Leadville, life, & what’s next….

Leadville 100

Last weekend was the Leadville 100 MTB race.  Rebecca won the women’s category last year in pretty solid fashion and returned this year with a target on her back.  Todd and I loaded our motos in the back of his truck and made the trip down (or up) to Leadville to do all we could to help her defend her title.  The Leadville 100 course starts in the town of Leadville, which sits at over 10,000 ft., and goes up from there.  Taking photos and navigating to the various aid stations on the motos was a blast, not to mention quite a bit quicker than in a car.  We scoped out the course on Thursday and Friday figuring out the estimated arrival times at each spot and speculating about how the traffic might affect our times in getting from point to point.

The weather all week had been a mix of sun with afternoon showers and thunderstorms.  In fact, on Thursday there was a lot more rain than sun and things were downright nasty.  Friday however, the skies broke and the air dried out with the promise of more of the same for Saturday.  Friday evening we were treated to a phenomenal sunset as the sun dipped toward the horizon and lit up the bottoms of the clouds.  The shades of orange and red on display looked like fire in the sky and were absolutely beautiful.  In fact, it was so nice out that we laid on the back deck for a while after dark and saw several meteors from the tail end of the Perseid meteor shower.

Saturday morning, the skies were clear and the air was warmer than expected.  But, there was no time to chill out and soak it in as there was a race about to happen and it was “all business”.

Todd and I went down to the start, wished Reba well, and watched as some 1,300 racers lined up and rolled out for the start of a long day.  From there, we hopped on the motos and began leapfrogging along the course providing feeds and taking photos of all of the action.

Right from the start, Rebecca was riding a fast pace and at the first aid station was 2 minutes ahead of the estimated 8 Hr. pace.  The women’s record for the race was 7:58 and, at this point, she was on that same pace.  More importantly though, was the fact that Amanda Riley Carey was right on her wheel.

At the second aid station (roughly mile 40) Rebecca came through 3 minutes ahead of the 8 Hr. pace and still Amanda was sitting right on her wheel.  From this aid station, the course climbs roughly 10 miles (and 3,200 ft.) up to the turnaround point at Columbine Mine.  I knew that something would happen on this section, but wasn’t sure what.  I hoped that Rebecca, but feared that Amanda, would launch an attack here that could decide the race.

The course is an “out & back”, which means that the racers came back through the aid station at roughly mile 60, on their return.  I was stoked to see Reba coming through alone and looking pretty solid.  At this point, she was 12 minutes ahead of the 8 Hr. pace.  Before heading to the next aid station, I hung around to get the “split” between Reba and Amanda, which was now up to 10 minutes.

Coming through the last aid station at roughly mile 80, Reba was suffering with cramps, but had managed to up the pace and was now 14 minutes ahead of the 8 Hr. pace and 12 minutes ahead of Amanda.

From there, I went back to the finish line and waited.  Waiting sucks.  I don’t think I’ve ever been quite so nervous.  I concluded that the anxiety of “crewing” is much worse than the pain of actually racing.  When you crew, you have no control once your rider leaves the aid station.  You can’t prevent the unpredictable.  Ultimately, it’s this unknown that is the essence of sport.  That feeling that anything can happen and that anything is possible.  Still, that feeling is torturous when you’re on the sidelines.  At least when you’re competing, you are engaged and can have more of an influence on the outcome.

In the end, Reba crossed the line at 7:47, shattering the previous women’s record by 11 minutes and ahead of Amanda by several more minutes.  The race could not have gone any better.  The thorough and meticulous preparation that Rebecca put into this race paid off huge!  The training, the acclimatization, the fueling, the bike, and even our accommodations in Leadville all came together to produce one incredible athlete with one singular goal on one specific day, and it worked.  Congrats baby, you earned it!

Here’s a pretty killer video clip that Specialized put together about the weekend.

I Am Specialized.

Life & such

We drove home on Monday and I’ve had a pretty hectic week.  Since early summer, I’ve been going through the selection process hoping to start a new career with the Boise Fire Dept.  I took the written test back in the beginning of summer.  There were nearly 1,000 people who took the exam and less than 100 passed.  Fortunately for me, I was one of them!  The next step in the process was to participate in a couple of practice physical exams.  The physical exam consists of 8 different “stations” in which you perform activities that simulate various tasks on the fireground.  You have 10:20 to complete all 8 stations.  In my practice run, I was able to finish the test with a couple minutes to spare, so I wasn’t too worried about the real test.  However, before the real physical test, you had to also pass an Oral Board exam with a score of 70% or better.  The format for the oral board is simple:  they bring you into a room, try to intimidate you, and then fire questions at you.  The questions that were asked were good ones.  They weren’t exactly what I was expecting, but I thought my answers were pretty good nonetheless.  The only part that I found disappointing was the attempted intimidation factor.  I guess it’s necessary but, to me, it reminded me of a college fraternity tactic and is something that’s probably never gotten the desired result out of me.

On Tuesday, I received a letter informing me that I had scored a 69 on the Oral Board review and thanking me for my time.  That’s it.  A 69 on a subjective test with no feedback.  I thought to myself ‘seriously, a 69?  That’s just lame!’  More importantly was that the result filled me with self-doubt about my qualifications and abilities as a firefighter.  It was a tough pill to swallow.  The ironic part was that I received this letter informing me that I am not good enough for the Boise Fire Dept. and then, one hour later, I went to “drill” for the Ketchum Fire Dept. and received a letter of “thanks” from a man who had suffered a potentially debilitating accident this summer.  I was on this call and provided care for this individual who is now expected to make a full recovery.  A ‘reject’ and a ‘hero’ all within a couple of hours…….

In the end, I’ve chosen to look at it like this.  I am an engineer/EMT-A for the Ketchum Fire Dept.  I’ve worked as a 911 dispatcher.  I already have 90% of the training that I would receive from BFD, plus a good deal of real world experience.  I’ve out-performed every review that I’ve ever had.  In 3 years, I went from Cadet, to Probationary Firefighter, to Firefighter, to Senior Firefighter, to Engineer, to Engineer/EMT-B, to Engineer/EMT-A and am also on the Backcountry Rescue Team.  I kick ass at being a firefighter and I’m only sorry that the BFD couldn’t see that.

Up next…

I just finished working a 24 Hr. shift at the Fire Dept. and am now packing up to head over to Grand Targhee, Wyoming for the Pierre’s Hole 100.  I have no idea what to expect from this race other than I hope it’s hard.  I’m sure it will be, especially since I seem to be coming down with a head cold or something….

Cheers

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~ by ketchumgreg on August 20, 2010.

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