2012 Blog Archive

Thursday, January 5, 2012

End of the Year Progress Report

Sometimes when I think about the shape I was in over the summer and getting back to that it seems like I’m making very slow progress. But when I look back at how little I could do in October and November, it’s amazing that now I do so many little things without even thinking about it.

  • I can get out of bed on my own, before Pete would have to roll me over, and prop me up before I could get off of the bed.
  • I can sit up for long periods
  • Drive
  • Run for 10 minutes with a short break at 5 minutes
  • Swim 2000yds, mostly with a snorkel because rotating to breath hurts
  • Ride my bike for 45 minutes
  • Shave my legs
  • Scrape ice off the windshield
  • Chop and stir while cooking
  • Coach swim tea

Hopefully in another month or two I will look back and be surprised that I was excited to swim with a snorkel because I’ll be back to doing Susanne’s workouts with her.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

On the New Year’s Resolution Band Wagon

Yesterday for the first time in a couple of years, I went to a TRX class at the Y. Today, it’s kind of hard to walk. But I’m not as sore as I thought I’d be. Only a couple of the exercises hurt my back so during them I switched to an exercise that didn’t hurt.

I missed doing group workouts so it was nice to be back in a class again. This class was a TRX for beginners class. It was full of women whose New Year’s Resolution was to go to the gym. The girl next to me seemed to be a little scared of her first TRX experience andtold me it was her first of three workouts, she had yoga next then she was meeting a friend to workout later. Ahh, I remember when I used to get a couple of workouts in and then go to TRX and yoga as a reward. I almost asked her if I could go to yoga with her. Then I remembered Ithat I was being careful and only trying one new workout at a time.

After the class the teacher asked if we liked it and my neighbor said she loved it but that she would hate her tomorrow but maybe love her again the next day. I didn’t point out that the second day after the workout is usually worse. It was motivating for both of us to make it through the class when we weren’t sure if we could.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Get Choppin’

My neck gets really tight when I cook because my muscles still aren’t used to looking down to chop up ingredients but it’s getting better. The other day I decided to make a new butternut squash dish for dinner. I forgot that I haven’t been able to cut through anything hard as a butternut squash yet. Pete wasn’t getting home until 6:00 and I wanted dinner to be ready when he got home. I thought about taking it over to the retired neighbor next door to have her chop it up, but that seemed kind of weird. So I pulled up my sleeves, put on my apron and pulled out my new Christmas cutting board. It didn’t even hurt my back to chop it. I guess I’ve gotten a lot stronger in the last couple of weeks. Last week a carrot was hard to chop so this seemed like a big improvement. My neck still got really tight so I had to lie down but until after dinner (dishes time).

We really liked the new recipe, here it is if you’re looking for a new quinoa dish or another way to use a butternut squash. I omitted the mushrooms since I always end up putting them on Pete’s plate anyway.

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons grape seed oil orolive oil
  • 3c butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup (8 ounces) sliced button mushrooms
  • 2 gloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup low sodium vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves cut into 2 inch piece

In a small saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add the quinoa, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook for 12-15 minutes or until water is absorbed.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the butternut squash and mushrooms. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add more oil if necessary.

Add the garlic and cook for one minute.

Add the wine cook for about 1 minute until the wine has reduced.

Add the stock, salt, pepper, and chili flakes. Stir to combine.

Add the kale and cook for about 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender.

To serve, toss the quinoa with the vegetable mixture.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Skiing in Winthrop

Pete Pete
Sunrise in Winthrop Sunrise in Winthrop

Last winter when Pete and I wanted to go to Winthrop to ski for the weekend I would get up early and do a long bike ride so we could leave the bike at home and just ski and run. This weekend I got up and did a quick 20 minute bike, 10 minute run and 10 minute swim and we took off for Winthrop. It has been kind of challenging to keep the feel of each sport without doing too much and still do other activities like skiing or TRX.

I’ve been classic skiing at Mount Spokane several times but I haven’t tried skating yet. I wanted to wait until I could test my back on flat trails. The Community Trail in Winthrop is over 30k of flat groomed trails through the beautiful Methow Valley, in snowy forests and over creeks.

All trips to Winthrop are planned around a stop at Camperos Mexican Restaurant in Brewster for the best mole ever! Each time we stop we try a new approach to getting the recipe out of the server. This time he just laughed and patted Pete on the shoulder as if to say, “You aren’t the first to ask for the recipe and you aren’t going to be the first to get it.” Once we were too full to ski we headed on to Winthrop to try skiing anyway.

I took a few tentative pushes and glides and didn’t feel my back. Even so, we didn’t ski too long the first afternoon so that I would feel good enough to ski the rest of the weekend. Look at me, being so careful, none of that going for broke and hoping to make it through the next day.

On Sunday morning we went for a longer ski. I used my poles as little as possible to save my back and extend my skiing time. It made it a lot harder but I think it helped my technique. When I went back to using poles I felt like I had a better idea of how to push with my legs.

My cousin Nat and her husband Jake live in Winthrop so we met up with them and skied again in the afternoon. It snowed hard all day and covered up the groomed trails so we switched to classic skis whichwere a nice break from the harder effort of skate skiing. Afterwards, we had hot chocolate at the Mazama store and watched the end of the Baltimore New England game. For my one quarter of football watching this season, I picked an action packed quarter. We stayed at Nat and Jakes and had a great chili dinner with gluten-free cornbread. It snowed hard all evening and we were hoping to be snowed in but it didn’t happen. So now we are on our way home and busy planning the next trip to Winthrop.

The progress I made this weekend was pretty exciting. The longest I had skied so far was 1:25. Yesterday I skied 1:30 twice. Hopefully I will notice an improvement in strength and aerobic ability next time I run or ride.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


The trials of a recovering triathlete: last week I dropped my Kindle on a concrete floor. It looked okay but when I turned it on the next day there were lines through the screen that wouldn’t go away. Amazon was very helpful and sent me a new one, my second replacement since November. It only took 3 days to get it and then I was up and running or, more accurately, sitting and reading again. But to get through those three days I had to go to the library and pick out a real, old fashioned book. Then I had to learn to turn pages again. I adjusted pretty quickly and I really liked the book I grabbed off the shelf.

Love and Consequences by Margaret B. Jonesis a memoir about growing up in a foster home in South Central Los Angeles, joining the Bloods while in elementary schooland then finding a way off the streets. It was an entertaining, inspiring and sometimes heart wrenching story with a positive ending that isn’t often realized for someone in that situation. Most of the book is written in the way the Bloods speak with ‘k’ replacing ‘c’ in words and lots of slang. After reading the book I was texting my mom and started to type, “ima finna pick u up.” Then I thought,” I don’t speak in Blood slang, why would I text in it?” Backspace, backspace, backspace. Sticking with a texting colloquialism I typed “pick u up at 8” Much better. Just another example of how adaptable I can be.

Last week I started riding on my Computrainer. I was finally riding long enough to see if I could ride one of the courses the Computrainer provides. I rode an hour on the Coeur d’ Alene Triathlon course and got a better workout thanI’d been getting on my other trainer. I wasn’t getting really sweaty or breathing hard or anything like that, I’m not supposed to do that yet. But I was trying to stay focused and keep my cadence up.

Today I did the same course again and set the screen to a split screen so I could ride next to myself from last week. Once I was next to myself on the screen, I was determined not to let last week’s Annie catch me. I rode a mile per hour faster since I had someone to race. I was still careful not to push harder than I should but I’m going to have a hard time not trying to beat today’s Annie next time. Hopefully when I see the doctor again on the 15th he will say I can start training again and then I’ll really be able to race myself. The Computrainer should be a fun way to track my progress and see how I’m adapting to more training.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Adjusting my idea of training

I find myself back on the couch to write this update. My morning was busy with physical therapy exercises, swimming, running, making a pot pie and sitting at the computer. When it was time to wax skis and run errands I realized that my back was already done for the day. The rest of my list will have to wait until tomorrow. That’s the way this recovery thing seems to go.

At Christmas the doctor told me I could probably start training again in 8 weeks, since then I’ve been wondering what it would be like to train again, to start from very little activityand build back up to where I was before. For some reason I was picturing myself feeling fine but being out of shape. Now I realize I my biggest limiter is soreness. I imagined holding myself back until the doctor said ‘go’ and then I exploding out of the shoot with all the energy and enthusiasm I’d been storing up. Instead I’m lying on the couch again.

The doctor told me yesterday that my bones are as healed as they’re going to get and I can do any training that I want but that I shouldn’t push through all the pain. He didn’t say why I shouldn’t push through the pain and I didn’t ask because I’m realizing that I don’t want to, or can’t push through all the pain anyway. After talking to my coach today we decided a good goal is to get up to three one-hour runs a week and three 90-minute bike rides a week. After that I’ll think about adding more intensity in and start looking at race schedules.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Just asking for trouble

I guess I was looking for a little stress in my life because I started going to a Toastmasters club. Toastmasters is a club that teaches public speaking and leadership skills at weekly meetings. Guests are welcome and as a guest, it’s easy, you just sit and listen to others give speeches on various topics.

These Toastmasters are go-getters though and they waste little time drawing visitors in. Before I knew it I was giving one minute impromptu speeches on topics from my favorite spring flower to leap year. I tried not to make eye contact in hopes that they wouldn’t call on me, luckily it worked when the topic was artificial intelligence but then they caught on.

This week I gave my first speech. As I nervously sat awaiting my turn I realized that I’m usually only nervous when standing on a startline and then I know how to manage those butterflies. I didn’t know how to control my nerves in front of a meeting. Jumping up and down, swinging my arms and stretching seemed out of place. For my next speech I will need to find an alternative. The group liked my speech but my evaluator said not to use the lectern as an anchor, among other suggestions. If his knees had been shaking like mine, he would have been hanging on for dear life too! I didn’t want to faint. I was wearing a skirt, I’m unfamiliar with this article of clothing and I didn’t know how it would land if I collapsed in a puddle on the floor.

I survived and I’m actually looking forward to my next speech. It’s fun to work on a new project, something that forces me to step out of my comfort zone and improve on something I’ve never really liked doing.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Progress Report

It’s been three weeks since the doctor said I could start training again. I’m still sore but it’s nice to know that when I have discomfort while running or swimming I don’t need worry about causing further damage. This week I’m sleeping better and not as sore in the mornings. I didn’trealized that the lack of sleep and constant aching was taking so much energy. Now that I feel better I’m more motivated to start increasing my training. Here’s where I’m at now:

  • 90’ bike ride with Powercranks.
  • 60’ run outside, I never noticed how much harder running on uneven surfaces is than running on a treadmill.
  • 2500 yards swimming, I had to back off a little so that I didn’t get so sore and could work on my running and cycling.
  • 2hourscross country skiing which required my first Powergel in 6 months!
  • TRX class and not just the beginner class either.
Thursday, March 29, 2012

The ups and downs of training

My coach, Barb, and I decided that I should try to get to 3x90’ bike rides and 3x60’ runs per week then I would have her start coaching me again. I was worried that if I had workouts in front of me too soon I would push too hard to do them and set myself back. On the 6 month anniversary of my accident I reached that goal! I was pretty excited. For about one day. Then I woke up sore and tired and had to back off. It took 10 days to wake up without pain in the morning. I think it was the accumulative effect of a week of more workouts, trying yoga and a couple long cross country skiing days.

A rest week was called for. I wanted to be fresh when Barb sent my first week of workouts. It came at a good time because I was going to Seattle to coach a swim meet and wouldn’t have a lot of time to train anyway.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Where did that CVHS seat cushion go anyway?

I was sore when I started my drive to Seattle on Thursday, I was worse when I unfolded myself from the car 5 hours later. I spent 10 hour days on bleachers with a few breaks to watch races. The SAS swimmers had some good swims so it was worth it but my body paid for it later. I came down with the flu on the way home and am still trying to recover.

Monday, April 2, 2012

And I thought the swim meet was loud

Megan and her son Bruce Megan and her son Bruce
Griffin and Kade with new brother Trace Griffin and Kade with new brother Trace

After each 10 hour day on the bleachers I got to visit family in the Seattle area. I met my Cousin Andrea’s new baby, Trace. He was supposed to be a girl but popped out a boy and will soon add to the chaos with Kade and Griffin, his older brothers. My Aunt Pat was staying with them while Andrea’s husband Tim was out of town. She made dinner and helped keep track of all the boys. I didn’t know she was going to be there so that was a bonus.

I found more chaos at my brother and sister in-law’s house. Carolyn made a great quinoa chili while Chris and I worked on a dog-stopping fence for their garden. They have two rambunctiousdogs; one has made a race track through the garden and the other eats all the spinach and digs up the onions. The neighbors came over for dinner, dog in tow. The three dogs wrestled, chased and bit each other in the small living room while we tried to stay out of the way.

I also got to catch up with old swimming friends while I was there too. I had pho with my friend Lindsay Peterson whom I swam with in college at NAU and visited my friend Megan, a fellow SAS swimmer. I met her baby, Bruce who was all smiles all the time. We met her sister Lindsay and her family at the Woodland Park Zoo, so I got to meet her kids too. I don’t think I’ve ever been around so many little kids, or dogs, in one weekend, it’s a different perspective on life…

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Trying to listen to my body

On Monday I started the drive home with a tight body and a headache. It wasn’t really how I hoped to start my first week of real training. I woke feeling worse on Tuesday but rallied in the afternoon and did my first assigned bike and run workouts (I’m starting with pretty easy so it wasn’t that unreasonable to try them when I was under the weather). I felt pretty good about accomplishing my first day of workouts but then my flu took a turn for the worse, I had uncontrollable shivers and a fever of 101 degrees. Today I’m forcing myself to ignore my workout schedule and just recuperate. But there’s something about having that workout in ink (or at least online) that is really hard to deny.

Pete and I are leaving for Arizona on Friday. Pete will rock climb and I will ride and run in the sun. I won’t be doing the three hour rides I had imagined but at least it will be sunny not snowy like it is here.

Friday, April 6, 2012

To go or not to go?


Our flight to Arizona was at 2pm on Friday.  At 5am when Pete was getting up for work I started looking online to change Pete’s flight to a quick weekend trip and cancel mine.  I still didn’t feel good and I’d hardly dragged myself out of bed all week.  With a fever the night before and I didn’t want to get on a plane and get everyone sick.

Pete left for work and by 7:00 I was feeling better.  I realized that it would be a really long weekend lying in bed while Pete was gone having fun.  Taking my temperature, I found it was back to normal.  I tried some stretches and exercises and I didn’t get nauseous.  I called Pete and told him not to change our flights yet; I was going try to swim, if I could swim, I figured I was feeling good enough to go.  I swam enough to decide I was feeling better then packed my bike and headed for the airport.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Shoot out at the OK Corral

Cochise Stronghold, Pete's climbing destination Cochise Stronghold, Pete's climbing destination
OK Corral in Tombstone OK Corral in Tombstone
Running on the trails near Tombstone Running on the trails near Tombstone

We finally rolled into Tombstone at Midnight on Friday after meeting Pete’s friend Matt at the Tucson airport.  The Tombstone Hotel was a biker hotel, one of the few options in town.  The sign invited us to “Rest in Peace.”  We did not.  There were revving motorcycles outside the door all night.  Matt’s shoes that were banished to the porch because of their smell were missing in the morning.  We found one across the parking lot but the other never was recovered.

I took Pete and Matt to the climbing area at 5:30 Saturday morning then went back to the hotel and slept a few more hours, I still wasn’t completely recovered from being sick.  At noon I finally got around to unpacking my bike, only to find that I didn’t have knife to cut quick-ties.

While Tombstone has almost nothing that you need, like a grocery store, they do have a street lined with old-west gift shops.  At the third gift shop I found pocket knives.  And, lucky me, they had one with ‘Annie’ etched in it.  This never happens to me!  I bought it, hoping that the clerk would think it was for a friend or something.  Then I realized I paid with my credit card that had my name on it.  Oh well, you have to treat yourself sometimes.

I didn’t make it very far on my ride; the highway shoulder was narrow with a rumble strip so there wasn’t anywhere to ride and my neck and back where too tight to ride very long.  I went back to the hotel in time to catch Shrek and Shrek II.  Then I tried a run and didn’t have a lot of luck with that either, a really bad headache set in again and I ended up walking back.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

A new day, a new attitude


I was pretty frustrated on Saturday since couldn’t ride or run well.  It seemed like I starting over again after I had finally gotten some training in a couple weeks earlier.  Then I wondered if maybe I get a little scared on my bike when I’m in an unknown place. Maybe I tense up making my neck and back tight so that I can’t lift my head and can’t ride.  It seemed like a Catch 22: I can’t ride because my neck is stiff and my neck is stiff because I’m afraid to ride but it won’t ever get better if I don’t get over my fear by riding.

So, on Sunday, I told myself I just had to go a half hour out and back.  I went early before the highway got busy.  I was happy I’d gotten myself out the door and I was glad to be riding.  I was also feeling pretty good because I had a tailwind and a net loss in elevation.  I rode 35 minutes out then turned around.  It took substantially longer to get back) with the hills and the headwind (plus stopping to fix a flat).  But I wanted to ride 90’ anyway so I didn’t have much left after my out and back.

I also told myself that I was going to feel fine running too.  I ran on the trails around Cochise Stronghold where Pete and Matt where climbing.  I wasn’t fast but I was running and it felt great to be outside in the sun and running without a headache.

Monday, April 9, 2012

On to Flagstaff

Colossal Caves Colossal Caves
Goodbye Arizona, I'm going back to Washington where it's sunny! Goodbye Arizona, I'm going back to Washington where it's sunny!
Climbers on Mt. Lemmon Climbers on Mt. Lemmon


On Monday we planned to drive to Flagstaff but were sidetracked with a tour of the Colossal Caves outside of Tucson and a drive up Mt. Lemmon.  There were lots of cyclists riding up the mountain and climbers on the roadside rocks.  We were confined to our Ford Focus, but someday want to go back to ride and climb.  It was late when we got to Phoenix so we stayed there.

On Tuesday we made it to Flagstaff, it was nice to be back.  The campus had changed a lot since I was there for college.  The roads had been designated bike only or One-way in the wrong direction so we couldn’t even get to the pool where I’d spent half my college life.  Eventually we found our way and I experienced swimming at 7000ft again.  Gasp! 

We stayed at our friend Jerry’s house, visited my old coach and climbing partner Will, his wife Kerri and kids Kellen and Mai Lee and had lunch with Andy, my old head coach.  The weather got progressively worse until we left in a snowstorm on Saturday.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

New Challenges


Before the weather got too bad I rode my bike to Snowbowl, the Flagstaff ski resort at 9,500ft.  It was a windy, blustery day and I was looking for a head- or tailwind rather than crosswinds that would knock me off my bike.  The road to Snowbowl was the only option.  Will suggested riding to the 3 mile marker where it starts to get really steep then just turning around.  Knowing that I have a hard time turning around halfway through something, I set out to try it.  I wasn’t really sure my legs could get me to the top anyway.  It didn’t take too long to get to the 3 miles marker.  Before I knew it, I was riding past the 3 mile marker and then past the 5 mile marker.  I decided it would help my piece of mind to do something that I didn’t think I could do.  So I kept wheezing and kept pedaling and made it to the top.

Cold winds greeted me at the top and I quickly headed down.  In my effort to get to the top I never looked up to see the dark clouds settling on the peaks in front of me.  As soon as I turned around I felt the first snowflakes on my face.  Snow turned to hail as I continued to descend.  As the hail picked up, I had to stop riding because it hurt my face too much.  I left Pete a message suggesting that he could drive out the highway and meet me if he wanted.  The hail became rain at lower elevations and finally I spotted Pete driving towards me.  I hopped in the car and he threw my bike in the trunk.  I rode 95 minutes, my longest ride so far, and way too much of that time was out of the saddle. I was cold, hungry, exhausted but happy that I’d pushed myself to do something that I didn’t really think I could do yet.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Back at Home


Now we’re home again and my training is progressing well.  I wasn’t at altitude long enough for my body to gain anything from the physiological effects, there are some mental benefits from pushing through workouts when you can’t breathe.  I feel much stronger now.  I’m going to run the Race for the Cure this weekend in hopes of getting my Second Seed qualification Bloomsday.  My paces in training haven’t really showed that I can do it yet but I’m excited to try.  It will be great to be racing again!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Race for the Cure


I signed up for the Race for the Cure with the hope of qualifying for a second seed for Bloomsday.  On the start line I was excited, it was my first race in almost 7 months.  It was a beautiful day; I knew that even if I didn’t qualify for Bloomsday I had still come a long way and seeing all the cancer survivors at the start line was really inspiring.   That being said, I was still a little nervous, mostly, I think, because I was afraid of getting run over since I was lined up at the front with the other Swift XC team runners.

The gun went off and I was careful not to try to stay with the Swifts in their pink tutus and blue tops.  After a half block I looked at my Garmin.  8:30 min/mile .  I wanted to run 7’s to make the qualifying time.  “Why aren’t we going faster and why does an 8:30 feel so hard?” I wondered.  So I ran harder.  Gasping, I looked again at the Garmin.  5:30 min/mile.  That’s when I remembered that it takes a little while for the GPS to catch up if you’ve been standing still, which shows how long it’s been since I tried to do anything fast.  I backed off and felt much more comfortable.  I let a lot of people go by that I out sprinted when I was running my 8:30 pace.  On another day I might have tried to stay with them but today I was running my race and just loving being out there.  I finished in plenty of time to qualify, going much faster than I thought I could. 

I’ve missed the last few Bloomsdays because I’ve been racing Wildflower.  I wish I could be there for the 30th anniversary but now I get to run Bloomsday with my sister Kelly since she’ll be in the second seed start too, so it’s a good trade off.  We will run it remembering my dad who lived for Bloomsday.  Afterwards, we’ll gather with the rest of our family for a tailgate party just like we used to do growing up.  Who knows, maybe we will even run in those really short, florescent running shorts with the slits all the way up the side.  That would make Dad proud. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012



Last weekend the Race for the Cure went pretty well so this weekend I did the Race2Place 10k.  It’s a small race in the Valley at Mirabeau Park that runs out and back on the Centennial Trail.  The race director and all the volunteers put on a really well run race.  The shirts were nice, there were drawings and even a bouncy castle for kids (had I known there would be a castle I might have skipped the run and just bounced.)  The proceeds benefit Parker’s Place , a camp for families who have lost children to cancer, so it’s for a great cause.

I went out too fast as usual, but not as fast as a few other runners so I felt pretty smart and conservative.  I knew I was still running faster than I ran for the 5k last week so I made myself slow down even though I had those brief thoughts of being able to hold the pace for the whole race.  I paid a little for my early speed but still finished right at the time I’d hoped for. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Bloomsday 2012


My sister Kelly ended up father back in the Second Seed line up than I would have liked.  But it turned out to be a good thing.  The pace was slower than I expected so I didn’t go out too fast, we actually didn’t go out fast at all.  And it’s amazing how good I felt when I hit the first hill.  I wasn’t gasping for air.  I didn’t have a side ache.  I was able to speed up a little even.  I was pleasantly surprised the whole way that the race wasn’t as painful as I remembered.  I wasn’t anywhere near a best time so that might explain part of the lack of pain.  I stayed right on my pace the whole time and ended up running a little faster than I thought I could.  Kelly and I got separated before the 2 mile marker but it was fun to line up with her.

The tailgate party afterwards was uneventful as far as law enforcement confrontations go.  In recent years barbequers have been kicked out.  But this time it was okay.  The parking attendant did charge us for as extra parking spot because my uncle’s truck was long and he didn’t pull all the way into the front spot.  People weren’t being turned away for lack of apots; there were several empty spots around us.  Rules are rules.  There’s probably a rule about not accepting food while on duty too, but the attendant was happy to take a hot dog, after writing us a ticket. 

It was fun to be part of Bloomsday and all the festivities again.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother’s Day at Dry Lake

Dry Falls, in central Washington, was a waterfall ten times the size of Niagara Falls before the Missoula Floods, twenty thousand years ago.  It was on my mom’s list of places to go this spring.    My plan to enjoy Washington while not travelling to races aligned well with my mom’s list.  On Mother’s Day my mom, sister Kelly, and I loaded up kayaks and headed to Dry Falls.

My mom and I spent all morning creating a great picnic lunch.  I even found the recipe for Nordstrom’s Cilantro Lime Chicken Salad, my mom’s favorite salad.  About halfway to Dry Falls we were telling my sister about the great lunch we made and we realized that we left it in the dumbwaiter at my mom’s condo!  We were so sad.  This might not seem like a huge catastrophe, but if you’ve ever been to the Banks Lake area, you would be worried to.  There’s nothing to eat.  Pete and I drove through there at dinner time several years ago and ended up eating Pop tarts from the gas station.  Pop tarts just don’t compare to Nordstrom’s salad.  Luckily, a ‘bistro’ has opened up in the gas station by Banks Lake.  So that’s where we ate lunch.  It wasn’t too bad.  When we got home there was a great dinner in a cooler in the dumbwaiter.

It was a nice sunny day at Dry Falls. My mom and sister kayaked to the end of the lake and back.  Paddling hurts my back too much so I hiked.  It was fun to see a new part of Washington.  The willow trees and lake were striking against the dry, desert-like setting.  You would never think this oasis could be hidden down in the hot, dry coulees.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Ski to Sea

Ski to Sea, a relay from Mt. Baker to Bellingham has always been on my list of races to do.  This year I had the opportunity to be on one of Peak7 Adventure’s teams.  Peak7 is a non-profit that takes at-risk kids on outdoor adventures and Sea to Ski is one of their main fundraisers. 

Ski to Sea starts at Mt. Baker.  A cross country skier skis 4 miles then hands off to a downhill skier.  The downhill ski leg is a little misleading.  They spend about 30 minutes hiking UP the mountain in their ski boots with skis over their shoulders.  Then they ski down for 5 minutes.  From there, the runner takes the baton and runs 8 miles down to the road cyclist who rides to the paddlers in the canoe.  They paddle 18 miles down the Nooksack River to the mountain biker.  The mountain biker rides to Bellingham Bay where the sea kayaker paddles the final 5 miles to the finish line at Fairhaven Park. Organizing a Ski to Sea team would take some serious flow charts and maybe some scheduling software.  Peak7 puts 8 teams together! 

I met a group of people from Peak7 early on Saturday morning. We loaded up the 15 passenger van and hit the road.  In Davenport we talked to the team leader who was already in Seattle.  He asked why we were in the blue van.  We were supposed to be in the green van.  U-turn.  We went back, unpacked, re-packed and headed out in the blue van, 90 minutes after our first departure.

We drove through Brewster at lunch time, much later than planned.  I cast a longing glance at Los Camperos Mexican Restaurant, home of the best Mole EVER.  But there was no time for lunch.  We were trying to get to Bellingham in time for the mountain bikers to pre ride the course.  A gas station would be our only stop in Brewster.

We pulled up to the pump and the driver jumped out to get gas.  There was a lock on the gas cap.  Like the color of van we were supposed to take, nobody mentioned a key for the gas cap.  We looked in every nook and cranny we could find.  We tried all the keys on our own key chains, hoping to get lucky.  Not so lucky.  AAA will bring you gas or unlock your car but they won’t unlock your gas cap so you can get gas.  Finally a tow truck driver used channel locks to break it off.  We filled up, jammed the cap back on and headed to Los Camperos for mole!  By then we were so far behind schedule it really didn’t matter if we took a lunch break.  Sometimes things just workout for the best.

Luckily the race went much more smoothly then the travel.  I was doing the cross country ski leg so I was first up.  Most of the skiers had skate skis on but I hadn’t been able to skate over the winter because it hurt my back too much, so I wore classic skis.  Because of this I was afraid I’d be a lot slower.  I lined up a few rows back, behind the skaters that looked serious.   About 100 meters into the race I realized how hard I was working and how much fun I was having.  Suddenly all the skate skiers ahead of me began to glide wider and wider in an effort to get up the hill.  Classic skis, while slower on the flats were much better for climbing than the skate skis.  I started passing skaters.  My heart rate was through the roof but I just kept going.  Ski racing was fun!  I came up on two skate skiers just as there skis hooked together and they both fell.  One of them was sitting on my skis and I had to wait until he was able to get himself under control and get up.  I didn’t even get frustrated; I just laughed, took the chance to catch my breath and then started going again.

The skaters passed me on the flats, I caught them on the hills then they flew past me on the downhills.  The snow was mushy and deeply rutted making the downhills tricky.  The skaters with their faster speeds were crashing all around me.  I was careful to steer around them and control my speed.  At one point I felt a little panicked, I realized it could really hurt my back if I fell.   I thought I might be in over my head.  But I stayed calm, kept my core tight to keep my balance and kept chanting “I’m not gonna fall,” in my head.  I finished without falling and might have been the first classic skier to cross the line but they don’t keep track of that.

Our downhill skier took off and I quickly changed clothes and waited with the rest of our team.  When Jamie, our runner tagged the downhill skier I ran down the mountain with her.  It was 8 miles downhill. I was glad I didn’t have to run it at race pace, my quads would have felt that the next day.  It was a beautiful run with giant cedars, waterfalls and views of Mt. Shuksan in the distance.

We were lucky to have the first legs of the race.  We had to get up early but then we had the rest of the day to hang out and watch the teams compete.  After all the Peak7 teams finished we had a barbeque and celebrated a fun day.  By 8:30 we were finally packed up and ready to drive home.  I quickly fell asleep until about 8:50 when I heard Jamie shout, “We lost a bike!” from the back seat.

I sat up yelling, “We lost a bike!”  Eventually the message was relayed to the driver of the 15 passenger van and he careened to a stop on the side of I-5.  The hitch mount bike rack was dragging on the ground and a bike was missing.  A couple of people ran down the side of the highway looking for the bike.  As the rest of us watched out the back of the van, a Lincoln slowly hobbled to the side of the road.  Our pair in search of the bike met up with the Lincoln.  Eventually they were all crawling under the car.  This didn’t seem like a good sign.  The Lincoln ran over the mountain bike and it was lodged in the radiator.  Eventually, they were able to lift the car up and get the bike out but the radiator had seen better days.  In the meantime, a cop showed up and threatened to write a ticket for a gross misdemeanor which he claimed could lead to jail time.  He got in his car to write the ticket then suddenly sped away.  There must have been other crime stopping to be done.

We finally got back on the road at 10 and I was safely home in bed at 4 am.  It was a fun experience with lots of great memories and new friends.  I don’t think I would do it if I was in the middle of a race season but it was fun to do since I had the time.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Annie's Back - Moses Lake Triathlon

Last Saturday brought the thing I had imagined, nervously contemplated and dreamed about since the end of September.  My first race.  Pete and I travelled with our friends Michelle and Rachel.  Michelle was doing her first race and Pete and Rachel where there to support us.  We met up with Eve once we were in Moses Lake.  Eve and I used to train together and travelled to races several years ago but haven’t seen much of each other lately so it was really fun to see her again.

The water was much colder than usual, my hands and face were a little cold but my body was fine in my blueseventy Helix wetsuit.  I felt really good in the water.  I found myself wishing the swim was longer.  Maybe I was just a little hesitant to be on the bike.  I was happy to see my swim time was faster than I expected.  I think that as I started swimming again I had to really use my core to rotate because it hurt my back too much to pull with my arms.  I’ve retained that extra rotation and I think my stroke might be better than before! 

I don’t have much flexibility through my thoracic spine yet so I can’t get into an aero position and lift my head enough to ride so I had to ride my road bike.  There was a nasty headwind on the way out but I just kept telling myself it was going to be really fast on the way back.  Several men whom I’d passed on the swim passed me back on the bike.  I tried to keep them in sight and just keep going as hard as I could.  Once I made it to the U-turn the ride became a lot more fun.  With the tailwind I was flying.  If only all rides could feel like that.  As I neared transition I started to get a little teary eyed.  I’d made it farther than I did in my last race.  I was still upright and doing pretty well.  I thought about how far I’d come in the last 9 months and about how lucky I was to be back on a bike.  Then I noticed that I was catching a guy ahead of me.  I refocused and caught him before the final road into the finish.    

I thought I could average 7 minute miles and maybe a little faster if I was lucky on the run.  I could tell I was running faster than that and kept trying to back off but I felt really good.  When I crossed the finish line Pete was standing there with a big smile on his face and a sign that said, “ANNIE’S BACK!”  I’ve been so lucky to have his support through my injury, recovery and return to racing. I couldn’t have done it without him.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Valley Girl Triathlon

Heading into T1 Heading into T1
The finish line The finish line


It’s hard to believe this was the 9th running of the Valley Girl Triathlon and that I did the first one, it doesn’t seem like I’ve been racing that long.  I love when I have a chance to race Valley Girl again.  The participants are so inspiring, the crowd is bigger than at most races and they cheer for all the racers.  The race brings out the energy and a sense of encouragement that you don’t find at other races.  It reminds me of why I started doing triathlons.

This year was no different.  People lined the beach near the start, the streets coming out of transition and the hill leading out onto the bike course.  I could feel the nervous excitement of all the participants as I stood waiting to start.  I dove into the calm water and the temperature was perfect.  I wanted to swim longer, it felt so good.  The swim was fast, just under 8 minutes.  I hopped on my bike to the cheers of the crowd and pedaled hard up the hill.  It was a beautiful sunny day and I was enjoying the ride.  On the way out there was a headwind so I put my head down and tried to keep my speed up.  On the way back I enjoyed a tailwind and could cheer for the bikers that were riding into the wind.  The run is pretty fast and flat for the first two miles and I had hopes of a fast split.  But the final mile is a little deceiving and I slowed on the gradual uphill to the finish.  I won and finished within 4 seconds of the last time I did the race. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Glacier National Park

Post hike with Pete Post hike with Pete
Prince of Wales Hotel in Waterton National Park Prince of Wales Hotel in Waterton National Park
The bug that flew into my shirt The bug that flew into my shirt


My husband Pete wanted to climb Mt. Cleveland in Glacier National Park so my mom and I tagged along for the sight-seeing opportunities.  The first night we awoke to the crash of thunder at 3am.  The storms never really stopped.  Mt Cleveland would have been too dangerous in the storms so Pete was stuck in camp with my mom and me.  We were in the Canadian side of the park and picked up a newspaper.  It was the 100th running of the Calgary stampede and we briefly thought about driving on to Calgary to watch it but decided there might not be anywhere to stay on short notice.  Maybe we’ll make it to the 101st.

We spotted a grizzly bear on the way to the trailhead where we planned to run.  We started our run but after ten minutes realized it probably wasn’t very smart to be trail running right by where we saw a grizzly.  We knew we were supposed to make noise to warn bears of our presence but it was hard to keep up a tune while huffing and puffing up a steep trail. We quickly ran down and stuck to the roads where we saw lots of cars parked and people out taking pictures of bears.

Since it rained most of the weekend we didn’t get to do many hikes but we still enjoyed the views of the mountains that we could see through the clouds.  We drove the Going to the Sun road and briefly crowded in the visitor’s center with the other sight seers.  We were happy to be driving a car instead of a motorcycle, like others, in the torrential downpours.  Later that week the road was closed due to mudslides so we got through just in time.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Fat Salmon 5K Open Water Swim

The finish The finish
Awards Ceremony Awards Ceremony


I did the Fat Salmon 5k in 2010 and was really disappointed with my swim.  My elbow pits (I guess that’s what they’re called) started to cramp up.  It felt like when you carry heavy grocery bags and then you can’t bend your arms.  It seemed like I just floated the last mile because I couldn’t use my arms.  I wanted to go back and do it better, ever since.

This year it went better.  I started to feel the elbow pain coming on but was able to vary my stroke so that it didn’t become as painful.  I realized that when I swim in a wetsuit I’m higher in the water and I don’t roll as much.  Since I’m not rolling onto my side I’m not pulling with my lats I’m pulling mainly with my forearm and those muscles aren’t used to doing all the work.  I focused on rolling more and it seemed to help a lot.  I swam a little faster this year and moved up to 2nd place.  The prize for second place was salmon jerky, which I put in my backpack and forgot about until I started to wonder why everything smelled like salmon.  Good thing I didn’t win, the smell of the first place fresh salmon in my bag would have made for a long drive home!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Seafair Triathlon


The night before the Seafair sprint Triathlon I was wondering about my decision to race the Fat Salmon Swim and the Seafair  triathlon back to back.  Mike Orton at Blueseventy planted the idea in my head when I told him I was doing the Fat Salmon swim.  The sorer I became on Saturday night from the swim, the more I was blaming him for the idea. 

But when I woke up in the morning and tried a warm up run I was pleasantly surprised to find that my back didn’t hurt and my legs actually felt pretty good. So I ate my pre-race oatmeal and headed to the race.

My Blueseventy wetsuit was a good decision for the cool waters of Lake Washington.  I thought that I might go without if my back was sore but after standing around in the water waiting for my wave I was glad I had it on.  Coming around the first buoy I saw that there was someone on my feet. I concentrated on rolling more like I had yesterday in the Fat Salmon swim and I was able to pull away.  I came out of the water in first and hoped to hold onto the lead. 

The bike along the lake was beautiful.  It followed the shore with a few little hills to make it interesting.  I kept reminding myself to keep my grip loose in hopes of not tensing up and making my back extra sore.  That worked until I crossed onto the I-90 bridge and felt the cross winds.  They were strong and I gripped as hard as I could to stay upright.  Once I was back on the shoreline drive I found myself wishing I could do one more lap with the Olympic distance participants because e it was such a nice course. 

The run course was great too.  It was a flat run on a paved trail circling Seward Park.  I could see Kim Pancoast ahead of me but knew that she was part of the Olympic race so I didn’t really need to catch her.  It seemed like I should’ve been able to since she was running twice the distance but we were running about the same pace so I never caught her. She had a great race winning the Olympic race in under two hours!  As on the bike, I was wishing I could run one more lap.  Maybe next year I’ll do the Olympic race.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Race Plans


This weekend I’ll do the Long Bridge swim in Sandpoint on Saturday.  After doing Fat Salmon and Seafair on the same weekend I knew I’d be okay to do two swim races in a row. So I committed to do the swim leg of the Troika Triathlon on Sunday.  Lora Jackson is doing the bike leg and Jodi Sudor is doing the run.  I’m going to have to have a good swim because I’m in good company; I don’t want to let these fast girls down!

I also signed up for the Chicago Lifetime Triathlon!  It will be my first pro start of the season. It’s part of the US Open Toyota Cup series.  If it goes well and hauling a bike box around doesn’t’ hurt me too much I’ll do the last two races in the series, LA and Dallas.

I was surprised by how excited I was when I decided to do the race.  I was setting myself up for the fact that I might not be able to race this season by telling myself that it would be nice to be home more this summer.  But now that I know I get to race I’m really looking forward to it.  I still have days when I’m really sore and wonder if I’m rushing it but then I back off for a couple days and I feel better again and can’t wait to race.  I know this race will be a celebration of my recovery and I will get to see what I can do.  Finishing will be a great accomplishment and anything more than that will be a bonus.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Is this where I get it?


My mom and I started going to the gym on dark, cold December mornings.  We both needed the accountability of the other.  I wasn’t very motivated to run/walk on the treadmill when I was used to structured workouts.    She was just starting to get back in shape again after having back surgery and more back pain for a couple of years and needed to make working out a habit again.  I moved on to longer and more specific training and my mom decided to train for a two day bike ride with some of her sisters.  They’ll ride from Seattle to Vancouver, BC in August.

I’ve been so impressed with her training in the last few months.  She quickly went from 15 to 25 to 35 mile rides.  Then she joined a bike club and they were riding 50 miles so she jumped right in.  That 50 mile ride was her longest ride in several years.  A week later she had the chance to do a 70 mile ride, so she did and it didn’t faze her.  Once she decides to do something she doesn’t look back.

The other day she mentioned that she should go to the gym because she needs to do some pull-ups.  Pull-ups?  Where did that come from?  Pete is going to rig up a pull up bar for her at home so that she doesn’t have to go to the gym just for pull-ups.

Last night we went to the pool to work on her stroke because she signed up for a sprint triathlon in a few weeks.  I’m so impressed with her determination and focus this summer.  She’s trying new things and getting in shape.  She’s met new people to ride with and she’s enjoying her new activities and challenges.  Yay Mom!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

CdA Triathlon

The Scenic Challenge
Saturday, August 11th, 2012

I can’t believe it’s been four years since I’ve done the Coeur d’ Alene Scenic Challenge Triathlon.  It’s way to fun to miss that many times!  Coeur d’ Alene Lake is one of the prettiest lakes I’ve ever swam in, the bike course is challenging with lots of hills and the run course winds along the river on a paved trail.

What made the race even more fun this year was that Pete was doing it too!  He got a new Cervelo R3 earlier in the week and, although it probably wasn’t the best time to try a new bike, he was going to ride it in the race.  He was excited to try it on the hills.  He rode it a little on Friday to test it out and promptly bent the chain.  Luckily, Robin and John from Fitness Finatics where in Coeur d’ Alene and came to his rescue, putting on a new chain on.

Race morning was beautiful, though the day was going to be hot, it was perfect at start time.  The water was calm and warm.  I jumped on the feet of the leader and had a nice ride around the swim course.  I’d had the flu earlier in the week and wasn’t sure if I’d have a lot of energy, but I was having fun and forgot all about my sickness earlier in the week.

Once on the bike I was ready to hit the hills hard.  I hadn’t raced on a hilly course this season and wanted to see if I still had the strength to do it.  I wasn’t sure who was behind me but I knew there were several strong cyclist back there and I kept telling myself that I had to go hard on the hills so that they wouldn’t catch me.  I managed to stay ahead but didn’t know how big my lead was so I didn’t feel safe, I had to cross the finish line before I could relax.

My run pace started out much faster than my last Olympic distance race.  I was able to hold the pace though I wasn’t sure it was the smartest approach.  I wondered if I was going out too fast but I thought I’d see what happened.  When I got to 3.1 miles I was happy to see that my time was only a few seconds slower than it had been in my last two sprint triathlons.  It was nice to see my track workouts pay off. On the way back I saw lots of people I knew and cheered for them along the way.  I had a great time racing with friends that I hadn’t seen in a while.  My pace slowed some on the way back but I still ran a faster split than I did at Moses Lake so I can see that I’ve improved over the summer and that’s what it’s all about. I crossed the finish line in first but instead of relaxing I ran back to find Pete and cheer for him.  He had a great race and loved his new bike.  It climbed a little better than the old aluminum Giant.

This Sunday I’m racing the Chicago Triathlon.  It will be my first professional race since my accident.  I feel so lucky to be able to race again this summer.  Usually in my first race of the season I feel some nervousness and anxiousness.  Do I have early speed on the swim?  Do I have running legs yet?  Do I remember how to get my wetsuit off?  This time around I don’t feel any of those nagging questions.  I have a sense of calm and gratitude.  I know that it’s a gift to get to race and I can’t wait to do it! 



Monday, September 3, 2012

The Chicago Triathlon

Swimmin' in the rain Swimmin' in the rain
Off on the run Off on the run
Post race with my sister Kelly Post race with my sister Kelly
Meerkat at the zoo Meerkat at the zoo
My mom and me at the zoo My mom and me at the zoo
The tall guy at the zoo The tall guy at the zoo
Kelly fording the river on the way to dinner Kelly fording the river on the way to dinner

Eleven months and one day after breaking my back in Buffalo, I lined up for the start of the Chicago Triathlon.  I felt different than I used to feel at the start.  No nervousness, no expectations, just happy and excited to be able to race.  The day was windy and rainy but I wasn’t concerned with the conditions, I’d made it to the start line and that was my biggest test.

The swim start was about a half mile from the transition.  We lined up for a deep water start in the rain and then.  I got on some feet in the first 100 meters to draft.  But as the swimmer ahead of me made a quick cut to the right to get on someone’s feet, I lost her.  I wonder if I gave myself permission to just swim and enjoy being there rather than pushing hard enough to stay with the pack.  There was an instant where I should have gone harder to stay with them but I was thinking how nice it was to be racing.  Chances are that I didn’t have the speed to accelerate and stay with them but I still wonder…I came out of the water about 30 seconds behind a pack of swimmers and 90 seconds behind the leaders.  I wouldn’t have been happy with this position last year but this year it was fine.

The run to transition was long, when I ran it with my Garmin the day before it was about .4 miles.  Many past participants placed shoes at the swim exit so that they wouldn’t have to run on the rough pavement to transition.  I followed their lead, I knew I had some major sightseeing to do in the following three days and my feet needed to be ready to walk.  I bent to put my shoes on and a swimmer without shoes ran past me.  I sprinted to pass her back, figuring that I better be able to run faster than her since I was in shoes.

Once on the bike I tried to look up and found my neck was really tight, it was painful raise it enough to see in front of me.  I felt it getting tight on the swim but didn’t expect it to be so bad since I hadn’t been in other races.  I wondered if I would be able to hold my head up for the whole race.  Through the pouring rain and over the rutted pavement I made deals with myself- you just have to make it to the first turn and then you can reassess.  At the turnaround I carefully slowed to get through the potholes and puddles without falling, I’m more tentative than I used to be.  It was a jarring turn and when I started riding again my handlebars had dropped down an eighth of an inch.  It felt funny to have my arms pointed so far down in the aero bars but I realized that my neck didn’t hurt anymore.  Either I wasn’t paying attention to it because I was worried about my handlebars or the new position took the pressure off of my neck and back.  Either way I kept pedaling and got passed by a couple of people but stayed upright and finished the ride.

I couldn’t wait to get off of the bike, out of the sheets of rain that were crashing down in front of me and start running.  I knew I had some time to make up after a rather slow bike but I figured that at least my legs weren’t too tired since I hadn’t been able to get my legs to push too hard.

I set off on the run with a runner 60 seconds ahead and another 90 seconds ahead.  I knew I could catch them and I kept telling myself that.  I ran past my mom and sister and even remembered to smile.  I was really looking forward to the 10k.  The rain had stopped but it was still nice and cool.   I saw Mike, the Blueseventy rep and he told me to “catch those girls.”  “I’m gonna, I’m gonna,” I told myself.  I passed one at 2 miles and the other at 3 miles.  After that it got a little less exciting.  I wanted to keep pushing and see what I could split, but there wasn’t anyone around.  I focused as much as I could but the last half sure felt long with nobody to chase.  I guess I should have had a mental plan for after I chased people down.  Next time.  I thought I finished almost last because I saw very few people on the bike or run.  Maybe I just couldn’t see through all the rain.  I was surprised and happy to find out I finished 10th.

Time to see Chicago

It continued to pour after the race.  We sat in our condo awaitng a break so we could go to dinner.   We finally gave up and headed out into the rain.  The smart thing to do would’ve been to order in or get a txi since we didn’t have any rain gear.  Neither crossed our mind.  We walked, ran and forded the river that ran down Ohio St then dove into a Japanese BBQ restaurant dripping wet.  Luckily there were bar-b-cues in the middle of each table.  We were tempted to lie across ours to get warm up but it was a classy place.  Instead we cranked it up high and leaned in close.  By the time our food came our hair had stopped dripping and our shirts were just damp. The food was delicious and the rain was just pouring not dumping by the time we left.

The rest of the trip was rain-free.  We went to the aquarium, the nature conservatory and the zoo.  Kelly and I ran along the Lakeshore Trail and met my mom for a swim at the beach afterwards.  Me learned all about the architecture of Chicago on a river tour and took an express bus 6 miles past our intended stop at the zoo which gave us ample opportunity to see many Chicago neighborhoods.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Galveston 5150

The start of the Galveston 5150 race was beautiful.  The rising sun was silhouetting the palm trees, the water was as flat as can be.  The only things breaking the smooth water were the flying fish that would launch themselves out of the water in front of us as we treaded water, waiting to start.

In Chicago I was just happy to be racing, in Galveston, I wanted to be in the race.  That wasn’t immediately the case when we started.  I still don’t have a lot of early speed on the swim so I was quickly dropped by the main pack.  But I didn’t let it frustrate me, I found people to race in the back of the pack and that helped me to stay focused.  I counted the buoys as I passed them and tried to surge at each on to make sure I was still going hard.  Before I knew it I was exiting the water.

Leaving transition I was excited to see someone ahead of me on the bike.  I could only make out a black spot but I decided I would catch her.  Slowly the black spot became black and red then there was a pony tail.  Finally, at mile 8 there was a bike.  Then I passed her and moved into 4th place.  I kept going hard.  I was much more into the race than I was in Chicago.  I was breathing hard, my legs hurt and I was making sure to do all the little things right.  In Chicago, I couldn’t really get my heart rate up; I could tell I’d gained some fitness and mental toughness since then.  I got passed with a few miles left on the bike, so I was back to 5th place.  But I stayed close to her and told myself I could pass her on the run.

The run was 2 winding laps through a resort area.  It was hard to settle into a pace because of all the turns.  I knew this would be the case so going into the run I decided I would like that kind of course.  I would move my arms faster out of the turns to get my momentum up and I would break the run into short efforts between turns.  I stayed relaxed on the first lap and passed the girl that passed me on the bike.  I looked forward to the second lap when I told myself I could begin to speed up.  As usual, when I got to the second lap, I didn’t really want to have to speed up.  But I knew that’s what I planned to do, so I did it.  It was hot and humid but holding back a little at the beginning helped on that second lap.  Sometimes I’ve tried to beat the heat by running fast at the beginning and trying to finish before the collapse but that doesn’t work as well.  Being smart paid off.  I was able to pass one more person in the last half mile and then hang on to finish 3rd

I had so much more confidence, focus and fitness than in Chicago.  It was nice to see an improvement and to feel like I was there to race not just finish. 

I’ll stay in Galveston until Tuesday then fly to San Diego and visit my friend Shelby before going to LA on Friday for the LA Triathlon, my last race of the season.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

San Diego

Flat tire

San Diego seemed to be full of a few mishaps, which is just normal for me.  I had a flat, luckily not during a ride or race, but it needed to be fixed in time for the LA Triathlon on Sunday.  I took it to a bike shop and they needed several days to glue a new tire on.  If I’d had a tired with me I could have glued it on and that would have saved a lot of trouble, but I didn’t.  So lack of preparation was the problem.  Pete was able to get a wheel from Fitness Fanatics and bring it to LA with him on Friday.  Disaster averted.  Or so we thought.  The wheel box he brought it in was crushed during the flight.  Luckily the wheel was fine but the box had to be replaced by Southwest, which, surprisingly was done without too much trouble.

Car of the year…the green Camry

On Thursday morning I went running before Shelby left for work.  We talked about plans for the evening since she would be gone when I got back.  With about 2 minutes left on my run it dawned on me that I didn’t have a key.  I decided Shelby probably knew I didn’t have and wouldn’t have locked the door.  I ran up the front steps and grasped the door knob and tried to turn it.  Locked.  I looked under the mat. No key.  A woman was walking out of the apartment next door.  She didn’t have a key either.  We walked around looking for an open window but didn’t find one.

Shelby works across the street from her house, so it should have been easy to go get a key.  But she was away on training.  I had her car but her keys where in the house.  My phone was in the house and I didn’t have her number.  Most importantly, breakfast was in her house.  I wondered how I would survive without food until 5pm. 

Dressed in sweaty running clothes, I found the school’s office.  I must look trustworthy, even dripping in sweat, because they gave me a pass key to her office.  I didn’t know what good it would do since she was gone but I figured I could at least see if she had any food in her desk.  Eventually I tracked down someone who knew her cell number and they sent her a text.  She was presenting so her phone was off.  I was told that one of Shelby’s co-workers would take me to the school where Shelby was at so that I could get a key.  They said to wait outside for a green Camry.

As I walked outside a guy in a green car pulled up to the curb in front of me.  “Perfect timing,” I though.  I reached for the door handle and he started to unroll the window.  “Are you going to Shelby’s?” I asked.  He seemed confused as I started to climb into his car.  Eventually, we determined that I had the wrong car.  Opps.  It was a Nissan anyway, but it was green.  I stood waiting and suddenly a green Camry flew past me.  In a panic (the only time I really panicked over the situation) I ran after it.  But it was going too fast and I couldn’t tell where it went.  I walked back to where I had been waiting, hoping it wasn’t the green Camry I needed.  A moment later I turned around and another green Camry was driving in the other direction.  I took off again, sprinting after it, waving my hands in the air.  As I sped across the street I heard someone yell, “Are you Shelby’s friend?”  I turned around to see a woman walking to a green Camry.  Out of breath I headed over to her.  Her name was Sally and she had the green Camry that would take me to get the key.  We had a great visit on the drive.  Sometimes you meet nice people in the middle of a complicated situation.  As I walked back to the house I saw the neighbor who I had talked to earlier.  She was looking for me because she had just remembered that she had a key to Shelby’s apartment.  Oh well, I wouldn’t have realized what a popular car a green Camry was or met Sally if the neighbor had given me the key in the first place.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

LA Triathlon

Before the race I was standing on the beach putting my wetsuit on and wasn’t really looking at the waves crashing onto the beach.  I’m glad I was distracted by the wetsuit because it didn’t give me a chance to worry about how I was going to swim through the large waves.  They were pretty big and I think a lot of us were having flashbacks to a race in Mazatlan a few years ago where we all took a pretty good beating from the surf. 

Luckily the start was timed well and no big waves crashed down on us.  We jumped over a couple and dove under one and made it to open water.  Much to my surprise, I found I was still with the lead pack when we hit the first buoy.  This confirmed what I’d learned in Galveston, that my early speed is lacking but I can swim with the pack if I can stay with them at the start.  As we rounded the last buoy and headed for the beach I was able to ride one wave in but somersaulted through the next.  Luckily I landed facing the shore with goggles intact.  I was a little behind the pack but was able to catch up to a couple people as I headed into transition.

On the bike, I set my sights on catching a couple riders up ahead. I passed one and then ran over some gravel.  I heard a weird rubbing sound that wouldn’t go away.  My speedometer showed that I’d slowed and it was harder to pedal.  It wasn’t a constant rubbing but a whirring sound about half the time the wheel went around.  I tried adjusting the front break; since it was already open there wasn’t much I could do.  I debated stopping but really didn’t want to when I’d just passed someone.  I decided that since nobody was passing me and I wasn’t going that much slower I would just try harder to make up for lost speed.  After that I put it out of my mind and didn’t worry about it until I was passing the age groupers on the course, it was a little embarrassing to have people turn and look because my bike was so noisy.  After the race I realized that the rear break had been locked up.  It took two hands to release it so even if I’d reached back and tried to fix it I couldn’t have opened it without stopping.

The run was shaded by the tall buildings of downtown LA but it had a steep hill at the turn around that added a challenge.  The first time didn’t seem too bad but on lap two it was a little harder.  I passed one runner in the first mile but after that it was pretty spread out.  I stayed relaxed on the first lap then, as in Galveston, worked to build the second lap.  At the turnaround I realized that I’d built a lead on a couple of people behind me but one was getting close.  I tried to let my body go on the downhill but I could hear her gaining on me.  For what felt like an eternity, we ran next to each other, though it was probably only a block.  We went around an age group guy and I surged a little hoping to create a gap.  But she was soon next to me again.  After another block she passed me.  I tried to stay on her shoulder but she slowly pulled away and ended up beating my by 17 seconds.

Pete and his family who live near LA were there cheering for me. It was great to see familiar faces.  Afterwards I learned that Pete’s dad, who plays softball on a 70 and over league wanted to race me the last 200 meters.  He was pretty sure he could beat me since I’d been racing all morning and he hadn’t.  He does a 200 meter sprint every day to train for softball so he’s pretty fast.  He probably could have pushed me and we could have slid across the finish line together.  I guess I’ll have to do it again next year.

LA concluded my 2012 race season.  I’m extremely happy to have been able to race this season.  The support of friends, family and sponsors has been priceless in my recovery process.  Thanks to everyone who encouraged and helped me in the last year!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Colbert Autumn Classic

I ran the Colbert Autumn Classic Half Marathon for the first time a few weeks ago.  My dad used to do the race when I was little; my brother, sister and I would go with him and play foursquare while he ran.  This year it was 28 degrees so there weren’t any kids out on the four square court.

Once we warmed up a little it was a great day for a race.  The course runs through the fields around Greenbluff and then takes a REALLY long time to climb up to the top of Greenbluff.  I’ve always heard about the infamous gravel hill. Nobody mentions the rolling hills before the gravel hill or the hills after the gravel hill.  There were a lot of hills!  The sun was shining and I was working on catching people who went out faster than me.  It was a fun course and I won a whole box of Honey Crisp Apples (my favorite!) from Walter’s Fruit Ranch.  I didn’t hit the pace I was hoping for but it was a tougher course than I expected so I think it was still a pretty good run.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sink or Swim

Fresh off Colbert and in a racing mood, I swam in my first swim meet in 10 years.  Some things were the same as always, Whitworth Pool, bleachers crowded with coolers and parkas, and soggy towels.  Other things where missing, no team or friends to play cards with, nobody to distract me and make me miss my races and my dad wasn’t there to watch, officiate or encourage me.  Just like old times, my mom came and added her quite support.  She took some pictures and urged me on from the sidelines without being that loud parent that draws a lot of attention, that’s better when your 8 not 32.  She didn’t bring me any licorice or pretzels but I couldn’t have eaten them anyway.

I swam the 1000, 500, 200 and 100 Freestyles and the 100 IM.  Very different events from what I would have swam as a swimmer when I focused on breastroke and thought a 500 was long.  My goggles leaked on the 1000 so I did my flipturns hoping that my feet would find the wall.  In the 100 IM, I had to pull my goggles off during the breastroke because they were filled with water.  After that I got smart and wore two caps, sandwiching the goggles between them so that they wouldn’t fall off.  All of my times were right at what I estimated they would be when I registered.  Maybe I’m just good at hitting times, in which case, next time I’ll make my times a lot faster. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Pumpkin Pacer

Me and rachel out front! Me and rachel out front!

Pete and I went to Deer Park for the Pumpkin Pacer.  The night before my friend Rachel and I were texting and came up with a race plan.  She wanted to go under 18 minutes and I figured I’d just try to hang on to her for as long as possible.  I was less concerned with time than I was with trying to see if I could keep pushing while in pain and for how long I could do that.  I psyched myself up and was ready to hurt.  When the gun went off I was ready.  But then we took off and Rachel was FAST!  I thought I would at least stay with her for the first mile and then just struggle home.  I felt good but I was already ten seconds behind her and couldn’t seem to catch up.  I never did catch her but I didn’t lose too much ground.  She finished in 17:33 and I was 17:55.  I thought she wanted to just barely get under 18, I didn’t know she was going to be THAT far under.

I went faster than I would have considered going if I hadn’t talked with Rachel the night before.  But I never really got to attempt my goal of forcing myself to stay with Rachel for longer than I thought I could.  I inevitably did find some pain in the last mile and pushed through it so I guess I did what I wanted to do and I ran faster than I thought I could right now so it was a successful day.

It seems that October rains have hit in full force, I’m just glad they waited until the end of October.  I’m hoping for snow in the mountains now because I’m ready to skate ski!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Off Season has Begun

This year my last race was a little earlier than past year giving me a chance to do local races.  The nice fall we’ve had has also helped in motivating me to get outside more than in the past.  I think appreciated the beautiful fall colors more with all the sun we had in October.  That being said, I rode outside in the rain today and decided that it’s time to make friends with the Computrainer again.