The Faultline Ultra: Life Throws You Some Curveballs From Base to Build

It has been a winter of training with a wide variety of activities. From all types skiing, snowshoeing, and some biking (when trails allowed), to fitting in strengthening/conditioning, we have tried to follow Joe Friel’s training guide. We both have been looking forward to the Build period where we’d start riding the trails for longer and with more intensity. Unfortunately, life had some other ideas…

We started off with a bang heading down to Phoenix and riding the McDowell Meltdown marathon race (43 miles/2200’ elevation). Jenny’s mom lives there, so we got to see her and ride some local trails. Then on to Tucson with computers (to work remotely) where some old friends of ours (thanks Blake and Toni!) invited us down to take advantage of the warmer weather and rideable trails. Coincidentally, some Durango friends were also there so the week was filled with friendship, great riding, and some wonderful conversations. Highlights included Fantasy Island, Honeybee, Bug Springs, Upper 50 and the Tucson Mountain Park trails.

It felt great to get 8 days in a row riding and build some confidence that we might pull off training for the Faultline even though most trails in Durango were still covered in snow. The Faultline is definitely not for the fainthearted so part of this effort was also mental. If we could do 40 miles/2200 feet of climbing in a ride, maybe we could do the 50 miles/8000 feet of climbing the Faultline would demand of us. Right? Or at least that was our thinking!

We returned to Durango where fortunately we were having a relatively mild winter. Horrible for skiing, but great for riding. We live in an area that straddles the San Juan mountains (high elevation up to 14,000 feet) and the high desert which does stay rideable as long as there is little to no precipitation. We placed our bets on being able to continue riding there. Alas, Jeff caught the respiratory virus going around, making it impossible to train for almost 2 weeks. Still hacking a bit, we did get some rides in at Alien Trail just across the border in New Mexico and indoors on Zwift. Jenny fortunately stayed well and was able to get some road riding in as well. Setback, but OK. 

Our Tucson friends invited us to stay with them again, and we took them up on the offer thinking we’d get some nice climbing in (which was still next to impossible in Durango and limited on our first trip to Tucson due to recent snow storms on Mount Lemon). So, we took the opportunity to visit Jenny’s Mom in Phoenix hitting two great trails (McDowell Mountain Park again and Hawes), and taking the familiar road into Tucson. Three great days of riding and then…

A text received in ALL CAPS. YOU MUST GET HOME NOW. THINGS ARE NOT WELL. What??? We called to find out Jeff’s 81 year old step dad broke his knee skiing (!), and while trying to get around with crutches, broke his toes on the other foot the following day! Complications ensued, and without any hesitation, we jumped in the truck and headed back to Durango to help out. By the time we got back, yet another piece of news. Before knee surgery, he’d have to get a pacemaker!

Needless to say, it’s been a whirlwind of navigating the healthcare system – multiple doctors, nurses, PT, OT, Medicare, VA benefits (he’s an Army veteran), and ensuring Jeff’s Mom is supported as well. The good news is that as of today, both surgeries are done and Jeff’s step dad is doing well. Positive attitude, ready to hit PT hard, and eager to get out on those trails. It certainly helps that he’s remained active outdoors into his 80s, something we marvel at and hope to emulate! And, I can’t say enough about the health workers, case managers, and really everyone from beginning to end, top to bottom, during this experience who have contributed to his positive outcome. Truly amazing to see everyone come together to help us through all of this. We feel very fortunate.

So between illness and the health situation, we lost roughly a month of training and are nowhere near ready for an 8K climb. So what’s there to do? We’re still hitting the saddle and have readjusted our approach mentally. This is a ride, not a race; a journey, not a sprint. We are so looking forward to the beautiful scenery that awaits us, the friends (old and new) who will pedal alongside (and probably pass) us*, the “high fives” as we roll through each aid station, and the feeling of satisfaction when we cross that finish line – whether it’s rolling or walking😊.

If there’s anything we’ve learned here at Tailwind, it’s that every moment is worth celebrating. The biggest challenge is showing up at the “start line”. And, I use that as a metaphor for whatever your personal goals and aspirations are. Onward and upward!

*Confession: Jeff is taking the first leg of the race and read with dread the rule that you’re out of the race if you get passed by a runner. He’s fervently hoping to get over the first hill without being passed! So if you’re a runner coming up on his tail, he’d greatly appreciate at least a push!

1 comment

So glad Jeff’s Dad is on the mend.. you are in for a real treat and we are kinda glad that you are taking the approach of the journey! It’s going to be amazing!!

Rebekah Markey

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