Monday, February 5, 2018

Find your limits. Arrowhead 135

 Arrowhead 135  preparation started for most of us few months before the  race. TO me the day when I send my application this is day when I am thinking about it.
 This was my 5th attempt and 4th finish of Arrowhead ( from my 6 years when I moved in USA from Belarus).
2014 DNF 
2015 2nd female
2016 3rd female (7 weeks after baby delivery) and with breastfeeding and pumping milk during the race
2017 1st Unsupported and 4th overall female
2018 1st Unsupported and 1st overall female\

 photo by

This is not race where you can go without preparation.May be that is WHY I love this race.I love process of preparation. This is my motivation to training,  to go for solo camping|ride and testing my gear....
I am so missing about my wild mountain trips in the Russia. So this is kind of compensation to me.
Short mini adventure.

My preparation and hobby - swimming in ice-hole. Before Christmas I made my own record and stayed in a ice-hole 15 minutes.
This is what keep my immune system in a great shape since 2005.

 Most of my training last 2 years (actually 3 with pregnancy)  I rode with Yeva and my  older daughter. In 2017 I rode 10 000 kilometers and 8 000 of It with trailer.
Not big choice especially in a winter, of the routes . So I trшув  to make local hills repeats and rides.
I do not have much long distance rides since Yeva was born. Most of my long distance rides it is my gravel bike race.
2017 showed my that I am finally return my physical shape after pregnancy and 1st year after Yeva was born.  I finish pretty good Dirty Kanza 200 , The DAMN 240 miles (1 female) , Actif Epica (1st female), Maah Daah Hey 150 with my husband  and some local short races
 Why I am racing? This gives me feedback from my training process (actually I do not love racing - too much nervous)

 Lots of you from Arrowhead Dream Team knows that I love to camping and test my gear and share with you (it is so nice to got feedback from many of you that my info helped some of  you).
I did few solo trips in Two Harbors area (it is wild and cold  area pretty similar with Arrowhead)

 This year I also made meeting and share my knowledge  about gear.
It was nice to share my knowledge and listen other people tips .

Last year I was sure that will be ride new bike from sponsor . 2 month conversation and finally I have to say NO , because the the proposal for sponsorship was changed and I did not like the rules.
I was upset... And I do not know that Dan (my husband) in same  day ordered my DREAM   Black Sheep bike.... And magically I got it 2 weeks before race... It was best surprise ever ( I know I told this every time, when Dan buy to me another bike).
I love my Salsa Beagrease - it is nice bike (on of the best choice on the mass market): carbon light ,speedy. Perfect for speedy short races. But I was needed something for long distance, for trips with my girls . I need able to put more stuff for few days on it.  So new bike is perfect for what I need.

So 2 weeks I rode and tested my new bike.

WHAT is my motivation ?

 my husband. This guy change my life a lot. And of course I want to be good wife and want that he see progress in my results ( he invest in me so much money )))!). SO Dan is my partner, husband, friend, sponsor...
 my GIRLS... You always wanted that your kids will proud of you. And this is motivated your kids to be like a mom.

My Fire Fighter team. Since I started my Education and work there it is change me a lot.
Week before race I got  my first award (like a advance I think) and this is make me more motivated to be PERFECT. I want that they knew that they made right choice at interviews and gave me chance with my not perfect  English. I want to be strong.

I do this challenge for myself first of ALL ...
Since I moved IN USA your life changed a lot... Your life started with ZERO....  And sometimes mentally it is not easy.... The race give me chance to show myself and other  that even with bad English I can do something better than people who love to joke about my language ( but I know 3 languages and 4th very good for understanding). I tried to find job last year and 2 company in outdoor world do not wanted me with my English ( with ALL my huge background in outdoor life, education, past work experience). One day they will upset about it.... But Fire department gave me chance and one day they will know that made right choice.

SO this year my plan was to make double AH - because I was needed new challenge. My plans was changed during the race. But I carried all stuff for 2-3 days.  After race I measured amount  of gear and food.. OMG 42 pounds... I could be much faster with half of it ))))
But I WAS READY FOR ANY troubles and any weather for UNSUPPORTED/

 I remember my 1st Arrowhead and my (Belorussian wild soul) shock about  drop bags, about ability people to dry stuff at check-points and main shock that people was able to sleep at the warm check point... This is not challenge !!!! I do not used this services . I take only food and water.
My feeling that this kind support change amount of finishers , ability people and their knowledge how to use mandatory gear. But this is rules of the race.
SO ,when last year organizer of race announced about Unsupported category - THIS IS WHAT I NEED!
Last year was warm enough and  for unsupported and not really brutal... I had enough water with me  and no needed to stop for melting snow.
So I still had dream to finish AH 135 in a really brutal weather without any support. Like all legends about how brutal weather could be.
So few days before race - I started realized that my dream can be come true. Temperature in the race day in the morning -15 F. After race I heard different numbers about race temperature at the night . Middle - 25 F

I made few short ride at the AH trail with my stuff.
 On of the favorite part of the race - meeting. I love to meet my FB and real friend here, talked with them......
 MY food...This year (as all years before) I took lots of food. But During the 24 + hours I ate only
3 apple sauce (they were frozen and I put it under my jacket under armpit to unfreeze during the race
6 Russian candy
1 gel
1 0,33 bottle of the coke and 2.5 liters of water and tea.

Sadly , I am not able to eat more during the race

After training in the cold weather I decided to use tablets stove to be sure that it will be nor freeze as a gas and light. And it was worked perfect.  
 I always carry my medicine bag .I know my  body. Few month before I had a kidney stone - worse pain on the planet. SO I carried for all my solo trips and race medicine from pain now and some other.
You say you no need it ? Hm... may be this is my luck - but at AH 135 and another races I have experiences with tooth pain finish, diarrhea , frostbite etc...SO I prefer to have.

 Morning . Fireworks. Start! GO !
I  rode 1 or 2 miles behind Tracey P. and Jill M. I was not planning to racing (because main goal of double). But I had hope to get 3rd of 4th place ( ambitions) But in some moment I realized that I am able to ride faster than they are .
I decided to pass them  and they can pass me later. But in my mind was - ARE YOU CRAZY!? I never was able to pass Tracey.
Trail till fist check-point  speedy. SO I need to use it, because later will be lots of hills.
So I saw Tracey one more time when she passed me, than I passed her again. I was not sure what happened.
But I knew that they will be close to me.
"OK you can ride  till first check-point fist and make a smile on Dan's face" (because he will not expected to see me).
Close to the first check-point I saw Jill husband (this is signal to me that she is close , because I do not had SPOT and she had). SO I came to the check-point (and do not saw my husband (1st time for 5 years ((( !So no surprise for him)

When I leave  check -point I  saw Jill who was half mile before. Now , after she saw me , she will try to catch me.   I add more speed. It was little bit warmer...

But with cold weather muscular works slowly and be speedy it hard (except Jay P and another top 10 finishers!!) But I know that I am able to keep going and weather is not able to stopped me...! I am one of the most prepared for cold weather lady.. And this is MY year and MY chance to perform and show my possibility in a cold year.

photo credit by  Burgess Eberhardt
So 10 or  15 miles I saw at the bottom of uphill Jill. I was at the top. I add more speed...
I do not saw her anymore. At the one more wild roads crossing before 2nd check-point her husband and knew that she is not far..
At the 2nd check-point outside I  drink some warm tea from thermos and kept going. It is funny to see people in the warm check-point from outside ). My bike computer was dead few miles after check point from the cold. SAD DAD  SAD.. Now I have no idea about mileage, speed, time and temperature (((.  I keep my phone and Garmin like emergency on my body).
After check point I saw last temperature  on my computer it was - 15 ...
I had to make short stop to change hand warmers in my boots if I will not want to got frostbite. Because I was not changes it since start. I did it in the shelter where 2 guys had rest .

photo credit by  Burgess Eberhardt

This year I do not see much volunteers and support teams members outside on the trail... Kind of sad... Boring long ride... HILLS HILLS HILLS..... This is name of 3rd section.. 40miles of hills.. I was thinking that Jay P and another leaders probably rode all of them. Sometimes somebody pass me, sometimes I am passed someone. This section put my competitive ambitions down...
Just keep going.
I remember when I asked one guy who passed me how many miles till check-point and when he said 15!!!!! I want to die... ))))) It is another 2-3 hours....
 In some spot I was thinking this is place where I regular meet my friend Pete McAdams 
from Canada... And before race I told him about funny part that few years I met him before 3rd check-point... And here are go!! Pete !!!! It makes my laugh ))) and put my mood UP! 

SO check-point..... No flamingo, no funny sings like past years.. I was so hoping for that ))) I realized that if I will keep going ride fast my double AH will not happened. I will need rest.

 Before check-point someone told me that Jill dropped at the 2nd check-point.

So . At the check-point I had to melted snow . Tablets stove works perfect. 
During the melting snow I saw another girl came (not sure who). SO I have to hurry
I was dome with melting.I do not even come to the fire. And new power and motivation came to me. Will be sad to loose place at the last section. But all possible. 
I have to stop and change my face mask for new hats anв neck warmer , because mask was like a peace of ice and hurts my nose - what is way to the frostbite. SO it was my clothes for double AH..((( and no way to go back without extra clothes

So I rode my bike... It is just long uphilllllllll ..... to the finish line.
In one Moment I saw 2 guys who rode in opposite side. What is wrong? Wrong way... Shit... It was never happened before...
 Depression mood... Especially when I rode back with them and saw how much I rode extra miles ((((
Power lost me... Another wrong turn... another few extra miles... No mood anymore... I was sure that I lost 1st place.. and slowly keep going... My legs hurts. All race I was thinking that I forgot to put seat up before race as I planned..And I was so lazy to do it now. And as result wrong position - pain in the legs ((

I saw finish city.. I saw finish miles..I saw second sunrise on this 24 hours... .I saw finish uphill . I DO NOT SAW nobody at the finish line )))) "Anybody is here?"
I saw volunteers came out from the tent.... And  sounds of the caw bells... And happiness.. DONE

Best surprise that I still 1st FEMALE ant 1st UNSUPPORTED female

Checked  my stuff. Came inside.Went in restroom to see why my feet hurts!? Frostbite.. BAD news..
NO  double.... Because I want REAL double UNSUPPORTED....I have new goal for 2019...

 PS turn on my phone... and relax... THANKS all my friends who believe in me, sent me so many good words and messages.. especially who so far from bike life.  .

One journalist asked me  
"Does it your best ?"  No I got my maximum limit with finish 3rd  7 weeks after Yeva was born.

 Some people love to say - "What is special she did ?" I can not explain more than in my report.. Actually you have to try to got it ... 9 month ride pregnant and start to training day after baby was delivery with all pain ..... This was my highest level of Arrowhead with all logistics of breastfeeding  and pumping milk during the race . I know that most ladies at bike division do not have kids (or small kids) and I am proud that can be good example that all possible... For my 5 years in a round I was able to born kid and she is running around me  2 years old now... and I  am able to racing without BREAK )/
It is so nice to me time by the time to heard from ladies from both side of ocean (in USA , Belarus and Russia)  that I was motivation to them... or "if  Sveta could do this , why I am not able ?"
 I know that my lifestyle and ability to racing is motivation for lots of women who scared to have kids and thinking that life will never as before...
 And I know that this kind happy for my 1st place in this year.. Knowing how complicated to be mom and keep your physical ability.
I know that not much  people really happy for me and my result.. I was and will be foreign person for many of the  people. Ladies at the competitions  will keep going to keep distance from me... smiling in my face , but really do not likes me.... But I am ok with that. I will keep my positive energy for people who able to be happy for you.

Thanks if you read it till the End ).
I found my limits..? No I will be back.. for the new challenge.

My nose gor some frostbite. My feet too. Steel do not feel my toes .... I hope it will recovery soon. Not as bad as some people got.

 I am back to my swim and ride life.. I am happy....


  1. Always great to read your reports. Thank you,
    Pat Adrian

  2. Awesome Sveta! You are a credit to the sport and cycling community to say the least. I love reading your reports.

  3. Great report! You're the best!

  4. This is really cool to read; what an inspiration!

  5. Молодец. очень интересная рассказ. Спасибо вам. Почти каждый день я катаюсь на велосипед но вы чампион