Portland reunion


Sorry for the break in posting, after so many years of writing this blog, I’m afraid my material is wearing thin. ūüėČ

The boy has been traveling down to Portland a lot lately, so in an effort to actually see him, I decided to tag along. Susan was kind enough to watch the pups, so we drove them down to Salem, stopping briefly at my folks place so that my mom could meet Mr. Austin. (She loved him, especially since he tired out little lord Bingley… )

We stayed in a lovely room in the Deluxe. (Working remotely from a hotel room is weird.) It was fun to get to spend some time in Portland. I got to re-visit two of my favorite run routes. The bridge loop, which was beautiful even with the royal sampler of crazy weather it dumped on me (rain, wind, hail, sunshine, thunder and lightning.)

BridgeRun1 BridgeRun2And, of course, Forest Park was a must. It rained NON-STOP for the entire hour that I was there, but it was still beautiful:

FP-Collage FP-4 FP-3 FP-2I had hoped to get to ride up Mt. Tabor for old times sake, but I just couldn’t work up the enthusiasm to do that in the rain, so it didn’t happen. Another time. I did get a couple of swims in, so it was a pretty decent week, training-wise.

I also got to walk around the city, enjoying the random public art that is Portland’s trademark. I hadn’t had a chance to see this creepy gem:


And there may have been some shopping, because… you know… no sales tax. Stupid Keen store. It was too enticing.


There was also a fair amount of eating. We went to an old favorite:


To our astonishment, we didn’t have to wait at all. But we did end up sitting next to the worst person on earth, so there was a down-side. (Example: when one of our appetizers came, she talked at length about how disappointing and sub-standard it was, despite the fact that we were sitting right next to them. She’s lucky I was too busy eating to kick her ass… ) But the delicious food and cocktails mollified us:


I also got to try a really delicious food cart that I’d been hearing about:

FoodCartWe celebrated our 17th anniversary while we were there.¬†(I KNOW!!!) I even bought myself a cute new dress for the occasion. I’m fairly bad at the mirror selfie, but I rather liked how this one came out:

AnniversaryWe went to¬†Ox, a restaurant that we’d heard amazing things about. (It did not disappoint.) There was a bit of a wait, but there was the Nike Factory store just up the street, followed by their¬†nice little bar next door. I really loved the cocktail names on the menu. (I think it’s¬†obvious what my favorite one is):

OxCocktailsWe ended up sitting at the counter, which I’m normally not a fan of on special occasions, but it was fun. We got to watch them fire the meat entrees in¬†the giant wood-fired grill:

OxOvenPlus, we had a great conversation with another couple at the counter, which was fun. The food was magnificent:

OxFoodAnd on our way out on town on Saturday morning, we finally made it to Screen Door for brunch. Holy crap! We got breakfast hushpuppies:

ScreenDoor1And I stupidly ordered the fried chicken and waffle, forgetting where I was:

ScreenDoor2(The good news was that we didn’t really need to eat again until Tuesday.)

We spent the remainder of the weekend in Salem. We were supposed to do the Monster Cookie metric century that I did last year, but I called it due to pouring rain and my general wussiness. Instead, I went on a run with Susan and three out of the four dogs (Wally stayed home with T.) They got to be off-leash for the majority of it, which was great. Until Austin caught a little chipmunk/vole thing which was gross and traumatizing.

It was supposed to be a four mile¬†run, but in Susan-world that turned into¬†five and half, so things got a little bonky toward the end, (I forgot my standard “bring a gel” protocol for running with Susan) but we survived. Good thing this little killer is cute:


Then it was time to hit the road for the long drive home. I think that everyone had a good week, but were also happy to be home:




2014 Slowtwitch Womens training camp: part 2


Day four: After the last couple of three-workout days, it was nice to have just a longish bike ride on the schedule. We planned to do the dam ride from last year, with a couple of ladies adding more miles and a few adding less. But everyone headed out for at least something:

2014camp-GroupRideGail was kind enough to snap some photos of the initial riding, before she and Mindy peeled off. Here’s yours truly climbing the hill:

2014camp-HillclimbWe re-grouped at the top and bid farewell to Gail & Mindy. I took a few photos at the next regroup point. You gotta love riding in the desert:

2014camp-RideScenery2 2014camp-RideScenery

At this point, we bid farewell to Susan and Christina, who embarked on some epic climbing (more on that later.) And then there were six… The road out to the dam is rolling and has a bit more traffic than normal, so we spread out a bit more and rode our own pace. There wasn’t quite as much wind as last year, so this section was definitely easier.

Last year, Kristi had to walk a section of the climb up to the dam, but this year she made it up with ease. (In fact, everyone did.) We paused on the top for a picture:


And then headed in to see if the store was open. It wasn’t, but there was this rad fish statue that I wanted a picture with:


Which led to a series of silly photos…2014camp-FishMcGee 2014camp-FishMyriam 2014camp-FishKristiAnd some even sillier photos. I think that poor fish is going to need counseling.

2014camp-FishDoubleUpThen it was back out the way we’d come. When we reached our initial turn-off point, we had some decisions to make. We could see a McDonalds on the highway that goes through the valley, so most of us opted for that. Suzanne bid us farewell and headed back to the house. (And then there were five… )

It was a nice quick descent down to the valley floor. Before we knew it, we were pulling into the McDonalds parking lot. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any outdoor tables, so we had a little sidewalk picnic:

2014camp-McDpicnicI’m sure the local denizens were quite surprised to see five females clad in lycra come into the place and order a ton of junk food. We even gained a mascot for the ride home:


To get back, we had to ride along the highway for a little while, but thankfully, there was a nice wide shoulder. When we turned off, we had a fair amount of false flat (a gradual hill that appears to be flat road and is completely dispiriting to ride). Kristi was flagging and, despite her urging us to go on ahead, I opted to ride with her. I wasn’t feeling particularly ambitious and it was much more fun with company. We regrouped with the other ladies at some point ‚Ästthey opted to add some more riding while we headed back toward the house. The miles went much easier than yesterday without the crazy wind, and we chit-chatted easily as we rode along.

Meanwhile, the other ladies had seen a hilarious sign “Back in, Lights Out” and posed with it. We’re very serious athletes, as you can clearly see:

2014camp-BackInLightsOutWhen we got back to the house, Kristi and I decided to go for a short brick run down the driveway/road, despite the strong temptation of homemade guacamole. Gail and Mindy joined us and we headed out. When we got to the bottom, the other three members of our group were passing by en route to a little more punishment, I mean fun. (Not even the guacamole could deter them!) I had them strike a heroic pose before we bid them adieu:

2014camp-RideReturnThe four of us on foot headed back to the house for a shower and to eat ALL THE THINGS. (Poor guacamole never saw it coming… ) Our heroic trio joined us and we all cleaned up/ate/relaxed. We went and took the bikes apart and got them packed up. Then headed back to the house for dinner. But Susan and Christina were still out on their epic ride. We’d gotten texts from them, so we knew they were okay, but they’d been out for about eight hours at this point. I got the bright idea to head down with a couple of beers to meet them. Gail and I were the first ones out and saw them coming up the road. They looked tired, but were laughing and joking as they walked toward us. Their faces lit up when they saw the beer like a couple of kids at Christmas, so I was pretty pleased that I’d thought of it:

2014camp-RideHerosA group watched Monty’s video of the first Ironman in Kona and I hung out with the conquering heroes to hear about their adventures. (I’ve seen that video a few times already.) The margaritas were already flowing, so Susan had to play a little catch-up. I couldn’t resist getting a picture of her double-fisting it with Monty’s 2.5 year old son, Wyatt in the background:

2014camp-DoubleFistingAfter everyone had a chance to eat and clean up, we got things set up for the gear exchange. This is becoming one of my favorite parts of camp. It’s fun to see what people bring and awesome to have stuff that’s been kicking around your house go to a good home. As I was contemplating the items that were left and musing over whether a tri top from tiny Gail would fit me, the other Michele (aka McGee) pointed out that I had small boobs and it would probably fit me. I, of course, responded with faux outrage and the rest of the group joined in. This led to me putting the tri top on and attempting to take a selfie and then getting someone else to take it, while getting coached on posing to show off the girls. End result¬†=¬†hilarious:

2014camp-NewTopI texted the above picture to T at one point. I’m sure he wondered, yet again, what kind of craziness was happening. But he’s a good sport. There were margaritas aplenty, followed by wine and, of course, lots of laughter and frivolity. There was talk of a margarita dance-off to replace the margarita mile that didn’t happen this year. But in the end, the exertions of the day (combined with the three days prior) had us all heading off to bed before long.

Day five: Most of the girls were planning to do a long run, but I’d promised Heidi that I’d be heading their way in the morning, since I hadn’t seen them on Wednesday. (Not to mention, I was pooped!) So, I bid everyone farewell and hit the road. I had so much fun this year. I wish we could do these camps more than once a year, it would be so much more fun to have a chance to train with these girls more often. Lord knows, I could use the motivation.

2014 Slowtwitch Womens training camp: part 1


As longtime readers of this blog know, I have been going to a women’s triathlon training camp for quite some time now. (Off and on since 2007!) This year marked my sixth visit, and¬†the itinerary¬†tends to follow a familiar pattern. So, rather than doing¬†posts for each day, I’m going to try to split everything¬†into two posts with photos and highlights.

2014camp-XantusiaEntranceView from the gate. Photo by Gail

2014camp-CompoundView of the house, from the upper deck.

Day one: This year everyone was arriving on the first day, so I opted to head up to camp directly. I missed getting to spend time with Heidi & the girls, but vacation time was tight this year after the Hawaii trip. My flight was late and clouds were looming, so I hustled to the beautiful Santa Clarita pool to get a swim in before camp. My workout had me doing 30 laps of 50 yards and every time I headed out, I could see a big gray cloud looming on my breathing side. Talk about motivation to hurry! But I made it through my workout before the rain started. Then a quick stop at In&Out and it was off to camp. Got to camp in time to pick my room and join 3/5 of the Chicago contingent for bike assembly.

By the time we finished, most of the other ladies had arrived and we went out for a short easy run from the house. We had a group of ten this year, six returning/four new. Cathy couldn’t make it this year, so yours truly was the grizzled old veteran. ūüėČ Per usual, there was good food, lots of wine and conversation.

Day two:¬†Swimming was definitely on the agenda today, but that wasn’t until noon. Most¬†of the ladies wanted to ride in the morning, but a small group of us opted for a run/hike beforehand. (I was trying to get more running in this time and the likelihood of skipping an afternoon run was very high.) Monty told us about a new (to us) trail that he and Dan had been doing lately, so we decided to check it out. We’d been planning to run/walk, but the trail we chose started with steep switchbacks, so it became more of a hike. With the altitude and dry desert air, my breathing and heart rate certainly felt like I was running!

The view was definitely different from my typical environment:

2014camp-ThursHikeViewNaturally, I had to take some photos for the social media. Here are my trail buddies Christina (in green) and Myriam:

2014camp-ThursHikeWe saw some cool rock formations while we were out. I love the terrain around here. So beautiful.

2014camp-ThursHike2After we got back, we ate second breakfast and gathered everything for a swim at the glorious Palmdale pool. Once again, Gail was our unofficial camp photographer and had us take a group shot. A few of us coached the others on the best way to model swimwear. Suck it in, ladies!

2014camp-BathingBeautiesHere’s me adjusting my goggles for the 100-millionth time:

2014camp-GogglesIt’s such a treat to swim outdoors in the sunshine. I would be such a great swimmer if I lived near this pool, it’s fantastic.

Afterwards, there was the usual post-swim errands (coffee, drug store, etc.) It took a little while to get back to the house, but a core group of us had committed to an afternoon ride, so off we went:

2014camp-RideGroupWhew! After all of that, it was time for wine and FOOD. So. Much. Food. And of course, lots more lively conversation.

Day three: The agenda was pretty much the same as yesterday. Trail run/hike => Swim => Ride. We made a trek out to Punchbowl for a longer jaunt. The trail starts with 3/4 of a mile of uphill, so we tend to walk it.

Gail got some great pictures of us starting the run portion. How badass is that?!

2014camp-TrailRunStartThe trail looks like this, so I tend to do a mixture of running with walk breaks when my fitness level or klutziness dictate.

2014camp-PunchbowlTrail Gail caught me in a moment of running. I’m still getting used to the hand held bottle.2014camp-MePunchbowlI caught up to the group ahead of me and couldn’t resist photographing the photographers. So meta!

2014camp-PunchbowlPhotoAfterward, Gail had us do a post-run group picture. We had her put her camera on a timer so she could be in the shot as well. I was very impressed by how well it came out:

2014camp-PunchbowlGroupShotThen once again, it was off to the pool for half of us. (The Chicago Five opted for lunch and some chilling out.) As tempting as that was, I couldn’t resist an opportunity to swim in that beautiful pool again. Gail and Suzanne were kind enough to give me some swim tips, which I’m very excited to work on. Then it was back to the house for food and bike ride.

The wind was pretty intense, so the “recovery loop” was not really living up to it’s name. When we left, I wasn’t sure I’d even make it fifteen minutes, Kristi was of the same mindset, so she and I stuck together. Monty had given us a different set of directions than the loop that we typically did, so¬†there was some confusion over which was “the first right-hand turn.” Kristi and I took what we thought it was, but the rest of the group had passed it. We meandered along into the wind, spinning in our easy¬†gears and trying not to worry about the big hill climb ahead.

It felt like the road back had tripled in length and somehow increased the amount of uphill. I had figured the other girls were ahead of us, but when we stopped to stretch before tackling the big hill home, I heard a couple of them coming up the road. We waited in the sunshine for the everyone to regroup and I was gratified to see that all of us were struggling with the wind. (Misery loves company!)

After dinner, Monty’s wife Ashley had put together a trivia game for us about Monty and the ranch. It was fun and we learned some interesting tidbits.

2014camp-GroupTrivia2 2014camp-GroupTriviaI think this makes a good place to end part 1. Stay tuned for tales of our epic biking adventure and many more photos.