Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Reflection on 2008

It has been one hell of a year. Looking back on my life, there have been very few, if any "bad" years. Rather, just very small random bad moments overshadowed by a lifetime of exceptionally happy memories. 2008 has been no different.

I rang in the new year with my best friend by my side, developed strong relationships with new friends, and was able to spend more time with my family. I continued to lose weight, received by first of several triathlon age group medals, completed my first Olympic distance triathlon, completed my first half ironman, ran my first half marathon, ran a MARATHON. And...I REGISTERED FOR IRONMAN. I made great progress at work, I stayed healthy, became even healthier, and helped friends to do the same. I traveled to beautiful places, met beautiful people, and witnessed beautiful weddings of close friends. WE GOT ENGAGED! I know that I am blessed and I am so very thankful.

Looking forward to 2009, I know that it is going to be another incredible year. My calendar is already filling up with fun travels and visits with friends and family. I will be taking my Professional Engineer exam in the spring, getting married in the summer, and completing Ironman in the fall. The winter will be reserved for hard-earned resting and celebrating.

May 2009 bring the highest level of happiness for all of you!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Lookout Tower - 2008

Last weekend, Ken and I headed to the mountains for our annual trek to Clear Lake Butte lookout tower. It's situated at the tip of a peak just south of Mt. Hood; about 10 miles from Government Camp. The snowshoe hike is about 4 miles, which depending on the quantity of snow, can take anywhere from 2-6 hours to hike in. This year the snow was not very deep, so we opted to pack heavy so that we would be comfortable for the entire weekend. Some of the more frivolous items: 6 pack of Jubelale and Black Butte Porter, bottle of red wine, pint of Rumplemintz (to accompany the hot cocoa of course), pint of vodka (to go with the full Nalgene of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice), some bourbon, lots of water, and enough food to feed about 8 people for a week. I don't know what Ken's pack weighed, but mine was probably between 50-60 pounds. Not terrible, but not exactly comfortable while trying to navigate on clunky snowshoes.

As we headed up the first hill, I kept thinking "dang, this hurts more than it should." I audibly complained hoping that Ken might take pity and unload a few of my water bottles. I know, I'm totally shameless. As we stopped for a short breather, I pondered why I was huffing and puffing, despite being 50 pounds lighter than I was four years ago. And four years ago I think I had an easier time getting to the tower. I mean, I just finished a marathon for crying out loud! And then it dawned one me. This year, yes, I am 50 pounds lighter. But I was also carrying a 50-pound pack. Oh. My. God. I used to carry ALL OF THIS around with me ALL OF THE TIME. How horrible for my joints, my bones, and my heart. I had no idea until the weight was gone and then I had to carry it around again.
I still have quite a ways to go with my weight loss. And unfortunately I've put a few back on since my peak of events this summer. But now I can quantify what I need to lose in a way that means something to me.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Sign-Ups for Ironman Arizona 2009

Since Ironman branded races have a tendency to sell-out a full year in advance, often on-site the day after the race, several of us decided to make the trek down to Tempe to sign up for Ironman Arizona 2009. Myself, Jon Peterson, and Tom Wortman volunteered at various locations on race day, then got priority line placement the next morning for sign-ups. We are all now $551 poorer.

I left rainy and windy Portland early Friday morning and arrived in Phoenix to warm sun, clear skies, and a light breeze. The rest of the day was filled with a short run/walk to shake off the sleepiness, dinner with some old friends of Jon, and then too late of a night with too many Jubelales around the patio table. 7:30am came early that next morning.

Saturday we were scheduled to be at the volunteer meeting at 9am and then mill around the race expo afterwards. We got to watch the athletes coming in and out of the water for the Gatorade Practice Swim in Tempe Town Lake, nervous men and women checking their bikes into transition, and supportive family members trying to hide their own nervousness as they helped shephard their sons/daughters/significant others from place to place.
Jon and his girlfriend Jessica wanted to head back to Scottsdale for a nap, so I stayed at the race site to take it all in. Some of my notes from people watching that afternoon:
  • What is up with the compression socks? Do they really make a difference? I think I will get a pair to see what the fuss is about. At least then everyone will think that I'm "in the know".
  • Wearing an IMAZ visor, tri top, tri shorts, and socks looks silly. Wearing it all the day before the race is certainly no exception.
  • Triathletes, on average, are very wealthy.
  • Riding your bike while carrying your 2 gear bags, cup of coffee, and toting your dog on a leash will not end well.
  • Race wheels sure are pretty.
  • Ironman boys are pretty too. And not always in a good way.
  • There are literally thousands of supportive friends and family members. It's incredible how they put up with us.
  • Cervelo city!
  • If you're breaking into a dead sweat and wheezing, just by wheeling your bike into check-in, perhaps you may want to rethink doing the race?

Race Day:
We were up at 3:45am, out the door at 4am, and into transition at 4:30am. My first volunteer assignment of the day was bodymarking, and we had to be there prior to the competitors entering transition at 5am. Being in transition in the dark, with carbon and metal shimmering in the gleam of the spotlights, totally silent, is an amazing experience. Then the music started (U2 I think..."It's a Beautiful Day"...) and one-by-one, they started shuffling in . Wiping the sleep from their eyes (those that managed to get any sleep), trying to down the last of their high-calorie breakfast, and quadruple checking their bikes before heading to us to get inked.

The announcer was directing athletes, as well as spectators. And soon it was time to broadcast "5 minutes until the pro start". The pros were in the lake already. The other 2000+ competitors were lined up in transition, anxiously waiting to cross the triming mat and file into the dark water. The air temperature was just over 50°F, the lake was around 62°F. It was not a warm morning.
The cannon blasted for the pros, the national anthem was beautifully sung, and then the cannon blasted for the mass start. With the sun rising up in the background, the stillw ater under Mill Avenue Bridge turned into a splashing, frothy caldron. The blob moved forward as a single unit, and soon was off in the distance past where we could see. I cried as the last few swimmers struggled to move forward with them, knowing that doggy-paddling 2.4 miles wouldn't be enough. The DNF (did not finish) was only 2 hours 20 minutes away for them. Far too early after 365 days of training and preparation.
My next volunteer assignment was the women's change tent as they come out of the water and transition to the bike. No one warned me of the carnage that would take place here. It was fairly mild at first. The pro women and fast age-groupers needed little assistance. But as the clock ticked on, ladies came in needing so much help. Shivering uncontrollably, unable to open their gear bag, let alone change clothes/don shoes/clip helmet. One gal could only stare at me with blank eyes as I stripped her of her wet clothes and then dressed her, much as I would a young child. I helped her to her feet and walked her into the sunshine, hoping the warmth would be enough to get her out on the bike instead of the medical tent. A few needed help beyond our capabilities and ultimately had to be pulled from the race. I cried again.
During the mid part of the day, we walked from spot to spot on the course -- the cross-section on the run course where the loops intersect, the bike turnaround, transition, the finish line. We couldn't help ourselves from clapping and cheering for every person. My hands and throat took at least 4 days to return to normal.

Onto volunteer assignment #3: run special needs. I worked the megaphone for awhile, asking athletes to raise their hand if they were on loop 2 and wanted their bag. As time went on, some couldn't muster the strength to lift their arm. They would instead lift their gaze, make eye contact with me, and slightly nod their head. I cried for the third time that day. Later on I helped retrieve bags and did more clapping and cheering.
Later that night we reached a point where we were all too exhausted to stay and decided to call it a night. I think we all felt guilty because there were still so many people out on the course far more exhausted and worn down than us. Next year... Our goal this time was to sign-up for 2009, and we still needed to pack, shower, go to bed, and be back out by 5am.

Four hours after my head hit the pillow, the alarm sounded. My normal routine would be to hit snooze and roll back over, but I was...EXCITED!!! Time to sign-up for 2009!!! We arrived to only about 25 other people in line. Huh? I thought this was a big deal? I've read of sign-up lines stretching hundreds deep. But, within 30 minutes, the line was far into the distance and we were glad for the early arrival. We huddled under our mylar blankets (there was a leftover box from the night before) and anxiously waited for registration to open at 6:30am. Finally! FINALLY! We were ushered into to the tent to a volunteer, forked over our credit cards, and got the magic slip of paper with the confirmation number for 2009!
Now, back home again, I'm excited to get back to training. My motivation has returned and I'm ready to dig in and rack up the training hours. Less than 360 days to go...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Girlfriends Half Marathon

If you read my previous blog post, then you know I headed into this with a little whopper of a cold. It was still a good day. Requisite race report:

Girlfriends Half Marathon
Date: 10/19/2008
Distance: 13.1 miles
Time: 2:30:xx (results not posted yet) = pace of 11:27/mile
*Despite my bitching and moaning about being sick, this ended up being a PR for me. Yeah, I did have an easy time to beat, but it's still a PR.

The race started only about 2 miles from my house, so I slept in until the last possible moment. Then I took a shot of dayquil, drank a cup of theraflu daytime, took a decongestant, and had my Mom (who is in town visiting) drive me there while I drank a cup of coffee. I should mention that I've been fighting off a sinus infection and monster cold for the last week or so...
Me at home before the run --Warmup:
I found Kristin who was parked nearby and climbed into her warm car. But then she had to pee, so then I walked around and shivered talking to friends. Girlfriends Jenn, Jen, Lisa, and Nadine were also running.

A beautiful rendition of the National Anthem was sang by a very talented woman. After that, we lined up at the start line with 1000 ladies, and took off.

The Run:
As usual, I started off a little fast until I fell into a comfortable pace. By mile 3 my outer shirt was covered in snot, and I was getting warm, so I gave it to DeDe. She was a supportive spectator since she's out with an injury (she did recently kick major butt at the Portland Marathon though!). By mile 5 I was hurting pretty badly. Oh, did I mention I did the marathon a week ago and haven't ran since (note the above mentioned killer cold)? Somewhere in here we got to pass runners going the opposite direction from the out-and-back and I got to wave to all my lovely lady friends.
Jenn and Jen (you can barely see her) --Anyway, I chugged along and just listened to tunes on the MP3. But then the batteries went dead. So I struck up conversations with various women until they got grossed out by my constant string of snot rockets.
My Happy Face --At mile 10 my Mom and fiance, Ken, were waiting for hugs and photos. I wasn't expecting them there, so that was a great uplifter. I saw them again right before mile 12.
My Mom walking with me just before mile 12 --
There was one last short hill through a park. After that it was home free to the finish. I crossed the finish line, collected my snot-soaked shirt, and loaded up in the car.
The Finish Line --
Warm Down:
Hot shower, theraflu, and a nap.

Event Comments:
This event really is awesome awesome awesome. 100% of the proceeds go towards breast cancer research. All women in a race is pretty sweet to see. The support is amazing. There are tons of volunteers -- many of whom are men. I hear the post-race activities are worth sticking around for too. So aside from this not being the best day for me personally, the event itself is fantastic!

HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to Kristin who finished her first half marathon!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Another Half Marathon

Tomorrow I get to do the Girlfriends Half Marathon. It's for girls only. 1000 girls actually. 100% of the proceeds go to breast cancer research. And men take care of us all morning -- at the aid stations and at the finish line. Rumor has it that hunky fireman give us necklaces at the end.

I haven't ran since the marathon exactly 2 weeks ago. It's because I got sick (well, and I'm sort of tired of running)...I now have a sinus infection and the makings of pneumonia. But I'm on antibiotics, so I should be in the clear. Armed with lozenges, theraflu, and a wad of kleenex, I'll be at the starting line in the morning. I'll take care not to cough on anyone and to aim my snot loogies away from the ladies. And then I get to go back to bed.

Monday, October 6, 2008

"It Is Never As Bad As It Seems. It Is Never As Good As It Seems."

If you had asked me earlier this year if I would ever run a marathon, separate from an Ironman of course, my response would have been "Hah! Like hell! I'm a triathlete, not a runner." But after finishing the half ironman and continuing my training for Hood-to-Coast, I found myself right on target for the Portland marathon training. After a couple of beers one night, I signed up. My initial thought was "huh, that was dumb." My thought the next morning was "yep, pretty stupid." Indeed, my thought the evening before the race, as I was methodically filling fuel belt bottles with GE and stuffing GU into nooks and crannies of my gear, was "shoot, this was the silliest idea ever." But I trained anyway. Sort of. My plan was to poll fellow runners each Monday morning to see what their week looked like. I would pick what sounded the best to me (read: the shortest) and do that. Whatever, it worked. I finished. And I finished pretty darn happy too! Here is my race report:

2008 Portland Marathon (that's 26.2 miles, in case you didn't know)

I ate an English muffin w/ PB&J, drank some coffee, posed for a picture, and then kissed my sweetie-pie goodbye before heading downtown with Jeff, Natalie, and Tom W. Once there, we hit the porta-potty line and then continued to hydrate. I stood with the 5:30 pace group for a bit, then moved up to the 5:00 pace group. After thinking about it, I moved back to the 5:30 pace group. And then back to the 5:00 pace group, but towards the back of it.

Warm up:
Walking back and forth between pace groups while neurotically trying to decide where to seed myself. Oh, and I saw Jenn, DeDe, and Lisa from the club. What a treat to see them before the run!

The run:
It took about 10 minutes to cross the starting line. That was frustrating because we would start moving, and then stop. Then we would move again and get all excited. And then stop. Once we crossed the start line, there was quite a bit of room to move around. The only exception was when a couple of nordic walkers busted through and runners tripped all over their wildly flung trekking poles.

Miles 1-4 were super easy. But I had to pee. I finally came up on a set of potties that didn't have a line. Ah, relief. 1 minute 42 seconds of relief. I caught back up to the 5:00 pace group and cruised on until mile 7.5, where my support crew was waiting for me. Ken (fiance) took photos, Desi (best friend) ran with me for a couple of miles, and Steve (Desi's boyfriend) cheered. I LOVED LOVED LOVED having them out there!
I ended up ahead of the 5:00 pace group for awhile. As I was coming up on mile 12, a haunted voice popped into my head. "It is never as bad as it seems. And it as never as good as it seems." The latter part of the quote is what was getting to me. I felt SO GOOD. And then, like clockwork, and mile 15 the air was let out of my tires. I was going too fast to sustain for 26.2 miles. And the 5:00 pace group got a new leader with fresh legs and started running close to 10-11 minute miles. I let them go ahead.
Mile 16 has the infamous climb up to the St. Johns bridge. It's beautiful in here, so I focused on the scenery and smell of the forest, rather than the climb. I walked 1:00, ran 1:00. Over and over again. I was passing people the entire way, so that was a confidence builder. Finally...I was on top and at mile 17. Woohoo!

I was expecting the gang to be on the other side of the bridge around mile 18. I needed refueling and just a moral boost. They weren't there, so I looked for them at mile 19. Nope. Mile 20. Uh uh. Oh crap. I needed my Gu and GE. I started cramping. I got down on myself for being so slow. Then a song came on my MP3 that brought out the emotions and the tears started rolling. Within seconds I heard a familiar voice. Kristin! She ran with me for a little while (with her backpack bouncing around) and called Ken to let him know where I was. Turns out, they were going back and forth trying to find me, but my predicted paces were so off target (my bad), that it made it nearly impossible to find me. If it weren't for her, I may have never met up with them the rest of the course. Love you K!

Just past mile 21, my sweetie-pie was running across the street with an arm full of bottles and Gu packets. I got a quick kiss, my smile came back on my face, and I was recharged for the remaining 5 miles.

Miles 22-25 were physically tough, especially the downhills. My pace slowed down a lot. I ran when I could and walked when I couldn't run. But despite the pain, all of us in the marathon were giving support to everyone else. It was great.

Mile 25 appeared and I knew I was home free. I tried to run the entire last mile. Sadly, I didn't have it in me. But I ran most of it. At mile 26, I saw Ken and posed for a few photos. He gave me his phone so that I could call my Mom after the finish line, and said he would see me in the reunion area.
I rounded the corner to the finish chute and saw Steve and Desi cheering me on. I think Desi was smiling wider than I was. Yay, I did it!
Warm down:
I walked through the finishers area and loaded up on cookies, chocolate milk, and chips. I also stopped to have a finisher's photo taken. I felt a little silly because everyone else was posing with friends, but I was all by myself.

Ken helped me change into dry clothes, and then we all went to my favorite NE Portland joint for bloody mary's and french toast!
Event comments:
This is a GREAT event. I don't have anything to compare it to, as far as marathons go. But I very much enjoyed myself [almost] the entire time. Entertainment groups were at least every mile, the volunteers were super friendly, and people lined up outside their homes to give encouragement.

Up until about 1 hour before the race, I wanted to back out. I had no desire to do a marathon and I didn't think it meant anything to me at all. When I started running, I knew that if I didn't finish that I would be devestated. Part way through the run, I realized that I had goals I didn't even know about. And as I crossed the finish line, I just about exploded, I was so happy. This non-runner just finished a marathon!!!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Marathon? Check.

Okay, I DID IT!!! It's over! Thank goodness. It was mostly a good day, with the exception of a little black hole around mile 21 that Kristin quickly pulled me out of (thanks girlie!). Also, my fiance Ken, along with our dear friends, Steve and Desi, followed me around the course providing great moral support. I love them! I'll write a longer report later, but here is a link to photos from the day:

Final Time - 5:17:56
Pace - 12:08/mile

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Oh Crap!

I have to run a marathon tomorrow!

[Pulls hair out of head while running around looking for running shoes under piles of suitcases.]

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Biggest Loser

The premier of "The Biggest Loser" is on tonight. I love this show. Granted, I don't like some of the aspects of it (body weight percent rather than body fat percent, the high school-ish drama, etc.), but I love that it takes every-day people and shows the world that they too can lose weight and get in shape. Inspiring. I think it's awesome that there is such a huge focus on EXERCISE and not just diet. Americans seem to miss that part most of the time. I know I did for, oh, about 6 years.

Tomorrow, Ken and I are going to have our own Biggest Loser challenge. I've packed on close to 10 pounds since the half ironman (and hey, I've happily earned every pound!). Ken looks fabulous as far as I'm concerned, but he could probably stand to slim down a few pounds. Since I haven't sprung for a body-fat scale yet, we are going on body weight percent. Stay tuned for our progress!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Longest Run

The Portland Marathon is just around the corner -- exactly 3 weeks from today. When I signed up for the marathon, my goal was to get myself into half-marathon shape. So that this winter I could run any race that I felt like entering without planning ahead. Now that I can knock out 13 miles with no problem, I'm feeling a bit lost. My motivation has disappeared. I do not want to do the marathon. My heart is simply not in it. But I was raised by my parents to finish what I start. Damn morals. I called my Mom the other day to whine and complain about it. She offered me $100 to drop out. That was her way of telling me it was okay if I chose to not finish the marathon journey. But my conscious won out and I found myself waking up before sunrise this morning. Filling my nutrition bottles, donning my running shoes, and driving to the gym while the rest of the world slept in on a chill Sunday morning.

My good friend Sondra was a blessing, as she ran the first 11 miles with me. She has been sick and has not run in a few weeks. She also goes at a much faster pace. So for her to slog through 11 miles along side me was likely not easy. But I am so very thankful.

The next 10 miles started out better than expected. This first couple of hills were no trouble. Other walkers and runners gave me friendly waves and smiles. I smiled back...and I meant it. As I came up on mile 14 I was marveling at my rythm and enjoyment. As I came up on mile 15 I felt like I had been hit by a truck. My knees ached, my hips ached, and all of the bones in my feet crunched as they pounded the pavement. I started to cry a little. And then I saw an elderly couple in matching outfits riding their bikes past me. For some reason this lifted my spirits enough to keep going. Soon enough I only had 2.5 miles left to go. It's a route I run often and this is my mental hurdle point. Once I pass this intersection, I'm home free. And then my body started to feel lighter again. My feet didn't throb so badly. My back loosened up a bit. And I was done.

Today was an experience in digging deep and finding out what I have in me. It's been awhile since I've had to go there. I'm out of practice, I suppose. But I know now that I have what I need to get me through the marathon in an few weeks. And maybe even a little itsy teeny piece of me is looking forward to it. Just a little bit.

Monday, September 8, 2008

It Seemed Like a Fun Idea...

I've been rolling all around town with a "Dirtbag Kayaker" license plate holder for the last 2 years. Even though in those last 2 years I've only paddled, oh, 2 or 3 times? I know, it's sad. I do love to kayak. But I like to sleep more. And on my one free weekend day each week, that extra hour of sleep (and the 10 loads of laundry of training clothes, and overflowing sink of dirty dishes from the insane amount of food I consume, and the bike cleaning, and and and) has taken priority. Annnnnnyway, it was 'bout time to change up that license plate holder.

This is what it looks like. Clever, eh? When it arrived in the mail, I do remember thinking "hmm, those swim/bike/run symbols are a little small."

But...............this is what most people see. However, I did not realize this until my Mom was visiting and she asked me, "why do those truckers keep honking and waving at us?"

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Q: How do you know it's the end of the season?

A: You have a $3000 sports-bra drying rack sitting in the spare bedroom.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


Last weekend I participated in "The Mother of All Relays". What a kick in the pants good time! I was part of the team "Headhunter Voodoo Dolls" from my club, Lacamas Swim & Sport. 12 girls, split into 2 vans, covering 197 miles in less than 2 days. I was in Van 2 along with DeDe (best van captain ever!), Lisa, Juliet, Sondra, and Nadine. We met up at the club around 11am and headed over to the FredMeyer in Sandy, OR for the first major van exchange point. Van 1 had started much earlier in the morning up at Timberline Lodge to kick off the event. Each person runs a total of 3 legs and we continue to leapfrog each other all the way into the beach at Seaside, OR. You sleep when you can (which isn't much) and you eat what your body can tolerate (which isn't much).
Van 2 Ladies:

I had been given Leg 11, which is actually Leg 11, Leg 23, and Leg 35.

Leg 11: 4.39 miles, ranked easy.
Time = 00:48:35 (pace = 11:04/mi)

This leg was mostly flat, but really hot and stuffy. It went along the Springwater Trail in East Portland, along Johnson Creek. The trail had many homeless guys along it and I was thinking that running this during the evening wouldn't be much fun. The odor from the creek (or was it from the transients) was a bit overwhelming at times. I saw very few other runners, which was a bummer. I just remember being hot and cranky. Not the best way to start out the relay for me. My predicted pace was 11:11, and I ended up with 11:04. I hoped I would do even better, but I'm okay with that time.

Leg 23: 4.18 miles, ranked easy.
Time = 00:40:02 (pace = 9:35/mi)

My second leg was MUCH better and more enjoyable than the first. We were tired since we hadn't napped at all since the start, but it was during the night and the temperatures were cool. This leg was also pretty flat, but had more of a rolling nature. I like running in the dark on unfamiliar roads because I can't see the hills coming and I can't tell how long they are. That's a good thing for me. My estimated pace for this leg was 10:44 and I blew that out of the water with a 9:35!!!

Leg 35: 7.28 miles, ranked hard.
Time = 01:26:36 (pace = 11:54/mi)
My third leg was my longest and most difficultly rated leg. There was also no vehicle traffic allowed on the course (i.e., no van support and no water aid), it was half on paved trail and half on loose gravel, and mostly in hot sun since all of the clear-cutting allowed for zero shade. I LOOVVVED my second run, but this one was pretty cool too. Mostly just because I was exhausted, it was hot, and I was able to push my body to stick it out and not walk.

My pace was a little bit slower than my predicted time (11:22), but considering I was going on no sleep in 35 hours and had only eaten 1 PB&J in the last 18 hours (long story, but my stomach was NOT happy with me, so I pleased it by not feeding it), so I did pretty fantastic I think.

I was carrying a 12oz container of Gatorade and hadn't taken in much when I came upon a young guy that was in a really bad way. He was walking slowly and sort of stumbling along. I offered him some of my drink and when I actually saw his face and realized how bad of shape he was in, I wouldn't leave until he finished it. I was so happy when I saw him cross the finish line only about 5 minutes after I did!

After my last leg, we hauled ass to the beach in order to cross the finish line with Nadine and get our group photo taken.

Afterwards, we all sort of disbanded and went our separate ways to shower and get ready for an evening of partying on the sand. Ken (best fiance ever and driver for Van 1) and I were staying with Sondra, RustyBalls, and DeDe at a 1,000 trails campground not too far away. It was awesome! After cleaning up, we headed to the party and gorged ourselves on yummy food and plenty of tasty adult beverages. Finally at around 11pm we headed back to camp for a much needed night of sleep.

Evening activities:

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Off Season = Running Season

After some debate, I decided to call Blue Lake Sprint Tri a couple of weeks ago my finale for the season. I love competing in triathlons, especially since this has been such a rockin season for me. But my body is tired, my mind is tired, and quite frankly I'm feeling more than a bit worn out. My checkbook is too...entry fees are not cheap!

But with the off season comes many opportunities to work on areas that need a little attention. For me, the big obvious area is RUNNING. One glance at my triathlon splits will tell you that. I'm typically top 20-30% out of the water, 50% or so on the bike...and then about bottom 5% on the run. So....this girl is gonna do some running. In a big way.

I'm thinking maybe Portland marathon in October. That's right folks. I'm crazier than you thought. After my half ironman I realized that I was doing the same mileage as some friends training for Portland. So I hopped onto their schedule for the heck of it. Last week my long run was 15 miles. The two weeks prior to that it was 13 miles. Tomorrow I get to do 16. Next weekend is Hood to Coast. Huh, who would have thunk...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Think Happy Thoughts

I have some bummin' news to report. Our fellow triathlete, K-Dawg, was injured a few nights ago in a freak accident at his house. I'll let him tell the icky details, but it basically involved him bravely chasing intruders away from his house and falling while jumping his own fence...and breaking his hip. He has been in the hospital for a few days trying to get well enough to go home. He has pins/screws holding him all together, but it's going to be a long recovery process. He needs your happy thoughts and prayers. With some hard work and favors from the Big Guy, he'll be back to training next year. GET BETTER SOON K-DAWG!!!!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Midsummer Sprint at Blue Lake

Mid-Summer Sprint Triathlon
Distances: 800 meter (0.5 mile) swim, 12.5 mile bike, 3.1 mile run

This race wasn't really on the schedule for the year, but a sprint distance sounded fun and some other Headhunters were doing it. I'm a lemming, what can I say. Also, my friend Bill was tri-ing for the first time and I thought it would be cool to come out for some support. For the first time that I had a choice, I decided NOT to race in the Athena category (women >150 pounds) and instead race in my real actual age group -- F 25-29. I knew I didn't have a chance in the universe to contend with skinny 20-something year olds, but I wanted to give it a shot!

Bill and I after the finish (photo credit - Bill's wife, Melissa):

The day/night prior to the race I was in McMinnville for my friend Angie's bachelorette party. Now, at no time during the party was I ever "drunk". However, glasses and glasses of wine prior to a race does not suit me. Especially since I don't really drink anymore. I woke up with a nice little hangover and a really bad attitude. I probably would have bailed on the race, except that I had Nadine's race packet and she was counting on me to show up with it.

After arriving about 45 minutes later than planned, I pulled into Blue Lake park and proceeded through the normal pre-race rituals: set up transition, chat with nervous triathletes, rearrange transition, pee, rearrange transition, stare at the water, pee, put on wetsuit, lube up, get in the water and pee, line up to start.

I was in the 2nd wave and placed myself in the front, inside. In bigger races I would get mowed over here, but I figured best to battle it out with some dudes rather than fight my way through some slower crowds of swimmers. This turned out to be a wise choice. I had mostly clear water until we started catching up to the first wave.

I focused on taking nice long strokes, and making sure to get a hard pull with good follow-through each time. This worked nicely until I got tangled up with a really big dude. He wasn't fat. More like he left me wondering if he ever played for the 49ers. We tangoed and duked it out for a little while, and then finally parted ways. I then swam until my hands touched sand, then popped up and ran through the Red Bull arches on into transition.

My fastest T1 time here at Blue Lake. For the first time ever I left my shoes clipped into my bike and put my feet in while riding. It was flawless (thank goodness).

I got up to speed and put my feet in pretty quickly. Then I focused on keeping my cadence up and not dropping speed. This was tough when the headwinds hit, but I kept telling myself I couldn't go below 18mph. A dropped below a few times, but made up for it when the wind was blocked by homes/trees.

Not a single girl passed me on the course, and only a handful of guys sped by. It was fun to be passing people. It made me feel fast, although after looking at overall results I maybe wasn't as fast as it seemed. It was fun though!

Next season I need to do more sustained speed work in training. And ride more. I did a lot of riding earlier in the season, but I have only been on my bike twice since the half ironman. I just needed a break from the saddle, ya know? I was 7 seconds slower than the last time I rode this course, although I do think it was windier this time.

I took my feet out of the bike shoes before dismounting and then ran quickly through transition. My time seems slower than it actually was, but I did stop to drink a fair amount of water. I was so dehydrated from the previous night!

I dropped down the most spots during the run, but it's the leg I'm the most proud of.
1) This was a 5k PR for me.
2) For the first time ever I kept a sustained pace below 10:00 min/mi.
3) I actually passed someone and was only passed by 2 women (1 was my coach and another was someone in my AG who got me 0.1mi from the finish line).

Me coming down the finish line (photo credit - Julie Seale):

I am so proud of this run, but have so much room for improvement. I have my work cut out for me this winter!
Headhunters, post-race:

I had a poor attitude coming into this event, but I'm glad I was able to turn that around and push myself to do well. In turn, I ended up enjoying myself. And...I ended up with another podium finish!!!! Final results:
Female 25-29 age group -- 3/12
Overall females -- 12/50
Overall -- 105/205

Swim -- 15:34, pace = 1:57/100m (2/12, 76/205)
T1 -- 02:28
Bike -- 38:01, pace = 19.73 mph (2/12, 93/205)
T2 -- 01:56
Run -- 30:24, pace = 9:49/mile (10/12, 170/205)
Overall -- 1:28:23

Huge congrats to:
Julie, who got 1st place female overall.
Denise, who got 1st place masters female overall.
Bill, who finished his first triathlon, and kicked ass doing it.
Kevin, who did well in all 3 legs and came in with a great time...and ran the whole way despite knee injuries.
Nadine, who made huge improvements on the swim and did great overall.
Denise, me, and Julie, with our awards:

Here is Julie's glass plaque. Do you notice anything UNUSUAL about it??? She's a "traithlete"...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Chelanman 70.3 - My "A" Race

Chelanman Half Ironman didn't start out as my "A" race this year. That was supposed to be Pacific Crest Olympic. But, I get excited about triathlon (and shoes), and I am easily talked into things that sound fun. So on a whim a few months ago, I filled out the online form and hit that brightly colored "submit" button. Bang! Suddenly the olympic distance didn't sound very daunting and I had an extra few hours of training tacked onto each week. I trained hard and earned every single one of those 70.3 miles!

The distances, with some perspective:
Swim = 1.2 miles. Think NW 23rd down Burnside to the Portland waterfront (except the swim is not downhill).
Bike = 56 miles with 4200 feet of climbing. The distance = Portland to Hood River; the climbing = Timberline Lodge to the summit of Mt. Hood.
Run = 13.1 miles. If you've been on the Clackamas River, this is equal to the drive between Carver and Estacada.

Now onto the race report...

If you've ever tried herding a dozen monkeys into one vehicle before sunrise, then you might have an idea of what it takes to get a van full of Headhunters to the race site early in the morning. We arrived with just enough time to set up transition, lube up body bits that might chaffe, and struggle into the wetsuit. I downed a GU as I walked over the swim start, kissed Ken goodbye, and stood in line on the shore waiting for the gun to go off.

Time = 38:51, pace = 2:02/100m

This was a mass start from the beach. That means that everyone doing the half ironman lines up in a big crowd on shore and then tries to dive into the water all at once and head towards the buoy line. I was somewhere in the middle of the pack starting off. It was a total washing machine. I was not taking full strokes with my arm because I often couldn't push my hand all the way to my waist without it getting yanked off. And instead of having a nice long glide, my leading arm was in front of my face, protecting my goggles and nose. This only lasted about 5 minutes until I was able to make my way towards the front of the pack. Only...I didn't realize that I was in the front of the pack...

We were lucky and had an underwater buoy line to follow for the entire swim out. But once we hit the first turn buoy it disappeared. I wasn't quite sure where to go from here since the sun was now directly in my eyes and I couldn't see another buoy anywhere. So I sighted a couple of other swimmers and followed them. But I just couldn't shake the feeling that I was cutting the course, so I kept stopping and treading water trying to make sense of where I should go. I finally spotted the next turn buoy and swam like mad to it. It turns out I was on-course the whole time and wasted some serious time by doubting myself. Oy.

As we got closer to the beach I was able to breathe on my right side and look at the spectators. I actually spotted Ken walking away from me (he wasn't expecting me to be finishing the swim yet), so I popped up and hollered at him. More time wasted, but at least I have pictures now! I kept swimming until my hand touched sand and then ran the rest of the way in.


I had a pretty sweet transition spot. It was at the exact opposite end of where I came in from the swim, but that meant that I didn't have to run very far with me bike. As I came out of the water, I had difficulty finding my wetsuit pull cord. When I did finally get the top half off, I sat down to pull it off my legs. I have NO idea why I did that. I never sit down in transition. Huh. Oh well, I had the 13th fastest transition time out of 101 athletes. I sometimes wonder what takes everyone else so long. Are they brushing their teeth? Combing their hair? What?

Time = 3:41:16, pace = 15.19 mph

Many times in the weeks leading up to the race I was asked "what are you most nervous for?" My answer - "the bike". People were always surprised since I have been making tremendous gains on my biking lately. I'm not a timid rider. I'm not a weak rider. I'm not an especially slow rider. Unless of course, there are...HILLS. And this course had it's fair share of them. I was convinced that I would be slow on the bike that there would be no way for me to make up the time on the run. Because, you see, I'm an even slower runner.

This course starts out with an out-and-back along Lake Chelan. Absolutely beautiful at 7:45 in the morning. There are some nice rolling hills -- nothing too difficult and just enough to get the legs and lungs warmed up. I enjoyed myself on this section, which lasted about 32 miles. As we approached town again, the course veered off south on Hwy 97 and directly into the first long climb. Up, up, up, up. And then...up, up, up. At the tippy-top there was an aid station and a porta-potty. I grabbed a water bottle as I rode by and thought for a split second about the porta-potty. However, Jon had to buy me 2 beers if I peed on the bike, so I kept going. Straight into a spectacular downhill! It was straight and steep and we had a view of the Columbia river on our left the entire time. I shifted the hardest gear I had and pedaled until I was spinning out. And then I peed. 2 beers for me!

The end of the descent led right into the next long uphill on Hwy 971. Twice as long as the last one. And considerably steeper. I think this was the hardest part of the course. It was beginning to get hot, there wern't many people to talk to, and my legs were building up some heavy doses of lactic acid. I gave myself a few pep talks and made myself keep turning my feet in circles. I would count to 10 and then repeat. I would pick a tree and when I made it to that one I would pick another tree. I looked at my watch compulsively to make sure I kept to my nutrition plan. I also committed the cardinal sin of looking at my speed on the bike computer. 4 mph??? Really, I could push my bike faster than that. DON'T YOU DARE!

Finally I made it to the top. Only to be met by a couple miles of false flats. But at least it was easier. And then...the final climb! I had been dreading this climb all week. It's all I could think about. I was certain that I would have to walk it. Or at least stand out of the saddle to make it up. But as I rode, I found myself further and further up the beast. Hey, this isn't so bad! After a little corner I could see the summit. Yay!!!! And then the descent. It was STEEP and FAST. And CURVY. I wasn't expecting the curvy part and thankfully I didn't skid out on that one.

As I turned back onto Hwy 97 I looked again at my bike computer. Holy schmatoly, I was going to finish the bike leg in under 4 hours!!!!! It was that exact moment that I knew I was going to finish the race. Before the cutoff time. I let out a huge WHOOP WHOOP and pedaled my ass off into town.


I took my feet out of my bike shoes and dismounted pretty well. As I ran my bike down the steep embankment into transition I could hear all of the Headhunters cheering me on. (They had all finished the Oly distance; Kev, Tom, and I were doing the Half.) What a treat to have them all inside transition talking to me. I didn't need any assistance, but it was cool to have them there asking if I needed anything. I took my fuel belt out of the cooler, threw my runners on, grabbed my visor, and was off. Not a bad transition time considering I just climbed for almost 4 hours and had a few extras (like the fuel belt) to deal with.

As a side note, I had decided to use the fuel belt because I wasn't sure if the aid stations would still be stocked that late into the day. However, I ended up not needing it because this race is TOP NOTCH.

Time = 2:39:00, pace = 12:08/mile

My legs felt surprisingly fresh coming off the bike. And I felt hydrated and strong. The first few miles ranged from 11:10 pace to 12:10 pace. Too fast for me to maintain. And then...I had to pee. There were no porta-potties and not really any trees to speak of. So my options were (1) hold it for the next 10 miles, (2) go in someone's driveway or yard, or (3) just let it go dude. Haha, if you could smell my shoes you would know exactly which option I chose... I totally hadn't thought through the whole "wet feet for 10 miles" part. Oh well, the blisters will heal.

The pace started to slow down a bit, and as it got hotter and my HR started spiking, I stopped at the aid stations and allowed myself to walk up hills. This slowed my pace to the 12:30-13:00 range. But I didn't care, because I KNEW that I was going to finish! Around mile 9 I started to fall apart a bit. My fuel reserves were running low and it was becoming difficult to not overheat too much. I was also approaching the max distance I had done in training, so my body hurt.

And then...with 2.5 miles to go the Headhunter van comes rolling by. Coach Denise hopped out and ran with me! I don't think that this is really "legal" but I was one of the last ones left on the course and no one cared. At mile 12, Nadine was waiting for us to help run me in. I have the most awesome friends! With 1 mile left to go we could see the park and I knew I was soooo close. Denise said "if you have anything left in the tank, now is the time to leave it on the course." So I picked it up. Big time. My last mile was 8:01! I have never run a mile that fast. Even a single mile. Wow!

Crossing the finish line was amazing and had I not been so anaerobic, I probably would have choked up a bit. After getting my chip removed and getting the medal, I beelined it straight for the lake and laid down in the water. So refreshing! All of the Headhunters followed me down there and we had a fun time congratulating each other. And the best part - kisses from Ken. :-)

After listening to awards -- I got second place by default -- we hung around to watch the last people roll through the finish line and cheer on one more member of our group.

Some Important Notes:
* Special thanks to Ken for supporting me through all of this. And my Mom who was subjected to daily phone calls talking nothing about triathlon. Haha, just wait until Ironman!
* Also many thanks to my many training partners who helped me along the way and kept me motivated.
* My Auntie Anne and Uncle Gordy came all the way out from Puyallup to cheer me on. That was awesome!
* Congrats to all of the Headhunters! Everyone did so great. Nadine and Brian finished their first olympic distance tri. Denise got FIRST in her age group. Bob got second!