Archive for May, 2009

Friday Sale on Amazon

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

Ok, so I have to admit, I have a bit of a problem, I love to shop on Amazon.  Love love love to shop on Amazon.  For example I have had three shipments from Amazon just this week.  Even better, I love a sale (my mom’s fault I’m sure, but on the plus side because I have always shopped the sale rack, I could calculate percentages and fractions by the time I was 8).  So when it’s Friday, I have a reminder on my work calendar, to check the Friday sale on Amazon (today’s deal, Friday sale, just in case you didn’t know there was a sale).

Now it’s not often that I pass a sale, but I have to say, this was an interesting item today:
http://www.amazon.com/MHP-Sandler-All-Wood-Coffin/product-reviews/B001CHN4TO/ref=cm_cr_dp_synop?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending#R3FP22TCLPN2VE

Really, does someone really need to purchase a coffin online?  And if you do, isn’t that being a bit preemptive?  And, I certainly am not an expert on coffins, but wood glue and slats?  I’m just imagining the Ikea-like instructions with insert tab here, place glue here.  No allen wrench though, because if you read the description, no metal.  Not really sure why that’s a selling point though. Or that people who don’t use metal are actually surfing the internet, or better yet, checking a Friday sale. 🙂

Response from Wendy re: Darren’s writeup

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

OK–two things, next year we’re holding you to the mountain bike and
Olympic race schedule and you’ll be having soup all weekend. Go ahead
make up your list of soups now. That’s right–just think this through,
soup for breakfast (If I’m feeling generous) soup for lunch then soup
again for dinner.  You’ll be so sick of soup!!!! Don’t even think of
asking for  lamb chop, tri tip steak or PANCAKES/FRENCH TOAST with
pure maple syrup.  You get soup!!! Cold condensed soup !!
If your lucky maybe a  Clif Bar for breakfast with your coffee  🙂

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
weekend!

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
transition.

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
everything.

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.
Upper!

Times:
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!)

Wildflower weekend – Guest Writer Debi :-)

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

On Friday, kirsten, Linda and I went down to take a practice swim and pick up packets.  As soon as we started walking it started sprinkling.  Of course it did.  It actually wasn’t too bad since we took my favorite thing at Wildflower: the shuttle down Lynch hill.  As we were getting ready to swim there was a group of pros in front of us talking about how the water wasn’t too cold but to watch out for floaters.  Linda and I exchanged very worried glances.  But then she said the floaters were big chunks of algae.  Whew.  We got in and it looked like a ocean documentary “at the bottom of the ocean” as there was a constant flow of tiny algae and the occasional chunk of big algae.
 
Darren, Sarah and Wendy arrived and according to Darren they packed enough food for 8 people.  Wendy did recover from her limited range of motion car ride pretty well by going down to the festival and buying jerseys and getting free samples with Sarah and Cheryl.
 
It drizzled most of the afternoon and evening but it was manageable for everyone unloading and making dinner.  Good thing Darren and Sarah brought the easy up so we could have dry snack time.  The carrot cake cookies, M&M’s, licorice and Brownie bites  certainly helped take the urgency out of making dinner.  Thanks Sarah and Wendy!
 
Saturday morning it was clear and no rain.  We got Kirsten down to transition and Linda had a couple of well timed “Quit your whining, it’s only a half ironman” to calm her down.  For those of you who don’t know, last year when we all did Barb’s race and were walking the bikes and gear to transition she blurted out “it’s no big deal, it’s just a half”.  About 50 women within earshot wanted to kill her.
 
We got to see the pro’s swim and go off on the bike. Darren got a front row view as they flew in and out. Kirsten had a good swim despite the hacking cough she’s had all week.  Her transition was long, as expected.
 
Cheryl had twisted her ankle when she fell in a sink hole in the road speaking to her art Patron, Cindy, on the way down so she was a tad slow moving.  After we safely got her off on the bike ride, we came up and did a quick run and ride to remind our muscles how to work.  Then we had the most awesome camping lunch ever prepared by Wendy.  The sandwich bar buffet she prepared was phenomenal.  I had to take a picture.  With our stomachs full (and the occasional comment “I hope Kirsten is enjoying her gu”) we walked just a couple of minutes and saw Kirsten go by as she was finishing her bike ride.  She looked good.  Just a minute or two slower than last year on the bike.
 
We were able to go back to the same spot to see her go by on the run.  While we were waiting there was a nice breeze.  Wendy said “wow this is a perfect day, we couldn’t ask for better weather”.  Literally 3 second later the breeze changed to a huge gust of wind (aka tornado) and the easy-ups down the path blew over into parked cars, small tents behind us blew over and the Tri San Diego people frantically clutched their easy up to keep from losing it.  Linda, Darren and Sarah ran back the camp site and got the 5th wheel awning down and recovered cheryl’s painting which had flown off the easel.  We were relatively unscathed.  5 minutes later there were still two plates and a garbage bag floating about 100 feet above us.
 
They made it back in time to see Kirsten go by.  Darren had been smart enough to bring a half can of coke and set it on the path for Kirsten.  As she flew by she yelled “got a gu”, we all looked panicked and shouted “no but we have a coke”.  According the Kirsten that made her next three miles awesome, so good thinking Darren.
 
Linda and I went down to the finish line and everyone else rested their legs for race day.  Kirsten crossed with a big smile on her face and was only two minutes slower than last year.  Her run was a lot faster than last year so that was great.
 
The big news of the day was Volere brand had a sale of $10 on women’s tri suits.  Wendy and Sarah each bought one.  Since it was red, grey and white I made Linda try on one and she ended up buying one too,  Kirsten bought hers while we were racing yesterday.  Darren bought a blue one, however, there was a wardrobe malfunction noticed by Cheryl when he modeled it.  Little bit of white butt showing which would end up being a lot of white butt after a bike ride.

Saturday night after Kirsten’s race we all began preparing our tri-bags and water bottles and putting stickers on helmets and bikes.  Much electrical tape was used.  Darren decided to ride down and back up Lynch hill.  He is a masochist.  In fact, after seeing the mountain bike course people finish their race and mocking them for seeming so tired after such a short race ( 500 yd swim, 9 mile bike and 2 mile run)  he decided that next year he will do a double-the mountain bike and the olympic race back to back.  Wendy and I have vowed to hold him too it.  Cheryl made a delicious tri-tip (or so I am told) and we had mashed potatoes and yummy salad.  The Brownie bites were enjoyed by all.
 
Kirsten and Cheryl took their spectating duties very seriously and took orders for post race beverages and snacks to carry down with them to the finish line.  They also had to create a list of start times and projected finish times with 5 racers in different age groups. 
 
On race morning we all did pretty well with the jitters.  We told Darren to be happy that Wendy had brought so many croissants for his pre-race meal since I met a woman in line at the bathroom who had her whole bag of them stolen from her tent the night before.  I offered her his uneaten ones.   As we were about to leave and Wendy was putting air in her tires she realized she had a hole in her tire.  Luckily I had just bought a new spare one at REI and Darren did a quick change on it.  I decided to count that as my “save” for the day.  Then on the way down to transition, Darren popped his tube.  Of course he would be the first one to start the race, but he got it changed in time.
 
The wildflower transition is HUGE.  So big that Wendy got ashen the day before when she first saw it.  Spaces are assigned by numbers and wave starts.  Linda was just one row across from me and Jaime Baker another friend from Sacramento was just across from her.  We also saw Carrie and Rose from Sacramento before the race. they were down by Sarah and Wendy. 
 
The first wave went at 9 am, Darren started at 9:25 and we got to see him leave on his bike ride looking good.  Linda was the next start at 10:35 am, then Sarah in the pink cap at 10:40 and Wendy and I got to go in the over 45 group at 10:50.  By this time the sun was out and we were roasting in our wet suits.  Getting in the water was a relief.
 
Wendy and I did something we have never done.  We postioned ourselves about 4 rows back in the middle of the pack and we ran into the water when the gun went off and started swimming.  We normally hang at the back and walk in after most everyone has cleared out.  It was very exciting.  Not so exciting was the beating we took from all the swimmers around us.  It took at least a quarter mile before there was clear swimming and no danger from an adjacent swimmer.   I found a woman who was my pace and swam next to her so I wouldn’t go off course.  The algae wasn’t as bad as on Friday and except for a couple of warnings from the safety kayaks I didn’t go off course (or almost run into the dock at the finish like last year).
 
When I got out of the water, I looked for my cheap flip flops to run up the boat ramp (which is pretty steep).  Apparently someone else decided they needed them because they were gone.  Someone took Sarah’s sandals too.
 
I got out of transition ok (a little slower than last year) and started up Lynch hill on the bike.  This is when the reality of the cold I caught hit.  While I could breathe, I wasn’t really getting much oxygen.  My legs were killing me.  I realized this was going to be a very crappy bike ride.  At least 55 people passed me in that .75 mile hill.  I made it up and continued riding trying to make up time on the down hills.  At around mile 10 I pulled off the course and rested for 3 minutes, drank some water and ate a little.  Wendy came flying by looking great on the bike and checked on me.  I did see Linda going the other way passing someone at high speed.  I knew Darren was already on the run.  I felt better, got back on the bike and finished the ride.  I told myself instead of not finishing the race, I would just walk the run portion.
 
I had a really fast transition between the bike and run (the only place I was faster this year).  Fortunately there was some cloud cover so it wasn’t too hot.  My first mile and 1/2 were very slow, but I started to pick it up and actually passed some walkers.  At the  bottom of the big hill at mile 3 I saw Wendy and Sarah far ahead of me.  I was determined to catch them.  So I ran very slowly up the hill while they walked.  I was making up ground and eventually I was within shouting distance.  But I had lost my voice the day before so I kept asking the volunteers to yell their names.  After the 4th time, they turned around and were nice enough to let me catch up.  Turns out Wendy’s legs were cramping and Sarah’s stomach was cramping so that’s why they were walking.  I was so happy to see them I didn’t care about walking.  We power walked/jogged until we got to the top of Lynch hill and then we ran down it.  Wendy got a burst of speed and adrenaline and took off as soon as she saw the finishers shoot.  Sarah and I ran it in together and waved for the finisher’s camera. It was a great way to finish the race. 
 
Linda and Darren had already finished.  Darren’s time was good but he had a pretty traumatic day.  He got beaned really bad in the swim and has a lump on his head and he lost his gloves a mile into the bike ride.  Not to mention the flat tire to start the race.  He did have a little fun playing cat and mouse with another runner and really appreciated the girls in bikini’s at the 5 mile aid station.  Linda felt the effects of being sick for two weeks and her new bike gearing was not great on the up hills but she flew by people on the downs.  Her run was faster than last year by a few minutes.  I think the fact she didn’t have a coughing fit on Lynch hill was a victory for her.
 
Sarah, Wendy and I went to the finishers rest area and they had run out of the red finisher’s towels that they give you wet to cool down.  We were pissed.  Wendy somehow got someone to give her three white ones from last year.  The beverages carried by Kirsten and Cheryl were distributed and still cold.  We ate the yummy cheetos and managed to get ourselves all back up the hill for our lovely enchilada, rice and beans post race meal.

The best part of racing - finishing with your friends!

The best part of racing - finishing with your friends!