The Weekend

This weekend was a “girls weekend” for my wife, which meant I got to play single daddy to my two girls.

It started out Friday evening with being late to my kid’s dance class, followed by a tantrum due to my choice in dinner. The next morning, I was late to my cyclocross race where I, yet again, had a mechanical issue with my handlebars. We then headed to the mountains to go camping only to find out all the places we were going to go were full. When heading out to some dispersed camping, I ripped off the running board on my truck and put a couple dents in my, then without dents or major scratches, truck. Once we finally found a campsite and started to setup, I discovered all of the cooking gear was destroyed by some sort of caustic reaction and my kids were cold because they left their jackets at home. In the morning, my truck wouldn’t start even though I had gotten up every three hours to warm it up during the night, and I spent too many hours trying to get it to work, ended up having to call for a rescue and then missed my soccer game.

And it was one of the best weekends I’ve had yet!

Why?

I got to spend all of Friday night through Sunday afternoon with my kids.

On Friday, while my oldest was in dance class, I read to my youngest and then we both got to watch the older one dance. The mini tantrum on the way to dinner was a minor bump in the road due to a 5yr old that was hungry and tired; pretty predictable actually. At dinner we talked about both of their schools and I got to see in their faces and eyes, how much they really enjoy school and learning.

Saturday morning, I got bombarded in bed and we spent quite a while snuggling and wrestling, putting us way behind schedule. I’ll have races as long as I want them, but I won’t have little kids to snuggle and wrestle with for long, so I’ll gladly be late to enjoy it now. While at my cyclocross race, I saw and heard my kids cheering like crazy every time I went by and got to hear how great my kids were by everyone that was helping watch them while I raced. The cycling club I joined once again showed me why I did so – I had several people offer to watch my girls for me so I could race, everyone was helping each other out where they could without needing to be asked, and I even got a water hand up during the race that was much appreciated! After my race, my kids rode their bikes all over the race venue for a bit more than an hour with huge grins on their faces before we packed up to head home.

Once we got home, both kids went right to work packed their own bags for camping while signing songs and generally being giddy the entire time as we haven’t been camping for what seems like three years. We had been planning on going “camping” at an improved camping/rv park, but due to the upcoming hunting season, everything was full. I remembered several dispersed camping areas that were nearby from my “pre-kid” days and decided to go explore. In doing so, I damaged the truck a bit, but hey, its just a truck and nothing functional was hurt, just a little paint and sheet metal – took over 10years to actually use it as a 4x! While we were carefully going down the trail, both kids were cheering and whoopin’ it up as they enjoyed the 4x trip they were getting. (Later, my eldest would expressed her amazement in my ability to get the truck through the places I did). Along the trail, both kids were in awe of how beautiful the fall colors were and then struck silent as we kept seeing wild life less than 6 feet from the windows. In the end, we found a beautiful camping spot that was all to ourselves in a valley that was full of fall colors.

fall colors (phone camera)

Got the tent all setup

The night was great, and I got to see two very wide eyed kids enjoy some s’mores made over a camp fire. The cooking gear issue was a bummer, but I had brought along a spare set, just in case, and it turned out great. Same thing for the missing kids clothes; I always grab some extras myself, just in case, and this time we needed them. I even grabbed the bag my wife sometimes uses as a purse when hauling the kids around and that came in handy for the extra underwear in it. I knew that the truck might have an issue with starting after a cold night, each time I got up, the night sky was mesmerizing and I got to see a great meteor shower along with a fantastic view of the Milky Way.

Breakfast in the sun

In the morning we had breakfast in the sun and then had a great hike along a stream; all the while my kids were telling me how great a daddy I am and how much fun they were having.

on a hike

After the hike, when I was trying to get the truck started again, I met two guys that were camping up the trail and came by to offer a hand. When we just couldn’t get it running, those same people took time out of their only day off and gave me and my kids a ride to town so I could call for help – all done so by their offer and without any complaining; just helping a fellow person out. I then called my wife and she and one of our best friends came to rescue us with the tools we needed to get the truck started. In doing so, I got to show them the great camping area that I’d found and even ran in to some more nice people while getting the truck going. In the end, I found an exhaust leak that was preventing the truck from starting, so no matter how many times I had tried to keep it warm, it was going to end up not starting sooner or later.

It’s pretty hard to call it a bad weekend when you get to spend it with your kids and you get to see the sheer enjoyment in their faces, get to enjoy the outdoors while having fun and hearing the fun your kids are having as well, being awestruck for the infinite time by mother nature, meeting great people that show how great humanity can be, and then get to share the fun with your friends who have no issue dropping what they were doing to help a friend in need.

The Simple things

Sometimes it’s the really simple things that get to you.

Today I did what should have been a very simple and easy thing to do: I was cleaning up my contacts list. I have a group for personal contacts that is then broken down into another couple categories; a group for business contacts with its own sub categories; and an archive group where I move any of the others to when it is no longer an active contact, but may contain information that I want to reference later.

As I was going through the contacts and easily deciding which ones stay active vs going into archive or deleting, I came to the contact entry for my mom. I know it shouldn’t be that big of a deal, but the idea of moving her contact information to the archive folder hit me really hard. I know she passed away almost five months ago, however that simple act of moving the contact was to finally face up to the fact that I will never receive contact from, nor need to make contact with any of the information contained in that very small piece of data. I quite literally stared at the options in front of me for several minutes; do I move it or leave it for now? I tried to rationalize with myself that it wasn’t an active contact, but then again, one non-active contact isn’t exactly going to clutter up the list; and again, its only a contact and really holds no value beyond that…

Well, being human rather than Vulcan sometimes sucks; removing the “active” and adding the “archive” selections for her contact was one of the harder things I decided I needed to do in recent months. There was no rationalizing around it, I was continuing to let go and come to grasp with her death; which quite frankly, still sucks.

I love you mom.

Getting back up to date

I have posts written for Bolder Boulder and Big Sky along with another one or two in the works. Life has been busy lately, sorry about dropping off for a bit.

Barking Dog 2011

The Barking Dog Duathlon is usually one of my favorite races of the year, partially because of the location and also because I tend to do well at it. This year the weather was great! In the past it has been one of the colder races with lots of wind and or rain, but today it was sunny and beautiful. With a little bit of embrocation on the legs, knee warmers weren’t needed, so that sped up the transitions as well.
Unlike last week, I was actually organized for this race.  I  got there early enough to have a lazy setup, get my race packet, warm up well, hit the porta-potties a couple times, change my gear as it was hotter than expected, stretch out some, check my tire pressure, and do a final warmup before hitting the start line.

picture near the start of the race

Near the start of the race, running a bit stiff legged

picture of passing another racer

"Who's this fat guy passing me?"

I deliberately lined up at the back of the pack so I wouldn’t be tempted to go out too hard yet again.  I was hoping to run at around a 8min/mi pace for the 5k’s in this race, but my body wasn’t fully recovered from last week. As I started out at a ~9:30min/mi pace, my heart rate was spiked to full zone 5 and staying there; a sure sign that I wasn’t recovered (and probably didn’t sleep enough the past week either). So I backed off to what felt like a sustainable effort and then kicked it up just a notch and stuck it there. At mile 1 of the 5k, I got the feeling in my belly like I get when I’m pushing up against the wall between a first and second wind. At first I welcomed it as I knew once I got through it, that a lot of the “pain” would go away and I could up the pace – the issue was it never went away. The feeling stuck for the rest of the run, so I was very much looking forward to getting onto my bike.

My first transition was a little long, but more towards my “normal” at a minute and sixteen seconds. My bike was acting much much better and didn’t give me any issues at the start, just a smooth CX mount and off I went to see how many people I could pass. I was passed by three people in the race, all of which were wearing USA nation team singlets, so I’m okay with that. I have no idea how many I passed, at times it was literally a dozen or more in a 200yrd stretch, and I think that I passed a couple people twice (it was a two lap course). The prizes however, were the super expensive tt bikes with disc wheels, aero helmets, etc – those are fun to blow by and several were going a good 8-10mph slower than I was. While my run felt a bit lacking, my bike felt on the money. I even used some of the new cornering skills I had learned a couple weeks ago in a Blue Sky Velo bike handling clinic with Allison Powers.  The only issues I had on the bike was in two corners: I had someone that was going much slower and with much less bike handling confidence, come right across the road in front of me. When one is screaming their bike around a corner on the bleeding edge of traction, that is not the most welcome thing to have happen. Luckily, I’m not quite daring enough to go that hard, so I was able to maneuver and miss the person, though both times I wasn’t sure it was going to happen without one of us getting hurt.  Over the course of the ride, I knew I had passed at least 3 fellow clydesdales, and on the first run I knew I had passed at least 2.  Doing the math from the start list, I knew I should be around mid pack and knew I was going to have to fight in the last run to try to finish around mid group (the clydesdale division in the mile hi duathlon series usually has some pretty good competition).  As I was finishing my ride heading back to the transition area, already out of my shoes riding with my feet in socks on top of my shoes, I hit several bumps in the road that actually bumped me off  of my shoes.  The timing was even “better” as I was cornering, making the ride a little hairy as my shoes spun under my cranks and hit the ground, popping my entire bike up as they hit and did so twice more before I could get back on top of them.

 

The rest of the transition went much better as I was able to find my spot quickly (thanks to the guy with a florescent yellow bike and transition mat in my row). I was able to actually feel my feet and they didn’t hurt, and was able to get out of my riding gear and into my running gear and out the other side in just under a minute.   The second run started out much like the first, heart rate spiked right from the beginning and stiff legs; however I was seriously thinking about leaving it there to try and see if I could podium in the race.   As I hit the mile 1 marker, one of the guys I had blown by on the bike caught me and I knew he was a clydesdale so I tried my best to hang with him and ended up almost blowing up.  I backed off just a bit to recover and then got back up to my pace only to see that he was already 200+ yards ahead of me.  No chance what so ever of catching him unless he blew up later on in the run.  From there on I just focused on being as efficient as possible and taking advantage of the terrain when I could.  At a turn before mile 2, I could see another clydesdale starting to catch me so I did my best to up my tempo and speed just a bit.  On each corner from there on I would check on him and at every one he was a bit closer.  As we got to the final half mile, he was only about 10yrds back and at the quarter mile point he was on my shoulder.  I figured that I would let him come by and then stick to him until the last 50yrds or so and give it a full out sprint, but that was exactly what he had in mind I think, as he never came around.  At about 300yrds to go, I started to accelerate and he matched me and then started to accelerate himself, I went just a bit faster, and this continued over and over again for the next 200yrd until we got to the final corner about 50yrds out from the line where I gave it about all I had and finally dropped him.

Dueling out at the final stretch

Dueling out at the final stretch

picture of final sprint

Final Sprint

At this point, for all I knew, we had just dueled it out for 8th place.  As my tunnel vision subsided, I was able to find Hillary and the girls who had been cheering and playing quite hard the entire time (its awesome having your own cheering squad!).  I then headed over to the food area and got some grub as I was getting quite hungry; it turned out that my stomach wasn’t a fan of solid food, so the girls got to eat the majority of my food.

After returning to a somewhat human state, I wandered over to congratulate a couple of the racers that I recognized from the course that had put up a good fight and learned from them that I had come in second in my division!  Another nice surprise.  It turns out the guy I dueled it out with was in my division so it was a very good thing I stuck the sprint.  The guy that had taken me early in the second run was the age group above me however with the winner of my division finishing 9 minutes ahead of me – ouch, that is a huge difference.

My results were:

Ranking: Division place – 2, Mens place – 76, overall –  102nd
Run 1: pace – 8:39min/mi, time – 0:26:48,  rank – 206
T1 – 0:01:16
Bike: pace – 20.3mph, time -0:55:03 ,rank – 50
T2 – 0:00:57
Run 2: pace – 8:41min/mi, time -0:26:53,  rank – 166
Overall time – 1:50:05

All photo credit goes to Hillary, I snagged them before any post processing so the colors may be a little off.

Atomic Man 2011

This race was a real surprise for me. I had no idea what to expect in this race; the bike leg was much farther than I have gone in training with any effort above very low base pace, however I had a good Platte Half and ran a 5k last week at a pretty good pace for me, so I could do well, or could flop, no idea… As I arrived in NM, the weather was great; mid 50’s to 60’s and sunny. My bike had been doing some ghost shifting and skipping, so I overhauled it with new cables and a new chain. On my shake down ride, which was a course recon ride as well (planning with extra time has been bypassed by life a lot lately) – I discovered the drivetrain issues were even worse. If I put any power into the pedals, the chain would skip quite harshly. I double checked the derailleur hanger alignment along with the alignment of both derailleurs, chain line, etc and couldn’t find anything wrong other than a very worn cassette without a spare one with me. I went on with the ride and spent most of it adjusting the cable tension to minimize the issue. I was able to get it to the point that I was able to ride without the chain skipping, however if I got out of the saddle or tried to accelerate hard at all, it would skip – no worries, the bike leg of a duathlon needs to be kept even without sprinting anyway, so it would just force me to ride smoothly. (I had no other choice either, as I forgot my spare parts and had no time to head to a store to get new parts).
As the night before started to close in, I checked the weather report. I found out that the expected high was ~38F and it was supposed to snow 2-4inches at altitudes above 7000 feet; which is exactly where I was. Good thing I brought along extra clothes for a ride up into the mountains that I was thinking about doing.

Race day comes and I screw up my breakfast, so I find some more nutrition to finish it off and head over to the race site, about an hour later than I wanted, and setup my transition area as everyone else was listening to the pre-race meeting. The race organizers announced that the weather on the upper plateau was a bit too questionable, so the long course bike leg was switched to a double loop of the short course. I was semi bummed as I was looking forward to the longer course, but at least I knew the course well from two previous races and riding it for my shakedown ride.
As I lined up for the first run, I realized that I hadn’t checked my tire pressure pre race, I had set it the previous day when it was 30F warmer and I was running latex tubes that leak down much faster than “standard” butyl tubes – just one of those days; however none of it was getting to me thankfully. Everything was pretty much the way it was going to be and no sense in stressing about it.
The first run started out a bit fast, but I settled in at a comfortable pace within the first quarter mile and just listened to my body rather than going off of my Garmin for pacing. The run course was a 2 loop course with each loop at roughly a 5k.  The initial part was downhill with a great view of the Sangre de Cristos above Santa Fe and then the course turned uphill to overlook the Pajarito Acres area of White Rock, NM and then gave a great view of the Jemez before turning downhill again to head back to the starting part of the loop.

Several months ago, I went out on the route and fell in love with the views, which is when I decided that this year I was actually going to stop saying I was going to do the fat man race, and actually do it (little boy is the short course version held the same day).  On that run, I figured out how to let my body run with gravity on the downhills and actually conserve energy while running faster, so I was able to go up the uphill without losing much pace at all and even out the overall effort, thereby running with a higher average pace (at least in theory) – I kept this in mind for the race, and it worked very well for me.  I ended up with a near personal best 10k time to start out the duathlon.

The first transition, T1, was my longest transition ever – completely changed my mind on the gear I wanted to be wearing for my bike leg and was transferring gels and such from wind vest to jersey etc while in transition. Once I was finally on my bike, or at least trying, the chain started to skip really bad; I literally couldn’t turn the cranks over without it skipping most of the way.  On my second attempt, it actually jumped the chain rings and derailed in the front, forcing me back off the bike so I could put the chain back on.  At this point, someone that had done the short course and was done already took pity on me and gave me a push, which was very needed as I think I would have otherwise had to run up the entire hill out of transition before getting on my bike. It wasn’t the best way to start the bike leg, but it was a start and I was going. As I turned onto state highway 4 and started to settle into my TT position, I thought I was having something brush against my calves, so I kept looking for loose clothing etc to try and figure out what was going on.  I eventually realized that I was having muscle cramps, though luckily they never seized the muscle, they just floated around the muscle and would cause really weird and sometimes mildly painful sensations.  If I kept a really really smooth pedal stroke and paid very close attention to pedaling full circles, then the cramps were quite manageable. I was almost able to forget about them and fully focus on the race while on the flats, on the hills though, the cramps would threaten to seize the muscles right about the same time my chain would start skipping, making the entire thing almost comical.  After some trial and error in my position and pedaling technique, I figured out how to minimize both the skipping and the cramping so I could better concentrate on the race.  Upon reaching the first turn around point and turning sharply to head back the way I came, I realized that my tires were a lot more squirmy than usual – oh yea, my tire pressure wasn’t where it was supposed to be (I’d later check it and find it to be around 70psi where as my “normal” race pressure for the tires, wheels, tubes combo I was running is closer to 110-120psi).  Eh, just another thing that I couldn’t do much about then. The downhill sections were a blast, on several of them I was maxing out my ability to pedal, so I would just deep tuck and enjoy the decent and then try to shift correctly before I needed to and carry my momentum up the next hill – all in all quite enjoyable.  On the second loop of the bike, the wind picked up quite a bit making the hill climbs even more tough as it was into the wind for the climbs; however this also meant that the downhills and the final slight uphill towards the end of the course, we had tailwinds!  Those downhills were quite fun as I was ripping along around 50mph tucked into my bike and having a blast.

As I approached the last part of the bike leg, I remembered to undo my shoes so I could pull my feet out and dismount my bike in my socks to cut down on my transition time. Getting my feet out nearly caused my calf muscles to seize up on me, and I had my first “negative” thought of the race; though it was really more comical to me.  I had realized my body was pretty cooked from my efforts so far and if my calves seized fully on me at the dismount, that I’d probably have a great crash and then I wouldn’t have to continue with the second run; however, I quickly realized that was a dumb idea as crashing wasn’t fun and I’d still finish the race anyway.  I ended up having a great dismount without losing much momentum and ran into transition.  I couldn’t feel my feet as I was running, which was unnerving to say the least, but that’s what I get for racing in near freezing weather without my cold weather wool socks.

My t2 went much better and I was out on the final run in about a minute.  The run started out ok, however after the first water station; the cramps came back. This time though, they didn’t isolate themselves to my calves and started to check out parts of the quads and hamstrings.  As before, they never seized the muscles, so I somewhat ignored them and did my best to run as efficiently as I could.   As I rounded the downhill corner to start back up the hill, my body hit the wall hard;  Full on bonk including shaking, blurred vision, upset stomach, feeling of no energy left….  I’m pretty sure it was due to muscle exhaustion as at this point I had been racing longer than any of my previous races or training sessions in a couple years.  I knew it wasn’t nutrition or hydration caused as I had ate and drank quite a bit on the bike trying to mitigate the cramps.  At this point I started breaking the race down in much smaller chunks of getting to the next corner etc.  My next “negative” thought came along about a quarter mile after I started to bonk when I saw a trail that I knew heading off of the course.  I knew I could take the trail and cut my run almost in half without anyone ever knowing; however I knew that I would know and that was what mattered.  So I told myself to suck it up and finish the race.  The funny part about both this and the previous thought, was it was very much the “voice on the shoulder” conversation as it was going on, I wasn’t actually taking it serious and I wasn’t having a negative attitude of any sort.  Normally I have to do battle with some mental negativity, but I never really did with this race despite many opportunities to do so.

As the run went on, the fatigue and cramps were taking their toll and then the too much sugar in the stomach as I tried to eat my way out to the cramps hit and my gut was full on rolling around – I ended up walking 2-3 times for 5-10yrds on the uphills where my heart rate was spiked even though I was going at a very slow recovery pace and all I could do was walk to keep from puking.  Even then, I was looking around and very much enjoying being where I was which was making me laugh at myself – absolutely enjoying it, yet about to puke….

When I finally got back to the finish line area, I saw my dad and Hillary along with our daughters cheering me on.  I was completely exhausted, but determined to finish strong.  Hill jumped in to run with me a bit and helped me dig a little deeper on my way to the finish.  Once I got there, I was elated about my race.   I didn’t care what place I had come in as I knew very well that I had given it absolutely my best I had that day and left it all out there – most races I come away from feeling like it was just a hard workout and not a race, but not this one, I earned my finish time and absolutely enjoyed the heck out of it!

I went into the race really wanting to podium – I had looked at the previous year’s times and paces and knew that I had a good shot at third place; yes there were only 4 of us in our clydesdale division, but I knew I would have to fight hard.  As the results came out, I saw where my name was – 1st place!!!!  holy cow, I did not expect that at all.  I was elated that I had raced such a good race for me that day, but honestly didn’t expect to be any higher than third.  First was beyond expectations in so many ways.  Not only that, but I got first because of my runs!  Normally, I do very well due to my bike leg (still wasn’t shabby at 19th overall), but my runs usually lose me places as others pass me – not today, I put 10minutes into my closest competition all with my runs!  Even now, several days later, I can’t believe that it was my runs that sealed it for me – especially with how slow the second run was.   All the things that went wrong for me, all the rookie mistakes I made, and yet I raced the hardest I have ever raced and got first – beyond expectations!

I was reminded of many of the things I need to do getting ready for a race and in a race by this – however the biggest take away for me was the lack of stress attitude.  I was happy to be out and racing, happy to be able to race, happy to be alive – and through it all I just accepted each “setback” for what it was and didn’t let it get me down, just evaluated if I needed to change what I was doing or somehow needed to address it and then kept going; a bit of the old “iceman” attitude, but with a lot more smiling and love of life.  That’s what I needed and will focus on keeping.

 

Platte River Half Marathon 2011

I’m still amazed at how well I did in this race. I honestly was semi worried that I’d completely bonk and get my worst time yet on the race. The past three months has been lackluster for training to say the least – high stress, lack of sleep, emotionally draining, not eating right, imbibing a lot more than usual, gained ~8lbs… and somehow I still had a great race!

At the beginning of the season, I targeted a sub 2hr pace for this race.  It was going to be a stretch, but maybe possible if I worked my tail off.  Going into the race, I honestly just wanted to have fun and a good run.  As stated in my Reflection post, my self pressure to beat my own time wasn’t there at all.  I took an honest assessment of my training etc and thought that under 2:20 with a goal time of 2:15 was reasonable.  The goal time of 2 hours and 15 minutes would put me under my time two years ago when I weighed the same as I was going into this race.  I had better consistency to my training two years ago leading up to the race, but also knew my base was much deeper this year.  I thought that if I really pushed it and had a good race that the 2:15 was attainable.  Last year I ran a ~2:08:34 with consistent training, weighing less, and had a group to run with and pace me for 10 of the 13miles, so I knew hitting that was not going to happen.

As the race started, I started slow as I intended, though almost 30sec/mi faster than I had planned.  About a quarter mile in, I was feeling really good and wanted to start letting the legs out a bit – this was a bit worrisome for me as Hill and I didn’t get any warmup in at all.  Life with kids and bad timing with the light rail put us at the start in just enough time to take care of gear and a “natural” break before lining up to start.  I allowed myself to open it up a little bit (~15sec/mi quicker) after saying bye to Hill.   My plan had been to hold it back for the first two miles and then open it up; since I didn’t get a warmup in, I knew I needed to somewhat stick to that.  I was thinking 12:30min/mi and then 12-11:30/mi for the first two – not today, my legs were feeling too good, so my first two were an average of 11:03 and 10:47 and then kept dropping.  Mile 3 came really quick at an 10:16 pace and then mile 4 at 10:01 pace; wow, it hit me that I was almost 1/3 of the way through as was feeling really good!  9:41, 9:43, 9:32 and I was past mile 7 and still feeling great!

I took down a Gu roctane gel at this point as I knew it would give me a kick when I needed it later. Miles 8-10, I was continually doing system checks as I have been having issues in this range with hitting the wall in training and past races.  This race I was being very diligent to drink at least every mile (wore my own hydration belt) and eat something every 2miles. 9:35, 9:36, 9:28 and I was at mile 10; I was definitely in the pain cave at this point, but was feeling the roctane kick in and took down a Powerbar Tangerine gel (2x Caffeine ! ) for another kick near the finish.

Since mile 7,  I knew that I was having a great race, but wouldn’t allow myself to look at my overall time or my average pace.  I had been looking at my mile splits on my Garmin and knew that I was easily under 2:20, unless I blew up, and figured I had a good chance of hitting my goal of 2:15.   Now at mile 10, the realization was coming in that I was near a PR pace! (personal record).  I figured that I needed to keep ~9:45min/mi pace to break my best time.  I had just put down some sub 9:30 miles so I started to let the idea creep into my head that it may just be possible.  Mile 11 ticked by at another 9:28 pace and then hit mile 12 with a 9:32 pace.  It was getting harder to keep an even pace at this point as the path was narrowing and those in front of me were going at closer to a 10-10:30 pace resulting in a lot of slow down, find a slot, speed up, and repeat.  I looked at my overall course time and realized I needed to crank out a near 8min mi pace to break my own record, not impossible, but ouch.  My legs still had fight in them and my lungs were game, however the course has a “nice” addition right after mile 12; the 8th avenue viaduct.  This is an overpass that is brutally steep after running 12 miles and laughs at you as most are reduced to a walk or quasi run shuffle as they ascend it.  As I rounded the corner to see the base of the overpass, there was none other than Sonja there cheering everyone on! Her cheer definitely gave me a boost and I refused to let the overpass beat me down and ran the entire way; it did slow me down to a ~10min pace for a bit though so by the time I got to the top I had ~1/2 mile left and less than 4 min to match my previous time.  I dug as deep as I could and gave it all I had.  With every request from my brain to go faster, my lungs said they were good to go, my muscles were pulling a Scotty “I’m givin’ her all she’s got, Captain!”; that last little bit was cranked out at a 8:51 pace and I crossed the finish line in 2:09:44.

I’m very very happy with that result, all the negatives going into the race and I still dang near got a PR and did it all myself without a pacer, never hit a wall, never had to walk, and didn’t have to fight negative thoughts; huge win as far as I’m concerned!

Here is a finish line picture; yup I was hurting a bit at this point, but it was a good hurt!
Finish line photo – (will pop up in new window/tab)

hopefully I can actually buy a digital copy soon rather than just linking to the gallery of it

Paula Schreiber Dransfield 1942 – 2011

Well, today my mom told Cancer that she had had enough and to piss off…

Reflection

I started out this year with several clear goals in mind and then sat down and worked out my plan for how to get from point A to B.  The fitness / racing goals were the easy ones; PR at Platte River Half marathon and Bolder Boulder, win the <39 clydes category in Mile Hi Duathlon series (while trying to disqualify myself by dropping below 200lbs), race the Fat Man course at the Atomic Man Duathlon, get top 50% in 35+ cat4 with at >5 top 20 results in cyclocross this year, along with getting in some good trail running/mtn biking/camping in. I know what it takes to do all the above and more, and I mapped it out with all my peaks and training cycles along with specific focus points throughout the year.

The life goals and plans are still forming – building bike frames, going to law school, having my daughters education fully covered, getting debt free, living even simpler (less clutter, less stress, etc). Ok, goals here are also semi easy – the plan for A to B  is a whole lot more complicated than the fitness goals though.

As the plans were forming, it was looking like all was going to be doable with a good bit of diligence and a lot of effort.

As the saying goes about the best laid plans….the plans are requiring a bit of a reassessment – the life plans and goals need focus; however the fitness/racing goals need change. I need my exercise routine and races to be a form of enjoyment and be a stress relief – not add to the stress. The structure of training is actually comforting as its something that I can look at the calendar and just do without thinking; however to hit goals, I need to be strict on my training, not skip, not overdo, and push myself even when I don’t want to; that adds stress.  The training stress would normally be a piece of cake to handle, but not through the next couple of months. The last thing I need to do is push it too hard and end up in adrenal fatigue again or go until I have a break down. Sometimes you have to realize when to back down and step away for a bit and this is one of those times.

This year, or at least spring/summer, I’m removing the secondary “importance” that often seems primary, which is hitting the finishing tape first or at least in front of a number or imaginary adversary. I’m type A enough that I’ll probably still record and analyze many of the numbers and be pleased if they look good (I’m a data geek after all), however they will just be what they are, the pressure to perfectly time a peak (or peak at all) is gone for now. The passing on a beer, hanging out late with friends, or going camping on a whim because it might hurt my race or impact my training won’t happen as much as I know I need the social interaction and being with friends more than the monastic diligence of focused training.

This “season” is about the raw basics of enjoying being alive, cherishing every moment, and being blissfully aware – that is my goal and focus.


Cancer Sucks

Yes, it should be pretty self evident these days, cancer sucks. The body literally attacking itself and destroying the living tissue while the inhabitant of the body tries to stay alive.
I’ve known and do know many people with cancer, but right now I seriously want to be able to personalize at least one cancer so I can beat the hell out of it and pulverize it for picking on my mom.

We have a weird thing with cancer and my mom; right around getting pregnant with our first kid was when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She went through the treatments and we all thought it was in remission. Then about the same time of learning that we were going to have our youngest daughter, it was discovered that my mom’s cancer was back and was considered stage 4 metastasized cancer. The first target was the bones in her spine and upper legs. Her doctors have done a decent to really good job, though my mom has had to do a lot of education as to what to look for, how to read results, etc so she could properly discuss matters with her doctor and point out concerning things (all of which have been real things that need looking into – not hypochondriac like things).

Over the years I’ve watched this thing take my mom from someone that loved to go for a hike (we once went all over Chaco checking out the old highways, finding the sites to mark all the solstices, every piece of the town, and wore my kid self completely out in the process), to someone that may never walk 400yrds at once again.   Its taken someone highly independent,  that would stand up to just about anything and be the fiercest thing out there if she needed to be, to someone that has had to admit they need care and has had to completely re-think her dreams about what she was going to do in retirement and with her grand kids.  Its caused this very strong woman to become feeble in action way before her time, just so she can save up the energy to appear stronger for those she loves.  Its caused unexplainable (to her docs) weight loss and now memory and speech issues – I hate it.

I want to eviscerate it, punch it, kick it, find a way to kill it, or at least beat it into submission.  I picture it out on runs or bike rides and envision that as I’m getting tired that it is dying, the next roller, corner, mile, step is another nail in its coffin.  All the adolescent outlets such as stomping on the gas pedal, cranking heavy metal, watching stuff blow up and vaporize help vent the frustration – or I’ll just wake up in the middle of the night and cry.

I’ll admit part of it is because it scares me too – since my dad had prostate cancer and my mom has breast cancer – my chances of getting cancer are statistically very high.  I don’t want my kids to go though losing a parent this way and I don’t want Hillary to be in the caretaker position.  I don’t want Hillary to suffer the same as my mom.  Then the real twister is my daughters – my wife and I are doing the best to raise our kids as healthy as we can and teach them good healthy ways to live their life.  We try to nurture in a way that shows that you don’t need to chase all the things that end up causing stress with little real gain.  I hope that medical advances make progress to help them out, maybe if they eat well enough and are able do something they love and falter on the side of kindness rather than anger, maybe that will help. In the end, all I can do is hope their karma isn’t to have cancer.  The real kicker with my daughters though, is that they won’t get to know their grandma the way that I know her.  Our older daughter has gotten to spend some quality time with my mom and hopefully will still get to spend more over the next several years.  I keep telling myself that our youngest still has a long long time to get to know her grandma, but with the nasty creature that cancer is, I don’t know..

I want my mom to beat the cancer and conquer it, I want it give back the dreams she had, give her her strength back,  let her get back everything its taken from her and then slink away… but then I have to realize, that maybe the cancer isn’t actually winning. It is affecting her greatly, but she is still calling the shots as to how she is going to deal with it and letting the things out of her control go – so in that way she has already beaten it no matter the outcome.

I still want to kick it’s teeth in though.

Free your heel and free your mind…

I have about eight posts all nearly complete, but life keeps coming up and I haven’t hit the submit button yet – hopefully I’ll get to them before another month rolls around…

So on to this post –

Last week I took my oldest daughter up for a ski day (thank you Dad!).  She is still in the learning phase, so she had an all day lesson and was so excited about it she pretty much bounced in her seat all the way up to the ski hill.  I love her enthusiasm for learning!
As I was looking at the cost of tickets for myself, I realized a “never ever” for telemark, including a full day ticket, full rentals, and all day lesson was barely more than a standard ticket.  I’ve been saying for years that I was going to start tele-skiing, so why not?

As it was a mid-week lesson, I ended up being the only student; always love the private lessons for the price of group lesson.  We talked a bit about my skiing ability and she was a bit shocked that an ex ski-instructor was getting a lesson; hey we all need some feed back now and then regardless of our skill level.  She then made sure I understood that picking up tele after 30 yrs of alpine may take a while and not to get frustrated if we didn’t make it off the bunny hill after the first day of lessons. This wasn’t an issue for me; one of many reasons for wanting to learn tele is to be able to ski with my kids and only enjoy it because I’m with them; I wanted something that put me more at their level so we were all fully enjoying it.

Enough lead in – the first run after ~15 min of “dry land” instruction was great! I was instantly hooked on tele-sking.  Two runs later we were on the main hill for a nice rolling green run – groomers are not only fun but challenging again!  Then before lunch we hit a groomed blue/black; heck yea, this is awesome.  At this point I was told that I could take the afternoon lesson, but truthfully I was beyond the ability of the teacher to give feedback – so opted to practice on my own. First solo run was a black diamond as I figured no big deal, it was boring on my alpine skis,so I was sure I could handle it on the tele’s…well I was able to ski it, but my form was horrible. I scolded myself for biting off too much too soon as it was the quickest way to form bad habits that I’d later have to “un-teach” myself, so it was back to the rolling greens.  For the next several runs I really focused on my form and moving around to get the proprioceptive feedback I wanted; when I got the form correct, it felt so good. The best way I can describe it is I actually felt connected to the mountain; I could feel every change in the snow surface and literally feel my edges cutting through the snow. As I was able to link together several good turns, I was literally falling in love with skiing all over again. I’d call it a Zen moment, but that doesn’t really cover it (and sounds a bit too cliche actually), it was a feeling of remembering what it was like being a kid again and being completely enthralled with skiing.

Its been a week now since my first time teleskiing and I’m still giddy about it.  I have a lot to learn and quite a bit to get before I can come close to claiming even a quasi mastering of it; and I can’t stop thinking about how awesome it was.   I see  the probability of spending more days on tele than alpine as a real reality; locking that heal down just won’t feel right anymore.

..anyone have some Scarpa T2’s size 27 and ~180cm tele skis with ~88mm waists that need a new home?