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Monday, December 15, 2014

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Taking Pictures, Estes Park Museum's Bouldering Exhibit & Fall in the Rockies

My husband, Adam Strong, and Cletus pointing to the hold that recently broke on the climb featured in that picture of Adam.  
I have always enjoyed taking pictures.  I think it must have come from my father.  He always had a camera ready to capture special moments, the brilliant New England scenery, skiing and other family adventures.  He undauntedly lugged around bulky camera and/or video equipment on our family vacations--usually cursing at the weight of the latest contraption or when it would not function.  I will never forget the massive video equipment my Dad purchased in 1981--one of the first JVC video cameras.   It had an immensely large video camera, a very bulky battery pack and a VCR that was part of the ensemble and it all had to be tied together as one unit to work.  The whole family took turns carrying pieces of it tethered together around the sweltering heat of Disney land for that year's vacation.
Capturing moments does take dedication and time even for the novice.  The camera equipment has become much lighter over the years but when you pair some good equipment with a crash pad, clothing for a day in the mountains plus food and water it all becomes a heavy teetering load that I have hiked miles with.   Which is one reason why the camera phone has been a pleasant gift to the casual capturers on days you leave the larger camera at home.
Recently I was informed that in honor of Rocky Mountain National Park’s centennial celebration the local Estes Park museum was going to have a climbing exhibit on the history of climbing in RMNP as well as a bouldering exhibit.  I submitted a few photos and there were accepted as well as some pictures of me some good friends submitted, Gustavo Mosier and Sam Davis. 
I am truly honored to be part of this exhibit, to be a Rocky Mountain climber and to call Estes Park, Colorado home since 1996!  This exhibit be on display until October 15, 2015 at the Estes Park museum. 
Seeing my pictures arranged on someone else’s walls besides my own is motivation to carry that heavy equipment around and use it more!!!  Below are some pictures from the opening night of the climbing exhibit and some I have taken this fall and in the past. I am really excited to capture some new scenery on our trip to Switzerland this winter! 

People lining up to view the bouldering exhibit.  

My pictures of course are of Adam.  It was nice to see familiar faces!

Some amazing friends and supporters under the beautiful skies of Estes Park with Lumpy Ridge in the background.  

Crowded exhibit! Great showing Estes Park!

Me and fellow prAna ambassador Rannveig Aamodt

Me at the exhibit with me and Sam Davis

Bear Lake RMNP

My drive home after getting rained out this Sunday in the Park

our dog walk trail this fall

Looking down into Estes Valley from RMNP this past week

St Malos Hwy 7 Allens Park to 

Fall can end quickly in Estes--This was taken October 7th, 2011


Monday, August 18, 2014

My First Triathlon and a Mouth Full of Lake Catamount

My first triathlon went well.  Not as good as I had hoped and not as bad as it could have gone.  I finished in 1 hour and 47 minutes, 5th for my age group.  I was hoping for anywhere from 1 hour and 30 minutes to 1 hour and 50 so I cannot complain but here is the story of what did go wrong. 

I guess I will start at the beginning—how I felt going into the race.  Unfortunately I had a stomach bug this weekend that did not clear up for the race—not optimal but  I just chose to not focus on feeling sick.  Besides the stomach bug I felt like I was prepared.  I could do the ½ mile swim in 18 minutes (in the pool), the bike ride of 12-13 miles in 45 minutes and before I hurt my Achilles the run was 7-8 minute mile. However, I had not been able to run outside for two months before the event due to the fact that I hurt my Achilles practicing the bike to run transition.   I still had been able to run on the elliptical saving my Achilles doing a 9-10 minute mile.  All of these times were pretty casual—trying but not killing myself.  I put the three events together several times.

How did my times compare to the day of the race? Similar on the bike and run--I did the bike in 46:36 (which is a little disappointing but after the swimming trauma I took it easy feeling like I was already out of the race) and an 8.7-minute mile—it was the swim where everything went drastically wrong—27:33 minutes.

I felt very confident swimming in open water.  I was raised on the ocean and feel like I am a strong swimmer.  But I was not prepared to get pummeled around with so many people entering the water at once.  At first I did o.k.  I was focusing on my breathing passing a few people but getting bumped around.  Then in the thick of the other swimmers my goggles got hit and took on water.  I stopped and quickly cleared the muddy water out of my goggles but my contact lenses had already been affected and were dislodged.  I am -8.00 in one eye and -8.50 in the other—so basically I can only see shapes and colors.  Treading water in the middle of frenzied swimmers I tried to blink by contacts back into place I swallowed a lot of disgusting muddy water and air.  I was not psyched at this point still not being able to see and inhaling water I motioned to the rescue kayakers who are suppose to provide assistance to those in need.  Not being able to see I don't really know what happened but seeing colors it looked like they were helping out another swimmer and not coming to my aid (which was alarming).  My contacts eventually settled back into place and I tried to continue on with the freestyle stroke but the lake water and air was high in my chest/throat and was restricting my breathing.  So I did what I tell everyone to do in the water if they are in trouble—roll over and get on your back.   I continued the race doing the backstroke—I sighted the moon on my left and kept the sun on my right which gave me some direction.  Still I had fillip around to check if I was staying on course but at least I was moving. 

After that everything else was a breeze and felt good, however, I already felt a bit disappointed feeling that the swimming debacle already took me out of the race I was hoping for.  My transitions were quick and easy.  I was able to pass people on the bike and run.  It was just the disastrous swim that slowed me down big time and left me slightly less committed on the bike.  

In the end I am happy the kayaker did not come to my rescue—I was able to get through a tough situation, continue on and not panic.  The stomach bug and the amount of disgusting lake water I swallowed did not help my situation creating a very upset stomach as I continued the race.  But once again this was something I was able to overcome by pushing through.  Will I do it again?  I would like to get a better time since I know I can and was not even tired at the end.  It would be nice to try the race without a stomach virus, without a disastrous swim and with an Achilles that is not hurting.  But I am not sure if this is possible.  There is always something out of our control—our bodies—feeling perfect on race day is not always possible.  Can I have a more enjoyable swim with the nature of the race? I am not sure and that will be a concern.

Odds are this will probably not be my last triathlon.  It is nice switching things up and not just focusing on climbing and challenging myself outside of my comfort zone but for now thankfully it is back to the boulders and Sendtember!! 

on Trail Ridge Road heading over to Steamboat
nothing but trouble, some of the ladies that influenced me to do this tri

Great group of Estes Park gals!

My sprint companions and great friend Liesl Jo and the lone Wolf

I was out there somewhere waiting to go in--unfortunately we were in the 6th wave, the 2nd to last to go in.  As we rounded the corner we were joining the other waves coming back creating more chaos in the water.

Quinn Brett crushing the Olympic course! 

Amy Hamerick coming out of the lake

Me coming out of the water with a lot to say--"that sucked"

yes I wore my awesome prAna tankini for the bike and run

Liesl Jo coming out of the swim!  I was so proud of her and psyched for her overcoming fears and finishing with style! 

Karla exiting the water

I am sure the people I passed or passed me were wondering about my wardrobe choice 

Transition area

Off running! 

approaching the finish line! 

crossing the finish--funny story, I was crushed when I saw the 2:08:52 as the time, I hugged Adam and could only utter really 2:08:52 and was so utterly dissapointed. Then Adam reminded me that was the starting time and I was in the 6th wave, 2nd to last wave to leave.  So that was not my time--that made me feel a bit better :)

post race waiting for my compadres 

Quinn Brett running to the finish line to place 3rd in her age group!
Liesl happy to finish! 

on our back!  so lucky and happy to have Adam there.  it meant a lot seeing him at the start and every finishing point.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The life of a working athlete: juggling climbing, work, training, overtraining, rest and life.

Bouldering – it is what we do, what we love to do, what we work for, it is our reward, it brings contentment, peace and happiness.  When you can’t do what you love, you are just not right, there is something a little off as you go through your day with an uneasy edge.  At least that is how I get when I have to rest due to an injury or just cannot climb because of the demands of life. 

Sometimes I wish to be one of the uber talented climbers or lucky ones who does not have to work (or crushes for work) dedicating all time of their time to playing, advancing and recovering.  We are not.  Like many others out there we are the working bees in the climbing/life community.  There are plenty of us who have to work to climb, who are super talented climbers finding the difficult balance of working, life, training and climbing.  It is a challenge but it is doable.  Many of my climbing heroes are cut from the same cloth like Sam Davis who is a master of working hard and crushing
(  I am extremely tankful for what I do get from my sponsors, prAna, Organic Climbing, 5.10 and Metolious—some traveling incentive and gear helps keeps the dream alive!

Don't get me wrong, I do appreciate my job and the time off I do get. I work with wonderful people in a great environment, bartending and managing at the Dunraven Inn a local, family owned, restaurant in Estes Park who give me 3-4 months off a year.  Despite how great of a working environment we have, the summer is our busy season and it gets to you this time of year.  The tourist season is booming this year helping our town recover from last September’s flooding.  The winter population of Estes Park is around 6,000 but in the summer 30,000-60,000 people jam into our small valley.  This influx feeds our economy but it also creates stress with things like the long lines to get into Rocky Mountain National Park, fighting for a parking space at Bear Lake, the over crowded grocery store, people stopping in the middle of the road because they saw an elk, deer, turkey or bear, the constant smile at work explaining for the thousandth time why my arms are so big--yes people really ask that.  The 9 hour shifts of running in circles, trying to keep individuals in good spirits who are on the verge of unhappiness, driven crazy to have a ton of fun on their too short vacation, blood sugars dropping, cranky parents, cranky kids-- keeping them all satisfied at once is demanding and wearisome.  After five insane hectic nights, staying up late to close the restaurant and a week that includes not only these arduous work days but also training for the upcoming triathlon, training for climbing and climbing the prospect of hiking to upper Chaos Canyon on my day off is a hard one.   But somehow I muster the gumption usually thanks to the encouragement Adam and haul my ass up there to give my best efforts. 

It honestly has been a great summer of finding new projects and feeling strong so I cannot complain despite the tiredness and an issue with my back.  One of my summer projects, hifi v11 at Emerald Lake in RMNP, I thought was going to go down quickly until it lead to my back being out of whack.  Pushing my body took its toll and the repetitive motion of the first move must have tweaked a muscle in my back pulling it out of alignment.  After a painful weekend at work, a few visits to the chiropractor and massage I am able to work without pain, climb tentatively on the right problems and train for the triathlon still.  I am not 100% but still climbing strong which makes me psyched to see the power I have gained despite the curve balls life has brought—thanks Steve Maisch ( and David Mason ( for the training that has brought me here!!! 

The triathlon is a week away!  One part of me is excited about a weekend away in Steamboat, a mini vacation with Adam, who is coming to cheer me on, and my friends Liesl and Karla who have been training partners helping me motivate.  I feel like I am ready for the event going in with the attitude of having fun.  The other part of me is like what the hell are you doing?  I laughed hysterically as I donned my first wetsuit and felt like and uncomfortable super hero.  Also, I am not one for competitions nor the pressure of performing on a specific day—which is why I think bouldering outdoors is so great you are only competing against yourself.  It will be interesting to see how I will operate in that environment.  Regardless, I am trying to keep it light and have fun.  My goal is not first place and not DFL (dead fucking last).  I look at it similar to golf--I like it, it is fun, if I suck there is no need to get upset since this it's not my thing like climbing is.  I will be proud to finish and I am happy for the fitness I gained in the process and will keep on swimming, biking and running for the fun of it.  When I take the “have to” out of things they become way more enjoyable.  This is an optimistic thought before the event…but I think I will do it again next summer just maybe the one in July so not to pile too many things on my self in August when I feel a bit burnt out. 

Here is to wishing the gals and me luck in Steamboat!  I am looking forward to an awesome fall (knock on wood) injury free, with no fires, no floods and no government shutdowns, finishing off at least a few summer projects as the temperatures cool and the mosquitos die!

me on hifi early season 

Early season I got to climb with Alex Puccio--I could tell then that she had hit her next level.  Witnessing her progress I knew that Jade was going to happen this summer!  You are an inspiration Alex!  

Chalking rituals with Ana

Sam Davis sending Freaks of the Industry
Sam Davis having one of the best days of his life on his way to send Top Notch!
My love

We are in the process of getting the house resided thanks to hard work and Justin DuBois!!!  He is making the campus board part of the architecture!!  



first time I put on my first wetsuit--I feel like an uncomfortable superhero