Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Catch Up

Wow, the last few days have gone by fast.

There was the turkey, mashed potatoes, and pie we cooked on Christmas Eve, the carmel rolls we made on Christmas morning, the Costco pizza we ate before the movie on Boxing day, the Christmas cookies we made yesterday, ... Oh, that's just the food.

The long run Amber did on Christmas Eve, the hill workout Amber did on Christmas, the bike and swim we both did on Boxing day, the "breezy" bike we did yesterday, ... Oh, that's just the training.

The Christmas letter we finalized on Christmas Eve only to find out our printer is almost out of ink, the Simpson's mosaic puzzle that we started again after giving up on it a few years ago (we are a bit obsessive compulsive (see yesterday's ride) so giving up on a puzzle means that it is really tough), finally going to a movie after about 2 1/2 years (the curious case of benjamin button), starting to send out said Christmas letters, ... that's some of the other stuff.

We're here in B-town this holiday season because of work reasons, which is a shame since we won't see family but it means we are getting some projects done before the craziness that 2009 promises to be. The weather has been typical Colorado winter craziness from cold to not-so-cold but windy. Today were heading out for a run and making some turkey soup.

If anyone out there wants to head to Devil's Thumb for a day of skiing this week, let us know. Although you might miss out on the beer mile.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Devil's Thumb Ranch Weekend

A and I were up at Devil's Thumb Ranch near Winter Park as we had won a "two nights lodging including spa treatment" certificate.
Rather than go into much detail. I'll let the pictures do the talking.

Friday afternoon ski. Pretty warm but a bit windy.

A showing off her balance.

Saturday morning was 4 F and windy. In the picture is the waxing yurt. A really wants a yurt of her own.

The trails in the woods were nice. Unfortunately most of the trees are dying or already gone due to the pine beetle.
No afternoon ski on Saturday since we got massages instead.

Sunday morning was clear, windless and a few degrees below zero when we started. This is looking up the valley.

This is looking down the valley. The lodge is the building on the right. The restaurant where we had a marvelous dinner on Saturday night is in the middle.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Snow and Cold....yes!

Hopefully we get some good skiing in this week, as the cold is supposed to stick around (sounds like N. Boulder Park (or NBP from now on) needs a bit more snow to make it stellar, though). We have been busy partying this weekend (Brad and Pete's excellent holiday bash, and Eric and Maria's Santa Lucia/1st birthday for Lucas party), which has allowed the house cleaning, gift packaging, work, and training to slack off a bit too much. We got a good ride in yesterday in the warmth, before the snow, but today's run is still waiting to happen.

Next weekend we break and head to Devil's Thumb Ranch to ski, relax, say goodbye to 2008, get ready for the craziness that 2009 will bring (at work, anyways, it is going to be nuts!), and have some quality time to spend together. Oh, anyone want to doggie-sit for the cutest dog in the world next weekend?

A holiday letter is also in the works, so stay tuned for its blog-cast debut.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Post Thanksgiving Recovery

A and I are still trying to get caught up after a busy Thanksgiving weekend.

It all started with the wild and crazy Sunny got into town on Wednesday. I still have "everybody was kung fu fighting ..." in my head from Kung Fu Panda.

On Thanksgiving, I started the day with a trip to the airport to pick up my dad. A and I then spent most of the afternoon cooking in preparation to go to the Lavatos. I tried to convince A that since we weren't hosting Thanksgiving, we shouldn't have to cook all afternoon, but she prevailed and we made an apple/cranberry pie (shirts were kept on at our house unlike other locations), roasted cauliflower, spinach casserole (mostly cheese) and Sunny's sweet potato pie. Descriptions of the melted platter and eating excessively can be found at the previous links.

On Friday, we started the day with waffles. Then, we went all over Boulder and once again realized Sunny knows way more people than we know. We met up with Sara for lunch at Efrains. We also did the triple pizza making again. If food seems to be a consistent them here, that is because it seemed to be the focus of the whole weekend, not just Thursday.

Saturday was the first snowy day. We hit the Southside Walnut Cafe, did some hiking, and had leftover pizza for lunch. On Saturday afternoon, Sunny decides to race a cyclocross race in Morrison on Sunday and talks A into doing it as well. Sunny rented a bike from Boulder Cycle Sport while A choose my mountain bike. In the late afternoon, I drove my dad to the airport while A and Sunny went to pick up the cross bike and hike Mt Sanitas (descending in the dark).

In Boulder on Sunday morning it wasn't snowing, but as we drove the 45 minutes or so to Morrison we met a pretty good snow storm. The course was snowy and slick. A and Sunny got a bit of pre-riding in as Sara and I were standing around in the cold. Luckily, I brought water proof shoes, but Sara wasn't as lucky and she had to retreat to the car after her boyfriend was done racing. Watching the race was difficult as A struggled in the snow, but she toughed it out and finished until some of the others. Will it be her last cyclocross race, who knows? Later, we went to dinner with Sunny and met up with Kitty and Ivy. Sunny's flight was getting more and more delayed so we hung out in B-town longer. Eventually we got her to the airport and made it home ourselves.

The last few days have flown by as we have tried to catch up around the house. Snow has come to B-town, so we will go early tomorrow to the most boring place on earth (north boulder park) to ski around. It may be boring, but it is close and it is skiing. Hopefully the back is fine, but as long as i don't try to outsprint A, I think it will be.

Peace Out,

Saturday, November 22, 2008

First Bite Boulder Review

This past week was First Bite Boulder. At each participating restaurant, you get a three course meal for 26 bucks. The menu you get to choose from is limited with two to four options for each course, but you still get a good sampling of what they do. Since A and I like to share, we each got to try up to 6 different things at each place.

A and I went to four different restaurants, Greenbriar on Saturday, Brasserie Ten Ten on Sunday, Tahona on Wednesday, and Colterra on Friday. My favorite first course was the Mixed Vegetable and Asadero Cheese Rellenos. I'm surprised A shared them with me. My least liked first course was the salad at Colterra as the pear was hard and flavorless and the pecans were soft. For the main course, the steak at Colterra and carne asada at Tahona were both wonderful. At Greenbriar the Pork Tenderloin was anything but tender and very tough. Very disappointing since their food is usually very excellent. The best desserts were the Apple Galette and Mocha Terriene at Colterra. The worst dessert by a mile were the apple enchiladas at Tahona. They were terrible.

A is already suffering from First Bite withdrawal. Only 51 weeks until next year.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Hello, world!

Long time no write, for me at least. As E eluded to in his last post, we have been busy. And there has been a LOT of changes around here, especially for me. End of an old job. Start of a new job. Two weeks in between filled with lots and lots and lots of home projects.

One big change with the new job has been a change in internet policy: no more personal internet (read: blogging) while at work. I'd like you to all still think I'm a saint, but most of my previous blogging was done at work. There was a reason I was fervently looking for a new job: I was under utilized (bored) and therefore found myself blogging at work more than I'd like to admit. No more. In fact, if you need to reach me during the day for anything urgent, don't even count on email. I'm trying to check that once a day when at home, but... best to call if you need an immediate response.

Reading blogs has also fell off of my daily routine, completely. My Google Reader account currently has 391 unread blog posts waiting for me. I think it is time to say "I'm done! I quit! No more! Help!" In other words, Google Reader and I may be parting ways for awhile, I will once again have to go to each individual blog (when I get the time) and read posts as I am able. Life is full and beautiful and fabulous, and will be taking over all my free time for the foreseeable future.

Speaking of full and beautiful and fabulous...... lots of good stuff is coming our way. We are enjoying a lighter month of training. This is a much needed break after a 6-month racing season (for triathlon) that included 2.75 Ironmans and lots of quality training. I am now ready for snow (I know that IM AZ is this weekend, but so is the start of Thanksgiving (ski) Camps all over the country, and here we need snow to have camp). Snow. Now. PLEASE?! We are enjoying outside bike rides in mid-November, but it is time for winter.

This coming week is a big one too. Thanksgiving. Sunny visiting. E's dad possible visiting. My parent's anniversary. My sister's birthday. Soon (in a few weeks) a new baby, who will make us a brand new aunt and uncle. Santa Lucia party. Yeah, I look good in a speedo party. Christmas. New Years. Whew! Should be fun... but busy!

In a nutshell, that's what's up here in Boulder.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

From Hero to Zero

Oh bother,

We got a decent amount of stuff to post about, the kitchen project, First Bite Boulder, hiking with Lucas, ...

But, today's post is about pride and how it is a bad thing.

This morning, A and I went for a roller ski. We got an early start and heading over to some gradual inclines (too small to call it a hill) and did some 1 minute intervals. A was on her skating skis and I was on my classic skis (the only ones I have). Since her skis have less resistance we were doing the intervals separately. We did the three sets of 5 on the incline (V1, V2 and no pole for her, stride, double pole with kick and no pole for me).

For the last set of 5 (double pole) we went and found somewhere flatter. Before the last one, A waited for me and I started right behind her. With my shorter poles and more flexible boots, the resistance difference between her skis and mine was less of an issue and I started to catch her. She responded by going faster. I responded by going faster, caught up to her and started passing her.

Well folks, this is where the story takes a turn for the worse as with about 10 seconds left in our last interval, just as I was getting ahead of A, my lower back seized up. Seized up hard at that. I was reduced to a pile of pain on the pavement. It took a while to get up and going at a shuffle pace. A went ahead, got the car, and came back to pick me up. I'm sure that it would not have happened if we hadn't started racing the last interval.

So, the lesson of the day is either to only race the last interval close to home and have pain meds ready or to not race while training. I'll let you choose.


Friday, November 7, 2008

Back at "It"

After lasts week's post, training has become much more regular and my motiviation is back.

Last weekend though was filled with painting the kitchen and all of the prep that goes with it. Actually that was started by Amber during the week with her moving stuff out of the kitchen, but we didn't get started painting until Saturday evening. We did get out to see some the cyclocross races, which were fun. We spent a good portion of them catching up with friends, but did see some impressive performances by the best riders in the country. Part of me wants to get a cyclocross bike, but the wiser part of me knows we need some sort of offseason. Although I'm not sure a cyclocross race would be harder than this morning's workout (more on that later).

Since the weekend, we've had some good rides (in the dark), a roller ski, a run or two, and some swims. They've moved out 6 am swim until 6:30 so they can supposedly keep the pool covered longer, but the main reason that many people go to the 6 am swim is so they can get out at 7 means that the swims have been pretty empty by 7:45. There was one swim two weeks ago where only 3 of us showed up, so they can be pretty small workouts to begin with, but there may be days now that A and I will be the only ones.

This morning was the first hard workout since the Halfmax. It was a time trial up Mt Sanitas, so it was a very hard workout. Yesterday, I found a website with the course records for Mt Sanitas which hasn't been updated in four years. After this morning, I even more impressed with some of the times on the list. My lungs were hurting bad for most of the time, except for when it was too steep to run and my legs were hurting bad. Since we haven't been doing anything hard, our times from this morning will serve as a good base fitness number.

Tonight, A and I are going to the University of Colorado Ski Ball. A fancy affair to support the alpine and nordic ski teams at CU. Should be a good time like usual.

I really hoping that today's strong winds will blow all of the leaves from our yard away so we don't spend the whole weekend cleaning up the yard.

Peace Out,

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

E's motivation level = -10

Coming off of our pretty long tri season, my motivation to train is pretty low. As we posted before, we've started roller skiing for the Nordic season, but with work promising to be all encompassing during January and February, racing then seems out of the question.

Away from training, A is in the midst of her two weeks between jobs. I'm liking it as she made a cherry pie yesterday, but we were too full after trip to Mountain Sun to have any. We also made three pizza's on Monday. The first was a pepperoni and mushroom, the second was a pear, goat cheese, prosciutto, and arugula, the third was a margherita with garden tomatoes.

Oh, there goes my motivation to write more.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

National Champion?

So.... I was 2nd in my age group. But the girl who was first was 2nd overall and was pulled from the age group results. So they called my name for first in my age group. Does that make me the 30-34 USAT Long Course National Champ? But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself........ how 'bout a race report before we get to the results?

The drive there, from Boulder to Grand Junction, and then from Grand Junction on to Boulder City, was smooth and uneventful. We hit Vegas around 2 pm, and except for a bit of construction-related traffic, moved right on through to Boulder City for registration and T2 setup without delay.

Boulder City is a nice, smallish town that we really enjoyed. Our hotel was nothing special (I say this now, after touring The Strip in Vegas) but it was clean and had everything we needed, including being close to the finish/T2 area and within walking distance to dinner. Both factors came in handy, first when we decided to combine our pre-race test ride with a stop at the bike support tent (my rear brakes were riding awfully close to my rim.... not rubbing, but also not looking "normal" and I wanted to get it checked out by a third person) and later when we decided to see what was cooking at the local brew pub, The Dam Brewery, a reference to their proximity to Hoover Dam.

Aside from some last minute scrambling for E (you'd think that after all our years of racing that goggles and CO2 cartridges would be standard things to bring with for a race) we had all our gear set up, laid out, and ready to go for the next day. The only real decisions left to make were what to wear and what to eat for breakfast. But first, some sleep.

We woke the next day and were quickly up and prepping breakfast and race nutrition (or in this case, drink). I decided to go with steel cut oatmeal reheated in the microwave, topped with a banana and a few nuts/pieces of dried fruit. Oh, and coffee.

Breakfast done, bags packed, sunscreen on, now what to wear? On a gamble (hey, we were near Vegas) I chose to go in a plain swim suit. No padding for the bike, no compression for the run. But, this was no ordinary swim suit, it was a Splish, a present from Sunny back in April for my b-day that read "Who rocks?" across the front and "I rock!" across the back. Of my 3 options, it seemed like the best choice for my last tri of 2008.

The drive down to the lake was dark, and parking was a cluster, but we were early enough to get good racking positions (rows were based on your number, then it was first come, first served within your row, I was third in on my rack). There wasn't much to set up (helmet, shoes, glasses, plastic transition bag supplied by the race) so E and I were soon off on a warm-up jog, followed by a trip to the car to drop off all the extra transition stuff (my bag with tape, scissors, extra pins, marker, etc.) and clothes before wetsuiting up. A quick splash in the lake and I was ready to go. Man was that water nice! and the area around Lake Mead is simply beautiful. The lake is surrounded by rugged, rocky mountains and hills that make for a lovely backdrop. And that water! It came almost as far as we did (headwaters in Lake Granby) to be there for the race.

Before I knew it, the men had started and they were letting us ladies back in the water. One more splash, a hard effort out for ~ 50 m, then a slow splash back while I took care of business. I was ready. Then it was time to GO!

It was a short scramble out to the first buoy, then we turned directly into the sun and settled in. I could see a pack of women just up in front of me and one more solo swimmer right off to my left side. I put my head down and charged, trying to bridge the gap to the group out front, but I made up nothing and instead decided to settle in behind the girl who was still right there on my left side. I stuck with her until the next turn buoy when some of the men from the first wave stripped me of her and she was gone. Another power burst and I recaught her feet, where I stayed until ~ 300 m from the end when another train showed up on our right and looked to be a better draft option, so I moved over. Exited the water in the top 10 somewhere I think.

Cap and goggles off, wetsuit off, all stuffed into the bag they provided, string yanked shut, helmet on, glasses on, grabbed the bike and got out of T1.

Exit of T1 was an uphill run on the boat launch, I felt a bit like a salmon trying to swim upstream. Out on the bike I hopped on, grace-lessly and tried to get moving fast enough to balance and get the shoes on the feet. The roads out of the small park/beach area were a bit rough, but once onto the main roads, the pavement was beautiful. Great scenery, challenging hills, smooth roads, all combined to make a great bike. It was a pretty uneventful ride. I got aero and tried to keep moving along at my steady speed as best I could with the hills and breeze. I passed a few women right away on the bike, was nearly blown off the road when the eventual winner and runner up flew by me, was then repassed by 3 women I had dropped earlier, proceeded to play a bit of cat and mouse with one of them near the 24-mile turnaround, cruised back by T1, then got busy with the climb up to Boulder City and T2. I was hoping for a faster/more competitive bike split, but had set myself up well nutritionally and energy-wise for the run. And I had a bit of fun with the other racers around me as I got many, many comments on my race suit.

T2 came and went. All of what I needed was where I left it and I quickly racked my bike (with shoes still attached), took off my helmet, shoved my feet into my socks and shoes, grabbed my visor, drink bottle, and race number belt and took off.

Out on the run, I quickly passed a few women, then got down to business of clicking off miles. The run was nearly all downhill from the start until mile 5, then uphill to the turnaround at ~ mile 6.5, then the same in reverse. From ~ mile 1 to somewhere between mile 5 and 6 I also got to run with my own personal coach. At least that is what this one guy in the middle of the M40-44 race decided he wanted to be. In the end, he probably helped keep me focused and forced me to run faster than I would have on my own, but at the time his antics were getting a bit annoying. In fact, his surging and the waiting for me was fine, and his taunting and conversation did not bother me, but after ~4 miles when I realized that he had passed through each aid station right in front of me, taking all the water and leaving only Gatorade, which I don't like to race on I started to get a bit annoyed. I held steady though, moved swiftly past him when he faded, and even remained unfazed when a bee or something similar stung the underside of my right upper arm. I began to wilt with 2-3 miles left to go and was overtaken by a surging Darcy Eaton in the W40-44. I had recently passed E (urging him to give what he could, then to give a bit more) and they had chatted about me, so she was trying to get me to come with her. My mind was willing, but my legs were done rocking. I pushed, I fought with my own will to slow down, I beat my own doubt and kept up the pace, but it wasn't enough to stick with Darcy. Not even close! In then end, she and I had started and finished the run almost right with each other.

And then my legs let me know they were done. Officially retired for the 2008 tri season.

We snacked, were massaged (sort of), collected our T1 bags, waited (and waited, and waited) for awards and results, rode back to our hotel, cleaned up, made some order to our stuff, then headed out to see Las Vegas after a quick stop at DQ for Moolattes, our newest post-race treat (as of 2008 Mt. Taylor Quad in Feb.).

In all, this was a great race venue (great scenery on the bike and run, good roads for 90% of the bike, challenging but fair course) and a good race that had a few snafus (no chip check at turn arounds, no info about timing for awards, no massage and limited food for slower racers, etc.).

Vegas (the strip) was big, loud, bright, fancy, fun, and tiring. We'd like to go back, but with a game plan of what to do and see. Wandering around together was special in its own way, too, but to go back, us non-gambling types need an itinerary, at least a rough one to make sure we maximize our entertainment, culinary, and relaxing times appropriately. Planning should be easier, now though, since we have scoped it out a bit.

Sunday brought us a looooong drive home. NV, AZ, UT and CO were all very pretty, but it was a long day in the car that had our legs cramping and our bodies ready for bed by 9 or so when we rolled home. Luckily we had stopped for dinner in Dillon (at our second Dam Brewery of the trip) for dinner and a break from the car, so we were not crabby by the end of the trip, just tired.

A good trip. A good race. A good end to the tri race season, 6months and 5 days after our first tri of the year!

Uff da.

Interesting side note, Maggie Fournier, the girl who was 1st in my age group and second overall is also coached by our coach..... small world!


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

E's Halfmax Race Report

A and I arrived in at registration in Boulder City around 2. A few hours previously as we were merging onto I-15 from I-70, I remembered that I had left all of my goggles in my swim bag. Which was back in Boulder. Fortunately, there were a few shops set up at the expo and I found some that fit well. Otherwise, I would probably would have borrowed a pair of Swedish goggles in all their uncomfortableness (for me) from A. Since T1 and T2 were 6 miles apart, we had to drop off our run stuff at T2 on Friday. With the traveling, I didn't stay on top of hydration as much as I should have, but since we were racing in the desert, it shouldn't have been a problem. Oh wait, I guess it might be.

Race morning started early enough at 4 with preparing drink and such. In another stroke of brilliance, I had only a banana before we left the hotel. Setting up went pretty well and A and I got in a little warm up run.

All of the men in the half started at the same time with all of the half women (that means women racing the half, not half-sized women) starting 5 minutes later. My main goals were to find feet if possible, swim relatively straight, and not have too many women pass me. I found feet at times, swam mostly straight (2nd leg into the sun didn't help), only got a fist to the nose once (hurt like hell) and didn't see too many silver caps (women) go by.

T1 took a while as we had to run up the boat ramp, past 200 rows (or so) of bike racks, and out onto the bike course. As I was leaving T2, I heard the announcer comment about a girl with a swimsuit that says "Who rocks?" on the front and "I rock" on the back, so I new A was just behind me.

Although we hadn't scouted out the bike course the day before, we had gone over the elevation profile enough online to know that it was going to be tough. According to the website, we were in store for 6500 ft of climbing with T2 being 1200 ft higher than T1. The miles went by pretty quick to the turnaround at the 24 mile mark. I tended to climb a bit better than the heavier guys around me and lose ground on the descents. The first time I got my gel flask out of my Bento box, I managed to drop it. I lost a minute or two going back (uphill) for it, but it was well worth it. I saw that A was pretty close behind me at the turn around with only a few women ahead of her. The way back had some nice headwinds but nothing too bad. It got a bit crazier when we got back to the Olympic course as there were some pretty poor bike handling skills on display. The bike course went past T1 on its way to Boulder City and that is where the steady hill started. Nutrition-wise, my plan was for 200 - 250 calories per hour which is less than what I take in for an IM. This might have worked with a better breakfast and/or better hydration, but I should have been taking more calories in. Unfortunately, I only realized this on the run, so I didn't take my extra gel.The last climb was harder than it should have been. I let some people go as I didn't want my legs to be dead at the start of the run.

Went fine.

The run started fine and I ran a very comfortable pace the first few miles. I started to feel a bit out of it at the 3 mile mark and I took my first gel. That helped and I kept going along. Just before the aid station at 6 miles, my math skills failed me and I expected the turn around to be immediately after that, so I planned on taking my second gel after the aid station and getting water to get it down better when i passed by it again. Unfortunately, "immediately" was really a half of a mile, so I waited with my gel until just before the 7 mile mark. Mistake as I hit full bonk by this point. I was reduced to walking/jogging for a bit until the sugar took effect. Fortunately it did, but I wasn't able to get back to my previous paces. Amber passed me somewhere in the next stretch and I was able to keep somewhat close. Took last gel around the 10 mile mark. You know you have bonked when your main memories of the run are when you took in nutrition. The last half of a mile was a killer as I was fading again. After the finish, I went immediately to the post-race food and ate orange section after orange section.

After the race, I took the bus down to get the car from T1, so A wouldn't miss the awards. I could have gotten the car, went to Vegas, gambled for a few hours (except I don't gamble), and still made it back in time they had issues with timing that took a while to fix.

Overall, I'm frustrated that I was dumb on nutrition after having a number of good races in that regard (stretching back to Buffalo Springs in '07). Training had gone well and I know my legs were ready for a strong run after that bike. Ah well, at least I learned a few things and never gave up.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Viva Las Vegas

We're back from our whirlwind weekend down to Vegas. 24 hours of driving to and from, 5+ hours of racing, 5 hours of wandering around the Strip after the race and not enough sleep (early race start and post race sleep issues) have left us a bit fatigued.

Although my (E's) race didn't go all that well due to a lack of calories, I was really happy that A had a solid race. A little annoyed maybe that she passed me on the run, but still happy.

More race details later, but now we have to decide about heading to Perth, Australia for long course worlds next October. A still wants to make it to Kona, but 2 IM's (Canada at the end August) and a 3/4's IM within 2 months would be a bit much.

More later,

Thursday, October 16, 2008

One more ooooomph for 2008

We are nearly off, again, this time for our final tri of the season. To Vegas we go (USAT age group long course nationals!). The car is packed (save for the few items still in the fridge) and the bodies are tapered and ready.

We have done 3 140.6 races since our last 70.3, so this may be interesting, but I am ready to go fast and find a new definition of "hard" and "hurt," or is it just "discomfort?".

And to see a new place (neither E nor I have ever been to Las Vegas....).

And to celebrate 12 years of being together as the A & E show (though it will still be a few days until it has been 12 years since I realized that our first date was actually a date, even with flowers, and E picking up the tab on dinner, sometimes my social skills are a bit lacking). What better way to celebrate a milestone than to go race together? Yup, that is how my twisted mind works...... But Vegas festivities, post-race, should be a good way to celebrate where we are now and where we have been.

Next up: ski season. I must admit, after seeing pics of the snow in Bozeman, I almost hijacked our plans and turned our trip to a weekend in MT at Bohart Ranch.


Monday, October 13, 2008


I gave my 2-week notice at work today. It was scary and uncomfortable, but the meeting went well, in the end. I will start with my new company in 2-3 weeks (pending results of a pre-employment physical) and am excited about the opportunity. Now to wrap up loose ends and hand off projects to the appropriate people at my current job.


Keeps life interesting!


Friday, October 10, 2008

I'm skiing, I'm skiing...

Well, we were skiing kinda like how Bob (Bill Murray) was sailing. A and I got out for our first roller ski of the year this morning. It is not the real thing by any means but will help get the cross-country nuerons and muscles a bit more ready for snow.

I did get a bit of equipment jeoulously as A has a nice set of skating roller skis, while I still only have the classic style. To 99.87% of the people out there, that doesn't mean much, so a good analogy would be: still riding your tricycle as your sibling upgrades to a two wheel bike. Will this lead me to getting a pair of Marwes (A's kind) too? We'll have to see.


Thursday, October 9, 2008


I got thinking last night, just before leaving work, about what our friend Sunny has been mulling over about cars, bikes, and road rules. Afterall, we all need to coexist, yet if there is ever a car-bike collision, the car wins. Then I got an up-close-and-personal chance to mull this over as I rode the 15 min home in the dark.

First, heading down the hill here by work that is right across from the jail, I was almost clobbered by a mini van turning left that seemed to think they could turn way early, majorly cut the corner, and make their turn before I was trying to occupy the same space. I watched this unfold in disbelief, swerving, swearing loudly (very out of character), sitting up and shining my bright headlight right at the driver's head, and then pedaling on unscathed, but deeply shaken. I had to wait a short while at the next stop light and I was still jittery from the adrenaline rush that a near-death experience brings.

At the next stop light, I had to turn left and there was a car approaching from the opposite direction. I slowed in the intersection in case they were going straight, but when I saw that they were also turning (right) I accelerated to get out of their way quickly since I had the right-of-way but didn't want to hold up traffic. To my horror, they were not slowing down! At the last minute, they seemed to see me and slowed enough to give me plenty of room, but by now I was starting to wonder what was wrong with all these drivers tonight?

The next car I met that was heading towards me seemed to be proceeding business-as-usual until it was right in front of me, when it tuned on its highbeams right in my face. RIGHT in my face. What. Is. Going. On. Tonight????? These driver's, jeepers!

I was, after all, lit up like a Christmas tree with my fancy new red tail light and my even fancier new helmet-mounted headlight. I was riding in the soulder or to the right of the road as any good biker would do. I was dressed in reasonably visable clothing with white patches and reflective stripes in strategic places. What was going on?

And that's when I realized that my spiffy new helmet-mounted head light, that was new and unfamiliar, just might be pointed in the wrong place. It wasn't those drivers, it was me that was the problem. Those drivers couldn't see me as well as I supposed they could, and it was my fault. A quick adjustment of where my light was pointed and I could now 1) see where I was going much better as I was now properly illuminating the road in front of me, and 2) be seen much better by car traffic, too.

It was all a matter of perspective. I had no idea that they were having trouble seeing me because I was prepared with my lights and clothing choices, but they were, I think. Good to know! Safety first!

-Ride on,

P.S. For those of you who haven't seen this yet (mostly our family, I'm guessing) please take a minute (1:08, to be exact) to click the link and watch it. It is a good reminder of how you often only see what you are looking for, even if you are a cyclist, do you see other cyclists when you drive? And as a cyclist, do you just assume drivers see you? aeR


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Here fishy, fishy, fishy....

My lane at Masters this morning had 6 swimmers in it! And for the first time that I can remember, I got a draft. It was great!

Wolfgang has great workouts at 6am, and Kurt has learned how to get more swim speed out of me these days than I often think is possible (though not lately, since haven't been swimming Thursdays this month), but I am usually alone, leading the lane, or being a good lanemate and keeping my 5 sec. spacing and then fall back and don't get the draft.

The 6 am Masters is a small group, where everyone pretty much knows everyone. Today there were 3 newcomers in my lane when I hopped in. It was dark and steamy so I even had to ask Wolfgang which lane I should start in.

We all commingled fine for the first 200 m on our own, then with the first set, one guy started to put on flippers, and I promptly moved myself to the back of the lane. Things started off well even with less than 5 sec between guy #2 and guy #3. Then Whitney and Tom (two speedy swimmers that are regulars in my lane, but often in front of me) joined us and I was in a swimmer sandwich since they just jumped in back. All I could think was..... ut oh....

But I soon found out how great a good draft is as I stuck on the feet of the folks in front of me and held my own with my lane placing. I was making splits I usually have to use a self pep-talk to achieve. It was fun! 5-6 people in my lane for a 6am swim was GREAT. I hope some of them come back again.



Monday, October 6, 2008

We are blest.......

E and I are blest to be homeowners. This is a gift and not something I take lightly. But with great privilege comes great responsibility. And the list of homeowner responsibilities is huge.

Yesterday, this became apparent as we tackled the project of adding insulation to our attic. This is a project we have talked about for at least 3 years, but just never got around to doing it. We decided to use the blown insulation and calculated a total required depth of ~13 inches, most spots were less than 4 inches with what the previous owners left us.

E figured a few hours of work on a Sunday afternoon and we should be set. We headed off to the store as soon as I got back from church and did some quick math: we would need 48 bales, each at 21.4 lb and a tad under $10. Uff da.

4 car trips later and we had all the bales retrieved from the store and loaded onto our side deck, along with the rental blower. It was now ~1pm.

We scarfed down lunch and took up our positions: E up in the attic distributing the fluff and me down on the deck breaking open the bags and chunking up the bales into the hopper of the blower. A long, 3" wide hose connected us. We had until 4 to get this done and return the blower to the store. Outfitted with work clothes, safety glasses, and dust masks, we began.

As the afternoon wore on, it became apparent that we wouldn't make the 4 pm cutoff. The store was OK with us returning it this morning, instead, so we pressed on (at this point we were maybe halfway through the bales, most were still stacked around me like a fort from my childhood). It sprinkled on me off and on, and I struggled to feed the hopper and keep the insulation dry. It looked to be a combination of torn up plastic bags, finely shredded newspaper and magazines, and cotton fibers. The packaging claimed it was "green fiber insulation, itch free" but it mostly looked like trash to me. $500 worth of trash. E wouldn't let me wait a week or two and just use all our leaves that will coat the yard to fill up the attic instead of the pricey shredded trash.

As the afternoon wore on, I became keenly aware that I had the better task over E. Yes it was getting cold, and a bit wet when the showers would whip up, but I was outside. The drone of the blower's motor was loud, and fluff was covering everything, but I was able to stand up straight.

My thoughts began to wander, and (my sisters may appreciate this) my work started to remind me of fall cider pressing time up at The Farm. Grandma and Grandpas trees always yield lots of naturally ripened apples that aren't much for eating but make the best juice. So a weekend would be picked and and afternoon spent washing, shredding, pressing, filling bottles, and freezing gallons and gallons of cider. Usually 17. Minimum.

And what would start as a fun task would eventually become the chore a hardy few who were sticky, cold, tired, achy in odd places, and ready to be done with the project at hand but determined to stick it out and see it through to the end. When you would get to do all the cleanup (at least the soapy wash water was always a warm relief to stiffened, freezing fingers). Yet you knew that this afternoon of work would be enjoyed all winter (or year!) long with the fruits of your labor.

It has been a few years since I last pressed cider with the family. That year we were home for cousin Darcy's wedding, and were able to fit the "chore" into our brief weekend trip. The smile of gratitude a wedding gift of juice made was priceless. As will the warmth we feel this year with lower heating bills when the weather gets chilly (and the added bonus of a cooler upstairs in the summer, too). A good project, complete. Now we just need to finish the cleanup (only the last bit of vacuuming and wall washing to go). Afterall, yesterday's beauty of a fall day with the trees all turning golden and the breeze and drizzel moving gently had turned to dark by the time we were loading the blower back into the car. It was dinner time and the rest of the cleanup would wait for today or later this week. a continuation and further reminder of the blessings we have.



Sunday, October 5, 2008

30 minutes

It is 2:49 am, and I am blogging. I have been awake since 11:09. I hoped my mind would quiet and my body relax with E's gently breathing to sooth me, but it didn't work.

And so I blog.

Today was another solid day of training, and that was about all that was accomplished. Tomorrow we add insulation to the attic, but today we only swam, biked, and ran. It felt like we had raced, so much so that as we finished I told E he could have my timing chip, but the strap was mine.

The day started early with a trip to the pool and 15 fast 100 m swims to knock out. It went by fast and the pre and post sets were over quickly, too. Then a coffee stop at Joe's Espresso to fuel us up for changing into bike clothes and rolling north towards Carter Lake.

And that was the start to our 30 min segments for the day. We had 3 of them (at race tempo/effort) on the bike and another 2 on the run. I kept them strong and focused, but they sure did hurt today.

It did not help that I was stung by a bee at 15:24 into the first 30 min segment on the bike. I used to think I was allergic, but now I just think that I get really uncomfortable and swell up a lot, since I was able to execute the rest of the day without too much worry, just some major discomfort. I could have done without the drama of watching the bugger fly at my helmet, thud to a stop in my lower left vent, crawl around a bit, and then sting me as I was frantically trying to get my chin strap unbuckled and helmet remove to a safe shaking distance before bee-skin contact had been maintained. In the effort, I was not successful. I have the stinger (and large welt) to prove it. The stinger fell from my hair pre shower, which I found fascinating for some reason. It has been one of those days.

Anyways, I rebounded quickly and the remaining efforts were strong and hard. At the end of the last bike effort, which was a little longer than 30 min because coach J suggested we start near Lyons where highway 36 meets 66 and end at the top of the hill on Olde Stage, I realized that I had ridden a bit of hurt into my legs. It reminded me of a Lemond quote that I can only paraphrase at this time of the morning.... something like "it doesn't get any easier, you just get faster" with regards to athletic progression and training. Shucks, I was hoping today's ride and run could be done on autopilot and be both fast and feel good. At least it was fast!

As soon as we got home, I became completely and utterly useless. That is when I knew today's training goals had been accomplished. I was spent. A shower. Some food. Opening some important mail (more on that in a few days, but it came via FedEx next day delivery while we were out biking, and I waited until we were done with the day's training to open and review, that was tough!). Soon we were off to Efrains for an early, yummy dinner and a margarita that put me under the table.

Then home to watch some college football and read the local, monthly newspaper. Where they had a story about a local boy who wants to run for president in 2032. He is 13. This has been his goal since age 6. They had another story about a locally written rock-opera about Mary Magdalene. In my sorry state, both bits of "news" were highly entertaining.

And that, folks, was it. In bed by 9-something, only to awake at 11:09.

A rather boring day from an outsider's perspective, but another huge milestone in terms of my confidence at racing fast, with my current nutrition plan, and my current fitness levels. Now if I could just get the ^%$%*^#($#^%&*^ legs to let me sleep.

Off to bed...........


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Recap and pics

The view at Lake Isabelle.

E did a good job of recapping the weekend, but I think he left out a few things.

Like our romantic Friday night plans of cooking up a yummy dinner together in the kitchen that turned into him watching the debate on TV upstairs and me downstairs nearly cutting my finger off as I prepped pizza toppings.

And he covered many of the Saturday details well, but missed capturing the essence of the day. It went something like this:

6-something a.m. and we realized the power was out. Him: Oh no! The power is out, what should we do, let's get up. Me: The power is out, silly. We can't cook oatmeal. Let's go back to sleep. 7-ish. We are up and at 'em, cooking, eating, prepping for the day. 8:40 in the pool. 10:00 at the running shoe store. 11:07 Rolling out the door on Luci and Thor. 3:17 Heading out the door again, running this time. Turn around was quick between the bike end and the run start. 5:00 Done training for the day. Collapse on living room floor and call it "streaching." Drink Chocolate milk, but somehow I don't really enjoy it, I just do it because I have to start recovery (I was that tired that drinking chocolate milk was work). Shower. Sit in chair and finish the September Better Homes and Gardens. 8:00 What! It's 8! How did that happen? Did we eat any real food yet? We need dinner, but I don't want anything that we have. Actually, all food still seems pretty unappealing. And I still need to bake a pie for tomorrow!

And this was then followed by a yummy dinner of burritos made from leftover Chile Verde (homemade with some garden peppers), pie assembly and baking, and heading off to bed. Where the day went' I'm not sure. But it was a beautiful ride. And the run was challenging, but the data at the end was encouraging (I didn't look at it until Monday, but still, encouraging once I got around to it). Anyways, I'm still not sure I captured how the day just flew by, but it did. And I was soooooooo tired. But in a good way.

Sunday was an entirely different animal. Up early because the legs were so sore from the day before that sleep was impossible after 4:24 a.m. Made church, by bike, AFTER doing a week's worth of dishes (all the pots, pans, knives, and other things that don't go into the dishwasher) and having an awesom E-cooked breakfast of from-scratch hashbrowns, poached eggs, and more Chile Verde. Then up to the high country to hike with Izzy-dog, roommate AL, and E before driving a small chunck of the peak-to-peak highway to see some fall color.

And that brings me to the pics. Enjoy:

E and Izzy-dog in front of Long Lake, just starting out.

Me and Izzy in between Long Lake and Lake Isabelle.

Isabelle the Dog in Isabelle the Lake

E eating an apple and Izzy hoping to get back to that dead squirrel she just found.

Me and AL getting ready to hike back out. Nice view, Eh?

Fall color, CO style. View fromt he peak-to-peak between Ned and Ward.

Goof ball #1, dinner at the Wik and Meyer residence.

Goof Ball #2.

Monday, September 29, 2008

E's Quick Update

A's last post was about what she wanted to do this past weekend to enjoy fall and some of the projects she was hoping we could tackle. On Friday night, we tested out the new bike trailer with a trip to the store while our pizza dough was being made in the bread maker. After that, we ended up making two pizzas . One was comprised of pancetta, pears, Gorgonzola, goat cheese and topped with arugula when it came out of the oven. The other was peperoni, mozzarella, tomato sauce, and olives. Two very different tastes, but both were excellent.

Saturday morning started at bit latter due to a power outage, but we got a good breakfast and then headed to FAC to start our training day. My swim was frustrating as I haven't been getting enough in to match the paces I was swimming all summer. But, got the workout done and headed home to get biking. I came up with a name for the ride during it; the "Double Jimmy" as we headed to to Lefthand Canyon, went up to Jamestown, descended down to 36, did a loop down to Hygiene, back to Lefthand Canyon, went to Jamestown again, back down to Olde Stage and headed home over that. Heading up to Jamestown, we stopped where the pavement turns bad, not the actual town, so A wanted to call the ride the Double Almost Jimmy, but I'm sticking with Double Jimmy. Then we went for a little run of an hour and forty with race pacing. At bit worse for the wear, we ended our training day at five (started at eight thirty). I did find the energy to mow a bit and Amber made a pie, but otherwise we had a relaxed evening.

On Sunday, neither of us could sleep so we got up at 5:30. Pretty wrong if you ask me, but I made a nice breakfast of hash browns, eggs, and pork green chile, while A did the dishes. We biked easy, A went to church, and then we went for a nice hike near Brainerd Lake with our housemate AL. It was Izzy's first trip to Lake Isabelle (not the inspiration for her name, that is Pointe Isabelle back in MI) which she enjoyed tremendously, especially when she found a dead squirrel. We ended the weekend with a nice dinner at Maria and Eric's.

Unfortunately, we didn't get to anything on A's project list, but that's what next weekend if for I guess.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Ahhhhh, Fall!

Fall is here and E and I are gearing up for another fine weekend of training. I am trying to think of fun "date night" ideas for tonight since we have a free day tomorrow and can get started on the training a bit later (i.e. after 7am, when it has warmed up some). So far I have: cook dinner together with my sweety and eat by candle light, sit and chat (by the fire or on our comfy couch) and be happy just to BE, go out for happy hour somewhere..... I am not all that exciting, I know, but some of our best times have been just spending time together, taking the time to do something special, and unwinding for a week of training and work. It is that peacefulness and playfulness that I am hoping to capture tonight. Because it will all change tomorrow when the day gets started.

The main goal of tomorrow is to nail the training. The next two Saturdays have the same kind of format. After a good breakfast (and a little time to enjoy the morning) we'll hit the the pool for a short swim (only 2500 total meters, but some killer splits to try and hit) then do a "hilly" 3-4 hour ride with some good tempo pacing (goal race pace or a little easier), then off to a 90-100 min run with more goal race pacing in the mix.

I am excited for the day to unfold. Weather forecasts are for a beautiful fall day (need to remember sunscreen!). To nail it will take mental focus and good nutrition, but I am excited to get a chance to practice this. I'm also a little nervous, since it is almost like a mini test to see how well we are able to put it all together. These next two Saturdays are like dress rehersals for race day, and I have yet to assemble a half iron-distance race that is even remotely successful. I am ready to see what I can do and have some fun working it and managing the pain and speed that will come with it. I know I can do it, I just haven't yet. On Oct. 18, I'll try again, and after the training we are doing now (and did all summer for IM Canada), I should have a good chance at seeing what my potential is. this past week, my legs and body have been feeling great. The weekday training has been shorter and more intense, but my body is delivering more speed than I have been expecting, and actually feeling "springy" and light.

Anyways, after training is complete, we'll see what we have left for accomplishing projects. It is funny, but every summer since we have been racing Ironmans, we have had to set many things asside. There just hasn't been time around the house to get to everything when we are training the number of hourse that are required during a big month (or more) of training. Somehow, though, now that the training is a bit lighter, I am forgetting all the things that mentally got added to the projects list all summer.

Here is what I remember now: repair the backyard spigot so that it does not leak when on and we can then get the garden drip system on a timer; paint the kitchen and dinning area (one room), insulate the attic with more blown insulation; check the attic for fall nesting activities from any critters, cut dead branches out of the Maple in front; tidy up the shrubs and plants by the sidewalk in front so that it is still passable for the neighbors; any other inside painting: office, loft, guest bedroom, guest bath (this may need more than paint......); get skis ready for winter and racing; organize storage in closets and bathrooms (consolidate, relocate, eliminate, etc.)...... I think we may need to hire some help!

Sunday this week has much lighter training. I'll hit church, we'll knock out our workouts, and then we are hoping to hit the high country and take AL, our roommate, for a hit from Brainard Lake up to Lake Isabelle. It is her last weekend in Boulder before heading back to the midwest, we'll miss her! And the fall colors should be GREAT up there this weekend! Any extra time can be spend on projects (maybe something simpler like muffin baking) and possible getting ready for dinner with Eric, Maria, and little Lucas.

Whew! Should be fun!



Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Weekend Update

A, here. We have been busy, even with the switch from Ironman Training to half Ironman training.

Friday started out with pie and cheesecake baking. Saturday was my company's Summer picnic (just in the nick of time, hello Fall) and there was going to be a bake-off. Staggering the time things needed the oven meant that we were wrapped up in oven/baking activities all night. Then off to bed with thoughts of the early morning ride we had to tackle before getting to eat BBQ.

The bike took E and I over to the mouth of Lefthand Canyon where we started a 16 mile TT up to the hamlet of Ward. We each rode at our own ability levels up the canyon, then regrouped before taking the Peak-to-Peak highway over to highway 7 and descending down into Lyons. Then we rolled along highway 36 down to Jay Road and spun home. We got an early start (see above RE: picnic) and the roads were barren of riders for the first 2+ hours, but then we began to notice many big packs and groups..... with the summer cycling races tapering off, it looks like the big team rides are back.

Interestingly, the last time I did this ride, two months ago, (with coach J because E was getting over being sick) I left the house within 1 minute of when I did this time, covered the same distance, mileage wise (slightly different return route), and was within 1 minute of the total ride time. I still need to look at more data, but it should be a good picture of what I can do on Luci as apposed to the Green Dean Racing Machine (i.e., I rode a different bike) as well as how my legs and heart are doing after more training and racing an Ironman. I already know my average watts were lower for the TT, but I am fearing that my speed was, too.

Once home we changed into run clothes for a quick jog then tidied ourselves up, downed some chocolate milk, and headed for the picnic.

The picnic was fun and low key. The turnout was small, but that meant lots of yummy pork was left for us even though we got there almost an hour after the food service started. My Berry Swirl pie was deemed tops for taste (out of 4) while E's cheesecake didn't place (it was taste or looks.... I think the cheesecake was a winner in both). All in all, it was a good way to visit and recover after a harder morning of training, which was tops on my list for the day's activities since the last time I did this ride I had a miserable long run the next day.

Bake-off Judges and awardee's (last year there was cash involved.....)

Saturday night we kept the mellow theme going and had a nice fire out back on our deck in between bouts of wind. It was good to just chat with each other while watching the flames and just enjoy being (a very nice bottle of red wine nearby helped set the mood, too).

Sunday I was up early for church, then came home to rally the troops (or E, in this case) and head back out for our 2:20 run. This is a standard long run for us (5x20 min at race pace with short rest between) and is one of my favorites. We usually try and run about the same "course" for it to get a measure of our fitness, but that meant using the same roads as the Boulder Marathon, which was being held that very morning. So we revamped and hit Teller Farm trails from the Heatherwood side, with some add-ons (hit the turnaround in the middle of the 2nd interval, ~53 min into the run, so knew we'd be short). The result was something hillier and a tad slower than "normal," but also an excellent change of pace. The hills were more than what I remembered or expected, they were hard, but they were a good, good challenge. And it was a beautiful day to be outside running, and the trails and vistas they offered were worth every sweaty step and labored breath (I actually had a horsewoman tell me that she had heard me coming LONG before I said "on your left." It would have made my college CC coach happy, as it was one of this goals to have all of his athletes huffing and puffing along!). At the end, I knew my legs were going to be sore for a bit and started planning my ice bath before even getting to the car.

Somehow, the ice bath never happened. We got through more chores (and baking of another pie to fill the extra shell I had made Friday before freezing it) to do, as well as a recovery spin on the bike and a trip to Mtn. Sun for dinner yet to get to. And then the day was done, gone the sun, from the hills, from the trees, from the sky. Another good weekend full of really great training (first one like that since Ironman) in the books!


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Rydholm's post-Ironman activities

Two goof balls.

After Ironman Canada, we headed to the Seattle area for a short visit with my grandparents. Both my mom and dad were there the first night, then my dad left to go back to work. The first night we got there, we walked around the gardens and visited a bit.

My grandparents, my mom, and me in front of the blue spruce my grandpa planted years ago.

Me and my mom posing with her black-eyed susan's shirt near the black-eyed susans.

After dinner E and I went up the hill with my dad and picked some black berries. They were very good, and the vines covered everything. I guess this land was bought out by the airport years ago because it is directly beneath most flight patterns and they wanted to get the houses out of there.

It is rumored that some of the black berry vines actually may cover old houses and buildings left behind. They are like weeds, according to the locals. Yummy weeds, according to me! The berries we found had already been well picked over, so they were pretty small and if you weren't careful, still not their sweetest. Again, I just say yum! I wish we had such useful weeds here in Colorado!
The blackberry vines are more than 8 feet tall!

The next day, around lunch time, E, my mom, and I walked down to the sound. My grandparents only live a few blocks away and my grandfather used to walk down to the water nearly every morning.

The beach down at the sound at mid-tide.

We poked around a bit and watched the tide start to come in before heading over to the fishing pier and then on to Anthony's for a Salmon lunch. That was topped off by a 3-way split of their fresh peach cobbler and triple berry cobbler... mmmmm!

Me, picking at rocks. The fishing pier is in the background, and beyond that.....LUNCH!

We visited more the rest of that day, had a nice dinner with my grandparents at their normal table (we had been taking meals with them in the big dinning room at the guest tables), and then left early the next morning to try and beat the traffic before rush hour made the section with construction impassible.

We left early enough to be going through Richland, WA, where my aunt and uncle just build a new house, to stop in and visit for lunch. They have a beautiful new place that is very functional for their active (SCUBA, etc.) lifestyle that was built with many small yet smart details that make it comfortable.
Me (and my aunt) eating more food. Yes, there may be a theme here.....

Then we were back on the road with Boise in sight for our stopping point that night. A little shopping at the Sierra Trading Post labor day sale, a little BBQ ribs for dinner, and we were fast asleep in our comfy hotel bed (we found this new chain (at least new to us) called the Oxford Suites that has been fairly affordable and extremely high quality).

Along the way we saw some beautiful country and strange sites. Like a couple of small grass fires, and canyon walls that looked to be gently graded with something like a large apple peeler (they had stripes going along horizontally on grassy covered slopes, it was strange).

One of the grass fires.

The final day of our trip brought us through Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado. We made sandwhiches in the car for lunch from the rest of our supply of fixings in the cooler and stopped in Fort Collins for a tasty supper of artesian pizza and salad. Finally, as the sun was setting, Boulder was in out sites and we cruised home.

Almost home.....

Since then, we have been doing lots of boring things: work, yard projects, house cleaning, getting the brakes fixed on the car, etc. And a few fun things, too, like attending Roller Derby, doing some training with friends as we prepare for the Halfmax USAT half-Ironman distance race near Las Vegas (this is a national championship, wish were were headed out for a certain world championship a week earler, but not this year, sigh), and bike-to-breakfast rides.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A's Ironman Canada race report

I have been fighting with myself over whether I should write more of a factual race report or one based on my thoughts and feelings throughout the day as the race unfolded. I think the latter will be more useful to me in the future, so that is what I’ll strive for. I already wrote a fairly factual report for coach, and may borrow some of that here, but really, what I care about, were my thoughts and feelings and how they influenced my real-time decisions during the race. So, here goes nothing!

It was a calm, beautiful morning for a race. We took care of business quickly: breakfast, dressing, sunscreen, walking to the race, dropping off special needs bags, body marking, avoiding the drunk guys trying to shake every athlete’s hand across the fence as we entered transition, final check on tire pressures, addition of food and drink to the bike, addition of food and drink to the run bag, addition of watch to the bike bag, etc., etc.

Readying the bike

Before I knew it I was in the toilet line for a second time and then body-gliding up and applying the wetsuit. I had ample time to get everything how it needed to be and was now ready to race.

Where we got into our wetsuits, see E’s post for more details.

On Friday, we did a longer swim in the lake and I noticed it took me 5 min or more to warm up, so I wanted a long warmup on race day. Shortly after the cannon fired for the pro’s race, E and I were wading into the water, discussing exit strategy as we avoided the rocks and headed to the sandy section right in the middle of the starting area. A good hard effort straight out towards the fist buoy, and another push back towards the start line, and I was ready to find my position. I settled in right in the middle, where the water line was just at my armpits if I stood on my tippy-toes, straight shot at the first buoys, and with a bunch of fast looking men. And then we waited. And waited. I got chilly. Then chillier. They sang the national anthem (much prettier than ours, and I am picking up some of the words after multiple years, but not the French verse they swapped in this year) and FINALLY the cannon fired.

The start, we are probably at the right side in this picture where it starts to get deep, but that was actually the middle of the field.

Swimming out toward the western bluffs right after the start. The buoys in the back are the return course.

It was, by far, my best starting spot yet at Ironman Canada as I was around some faster folks but the crowd was thinner than last year when we went way to the left. The swim was pretty physical, but nothing scary. People were bumping my legs and feet and hips, but my arms and head were pretty much untouched. After the first start (maybe 50 m in) it got a little congested and people were swimming over people, but much less so than at IM AZ in April. I found feet pretty easily and was able to move through packs as needed to get away from any excessive congestion.

At the first house-boat turn I saw my first scuba diver. They always say that there will be safety support from below for these bigger races, but I have never seen one of them before. At this point, though, you have almost swum up to the shore, and with the lake water being so clear, even in 20 feet of water or so, it was like looking that diver straight in the face. There are two turns in this swim, it is like a big triangle, and the distance between the two turns is the shortest leg, only 400 m or so. After the second turn, it got much rougher for me in terms of contact. And the strangest thing started to happen, the taps to my feet from drafters and nearby swimmers started to make my right hip flexor really sore. I was using a lot of my core musculature to get my feet back up to the surface of the water and renew my optimal body position each time they got tapped. I soon swung away from the buoys (I was nearly in line with them most of the swim to this point) and swam more by myself. I also think I may have slowed down a little bit here as I started to get scared that my day might be done if the hip seized up. Long and steady, I continued my progress toward the beach, trying to reach with each pull to get the hip stretched out. Before I knew it I saw the small, sharp, painful rocks come into view and I knew I needed to keep swimming right over these until I saw sand, then stand and run up from the water to the wetsuit strippers (as an aside, my mom wants to volunteer next year and her dream volunteer job would be as a stripper…..). Official swim time was 1:03:35. If I am able to knock off another 5 minutes, I think I will be in a much better position to draft and relax, less full-contact swimming. Something to shoot for!

In and out through the tent at T1 (nearly forgot my chamois butter, and was adding that on the way to the exit). I also stopped briefly at the bike since I forgot to turn the Garmin on before this and I wanted it to find its satellites, so I stood there and put on my watch and helmet, then ran to the exit with my fast, new bike (Luci, since some of you have asked what the name would be). Total was 4:15.

The bike started well and before I knew it 30 min were gone and we were passing the first aid station at the top of the McClain Creek Road hill. I had been sipping on my front bottle of Gookinade (now they are calling it vitalyte) but decided it was time to take some gel from my gel flask since my goal was to use the beeper on my watch to take in fluids every 15 min (or more frequently) and food every 30 minutes. Nothing came out of the gel flask. I started to suck on the thing, still no luck. I took the top off, took a swig of gel, added some drink to try and thin it out a bit, put the top back on, still no luck. There were 5 gels in this thing, it was most of my calories until special needs…. Eeek! Over the course of the next 3-4 hours, I got most of the gel out of there, (and some on my bike and arm) but I was forced to resort to a “milking” action and lots of patience. Who knew that fuel belt makes bottle tops with the same sized screw-top but different sized tip openings for gel or for drink?

Covering the road to Osoyoos went well. There was a headwind, but that helped keep the speed in check (it is easy to take this part too hard and blow the rest of the race). I did not see too much drafting or packs, and rode much of this by myself intermixed by small sections where I found someone whom I was able to legally use for pacing and mental stimulation. Richter Pass went smoothly (more rolling and less of a straight climb than I remembered), the descent went smoothly, and then on to the rollers. Through this section, I got caught up with a few other racers, mostly men, who were slower than me down the hills but stronger climbing, so we yo-yoed back and forth a bit. As we approached Kereemos, our friend Jim, from Wisconsin, passed me. This surprised me since he usually passes me much earlier and I figured I missed him somewhere when I hadn’t seen him yet. We ended up being back and forth on both the out and backs before I lost him after the special needs pick up. I also saw E in here for the first time. Last year he passed me going up Richter Pass, so this was at least 20 miles later…..I was having a good day!

Then we turned away from Kereemos and started the climb up to Yellow Lake. This is my favorite part of the bike course, and it did not disappoint. I stayed aero as much as possible and kept strong and steady, spinning along at the effort I wanted, and I started to steadily pass people. I saw Jim again and hit the lake feeling good and strong. The hill doesn’t end there, despite what it feels like based on the crowd support right before the lake appears. The last bit of the climb was also smooth, but I cooled it a bit to eat a little. The descent was a bit sketchy this year. I know part of it was the strong crosswinds through the curves, but part was also the new bikes and new wheels, we still need more hours on these fast machines to be fully comfortable with how they handle at higher speeds. All this really means is that I sat up on my hoods a bit through some of the turns, and was mad at myself for “chickening out.”

The drop down into town on the hiway went well. It was fast and felt good. I stretched my legs out a bit and got in a few more calories. My stomach was already feeling a bit gassy. Finished in a strong 5:46:59, which is my best bike split yet (albeit some of my Ironman bike splits have been hindered by a flat and leg cramps). In retrospect, this year’s race has helped shape my goals going forward and I now think a 5:20-5:35 for this course is something to aim for or aim past for me.

End of the bike

T2 was fast and flawless in 2:37. I actually sat on the grass in the tent, dumped my bag, grabbed my number, visor, bottle with powdered gookinade, swapped shoes, and was out of there. All of my “maybe” items were inside another bag that I never opened, since I knew I didn’t need them.

Same corner, start of the run.

The run started out slow and sloshy. My stomach and GI tract were not happy campers, but I found a steady rhythm and started ticking off the miles. At times I felt more like I was plodding than I was running. I heard my parents on this first corner, where they took the picture, then saw Sunny right before mile 2. She wanted a picture but was too busy spectating and almost missed me. She ended up sprinting ~ ½ a block in sandals to get a shot of me hobbling along. I made 2 stops at the porta potties (mile 3 and mile 6 in case you care, then things got a bit better).

This is what running with an upset stomach looks like.

Once through town, you run along the shore of Skaha Lake. There was a fierce wind blowing up from the South off of the lake, so it was tough going (headwind). Finally, near the turnaround, things started to feel better and I was able to run more. I saw E in here, and he passed me a bit later. I kept him in sight for a while before he kicked it up with 6 miles to go. I still had a few small bouts of upset stomach that had me plodding again throughout that section by the lake (these seemed to coincide with any food I took in, but I was still taking gels every 30-45 minutes, which I think was a good thing, in the end), but I was able to pick it up overall (I think a big help was the two nuun tablets I used in my drink bottle. I drank it kinda fizzy still and that got the stomach settled, similar to alka seltzer). With ~4 miles to go, you hit town again, and we also hit rain. It was raining lightly at the runaround, but had then stopped. As had the wind (i.e. we had a headwind out but no tailwind back). My lower legs and feet had started to hurt and I was looking forward to ending my day.

I was also a little sad since the run was too much shuffle for what I had been targeting, I really wanted to run 8:00-8:30 minute miles, but that was not what the body was able to do on this day. The legs were ready, the heart and lungs were ready, the stomach, not so ready.

E (top) and me (bottom) near the finish.

After seeing my parents near the finish area turnaround, I kicked it in and passed a few more racers for a good finish. Run time was 4:00:25, and I ran a negative split at 2:04:53 on the way out and 1:55:32 on the way back. Afterwards I decided should be able to target running under 3:50 here, and that 3:40 or better would be ideal.

Afterwards I headed straight for massage. The back of my left knee had started to tighten during the bike, the right hip flexor was still a tad sore from the swim, and overall leg soreness was present. The next day, my core was so sore. Hurt to laugh, cough, etc, all through the ribs and abs. A walk in the lake, water at mid chest, helped. The lake was still cold.

Us. Afterwards.

This year I met a long-standing goal of mine to break 11 hours. I am happy….. but not satisfied. The bar has been raised and I am ready to go even faster. Unfortunately, I did not sit down and reflect on my race goals from a time-based perspective before the race, so I ended up a little disappointed, unexpectedly. To save time in the future, I think I should state some time-based goals now to at least have as a starting point next year, when we are doing this all over again.

A big “Thanks” to Sunny and my parents for awesome spectating, eating of mini donuts, being agreeable with swapping Theo’s (greek food) for Japanese, standing in the rain, and getting up for breakfast. Based on the photos on my camera, it looks like mom and dad enjoyed their own bike ride up to the vineyards towards Naramantha while we were out there setting the Penticton roads on fire. In the end, good times were had by all!

Official A&E supporter.

The day after.

My parents the day before the race, getting out of the chilly lake.