Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Hellgate 100k++ Race Report 2015 (Alexis)

Hellgate 100k++

Fincastle, VA

December 12, 2015 12:01am

Before the Start

This race report was ready to be written Saturday evening but I didn't know how to begin, after some deliberation I realized that there is a life lesson in this for me, it seems to be the starting I don't know how to do, after I commence a task it almost always seems easier than I thought. As Tom Petty would perhaps say, "The waiting is the hardest part."

This was so true for Hellgate. I registered for this year's Hellgate, my fourth, the week between Grindstone's original date and it's actual date, it was something to distract me while the fate of Grindstone was still to be decided, it wasn't until the application was accepted, my check cashed and my left achilles swollen that I started to have regrets. It wasn't that I didn't want to run Hellgate but as the weeks counted away (quickly) and my Achilles (a self diagnosed case of tendinitis and retrocalcaneal bursitis) didn't resolve, I started to worry.

I walked away from Grindstone with a little more confidence than I have had, I performed at that race way better than I expected on less training, I finally felt I was getting mentally tougher. However, slowly during the 8 weeks that separated Grindstone and Hellgate, I felt that confidence literally seep away. At first I tried to retain some semblance of training but after a week or two of painful running it was evident that I had to let the body guide the training, not what I wanted or thought I should be doing. So for the next six weeks I ran, once, twice, maybe 3 times a week, not more than 16 miles on any run (which I did twice), in shoes with part of the heel counter cut out to avoid pressure on the bursa. By the time that Hellgate week arrived I was less than optimistic. Usually I can rely on my current training to fight off some of the doubt, to help me arrive at some kind of goal but how can you have expectations when your training is that low, when you still can't wear shoes pain-free? When you maybe shouldn't be running at all?

On Wednesday I had Todd cut the final pair of Hokas I had, I told him where to make the cut but it turned out it was a little too much, my foot slipped around for too much of the run that Wednesday evening, I wasn't sure I could manage that for 60+ miles. But I just pushed it to the back of my mind. Then came Friday. First I woke with a headache, swollen throat and stuffy nose. The vitamins I had started pumping in me had not worked to fight off the cold I knew was coming. I went right out to CVS to buy Sucrets, Cold Medicine and more Emergen-C. The worst part was that the swollen throat just made it difficult to swallow and I didn't eat what I would normally try to eat the day of Hellgate. I was worried it would get worse, I was worried I wouldn't drink well in the heat (this could be the hottest Hellgate to date), I just got wound tighter and tighter as the day went on and the cold seemed to get worse.

I was upstairs, 5 pm, finally readying my belongings for the race when I tried to pick a pair of shoes, the Hokas slipped off my heel just walking across the carpet, the other shoes that were cut were too minimal, I had never run more than 16 miles in either pair, and I just didn't trust running Hellgate in them. I tried on a few non cut pair and the achilles instantly started to be at a higher pain level just putting them on. It worked so quickly to tear me down. Todd was getting ready too and I asked him if we could just stay home and watch movies and snuggle on the couch (he had a back injury leading up to Hellgate and was filled with similar self-doubt) he said yes, he sounded as serious as I felt posing the question. I decided the best choice was the Hokas Todd had cut Wednesday, I would just tie them as tight as I could to keep them on my ankle as best I could.

Shortly after Kevin Corell arrived and the question was off the table as we now had to put our best faces forward and get out the door. I managed this fairly well even if I packed absolutely nothing for post race. Maybe there was a part of me still thinking I wouldn't start? Fortunately, I had a few great friends, Kevin, Freda, Erin telling me I could do it, that I would do it, that I would be fine. It's hard to have people believe in you when you feel so unsure, it feels like a pressure, they don't mean it but it feels as though you'll let them down if you can't perform. I love the feeling and I hate it too.

We had a good ride up, we stopped and got pizza and then stopped at Walmart because (I thought) I forgot hairbows. Really my head wasn't in the game. I slowed us down with my lack of preparation just enough to miss the dinner but we made it to Camp Bethel in time for the Race Briefing that had been bumped from 8 to 7:30pm. By the time we got into the lodge where the meeting was held it was already pretty jam packed with runners and crews, we nudged in on the floor beside a couch that seated Brenton Swyers.

After the meeting I hung around the lodge for probably longer than advised, but I was in no hurry to go ready my things. I finally got dressed in shorts and short sleeves and readied my gloves, hat and houdini to wear at the start. At 10:50 we headed off caravan style to the Hellgate Trailhead which is also the start of the race. Driving us to the start was Brian Corell, Kevin's brother who had selflessly agreed to crew his brother and I through the Hellgate race. I met Brian this past summer when he crewed us for the Catawba Run Around but I didn't really know him, it was a pretty privileged feeling to have him agree to crew me as well as Kevin and his help definitely contributed to a decent day. In addition to Brian and Kevin, it was Todd, Mike Pflieger and Sheryl Mawn. Sheryl and I have run Hellgate these past four years together and she has always caught a ride with us. I felt pretty special this year, because she could have been with Kelly Reece but she chose my crazy self to carry on tradition. It felt like a long drive over and Todd made the comment a few times that he still wasn't sure he was starting the race. I knew if we got him started he could finish Hellgate and with it the Beast, but you can't push Todd into anything, so I just hoped he would toe the line, being his second attempt at the Beast Series (the first was 2013 when Grindstone was shut down due to the government).

When we got to the start Sheryl checked us all in and I decided to wear all the gear; the gloves, the stocking cap, the beanie on my neck and my houdini over arm sleeves and a t-shirt. This would prove quickly to be way too much stuff in the heat but the start was a little chilly despite the forecasts I had heard. I need a parental figure usually to tell me what to wear at the start of runs. We got to the start line right as they were singing and moving forward and getting ready to start. I hadn't really spent much time on a race plan or strategy, I just begged that my cold and achilles would allow me to finish. Seventeen hours, Western States qualifier was the only real goal. Sure, I would take all that I could get from the day, but my hopes were all but dashed at a top 5, a PR, a stellar day.

To Aid Station 2, Petits Gap

Once we were off (at 12:01 am) and running it felt so different, like this great pressure was off, that it was just running. Kevin and I fell in together and though we had made no plans to run the whole race together I knew we would more than likely cover many miles in close proximity. He said something along the lines of "We are going to have a good night, you trust me?"  If anyone knows just how bad a headcase I can be, it's Kevin, he knew I needed to believe we could have fun and enjoy the run. In this, I did trust him, and the running felt so much easier than thinking about and planning to run. We started sort of mid pack but quickly made well enough progress in the group that we ended up going around many runners. The weather quickly proved warmer than the start line suggested and I took off the houdini and wrapped it around my waist. Then the arm sleeves got rolled down, I was sweating already.

Brenton Swyers was hanging with us and I kept catching glimpses of Todd up ahead and tried to keep him in sight without really running with him. I was thankful that he had started and that he looked good. The first few miles are very runnable grassy double trails, some small inclines but all very runnable, this year it seemed particularly wet but I didn't try to avoid the water, mostly because I thought the rest of the course would be drier and I couldn't avoid the creek anyways at 3 miles in, not because I was trying to be a badass like Dennis suggested. When we turned away from the creek crossing Brenton said he was worried about the 'stupid' thing he did Tuesday, giving blood, that his heart was already racing, I tried to offer some encouragement, that my heart was racing, that WE were racing but it wasn't long and he was gone. We didn't see him the rest of the day.

Dennis, Todd, Kevin and I stayed pretty close together after aid station one, we headed up the gravel road to Petits Gap. We ran and walked, smarter than last year if not a little slower. Sophie, Annie and Rebecca passed us on the road, Kevin and I discussed how in past years I would try to run what they were running but this year I had to be steady, let things fall where they may. It always seems like such a long ways to Petits and yet the time passes quickly enough, though it was nice to reach Brian at the Tahoe. Todd had gone on by this point, but we stopped and I dropped my water bottle and picked up my hydration pack, switched the small Black Diamond I had worn since the start for an Icon, dropped my muffie and stocking cap for a ball cap, and stuffed the houdini in my pack though I wouldn't use it again. It was just that warm out. I drank about half a 20 oz Mountain Dew and then we headed on, it was about 1:30 am at this aid station.

Petits to Floyd's Field

The downhill from Petits is a little rocky but I wanted to run well and steady, so I tried to be quick footed but after only a few minutes the mountain dew or downhill got to me, my stomach tightened up and hurt like Hell. I swear it felt like someone was repeatedly punching my gut, I had to walk a few steps and when I started running again it was slower, and though I was trying hard to not let it bother me it hurt. I tried my hardest to not complain to Dennis or Kevin but it was a very strange, painful sensation. I was thankful for the climbing on the Terrapin side of this section, it gave my stomach a chance to recover and thankfully it did. I also took 2 Tums.

We made it to Hunting Creek Road from the trail at 2:13 am, I told Kevin that it was here, 2 years ago that I decided I was quitting (but didn't), we chatted about the weather that year.  I took a GU out and ate it, it was my first of the day but it went down so well that I ended up making the plan to switch to GU after not really having a plan at all going into the race. I aimed to consume one every 45 minutes unless we were close to an aid station. I stayed on this plan very well throughout the race and ate 8 Gu during Hellgate, nothing else from my pack other than water and meds.

We hiked fairly well (we "walk well") and came upon Todd about one mile from Camping Gap, he had told me early to stop asking him how he was feeling but I couldn't help it, he's my husband, it is just what I do. He said I needed to keep moving, not to let Kevin pull away (Kevin and Dennis had pulled a small lead on me, I don't walk quite as well as they do) and tell Brian not to leave Floyd's before he got there to drop. I didn't say anything, I just kept moving, I caught Kevin and Dennis and told them that my heart was breaking for Todd, but there was nothing I could do.

We made it to Camping Gap and I had some Mountain Dew and headed out with Kevin and Dennis. The three of us ran quietly together through here but I started once more to fall back, I was feeling OK, it was just the middle of a long night. Once we hit the 'grassy road' and I hadn't talked to them for a few minutes I made to start getting my iPod out and ready when I noticed Kevin doing the same thing, I turned mine on. And then it was like Kevin and I had a little fire going, we picked it up and ran on ahead of Dennis, we caught several runners here and made good pace to the turn towards Overstreet. But my foot was slipping a lot in my Hoka so I stopped to fix it and then when I got up my fire was out. I walked a lot the next mile. I saw Annie up ahead but I felt no real urgency to catch her. Kevin was pulling a small lead so I just fished through my iPod for more uplifting stuff. I passed Annie and caught Kevin who had stopped to use the restroom and I led down to the falls and the gravel road, it is one of my least favorite parts of Hellgate, that final rocky descent to the gravel road and I felt like I turned each of my ankles four times.  I was so thankful yet tired by the time we hit the gravel road.

We had made good time until this point but I didn't have the fight in me to run up this road. We walked every step until it flattens out near the top. Dennis caught back up around here and said that he too had caught a second wind and he moved on ahead of us. We got to Brian and the truck at 5:02 am which is sort of the best time I have made it to Floyd's but also not quite where the aid station is so it was about the same as usual. I grabbed some Mountain Dew and told Brian to wait for Todd, as  Kevin ran on to the Aid Station. I realized that Kevin moved through aid stations much better than I do. At the actual aid station Cheyenne Craig was there and she gave us quesadillas. She said Joe Alderson was just a head of us, I could see it on Kevin's face that he looked like I felt, that even though we were doing OK, both our fires had dimmed.

Floyd's to Little Cove

Leaving Floyd's aid station Kevin told me to run on but I wanted the break as much as he did. We didn't move too quickly and I finally remembered this section for it's rough, rocky single track sections. This section can be very quick if you are quick footed and nimble, if you are scared and clumsy like me though, you take it slower. I had just stopped to pee for the first time all day (I was trying to drink as much as possible but it just wasn't enough I suppose) when I noticed headlamps approaching quickly. We were running along a wider yet rocky section when several runners descended on us at once, Kevin Townsend (who flies down a rocky descent) followed by Todd! My Todd!

He didn't slow to tell us any details but he obviously hadn't quit at Floyd's. We picked up our pace immediately and I asked what had happened and he said he dropped at Camping Gap but then got up when Brenton made fun of him. I tried to be more nimble but he was just too quick. We ran well from here to the aid station but I thought we wouldn't see Todd again, I hoped so. I worried that Todd may not have stopped and told Brian he was continuing on but he had, though I didn't know this until later, anything I CAN worry about though, I WILL. Overall though I felt good and happy here, I was so lifted that Todd was still in for the Beast that I let that news lift me and carry me to Jennings. I passed Rebecca somewhere through here and then Sophie just as we got to Jennings' but she left much quicker than we did at the aid station.

We got to Jennings Creek, the "Breakfast Aid Station" and Todd and Joe were sitting eating breakfast like it was Hardee's. Gina, Blake and Sam were there to help all of us and it was like a little party. Brian gave us Mountain Dews and Sam made me pancakes (delicious!) and then I told Todd and Joe to come with us. Todd said I am eating eggs I am not leaving and Joe said I will come with you but I won't be able to keep up, killing some time I said I wanted eggs too but then I couldn't eat them. I could tell that Kevin was leaving so I gave up on encouraging Joe and Todd to leave with us.

Well, I started to leave and then turned back and gave Brian my headlamp, it was still early, like 6:30 am, but I didn't want it and I knew we were on road until the sun came up. I was passing by Adam Evan's vehicle when he turned on Taylor Swift "Shake it Off" it couldn't have been more perfectly timed. It was a wonderful boost, that aid station, those people.

But then we met the road out of Jennings and it got very, very hard. It wasn't rocky or technical, it was 6:30 am, the worst time at Hellgate for me. Last year I had run some of the road to avoid that burdening exhaustion but this year I just didn't have it. Kevin said I could leave (he was giving me a complex that he didn't want me around), I said I couldn't. We hiked a while in silence, a few runners passed us and it took longer than either of us recalled to make it to the little gate at the top. I got so tired, I just wanted so badly to lie down and take a nap. We finally made it to the little gate and I said "Kevin! Talk to me. I think we will both be better off if we talk."

So we started talking about what we needed to do for Humble Creek (Blue Ridge Trail Runners race, yep that is a partial plug) and though we maybe were not flying we were moving steady and I wasn't focused on my achilles which had now begun to bother me a bit so I can attest that the talking did help. The distraction was nice. We had a female pass us here, Sheryl Wheeler, and then, at a turn near the road a Mr. Todd Thomas caught back up. He made fun of us, said we weren't running very well if he could keep catching us, but really it's just a testament to how good a runner he is when he is actually running. Once again, I was thrilled to see him and in a decent mood despite a lot of pain. He told me he was mad at us for making him start the race but I told him he could be mad at me all he wanted so long as he finished and brought home a bear.

We climbed a mile or so together but then when the road began to weave going up to Little Cove Todd fell back once more, I was hopeful that we would see him again, but that would not come to pass. We were making ok time, but not great time, around where I had run before, which was good considering my training and foot but Kevin kept encouraging me to run on, like I could just do that, run away. We ran and walked steadily to the aid station at Little Cove making it there about 8:20. Kevin ran pretty much right on through but I stopped for Mountain Dew and a few Lays.

Little Cove to Boblet's

After this aid station we ran quite a few miles very well, we walked but overall kept a good pace and kept the walking to a minimal. It was like Kevin had tried to get me to go on but then he carried us a ways with a good strong pace. After a little while he stepped aside and I took the lead, we were both moving pretty good. That is until we reached the hiker, this steep section that reminds me a little of running up a powerline hill, the wheels started to come off again there. I ate a Gu and tried to muster the energy but I was just getting low. Then it seemed to take forever to reach the actual Devil's Trail. A little while later, finally in the Devil's Trail the run came further apart, that section seemed worse than I have seen it in my four years, just so so many leaves covering up these many loose and shifting rocks. I would take a few steps and try to run and then turn an ankle. It was so frustrating. I finally committed to just walking the section for the most part after my achilles started worrying me, there were still quite a few miles to run and my achilles was getting worse and worse. I had switched from quick laces to regular laces to help hold the shoes in place and thankfully so, because I think that  saved the run but the shoes shifting on my ankle was still an issue through here as the shoe would get loose and my ankle rub more and more on the loose shoe. The other ankle also started to bother me so I knew it was the terrain as much as anything, not just the injury or altered shoe.

The last mile or so to Bear Wallow was as tough and draining as I remembered, I felt a good bonk coming on but just wanted so badly to make it to Bear Wallow for more water and some voltaren for my achilles that I kept moving as best as I could. We got to Bear Wallow at 10:10, right dab in the middle of when I have gotten there before, but still on the quicker side. We went to the Tahoe and I grabbed a Mountain Dew but then I headed over to the actual aid station table for water and warm food. There were so many people here, Grattan, Jamie, Gina, Kathie, the Sorensons, I was chatting and Kathie was taking care of me, heading over to the Tahoe for Gu and whatnot so I didn't have to do the extra walking and I was eating a little warm food and M&Ms when they told me I needed to leave. I had probably been there a good five minutes of so. I am waiting on Kevin I said. Immediately, Grattan and Kathie jumped on me, that I needed to go on, run my own race, not wait. I just brushed it off, I'm not leaving until he does I said. Kathie went over to Brian and the Tahoe to get Kevin and then she yelled back, he's already gone. I looked over to Brian and he said Opal and Kevin had walked off a few minutes ago. Kathie gave me more M&Ms and told me to go. I walked out of the aid station, I was surprised Kevin hadn't said he was leaving when he left, I didn't care about the leaving as much as I felt he didn't say anything when he did and yet I knew that he had been moving through aid station better than me all day, it was just a precursor to my little bonk full steam ahead. Also, I left without applying the voltaren. I thought about going back but then thought it was just more time wasted.

I hiked along but my stomach felt heavy from all the food I had just eaten. I had such a long ways to go. I didn't feel like racing, I didn't even feel like running. It was so hot. I passed Opal headed back to the Aid Station which confirmed Kevin was ahead.  Then I caught up to him not much later on the trail. We ran a ways but then I had to stop to go to the bathroom and Sheryl Wheeler who we had last seen at Little Cove passed me again.

When I stood up from using the restroom I was hit with a wave of nausea, I wanted to sit down. I wanted to throw up. Maybe cry. I was hot. Done. So, so much farther to run. Kevin was gone. I tried to take a Pepto, I couldn't. I tried three times to swallow it but then the nausea got worse so I spit it out. Another female passed. Then another. I started looking back, even though there was nothing I could do.

I caught back up with Kevin, though I don't know how and he said "What are you doing?" Like the little baby I am I complained to Kevin that I was sick, he offered me medicine which I gladly but ashamedly took. We both complained for a minute and then went back to not talking. The medicine and the slower pace and drinking water seemed to slowly bring me back together but not before we were passed by a few more runners. I started running more but didn't enjoy this section like I normally do, I was finding this section to be worse than I had remembered. Kevin fell a little back and then he told me to go. It was tough, I really wanted to stay, I really felt as though I should go. In the end, I went. I told him to catch me.

Not a half mile later I was out on the road. I saw Opal, I told her Kevin was just behind me. Then I came upon Sophie pouring water on a guy. We walked a ways together, she told me she had been in 5th most of the day but that 3 women had passed her in the last few minutes, the same 3 who had passed me, I had been in 6th and 7th since Jennings and not known where I was. She told me who was where, but that she had gotten hot, started slurring her words, she was going to take a break at Boblets, be smart and get that 10th time finish. I told her that was smart, she told me if I saw Rusty tell him she was ok.

After I passed Sophie though, even though I had that information, I still felt sick and hot, with little motivation. I got to Boblets and the crew of volunteers, many who I knew, asked how I was, I said 'HOT'. Brian and many of my fellow BRTR were there trying to help, they surrounded me and I felt cared for, I couldn't take most of what they offered but it helped to know they cared. Sam asked if I wanted food, I said no, he asked about ice, I said yes. Don was on it, dumping a cup of ice down my top. Then it was time to keep moving on.

Boblets to the Finish

With that ice working immediately to cool me down and a little Mountain Dew I was on my way just as Rusted Root "Send Me on My Way" came on (Krista Offields' recommendation!). The love and support and ice I felt there carried me down that next descent. Not that I killed that downhill gravel road, because I didn't, but for how I felt at the moment I moved fairly well. Both my feet hurt (too much wetness) my achilles burned, my other foot ached, my left knee which comes and goes was getting chatty.

I reviewed the situation. It was hot, but I can do heat. I needed to drink and make the best time I could, that was all. Don't worry about positioning, just keep moving forward. And that is what I did. Slowly at first and then I would catch people and see someone else ahead and it just became a little game and it was also a distraction and I didn't feel better but I was moving forward. I only passed one female which made me wonder if they hold up in the heat a little better. I thought I saw Dennis, I ran to catch him, he was having a slight issue (quite scary really) and was slowing to be safe, I told him it was good to be smart, it was for the Beast! And as soon as I left him I started to think about last year in the Forever Section, when I had my little epiphany, about how the experience of the Beast with those friends meant so much more to me than the racing part did. I thought about Kevin being at Day Creek last year and telling me I had to run hard. I was NOT going to race these last few miles, I was running just fine, I was getting to the end of a race that had seemed so uncertain the day before, I wasn't going to race, I was in 7th place. Not my best finish but considering the season I had it was good enough.

I wasn't racing those last six miles that was all I knew.

Finally, after so much weaving around the mountain I knew we would soon be going straight up, I came into Day Creek and all of these people, from so many directions were yelling that a woman was just leaving (it was then that I noticed Sheryl leaving the aid station) and that there were 3 more women just 1 (ONE) minute ahead of Sheryl. UGH! "I guess I will just take that with me then" I said to Brian taking the Mountain Dew out of his hand. Walking past the aid station table I heard cheers that I could take 5th, I could go for it. I don't know who said it, I was just so ready to NOT race those last six miles for once. "Why does it always come down to this?" I bellowed. But smiled.

I left and opened the Mountain Dew I took a few sips when I reached the trash bag, I had only drank about a quarter of it, about 60 calories, but I dropped it in the trash. I hadn't filled my water at the aid station, I felt behind me, not much left. I caught Sheryl and she told me there were a few girls just ahead, she said I could catch them if I ran but save some for the other side. Just after I passed Sheryl though Sonja who I had just passed in the Forever Section passed me and I fell back into 7th, I said "Good Job" and she said I would likely catch her on the downhill. But as she passed me I decided I wasn't racing those girls up the hill, I would continue to walk and hopefully walk well but I wasn't trying to catch them. I had very little water left. It was hot. I could blow up and have more girls pass me, I was really OK with 7th.

I hiked hard though. And I saw the girls, I saw Amy Ruseiki, it was hard to not fight, but I told myself I was being smart. They would race each other and win or they would race each other and blow up. I wasn't to get involved. Just do what I could. Near the parkway I couldn't see the group of four girls anymore, just that one of them was falling off. When I reached her she was crying, it was Angela! She had been in 3rd all day and she had fallen and was hurting, I asked her is I could do anything but she didn't really respond, I told her I was sorry, I knew she was close and she would make it, but it was so hard to leave her there.

I got to the Parkway and crossed, I hadn't run a step since Day Creek, but I knew I had now to make a decision, I could run a little hard and see if those girls were still in sight or I could cruise in. I decided to run a little hard and just see what happened, I was now 6th and I figured if I could even just close the gap and be closer in time to those girls that would be a pretty successful day. I ran a mile and saw no one but I was still feeling OK so I kept moving. And then I saw her, the girl in purple, who I didn't know at all. And I knew that was my chance at 5th and if I didn't fight I would be giving it away and I couldn't really stand that thought. So I fought a little harder, and passed by 5th who said "good job" and I wondered if she felt as tired as I did. I only had about 2 miles to go at that point but that felt like such a far way and the quicker pace was worrying me, it was hard. I did look back a time or two just to see how hard I had to keep pushing and even though I didn't see anyone behind me I didn't let up either.

As always that last stretch through the camp feels like it goes on forever! But FINALLY Hellgate #4 was over! I had somehow squeaked out 5th female in a time of 14:51:10, 3 minutes behind 3rd and 2.5 minutes ahead of 6th, it was a tight group there, and a stressful but might I say "fun" finish? Of course as soon as I was done I couldn't seem to walk anywhere, my feet were trashed from being wet, my achilles bothered from the beating, but it was nice enough (not running) to sit outside in the grass and watch others finish like that first year, four years ago, when I first ran Hellgate. The afternoon saw many more of my friends and trail family finish, many of whom, Todd and Kevin included, had finished the Beast with crossing the finish line.

The aftermath has been both worse and better than I expected. I expected to not be able to walk, just really sore and beat up from not training as much or as well as I wanted. But instead I have a raw neck from my pack, a severely battered, maybe broken toe and a unsurprisingly upset Achilles. But there's plenty of muscle soreness as well, I caught a glimpse of myself passing by a mirror yesterday and my swollen eyes and burned neck coupled with the other aches and pains made me truly feel as I had been in a fight, I'm just not sure whether I won or lost the fight. The good news is there isn't anything 'up next' just yet, I can really enjoy resting the rest of 2015 and with no big races (yet) on the calendar I can focus on truly 'recovering', and that sounds nice.



-Alexis
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