Saturday, June 27, 2009

Mt Rainier and the rest of the vacation

After waking up much too early the morning after the race, I took my bike and gear back to the Inside Out Sports tent for shipping back home and then hopped in the car heading West. I didn't have much more time in Washington and wanted to see as much of the State as possible , especially Mt Rainier. It didn't take long and I was back into the desert area on the same route I had arrived on but soon I would take a turn to the South to see some new areas.

Here is a link to the photos from this part of the trip

Once again I enjoyed the changes in scenery, the many wildflowers and views. My destination for the night would be Yakima. As you can imagine I was very stiff and sore so I made numerous stops and got out to walk around for a few minutes. I was a bit surprised that I could see Rainier from 50 miles East of Yakima which means the mountain was about 100 miles away. It doesn't show up too well in the pictures but it was clearly visible to the naked eye.

Yakima is in an interesting area and is at the confluence of the Natches and Yakima rivers. They have a nice greenway,rail trail along the river and I was very tempted to run but decided resting my legs was better. I was still very tired too after less than 5 hours of sleep after the race so I checked in and went to bed early.

After a much needed 10.5 hours of sleep I was up and heading West again, destination Mt Rainier National Park. It was only about 50 miles away but would end up taking me half the day to get there. Soon after leaving Yakima you begin gaining elevation and things get greener and soon you enter the Wenatchee National Forest. Every mile revealed another gorgeous view of the mountains , creeks and rivers. I thought I had entered a corner of Heaven for sure. I was stopping over and over again to take photos and soak in the views and being so thankful to be able to see such beauty. It was also a perfect weather day, clear and in the 50's and low 60's.

I saw an info kiosk that had a picture of Bumping Lake and it looked so pretty I decided to make the side trip to check it out. It's about 15 miles down a forest service road but well worth the drive. The speed limit is 45 but I couldn't drive that fast because I was loving the scenery along the way too much to drive that fast. Along the way I saw a moose and a mule deer. The deer ran away but the moose nervously walked back and forth posing, not sure to run away or stay. The forest floor was covered in wildflowers over most of the area too. I finally arrived at the lake and it was better than the photo I had seen. I don't think my pics can do it justice either.

There was a relatively flat dirt road just up from the picnic area and I really wanted to go for a run. I would have loved to have run a real trail but now was not the time for that. I changed clothes and took off down the road. I was happy to find that my legs didn't feel too bad after warning up and I thoroughly enjoyed my little 4 miler all alone on the edge of the wilderness. And it was a perfect 57F and no humidity. If only I could spend the whole summer here !!

By now it was early afternoon and I still had a ways to go to get to Rainier so I was soon back on the way. Once I got back to the main road I began a steady climb in elevation. And still every mile seemed more beautiful than the one before it and before long I could see the snow capped mountains of Chinooks Pass. It's funny in a way that you can Rainier from 100 miles away but I had not caught a glimpse since a few miles after leaving Yakima because of the hills and mountains in between. I thought for sure when I reached the Pass I would finally see it but no, no Rainier in site. But the view from there is magnificent looking back the way I had come from, surrounded by snowy peaks.

Once you leave Chinooks Pass you began to go back downhill and almost immediately you enter the National Park and in just a few minutes around a curve there it is, the massive volcano covered in snow and icy glaciers. It would have been a perfect day for someone wanting to climb the mountain as there were no clouds in sight and a very calm day. Chinooks Pass is about 5,200 ft and the road spirals down to around 2,000 ft and from each vantage point it was hard to believe that Rainer was another 9 to 12,000 feet higher but that is due to the deceptive perspective with nothing for reference in between you and the mountain like from the long distance views.

There are two visitors Centers in the Park and I choose the Northeast corner and the Sunrise Entrance since it would be easier to head back to Seattle for the night. Well, just my luck the road was closed and would not be open for another three days so I was not able to get any closer. I didn't have time to drive all the way around to the Southern entrance so I headed back to Seattle still making numerous stops for photos along the way.

Washington State has so many beautiful things to see and do and I didn't even get to go into Seattle itself. I hope someday to return and spend a lot of time in the state in the Cascades and other areas. I would love to run the Cascade Crest 100 miler some day. Maybe next year?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Coeur d'Alene photos

Here is a link to the rest of the CDA pictures. I added a few from the race since posting the pre-race photos

Thursday, June 25, 2009

If I just keep moving then they'll call me Ironman. Part 3, the run

So now at least in my mind the hard parts were over. I had about 7 hours to do the marathon and barring injury I could take my time and do that easily. My legs were like jelly and I was tired but I felt no pressure to hurry up since time was not an issue. All I cared about was finishing and not putting myself through any more dis-comfort than I had too. I entered the changing tent and again a volunteer was there to help in anyway. I didn't need anything but did accept his offer to go get some warm chicken broth. When he returned with it I thanked him and began walking out to the run course.

I walked for about 5 minutes until I finished the broth and let my legs adjust from the long ride and then began running. Hmmm, not too bad. This might not be too bad afterall. The only problem i could see was that it was raining and getting dark soon and I couldn't find my jacket I thought should have been in my gear bag. It wasn't raining hard though and I was moving along at a decent pace so at least I was still generating heat.

When I reached the two mile mark I began my plan to run to each mile marker and then walk two minutes and keep that up as long as I could, hoping to conserve energy so I wouldn't be one of the walking dead at the end. By now my legs were feeling pretty good and my split for 5 miles was not too bad considering I had walked the first 5 minutes. But now the rain was coming down harder and steady. Once again the Ironman organization proved they were experienced at this and had volunteers handing out space blankets at the aid stations. I was glad to take one because I was about to ask for a trash bag. I knew I looked like a dork and I felt like a dork but I would be a warm and dry dork.

I tried taking one gel for energy but it was so bitter I didn't try anymore and was just getting in calories from coke and a little gatorade. This was enough becasue my pace and effort remained very steady for most of the night. I was happy toget finished with the first lap. I was looking for a halfway timing map but there was not one but I checked my watch just past the 13 mile mark and it was about 2:44.Now I had over 4 hours left to do another half-marathon. Piece of cake right?

At least now the rain was stopping and I'm sure the volunteers were just as happy about that as we were. The wind had also died down after dark so it was turning into a decent night for a run. Even though I was walking more now and slowing down I was passing a lot of people that had no more run left in them. I think that is where my ultra experience and pacing paid off for me.

With about two miles to go I was getting too warm with the space blanket so I took it off and handed it to a volunteer and began to eagerly await the turn to the finish line. You could hear the cheers and the announcer from about a mile away. I finally made the trun back into town with 7 blocks to go . The streets were still lined with hundreds of spectators and I ran strong soaking in the cheers while I thought about all my friends and family that I knew were still up at 2am at home waiting for me to cross that line and become an Ironman. It was more magical running down that chute past the grandstands than I had imagined and hearing Joey Anderson from Zebulon NC, You Are an IRONMAN !!!!!

From start to finish this was an amazing event. Once I crossed the line I had a personal escort to get me my hat, shirt and medal , and then lead me to food and a massage or whatever else I wanted.

There did seem to be a mistake on the splits for the run time online though. I did slow a little but not 18+ minute miles for the last 4.25. Apparently the mileage was wrong from the last timing mat because it showed even the pros slowing several minutes per mile. I think it was actually 5.25 from there to the finish.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

If I just keep moving then they'll call me Ironman. Part 2, the bike

As I left the beach area and headed into transition I got a chance to see just how professional, caring and dedicated the army of 3 thousand volunteers would be throughout the remainder of the day. There were two there waiting to rip my wetsuit off of me and another came running up with my bike gear bag and led me into the changing tent. I calmly changed making sure I had everything I would need and as I headed out another volunteer took my swim gear to put it safely in the staging area for after the race.

I easily found my bike and headed out onto the road for the longest ride of my life. I had opted to wear a long sleeve shirt and I'm glad I did with the cool temperatures and by now the wind had picked up to 14mph. My plan was to approach the ride like an ultra, start easy and taper off. The first few miles through town are flat and easy and I took advantage to begin taking in some calories and fluids. I had been having problems with de-hydration in the past so Jenn had been sending me reminders every couple of days to hydrate hydrate hydrate so I had no excuse not to remember to drink today.

The next few miles are along the lakeshore and here there were several rolling hills. Nothing steep but long and gradual and we felt the full force of the wind. It was a bit strange struggling to go fast downhill but then easily riding above average speed uphill due to the strong wind. After the first hour we headed away from town at around 15 miles in and I was very happy to feel strong and smooth. The next few miles were very nice and flat and the wind was mostly at our backs. My average pace was picking up and my confidence was increasing.

Just past the golf course at Hayden Lake is where the real hills of the course would begin around the 22 mile point. A couple of small hills to warm you up and then a really pretty and quick downhill winding around the northeast side of the lake before the real fun began. As we headed north away from the lake the first monster began and I quickly had the bike in the granny gear and standing on the pedals to climb. The steepest part isn't too long and I was able to sit and grind away to finally make it to the top. I thought hmm, that wasn't too bad. I actually climbed that pretty well. But then I did have a lot more to go with many hills a ahead, another lap and 80 more miles to go.

By now the skies had become completely overcast and threatening. I was sure hoping the predicted afternoon showers would hold off or me a and a lot of others may have to contend with hypothermia with the cold temperature and wind. I continued on climbing the many hills over the next several miles with no problem. There was only one other steep enough to require climbing out of the saddle but too many to count that took the granny gear. Several of them would bottom out with a sharp turn so you had to brake and lose your momentum for the next climb. The wind at least wasn't much of a problem out here in the countryside and with frequent turns and curves we never seeemed to have it in our faces too long at a time.

Finally around the 45 mile point the hills were mostly behind us and we began the trip back towards town and the lake. That was good because it was mostly flat and downhill but now that wind would be in our faces most of the way. I had continued to drink and eat well and they had aid stations set up every ten miles and I took advantage to get off and use the port-a-potty at 45 before continuing on. When I finally made it into town to finish the first lap I was beginning to feel the effects of the miles, hills and wind and my relative lack of training. At 56 miles for the first half I had only ridden my bike that far 3 times in my life. I knew coming in I was woefully under-trained on the bike and was just hoping to to survive it.

As I began the second lap I was encouraged that my average speed was holding steady and although I was tiring I still felt good and in good spirits.The next few miles in town went well but as I came back out to the exposed shoreline the wind had picked up even more from the morning. I was happy to get back on the flat and head away from town but even with the wind at my back I knew I was going slower. My back and neck were getting sore but at least my legs still felt ok.

I was beginning to dread the hills to come but I knew all I had to do was get over them one more time and if i could do that I was sure I could be an Ironman. There were so many volunteers along the course as well as residents in there yards cheering us along and I tried to acknowledge their support and use it to help me relax but when I made it back to the first steep hill I was just about alone as the riders left on the course were spread out over many miles. I shifted into the granny once again and climbed off the saddle but I was beginning to think I was going to have to get off and push the bike up the hill. Every ounce of strength I had and I was only creeping up the hill at 4mph but then as the grade diminished I sat made the remainder of the climb with no problem.

Over the next several miles a strange phenomenon occurred similar to my 100 mile training ride and some of the long ultras and I noticed my legs actually felt better than they had many miles earlier. I was passing quite a few other riders, especially climbing the hills and was soon out of the hills and heading back into town. By now the wind was even stronger at 20mph and gusting so I just tried to keep my head down and crank those last miles and get this over. By now the clouds were very dark and with about 6 miles to go it began to rain lightly. What a welcome sight the transition area was and just like in my song, I couldn't wait to get that stupid bike seat out of my butt.

As always the ever present volunteers were there to take my bike and rack it for me and lead me to my run gear bag.

If I just keep moving then they'll call me Ironman ! Part 1, the swim

I have to say its pretty cool when the song going through your mind motivating you is one that you wrote and recorded yourself. Funny thing though is that I wrote the song for my friend Thomas Asta before he did his first Ironman and up until a year ago I swore I would never do one.

But here I was now standing on the shore of Lake Coeur d'Alene preparing to begin my day long journey to see if I had what it takes to be called Ironman. The good news was that heat would not be a problem for us with the starting temperature at 54F and the high would only reach 62F. Also the water was only a chilly 65F and not the bone chilling cold of last year. The bad news was the wind was blowing into our faces from the lake and it was very choppy. I remained calm as suddenly the starting cannon boomed and I entered the maelstrom with 2000+

And just as suddenly my dream seemed to turn into a nightmare. I felt I lost control of my body and I couldn't do what I had trained myself to do. I could not Swim !! I could only go 5 or 6 strokes before having to roll onto my back and gasp for air as the waves crashed over me. I kept trying to get into a rhythm but it didn't get any better. What is wrong with me and what is going on? I was praying so hard for God to give me back control of my body and give me the strength to continue. The time was ticking away and I seemed to be making no progress to the first turn and I was beginning to fear my race would be over before the first lap of the swim. I continued to struggle to the first buoy and then it seemed to get worse with the waves coming into my side.

I finally made it to the turn back to shore and looked at my watch. I had already been in the water for 32 minutes and I knew at that pace I would not make the cut-off. And then suddenly I felt a sense of calm come over me and as I rolled over to attempt to swim again control of my body returned to me. I was able to freestyle the remainder of the swim with no problem and I finished that first lap and calmly re-entered the lake to finish it. I did get very tired from fighting the rough water over the last half mile but kept focused on the timing arch on the distant beach. All I could think as I exited out of the water was Thank God I don't ever have to do that again.

I still don't understand what went on in that lake. I was calm as the start approached and the water wasn't too cold. I have swam in much rougher water before including countless swims in the ocean. My training had gone well with at least two swims a week of 1.2 miles at a much faster pace. I just hope I never feel like that in the water again

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Final Preparations

A much nicer day here in CDA, sunny and cool in the upper 60's. I spent most of the morning goofing off in my room resting and preparing my gear bags. Finally after lunch I headed down to the lakeside to get my bike ready and set up for the transitions. They require you to have all that done the day before the race so I headed over to the Inside Out Sports tent first to pick up my bike. I got everything set up on hope I didn't forget anything.

Then I went for another easy 4 mile run but this time on The Centennial Trail, a converted rail-trail that runs from CDA to the Washington Border. The trail continues from there into Washington all the way to Spokane and then further west for a total of 60 miles for now. I was running along between the Spokane River on one side and railroas track on the other.

The area that the CDA city park area is built and the rail trail is on land that was previously the location for lumber mills and train yards to carry out the forest products. And for those curious, Coeur d'Alene means "heart of an awl" The early French Explorers gave the name to the local Native Americans because they thought they were very sharp traders.

Soon I will be off to bed. If you are interested in tracking my progress in the race go to and you will see the link for athlete tracker. I'm number 1865.

No pictures for now but more to come soon.

Weekend in CDA

An uneventful flight into Seattle WA on Thursday but it makes for a long day. As soon as I picked up my car I headed east out of town and drove about 110 miles to Ellensburg WA for the night. A gorgeous drive through the Cascade Mountains and into the central desert. Funny thing was that in the normally rainy, dreary Seattle area it was sunny and beautiful but raining when I reached the desert. The westernmost section of the desert is rolling hills made of basalt from over 50 lava flows over millions of years. Then as you head further east it becomes flatter and more like the plains of central USA with miles of scrub interrupted by large fields of various crops possible only by large irrigation systems. Lots of potatoes,peas, corn and wheat mostly.

As you get closer to Spokane you enter the foothills of the Rockies and everything gets green again. It rained lightly most of the morning as I arrived in CDA and then rained steadily all afternoon. I had to stand in line in a light rain for about 30 minnutes to get inside the tent at Ironman Village to get checked in.

After leaving the village I drove over the bike course to get an idea of what lies ahead. I'll give more details in my race report but basically the start and finish of the two identical laps is flat with the middle two thirds very hilly. Oh boy, this is going to be tough for a slacker biker like me. The rain stopped soon afterwards so I went for an easy 4 mile run through town along part of the flat part of the bike course.

Then it was time to head over to the banquet and "mandatory" pre-race meeting. The dinner was pretty good, baked chicken breast and pasta, rolls, salad and chocolate iced brownies. The meeting was a joke. They said it was from 7:30 to 8:30 but they started at 7:05 so a lot of people that didn't come to eat missed most of the meeting. There was no information being given out that wasn't already in the printed info so I left before it was over to get to bed. I'm keeping my body on EDT as much as possible and it was already past my bedtime.

Here are some photos of the trip so far for your viewing pleasure.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Heading to Coeur D'Alene

It has been almost exactly a year since I impulsively signed up to do the Ironman coming up this Sunday June 21st. It was just one of those odd things that I seem to do every now and then. I had just started swimming again about two weeks before after 3 years of no swimming at all. I had worked my way up to about 400yards and while I was in the pool I thought to myself, hmmmm, Maybe I should look into doing an Ironman. I guess it was fate because when I got home and checked online to see a schedule of Ironman events it just happened that CDA had been held that weekend and they were open for registration with just 150 slots still available. No time to think about it. Pay the entry or wait and hope for luck some other time. Click. I was in.

One of my favorite quotes is :
"When we walk to the edge of all the light we have and take
the step into the darkness of the unknown, we must believe that
one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for
us to stand on or we will be taught to fly." -- Patrick Overton

Well I'm hoping for another set of wings

Stay tuned and lets see what happens

Monday, June 15, 2009

Komen Race For The Cure 5k 2009

I started off my weekend with a great morning at the RFTC. My first time running it was in 2005. Karla and I had just been training together for about a month and she wanted to run the race in celebration of her mother who is a survivor. I had just run in the Darkside 8 hour track ultra the weekend before but decided at the last minute to show up for this one. There was a womens only race that year so Karla and I didn't get to run together. I ran the open race later in a decent time and we had a good time enjoying the post race activities. We had no idea how just a year later how much more meaningful this race would become for her or our friendship.

In early 2006 she was diagnosed with cancer and we would run the race together while she was in the middle of chemotherapy. But that was three years ago and she is in great shape now as we are once again training hard and hoping to improve her pr's at all distances and return to Boston qualifying form.

The format for the races have changed over the years and this year there was a seperate competitive 5k that started at 7am. We would be running in this one but not together this time. It was tough not to run with her but I wanted to test how my training was going so we decided to go on our own. Before the race we had a nice time chatting with the large group of running friends from the NCRC team. With 20 minutes to go before the start we went to warm up with Lisa Howell who has been joining us on our long trainng runs for a while now. It was a warm humid morning and we were already working up a sweat but hoped it wouldn't be a problem for the short distance.

The race went fairly well for me. Lisa and I were side by side for the 1st mile which I hit in 7:06. That was encouraging because I had hope to run under 23 minutes but then the 1st mile is the easiest of the race. Lisa fell off the pace but I pushed on as we begin to hit the hills. There are no really long or steep hills but several small hills that make it hard to sustain a fast pace. I slowed down to a 7:33 2nd mile but still felt ok. As I started the 3rd mile though the hills and humidity were working on me and despite my efforts, I slowed down a lot that last 1.1. Finished in 23:26 and was satisfied with that time considering the training I have been doing.

Lisa would finish about a minute later and get herself a PR and not much further back was Karla. She ran 25:07 which is amazing considering we ran 27:03 in Clayton just a month ago. We waited at the finish for Frank to come in and then went to cool down and socialize some more.

Later that afternoon I got a message from Karla saying she had good news. Turns out she won 1st place in the survivor category! Too bad we didn't wait around for the awards ceremony so she could have been recognized. I am very very proud of my dear friend , training partner and Marathon Princess!!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Moonlight Boogie Video

I have just posted a video I put together of photos taken by Laura MacLean, Frank Werner and myself at the Bethel Hill Moonlight Boogie races The song is one I wrote and recorded a couple of years ago for the race when I went down to run the 50 miler. Many of you may have heard the song before from one of my cd's or downloaded it from the NCRC website.

I recorded it using the recorder built into my digitech gnx4 guitar processor. I played my Fender Stratocaster through a 50 watt Crate amplifier. I also played an Ibanez Bass guitar thrugh the same set-up. The drums are a drum machine that is built into the recorder. It limits what you can do with the drums but it's ok. It was a lot of fun writing and recording and I hope you enjoy it in the spirit of fun that I had doing it.

I'll be returning to the Boogie as a spectator this year and if I can get some better quaility photos I may redo the video a little. It was the first time I had ever used the video program and I was in a hurry so I think I can improve it a little. Stay tuned

Moonlight Boogie Video

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

My first Century

No, I'm not 100. Yet.

But I did ride my bike 100 miles on Memorial Day for the first time. In fact the longest I had ridden before was 56 miles in a three different Half-Ironman races over the years. And one 51 mile training ride. With my upcoming Ironman and it's 112 mile bike leg I know I needed to have done a lot more riding but was really finding it hard to get motivated to do long rides. Fortunately for me I have a core group of great friends that love me and one of them, Margherita gave me the needed kick in the pants to get out there and made me do it.

Having run six 100 milers you would think that 100 on the bike would be a piece of cake for me but it is a totally different sport than running and although I like riding the bike it just doesn't do the same thing for me that running does. I love to run. I'm a runner. I can enjoy a ride for an hour or two but then I'm ready to get off and that is just not enough if you are planning to ride for 7 hours or so and hope to have any energy and legs left to run a marathon. Margo knows this and being the good friend she is, she planned this ride for me and made the arrangements to help get me through it.

The plan would be to meet at the Scott home at 7am on Memorial Day. I would ride a series of roughly 25 mile loops and she and Bill and others that could make it would take turns riding loops with me so that I would hopefully have company for the entire ride.

We met at the Scotts home in the Riverwood Neighborhood outside of Clayton at 7am. Bill and Margo would be riding the first loop with me. We were also joined by Brent George a triathlete and former coach with TriMyCoach. He hasn't done an Ironman but is very fast at the shorter distances finishing 2nd overall in the Riverwood Sprint Tri last month. Also my friend Thom Asta was riding. Thom is the one I wrote the song I'm an Ironman for 2 years ago before he headed out to Phoenix to do his first Ironman. The pace was going to be very slow for these two strong riders but I really appreciated them coming out and making it a fun morning.

The first lap was slow but I wanted to start easy and taper off so it went exactly to plan for about 24 miles. We refilled our bottles and Bill stopped to take a break. Thom left for home so Brent , Margo and I headed out for lap two. We picked the pace up a little on this one and I took a turn leading out in the aero position for a while on a long slight incline but let Brent take the point again when we turned back toward Clayton. We went about 29 miles that lap and when we returned Karla was waiting for us.

Another refill and this time Margo called it a day and Brent went home. Bill was ready to ride some more so Karla , Bill and I headed out again. By 60 -65 miles my quads were starting to ache and I was getting a little worried but just kept plugging along. We kept up the pace though and did about 26.5 that lap.

Karla had not ridden her bike since last September but you wouldn't know it the way she was riding strong but one lap was enough for her so Bill and I headed out alone for the last 21 miles. I told Bill about how my quads had been aching but as we headed out they were feeling fine again and I actually felt better at mile 90 than I did 25 miles earlier. I must say that we were both glad when we made it back the last time. Bill ended up doing about 71 miles which the longest ride for him.

My plan for hydration and caloric intake worked out great and I had no problem with my stomach so I was very very happy with the way it turned out. Thanks to all of them and especially Margo for putting it together. Afterwards the Scotts hosted a Memorial Day cookout for us and several neighbors capping off a wonderful day.