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An Interview with 2013 Tahoe Trail 100 Female Champion Rebecca Rusch

2013 Dispatches Final DetailsThe Queen of Pain raced the clock and wound up with her second win at Tahoe. We talked with her about tough workouts, prepping for Leadville and her own private Idaho.

You’re a big proponent of riding your own race — not letting the race atmosphere or the competition push your pace. How did you accomplish that during Tahoe? 

The really great thing about doing an identical racecourse multiple times is that you have a gauge of how you performed there the year before. Since it was my second year on the Tahoe Trail 100 course, I used my time from last year as a motivator and was really racing against my previous time. Also, having a two-lap format is a really great way to check your pacing as you come through on lap one and see if you can stay consistent and hit that time again on lap two. I really was racing the clock at this event, just like so many other riders.

When you were out on the Tahoe Trail 100 course, were you thinking about and planning for the upcoming LT100? Or were you purely focused on the Tahoe-task-at-hand? 

I was absolutely thinking of LT100 while I was racing in Tahoe. With the LT100 coming up so quickly, TT100 is a great measure of where I am at this point in my training. Often, I train alone, so these repeat races are sometimes the only way for me to get direct feedback on how my training at home and hard work are paying off (or not!).

To be honest, I use points and visualizations of past rides at the LT100 as a very regular part of my training motivation. I train alone often, so I need to draw on past moments, locations and highlights of previous achievements for my motivation. I often think about climbing Columbine, Powerline, the pavement on the way to Carter Summit, the Boulevard and of course the red carpet finish line. These moments for the past four years of racing LT100 always serve as motivation for me to dig deeper when I’m training or racing.

Tell us about the hardest workout you’ve had to accomplish lately. Is there any type of workout that you dread, but that you know makes you a stronger rider? 

I’ve been struggling lately to do a series over the past weeks of 10-minute hill climb repeats x 6! That’s 60 minutes of hard climbing effort and I have to admit, I struggle to get them done sometimes. I KNOW they are good for me and I trust Coach Dean 100 percent, but heading out for a tough workout of those efforts is mentally daunting. I’ve been using the Boulevard as good visualization for these efforts. It’s nearly the same amount of time as it takes to climb the Boulevard to the LT100 finish and being entirely spent during the race; that part sometimes seems longer than Columbine. However, that place is special and it means you are almost done, so I’ve been trying to place myself in that frame of mind as I do 10-minute hill repeats.

For some of us, it’s hard to put ourselves in the “pain cave” for very long. What are your tips for getting better at toughing it out? 

I say it’s about baby steps. My endurance career began in high school running the mile and two mile in track and cross country. Two miles was an eternity at that time.

When I went to college running, the races bumped up to three miles and I wasn’t sure I could do it. Now the thought of a 15-minute race is a joke and eight, 12 or 24 hours seems more reasonable. So, for people working up to the longer distance, it’s all about pushing your limits a little further each time and suddenly what seemed impossible is now old hat and you are looking for further challenges.

When do you plan to arrive in Leadville, and what are you most looking forward to about this year’s race? 

I plan to arrive in Leadville around August 1, although that could change a little depending on how moving into my new house goes this week. I’d love to be there as early as possible to acclimatize, but like most of us, I’m juggling other commitments. I’m most looking forward to a little down time in Leadville before the race to connect with friends and get out on the course alone. I really love the peaceful, quiet rides on the course where I can just enjoy the beauty of the place and get my mind and body in the right frame for race day. I also love just cruising Leadville in the days before the race and seeing all the athletes arrive and feeling the building energy for Saturday.

Give us the scoop on Rebecca’s Private Idaho. How did you select the routes, and what is your goal for that final stop on the 2013 Gold Rusch Tour? 

Rebecca’s Private Idaho is one of the things I’m most looking forward to (and most nervous about) for 2013. It’s the first year for my signature ride in my hometown. The route is 100 miles (The Big Potato) or 50 miles (The Small Fry) on gravel roads in the most remote and beautiful terrain you can imagine. My goal for this event is to share the place I love and call home with the cycling community. I invite you all to ride with me and help benefit some of the bike charities I care most about: the Wood River Bicycle Coalition, and World Bicycle Relief. It’s a timed ride, but you can race it or just roll along and enjoy the scenery. It’ll all end with an Idaho-style BBQ and music street festival. I designed the route on gravel roads to entice mountain bikers and roadies to come together. This course is for everyone. I chose the route because it can start and finish in town square and will showcase some of the most beautiful Idaho mountain terrain and my regular training ground. I hope all of the Leadville folks will join me and use that great LT100 fitness to rip around Idaho

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