Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Arrowhead 135 , 2017

Arrowhead  135 (AH)  have a  special place in my heart.
2017 it was my 4th try and 3rd finish.
Every AH never was easy.
2014 - DNF (batteries in my light was dead, I had cold night at my bivy and get frozen butt) report here
2015 - Diarrhea 2nd women finish . At the 1st check point I bought prune juice and rest of the race had terrible diarrhea )
2016 -  SuperMom  finish 3rd 7 weeks after Yeva was born with the stop at the check points for feeding baby and pumped my milk during the race (it was brutal race and I proud of myself) report here 

2017- ???
Week before race I talking with my husband that I could not believe that will be without adventure! But WHAT will be happen at that time ? 
Few days before race all family get some virus and I (who do not was sick about 5-6 years)  started to be SICK.. NO!! I was prepared for this race so good and  all plans could be broken with virus. Of course I will started (too much time and money was spent for preparation)...But competed with sickness impossible.  

 This pictures shows us that it will be ALWAYS up and down ....

Since I heard about unsupported category I realized that this is all what I dreamed about. All course you carry all what you need, no rest  at the warm check point, no food and water from volunteers, no drop bags.. It will be you own mini-trip! YEAH!
At the same time I started to dream about double AH ... with another of my friend. 
Because I know that mentally I was ready for that. And my physical condition  also ready for that.
 All year I was training with trailer and stroller (biking and run) 5500 kilometers of biking and 850 running. Of course it was not super training. But was enough to be sure about my finish.  AH - this is race so different than any other. And the hardest part - mentally , when , at night, you push your bike up to the lots of hills. 
Another thing about AH  - weather. It could be - 32 F like in 2014 or 20 F (like in this year) and by the last week you do not know what kind equipment and clothes you will need.
Last 3 month I had active training, prepared my stuff and brain for double AH. I do not tell Dan nothing till 2 weeks before race. I know he was not ready for that long trip. It is mean he have to skip work at least  4 days (and he only one working person at our family)...
I rode a lot with trailer. I did trip with my girls , I made test drive for cold night with my stuff 

in - 30 C

 Till the start I was ready to go for double. I put all my stuff for 3 days trip (It was my thought how long double race could be to me).  

This is photos of all my stuff, equipment, food which I will needs. I know that I will keep me slow down instead of all racers and it was another hard part to me "to kill racer inside me" do not spend all power for the first part of the race. 

My clothes and shoes 

All what I love membrane, wool (nice jersey I got day before race from our team sponsor
45 noth boots, REI jacket, Salomon jersey  , Marmot down skirt, merino wool pants, wool 45 noth gloves and wool hats and 2 pair of wool socks . I LOVE WOOL! ))) All works perfect

 Food for 3 days
 Always hard choice. If you want great speed result you have to thinking about weight ... But I am wild rider and choose what is work really good Thermos and insulated bottles 
Same about stove and other stuff. For mandatory Esbis is ultra light .. But is you need melted snow - you need to have REAL stove ) (I had to carry both)

 All stuff which I carried . Because weather for 3 days was so different I had to carry a lot of extra warm staff for my plan (sadly that it is not happened).

Arrowhead started to me from the moment of registration..It is our family mini trip.I love all about it. My older daughter stay with Dan's mom in Two Harbors. His cousin made super cool scarf for Dan and hat for Yeva

Saturday checking gear

. In this Year we also drove to the last check-point for the Check Point MN .It was another nice 2,5 hour + driving on the boarder of USA and Canada all way to us on that day

 On Saturday I made quick pre ride to see condition of the trail.

 Sunday morning started to us from emergency room. At motel Dan changes batteries at my bike computer and  when he turn our awesome super energy girl grab some batteries and put in her mouth. I take 4 of them from her mouth. Non of us was not sure did she ate some of them ?

 We was lucky - her body was clean as picture showed
Another 15  miles of testing trail with all my gear on the bike. Super weather and trail condition. But weather promised snow and warm gray day tomorrow. (((.

 Evening pre  race meeting and I won in raffle BarYak  
 from my friends Tina and Joe Stiller . Now I can have it for both of my traveling bike (Salsa Fargo and Beargrease)
I love this meeting. where you met a lot of your friends from different cities and states.

 At the Mexican restaurant I had awesome fried ice-cream ! What a wonderful desert (I try it 1st time 2 years ago at the same place).

Night before race I almost do not slept (my younger daughter slept so bad and my running nose do not help me).. No way I have to start. 
My pre race photo with my best support team!

 All like weather promised .
I do not like 1st part of the race - too many people , everyone try to pass you like this is 30 miles race..And I know that later I will passing them ...
 I do not took a lot of pictures at this time. It is my 4th AH and always looks like I took this pictures before )

 First 35 miles was on the super good condition of the trail . I get my check point for 3,5 hour .
It was hard ride. I can  breath only with my mouth, running nose, headache, I forgot to take a pill of ibuprofen in the morning (.. And all my thoughts was KEEP GOING Sveta till finish.

Photo credit from David  Gabrys
Heavy stuff made my speed slowly. It was pretty similar like to ride with trailer .

 At the first check point I have quick drink little bit of my tea, gave kiss to my husband and keeps going

At this time I had a photo of my family and all the time , when power leave me I look at my family and know that they believe in me, they know that I can do it.
My muscles do not listen to me, I have  pain in all body... when you sick  it is hard to make race ).

Other strange reaction of my body - I could not eat NOTHING! All food which I try to eat -I could not swallow a few times during the race I vomited
FOR 22 hours of the race i ate 3 apple souse , 1 gel and 1 mandarin.... THAT IS ALL. I drunk 1 bottles of water, 1.5 liters of coke (yes I carried it ))) and less than 1 liter of the tea.

After first check point we get fresh snow, trail condition started to be worth and worth..  

 My sick face.

 My lovely bike. I am happy owner of BarYak system which let me put mostly of my stuff in front of my bike and this is very good when you have to push your bike up to the hills .

 Day slowly came to the end... I love this moments to meet sunrise and sunshine during the ride.. Less and less people passed me. Before 1st check-point Leah pass me and I know that my goal is different. I can not thinking about race. I have to keep power for my trip.

 My lovely uphill . This reminds me always that less than 5 miles till 2nd check point.

 I pushed my bike and ski guy easy climb up .. What a powerful guy! I will passed him after... But he passed me after 2nd check-point again )

 YEAH! Lake... This yeah the Lake looks empty. Regular a lot of people on the lake with bells.. this year I met only 2 people near the cabin..
 It was funny that you can not come in cabin (so many good memory about it). I had some tea from my thermos and kept going.
Near shelter I pass group of bikers "Hey, lets have shelter party " asked one of them.. But I prefer do not make any extra stops.
 This part of the race mostly I saw in the dark. And it was first time when I saw how huge up and down you have to do....
 Could you find bikers? Yeah - this will me my long uphill. ANd we have A LOT of them. I am glad that mostly of them in the dark . Mentally it is much easier - do not see how big it is )

 I met one biker who decided to sleep...

 My speed went down with bad trail condition (mush potato) and fresh snow..I want to eat but could not.
More and more I am thinking about TO do or NOT  to DO double...
few reason what makes me thinking about NO in this year
- our family spent already a lot of money for the race, Dan skip 2 days at work (no pay check)and for double it is almost WEEK  not pay check... and this is not honest .. He want to go for NAHBS bike show. And will be not honest if he spent all for me,
- all family sick. Nadia was so sick at the night before race and I feel that I am terrible mother. And skip 4 days at school for Nadia is too much with american system of education .
Your ambition is not so important as your family....
The hardest part of the race between 2nd and 3rd check point - a lot of hills for 40 long miles...
But this is place where I have power to keep going and pass people...
This is race where you can see how strong brutal men lost power ... tired...

 My  coke is empty.
 I always LOVE SURLY check point....
This year they put this sign 1 mile before check point ... Yeah ! This is WHAT we wanted to do  )))
 This check point was so funny and you so want to spent more time here..
They told me that I am 5th women . I do not care ). But you know that you almost done. Only 25 easy miles (not so easy) to go..! And I  rode to the finish...

 On that moment I know that I will not doing in this year double.Next year. When Ican make better logistic with my girls and family interest!!! ... And in this moment I  realized that no more slow ride... I no need to keep my power for double and start to ride faster. I decided to pass as much people as I can and make my overall place higher ( like a child )...
At the one spot after check point I found reflective jacket with number and try to get rider in front of me , because he will get DQ   for that. 2 miles I rode hard and stopped his and he was so happy (me too I no need to carry it by the end of the race).
 I passed about 8-9 people...  Every time when I try to have rest (backpack was bad idea for heavy stuff).... I was thinking it is almost done.. stand up and going ahead..
 2 -3 miles before the finish I pass another guy ... And do not want that he pass me at the finish.. About mile to the finish I see another biker sitting near his bike . When he saw me , he started to ride. But my speed was faster. Biker asked me "who is there?" And I realized that this is Leah!!! How it is possible !? I was sure that all girls in front of me at the finish. To be honest  I want slow down in that moment when i said "It is Sveta" and her " Oh NO!" ... It is hard when you are friends.. But racer inside me said the winner will be  stronger - she can fight with me till finish line. But she do not do it.
Last hill  , finish line and one of the volunteer Mark Scotch told me that I was 1st unsupported and 4th overall women. I was happy ?I do not know. I wait Leah finish.. Strange but my body was not hurt... I feel that I can turn around and keep going... But mother and wife this is MORE important, I will have one more year to prepare my dream. 
 I have strange feeling after finish. I know that I will finish (only broken bike could stopped me). But I do not done with all my plans. But i do it UNsupported with huge amount stuff for extra ride and still done GOOD.. with sickness.
WORSE even is not sickness , worse thing that I forgot to bring my BIKE pad shorts... Looks like one week I will have such a good memory about it ((((
I need time to thinking I am proud or no with my finish and result of it.
I am already thinking about Arrowhead 2018  that is mean I will go to ride today )))
 Me and Leah at the finish. This girl done with crazy amount of endure race in 2016 .. strong , smart girl.
 I got my new is different than other two.. Happy and sad... because last few month you thinking about it... and now you have to have another goal...
But now my goal to get citizenship by the time when Trump decided  to sent back away all immigrants in their county and I will not have chance to race Arrowhead again ))))......   

  Special thanks my hero husband who let me do all this.
BarYak team and my Volvpac team
#baryak, #volvpac, #altventures, #borealiswoolcoo


  1. Fantastic write-up, Sveta! Thank you for "taking us along" with your photos and story.You are so strong and driven- I have no doubt that you'll do a double when you have the chance!

    1. thank you. I am glad that my English is not big problem to read my reports/

      ps I will do! Never stop to have dreams

  2. Sveta, you are an inspiration to many people!

  3. Thank you for the write up! You are an inspiration! Looking forward to reading about your next adventure!

  4. I loved reading your adventure at Arrowhead. I saw you at Actif Epica but did not introduce myself. It was my first time on my bike at a winter race. I am thinking of trying Tuscobia or Arrowhead but need to get a few more items to prepare. Looking forward to meeting you maybe at the next race. Do you run or bike ultras in the summer too?

  5. thank you. I will glad to meet you .. You have year for preparation. I do have bike ultra (100 miles my lovely distance )never do run ultras yet, I hope to try

  6. Very useful article buddy keep it up I came to know a website that are having good motivational Books on Hill Running and other motivational contents..