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...........