Monday, December 29, 2008

Winter trip to South Dakota

A quick trip report on our quick trip to Rapid City to visit my sister-in-law and her kids...

We left Friday morning and followed Tim's parents since they knew the way. Several hours on I-25 and then even more hours on two-lane, in the middle of nowhere roads, almost running out of gas! We didn't realize we'd be on that many nowhere roads or we'd have gotten gas each time we passed a station! About 10 miles after the "empty" light went on we found a gas station - with the out of service plastic bags on the pumps! But the guy inside thought we could get a few gallons out of one of the pumps. We got about 12, which was plenty for the rest of the trip, thank goodness, as we'd probably not have made it to the next gas station, which was I think 30 or more miles away. Probably 8 1/2 or so hours after we started the trip we made it to Traci's house and then opened Christmas presents with her family. I think the gifts went over well with Amanda and Tori.

Saturday was a lazy morning, except I went for a 3-mile run. A bit chilly at 25 degrees, but the sun was out so I warmed up after about 10 minutes. The afternoon was a trip to Boston's to watch FSU play Wisconsin in the Champ's Sports Bowl (his sister doesn't have cable or satelitte TV). A pounding victory by FSU was enjoyed, along with too much food and some beer.

Sunday was Amanda's 15th birtday. She has some friends coming over (to play this awesome game called Guitar Hero!) so Tim and I went with his folks up to Mt. Rushmore. It was a bit chilly, but again sunny and not too crowded at all. I can check this national monument off my list!

When we returned, I went for another run (gotta burn off all the holiday treats!) and we passed the evening with a trip to Storybook Island for the lights and then TGI Friday's for Amanda's birthday dinner.

This is Amanda as typically seen with her cell phone texting friends.

This morning Tim and I hopped in the car and headed back to Colorado. We took a different route (still rural in-the-middle-of-nowhere roads) but knew to keep the tank full of gas! We're back home hanging out with Juno for the evening!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

My Holiday Mix

I suppose these winter holidays are a time of reflection for many people. For some it is a religous and spiritual season. For others it is a time to appreciate family, friends and to give back to the community.

I was raised as a secular Jew. I learned enough to appreciate the traditions and heritage of the Jewish people. I married a "catholic school drop-out." Let's just say by the 6th grade he was asking too many questions and the answers he got didn't make sense to his analytical style of thinking. So it wasn't hard for us to make our holiday mix as we combine tradition, not religion.

The menorahs come out every year at Hanukkah and he's learned to recite the blessing. I have a few dreidels and will make latkes. We put up a Christmas tree (a fake 6-footer we bought at Wal-Mart years back). The christmas holiday decorations are kept pretty secular, with snowmen and such. Next year I think I will decorate the tree with dreidels. Then maybe it will truly be a Hanukkah bush!

When we lived in Illinois, we would make the drive to Iowa to spend Christmas with his parents. Now they usually make the drive out here. His parent's enjoy the giving spirit of the season so we always have way too many gifts for the two of us under that tree.

Tonight is christmas eve, and it is also the 4th night of Hanukkah. My brother and his wife and son came over for dinner with us and the in-laws. It was nice to light the menorahs with family around. They left early as Joey was looking ready for bed and about to start fussy time. Then we took Tim's folks and played some Wii together - Sonic and Mario go to the Olympics - and burn off some of the chocolate creme pie we ate. We are looking forward to christmas morning and opening all those presents. (really, who wouldn't!) Just like waiting for the last night of Hanukkah as a kid when we could open up what was left of the gifts. Even though I'm "old" that excitement doesn't get old, though it's probably a little more muted.

I am thankful this holiday for time with friends and family to share tradition. Enjoy it, appreciate it, and try to learn something from everyone.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Oh dreidel, dreidel, dreidel...

What's Hanukkah without the dreidel? Here's a great story I heard on my way home from work today:

Happy Hanukkah to all!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Nice weekend to a rough week

I suppose the week could have been a lot worse, had I been one of the people getting laid off on Monday at my place of employment. I feel for all the people (about 250) who were let go at our site this week. Losing your job this close to the holidays has got to be rough. It is the economy that put the company in the position to lay people off. When you make microchips for stuff (cars, GPS, video games, cell phones, etc) and people aren't buying, we aren't making. I just hope that those laid off are able to find work soon, but in this economy the job market isn't looking the greatest. Since Intel left town, there really isn't much in the way of semiconductor manufacturing in town, either.
The situation at work made for a few distractions during the week. Last night all the photo engineers got together and went for our annual late lunch and "crawl" downtown. I think all of us needed the break from work stress to just relax, hang out, and partake in adult beverages. I left around 10pm - I think others were out much, much later! I had my last scheduled swim lesson today so I didn't want to drown. :-)
It was a cold week weather-wise, and only about 20 degrees today. Driving to Denver for the lesson I was hoping the water would be warm, as swimming isn't something that usually comes to mind when it is that cold out! The water was great and I had a good lesson. I still have quite a few things to work on (a lot of the same things from the other lessons) but I am getting better - that is evident on the video.
Later this afternoon Tim's parents arrived. They will hang out with us until Christmas, then I think we are all driving to South Dakota to visit Traci, Amanda and Tori. We've not visited them in Rapid City so it is time to head up there. Amanda's birthday is a few days after Christmas so we should finally be able to celebrate with her this year.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Valet Parking at a Mall?

With all the horror stories of the economy, you wouldn't guess it was all that bad looking at the mall parking lots today. I drove up to Denver for my last drum lesson (more on that in a bit) and on my way home thought I would stop at the Park Meadows Mall in south Denver to do some shopping. I'm not super familiar with the area, but it is right of the interstate and C-470 so finding it isn't hard. I made my way into the mega shopping complex (and I mean MEGA) and needed a place to park. I don't mind a bit of a walk, but I didn't expect to see valet parking! Why would a mall need that? $7 a car. Then I saw that the parking area was completely full. That's why they need valet parking. I was not interested in that kind of crowd so I decided to skip the mall and get back on the interstate. It took me at least 20 minutes in thick traffic to figure out how to leave the parking lot and go the 1/4 mile to the interstate on-ramp. Everyone must have been out and about today! If they are buying, so much for poor retail sales! Don't know who would want to fight that kind of traffic mess if they weren't getting anything!

Once back on the interstate, I headed 10 miles south to the Outlet Mall in Castle Rock. Although it was full as well, it is a much smaller mall and I could handle these crowds. I found a kids clothing store with cute things to buy for Joey's first birthday. Spent a little too much (thank goodness for the items on sale!), stood in line for maybe 10 minutes and was on my way out. While in line, one register was ringing up a couple who had about eight big bags full of clothes. Lord help them if they have that many kids! I can only wonder what they were shopping for.

Back to my drum lesson. It was my last of the free lessons I won in the silent auction, so David filled my notebook with some classics. My Sharona and Brick House are a couple just to name a few. It should keep me busy for a while. If anyone in the Denver area needs drum lessons, I do recommend David at Littleton Drum Studios.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

First real snow

wow. it snowed all day. Nothing too heavy, probably 8-10 inches total. But it just kept falling. We did go out to get groceries and check out the Linens-n-Things close-out sale. They are closing the store here so we found a few things to get at a good price. will keep checking back for even better deals. I had a lot of inside time for a spin on the bike, laundry, dishes, played my drums, restrung my bass guitar and goofed with my recording software.
a little ditty
Also took care of a background check for USA Triathlon coaching certification and did some online holiday shopping. even shoveled the drive. guess it was a moderately productive day! but I do hope the sun comes out tomorrow since it is time to head back to work!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Goodbye Mars!

We put Mars down tonight and he will be missed terribly. His mobility was degraded such that it didn't seem fair to him. He was still a happy dog with a great Rottweiler appetite, but his quality of life just didn't seem to be there. I like to think he's in a better place now, able to run in the fields, play in the streams and chase as many little dogs as he desires.

Here's his story....

We got Mars in April of 2000 from the Champaign County Rottweiler Rescue. He was 10 weeks old and had been born into a shelter. We were told his birthday was 2/14. (I believe that since he was the biggest sweetie ever!) We took him home to meet Juno, the rottie we rescued at 10 months the previous April. He didn't seem fazed to be in new surroundings with a lot of people (Tim's family was visiting). He and Juno had a blast running around the back yard and the playing in the bushes.

In 2003 we were thinking about leaving Illinois for Colorado. One evening, I asked the dogs if they would like to go to Colorado. Mars immediately ran for the garage door, where he would run when were were about to go for a car ride. That sealed the deal - we were going to move!

Mars enjoyed the winter weather out here, especially the snow. One favorite game would be catching (and then eating) snowballs!
I remember taking him to the dog park and he would love to engage his herding instinct with smaller dogs. One visit the chosen herd was chihuahuas. I'm pretty sure the little chihuahuas were yelling "ooooooh shit!" as they ran from Mars. Too funny!

He had a very laid-back personality and loved to give kisses. When he was younger and my dad was visiting, Mars would sneak up behind my dad sitting on the couch and lick the top of his head. He was also known to my dad and family as 'Big Giant Head."

I took the day off from work today and hung out with him. We went outside to the front yard so he could sniff and enjoy the cool, sunny day.

I could go on and on about how Mars was the perfect dog with a great personality and temperment. We loved him very much and will miss him a lot. But I thank him for all the wonderful memories over the last 8+ years. Goodbye Mars! We love you!

Mars Drummer
2/14/00 - 11/21/08

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Lesson of the Day

Actually, today I had several lessons! The good kind. After a morning of a 45 min spin on the trainer, cleaning (getting ready for next weekend's halloween party) and a little college football, I headed up to Denver, well, really Highlands Ranch if you want to be picky. First was my swim lesson at SwimLabs. This place uses endless pools (the equivalent of a treadmill for swimming) and mirrors and cameras so you can see yourself from all angles. The coach/instructor then gives you feedback on your stroke and you can watch what you just did. They also have "stock footage" of ideal swimming so you can see what you are supposed to look like. Yeah. I have a ways to go. But they did give me something to work on. I actually signed up for a 4-pak so I have 3 more lessons - I'll go every 2 weeks. I figure that is enough time for me to work on the drills and improve, but not too long in case I'm not doing something quite right.

After that I drove over to Littleton for my drum lesson with David from Littleton Drum Studio. It was actually in the back of a music store - they had tons of used stuff for sale. Wow. Anyway, I had a 60 minute lesson - we started at the beginning - the basics of drum set playing and went through some lessons. Even though I already know how to play, it didn't take too long before we found a "hole." So now I have more things to work on! I like how he incorporates actual music into the lesson. It's quite a bit different from when I had lessons back in high school! He had all the stuff on his computer so he just printed the lesson for my notebook. He also had a flat screen mounted to the wall and used iTunes to pick songs related to the particular lesson. I'll enjoy this. I'm hoping to find 30 minutes about 4 days a week to practice.

The drive is just a little over an hour, so it wasn't too bad. After dinner Tim and I carved our pumpkins. A devil face and a howling wolf. Hooray to the guy who invented carving templates!

Saturday, October 18, 2008


With a projected high of 75 degrees, sunny skies and not much wind, who could resist a bike ride today? I joined up with the Bicycle Village group ride - we met at the store and headed out at about 9:30am. Since the store is just a few miles from my house, I decided to ride there instead of drive. Then we headed out on what turned into a beautiful ride through town. For those of you who are familiar with Colorado Springs, we headed out from the store, winding our way to Vickers, then Flintridge to Dublin. Dublin west to pick up Woodmen near I-25, then up Woodmen to Rockrimmon to Vindicator. Then we chose to climb Flying W, which is a little hill of 200 feet elevation gain in just over half a mile. Fun! Well, it was beautiful on that side of town with the rocks, hills, rust and orange and yellow vegitation and the ride down the hill is a blast! Next we wound our way to Garden of the Gods and over to Balanced Rock. Then it was time to work our way back home, which we did through Old Colorado City and downtown Colorado Springs. Hooked up to Mark Dabling to get back north (woodmen and I-25) then back over to Dublin and I just headed back home on Vickers instead of stopping back to the store. My total ride was 2:53 and 40 miles. I was planning on a 25-30 miler with perhaps not so much climbing (3300ft). So what, my legs are a little tired now. But it was too good of a day to not be outside as much as possible! I wish I had a camera with me to capture some of the fantastic fall views. I'll try to remember next time!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Running with the pros

Tuesday night is Jack Quinn's Running Club and tonight we took a field trip to the Boulder Running Company for PowerBar night. We ran the typical distance (5k) and was joined by pro athletes Josh Cox and Amanda Stevens. Mark (a co-worker of mine) and I got to run the second half with Amanda so we chatted a little about triathlons. She'll be competing in next month's 70.3 World Championships in Clearwater. After the run they held a Q&A - normally I don't have questions, but since it seemed people were a little shy, I asked the first one - what is their favorite meal the night before a race. Pasta and stuff with carbs. Not a whole lot of protein. My personal favorite is chicken and rice. Whatever works! They had some great advice on training/race nutrition, stretching (of which I need to do more!) and such. It was nice to have a change of scenery from the typical downtown run and of course it's always great to be able to meet some pro athletes!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Weekend Report

Started the weekend off with a 23 mile bike ride on the east side of town. Pretty flat with less than 900 feet of elevation gain. Then some cleaning, a necessary evil. Florida State played Miami at 1:30 so I watched the first quarter before heading to Mimi's for lunch with some Taekwondo friends. Next was some shoe shopping (shoe carnival is right next to Mimi's) for shoes for Saturday night's event - a fundraiser gala for the Pink Ribbon Foundation. The local Porsche Club raised money for the foundation so the group had a table. It was at the Hyatt Regency in Denver (Tech Center). There was tons of stuff up for silent auction, including signed sports memorabilia, wine, paintings, spa treatment and all sorts of stuff you'd expect. There was also a month of drum lessons. I guess it wasn't the most popular item so the starting bid had been reduced when I saw it. I thought it might be fun so I bid and won! :-) So this week I'll see about scheduling those at Littleton Drum Studio.

Alpine Mountain PCA members, Jim McDonald, Dave Arnold, Tim and me, Chris & Kathleen Lennon.

Today (sunday) we slept in - I got up at 9am! Haven't slept that late in a long time. Typical Sunday of getting groceries, but then we headed up to the property with Mars and Juno to see the leaves. I forgot the camera, but here's one my brother took Saturday in the mountains. Our property is probably less than 20 miles from this photo - same terrain.

Ate a steak lunch with some friends up there at our "chateau." By the time we got back it was time to get ready for another week. This was certainly a weekend that went by too fast.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Got Life?

Today's bike ride was in memory of Mike Kessler, who I knew from Bicycle Village. I found out last week that he had passed away at the end of June and that this Saturday's group ride would be in his memory. About 25 of us met at the B-52 parking lot on the Air Force Academy. The organizer, Chuck, spoke a few kind words about Mike and then Mike's wife, Monica thanked us all for being there. It was a beautiful morning, a tad cool but sunny, a day Mike would have enjoyed. We took a 25 mile loop through the Academy (the first time I've ridden it clockwise!) and the Black Forest. We had green trees, blue sky, and everyone appreciating what gifts Mike had given them. He was a regular coach on the Saturday rides, always making sure everyone was doing OK. I would always give him a hard time in the store since he was a hard-core Gator fan. I didn't realize he was almost 70 years old - I thought he was in his mid-50s. A great day to appreciate life.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Nicole to the Rescue!

I felt like a firefighter or Shaq (but no vitamin water) when I got the neighbor's cat out of a tree in my backyard! Yesterday evening when I let the dogs out after they ate Juno jumped into our new landscaping wall (about 2 feet high) and was barking at the tree. Mars wobbled his way over to check it out. There was definitely something moving in the tree - thought maybe a squirrel. But squirrels aren't black and white. Turns out it was the neighbor's cat. I directed Juno inside, but wasn't too worried about Mars with his limited mobility. Couldn't quite reach it standing on that landscape wall so I went off to grab a ladder. One was handy since we'd been putting up halloween decorations over the weekend. I was able to grab the kitty and bring it to safety of the neighbor's house. I'm glad it was a friendly cat and didn't freak out. It actually was reaching towards my hand with its paw and meowing when I tried to reach it the first time. It seemed to know I was there to help. I don't think the cat will be hanging out in our backyard again any time soon!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Part II - Sebastapol to LA via Monterey

OK - so time for my jouney from Sebastapol to LA. Left M&S's a bit after 7am. Filled up the Sonata and got some coffee at the nearby drive through. Then over to pick up the 101. Southbound I was to Monterey. Hit some traffic before San Francisco, but then got to drive over the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a beautiful morning, with the fog rolling under the bridge. Wow. Then took 19th (ave, I think) to connect with I-280 which took me to San Jose. A shout out to Atmel's corporate HQ somewhere out there. On one section (near SLAC) I saw some smoke on the road - then passed a car that must have been going too fast and it had slammed into the median (which was a dirt and trees, not concrete). Someone had stopped so I kept on driving. Hope everyone was OK.

Following the signs I ended up in Monterey in time for lunch. Took in the great views, the sea lions barking on the rocks, the ambulance assisting a diver in need (!) and the history of John Steinbeck, though it is mainly a tourist trap now. Lunch at a little cafe and then off to LA.

Found my way back to the 101 and south again! This part of the drive was brutal. Just before Paso Robles I was getting really tired so I stopped at a rest stop. It was like walking into an oven. Now I know hot and that was HOT. That and a boring straight road was probably why I was a little tired. The roads got a little more interesting after that, which helped. Got gas in Buelton, home of pea soup and location of some Carmichael Training Systems bike camps. South some more, through Santa Barbara's 4pm friday traffic, made it to LA a little later than I wanted to, but I survived LA freeways. Phew! Also found my grandparent's house. I've been there many times but never actually driven there.
Final installment - coming soon! A couple lazy days in LA!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Back from DC

The Nation's Tri was awesome! Tons of money was raised for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society (in the millions!) by both TNT participants and the race itself. A nasty hot and humid day slowed the run down, but the swim in the Potomac was managed and everyone said it was a great shaded bike course. FUN! The team did great - everyone finished, even with one riding their rim the whole bike due to a valve stem issue. Hard core! Another rocky mtn region finisher was 7th in his age group. Phenominal! I think we all had a fabulous weekend in the nation's capitol city.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Heading to DC

I get to be coach again this weekend at the Nation's Tri for the Team in Training Rocky Mountain Chapter. I have to get up pretty early tomorrow to get my flight, so no time to post about my California adventure tonight. Not sure if I will have computer access in DC, so I'll be back next Tuesday! maybe one of these days I'll get caught up with my posts.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Post HTC - Leg 2 continued - Sebastapol

Sebastapol is outside Santa Rosa in Sonoma County, CA. Wine Country. Lots of grapes. Lots. When I arrived at my aunt & uncle's house out off some winding country road, I was looking forward to meeting Pete and Gladis, their bull terriers. When Stephanie came out to meet me, Gladis was there, but no Pete.
Where's Pete? Pete's in the hospital. !!! What happened to Pete? Pete got into the neighbors medical marijuana that was turned into 'pot butter' gone rancid and thrown out the window yesterday. !!!
I knew for sure I was in California! :-) We were able to pick up Pete that afternoon and he was back to his old self. (I took Mark's word on that since I'd never met Pete.) Guess it wasn't enough a little activated charcoal couldn't cure.
Then there is Gladis, who is actually still a puppy and a minature bull terrier. She's got some issues she's working through. Gladis is a "spinner," which apparently is a form of OCD. Gladis is on Prozac and they are working on some behavior with her. She really is a sweet dog, but can get in her zone where she just chases her tail. When she does this, M&S put her in puppy time out (restrained on a short lead attached to the wall so she can't spin - but she's on a doggy bed and gets a toy.) Patience!
That afternoon was lazy, took Gladis for a walk and had dinner at a local brewery/resaurant. We had their crispy squid (aka fried calamari). Next day was another relaxing day. Time for bed now so I'll add that tomorrow....

...ok - it's tomorrow night. Day 2 in Sebastapol consisted of taking Pete and Gladis to Portuguese Beach (near Bodega Bay....ahhhh...the Birds!!!) and then getting a massage at a local day spa. Oh did I need that! Post-massage ice cream at Screamin' Mimi's hit the spot. It was really summer out there (some heat finally! -it's been a relatively cool Colorado summer I think). Dinner was homemade pizza and salad. delicious! being that Mark owned a restaurant, it better be good! :-) It was a fabulous 2 days with my aunt and uncle and "cousins."

The next morning it was off to LA via Monterey....that journey will get posted tomorrow.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Race Report - Tri For Your Cause

Here's a quick and dirty race report from Saturday's Tri for your Cause. But before I start, this race donates entry fees to non-profit of the athlete's choice. I chose the American Cancer Society, as we all know too many people affected by cancer.

Packet pickup was Friday night so I had to drive to Boulder after work. Yuck - long drive took almost 2 hours due to Denver traffic. Took about 3 minutes to get my stuff, then I headed to Safeway to get some breakfast foods and drove to Arvada to crash at Mare's house. She was a Team in Training participant who was nice enough to open up her guest bedroom to me.

Saturday 9/6: Wake up a tad before 6am, shower, grab my stuff, eat the bagel and banana I had bought (thanks Mare for the PB!). Then around 7am I head back to Boulder. 30 minutes later I'm getting my bike out of the montero and heading to the transition area. As I have only been in the pool a few times in the last month, and haven't done much at all in the last couple weeks, I'm not expecting too much out of this race. Just wanted to get out and do one more this season.

I'm in wave 3, which starts at 9:06am. At 8:40 I'm out of the transition area and getting on my wetsuit. I take in a gel and head over to the water. A brief warm-up to the dock and back a couple times and it's almost time for my wave to go.

Swim - 20:27: pretty much what I expected. Slow and steady. There was a guy doing the breast stroke who was next to me almost the entire time. I'm going to have to hire a coach to figure out what is keeping me slow.

T1 - 1:27: Not too bad. The wetsuit wasn't the easiest to get off, but I somehow got it off without pulling a muscle. Then it's just shoes, sunglasses and helmet.

Bike - 1:21:13: My best bike split ever on a boulder res course. 19.2 mph. I'll just say Nelson Rd was FAST. It did seem like forever for my heartrate and breathing to get in a managable zone, but probably about 6 miles into the course I was getting into a rhythm. Got passed by several men and a few women, but I did end up catching a few of those women towards the end of the course. My bike split was definitely in the top 20% of female competitors. Was good about drinking most of my electrolyte drink and had a few bites of a cliff bar.

T2 - 1:27: I didn't have the quick laces on my shoes this time so I actually had to tie my shoes. that added a bit of time. Decided to take a water bottle with me as the aid station was a mile 2.

Run - 32:51: Ick. My legs were heavy. I kept breathing pretty hard. Had my GPS in my pocket so I didn't focus on pace, just on moving and breathing. I could really feel the uphills (and it is a pretty flat course). Had about 2/3 of a gel at mile 1, as I wasn't sure if I'd had enough calories on the bike. Might not have enough time to get in my system, but oh well. After the turn around, which was at the bottom of a small hill, I could really feel my hamstrings. Had a bit of a side stitch on the last mile. A young girl caught up to me who I had passed with a few miles left to go on the bike. That motivated me for a bit of a finishing kick (not that I have a finishing kick). But at least I ran strong across the finish line!

Total time - 2:17:21 - 9/33 in the 30-34 Female age group. I'm pleased, as I haven't really been training for the last month!

Post HTC Adventure - Leg 2

the adventure continues....
Tues 8/26 - I picked up the rental car - a black Hyundai Sonata - and headed south on I-5. The first part of this trip will be on the interstate. When I hit Eugene, I stopped to find the University of Oregon. I found the campus and a park called Hendricks Park. I drove through - looks like it would be a nice place for some hilly trail runs. It was tucked back in what appeared to be behind the campus in a very Oregon forest setting. Then I found my way back to the actual campus, saw the bookstore and bought a track town USA shirt. For those who don't follow running, one of running's finest, Steve Prefontaine when to school there. This year the USA Olympic Trials for track and field were held at Hayward Field on Oregon's campus. Anyway, it was nice to see a real college campus again.

The driving continues - I stopped for lunch in the small town of Oakland and ate at Tolly's. A great taste of old Americana and the old-fashioned soda fountain. For me it was a cherry vanilla Dr. Pepper. way better than the stuff in the cans.

Next - head over to the 101 via 199 through Grant's Pass. Took the opportunity to fill up with gas, though I'd only gone through 7 gallons in over 200 miles. Nice. Anyway, oregon has no self-serve, which was pretty strange. I suppose in the winter it would prove to be a nice convenience!

Some town later I stopped to get Tim an Oregon shot glass for his collections and kept driving. Now the drive was getting interesting. Picked up the 101 in Crescent City (after being stopped to make sure I didn't have any fresh produce or plants at the border). Then I get to drive through the redwoods. Totally amazing! A fun, curvy road drive with HUGE trees. HUGE! And the views of the NorCal coast. Wow! too bad my camera batteries died - didn't get any pics of the coastline. But I did pull over at many "Vista Points" to take in the views.

My stop for the evening was Eureka. I had already made a reservation at The Rodeway Inn and got checked in. Then time to find a place to eat. Hit the Lost Coast Brewery and took in a couple Alleycat Ales and some soft tacos. Chatted with the guy next to me for a bit while he was waiting for friends and watched the baseball that was on the TV. It was just nice to "chill out" for a while. Got back to the hotel to crash, as tomorrow has a morning full of driving.

Wednesday 8/27 - Got up, skipped the free continental breakfast at the hotel and headed out. Decided coffee and something to eat was a good idea so I stopped at the Eureka natural food Co-op. Looked pretty much like a small Whole Foods. Anyway, coffee and a pastry (sounds like a continental breakfast) and I was back on the road. More redwoods and coastal views.

A few hours later I'm in wine country. Not quite as green, but plenty of classic rolling hills. I wind my way to Santa Rosa, then Sebastapol and then find Mark and Stephanie's house. There's a great story'll get told tomorrow.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Post-Race Adventure - 1st Leg

After the awards ceremony (we came in 7th so didn't get anything) on a breezy, misty Sunday morning, my aunt Amy and uncle Dennis from Salem came to pick me up. I spent a couple days with them. On the scenic drive (couldn't see the beach - too rainy and cloudy) we stopped in a small town to have lunch (oh did a real meal sound great!). The 'Thong Distance Runners' were there, complete with thongs (the underwear kind) on their heads. yup. Next was a stop at the Tillamook cheese factory. The production lines weren't working, but we still got some samples of cheese and I got a dish of "Cows in Brownie Batter" icecream. I'll let you figure out what kind that is.

A relaxing evening was in store. A high school friend (fellow band geek from the days) and now a fellow triathlete, Andrew, came by for dinner. He lives outside Portland so it wasn't too bad a drive down to Salem. We had some discussions about wine and hill climbs on bikes. Very nice to catch up.

The next morning I borrowed my uncle's 20 year old mountain bike and took it for a spin around the neigborhood. I think that helped some of the soreness in my legs - IT bands and calves were a bit tight still! Next was a visit to an old Woolen Mill with Dennis. They were missionaries to the indians turned wool products manufacturers. Lunch with Amy (she works for the government) and a brief visit to the state capitol. Is it a dixie cup on top?? After lunch we walked around a park at the Willamette river and then back home to hang out with Chicory (the bird) Cinnamon and Ginger (the cats). After dinner was a trip to Konditorei - a cafe that sells huge slices of cake. Oh yum. my saying: where there is cake, there is Nicole.

Next I rent a car and head down the coast. Leg 2 of the post race adventure will be posted Saturday night. I'll be in Boulder Friday night/Sat am for one last triathlon of the season.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Hood to Coast - the Leg from Hell

Wednesday 8/20: The adventure began with a 90 minute drive to Denver International Airport - pretty typical drive up I-25 and E470. A short shuttle ride to the terminal and our first lessone learned on this trip... even though we booked the flight through American, since the flight was really on partner airline Alaska Air, we couldn't check in at the American counter. A little extra walking though DIA, but we had plenty of time as the flight was delayed. Tim and I arrived in Portland about a half-hour or so after our scheduled time. Serena and Eric were there to meet us, and some other teammates had also arrived. We swung by a grocery store to stock up for the next couple days, and then one group headed back to the airport for another pickup and the other to Parkdale, our base station until we left for the race. Sometime around 11pm about half the team and the support crew were settling in. Tim and I got our own room (benefit of being the only married couple, I suppose) and the rest were on beds, couches, and other such comfy places in Carie's parents house.

Thursday 8/21: Chowed down on one of the six or seven boxes of cereal we bought. Yup, 2 days of breakfast for 14ish people. Lesson 2: Runners like cereal (I'm not complaining). Tim heads off to Portland with some others to go pick up the rental vans and some more runners. Everyone else is just chill. It's raining so I still haven't seen Mt. Hood, which apparently is quite visible from the kitchen window. Rain stopped and Carie, Graylon and I took on a game of croquet and "pear baseball" (the house is on a pear orchard). Now we're 10/12 runners and the sun is out - time to decorate the vans! We take them for a test flight, hike a couple miles to the local lava flow, climb this thing and then return to carbo load with a huge spagehetti dinner and brownies. (mouth brownies!) Take in some of the "live" tape-delayed olympics and off to bed. Another lesson, katherine can do the hammer dance.

Friday 8/22: Race day. But since we don't need to be at the start until 6:30ish (start time 7:30) it's another chill day. Mt. Hood did appear today. The weather will be great for the race! Late afternoon we pose for a group photo, make sure that we have everything and off we go to Mt. Hood. Van 1 heads to Timberline lodge, while van 2 goes to exchange 1. We've got a lot of time, so we take in the scenery. Van 1 arrives, and Kelley (runner #2) starts to warm up. A bit after 8pm Carie (runner #1) hands off to Kelley and we're definitely in the relay.

Now to jump to my running legs. I was runner 12 so I ran 12,24,36.
Leg 12: By now it is around 3am. Everyone is doing well (as long as Jenn doesn't have an asthma attack!). I get the baton from Katherine on a trail and head out. It's dark. Running on a paved trail with nothing around is a little creepy. The light from my headlamp isn't super strong. The trail is marked with a red blinky light to indicate the right direction. I go over some railroad tracks as a train is passing - a sign of life! Now I head off the trail onto the roads some volunteers point me in the right direction. I'm on city sidewalk now, passing small shops and some homes. I'm supposed to stay on Milwaukie - at some point it veered left but there was no sign to veer left. So I keep going straight. After a few blocks I realize I am not in the right spot - I really should be on milwaukie. So I turn around to head back. But at 3:30am or whatever time it was, I didn't recognize where I came from. There's an overpass - I think I need to be up there but how do I get on it?

I stop to assess the situation. I'm on some street corner. There's a gas station and a rental car place, all closed of course! Do I flag a car down? Nope, that didn't seem like a good idea. Then some guy is riding on a bike towards me. I can take a guy on a bike - so I flag him down, ask him how to get to Milwaukie and ask to borrow his phone. A call to Tim to let him know I am lost - and he lets the volunteers know. They give me directions to milwaukie and the next set of turns. I give the guy his phone back so he can get to work and then head off. Ok, I'm back on course on 9th. but how far? I'm not confident that the course will be marked (the two turns from before weren't) so I'm a little (ok a lot) anxious. But now I'm in a neighborhood - no traffic. Whether it was divine intervention or just some really good luck, a family walks out of a house (off to the airport for an early flight) right in front of me. Once again I ask to use a phone (lesson - when running in a city at night - have a phone!) and call Tim to let him know where I am. At that time the HTC officials or volunteers find me and ask me if I want a ride. Heck No! I just want to know where to run. They give me some directions to the pedestrian bridge ahead. So off I go. There are tons of volunteers near the bridge (ok 3 or 4) but where were they on the other part of the course?! Then I hit a T-intersection, of course with no markings! The van is shortly behind me and gets me to the exchange. Oh was I mad! It took me almost 1:20 to do that silly 6 mile leg. But the whole team is there, and in the spirit of the Olympic relay teams, we drop the "baton" on the exchange. Now we're all motivated to run even faster, as we're probably close to 30 minutes behind the next to last runner.
It was another mini-adventure trying to find hwy 30 to drive to exchange 18 in St. Helen for some sleep, but I won't go into that. We made it there, van 2 got some sleep, I saw a beautiful sunrise, and when runner #6 showed up, we were only a couple minutes behind the last runner.

Leg 24: Now this was more like it. It's noon, I haven't slept much (dozed a little) since getting up on Friday, and I'm rarin' to go. It's a 4.9 mile leg and no turns involved! We've caught up to several other teams so no more trying to beat the exchange clean up truck or the porta-potty truck. The sun is pretty strong, but I head out giving it my best. I pass 2 runners (3 if you count the one getting medical assistance...not good - firetrucks and ambulances to help her out.) At the exchange I try to find some more water, drink my recovery drink and we're off to exchange 30 for rest.

Leg 36: This is it! Started at a Weyerheuser facility. We've made up quite a bit of time and there are many teams waiting to run. This leg starts off on a gravel road and uphill. I get passed by a guy who started right behind me, but now it is my turn to pass people. Miles 2-3 were all downhill. No need to save the quads, after this is 2 miles of flat. Pound the pavement and just go as fast as I can under the circumstances. I passed 5 people on that leg! This leg had a lot of turns but was very well marked. I'm coming down the home stretch - on the promenade in Seaside. Many people are walking and encouraging me. I'm hauling (if a 7:30 pace is hauling!) almost jump over a kid in my way, but I make it to the beach. Cross the timing mat at 24:41:55, at 8:11pm, "well" before the 9pm cutoff. Phew! Now I need to find the team so we can run across the sand together. Took a minute but they found me and hurrah! we did it! Girls Heart Rockets 2 rocked Hood to Coast and came in 7th in the open women's division. Avg team pace: 7:31! Yeah! Now my calves are free to sieze up.

That's the update for tonight. Tomorrow I'll go into more about my post HTC adventure driving through OR and CA.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Hood To Coast Part 1

The trip started out with a casual, get to know each other, how many people can you pack in one house (Carie's parents' house) in Parkdale, OR. After a couple days of hanging out and van decorating (rocketship building?) we headed over to Mt. Hood and blasted off!

Here are some pics from van #1 runner 2 - Kelley:

We started at 7:30pm on Friday night (last start time was 7:45pm). We were one of the last teams, if no the last team, on the course at times - until we started passing people! My adventure of getting lost at 3am on my first leg in Portland wasn't much fun and really gave us a gap to catch up, but by the next day we realized there really were other people out of the course! Tons of Roadkill (we didn't keep count) and we finished in just under 24hrs and 42 minutes. Tomorrow I'll give a recap of each of my legs.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Back in Colorado

I made it back to Colorado last night. I have TONS to share about the HTC relay and my trip down the west coast from Seaside, OR to Los Angeles. Stay tuned...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Made it to Oregon

Tim and I made it to Oregon last night. We met up with about half the Girls Heart Rockets relay team. A trip to the grocery store and then up into the Hood River area (parkdale) to stay at a teammate's parents place. It's pretty sweet - they have a pear orchard. It's rainy this morning but occaisonally the sun will peek through and we'll catch a glimpse of Mound Hood.
Tim's gone with a few people this morning to pick up the vans. The Hood to Coast relay starts tomorrow - our team has a 7:30pm (yes, pm) start time. We'll hang out the rest of today and decorate the vans when they return with the rest of the team.
The neighbor's dog just showed up ready to play- a well-fed black lab. Guess they are friendly around here!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Jackson Hole and Yellowstone

Took a long weekend and went with the Porsche Club on a great tour of Jackson Hole and Yellowstone. Those Tetons are impressive! More details later, but here are some pics:

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Team in Training track practice tonight...what a workout.
1 mile walk warm-up
800m easy
1600m best effort (6:54!!! I beat the 7:00min mark by six whole seconds! woohoo!)
800m recovery (=walk)
1200m T
400m easy
800m I
400m easy
400m R (fast - I did a 1:34 which is great for me)
400m easy
plyos and core
800m easy cool down
that's almost 6 miles of stuff tonight!

Mars is not doing too much better on the prednisone, but I don't think he's any worse. He does seem a tad more stable on his hind legs, but probably no more than 10%. I've got a call into the CSU neurologist, as they said to call atfer 4-5days if no improvement is seen. He didn't call me back today, so I hope to hear from him tomorrow...

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Race Report - Cabbage Head Duathlon

Cabbage Head Duathlon (3 mi run - 30k bike 3 mi run)
Date: Saturday, July 12
Time: 8:00am
Location: Wiggins, CO (farm/ranch/middle-of-nowhere Colorado)

As this was just a 'fun' race, I dragged my butt out of bed at 4am and started on the 130mile drive to Wiggins. I packed up my stuff and showered the night before so I had minimal stuff to do in the morning. At about 4:40am I was on the road. I hit Wiggins at about 7:00am with only toll stops on E-470 and a much needed bathroom stop.

The morning was cool and breezy, with a little bit of cloud cover. Long sleeves were much needed before the race started to keep warm. But by race time after a warm-up, the tri top and shorts worked just fine.

I was in wave 4 with all non-elite women and for some reason a token male.

Run 1: 22:42. My GPS had this really as 2.94 miles, but that works out to be about 7:45ish pace. I was thinking of going 8:00min/mile but the 7:45 felt good. Hard but not extreme. It probably helped that the course was pancake flat (50ish feet of elevation change between lowest and highest point) and at 4500 feet elevtation, which may be lower enough from where I train (my house is at 6800 feet) for me to gain some benefit (more oxygen!) Coming into T1 I felt ready for the bike.

T1: 0:57. Not much to report. Transition area is pretty small so swapped shoes and put on my bike helmet and went!

Bike: 56:58 (~19mph). Again, pancake flat course with less than 100feet difference between high and low points. The kicker on this course was wind! There was a pretty strong wind coming out of the east to south east so those with more aerodynamic bikes had an advantage. This bike leg felt much better than the one at the du I did in May. My quads didn't feel as taed at the beginning. The flat course compared to Boulder might have something to do with it, but it is also later in the season and my legs are in better biking shape. I passed a few people (several mountain bikes) and a few guys on road bikes. Got passed early on by 2-3 ladies who must have been right behind me on the run. Coming into T2 a couple ladies passed me, but it didn't take long for me to pass them back on the run. I do feel I have a substantial amount of improvement I can make in my biking fitness. I fueled well on this leg. I drank mostly my HEED and then with about 15 minutes left of the bike I took a gel from my 'gel-bot.' That thing is great - for short races where you only need 1-2 gels, I can store them right in the water bottle. One stop fueling and no need to mess with gel packets.

T2: 00:49. Pretty simple here. Popped off the bike shoes and helmet, slipped on the running shoes and grabbed my hat and ran.

Run 2: 22:55. Not bad to be that close to the first run pace! It was definitely a harder run, but here is where you find whatever you have left. After that first mile, the legs felt very capable of running (much better than the lake to lake tri!). I passed a few people (mainly the older men who started in an earlier wave) and a few of the ladies who passed me at the very end of the bike course. The second half of the run is ever so slightly downhill, which made the final push into the finish line pretty strong.

Overall: 1:44:18. 2/16 in my age group, 26/78 women finishers (that includes the 7 or so elites). My take home prize was a cool Cabbage Head pint glass.

Post race breakfast was egg/potato burritos, which is actually a pretty decent post race recovery meal. After I cooled down, ate my food and got my award, I headed the 130 miles back home.

Later that night...
Drums Along the Rockies!
My friend had an extra ticket to the DCI competition so I had to go (she drove, thank goodness!) So back up to Denver (Invesco Field at Mile High) I went to watch about 8 drum and bugle corps perform. Some were the classic top corps like the Madison Scouts, Cavaliers, Phantom Regiment, Santa Clara Vanguard and the Blue Devils. My high school drum instructor was in the Blue Devils in the late 1980s. They are about a month out from the championships so though not perfect, the shows are coming along. It's been a long time since I've seen a marching band event and it brought back many fun memories. I didn't know that Denver had a corps (the Blue Knights) but they enjoyed their home territory. Even though it was a late night and a very long day, that was a fantastic evening. Almost all of the performing corps hit the entertainment button very well.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Quick Mars Update

Mars got an MRI on Thursday, which confirmed severe stenosis (shrinking of the channel surrounding the spinal cord) in C6 and C7 (bottom most vertebrae in his neck). It looks like it is pretty far along, which means they don't know if it is reversible or not. So for now we have him on a prednisone treatment for the next two weeks. If he starts to make improvements, then there is the chance that surgery may be an option. If the steriods don't do anything, well, then unfortunately I don't think there is much they can do. If the stenosis gets worse, then it will like lead to paralysis. The prednisone is already making him pee a lot. He used to be able to go quite long without having to go out, now he can't make it a few hours. Not so good on our carpet, but the carpet is pretty old and he went to the back room that was already stained from his digestive issue a week or so ago. Poor guy. I'll keep the updates coming.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Mars Update

Today Mars had an appointment with a neurologist (Dr. Cudden) at the Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Ft. Collins. Poor guy wasn't allowed to eat breakfast this morning in case they ran tests that needed him to fast. Since we didn't have to leave until 10:45 I thought it best to feed Juno or she'd be barking at me all morning. Mars sure looked confused when Juno got the food and he didn't. I then wanted to take her for a walk since she'd be home alone all day, so again, he trotted his wobbly trot to the door as I quickly got Juno out. He was still by the door when we got back. But, I think he felt a lot better when he got a 2+ hour car ride all by himself!

At the hopsital, two senior vet students Molly and Dana, did an initial exam. Then they returned with Dr. Cudden for a more complete neurological examination. Mars did a great job letting them bend and pull and hammer away (reflex tests) on him. The end result being that he is definitely neurologically abnormal and the symptoms indicated something in the mid to low neck region. This could be a compressed disc or something called wobbler syndrome, where the spinal cord gets compressed. Or it could be something else. The docs were concerned with his weight loss that has been taking place with no change to his eating habits. He was down to about 95 pounds today. This could potentially add cancer to the mix of problems.

What we decided to do was leave him there overnight so they could take chest and abdominal x-rays. This would let them know if there was anything suspicious away from his neck area. If those turn out clean (and they did- I got a call after I returned to the Springs) they will do an MRI. So we'll have to wait until tomorrow to really have a better idea of what is going on. He is in good hands at the hospital, but it will be really nice to know what has been causing Mars' issues. I'll post again tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Banana Split!

It's been a while since my last banana recipe and as it is mid-summer, I got to thinking of the....

BANANA SPLIT! What a delicious work of art! So here's a link to the wikipedia entry on banana splits for more that you could ever want to know about this classic american dessert!

ohhhh- I am hungry! Especially after tonight's track workout!
Here's what we did:
800m easy warm-up
800m T pace
400m easy
800m T pace
400m easy
800m I pace
400m easy
800m R pace
400m easy
plyometrics and core work
800m easy cool down

It was a great night for track - a storm had blown through about 30 minutes prior to the workout cooling things down perfectly!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Paint Pics!

TA-DA!! The walls are 'almond paste' with a 'smoke screen' and 'timeless taupe' stripe. the bathroom is smoke screen. I didn't get to the shower/toilet room, but will make those taupe. It was a lot of work, but I think it turned out very nice.
The walls are pretty high, so I spent quite a bit of time on the top of a ladder. I'm surprised I'm not more sore. Maybe the triathlon training is good for something else as well! Anyway, feel free to let me know what you think!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Project Paint - update!

Slowly but surely I am making progress on the bedroom. Yesterday I managed to get all the wallpaper borter off. The first couple feet were surely on the learning curve, but after that, I pretty much nailed the technique. I was using a diluted fabric softner solution - the trick was to first pull the pattern part off leaving the adhesive so that the solution could wet the adhesive, but to not use too much solution. A little spray follwed by a wipe down was all it needed to come off pretty cleanly with a 3" putty knife. The bits of paper did make quite the mess.

Now Happy 4th or July! To kick off the celebration this morning I went for a 34 mile bike ride in the black forest. Just gorgeous. The views of the front range were amazing. I'm so glad I am able to enjoy such sights. One of these time's I'm going to use a helmet cam on a ride to try to share some of the local landscapes!

Back to the project - my brother stopped by to help move the furniture to the middle of the room so I could get to all the walls. Lots of vacuuming up the paper bits from yesterday and all the dog hair that finds its way behind the furniture. A surprisingly quick trip to Lowe's on this project-packed weekend for many and I had my paint supplies. But no painting yet! I taped up all the trim in the room. By this time it was 3:30 so I needed to get ready for a 4th of July BBQ a coworker was having. The highlight of the BBQ - smoked pork shoulder - delicious! Hung out there for a while enjoying the evening then headed over to my brother's to hang out with him and his family for a little bit.

Tomorrow will be another busy day and I will finally get to paint! The morning will be filled with a TNT workout, a little yard work, and as much painting as possible. Hope to have some time in the afternoon to go to the pool with Elissa and little Joey. Time to wrap things up for the night. The dogs aren't happy with all the fireworks, but I think I've finally got them settled down.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Holiday Weekend Project

What do I do with my time now that I have four days off from work? I've decided to repaint our bedroom/master bath - which will be no small task. Let me just say that the room looks just like it did when we moved in almost 5(!) years ago. Yikes! So I will have the tasks of stripping the wallpaper borders, cleaning up the walls, and painting. If getting the wallpaper border off isn't hard enough. I went to Lowe's this evening and picked up way too many paint chips. Let's hope I picked "the right one's." I know it will suck up a lot of my weekend, but I'm really looking forward to finally having a cozy bedroom without pink flowers around the ceiling.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Track Practice

Phew! My IT band issues didn't bother me today at track! Here's the workout:

1600m walk warm up
800m easy
2000m T pace (~2:03/400m)
400m walk
2000m T pace
400m walk
plyometrics and core work
800m easy

I'm thinking I must have pushed it too hard on the first part of the bike on Saturday, causing some tightness in my muscles around the IT band. They were pretty sore for a couple days, but I've worked on loosening them up. I have a massage scheduled tomorrow which should work out any residual kinks!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Race Report - Loveland Lake to Lake Olympic Tri

First a shout-out to all the COS TNT folks Shannon, Stacey, Sarah and Ben for great races yesterday! Some extra kudos for Ben for hanging in and finishing the race after his "day-before-the-race return from an Alaska trip and half-marathon the week before" fatigued body said "what are you doing to me?" about 10 miles into the 30 mile bike course (read: upset stomach).

Cheers to all the other TNTers who finished the race, and a big thanks to the race organizers for holding such a great race and supporting Team in Training.

And a HUGE thanks to everyone who donated to my Leukemia and Lymphoma Society fundraising campaign. Because I was not obligated to fundraise as a coach, your money is above and beyond what the LLS was hoping for. THANK YOU!

Now for the race report:
Saturday, June 28th, Lake Loveland, Loveland, Colorado. Weather was cool and breezy before race start, overcast during the race with temps probably in the upper 60s during the run (high was supposed to be 81).

Woke up at 4:15am, took a quick shower to get blood flowing in the muscles, ate a peanut butter sandwich and a banana and then headed to the race site with Sarah. Set up my transition area, found the TNT tent to check in, took a warm up jog and found a bathroom. You really can't go to the bathroom too often before a race, if you know what I mean. Got my wetsuit on and headed to the lake for a short swim warm-up.

Race start 6:30am. My wave - 6:34am.

1.5km swim: 38:05. Despite the fact that is a really slow swim time for this distance, it was probably the best feeling open water swim I've had. Water temp was around 70, which is pretty comfortable for a wetsuit swim. My shoulders didn't fatigue and I felt comfortable breathing. Bumped into a few people here and there, but otherwise could swim in my own space. I was able to keep to the buoy line pretty well, except after the last turn heading back to the beach where it took a few tries to confirm that I was really headed in the right direction. The overcast skies were a blessing during the swim as the sun didn't get in your eyes trying to sight those buoys. After I finally made it to the beach, I trotted the 1/4 mile to the transition area feeling pretty good and ready to tackle the bike course.

T1: 01:39. Found my bike without issue, almost fell trying to get the wetsuit off (wet grass), and my wetsuit got caught on the timing chip so it took a few extra seconds to get it off my leg. Could have been a big 'o crap' moment! On with the sunglasses, helmet, bike shoes and off I went.

30 mile bike: 1:33:28 (19.2mph). This is a great ride. The starting elevation is about 5000 feet, with only about 100 feet of gain during the first six miles. Then you start to pick up more elevation and by mile ten you are at 5500feet. Then a little after mile 12 you hit a nice stretch where you gain about 300 feet in a bit under two miles. Within a mile after that peak you lose that 300feet that was just gained. Fun for those who like to descend. A few winding roads on the descent, but really not too bad. If you know the area, these roads go around Horsetooth Reservoir. Then the fun begins, which I like to call "the wall." You need to get as much speed as possible coming down the last hill and unfortunately there is a 'U' curve right before "the wall." Here you gain 200 feet in about half a mile. That's pretty steep - I was going about 6-7mph at the top of this hill! But from here, it's almost all downhill, except for a few rolling hills on the way back into Loveland.

I was hoping that I'd be able to ride this course a in a few minutes less time this year over last, but ended up only about 35s faster. I got a little frustrated in the beginning, as in the cluster of bikes making there way along the course, there was one woman who liked to ride just to the right of the yellow line. One rule of triathlon is to stay right unless you are passing. You are supposed to stay 3 bike lengths behind a bike in front of you and if you decide to pass, you have 15 seconds to overtake their front wheel. After that it is the passed person's responsibility to get out of your draft zone. This lady would pass someone and then stay on the left side of the lane (technically called blocking). If someone needed to pass her, and there were plenty of speedy TT bikes with disc wheels zooming past everyone, they would have to hit or even cross the yellow line, which is obviously not safe. I passed her a couple times (you leap frog a bit on the beginning of the course while people settle into a pace and have different hill climbing abilities). Finally about the third time I passed her, I yelled that she needed to stay right as she's getting in the way. I guess I pissed her off enough that she passed me with a pack and stayed ahead. She's one I hope the motorcycle referee's saw and gave a penalty. OK - enough of my rant.

Fueling and nutrition on the bike...drank water and some of my HEED (like gatorade but with maltodextrin and natural sweeteners instead of the high fructose corn syrup) as soon as I was in a comfortable pace. About 35 minutes into the ride had 1/4 of a clif bar washed down with water. Intermittent drinking of HEED throughout the bike course, and at about 1:10, I did a Hammer gel, washed down with water. Went through about 2/3-3/4 of each bottle of HEED and water, probably 32-40oz of fluid.

Overall feel for the bike course - Pretty solid ride, though my knees did feel some discomfort. On the second half of the ride it did feel like my right knee was being affected by IT band tightness. I could only hope this wouldn't bother me on the run.

The end of the bike course passes through a neighborhood sculpture garden (gorgeous!) and then back into the high school parking lot.

T2: 01:07. Trotted with my bike to find the rack and Stacey yells "you caught me!" She's a faster swimmer, but not as fast on the bike so we hit T2 at the same time. Now if I could only catch Shannon... Thank goodness for the lady who put the pink towel on the bike rack near mine. Found my stuff, threw my bike on the rack, sat down, off with the bike shoes, on with the socks and running shoes, grabbed my race belt with number and my hat and off I went once again.

10k run: 55:09 (9:02min/mile). The run is usually my best split in triathlon. Not this time. For some reason I just couldn't get my legs going under me. The first mile or two are always hard coming off a bike, especially one like this course with hills, so I was expecting at any minute for my body to acclimate to the run and I could settle in a pace. It just wasn't to be. Each aid station I walked through and grabbed some water to make sure I was hydrated. At the turn around, which about 0.25 mile before I saw Shannon heading in the other direction so I knew catching her wouldn't be easy, I took another Hammer Gel and, as always, washed it down with water. I didn't really feel thirsty, I didn't feel hungry, my legs just felt heavy with some aches and pains. My right knee was aching (I curse my IT band!), my adductor/hip flexor area was tight (felt fine on my last run Tuesday night), and a muscle in my glut area was tight. It probably didn't help that some of the run is on canted streets, though I tried to stay on the flattest part possible. I took a few sips of gatorade at the last aid station and just did what I could to keep my legs moving.
The last mile of the run goes back into the park at the lake and then around a pond back to the finish line. This feels like the longest end of a race, since you can see the finish line about 1/2 mile out but basically have to run around it. I went for a final push to open up my stride as much as it I could (by golly you better leave it all on the course!). The TNT folks were right there cheering everyone on the 50ish yards, and Phew! I was done.

Total Time: 3:09:30. 29/58 in the F30-34 age group. Shannon and Ben were right there at the finish to congratulate me. I gave them a smile, grabbed a cup of gatorade and walked to mentally and physically regroup. I was actually disappointed with this time, as it is no faster (well, 7 seconds faster) than my time in last year's race. I figured surely with all the training I had done - sticking as best I could to my training schedule, that I would be at least a few minutes faster. My real goal was to try to hit 3:00:00. I am not sure what went wrong. On the positive side, I did gain a tiny bit of time in every event except the run. 22 seconds in the swim, 13 seconds in T1, 35 seconds on the bike, 27s in T2, for a total of 97 seconds. But I lost almost all of that in the run, and I know I am a faster runner this year.

So what went wrong? Maybe I shouldn't have run so hard in the Sailin' Shoes last weekend. I got plenty of sleep throughout the week and felt well rested. I got a massage on Tuesday to loosen up any tight spots. I was hydrated the days before the race. I did a few workouts the week of the race, but nothing long or strenuous compared to what I had been doing. Did I eat/drink enough on the bike? I took in on the order of 250-300 calories on the bike and another 100 on the run. I felt like that was the right amount. Did I push too hard on the bike? Don't know, as I rode pretty much the same I did last year and I had a great run (53:40) last year.

I may have to bite the bullet and hire a coach, especially if I want my swim time to improve. That is where I have the most room for improvement, and although I've been really focusing on the swim, I just don't go any faster.

But all-in-all, I'm really glad I am able to finish an event like this. Triathlon is a fantastic sport and I am thankful to be healthy enough to just be out there. So I've got a week of recovery ahead of me, then the Cabbage Head duathlon on July 12th!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Race Report - Sailin' Shoes 10k and the Starlight Spectacular!

One week out from the Loveland Lake to Lake! I decided to run a local 10k race, (Sailin' Shoes) as my company was fielding a team. We had a good shot at winning the team competiton, as they take the top 5 finishers on the team, divide the total time of those 5 by the total age. I was by over a decade the youngest on the team and everyone can run a very respectable 10k. To have fun with the race as well, since we didn't have matching t-shirts, we all put blue gel in our hair. The guys got blue spikes and the ladies got blue streaks in the ponytails.

Race start: 7:00am with good temps, probably near 60 and clear.

My plan was to run a fairly easy race - maybe start around my 'M' pace (8:53/mile) for the first half and see how I felt to pick it up a little at the end. As is common for quite a few athletes, it is very difficult to "take it easy' in a race environment. I ended up running the thing in 51:30 - my 10k PR so far (previous time was 52:32). Woohoo! I ended up 5th in my age group and only 4 seconds out of 3rd place.
Team results: We did win 1st in the team competition. Not sure what we won, as I couldn't stay for the awards ceremony (had to get to the TNT group workout).

Spun my legs out a little around downtown on my bike while I waited for the group to get back from their 60 minute ride (I had them start without me on a ride to the Garden of the Gods). Then I did a 2 mile, very easy run on the trail while they were out on their 30minute run after the ride.

Afternoon plans - nap and sit with feet elevated as much as possible, as the Starlight Spectacular was at midnight. This is a fundraiser for the local trails and open spaces. it's a fun, low-key midnight ride through town starting at the Garden of the Gods visitor center. A group of Tim's friends usually do the ride so we joined their team "Brawndo," which did have matching shirts for everyone! This is a reference to the water supply in a move called Idiocracy. I haven't seen it, but the shirts were fun - 'Brawndo - the Thirst Mutilator - it's got electrolytes!'
We opted for the short ride (13ish miles) that didn't ride through the hills of the park. Tim hasn't been on a bike in 2 years, so an easy ride, especially at midnight, was the way to go. Some TNT folks were there as well with their glow sticks and costumes. Some of the costumes and light systems on the bikes were elaborate. After the ride there was a pancake breakfast for all! The last time I had pancakes at 2am was a long, long time ago! We made it home and to bed around 3am.

Now for a relaxing Sunday - the start of Taper Week!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Circus Trains, Bikes, and Banana Muffins

The circus is in town! The world famous Ringling Bros. Circus train parked on the tracks near the Colorado College track (running track that is!). I saw them a few times when I was younger, but I bet it would be fun to see it again. Probably won't happen this year. It's got to be tough to to travel like that and perform on a regular basis. I suppose it takes a certain type to handle it for any signigicant amount of time. I wonder if any on the train were circus majors at Florida State!

Yesterday was Colorado Springs Bike to Work day, and since I own a bike I participated in the event. To celebrate and encourage cycling, the city holds a free breakfast downtown. So I hopped on my bike and headed the 12ish miles to work. Well, first I dropped my car off to get new brakes and then hopped on my bike and headed downtown. 30 minutes later I was at the breakfast. Not bad - bagels from Panera, fruit and eggs. It was a bit chilly so I opted for the coffee instead of the juice. After filling up my tank, I rode the rest of the way to work (another 15 minutes). Getting to work is pretty easy, as it is mostly downhill. It's the ride back that is more of a challenge. Not only are their more cars on the road, but it is an uphill ride. It took me 52 minutes to get back to the car place to pick up my car. I should ride in more often - with gas prices at about $4/gal, I'd save around $8 on gas each day I rode my bike to work!

Oh and FAI (Female Athletes International) camp (taekwondo sparring camp for females) was wrapping up so I need to swing by and see all the campers I knew from previous years. They are having a great time as always!

I've been a bit remiss in posting banana recipes - so here's one that looks awesome!
Banana Muffins with Marscarpone Cream Frosting

I've got a busy weekend coming up with swim practice tomorrow night, a bike ride in Monument on Saturday morning, the Team in Training pasta dinner that night and the 5430 Sprint race on Sunday. It's my first race as a coach! GO TEAM!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Race Report - 5430 Sprint "Rehearsal"

I'm 3 weeks out from my 'A' olympic distance race, which is a pretty good time to do a sprint race. In looking for one that fit my schedule, I found an untimed, rehearsal race for the 5430 Sprint. The group that put it on, CWW triathlon, is a non-profit group that helps women of all abilities train in the sport of triathlon. Being untimed it was about half the cost of an official race, but the course was the same. A great way to work out the kinks before my 'A' race. So here's the report:

Got up at 4:30am to leave at 5am so I could make it to Boulder before 7:00. It was a cool and overcast morning (mid-40s) and there was a little rain on the roads in Denver. Boulder was just overcast, but the sun was just starting to peek out of the clouds at the 8am start.

Swim: 750m. Water was about 65 degrees. Not too cold, but still pretty chilly. The wetsuit certainly helps in water like that! Didn't really get much of a warm-up in (don't think anyone did, as the less time spent in the water the better.) The lake also had been closed a couple days earlier for high bacteria counts, so even more reason to spend less time in the shallow end. But with no warm up and only the second time in open water this year, it took my a while to get comfortable in my stroke. I was also getting water in my ears during so adjusted my swim cap accordingly. When I got out of the water and was mostly up the beach I looked at my watch and it had 20 minutes. Sigh. I didn't exactly swim the shortest distance, but it's still pretty darn slow. sigh. I suppose for this season, even after all the work I put into swimming, I will accept that I will not likely be much faster that I've been.

T1: Didn't time this. I took off the wetsuit, put on a dry jersey, sunglasses, my helmet and bike shoes, and off I went. Probably not my fastest, but it was relatively efficient.

Bike: 17.2ish miles, just under 57 minutes (so somewhere around 18mph). This is the same bike course as the duathlon I did a month ago. I think I took about 30 seconds off my time, but it's hard to say, since I forgot to stop the GPS until after my bike was racked and I was changing into my running gear.

The sun came out for the ride and it was another beautiful Boulder morning. Here I needed to make up some time I lost on the swim. I passed a few folks on the road heading out of the reservoir and then a couple more on Jay Road. The beautiful morning was interrupted with the sight of a homeless dude puking on the other side of HWY 36 (not too far from a homeless shelter). NOT what I wanted to see while trying to get my heart rate/breathing under control so I could start drinking. I charged up the road, passed a couple more bikers and then turned on to Neva Rd. A couple rollers and then a gradual descent to pick up the speed. Passed a couple more here and then got passed by one - the only one to pass me. On the highyway back to the reservoir I used my gel bot and got a few more calories in me before the run. My legs certainly felt a lot better this time than after run1 of the duathlon!

T2: Racked the bike, off with the helmet and bike shoes, then on with the socks and shoes. I didn't have my little cooler to sit on so this was a little more challenging than usual. It was here I realized that my feet were pretty numb still from the cold water. Put on my hat and grabbed my race belt and off again.

Run: GPS distance, 3.15 miles in 25:56 (8:13min/mile pace). Not bad for numb feet! Did they feel weird! Passed a few more ladies here. My legs felt good, no real aches or pains and my hip flexor did well today. As we headed back to the finish line, there was a pink tape everyone got to run through as they finished, and we even got medals!

Post race: Free massage! Finally got all feeling back in my feet. Refueled a bit with water and a PB&J bagel. Yum! A pretty small race with maybe 100? ladies. I was not at all disappointed and it was worth getting up at the crack of dawn and driving almost 2 hours for it.

Drove home, did a little yard work with Tim (not much) took a nap, got groceries, ironed some clothes, had dinner (hooray for frozen pizza and pre-bagged salad!), took Juno for a walk, made tomorrow's lunches, did some more ironing, and wrote this. It is definitely time for bed!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Trouble with Swimming

I had Shannon film me again today to see my progress (or lack thereof!). Ok, I shouldn't be so negative, but it certainly can get frustrating when you swim and swim and don't seem to get any faster. But video certainly reveals the truth.

  • Body position: not bad - I might lift my head up slightly to breathe, but not too much.
  • Kick: could be tighter, but I think it is improved.
  • Hand entry: Awful. My right hand does OK, but my left crosses over all the time (it is why I was always pulling right in the open water!)
  • Catch: Probably wait just a tad too long to start the catch, but better than I had been.
  • Pull: According to Shannon, looks good. I think my elbows are high, though I may cut the stroke a little short?
  • Recovery - shoulder problem here. Don't get that high rotation so I tend to swing my arm wide. Trying to get a long reach may be causing the crossing over.

So I'm probably swimming a few extra yards down the pool trying to stay straight (that line on the bottom keeps you on track). I think the biggest thing for me to work on is my hand entry. If I can get it in front of my shoulder and not in front of my face, I'll save myself a lot of energy and some time. It won't be easy since I thought I already fixed this once...

Today's workout:

300yd w.u.
8x25 drills
4x300 with 1min rest
100yd easy

8x25 sprint
200yd cool down
Total yards: 2200

(Cold and rainy today so I did it on the trainer in the evening)
24min w.u.
2x14min @ threshold (hr ~172) with 10min active recovery
13min c.d.
Total time: 1:15:00

Time for bed and some positive visualisation of hand entry in front of the shoulder, not the head!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Yet Another Mars Report

I took Mars to see the orthopedic specialist today. While he does think Mars probably has an ACL tear in his right knee and agrees with the x-rays showing hip displaysia, he feels the mobility issues Mars is having is neurologic. So that means a trip to see the neurologist at Colorado State University in Ft. Collins. That's probably close to a 2-hour drive from here, so it will mean a full day off of work. I'm going to have Tim take care of this one since I don't have any vacation to burn and he's got plenty!

And now for a training update:
Swam this workout today:
300yds warmup
8x25 drills (single arm and fist swimming)
6x100 with 5s rest moderate
7x100 @ threshold with 45s rest. Well, I didn't do all at threshold - got tired!
300yd cool down
Total yards: 2100
I was pretty slow today - could be that I did my first open water swim last night, and even though it was short, probably 1000yds, the wetsuit constrains my shoulders some. I really need to work on getting it higher in the crotch and shoulders to not be as constricted.

Tonight's track workout:
1mile walk
800m E pace
1600m best effort (7:11 for me - again!)
400m walk recovery
800m T pace
400m walk recovery
400m R pace
400m walk recovery
Plyometric drills and core strength drills (planks!)
800m E cool down.

I am tired - I haven't gotten enough sleep these last few nights, even though I've been getting close to 8 hours. So I think I will talk tomorrow as a recovery day and I better get to bed soon to get as much sleep as possible!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Today's bike ride

Hit the east side of town with the fall TNTers today. Started at my house and then headed out on a 23 mile loop. For Colorado Springs, it was actually a fairly flat ride with less than 1000ft of total elevation gain/loss. High point to low point was only about 550ft, but the few rollers out there make the total numbers larger. Pretty fast route as well, but being one of the first weekend training rides for some team members, we took it easy. Don't want to scare anyone off the bike! Probably was a little long for a first ride, but I hope they all enjoyed it. The weather is finally decent enough in the morning to ride around 8am. One person did get a flat - seemed to be due to old tires since I couldn't find anything wrong with the tire/tube and the road was pretty clear, just a little gravel. She said she has often gotten flats when riding, so I think new tires are in order for her! She did get a quick lesson in changing a tube. I prefer the first lessons to be in a controlled environment rather than on the side of a highway, but we got the job done and everyone made it back safely!

When we came back we had some snacks - veggies, hummus, bananas, juice and I made some pancakes for the team. Regular, chocolate chip and cinnamon chip! Delicious!

Well, it's time for bed as I have a 1:20 endurance run to do in the morning...