Monday, August 17, 2009

Is that all you've got?!

So, I've been VERY lazy about sharing recently, but I wish to jump back on the wagon for those of you still with me! And if you're excuse the philosophical mumbo-jumbo, I'll explain a bit about my absence...

I absolutely enjoy triathlon, especially long courses (ironman and 70.3 distance). Why? They are HARD. I am not skilled, I am not fast, and I don't posess some of the natural gifts that other athletes do. The training is long, the distance is almost unfathomable, and the race itself is guaranteed to expose any flaws in my preparation. BUT I LIKE IT. I like that it is not an instant gratification; you have to put in months of physical and mental practice. If you don't, the race will chew you up and spit you out. You just can't fake it. That appeals to me.

BUT... for as much as I like it, I also need a break in the routine. After being in this for 3 years now, I've learned that there is a pattern to these breaks. The 4 weeks following an Ironman? I don't want $#!+ to do with triathlon! I don't want to train, I don't want to keep track of my equipment, and I don't want to plan travel/food/logistics for my race.

I DO want to eat ice cream/bratwurst/hamburgers/bacon/beer/cookies/beer/cookies/beer (smokin hot wife introduced me to the 50lb. box of Otis Spunkmeyer cookie dough at Costco).

But after a while, I need a break from that too, and triathlon again calls for me softly... she lures me back into my old, comfortable routine. That routine in 2009 was to do IM CDA in June (DONE!), take my break, and then come back and do IM 70.3 in Lake Stevens in August. That race took place yesterday, and this is a brief recap (if I get the itch, I'll write a full report and post that, but I have beer and brats calling my name first).

For starters, here are my stats:

Swim 35:12
Bike 3:24:15
Run 2:01:06
Total 6:09:13
Overall rank 541 of 1189
Division rank 52 of 111

A fantastic race for me! My goal was to try and go under 6 hours, something I have never done, and pretty lofty considering my full ironman times; I thought I'd be closer to 7 hours. But I came VERY close, and am very proud. Honestly, if I could shave 10 minutes off the bike, I'm there... and I STILL have a TON of work to do on the bike. It just isn't my best event, which does nothing except provide ammo to keep getting better!

The most fun part of this race however, was that my kid sister from Utah, who is brand new to triathlon, drove up to take part in this race. She has some guts to make a half-ironman her first race, but she didn't let that bother her! She did the registration/drive the bike course/bike check-in bit, and suited up for her first ever race on Sunday morning....

As a big brother/fellow racer this added a whole new element to the race. Not only was I making my own plans to hit the gas pedal in the race to see what I am capable of, I was worrying about my little sister! Will her bike chain break? Will she get psyched out on the swim (hell, will she get the crap kicked out of her on the swim, a "non-contact" sport)? Will she enjoy the race, or just be miserable? Can she handle the unpredictable weather in the PNW? I was in a strange place, the mindset of the triathlon spectator! Watching the clock, and staring up the course for hours desperately trying to find a glimpse of the uniform that I recognized, only to see her for about 4 seconds... then spending the next hours waiting for her to come back, hoping she was alright!

Well, as you probably know, our worries will wear us out if we let them... Control the variables you can, and then enjoy the ride, right?! Well, she did just that, and had a nailed it. Her first ever triathlon finish was a half-ironman! 70.3 miles, in 7 hours 26 minutes. She had a great day, and a great time... For proof, here she is smiling at the end!


In other news, the smokin hot wife proved herself AGAIN as the world's smartest ironman spectator. Even with a stroller and an infant, she ALWAYS manages to navigate the crowd and the course and show up smiling and cheering right when you need her. How doe she do it? ESP? A crystal ball? Some magic powers reserved for beautiful, intimidatingly intelligent, triathlon-savvy babes? I don't know. But if you ever participate in a race, and want some support, you need to contact her. She's truly amazing people.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The REAL Real World

This blog post has nothing to do with triathlon, per se, other than how most of us age groupers manage to fit this enormously time-consuming hobby into our lives... And how it sometimes takes a back seat.

My wife and I have been discussing day care options for when she returns to work in September. We have not put 100% effort into FINDING day care, as we are (like most first-time parents, I would guess), reluctant to face the reality of not getting to spend all day/every day with our cute little girl. But today we woke up, ate our Wheaties, and figured we would just slay the dragon and get things done. I actually had planned on doing a medium length run this afternoon when we had finished.

I did not run today.

Searching for a day care that you trust, it turns out, is a gut wrenching, appaling, eye-opener of a reality check. I know there are LOTS of really awesome and well-run day care centers in the world; this isn't a generic commentary on the industry. I can say with the utmost confidence, however, that we visited ALL of the worst that have managed to be licensed in Washington state.

It felt like we were touring drug-addict training facilities, and sweat-shop employee orientations.

In one facility, a disheveled "director" met us at the entrance, wearing sweatpants, slippers, and a giant men's shirt (she was not a man). She had either not bothered to comb her hair for the day, or I am just not up to speed on "director" hair styles. Based on the facility, I would guess it just wasn't combed.

On the tour she mentioned about 3 times for us to ignore the "dirty mess" because they "just hadn't cleaned up in a few days."

"Um, is that why it smells like rotten beef and cat piss in here?" I wanted to ask (but didn't).

Then, we went into the infants room, where one of the "teachers" was asleep on the floor. I know she was asleep and not dead, because she got up and started playing with a baby when she realized we were in the room. The fire exit was propped open by a crib with no fewer than 4 infants in it, and some lady was playing with another 2 kids just sitting on the ground outside. The "director" pointed at that scene, and said "That is our fire drill crib (WTF is THAT?!)... And Jane there, her English is pretty good." She said it with pride.

Then she asked the floor-sleeper if they had any room for another infant; oddly, after about 5 minutes of discussing it, they couldn't decide if they had an opening or not. Why the floor sleeper would know this info, and the "director" would not is still a mystery to me. I also wondered why she didn't ask "Jane." After all, her English is pretty good.

So, we went back to the front door, and politely asked for a rate sheet, as we had other facilities to look at. The receptionist gave us a rate sheet, and in a moment of full disclosure, told us they had recently had a violation with the state. Where a child was pulled over the fence. By one arm. By an employee who had worked there for one hour.

So, we looked at a LOT of day care sites today, and we did actually find one. The only one where baby girl smiled at the infant room teachers, and where they spoke intelligently and politely to us.

And did not sleep on the floor.

I also got a funny Facebook response to a shorter version of this rant... A friend said this reminded him of the movie Mrs. Doubtfire, where Robin Williams calls pretending to be a string of terrible babysitters. At one point he yells into the phone, "IT GETS BACK IN THE CAGE OR IT GETS THE HOSE!"

Yeah, it felt a little like that!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

70 Degrees and Cloudy

Is the current forecast for one week from today, for Lake Stevens 70.3! 10% chance of showers as well; I can live with all that... Hopefully it holds up!

I am starting to get quite excited for this race, as I have a bit of a different mindset going into this one. All my previous iron and 70.3 races I have had the mindset of "train to finish, and have fun." This will be the first time I am really going to push and see what I can do... I am hoping for sub-6, which for me is a pretty challenging goal. Not that I haven't tried hard in the other races, but when you're dropping a truck-load of money on plane tickets, hotels, food, etc. for a week long vacation, you want to make sure you finish the damn race! This one is in our backyard, so I am excited to see what I can do when I push it a little harder, with no pressure to live with the disappointment of traveling 2000 miles for a DNF.

We'll see what happens!

In other news, results for the swim on Friday were posted this morning...

I finished in 33:12, and #8 overall out of 51 (men and women), and #6 out of 13 in my division (men's wetsuit) in the 1.2 mile race.


Smoking Hot Wife finished #13 out of 23 in her division! A SUPERIOR performance for her first post-baby race, AND her first open water swim in over a year.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Super Awesome

My wife is.

We had our first "joint" race event tonight since our little angel showed up in May and started pooping all over the place! We went to Lake Meridian in Kent, and participated in the RTB Open Water swim race.

This was a bit of a warm up for me, as IM Lake Stevens 70.3 is on Sunday 8/16; this was a "back in the saddle" race for my wife, who just got her new Nineteen Pipeline (pink) wetsuit this past week, and needed to see how it performs (oh yeah, and she JUST HAD A BABY).

We both did the 1.2 mile distance, both finished strong, and had a ton of fun. For me, it was one of the rare times I have had to actually spend some time cheering for her! I popped out of the water, met up with our super supportive friends (Chantel, Stacy, Mike, Todd, Nolan and Cadence- THANK YOU!!), and got to feel some of the nerves that are inevitable when waiting for one's Super Rad wife to come finish her swim. About 10 minutes later, we saw the pink goggles, and pink sleeves on the wetsuit coming in to the beach! She crossed the finish line, and miraculously... didn't want to kick my butt for talking her into this garbage. :-)

Love you sweetie!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Going the distance....

So, another 9.5 miles in the sun yesterday, and felt GREAT. No pain in the achilles, no trouble with maintaining my pace... A great day!

I've been feeling the itch to get some races on the calendar for next year, as the 70.3 series apparently opens registration all on the same day; August 3rd! But it is hard, as I am learning that training/racing, parenthood, career, and making sure to keep date night with The Best Wife in the World can be a tough balance! All in all, I know I will still get to race, and do everything else (love date night people!), I just have to balance my 2-year old enthusiasm for getting into races. I will often forget that it costs $225-550 per race, plus travel, plus hotel, plus food...

I wish this stuff was free!

Monday, August 3, 2009

50 miles in the sun...

We had a GREAT ride yesterday!! Deuce, Chan and I hit Cedar River for 25 and 50 mile rides. Chan hit the first half of the trail with us, and hammered out her goal race distance; the relay in September is an Olympic Distance race, so it was cool to see her knock that out in her first long ride!

Then, Deuce and I did another 25, as he seems to want to get ready for Lake Stevens 70.3 in 2010... I think he's hooked! It was about 90 degrees out, so super nice, and the 50 miles total we did in about 2:45.

Then, we closed out the day with some burgers and pasta salad in the front yard, courtesy of the best wife in the whole world.... Who coincidentally, should be getting her tri wetsuit in the mail this week. IRONMOM!! :-)

Overall, a great day!