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Miles is TWO!

November 8, 2013 Fido No Comments

Miles is TWO! 

So far, he hasn’t forgotten his commands and still answers quickly (and correctly) when asked whosagoodboy? I realize it’s all suspect. Now that he’s a teenager, he should start to be more defiant.

But I have hope. Greg can be counted on to dish up a little ice cream after dinner every night and Miles really enjoys sharing that with him. So he’ll put up with our plebian commands to come/sit/stay just for that luxury.

With enough ice cream, he could rule the world. This one has big plans. You wait and see.

Best Weekend EVER

November 7, 2013 Fun No Comments

10 years ago today, I flew from Kansas City to San Francisco and spent a weekend with someone I only knew through a friend and a month of email exchanges.

That was the first of many weekends that changed my life.

Nice to meet you, Greg. I think this is the start of something good.

Mandatory Happy Hour

October 4, 2013 Fido, Fun No Comments

Greg sent an IM to me this afternoon, saying he would be attending a mandatory happy hour at work at 4 PM. I quipped that “mandatory happy” is an oxymoron. He agreed, adding that he would die in traffic on the way home.

“It has been nice knowing you. Thanks for The Van. Miles and I will think of you fondly while we live in it, down by the river.”

All Miles heard was “mandatory happy hour.”

Daily sMiles

October 2, 2013 Fido, Friends 1 Comment

Miles and his brother Tater were reunited after 12+ months of not seeing each other.

Miles on the left

They seemed to remember each other and played as though they had never been separated. So many of the same likes/preferences and mannerisms, so many similar expressions. And they can both fit 2+ tennis balls in their mouths!

Miles in front

You can see that Tater’s hair is longer and he is a bit taller than Miles, though Miles is more “filled out” than Tater.

They are both smart dogs who have responded well to training. They are both very affectionate with humans and other animals, though Tater is more submissive than Miles is. He displayed typical submissive behavior of licking Miles’ mouth and ears and deferring to Miles initiating play.

It’s so hard to believe these ~75 pound dogs were 1/10th of that when we met them:

Miles on the left

Just for fun, here are a few more pictures of them playing. A couple of these include Caryn’s other dog, Rutzie. The way she was playing that day, no one would guess that sweet girl is going to be 11 next month!

Santa Barbara Tri – Race Report

September 9, 2013 Fitness, Friends No Comments

For the first time in four years, Greg and I competed in the Santa Barbara Triathlon this year. While I can’t admit to being gung-ho about the race, I love Santa Barbara and we have a bunch of friends there so I knew it would be a fun weekend.

You’ll recall that we raced on June 16 and I pretty much stopped all tri training from there. I still worked out 5-6 days/week, and it felt so good to do what I felt like doing (which was never swim/bike/run at prescribed distances and speeds). Miles and I would go on runs together, I would still ride my bike home from work, but otherwise it was HIIT workouts, yoga, and other quick-hit things. I finally “got serious” about training after 4th of July. That left ~7 weeks to whip myself into shape for a 1 mile swim + 34 mile bike + 10 mile run.

Olympic distance race? No problem. But this was longer than that, and the 10-mile run was the obvious culprit. I spent a couple of weeks working myself back up to running 10 milers and then did 10 mile runs every weekend until the race. My right knee was giving me all kinds of trouble and I was contemplating signing up for the aquabike race instead. In the end, I gutted it out.

SWIM – 34:18
I was unpleasantly surprised at how cold the water was in sunny Santa Barbara! Greg and I swim in the San Francisco Bay and the water here is warmer than it was there. Not only that, the water was a bit choppy on race morning. I drank A LOT of salt water. <– Wait for it!!

Mostly, it would behoove me to swim in a straight line.

T1 – 3:02
They changed the transition area, making it so that you not only had to run uphill on the sandy beach, you had to run the length of the entire transition area before being allowed to enter the transition area to find your stuff. Everything there went off without a hitch. No better than my swim went, I was pleasantly surprised to find most of the bikes near me still there.

BIKE – 2:02:18
It was a lovely day for a bike ride. I kept telling myself that. If it had been *just* a bike ride, I would have been in heaven. If I had signed up for the aquabike and didn’t have a 10-mile run hanging over my head, I would have been pleased. If I could have stopped and collected every perfect avocado that I saw in the trees and along the street, I’d be smothering everything in guacamole until Christmas.

I think they changed the bike course a bit from the last time I did it, and the change included an extra hill. That certainly didn’t help matters. Regardless of an extra hill or not, my legs felt flat. I woke up with sore hip flexors on Saturday morning, which I’m pretty sure is because I led the Martz boys in some calisthenics on Friday. I didn’t want to push myself too hard on the bike, trying to leave myself enough to get through the run. I had hoped for a 17 mph average, but couldn’t pull it off in the end.

T2 – 3:04
Depending on where your stuff is in the transition area, T2 is either super short or super long. In my case, I had to run the entire length of a parking lot TWICE, just to get to the actual start of the run. I wanted to take my first walk break when I hit the timing mat signaling I could begin running.

RUN – 1:37:42
Actually, the run started off better than usual. I was chatting with a guy until we got past Shoreline Park, which is most of the way up the big hill. I saw Greg at my Mile 2 and he was on his way to a strong finish. I saw Kidder just before my Mile 4, and Joe Andrulaitis about a half mile after him. I took the opportunity to walk through the Mile 4 aid station to eat a GU and wash it down with water. I knew it would be all downhill at the turnaround. Ahhhh.

The saltwater had been plotting its revenge all this time and the GU was a catalyst in the revolution. The last half of the run was an exercise in contracting my sphincter while maintaining something of a run. This was neither fast nor efficient. I took several walk breaks to hold it all together. Of course, there were bathrooms along the way, but I’ve been in this situation before and with ~3 miles left, it was better to finish and go all at once than to try to go a little bit here and make it a few yards down the road and need to go again.

As I headed into the finisher’s chute, everyone was there cheering me on. I looked at Greg and said, “I’m about to shit my pants!” I crossed the finish line and Nancy snapped this picture of me:

I then asked her to kindly escort me to the nearest restroom. I made it!

Total race time of 4:20:24. Not my best work. Pffft!! I put the bare minimum of training into it and got through a tough course. When Greg and I were reunited, he had already been recovering for over an hour and was ready for his first beer.

I’m DONE FOR THE SEASON. Bring on the short workouts and leisurely runs with Miles!

Labor Day Revisited

September 2, 2013 Family No Comments

It was three short years ago that Greg and I turned our eyesore of a backyard into something beautiful and sustainable. Remember this?

BEFORE

We turned it into this:

AFTER

I am happy to report that this lawn has lived up to all of its promises and looks as beautiful today as it did three years ago. We spent a little time this weekend filling in around the flagstone and re-mulching everything. We got the sprinklers working again so that the plants don’t die when we leave on long weekends. I love my low-maintenance yard!

What did you do this weekend?

Daily sMiles

August 20, 2013 Fido, Fitness 2 Comments

This past weekend was the final training weekend before the Santa Barbara Triathlon. I put together a “mock tri” for myself. Since I’ve been making it up as I go training-wise this year, I figured it might be good to put all three sports together again for the first time since my last race on June 16.

The family unit went over to Coyote Point for an open water swim early on Sunday morning. The skies were still cloudy and the temperature gauge registered 60*F outside. Even the water was warmer than that…

Miles likes to swim, and loves to swim with us. I went out for my swim while Greg stayed on the shore and threw the ball (actually, two balls) for him. I finished my 1 mile swim and then Greg went out for his. Miles was very vigilant, watching the splashing going on and keeping tabs on him at all times. I’d throw the balls and he would fetch them, only to come back to shore and look for Greg again. 

We finished our swims, then I went out for a 17-mile bike ride + 3 mile run. It went pretty well, all in all. There’s nothing I can do about it now, so I guess that’s good. :)

We race on Saturday. It’s a 1 mile swim + 34 mile bike + 10 mile run. Between my knee and generally being a poor off-the-bike runner, I’m worried about the run. Regardless of my results, it’s going to be a great weekend with friends, racing in a beautiful location. I’ll be back with the details!

Freewheeling: Kitchen Updates

August 17, 2013 Freewheeling No Comments

Right after we got back from Ironman Canada, Greg went to work redoing the kitchen. We found out very quickly that the setup was not very efficient and were able to identify ways to improve it.

As a reminder, here is what it looked like:

The stove/sink unit is on the right side, adjacent to the couch. The refrigerator is underneath the wooden countertop, on a slide-out mechanism that locked into place. It had to be rolled all the way out to be able to open the fridge. We found that wasn’t very convenient (especially when I wanted to fix a snack as we were driving down the road).

On top of the setup not being very user-friendly, it didn’t look very good. Here is the updated kitchen:

The new kitchen is so much better! The countertops and black paneling really make it look clean and “finished.” Plus, those countertops make it much easier for clean-up. All of our cooking supplies live in the storage drawer, making it easier for us to find things and keep everything organized.

The one down-side to the fridge top being part of the counter is that we have to move things off of that space when we want to open the fridge. I learned that the hard way a few times and have gotten much better about taking everything I’ll need out of the fridge before I start prepping.

Greg thinks of a lot of small details, and the LED lighting on the underside of the overhead shelves is really handy. He has the lights running from a switch on the electrical panel (just to the right of the water tank fill hole), making it really easy to access them. They make it nice for changing at night without blinding everyone with the harsh side-mounted light.

You may have also noticed that he made the low-profile shelves beneath the overhead shelves into drawers. I wasn’t sure I’d like this “upgrade” because I am not quite able to see into the drawers without standing on my tip-toes, but it does make it nice that everything looks tidy and nothing falls off of these shelves anymore.

This kitchen has served us well and Greg doesn’t have plans to make any changes to it. Two upgrades that he’s researching now are adding hot water to the sink and adding a shower option (with the spigot on the outside of the van).

Summer Fun!

August 5, 2013 Fashion, Fitness, Friends, Fun 1 Comment

Long time, no talk. It would take me ages to go into detail about all the stuff I’ve been doing, so I’ll be brief and show you a bunch of pictures. Then we’ll be caught up and hopefully I can get back to more regular posts.

After Vineman Monte Rio, I traveled to Milwaukee for work. That’s right: back to the scene of Rashconsin. Luckily, I did not contract syphilis or anything like it this year. Also, I have to tell you how enjoyable it was to get in a morning run each day without the pressure of Ironman hanging over my head!

I’ll say it again, if you haven’t been to Milwaukee, it is worth going there. The city is beautiful, the people are nice, and there is more to do there than I would have ever thought.

On June 16, Greg and I competed in the Reservoir Triathlon. They changed the date on this year, but it’s the same Olympic distance event we did in June last year. We went to the race site on Saturday evening to run the dog around before settling into The Van for the evening.

I signed up on race morning and didn’t really know what to expect out of my legs. I also tried to tell myself not to expect too much out of them… Having done this race last year (4th place finish, remember?), at least I knew what to expect of the course.

Below is a picture of the swim course on Saturday evening. On Sunday morning, the entire thing was shrouded in fog. In fact, all the athletes had made our way down to the water’s edge for the race start and they delayed us by 15 minutes to give the fog more time to burn off. The race announcers kept saying, “Just swim out, following the people on paddleboards. You’ll eventually see a big buoy.”

I generally swim pretty straight and knew where I was going from last year, so this vague instruction didn’t cause me much anxiety. By the time I turned the buoy, the fog had burned off and it was a gorgeous day to race. I certainly felt my legs on the bike and wondered what I’d have left for the run. It turns out that doing Olympic distance events two weeks apart with one week of standing on a concrete floor working a trade show will actually cause fatigue. Lesson learned.

The run was a 2-loop out-and-back this year. You know how much I hate two loops. I saw Greg as I headed out on my first lap, he was about two miles out from the finish. He looked like he was suffering a bit, but still strong. It was a mental test to run past the finish line and head back out for my second loop…

Here are my splits:

Swim – 29:14
T1 – 2:12
Bike – 1:23:41
T2 – 1:23
Run – 0:53:54
TOTAL – 2:50:24

Good enough for — you guessed it — 4th place! My time from 2012 would have netted me 2nd place, but I certainly did not have that effort in me that day. This race is great because they bring in Pizza My Heart and craft beer for the after party. We took the coast route home, enjoying sunshine and beaches all afternoon.

June continued to be very busy, with a J.Hilburn conference in Las Vegas the following weekend. I learned so much and met some amazing people, which is really helping me build my business. Seeing other people be successful is a very good motivator! This conference was held at The Cosmopolitan. I am not a Vegas person, and this hotel is configured in such a way that I never had to walk through a smoke-filled casino to get to my room, the restaurants and bars, and the conference hall. For me, that’s about the only kind of win I’ll see in that city.

The Chandelier Bar is stunning

We hosted the Martz family for 4th of July, then headed to Tahoe to spend the weekend mountain biking and exploring hidden Alpine lakes. The Martz boys are 10 and 6 years old and had fun “surfing” in the lagoon.

Mountain biking is not usually my strong suit, but Jennifer talked us into a route that would be challenging enough for Greg and fun enough for her and me. She was right! The best part was that we parked at a trailhead by a lake and had the whole place to ourselves for booze & snacks after the ride.

The key to being happy was choosing to ride with platform pedals and regular shoes instead of clip-in pedals/shoes. I was able to put my foot down easily and often without the stress of being able to get it unclipped. This ride was 10 miles of challenging fun for me!

We began training again in July, this time for the Santa Barbara Triathlon on August 24. We haven’t done this race in four years and it will be good to go after it again. It’s a 1 mile swim, 34 mile ride, and 10 mile run. In addition to the regular training, I have been doing long runs every week for a month now, hoping that 10 miles is what “a normal run” feels like on race day. I’m not holding my breath on that one, but it does feel good to go that distance week after week.

Oh, and just because the picture is too adorable, here are the little ones I take care of splashing around in the sprinkler a couple of weeks ago. Summer fun!

Okay, we’re all caught up! I need to do a Van-centric post with all the updates Greg has made. I promise I’ll get to that. And even when I can’t do a full post, I’ll at least put up some pictures so you don’t forget about me. Hope your summer is going well!

Vineman Monte Rio

Greg and I raced the inaugural Vineman Monte Rio olympic distance triathlon on June 2. We had visited the Russian River area of Sonoma County a couple of weeks prior to that and rode part of the bike and run courses, just to see what it was like. The roads were flat, newly paved, and shady. Sign me up!

The nice thing about competing in a difficult half Ironman race so early in the season is that then you’re basically ready for anything after that. In fact, we’re racing again this weekend! The olympic distance is so fun and relatively painless after the Wildflower Long Course.

Vineman Monte Rio makes the sixth multi-sport event these race organizers host each summer. Since this was the first running of the event, we weren’t exactly sure what to expect, but these folks know what they’re doing and it went very smoothly.

Packet pickup was quick and painless. There were just a handful of sponsors since it’s the first year of the event, so we were in and out of there quickly. Monte Rio is a small community with limited parking, so they were encouraging participants to park three miles away at the rodeo grounds and take shuttle buses in on race morning. This meant leaving bikes in the transition area overnight. Greg and I were staying at a campground adjacent to the rodeo grounds, so we chose to just ride our bikes the ~3 miles in. This worked very well for us.

RACE MORNING
The Van really does make things easy on race morning, the MVP being the in-house toilet. This was a low-pressure race for both of us, so I was able to take care of breakfast, getting dressed, and all necessary “business” before Greg was back from trotting Miles around the campground. I had built in the necessary time that would allow us to run behind schedule (as is always the case) and arrived at the race site with plenty of time to spare.

SWIM — 30:37 (2:03/100)
The water was warm (~72*F) compared to the outside temperature (~60*F), so it felt good getting in. I made the mistake of not being in the front of my age group and started behind 3-4 rows of women bobbing around in the river. It took several minutes to finally swim around everyone and get in a groove. While I am not swimming as strongly as I was last year, I start fast and finding “clean water” makes a big difference in getting into a rhythm.

The water was shallow and a lot of people were standing up to walk, especially in one section on the way back in. For anyone with open water anxiety, the Vineman races are very good for this reason. I was able to swim through it all, which was great. I’m much faster while swimming than while walking in knee-deep water. I assumed I’d end up somewhere around 30 minutes and was really pushing myself at the end. Just as I stood up in the water, my Garmin beeped at me that it had been 30 minutes (I keep it in my swim cap in a Ziploc bag and have it set to beep every 10 minutes, just to give me an idea of how I’m doing). I was disappointed that I couldn’t break the self-inflicted time barrier, but also feel better knowing that the race directors said the course ran ~150 meters long. At my 2:03/100m pace, I would have finished sub-30 if the course had been accurate.

I swam into three other age groups in my mile-long trip up and down the river and had no idea where I was in my own age group. There were no other orange caps around me at the time I exited the water and felt pretty good about things.

T1 — 4:18
I say this all the time – I am not fast in transition. This course made it difficult for everyone because of the long distance from the water’s edge up to the transition area and because that run was on small pebbles. We were all hobbling down to the race start, lamenting our transition times before it even began. Some people left their flip flops at the water’s edge and found theirs in a sea of other flip flops for the trip back up…but most gutted it out.

BIKE — 1:16:10 (19.5 mph)
This was a fantastic bike ride! Greg and I rode a section of the course a couple of weeks ago and then drove another section of it Saturday on our way to the campsite. The main road out to the coast was recently repaved and was pristine – perfect for racing! The course took us on a bit of a detour on a less-traveled road that had a little bit of elevation gain and was in poor condition. Other than that 7 mile section, this bike course was a dream.

I saw Greg just before I made the turn onto Highway 1 into Jenner; he was on his way back in. I had a race plan to eat my Larabar at the turnaround. I got it out of my bento box and promptly dropped it as I tried to open it. Now I know why people over-pack for short events… I tend to not eat very much while training/racing anyway, so I wasn’t totally concerned, but I knew I didn’t have much in my race belt for the run and I’d have to take advantage of the aid stations on the run.

This bike ride ends up being a PR for me in an olympic distance race. I passed 7 people in my age group on the course and was passed by one woman who was flying.

T2 — 2:27
I was in the run transition area with another woman from my age group. She was chatting with her husband, saying that this run was going to take her a long time. Of course, “a long time” is all relative to how fast someone’s normal running pace is, but I did feel a bit confident coming off a great bike ride and feeling good for the run.

Spoiler: that woman got the 3rd place podium spot.

RUN — 52:19 (8:27/mile)
I think I’ve mentioned that my running training has focused on hills and consistency rather than speed this year. That was all due to the sufferfest that the Wildflower run is. I signed up for this race kind of on a whim, just because it is a beautiful venue, the distance is [relatively] easy, and it would be a fun weekend getaway.

I hit the 1 mile marker and was delighted to see my pace at 8:17. That is fast for me! And yet, everything felt good. I kept on with it, not paying attention to my pace, only with feeling good while running. The run course is absolutely flat and 99% shaded. The only sun is between mile 3.0 and 3.1 at the turnaround. It was blissful!

I saw Greg at my Mile 2 and he looked good heading into his last two miles. I was chatting with people and otherwise feeling good about life. I had a half package of Clif Shot Bloks as I started the run and decided to take a gel from the aid station at Mile 4. I don’t usually use these for training because they upset my stomach, but I knew I needed an extra shot of energy because I’d lost my food on the bike. Despite everyone saying it’s “just like frosting,” I don’t often eat frosting (!!) and it was hard to suck it down. It did seem to work as prescribed and did not give me any stomach distress, so that was a win and I plan to employ that this weekend as well.

I felt good all through the run. I didn’t explode. I never had the desire to walk. No stomach/bathroom issues. I was passing a lot of people and not being passed by anyone in my age group, so that led me to speculate on where I was in the field. I rounded the last corner across the bridge and saw Greg cheering for me. I turned into the finish area, which included winding around the transition area and up a steep hill to the finish line. This bit of terrain led me to ask aloud,  ”Who puts a fucking hill at the finish line?!” and several spectators laughed.

I was so proud of my finish! I thought it was a PR for me, but it turns out the olympic distance I did last year (the one I am doing tomorrow, in fact!!) was a 2:41:32. I did better in the swim, run, and transitions at that race last year, causing a little bit of anxiety this afternoon…

FINISH — 2:45:51
Greg and I hung around for 30 minutes or so, waiting for them to post the final results. The post-race food was pancakes and sausage, so I made-do with drinking half a Dr. Pepper and waiting to eat until we got back to The Van. As proud as I am of my finish, I was totally bummed to get fourth place in my age group AGAIN. I think this is the fourth time I’ve missed the podium by one spot! Even so, it was a fun morning and I was glad to be part of the inaugural running of the race.

POST-RACE
We rode back to our campsite to rescue Miles and spend a couple of hours river-side before taking a leisurely trip down the coast. This delicious concoction includes Stoli Chocolate Coconut Vodka, chocolate almond milk, and coconut milk. The latter two items are known for their recovery properties, so I feel like it’s all good…

And almost nothing is better than watching our sweet boy fetch his ball up and down the river.

We’re headed to Morgan Hill this evening to camp somewhere (hopefully) and race the Reservoir Triathlon tomorrow.

Enjoy your weekend!