Tired – Hungry – Nauseous – Sore – Emotional – Grateful – Humble – Astonished – Confident – Warm – Loved – Inspired – Pushed – Determined – Like a pedal stroke over and over in my head.
I’ve been home now for almost 4 days:
The Jeep is unpacked FINALLY
I didn’t take out my bike until yesterday
The laundry just got finished
I just washed and have yet to fold my race clothing
#Otso is stipped of all remnants of a survival machine
I’m sad just thinking about it
“A life that lives is life successful” – Jack London
Everyone’s why is different, why would I do such a thing? Why would ANYONE hang out in sub-zero temps for multiple days, exposed to the elements, pack enough gear to sustain life for multiple days at sub zero temps, to cover 135 miles in solitude, just to see a finish line? Lets have coffee, I’d love to explain. What I love most, is when surrounded by 166 survivalists, I don’t need to explain, because they already know, I also empathize when their dreams are disrupted.
I knew planning as a rookie would be all encompassing; so many factors to consider, so many options to test, so many uncontrollable factors. The mental game is real and having the ability to overcome and think clearly in solitude for survival is paramount, the ultimate reward… crossing the finish line.
“We learn from failure, and achieve greater successes” – Yoda This season I did have my first DNF. I learned, challenged my fear, understood my limits, and turned the page. ty Jayme Kjeldahl Zylstra
A decent start at -16Fish actually felt good. My partner, Paula, and I rode from the hotel which was about 2 miles away (what was another 2 when your doing 135). The start was dark but the sunrise gave way to beautifully snow kissed trees and landscapes, every turn a prayer in our heart for the amazing sites, and ability to participate in the Arrowhead Ultra, toe-ing the line with some of the most extreme hard core people in the WORLD. Yes, people come from all over the world. We met people from the UK, Canada, Geneva, and even Florida is another world in comparison.
Its humbling to believe I was accepted. Something like this rookies need to qualify. A race resume, an adventure resume, and even a training schedule needs to be submitted and considered. I have never done an ultra before. I was half prepared for my name to be omitted from the roster. Then I could get on with my life and go back to my everyday tasks. However, my application was accepted and things started to get real… real fast. I had 4 months to prepare.
I took photos and videos of clothing options, tested food options, ate the highest calorie foods, tested hydration systems, chemical warmers combos, bike gear, bags, sleeping arrangements, heart rates, footwear, pumps, tools, snow conditions, tires & tire pressures, the list goes on. test test test test… I rode my bike, and I walked for miles, in preparation just in case I had a mechanical. I did hill repeats pushing my bike up the biggest hills I could find, for hours.
My cup was full of preparation, forgetting one vital item could be the end of it.
There is a lot that goes through a person’s head when you are in the woods for almost 2 days. I tried to be in the moment for all of it. Not looking ahead, or thinking about tomorrow but in the NOW, right now. I had pains, real pains. They started here, moved there, went to this place in my body then to that place. I knew I was prepared and had support of countless loved ones at home watching my blue dot and I am thankful. I didn’t need to worry about anything going on at home; my reality was exactly where I was, I choose this and I loved it. Every stinking last inch of it. I LOVED IT!
At Surly (mile 114ish), I was painfully ill, my stomach pains outweighed my exhaustion or anything else, likely keeping me awake. Meeting Greg was all I could handle and I sobbed. There was NO doubt I was going to see the finish. It was dark, we had been riding for 2 days and this was the start of the 2nd night. How long was it going to take us to finish the last 20 miles? One person said 6 hours, another said 4 hours… Part of me was ready to see the finish but so much more of me didn’t want this to end… to live in the exact moment I was blessed to be in.
At every checkpoint, everyone one we met up with said we looked amazing and strong. I like looking at the photos, because you know what… we did look good, strong, and determined. Thats exactly what we were, DETERMINED. As rookies the finisher rate is as low as 25%. We overcame the odds. We finished Arrowhead, one of the 3 hardest races in the world. We did it together. “Finish lines are better shared” and I’m grateful Paula’s family, Paula and Greg were all there to share in this humbling experience. I watched this documentary today: The Frozen Road https://vimeo.com/252863313
At the end of the video, Ben Page stated, “I realized finish lines are better shared.” I’m so thankful we were there together.
Since being home, I have been able to finally spend time with my neglected family cuddling on the couch watching movies and sitting under warm fuzzy blankets. I missed them while training months prior, and this week racing. This made me personally acknowledge how important it is to spend time with them when you can, as you never know what tomorrow will bring.
PS – when riding for long hours and hours, the lady parts can get quite tender. Some may feel being a “Girl” is tough since you have to remove every layer of clothing to relive yourself. Trust me I did this like 1000 times. The freezing cold air felt amazing… BUT you know what felt even more amazing – FROZEN CHAMMY CREAM. Probably the most amazing of all the experiences. hahahahaha true story 🙂 sorry… no photos folks
Special thanks to #southlakecycle and James Buddenbaum for getting my #otsovoytek in perfect condition; to Dan Dittmer & Ken Zylstra for all the advice, equipment & #revelatedesigns your gear was destined to make it to the finish; to Anna Vig for supporting my business while I was absent, the Hellians and “God Muthas” Cheryl Barker Dana Buddenbaum Tina Olson Susan Hill Janet Frank Atkinsonand the rest of you for watching and cheering my blue dot, get ready for camp its right around the corner, to Ken and Jacki Krueger for accepting a rookie in the #arrowheadultra and David-Mary Pramann for stepping up as race director and asking the right questions at Tuscobia, Paula for being a guardian angel along the way and the best riding partner a gal could ask for, for all of you for making it this far through this loooooong post, but hey it was a long ride, and finally my husband Greg for supporting my crazy ideas and being at the finish to catch me.