The good life

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We are in Prosser for Erin & David’s wedding celebration. They got married back in July at a small family-only ceremony and this weekend was a big reception/ party to celebrate. The party was taking place in this awesome bed & breakfast and we were fortunate to also get to stay there. J & M were also along for this adventure, which was great. M and I wandered around taking pictures:

(Yes, that’s a white picket fence *and* an American flag. Does it get any more adorable?)

There was a really lovely garden:

And this super awesome chicken coop:

And a sneak preview of fun things to come…

There was some very civilized lounging on the porch, sipping wine. Ahhhh…

Later in the evening, we made our way down to Pasco for a shrimp boil at the house of a friend of Erin’s. They had the biggest, nicest yard I think I’ve ever seen. Along with this formidable table:

There was also plenty to drink:

And a very impressive operation for the cooking:

They had a trampoline, a tree house and a horseshoe pit. M & I managed to refrain from making a spectacle of ourselves on the trampoline. (I didn’t want to spill my wine… ) But she and T took the horseshoe pit for a test drive:

We also got to admire the happy couple’s new ride:

It was a really fun night with great food and lively conversation. We got to hang out with Khai, which is always a treat, and meet some of Erin’s other friends. If tonight is any indication, we’re looking at quite an awesome weekend…

Schmancy

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As a belated birthday dinner for the boy, I made reservations for Staple & Fancy here in Ballard. I’d heard amazing things about it, plus they do a fun “Chef’s Choice prix-fixe menu that sounded really cool. M & J joined us for the festivities and we met at our place for some wine and cheese before walking over to the restaurant. The food was amazing (and plentiful) and the cocktails were both delicious and strong.

The restaurant was too dark for my hipstamatic prints to come out, but at some point Susan got a hold of my camera and took some very entertaining pictures. (And a few accidental videos… oops!)

M & J:

T & I contemplating the drink menu:

Um… not sure what this is, but it does sum up the mood nicely, don’t you think?

Then here is my artsy shot of the very cool brick wall that runs along one side of the restaurant:

We had an amazing time and I think the boy had a great birthday dinner. Even though his mom thinks he’s 43. πŸ˜‰

Artsy

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The main thing Susan wanted to do while she was in town was “go to that park that goes over the freeway.” She’s talked about this mythical park before and neither T nor I knew what she was talking about. Finally, she added that it had art in it and we realized that she was talking about the Sculpture Garden. (It does go over Western Avenue, not exactly the freeway… ) But at least we knew what she was talking about and it’s quite convenient to our house.

I run through this park quite often, but I never really take the time to take photos. So, I spent a little time “Hipstamatic-ing” the Calder sculpture:

Susan waited patiently for me to finish:

Not sure what was going on with this box, but photographing T & Susan interacting with it was really fun:

T was incensed by the many “Do Not Touch” signs in front of the giant rusted metal Richard Serra sculptures:

And he’s a rebel:

But all that aside, the pieces were pretty cool:

I love this metal tree. It took me a few visits to notice that it was made out of metal, which makes me love it more.

If you drive past the sculpture garden, you see this giant Claes Oldenburg typewriter eraser rolling down the hill, which I love. We couldn’t get right next to it, but here’s Susan posing with it in the background:

It was quite the cultural outing.

Beachy Friday

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This week was spent trying to return to life as normal. After so much time thinking about the race, it was strange to have no training to do and spending the week just returning to life as normal. But since T’s mom was in town for a visit this weekend, we didn’t have to worry about life being too normal. πŸ™‚ Both T and I had to work, so we left Susan to her own devices. (Which apparently meant wearing the dogs out, because when I came home they both looked exhausted!) The weather had been ridiculously beautiful all day and, as I was waiting for the bus, I got a text from M that she was at the beach. That sounded like the perfect way to spend a gorgeous sunny Friday afternoon, so we went over to join her.

Then we parted ways with M and headed back to our place for some dinner and (for T and Susan) a game of cribbage:

Since Susan usually goes to bed at 8, her math skills get really rusty after that…

It was very amusing to watch.

Fore!

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The next morning was T’s birthday and his first present was not being nearly as sore as we thought he’d be. J made some decadent french toast for breakfast then we had to start gathering up our crap and packing for the trip home. None of us were eager for vacation to end, so we decided to play a game of miniature golf on the course right outside our door.

The official rules (#3 was going to be tough for us):

J shows us how it’s done:

But M is hot on his heels. She and J tied the other two games they played, so the stakes were high!

Not sure what T’s doing here, but please note that he’s still rocking the compression sleeves. Are the sleeves better or worse than socks with those sandals? I’m not really sure there’s an answer that I’ll be happy with…

A critical hole…

The view from the golf course:

J ended up winning the game and it was a fun way to cap off our trip. We checked out and hit the road. We parted ways with M & J because we were taking the same route we’d come out on (for easy dog pick-up.) We had to stop for gas in Coulee City (which seems to consist of a gas station, a motel and little else… ) It did have this rad sign that I had to take a picture of:

(I’d seen it on the way over, but hadn’t had a chance to take a picture of it.) I also couldn’t resist taking a picture of “Big Wally’s bench.” It’s too bad we didn’t have our Wally along, he could have posed on it.

T tried to take a picture of the Prospector Supply store in Goldbar (and no, I couldn’t possibly make any of that up) and apparently took this picture of me driving. I’m not sure if it was on purpose or not, I just found it on the phone. But I like it, it’s sort of artsy…

We ended the evening taking the boy out for Mexican food on his birthday and giving him the birthday present I’d forgotten to bring along on the trip (a new bike jersey.) Our epic weekend was over and tomorrow we’ll have to return to life as normal…

Grand Columbian: the rest of the story

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Geez, this thing is almost as long as my IM Canada race report! πŸ™‚ So, I got off the bike and “ran” to the changing tent for the second transition. A nice volunteer handed me my bag and there was another one in the changing tent to help put all my stuff back in the bag. I changed as smoothly and quickly as I could and hit the road. To my great surprise and delight, I was able to run right away without any terrible side stitches or stomach cramps. I actually felt pretty decent all things considered. I focused on keeping a nice steady pace and not go out too hard.

The course goes over a bridge and then down a long hill to a dirt road that runs along the Columbia River. It’s largely the same course as the first year we did it, so I was familiar with it for the most part. I was cruising along and looked at my Garmin to see how far I’d gone. 2 miles in, not bad. And then I passed the 2 mile marker about five minutes later. What the what? I’d looked at my watch when I saw that mile marker, so I was not terribly pleased to see that the 3 mile marker was appox. 1.1 miles later. Sigh. TriFreaks strikes again, the run course is going to be long. Awesome.

Since there was nothing to be done about the long course, I just focused on running strong. I was feeling pretty good and only taking walk breaks at the aid stations so I could drink/eat. The aid stations were sporadically placed which actually wasn’t that big of a deal, since I had gels/food with me. (I do feel bad for the longer distance folks though, that would have sucked.) I was getting concerned that I hadn’t seen T yet and hoped that he was doing okay. Finally, at mile 6, I saw him and he was running and looking okay.

This guy was one of the highlights of the day for me. I gave him a high-five as I saw him on the course. Here he is hamming it up for M’s camera heading for the finish line:

And posing for a post-finish photo op with M. So rad!

The rest of the run was pretty uneventful. I was bummed that I was so far off of my goal time, but I was please by how much more running I’d been able to do than previous years, which meant my pacing/fueling were on point. While I was finishing up the run, here was T heading for the finish line. Between his Loverboy headband and the guy next to him’s short-shorts/tanlines, it’s like one of those Fashion Don’t spreads in Us Weekly…

I think these pictures sum T’s response to finishing nicely:

Then, a mere 19 minutes later, here I come!

(I’m apparently elbowing imaginary competitors out of the way… ) M heckled me into smiling, even though I was in a grumpy mood because of the long run course and general race mis-management:

And finally, I crossed the finish line and ended the madness. T and I in a triumphant post-race photo. Can you say “Never again?”:

Race results (ordinarily, I’d compare these to last year, but since the courses are so different, I opted not to.)

Me: Overall time: 7:46:01 Swim: 47:20 T1: 7:01 Bike: 3:56:50 T2: 3:54 Run: 2:50:58
The boy: Overall time: 7:27:16 Swim: 48:45 T1: 6:26 Bike: 3:47:06 T2: 4:14 Run: 2:40:48

After sitting on the grass for a little while and swapping war stories it was time to head back to the house. J made delicious pizza while the rest of us lounged around the living room. I was actually feeling better than T, who eventually laid on the floor with ice packs, his compression socks and the foam roller.

I also made him hydrate…

I think the boy was unpleasantly surprised by how hard it was to fall asleep after a long race. I’d sort of gotten used to it, but it does suck. For whatever reason, (probably the tons of caffeine and sugar you ingest over the course of the day) the brain just doesn’t want to shut off, even though the body is very tired.

Grand Columbian: the bike

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It was chilly, so I’d grabbed my arm warmers and stuck them on my wrists. But since the race started with a 1.5 mile climb from transition to the road (and to think, I used to think that it was bad that we only had a mile before the Almira Grade… ) I didn’t need them initially. I was surprised at how good I felt on the bike. I was my usual wet and cold self, but my legs felt good and I was spinning easily up the hill. M & J were stationed on the hill, so I gave them my “rock” salute:

I love this shot that M got (even though I’m locking my elbows and somewhere my old coach would be so ashamed… Sorry Coach Cane!):

And this is me laughing in response to J telling me that I was “a third of the way there.” (That is a direct quote from the announcer to one of the iron distance guys. Apparently, his math needs work… )

Here’s T passing everyone in sight:

I’d heard T in the transition tent, so I knew he was close. But this picture, captioned by M shows exactly how close:

He passed me a little while later and we had a few moments to chat about the horrible swim chop and how he’d fared. Then he was off. I concentrated on keeping him in sight as long as I could. Then I was passed by M & J on their way home. J got these awesome pictures of me on my phone. Here I am giving someone “the look”:

And here I am in the distance (with my elbows still locked For shame!)

And also a few of the terrain of the race:

It is really a beautiful bike course. I was having a really hard time getting my head in the game. I kept finding myself being upset about my slow swim and how long it was taking me on the bike. I felt my time goals going right out the window and with them my desire for the race altogether. Finally, I had to give myself a stern talking to and basically made the commitment to do this race. There were the rollers and wind that I was expecting. I took a little wrong turn off the course and had some spectators in a car chase me down (“Are you supposed to go a different way than all of the other bikers?” Um, no… ) but thank god they were there and I got back on track pretty quickly. I used my fury at that to fuel me through some more rollers and wind.

Because of the change in start point, the bike course was less of a loop and much more of an out and back. So, I could see the folks who were ahead of me and it seemed like that was everyone in the race. I knew I was ahead of people because I’d passed them on the swim, seen them in the change tent and their bikes on the rack, but except for one person that I’d seen as I was rejoining the course, I was by myself. But I just kept pushing on. I spent most of my time in the aero bars due to the wind and thanks to Rev3, I was pretty comfortable with that.

I passed a few people and finally saw T coming back the other way. I was surprised when I reached the turnaround not that long afterward. I was either having a great bike or he was having a terrible one, not sure which. (He’d looked okay, so I chose to believe the former.) That gave me the confidence to push a little bit, plus the wind died down a little bit. Whatever the cause, I started passing more people and feeling really good. I kept eating and drinking and rolling along. I’d wanted to do the bike in 3:30 – 3:45, but ended up rolling in at nearly four hours. Since I based my target on the old course, I decided not to get too upset about the slower time.

Grand Columbian: The Swim

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Here we are all lined up for the start (finally). Look how nice that lake looks! (T and I are at the far right… T has his hands on his hips.)

And we’re off!

The start was so crazy that I couldn’t even figure out where the buoy was that I was aiming for. It took me a little while to gather my wits and figure out where I was going, but eventually I was on my way. They had the same rope buoy line as last time and there was a solid line of swimmers on it. I was going faster than they were, so I started just passing them and not worrying about the line. I saw T in line as I passed him and saw him see me, which was funny. Eventually, I found an open spot on the line and settled in. The chop was pretty significant but I was able to deal with it, the real problem were these waves that would sweep through and just move me two feet over. It was hard to get a rhythm in such conditions, but I actually felt like I was swimming well. I was passing folks pretty regularly and staying pretty close to the buoy line (mostly because I could hardly see over the swells.)

When we reached the far buoy, the buoy line had blown over and we basically were swimming toward the people who were behind us, which was very disorienting. I knew that the buoy line was wrong, but had no choice but to follow it, given that I couldn’t even see the shore from where I was. When I could finally see the arch, I broke from the line and tried to swim as straight a line as I could toward it. M’s ability to spot me swimming is uncanny:

I knew the conditions were tough, but I was very disappointed to see 47 minutes on my watch when I stood up. (I thought a 40 minute swim was very doable for me this year… ) Oh well, time to shake it off and move on.

I was very grateful that T and I had done some run workouts after some of our swims in Green Lake. We’d done it to save time, but it was very handy in being able to run to transition as well. πŸ™‚

T was only a minute or two behind me:

Transition was tough. I was still brooding over my rough swim and trying to fish my bike gear out of the giant trash bag they’d given us was tough. But I managed to stuff my wetsuit back into it and get myself out onto the bike. (All told T1 took about seven minutes… )

Grand Columbian: Pre-race Shenanigans

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I have a ton of great photos of the race, courtesy of the fabulous Ms. M, so I’m going to break the race report up into sections, lest it get ungodly long(er).

I woke up with the usual butterflies and went about my normal pre-race prep. It was funny having T getting ready for the race as well, but nice too. We all four headed over to the race start together, so that we wouldn’t have to go pick up a car later. Things at the race site were already in full swing, with the iron and ultra distances having started 2 and 3 hours earlier.

Most of the athletes were still in the water, so we could set up our stuff without getting in anyone’s way.

The transition area had these stupid bamboo poles that would bow under the weight of the bikes. (This was unfortunately not helped by the fact that they didn’t assign racks to anyone, other than by event, so there could be too many bikes on any given rack. One of them broke at the pre-race meeting, so I was concerned that I might come back to a pile of mess… )

We had to leave everything in our transition bags, so there wasn’t too much set-up to be done on the bike. I still made sure I knew where my rack was in relation to the changing tent/exit and all that…

It looks prettier in the Hipstamatic world:

It was chilly and I was nervous about my sleeveless wetsuit decision. But I hadn’t brought the long sleeve, so there was nothing to be done about it. T was nice enough to try to keep me warm.

An adorable pre-race photo:

Soon enough, it was time to head down to the lake. Most of the iron distance swimmers were out of the water, but there were still some ultra folks finishing up. (One of them breaststroked almost the whole 3.1 miles. He ended up getting pulled toward the end. It was crazy talk.) We got into our wetsuits, mostly for warmth and waited for a chance to get in the water for a warm-up. But first, one last Hipstamatic of T:

And on to the warm-up. Look how nice the lake looks. Hardly any chop at all…

So, here’s where my annoyance with the race organizers rears it’s ugly head again. Initally, T’s wave was supposed to go off at 9:00. Mine (along with the other women doing the race) was to go off at 9:05. At the last minute, they decided to have three waves based on your predicted swim time. Now, the problem with that was that we had all go over a timing mat so that they knew who was in which wave (because they’d done this at the last minute.) Unfortunately, the timing guys weren’t ready for it and it took approximately 8 minutes per wave to get everyone checked in and started.

I’d panicked and opted for the third wave with T, so that we didn’t have to worry about folks behind us. That was a mistake because it gave the wind about 20 minutes to pick up and the chop to get worse. But we did get the pleasure of watching T dance on the timing mat:

And then summarily teased by the race announcer. (That boy is such a ham!)

 

Very serious business

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The day before the race is always filled with little errands, but I try as hard as I can to keep it low key. We needed to do a swim in the lake, mostly so I could make a final decision on whether or not to wear my sleeveless wetsuit and see what the race start looked like. M came along for a swim and general hijinks, since J had some work to finish up.

This year, because Banks Lake was all messed up, we were going to be swimming in Roosevelt lake – which was amazing. The water was super clear and lovely. It was like the Caribbean, only chillier. (Though for up here, the water was positively balmy!) The sleeveless turned out to be the right decision, as swimming in it felt like heaven.

Afterward, M took a spin on the merry-go-round. The little boy to the right of this image was playing on it before, but when the crazy grown-ups got there, he fled. (Smart kid!) πŸ˜‰

Especially once T got into the act… (I really wish I’d taken video of this, but I was laughing too hard.)

Preparations for the race were already in full swing…

We did a quick recon up the Almira grade at T’s request (and to show M how “awesome” it is) before heading home. After a little lunch and some rest, we headed back to the park for packet pick-up followed by a trip into town for a few last-minute supplies at the Safeway. While there, I couldn’t resist taking a picture of this aisle signage:

We also had to stop at the tee-pee drive in across the street:

After our milkshakes, we headed to T2 to check out the new set up:And see the dam we’d been hearing about. Last year, we’d never made it over to take a look because we’re just that lazy.

We had a few hours to hang back at the house before T and I had to head to the pre-race meeting and check in our bikes. I took this sweet shot of M & J hanging out in the living room:

Usually, I find the pre-race meetings boring. There’s nothing that’s really different from the info that I’ve read on the race website or in the packet that I picked up earlier that day. But especially with the new course and new race management, I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss anything. This time, the meeting was anything but boring. Unfortunately, what it was instead was confusing and disorganized. The folks running the meeting would answer questions only to contradict themselves a minute later.

For example: when asked about cut off times on the swim, a woman was told “Don’t worry, you have until midnight to finish.” only to hear a little later on that “they were there for the last finisher, regardless of how long past the cut-off it was.” What the WHAT? There was much more, but I won’t bore my tens of readers with my rants and I’ll save that for the email to the race organization. Suffice it to say, I left the meeting far less confident in the abilities in the folks running the race and much less sure I knew what was going on tomorrow morning. Sigh.