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...