What could possibly go wrong?
    At the start line, I plopped down at the front of the pack, making sure I had minimal traffic and a good view of what lay ahead.  The course was different from the previous year and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I smiled and smirked under my brand new wool face covering, knowing that I was fully prepared for the cold and just may end up utterly destroying the competition. Ah yes, my confidence was building and I knew they would soon be talking about this up and coming racing legend for decades to come.   I was dressed for success- no negative 20 wind chill was going to creep up my back unlike last year when my eyelashes actually froze together on several occasions and I lost half of them ripping my eyes open. I had dogwood pogies that would protect my hands during the ice ages and more layers than a wedding cake. Let’s do this.
    There is something about the start of a race that takes away all sound logic, all think-tank race strategy, and any chance of survival; crumpling it up like an unwanted piece of paper and throwing it directly over the right shoulder. After a cool electric guitar version of the Star Spangled Banner the 30k riders took off and then our group was given the countdown. And that is exactly when the piece of paper was thrown. Riding harder than I’ve ever ridden in my life, I barreled to the trail entrance and shot down the straightaway. While marveling at my amazing speed and agility, I began to notice I was breathing very hard and my esophagus was closing shop for the day. Asthma attack. Suddenly our first hard left came and my rear tire made contact with water that was of the frozen sort.  I fished tailed wildly, letting out a strangled yelp but managed to somehow stay upright. So far, so good….
    We rounded a few more bends and came to the first climb. The 30k racers were already streaming down and I spotted a few friends in the pack, like racing extraordinaire and fellow Twin Six METAL team mate Martha Flynn. I had been looking forward to the climbs for the past few weeks as I had been stuck on my trainer and nothing is quite like the real thing. Even though my asthma was already out of control I welcomed the climb with a genuine smile.  After climbing an impressive total of about five feet , I felt the full force of three months off training. My lungs suddenly exploded, my head blew up like a helium balloon and my legs turned into concrete. And that is precisely when a seventh grader passed me like I was standing still. And then another rider, and another rider.  I couldn’t be sure of who they were as my vision had blurred over. At the top of the mountain we were greeted with some twists and turns that were spotted with snow, ice and even a bit of frozen grass. Perfect for playtime, that is if you get your sick kicks from playing with death. I fishtailed so hard my rear wheel tried passing me. I decided to slow down and try to catch my breath as half of the pack streamed by.
    On and on we went, climbing, twisting turning and slipping. I made fast friends with a few guys I wiped out as I went down hard, but I had bigger things to worry about like the fact that my right foot was clipped in permanently at an uncomfortable angle and any effort to turn my foot resulted in a fishtailing wipeout into the trees. Everything was right on track….
    After what seemed like the longest race of my life, I finally crossed the finish line and let out a prayer of thanks, sweat dripping from me like I had just spent an eternity in a sauna. But as I slowed to a stop a racer passed me yelling, “That was just the first loop!” We had one more to go. I quickly estimated the impact of DNF’ing myself but relented to dying while doing what I love the most- eating chocolate, and the only way to do that was to get through this race.
    I don’t remember much of the second loop other than wondering if anyone had ever died while riding their bike. At some point I slid right off the trail and directly into a very large bush. I recall wondering what it would be like to have oxygen in my lungs or sugar in my blood stream.  I do remember the volunteers cheering me on and smiling, and I think I was able to grunt back.
    The second lap actually went by faster than the first lap. Being unconscious has a way of doing that- if you can just keep your legs turning the pedals and occasionally open your eyes to see where you’re at. It’s quite blissful actually.
    After crossing the finish line and getting a high five from the famous Whiteout Yeti I rode back to my car and took off my sweaty layers. I sat down and ate a snack, thinking about all of the great lessons I learned that day such as the importance of the right tires, layering for the current temperatures, and getting passed by a seventh grader.  I wasn’t sure how I did in the grand scheme of things, but I knew I had overcome a lot of obstacles and sometimes that can be the greatest victory of all.
    Challenges come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, each with the potential to derail us mentally, undermine us emotionally or cripple us physically. But no great adventure is short of a least one villain, a mountain that needs conquering, or a hardship to overcome.  It’s those very same things that build our strength, show us wisdom and gird us with the tools that we need to overcome all that life presents us.
    Many thanks to Aaron Hautala for another fantastic race!
    You can meet the Yeti and the awesome Cuyuna trails by racing next year! Check out the Whiteout here- http://cuyunalakeswhiteout.com/
    For the best fat bike around, go to 9:ZERO:7 fat bikes here- http://www.907bikes.com/
    To look cool while riding, check out Twin Six here- http://www.twinsix.com/

  • Chequamegon Fat Tire 2014


    I was watching her closely, testing her, if you will. I had caught up from behind and passed her on a turn in a sudden move to take the lead in our near back of the pack group.  The element of surprise doesn’t come easy on a fat bike, where the sound of the tires is like a locomotive trying to sneak up on you while your back’s turned. But the noise from the other racers mingled with the squishing sounds emitting from the muddy terrain spitting out from underneath the weight of our bikes helped to mask it, at least a little, and she turned her head with a look of being blutterbunged.
    We had already covered thirty five miles of the course and were coming into the last five. It was my first time racing the Chequamegon so I was still feeling out the terrain and trying to gage when to start my final sprint. The last five miles I had spent pulling ahead of the small pack I had been racing  in a teeter-totter fashion nearly since the start, our faces sprinkled with sweat and mud like excited and determined children.  After a few more solid miles, I was passed by a guy on a 29er who thanked me for the strong pull and left me just a little more tired than I hoped to be.
    The Chequamegon Fat Tire race takes place in Hayward, Wisconsin, partially incorporating the Birkie trail. Although recent storms had created several muddy patches in the trail, the course crew and volunteers had worked hard to ensure racer safety and experience to be at its best, with tree removal and a few minor re-routes.
    The next mile marker planted in the ground indicated there were three miles to the finish, and the woman on the 29er sprinted passed me.  I was expecting it and purposely stayed back for two more miles, hoping she would think I fell off the back and let her guard down.  Making our way along the serpentine course towards the finish, we eventually passed a small sign that indicated the finish line was only one mile ahead. I noticed a short, steep hill up ahead and just as the other woman started to ascend I rode tight to the right and jetted passed her, feeling strong. And that was exactly when I had a major mechanical. I was up, out of the saddle, mashing down hard, just cresting the climb when I heard a gut wrenching bang come from my rear wheel. Suddenly I felt my bike drop down, as I fell hard to my right, unable to control the bike or move the pedals.  My rear wheel had come partially off. I was hit from behind by a male rider who had been apparently riding my wheel. The female rider I had just overtaken crested the climb, glanced over at me and my fallen bike and rode on.  A male rider, coming to the top of the ascent and passing me, yelled at us to move to the side when suddenly he fell right on top o10604739_10203944457106045_6620131463469100721_of me like an unwanted quilt. He lay there stunned and I tried to bench press him off of me.
    After some scrambling to get up, the two male riders raced off to the finish while I moved completely off the trail and onto the brushed covered shoulder, trying frantically to quickly comprehend why my rear wheel was hanging off like a loose tooth attached at a weakened gum line. I found myself slipping into panic mode, as I saw at least a dozen more riders pass me by. Unable to diagnose the problem, I tried to pick up the back end of my fat bike and run with it towards the finish.  The course was comprised mostly of rolling hills and I dragged my bike up and down them.  As I rounded the final bend and down the grassy field lined with enthusiastic spectators, I stopped again and with some effort was able to seat the rear tire enough to get on and haphazardly coast in a noisy fashion the last fifty yards across the timing mat. Looking back, I wish I had just kept running with my bike, giving a true finish line photo of what had just occurred, but I hope to never get that chance again.
    After crossing the finish line, I dragged my lame horse to the bike corral where volunteers would watch over it until riders had a chance to clean up, eat some grub and enjoy the day’s festivities. The atmosphere was voltaic and I soon found the smiles of many familiar faces. At the awards ceremony I was very grateful that I had taken first place in the women’s fat bike category, even though my results had meshed me in with the 29er’s. I was given a very cool jug along with a top quality bike gear bag.
    Later, I walked over to the bike corral where a couple of volunteers and I were able to see that somehow the lever holding my back whell in place had come loose, most likely from hitting a rock. After getting everything set and locked down, I fondly looked over my 9:ZERO:7 and determined right then and there to come back next year and race fatter than ever.
    Many thanks to everyone who made the Cheq 40 such a wonderful event- from the LTF race director to every single volunteer who gave of their time and their strength to pull off an epic event!

  • More Than Just A Race




    So I’m sitting here drinking my coffee and thinking, “That was the toughest race I’ve ever done. I can’t believe I actually did it! I need to start working longer hours again. I won’t have time to train, especially for a race like that.  I have my buckle and I finished under 12 hours. That’s all I wanted. Isn’t it?…”

    But then I pause and ask myself what I came away from my experience with, and without hesitation, I know the answer. Not just a cool buckle, or a finish time under 12 hours. I came away with more. Much more than I ever expected. I met authentic people with like passions from all walks of life out in those glorious mountains, and I connected with them. I made friends, and together we made memories; memories that not only fill my mind but ones that fill my heart. When I experience moments with others that peak my senses, experiences such as taking on a never ending climb and coming upon breathtaking views of majestic mountains that surround spectacular lakes like a jeweled crown; breathing in the aroma of invigorating pine forests with sage brush flooring; wildlife roaming the fields, pausing to observe us, just as we stop and momentarily stand in awe of them, I can’t just walk away mentally or emotionally. I can’t just forget. Those memories are a very important piece of my experience. They are a part of who I now am.

    It’s crazy how you can go about your daily life, surrounded by strangers and not even say much more than a polite hello. You go through your routine and forget the people in your peripheral. But then one day you’re put into a situation with complete strangers with mutual goals, like struggles, and similar passion, and the world around you lights up. Suddenly you see people. You look them straight in the eye. And just like that you’re in a gaggle- a group of strangers that suddenly became friends that now have each other’s back.Gaggle 3

    I had the awesome privilege of becoming part of a gaggle in Leadville this year. There wasn’t any hesitation to the instant friendships and mutual support that evolved nearly overnight. It started with the group rides. Everyday our leader, Art Fleming, also know as the Curmudgeon (uttered in total respect), would gather us like baby chicks and bring us out to the pasture to train, sharing wisdom and insight to us newbies and veterans alike. We would ride off like a speckled herd, donning our various bikes and kits, chattering away with Finished!excitement. The Curmudgeon would flank us from the front, letting us know which way to turn, then follow us from behind so no one got lost or left back. The veterans in the group would share their experiences and offer words of encouragement and hope. Never once did I feel left out or alone, even when the group would quiet down as the miles ticked away. If anyone was in need of water or food, a tire went flat or a chain needed adjusting, every hand was stretched out to help, and every resource was offered without hesitation.  It was amazing beyond words.

    When race day came, our gaggle was spread out amongst the large, hungry group of racers, set in eager anticipation of the great day ahead. I looked around earnestly and spotted a few in the throng. We nodded and smiled at each other, encouraging and cheering each other just by the look on our faces. We could read them clearly by then. This was what we trained for. This was our big day. The gun shot off and our focus turned razor sharp as we lurched towards the mountains. Our minds went through continual gear checks, nutrition checks, and pace and cadence reminders. Though the hours ticked by with great determination and effort, the race was over before we knew it.

    Crossing the Finish line!

    I quickly dismounted once I crossed the finish line and scanned the crowd for members of my gaggle. I wanted so much to see each and every one of them finish. Most had finished before me and several were still behind. My heart weld up in joyous celebration as I caught sight of some who had already ridden down the red carpet and were headed off with their families, hugs and smiles being shared between them. I leaned my bike up against a nearby fence and squeezed in among the spectators, watching in eager anticipation of those who would soon come home. Watching them complete the race was a feeling I’ll never forget. It was like watching a family member finish, a joy that comes from the heart.

    Reluctantly, I eventually pushed back from the barrier that lined the finish shoot and walked my bike to the street. I was cold, dusty and my stomach hurt from the strain I put on it from hours of racing and the nutrition that wasn’t quite perfected. My lungs were letting me know it was time to go, to get out of the wind. I biked to my rental house slowly, melancholy seeping in like a somber chill. My race family was going home, each to their own state and town, most too far away to see again. I suddenly felt alone.

    At the awards ceremony in the high school gym, half of our gaggle was haphazardly seated as close as we could get, considering the crowds of families and tired racers. We exchanged proud congratulatories and hearty hugs for a job well done. Slowly the crowds seeped out of the building, as buckles and necklaces were handed out. As I headed towards the back stairs, I glanced around at the scattered assembly, no longer finding a familiar face. Our adventure was coming to an end.

    It’s funny how you think you know what you’ll do next, what you’ll feel when the race is done, and then suddenly you find that you don’t feel that way at all. It’s sort of an eloquent surprise. It tells me that there’s more to come, that it wasn’t the whole book but rather a chapter that points to the next page. I wasn’t expecting that at all.

    Most of my gaggle is now connected via social media and the small pain in my heart from our dispersing is slightly eased by reading their journeys home and seeing all of their pictures. I laugh at their jokes and can hear their voices in what they write, almost as if they’re with me today.

    I haven’t ridden my bike yet but I know in the next few days I will get the chance to dust off my shoes and go for a spin. As I do, memories will flood my mind, forcing a smile across my face as I wonder who I will see again next year.

    Buckle Time!



  • 2014 Leadville Recap

    It was 9:00am on the dot and we weren’t waiting for anyone else to show up. Our ride leader, Art Fleming, pointed behind us and up a hill. “Let’s go that way,” he said, abruptly. Doc and I turned our bikes and pointed them east, falling in line behind Art. The morning was crisp and clear, not at all like I had hoped it would be. I was praying for an unprecedented torrential downpour with a full band of thunder and lightning. Maybe even some hail. If it was near-monsoon, maybe the mountain bike ride would be called off. I was so nervous about the group ride that Art had even looked me square in the eyes earlier that morning and told me to take a deep breath and calm down. We were just riding bikes, after all. 10552374_10203511639925886_316910409308718117_n (2)



    Leadville, Colorado is breathtaking. Glorious mountains surround it like outstretched arms waiting to embrace all who come into their fold. The hiking alone draws adventurists from around the world, eager to take on the infamous 14’ers. In the heat of the summer, snow can still be seen sitting like small handkerchiefs on top of a few majestic peaks. Beautiful, clear lakes lay in the laps of the mountains, ready for fishermen and boaters to come and partake of their eloquence. Sensory stimulation is something I never take for granted and Leadville is never in short supply.

    Two years ago I took on the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race with my husband, the poor man. We got cut at Twin Lakes outbound, about 40 miles into the race. Basically, we had ridden the easy parts, if you can call anything on that course easy. When the volunteers cut off our wrist bands I cried. After getting away from the crowd I saw that my husband was also crying, though not for the same reason. He was ecstatic that the grueling grind of agony was over. We hung our heads and pedaled back to Leadville. 20140714_125118

    We both unanimously stated we would never race Leadville again. Apparently my husband is man of his word and I am a filthy liar because when the time came for the lottery to open up, my heart pounded in excitement. I tried to think of a way to bring it up without causing my husband to jump in the car and drive away at a high rate of speed or break out in a fit of nervous hives. And I secretly wanted to race alone. It was tough racing as a team. We are built totally different inside and out. I was a better climber and he was a better descender. I love chocolate and he likes fish. Those things never work out and I can’t ride under those conditions. I squirmed in my chair and then decided humor was the best approach. “Ha ha! Can you believe it? The Leadville lottery is open. What a crazy race!” He looked at me for only a brief moment then went back to his book. Strike one.  I paused, knowing he would forget everything I just said and went it for a second swing. “Ha ha! Would you ever consider trying it again?” “No.” he said flatly.  Ok, things were looking up now. I’d call that a foul ball, not a strike. I waited a few more minutes. Steady girl, let the heat of the moment pass.

    Racing towards St. Kevins
    Racing towards St. Kevins

    “Would you care if I entered it? I mean, I totally wouldn’t do it if you didn’t want me to! Ha ha!”  Boom! The bomb was dropped. I braced for impact, quickly slipping on my sunglasses so my retinas would burn in the heat of the blast. He looked me in the eyes and said, “That was the craziest race in the world. I never want to ride my bike again because of that race. If you want to do it, that’s your problem, but I am not doing it with you!”  The hallelujah

    chorus flooded out everything else after that. I raced upstairs and grabbed my wallet, punching my information into the registration before he could even look back down at his book. I don’t think I slept for a week.  And then I injured my knee.  I tried everything I could to heal it. I had never had a knee injury in my life. I R.I.C.E.’d so much I felt like I had moved to China. I went to a chiropractor, a surgeon, a witch doctor; I had an x-ray, an MRI, acupuncture, massages. Nothing worked, nothing helped and it only seemed to get worse. I took nearly 11 months off of training and finally decided that the horse was going to race even if she was lame. I hired a coach and asked him to get me ready for Leadville. By that time, the lottery for 2014 had opened up and I had just as quickly thrown my name into the hat as the last time. No more waiting for a miracle to happen.

    My coach is an evil man and he likes Crossfit, which makes him crazy as well, but he came highly recommended by a good friend whom I now secretly hate. Instead of biking (which caused knee pain) he had me start lightly with Crossfit and very easy running. I kicked, screamed and took pictures but went along with his plan. After about a month I pulled him aside, “Coach, don’t you think I should be riding my bike, seeing I’m doing a bike race?” “Back to work!” he shouted.  He’s not very good with words.

    Finally, the day we had all been waiting for came. The lottery announcement. I refreshed my email so many times that I nearly got a blister on my finger. Apparently, the auto refresh set at 60 seconds just wasn’t good enough. And then it arrived. The email of all emails. I was so elated that I picked up our cat high into the air, yelled, “I’m in!!” and promptly threw out my back and strained my neck.

    After a 2 week hiatus, I started back to training. This time, my coach had me get on the bike. It was winter so I sat on the trainer, ready to go. My knee hurt a ton so we made every adjustment we could to find the place that the pain was tolerable. I kept going to the masseuse (also a maniac) and iced like mad. A few months passed and I got out on the road. I found that my knee was getting better, though far from perfect, and we increased time and intensity. And then finally, after conquering every 300 foot climb that Minnesota has to offer, it was time to pack up my car and head to Colorado.

    Crazy People Think Alike

    Crazy People Think Alike

    Instead of riding the 100 trail, Art took us on a beautiful, easy ride. Neither Doc nor I had been in Leadville very long so the drastic change in altitude needed some adjusting to. We ended up riding on some remote gravel roads, seeing an old hunting cabin, bombing down through some trees and having a great time. 

    Between arriving in Leadville and actually doing the race, I had one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. I met incredible riders who turned into wonderful friends, saw more beauty then I could possible relay on paper, and formed bonds with people around the country that I sincerely hope will last a lifetime. Simply glorious. There is a separate write-up dedicated entirely to that aspect of my experience on a separate tab above on my blog called ‘2014 Leadville Mtn Bike Race”. Read it if you can.

    The Leadville 100 is known for its tough climbs and high elevation so if that’s your thing, this is your race. The grade on the first climb alone tops out at 28%, depending upon who’s bike computer you’re looking at. Mine actually said 31% but I’m erring on the side of caution here.

    I rented a house four blocks from the starting line for the week leading up to the race. This gave me a chance to get settled, have some quiet time and easily ride to the start.

    In 2012 I had not been able to clean the first climb in the race (St. Kevins) but while riding with Art’s group, I was able to clean it every time. At the top, I had to let my heart attack subside before pressing on, but I made it none the less. That was a definite boost to my confidence.  One of the issues riders face in the race is that the first climb is so congested that if one rider gets off his or her bike to walk it can have a domino affect, causing the riders behind to also dismount. The race is long and not lost if a rider is forced to walk a portion of St. Kevins, but the desire is to clean it if at all possible. Thankfully, I was placed in the middle corral. The riders in the middle corral are typically stronger and faster. Even though we had two or three riders dismount, and a few people cause issues by trying to pass on a tight squeeze, the rest of our pack cleaned Kevins during the race. I was thrilled.

    After coming down the back side of St. Kevins, we hit a fast downhill called Carter’s Summit. I rode this going around 31mph, taking on nutrition and liquids as I descended. I won’t include every section of the course in my write up, but will add the major ones. The Sugarloaf climb came next and it’s one of my favorite climbs. Usually I have to use my inhaler before every climb to help bring my breathing under control but because the grade is hardly ever greater than 6%, I was okay. The view is spectacular as Turquoise Lake can be clearly seen below, along with the always beautiful forestry. I love this climb. Except where it leads. Sugarloaf takes you right up to the back of the infamous Powerline descent, and that’s a nasty one. By the time you start descending Powerline, you’re riding with people that you will most likely see for the rest of the race.

    Powerline is chuck full of everything you’d ever want in your worst nightmare. At least, for me it is. Fast descents, a few very steep climbs, rocks, some sand shoulders, deep ruts, grooves, salespeople, hidden grooves that will send you over your bars if you’re not back on your seat and, of course, the massive descent. I screamed the first few times Art took us down Powerline for practice. I thought for sure I was going to die. But, as we continued to practice, I learned that my bike can roll over more things than I ever thought possible, which was good because my vision isn’t that great and I can’t really see objects until they are nearly right under my wheels. I also learned that I am a great descender and I have a knack for picking good lines. On race day, I went down Powerline with virtually no fear (though lots of respect) and no problems, other than losing my emergency Snickers bar. Hopefully some hungry soul picked it up and had a good snack.


    Off the bottom of Powerline, we passed by the fish hatchery and then took road surface to the Pipeline aid station. For some reason, I had a burst of energy and found myself pulling a line of about 14 riders. I felt great. I then pulled off to drop to the back for a rest and instantly hit an energy low and got dropped. I tried to keep a bazu-3117203steady pace and conserve some energy as it was going to be a nice, long day.

    I hit the Pipeline aid station and since I didn’t need anything, I kept going, down Little Stinker (a very soft, steep descent) and then down the single track. If you’re really afraid of heights like I am, I highly recommend practicing this portion of the race as there were moments that I felt like my tires were being pulled out from underneath me. I went on to the Twin Lakes aid station. This was where my husband and I had been cut in 2012. I approached it, bracing for the worst. The bike computer I had did not account for stops and so I wasn’t entirely sure how much time I had. I was not far back from a few riders whom I knew had buckled previously so I was hoping for the best. I made the cut off by over a half hour. I switched backpacks with my crew and took off for the massive climb up Columbine, smiling and thinking in my head, “I did it! I made the cut off!” That was one of only about 4 thoughts I had all day. I was thrilled!

    Columbine is a long, steep climb. I had prepared myself mentally to take it slow and consistent. One of the riders I had met in the group rides, Robert Tuma, ended up right beside me. Ironically, he also lives near me in Minnesota but I had never met him until the group rides in Colorado. I was grateful for his company and familiar face. Robert has buckled before so he put us on pace to make good time without going too hard, in order to conserve as much energy as possible for the second half of the race. We averaged somewhere around 3.4 mph for nearly two and a half hours of straight climbing, until we reached the A frame and started to walk the tougher sections with a line of riders as far as the eye could see. The pro’s were coming down fast and furious, which helped keep my mind off the grind at least for a few seconds. Ken Chlouber, the race founder, was sitting on a 4×4 watching us from the side of the dirt road.  He looked at me for a few moments then said, “You are my daughter, my sister; you are all my family. My sister, and my brothers. Don’t give up. Don’t quit on me!” I promised him I wouldn’t and pushed on.  For me, the toughest part of the race was the hike-a-bike portions. I was very surprised how weak I was at pushing my bike up hill and because of this, several riders passed me. I felt drained and my legs were like big, heavy weights, but I eventually made it to the top and through the turn-around. I like to descend fast but there were so many walkers, and space was limited, so I used my rear brake quite a lot. As I was descending, I came to the same place that I had promised Ken I would not give up and he was still sitting on his 4×4. As I rode past him I said I had kept my promise and I would keep it until the very end. He said something in reply but I couldn’t hear him. I wasn’t about to slow down and find out. The course was very dusty and a controlled descent was better than a crash so I held back a bit and made it safely back to Twin Lakes, not far behind the other riders I had begun to recognize. My stomach was killing me and nothing I ate or avoided seemed to help so I kept forcing myself to take in liquids and fig newtons, the least offensive option.

    As I stopped at Twin Lakes in order to switch my backpack for a fresh supply of liquids, my crew said I was doing well and had made another cut off. My second real thought of the day was, “I’m actually doing this!” After the slight rest for my legs from descending and the good news, I pushed off with a big smile on my face and headed towards Pipeline inbound. The single track wasn’t too tough and I walked up Little Stinker, along with every other rider. We were getting tired. I stopped at Pipeline briefly to switch my backpack again because for some reason it was exceptionally heavy and the one I had taken up Columbine was about half the weight.

    Climbing Powerline can be described in one word: Nasty. It’s an equal opportunity destroyer. There are a few riders that can clean it but I didn’t see any. Our pack walked, grunted, pushed, groaned and clawed our way to the top. There were few sections worth riding. It was grueling. It seemed to go on forever. I kept my mind clear of all thoughts and just kept pushing, biking, pushing and biking. The ride down Sugarloaf refreshed me and gave my legs a little break and then I was off to climb Carter Summit, the fast road descent I had come down much earlier in the day.

    I was a little nervous about climbing Carter because I knew I was now operating on virtually dead legs. I tried to keep my mind clear and just spin. I was hoping to ascend at close to 5mph but my average hovered around 4mph. Thankful to reach the top, I began to climb the backside of St. Kevins. There are some pretty rocky spots but not a ton of climbing and when I crested it I felt a huge wave of relief. I asked another rider what time it was and how much time we had left. He was a bit delirious and couldn’t seem to tell me so I passed him and started giving it some gas.

    I descended St. Kevins as quickly as I could and was beginning to feel anxious about the time. I still had another 10 miles or so to go and wanted to know how close I was cutting it. Finally I found someone with a bike computer and he said he wasn’t sure exactly how much time we had as his Garmin did not register stops either but he thought it was going to be close. My third thought for the day was, “No way! I’m not going to miss that cut off, if there’s anything I can do about it!” and I took off nearly as fast as I could. I passed riders and got my momentum up on the flat dirt, hitting 24mph. I hit the pavement and kept riding strong, pulling a small pace line behind me. We hit a section that according to rumor has been renamed ‘Bonnie’s Dirt Road’ because for some reason, I can ride it very fast. And I did. I rode as fast as I could until I was blocked by riders in front of me.

    The last true section of the course is called The Boulevard. It starts with a rocky portion and then turns into gravel dirt road for just short of 3 miles. It’s not at a very steep incline but for some reason it seems to take the wind out of your sails. I kept my head down and my legs spinning and only got passed by one rider. After a steep, hard left and then a right onto the street, I was faced with Misery Hill, a short climb that seems to take what little you have left and run away with it. Once you make this climb, you can see the finish line below. It’s a short descent with a bit of an incline at the end. Once I saw that red carpet I asked a rider how much time we had.

    Just over a half an hour to go about a quarter of a mile. That last little descent on the road toward the red carpet is referred to as Cry Baby Hill because everyone is so happy to see that finish line in sight. My last thought of the day was “I actually did it! I made it!” I was so happy. I didn’t feel like crying; it was more like a feeling of ‘Mission complete’, a very satisfying feeling. I gave high fives to several little kids and adults that had formed a line for riders to pass through and then hit the red carpet happy, tired, thankful to my family and friends for their support and thankful to God for giving me such a wonderful opportunity to complete such an amazing race.  Official finish time: 11:31:00.

    Crossing the Finish line!

    Crossing the Finish line!


  • 10 Hrs of Burritos & Triathlon

    Burrito Union 10 Hour Team Triathlon


    The weekend kicked off nicely on Friday afternoon with my two Burrito Union 10 Hour Triathlon team mates, Nancy and Matt, coming over to my house to add my bike, camping & triathlon bags to the huge pile in the back of the truck. It was a beautiful day and we were off on a 3 hour drive to beautiful Superior Park in Wisconsin for the triathlon time of our lives. The Burrito Union is a unique event in that it does not consist of a single race. It is a continually revolving sprint distance triathlon that repeats as many times as the racers can fit into the 10 hour period or for those whom prefer to enjoy the cookout celebration atmosphere after a good race, as few as one triathlon.*Duly noted that one triathlon is a lot of work!

    The Google directions were a bit off but after 3 u-turns and taking note of a few marks on the road that read “Bike Turn Around” and “Race in Progress” signs, we finally figured out that the park was at the top of a hill. Though it was rapidly getting dark, I began to get a bit concerned and expressed to my team mates that the hill was significantly long. Extremely long. And, according to the road markings, absolutely a part of the bike portion of the race. Nancy, a marathon runner and our team mate for all of the 7 triathlons we hoped to complete the next day, laughed it off and said, “It’s not that big!”  My instincts knew better. Matt was shuffling around in the back seat and laughed with just a touch of nervousness in his manly voice…

    We arrived at our destination and begun to pitch our tent. Matt and Nancy are both big fans of camping and Nancy along with her husband have all of the elite toys to camp with. Matt had assured us his gear was more than sufficient and thus Nancy relinquished to not bringing her tent and assessors. I was just thankful someone had some of whatever we needed for camping and hoped I wouldn’t get bit by anything poisonous or dragged into the woods and fed to some sort of creature’s babies.

    We unloaded the truck, chained the bikes to a tree and began to spread out Matt’s “It sleeps 4 adults comfortably with tons of room to spare!” tent.  I asked if he occasionally used this “giant tent” as a dolly for a small nightstand or perhaps a large dinner napkin….  This “giant” tent could have been pitched inside my car and had room.  Nancy went into a laughing rampage of comparisons of Matt’s idea of living high on the bonfire log to her and husbands version. Their tent apparently even comes with a screened front porch.  Nancy and I jammed our stuff into the little tent and immediately are extremely thankful that Nancy has secretly brought along a foam mattress. The ground is basically small sharp rocks and mud. We had to use a huge rock just to get the stakes into the ground. Matt pulls out his “Sleeps 2 adults comfortably” tent and I tease him that his mummy bag sleeping bag won’t even fit.

    At the orientation we get to take our first look at the race directors and the rest of the racers. Everyone looks excited and ready for fun.  We head back to our campsite and hit the sack. Some people have bon fires going but most of us want to get up at 5am feeling a bit energetic. A woman and her two teenage daughters are a few campsites down from us. This woman has a voice that you simply cannot block out no matter how much you try to stuff your pillow into your ears. Matt said he immediately threw on his ear phones. For nearly 3 more hours, Nancy and I have to listen to these 3 screeching at the top of their lungs, laughing about things that make no sense and occasionally hearing them crashing through the woods. I start considering sneaking up on them and scaring them half to death but hope that someone will drive their truck at a high rate of speed through their camp site instead as a quick, easy solution.

    5am. Time to rise and shine! Ah, the joys of camping. My neck is partially frozen and I know exactly where the rocks were under my foam pad. Just take a look at my back…  I splash cold water on my face and don’t even brush my hair, after all, I will be jumping in a lake in less than 2 hours.

    We head to transition and it is announced that we can bring a tent over to set up an area for our racers to rest between legs etc. Cool! We bring Matt’s tiny pup tent and set it up. It was like a flea amongst giant animals. The tents that started going up looked like small outdoor stores. We actually walked over to one to check out the merchandise when we realized that these were people’s tents for transition. Wow! They were up to 10 feet tall and some resembled small buildings compared to our 3 foot high tent that seemed to be shrinking.

    I put on my wetsuit and headed down to the water to see how warm “72 degrees” was feeling that day. I stopped dead in my tracks not even a foot out as my toes actually felt like they were numbing up. 72 degrees my frozen behind! The temperature was far lower than anything resembling “Not too bad!”. The race director came down, stuck his index finger in and literally said, “72 degrees! Cool!” and laughed as he walked away. Oh, Lord.  Later I heard that he said he never measures it. “When it’s that cold so why bother?….” Gadzooks….

    Triathlon 1: All team members on the first leg came to the shore line so I placed myself square in the front near the middle in line with the first buoy. Some tough looking young lady next to me with a tattoo I would swear read, “MOM” on it said, “I would never wear one of those wussy wet suits!” I looked at the guy on my right whom had also been in the water with me and we just smiled at each other. Suddenly the gun went off and we went hammering into the arctic ocean. I have never, ever heard so much cussing in all my life. I literally was laughing as I plunged into the ice water and overheard the young woman saying, “What the (explicit)!!”

    It was so cold I wasn’t breathing for oxygen. I was gasping for survival.  Everyone swam as fast as they could just to get out of the dang water. I got hit in the back from both sides, hit in the hamstring, the feet. You name it. It was like a boxing match out there but all I could think of was surviving hypothermia.  My legs started feeling like ice blocks and my face was frozen in some sort of distorted swimmers expression. Finally I swam to the outer right parameter as we followed the swim course to the left. I needed to get away from the pack and the punches. 2 people smoked the swim with a solid 10 second gap behind the first set of swimmers to emerge, of which I was proud to be a part of. I sprinted like a cat on fire up to tag off Matt as he waited on his bike.

    The race directors had brought in a hot tub on the bed of a truck and I immediately climbed up and sat down, rubbing my toes until the blood returned. I looked at the bottom of my feet and noticed some discoloration. Part of the path was covered in large gravel rocks. The race directors had warned us this would be a problem and to walk gingerly over them. I didn’t feel a thing as I hammered across it like a 100 yard dash to life support, determined to put a strong hold in our position. This was going to hurt later but adrenaline was telling me, “So, who cares! Let’s take this race by storm! We can deal with crutches later!”

    Matt did a stealer job on the bike but as he tagged off to Nancy and she headed off on the run I could tell he had some bad news. Some very bad news. He was pale and sweating profusely and this was only the first triathlon. Finally he said between gasps, “You know that hill we drove up on the way in last night? You were right! That thing is a lot longer than it looked!”  The hill turned out to be 2.8 miles long. A monster! And I had to bike next. Oh, Lord….

    Triathlon 2: Matt prepared for the swim and I ran down to the water ahead of him to savor the look on his face as he would feel the water for the very first time. He literally stopped dead in his tracks, started laughing like a frightened man would do and finally plunged in. I think it took about 1/2 hour for his face to thaw out later so he could speak. He said his right leg had totally frozen up and he was just dragging it lifelessly behind his body.

    As he tagged off to me I rounded the corner and got my first good look at that hill I knew I had to come back up to finish the bike leg. Let’s just say that I hit 34mph on my bike with very little effort in no time flat. 3 miles later I finally started pedaling with all I had. I rounded the turn point and headed back, a small knot forming in my gut because you could see this dang hill from 7 miles away. It was that high.

    As I came up the last 1/4 mile of the hill I needed to hit my chains as easy as they would go. I switched into a gear I almost never use because it is the “easiest” gear, i.e. for the hardest hills. And then my chain fell off and locked right in between the ring and the bike frame. Luckily I got unclipped in time to jump off instead of falling over. I picked up the bike with one hand and tried and tried to tug the chain free, very conscious of every minute ticking by. Finally I layed the bike down and yanked it out with both hands, got it back on and then got on my bike. Trying to mount a bike on a hill out of breath can be very challenging. I’m glad no one was video taping….

    I tagged off Nancy again for the run and Matt said my time was good. I had only lost just over 4 minutes from the chain and was 2 minutes behind his bike time without that. Cool!

    I went over and picked up my wetsuit. At 9am the water certainly had not dripped out and putting that and my bathing suit back on was quite a treat. I will never “Swim with the Polar Bears” as long as I live.

    Triathlon 3: My second swim kicked off our 3rd triathlon for the day and the water wasn’t getting any warmer. It was nice to not be swimming with a zillion boxers since the racing was thinning out the pack and spreading us thin across the race. I did manage to only have my swim cap partially covering my ears which is never a good idea for me. Basically what happens is water gets into your ears and sort of gets trapped. I like my cap above my ears so I don’t have to deal with the hearing issues of water plunging into my ears and gurgling around. I finished the swim and tagged off Matt.

    Triathlon 4: We reached our 4th triathlon and I once again started the bike portion. I gave it my all, recovering the 4 minutes I lost from my previous bike. The team placings were updated every hour and we were literally going neck and neck with 3 teams, fighting for 3rd, 4th and 5th place. We were in 5th but literally 38 seconds behind. After I hit the bike, we were positioned into 4th place and excited.

    Triathlon 5:    This is were who’s got guts really shows itself. We gave each other a pep talk as we handed off and kept hammering. As Nancy tagged me I knew I could gain some lead by running fast to the water, swimming and sprinting hard coming out, up the slope, around the building and down to the furthest point allowed for the bike tag. We had situated Matt as far away as possible because I knew I could sprint hard and that way he wouldn’t have to run with his bike at his side to the bike mount area. He was supposed to be always waiting for me already clipped in with one foot and ready to just shove off and hit it.  (Only once did I actually sprint and literally pass him to the tag off….)  Nancy came through the balloons and tagged me for the start of the 5th triathlon. I hit it running as fast as I could. Well, the grassy slope had pretty much become a slip-n-slid and I rounded the corner at mach speed. Next thing I knew I was going down and somehow managed a one handed push up position exactly like a right side plank. I performed this magic act right in front of the race director whom I heard gasp loudly. I flew up in a run and shouted, “I’m okay! I’m okay!” and plunged into the arctic ocean again.   Matt had a tougher time on the bike and lost some momentum and Nancy’s legs were started to freeze up a bit. We slipped into 5th place again, literally seconds behind.

    While each of us were racing the other two would stretch,swap notes, encourage each other, rest with our feet up against a tree and try to sip water etc. We knew we had to hold our times so we decided we could. Give it all we got! Go! No regrets!

    Triathlon 6 and I get the dang bike again. 3rd time to face that stupid hill. I had tried talking Matt into it but he refused.  Down the hill I went, hitting my top speed of 39 miles an hour. I held 23mph for over 3 miles and held 20mph to the turn around point. My legs and hips were on


    !  After the turn around I held 20mph for a few miles then 18mph. I hit the hill and slipped to 16mph slowing as I hit the top 1/4. I had been mentally trying to identify muscles within my body that were not burning from lactic acid to use and was pretty much just down to my teeth and hair.

    I tagged off Nancy and she smiled and said, “We just took over 3rd place!” 

    Matt and I stretched each others legs. At this point all shyness had evaporated and we were pretty much family. I massaged his lactic acid filled thighs and he massaged mine.

    Triathlon 7  You snooze, you loose. We knew we could not over take 2nd or 1st place because those people were pros pretending to be layed back. At least that’s our excuse and everyone else’s. Both teams were an entire triathlon ahead of us and we had been racing the entire time! Wow.
    This is where the major rain storm hit. I’m surprised it wasn’t on the news. It poured so hard that you couldn’t see more than 100 feet. I had just swam with all the dwindling energy I could muster and tagged off Matt on his 4th bike. We were all still determined to keep going and do an 8th Triathlon to keep our 3rd place finish. If there were no mistakes, Nancy would make it back from her run with 3 minutes to spare to tag me off so I could hit the water. At 5:30pm they shut down any additional triathlons so your runner had to be through the balloons by 5:29pm and 59 seconds, tagging off your swimmer so you could do one last tri.  At 5:27pm and 49 seconds I spotted Nancy coming around the bend. We were going to make it!  She crossed through the balloons and I hit the deck running hard. I slammed into the water and took off. Secretly during the rain storm I had gotten stuck next to the grill under the big tent. It was packed and I had to stand there taking in the scent of cooking creatine for nearly 30 minutes waiting for Matt to finish the bike.  I hadn’t eaten any real food all day and I started salivating. The next thing I knew I heard myself say, “Do you have any hamburgers?” and the next thing I knew I was stuffing one into my mouth. So, when I saw Nancy rounding the bend to tag me off, I suddenly realized my stomach was gurgling in protest and I began to burp. This was going to be a tough swim.

    Triathlon 8: I was the last racer into the water. I was determined to keep the burger down until I tagged off Matt. It got a bit dodgy a couple of times but I came flying out of the water with all I had. As I was running up the grassy slopes I heard a familiar voice calling my name. I looked over and there were Matt and Nancy sitting on a park bench laughing their butts off!
    I looked around and shouted, “What are you doing! Get on the bike!” Matt finally explained that they had asked the director what place we were in. 3rd. Whether we went for our 8th triathlon or not because the teams under us hadn’t made the cut off. So, they sat on the bench laughing and watching as I swam and gurgled around the lake for 600 meters as fast as I could.

    We were honored to have taken 3rd place. And at the award ceremony we were again honored as one of the top 13 teams out of 52 that beat one of the race director’s team.

    Our stuff was completely soaked and I literally had no dry shoes or things to wear so we decided to pack up our stuck and head home. We were all wired so making the drive was not going to be a problem.

    We decided to check the distance of the hill using the odometer and confirmed that the hill was in fact 2.8 miles that we had biked up and down all day.  As we were driving we passed a backpacker on a highway. He was stopped and just looked at us, obviously hard core and knew what he was doing. Next thing you know, he starts signaling us with his head lamp. I asked Nancy if she wanted to stop and she said no. I started to get a very uneasy feeling. I told her and Matt that normally I would never advise that someone stop for someone but I had a feeling we should. They both refused and it felt like Nancy gunned her foot on the gas to put in distance. We were going 65mph. The next thing we knew the truck made a horrible sound and felt like we had just blown a tire. Nancy pulled to the side of the highway and I jumped out and started checking the passenger side tires. Right then there was what sounded like a fire cracker exploding and a bright flash from the back of the truck. I ran past Matt as he tried to climb out the back door and gasped in horror. Matt and Nancy came around and also gasped. The bike rack had not been properly secured and the pin had worked itself out. The bike rack arm had crashed down and we had been dragging the bikes before we pulled over. The noise and flash was the heat and pressure on the forks on my bike. It had literally exploded and broke in half. Worse yet, this was not my bike. This was Mike’s bike. The cool friend that loaned me the bike for the past month and a half and that had been letting me race on his new bike. He had ridden it barely 4 times….

    We finally pried the bikes apart and found that Mike’s bike frame was busted in half in the middle as well as on the forks. It was totaled. Matt’s bike had severe damage but had been essentially laying on top of Mike’s as Mike’s drug along the highway.

    Every triathletes worse nightmare. Give me an injury and I can recover. Put me down for surgery and I’ll be strategizing how I’m going to make my come back. Break my bike and I will cry for months but will get a new bike. I destroy a fellow friend and triathlete’s new bike and I cannot tell you how much agony I am in. No words can describe how I felt. I will say that I almost threw up my hamburger. Literally. And then I started laughing in pure horror and the site of it all. Matt quietly suggested Nancy roll the truck with all 3 of us in it so we could take out an insurance claim but she said she refused to take one for the team of that magnitude.    There was a lot of gasping in disbelief and nervous laughter for many miles after that. Around midnight I lay in my bed trying to figure out how to break the horrible news to Mike the next day. Right then I received a text message from Mike. It said, “I am SO proud of you!!” and I lay in the dark laughing in horror at the irony of it all. He’s so cool!

    Sunday I invite Mike out for dinner. I slowly went through the triathlon story, hoping he’d order a double shot of something potent to ease the pain I was about to put him through. I told him I had some bad news as I started talking about the trip home. His face contorted and he knew it wasn’t good. I explained what happened and he broke into a sweat. I felt like screaming and running out of the restaurant so I told him he could punch me in the eye if it would just make him feel better. He asked me if the bike was faithful to the bitter end and I said it was and that I will replace it for him soon, though I knew no bike could take it’s place in his heart.I showed him some pictures I took with my cell phone so he didn’t have to agonize over the gruesome mental image he would surely conjure up.  We started cracking jokes and he occasionally stopped mid fork-to-mouth as the shock of it all sunk in. I hung out with him for a few more hours and then watched him slowly climb the steps to his townhouse. Ugh.

    Today he asked me to send the pictures I took of the bike. Apparently he’s had a good time telling the horror story to his co-workers and wants to show the pictures for bragging rights. I’m glad he’s feeling better.

    I am so sore today! I have bruises on the bottom of my right foot from running across the rocks out of the swim, I slightly strained my right hip flexor and I have knots the size of golf balls in my back. But I am stoked and proud to have pounded out 7 triathlons with my team at the Burrito Union! I expressed my many thanks to the race directors via email today and long story short, the director we beat said his aerobics instructor is also a former BFL Grand Champion! It is, indeed, a small world.

    Living life less than to the fullest is a life I refuse to live.
    Live hard, pray harder and count your blessings!!
     – See more at: http://www.transformation.com/bon/blog/Uncategorized/Burrito-Union-10-Hour-Team-Triathlon/6808#sthash.UhjVpGhs.dpuf

  • Pivotal Moments

    I Sometimes life brings us the most amazing moments that totally change our direction. These moments enrich our lives in ways we could not have conjured up on our own.

    I was given a moment such as this, and it changed me forever.  This took place during one of my darker hours of training; one of the hardest times of my Body-For-Life challenge. A time when I had not seen a lot of physical changes in my physique. I felt alone at this time, like I was the only one grinding through the workouts I did not yet have the energy for. I was dealing with cravings I could not satisfy and eating nutritious food I had not yet come to appreciate.  Pay special attention to these moments. Learn from them. Grow from them. Then share them with others.
     Around the end of week three back in 2000 I was at the gym feeling unmotivated and my thinking had turned from what I would do during my workout to how justified I was in feeling sorry for myself. My workout partner had told me a few days before that he would not be finishing the 12 week training program with me due to time constraints and required travel from his job. I was tired from getting up at 4:20am to get to the gym the moment it opened and tired from going to bed between 11pm and 1am from studying after putting the kids to bed. I walked with a drag in my step as I made my way through the free weights. I could see the squat rackwith it’s cold, grey steel structure looming ahead of me in the dim yellow light. The gym seemed extra quite and a little too dark that morning. That was when I saw my hero. She was there, sitting on a bench, pausing between sets. She had beautiful blond hair and a red face from effort. She also had down syndrome.
    encourage sign
    She was alone too, at 5am. She had no one to cheer her on between sets. No one to spot her. And yet there was something about her. Something about her motivation, her determination, that drew my eyes and fixed them on her. It did not seem to matter to her that she was going this journey alone. That she was at the gym before most people were out of bed. I saw her pick up a book from under her bench and open it to her marked page. Body-for-LIFE.  She carefully recorded her weights and reps and prepared for her next set, lifting the dumbbells off the floor. I stood there, not realizing I had stopped dead in my tracks and was staring straight at her from less than 10 feet away. Ten feet from a true Champion. I wanted to talk to her, to glean words of wisdom from her.
    I quietly walked to the squat rack realizing my failure mentality, understanding the importance of mind set and mental attitude. I started to smile to myself and my chest heaved in emotion. I turned away from her so she would not see me staring at her in the refection of the mirror or the tear running down my cheek. My self pity drained away and I felt a new sense of strength. Not physical strength. I knew I would be fortunate to squat the bar, much less throw ten pound plates on the ends. Inner strength that comes with character. Character that comes from moments like these, when we realize where we are inside ourselves and where we need to be.
    I did everything I could to keep her in sight during my workout but lost sight of her only half way through. I never saw her again in the gym and I have to think she must of been traveling or just passing through. Anytime I doubted myself or started to grumble within myself about the effort I had to put out I thought of her. How ungrateful I had been for not recognizing the value, the awesome opportunity I had to live a healthier life and be a better person in so many ways because I had the option to go the gym, the ability to cook nutritious meals, the freedom to make a choice.  pushing walls
    When I won my category I thought of that woman I saw in the gym that morning. I wanted so much to run to her, to put my EAS jacket on her shoulders. To tell her it was so much because of her and the example she had set for me that I was where I was today.
    Hundreds if not thousands of people, true Champions, go unnoticed, unrecognized and without praise. They face barriers and obstacles that we only fear or take for granted that we don’t have. Take a moment and consider all that you have to be thankful for. The ability to choose, the ability to do, the ability to commit. Look beyond where you are today. Look outside yourself. See the amazing gifts you have and embrace today. Count your blessings along with your calories, so to speak. And then give. Give the gift of encouragement to others. Give the gift of appreciating other’s hard work. Give yourself the gift of real living.
    To be what you are right now, continue to do exactly what you are doing. To be all that you can be: Make a plan, implement and follow through. Do not be afraid to climb, to soar and to excede yourself.
    BFL Champ

    Body-For-Life 2000 Champion

  • Anti-Dreadmill Adventures


    zombie treadmill

    This screams ‘Fun’.

    That word may seem appropriate when applied to getting up very early on your only day off to shovel the driveway for the arrival of your not so welcomed in-laws or cleaning up after the dog discarded his recently consumed outdoor surprise, but it fails to fully encompass how I feel when I so much as gaze upon the (insert scary music here) treadmill.

    Yesterday I had the privilege of talking with one of Minnesota’s finest elite triathletes Mr. Name Left Out to Protect the Innocent. For purposes of fluidity, we will refer to him as Boe hereafter. Boe embraces training outside as much as possible during the winter months. I can attest to this as I nearly ran him over at night with my car fairly recently. Thankfully he was wearing a head lamp. I asked Boe what he considers the benefits of training outdoors in the Minnesota winters to be and his response was, “There are no benefits. Minnesota winters suck. Fly to Arizona.” Thanks for that insightful piece of encouragement, Boe….

    Over the past few months I’ve noted with growing interest the number of what I commonly refer to as “Maniacs” running around the streets of Eagan in the dead of winter. I had yet to run outside in fear of dying from frostbite, being attacked by skidding vehicles, or simply dying of pneumonia from having my lungs instantly freeze up and no one finding my lifeless, frozen body until the spring thaw sometime in July. I went to the gym a few weeks ago and looked loathingly upon the treadmill. I forced my body up onto the elevated platform of bodily mechanical hate and willed myself with all I could muster to slog along going absolutely no where.


    After my fun run I drove home and noticed a group of Maniacs out weathering the near zero temperatures, donning their multi-layered heat compression gear, hats, gloves and head lamps.
    Pivotal moment.

    I quickly called my better half and poured out my hate for the treadmill as well as my newly found inspiration and interest to give the outdoors a go. He was as supportive as any man in love with absolutely no earthly interest in doing anything sounding so remotely horrific could be: “Sounds great! Let me know when you’re ready to give it a try!” God bless him.


    What we felt like.


    What we looked like.

    Two weeks later we emerged from the garage while it was still light out. I immediately noted the wind chill factor had dropped to temperatures in competition with Antarctica. The ground seemed to stretch out before us like a never ending plate of icy death, beckoning us to come and break our backs. There was an igloo close by and someone wearing what looked like full winter body armor consisting of a thousand pounds of down crouching next to the doorway. We were wearing enough layers of clothing to stock a second hand store and proudly displaying our mugger hats, burglar outfits and YakTraks; off we went. Five miles later we were smiling, high fiving and wondering why we didn’t do it a long time ago. We laughed as we tried to talk with our frozen cheeks. I never knew my boyfriend could look so cute with frozen eyelashes and brows. Two days later we wrapped up a successful seven mile run in the dark with our headlamps guiding our feet.


    I think what Boe meant to say is that the benefits of running outside in the winter include constantly changing scenery, fresh air, body mechanics, stabilizer muscle usage, camaraderie, potential sunshine to offset SAD, frozen eye lashes, and the feeling of accomplishment. Not everyone braves the great Minnesota winters outdoors so now you’ve got something to be proud of. Shake it up! Now where’s my coffee….


  • Chillin’ for Recovery

    Chillin’ Out


    I’ve done many things in my life that may seem crazy to some people, to include jumping off the side of a mountain, scuba diving alongside a shark, eating the food I’ve cooked, running into buildings in which angry men were brandishing fire arms, but the one that tops them all took place last weekend.


    My ice bath.

    As an endurance athlete I experience the usual aches and pains associated with beating our bodies into dust, adding water for hydration and then trying to reshape them into something formidable for long distances of swimming, biking and running. After receiving a number of battle wounds my coach suggested I take an ice bath. With real ice.

    After Grandma’s Marathon last year I tried to step into a cold tub of water only to find myself immediately hopping out and announcing sternly to said cold water, “No thanks, I choose life!” I’ve tried to force myself to embrace this crazy idea on a few other occasions only to discover that I am not a polar bear, people have a sick sense of humor and ice is not meant to touch the human body unless it’s in direct association with consuming iced tea.

    Finally, last Sunday night, after a couple of long training days, I relinquished to try again.

    This time I went to the freezer and extracted two large plastic bins of ice and dumped them into the tub so that the surface of the cold water was half covered. The ice cubes were forming some sort of twisted bond of collaborated frozen death, beckoning me to come and immerse myself into it. I knew right then and there I would slowly become a human popsicle.


    My newly shattered window.

    I stepped in and immediately grabbed a towel, only this time I did not quickly use the towel to wrap myself up as I leaped out; this time I used it to muffle the shattering scream that rocketed out of my mouth and echoed throughout the bathroom. I continued to scream as I slowly lowered my once warm body down in into the seemingly sub zero temperatures, somehow simultaneously breaking a sweat. I was sure neighbors would be peering through their windows to verify there was indeed a heinous murder taking place and they should dial 911 immediately.

    I sat there with a pained expression on my face, hoping to God it wouldn’t freeze there just like my mother always warned me. I tried to relax. I found breathing was helpful. I had brought iced tea up with me and tried to calmly sip it. I noted the hair on my legs literally had ice forming on it. After about fifteen minutes of a solid, unblinking death stare I got out. Most of my aches and pains were feeling much better and I waited to see if it was merely for the fact that they were frozen solid and numb but after an hour I still felt great.


    Apparently this form of self torture is called Cryotherapy (“cold therapy”) and what it does is constrict blood vessels and decreases metabolic activity, which reduces swelling and tissue breakdown. Once the skin is no longer in contact with the frozen water of death, the underlying tissues warm up, causing a return of faster blood flow, which helps return the byproducts of cellular breakdown to the lymph system for efficient recycling by the body. The ice baths suppress inflammation as well as help flush out harmful metabolic debris from the muscles. The water temperature recommendation is from 50-53 degrees. (I prefer around 35F.) Having survived this experience I can attest to the benefits or at least to the fact that warming up afterward never felt so good.

    Next time you grind out a long training session, treat yourself to an ice bath afterward and don’t forget to bring a towel for screaming into. Trust me, it helps.


  • The Pain of Healing


    It wasn’t the bruising and relentless infliction of pain that shed light on the fact that the man was clearly insane. Nor was it the way he could carry on, all the while smiling and talking, while implemented his torture. It was the way he enjoyed it that ranked him up with the worst of the worst in my book.

    Earlier I had been looking for his office, which he indicated was on the back side of Elsmore in Apple Valley. Driving around towards the back I found only darkened offices and a few loading docks. I parked haphazardly and got out of my car, surveying the scene. With hesitation, I approached one of the abandoned suites and peeled open a door. Quietly stepping inside, and feeling a bit like a burglar, I squeaked out a soft “Hello?” Distant voices echoed back, followed by fast footfalls crawling towards me….

    Emerging from the dark shadows, a tall man asked, “Can I help you?” Stammering just a touch, I asked if he knew where ‘Jonny’ was. The tall man let out a chuckle. “You mean JonnyJ. I sure do. He’s around back.” and he started off through the narrow hallway, zigzagging until we finally went through a door and emerged into the sunlight on the backside of the offices. Pulling open another door with a hand scribbled sign that read “Revolution”; he led me inside one of the small warehouses, and then said somewhat tentatively, “Good luck” and quickly left.revolution

    I spotted a tough looking man talking with an athlete who had his tri bike draped over his shoulder like a computer bag. The tough guy glanced over at me, pointed the athlete up the stairs and then walked over. “Hi. I’m JonnyJ. No ‘h’ and no space. You must be Bonnie?” he said, extending his hand. I was still mentally processing his name explanation when he told me I shouldn’t be wearing orthotics and to take my shoes off.

    “Lay on the ground on your left side.” He stated dryly as he rolled up his sleeves.

    “Are you going to hurt me?” I asked quickly, panic setting in. And with that he dug his elbow straight into my IT band. I let out a screech so loud that it nearly shook the building.

    “Bingo.” He said, a smile creeping over his face. “Yes, I am going to hurt you,” he said, and I knew he meant it. What I didn’t get was just how bad the infliction of pain would be.

    Pain? We go way back. I’m a mother, after all. I’ve also had my share of injuries, a few of them requiring surgery. But this wasn’t Pain. This was like a distant cousin to Pain. Not distant in the way of minimizing it; distant in the way of that one crazy relative that exists in every family. The guy you try to avoid eye contact with. His name is Torture.

    I broke into a sweat as he continued. He was like a crazed lunatic, searching for any area on my IT band that might lead me down the path of spontaneous murder. More people started filtering into the warehouse, coming over to observe me, like a caged animal being trained. Several of them let out a grunt and let me know, while I lay there pounding the ground with my fist, that they too had gone through JonnyJ’s Torture. “No, you don’t know this pain!” I spat out at them through soaked stands of hair and gritted teeth. But they assured me they did.

    After what felt like an eternity, JonnyJ finally let up and I crawled away from him, beaten, battered and bruised. “You’re a crazy person.” I stated in full conviction. He smiled and started scribbling something on a piece of paper.

    “Do these exercises and see these people,” he said, handing me the instructions. “I will see you on Monday. Go to the back of the High School in Edina. Way in the back, past all the fields and cars. You’ll find me there.”

    I began hobbling towards the door, which suddenly seemed a million miles away, as he headed up the stairs towards a loft. A man walked over to me, decked out in cycling garb, and asked me how it went. He shared his knee injury story and how he too had suffered through JonnyJ’s infliction of pain and the road that ultimately led to recovery. I glanced down at his knee which seemed to be in full working order. He seemed happy and fully recovered. I thanked him for the encouragement and resumed my hobble. Rock star triathlete Pam Nielson came over next and said hello, offering some additional empathy. I felt a little encouraged.

    As I emerged into the daylight and the door began closing behind me, I caught site of several bikes up on trainers, happy triathletes spinning away.

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