Sunday, March 20, 2016

Nome

With a lot of joy, a little hardship and a healthy helping of luck, I pedaled and pushed a bike from Knik Lake to Nome, Alaska, in 17 days, 3 hours and 46 minutes. I finished on Wednesday, March 16, and I'm still in disbelief that all of it happened. There were some real struggles, but every day was filled with beauty and enjoyment, and I was genuinely sad as I pedaled the final 20 miles into Nome and realized it was all going to come to an end soon.

As it turns out, the time it took me fell 2.5 hours under the women's record for the 1,000-mile ride to Nome. I honestly had no idea. Setting out from Knik, I would have told anyone that my chances of leaving McGrath were probably less than 1 in 5. I just wanted to get myself through each day without any self-imposed pressure. Every day I felt strong and healthy would lead to another, and I was grateful each morning when I woke up breathing freely and feeling excited (or terrified) for what lay ahead. Racing against a clock was the farthest thing in my mind. As I neared the coast, it occurred to me the record might be in reach. I knew Ausillia set a fast time in 2014, and believed it to be 16 days. But when we reached the icy wind tunnel of the Norton Sound and made very slow progress from Unalakleet to Koyuk, I figured the record was out of reach and felt relieved, because I could continue at my own pace. The difficult sea ice journey left me with lung congestion, and I made a decision to go easy and rest a lot during the final 200 miles, so as to not exacerbate my lungs. Bronchitis could easily shut me down out here, and I'd have been so disappointed this close to the finish. For this reason I'm glad I had no idea that the record was 17 days and 6 hours. I rode my own race, and Koyuk to Nome became one of the most enjoyable stretches of the trip.

No doubt I'll write up the journey, but for now I've been enjoying some down time in Nome as I wait for Beat, meeting new people, watching mushers come in, eating locally caught salmon and crab, and enjoying all the festivities surrounding the Iditarod Dog Sled Race. Thanks to readers, friends, and family for all of your support. It's been an incredible ride.

32 comments:

  1. I am really pleased for you Jill! All that training clearly paid off and to have your lungs play the game must be a huge relief.
    Enjoy the post race and say hi to Troy S if you see him again. (he built my 2015 TD bike for me)
    Congratulations
    Dave

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  2. Great job, Jill. I'm glad you rode your own race but I'm also glad you have the new record. When you were moving so fast the last day your friends in Fairbanks were wondering if you were trying to break it or not. It was fun to hear you were sort of racing Mackey instead! Rest up, enjoy, and I hope Beat gets there soon.

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  3. Congratulations! I look forward to reading more about the trek... at your convenience!

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  4. Congratulations! I've really enjoyed your accounts of your adventures and tribulations, as I try to squeeze in my far more modest excursions into my other obligations. It helps me dream!

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  5. Way to go! Great job! Now, sleep in a bit and ride back. That's where you left the car, right?!?

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  6. Great job, Jill! But why stop in Nome? Head up to Barrow or maybe over to Russia!

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  7. sasha7:31 PM

    Wow, congrats! Looking forward to hearing about the trip.

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  8. Fantastic!!! What a ride!

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  9. Happy for you : ) Congratulations.

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  10. Happy for you : ) Congratulations.

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  11. Amazing! Can't wait to read about it. Sending good vibes to Beat!

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  12. Congratulations! After reading many of your books and following your blogs periodically it was so inspiring following your progress on Trackleaders. I shared your quest with my 5th grade class and they were in awe! You're a great inspiration. Can't wait for this book!

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  13. So happy for you Jill. The last ten days of your ride I must have checked your progress on the tracker page 20 times a day. I was routing for you the whole way. I knew without a doubt you'd make it if you stayed healthy. I realize finishing and experiencing the event is more important to you than records. But it is pretty darn cool you've held the Women's records in both the Tour Divide and the 1000 mile Iditarod Invitational. You've come so far from that first Susitna 100. It's been fun to watch over the years.

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  14. Anonymous8:34 AM

    good on yah for finishing that gruelling race... has to be one of the toughest. It had a lot of press coverage as well, due to the lack of snow this year.

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  15. so cool! just Yeah!!!!

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  16. Congratulations, I spent all 17days, 3 hours and 46 minutes following you on your journey. The most inspiring hours of the year! Wow, just awesome!

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  17. Congrats. Great going!

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  18. Am amazing ride and congrats. I found myself checking the results page every day hoping things were going well and hoping to see "active" as your status. Can't wait to hear the full story.

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  19. Congratulations! Enjoy your well earned rest and hope Beat makes great time as well. Look forward to reading about your incredible ride!

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  21. Congratulations 1000 Fold!! Was watching anxiously to see if you'd get the record. Know that's not why you race but you deserve the podium spot given everything you've endured to keep on, keep'n on. Ride Long and Prosper.....and you did!! :o)

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  22. Anonymous6:29 PM

    Congratulations Jill! It is so awesome to hear you are safe in Nome. I checked every day to follow your progress and I prayed for your safety. It has been enjoyable over the past ten years following your blog. It makes me think ... what if. You inspire me.

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  23. Congratulations, it was good following you on the tracker.

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  24. Andrea6:56 AM

    Congratulations, Jill! It was so fun to watch your tracker move closer to Nome each day--and that last day I got so excited to see you moving so quickly! I think I hit refresh on the Nome cam 20 times till I saw you under the arch. How inspiring and awesome to see you do this!

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  25. Way to go Jill! Like all the rest, I was enthralled watching our progress throughout the days and evenings, trying (but failing miserably I'd guess) to figure out the terrain and conditions based on your speed. I'm sure it's safe to say that we ALL will anxiously be waiting for "the story", whether you do a few blogs posts or another full book (if you do a book, count me in as always). And like all the rest, I'm also watching Beat and he's really doing GREAT! Like you I'm guessing his last miles will speed up as he "sees the barn" and cranks up the pace to finish. You two are amazingly inspirational! Glad you're safe!

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  26. Congratulations Jill! Well done, you're an inspiration! I enjoyed following your journey on the ITI live tracker.

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  27. Woo hoo! Great news! Congratulations!

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  28. Wow! Was worried about your health going in so glad you are healthy afterwards.

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  29. I see Beat finished last night, WELL DONE SIR!!!! Hoping you rode out on the route and got some pics and accompanied him on his final miles. Can't imagine the feelings (for both of you) as you near the end, knowing the adventure is almost over. The elation of making it to the finish, and maybe even some post-finish depression? Anyway...rest well and I await "the story"! Well done you two!!

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  30. Wow! You are incredible! So glad you made it all the way to Nome and enjoyed the journey! I was following your progress on the ITI site and FB until March 12 (after which I was away without access to the internet). I see that Beat arrived in Nome today. Heartiest congratulations to you both! Can't wait to read your account of the journey.

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  31. What a journey! Congratulations. I'm smiling for you! And I loved following your trek to Nome!

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  32. Anonymous10:21 PM

    ON ON ON!!!

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