The gist of the packing list.
... swimming, biking, and running?

I set out on a journey Friday morning into the expanse of the Rocky Mountains, feeling a little nuts as I brushed the overnight snow off my four-wheeled, AWD winter vehicle, fully equipped with camping supplies and my bicycle. Driving up I-70, I nervously realized the potential of this trip to head in the wrong direction, perhaps due to unfinished planning, a non-existent car adapter for the new phone, and the fact I was traveling solo. The lonely triathlete lifestyle had seemingly edged in on my need for travel companions. But I kept my mind focused on the end goal of the weekend: the inaugural Desert's Edge Triathlon, a race to end the season for many.

The idea here was for me to explore along the western slope, never having been past Glenwood Springs. I also had NO idea where to go-- the possibilities were endless, with lures of hiking, biking, hot springs, and running into small funky towns. I thought about the camping trip I had taken earlier in the summer up to Steamboat Springs to volunteer last minute at a Without Limits race. The campground was full by that time, so I found a fantastic secluded area just north of the state park to set up camp. My ax and I were equally sad about the fire ban in Routt County (seriously, what's camping without a fire??), but I was able to go on a short hike with my dog. I enjoyed the view of Hahn's Peak and even caught a rainbow and shooting star within the span of the evening. Leaving Steamboat required a stop into Strawberry Park to soak for several hours. And so I looked forward to something similar on my trip out to Fruita.

This time around I thought I would actually visit the Glenwood hot springs and kill two birds with one stone, for they did have lap lanes to do some last minute training. I swam in the warm mineral water and stared happily up at the surrounding mountains, amazed at the beauty. Sitting in the afternoon sunshine, I browsed the smartphone and chose to stay the night at Rifle Falls.
Panorama of Rifle Falls from my new iPhone, which I proceeded to drop in that stupid cave to the right.
Terribly alone with no dog to keep me company, I was grateful for the fire ban lift. I drove back into town after a morning hike and stopped at the local Starbucks to charge my dying connection to society. Onward to Fruita, appreciating the mountains and canyons as I went! I knew I had to reach packet pickup before it closed at 4, and then I would have enough daylight to find some triathletes on the campground with whom to socialize. We had time to bike a tenth of the course, shared a yummy dinner with several more triathletes over a roaring campfire, where much anxiety was expressed about the upcoming event. It was going to be cold, and no one was especially looking forward to jumping in the water. I ended up sleeping in my car that night, unable to fathom the constriction of a mummy bag the night before a race.
Sure enough, the water on Sunday morning was chilly, miserable, and quickly numbed my feet... a mile into the run, the tootsies fared no better. Sprinting through the finish line, the thought crossed my mind that I would have liked to have tried the olympic distance. It's ok though, I was satisfied with my third place age group finish on a spectacular new course.

Lessons Learned:
Never take company for granted when camping. Always take company for sanity's sake.
Don't go spelunking with your new iPhone 5.
The 4-6 person tent needs to go; it is too much work and way too much room for me and my dog. Or without the dog :(
If you want to place in your division: 1. Don't compete for money, and 2. Race with no more than ten people in your age group.

My season may not quite be over-- I am contemplating the SheROX tri in San Diego next weekend with my newbie-triathlete-flight-attendant-workout-eating-buddy. I anticipate traveling for more triathlons in the coming years, and I consider myself lucky already to have raced my first and second triathlons in SC and TX, respectively. Having a change of environment simply adds depth to your experience, and I am also excited to see how I race at sea-level after "training" at high altitude for a few years. A fellow brand ambassador has planted a seed into my head about doing the Augusta Half Ironman, a wonderful excuse to visit very good friends from when I used to live there. As long as my arms will crawl and my legs can pedal, my feet should run far in the sport of triathlon.

- Lynsa Nguyen is a massage therapist at the Fuelary, and a fitness and swim instructor for the City of Lakewood Rec Centers. She also encourages traveling a long way to participate in the Denver Triathlon next June.

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9/4/2016 05:37:07 am

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