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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.

Barb’s Race – Goal Setting

July 29, 2011 Fitness, Friends, Fun 2 Comments

Greetings from Sonoma County! We arrived yesterday and enjoyed some of the wares this valley has to offer. That’s definitely one benefit of choosing this destination for our “race-cation!” We rented a house with Jeff and Caryn and are staying three nights. It’s set in the woods along a small creek and it’s a very tranquil setting to contemplate what’s ahead of us.

It’s time to set some race goals:

I’LL BE SATISFIED: Finish under 6 hours
I’LL BE ECSTATIC: Finish in 5:45

Here’s how that’s going to break down:

SWIM: Finish in 35 minutes.
Last year’s 1.2 mile swim time was 36:39, so I would like to meet/beat that.

BIKE: Average 18 mph and finish in 3:05
This is a tough bike course and it’s going to be hot tomorrow, so this is a stretch goal.

RUN: I’m giving myself 2 hours on the run (average pace 9:16 m/m)
We drove the run course today and it’s hilly. I am planning on dying on the run, so I hope this is conservative enough. I don’t want to sandbag it… but I want to give myself some leeway to totally suck.

TRANSITIONS: These will have to be under 5 minutes for me to reach my goal.
T1 may take a bit longer than in other races because we have to stuff all of our stuff (including wetsuit) into a plastic bag that will be transported over to the race finish. T2 should be quick.

It’s going to be a tight race with those splits. Greg put new tires on my bike and my legs are definitely fresh. Every workout this week has left me wanting more. I’ll give it my best!

Here we are after setting up our running stuff in T2:

I think we look ready, don’t you? Immediately after this was taken, we stood in ridiculous lines to get our packets, timing chips, and shirts. This gave me ample opportunity to people-watch. At events like this, most people are wearing gear from past event that indicate to other competitors they are badasses. In one case, a portly fellow was wearing full-length compression tights with a billowy shirt over it. In a word, he looked ridiculous. But I bet his legs will feel great tomorrow and it will all be worth it…

Back at the cabin now, I’ve got my gear all ready to go for tomorrow. My nutrition is packed, my gear is laid out, and dinner will be early. I’m enjoying a glass of wine on the deck as I write this. Ahhhh. This is how a race-cation should be!

Thanks to everyone for the well-wishes along the way. I hope to make us all proud with my performance tomorrow!

To Chase Or Be Chased?

July 18, 2011 Fear, Fitness, Friends No Comments

I was having lunch today with a couple of girlfriends who just completed the Vineman 70.3 race yesterday. It’s the same course as Barb’s Race that I’m doing on July 30, so I was getting the nitty gritty race details from those in the know. I love hashing it all out!

I was remarking that Caryn and I are doing Barb’s Race together, but we are not in the same age group. I’m younger, so I will likely start 5-10 minutes ahead of her. She has been razzing me about my mental block on the run, talking smack about how she’ll be “chasing me down.” Admittedly, this scare tactic is working.

Do you push harder when you’re chasing someone? Or being chased?

I think I push harder when being chased. When Greg and I ride together, I’ll purposely try to get a head start on him and push as hard as I can to see how far I can make it before he catches me. I attribute this internal competitiveness to my improved bike speeds in recent years. At the race, I know I’ll be pushing to make it as far as I can before (IF?!) Caryn catches up to me.

Weekly Workout Wrap-up

Sunday – 50-mile bike ride + 5K run

Monday – 2400-yard swim

Tuesday – 20-mile bike ride + 3 mile run

Wednesday – 90 minutes yoga + 2100 yard swim

Thursday – 5 mile hill run

Friday – OFF

Saturday – 52 mile bike ride + Tracy Anderson

The Rest of the Story

July 22, 2010 Family, Fitness, Food, Friends, Fun 1 Comment

While I didn’t love listening to talk radio in the car as a kid, I learned to perk up when Paul Harvey would provide a factual tale with a twist at the end. Here’s the rest of the story of the Vineman Half Ironman. Can you find the twist?

Greg is pretty much a triathlon machine and a man of few words, so there won’t be all the belly-aching about training and emotions that you got with my race recap. Since I’m writing it and this blog is about me, it’ll mostly be about what I felt about his training and what I felt about his feelings.

WHAT?! You’re still reading?!

If you are, good news! Of course, I’m just kidding. This is a story about a great event and the fun you can have as a spectator. After reading this, I’m sure that everyone will want to go next year! Triathlon is not a quintessential “spectator sport,” but I have a few tricks up my sleeve to prove the average spectator wrong on that front.

You might remember me talking about Mike Kidder from Kansas City. He’s the one that talked me into doing a 70.3 in the first place… He and his wife Melanie came to town as well as our friends Mike and Nancy from Santa Barbara. Mike Kidder was here to participate in the Vineman triathlon (the other Mike completed his 70.3 in Kona in June). Our friends Mike and Tiffany joined us from the Bay Area as well. We had a full house of Mikes, competitors, and spectators!

Mike & Tiff were kind enough to offer up FREE accommodations in Occidental, which we promptly accepted. The three cottages on the property were exactly what I had expected — rustic and secluded. The environment was quiet, tucked away in the trees between the coast and the real world. Melanie and I enjoyed a vodka drink at our house while we packed everything up, then made it through a bottle of pre-made sangria I had picked up from Whole Foods while in the car — and all before hitting the Russian River Brewing Co. and dinner in Santa Rosa. You might call it spectator training for the big event! In the cottages that night, we enjoyed good wine we had brought from home, served out of coffee mugs that were available in our cottage. Melanie and Mike were on Kansas City time and she was the first to, shall we say, “retire” for the evening.

We woke up in a coastal fog on Saturday morning and it was quite chilly. The rest of the gang went in to Occidental for breakfast while I went for a 5-mile run along a less-traveled road through the hills and trees. Kidder and Greg packed up their gear for the transition from bike to run (this is a two-transition course) and we finally headed out for packet pick-up just as the sun was breaking through the fog. This is the 20th Anniversary of the Vineman event and a record number of competitors were registered (remember that I couldn’t get in?). We must have hit the Expo area at the right time — or maybe wrong time, as it was in the heat of the afternoon — because it wasn’t packed. We milled about there and made our way down to Johnson’s Beach so that the guys could splash around in the river they’d be swimming the following day. The rest of us proceeded to snack and drink and soak up the rays, just as we’d be doing the following day… It was a great day on the river!

Knowing that there’s often too much to do on the night before a race, I had prepared a big roasting pan of chicken parmesan ahead of time and brought along “homemade” pasta sauce, pasta, and enough fresh CSA greens for the whole crowd to enjoy on Saturday night… but then our crowd grew, and the oven didn’t work, and we all just conceded, “Let’s go out!” We ventured back into Occidental and settled in at Negri’s Italian Restaurant. Dinner out with a crowd of 10 takes longer than you want it to and we didn’t get out of there until after 10 PM. As usual, the guys still had a bit of race prep to do before setting their alarms for a 5:30 AM wake-up call. The night before a race is never what you want it to be.

Race day! We were up early and despite the sunshine outside, I was in a bit of a fog. I honestly can’t tell you how Kidder and Greg felt… When I asked, they mentioned they were hungry and there were several jokes tossed around about me being “drunk helpful girl” before going to bed, insisting on getting up at 4 AM to fix eggs and bacon. THANK GOD THEY DIDN’T HOLD MY FEET TO THAT FIRE. We loaded up about 15 minutes later than planned and headed to Guerneville. Melanie and I sent our men off with kisses and well-wishes and made haste for the Starbucks.

SWIM
Swimming is Kidder’s strongest sport — by far. Melanie and I were standing on a foot bridge over the Russian River, so we could see all competitors pass beneath us on their out and back trips. Pretty cool! Greg’s wetsuit has a bright yellow back (and is the only one of its kind that I’ve ever seen), so we knew we’d be able to spot him quickly. Our guys were set to start at 7:58 AM and had bright red caps on. As the red caps swam beneath us, we spotted Greg and knew that Kidder should have been ahead of him. We couldn’t find him and figured we’d missed him. On their trip back under the bridge just before the finish, we spotted Mike first and Greg was not far behind. Their times were great from our estimations (30:19 with ~300 yards to go)! We found out after the race that Kidder was still in line for the porta-potty when his race started. For some crazy reason, these race officials allowed spectators to use the same bathrooms as competitors. This was “important business” so Kidder did what he had to and subsequently started the race 4 minutes behind the rest of his wave. It didn’t matter; HE SWIMS LIKE A FISH. When we were able to check the final results, it turns out that he finished the swim in 25:49 and was the first man out of the water in his age group (the timing started when he got in the water) — beating 245 other men. What an amazing feat! He finished 13th in the swim overall, among 1259 competitors! Greg finished in a respectable 33:45.

BIKE
We had a great vantage point for all cyclists coming out of the transition area and making their first couple of turns onto the bike course. Greg had a fast transition (2:45) and we saw him very quickly after the swim finish. Kidder isn’t known for fast transitions (his was 5:54) and we knew they’d be gone for about 2h30m if Greg was on track to meet his race goals. This meant a transition for us spectators as well. Melanie and I met up with Mike & Tiff to assess our own race goals. On Saturday, we had visited the Safeway and purchased enough beverages to satisfy a small fraternity. It was just after 9 AM and Melanie quickly mixed up a bloody mary (I was driving) while we all snacked on chips and dip, looking at the map for the next vantage point. We decided the best idea was to head over to the bike/run transition area, which was also the finish. We’d be able to see everyone coming in from the bike, out for the run, and in to the finish.

By the time we got over there on the back roads, the sun was coming out and we all shed a layer of clothing once we found parking. There, we fixed up Leg 2 of our drink-athlon: blueberry vodka + Crystal Light lemonade. Delicious and refreshing! We packed a bag with our libations, a few snacks, and our cameras. Positioned at the bike dismount, we got to see everyone come in — Kidder and Greg, several friends from Santa Barbara and the EDH Tri Club, and friends of Mike & Tiff. We were in the right spot! Greg finished about where he wanted to at 2:32 and Mike came in about where he expected to at 3:11. They were quick in T2 (2:47 and 3:08, respectively) and we settled in for the last leg.



RUN
After two 32-oz Nalgene bottles of vodka drinks, Melanie and Tiffany were close friends by this point, I encountered pretty much everyone I knew in the triathlon community, and the world was a very sunny place (literally and drinkatively). Unless disaster struck on the run, we knew the guys would finish with flying colors and we’d all be celebrating — as long as their stomachs held out. The three of us girls cut each other off on story after story, all the while cheering competitors out on their run (“only 13.1 to go!”) and congratulating those just finishing (“just around the corner!”). With a run split of 1:43:44, we damn near missed Greg with all of this chatter! He came by looking tired but good and finished at 4:55:47. He wanted to finish in under 5 hours and he did it! We ran to the race finish to meet him there with hugs and good cheer. After Greg grabbed some post-race food and drink, he, Melanie and I headed back out to our vantage point to wait for Kidder’s finish. It was quite a sight as both Greg and Melanie ran with Mike as he turned the corner into the final gates at the finish. With a run time of 1:59:19, he finished in 5:45:30. Hooray!

POST-RACE
We wrapped up at the finish line area and the guys were gracious enough to postpone showers and rest to grant Melanie her one wish: to visit a tasting room on this visit to Wine Country. We drove the race course back out to La Crema, a race sponsor and the winery the runners had to circle, and found their only tasting room is in downtown Healdsburg. Off we went!  In addition to great wine (our third leg of the drink-athlon), Melanie got a cute T-shirt at La Crema and Kidder surprised me with a generous gift from Stephen & Walker Wines for “taking his challenge” of completing a Half Ironman this year. I was in tears with gratitude and friendship. Keep in mind , Melanie and Mike are the ones that introduced me and Greg. They are friends of the highest order!

After the guys showered at the cottage, we headed to dinner at a favorite place of ours — River’s End in Jenner. Mike (of Mike & Tiff) was sober enough to drive the rest of us tired and drunk “competitors” along the windy roads out to the coast. We got there just in time to see the sunset where the Russian River meets the ocean. Greg’s dinner recommendation did not disappoint and we all enjoyed fantastically fresh food and a race recap from everyone’s perspective. Of note, the clam chowder was different and better than any I have ever had. Of course, there was more wine served as well.

We got up on Monday morning and, luckily, Greg and Kidder weren’t too sore to pack up everything from our cottages to head home. We all thanked our gracious hostess and loaded up in the Element. Melanie hadn’t trained properly for her first drink-athlon and was not feeling her best. To this I said, “Bloody mary, anyone? I like mine with a twist.”

And now you know… the rest of the story.

Post-Race Comparison

July 21, 2010 Family, Fitness, Fun 3 Comments

I’ve got a lot of updating to do. July has been an insane month of race prep, travel, and racing. This will be a quick “teaser” message while I work on more in-depth coverage of my goings-on.

Greg and I both completed our Half Ironman triathlons within two weeks of each other. While the distances of the races were exactly the same, the races themselves were quite different. I’ll spare you 2000 words and show a couple of pictures, which will be a very concise way of summing it all up.

Below is a picture of me immediately post-race on July 4. I am sitting, I am crying, I am freezing, and I am bleeding in more places than you can see in this photograph:

And, here is a photo of Greg immediately post-race on July 18. He actually enjoyed it:

A Compromise

June 2, 2010 Fear, Fitness No Comments

I made a couple of Big Hairy Audacious Goals for the year on January 1. One of these is to write my memoir this year. I have nothing to report on this subject at this time. But please, do keep holding your breath. You look great in blue!

My other 2010 goal is to complete the Vineman Half Ironman. The entire post can be read here, but for those just joining the broadcast, the race registration closed before I had a chance to sign up. To be completely honest, it closed six days after I decided to do the event and eight days before I got around to registering. Lesson learned.

In the meantime, I was in correspondence with the race director regarding my entry. She explained the wait list rules and said there was a chance I’d be allowed onto the wait list in February. I waited patiently…and did not get chosen. She said there would be a chance in April. I waited patiently…and did not get chosen. I opted to take a charity slot, which means I’d donate $500 to cancer research in addition to my $265 entry fee. The race director said that the charity slots filled up…and basically that my incremental $500 was no good here. A girlfriend of mine is unable to do the race, so I asked if there was some loophole we could find for me to take her registration…and denied yet again.

I am a committer.

While it has been tempting at times during the training season to throw in the towel and shrug my shoulders with, “There’s always next year,” I have chosen to make a minor modification to my resolution. While I won’t be doing THE Vineman Half Ironman, I will be doing A Half Ironman — The Subaru Vancouver International Triathlon on July 4.

The July 4 date cuts two weeks off the training time from Vineman and will require a bunch of logistical bullshit that I wouldn’t otherwise have to deal with (bike shipping, hotel, ground transportation, etc…). However, I’m looking at the positives: the course is almost entirely flat, Greg will be there to cheer me on and vice versa, and I hope to parlay it into a mini vacation. I say SUCCESS!

Throughout the winter and spring, there was fear nagging me that I wouldn’t get selected to race Vineman and that I wouldn’t find another suitable venue. I kept wondering if all of my training was in vain. Now that my money has been sent in and I’m officially on the race roster in Vancouver, I feel very good about the way this has turned out. The flat course alone is reason to celebrate. I’m basically over-training every time I leave the house!

Now, the only fear nagging me is that my right Achilles will not hold out for a month of training. I did a little self-diagnosing today and it looks like I’ve got all the symptoms for Achilles tendinopathy. This is the new fancy name for tendinitis. I apparently have the acute kind — it hurts worse in the morning, screams at me when I flex my foot, painful to the touch, etc… I have been icing it a few times a day and using ibuprofen. I am extremely disappointed about this, as I have been running at least once a week in my Vibram FiveFingers shoes, I have adopted the Chi Running form, and this is supposed to be my “good leg.”

Either way, July 4 will be Independence Day for me — the 70.3 no longer hanging over my head and, of course, America’s birthday (which will be celebrated in Canada). How d’ya like that, eh?

Big Hairy Audacious Goals

January 1, 2010 Family, Fear, Fitness, Friends 1 Comment

Enough of the reflection already. Let’s move on to the hopes of the new year!

I have said out loud that I have no intention of going back to a desk job just for the sake of having a job. If I find something that I really care about OR if things get really dire for us financially, I’ll take a job with The Man. Otherwise, I have my sights set elsewhere:

Number 1 Resolution for 2010:
Write my memoir

I have been talking about doing this for awhile now, and have even outlined a few chapters. I’m working on a more concrete plan, and even working on transforming our second bedroom into an “office” with a real desk and everything. I am not scared of failing in terms of not finishing it. I will get it done. I am more fearful that it won’t turn into anything or that I’ll find someone to publish it and it will otherwise be poorly received. The thing I’m trying to focus on is finishing the task that I have said I would do for several years.

Number 2 Resolution for 2010:
Complete the Vineman Half Ironman Triathlon

Burning calories is what you want? Train for a triathlon, that’s what I say! I was surprised at how many calories my body required just to stay nourished when I was training for the Santa Barbara Triathlon last year. A Half Ironman will be my longest event to date: 1.2 mile swim + 56 mile bike ride + 13.1 mile run. Greg signed up to do The Vineman, and then I was “encouraged” to do it by our friend Mike Kidder when I saw him in Kansas City just before Christmas. I agreed that this would be a good challenge for me and I psyched myself up to do it — but not psyched enough to actually REGISTER that day (December 18). No, I waited until today and found that the event filled up and that the wait list closed on December 24. Hmmph!

Mentally preparing for a race like that is difficult. Physically preparing for a race like that is grueling. Worrying how you’re going to get a registration ticket for that race is the worst. I am all set to find a swim coach to help me with my weakest link. I’ve been steadily improving my times on the bike and run. I love Kidder and his family, and it would be a great event to do together in Sonoma County  in July. I just need a ticket!

These are some big goals for me this year. What are you aspiring to in 2010?

Happy New Year!