It’s been three years since I last attempted Billy’s Epic Training Loop, but with less than a week before my race in Tasmania and a forecast for beautiful weather, I figured today was the perfect time to do it again. After a 5am wake up call, I locked my kayak at the Loma boat ramp and started riding from Westwater at 8:15am. Although it was a little chilly to start, the morning was gorgeous with clear blue skies.
I rode for almost two hours to Rabbit Valley before seeing anyone. The peacefulness continued all the way to Salt Creek where I saw five guys climbing up from Troy Built. Salt Creek is a gnarly descent and these guys looked like they had felt every foot of technical elevation gain. I think they were more surprised to see me coming down than I was to see them.
About to head down Salt Creek overlooking the Colorado.
I finished up my 40 mile ride to Loma in 3 hours and 40 minutes (5 minutes faster than last time) and then quickly transitioned for 25 miles of paddling back to Westwater.
Before I knew it, I had paddled 11 miles and was feeling good. At about hour three, I noticed I slowed a little bit and was ready to be done. I pulled up to the boat ramp after exactly 3 hours and 40 minutes of paddling – the exact same time as my biking leg. Weird. Although I felt a bit slow for the last five miles, I still managed to drop 20 minutes off my paddling time from three years ago.
I made it home in time for dinner with kids and Juniper was excited to tell me that she rode her bike a long way today as well – six miles all the way down the bike path to the Harvest Festival at Rock Bottom Ranch. She was so proud. I love it when an awesome day just gets better when I return home.
All week I had been considering racing in the Desert RATS 25 mile trail run on the Kokopelli Trail in Loma but didn’t make the final decision until Friday afternoon. Although I really wanted to race this course after hearing so many good things from my friends Mike and Joy, I wasn’t sure I was up to 25 miles after the last month of being sick and very little training. Finally I decided to get out there for a training run and just enjoy it. After all, I know every rock, incline and turn on the course from years of mountain biking in Loma and figured this was a great place for my first marathon, trail or road.
Even though I tried to persuade against it, Joy decided she was going to come and cheer me on just two weeks after having her first child. No wonder we get along so well – we are both very stubborn and motivated. The wake-up call at 3am came quickly but I needed to get to the start in time to register and get organized.
Having Joy and Selah with me kept me relaxed and my mind off the race which prevented the typical pre-race jitters. Both the 50-mile racers and the 25-milers started together at 630am with a short countdown from the organizer. I chatted with Keri Nelson for a few minutes before she stepped it up a notch and dropped me on Moore Fun. Despite tripping and banging my knee on a rock in the first 4 miles, I was feeling well and looking forward to the remainder of the race.
Todd Kennedy (left) passing through the first aid station.
I continued to run well and steady for about 17 miles but started to slow a little at this point. I was very aware of the large hill (I always make a point of biking down it and not up it) we had to climb and was trying to save a little energy to get up the hill and finish the final five miles. Despite feeling well, the lack of training and preparation was kind of catching up with me. My mind, lungs and muscles were feeling great but my hips, knees and ankles were becoming sore. Maybe I’m just beginning to get old.
- Finishing Troy Built Loop around mile 18.
My friend Todd Kennedy passed me at this point and normally this would have motivated me to push harder but this time I was very content to run my own race. For the first time that I can remember, I had no interest in being competitive with the other racers and learned what it was like to race just for me. I finished the race slightly slower than I had been on target for but was happy to have experienced my first marathon on such a beautiful course. I think my time of 4 hours 13 minutes was good enough for sixth place. Next year I hope to train a little for the race and get out there with Joy and Elinor (her baby is also two weeks old). Maybe I’ll even try to drop a little time since I doubt I’ll be able to stay uncompetitive again. Results are posted here.
Finished and ready for some lunch.
Todd & I at the finish. I think was his fourth time finishing this race.