F/F Paramedic Liala and Desert Rat


We are so proud of Laila for taking on her first mountain bike race! Laila has embodied what teamEMS is all about by making time to balance her work life with training and preparing for the 2017 RAT Race! This was a great way for her to use gear from our amazing sponsors. We are sure that this has helped her personally and professionally! Great job Laila! Read her take on things below! #teamEMS #doitagaintomorrow

2017 RAT Race
Being a part of TeamEMS was enough of a nudge for me to forget my doubts and self-limitations and sign up for a race for the first time. I decided to approach it as a learning experience, with the goals of: finishing the race (without stopping); having fun; not injuring myself. The RAT Race is a 28 mile, cross-country style event, put on for the first time this year.

The Ridgway Area Trails (RAT) are a budding trail system just outside of Ridgway, reflective of a town that sees the benefits of developing itself as a mountain bike destination. The trails are purpose-built, with tons of flowy miles, and a few more techy options. Riding on familiar trails made committing to my first race less intimidating, and the overall feel of the race is one of friendly competition and good, old-fashioned fun.

I was happy to run into some folks from Durango at registration the night before the race - I hadn’t managed to convince any of my friends to sign up for the race with me, and having familiar faces around put me at ease. Also, they are experienced racers, and I was able to ask them silly questions like: How much water should I carry (Lots!), and, How do I not get run over if someone wants to pass me (Wait for a safe/ wide spot, then pause and lean my bike over so they can squeeze by).

I’d pre-ridden the race loop 4 days earlier, and decided to forego a ride the day before the race, knowing that fresh legs would be key the next day. While I had some grand plans about training, my “training” strategy ended up being: ride as much as possible in Durango in our amazing spring trail conditions. I felt strong, but like I could have done more rides alone, at my “race pace”, without taking tons of breaks to eat snacks and chat with friends like I normally do. I did a last minute mechanical once-over on my bike, and got my pack totally ready to go. Having my new Santa Cruz Bronson from Kokopelli Bike and Board, with only about 150 miles on it, I could worry about other variables and not a mechanical failure.  I decided to use my go-to Osprey backpack with a hydration, knowing that the heat was going to be a huge factor. I filled it with about 2 L of water, a spare tube, multi-tool, CO2 tire inflation, spare quick-link, and a small first aid kit. I have a really hard time not bringing something on any ride, at least for basic wound care, and decided on a minimal kit of: steri-strips, tegaderm, roller gauze, coban. Race day promised to be HOT so I filled a bottle with Scratch Labs lemon/lime hydration mix to stash in my bottle cage, which helped tremendously!

I felt well rested, and woke up a few hours before I needed to be at the start-line to get a mellow morning routine in. I went for a walk, with some funny-looking dynamic warm-up moves on the way, then did some stretching and mobilizing. I had a simple, but hearty breakfast, and tried to drink lots of water.

The race started with a “neutral start”, with all ~100 racers starting en mass from town, following a police vehicle out the highway to the trail-head. I planned to save energy and stay in the middle of the pack for the couple of highway miles, I wanted to just focus on racing my own race, and not worry too much about my position relative to the other racers. The race consisted of two, identical laps through the RAT, forcing me to try to save some energy for the climbing on the second lap. After traveling in clumps with little opportunity for passing on the initial climb, people gradually spread out, and I started to feel like I was just out on a ride. I kept reminding myself: Ride hard! No stopping! The first lap felt like it took forever, and it was starting to get really hot. Starting the second lap I felt strong, but a little wobbly, I found myself getting a bit sloppy, and had to force myself to stay focused. With my mind flooded by a parade of pains and discomforts: my back is killing me; my calves are going to rip off; my hands are going numb; my mantra became: “Smile”. This really did help to convince myself that I felt strong and confident even when I was struggling to maintain my pace. After maintaining cadence and speed on the first lap, on the second I started to do a lot of coasting, fending off total meltdown. Somehow though, the second lap flew by more quickly than the first, and before long I was cruising down one of my favorite descents, and rolling through the finish with a time of 3 hrs 20 min 36 seconds (from the start like in town). My Strava recorded a total of 29.5 miles, and 3,610 feet of elevation gain. I stuffed my face with Honey Stinger Waffles and watermelon then high-fived some fellow racers and my Durango buddies before heading back to town for a well-earned beer. Some Scratch Labs Chocolate Endurance Recovery Mix saved me from surviving only on beer and watermelon all afternoon.

All in all this was a great event that I am looking forward to doing again next year! The organizers were great, the atmosphere was fun and relaxed and the trails are AMAZING!!

Laila Foster - teamEMS - Paramedlc

About teamEMS: The team is designed to achieve one goal; Support the physical and emotional well-being of professionals in the emergency response industry by promoting a healthy work-life balance. We aim to help get as many of our peers outside as possible. teamEMS is reserved solely for dedicated professionals in the emergency medical field who are also Mountain bikers, runners and cyclists. These athletes come from Ski Patrol, Search and Rescue, 911 Dispatchers, Fireman, EMT’s, Paramedics and ER staff. EMS Unlimited provides our team athletes with access to free race entries and discounted gear so they can “…do it again tomorrow.” For more information visit them at http://www.ems-unlimited.com/teamems or contact the team at teamems@ems-unlimited.com