Archive for the 'Vacation' Category

Wildflower weekend, guest writer Darren (aka Mr. I’m eating soup from now on)

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

Do I title this “Sometimes you race the course and sometimes the
course races you” or perhaps “A weekend filled with as many ups and
downs as the course you’re about to race”?

For those of you who don’t know, Wildflower is known as “The Woodstock
of Triathlon” and is a big weekend filled with 8000+ participants and
probably as many spectators cramming into an otherwise remote lake for
a Half-Ironman and Mountain Bike race on Saturday and an Olympic
Distance on Sunday.  It’s famous for its random weather and
challenging hilly courses.  Most of us were doing the Olympic distance
which was going to be by far my longest race of this year since I’m
focusing on Sprint distances after a long year training for Ironman.

Wildflower this year was not an A race for me since Moraga was the
weekend before.  Worse perhaps, I had it on the calendar as a C race,
which really meant I wouldn’t put a lot of effort into training or
tapering specifically for it.  Mentally though, I barely even treated
it as a race… and that (in all my post-race analysis) may have been
my downfall.  Looking back on it though, while disappointed in my
overall performance I actually have come to accept that the final
outcome was well within acceptable margins.  How’s that for damning
with faint praise?

I should preface all this with the fact that when you have 6 girls
camping, and a spreadsheet with who will bring what food with them,
you can guarantee that each person will bring enough food for 8
people.  We had SOOO much food and that certainly didn’t help my
racing any but did contribute to one of the big “ups” of the weekend.
Packing and unpacking the car on the other hand…

We drove down Friday (about a four hour drive) to beautiful Lake San
Antonio.  Fortunately Debi, Cheryl, Kirsten and Linda had come down
the week beforehand to reserve us easily the most perfect spot in the
entire campground.  We had full hookups, shade, flat areas for the
tents and nowhere nearby for anyone to infringe on our territory.
Upon arrival I hurried down the huge steep hill to the festival area
to listen to Jim Vance (a pro-triathlete and coach I had met at dinner
in Arizona) talk about nutrition.  I talked with Jim for a bit after
his talk and he was extremely friendly and helpful.  The girls were
impressed he remembered me. :)  Unfortunately his star client, Parvati
from Survivor, wasn’t there as she “did stupid”… or as I like to
call it “pulled a Darren” and injured herself skiing the week before
her big race.

A late lunch (spinach dip and snacks) basically turned into an early
dinner (lamb chops and rice) as we all hung around outside under the
easy-up and RV awning as the very light rain came and went a couple of
times.  It was so lovely and peaceful out there and the company
absolutely could not have been better.  A huge highlight to the

Saturday we woke up early in time to watch Kirsten and Nick race and I
really wanted to watch the nearly 100 pros coming in to do their
transitions (since that’s something I’ve been working on this year and
I really wanted to see Torbjorn Sindballe).  I studied the pros
relentlessly then headed up the hill to watch the bikers head out and
see Kirsten come around.  After that we did some serious shopping (I
got a $10 tri-suit and I think nearly everybody else did too… more
on that later) we headed back up the hill to watch Kirsten come in on
the bike right at the end of her 56 mile ride.  While waiting for her,
a huge wind storm came through and blew a bunch of tents over.
Fortunately our stuff remained in tact as we’d carefully staked it all
down expecting rain.  We got back in time to see her pass us then
killed some more time eating until she was expected on the run.  We
debated whether to bring her the 100 calorie can of coke that she had
requested from CIM back in December.  When she came around to us, she
started calling out for a gel.  We all looked at each other in sheer
terror… “Was I supposed to bring the gel?  Had she asked for gel?
Nobody mentioned a gel.  What flavor gel?  Caffeine gel?”  Somebody
finally called out that we had a coke and her eyes lit up.  Apparently
that was an even better remedy than the missing gel and I was suddenly
the hero.  She finished really strong with a much improved run despite
being sick the entire week leading up to the race.  Very impressive!

Saturday night was tri-tip and mashed potatoes and more fun times
around the camp.  There was a brief interruption for the annual naked
run down the hillside (spectating not participating) but there was way
too much sausage for our groups taste :)  We all tried on our new
outfits.  I had a minor wardrobe malfunction as apparently they missed
one of the seams over my big white ass and I disgusted the group with
my fashion show.  We took an early night and slept really well.

Sunday was our race.  Despite the best laid plans of pre-packing our
tri bags and pre-numbering everything, the day began with Wendy
noticing a big hole in her front tire.  It turns out if was an
existing injury that had been patched, but we elected to change the
tire anyway despite her insistence that it would probably be fine.
Riding on the way down to the transition area (down the steep Lynch
Hill) I got a flat of my own.  Fortunately it was the super-thick tube
I had put it for Seattle-to-Portland last year so I was able to ride
on it well enough and I was happy to change it out for a lightweight
racing tube.  Downs and ups and downs and ups.

My swim started fine.  I was in the second wave of 30-35 year old
males.  A super competitive age group.  This race was odd in that it
featured a beach start with a run into the water down a narrow boat
ramp.   I seeded myself inside about 3 rows back which seemed about
right.  I got off to a good start throwing my weight around and
finding a decent draft and staying in zone.  About 1/4 of the way out
we started catching the back of the previous wave (the green cappers).
 At the turnaround point I came up on a greenie and decided to go
around the outside of him right before the buoy.  I don’t know what he
was thinking but he suddenly lunged to beat me to the turnaround.  He
smacked me square on the back of my head.  More like a karate chop
knocking my swim cap off and skewing my goggles.  It hurt so bad I
reached  back to see if I was bleeding.  I grabbed a handful of algae
which I thought was blood and panicked.  I swam upright, realized it
wasn’t blood, got my cap back on and headed back again somewhat dizzy.
 I fell back into my rhythm and ended up collecting yellow and light
blue caps.  I made a point of kicking a bit before standing up and
felt decent.  I hurried up the long hill as best I could and started

T1 felt pretty good.  I did feel a little dizzy.  I decided I would
slip on socks this race and that slowed me down a bit but not as bad
as the compression socks last time.  Heading out of transition I
glanced at the clock and figured I was about 2-3 minutes slow on the
swim.  Partially due to traffic and partially due to the beating I had
received.  I started my Garmin (which I had purposefully charged the
day before) and it immediately went flat.  Damnit.  As much as I rely
on my Garmin I’m always kind of happy when I don’t have it as it
forces me to just race.  Oh well.

The bike course immediately heads up Lynch hill.  7% grade for about
3/4 mile.  I got passed and passed and passed but refused to go out of
my prescribed heart rate zone.  At the top of the hill I caught up on
nutrition (1/2 Clif Bar and Gatorade).  At the first downhill my
gloves popped out of my bento box.  Damnit.  No turning around now.
The rest of the bike ride was uneventful.  Crawl up the hills (thank
god for bringing the road bike with the triple) and bomb down the
other side.  No idea how fast I was going but I spun out my big gear
and never braked.  I grabbed a fresh Gatorade at the first aid station
and a took a gel at the turnaround.  Finished my Clif bar on the way
back.  That felt like enough calories, but it already felt like I had
drank too much water due to the surprisingly heat, humidity, and
increasing lack of cloud cover.  I had decided not to bring the
Enduralytes (thanks to Joe Friel scaring me about how unnecessary they
are) but looking back on it I think I was probably a little
electrolyte deficient.  On the way back into the park I saw my gloves
and decided to stop and pick them up.  Scary!  At the end of the ride
I came what I thought was bombing down Lynch Hill but was informed by
the womens that I shouldn’t have been clinging to the brakes nearly
the entire time.  Checked the clock and was about where I was
expecting to be.  Cool!

T2 was awesome.  I popped out of my fancy new tri shoes in the
finishing chute and did my first in-race flying dismount.  I’m not
convinced running across even this long transition area barefoot is
that much faster, but hey that’s what the pros do.  I quickly got into
my run shoes and gear and headed out.

The run sucked.  It was getting hot and I knew hills awaited me.  I
managed to run out quite nicely (no idea of pace) until the first
uphill.  I just had nothing at all.  At the top, managed to run again.
 Fortunately there were several others that were cramping and walking
the uphills.  This continued to about mile 4 which is the longest
continuous uphill.  I couldn’t even get running for the camera (ok I
tried a little bit).  I wasn’t sure if it was that I had missed the
nutrition or the full sun or the tough bike or if I’d pushed too much
already or if it was my lack of training at this distance or if it was
just the hills.  Probably in all reality it was a little bit of

At the top of Lynch Hill (again) I picked up a guy I had been
running/walking back and forth with the entire run.  I grabbed him and
told him we’d run this far together I wasn’t going to let him stop
now.  We ran down the hill at a brisk pace.  It wasn’t as nearly as
painful on the knees as I was expecting.  At the bottom it was
announced 200meters to the finish line.  I turned to the guy and said
“you know I’m not gonna make this easy for you, right?”.  He replied
with “go do what you gotta do”.  I picked up the pace and thought I
left him behind.  Saw Cheryl and the entrance to the finish chute and
posed for a picture.  Thought I was finishing strong until the guy
tried to sneak by me on the right.  I laughed and yelled out “oh no
you don’t, buddy” and we both sprinted the last 10 feet or so
splitting around a much slower runner.  Our finishing pics have us
both laughing and I think it ended up in a dead heat.  Awesome!

I went back to transition to clean up and get changed and wait for the
girls to come in.  I missed everyone but Wendy (who looked super fresh
and strong) and Carrie (who unfortunately was not having a good day to
say the least).  I headed up and eventually found Cheryl, Kirsten,
Linda, Nick, and Jamie in the finish grandstands with bags of cheetos.
 Yum!  Wendy, Debi, and Sarah came in together and then decided to
hang out in the finish area for 13 hours instead of coming hanging out
with us.

After everyone finished we headed back up the hill anxiously awaiting
our Sunday night feast… Mexican food and margaritas.  Easily one of
the best meals ever!  We reviewed the results and generally just had a
great time hanging around camp.  It reassured every thought we’ve ever
had that the best part of triathlon is the people you do it with.
Monday morning we packed up and got on the road at a reasonable time
and had a nice peaceful drive home.

Once we got home I managed to drop my iPhone on the floor and cracked
the screen.  Downer.  Then yesterday I was informed I won the
Challenged Athletes Foundation raffle and got a $119 run jacket.

Swim – 26:06 (about 2 minutes slower than anticipated but still top
18% overall.  I need to find more open water swim competitions)
T1 – 3:20 (including the run up the hill, very good.  Twice as fast as
others in our group who will remain nameless)
Bike – 1:41:44 or 14.4mph.  From 18.something the previous weekend
goes to show you how tough it was.
T2 – 1:30 (awesomeness!)
Run – 1:09:25.  Really not too shabby considering it was hot, hilly,
and the longest I will run all year.

Overall 3:22:07.  1515th overall of about 2600.  202nd of about 280 in
age group.

Lessons learned:
o Transition practice is paying off and truly is free time
o Nutrition between sprint and a hot hilly Olympic is drastically different
o Walking up and down hills the day before a big race does not help
o Avoiding people on the swim is always a safe bet
o Choosing a race that suits your strengths is critical.  That being
said, St. George Ironman next year is entirely OUT!
o I’m coming back next year and doing the double (Mountain Bike race +
olympic… cuz the mountain bikers sucked!)

4 days and counting…

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009
  1. Bags are packed (well almost)  – check
  2.  grocery delivery has been scheduled – check
  3. iPhone has a new playlist – check
  4. Cold has just about ended.  Yes that’s right, a lovely cold from someone at work who will remain nameless has set in the Madams household, which I suppose is better than the flu that has set in the Keyser household. 
  5. Out of office message created – check (and it doesn’t say “screw you and your concern, I’m on PTO, find someone who cares”- it is however late Tuesday, and I still have  another day of work, so that message is likely).
  6. Annoying white dog has arrived, and dog sitter arranged – check (and yes she will be perfect for the dogs)
  7. Pretrial run with selected race outfit – yeah not so much. I can finally breathe without horking up a lung, that took 3 days.
  8. bills are paid – check
  9. Prozac for Darren is packed – check (he has been searching Disneyworld forums for a full day, let’s just say he is not a happy camper about going to the merriest place on earth)
  10. Garmin is charged – check

Looks like I’m good to go.  Can’t guarantee what the race reports will be like, as we just found out last night that he cannot be at the starting line.  He can however ride the monorail to see me at the turn around point.  I’m hoping he’ll be there.  He’s wondering how much Disney will charge for that.

Thanks to everyone for the encouragement and especially a big thanks to Wendy for running all of those long runs with me.  Couldn’t have done it without you!

A few more additions to the YOS calendar, or why Darren Loves Michael Eisner

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

So at dinner last night (if you’re in Sac, Supperclub is FANTASTIC!), the topic came up about the Disneyland 1/2 (marathon that is). I really hadn’t planned on racing in Disneyland, because well I didn’t feel like pushing the Disney limit on Darren…But it seems if you run in both a Disneyworld event and a Disneyland event in the same year, that you qualify for the Disney Coast to Coast Challenge, which means – ONE MORE MEDAL.  I want to state now, even the prospect of one more medal was not really that compelling, but with the encouragement from K, and also Darren declaring his undying support for the idea (note, if you really really want something, dinner at Supper Club is highly recommended, prefarably with the wine option – I think he might have been on glass 6 or 7 at that point), so I registered.  The best part though – Disney refers to it as “the ultimate test of endurance”.  In a much more sober state of mind today, it has been pointed out to me by Darren, that two 1/2 marathons in a year, 6 months apart, is not really a test of endurance…umm whatever, it is YOS, Mr. IM can bite me. Personally I think putting up with Darren at two Disney parks is the ultimate test of  endurance.

So ok, adding an additional 1/2 to the schedule, not really on the list of “what are you thinking”…then I remembered a link Darren sent to me a few weeks ago.  I have also now registered for a “Climbing and Descending” cycling clinic in February. To be honest, those are two things I absolutely hate on my bike. I don’t even think I could determine which I hate more.  But, I will be cycling around Lake Tahoe, and it would appear there are one or two hills, and I’m guessing from every uphill there is an equivalent downhill.  And I’m not really sure that taking valium to overcome my panic attack while going downhill in Tahoe is a really good idea. 

So for all of my family reading this, if you don’t see me until after October, it’s for good reason, and just think of the souvenirs I’ll be bringing you.  For my friends, who’s up for some training rides and runs?

K is the smartest person I know

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

So, other than my friend K is a psychatrist, kicks my butt routinely whenever we play Wii Smarty Pants, and is a fantastic Wii hula hooper, she also apparently is the only person ever to have figured out how to book a vacation at Disney World in less than 24 hours.  Therefore she gets the Smartest Person I Know Award, which is saying alot because I used to think Darren was the smartest person I know, and he’s pretty snappy. 

I have a degree (not bragging, just a statement of fact), I routinely manage a multidisciplinary team (yeah I totally just stole that from my resume) to produce a 2 volume application in 6 weeks (yeah, I’m also not really that popular with some of my project teams), and I once beat K in a game of Wii Smarty Pants (ok, so she had been drinking some wine that night, but I still WON). That said, I have now spent 2 weeks every evening researching hotels in the merriest place on earth, cheapest airfare to Orlando (out of SFO by the way), the best website to purchase tickets online – including if I want base passes, park hopper passes, park hopper with water park hopping, or no expiration passes. I even bought a 900 page book to make the process “easier”. (Interesting sidenote – there is a 4 page discussion in size 8 font about how to book breakfast with the Princesses – for the record I will not be eating there, but I’m fascinated that it takes 4 pages to tell you how to call a 1-800 number.  As a heads up if any of you ever decide you want to experience the merriest place on earth, and you have to eat with the princesses, the first step is to synchronize your clock with the Atomic time clock…No, I’m not kidding.)


900 pages of how to have a good vacation...

I’ve almost created a spreadsheet to figure out the cost difference and the added bonuses depending if you book through Disney, United, or a “Disney Vacation Planner”, but having been mocked in the past for being that anal, I’m trying to be spontaneous yet figure out the best value for money (and yes I totally just stole that from D’s favorite quotes).  I finally emailed a vacation planner, I’m not sure it’s a good price, but I’m beginning to think Disney and the Borg have a lot in common.  I have finally been assimilated – maybe when I return from Florida I’ll be super hot like Seven of Nine.

So there it is, if you ever are in need of planning a vacation to DW (or a breakfast with princesses) because it seemed to be so symbolic for your year to do a race in the Magic Kingdom and at the same time force encourage Mr. Anti-Disney to come with you, call K, you might have a chance at actually making it to your race.