Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Welcome Home Scottie Quinn!

Remember when I posted this this on social media ?! 

Well turns out that riding bikes in your kitchen is actually quite dangerous because My WATER BROKE 4 hours later!  Doh! To top it off we had Evan, Grace, Scott and Brian staying over at our house  for the Frozen 40 weekend festivities!!  We had just rocked a big Lasagna dinner (I ate too much!) and we were all about to go to bed!! I was bent over getting out an air mattress when at first I thought I peed myself, but then immediately knew that my water had broken!! Just like in the movies!!!  I wish so bad I could have videotaped the 10 minutes that followed this realization. Grace being calm and poised,  Tom scrambling in shock to put together some kind of “hospital bag”and grabbing towels for the car!! Me stunned trying to find numbers to the OB Clinic and my Doula...and  the 3 boys huddled together looking like they had all seen a ghost! Haha!!  Of course we’d have a baby this way!!!
In all honestly though it was super terrifying because Scottie was only 33 weeks and 6 days gestation.  I hadn’t done much research about preemies,  I just remembered my Doc friends, Sean and Christina telling me early on that once you get past 30 weeks most babies will thrive. Still, I was panicking a bit internally and really wanting to feel baby move. The car ride to the hospital was scary until I felt her move. Then I could relax a bit.  I fully expected extreme contractions to kick in  – but nope, it was pretty  calm.  Pretty sure Tom and I said like two words the entire drive….and mostly those were Tom’s words assuring me everything would be ok. 
Friday night they started me on steroids for the baby's lungs  (I was doping!!). This was protocol for babies this premature, as  the lungs are generally the last to develop in babies. They also started me on antibiotics to reduce infection risk since my water broke.  Then Saturday morning they suggested we induce labor.

It's about to get real.

Before we decided to induce we were able to meet with our great friend Kari (who fortunately for us is an RN in the Neonatal care unit at this hospital) and also with the on staff Nurse Practitioner from the NICU.  They explained to us all the things that could go wrong with baby Mo – but they along with the on call Docs also assured us that most babies this gestational age do quite well!
We decided to start the induction process around 2pm Saturday, but I wouldn’t have said it felt like labor really started until about 2am Sunday morning.  Then they started Pitocin around 8 am to “get things moving” and I’d say from 10am onward contractions got progressively got more and more intense.  Yowzer - much more intense than I had predicted. Labor was raw, emotional, painful and even humorous at times!  I had what they call "back labor" and this meant that poor Tom and our Doula, Heather rocked an Ironman’s worth of hip squeezes to help ease my pain for the next 8 hours...every 2 minutes like a never ending HIT workout - doh! Gosh I owe these two.

I pictured myself laboring in something cute...but nope, I'm wearing a t-shirt and hospital undies and I'm absolutely unfazed

In the previous months I had watched my fair share of natural birth videos and I remember warning Tom that some of those women in the videos sounded like cows during labor.  I was like “nope I’m not gonna do that…I’m just gonna breath it out.” ;)   Welp let me tell you - about half way through labor I had definitely reached full blown “cow status”!! It was insane!

I pretty much closed my eyes  through the the last 90 minutes of contractions and urges to push.  We tried a few different positions to speed up baby's progress.   If you read my last blog you know I wanted to birth this child naturally – but mostly I just wanted to do so without an epidural.  If you are someone that knows me well, you understand that personally, I wanted to “feel” this life changing moment.  
That said enduring this labor without an epidural was without a doubt a team effort and not something I could have done by myself without the help  of Tom (who was absolutely incredible through whole thing)....our amazing and ever so knowledgeable doula, Heather....our wonderful confident “we won the nurse lottery” nurse Christy .... and a humorous on call Doc who arrived just in time (last 10 minutes!!)  to safely welcome Scottie into this beautiful world! 

We had to deliver in the operating room because our baby was premature. When we first arrived in the OR to push we were greeted by our friend Kari’s smiling face – it was the most reassuring thing ever, knowing she’d be the one to care for our sweet lady after her arrival.  I pushed a total of about 35 minutes (which to me felt like much longer!) Finally baby Scottie made her way into the world on at 6:10pm, almost exactly 44 hours after my water broke.  She was as healthy as we could have hoped, breathing on her own and weighing a a whopping 5 lbs 13 oz (my two favorite numbers!) .  She was ready.... and her first little battle cry changed our lives in in an instant.  

I got to hold and touch Scottie for a little bit right after which reassured me she was doing quite well – and then she was whisked off with Tom and Nurse Kari to be weighed, vitals checked, etc and then eventually to the Neonatal Care Unit where she spent the next 6 days hooked up to monitors and sunbathing to reduce Jaundice. She was such a champ though...reaching all the milestones earlier than expected.  We couldn’t believe how proud of her we already were.  Strong Little Fighter.  We are so grateful for such a magical and divine birth experience. Our labor and NICU team humbled us beyond measure.

Our little Valentine :)
In the first week we were so thankful to have a healthy baby that for the most part we held back our emotions and put on strong faces.  Yet it was very hard to have our baby in the NICU, not being able to hold her for long periods of time and not being able to take her home.  I had to pump around the clock every 3 hours to give her breastmilk, but only was able to feed her the 3-4 times a day that we were with her. The nurses all took such wonderful care of our sweet lady (she had her own room - room # 5 - thanks Kari!!) and we couldn’t have been happier with our hospital choice. That said I still can’t talk about that week in the Neonatal Care Unit without getting emotional and teary eyed. I really feel for those mamas that have babies in the NICU for weeks and months.  It's so incredibly hard!

But then....Saturday Feb 17th we brought Scottie home!!

Things have been going really well....Scottie is a happy baby that mostly eats and sleeps except for a few hours of fussiness.  I love feeding her, dressing her in cute clothes, and hanging out with her on the floor during "Tummy time".

Tom loves feeding her and absolutely adores holding her...she seems to love sleeping in his arms!! 

yes - that's a CATicorn from Auntie Chele.
Our new normal is taking a bit getting used to for us...and for the cats - ha! But we are close to getting a pretty good routine down and I’m grateful that Scottie lets me get at least 5-6 hours of combined sleep each night! 

We have been dreaming about life with his little lady for such a long time!! We want time to slow down,  yet we also can’t wait for all the adventures we have planned for the 3 of us in the coming year. 

Welcome home Scottie Quinn...we love you more than you'll ever know.

Monday, January 22, 2018

31 Weeks and counting....only 2 months to go...eeek!

We've made it past the 31 week mark!  I sent a text to Tom last weekend that said "Can you believe we're actually going to be parents in a couple months?"  Ha!  It feels about as real as ever these days as Baby Mo kicks non-stop all day long...in fact I'm pretty sure she doesn't sleep at all...or perhaps she sleeps when I sleep? Hmm...something tells me that pattern won't stick around come spring!  Pregnancy has been so much better than I expected it to be.  It's seriously been the best ride of my life....so I want to capture all the small moments that have happened along the way!!

Visiting our Cali BFF Andrea - 21 weeks

The Second Trimester:
It was Heaven!! Just like they said it would be.  So much fun to see my belly grow each week.  I think most women grow up imagining what they would look like if they were pregnant - it was pretty fun to see that bump develop during the 2nd trimester and have strangers say things like "Excuse me Mama" while I was shopping for shoes!  I also enjoyed feeling mostly normal and being able to travel a bit and stay active. I did have more than a few people tell me that I looked "big" or say things like "are you sure there is only one baby in there" around 20 weeks which mostly made me laugh....but was also a good exercise in self-confidence and restraint in comparing myself to others. Mostly though I loved the positive energy and support I received from people during this time - it was truly humbling.

All the ladies at Solstice Chase
The Happiest Moment:
We had our ultrasound on October 30th, the day after Tom's birthday.  Seeing our little lady on the screen all happy and healthy was so much fun and such a relief.  This was a big moment for us in terms of letting go of  some anxiety.  I'll remember that day forever... the sheer joy we felt leaving the clinic.

Looking up at us!

The Best Moment:
Tom's mom, Pam, had a stroke a few years back and as a result lost her ability to speak. We really wanted to wait until after the 20 week ultrasound to tell her - mostly because she seems to understand visual communication the best.  Visiting her in the nursing home and showing her my belly and the ultrasound photos was easily the best moment of being pregnant. She was absolutely elated...we hadn't seen her this happy since her stroke and her beaming excitement and joy while she rubbed my belly brought tears to our eyes.

Biggest Surprise:
Baby Morgan is one strong lady!! Sometimes she kicks so hard and moves around so much I'd swear she was participating in a kickboxing class. I totally expected to feel the baby move and figured around 38 weeks I'd be able to see it on the outside...however that's all happened so much sooner than that and really the kicks and flips have been shocking to me!!  Makes me so excited to meet the little spit fire.

The Bummer Moment:
Realizing that biking wasn't gonna work for me in pregnancy...this happened around 16 or 17 weeks. I might have cried a tad, but then decided to take my doctors advice and listen to my body...after all, this is only a small snapshot in a lifetime and our main goal this year is to have a healthy baby.

This has been far less than I ever imagined it would be in pregnancy.  It's actually been hard for me to figure out how to fill all the time I used to spend on my bike.  My workouts are generally 30-60 minutes and consist of a combination of treadmill walks, StairMaster intervals and prenatal yoga. I've loved having Yoga in my weekly routine as it's helped me stay pain free and balanced.  It's also connected me with so many other mamas - the greatest gift ever.

Hiking on our Babymoon in Sedona

I felt mostly anxious until the 20 week ultrasound, but since then I've mostly felt excitement, anticipation and some nerves!  I don't think I get any hormonal mood swings.

In the 2nd trimester I would wake up a lot in the middle of the night and feel wide awake. Poor Tom!!   I got the stomach flu over Christmas and the only positive to that is that sleep has been way better ever since!

I've been mostly in denial that I do not have any cravings...well until last weekend when I woke up and couldn't get the thought of Eggo Waffles off my mind.  Yes...I literally drove to the store to buy a couple boxes of frozen waffles and syrup.  And lately I've been obsessed with Pancakes (even making them at home!!) ...and really I've never cared much about pancakes until now.  So yeah - I blame baby.

Biggest Growth Area since 15 weeks
My stomach!! It's mostly straight out and not at all what I expected. I'm pushing it already with a couple of my maternity tops...yet my pants all fit the same as they did at 15 weeks.   Thank God my chest also stopped growing because woah..that was freaking me out :)

Stretch Marks: 
None yet...but I think we've officially entered the high risk zone!  I've been applying the belly oil like a mad woman!

Weight Gain:
I've gained about 27-28 lbs which has came steady at about a lb/week since 4 weeks. I'm guessing I'll gain 35 lbs (give or take) which is on the upper end of average... I'm 100% okay with this as my body is doing exactly what it was meant to do!

Medicated or Natural Birth:
We did something I never thought we'd ever do...we hired a doula.  After a lot of thought, research and discussion Tom and I have decided to try for a natural hospital birth and we're grateful to have someone very positive to support us in this effort.  Why? I'm inspired knowing that my body was designed for this and that I'm capable of enduring what's ahead of me.  At the same time I believe in modern medicine so when the time comes I'm confident we'll trust our doctor and make decisions that are focused primarily on the health of our baby.

Preparing for a natural birth feels oddly similar to preparing for an endurance race


I'm pretty much a bird.  Our nursery has been about 95% ready for the past few weeks! I just have some final touches.  It's crazy to look in the room and think "we're gonna have a baby sleeping in there!"  I've also bought way more baby clothes than normal because "everything is too dang cute!" to pass up. 

Feeling Grateful:
It's been a bit weird to not race this winter and as such I'm so incredibly grateful to 45NRTH for helping me feel just as much a part of  the team as if I were racing. I've enjoyed supporting Tom and my teammates - and this perspective has given me an even greater appreciation for the sport I love so much. Thank you!!!  We're also grateful for all the support of our friends and family on this journey - it's meant the world to us.  Lastly, to our dearest friends - thank you so much for your wonderful gifts to Baby Mo over the past month... she is already spoiled beyond measure.

Best Baby Purchase:
Okay too hard to pick just one...but I'm super, super pumped about two items we splurged on.  The Thule Urban Glide adventure/jogging stroller and the Guava Family Travel Crib (which is basically a pack in play that turns into a backpack!!!) I'm mostly excited about these two items because they are going to help baby fit right into our current lifestyle.  I can already picture her chilling out with Tom at the Marji Gesick!!

Speaking of the Marji Gesick!!
On Friday the 13th of October I took the exhilarating plunge to sign up for Marji Gesick 100 in September... about 6 months after baby is due.  Marji is arguably the hardest 100 mile bike race in the country so naturally signing up was bit nerve wracking, but it's also been the best thing ever to have a big challenge event out there in the future - something to be excited about for after baby is born.  I plan to approach it as more of an adventure than a race.  I also bought my first full squish bike to commemorate the occasion, a Salsa Spearfish...which is on it's way to get painted by Cyclocarbon!

We have a lot of fatbike fun on tap in the coming month including a weekend up in Cuyuna (can't wait!!)  Then we will be pretty much on travel lock down until baby is born.  I imagine the last month will go by super slowly, but we're all about sleeping that month and saving up all our energy for the adventure that's to come.

Happy trails everyone....if you live in the Twin Cities...please get out there and enjoy all that that SNOW!!!!  I am counting down the days until I get to race in this sassy kit!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Baby on Bike!! - 15 week update

I can't believe we did it.  We actually made a baby!  It still feels mostly surreal  although as I start to see a baby bump appear...it feels a lot more like reality.  It's been an amazing experience thus far, with widespread emotions that I can hardly describe.  It's also been a process that has made me feel closer to Him, surrendering to the fact that this is in His hands...and trusting that He will take care of all that I have no control over.

We found out we were pregnant at 4 weeks on July 22nd....right after riding a Watertown Loop  with our happy neighbor Kim. It was a surprise in that although we were trying for a baby...I was 100% convinced it hadn't happened that month. I also had some good reasons to believe that.  Nothing though is more exciting/nerve wracking than seeing a positive line on a pregnancy test!

The first 9 weeks:
The wait until seeing baby's heartbeat on our 9 week ultrasound felt like an eternity as I was dealing with all day nausea and anxiety around miscarrying. I used to be a big worrier as a child and I thought I had really kicked that...welp, until Baby Morgan arrived.   Thankfully I was distracted by Tom's Leadville 100 dream and Colorado was also were I found a couple tricks (Acupuncture and Acupressure bands) to help with the nausea.  

How long we tried:
Tom and I started trying in April and miraculously got a positive pregnancy test on our first month of trying.  We thought...this is way too easy?!  Sadly, we experienced what they call a "chemical pregnancy" and we lost the baby in the first week of finding out.  We were crushed and I cried for two days (once in the lab at the doctors office)...one thing I realized in this experience is that nobody really talks about miscarriage even though it happens to a lot of women. It's truly amazing how soon you can begin to love a new life that's inside you.  Thankfully we got pregnant again in the 4th month of trying.  So... we still ended up with a pretty good batting average :) 

I really don't crave too much different than the usual cravings that I always have.  Pickles, Reese's PB Cups, and Salami.  The latter is the hardest because mama's aren't supposed to eat deli meat (so many rules!) until it's heated up..and I want COLD salami :)   In weeks 6-11 food was about survival and all I wanted were Bagels, Potato Chips, Fries, and bread. I even made a tip to Burger King and McDonalds both in week 7.  Thankfully I haven't been back since and my diet the past month has been much healthier -  almost exactly like it was pre-pregnancy.

Biggest Growth Areas So Far:
My chest (it's huge!), stomach and hips.  I seriously could feel my hips expanding during week 12 - ouchie.  I had to buy bigger pants around week 8 and most of my tops no longer fit.  In the last week I've finally started to sprout a baby bump - yeh!

Favorite Moment so Far:
Finding out we're having a baby GIRL! Tom was convinced Baby M was a girl, however I was thinking maybe boy.  When we found out the news Tom was elated...and proclaimed  "We are going to empower her to change the world!"  I knew 11 years ago I had married an incredible man...however, at this moment I knew I had also married an incredible father.

I thought I would be one of those super fit pregnant ladies that worked out every day just like before she was pregnant.  Turns out that's not been the case for me.  I struggled for a month feeling so nauseous, super HOT and tired. Although I would try to ride my bike or take a brisk walk - it just felt gross and all I wanted to do was sleep. Running never felt right and due to some early pregnancy issues I was actually advised to "be a slug" for awhile.   Thankfully I now feel almost normal and I've gotten back into an exercise groove. My preggo routine is a combination of outdoor rides on my fatty, CycleBar Spin Classes, Prenatal Yoga, and Treadmill Incline hikes.   I try to workout 5 days a week for 30-60 minutes - sounds like a "normal" person- eh?!  The most important goal at this point is to grow a healthy baby. So I listen to my body and just do what feels right.  I have no training guilt at this point and that feels incredible.

Lots of anxiety in the first 12 weeks.  Sadly, I think this took away some of the joy of being pregnant for me. I'm not sure if it's a result of the first loss...of if it's just a taste of what's to come for the rest of our lives. Once we found out baby was a girl it started to feel so much more real and exciting.  We've let go of the worry mostly and we've really enjoyed the past few weeks of dreaming about baby, her nursery, and what our life as a family will be like.  What's the best adventure stroller? And how will it feel to carry baby around the races in a frontpack/backpack?  How soon can we bring baby to Mexico?

I dont' think I've experienced those hormonal mood swings people talk about. Perhaps Tom would disagree...but I do seem to cry a little more at sad movies....I seriously had tears falling down my face on the flight home from DC. How embarrassing. 

Sleeps been pretty normal and thankfully I don't have that frequent urge to pee yet.  I wake up once a night.  Sometimes I wake up at 5am and can't fall back asleep.  I think some of that is just that I workout so much less than before.  I have had some crazy wild dreams.  Like the other night I dreamt that we had the baby and it was actually our cat Savvy and I was swaddling her and feeding her a baby bottle and she kept squirming and trying to get out of the blanket. TOOOO FUNNY!

Weight Gain:
I've gained 11 lbs so far.  It's a bit above the average however I'm trying not to stress about it too much as things can change. Right now I'm guessing I'll be on the upper end of the 25-35 lbs recommendation.  That's okay.  I'm also not surprised as my appetite feels the same even though I'm not riding my bike 90 minutes a night.

Stretch Marks:
None yet, but I have a feeling based on my skin type there will be some in the cards for me.

Nursery Prep:
I ordered a colorful rug this week and I've been doing some Pinteresting.  A super nice friend of ours offered to give us his old crib (what a champ!) - heck yeah!. Other than that that we haven't made much progress other than deciding which room in the house she will sleep. 

Baby Clothes: 
I haven't bought anything besides the cute pair of Red Chuck Taylors.  We did get the cutest little onesie in the mail from our dear friend Andrea!  I'm so glad baby's first outfit has bikes on it!

Maternity Clothes:
On the other hand I did drop a huge bomb on maternity clothes yesterday.  Huge thanks to my mom for grunting out a trip to the Mall of America where I finally found enough cute work items to last the whole winter. I even found a cute little navy maternity blazer at a consignment shop.  Pretty sure I'm probably the only person that tries on a top in the middle of the store and then asks her mom to take a photo of it!  Sometimes mirrors just don't cut it!

Tom and I are really looking forward to our 16 week OB appointment on Wednesday and then the 20 week anatomy scan where we'll get to count baby's fingers and toes - eek!   It's amazing the excitement we feel right now anticipating baby's arrival. It seriously feels like this year will be the best time of our lives.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Why are you running? Grandma's Half Marathon

Why are you running?  It's an open ended question I've been asked many times over the past few months.  For some reason it still catches me off guard.  My response has generally been.."because I can."  Although that answer is true....the reality is a lot more complex than that. But here is something...

Back in 2008 at age 25 I made an impulse decision to run Grandma's Marathon.  It was really the first time that I registered for an endurance event that legitimately scared me. I hadn't ran even close 26.2 miles at that point, and to be honest, I wasn't sure if I was even capable. The journey to the start line was both invigorating and exciting.  Come race day I had set what I thought was an attainable goal of breaking 4 hours. I now know that I wasn't fit enough nor confident enough for that result and as such I was out over my skis early on in the race.  My goal was not realistic and at mile 9 I was already struggling to maintain my goal pace..

As I saw my goal slowly slipping away I had what I would liken to a panic attack - a mini freak out as I digested the reality that I wasn't going to rise up to my own expectations and heaven for bid the expectations of others. I could barely breathe and I walked A LOT and drank and ate very little.  I felt embarrassed as the racers ran by me.  By mile 17 I was wrecked and begged a stranger for a cell phone to call Tom (who was also racing and I assumed probably already finished).  My hope was that he could come and pick me up.  I thank God to this day that he didn't answer....because had he answered...I would have quit.  Instead I sat on the curb, devastated....alone.... and broken. I stared down at my shoes pondering my future, and how the hell I was going to navigate the next 9 miles.... and I was dreading how I was going to explain my disaster of a race to everyone else.

And then suddenly an Angel appeared.  A random man who was nearly 3 times my age.  He reached out his hand and said "come with me, you are going to finish this race."  He shared his TicTac container full of salt crystals with me and convinced me to "run to that sign" and to "run to that mile marker" for 100 yards, 200 yards, and 300 yards at a time.  He encouraged me to eat and to drink and eventually I ran across the finish line in a time of 5:48:01, uff dah!! I grabbed my well deserved finisher shirt and medal and then cried my eyes out into Tom's arms. 

Getting to that finish line was one of the hardest things I'd ever done in my  life. I was disappointed, but in the end I managed to laugh it off.  I quickly realized that this race would not define me, and nor would any other race.  Instead they would teach me things about myself that I never knew before. Truthfully, I hated some things that I saw in myself that day.  I hated the fear, the negativity, and the disbelief.  But...there were also a lot of things I saw that I loved. I loved the grit, the fight, and the perseverance that eventually followed my struggle.  I learned the importance of racing within my means and more importantly, I learned the true beauty of racing for myself and no one else. It was clear after the the race that that no one cared about my result as much as I did and that I had put so much pressure on myself that I missed the opportunity to truly enjoy the event.

Truly enjoying Grandma's Half Marathon!

Running Grandma's Marathon was the gateway drug. The suffering, the perseverance, and the joy that followed the finish.....it's the explanation for a lifetime of endurance racing. It's the reason that I know that no matter what...the finish line will always be worth it.

Grandma's is why I'll always be an athlete. I knew it was time to return to Duluth and cross that same finish line feeling something different.


Saturday morning I felt no nerves.  Rather, I felt razzed with excitement and joy. I was shocked by the massive crowd of runners at the start line and somehow snuck my way up to a good starting spot.
I had no friends near me on the bus nor at the start line...this was about as personal as it gets.

Back to school!!! Dorm life!

I had set a realistic goal early on in training to break 1:50, but I struggled to get the speed up in my interval runs due to an early glute injury. The past couple weeks of heat also had me feeling like an elephant. :) So, in the days leading up to the race I wondered  if my goal was now unrealistic but quickly decided that my best was simply good enough.  My coach Matt had encouraged me to "just run by feel" and to let go of the pressures and limitations that my Garmin watch provides.  We had a beautiful cool day ahead of us.

Finally the National Anthem and then boom! we were off.  In the early miles I had no idea how fast I was running and I didn't know a single person running next to me. I was all smiles and racing completely within my means.  It wasn't until mile 6 that I first looked down at my watch to realize that I had just clocked a split of 8:02!! say what?!?!

It was a pace that was faster than almost every mile I had ran in training.  I felt really good...so I had no reason to think that was "too fast." The confidence and optimism that followed that realization was magical as it carried me all the way to mile 9 where I saw Tom, Christina, and Brendan screaming for me. They gave me a huge boost that fueled me the last 4 miles to the finish line...this time with a face full of smiles instead of tears.

Saturday was a beautiful day!  just like all the others.  I live for these moments, and am so grateful for all those that share in this joy with me. Your encouragement and support is overwhelming at times.
Tom is not only the best adventure companion there ever was, but he was also my UMD college roommate for a night!! (no we didn't push the beds together...haha!) Huge thanks to Matt for agreeing to balance being a cyclist and an occasional runner - this variety is essential to my mental balance as an athlete. Thank you Lisa, Jeff, Rob and Missy for letting me be your running partner again - I enjoyed every mile. Lasty, big thanks to Travis for keeping my body tuned up - so that I can enjoy incredible finish lines like this!  

My cup is seriously overflowing!

Now it's time to cram in the Fatty miles....we've got a Leadville training camp on tap!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Fatty Season Wrap Up!

Has it really already been 3 weeks since Fat Bike Birkie!?!?  I'm becoming quite the tardy blogger it seems.  It's April 1st already...another one of my favorite days of the year...for obvious reasons.  When I was little I'd play tricks on my friends and then I'd laugh and say "April Fooled You!" ha, I was such a dork...and probably still am.

Fat Bike season is definitely a wrap at this point and my bike is long overdue for some type of cleaning...post season bike cleaning is the worst! This years Fat Bike Season was definitely one for the books as we tried our best to make the most of a dirt and ice filled winter.  I had a blast racing, meeting new people, and seeing Tom get stronger.  The season was also filled with a lot of sadness, which makes it difficult to write about.  I want to to remember all the fun stuff, but I'd be lying if I said tears weren't rolling down my face during the moment of silence at the start of Fat Bike Birkie.

Chelsea and I made a girls road trip to Marquette for the 906 Polar Roll and basically raced in short sleeves on one of the funnest courses of the year (well after the lung busting initial climb)....the first 10 miles felt like we were racing on an Olympic Luge course - total awesomeness.

PHoto Credit: Hilary Dolan

Mother Nature cancelled Fatbike Frozen 40 on us, which was a sad day, especially since this race is in my backyard.  Admittedly 4+ hours would have been a little hard on me training wise, but I still missed racing on my favorite, perfectly groomed single track loop at Elm Creek. 

On a whim I decided to race the Mora Vassaloppet the next day which ended up being one of my favorite races ever!  It was my favorite kind of course - fast, rolling, and drifty!  They had more snow in Mora and the course was total snow! I was stoked to share the top step with Adam from HED and also to race with these awesome ladies!

Photo Credit: Hollywood via Robin's phone

Then, Tom and I made a last minute decision to drive to Grand Rapids for the Farmers Fat Bike Race. We were looking forward to staying at Danielle's house with our good friend Spoo who was also supposed to make the trip.  Sadly, this is the week that Spoo passed away suddenly doing something he loved, running.

It's hard to talk about still, and some days I realize it's hard to believe he is actually gone. Spoo and I shared some pretty special moments together in my first years as a mountain biker.  Tom and I actually met Spoo running back in 2008ish.  We knew him as the "mountain biker" so naturally when I decided to ride bikes - he helped show me the ropes, and we made a lot road trips together to Mtb races in Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. He was also there with Lisa sceaming and cheering when I won my my first Natz medal.  He also snickered when as he video taped me awkwardly going over the bars during the XC race :)  I wish I could find that darn video!

2013 CAT 1 Short Track Podium
PHoto credit: Cycling Dirt

Spoo was a very happy, smiley and positive person to be around. He loved Tom's nickname "The Bull" for me.... he would call me that often.  He also loved to give me a hard time.  Damn we miss you Spoo, you made us laugh so much!

We decided to dedicate Farmers to Spoo. 

There was basically no snow - but the dirt singletrack was pretty rad. Spoo loved nothing more than Singletack - this was his kind of course.  I spent the first 90 minutes of of the 3 hour race trying to hold off Tom who kept yelling "I'm coming for you" through the trees (hah!). Damn he is cute. Eventually he caught me and we got to ride together for a couple laps - my favorite 45 minutes of racing all year.  

Photo Credit: Rob Meendering

Eventually though I was getting a little tired  and was convinced he was sandbagging (or felt bad beating me) since I knew what kind of training he had been doing.  So... there may or may have not been some married bickering going on after he rubbed my wheel ha!!  - but eventually I dropped him ...sucker :)  I know it's only a matter of days before I'm chasing him like a dog!

We wrapped up the season at Fat Bike Birkie where I was shocked to be handed out the #1 race plate.  It was a competitive field on a course with about 25% ice. The organizers did the best they could to make this a safe race for us - moving the location of the event.  Cancelling this event would have been the saddest thing ever - so thank you to all the volunteers for the countless hours of trail work.  Thanks to 45NRTH,  I had the right tool for the job in the studded Dillinger4s. 

Photo Credit: American Birkebeiner Foundation
However, I road like a donkey and laid it down pretty hard in the first icy turn!  I knew better than to take that corner like that. I recovered fairly well, and then spent the first couple of laps battling with eventual winner, Leia for the top spot. We seemed closely matched and I envisioned the race would come down to the final lap - perhaps even a finish line sprint.  

Photo Credit: American Birkebeiner Foundation

Unfortunately on the 3rd lap I lost control of my line on a fast downhill clipped the bars of a slower racer and we went down in a full on 2 person yard sale...a pretty painful crash that seriously took my breath away...bruising my hip, breaking my saddle, denting my helmet, twisting my knee and eventually causing the end of my race.  Carnage!! I feel so lucky it wasn't worse and still I feel bad that I don't know the racer I took down so I can personally apologize.  He was so nice about it - making sure I was ok (I do think I got the worst of it).  I just couldn't believe he wasn't totally screaming at me! I'm bummed the season ended this way for me  - but I also know this is the reality of racing and there will be so many more races!! Huge congrats to to everyone on their finishes, this was a hilly and technically challenging course!

I am stoked to have won the Great Lakes Fat Bike Series for the 3rd consecutive year.  

Alexandra, Sonia, Yours Truly, Chelsea, Anna, Jenny and Jill
photo credit to Chelsea Strate

This was another big goal of mine this season and it's no small task traveling to all the races and also performing consistently. I'm so proud of these ladies standing next to me, that I'm so lucky to call great friends.  These women are genuine, positive, and supportive. They are so good for this sport and THIS is why Fat Bike racing is my favorite sport of all.  Thank you for making these winters so special!

I am grateful to Kurt, David, Scott, and Jeremy at 45NRTH who provide amazing support to our team that goes so far beyond the gear and equipment. These guys make sure we have everything we need before and after the races, they give us hand-ups, set up warm tents, and hand us beers at the finish line. They hug us on the bad days, and give us the biggest high fives on the good days!  Thank you for letting me represent your awesome brand.  Best team ever!

photo credit to Jill Martindale

Huge thanks to the rest of my sponsors who help make chasing dreams - HED, Onyx, SRAM, Bicycle Fit Guru and of course the nice guys at Tonka Cycle and Ski. Thanks for trusting me with your brands, and helping me ride the best gear - and for just being rad people.  I've got my bike or wheels at Tonka almost every week and I couldn't thank Nick, Jason and Steve enough for putting up with me these past couple years!

Nick and Tom - couple of studs

Big hugs to Tom who chases dreams right alongside me - I can't wait to see you crush Leadville!  And of course thanks to Matt Freeman - my CTS coach for the past 4.5 years...that's a college education.  I could never keep the power up and my mind level without your help!

and that's it folks!   HAPPY SPRING EVERYONE!  I've got some new athletic adventures ahead this on tap which I'll share more on later....but in the meantime, get outside and enjoy all that warmth and sun!