I trained through the winter of 2014 for my first ultra distance event, the Greenland (CO) 50K Trail Race on May 4. My goal was to break six hours and I did it (barely!) in a time of 5:51:09. My next big running challenge was the Bear Chase 50 Mile Trail Race on September 29. This was by far the greatest distance I had ever attempted and had no idea how my body would respond to the last dozen or so miles. My goal was pretty much just to finish before the 15 hours cutoff and a I happily finished in a time of 12:47.11, leaving plenty of time before the cutoff. While I wasn't running for time, I also managed to complete the Colfax and Denver marathons to round out my running year.
My first cycling challenge of 2013 was the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic in Durango, Colorado on May 25th. While not terrible long (50 miles), it does have 8,000 feet of climbing along the way and gives a rider the chance to race an old, steam-powered narrow-gauge train from Durango to Silverton through the San Juan Mountains. I felt great and the weather was perfect and I was able to complete the event in a time of 3:03:31.9. The next cycling event I rode was the biggest disappointment of the year for me. On July 4, I rode the Firecracker 50 mile MTB race in Breckenridge. The was my first ever mountain bike event and I was unaware when I signed up that this is one of the most challenging MTB events in the state. Not only did this race include 10,000 feet of climbing, but it is also incredible technical. I had a wreck, a few mechanicals and missed the 37.5 mile/6 hour cut off by 2 MINUTES!! I was crushed not to have finished. Fortunately, I did not have long to dwell on it as I rode the Double Triple Bypass less than 10 days later. This demanding event goes 240 miles over 3 mountain passes and 20,000 vertical feet from Bergen Park to Avon and then back over two days. I was not riding for time and simple wanted to complete the two legs of the ride. My next big ride was the Vuelta a Salida on August 17, a 100 mile ride from Salida to the top of 12,126 foot Cottonwood Pass. The biggest thrill with this ride was the chance to ride the first 30 miles with the riders from Jely Belly Cycling Team, who were preparing for the upcoming USA Pro Challenge. My last ride of the year was relatively gentle but always spectacular Tour of the Moon on October 5. It is a nice change from the usual mountain scenery I get to experience, as this ride winds through the spectacular red sandstone canyons of Colorado National Monument. Watch the the movie American Fliers to get a taste of the terrain.
My final, and perhaps greatest accomplishment of 2013 was the completion of my first Ironman event. On September 8, I competed in Ironman Wisconsin held in Madison. Again, my primary goal was just to finish in the allotted 17 hours. I can happily saw that I am now an Ironman. I completed my first ever Ironman in a time of 13:42:18 (Swim 2.4 miles-1:31:41, Bike 112 miles- 6:17:45, Run 26.2 miles- 5:29:29). I was really tired by the end but still managed to run (not walk) the last several miles to the finish. It was an amazing experience, but I'm not sure when I'll do another. It takes a lot of time and commitment in three different disciplines, and I think I'll want to do too many other things. I'm sure I'll do other triathlons, but this may be it for Ironman triathlons.
I am keeping busy this winter after having joined the Loveland Ski Patrol. This was also quite a challenge as I had to pass both a ski test and EMT-equivalent certification in outdoor emergency care. It will be tough top 2013 but I will certainly try in 2014. Not entirely sure what I'll do, but I'll find out soon.