Come On A Ride With Me!

I have been in Gunnison, Colorado training this week and it has been fantastic. Slowly, things are coming around at altitude and I have had no trouble getting motivated in such beautiful surroundings.

The only bummer is August 1st is Ross’s birthday and last year he was here with me riding in the mountains on his day. This year, Jackie Burt, Susan DeMattei (Olympic medalist in Atlanta for mountain biking and Gunnison local) and I decided to go do "The Ross Birthday Ride" in his honor and we got some footage of the day. We rode Snodgrass Trail, Trail 403, Trail 401 and Rustler’s Gulch in that order. Actually, Ross missed Rustler’s Gulch last year but won’t next time!

Be forewarned, if you have never been to Crested Butte before you are going to need to go after watching this video. And one disclaimer: the music made it to the end in MovieMaker, but not in the movie. Sorry. 30 seconds of only real audio at the end.



Crested Butte Bank XTERRA – Kickoff the Altitude Block

Well I have made it to Gunnison, Colorado for the first leg of my 24 day altitude training camp. I am so stoked to be back with the Burt family in their awesome house with their awesome kids and awesome company. I love it here. This is such a nice place for me to begin my month of altitude training. I kicked it off with the Crested Butte Bank XTERRA triathlon this past weekend and it was déjà vu to last year where I raced as hard as I could, which wasn’t very fast, and the mountain woman Jenny Smith kicked the crap out of me, going very fast, only this time the mountain woman from Durango, Shonny Vanlandingham, joined the party. No matter. When you are coming from sea level and racing at 9,200 feet on the fourth (read: worst) day at altitude after racing a half Ironman these things can happen. Still, it was very beautiful with wildflowers everywhere, fun single track trails and a jam packed full race (there was a waiting list of about 100 about a month ago!) so good times all around. My travel started with a flight to Salt Lake so on to the story….

Sample of the singletrack and wildflowers in Crested Butte…



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Finishing my first half-Ironman at Vineman 70.3

Well, I am happy to say I finished my first half-Ironman this weekend at Vineman in Sonoma, California. In the end that was what it was… finishing, rather than racing. Not quitting my day job at this point. Note to self: four weeks was not enough time for me to feel strong for 90km in aero position on my BMC given that is as far away from my position on a mountain bike as is humanly possible. Race in a nutshell: crap swim, okay for the first 40 km of the bike (although not feeling great since it was f-f-f-freezing out), got shelled on the flat sections of the bike course, cruised the run to finish sixth. Despite the super fantastic BMC TT02 bike, perfect bike fit from Bill at ProCity Cycle and perfect mechanical operation care of Troy, my legs prefer pedaling with my body upright, not all leaned over. I was so happy to see any hill on the course, especially Chalk Hill, since it gave me some respite from massive butt cramps. Ouch. I just rode to the finish as best I could and then ran cruisy to the finish…. offering encouragement to everyone as I watched the out and back foot race unfold in front of me. Ross essentially coaxed me into finishing (he and Cliff chased the race in the car giving me splits and encouragement the whole way – I can be a real baby when I am not racing to win) and in the end I am super happy I did. I was not sure what to expect going into the race but since nearly all of the girls who beat me have won a half Ironman before and have half-Iron wins this season, so for my rookie attempt I guess it wasn’t too crappy. At the end of the day, it really wasn’t that hard (I didn’t really go "to the well" on this one) and this was a good test event to see what I need to do next time. Our weekend was a lot of fun so read on for the latest installment of Mel’s excellent adventures….

Fun times on the BMC TT02 at Vineman photo by Photochambers


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Race Tune-Up at the Squamish Triathlon

I planned to race the Squamish Triathlon, a non-drafting Olympic distance event in Squamish (a town halfway between Vancouver and Whistler) as a pre-race tuneup for the 70.3 in Sonoma next week. The added bonus of doing the event was the chance for Ross and I to spend some time with Malaika and Peter. Peter is this pilot we know that does death defying runs on the North end of Vancouver Island in float planes who in a past life won three Hawaiian Ironmans along with a crapload of other races of note. They are cool. The race in Squamish is gorgeous and winning it for my second time was great, especially after setting a new bike record after a really tough week of training. Things seem to be on track for next week… even though I am VERY nervous about the last five kilometers of that run! On for the stories from the week….

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Mel’s Four Week Training Plan to a Half Ironman

Of course I would include a mountain bike race as part of my Ironman preparation. All road and no dirt makes Mel a dull and unhappy girl! I have completed two weeks of what I call my Ironman preparation which includes a lot of aerobic base work on my bike and a healthy increase in run volume. Despite the looming half-Iron I have planned in Sonoma I wanted to keep in touch with some mountain bike speed so I decided to jet to Calgary to do one of our Canada Cup mountain bike events in Canmore. I hadn’t been on my mountain bike in ten days! I was a little nervous but as soon as I drove into the mountains and did one lap of the course any thoughts that I had made the wrong decision vanished. The Canadian Rockies are truly breathtaking (not to mention the altitude) and my weekend ended with a second place to Mical Dyck which is totally solid. Read on for my story of photoshoots, plush hotels, wildlife viewings and racing madness, both on my bike and in the car…


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