Chelsey Magness, our Oregon-based contributing writer (and athlete/gear tester extraordinaire), has had a challenging year. You can read about her journey into motherhood at the “Endurance Mama” blog.
This photograph, taken post-race at the Telluride 100 by her husband Jason, captures a moment of catharsis, joy, and relief, for mother and baby alike.
Here Chelsey gives some background to the moment, and the grilled cheese sandwich she devoured after 11 hours on the bike.
Telluride 100 Mtb Race (by Chelsey Magness)
I have crossed many finish lines in my 10 years of racing around the globe, and have lined up to many challenging events. However, as a new mother (Max is 6 months old) this one takes the cake. Crossing the finish line of the Telluride 100 I experienced my greatest race-high as of yet.
I’d been paying more attention to other mom athletes since becoming pregnant and giving birth, but nothing prepared me for the logistical and emotional complexity of a long and difficult endurance event as a breastfeeding new mama.
Backing up, the Telluride 100 is a mountain bike race in Colorado with a starting elevation of 9,000 feet. And then 50 of the 100 race miles are between 11,000 and 13,500 feet in the mountains over the town.
Historically, this race has had less than a 50% finish rate. I had to do it! Last year when I was pregnant I put the race on my postpartum goal list; I signed up for it knowing it would give me an event to train and look forward to after the birth.
At the race there is a total gain of 14,000 feet of elevation, which is no joke. The first climb is graded HC, or “Hors Categorie,” which translates to “beyond classification.” This year, the event started with more than 100 racers, one of the largest and most competitive fields to date.
Racing toward the finish after hours of high-altitude riding I knew Max was hungry. And I needed to both feed him and eat something myself. His cry as I came across the finish line was beautiful.
Without missing a beat I dropped my bike, took my baby, and hearing the crowd erupt in “GO MAMA!!” sat down to nurse him. Covered in mud and sweat I felt like I had entered a new level of athleticism and accomplishment.
Moments later, my husband handed me the biggest, greasiest, best grilled cheese I have ever tasted. While I may not have won the race, I certainly feel like I won life that day.
–Read more at Chelsey Magness’ “Endurance Mama” blog.