T’s drinking problem

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The boy and I had another epic bike ride planned, this time leaving from historic downtown Issaquah. The original plan was a figure-8 course that involved some formidable hills on the second part of the ride. About half-way through the “easy” first loop, we decided we weren’t quite up for that second part and opted to do the first loop twice. (It was hot and the climbs on the first loop were kicking our butts.) There were tons of other cyclists out doing the Seattle Century, so we had plenty of company on the roads.

After 40 odd miles of hot hilly riding, we decided that we should cancel out all of our hard work by stopping at this place:

(Yes, you read that correctly… )

In addition a nice outdoor seating area, it featured the biggest root beer floats I’d ever seen…

So delicious! After a little downtime at home, we decided to have a little date night in the neighborhood at one of our favorite mexican spots. I went for a margarita, but T decided to try something new. Unbeknownst to him, it would be pink and served in a girly glass… Cheers!

On the way home, we stopped at his favorite coffee spot for another dainty beverage:

It’s not easy being the blog-husband…

Off to a good start

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I spied this parked outside of a Starbucks (!) and had to take a picture. I’m not sure what’s more disturbing to me, that there’s a cup holder for the child or that it’s filled with a pretty large soda for a child small enough to ride in that thing. <shakes head sadly… >

Both sides of the coin

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Now that the boy is training with me, my routine is totally different. Now, I have company for my crazy long rides in the middle of nowhere. I decided to try something new and drop Wally off at doggie daycare to play off some excess energy, while T and I rode a route that I hadn’t done since Ironman training. We parked the car at Cottage Lake and took turns watching the bikes while the other took advantage of the last indoor facilities for a while. I chose to take pics of the bikes while I waited, cuz I’m artsy like that:

I’d chosen a route that took us through Snohomish at a little before the half-way point. Snohomish also happens to have a very nice bakery (coincidence, I think not!) They were having some sort of festival that closed down the street that the bakery was on, so we walked our bikes through the throngs of locals. We saw a man walking a miniature horse wearing a little green hat. I was very sad to not have gotten a photograph of that, because it was the raddest thing I’ve ever seen.

Surprisingly, there was actually a table at the bakery where we could bring our bikes in and not be in the way. You can tell this isn’t yet a serious training ride from our snack choices. Todd went with the blueberry croissant and a very serious expression:

I went with the chocolate cinnamon roll that I would deeply regret when we reached the hot & climby portion of our program, but it was pretty delicious all the same…

We left Snohomish in great spirits but rapidly reached the tough part of our day. Two separate rednecks yelled things at us from their pick-up trucks. (I swear the second one yelled “Tramp” at me. Which cracked me up. Still does, actually… ) We also had some sections of road that were way too busy with a shoulder that was basically the white stripe next to the lane. And did I mention that it was also crazy amounts of climbing? And hot? Good times. As I was chugging my way uphill, I got to pondering the good news/bad news quality of having the boy training with me.

The good side:

  • Someone to whine/complain to as opposed to grumbling to myself
  • Someone to point out the gorgeous scenery when we passed it
  • Rednecks probably think twice about messing with two of us
  • The boy is willing to go into the sketchy Monroe gas station to get water for us rather than going to the yucky water fountain in the park that I usually go to because I don’t want to leave my bike unattended/take it into said sketchy gas station.

 

The bad side:

  • The boy likes to sing terrible songs. Like “Stop in the Name of Love” when we pass a stop sign. Or “Walking in a Winter Wonderland.” (Don’t ask.) It’s super annoying.
  • The boy also likes to chant “Let’s go climbing, let’s go!” when we start up the last horrible climb at the 45 mile mark. And is generally just unbelievably chipper.
  • And of course, the boy is still faster than me, even though he hasn’t been training and I have.

All in all, the pros of having company for training greatly outweigh the cons and it was so great to be able to pick up a tired big dog and head for home. We’ll definitely be doing that again in the future. Smokey Joe is old enough that he’s happy to sleep in his box, but Wally definitely needs more exercise than we have the energy for post-ride.

Orange is the new black

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I think I should just start a new blog for “ridiculous things spotted while on Target shopping trips with M.” I swear we see something hilarious every time we go. And today’s trip was a particularly good one. Apparently, it’s that “Decorate Your Dorm Room” time of year. Or, more accurately, “Buy Your College-Age Child Stuff to Embarass Them and Provide Their Roommates With Things to Make Fun of” season. So, without further ado, allow me to preview the hottest accessories coming to a freshman’s dormitory near you.

First hot trend, pillows shaped like food:

Note the attention to detail on the back:

And a detail of the lovely pizza pillow:

And the second hot trend for fall, plastic dishes that have textures of their intended foods:

(From top to right, we have Doritos, pizza slice, whole pizza, mac & cheese and spaghetti & meatballs.) Please also note that all the hot foods this fall are orange…

I am a little sad not to have a college-bound kid in my life to embarrass with these things, but writing snarky blog posts about them works too!

 

 

Cluck cluck!

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After a few hours of chilling at our hotel post-race, we met up with our friend Luke for dinner at Screen Door. (I’ve been planning to reward myself with their fried chicken if I made it through the race for about a month.) In the past, I’ve had issues post-race with my stomach being nauseous and feeling terrible, so it’s a testament to my improved nutrition plan that I finished this one feeling relatively okay. I still stuck with liquids (including a Mexican Coke generously relinquished by my mom) and watermelon for the first couple of hours post-race. Some of which may or may not have been consumed in a jacuzzi tup watching TV…

Anyway, I donned my super-sexy compression sleeves to accessorize my otherwise appropriate dinner attire and we hobbled off to dinner. (I love Portland because no one batted an eye at my strange attire, except for another diner who asked how my race went… ) We got a seat on the outdoor patio and I ordered my first Manhattan in about 14 years.

Yum! When M & I had been at Screen Door last winter, we’d sat at the bar and watched them crank out a million of these. I swore I’d try one next time I was here and voila! Apparently, they’re the hot drink right now. Who knew? Plus, it’s nice to have a non-frilly drink in my arsenal… And then of course, the star attraction:

(Apparently, I was too hungry/excited to get a picture that was in focus… ) I’ll confess I only made it through about a third of it before the stomach cried uncle, but it would make for delicious leftovers. We bid Luke adieu and headed home for some much needed sleep. And another soak in the jacuzzi tub.

But our Portland indulgences were not done. As part of the morning errands we had to take care of before we could head home, I had one more piece of decadence on my list. A trip to Pine State Biscuits:

This place opened just as we were leaving Portland and I’ve been meaning to visit for years, having heard wonderful things about it. Ordinarily, I can’t resist the siren song of Jam, but luckily this place was much closer to our hotel. And because I could, I went for the Reggie Deluxe:

That’s right, more fried chicken. On a biscuit. With bacon, egg, cheese and gravy. So much Southern-ness in one place. (My sister-in-law joked that they needed to serve it on top of grits… ) It was delicious (duh) but definitely not an every day indulgence. (But an excellent motivation to get out and train!) All in all, it was a very successful trip to Portland…

 

Rev3 Race novel… er… report

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Originally, I had very ambitious goals for this race. But my training wasn’t where it needed to be to achieve them, so I picked a goal that was still challenging but achievable – a sub 7-hour half ironman. For many racers, this goal would be a terrible day at the races, but for me it had been a long-standing goal that I’d come close to once with a 7:11-something at Black Diamond in 2009. (And that was due to residual fitness from Ironman training.) As always, I also had a secret “pie-in-the-sky” goal that would happen if things went really well. For this race, it was 6:45. But we’ll get back to that later.

I actually slept pretty well the night before the race, which is unusual for me. But I still had the usual pre-race nerves and desire to barf, so there’s something to be said for consistency. We grabbed some breakfast from the hotel breakfast bar, which included a weird little machine that made pancakes and spit them out of a conveyer belt like thing in about a minute. They weren’t the world’s best pancakes, but perfectly edible when smeared with peanut butter and rolled with bananas. Then it was time to head over to the race site.

Things were much busier in the transition area than the day before. T took a break from playing Sudoku on his phone to take my picture:

I was having a hard time figuring out what to do with my bag, so I stuck it under my towel. Voila, a two-level transition area:

I lost the boy to the announcement of the Voodoo Donuts truck, so I wandered over there after the porta potty line to learn that apparently the announcement had been premature and there were now a small group milling around the truck. Including this adorable sight:

With my sherpa properly sugared up, it was time to wander over to the swim start to watch the pros start their race and get into my wetsuit. But first, a last silly pose for the boy:


Welcome to the gun show! They’d announced the water temperature at 72 degrees, which was greeted with great skepticism by everyone. The pros weren’t allowed wetsuits and I felt very sorry for them. Until they allowed us into the water to warm up and I discovered it was in fact warm. (d’oh… ) My long-sleeved wetsuit was going to be toasty… They had us all come out of the water and stand on the shore (Photo c/o Eric Wynn – ericwynn.org)

And then, when they blew the horn, we ran in and started swimming.

I started a lot faster than the last beach start at IMC and actually had a pretty good start for me. Not too far back, not too jostled and a straight line to the first buoy. My goal was to just have a nice relaxed swim and not burn too many matches. I found this amazing shot of the swim on the blog of one of the pro men – I actually remember seeing the helicopter responsible for this shot while I was swimming. (Photo c/o Eric Wynn)

Initially, I found a good groove and was actually enjoying myself. Then the mens wave behind us caught up with us and it got a lot more chaotic. I ended up moving wider of the buoys to get some clear water and regain my calm state of mind, which meant a longer swim than necessary. Oh well. Even with all of that, I still did the swim slightly faster than usual and about what I’d expected, so it was okay. Swim: 44:34

There was an approximately half-mile run from the swim exit back to transition. They had a place set up for bags where we could stash a pair of running shoes and put our wetsuits. I hadn’t known about this in advance, so I didn’t have a second set of running shoes but I did take my wetsuit off and stuff it in the bag. I was super dehydrated from the hot swim, so that run in my wetsuit socks was crampy and terrible. But soon enough, I was getting on my bike and heading out. T1: 7:57

I knew the bike course would be windy and I was not disappointed. Luckily, riding in Seattle has prepared me for wind, so it didn’t phase me too much. (The trick is to never expect a tailwind… ) The few remaining men who hadn’t passed me during the swim proceeded to pass me on the bike. (Fun fact: men who can’t swim seem to like to ride disk wheels… ) It was a little disheartening at first, but my plan was to take it easy for the first half of the first loop. There were a couple of spots that I had to speed up to pass people, but for the most part I stuck to that. I also got to see T heading out for and coming back from his run, since the course passed that close to our hotel.

I may have gotten a little too excited on the return trip, because the second loop was a little tougher. My key accomplishments with this race were not stopping at any aid stations and actually getting two water bottles handed to me by volunteers so I could refill while riding. (Previously, I was too chicken to pull this off.) I also did well with all of the u-turns, which I’d also been worried about. Despite the heat, I did pretty well with eating and drinking. As I closed in on the end of the bike leg, I started thinking about a smooth transition and a good start to the run. (I’ve been practicing visualization techniques in my training and was hoping they could work their magic today… ) Bike: 03:09

I was very proud of the second transition. It was smooth and focused, even while chit-chatting with the hard-core girl in the spot next to me. (I also had a way faster transition than her, which took the sting out of her blowing past me minutes into my run… ) I’ve been practicing my transitions, so it was nice to see the hard work pay off. T2: 2:38

Starting the run was just terrible. I had a terrible side stitch and it was hot. They also had us running through this hay field: (Photo courtesy of Eric Wynn)

I was alternately running and walking and trying to stretch the cramp out of my side. It was at this point that I completely lost hope and was certain that my sub-7 goal was toast and I was in for yet another half-marathon death march. (It didn’t help that I was being passed by the old, the infirm and a very heavy young man.) Finally, I gave myself a kick in the ass and forced myself to get going. Basically, the plan became to run as long as I could. At first, that was about six steps at a time, but eventually the side stitch loosened and I was able to run for longer stretches.

I passed back a few of the folks who had passed me and started picking points to run to. The run course was along the same road we’d been biking on, so it was hot and windy. I was able to see some of the 4 hour bikers come in and it reminded me of where I was last year, so that lifted my spirits. My cool-sleeves also really helped cool me off and several other racers said they were jealous of them. The aid stations were manned by very nice, surprisingly enthusiastic volunteers, who also really helped cheer me up. My favorites were a couple of 11-12 year old boys who offered to splash me and, when I said yes, DOUSED me with two cups of water. Talk about the perfect job for a couple of boys. πŸ˜‰

I knew T was planning to meet me at the turn around point of the run, about the 8.5 mile mark and I was pleased to see that this part of the course had turned off of the road was on a shady path. My mom had also joined T, so it was cool to see them. T also got a pretty decent picture of me:

After leaving T and my mom, I was starting to realize that I was pretty solidly going to make my sub-7 goal and realizing that I also had a shot at the ambitious one. It helped motivate me to run more and I was actually feeling pretty good. (Relatively speaking, of course.) I was passing some of the folks that had bummed me out early in the run and using that to motivate me further. When I reached the last aid station, I knew that I had to put my head down and hustle. There was a super amazing volunteer at the last bend whose amazing enthusiasm and energy really helped my poor tired legs drive that last .1 mile.

The nice part is that you round a little corner and you come out to see the finish. When I saw that the clock was UNDER 6:45, I couldn’t believe it. I ran as fast as I could (not very) to the line. Run: 02:39

I was very emotional when I saw T and my mom. I really couldn’t believe that I’d beaten my goal. It’s the first time that’s ever happened. It’s also that curious blend of exhaustion, pride and pain that happens at the end of a long race. Here I am, after I pulled myself together a little bit:

The A.R.T. station was still set up and not crowded, so I had another session to alleviate some of the post-race soreness. It’s so much nicer to finish closer to the rest of the pack, usually things are pretty much closed down when I cross the line. πŸ˜‰ TOTAL RACE TIME: 6:43:34

Of course, I have to give a huge shout out to the boy. Not only is he an amazing race sherpa, but his super awesome Christmas present was a huge part of my success today. I’m looking forward to getting him into shape to race with me at Grand Columbian later this year, so that he can share in some of the “fun.” (It will also be nice to have a training partner for some of the long, weekend bike rides.)