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May 31, 2013 Fido No Comments

Competing in the Wildflower triathlon is difficult. <– This is an understatement. But it’s worth it because of the real fun that happens back at camp and on the way home.

When leaving Lake San Antonio on Sunday morning, we decided to take a leisurely trip over to Highway 1 (read: very hilly and very switchback-y) and then up the coast. When asked about the best place to stop for food/drinks, I couldn’t decide. We opted to make it a progressive endeavor. One stop was at Phil’s Fish Market in Moss Landing. Unlike the rest of us, Miles had a lot of spring in his step and I’m so delighted that Melanie got this shot of him!

Pics from Wildflower

I want to share a few Wildflower photos that were taken by friends of ours. First, an early morning shot of all the athletes racing:

The three guys on the left (Joe, Martz, and Kidder’s 14-YO son Kyle) were smart to do the Mountain Bike race. Their race didn’t start for two hours after this photo was taken and their smiles were just as big an hour after that. I’m totally doing that race next year!

Here’s a family shot from after the race. I was happy to be standing at this point. Greg finished about an hour before me and was feeling pretty good. Miles wondered when we were going back to the lake.

Our camping setup is pretty sweet, what with The Van and all. We arrived at our usual spot near Mile 12 and started nesting. Greg rolled out the new awning and carpet and we were ready to welcome visitors.

When the Martzes arrived, their older son Colin took great interest in the van. He has been researching an RV for himself, you see. He’s 10. The one he wants will arrive at his door in Santa Barbara for a mere $130,000. It was so fun to take him through our van and show him how everything works and why we did things a certain way. Apparently he took it to heart.

Two weeks after the race, we got a postcard in the mail, as shown below. It was from the Martzes. Colin had recreated all of Wildflower with Legos, including our van. Nancy took a picture and sent it to us, which will be a memento we keep forever. I love it so much!

As you can see, he built the van setup flawlessly, right down to the awning, bikes mounted to the back, and the sunroof. It even has the hitch on the back bumper! I love that he included me, Greg, and Miles. My favorite part? Greg is holding a bone for the dog and I am holding a bottle of wine. Ha!!

As we get ready to race again this weekend (Vineman Monte Rio), it is fun to look back on Wildflower through these photos. The beauty of Vineman is that it’s an Olympic distance race and we’ll both be done racing by 10:15 AM. Even with temps at 90*, we can enjoy the day on the river.

Wildflower Long Course 2013

May 23, 2013 Family, Fitness 3 Comments

The Wildflower Long Course triathlon happened nearly two weeks ago. I think I’m still in denial and still trying to forgive myself for signing up again. The aftertaste that lingers in my mouth is quite bittersweet. I don’t have a lot of pictures to share and I’ll keep this brief.

SWIM: 1.2 miles = 38:09 (2012 = 33:02)
As well as my swimming had been going in the pool, my  one open water swim prior to the race proved to be slower than expected. I wanted to be optimistic going into this, but chose to be realistic. When I was sighting every ~10th breath or so and the buoys kept moving farther away, I knew I was right to be realistic.

I did try to stay “in the moment” during the swim and remind myself that this would be the most pleasant part of my day. I was in cold water, which was a welcome environment compared to the 95 degree day we all endured.

BIKE: 56 miles = 3:24:49 (2012 = 3:14)
Last year, it seemed like the bike was “no big deal.” It was harder this year. That’s either a function of me being less trained, the heat, or a combination of both.

I was again surprised at how hard the Mile 2 climb was, and saw many people walking it. My left foot started charlie-horsing at Mile 7 of the bike and finally let up around Mile 20. Right then, I knew it was a whole new ball game. As hot as it was, I told myself to drink at least two bottles of water between every aid station (which were ~45 mins apart). I did this and more, and still had no urge to pee at any point. I had no Nuun or salt tablets with me.

By the time I got to Nasty Grade (Mile 40), I was done. I wanted to quit. By the time I finished Nasty Grade, I had talked myself out of running. Seriously. I had nothing to prove — I had already done this course and had done a full Ironman. No need to prolong the misery. Right? RIGHT???

As I was riding back into the festival area, I was looking for Greg on the run course. There’s a spot where the runners travel on a trail that is adjacent to the road. Miracle of miracles, I saw him! I hollered, “G!!!! I haaaaate this!” He saw me and hollered back, “You look great, baby! I hate it, too!” He said that the runners near him laughed at our exchange, everyone hating ourselves for doing this. It was so good to see him; he was running and looked so strong.

There were only a couple of miles left back into the transition area and I thought about what I would do. If there was one aspect of training that I had actually focused on, it was the running. I had not focused on speed. I had focused solely on running hills. For the last ~30 miles, I had been talking myself out of and back into doing the run. I really really really just wanted to be done.

I thought of what I would say to Greg and Kidder, to our friends we were camping with, to YOU GUYS who read this blog. “Yeah, I quit. I just didn’t want to do it, so I didn’t even try.” That didn’t feel very good.

I pulled into the transition area and had a Really Big Decision to make: to run or not to run.

I am not a quitter. I would run.

RUN: 2:27:24 (2012 = 2:18:06)
I left the transition area with all kinds of caveats:

If I puke, I can stop.
If I cramp, I can stop.
If the apocalypse happens, I can stop.

I wanted any/all of these things to happen. I don’t pray, so I was employing every other possible tactic to give me a reason that I could forfeit (read: not quit). Last year, I walked within the first mile and adopted a run 3 minutes/walk 30 seconds plan (that did not work). This year, I RAN the first four miles. This was a huge mental boost for me!

Mile 4 is the Death March that everyone walks. It truly isn’t worth it to run it. I got to the top at Mile 5 and started running again. There had been ambulances all over the bike course and now there were rescue crews in the trails. I’m sure the heat was taking its toll and people were succumbing to heat exhaustion and dehydration.

At every aid station, I kept repeating all of the above caveats, assessing my physical self all the while. Do I feel like puking? Am I cramping? Do I see Jesus? The answer to all of these was no. Keep going…

At Mile 7 or so, there was Team Bourbon & Bacon. They were serving both. It was 95 degrees and they were frying bacon in a frying pan on a grill on one side of the trail while a teammate was holding a bottle of bourbon on the other side. I thought to myself,

“If I take a shot of bourbon, I’ll probably puke. Then I can be done.”

But alas, I was still running at this point. You might call it shuffling… but not walking. Not cramping. Not barfing. I kindly declined their offer and kept going. The next “out” was at Mile 8. Our camp was right on the other side of those bathrooms, you see. I could retire to The Van

But I was still running/shuffling. Someone was offering Coke and Twizzlers. I had both. They were delicious and sugary; I kept running. The nice lady at Mile 8.75 had orange wedges. They tasted like heaven and I thanked her profusely, as I did last year.

Another decision point that I had been contemplating came at Mile 9. I could choose to do the mentally torturous out-and-back from Mile 9-11…or I could just go back now. This becomes Mile 11. I could just be done in 2 miles. Now. Just be done. Now. But… I’d made it this far. I couldn’t QUIT now. I wasn’t cramping. I wasn’t barfing. I must keep going. What would I tell the people? How would I feel about myself? I trudged along. Walked the hills, ran the downhills and flats. I saw stars when I was “running,” knowing that it was going to be a real race to the end to not black out.

As usual, our friends were at the top of the hill at Mile 12. Martz offered me a margarita shot. I wanted to partake and laugh, but I had been near tears since Mile 10 and had no extra moisture to spare, so I took a shot of apple juice instead. I hoped I would not lose it on the mile to the finish.

FINAL: 6:44:44  (2012 = 6:15:20)

I’m really proud of myself for finishing. I had talked myself out of even starting the run halfway through the bike. That said, I’m really dejected because I actually ran more of this race than I did last year. I walked far more of the course last year, and last year’s split was faster (my average pace was almost 1 minute/mile faster last year).

I know the heat was a factor. I remarked in last year’s race report that it was 81 degrees. It was 95 degrees this year, and that absolutely makes a difference. I peed at 7:30 AM and not again until 11:30 PM — after over 400 ounces of non-alcoholic fluids taken in.

Within seconds of sitting down after finishing, every muscle in my lower body started cramping — quads, hamstrings, calves, feet. Greg got me a Nuun drink and I tried to keep moving. Putting my legs in the cold water before picking everything up from the transition area helped.

As at Ironman Canada, the Kidder family was so wonderful in spectating and keeping Miles (14-YO Kyle Kidder did the Sprint Course!). It was so delightful to finish and see so many familiar faces. All of us dreaded making the famed trip back up the hill to our campsite.

After a couple of V8s, some chocolate milk, and a lukewarm shower, I finally enjoyed a glass of well-earned wine. Let the fun really begin!




Introducing: FASHION

April 26, 2013 Fashion No Comments

As I was looking forward ahead to Ironman Canada ending, I was approached about a new opportunity. A new challenge, if you will. But this was a whole new ball game: menswear. Not only that? Selling it.

If you know anything about me, you know I love a challenge. I mean, why else does anyone sign up for something crazy like IRONMAN?

It was actually an easy decision when I did my research regarding the quality of the products and the support of the company. The final piece that fit into the puzzle was that I’d be able to keep the flexibility in my schedule. Even if I sold nothing (making it financially “worth it”), it was a challenge worth taking on!

So, without further ado, I am delighted to announce that I am a Style Consultant for J Hilburn.

If you’re a man who wears clothes or a woman who buys clothes for a man in your life, this pertains to you. Here’s what I have to offer:

  • One-of-a-kind clothes.
  • Quality workmanship.
  • Incredible pricing.
  • Personalized service.

In short, I can save you time and money. And, you’ll get to work with me all the while!

This also introduces the FASHION category on the blog (and explains the tape measure in my new header graphic). You can expect to find articles about things like how to match stripes with patterns, trends in fashion, and where J Hilburn has been featured — places like Men’s Health, Esquire, and Inc. Magazine.

I’d love for you to follow along on my Facebook page. I already talk about food, fitness, and other fun stuff — and plan to do so with more regularity. That page (rather than my personal page) is where I’ll link to articles related to men’s fashion as well. Like me there!

I’ve got over 20 clients who are delighted with their clothes and the process of working with someone one-on-one to build their professional and social go-to clothes that fit well and look great.

If you’re tired of spending your weekends at the mall and tailor and tired of what the standard men’s retailers have to offer, I’d love to work with you. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easy and affordable it is to have a custom wardrobe. Even if you’re not interested in the clothes, you might find insight in the trends and “What Not To Wear” that I’m planning to feature.

Who doesn’t want to look like this guy? AMIRIGHT?!?

70.3 in 11 Days

April 23, 2013 Fitness 1 Comment

I have my *A Race* in 11 days and I haven’t talked a bit about my training all Spring. You’re welcome and/or I’m sorry. 

So, Wildflower 70.3. Let’s break this down:

The outlook was pretty poor from the start. My knees were the main culprit, creaking all the time and causing pain doing simple things like standing up  from a seated position and descending stairs. Things were really looking bad as I considered running a ridiculously difficult half marathon after swimming 1.2 miles and biking 56 hilly miles. But my magical chiropractor evaluated me and said that it’s the scar tissue in my calves that is causing the issue. He gave me some homework that I have been good about and things are going much better. I did have a literal run-in with Miles’ 85-pound girlfriend Lola — straight to the side of my left knee — and that has me a bit concerned. I went to yoga over the weekend and it was sore in Warriors 1 and 2, but it was fine on my long run after that. I will keep icing everything and hope for the best on race day.

My swimming is going well. I am in the pool at least twice a week and everything there feels very consistent and good. I have to remind myself to focus on my form (rather than figuring out what I’m going to wear to work, for instance) and that helps my interval times tremendously. Go figure. I expect the swim will be my best event at the race. Update: my goggles and Ironman swim cap were never recovered. Karma’s a bitch, people. Watch out. Miles and I went for an open water swim on Friday to cool off and I went on my first real swim in the Bay yesterday. It wasn’t as fast as I maybe would have liked, but it wasn’t a disaster.

Cycling is what it is. And by that, I mean I don’t care. I’m just not driven this time around. I bike three times a week, two shorter mid-week rides and one long weekend ride. I force myself into incorporating punishment like hills and sprints. I know I will be glad I did when the time comes, but I’m not enjoying the process. I finally got on my tri bike on March 16 — the first time I had ridden it since Ironman on August 26. This expensive bike had collected a lot of dust in the garage in that time. The good news is that getting back on it was a treat. I am actually far more comfortable on this bike than my road bike. The bad news is that not even a fancy bike can make me fast like proper training does.

As for my running, I am 98% hill-centric. I have done the majority of my training on very hilly terrain that largely mimics the Wildflower course: hot, dusty, hilly terrain. I am doing almost no speed work. My average run pace is slow, but very consistent. I’m fine with that; I left this race last year saying I’d never do it again. I realize that everything is relative, and I want the suffer-fest to be relative as well. Slow and steady will win this race for me.

I don’t know what kind of race goals I’ll put together. I want to say something arbitrary like, “Just have fun!”, but who am I kidding? First of all, that’s not a measurable goal. Second, I’m competitive enough that I’m sure I’ll endure a fair amount of discomfort if I see a lot of people in my age group passing me. The best news of all is that I don’t have to train for a full Ironman once this race is over. It will be a blissful summer compared to 2012!




She’s Had Some Work Done

April 20, 2013 Fun No Comments

If you read my blog from a reader, you’re going to want to click over to the site to see the work I’ve had done. It’s worth it!

(P.S. Click on some ads while you’re there, would ya??)

I enlisted the help of my friend and Beaducation coworker Mindy Proscia to update the look and feel of the blog. I launched this site back in 2010 and it was long overdue for a change. Mindy is an extremely talented photographer and designer  that was able to capture the style of my writing, the topics I cover, and my personality with the new site. I love it!

You may see a few things that are new and that seem out of place. Wait for it…!

What do you think?


Hopeless Romantic

April 2, 2013 Fun No Comments

I don’t know who Alyssa is,

but I really want to believe that the question implied by this sign

was the teaser into a question that girls dream about.

Miles and I ran with a friend at Water Dog Park today and we came across these signs littering one of the upper trails. I glanced at them as I ran by… the “I’ve got a question” one first, and then the “Hey Alyssa” one. Being the hopeless romantic that I am, I want to believe that someone was waiting for Alyssa at the end of the trail with a marriage proposal.

And not something like, “Can you gimme a ride home?”

Weekend Pics

March 31, 2013 Family, Fido, Fitness, Friends, Fun No Comments

We went to Tahoe this weekend, likely making it the last winter trip of the season. I *finally* broke even on my Squaw Valley Season Pass and otherwise engaged in a bunch of debauchery with friends. Oh, and there was some triathlon training thrown in for good measure.

We got home at 11 PM Saturday night so we could complete our long ride/run today. Clouds looming, both of us looked at numerous weather sites for hour-by-hour forecasts and set out on our respective rides. The forecasts varied from “sprinkles in the afternoon” to “0% chance precipitation.” Both of us got caught in a cold and windy down-pour. The afternoon ended with a co-ed trip to the hot tub, so all’s well that ends well…

Here are some pics I snapped with my crappy camera phone this weekend, the only ones we have to document our Tahoe 2012-13 season.

Greg and Miles had fun playing on the jungle gym outside Le Chamois.

Off-duty Snow Makers

Jen stopped by the van for 1000 CCs of red wine after working customer service all day.

This entire mountain is usually covered in snow.

One of the three creeks Miles found to play in this weekend.

Spring skiing = flare!

I went for a run around Donner Lake Saturday morning. 8 miles of solitary bliss (at altitude)!

Relying on Goodwill

March 16, 2013 Fitness No Comments

I swam early on Tuesday morning, just as I did on Monday morning and would again on Thursday morning. And as I was finishing my 2500 yards, I remembered that I had borrowed Greg’s phone on Monday evening and hadn’t given it back to him. It was in a bag that he wouldn’t think to look in and be without it all day. This wasn’t critical for him, but definitely a nuisance — especially after he’d done me the favor in letting me borrow it.

I exited the pool at 6:50AM and rushed through showering and getting dressed, running out of the gym without even brushing my hair to get to my car where my own phone was. (I could finish getting ready at the office.) I thought that I would perhaps catch him still at home and he’d hear his phone ringing and all would be well. I dialed him 10+ times before I resigned myself that he had already left. In the end, it was no big deal that Greg didn’t have his phone that day. I apologized, he accepted.

Fast forward to Wednesday evening. I put together my Thursday swim workout and started gathering everything I needed for the morning. Only then did I realize that I was missing everything else related to the workout.  I must have left it at the gym in Tuesday’s hasty departure.

I have a mesh bag that I take with me into the pool area that carries my my goggles, ear plugs, swim cap, and Ziploc bag o’ workouts. My training plan calls for specific workouts each day (I’ve been swimming 3x/week for the past few weeks) and I write them all down and then seal them in a Ziploc bag. It’s just a great way to go back and look at the workouts, especially in the off-season or when making up a workout. I was fussing about the time I spent writing them down as much as anything. Then there’s my goggles. I have a lot of trouble getting goggles to fit and “splurged” on this $40 pair in August.

The worst of it? My swim cap. It was the cap I wore during Ironman Canada. It had the IM logo on it, and it also had the Sharpie marker with my race number (2424) on it. It was a keepsake. A memento. A talisman.

Realizing what had happened — I could picture where I left it in my rush — I just knew it would be at the front desk in Lost & Found. I arrived there yesterday morning at 5:57AM with a sub-par set of goggles, ear plugs, swim cap, and brand new Ziploc bag with the day’s workout. When I explained my plight to the front desk guy, he looked in Lost & Found…. and nothing was found. Well, besides people’s dirty water bottles, yoga mats, sweatshirts, earbuds, and weightlifting gloves.

So disappointing. Mostly about the swim cap, but also about the workouts that told stories of what I had done before. And let’s not forget my fellow gym-goers! Why wouldn’t someone turn this in? I certainly wouldn’t put someone else’s earplugs in my ears, I would not dare run swim in this pool with a very specific Ironman Canada/2424 swim cap, and the goggles are wearing out quickly.

I plan to keep checking with the front desk when I’m there over the next week or so. Maybe someone picked them up, intending to drop them at the front desk and forgot on their way out. The front desk guy wasn’t that bright (or awake?), so maybe there’s another place to check… I’m not giving up home on the goodwill of humanity just yet!

Ironman Canada 2012 Photobook

March 14, 2013 Family, Favorites, Fitness, Fun No Comments

I created a Shutterfly photobook that chronicled our Ironman Canada adventure as a gift for Greg’s birthday in January. It was supposed to be a Christmas gift because I thought it was a project that would take a few hours to complete. Uhhh, more like a few weeks… Shutterfly has so many (too many?) idea pages, embellishments, and layouts to choose from. My project really came to life as I was building it and I got more excited about it with every page. This required hunting down more pictures, telling more stories, and finding more of their awesome embellishments! It was a little overwhelming, but I am very happy with the results.

Now that training for Wildflower has come into full swing (two-a-day workouts, unlimited laundry, unlimited hunger and fatigue), I have been referring back to the photobook for some race day inspiration. It’s maybe working.


NOTE: I have friends at Shutterfly (it’s a Bay Area company), but this project was my own doing. In other words, I’m not being paid to say any of these nice things about the company.