2015 Transrockies Run Stage 3: The Longest Day Ever!!

Thursday, August 13, 2015: Stage 3 of Transrockies Run: Leadville to Camp Hale

Mileage: 24.5 Miles

Elevation Gain: 2,700 Feet

Food eaten: 3 GU’s, Lay’s potato chips, Fritos, PGJ, 1/2 banana, pieces of watermelon, Shot Blocks, and Honey Stinger Chocolate Waffle.  Lots of water and some Pepsi.

Time: 6:54:02

Night #2 of sleeping in a tent was a little better.  I woke up at 2:50AM instead of 2:15AM!  I was hoping to get more sleep since today was the longest stage out of the six days.  After a quick breakfast, we headed over to the start, which was on the main street in Leadville (Harrison Avenue).  Andrew and I were excited to run on the road for a few miles before heading into the trails!  We missed the asphalt!

At the start!
So happy to run on the road!

After 2.5 miles on the road, we headed into the trails on a steep climb.  As we climbed, I got a headache and my heart was racing.  It was the same headache that I had during the last few miles of Stage 2.  Gah!  I had to slow down and take the climbs very slowly.  Andrew stayed with me the whole time to make sure I was okay.  I am glad he stayed with me because there were times that we were the only ones on the trail.  There was even a point where we thought we were off course because we did not see anyone in front of us and we did not see a pink pin flag.  Luckily, we were on the correct trail and we were so happy to see every pink pin flag in the ground there after!

Mountain to the right, cliff to the left!

The downhills really hurt today.  I looked like Quasidmodo running down the trail.  I also needed to poop for most of the run so running too fast would have caused me to poop my pants.  The volunteer at CP3 told me to go in the woods, but I could not do it.  I was not comfortable pooping in the woods so I held it until we got to camp.  It was quite comical and laughing about it is what got me to the finish.

At the finish, Andrew and I were handed new Nathan hydration packs.  Houda announced during the previous briefing that the last fifty finishers would receive Nathan packs.  I was not aiming to be one of the last fifty, but the combination of headache and poop caused me to slow down so much that we ended up being one of the last fifty!  I threw my Nathan pack to Bill & Tim, who were waiting for us at the finish line, and I ran straight to the porto potty!

Another perk of being one of the last 50 runners was that Houda set aside tents for us so we did not have to walk around looking for an empty tent.  Thanks Houda!  The “back of the pack” tents were set up on a peninsula so we joked that we had a lake side view.  The downside was that there was geese poop on the peninsula and mosquitoes were everywhere.

After a hot shower and snack, we witnessed history as the first ever Beer Mile (not organized by TRR) was held at Transrockies.  It was quite entertaining and we all thought that clothing was mandatory for the mile!  =)

R rated Beer Mile! Clothing optional.

Camp was set up at Nova Guides in Camp Hale.  The best news was that we were going to camp here for 2 nights so we did not have to pack our bags tomorrow morning!  Camp Hale was a US Army training facility created in 1942.  Soldiers were trained in mountain climbing, skiing, cold weather survival, and other weapons.  Yes, we learned some history on this trip as well!

We ended the tough day on trails with taco dinner!  We love tacos!  Later, we learned that a few years ago, people got sick from eating bad beef at taco night and ran the last 3 stages with diarrhea.  I was glad I packed Imodium just in case that happened.

That night we went to bed exhausted, but feeling good for having survived the first half of Transrockies!

Hanging out lakeside in front of our tents! Soaking our legs in the cold lake water for recovery! So happy to be done!

2015 Transrockies Run Stage 2: Hope Pass!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015: Stage 2 of Transrockies Run: Vicksburg to Twin Lakes

Mileage: 13.3 Miles

Elevation Gain: 3,200 Feet

Food eaten: 3 GU’s, Lay’s potato chips, 1/2 banana, pieces of watermelon, and Honey Stinger Honey Waffle.  Lots of water and some Pepsi.

Time: 4:43:40

We set our alarms to wake up at 5AM, but I did not need an alarm because I woke up at 2:15AM and never went back to sleep.  Sleeping in a sleeping bag on top of a sleeping pad was not as comfortable as expected.  So I laid there, trying to be quiet and not wake Andrew up.  At 5AM, I heard other alarms going off so I started to get ready!  We quickly packed all of our stuff back into the black duffel bags and Andrew carried them over to the pick up area.  Then we went to breakfast before taking a shuttle to the start.

Beautiful sunrise at Camp Arrowhead!
Lots of black duffel bags!
Our super cool and old school shuttle bus to the start!

Usually, I eat a banana, a cinnamon raisin bagel, and some gatorade for breakfast before a marathon.  At TRR, they served a full breakfast buffet (scrambled eggs, sausage, potatoes, silver dollar pancakes, oatmeal, cereal, fruit, yogurt, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, OJ, bread, and bagels).  I LOVE breakfast so it was very difficult for me to decide what to eat before the run.  I know scrambled eggs do not agree with some of my friends, but I had never eaten scrambled eggs before a run so I decided to try it!  What’s the worst that could happen?  I ate scrambled eggs, potatoes, 2 sausage links, and 1 pancake.  I drank water instead of my usual tea with breakfast.  Andrew stayed away from the scrambled eggs, but had 5 sausage links and potatoes!

Start of Stage 2!
The boys at the start!
Matching with our Brooklyn 1/2 shirts!  It was a cold morning so I started with my jacket on.

Today, we were running part of the Leadville 100 course.  We started on a gravel forest service road and hit CP1 1.7 miles in at the trailhead.  The checkpoint was so early because there was no good spot in the next few miles for a checkpoint.  After CP1, we entered a steep singletrack trail and climbed for 2.5 miles to the summit of Hope Pass, which is over 12,500 feet!!  It was so steep that one mile took us about 40 minutes to hike (rest breaks included).  Runners in the Leadville 100 run over Hope Pass twice!

Single file all the way to the top!
Andrew was right behind me and ready to catch me if I fell backwards!
Probably should not have been taking selfies along the dangerous steep climb up the mountain! =P
Somewhere in the middle of the trail where the soft dirt track became all rocks!
The trail eventually opened up so we could see the top of the mountain!

Throughout the climb, I paid a lot of attention to my breathing pattern and to my heart rate.  I did not need a heart rate monitor to let me know that my heart was beating too fast.  I could feel it.  We took a lot of rest breaks to let our heart rates go down and to take in the views.

So happy to reach the top of Hope Pass!
The top of Hope Pass!

Going down the other side of Hope Pass was easier on the heart, but it was scary because you could easily slip and fall down the side of the mountain.  That probably would have been faster, but more painful!

Nice sign before heading down the mountain!
Amazing views as we headed down the mountain!

Once we got down from the top of the mountain, we hit a singletrack trail alongside the Twin Lakes Reservoir.  This relatively flat section should have been much easier than the mountain, but I started to have a headache.  Damn altitude!  Bill and Tim had gone ahead because Tim was hungry and needed to get to the finish!  Andrew and I ran with Jeff all the way to the finish.  We ran as much as we could and walked a lot, but that lake seemed to go on forever!  At one point, I looked at my watch and could not believe that we had been out there for almost as long as Day 1!  We were so happy to see the finish line and crossed hand in hand with Jeff!

Our Super 8 friend, Katie, captured our finish! Look at the clouds rolling in!

We grabbed snacks at the finish line and then took a shuttle to our camp in Leadville.  After settling in and showering, we got 30 minute massages before dinner.  There were massage therapists daily and you could sign up for 30 minute slots (for a fee) whenever you wanted.  I had my massage therapist work on my shoulders, back, glutes, and quads since those were most sore after 2 days.  It was nice to have this service, but we did not think it was necessary every day.  We used the Stick or Roll Recovery on the days that we did not have massages.

Dinner was at the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum so we did not have to eat in a tent tonight!  Dinner buffet consisted of penne pasta, grilled chicken, choice of marinara sauce and pesto sauce, vegetable lasagna, salad, and ice cream!  It was delicious!  We were the first ones at dinner because I wanted to walk around Leadville before the stores closed at 5pm.  Most of the stores were closed before 5 though!

First ones at dinner!
Andrew standing in front of the oldest saloon in town! Established in 1879!

After a short shopping trip, we headed back for round #2 of dinner as TRR staff gave the medical and course briefing for Stage 3.  Stage 3 was going to be a long day so we went to bed early after prepping our Nathan packs.  I hoped that I would sleep more than 4 hours in night #2 of camping.

Good night Leadville!

2015 Transrockies Run Stage 1: The Beginning!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015: Stage 1 of Transrockies Run: Buena Vista

Mileage: 20.8 Miles in the course manual, but it was really 21.1 Miles

Elevation Gain: 2,500 Feet

Food eaten: 4 GU’s, Lay’s potato chips, Fritos, watermelon, and part of a PBJ.  Lots of water and some Pepsi.

Time: 5:06:37

We started the morning with an early breakfast at the Super 8.  When I went downstairs with my hair half braided, I was so excited to see that two of my new friends were also wearing the same colored shirts as me and Andrew!  Bill and Tim (Team name: B & T’s Great Adventure) wore Hoka shirts to match their Hoka sneakers!


Prior to the race, I read a blog about how to decrease the weight of your black duffel bag.  I did not follow the blogger’s advice on packing less race outfits and just re-wearing outfits because that is gross.  Even if I could rinse out the outfits, there was no guarantee that they would be dry for me to re-wear the next day or the day after.  So I brought 6 days of running clothes and extra!  The black duffel bag was HEAVY.  Good thing, I have a very strong fiance who carried my duffel bag whenever it needed to be carried.  That morning, he carried the bag down a flight a stairs and out the front door of the Super 8.  Transrockies staff came by to pick up all the bags and they had a separate shuttle to take runners to the start.  We took some pre-race photos with the banner and used the porto potties about 100x before the start of the race.

All smiles as we headed to the start!
Love the start line arch!
This is how we ran the entire race! Andrew carrying me! =)

I was excited to start running, but also very nervous.  I had not run a trail race since 2012 and I sprained my ankle in that last trail race (2012 North Face Endurance Challenge Bear Mountain 50M).  I had no idea how my legs would feel after each day or how I would feel in the altitude.  I had never been camping before, I do not like to poop in porto potties, and I do not like bugs.  How was I going to survive camping for 5 days??  I was nervous for Andrew who had just started running again after being injured.  I was also nervous because Andrew had NEVER run a trail race.  What did I sign us up for?!?!

We checked into the starting chute and while we waited for the other runners to line up, TRR staff blasted music to help us stay loose.  At 8:30AM, we were off on the greatest adventure!!  A short run on the road led us to the bridge that Andrew and I had run over on Monday and there was a huge bottleneck to get onto the trail.

IMG_0334 Bottleneck on the bridge.  No big deal since it was nice to have a rest break! =)

After a short section of single track trail, we ended up on a nice wide road.  I made sure to take in all the sights and not miss anything!  Sights like these do not exist in NYC!

IMG_0339 The town of Buena Vista is over Andrew’s left shoulder.

There were three checkpoints on the course.  CP1 was around Mile 7, CP2 was around mile 14, and CP3 was around mile 17.  Each checkpoint had Gatorade, Pepsi, water, and a variety of snacks!  Andrew and I stayed with our Super 8 friends Bill, Tim, and Jeff for most of the run.  We pushed each other towards the end when we were all feeling tired.  Tim (aka “Captain Tim”) would call out “We’re running to that next big rock/tree!” and we would all start running until we hit that point.  I took turns with Captain Tim calling out our next run-to points and Tim named me “Captain Hunny”.  Bill, Tim, and Jeff are all married so they gave Andrew lots of marriage advice.  Naming me “Captain Hunny” summarized their advice.  hehe=)


The course had a mix of everything: gravel, rock, and sandy roads; single track and four wheel drive roads.  There were some good steep climbs along the way and at one point, I could feel my heart beating in my head.  After a short break to lower my heart rate, we kept climbing.  We learned that breaks were very important in order to get to the finish line in one piece so we made sure to always check in on each other and rest when needed.

Gun show picture at the top of one climb!
This was a nice steady climb!
ATV’s zooming right by us!
Hoka Boys Bill and Tim celebrating their finishes!

We finished just in time as it started to rain at the finish!  We got into a school bus that would shuttle us to Arrowhead Point Campground.  Once at camp, we finally got to see the Mobile Shower Truck!  It had individual shower stalls inside with hot and cold water!  This kept us clean and smelling good for 6 days!

On the school bus and so excited to have completed Stage 1!!!
Mobile Shower Truck run by Burt.

The worst part of Arrowhead Point Campground was that our tents were set up on top of a hill.  TRR staff shuttled our big black duffel bags up the hill, but then we had to carry the black bags to our tents.  Tents were not assigned so we had to find empty tents on our own.  I was excited to “camp” since it was a new experience!  We got some rope from another runner and set up a clothing line inside the tent to hang dry our clothes from the day.

Andrew, my fiance and sherpa! =)
Tent City!
Crazy city girl excited to sleep in a tent!
Our tent/laundry room!

After dinner, TRR staff had a medical briefing and course briefing for Stage 2.  Houda also gave out “Mountain Hero of the Day” awards.  It is given to a male and female runner who did something special that day.  I told Houda by the baggage truck when we picked up our bags that we had met at the NYRC information session and that it was Andrew’s first trail race.  I never expected Houda to award Mountain Hero of the Day to Andrew that night!  Houda asked Andrew why he signed up and Andrew responded with “My fiance made me do it.”  Andrew even made it in the TRR email newsletter that night!  Andrew was a hero in everyone’s eyes.  I was the “crazy fiance” who made this poor guy sign up for a 6 day, 120 mile, trail race as his first trail race.  Best Fiance Ever. =)

Mountain Hero of the Day and year!

2015 Transrockies Run Stage 0

In January, I attended an information session at New York Running Company for the Transrockies Run.  Rob Krar (2-time Western States Champion) and Kevin “Houda” McDonald (I think his formal title is “Operations Director”, but he does everything!) talked to us about the 6 day stage race through the Rockies.  There is also a 3 day race option as well.  They showed us video clips of a few of the stages and Rob Krar talked about his experience at the Transrockies Run.  It is a special race for Rob because he met his wife during the race one year.  When I got home, I was so excited to tell Andrew about this amazing race and tried to convince him to sign up that night.  I was a maniac.  Andrew, who does not make decisions without doing some research, told me to calm down.

Rob Krar and Houda!

The following week, Andrew went to the Transrockies information session at Finish Line Physical Therapy.  He came home a little more convinced about signing up for the race.  Then we got a $200 coupon code from Adam Goucher & Tim Catalano because we are part of their group “Run/Walk 2015 miles in 2015”.  That was all I needed to convince Andrew to sign us up!  Thanks Adam and Tim!

Fast forward to May, Andrew started to feel some shin pain, but still continued training for his triathlons.  We also did an unofficial ultramarathon (34 miles) for my birthday.  Andrew completed an Olympic distance and 1/2 Ironman in June.  You would not know that he was injured because he PR’ed in both races.  His shin still hurt after the 1/2 Ironman so he went to see the doctor who told him to take 2 weeks off.  I sent him to my massage therapist as well.  He took over a month off from running and we did not run together again until July 23rd!  I was ready to defer our entry to Transrockies to next year, but Andrew did not want to defer.  A few test runs later, he booked our flights and hotels!  We were going!  Ahhhhhh!!!!!

Despite having a huge closet full of running clothes, we still had a few things to buy (eg. sleeping pads, sleeping bag for Andrew, more trail running socks, GU, trail sneakers).  The race provided a packing list to make things easier.  I decided that I would pack our running outfits “Reach the Beach” style in ziploc bags so that I could contain the stench over 6 days.  One of the craziest things was how much GU we had to pack.  We had to be self sufficient because anything can happen out on trails.  We did not want to bonk on the mountain so we made sure to pack lots of GU and Shot Blocks.

Andrew’s pile of gels. 28 in total!

We flew into Denver on Sunday August 9, 2015 and took a shuttle from Denver to Buena Vista.

Waiting with the other runners for the shuttle!

Since we booked everything 2 weeks before the race, our hotel selection in Buena Vista was limited, but Andrew managed to get us a room at the Super 8.  We became fast friends with the other runners also staying at the Super 8!


The next morning, Andrew and I went out for a shakeout run before race check in.  We found a nice trail by the Arkansas River and then ended up running part of the course for Stage 1!IMG_3509

The Buena Vista Heritage Museum is where the race check in and expo was held!
Andrew is a natural on trails!
Selfie by the Arkansas River!
We did not know it at the time, but this bridge and the mountain behind Andrew are part of the course for Stage 1!

IMG_3540 IMG_3543

After a quick breakfast and shower, we headed over to check in for the race!  Besides picking up our numbers and race shirts, we also got large duffel bags.  We had to put all of our running gear & personal necessities for 6 days into the duffel bag and the race would transport our other luggage to the finish.  After check in, we attended the Opening Ceremonies for a pre-race briefing and instructions for Stage 1.  IMG_3565IMG_0308

The black Transrockies Run arch is the start and finish line every day.

After the Opening Ceremonies, we experienced the first of many Colorado thunderstorms. We snuck into a restaurant for dinner while it was storming.  After dinner and the storm, we headed back to the Super 8 to pack our bags!  It was no small feat!  We laid out all of our gear and then packed each day’s race outfit into ziploc bags.  After everything was packed, we set our alarms for 4:30AM and went to bed!  Our greatest/craziest adventure was about to start!!

Pre-race dinner with the Super 8 crew!