Thursday, July 31, 2008

The end of July

July is ending, and with it we will get a new month or workouts on our training schedule very, very soon. It has been a good month, but looking back, I have to a bit honest and say that I, (A), have been worked over pretty well by our July workload. My body absorbed it pretty well, but my mind was no always "with the program." And the more I get into the sport of Ironman (quite different than the sport of triathlon, by the way) the more I value the mental battles of the training and race and what they, as a part of sport, can teach me about life and me as a person.

I survived this July (and our biggest block of training for IM Canada), but I'm not sure I thrived. Then again, I'm a bit numb at this point and may need a week or two, or even into our taper in a few weeks, before I can definitively say if I won the mental battles this month or not.

A big part of my reflection today is in part due to last weekend, when we took a little "vacation" from Ironman training and went to RockyGrass instead. I've already given a list of highlights from RockyGrass, but unless you where there, it is a pretty meaningless list. What is more insightful are some of my reactions to the situations we encountered.

We were out of our own, comfortable little "Iron-world" interacting with people of all shapes, sizes, and ages. In the morning we got to sleep in. As a result, it was really, really hot by the time we got outside everyday. Since it was so hot, nearly everyone was in the creek to cool off. And very little clothing was worn, mostly it was swimsuits and the odd t-shirt here and there when sitting in the sun.

And I was hit, time and again, with the realization that people do come in all shapes and sizes. Especially the kids. At that age, they do not care what they look like, they just want to play and have fun. They were running around, splashing in the creek, building pits, rivers, and castles in the "beach" area, and getting their faces (legs were popular, too for some reason) painted over int he family tent. As an adult observer, I couldn't help but notice the super skinny kids and the chubby kids. There was a smattering of both, and many who fell in between the two extremes, but it did seem to me that the number who could be considered "obese" by medical standards was higher than I would have expected.

It was also odd to really do something that was not swim-bike-run related. And to do it all day long. It was tiring! We had fully intended to get in a little training each morning before hitting the venues, but soon realized that was either not possible or would severely compromise our RockyGrass experience. This was especially evident Sunday morning when we were scrambling to get there for the opening show, the Gospel set, and had to either HTFU and get out the door to Lyons, or get a workout in. On Saturday, we did get a nice, glorious run in. In fact, it was one of my best-feeling runs all month. But on the "schedule" had been a 2-hour mountain bike and a run. Forgetting both E's and my mountain biking shoes at home caused us to have to improvise (with a good final result) and for some reason that bothered me at first. Luckily, like I already said, it was a really, really god run, followed by a really, really good dip in the creek, so I soon forgot about my "hardship" of having no bike to report on my training log.

Which brings me to my next point. Come Monday morning, during my blog-check up, I soon became aware of how many people had very good training weekends last week. And we saw that firsthand, too, with all the folks out riding and running on the Boulder County roads and trails as we drove up to Lyons each morning. It was really weird to drive one these roads that we usually train on. Especially since we drive so little to go anywhere on a normal weekend. I would get a little weepy that I wasn't one of the masses......

But I had an AWESOME time at RockyGrass. One that I wouldn't trade for anything. I got to spend gobs of time outside, in a beautiful place, next to the man I love. And I got to hear 14 different artists or groups perform their version of bluegrass (or Celtic, or roots, or nu-grass, or....) music to a huge, appreciative audience. And it was E's birthday weekend, too, so spending time together, making good memories, and just relaxing WERE very important. When it was hot, we went to the creek. Or sprayed each other with our squirt bottle. When we were hungry we pulled out our yummy PB&H sandwiches or hit up one of the food vendors. We got free socks. We visited with friends we haven't seen in a while (Ironman training and finishing a PhD (Helen) will do that to you!). We enjoyed being alive and being in the moment.

Finally, I observed many, many good learning moments, too. Some of those were the topics in my earlier list. For example, we saw many top-quality performers (all the folks up on the stage were very, very good) but the ones who left the longest lasting impressions were the ones that played with heart. Do that. In everything you do. It doesn't have to be limited to music, do that with sport, with work, with life.

Also, challenge yourself. When you master a skill, find some way to do it better or make it harder, like playing your fiddle (fast!) while holding it upside down. Or like picking up a set of bones and using them to make music. Or finding a way to contribute to a song using a kazoo. Or a jug (really...was that your carry on? What did the airlines say when you flew with that to Denver from Calgary?).

Finally, don't limit yourself to be defined by what others think of you and your position in your group. There is no such thing as just a drummer, or one way that a mandolin should sound or be played. You can play a banjo with a bow (I saw it happen!). You can write and sing bluegrass in Mandarin Chinese.

Dream big. Live bigger. And do it with passion and heart.



Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Dear Trail,

As E wrote yesterday, our evening workout included climbing up Deer Trail, at the top of Lee Hill, until the pavement ended at the turn off for Mine Lane. It's a steep little road, only 1.5 miles or so, but it took me over 16 min to climb up it, and that was after ~35 min of climbing up Lee Hill Road.

During my assent, my mind started to wander a bit. It came around to the thought that Coach J had mislabled this part of the workout as Dear Trail (not Deer Trail). So I started composing letters to the road. First they were directed to the complaint department:

Dear Trail,
Please make yourself less steep. And with a bit less loose gravel in the turns.....

Dear Trail,
There are too many turns on this road. Please make yourself straighter and less steep......

This wasn't really working. It was a nice night out, and the road is a good challenge, but I was becoming too negative and not enjoying the opportunity to get stronger and fitter, and I definitely was not enjoying my surrounding environment enough. In fact, all this negativity just made me want to pull over, stop, and wait for E to get up and come back for me. That wasn't a good idea, so I switched focus and started to write thank-you notes instead.

Dear Trail,
Thank you for being so steep. Thank you for making me stronger.....

Dear Trail,
Thank you for the chance to climb up you and get fitter......

Dear Trail,
Thank you for not having more traffic. Thank you for having good road. Thank you for being a good, hard challenge, I mean opportunity.......

It worked! It didn't make it easier physically, but it got me up and over the mountain mentally. A simple mis-spelling by our coach had me off on quite a tangent.

By the end of the climb, my thank-you notes had dribbled into a mere chant: me-stronger,me-fitter, me-stronger, me-fitter........... And then, once at the top, I did look around and absorb the view. And the descent! What fun! I love a smooth, fast descent on my bike. The only choice we had to make was what side of Lee Hill Road to take down.

A quick run (that was slightly complicated with a gassy tummy) and we were done for the day! For all of you local readers, I recommend a climb up Deer Trail on your bike. It isn't easy, but it sure is a rewarding opportunity. And a quick trip from Boulder, easy to do after work. I like Sugarloaf, too, but this one has better roads to get there. Try it out!


Yep, Trouble

It's official. Trouble at the Rydholm's household as there are no cookies. This may normally not be a big deal (okay it would always be a big deal), but IM CA is 24 day and 21 hours away and we need our treats.

We won't be able to make more on Saturday since we have our hardest training day ever planned. Maybe Sunday we can stand long enough to whip out a batch.

BTW - If anyone wants to carry water for us for our long run at midday on Sat, let me know. Otherwise we might have to see if anyone rents out camels around here.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Potential Trouble

Yep, there is potential trouble in the Rydholm household. I don't mean a little trouble, but big, really big trouble. You see, I think we are out of cookies. Not just any cookies, but our 2.35 oz (pre-baking), full of chocolate goodness, incredibly delicious cookies.

While making lunches yesterday, I got the last two cookies out of the freezer in the kitchen. We freeze the cookies immediately after baking which keeps them nice and fresh tasting. We then get them in our lunches. I get a full one each day, but Amber somehow survives on a MWF schedule where she eats half a cookie M-Th and a full one on Friday.

My memory was that there was another bag of them in the deep freeze in the garage, but I couldn't find them this morning. As we had to get to swimming, I didn't have time to completely check the freezer (its big and full), so that why it is only potential trouble at this point. I promise to report back whether or not I find them. Its possible that there is cookie dough in there which is half trouble since we won't have time to bake them tonight.

BTW- in case you wondered why I know that they are 2.35 oz (pre-baking) cookies. It is because I weigh the dough out for each one. Sunny finds this funny, but it provides good consistency.

As far a training goes, we get to head up Lee Hill and Deer Trail tonight.

Peace Out,

Monday, July 28, 2008

My hands hurt from clapping so much.... RockyGrass!

This weekend, E and I were BUSY. But not with the normal triathlon training routines. Nor were we spending quality time in the yard or garden. Nor even doing a major house project (and we have a list with quite a few of those on it!).

No. We were at RockyGrass.

It was AMAZING. And I really do mean that.

Here are a few highlights (there is no way I can capture but a fraction of what happened, especially right now on a Monday morning when I am trying to get all caught up on other things, but this short list should help jog my memory in the future for additional stories as needed):
  • Saturday morning run, fast, fresh-feeling legs, dunk in the creek.
  • Making blueberry pancakes on the camp stove.
  • Friendly tarpmates, both fellow squatters (new friends) and later our old friends sharing their prime real-estate up front.
  • Butterfly faces (Emily!)
  • Cooling off in the creek. And again! And again! Along with 100s of other festivarians.
  • Fish tacos. Greek salad. Ice cream sundae. Veggie dumplings. Steak burrito.
  • Dragonflys.
  • "No such thing as 'just a drummer.' "
  • Once you master the fiddle, learn to dance. Then learn to play it upside down!
  • "So that's what a mandolin sounds like!"
  • Play them bones.
  • Carolina Chocolate Drops. 'Nuf said.
  • Howl at the moon!

We took pictures. We recorded sound. We got a few video clips. We each got a little sunburnt (not too bad, though, surprisingly). We ate yummy food. We relaxed. And now, I'm tired!

Hopefully we'll be able to post pictures soon.


Friday, July 25, 2008

Just when you think you're hardcore......

A little inspiration this summer from some winter athletes..... reminds me of my younger days, when this WAS my summer routine (though I was too chicken to try much racing or obstacle-coursing on my roller skis).

Off season, what off season? For the whole story:

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Setting Goals

So, I (Eric) started writing this in early June, but never finished the post. The reason I started it in the first place was to figure out what my goals are for Canada. Now that we have gotten a lot more of our training done, I can set more realistic time goals. In the end they aren't what's most important (doing everything i can in training and racing to go as fast as possible on race day), but they are helpful to have in my mind. Uncontrollable (weather, injuries, etc.) can have a major impact on the day, but getting through those is part of my main goal.

First off, my IM history
Canada '05

Three weeks before, I sprained my ankle bad (popping sound, major discoloration, swelling, etc.). For the week after the sprain, I believed that my chance for racing was about 0.1%. The next week it rose to 10% and I wasn't sure if we would even make the trip. We ended up making the trip and I got myself to the start line, but my plan was to continually evaluate the ankle and if necessary, quit. The swim was the worst with my ankle being hit about 19 billion times, but I made it to the bike which was pretty good on the ankle. My T2 was 20 minutes as I went to the med tent to get it taped and the run went pretty well considering I had 0 degrees of inflexion with the ankle and you need -6 degrees to run normal. Overall, I was thrilled to finish, but I never had any time goals for the day.

Canada '06

My second IM went horrible during the run due to nutritional mistakes (nutrition in my view is very controllable, but takes making mistakes to really learn). My swim was just slow due to a lack of swimming over the summer. I also wasn't very happy with my bike time as it was only 12 minutes faster than the previous year, but I hadn't biked as much as the previous year. The disappointments from this race made Amber and I realize we needed a coach.

Canada '07

My third went well but pit stops and headwinds on the bike were the uncontrollable events. My swim improved by 8 minutes as I swam regularly starting in April. I dropped 8 minutes off my bike time (16 without the pit stops on the bike), which is some progress but still not satisfied with it. I had my first solid IM run, although not really fast (a few months having my first solid HIM run at Buffalo Springs). Starting the run, I calculated I needed a 3:43 to finish in 11 hours and ran the first half at the exact right pace, but couldn't keep the pace on the way back. I may have been able to finish a few minutes faster if I had taken it more conservatively on the way out, but at least i tried.

Arizona '08

My fourth went well but a flat on the bike (staple in sidewall) and the heat (93 degrees) were uncontrollables. Swim improved another 6 minutes (steady swimming since IM CA). Bike was eight minutes longer then CA last year (flat at AZ took about as much times as the pit stops at CA). Biggest reason was a lack of time on the bike this spring. Maybe too much XC skiing, maybe too crappy weather, but only one century before the race wasn't enough to be strong throughout. Run was 2.5 minutes slower than CA, which given the heat at AZ may be a better effort. Better hydration through the run would have helped, as i zoned out a bit on that on the first lap.

Canada '08

Looking forward to #5, in order to improve my time I know that I need to 1) follow my nutrition plan 2)bike faster 3) run stronger and 4) maintain/improve my swimming.


Although swimming is my weakest event, I'm not that motivated to reduce my times significantly. If I was focused on Olympic distance, I'm sure that would change but my potential time gains on the bike and run are much more. Based on this, my training goal is to keep swimming. Come race time, I need to find good feet and stay relaxed. Race goal of 1:09 (minute faster than Arizona)


Biking has gone pretty well over the last few months as we have done a lot of climbing, racing back in Minnesota, and some long rides in the mountains. I was able to get out even while I was sick (keeping the heartrate low). My main goal in Canada will be to stay hydrated, fueled and not overheated, but I think I can do that and be at 5:30.


My background is rooted in running and I can run pretty fast (at least for an IM athlete), but need to keep getting stronger with my running so I can hold pace for the whole race. Right now, even with missing two of the last three long runs due to being sick and heat exhaustion on the 4th, I feel stronger than last year. My goal is a 3:40. If I make all the times listed with 8 minutes total for transitions, that's a 10:27 overall. A 40 minute or so PR, but that's without pit stops or flats or whatever.

Be consistent. Set a watch alarm.

Oh, what a swim!

This morning, our 6 a.m. masters had a new coach subbing for Kurt. She mixed things up a bit. It was a nice change, and we even got in near-normal distance. Here is some of the fun stuff (not the whole workout, I thought I'd leave out the normal sets since they were just regular swimming):

400 pull with "mermaid turns" where you turn between the flags and the + at the end (no-wall flip turns, stops you dead in the water, requires decent power to get going again).

4x50 "train" where you swim with a partner. The first swimmer pulls while the second swimmer holds onto their ankles and kicks. At the flags, the back person stands up and starts walking backwards for 10 steps while the front person swims as hard as they can and focuses on form. Switch leaders after every 50 m.

4x25 dolphin dives. Like it sounds. Trying to get your tummy out of the water with each jump. I made these frog-dolphins because I was really working on squatting and jumping, like a frog.

4x25 run the 1st half, swim the second 1/2 of each 25 m.

Made for a fun morning!



Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Eb and flow.

Not much to report here. I'm starting to feel a bit like an engineer again due to the changes in projects I'm part of at work (this a a very good thing).

Training-stresses are starting to spill into life-stresses. Not too much to say about that, except that I hope E and I are through that now and can get back to our regularly scheduled programming (train, eat, sleep, work, train......). Ironman makes for a fairly regimented weekly schedule (just ask Sunny about living with us for a week). Sometimes without much breathing room, you ...forget to breathe.

I'm a bit tired today. Not really a surprise. My Sunday-long-run- that-generated-a-race-report (lol) tapped my energy kinda like a race, too. Should make today's focus-bike interesting. Good thing our intervals are only 1-2 minutes and only rpm (and HR) based. The legs will still burn, but I should be able to cope.

On tap for tomorrow: an easier day of training, and fish tacos for dinner! I'm already looking forward to it. And to more good work-productivity...I thrive on being busy! Oh, and I also have a painful hour with Josh (massage) on the schedule that I am desperately in need of.

The ups. The downs. The ebs. The flows.

I am thankful for it all. Kinda like the Garth Brooks song The River. I just hope I keep progressing down stream and don't get stuck in too many eddys along the way.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Word of the Day: perseverance

perseverance: (from the action or condition or an instance of persevering : steadfastness

persevere: to persist in a state, enterprise, or undertaking in spite of counterinfluences, opposition, or discouragement

Yesterday was Sunday, July 20th. It was a big day of racing around the country and a big day of training for the Rydholms. We got out the door for our key run session just after 6am to try and beat the heat, since the forecasted high was 101 F. E has been fighting off a case of the sniffles (sinus crud) and it soon became apparent that he was not recovered to the point where he should be doing a workout of this magnitude, so he turned for home.

My epic run was now an epic, solo, run.

The first, 70 min effort started well. I felt a little fatigue in my legs from Saturday's bike in the hills (with over 5000 ft of climbing, 4000 of which was one straight continuous climb up Left Hand Canyon to Ward at tempo), but all systems were functioning as intended and I settled in to practice running my goal IM marathon pace. Then my pace started to yo-yo all over the place. Part of that was the undulating terrain, and part of that was the significant mental effort I was having to use to keep focused and keep on pace. My normal, relaxed, IM marathon pace was not coming with the normal, relaxed effort I was used to. And my mind wanted to drift.


Oh look, pelicans! 4 this week! That's 2 more than last week.

Dog. Running leash-less on a country road with no shoulder. Being directed by its owner directly into my path of travel as they crossed the street. ??????

Dirt shoulder or paved shoulder....hmmmmm.

Cross Boulder Peak bike course. See police officer. See no racers (too early). See cars, voluntarily stopping 40 yards (rough guess) back from intersection.

Slow. Look. Decide to cross street. In front of cars. But they are stopped. Halfway across hear police officer tell some cyclists behind me, who I never saw, to wait for the cars, and hear him make some comment to me about ", too, lady"

But I'm already halfway across the street! In the way of the "traffic!" So I just keep going. I'm only plodding by now anyways.


I talk myself through the first effort. I enjoy the small break before the second effort too much, slowing down more than intended, but getting my HR under control. I start the second effort by the start area for the Boulder Peak Triathlon and follow Cameron Dye, a local pro, on his warmup jog.

I realize I am toast. Mentally I start to break down. I'm not going to make pace. Not even close. I'm frustrated.

I see coach J as I crest my second-to-last hill before home, I am walking. A mirage? No. He even gives me some water. Better yet, he speaks words of wisdom and sends me onward. I run again.

I walk my last hill, frustrated at my inability to run, but then I crest the hill, start to jog, start to run, and imagine I am nearing the finish line of my next IM race. I see the lake. I see the SS Sicamous. Pace picks up. Faster, faster. I. Go. Onward.

I turn and head towards home. A block to go I see E on a bike. He is looking for me. He asks how I'm doing. All my mental strength fades as I cry out "I'm dying" then I round the corner, hit our driveway, head inside, take off everything (visor, HR monitor, sunglasses, shoes) in the entry and hit the shower. My breathing comes in gasps. The cool water is a relief. I get the dust off then head straigh upstair for an ice bath.

That is where I was during the pro-race for Boulder Peak that we had meant to spectate for. We missed seeing Angela win her first pro race, and the exciting mens race, too. And we missed seeing Amanda get second in the SW4 field at the Leanin' Tree crit (though we got to see both Kuhls race later in the afternoon, since she also did the women's open race....awesome!).

So, about the word of the day. This run did not shape up as intended. It even derailed some of our other plans for the morning, but it still did serve a purpose. Provided that my recovery efforts were/are adequate, it is sure to provide physical enhancements. More importantly, perhaps, are the mental benifits. These are what I am still sorting through and defining, but overall, things got rough yet I never gave up. I held "steadfast" and was not deterred, "in spite of couterinfluences", be they physical fatigue and discomfort or the mental distractions that were thwarting my concentration or surrounding my determination with negativity. I dealt with frustration and kept going. I worked through nutrition successfully (though may have needed more, but at least I learned that AND avoided GI distress). I tried to ignore the heat. I persevered.

In hind sight, I am not sure I was physically capable of executing the workout as I originally intended with the tool set available yesterday. I made it to ~15 miles, but then had burned through my muscle glycogen reserves (which I'm guessing had been depleted Saturday and not adequately replentished yet) and simply ran out of gas. Hopefully this does not happen race day. But if it does, at least now I've expanded my tool box to include the confidence needed to keep going. To walk a short bit if needed and come back running stronger (I do NOT want to walk, but......).

And all of this "learning" and "persevering" before 9:15 in the morning!

The rest of the day included plenty of eating, resting, visiting with the Kuhls in between their crit races (we live mere blocks from yesterday's race course), stopping by Tate and Seth's BBQ, a quick 3500 m swim for me (with some good race pacing, despite feeling toasted from the morning run), and a fabulous dinner of wild rice Waldorf salad and grilled pork with fresh cherry salsa. Yum!


I hate being somewhat sick.

Being in the limbo land of somewhat sick is very annoying. Last week, I came down with a sinus infection mid-week, like I seem to do once a year. My main goal for last week then became to get better enough for Sunday's run which A wrote about on Friday.

Took Wednesday off from training. I biked very easy to and from work on Thursday which seemed to help clear me up a bit. On Friday, I felt better still and Amber and I biked easy that evening to Rush for a smoothie bowl with our cycling team. On Saturday, as A went up the hills with Jared, I biked with three friends up to Lyons, around the loops up there, and back to Boulder. My heart rate stayed low the whole time, so I really hoped that I would be ready for Sunday's run and swim.

Didn't sleep well on Saturday due to heat and congestion. Woke up Sunday feeling worse than I had on Saturday. Try to stay positive and head out for the run with A. During our first thirty minutes, I have a headache and am struggling to keep pace. She asks me what my heartrate is a one point and it is 160. Hers is 135. Oh boy. Pick it up to our goal pace after 30 minutes and I realize that it isn't going to happen today. At the next trailhead, I turned left to head home while she turned right to head to Niwot. I eventually make to home, very upset that I couldn't do this workout that had been part of our prep of the last two IM's. But, there are 33 days until Canada, so I've got to get healthy and focus on the workouts to come and not dwell on the missed ones.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Word of the day......... stay tuned!

We don't normally post on the weekends, so this is an update on Sunday's training forecast:

A 2:40 run with a :30 warm-up (slightly slower than goal IM pace), :70 at goal pace, :10 reset (slightly slower than goal IM pace), and a final :50 at goal pace.

This is our 3rd IM prep with coach J, and this is the 3rd time he has given us this workout. It is a very good indicator of where you are at with the training. Here is an edited excerpt from my training log the last time we ran this (on a Wed. after work, not a Sunday morning, but still.....):

sustained wind out of the west holding at 15-20 mph, gusts at 30-35 mph.......but it could happen race day. You don't get to pick race weather, so you don't get to pick training weather. Garmin had some trouble with the wind and trees getting a signal, so some of the data may be off. word of the day: epic. last time we did this workout, word was deathmarch, so we are definately improving, though that was a run as part of a brick, after a longish bike.

feel: was tough, but very manageable. The opening 30 min and then 1st 70 min effort were smooth and comfortable. Into the wind was tough, but just kept the feet moving. Was drinking about every 10 min. slowed down to add a long sleeve shirt during the 10 min break (may have taken this 10 min easier than intended, but not by much, and had a tail wind here) and to have a clif shot gel (chocolate, not as bad as I remembered, should be able to train on these, but still will probably race on strawberry or razberry or power gel). The second 50 min effort was tough, legs were tightening a lot, hamstrings shortening, stomach was still sloshy, but getting worse but it was still manageable. Tried to focus on thisngs like cadence at 90 per leg, relaxing shoulders, how I was feeling, and being in the moment and aware of my body and surroundings rather than just pushing through. Legs were sore and still woke me and kept me awake for 30+ min twice, but not like last week where sleep never came again after 1am.

Route: N and E on the trail from lookout up to Niwot. Took the Niwot Town Trail west and came out by the light, then took niwot road west, all the way onto part of the boulder backroads course.......

You get the picture. Stay tuned for Monday's update, I'll try and have the "word of the day" from the run.

And good luck to all Boulder Peak racers on Sunday. We may try and make our run-route go by the race. This will be our first year in Boulder not racing the Peak. Heck, even the year I "took off from triathlon" I did this race. Go fast and race safe!


Oh Boy

I think my wife is losing it, she just blogged about garbage (see below). Oh well, I lost it a long time ago.

Garbage Upgrade

Got home from work last night and found a packet of info in the mail from our garbage haulers. Boulder County is requiring all waste removal services to provide curbside recycling and composting and it increase their rates for the removal of all non-recycle and non-compost items over the base minimum.

We recycle a lot already. We never even 1/2 fill our "garbage" can (with the odd exception, like awesome Friday BBQs for visiting friends) while our recycling is overflowing. And we had to pay extra for our recycling services since we are in the county, not the city.

Top that off with 2-3 trips a year to the yard drop off center for stick and leaf waste from our trees and you can see that we are making a conscious effort to keep as much stuff out of the landfill as possible already.

But now the city is making it easier. And from what I can tell, cheaper (for us) by about $5 a month....yeah!

Now I just need to remember that greasy pizza boxes, used napkins and paper towels, and meat scraps can go into the "compostables." I think we'll still compost vegetable and carb food waste at home, for our own garden, but more of our waste can now avoid the landfill.

Gotta love Boulder!



Thursday, July 17, 2008

Calling all climbers

E is sick, so our Saturday plans of doing the Mt. Evans Hill Climb (a 28 mi race up a mountain to 14135 ft) are off. It's funny, I was pretty scared about this race...... and now that it is off our calendar I am a little sad. It is a beautiful, challenging, physical and mental test to do this ride in training, but I was not sure how I would do racing it. And now, looking at the maps and photos on the race website, I think I will miss the challenge.

Not the hefty race-fee, though, which is a big reason why I am not doing the race as the solo member of the house even when E is under the weather.

Maybe we'll get a training day in on this mountain sometime in 2008 yet....... In the meanwhile, I'm looking for a few good local riders who want to do some climbing around Boulder this Saturday. I can go by myself, but thought it might be fun to have others along for company.

I'm looking for 3-4 hours total ride time, and am thinking of climbing up Left Hand Canyon either up to Ward or up through Jamestown to do Super Jamestown (all the way to Peak-to-Peak). Either way, I'm planning to descend through the Raymond area to Lyons and then head home via 36, or 75th.

I'm open to suggestions for other routes, too, but want a solid climb of 60-80 min. In coach J's words: "Keep effort strong aerobic. Build ability to climb aerobically. Rpm 70-80." Very open on departure time and meeting place, but I would favor a morning departure to try and get home before it hits 90 + F.

If anyone's interested in joining me, let me know.......


Wednesday, July 16, 2008


....something I'm trying to get more of. It's a funny sort of goal, since I am the only one who will really know if I'm making it happen or not.

Last week was a toughie for me....... lots of good training, but also plenty of moments when I was mentally struggling with focusing on being in the present and fully focusing on the training at hand and just giving it my all.

Physically - a good week, mentally - came up a bit short of what I was hoping for.

Luckily, this is a new week, full of new days with new training and a chance to make it happen all over again.

For my own benefit, here is a list of highlights from the last week of when I was focused and getting it done (never know when I my need to look back on this list in the future to find my GRIT):
  • Transitioning from who made this hill steeper and longer to really just enjoying the ebb and flow of the trail and my body as it transitioned up, over, and down the trails at Hall Ranch. The descent was almost like riding a mountian bike as I looked for my line and flowed through it, up and over any obstacles.
  • The value of the good, tired feeling after a hard run, especially with the promise of a dip in the creek and yummy dinner. This feeling is worth seeking!'
  • The joy of riding with people we haven't ridden with before, especially our friends who just moved to Colorado. Remember, Estes Park is a tourist destination that most get to by car.
  • "Shut up or lead" spoken in earnest to E as he was commenting to the other E about the fact that all of the last X number of cars were white while I was leading our group and trying to not fall over.
  • The importance of good friends. And of seeing them. Either while training or while enjoying good food and drink.
  • The acknowledgment that our Sunday run was tough, and the body was tired, but that in retrospect, we were both ~ 10 bpm lower across the board, at the same pace, compared to the last time we did that workout in March in prep for IM AZ (we are getting more fit, even if it still hurts).
  • When coach J gives us a Sunday swim that is not Masters, I need a time goal and the focus to count 800 m correctly and make my time goal, otherwise I might as well just go sit in the sun and burn my front side.
  • Don't swim at noon. Always wear sunscreen. And put it on the recommended 20-30 min before going outside.
  • Find out more about the Hank the Cowdog books (all 53) that were the focus of this week's sermon at church. And learn to look for the lessons in each activity I do.
  • My back does not hurt! Time, patience, and discipline with stretching, strengthening, and body work (ball and roller) is paying off.....keep it up!
  • Rest days are valuable. Cherish them and try and use them to get extra sleep.
  • Even when technology lets you down (crummy Powertap!) I am strong and can get the power-hill reps done even if the data is marginal. And the resulting graphs can entertain, and provide value even if the averages are useless. Nothing like 3x3x60 s to make a pretty picture.
Until next time.....I'll be working on the grit, starting with tomorrows mile repeats.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Nice Weekend

When thinking of a title, I (E) thought to myself;

"Myself, how do you title such a nice weekend?"

"Well I, that seems like a good way."

So there's your title.

What made it so nice? Good friends, good weather, good training, good food and good beer.

Good Friends
Since the Sunny was in town, we had a BBQ on Friday. We got to see a number of people we haven't seen in a while and I got to play grill master on the big grill.

On Saturday, we rode with another A and E pair (Amanda and Eric), Lindsey, and Tim. Tim headed home early as he did IM CdA, but the rest of us ended up chatting a bit during and after the ride.

On Sunday, we had to see Sunny head back to OR, which was bad, but had to happen at some point. We had gotten stressed at the beginning of the week that we weren't giving her enough time, but it all worked out well and we thoroughly enjoyed hosting her last week.

Good Weather
Only a high of 80 on Saturday was a nice relief from the 90's we have been having. Yesterday got that hot again though. We need some rain though.

Good Training
A and I got in a riding, running and swimming over the weekend.

The ride was up Big Thompson Canyon to Estes, over to Allenspark and down St. Vrain Canyon. A bit over 100 miles with a good amount of climbing. With the weather being so great, the ride seemed even nicer than usual. Amber did put the hammer down on us climbing out of Estes.

Our long run on Sunday morning went well. We took familiar trails and roads from home, so that wasn't too interesting. We did see about 7 hot air balloons that had taken off from by our house and ran through the shadow of one of them by the Rez.

We were pretty tired by our swim Sunday afternoon and got sunburned during it as we applied our sunscreen immediately before getting in the pool. Sunny swam for a whole 900 meters or so, while we had our 800 repeats, so I got quite jealous of her reading on the pool deck.

Good Food
I overcooked the burgers on Friday a bit, but the chicken and brats turned out well. The homemade ice cream we made went over too well as there wasn't any left over. So sad.

Saturday, Amber and I went to Cafe Blue by our house and had a great dinner (Trout special for Amber, Shellfish Pasta special for me). Afterwards, we got thin mint blizzards as they are this month's special at DQ.

Last night, Amber made an excellent pizza with a pesto sauce, red bell pepper, grilled chicken (my contribution), and artichokes. Oh, and another thin mint blizzard as Sunny wanted to go.

Good Beer
Nothing too overboard, but enjoyed OB's Old Chub, a taste of Avery's Presidental, Deshutes Inversion, and a Leinenkugel.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Fast Women

Yesterday Sunny graced us with her presence on our run. Normally, we have a track workout on Thursdays, but A asked our coach (Jared) to include some trail runs/fun for this week since Sunners was going to be in town and he obliged by giving us a 90 min run.

Problem with trail runs around here is deciding which one to run, but we decided on Wednesday to head to Hall Ranch up near Lyons. I was pushing for it due to the promixity to Oskar Blues, a brewpub with tasty food and even better beer (Mountain Sun is still tops on my list, but OB is a close second). Lyons is a nice town set right by the mountains that A and I considered moving to when we started looking for a house, but we decided to stay closer to Boulder as we didn't know where A would end up after graduation. Nicole and Tim DeBoom live or lived in Lyons and Nicole told the CU tri team that she ran Hall a few times a week.

Yesterday turned pretty warm and it was still over 90 when we picked up Sunny to head up north. It was still hot when we got to the trailhead, but there was a little breeze at times. We headed up the trail that mtb bikers aren't allowed on (vast majority of people at Hall) and Sunny and I predicted that we wouldn't see anyone on the whole 4.5 miles of that section. We climb a lot, decend a little and climb some more up to the top. A wasn't feeling great and didn't keep our pace, but we found some great spots to stop and take in the view (and for me to catch my breath).

We made our way to the top (still hot) and took one side of the loop since A and Sunny thought it would be more in the trees. A little bit later Sunny states "I think the otherside might have been the ones with trees", but at least we were getting a net loss in elevation. Sunny and I start counting moutain bikers and see three within the loop.

We then take another trail back to the car that is more technical and see 9 more bikers and 2 horses. Sunny drops me hard on some of the technical sections and I roll my left ankle at one point, which freaked me out more than actually hurt as I sprained my right ankle badly a few years ago. We all make it back to the car and drink the warm water that was in there.

We head back to Lyons and find spot to get to the St. Vrain Creek to cool the legs. I get hungry and we head to dinner at OB. I ordered a TenFidy (10.5% abv, imperial stout) Silo burger that has not one but two types of pork (spicy, shredded pork and bacon) on top of a 1/2 patty. Healthy - no, worth it - yes.

Afterwards, we head towards DQ, but it was already closed. Headed home and crashed.

This morning, we all complained of sore legs, but the run was well worth it.

Looking forward to one of my favorite rides tomorrow, heading up Big Thompson Canyon to Estes Park.

Peace Out,

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Grananaola Pancakes

After our morning swim today, the three of us (E, Sunny, and me) headed out for breakfast. Destination: Walnut Cafe. Objective: at least one large serving of Grananola Pancakes. Outcome: two orders of Grananola Pancakes and an order or Two Eggs Anyway with breakfast potatoes and blueberry cornbread. Yum!

Food was shared, community style, around the table until all were full (we actually finished everything, so maybe until all were overly-full). Cravings were satisfied.

Hey, Sunny said that this was what got her through the workout this morning: thoughts and dreams of chocolate chip, banana, granola pancakes. So we had to indulge! And it was mostly healthy, too, at least before the toppings. Amazingly, it is nearly lunchtime and I have yet to snack or look at the clock panic stricken that lunch is still more than an hour away. Amazing. For some reason, I'm not yet hungry.

Anyways, food and company were fabulous....thanks guys for a great morning!


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Mood shift.

This gets a bit whiny. Sorry. It was my intent to share my thoughts and feelings in this blog space on a regular basis without dwelling too much on negative thoughts and feelings. That is partly because recently I have noticed a big shift in my perceptions of Irontraining from one of dread to one of excitement, enjoyment, and enthusiasm over the Journey, where it is taking me, and who it is helping me become. But here, today, I whine. If you dare, keep does get better.


E mentioned yesterday that I hadn't updated the blog recently. Well....I really didn't have much to say! He did a good job or recapping our busy, fun weekend. And then I went back to work and got busy with work-life-training, which really makes for a pretty boring read.

Well, yesterday, things got a bit more exciting. For some unknown reason, I was grumpy. It started in the morning, loading the car for swimming. Things (bikes, wheels, pumps, gear bags) all seemed to not want to cooperate. Hrumpf.

The swim was hard. It was a beautiful morning, but my body was STILL tired and a tad sore from Sunday. The swim helped straighten some of that out, but I also got worked and worked hard by my lanemates. They did not seem to be suffering much, but on the tighter stuff I was barely holding onto the interval. Mostly touch the wall and go on to the next one. Again. And again......and again! I was making the times, but no rest.

At the same time, the sun was rising. The sky was clear, the pool was clean. And I was swimming normal pace or faster, so I knew it would be a good day in the natural progression of progress, but still.

I was grumpy.

And tired.

And sore.

I knew half my battle for this swim was mental. I needed to get over the fact that I hurt in odd places and that I was significantly slower than some of my lanemates, and just get down to the business of getting in the best possible workout I could do right now. I needed to let go of the negative thoughts, the self doubt, the side of me that was trying to make excuses for not trying as hard and swimming slower. I knew that was what I needed to do, yet I still struggled in getting it done. I do know that not all was lost, but I also had a hard time completely turning my mind around to the point where I could achieve the maximum benefit for my efforts.

I left thinking what's wrong with me?

After work we had a tough session of bike intervals, on a steep, steep hill (Sugarloaf). This workout was similar to something we did a few weeks ago, but was now broken up inot a few shorter efforts.

Again, I mentally struggled riding on the dirt part of the Boulder Creek Path (in my defense, the dirt was extra loose and sandy yesterday). I was looking forward to the climb, but a little intimidated by the sheer magnitude of the climb in front of me. In the end, I got a good workout in, physically, but again I dropped the ball on the mental side of the effort. It was our one intense-but-short bike of the week. The kind you need to show up prepared for similarly to how you would prep for a race. Game face on. Lots of good self talk. Full of confidence.

And...I....well, I just didn't do it. Physically I was there, riding the hill, grinding away, keep the heart rate and watts close to what they should be. But mentally....the hill won yesterday.

So, this put me into another funk. And a whole new round of what's wrong with me?

I could hear my imagined Marit voice (I've never met her) imitating my imagined Jen Harrison voice (never met her, either) saying get over your bad self but I was stuck and couldn't seem to do it.

E tried to help. He said he was proud of me. That I had climbed well. That it was a tough workout. Still didn't get me out of the funk.

Our transition run helped a little. It was short and sassy. It was supposed to hurt. It was over fast and there was not time for getting distracted by the negativities I was harboring.

Then on to dinner and a little R&R, including a chat with Sunny. That helped, but I still felt like a sour puss, a little black rain cloud, etc.

Luckily, this morning I woke to a mood shift. A big one. "Normal Amber" has returned....rejoice! (Yeah, it was that bad!)

Not sure where this new mood came from or why the change was so dramatic. In fact, I'm really not sure where my bad mood came from, either. But it was almost like a change in the weather this morning. No more "thunderstorms" with big black clouds, thunder and lightning. Nope. Today I'm all sunshine!

Our easy run (or maybe a jog?) went well. It was another beautiful morning, but today I was able to see it in all its glory. Then a short spin in to work. My legs were burning, then transitioned into feeling like lead bricks. It didn't matter. The birds were singing, the roads were clear, the air crisp. Good morning. Good mood. Let's hope it lasts!



Monday, July 7, 2008

E's Recap

After having the last week off from work, here is what i recall from last week.

Monday - Thursday: Mainly did projects around the house, cooked, and did some swimming, biking and running. Managed to cook enough that we have frozen lunches in the deep freeze for about half of the time between now and when we leave for Canada in late August. Also made enough pumpkin, chocolate chip muffins and banana bread loaves so we'll have post-swimming breakfasts for a while. Finally got a seat put on and the cables replaced on my old tri bike, but can't find my non-carbon brake pads that i took off before IM AZ, so it still isn't ready to ride.

Friday the 4th: The day started with heading up to the Scar Top Mtn 12k in Coal Creek Canyon. We mainly knew that it was pretty hilling and mostly on dirt roads, but hadn't seen the course before hand. Amber stated before hand that she wanted to ignore how I went out and keep it mellow for the start. I was pretty amused then when she took off ahead of me, but that was due to a small pack of women that had formed. A few minutes in, I moved ahead of Amber and started chasing the lead woman as I learned in my first road races that the women are usually better pacers then the men. The first half of the race gains in elevation with some steep uphills that burned the lungs but there were a number of downhills which required pretty quick turnover. Around 2.5 miles, I moved in front of the lead women and two other guys, but the next guys were steadily pulling away. For the next five miles, i was pretty much alone, although the lead woman did get close at the top of the course at 4 miles, but I had the weight and height advantage on the downhills. On the way back, some kids in the 5k tried to race, but they couldn't hold on for too long. Finished in 52:37 for 10th overall and second in age group which earned me a pint glass. Enjoyed the pancake breakfast afterwards although waiting in line wasn't fun.

From the race we headed up to the peak to peak, over to Nederland and down Boulder Canyon to where Four Mile Rd starts. The plan was to cruise up on mountain bikes to Gold Hill Inn for the concert and bbq to get our planned spin in and avoid having to park up there. Its been since '02 or so when we last rode up there which was a big mistake on road bikes, but we figured that with the mountain bikes it wouldn't be too bad, even though we had my bike and Amber's old mtb bike since Sunny had Amber's nice bike, were taking clothes up there in our backpacks, it was already hot, and we had just finished a running race. The biggest problem was we thought it would take 45 minutes or so to get up there. Well, it took about 1.5 hours to get up there and we were in bad shape and even worse moods by the top. Four Mile Rd 2, Rydholms 0. Well, soon after I stared suffering from heat exhaustion with disorientation, elevated heartrate and respiration, etc. Not good. Actually really bad. With enough cold water, a wet towel and some shade, I started feeling better. I was actually able to enjoy most of the concert, but still feel really stupid for getting myself into that. The ride down was fun, but we were too beat to go watch fireworks.

Sat: The day was supposed to start with a 3hr bike with some efforts and an hour run. Due to our unplanned efforts on the day before, I tried to draft off of Amber but when she dropped me, i called it a day. She didn't do the whole ride, but since it was in the nineties for most of her ride, that was probably a good idea. In the afternoon, we made our way to the Beer Mile, where Amber did pretty well (2nd woman (out of three)) and I just tried to finish. Considering she had never slammed a beer before let alone 4, she made me proud.

Sun: After 20 minutes of our planned 2 hr run, i had to turn back. Amber stuck it out and had a good run. When she got home, she immediately asked how hot it was and was dissapointed to learn it wad only 76, but it was actually a little humid here which is unusual. Amber ended up taking an ice bath, but the day turned cooler so it took a while for her to warm back up.

Later we headed up the Niwot to volunteer for the crit that our bike team was holding. It was pretty impressive to see how fast the pro's were taking the 170 degree corner that i was marshalling. There were a few crashes in the higher cat's as there was a some rain that made the road slick.

After the crit, we headed home and had dinner with Sunny who had just gotten back from her adventures in the mountains.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


So...what's 2-up refer to?

No, it's not a new flavor of pop (or soda for you non-midwesterners).

It's not a new yoga move.

It's not the difference in wins to losses for the Colorado Rockies........

Last night, E and I rode our "scooter" 2-up for the first time on public roads. It was GREAT! The bike actually handles better with the weight of another rider. I was overly cautions with turns, accelerations, and braking, but everything felt so smooth. I love that thing!

Often I feel like it is "more bike" that we need. It is the newest vehicle I have ever owned. It is red. It is shiny. It looks fast (it IS fast!). But then I ride it and I am reminded of how much, how VERY, very much I love to ride that motorcycle.

So, we have now entered a new era where we can still carpool to work, but on the scooter. We can do small grocery runs on a less-gas-guzzling vehicle (might look into a bike trailer for the cruiser for this type of errand, too), and try and be a little less "american." We can head into town for dinner, and worry less about parking and feel slightly more responsible for saving our planet (dinner is fine, but no drinks, at least any with EtOH).



The "scooter:"

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


This morning, E and I took Izzy for a nice jog. There is no other way to describe a run where your HR never goes above 130 bpm and your average pace is over 10 min miles.

It was a jog.

As I realized this (and was thankful for how great it felt, almost like a gentle massage for my track-weary legs and glutes) I remembered back to my senior year of high school. My family had moved north that year, and schedules prohibited being on the swim team at my new high school. So I signed up for cross country running.

You must realize that I used to be the girl who HATED running. In elementary school I would try and "help" my dad run his qualifying time for the 2-mile so that he could go fight forest fires every summer. But I ran around our grid-like neighborhood with him for 2 miles only, no more.

In high school, some of my skiing friends convinced me to try track in the spring. I did, and started to have something of an appreciation for running. It was really mostly peer pressure, though ....everyone else (at least me closest high school friends) were doing it. And the more I ran, the less I hated it. But still.....not my sport of choice.

Flash forward to my last year of high school. We moved. To a small town. I was doing classes at the local University and couldn't make swim practices most days with my class schedule. I could make most running practices, though. And it was cross country, so I could always get out and do longer runs from home or the U on my own for the days that my schedule was messy. All of a sudden, running wasn't so bad. In fact, the more I did it, the more I liked it....and the easier it got, and the better I got.

I was a runner.

Some how, some way, I had changed my attitude and enjoyed getting out and getting in some real distance each day. I loved running trails (still do) and tried to get as muddy as possible if the conditions warranted.

And then one day, on a training run with the team, the only other girl and I were a few steps behind the rest of our team mates as we ran steady up a hill. A woman was out in her yard tidying up her flower bed. She looked up and exclaimed something like "Oh what a nice day for a jog....I should get out jogging too."

I was offended. To the point where I still remember this exchange, and the exact location it took place (about 5 miles into a 10 mile run, out in the country on open County roads). Because of the hill, we weren't moving too fast, but we were RUNNING, not jogging. Couldn't she see that? We were polite, commenting about how is was a nice day, and yes, she should get out, too, but my inner thoughts were still ones of indignacy.


Well, today, many years later, I now know that I am a runner (and skier, and triathlete) but I also have turned the corner and value a jog now and then. Especially after a good, hard, fast, track run the night before.

Jog on!


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Weekend recap: Midsommers and the Kuhls

After our race on Saturday, E and I came home, cleaned up, prepped some food, then headed over to the Wik-Meyer's for Midsommers (a week late, but whose counting?).

We were some of the first to arrive (the first, except for Uncle Steve), but we were bringing an extra table and there was some assembly required to make it fit in the car. Maria had the back yard beautifully decorated and Eric had the May pole set in the middle of the lawn. All was ready for a celebration of the longest days of the year.

Soon others were arriving and we were meetin' and greetin', getting name tags (with full descriptions of how we knew the hosts) and getting ready for the Swedish songs and dances around the May pole. Then out came the Kubb sets. We brought ours, too, so there were two pitches set up. The kids thought this was great, at least the four who were old enough to sing, dance, jump like frogs, snort like pigs, and throw sticks. Little Lucas, Axel, and Riley's baby sister were all too small to do much more than sleep or chew on stuff.

Dinner was wonderful. Many different salads, grilled meat, and versions of pickled herring graced the table. And this was after we had been munching on a plentiful supply of yummy appetizers. I chose a turkey burger that was juicy and flavorful.....yum!

Once we were all seated at the looooooong table, the singing of schnapps songs began. Another Swedish tradition for Midsommers (and all other feasting). After a few years of doing this, I think E and I are learning a few tunes and the whole group is starting to sound better. Or maybe this year I was ahead of normal on my schnapps consumption, so anything sounded lovely. It was a good, fun meal, regardless. And it was followed by dessert (blueberry pie and brownies!).

Following dinner Kubb resumed. And more good visiting. And even a nap, by your's truely. We headed home much later than normal, but much earlier than most true Sweeds would have.

The next morning E surprised me with fresh blueberry pancakes before church. When I got home, Eric and Amanda Kuhl were already there. They are friends from highschool and college who we skied with for 4+ years. We hadn't seen them since their wedding! They just moved to Denver from Huston, and we invited them up to Boulder for a bike ride. We wanted to show them something "classic Boulder" but still keep it mellow. At least we accomplished the first! We went up and over Olde Stage and then turned Left and rode to Jamestown. After heading home via Left Hand Canyon, highway 36, and Jay Road, we then drove into Boulder for lunch at Mountain Sun.

After lunch we went our separate ways: them to go rip out carpet, us to get in a nap and more house work (E had already gotten the house looking pretty good). We had a lovely dinner on the deck over the bottle of wine I got last year as an award from Buffalo Springs Lake Triathlon. It was surprisingly good (Merlot)! Then we spent the evening in front of our fire pit watching the light fade into dark and the stars come out.

It was a wonderful weekend!