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Sep. 24, 2007
Live from the Trans Rockies Run
Colleen--running like the wind. You'd think the internet connection high up in the mountains would be stellar—no buildings, bridges, or other cable lines to get in the way. But Colleen has proven me wrong. She's back home now and finally able to send the last three race reports from her Trans Rockies run—albeit a bit late due to the lack of internet service she had (not to mention being just a wee bit tired after running marathons, ultra marathons, etc. high up in the Rockies). Congratulations, Colleen!

DATE: Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

If you had told me at any time in my life that I would be doing a 5 day stage running race in the mountains—I never would have believed it! But today was more epic than I can even explain! Not only did I complete stage 4 of the Inaugural Trans Rockies Run, but I ran my FIRST ULTRA! 28.4 amazing miles! But that's not all! We (my team with Glen and Thomas) ran it in 5:14 and finished at a 6:40 mile pace! Once we passed the final "control point" (aka aid station and check in) we had 7 miles to go and our speed only increased every mile and we started pegging off teams one by one to finish in 7th place in the mixed division and 20th team overall! We totally had heads turning today! And we beat the overall womens team that has really been cruising the last few days! And the views were so incredible! They usually are above tree line! WOO-WHOOO!

But let me back up a little (sorry, I was so excited to report our awesome running day!), we woke up in Leadville this morning with ice INSIDE our tent and temps around 30 degrees. BRRRRR... Not exactly excited to get out of my sleeping bag this morning to get to the start which was 31 degrees when we arrived, but not to worry because the first 10 miles were literally ALL uphill to Hagerman's Pass topping out at 11,990 feet—I think that had to be the highest Clif Bar aid station I've ever seen! Seriously, there was a Clif Bar aid station up at the top of Hagerman's Pass!

From this point it was 18 miles ALL downhill! YOUCHY on the quads, baby! "Yes, sir, may I have another!" Our team totally worked together today and looked out for each other so when one was having gastro-intestinal issues we slowed down, or when someone's blood sugar was dropping (yes, that was me) they would drop back and make sure I was okay and allow me to re-group without pressure. But I have to say I did a really good job of checking in with myself and staying within my limits and adjusting when needed. But we ran most of the course today with some key walking up the steeper sections of the uphill climb. But all in all HOLY PHENOMENAL RUNNING experience! Such an EPIC day! Wait, did I already say that?

The colors are really changing in the mountains and I had another teary (okay maybe 2 or 3) moments where the beauty of the mountains and the coolness of what I am experiencing overtook me! My team ROCKS! And even now, thinking about it brings tears to my eyes. HUGE shout out to my teammates, Glen and Thomas! Couldn't have done it without you guys!

DATE: Thursday, September 20th, 2007
Okay, so this is our last morning waking up in a tent and being cold. But I will have to say the stars last night were phenomenal! We runners pretty much dominated the campsite and created our own friendly little village complete with campfire and a guy on guitar. I don't know why but getting up on these chilly mornings is simply becoming routine and I don't really even think of other options. I just know I have to wake up, dress, eat breakfast (ensure and bagel—YUM!), pack up our tent stuff, and get to the starting line in time to listen to Highway to Hell one last time.

Today is different from all the other days because we know it's our last day of running and our team has been getting faster every day, so I think our expectations were a little higher than the other days. It was a "late start" at 10:00 AM because we had to be shuttled to Basalt High School. However, today we actually started in shorts and short sleeves! FINALLY some warm temps and light packs to carry on our backs! (All other days we have had to carry rain gear, mylar blanket, and a first aid kit). Today's course was 18.4 miles slightly uphill from Basalt to Aspen all on pavement...grrr. I told you, I'm becoming a "trail snob" now.

I've been so pleasantly surprised by the fact that my body is not totally thrashed at this point and today I really wanted to put it all out there and see what was left in the tank—that's exactly what we did! We started conservatively but then picked it up after our first Control Point and really opened up some space between ourselves and the teams behind us.

At Control Point 2 we re-fueled (which may seem odd since we were only going 18 miles—WOW, I just said "only" 18 miles! But we needed to do it after having already run close to 100 miles in 4 days and we really wanted to maintain our pace. So with Clif BLOKs, potato chips, and coke in us we started out for our final 6 miles of this amazing journey!

Today was all about the personal physical challenge so I enjoyed some scenery, but not nearly as much as the previous days. It was still gorgeous but just not as breath-taking as the other vistas from higher elevations! With 2 miles to go we were fading a bit, but held on to PASS the finish line!

Oh, yeah, we go flying past our last left turn to the finishing shoot to hear the announcer saying, "Colleen Cooke bring your team back to the finish line!" But the announcer, Drew, has been providing some friendly harassment to me all week so I didn't believe him and we kept running—the wrong direction! Then we saw people running at us and pointing back to the finish line and at that point we turned around humbly and finished strong down the finishers shoot to earn our "Finishers t-shirt!"

As I sat in one of the awesome GORE chairs under a clear blue Aspen sky watching the other people finish, I found myself in complete awe of what we all had just accomplished! So incredibly amazing and I cannot even tell you how shocked I am with my own level of "digging deep". I just ran 104+ miles in 5 days something I NEVER would have done had it not been for my job at Clif Bar and the support of my teammates! Again, as I sat reflecting on the past week I just can't believe how amazing my life is sometimes and the incredible opportunities I have had because of my position at Clif Bar & Company! I just had the experience of my life (yeah, I'm crying right now!) and found a new level of myself that I never would have found had I not been faced with this amazing challenge!

Now it's time to go celebrate our victory together and watch thirsty runners get tipsy off one beer—since we've all been on "de-tox" for the past week! We have lots to celebrate so let's get this party started!Trans Rockies Run ROCKS!

DATE: Friday, September 21st, 2007—The Day After"

What a ride! What a ride! OK, here come the tears! I wish I had the right words to share what is in my heart right now about this inspiring, soul-searching, EPIC journey I have been on for the past 5 days! When you spend this much time with the same people you sort of become family and really enjoy a special bond. I will not say that there wasn't a competition going on because there was, but all the runners were so supportive of one another and from the top finishers on down we were all on the same playing field surviving in the Rockies! I can honestly say that I never had moments of "what the heck am I doing out here?", or "I sure would like a "real" shower or my own bed". I simply adopted the attitude of "this is what I am doing, and here I go—AGAIN!"

I have always been one to put my focus on something and get the job done, and this past week was no different. Each morning, I knew I had to get up and run to the next campsite, and it was more unbelievable than I ever thought! There were brief moments of low energy, but they quickly passed as I took in that individual moment because as someone once said, "there are no ordinary moments."

To be unplugged from the world for a week (no TV, no cell phone, no internet) and meeting new people and sharing in a huge adventure together was more than I could ask for! Crazy enough, I really am not that sore...I'm glad I don't have to run today but I'm not hobbling around like I do after a marathon or Ironman. My worst injury of the week happened last night in the shower while shaving my legs—cut myself a nice slice that I finally used my packed gauze and medical tape on—I knew it would come in handy eventually. Okay, so I did lose two toe nails this morning, but they don't hurt (sorry for that graphic image).

I cannot thank my teammates, Glen and Thomas, enough for the awesome energy and keeping our team's synergy so incredibly positive! Glen with his ultra-running background, knowledge of the mountains, and search & rescue background was such a solid teammate who never once let me down and always tolerated every element with grace. And Thomas with his warm spirit and positive outlook kept us moving forward and pulling us home to Aspen! So many emotions to go through and wonderful friendships found!

If ever a challenge you were looking for the Trans Rockies Run is it! The race was organized beautifully and the event organizers and their families and staff were all so gracious and accommodating! The price tag may seem large but the value for each moment is worth more than any dollar amount! You will leave this experience with warm tears of happiness and pride, and a new found respect for yourself and what you can endure. My family thinks I'm nuts for even attempting this, but now after hearing my excitement (getting teary again!) they know I'm not; I'm just someone simply looking to fully uncover myself through life's precious experiences.

Thanks to each of you who have read my blog and your continued support through this adventure! You just don't accomplish great moments in life alone; they're always shared and supported by the love of special people! So get out there and experience it all! There truly are "no ordinary moments!"

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We like getting our heart rates up, taking a big breath of fresh air, savoring delicious food. But we also love telling stories and here's where we type 'em up. (BTW, it works both ways; leave a comment—please and thank you.)

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