Monday, July 16, 2018

Breck 100 2018

Somewhere on the last climb of the Breckenridge 100, climbing my way back up to 11,500 ft on Boreas pass road, I looked back and saw a rider behind me. Certain it was Chase charging hard the way she finishes every race I panicked. Did I just work so hard for so long just to get beat in the last 5 miles of this 92 mile race?!

From earlier in the month, pre-riding lap 2 of the course. 
When the volunteers informed me that she had only been 19 minutes back when we first crested the continental divide, a quarter of the way through the last of 3 unique laps of the race I was beyond certain it was Chase closing in, and took off down the 'final descent' without grabbing any food or extra hydration. My feet were screaming, hands cramping, and head pretty hurty already from 12,000ft ascent all at or above an elevation of 9,000ft above sea level.

Crossing the finish line 9 miles later in first was a pretty epic feeling of relief. These races are hard, but they are even harder when you know your competition is faster in the second half of every race, which means I am constantly being challenged to push myself right when everything screams 'give up!' the loudest. How cool/brutal is that?!

Breck 100 is one of my favorite races, with stupid pretty views, an epic amount of high elevation climbing, and a pretty good percentage of single track, it's hard enough to break you down, but fun/pretty enough to keep you going. This year we were treated to beautiful clear skies, perfect temperatures and endless fields of wildflowers that I wish I had taken pictures of (the hardest part of racing for me right now is not getting to stop and smell the flowers).
Not from the race, but this was the view of the Nine Mile Range as we wrapped up the second lap. The drama of the clouds exaggerating the majestic beauty of the mountains is breathtaking to me.
I took the lead early on during the initial climb up to Wheeler Pass, the biggest climb of the day topping out at 12,500ft and although the remaining 80 miles of the race were sometimes unbearably painful, managed to hold onto the lead until the end. The focus of the day was to drink, eat and pace myself, and I think I did a good job in at least the eating category :) In total I consumed 4 gels, two Bonk Breaker bars, two packs of Bonk Breaker gummies, and a quarter PB&J sandwich from an aid station. Although tummy troubles on the first lap made me feel pretty nauseated on the initial climb, and a broken Camelbak nozzle made drinking hard, the force feeding and drinking is getting easier for me... finally!

Much like Tatanka two weeks ago, this race got pretty mentally tough about halfway through, but this time I focused on telling myself lies about feeling ok, and because of the elevation I let myself stop a few times to catch my breath and get a little mental reset going. Considering I've only been at altitude for a week, I choose to be kind to my body and mind, and accepted that it was hard, but didn't let that discourage me. Overall it was a pretty beautiful day of suffering and remembering how to race at altitude.

And then Thane Gave me the raddest coffee cup!!!
After crossing the finish line I ate about half a watermelon, and then laid down in the grass at someone else's tent for a good hour, feeling the feels, before devouring a HUGE plate of amazing home made food. This race is pretty rad because not only do you get to race so much awesome Breck single track, but the volunteers all make the post ride meal from scratch, and it's pretty much the best post race meal you will eat. I think I told most everyone I know that they should come do this race, but seriously, next year, you HAVE to come check it out. With three different distance options, rad sweatshirts, equal payout, amazing support on course, and the friendliest people in the world putting it on, it's just an awesome day all around. Plus with so much climbing and at such high elevation, this is the best race to prep for Leadville!!!

This recap is short and sweet because I am not a good enough wordsmith to accurately describe the beauty/raddness of the course. I just keep seeing the narrow strip of rocky dirt etched into the side of the nine mile range that lead us up and over Wheeler Pass. Fluffy grass crowded with wildflowers of every color flanking either side of the trail, and in front of me a few of the men dotting the climb, indicating the suffering I still have to endure to reach the top. And that's the image which will pass through my mind as I fall asleep every night, along with the regret that I have no pictures to prove the out of this world beauty was real. Maybe I was hallucinating, after all, much of what I've seen this summer has seemed to good to be true...

And of course my favorite part of the weekend was breakfast, coffee and recovery rides with these two fools. Yep, I'm a pretty happy kid right now :)

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