Skip to main content

Epic Leadman 125, Bend, Oregon



Leadman offered one of those adventures I would have expected only to find north of the border. Yet Bryan and I had just arrived back from the eastern side of the country, and we most definitely found ourselves south of Spokane. Here, Bend, Oregon enticed us.

Our morning started out cold, about sixty five miles southwest of Bend at Cultus Lake. A mountain lake, that sense of relief that often occurs when stepping into a body of water when the air is colder didn't happen this time. Nope. I stepped in hoping it would feel warmer given the outside temperatures hovered in the low 40s. The water felt just as cold. However, I couldn't ignore the clarity of the water, the way I could look down at my toes even when I'd waded well out into the lake to the starting buoys. Mountains surrounding the lake mirrored the ones I'd seen in British Columbia, Canada. Tall. Rugged. Snow-capped.

Before our departure to the starting buoys, LifeTime Fitness had done a stellar job of serving us athletes by providing warming tents for us to change in and pass time. Yet there didn't seem to exist much time to pass, as the shuttle buses that hauled us out to the lake got us there approximately forty five minutes before our start. The athletes racing the 250 started thirty minutes before us, and we started soon thereafter.

The swim course followed one straight line out into the middle of the lake, and we swam around the last buoy back toward the boat launch from which we'd entered the water. I had a problem with this course, and it's not that I couldn't site the buoys, but the line I followed while attempting to stay on the buoy line meandered like a cow happily grazing on green grass in his wide open pasture. Despite following the line, I found myself far to the right of the main group. Upon turning the final buoy, I worked to stay off the line and further to the left, hoping I'd find the exit sooner.

Least to say, I believe my swim time seemed slow when I compare it to other swims I've raced this year. Fifth out of the water, I raced through transition (opting out of arm warmers but donning my gloves) and started out on my Quintana Roo. Today, I'd experiment with pushing a slightly higher wattage than at Worlds 70.3 two weeks prior. Even if I pushed too hard, I only had to run a 12k.

The bike course took us through old forests filled with trees so big it would take six people to completely encircle a trunk. Small squirrels and chipmunks chatted on tree stumps along the road, soaking in the early morning sunshine as it made its way through the trees. The first little loop for the 125'ers had relatively good roadway, but I nearly found myself crank deep in a pothole while attempting to take off my gloves. They appeared few and far between, but those holes were large enough to scare me into keeping keenly focused on the road.

My biggest complaint about the bike course was not the hellish climb around Mt. Bachelor, nor the potholes, really. I thought volunteers could have been better educated and equipped with aid at the stations that popped up every 10 miles or so. For those of us who have raced Ironman events, I felt a bit unprepared for having to pull off to the side of the road in order to pick up water off of a table to refill my aero bottle. The biggest concern of the race director involved athletes tossing out their bottles well passed the aid stations, and, riding on forest service land, protecting the cleanliness of the woods seemed reasonable. However, I only stopped at one aid station at approximately 35 miles to refill my bottle. I paid for it later on the run.

Body dehydrating. Calves cramping. Hamstrings pulling. The first mile of that 12k run told a story that initially read as though a disaster would unfold. We ran through residential and newly developing neighborhoods. Therefore, I felt exposed under the intense midday sun. Given the barren, desert country Bend is known for, these ingredients did not at all combine to make for one extravagant final course in this three-course meal. I don't believe there existed a single stretch of flat pavement (or dirt) to speak of, as upon scaling one hill and gingerly stepping down the other side, yet another one grew up before me. I think this trend repeated itself at least eleven times. By the seventh time, I had all but given up.

Yet I couldn't. I had not seen any women up until this point, which led me to believe I might be leading the 125 race. If that wasn't motivation enough, I also kept reminding myself I only had to run a 12k. I'd be damned if I walked. After a year filled with races that included the Boston Marathon, Ironman Canada, and Worlds 70.3, I would not walk in a 12k.

I never did, but I won't discount I might have lapsed into a marathon shuffle at times. Upon crossing the finish line in the heart of the new Northwest Crossing development, I thought I'd just finished a marathon.

This race offered a bit of a reprieve from the hype that often comes with Ironman events. A part of me appreciated this because I didn't feel nearly the pressure or the anxiety that sometimes comes with racing bigger events. In addition, there existed no age group competition because the head referee encouraged us the day prior to race solely against the clock. I did, but I must admit I also thought about the handful of talented ladies in this race and because of my competitive nature, I wanted to come out on top.

Yet I didn't. I never saw another woman on the course because she raced far ahead of me. Finishing just over 8 minutes before me, the lead woman from Bend took top honors. Nonetheless, I nabbed that big belt buckle reserved for those top 15 women and men. I walked away with a sense of accomplishment knowing I'd come into this race after having just raced Worlds 70.3. I happily ended my season with a placing that ceases to relinquish its grip on me. Second place. Next year, I look for a few first places to my name.



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

My opinion...For what it's worth

My first Half Ironman 70.3 turned into Boise 29.3. I may be the only one to say that I respect the officials' judgment call on this one, because apparently, a few of my triathlete comrades lack sufficient brains themselves. The comments I'm reading on Facebook leave me pretty disturbed. Let me just put this out there: I entered this sport because it looked tough and challenging. It pushes anyone who enters these races to their ultimate limits and requires a demanding amount of time to complete the training necessary to succeed. I entered this sport because of the people. Healthy, smart, fit, inspiring, motivating. I can't think of a single person who has questioned my ability to participate in this sport. I entered this sport because anyone can do it. I passed people younger and older than me, some as old as 74. I watched one woman hobble along the run course, surely just on her first lap. She looked like her knees were going to cave in. Yet she was running. I did not ent

How strong are your feet?

Who knew my first post in 2020 would be about the work I'm doing on my feet. Not just any work, but the work required to make them strong enough to propel me to faster running paces, the work to make them durable enough to heal up some old injuries and prevent new ones from taking hold. Jay Dicharry , a Physical Therapist and researcher in Bend, OR, says that almost all ankle, foot, and lower leg injuries can be attributed to faulty foot mechanics and a weak foot core.  I listened to him speak on a podcast called Trail Runner Nation today, and all the advice he provided me during my two personal visits with him last year rushed back in a torrent of memory. It seems fitting that his reminders would hit me like a hammer over my head when I consider the nagging foot pain that has cropped up again over the past couple of weeks. I'm going back to my toe yoga, short foot exercises, and working hard to build up the strength in my foot intrinsic muscles. Meanwhile, here's a b

It is finished

As with everything in life, nothing stays the same. Change is inevitable. It does not always mean it's a turn for the worst. In my case, I think this is a change for the better. As of 2021, I am closing the door on racing triathlon and rekindling my investment in the doctorate degree I worked for in Physical therapy. Thankfully, making money again has felt much more productive than losing it in the pursuit of professional triathlon. Thankfully, my body has responded positively to a slackened training schedule. Thankfully, my head is clearer for the release in pressure to perform.  I needed a new pursuit, a new challenge, a new endeavor. Raising and showing my dogs has helped me slow down, challenged me to learn and communicate differently, and taught me that physical fitness can still be achieved to a lesser, healthier extent.  It has worked so well that I'm also going back to doing what I loved to do 10 years ago. Pursuing a more simple lifestyle (outside of work, of course) a