2008 Blog Archive

Wednesday, November 19, 2008 2:37:30 PM

The Final Race of the Season

A little warning before you dive into this blog entry…It’s longer than my normal entry and as I continue to write I find it to be good therapy, so it’s getting longer.  Feel free to skim through or skip major chunks, I’m a half-hearted blog reader, so I understand.

This week wrapped up the 2008 race season for me.  As I sat in the airport waiting to fly out it seemed fitting that it was snowing, as it had been when I left for my first race in April.  Another similarity was that my dad was in the hospital again.  This season has been challenging in the normal ways with hard workouts and lots of travel, but my dad’s fight with cancer has made it infinitely more difficult.

Everything had been going better than expected.  My dad is tough and the chemo hardly fazed him but was taking care of the cancer.  Last Monday his leg was so swollen that he went to the hospital and found out that he had fractured his hip.  This sounded disastrous, we didn’t know if the bone could heel or if he could survive a major surgery.

We shouldn’t have questioned his strength.  After an MRI, the doctors decided they could put a plate in to strengthen the bone and that he is strong enough for the surgery.  This decision was made on Wednesday and everything had calmed down enough for me to leave on Thursday for The San Francisco Triathlon at Treasure Island.

Early in the week I wasn’t sure I would be going and I was having trouble concentrating on workouts.  I told myself that if I was able to go I would be really thankful that I had the opportunity to race and that my dad was well enough that I was able to go.

As soon as I got to the airport I felt a great sense of relief, I was going to race, I wouldn’t be sitting in the hospital for a few days and best of all my dad would be back home soon.  My workouts hadn’t been that great over the past week, too much on my mind, but I was ready to race.  My swim had been strong over the past few weeks and I really wanted to go into the race with confidence that I could stay with the pack.  I decided that I was going to swim the swim for myself to see how hard I could push my body and not be frustrated if others were faster.  I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to race when I was close to missing it.  I thought about what my dad has been going through and how selfless my mom is in taking care of him.  The run is three laps and I decided I was going to dedicate one lap to Nancy, a friend with cancer, one lap to my mom and one to my dad.

The Race

When I started the race I felt focused and ready to enjoy the chance to race after all the hard training I’d put in.

We dove into the 56-degree water and I pulled powerfully through the water.  I was pulling with the strength I knew I possessed but have had trouble utilizing when trying to sprint.  This time the swim was about strength and confidence rather than desperate strokes and fast turnover.  And it was working, I was inline with the lead swimmers.  We approached the first buoy and I was still with the pack.  I stayed with them around the buoy and for the rest of the swim, exiting the water in a pack of five swimmers with the lead three just 30 seconds ahead.

We climbed the stairs and ran across the rocky parking lot on frozen feet.  I reached my bike with the pack of swimmers.  Shoving my wetsuit off my waist, I stepped on the legs to get out of it.  But it wouldn’t budge.  My hands where too numb to pull it off.  I hopped around, fumbling to get it off then fell.  In hindsight, a little embarrassing but at the time I just kept fighting it.  I realized it was caught on the timing chip and was able to pull them both off.  I slammed my helmet on my head, grabbed my bike and took off.  By then I’d lost the pack.  I sprinted out onto the course but could never catch them.  This was a disappointing way to start the bike after a solid swim.

Facing six laps around the course by myself seemed long.  I started thinking about friends that would like the chance to race in a draft legal race, hopefully, with the pack.  Conrad and Dan would have been “hammerin’ da sheee-it out of da bike.”  However, Conrad would have caught the pack and Dan would have been bringing back the Speedo, which would be a cold job in San Francisco in November.   I think Eve would have been happy to be doing half the distance that she was in Clearwater on the same day.  Haley would have been leading the pack and Phil would have broken the ride down into 11-minute intervals.  These thoughts helped me push myself and stay focused throughout the race.

I was really excited to run for the people I’d chosen to dedicate each lap to.  On Nancy’s lap I passed a girl that had been a minute ahead of me.  I got tired on my mom’s lap.  I concentrated on keeping my cadence high and thought how she can’t run because of a bulging disc in her back but that she’d like to be.  I thought about the pain she’s been living with and the strength she uses to support my dad and his fight.  I wanted to be that   strong.  I finally reached the last lap and started thinking of my dad.  He loves to hear how I do and likes to rub it in if I didn’t quite beat his personal best in that distance.  I wanted to be able to call him and tell him I’d done well.  When my legs were hurting I thought, ‘It couldn’t hurt as bad as walking on a fractured hip for a month.’

I placed 12th, which was disappointing because if I’d been in the pack on the bike it could have been a completely different race.  But I made it to the race and I felt confident and ready to race.  With the week I’d had I could have been thinking about a lot of other things but I was able to turn the worrying into positive energy that helped me in the race.

So now I head back to the hospital and into the off-season.  I’m looking forward to a little break and then winter training.  I’ll get to spend a lot of time with my family and help my dad recover from hip surgery.  I’ve learned a lot this season about racing and myself and I’ve been reminded that a good support system makes all the difference.  I’ve seen how important this is in my dad’s recovery and I know I couldn’t do the racing I’ve done without that same kind of support.

At home in Nine Mile Falls

Pete is there for the good and the bad.  He puts bad days in perspective and sticks with me even when I’m way past my window of refueling opportunity, which can be scary.  He understands when I’m busy all weekend with workouts or gone for a week to race.  When he travels with me he’s the muscle behind the bike box and can always navigate a new city.  And, as was the case with this trip, he can navigate over the phone for me when I’m lost and alone.

My Downtown Home-away-from home

My sister Kelly and her partner Mika have let me spend half the summer at their house, parking numerous bikes in their living room and even opening tuna in their kitchen, which is a major offense at 315 E Baldwin, as it turns out.  They make me laugh and keep me company when I’m at my ‘downtown’ home.

On Valley Time

My mom and dad are always ready with an encouraging word or helpful advice.  They’ve been following my sporting endeavors since I was 7-years old and just starting swim team.  I have them to thank for getting me involved in sports and giving me the confidence to push myself and race. They’re still ready to get up early to see a race start like they did 20 years ago.  Even with chemo treatments and hospital visits my parents have made it to several out of town races this summer and I always find extra energy I didn’t know I had when I hear them cheering.  My dad is home more during the day now so I’ve gotten to spend more time with him.  We’ve been working on projects around the house and gone on hunts for the freshest Candy Corn in Spokane.  The key is to dig your fingernail in and if the candy crumbles, it’s perfect.  So far, Shopko is your best bet.


My friends have been indispensable in their support, whether it was company on a long ride or just someone to talk to for support.  Haley said once during a long phone call that ‘if you’ve done it before, you can do it again.’  That quote has been a good reminder numerous times this season when I approach a hard workout or another race.  Eve has reminded me that going to a race can be a good break from the stresses at home.  Conrad puts the fun back in any workout regardless of how hard it is.  Phil’s the data guy with the most up-to-date info on anything tri related.  And Pheadra just keeps smiling through it all.  Mike is there to talk and talk and talk when I need someone who understands racing at a high level.

My sponsors have been great this year.  I wouldn’t be racing where I am or as well as I am without them.

Fitness Fanatics keeps my bike working and figures out any problems, regardless of how long it takes or how busy they are.  They’re always interested in how I’m racing and what race is next.

Curt at Runner’s Soul is always good for a hug at a local race.  He asks about the next race and how my dad is doing.  The support he gives local athletes, teams and races helps to makes our running community a great place to train and race.

Markham Homes has been providing my flights for the last 3 years.  This has been priceless.  It has reduced the cost of trips and made it possible to travel to more races.  Not to mention that Cheryl does all the trip planning, so I can spend more time on the bike and less at the computer.

I can’t thank BlueSeventy enough for keeping me warm in the Pacific Ocean over the weekend.  Their wetsuits are fast and comfortable and Guy is always quick to email with encouraging words.

The Metabolic Institute has been keeping me healthy all year.  Katie has given me lots of great information to make the transition to a gluten free diet more manageable and Debbie has taught me a lot about how the body works under the stress of exercise.  I now train smarter due to the Metabolic Institute’s testing which makes my training more precise.

TYR has provided all my training and racing apparel for the last few years.  It’s been exciting to follow their increases in technology, which has made them a leader in triathlon apparel.  This year’s Tracer has been a great racing suit.  It feels fast in the water and comfortable on the bike and run.  Ryan Nolan has been a great contact and always keeps me clothed in the latest gear.

Michelin has a great grass roots program that supports cyclists and triathletes.  I’m always clad in Michelin’s blue tires.  They are lightweight and dependable.  I can count on good handling even in wet conditions.

AxleyUSA recently became Gin Optics, but they continue to support me with high quality eyewear for both running and cycling.

Thursday, October 09, 2008 9:51:27 AM

Hook'em Horns!

This weekend brought the much-anticipated Longhorn 70.3 in Austin, TX. My brother and sister met me there and we planned to stay a few extra days to explore the area. I was anxious to do another half Ironman and then have some time to hang out with my brother and sister.

On race morning we parked and got in line for the shuttle buses to the race start. There where hundreds of people and it looked like it would take several buses before I could get on, so I set out walking in the dark. I could hear the announcer so it couldn’t be too far, right? Twenty-five minutes later I finally got to transition. I’d only seen a few buses pass me so I think I was still ahead of where I would have been.

We checked our bikes in the afternoon before and had to let some air out of the tires so they wouldn’t explode if the pressure increased in the heat. It took me three different pumps to get my front tire pumped up. This took a lot more time then I’d planned, disrupting my preparations a little. Luckily when I was about to start panicking, they announced that they would postpone the start 30 minutes because there were still people waiting for the shuttle.

As the sun started to rise I headed for the swim start.  Walking down the path, I looked up and saw a wave of black moving across it. Bats! Apparently, Austin has the largest urban bat population in the world. Each night they leave the city for the Gulf Coast and each morning, as the sun rises, they fly back into the city to sleep under one of the bridges downtown. It was a pretty amazing sight and the announcer proclaimed it was good luck, I guess we’ll take what we can get.

The race start was a bit confusing. As the announcer’s countdown reached six, Simon Lessing started his own countdown at three. So when he got to one and said, “Go.” Nobody knew whose count to follow. I think most of us went around 2 on the official count but it spread out the start. The swim started fast. Most people had the Blue Seventy Swim Skins, I hadn’t thought about this. Most of the races I do you either wear a wetsuit or your racing suit, there’s no in between. I came out of the water in the middle of the pack as opposed to the front in the last half I did, so all that science and engineering could be an advantage. The swim was short; the first swimmers exited the water in 19 minutes. I ran out with Michelle Jones and Bree Wee. As they pulled off their swim skins I passed them and excited transition just ahead of them. I can only claim the fastest split of the day in one discipline, T1. I think the fastest bike split might have been more helpful, but it’s a start.

I recently lowered my seat so I was a little concerned with how I would feel on my bike. I raced an Olympic distance race in the new position and felt good but with a longer distance I wasn’t sure. In the end I don’t think I hurt any more than I would have in the old position. I think my legs were just hurting from the effort. The bike course mainly consisted of rolling hills and head wind. I got to the halfway point at 1:34. Luckily there was less head wind on the way back so that I negative split the ride. My bike split was 2:43, about 30 seconds faster than my last half Ironman but I think the course was tougher. I was glad to see that my bike fitness has improved since my last attempt at this distance.

About half way through the bike the clouds cleared and it really started to heat up. I could feel the salt drying on my face. This was a good reminder to keep hydrating. I also poured a lot of water down my back to stay cool. I felt pretty cool when I got off the bike and started the run though I quickly heated up.

We ran two laps on the run. The first half of each lap was on pavement, the second on dead grass and silt trails. I started out going faster than I thought and faster than I knew I should. But my heart rate and effort were where I wanted so I figured I’d see how long it would last. It lasted until I turned around and realized I’d had a great tailwind and now had a strong headwind. It was refreshing to have the wind cool me off but it slowed me down a lot. The course was all rolling hills and by the time I reached the biggest hill on the grassy trail I was feeling it in my legs. I was also having trouble seeing. I could tell I was getting a little woozy from the heat and I needed some salt or water or something. I did a good job of taking my gels when planned and drinking at the water stations but the heat was still getting to me. I felt like I was just stumbling up the hill, not really running. Then I saw a girl ahead of me walking. I thought, “Well, at least I’m not walking,” and I sped up and passed her. That helped to mentally get me going on the second lap.  


When I hit the off road section the second time I knew I only had 3 miles left. I felt good and was excited to finish.  I picked up my pace a little and saw another girl walking. By this time there where a lot more runners on the course and I figured she was on her first lap not second. She stopped to walk at the last water stop and I passed her. But at the 13-mile marker she came up beside me again. I sped up a little on the last hill, hoping to lose her. I felt surprisingly strong on the hill. I turned into the finish shoot and knew she was close behind. I pick up my pace, only one turn to go. At the last turn she sprinted past me and finished just ahead of me. I realized later I should have stayed with her and then sprinted at the end. I got nervous and went too soon. I finished 13th. Not as high as I had hoped but there was a larger and deeper field then expected and I just wasn’t used to the heat. I talked to a woman from New Orleans after the race. She said it was great that it was so cool and dry. What race was she in? I thought it was hot and humid. I guess it all depends on where you come from.

In a month I got to San Francisco for the Treasure Island Triathlon, the last race of the season. There it will be cool but will more likely be rainy than dry.

In the days after the race my brother Chris, sister Kelly and I did some sight seeing around Austin. We watched the bats leave the Congress St. Bridge as the sun set and swam at Barlow Springs, a spring fed, /8 mile long swimming pool. We also listened to some of the live music that Austin is famous for.

Sunday, September 21, 2008 6:06:48 AM

Elite Nationals

This weekend was Elite Nationals in Portland, OR. My friend Kyla flew into Spokane from Montreal and stayed with us a couple of days before traveling with us to Portland to race. I’m always reminded of how lucky I am to have great places to train in Spokane when I get the chance to show people around the area. Kyla is already planning a trip when she can stay longer and take advantage of our great roads for riding.

We got to Portland late on Thursday and went to bed after getting a call from our neighbors asking us to be quite.  Opps. On Friday we went to the race area for the race meeting and to check out the course. The course consisted of eight hilly laps on the bike and 4 hilly run laps. I was excited when I saw this; hills always make the race more interesting.

Age Group Nationals was taking place too, so at 4:30 all the age groupers were headed to the race. Luckily we were able to roll over and go back to sleep, our race wasn’t until Noon.  By the time we started, the age groupers were done with their race and lining the sides of our course. The crowd support was great, we needed it the twelve times we hauled ourselves up the steep hill from the transition area to the road. My friends Eve and Cathy were finished with their race and stayed to cheer.  Aubre and Dan who both live in Portland now came to cheer too. Aubre has a great voice for cheering and I knew it was her right away. Pete, my parents and my coach were all there cheering too.

The start of the swim was a little confusing. They didn’t give the normal warning, “ladies you are now in the hands of the starter.” Normally after this command they have a minute to say “take your mark,” and sound the horn. Instead they said “20 seconds” and then “Take your,” “Beep.” I don’t know what happened to “MARK” but they must have been in a hurry because they seemed to skip it. So we all dove in at different times a bit off kilter. Kyla came up under me and I hit her across the head. As I tried to move off of her she elbowed me in the head. I guess we’re even. I must have over corrected because I ended up on the girl on the other side of me and got elbowed in the face. I thought I might have better luck if I just spread my arms and legs and went along for the ride. I guess that would be rafting instead of drafting.

Once we spread out a little, I realized that three of us were way off to the left side. It took me until the first turn to get over to the rest of the pack. By that time the first pack was quite a ways ahead but I was with the chase pack. I lead the pack until the last turn and then a few of us came out of the water together.

The run to the transition went up the steep boat launch. My calves were cramping as I ran up the launch so I had trouble running fast but managed to catch back up on the flat and leave transition with the pack.

We sprinted up the first hill and then put our feet in our shoes as we descended the first hill. Our pack worked well together and was able to pass a couple of riders and catch a couple of others. With the course constantly turning, rolling and curving, it was hard to hydrate. I only drank one of my bottles and worried that I’d struggle on the run but luckily the weather was cool so hydration wasn’t quite as important. As we descended into transition on each lap our pack would get strung out and it was a fight to get back together once we were out on the road again. The first two laps I seemed to be struggling some but felt better after that. After about six laps I felt like I finally had the gearing figured out and knew where I needed to be in the pack during the technical parts.

We came into transition in a pack of five. I left transition in second out of our pack, which put me in 11th overall. The girl ahead of me has come from behind and out run me in a few races. I wanted to see if I could stay with her this time. I was catching her on the first hill and was on her shoulder by the first downhill. This is where I probably made a tactical error. I was feeling good going downhill and it was easier to let my legs go than to slow them down to stay on her shoulder. I passed her and put about 20 meters on her. She stayed that distance back for the next 3 laps. I knew she was probably just running comfortably behind me and waiting to pass me. I tried surging but she never fell off. At the start of the forth lap she passed me. I stayed on her shoulder for a little bit but she pulled away.  Next time I’ll have to be patient and use her tactics to see if I can out run her in the end.

I finished 10th, 9th out of Americans. This was the first time I’ve broken into the Top 10 at Nationals. With a field that included 3 Olympians and the Olympic alternate I was really happy to be there and have the experience of racing such talented women.

In two weeks I’m off to Austin for the Longhorn 70.3. My brother and sister are going along to be my crew at that race. Well, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned that duty to them yet, but I’m sure they’ll be up for it.

Monday, September 15, 2008 4:11:00 PM

On the Podium at Pacific Grove


The Triathlon at Pacific Grove was this weekend.  I had been looking forward to this race for a while. It’s a fun race and I was set to stay with Kim, my same homestay as last year. We had fun a year ago and I was looking forward to seeing her again.

Last year I was a bit intimidated by the swim when I got there and saw the kelp that was infesting the bay, not to mention the shark attack that had occurred earlier in the week. This year I was in a much better mental state. I was actually excited for the kelp. If you use it to your advantage it’s kind of like you’re swinging, well scooting along vines. Instead of trying to get a deep catch at the front of your stroke you have to keep your hands shallow and pull on the kelp to propel yourself forward.

After rounding the first buoy, I was surprised to look over and see that I was in second place. That’s a perspective I’m not used to. After more kelp scooting we ran up the beach, around the buoy and dove back in for the second lap. I looked over and realized I was in the lead. Did I make a wrong turn? No, I was actually ahead. I kept pulling my way through the kelp, determined to have the fastest swim split. And I did! I exited the water a few steps ahead of second place and took off for transition.

The run to transition is long; across the beach, up the stairs, over the asphalt path, through the grass, around the fence and finally to the bikes. At least this gave me plenty of time to pull my wetsuit down. After fast transitions, four of us mounted our bikes together. With similar speeds and abilities on the bike, we where able to work together for the 4 laps of the 40k course, increasing our lead on the others.

photo We flew through transition, racking our bikes and stepping into our shoes. I came out of transition ahead of the others but not long after passing the announcer and hearing my name I heard him announce the others behind me, so I know they weren’t far back. Jill passed me after a couple of minutes. I tried to stay with her as long as I could. This helped me to pick up my pace a little even though I couldn’t stay with her the whole way. Alexis passed me after another couple minutes.  As I heard her coming I tried to speed up a little but wasn’t able to stay ahead. I ran on her shoulder for a couple minutes but she eventually pulled away. I stayed ahead of the fourth woman from our bike pack and finished in 3rd place, my best finish for the season!

I’m starting to get out run at the end of races but I think a lot of this is a result of having better swim and bike legs so that I’m starting the run with faster athletes. It’s a little more fun to chase people down than to be passed but I’m finishing better in the end. I ran my fastest run split of the season with a 37:56.

On Sunday after a bike ride, my homestay Kim, Becky, a fellow triathlete and I went on a beautiful hike at Point Lobos Nature Preserve. This is a picture of Kim and I overlooking the ocean.

After a solid performance this weekend I’m looking forward to Elite Nationals in Portland, OR this weekend.

Monday, August 18, 2008 2:49:14 PM

Kelowna ITU Race

This past weekend I was in Kelowna for the Apple Triathlon.  It was a draft-legal ITU Pan American cup and Canadian Nationals. I was really looking forward to this race; I’ve done it several times and really like the course.

The weather forecast was saying 35 degrees Celsius. Luckily Celsius doesn’t mean anything to me so I couldn’t worry about how hot that really was. On race morning it was already hot when I did my warm-up run at 7:00. But as our 11:45 start time approached, clouds began to roll in and it cooled off some.  It ended up being in the mid-Eighties and humid. Not too bad.

I had a pretty good swim; I was in the chase pack and got on my bike in 5th place. We climb a short steep hill at the start of each of the six laps. This helps to break up the pack.  My pack was able to pass a few athletes on the hill but never caught the main pack. With a few blocks to go on the sixth lap, a pack of 5 riders caught us. This really surprised me, I thought some of them were ahead of us and I didn’t know anyone was so close behind. I sped up and got ahead of them to enter transition.

Leaving transition in first I found my pace and felt pretty good but knew that there was someone right on my shoulder. I decided to try to surge a few times to drop her early rather than wait until the end. After the first lap I had opened up a gap on her of about 15 seconds. I could see one person ahead of me and wanted to try to catch up to her. The course has a lot of turns in it so there aren’t many chances to see your competitors. I would see her occasionally but couldn’t tell if I was gaining on her. As I started my fourth and final lap I could hear the spectators cheering for someone right behind me and knew that someone was coming up on me. I tried to speed up but didn’t have a lot left. The girl I had stayed ahead of earlier and another girl were running together and gaining on me. They passed me at the turn around on the final lap. I tried to surge and stay on their shoulders for as long as I could but they were going to fast for me. I ended up in 7th place.

I was really happy with the race. Coming out of the water with other athletes and being able to work together on the bike made the race a lot more fun than my last couple drafting races.  On the run I wasn’t afraid to go out and try to hold others off. I think I ran a smart race I just didn’t have the speed that the two girls behind me had, but I gained quite a bit on those ahead of me.

Next is Pacific Grove, but I have a good month of training before I head to California for that one.

Monday, August 18, 2008 2:40:38 PM

Coeur d' Alene Triathlon

I missed a race update on the Coeur d’ Alene Olympic Triathlon last week. Here’s a recap:

I came out with the first pack on the swim and after a quick transition, started out in first on the bike for the women.  An athlete from Australia passed me after a few miles. I tried not to let her gain too much on me but she pulled away.  I hoped to see her again on the run and started looking for Haley Cooper, another local triathlete, at the turn around. The first time I saw her I still had 3 minutes on her but she was gaining. I kept setting goals of trying to make it to a certain turn before she caught me. She caught me just before the last turn around. I was happy to have held her off for that long since she is a very strong biker.

I was looking forward to the run when I came off the bike. My legs felt pretty good. I held a good pace on the way out but didn’t realize that we’d had a tail wind. The headwind on the way back made the return trip harder. By then I was seeing lots of friends out on the course and cheering for them as we passed. I was watching for my cousin Josie and Uncle Pat to see who was in the lead. These distractions may have slowed me down some but it was a fun way to end the race. By that point our positions were pretty much set. I couldn’t see anyone behind me and I knew I couldn’t make up enough time to catch Haley. I finished 3rd with a solid effort.

Monday, July 21, 2008 4:06:44 PM

Short Race Update

The race portion of this update will be a quick because, unfortunately, the race was short for me.

When I arrived at the transition I realized my cable had snapped. Trying not to panic, I took it over to the mechanic who said he would try to fix. It was getting close to start time and I still had to walk the mile and a half to the swim start. Finally I showed the mechanic how to attach my shoes to my bike with rubber bands, told him what gear I liked to start in and where my position on the rack was. He said he’d have it set up for me when I got back. I took off running to the swim start. It’s not easy to run through the thousands of people making their way to the start but I got there with 3 minutes to spare. Just enough time to get my chip and put my cap and goggles on.

We lined up on the barge for the start and the announcer announced that we had a minute and a half. Just then a report asked me if I had a minute for an interview. I didn’t have much more than that but I said yes. She asked if I thought the estimated 72-degree water temperature that they had announced was accurate. How am I supposed to answer that? I hadn’t been in the water. I said it sounded reasonable and probably a few other pointless remarks and then it was time to go (Luckily I wasn’t around afterwards to see myself on the news).


We dove in and I felt pretty good. I was with the pack and after last weeks poor swim I was ready to fight to keep up.  Then I hit my first jellyfish. I was stinging from my chin down to my calves. I stayed with the pack for a few minutes. Then I fell off and was with one other athlete. I slowly lost her too and was on my own.  Well, alone with the jellyfish. By the end I was burning from nose to ankles and was afraid there was on stuck in my suit because it was stinging so bad.

I pulled myself from the water and started the half-mile run to transition. When I finally arrived on sore feet, I grabbed my bike and took off. I was glad to see it was there.  The mechanic was yelling something to me and sounding encouraging. I didn’t understand what he’d said until I got on the bike and tried to shift. Oh, he’d said, “You only have 2 gears but you can do it.” He didn’t mention they were the hardest gear in each chain ring. I struggled to even get up the short steep hill from the river to the highway. I knew I’d never make it up the big hills on the bike course. So I pulled out. The first time I’d ever not finished a race. It’s disappointing but I have to admit that at the time all I wanted to do was find some relief for the jelly fish stings, I was burning everywhere.


I showered and then we watched the men's finish, which almost made it worth not finishing my race. 2nd place male, Brent McMahon had made up a couple of minutes on leader Greg Bennett. He was definetly giving it everything he had. He collapsed just short of the finish line. As hard as he tried he couldn't seem to get his body to work with his mind and get him across the line. Raising to crawl a couple of feet then crumbling into a ball on the ground again he painfully made his way to the finish. The crowd was urging him on with tears in our eyes. He was so close and third place was closing in on him. 3rd, 4th and 5th places all ended up passing him while the medics tried to help him. After a few minutes he finally managed to crawl the last few feet, falling across the finish line with his feet just short of the line. The volunteers picked his limp body up by feet and arms and hauled him to the med tent.  But he had finished. It was a pretty inspiring finish to watch. It's amazing to see how hard the body and mind can push.

After the race we went to the Bronx Zoo with Pete's cousin Doug who is going to the Drummer's Collective in New York for 6 months.  

Thursday, July 17, 2008 12:41:21 PM

Upstate New York and the Big Apple

I flew into Newark, NJ last Wednesday, arriving at 1am due to thunderstorms delays. I thought about staying in the airport since I had to take a bus in only a few hours anyway. But it was a loud, bright airport and I knew that while the few hours of sleep would seem short at a hotel, they would feel like an eternity if I spent them on the hard floor of the airport. So I finally got a hotel and got in bed at 3:00 only to get up again at 6:00 to get to my bus. I took a slow but scenic bus ride to Geneva, NY on Thursday, arriving about 5:00 in the afternoon.

My homestay was a nice woman who lived across the street from the race director. She is old enough not to be listed on the Chinese New year place mats at the local Chinese restaurant, I found out today.  But despite our age difference, we got along well, our biggest difference was probably that our calorie intake per day varied by about 4000 calories.

The Musselman ITU race in Geneva was a hot one. The day before the race was overcast and 80. The day following the race was 75 and pouring. But on the day of our race, the skies opened up and it was 96 and very humid. It didn’t help that we started 3pm. I wish I could say that I handled this heat well, but I didn’t. By the end of the run I was really dragging.

The field was small, only nine athletes started. It was a deep water start in seaweed filled Seneca Lake. I was with the pack for the first few minutes and then they slowly pulled away and I couldn’t catch back up. Having such a small group made it hard because the pack didn’t get very spread out. With two Beijing bound athletes in the lead pack, it was moving fast and I didn’t have the power to keep up. My swim hasn’t been strong recently but had hoped to stay a little closer than I did.

I exited the water about 90 seconds down but told myself that a lot can happen in an hour on the bike and that I could hopefully catch a pack or at least another rider. Unfortunately, the small race size hurt me again. With only a few people in the lead pack, nobody got dropped off the back so there was nobody out there for me to catch and work with. I rode the bike alone while the pack ahead kept gaining a larger lead on me. The course was 7 laps and if you get lapped, you’re out. Luckily this didn’t happen to me. But I have to admit I was riding scared.

I knew there was a girl ahead of me on the run that was usually slower than m and I hoped to be able to catch her. I saw her on my first of six laps and she was about a half mile ahead. I didn’t know if I could catch her but there was a girl not far ahead. I passed her and gain more distance on the other girl. As I started the last lap the heat was really starting to get to me. I was feeling pretty weak and was starting to get goose bumps, which didn’t seem like a good sign. I could see the girl ahead of me and she was only about 200 meters ahead. I really wanted to catch her but in the end I didn’t have enough energy. I finished about 45 seconds behind her. I had made up a lot of time but not enough.

Overall it was a disappointing race, I finished 7th but had thought I had a chance of being in the top five. It can be hard to stay positive when you can see that the race is over as those toes kick away from you in the swim. I managed to break it down into little pieces and try to focus on the things I could do to improve my race, rather than looking at my weaknesses.


Since the race I’ve been staying with some friends whom I met through my cousin last year. They have been very gracious.  Even with family visiting, they took me in and showed me around Geneva. I’ve been able to get some great rides and runs in from their front door. Tomorrow I leave on the bus for New York City. I’m really looking forward to getting there because my husband Pete will be meeting me there. We went on a fun mountain bike ride that followed a really pretty river connecting two of the local lakes.

Sunday I’m racing the Nautica New York City Triathlon.  The swim is downstream in the Hudson River. Hopefully a little current should help me. The bike is non-drafting, so it will be nice to know that the others aren’t working together while I’m struggling along on my own. The race finishes with a run to Central Park and a lap around the hilly streets of the park. I’m usually strong on the hills and it should be nice and shady. Not to mention, it starts at 5:53 AM, so it won’t have a chance to warm up too much and I’ll be done in time for breakfast!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008 2:53:55 PM

We have Water!

photo photo

Believe it or not, we actually put water in the pool this past weekend! Unfortunately, like everything else when you’re building a pool on your own, it takes a lot longer than you expect. We’re still filling it. It takes about 30 hours and we had to stop a few times to install the drains, the four lights and inlets. We are planning to do our first workout in it on Friday morning! It will be so nice to get up and walk out the back door to swim instead of driving all the way in to town, only to share a lane with a few other swimmers of incompatible speeds.

It was 95 degrees on Sunday as we struggled to install the pool liner. Luckily, Pete’s friend Scott was there to help. It would have been impossible with only two pairs of hands. The water was so tempting in that heat, but really cold. Pete started the hose and put in the first drops of water. He was beside himself he was so excited.  I couldn’t wait to swim either. I did a slip and slide move and made it surprisingly far on the slippery lining.


My parents, aunt and cousin came over for dinner that night so we had a little toast to the pool and then waded around wishing it would fill up quicker.


Pete has been putting every waking hour into this project and I’m so amazed and impressed that he could do it. I don’t think he realized what an undertaking it would be but he managed to do it and it’s turned out great. I can’t describe how proud I am of him for sticking with it when it became frustrating and overwhelming.

Now that this project can be used, although it does still need a roof, I’ve been a little worried about what the next backyard project would be. I was relieved when Pete said, “I couldn’t wait to go back to training for Ironman’s, it’s so much easier than building pools.”

Monday, June 16, 2008 2:27:23 PM

Blue Lake Triathlon

This weekend was the big TriNorthwest Team Championship. I headed out Saturday morning with Chad and Mannie from the EMDE team. After stopping about 10 times for bathroom stops, since none of us where on the same bathroom schedule, we made it to Troudale, just outside of Portland. Mannie swam and then we rode some of the course. There was a head wind going out and then we flew on the way back. We wondered if the wind would be the same for race day. It wasn’t.

We met up with Eve, Molly, Sarah and Adrianne for a pre race dinner. It was fun to get to know everyone and have a good meal together, even if the service was really bad.

Everyone had a good race, Eve, Molly and I were all in the top 10. Hopefully this will help in the combined team standings, but those results aren’t out yet so we’re still waiting on the edge of our seats.

Adrianne took one for the team and road the last 2 miles on a flat. She still had a PR, so next time will be even better once she has some rim tape. Mannie and Chad both had good races and are looking forward to training for their next races. Aaron had fun after the swim and thought it was a good race for the training he had put in.

My race started out well, one swimmer in the elite start took off fast. The rest of us couldn’t stay with him. I slowly pulled away from the rest of the wave and was on my own the rest of the time. I’d recently read about a technique for rounding a buoy that involves flipping over on your back. I thought I’d try it since I was by myself. It backfired a bit. I ended up hitting the buoy with my right arm and getting it stuck under the buoy. Then I had to take two strokes with my left arm to recover. Opps. I guess that’s why you practice these things before a race.

On the bike I really wanted to see if I could push myself.  The course is “tedious, ” as Aaron described it. Its made up of a short out and back with a couple of turns and then the rest of it is just a long out and back with one underpass creating the only variation on the course. It can be easy to loose focus but I watched my speed and cadence and stayed on pace. Sunny Gilbert passed me after the last turn around. I stayed close to her until the last few minutes, then my legs started complaining and she pulled away a little.

As I got to T2 Sunny was just leaving. I wanted to try to make up some time in transition but the bike next to mine was in my spot so mine wouldn’t fit in. Every time I put it in it fell off. In that moment of frustration I couldn’t find a solution but finally calmed down and was able to. Then my numb hands came into play and my helmet wouldn’t come off. After that I knew why Sunny had been in transition long enough for me to see her.

I could see Sunny on the run and was excited to try to catch her. For the 2.5 miles I was about 30 seconds behind her and thought I might be gaining on her. After that there were some curves in the path and I couldn’t see her. I don’t know if I lost focus or she sped up or what but I ended up loosing sight of her for good and she beat me by 90 seconds or so.

It was exciting to have the competition. Chasing the “Sunny D” swimming suit on the bike and run kept me going. I had a better race for having someone to try to catch.

The girls squeezed me into the girl’s car for the ride home.  We were all sore from racing and then sitting in the car but had a fun time.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008 1:09:14 PM

My First Half

On Sunday I competed in the Boise 70.3, my first half ironman. Rumor was that the water was only 48 degrees but when we went to the race meeting the official temperature was 59, which sounded much better. The cold water was my biggest fear for the race.


I raced in my new Blue Seventy Helix for the first time. It felt great, my body position felt high in the water and I really felt like I was getting a strong pull, there wasn’t any slipping in the forearm. I breathed left and then right and realized that nobody was near me. It had been a while since I’d led the swim. It was nice to have open water ahead of me even though it was pretty choppy. I stayed in the lead for the first half of the swim then Kate Major came around me and I hopped on her feet. I stayed with her as long as I could and came out of the water about 5 seconds behind her.

I took the time in transition to put arm warmers on. I probably didn’t need them but it was nice to have the extra warmth as I headed down the long grade from the reservoir. I knew my bike would be the weakest leg of my race so I wanted to see how far I could get before I got passed. The first woman passed me at 24 minutes, about 10 miles, there were a couple women not far behind in the swim so this was better than I expected. A few more passed me and then I held the next ones off until after an hour. I kept my heart rate where I wanted it and felt like I paced myself well throughout the race. The course had some rolling hills and a couple of longer, gradual climbs to break the ride up. It was a nice course and I had fun on it.   


I had some work to do to catch up on the run. I hoped to be able to catch at least one runner. Setting out I felt really good, I checked my pace and it was where I wanted it to be. I mentally broke the two laps run into four parts, out and back twice. The first section flew by; I couldn’t believe I was already headed back towards town. The course followed the river on a winding bike path and the temperature was perfect, it even started raining a little to help cool us off. My parents came to the race to watch. It was a great pick me up each time I saw them and heard their encouraging shouts. As I headed out on my second lap I saw my friend Conrad starting his run and thought how nice it was that I was already halfway done and he was only starting. He started in the last wave and I was in the second. We cheered for each other and kept going. I felt better starting the second lap than I had on the first, which was a nice surprise. I picked up my pace a little and saw a woman ahead of me that had passed me on the bike. I passed her at about mile 8. After that my energy seemed to drop a little and it felt like I still had a ways to go. I had some gel and that helped. With two miles to go I saw another woman that had passed me. I slowly worked my way up to her and was able to pass her shortly before the end.


I ended the race feeling pretty good and thinking that I could start to like the half ironman distance. The perfect weather, nice course and friends and family all added to the fun experience.

My friend Eve had the best finish in our group. She raced side-by-side with another woman in her age group for the whole run, they both knew they were racing for first place in their age group and they weren’t going to give up. The other woman tried to edge Eve out by running next to a male runner. But Eve, being the feisty, ex-rugby player she is, shoved them both out of the way and placed first in her division!

Now it’s back to Olympic distances for a while but I’m curios about what I can do in halfs…

Tuesday, May 20, 2008 3:07:18 PM

Memphis in May

I just returned from a fun weekend in Memphis for the Memphis in May Triathlon. My homestay was great, I think there really is “Southern Hospitality.” Tiffany and Jolynn showed me around Memphis and their triathlon team hosted a BBQ after the race for a bunch of the pros that they where hosting.

On race morning the first person entered the water at 7:30.  The race is unusual in that it is a time trial so the pros start first and are sent off 10 seconds apart. Following the pros are the age group triathletes who go off every 3 seconds for the next hour and a half.

I was the 27th person to start. I lined up and the starter began to count down. When the beep went off I dove in and thought how it was kind of nice that I wasn’t getting kicked or clawed at. But I didn’t let myself get comfortable, I still tried to push hard, with the goal of catching the swimmer in front of me. I was able to catch her in a couple of minutes but at the same time was passed by the swimmer behind me. Luckily I was able to get on her feet and stay with her the rest of the swim. I exited the water shortly after her and sprinted to make up some time on her in the long run to our bikes.

I got to my bike and my helmet was gone. The girl next to me was running around looking for her helmet too. Someone had knocked our bikes over and our helmets rolled away. At the same time we both realized that the helmet she found and began to put on was mine not hers. She handed it to me and ran to get hers. Then we were off.

The bike rolled through beautiful green fields, something we haven’t seen yet in Spokane with our late spring. It was a nice ride with a couple of rolling hills to start and then just head winds and cross winds to break things up. I was feeling pretty good on the bike, especially for not having gotten the miles in prior to the race that I would have liked. I got passed by one woman but kept her in my sights for most of the ride.

The run course was more challenging than I expected. It was rolling most of the way with a couple bigger hills at the turn around. I felt good the whole way though. I didn’t know how my legs would feel coming off the bike without much bike training, but they felt pretty fresh. I found my pace and started counting off the miles. The hills were a good way to break up the miles and there was just enough wind to keep me cool. I passed the woman I had been chasing since the swim at 3 miles. This gave me a little more motivation and I started pushing harder. The last .2 miles is on a levy.  Just as I was turning onto it I realized the person running ahead of me was a pro woman, one more person I could try to chase down!  When I was close enough to see her number I realized she was number 11, so she had started over 2 minutes ahead of me. I didn’t have to pass her to beat her. So I just concentrated on not twisting my ankle on the rough trail and finished strong just behind her. I placed 5th and was 3rd on the swim and run.  Now that I’m back on the bike I’m looking forward to moving up in the bike rankings!

Next is Boise 70.3. That will be a fun road trip and race with lots of local triathletes to cheer on out on the course.  Be thinking warm water thoughts because I hear Lucky Peak Reservoir is still really cold.

Monday, May 12, 2008 5:32:09 PM

Pete's Backyard Project

photo photo

Pete has been working on a lap pool in our backyard for the last couple of years. It's a HUGE project. At times he thought it might never get finished but we are finally down to the last few steps. 2 weeks ago we finished pouring the last section of deck. That's when it actually started to look like a pool. We could picture water in it for the first time.

On Saturday Pete poured the floor of the pool so now it's time to order the liner. We are hoping to have water in it in the beginning of June, so bring on the sunshine!

Friday, April 25, 2008 5:22:40 AM

Fun in the sun in Mazatlan

waves.jpg The Mazatlan PATCO Championship Triathlon kicked off my racing season last Saturday. My trip started in the comfort of first class thanks to Markham Homes. I hope they realize I’m spoiled nowJ


I was a little surprised when I finally saw the ocean. There were huge waves. I’d never really swum in waves like that before; it looked more suited for surfing than triathlons.  Luckily a few coaches showed us how to body surf. At least I knew what I was supposed to do, even if I couldn’t quite do it. I did feel more confident than I had before.

Race morning was overcast but by the time we started at 11:00 the sky was clear and the sun was hot. We dove in and started diving under the breakers. I was starting to think it wasn’t that bad after all when the forth wave hit me and knocked me halfway back to short. As I tried to get my bearings the next wave came down on top of me and I swallowed half of it. After a lot of choking I looked around to see that several others seemed to be having as much trouble as me. At least I was still with a pack. I dove under the next 2 waves, finally making it past the breakers.

After that I was with a group and my stoke was feeling pretty strong. While paralleling the beach I felt very seasick but once we turned towards the beach it was better and the waves started to carry me home. I rode a wave in, which was fun until the end. That’s when it started to spin me like a washing machine. I still had my cap when I finally came up, but just barely. I couldn’t tell where the finish was but I thought I knew which direction the beach was so I went that way.  Finally pulling myself up on the beach my legs where heavy and I felt disoriented but I told myself I had to pass at least one person in transition.

I grabbed my bike and took off. I passed a couple racers as I mounted my bike. My legs were heavy on the bike. All the dolphin dives to get through the waves and the stairs to the transition took their toll. Once I got on and got my feet in my shoes I was feeling a little better. A couple women caught me and we started to work together. A pack of four came up behind us and passed us. Before I knew it they were just out of reach. I guess I’m not that sharp yet on bike, I just couldn’t get back to them. The course was 8 laps and I rode over 5 of them by myself until a pack caught me.

I pulled my shoes on and headed out on the run. My new DC Trainers felt light and fast. I felt much better than I did on the bike. I was able to pass all but one of the women from my bike pack and one from the pack ahead. I raced in my new TYR Tracer suit and it felt great. It was 90 degrees but I didn’t feel hot and it was really comfortable to ride and run in.

Overall I was pretty happy with my race. I would placed better if I could have just stayed with the bike pack. I had a pretty good performance; it just wasn’t with the rest of the group. But that’s the trouble with draft legal races. I’d only been outside on my bike 3 times before the race because of the weekend blizzards we’ve been having in Spokane. That might have played a part in my bike performance but I think it helped me in the heat since the YMCA feels like it’s about 90 degrees sometimes.  

Thanks to all my sponsors for helping my get to the race and for all your support in training over the winter. My next race is Memphis in May in a month. I’m looking forward to the different format of this race; it’s a time trial format and nondrafting.

Thursday, February 28, 2008 11:56:55 AM

My new Theme Song

I used to think that my theme song was Alabama’s I’m I a Hurry (and Don’t know why) The line that says, “I’m in a hurry to get things done, I rush and rush until life’s no fun,” is pretty fitting at times. But then I was listening to Modest Mouse and a line from Missed the Boat caught my attention, “ Well nothing ever went quite exactly as we planned our ideas held no water But we used them like a damn . This has been too relevant lately.

On Monday I was finished with my workouts and was planning on running a few errands before going to Liberty Lake to coach swimming.  Instead I got a call from USADA saying that they were waiting at my house to do a drug test. So instead of driving towards Liberty Lake I had to drive the 35 minutes in the opposite direction to get home.

I thought I would at least be prepared when I got there so I drank a lot of water. A lot of good it did me, the test was too diluted so I had to do another. By then I was already going to be late to my meeting because it takes an hour to get there. The USADA people were very accommodating.  They said, “No problem, we’ll just go with you” So I gave them a tour of the Spokane area on the hour drive to Liberty Lake. I was glad I didn’t see anyone I knew at the Gym as my entourage and I exited the bathroom stall together and then paraded through the gym with my sippy cup.

Today didn’t go much better. I tried to go to the gym with my bike and trainer to do a workout but today they didn’t think it would work for me to use my own bike there. So I headed back home, set my bike back up in the living room and started riding. On my run I was thinking that my workout was going pretty well, considering how it started. That’s when two dogs came out of now where and bit me. I couldn’t do the out and back I planned because I didn’t want to get bitten again. It would have taken too long to go all the way around the neighborhood so I had to cut through a driveway and 3 feet of snow in the woods to get home. I called my husband Pete and had him report the dogs, then forgot the incident.

With only 8 more minutes of hard running to go I raced out of the house zipping up my shirt over my sports bra as I went. I looked up to see the sheriff pulling into the drive way and looking surprised to see me dripping with sweat in my bra.

He needed my to file a report on the dog bite. But I only had 8 minutes left. I wasn’t sure if I could ask him to wait, so I just chalked it up to a slow transition and started telling him what happened. He said he would go find the house and talk to the people. I was feeling like I was making a big deal out of nothing since the dog didn’t even break the skin, he just bit through my pants.

As I returned from my last 8 minutes of running the sheriff was driving by and stopped to report the results of his visit. The people weren’t there but the dogs attacked him and he sprayed them with pepper spray. I guess I wasn’t over reacting after all.

Although my plans are always changing, things usually seem to workout in the end and sometimes I even get lucky. My friend Phaedra was on a bike ride the other day found a dead cat that had been buried in the snow bank all winter, not so lucky. I was on a run Saturday and even though there was a freak snowstorm I still managed to spot a $20 bill on the ground.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008 9:34:40 AM

Winter training


It’s been a long time since I’ve checked in. I’ve had a fun winter of training. We have had so much snow, apparently more than we’ve had since 1969. While the snow has left me trapped inside on my bike and on the treadmill, I have started skate skiing. It’s hard work but a lot of fun. My friend Phaedra and I try to go on Fridays. At first we could only go about 30 seconds before having to stop to catch our breaths. Last time we made it about 7 miles with only a couple breaks. We never thought we would get to the furthest trails, so we were pretty excited. Unfortunately, our bubble was burst when a really supportive friend asked “Don’t you think you should be able to skate faster than you run?” When I told her how long it took us to do the 7 miles. “Well, no, I was just happy to be skiing and not thinking about running.” Oh well, maybe next time we will work on speed.

I’m looking forward to the Snake River Half Marathon in a couple weeks. It will be nice to see what I can do in a half marathon. Maybe it will give me an idea of where I will be at Boise 70.3.

Racing season seems to be approaching quickly. I'm working on figuring out what races I'm going to do. My first race will be in Mazatlan in mid April. I'm looking forward to some sun in Mexico.