Countdown to Leadville, Thoughts & Preparation

Last week I was accepted into the Leadville 100 MTB Race. I submitted this story with my submission and thought I’d share it with you all:

11 years ago, I had brain surgery to remove a tumor from my speech lobe. I had no idea what to expect during surgery or recovery. I was knocked out for six hours and when I finally came to in the ICU, the doctor apparently held out a pen and asked me what it was. Sarcastically, I replied, “…a pen” as if it was a ridiculous question to ask while I laid in the recovery bed, a titanium plate screwed into my skull, staples keeping sliced skin together, and my head wrapped in so much gauze it looked like a turban.

10 years ago I was a passenger in a really bad car accident. I had a Stage 3 concussion, cracked both sides of my skull, and temporarily severed nerves in the left side of my face. I had to wear an eyepatch because I was seeing double.

When they rushed me to the hospital, after I finally came to, I kept asking, “What happened?” The paramedics would say, “You were in a car crash.” Then I’d ask, “Who was driving?” And it continued every few minutes because I couldn’t remember.

Everyone thought I was going to be Drew Barrymore from 50 First Dates.

We never know when our last day’s going to be. We tend to think we’ll live forever. I watched a commencement speech by Steve Jobs in which he said:

“When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like, ‘If you live each day as if it were your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.’ It made an impression on me… and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself, ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I’m about to do today. And whenever the answer has been, ‘no’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something. Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.”

It’s a reminder to stop going through the motions; to ask myself if I want to keep doing what I’m doing. I’m racing Leadville because I’ve had too many almost-last days in my life and one of them will actually be it. This is a bucket list item and now is a better time than any.

Too often I’ve found myself doing things I didn’t want to do with people I didn’t want to be around. It didn’t make me happy or fulfilled or accomplished. I was drained and anxious instead, wishing I was somewhere else doing something different.

I took jobs to get away from something else and instead, invited myself into another toxic work environment. Countless unfulfilling jobs with negativity, believing that I could help change it.

I volunteered for eight years taking on several different and thankless roles. I did it to incite change and was always met with resistance. Sometimes it was worth it. Sometimes it got to a point that it did more harm to me than it did good for the people I had hoped to help.

Never a stranger to hard work, I kept taking on more things. And I wasn’t happy or content. That was the worst part. Trying so fucking hard to make a difference and destroying myself instead.

My husband saw it.

He saw me questioning my choices, wishing to sleep for two and a half days, wanting it all to just stop.

And then it kind of did.

All the things that caused me grief eventually caught fire and to extinguish them, a lot of yucky and vulnerable shit had to happen. It wasn’t pretty. Plenty of ugly crying went down.

So this year is focusing on me. My goals. 

I had a feeling I had a good chance of getting into the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike race since they have low women’s participation. One of those affirmative action things probably. 

It doesn’t negate the fact that I can compete. The goal is to finish under nine hours for the big belt buckle. If I’m going to do it, then I need to fucking DO IT. I looked up the Top Three women in my category from last year and I’ll need to average 11.5 mph to get on the podium and no slower than 11 mph to earn the sub-9 hour belt buckle.

It still feels elusive.

It’s too far away to feel like I’ll be racing 100 miles on my mountain bike. The furthest I’ve raced so far is 32 miles. So, you know, shy of 100 by 68  miles. 

I started a generic 30-week Leadville 100 training plan through Waite Endurance and uploaded it to TrainingPeaks to stay on track. I’m already I’m out of my element. I’ve gone from riding my bike six days a week to four. The other two days are strength sessions. I’m no longer doing two-a-days. I’m not gonna lie, I like going home after work and relaxing instead of jumping on the trainer for an hour and a half.

I’m working to trust the plan.

More isn’t necessarily better and I have to remind myself that. I’ve always defaulted to more is probably better.

The strength and trainer sessions are different from what I’m used to as well.

I’m training to heart rate on the trainer, which I haven’t done in four years, before I bought my power meter. It’s unsettling watching my heart raise and have to dial back my power. Trusting the process.

The gym work is a mixture of mobility, push/pull, squats, deadlifts, core, and power moves. The strength sessions are definitely for beginners who have never lifted before. I adjusted the weight to make it a little tougher.

I’m only a week in, with another 29 to go before Leadville but I intend to keep updating my readers with my progress.

What'd you think?