Tuesday, March 30, 2010

White Mountains 100 (the rest)

Read Part I and Part II first...

We didn't stay long at Checkpoint #4. I was happy to see that Julie M. was still there when I arrived. Before we left the cabin, Ed asked me if I would be back next year, I said, "I think so. But ask me after this last 20 miles."

We only had about twenty miles left to go, but it was going to be a tough twenty miles. Remember all that down, down, downhill that I talked about at the beginning? Well now we had to go up, up, up.

But I felt really strong. Maybe it was the sun, or maybe it was the bagel sandwich that Brian left for me at Checkpoint #4, or maybe I was running on a high of knowing that I was going to finish. Even if my tire completely deflated at this point, pushing my bike twenty miles was not out of the question and I still had over 24 hours to finish before the cutoff.

It was hot. Well probably about 20 degrees, but that was a 40 degree temperature swing from the morning. The sun beat down on us as we stripped layers and made our way to the trail shelter at mile 91. These miles flew by, but we could see the Wickersham wall looming in the distance. It was a mile long hill, with over 600 feet of elevation gain.

After stopping too long at the trail shelter, stuffing our faces with Pringles, Julie M., Ed (who was on skis) and I started off on the last 11 miles of trail. We hit the Wickersham Wall and began to push. Ed took off up the hill. On a day hike this would be nothing, but after riding for 30 hours and pushing a bike that weighed 50 pounds, this wall felt horribly difficult to me.

It was reaally slow. Reallllly, reallly, slow. It probably took about 30 minutes to go that one mile. But we got to the top and from there Julie M. told me exactly how many hills there were left. I was looking forward to the one mile of downhill at the finish.

We traveled over the hills and counted them as we went. There was a short stretch of fun downhill in between each hill and I think we were both happy and sad to be so close to the end. And then before I knew it we were at the one mile sign. I stopped to take it all in, because I knew it would soon be over.

(Me and Carlene at the finish. I love this photo.)

Then I was at the parking lot. Brian was there. He had waited over 6 hours after finishing his own race which was quite impressive. I figured he would be back in a hotel in Fairbanks by then.

My friend Carlene (who had been volunteering at the race Head Quarters for two days with no sleep) was there dressed in a crazy costume with a feather boa and pom poms. She was yelling, "YAAAAAY JULIE! YAAAYY JULIE!!!" and I told her later that it was the best greeting I have ever had at a finish line.

(Me and the other Julie. Done.)

It was over. I had finished my first 100 mile race. I'm still not sure what made this "the greatest race ever", but I believe it was a combination of the following:

1. The race was really well organized.
2. The volunteers and race directors were super fun, really helpful, and genuinely concerned for our well being.
3. The course was so scenic and the scenery kept changing throughout the race.
4. I got to ride with Julie Malingowski and we helped each other along the course. When I was struggling, she was strong and vice versa. It really worked out well.
5. The cabins were only 20 miles apart and were filled with warm people and warm food.
6. The hills! Yes the hills made this a true mountain bike race, unlike any other winter race I know of. YES, we struggled up super long steep hills sometimes taking only one step every other second, but that just meant there was the reward of a long and fast downhill on the other side!
7. I fixed my first sub zero Endomorph flat (well sort of).
8. I finished my first (yes first) hundred mile race, and it was in the snow, crazy wind, and sub zero temperatures of the interior of Alaska.

Take any of these away and the experience would not have been as great. Sometimes in life it all comes together and this was one of those rare moments.

Thanks so much to everyone who volunteered (especially Dan and Ti the medics) and thanks to Ed and Ann for putting on such a great race. We'll be back. Thanks to everyone who took the beautiful photos that I stole from the race website. Thanks to my stomach for keeping all of that food down. Thanks to Carlos for loaning me the frame bag, Carlene for the Bivy Sack (that I didn't have to use thankfully), and of course Brian for all of the support leading up to, during and after the race.

Monday, March 29, 2010

White Mountains 100 (some more)

(The Ice Lakes)

"@#$%^&!" I yelled every curse word I could think of as Julie M. and I ran up and down the trail swinging our arms like idiots. My hands were starting to freeze and I thought this was the only time I really wished I had pogies. Julie showed me her hand and it was starting to turn really white. "Let's get out of the wind." she suggested.

It's a shame I was in such a hurry for the 2.5 miles down to the Ice Lakes because it was a downhill luge that I remember not even having to steer through. My bike just kind of got funneled down this chute and out onto the Ice Lakes. No steering, no brakes.

Ahh, the Ice Lakes! It was still light out, and... they didn't look that bad. From what Ed, the race director, had described the night before I was picturing a 12 degree slope of glare ice. Glare ice yes, slope... not so much.

I followed the snow machine tracks, as Julie M. followed behind. I tried to take the path of least resistance, or in this case, the path of least slippery trail. I pushed forward against the strong headwind and could feel my body temperature dropping. I stopped to wait for Julie, and tried jumping up and down to keep warm. But then I heard a crack in the ice that started at my feet and crawled it's way over to the side of the "lake". Okay, maybe no jumping then.

Finally at the end of the ice lakes, and I saw a headlamp. I looked back and saw that Julie was struggling with her bike. The wind kept pushing it out of her hands and she dropped it many times.

The headlamp at the end of the lake belonged to a medic named Dan Young. He had a tent set up there at the end of the lakes, just in case people coming down off of the pass at night needed help. Thank you Dan!

Julie showed him her hand and he told us the tissue was starting to turn. She couldn't move three of her fingers. He said, "There's nothing I can do here, we'll have to get you down to the Windy Gap cabin."

"Does that mean I have to scratch?" Julie said, and he replied, "If you get a ride on the snow machine it does." I was pretty bummed that she might have to quit, but thought all hope was not lost. Suddenly Dan thought of an idea and decided to warm her hands on the snow machine grips.

About and hour and half later, after her hands were warmed up and she had warmed up in a minus 30 degree sleeping bag, she made a miraculous recovery. She suddenly sat up and started chatting with us again. It looked like she was going to be able to keep riding.

During the time while Julie was getting warmed up I put all of my layers on and stomped around trying to keep warm. I put hand warmers in my mittens and boots. I chatted with Dan who I found out knows the owners of the company I work for(and good friends of mine). They actually bought his company some years back in order to form PangoMedia. Small, small world.

I guess I could have continued on to the cabin, but I thought if I left, Julie would have no one to ride with the rest of the 8 miles down. It was dark now and the temperature was dropping rapidly. It probably wouldn't have been a good idea for her to continue on by herself coming so close to hypothermia and frostbite. I was in no hurry to get to the cabin, I had planned to eat dinner and try to get a few hours of sleep there anyway. And I was ecstatic that my race up to this point had gone as planned.

So I stayed. And I'm glad I did because Julie then popped out of the tent, back to her old cheery self and we rode the last 8 miles to Windy Gap (mile 62) together. We got to mile 62 (checkpoint #3) at midnight, 16 long hours after we had started that day.

(Getting ready to go at 10:30 pm)

The Windy Gap cabin was so warm that we stripped down to our base layers as soon as we got in. It was very busy too and I was happy to see that there were still three bikers there. We ate meatball soup, talked with the volunteers and other racers, and got some sleep after some of the racers cleared out.

It was at Windy Gap that I saw that Brian had left at 8pm. I thought he was probably at checkpoint #4 by then, so he was just about 4 hours ahead of me.

Throughout the night racers came in until the very last racer showed up around 2 am. Eventually everyone went to sleep. We slept in a 6 person cabin with 12 people. It was quite cozy. Everyone was hacking and coughing all night (including myself), so I'm not sure I got any actual sleep.

I rolled over sometime later and it was 5 am. Julie M. said, "I think I'm ready to go." and I whispered, "Me too." We tried to get up quietly, but as soon as we stood up, most of the other racers jumped up and started packing. I think no one wanted to be the last one out of Windy Gap. Not only because it would mean that you were in last place, but because it's very lonely at the end. No one just happens to come along the trail behind you. It's just you.

(Morning on overflow)

And so we embarked on our second day. Mornings are rough for me so I told Julie M. I was going to hang back and take it easy. There was a ton of overflow on this section of the trail, so it was more on and off the bike to negotiate the ice. I was shocked that this section was so flat. If you look at the elevation profile, it looks like downhill the whole way with one hill.

(Looks downhill right? It is soooo not.)

It was a bit demoralizing when it was painfully gradual, to the point where it almost seemed to be uphill. It was bitter cold. We were told this would be the coldest part of the course and it did not disappoint.

Then about seven miles in just as I was starting to warm up and get going. I looked down and my front tire was completely flat. I looked up to yell to Julie that I got a flat, but she was cresting the horizon and she couldn't hear me. I cannot describe how completely devastated I was. And I absolutely hate changing Endomorph tires. They are really hard to get on and off. I hate doing it in my living room where it is 65 degrees and I have had a full night rest. But I was tired and it was probably 25 below at this point.

I tried first pumping air into it because this has happened before where the valve just comes loose and it's not an actual flat. That seemed like it was going to work, but then I got back on the bike and it went flat again.

By now Julie had to be almost a mile ahead and was probably waiting so I started to run next to the bike so that I could tell her to just go ahead, and that I would probably be awhile. I had one of those, oh my god I am going to burst out crying moments, and even made this "eeeeg" sound, then said out loud, "THIS CANNOT BE HAPPENING RIGHT NOW!" but then I held back the flood and got it together.

I eventually caught up with Julie and yelled to her, "I have a flat! You should go ahead." She asked if I had everything I needed and we parted ways.

And so I fixed the flat. It took about 15 minutes for me to get the tire off. There was ice build up on the rims from all of the overflow and the tire kept sticking to them. I would work on the bike for about a minute and then have to put my hands back into my mittens to warm them up. When I took the tube out, it still had air in it. And I could not squeeze anymore out. What the shit?

(Fixing the flat, getting passed by everyone once again)

But I put a new tube in and pumped it up a little, then proceeded to take a half hour to get the freaking Endomorph tire back on. This is when I had my major break down. I can't believe I actually thought I was going to get through the entire race without an emotional breakdown. So silly.

I think about it now and laugh. I was kneeling on my camelbak in the middle of this canyon, with no one around for miles (I hope), beating on my tire with all of my strength. There was two inches of tire that I could not get back on to the rim and I was literally screaming out expletives and punching it as hard as I could.

Awful words, unthinkable things, that you can not even imagine. Think of the worst curse words you know and then string them all together in a sentence. Now say that out loud. That's what I yelled over and over again.

I thought I was being punished for not practicing changing these tires more often. Then magically it popped back in. I was so proud of myself. I didn't give up and it worked. Then I pumped for what seemed like another half hour. Just when I thought I had enough air in, I packed up my stuff, got back on the bike, and then...

My tire went flat again. No joke. I was devastated yet again. But I was surprisingly calm. I pumped another hundred times, just to get the tire to where I could ride it and decided. well, I can ride it. It's going to be slow, but I can ride it.

The strange this is that about an hour later I looked down and it was fully inflated. An hour after that, flat again. I still have no idea, but guess what? I got to checkpoint #4 at noon. Hooray! Only 20 miles left to go.

(Me enjoying a tasty bagel sandwich that Brian left for me at Checkpoint #4, thanks Monkee Man!)

(This is getting long again... I finish it up tomorrow. Yes, I realize it was only 100 mile race and I've already written two novels here, but a lot happened and I have a job.)

Friday, March 26, 2010

White Mountains 100 (this is a long one)

The White Mountains 100 race course was not familiar to most of the racers that lined up at the start on Sunday morning. Some had ridden parts of the trail, some all of it, but some of us had never been there before and none of us had ever raced it.

This was the inaugural year. After this year, I imagine there will be many repeat racers and word will spread about the difficulties and joys of the course. But for these brief two days, forty-nine other racers and I discovered together, for the first time, what racing the remote White Mountains of Alaska was all about.

About two weeks ago, after my last long ride, I became completely turned off to winter biking. It's no secret that if I do the same thing over and over again, I'm eventually going to get bored. I was a little worried when I began my taper that I would never want to ride my bike again.

And I didn't ride for about a week and a half. The taper became a complete period of rest. Then suddenly as the race was upon us, I got back on the bike to test out my setup and my excitement for winter biking and the race had been renewed (along with my nerves).

The night before the race I felt a bit of nerves as the race directors described the "Ice Lakes" and I found out later I was not alone. The Ice Lakes are a mile long and quarter mile wide stretch of slightly inclined overflow that could have posed my greatest challenge in the race. Slide down off into the willows and you could get soaked from head to toe, your bike parts could freeze up rendering the bike unrideable, while you still have 8 miles left to descend down to the next cabin in potentially negative 20 degree temperatures.

Not only that, but I figured I would be getting there just before dark and if I messed around too long in the first 50 miles I would get there after dark. So at the start of the race I felt pressed to get over the divide and over the Ice Lakes in good time.

As Brian and I drove up 28 miles of the winding Elliot Highway to the race start, a flood of nerves rushed over my body. I was in danger of losing my breakfast. It was about -15 degrees out and windy. After getting our gear all loaded up we headed to the race start. A woman from KUAC (which I later was calling KTUU) came up and asked to interview me and Janice Tower, a well known endurance cyclist from Anchorage.

I hesitated because I had a lot on my mind and still so much to do before the start. But Janice was cool and calm as she always is and said, "Sure." So I complied. I have no idea what I said to this woman who asked questions about why we chose this race and what my goals were, and I'm sure what came out was a jumbled mess of words that were linked together in a fashion that only I could understand.

But basically I told her my goal was to "stay alive" and that the biggest draw for me was "the hills". This last comment later haunted me. Over and over in my head I kept hearing myself saying, "It's the hills, I'm looking forward to the hills".

After the interview was over I frantically searched for Brian because I knew he was still messing with his gear back at the car and the race director had yelled, "5 minutes!". I also knew this would probably be the last time I saw him for three days. That last five minutes I must have blacked out because the next thing I know they yelled, "Ten seconds!" Brian rolled up, we said our goodbyes and good lucks and then we were off.

I must have completely blacked out the first six miles because I remember nothing. All I was doing was trying to ignore the nausea in my stomach that wouldn't subside, and focus on the task at hand.

For the next few days all I had to do was ride my bike and it was becoming evident that all I had to do was ride my bike with some great people and arguably some of the most beautiful scenery I have seen in Alaska.

The first ten miles were up and down and then down, down, down, down a fast and fun downhill with bumps that tested my handling skills with a fully loaded bike. I must have got up to almost 20 miles an hour, but was afraid to look down at the speedometer for fear of crashing. On the first really long uphill I realized that my rear derailleur would not drop down into the lowest gear and in fact it was stopping two from the lowest. That made climbing a bit difficult and I ended up walking up most of the big hill at mile 17 to the first checkpoint.

But I was at the first checkpoint! And in under 3 hours and only a half hour behind Brian who was in 11th place! At this point all of my nerves melted away and I knew everything was going to be fine. At this pace I would get to tackle the big climb up to Cache Mountain Divide followed by the ice lakes all with plenty of daylight to spare.

I should have stopped to fix my derailleur, but part of me didn't want to slow down my pace by stopping to make a repair. Looking back this was really stupid, I probably used up a lot of energy mashing my pedals up the hills of the first 40 miles because I was too stubborn to stop and was convinced I was strong enough to do the whole course with no granny gear.

After the first checkpoint we rolled through an area that had been affected by a forest fire in 2004. Despite hearing many racers complain about how long the Burn area was, it was one of my favorite parts of the course. There was something eerie and beautiful about the burnt black spruce that lined the trail. The skinny trees allowed me to see for miles and try to imagine where in the landscape we were going to travel next.

I saw Crowberry Cabin and shouted out "Crowberry!" because any landmark along the trail was a relief. It meant I was making progress, going in the right direction, and not just pedaling into the far off interior of Alaska somewhere.

I stopped for a bit to take this picture of my bike and chatted with Matias, who I had been flip flopping with for miles and later realized that he was Matias Saari, a name I recognized to have won many running events throughout Alaska, including Mount Marathon last year. I was thrilled and quite shocked to be amongst so many great athletes in this race.

Before I could even think I was at the one mile sign for the second checkpoint. As I crested the next hill, I could see the cabin down below out on the open tundra. It was 3 pm and I was ecstatic to have gone almost 40 miles in 7 hours. I knew at this time, barring no major injuries or mechanicals that I was going to finish.

I didn't want to stay too long and lose my momentum, so I ate some food at the Cache Mountain cabin and packed up my stuff quickly to go. I knew the next task at hand was to climb the 1500 feet up to the divide and I imagined with my derailleur issues that this was going to be somewhat of a push.

I came across Julie Malingowski about a half mile down the trail, while she was negotiating the first area of overflow. Julie and I had met the night before, but I had been reading her blog for trail updates in the weeks before the race.

We ended up flip flopping for a mile and then just started chatting and riding together. A few people asked me before the race if I thought I would team up with anyone to ride and I said no. If I ended up riding with someone, it would happen naturally out on the trail because we were going the same speed. But for some reason riding with Julie just made sense. We found out we had a lot of random things in common and somehow just got along really well from the start. It turned out that we would later help each other out along the trail. I was very thankful to have her there with me.

The climb up to the divide seemed to take forever and we kept trying to guess how far we were. "I think it's just two more miles", I would say. Then we'd go two miles and still were not in sight of the pass. "Uh, I think it's just two more miles." It felt like we had been pushing for twenty.

The wind started to pick up and the sun fell behind the mountains. It was cold. It was the first time I felt cold since the whistle at the start.

Finally we came out above the trees. We were only pushing at this point. The headwind coming down from the pass was threatening to push us back down the mountain. But we pushed on. My bike felt heavy and I cursed myself for bringing so much. I was taking one step every second. If you can't imagine how slow this is, try it. One... two... three... four... It's slow.

But it's true, if you keep putting one foot in front of the other eventually you will get there. And we eventually came out on top of the pass. Tired, hungry, windblown and a little disoriented we started the long downhill stretch to the Windy Gap Cabin (Checkpoint #3), where I had planned to rest. But we had a few more challenges to get through before then. The Ice Lakes were upon us and it was starting to get dark.

(This is so long already, this looks like a good place to stop. I'm going to have to continue it tomorrow...)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

In Fairbanks!

The drive up was beautiful, sunny and clear the whole way. It only took 6 hours. We had a pre-race meeting where they warned us of all of the dangers of the trail, which include an extensive area of overflow and a sneaky 8 foot drop somewhere near mile 70.

We had few slices of pizza and are off to sleep early, gotta get up at 5:30 am to head to the race start. I'm hoping I can get some coffee before then. Good night!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Wish us luck!

Hopefully we won't need it.

We are headed to Fairbanks tomorrow morning. Should be a six to eight hour drive depending on road conditions. The forecast for Fairbanks during the race...

Sunday...Partly sunny. Highs near 30.

Sunday Night...Mostly clear. Lows near 5 below.

Monday...Sunny. Highs near 25.

Monday Night...Mostly clear. Lows near 5 above.

Tuesday...Mostly sunny. Highs near 25.

Tuesday Night...Partly cloudy. Lows near 5 above.

Sounds downright toasty to me. But it will probably be a bit colder up north of Fairbanks where the race takes place. You can follow along if you want. There will be live updates on the website.

I'll check back next week after it's all over.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Getting there

From this...

To this...

I'm pretty much all packed. I'm done trying to figure out where I will be and at what time and how many calories and how long it will take. It will take as long as it takes, I will eat as much as I eat, I will ride as much as I ride, and push as much as I push, and will get done when I get done.

No more planning! No more training! I'm ready to get started!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I make lists

Day one of packing is finished. I made two lists, one for a super cold forecast and one for a not-so-cold forecast. Then I made a master list of everything I will need before during and after the race until next Wednesday, when we plan to come home. Hopefully I won't still be wandering around in the White Mountains by then. I also made a list of where everything will get packed on the bike and on myself. Each one is on a separate sheet of excel workbook. Nerd alert!

Hi, my name is Julie, and I make lists... ? There is a good reason. I am a really forgetful person and if i don't have a list for everything, I will forget... everything. If I don't have my keys strapped to my forehead in the morning I will forget them. Don't even get me started on my cell phone. Let's just say I forget I even have a cell phone (I have to carry it for work) until it starts beeping telling me the battery is dying.

Back to my packing strategy. The not-so-cold forecast would be a low of minus 5 and a high of 25. When did minus 5 become not that cold? I'm not sure, somewhere between sitting on my deck in Philly wearing a tank top and flip flops and sweating my ass off... and now.

Day one of packing consists of laying everything out on the floor of the living room. Tomorrow I'll start sorting this mess out.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Arctic Valley Ski

We drove up to Alpenglow ski area on Saturday hoping to enjoy some of the new powder that fell last week. Alpenglow is the all volunteer run backcountry ski area that is a fifteen minute drive from our house. It's only open on the weekends so if it snows during the week, the powder stays untouched until the lifts start running Saturday morning. The first winter we lived in a Alaska I used to volunteer at Alpenglow for two hours taking tickets or serving food in exchange for a free lift ticket. It's where I really learned to ski.

We were greeted by about a hundred people in line at the one lift that was running, and saw that half of the powder was already skied up. So we slapped on our skins and bypassed the lift lines. We skinned up the valley in between two peaks. Mount Gordon Lyon and Rendezvous Mountain.

We headed left up Mount Gordon Lyon first. This was actually a new peak for me and standing up on the tippy top of this peak got me excited for spring peak bagging. Only standing on the very top of a peak, with no obstructions on a perfectly clear day can you begin to understand fully why climbers have an obsessive need to always get to the top.

It's here where you can see around yourself in every direction for hundreds of miles, with nothing blocking your view. I wanted to stay up here all day...

But Brian yelled, "I'm ready to ski!" from down below so I figured I better get going.

After skiing down, we decided to start up the other side to Rendezvous where we spotted a sea of untouched powder. Others skiers in the area quickly caught on as the side of Rendezvous became tracked.

Then it was back up Gordon Lyon for one last run. Some day this summer I would like to make this into a loop run. Start at the parking lot, then head straight up Gordon Lyon, along the ridge and then down to the saddle that leads to Rendezvous. Then run up Rendezvous and down the other side back to the parking lot. It would make for a nice after work hike/run.

As much fun as I have had on the bike this season, it's really nice to be done with the long bike training hours and to start thinking about climbing and skiing again. This week we are scrambling to get everything packed for our trip up to Fairbanks. Six days until the race!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Ice Festival!

I forgot my camera, but got this picture that someone tagged of me on Facebook at the Ice Festival this weekend. Sunday was one of my happiest days in awhile. With the weight of heavy training lifted, I found myself hiking down Hunter Creek, pack on my back, my favorite boots on my feet, smile from ear to ear, without a single thing to think about except driving tools and crampons into ice while moving upward.

It really was a great day that started with me popping out of bed at 6:30 AM ready to go. That never happens, if I have to get up that early it's usually a crawl, with a lot whining for the next hour or two.

I drove up to Hunter Creek with a few co-workers that I conned into signing up for the Intermediate Course. We parted ways after hiking down into the creek as I went off with my group. It was fun to catch up with all the climbers, I hadn't realized how much I missed them until that day. I'd say the ice climbers I've met in Alaska are the most adventurous people I will ever meet. After telling everyone that I was essentially DONE training for the bike race that took me away for so long, plans were starting to be made.

I climbed with the advanced group where we learned how to move efficiently when doing multi-pitch climbs. I really haven't done much multi-pitch climbing because it always takes so long to just do one. I guess the more you climb the more efficient you become.

Later we got to do a "mock" lead on some steep ice. Hollowhead was the name of the climb that is pictured above. We weren't allowed to really lead, but to be honest, I don't think I would have had the nerve to actually lead this. It was Grade IV ice and I have only led up to Grade III. Mock leading is going through the motions of leading, but with the back up top rope.

The lead felt great actually and made me start thinking about stepping it up a bit and getting on some steeper ice in a real lead. It did feel sketchy for a few moves, but I didn't fall and placed all of the protection exactly as I would have if I had been leading for real. I tried to pretend that the top rope wasn't there.

The day ended in a fast hike out of the canyon and a fire and BBQ on the creek. My co-workers survived as well and hopefully I have created some new climbing partners! I can't wait to get back out on the ice. This weekend maybe.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Stay tuned...

I haven't had much time to blog in the past week, but thought I would write something quick before I go to bed. For most of my waking hours that I am not working I have been staring at what you see in this photo below. This has been my biggest week of training yet. Yesterday I rode for 8 hours and 50 snow miles with my bike fully loaded with gear.

My thoughts about biking have gone to both ends of the spectrum this week as I followed along with the Iditarod Trail Invitational. For the past few years at this time of year, I have watched this race closely and have read all of the stories and have found myself longing to be out on that trail. But then I would ride my bike for a long time, like yesterday, and at points in the ride when my lower back is hurting and my hands are throbbing I think, hell no I am never doing that race. Let's just take this one step at a time and see how 100 miles feels.

Now today I'm back to day dreaming about the Iditarod Trail. It mostly happens behind the comfort of my laptop, so for right now I'm dismissing it as a daydream and that's all.

Tomorrow I Ice Climb in the Alaska Ice Climbing Festival! Oh how I have missed the ice. I almost feel the way I feel when I am making a trip home to see my family and friends in PA. I cannot wait to be back on the ice. And now that I will be tapering for the race, I'll be able to climb all the time, now and when the race is over. Happy, happy times.