Blazeman Foundation for ALS

Friday, April 4, 2014

Race 3: XTERRA Real: Master Scud - This One Was For You!

Editor's note:  On December 28, 2013, Scott Scudamore, friend and fellow XTERRA triathlete, died from injuries sustained in a mountain-biking accident.  He was well-loved within the XTERRA community  and will be greatly missed - especially so by Kevin Adams.
Scott Scudamore
Three years ago, Scud, Margaret, and I trekked to Sacramento, CA to race XTERRA Real after XTERRA Miami was cancelled.  I remember a cold and somewhat rainy day that Scud handily beat me by 8:06.  Little did I know then that it would take me two full seasons and 7 additional races together before I would finally beat the master at the 2012 XTERRA Nationals.  That was Scud’s 47th, and final, XTERRA. 
I expected to wake up to rain and cold, but the forecasters were wrong and the rain held off for this, the start of my 5thseason and my 48th XTERRA.  The weather was in the low 50's.  So as long as the rain would hold off, I would be fine.  I’m part of the XTERRA Across America Team with Ben Dillon and 2013’s Mr. XTERRA Brent Bieshaar, and this will be our 3rd team race.  XTERRA Real was supposed to be Brent’s race, but recent arthroscopic knee surgery is delaying his 2014 debut, so I picked up the slack and headed off to California. 
Just prior to the start of the swim, Bill Driscol, the race director, held a moment of silence for Scud.  Prior, he spoke about how Scud was a long time XTERRA Ambassador who competed here in 2011 and passed a few months ago.  He also mentioned that I was doing the race in his honor.  It was a very touching moment. 
The Swim
 The water level was way down due to the drought, so the distance from where you exited the water to T1 was even longer than 2011.  The water temperature was a balmy 63 degrees – as compared to 47 degrees when we last competed here.  I think Bill sets the swim length based on water temperature as the course sure did look farther than it did three years ago (where it was short: I came out of the water in 13:12 in 2011 - and I don’t swim 800 meters that fast!)  Then, as if reading my mind, Bill said the course was longer than 800 meters this year.  Lovely.  At the gun, the rain started – light at first, but the wind picked up and there were white caps on the water.  Oh boy!  I came out of the water in 21:00 – 7:48 off my 2011 pace.  I had some work to do and proceeded to do it on the run to T1.  In 2011, it took me 8:19 to run a shorter distance and finish T1.  This year, I did it in 6:36.  6:05 off 2011 pace.
 The Bike
 The rain was light during the 1st lap and I was strong on the bike.  However, the rain’s intensity picked up to a deluge just as I finished the first lap, making the second lap treacherous and slippery.  I backed off the pace a little, but still completed the 16 miles in 1:30:04 as compared to 2011’s 1:52:25.  I set up perfectly in transition and had a 36 second T2 – thank you Ken Frankenberry!.  Entering the run, I was 17:49 ahead of 2011.
 The Run
 I felt strong and steady.  While I was passed by folks, I thought I was ahead of 2011’s pace but began to question when I got passed by someone in my age group a little over a mile in.  The run has a 120’ climb in 1/10th of a mile at the halfway point.  I ran up the hill – slowly – and then decided to push it on the downhill.  By now, the rain was pouring even harder and every step was a slosh through puddles.  Despite that, I kept going and crossed the finish line with a smile as I looked at my watch and saw I completed the run almost 3 minutes faster than 2011.  My overall was 2:36:25 – a 20:38 improvement over 2011 and took 4th in my age group.
Scud and Kevin,  2011 XTERRA Real 
 The bike course is decomposed granite – looks like sand – and the rain will smooth it out and actually improve it so I wasn’t concerned about tearing up the course with the rain.  It’s still raining here – badly needed – and it took me several hours to warm up after the race.  The bike is now packed and with the front desk for FedEx pickup, laundry completed, and I have an early wake up tomorrow as my flight home is prior to 8 AM.
Respectfully submitted,
Grasshopper

2014 XTERRA Across America Team Challenge

  The 2013 XTERRA Across America adventure was an unqualified success!  Brent was able to do exactly what he had set out to do, and the people we met along the way made the journey an experience of a lifetime!
  But that was last year.  What have you done for me lately?
  Somewhere along the way - probably the weekend of the National Championship race - Brent and some of our new rest-of-our-life-long friends decided to take the relay concept of a triathlon and apply it to XTERRA Across America.  Therefore, instead of one guy competing in a race every week of the season, three guys would work together to make sure every week of the season was covered by at least one of them competing in a race.
  The idea was that several teams would be put together and would compete against each other.  The top team at season's end would earn individual berths at the world championship race for its members.  The reality - we believe - is that all those other teams are waiting in the wings to see how TEAM BAD manages this year.  2015 will be the breakout year for the team challenge - we're certain of it!
Ben Dillon and Brent 
  So, one may be wondering, who is TEAM BAD? ("BAD" as in 'good' or 'bad-@ss'; NOT "bad" as in...well...'bad').  The men of TEAM BAD are Brent Bieshaar (natch), Kevin Adams of Bethesda, Maryland, & Ben Dillon of Pensacola, Florida.  (Bieshaar - Adams - Dillon...clever.  I know.)  In 2013, Kevin and Ben combined for more than 20 XTERRA races, so 8 races each in 2014 should be a piece of cake!
  The season officially began with an early race in February - XTERRA Key Biscayne, covered by Mr. Dillon.  After a few weeks with no American races at all, the season began in earnest the weekend of March 22nd.  There will be no races the weekends of Easter and Memorial Day.  Other than that, it's "game on" for these guys until Labor Day.
  The race reports will probably be a little more sporadic than last year, but that will serve to heighten the anticipation for their legions of adoring fans.
Kevin Adams
  Team BAD is still racing for the benefit of The Blazeman Foundation.  Additionally, Ben Dillon has been involved with SOML Racing (So Others May Live), a nonprofit that contributes to several organizations, including the Wounded Warrior Project and the MS Society.  Ben will provide more information about SOML as the season progresses.
  Considering this adventure involves three guys who did not even know each other a year ago, one can only imagine what great things are in store for them in 2014!  (There may even be an international race or two, just to mix things up a bit)  Stay tuned!


Friday, December 13, 2013

Race 24 - XTERRA World Championship: The End of a Long Ride

  One day in April 2012, I received an email from Brent that included a color-coded spreadsheet laying out just how it would be feasible for him to complete an XTERRA triathlon every week of the 2013 season.  Umm - OK.  Let me know how that works out for you...
  Fast forward to October 2013.  23 races completed, 1 more to go.  Though there may have been plenty of things to grumble about over the preceding 6 months, finishing the XTERRA Across America journey in Maui has not been one of them.  During the 5 weeks between Nationals and Worlds, Brent trained like a madman and watched his diet down to counting the number of almonds he had for a snack (thanks, Cliff).    He did not want to be the guy who came in last, just happy to be there.  This was not to be a race to take it easy or just finish.  This was it: the last race of a very long ride.  Go hard or go home!
The Ritz Carlton Kapalua
  There was snow in the Denver area the week we left for Maui.  The weather seemed appropriate to complete the cycle - we started the journey with plenty of snow on the ground, we may as well end it that way too.  Arriving in Maui on Thursday, October 24, we hit the ground running - much like all the other races.  Airport to condo, build the bike, race venue for check-in and pre-ride, go, go go! 
  While Brent was off doing his thing, I was able to roam the grounds of the race venue - The Ritz Carlton Kapalua (not too shabby!) - say 'hello' to many of the new friends we've made and soak up the atmosphere of the World Championship race.  23 countries were represented at this race - truly the best XTERRA competitors in the world.  There was a certain energy that was unlike any of the previous races.  It was the perfect combination of amp'ed up pre-race excitement and the laid-back calm (relief?) that comes from knowing that all the work is behind you - the rest is just fun.  Listening to the athletes in the days before the race, you were just as likely to hear them talk about the moves they did for the XTERRA dance video, as how they were planning to manage the technical aspects of the bike course. 
  The main concern for all of the competitors was the heat.  While the temperature in Maui is a predictable 83° most of the time, the forecast for race day was a blistering 91°.  Race day dawned with the mercury steadily rising and the added bonuses of no trade winds, and a volcanic gaseous haze that hung in the air, completely hiding the view of the nearby islands.  Be ready boys and girls...this is no joke!
  Soon enough, the pre-race festivities were completed, the canon blew, and it was time for training and determination to take over.  In the telling (and re-telling) of the race, Brent will say that his swim split was awful - but once he got to the bike, the race went really well.  Managing nutrition and the heat were definitely the keys to success that day, and Brent had a handle on both.  There was a feed zone about midway through the bike course where I was able to give him a new bottle of fuel, and his EPC coach, Cody Waite, gave him the best advice ever for managing the heat during the run:  cut one leg from a pair of women's pantyhose, fill it with ice and drape it around your neck.  It started out a little bulky, but lasted and kept him cool for nearly 30 minutes as he battled up the 3 mile climb to to half-way point of the run.  He counted at least 10 guys in his age-group that he passed as he motored up the hill.  One last time, he did the Blazeman roll across the finish line, placing in the top 40% of his age group.  Among the top XTERRA athletes in the world?  Certainly a finish to be proud of!
  Having met so many people throughout this adventure, the post-race celebration was made all the more fun by being able to share it with friends.  For lunch, we hit Kimo's for some big, juicy hamburgers with the Browns (Doug, Elaine & Roman - you might remember from our New Hampshire trip).  The awards presentation was held at dinner and there was nothing better than seeing so many friends up on the podium (pictures included in the race album).  After dinner was the traditional (infamous?) XTERRA Halloween party.  Brent and I kept it tasteful as super-heroes...and we'll wrap that up by saying just that it is pretty funny to see what happens when world-class athletes let their hair down. 
  With the final race in a premier vacation spot, we took advantage by staying in Maui for a few days after the race - the calm after the storm.  We've come a long way since an email in April 2012.  XTERRA Across America has truly been the adventure of a lifetime, for both of us.   In answer to the  "Let me know how that works out for you...",  I guess we can say that it worked out pretty well.

 


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Race 24 - Remembering Jon

  Time and again, we have emphasized that the best part of XTERRA Across America has been all of the people we have met along the way.  We have attempted to tell their stories in such a way that their impact on us can be understood.  Unfortunately, words are not enough to convey how this journey and these people have blessed us.
  One of the people we have gotten to know is Jon Blais.  Though it's true that ALS robbed him of his earthly life in 2007, his spirit is alive and well.  Since a hesitantly made phone call last Christmas, Jon's parents, Bob & MaryAnn, have become close friends of ours.  They live on the other side of the country and we have enjoyed only one weekend in their company - but friendship these days does not require close proximity to one another.  Jon's parents have been very kind to share Jon with us.  We have gotten to know him through the stories they tell - not just the story of the 2005 Ironman World Championship, but stories of his youth, his love for adventure,  and even his first trip to Maui as a teenager for a triathlon.  We know that Jon would have loved XTERRA and the Live More philosophy that is integral to all who make up the XTERRA family.  Jon has been with us throughout the year - we have felt his presence and his inspiration during some of the more difficult moments.  Jon has become a friend.
   One day last spring, during a phone conversation, Bob Blais asked Brent if we would accept some of Jon's ashes and be willing to scatter them at some point during the XTERRA Across America journey. He trusted that we would choose an appropriate time and place; his only request was that we document the event so that he and Jon's mom would have that memory of their son.  They trusted us with their son.
  We knew, without any doubt, that Hawaii would be the place to take Jon.  The XTERRA World Championship - the last race of the season - to be held on the island of Maui, was the most fitting time and place to honor his parents' request.  We would get to take Jon back to Maui!
   When the time came, we were introduced to Clifford Nae'ole, a Hawaiian Cultural Advisor, who helped us to put together a ceremony worthy of our purpose.  We held the ceremony at dusk on Friday, October 25th, at the edge of a majestic cliff, overlooking the ocean.  Clifford began by speaking of the Hawaiian traditions and how our loved ones remain with us in spirit.  We continued with a testimony of the work of God in Jon's life, and concluded with some of Jon's familiar words.


The Psalmist reminds us:
Give Praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
Make known among nations what he has done.
Sing to him; sing praise to him;
Tell of all his wonderful acts.   (Psalm 105:1-2)

The work of the Lord is evident in the life and legacy of Jon Blais:

In Jeremiah, the Lord declares, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  (Jeremiah 29:11)

While that promise may seem at odds with the fact that Jon died at the age of 35, we can look to Isaiah for the assurance that, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  (Isaiah 55:9)

We gain additional assurance from the book of Romans, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Jon himself asked, “Is this God’s plan?  Have I been appointed this job?”  He knew that finishing the Ironman in Kona that day was something he had to do.  He didn’t know why.

In the Gospel of John, Christ tells us, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

Eight years after Jon’s finish in Kona, we can look around us and see just a few of the many people that have been affected and all the good that has come from his willingness to follow God’s plan.  His life and his legacy have reminded people and inspired them to live life to the full. 

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living,
I want to know what you ache for.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are,
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dreams,
for the adventure of being alive.

I want to know if you can live with failure – yours and mine
And still shout at the edges of a lake, river or mountain

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have
I want to know if you can get up after a night of grief and despair,
Weary and bruised to the bone
And do what needs to be done for someone you love.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself
And truly like the company you keep
in the empty moments of your life.


Live!
More than your neighbors.
Unleash yourself upon the world and go places
Go now
Giggle.  No, laugh!
And bark at the moon like the wild dog that you are

Understand that this is not a dress rehearsal
This is it – your life

Face your fears and live your dreams

Take it all in.
Yes – every chance you get
Come close

And by all means – whatever you do
Get it on film


  When we first shared the story of how we originally connected with Bob and MaryAnn, we included the picture of the t-shirt that the Regis Jesuit Wrestling team had designed in 2005.  I spoke of including Jon's quote, but I didn't say anything about the cross with the AMDG initials.  Those initials are for a latin phrase that translates, "For the Greater Glory of God."  Indeed.  Little did we know...



  Thank you, Bob and MaryAnn, for your friendship and for sharing your son with us.  Thank you, Jon, for living a life and leaving a legacy that has inspired us and will continue to inspire people for years to come.  We've done our best to live up to your words.  And yes, we got it on film. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Race 23 - XTERRA USA Championship: Live More

  "Who thinks more is better than less?"
  Fellow fans of the AT&T commercials with the guy who talks to the kids will recognize that question.  The answer comes in the straightforward manner that can only be delivered from a 6-year-old: "We want more, we want more.  Like - you really like it.  You want more."  Right.  I follow you.  It's not complicated.
  From the beginning, the very nature of XTERRA Across America could be summed up by the word more.  More races than anyone has ever attempted to complete (more travel, more money, more tired!)  Most importantly, more awareness for ALS - which may in turn result in more donations and more research.  All of these things were obvious to us before we started packing for that first race.  (Please understand the use of the plural here.  Even though Brent has been the one racing and bearing the physical burden - the mental and emotional aspects have been a team effort every step of the way.)
  In the blink of an eye, it's six months and 23 races later.  All of the 'more's described above have certainly come to pass - but they don't even scratch the surface in describing how this journey has changed us.  At the outset, we could have tried to predict this...but it's been so much more.
2013 Mr. XTERRA
  Week by week, we've shared the frustrations and the fun, always trying to focus on the incredible people we've met and the relationships we've developed.  The experience of this last weekend's race, XTERRA USA Championship at the Snow Basin Resort in Ogden, Utah, crystalized the enormity of the adventure in ways that we never would have imagined.
  Being the national championship race, the pool of athletes was filled with people we have met throughout the year.  Men and women, younger and older - dozens of people that Brent has competed against and that we have cheered for.  Some who just qualified for this elite race, and others who were recognized as regional champions for their outstanding efforts all season.  We shared a house with Kevin Adams, with us at races 7, 14 & 22.  We spent most of our free time with Ben Dillon, with us at races 1, 6, 7, 8 & 9.  (Ben is just a little older than and has much in common with our sons - not sure if he's realized that he's got a back-up set of parents through this whole deal.)  And of course, all of us were brought together by the genuinely good people who run XTERRA at the corporate offices.  Just when we thought that we had seen everyone and our hearts couldn't be filled with any more joy and excitement - and the feeling that comes from being home - it was time for the Night of Champions Dinner.
Brent and Trey
  In addition to those who were celebrated as regional champions and the outstanding performers for the year, Brent was honored as 2013 Mr. XTERRA.  Trey Garman, VP of XTERRA, (who has become such a good friend since this all started) put together an amazing video to introduce the award, and Brent's peers honored him with a standing ovation that brought tears to our eyes.  Anyone who knows Brent, knows him to be an intense, no-nonsense kind of guy; not the kind of person who goes fishing for accolades.  To be so honored, in the company of people that we have grown to love and respect, is nothing short of overwhelming.
  After all of that, there was still the business of the race on Saturday morning.  Despite the fact that it had been four weeks since race 22, Brent proved that he didn't take the time off.  His nutritional and training efforts paid off in spades as he took 18 minutes off his 2012 time (and the course was longer!), placing 8th in his age-group. The whole weekend was like that: just when you think it can't get any better....you get more.
  Live More is the expression that is the embodiment of XTERRA.  As I reflect on the last 6 months, I can see now that living more is exactly what XTERRA Across America has been about.  It's also fully in keeping with Jon Blais' attitude toward life:

Live - more than your neighbors.
Unleash yourself upon the world and  go places.
Go now. 
Face your fears and Live your dreams.
Take it all in.
Yes, every chance you get.
Come close.
And by all means - whatever you do - get it on film.




Thursday, August 29, 2013

Race 22 - XTERRA Buffalo Creek: The Test of Time

  Our perception of time is a funny thing.  There could be something that happened 20 years ago, and it seems like yesterday.  On the other hand, there could be something that happened five or six months ago, and it seems like for-ev-ver.  For instance, do you remember Easter of this year?  It was on March 31st (I had to look it up because I couldn't remember back that far).  Brent started his XTERRA Across America journey the week before Easter.  That seems like a long, long time ago.  22 races in 23 weeks. He still has two races to go - Nationals in Utah on September 21st, and Worlds on Maui on October 26th - but the XTERRA regular season wrapped up this last weekend.  When Brent first dreamt up this adventure, the regular season was the focus: "I wonder if it would be possible for anyone to compete in an XTERRA triathlon every week of the regular season."  Only time would tell...
  There are lots and lots of things that have changed since that first race back in March - Brent has gotten really good at breaking down and rebuilding his bike; he's improved his diet and lost weight; and he is an expert at finding the best travel deals - just to name a few.  The most important change to our lives is the many, many new friendships that have been made with people from all across the country.  One of those new friends, Kevin Adams (first introduced in the Race 7 post) traveled to Colorado from his home in the D.C. area to participate in XTERRA Buffalo Creek. (An added bonus to the last week of the season is that the race was just about an hour up the road).
  Kevin arrived Thursday evening in time for (a healthy and nutritious) dinner.  (I must make a point of the healthy and nutritious part because Kevin is also on the Breakthrough Nutrition plan, trying to trim a few pounds before Nationals.  He has to send in his food journal for scrutiny, and I do not want to be accused of sabotage.)  We had a great time talking about all the shared experiences and comparing the differences.  Buffalo Creek was Race #13 for Kevin, so there was plenty to talk about.  (Somehow Brent managed to avoid helping Kevin assemble his bike - can't imagine why.)
  Friday, while Brent was at work, Kevin drove up to scope out the course.  Interestingly enough, as the weeks have gone by, Brent has become less concerned with the pre-ride of the course.  At some point, knowing that it's a dirt course with rocks, roots, some uphill and some downhill...pretty much covers it.
Dinner, of course, was at our favorite sushi restaurant.  (The Japanese lady who has been our server on more than one occasion, is constantly amazed at the quantity ordered and consumed.  By now, Brent probably sees it as another challenge.)
  Race morning had us on the road before the sun came up, arriving at the venue in plenty of time.  Buffalo Creek is a race making its comeback in 2013, after taking a few years off.  It was a popular race before, and there were over 200 people anxious to hit those trails again.  Several of Brent's EPC teammates were taking part, so there were plenty of people to cheer for.  Also, since the race was so close to home, Brent had a sizeable fan club with all the family and friends that came out to support him.
I think Kevin was a little anxious about competing at a high altitude - and I think Brent was a little anxious to get this race in the books.  The last race of the regular season.  To think that he had come all this way - and what if the bike broke down? or if he crashed and couldn't finish?  No time for negative thoughts.  Let's go!  As we've said before, once the gun goes off, it's all good.  That muscle-memory kicks in and they just do what they've trained to do.  And then some....
  Turned out, it was a pretty good day.  Altitude didn't seem to bother Kevin as he finished in good time, with his best run split of the season.  Brent's bike didn't break down...and he didn't crash...and he did finish.  He not only finished - but it was his best race ever.  Ever!  How do you explain that?  After all this time and all these races, how is he still upright? Let alone improving?  Maybe it's the diet.  Maybe it's the training.  Maybe the course just matched up well with his abilities.  Maybe it was pure adrenaline and it's what happens when you know you're this close to reaching your goal.  His goal was to be the first person - ever - to compete in an XTERRA triathlon every week of the regular season. And he did it. And that accomplishment will stand for all time.





Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Race 21 - XTERRA Iron Creek: Find Your Passion


“For anything important to get done well – it needs to be done with heart.”

That was Father Sean’s message at church this weekend.  I went by myself on Saturday evening while Brent was making the 6-hour drive home from Race #21 in South Dakota.  To rephrase the message: “whatever you have to do in life – find the passion so you can do it well”.
  Throughout Brent’s years as ‘Coach Bieshaar’ (and there were a lot of them), he would always try to instill in the kids the importance of finding your passion in life.  Happiness, satisfaction, fulfillment – they all come from pursuing your passion.  It may not be your job, or how you are able to fill your days – but find something that is meaningful in what you are doing.  The truth is that nothing in life is great every minute (even an exotic vacation will have it’s unpleasant moments) – but if you can hold on to the something that makes the doing meaningful – well then, there’s no telling what can be accomplished.  When you put your heart into whatever it is you are doing, not only will you do it better, but you will have a better time doing it.
  This sermon could not have come at a more appropriate time (even though he wasn’t home to hear it – I filled him in), as Brent was coming off the longest 10 days since XTERRA Across America started in March.  Not that the last 10 days didn’t have their fun moments, but sleeping in a different state 9 out of 10 nights took its toll.  Early morning wake-up calls, air travel, road trips, training, racing  - ugh! - reminds me of Vince Lombardi’s quote, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.”  It’s weeks like this that make me realize how blessed we were to connect with the Blazeman Foundation.  The War on ALS, remembering Jon Blais, thinking of Don Young – those are the ‘somethings’ that has made all of this meaningful.  They have served to give Brent something “bigger than himself” for which to strive, and consequently are helping to carry him through.

Brent’s turn:

Morning mist
  Though not exactly a local race, I had planned to make the trip to South Dakota with three of my EPC  teammates.  Two of them caught the flu – that’s something I don’t need – so it ended up that Mike Voss and I were the last men standing.  We made our way up on Friday afternoon.  The race venue is in a pretty remote location, so camping is the best option.  We managed to get there and get camp set up just before dark.   While we were setting up camp we met out ‘next-door’ neighbors the Puleris.  Jason is an officer in the Air Force, based out of Minot, ND.  He was there to compete and brought his family to cheer him on.  He had his wife Karen, son Jason and daughter Kayla.  They were awesome neighbors and the kids kept us entertained.  Jason had won his age group at XTERRA Pipestem and was 5th at XTERRA Iron Creek, so he just might have enough points to qualify for Nationals.  I was working hard at selling him on Ogden…we’ll have to wait and see if I was successful.
  Having done this race last year, I knew what to expect.  The location is off the beaten path – but once you’ve set up camp, it’s very convenient.  Your campsite is less than 100 yards from transition.  It gives race morning a different feel – very relaxed.  There is time to talk to other competitors and slowly prepare for the race.  I kept asking Mike if we were forgetting anything because everything was just so calm.  However, once the gun goes off it’s like any other race.
Home for a night
  It’s a beautiful course with a 1000m swim, 13.5 miles on the bike – which is accomplished with one big loop - and then a two-lap run for about 5 miles.  It’s a smaller race with about 50-60 participants, so when you’re out on the bike course you’re riding by yourself most of the time.  It’s possible to go for 20-30 minutes without seeing another competitor – which is kind of a weird feeling.  They do a great job marking the course, so you’re confident you’re on the course - but when you don’t see anyone for awhile, doubt can creep in: “Did I make a wrong turn?” causing you to pay close attention for the next blue ribbon to validate that you’re where you’re supposed to be.
  The race went well for both Mike and me.  Mike secured a top ten overall finish, so that was exciting. Most of the competitors stick around for the awards ceremony, which adds to the fun.  Duncan, the race director, gathers a lot of swag, so almost everyone walks away with something.  The most impressive result of the day was a Denver-area lady, Cindi Toepel, finishing as the fastest overall woman at this race.  Why is that impressive?  She competes in the 60-64 age group!  She is an inspiration and an amazing role model for the XTERRA Tribe…and everyone else for that matter!  (Talk about pursuing your passion!)  During the awards, Duncan asked me to share my story.  I love when I get this opportunity - because raising awareness and funds for the War on ALS is the meaning behind the journey.
  It's true that the last couple of weeks have been ridiculously hectic.  And undoubtedly, any fatigue I'm feeling is compounded by the fact that I'm in the sixth month of this adventure.  Despite all of that, I'm still having fun.  There are only three races left - hard to believe! - and there's something special to look forward to for all three of them.  When it's all said and done, I may have left everything I've got out there on the course - but it'll be worth it.