T in training


This blog is chock-full of my training exploits, but for whatever reason, the desire to train for tris has been non-existent this year. T is super gung-ho to do Leadman, so I’ve taken on the role of sherpa and joining him for parts of training as I feel like it. It’s been going pretty well. I have major FOMO (fear of missing out) about Leadman, but I’m pretty sure getting to hang out with a bunch of friends will more than make up for that. Plus, it’s been so fantastic to watch T so fired up about training. He’s been killing it in training and seems to be really enjoying the process.

He’s also learning first-hand how exhausting long course training is. The penalty for napping in our house is a bed full of animals:

NappingI think young Austin misses his dad when he’s gone. I came outside to see this. Since I know exactly how bad that sweaty run shirt smells, it MUST be love:

AustinTshirtBut he’s learned to take advantage of T’s recovery time:

TonDogBed CouchTandAustin For one of T’s long run days, we parked the car at Magnuson park, which is right next to the Burke Gilman and has a fantastic dog park. So Austin and I got to enjoy this:

AustinDogParkWhile T did this:


While T is doing all of his training, I’ve had time to tackle fun projects. Like making experimental cocktail cherries.

CherriesBuying too many things at Oiselle’s sample sale:

OiselleClothesAnd M did a Whole 30! We had them over for W30 dinner and backyard time. Rowan showed us the magic (and deliciousness) of bubbles:

RowanBubblesAnd continued her deep, abiding friendship with Wally:


It’s certainly a challenge balancing T’s training needs with the regular demands of life, but I think it’s going pretty well. I’ve been struggling with exercise, but I’m signing up for some new classes that I’ve been wanting to try and am plotting my next big undertaking. More on that later… In the meantime, the weekly produce box has been keeping our meals healthy. But mostly, it’s been good to switch places with T, I’m learning a lot about this side of the fence.





We spent our Fourth of July weekend at Jenn & Bryan’s cabin. In addition to all of the other awesome things about going out to the cabin, they also don’t allow any fireworks out there, so poor Wally wouldn’t be traumatized. (And not teach Austin that fireworks are SO SCARY THAT YOU MUST FREAK OUT WHEN YOU HEAR THEM!!!!)

We had a fantastic weekend, filled with all kinds of adventures. We took the boys for nice long walks in the woods. Austin was up every morning at dawn, jonesing to chase all of the woodland creatures. (He got a few epic off-leash jaunts when we felt it was safe, but by and large had to enjoy the woodland creatures from behind windows or on a leash. Poor abused puppy… )

Wally enjoyed a quieter form of adventure, but was still very happy to be in the woods.


Bryan had a big chainsaw project, cutting up a big old tree. It turned out to contain a woodpecker nest, which was really cool. It’s amazing what a little bird can do:WoodpeckerNest

T was a training machine. He went out for a solo ride, but his phone was out of batteries, so he had to borrow mine. I later found a series of hilarious selfies:


He and I also went out for a ride together. I dropped him off in Twisp and then drove to Winthrop to an agreed upon starting point. Since he’s significantly faster than me, I then just started riding with the plan that he’d catch up. Of course, there was no way to know when that would actually be, which can be stressful. I really needed to pee, so after carefully scanning the road behind me, I stopped to use the porta-potty, hurrying as fast as I could. But naturally, when I looked out at the road afterward I saw Todd pedaling up the road, well out of shouting range. Crap!

There is very limited cell service, so I sent a hail mary text, but just had to ride the best I could and hope that he might be at our usual water stop. I somehow missed that campground and was getting pretty grumpy since I was riding longer than I wanted to, but couldn’t stop lest T be frantically worried. FINALLY, I saw him coming down the hill as I was coming up. Thankfully, it was all downhill and smooth sailing after that.

Following our melodramatic bike ride, I got to go for a horseback ride with Jenn. I haven’t been on a horse since the summer after T and I got married, seventeen years ago. (I’m pretty sure the girl from the stables that was helping us hadn’t been born yet… ) It was so much fun and I’m going to look into riding lessons. Stay tuned for a blog post on that adventure…

Jenn, of course, had an insane holiday-themed dessert planned:

CakeAssemblyMontageI liked the mid-way camera adjustment:


The end result was… formidable:


But when you cut the cake, voila! Flag magic!


This was a common sight in the evenings:

RecoveryTAs was this:


But we managed to stay awake late enough to play an epic Mexican Dominos game. We had to invoke the “T rule” when Bryan won three games in a row. We probably need to invoke a “spouses shouldn’t pour the penalty shot” rule:

MexicanDominosPenaltyShot BryanDominosPenalty BryanShotApparently, we were having so much fun that Austin decided to join the party:


We checked out the Twisp farmers market:

FarmersMarketJenn and Bryan scored an awesome owl nesting house from this guy:

BirdhousesAnd Austin learned to swim. He was not really pleased with T and I swimming far out into the lake, but otherwise, I think he enjoyed it. The next time, we’ll take both dogs so Austin can watch Wally chase sticks and things. 

LakeAustinOn our way home, we stopped in Lake Chelan, where T’s boss has a vacation house. We hung out with her, her partner and her partner’s nephew/girlfriend in a gorgeous park next to the lake.

Chelan3 Chelan1We even did a little kayaking. Here’s T’s boss Tee, showing how it’s done:

Chelan2There was also some gorgeous porch time, which made it very hard to leave. But eventually, we had to hit the road. Tee had recommended a burger place in town, but we weren’t quite hungry enough to stand in the long line, so we hit our normal drive-in burger place… which had a 30 minute wait on TO GO orders. So, we soldiered on to Leavenworth. T had looked up a decent sounding burger place, which was somehow closed at 7:40 on a very busy holiday weekend. Grrrr… We settled for the Ye Olde McDonalds. Which screwed up T’s order. Twice. Way to make a bad situation worse, Ye Olde McDonalds. Then to add insult to injury, we passed a very respectable looking drive-in burger place on the way out of town. With a huge sign that said “LEAVENWORTH’S BEST BURGERS.” Have I mentioned how much I hate Leavenworth?

But this was a tiny blip on what was an insanely fantastic weekend. As always, thanks so much to Jenn & Bryan for being such amazing hosts and inviting us to enjoy their wonderful cabin. And best of all, this was young Austin when we got home:





Welcome to the taper zone


When you’re in the middle of training taper shines ahead like a mythical land. The reduced workout time and increased couch time sound like heaven. Of course there are some elements of taper that suck, but you never remember them when you’re in the thick of things. So, I thought it would be fun to write a post about the whole process. For me, taper is a mixture of the following phases. They last for varying amounts of time, but as the race gets closer it seems like I can hit all of them in a single day. (Poor T, they should really give him the medal… )

Energy Swings
Holy crap, I feel great! What should I do now? Clean the house? Walk the dog? Oh, never mind. I’ll just lay on the couch and watch old Futurama episodes on Netflix.

Training requires a lot of calories, but my body doesn’t seem to notice when the training stops and continues wanting teenage boy amounts of food. Usually of the pie variety…

Mood Swings
“This race is going to be so great. I can’t wait to go down there and kick some ass!” A few minutes go by… “OMG!!! THE RACE IS IN XX DAYS!!! I’m not ready. It’s going to be a disaster!” A few more minutes later, hysterical crying over absolutely nothing. Good times.

If you’ve been training for a big event, and have somehow managed to keep from getting injured thus far (knock wood), you start getting nervous that something stupid is going to happen to you in the final weeks. It only stands to reason that somehow the universe is going to reward all of those hours of work with a random mishap or stupid accident. I find myself wanting to wrap myself in bubble-wrap and hide in my basement.

Much like the previous stage, this phase is especially inevitable if you’re prone to cynicism. You find yourself looking around every public place for signs of infection and washing your hands all day long. You start wondering if maybe one of those surgical masks isn’t such a crazy idea after all. Add some antibacterial gel to the bubble-wrap/basement plan.

Phantom injuries
I don’t know why this happens, but I always seem to get these weird mystery twinges or pains. Which only seem to feed the Paranoia phase.

Training amnesisa
There’s always a moment or two where I’m convinced I haven’t trained for this race. Heck, I usually doubt whether I’ve done any athletic activity at all, ever. Can I even ride a bike? Or run a mile? What am I thinking, doing this crazy race? Thankfully, I’ve done this enough that I know it’s normal.

Brain fog
I swear I get stupider during the taper process. I wander around my house trying to figure out what exactly I went into the bedroom to get. I start to do simple tasks, only to abandon them for a different simple task and then forget to finish either one of them. (Things like plugging my phone into the charger or putting food in the microwave. You know, the really complicated multi-step things… )

This week has been chock-full of taper madness. I leave for California next Wednesday, so I’m trying my best to wrap things up at work this week as much as possible because who knows how productive I’ll be next week. (Scratch that, everybody knows how productive I’ll be next week… ) I’ve scheduled the pet sitter, gotten my bike tuned up, gotten a massage and will wrap up the final bits of race prep this weekend. Soon, all that will be left is the actual race itself. (Gulp!)



First of all, I have to thank my fabulous friends for not only putting up with so much whining on this blog. Your comments on Facebook were so great and made me feel so much better.

It gives me great pleasure to announce that this last week was a huge improvement and I was definitely fighting off some sort of bug. I hit all of my planned workouts, including a Friday night 2.4 mile swim race at Lake Meridian. I last did this event four years ago and I’m pleased to say I dropped five minutes off of my time. I even passed someone right before the finish line (he was swimming in a zig-zag pattern that was driving me nuts.) I was especially pleased because I’d spent the day riding my bike with my co-workers after a full week of training, so I wasn’t exactly fresh.

On Saturday, T was going to try out a Crossfit class with Bryan and Jenn. I went for a nice easy run and then met up with them for breakfast:

MorselJenn & Bryan had been to this place before and recommended it. They were right, this place was delicious. They turn out some seriously awesome biscuits:

MorselInteriorAfterward, we hit up the University District farmers market and picked up some nice produce. On the way home we also picked up a little present for Wally:

WallyPoolHe isn’t really sure what to do with it, but I’m pretty sure when we get another really hot weekend he’ll be on board. In the meantime, George really enjoys it as a water dish. Speaking of Wally, he took his ridiculousness to a new level by taking a nap with his head in his toy box. Poor dog has been seriously neglected in the play time department today:

SillyDogOn Sunday, I had my final long ride with a short run afterward. Originally, I was planning to do the full race distance with a planned two loop route. Unfortunately, the loop in question had a road under construction on one side and a scary two lane highway with no shoulder on the other, so it got shortened down to 80 miles. It was really gorgeous though:

RideMontageI did pretty well otherwise, practicing my nutrition strategy until I ran out of water and had to detour up to a gas station. I chugged a coke, which would have been fine if I’d had the 40-something miles I’d originally planned on instead of ten. Running with that coke sloshing around in my stomach was NOT fun. Plus, I’d chosen a less than optimal spot to run so it was pretty ugly. But I put on my big girl panties and got it done.

After the drive home and a nice shower I was FAMISHED. Since I’d left the boy home by himself all day, I thought we needed a nice dinner out – preferably on a sunny patio. I gave him a choice and he opted for burgers. I went all out:


It was delicious and a nice way to kick off taper. I can’t believe the race is in less than two weeks!

Lessons will be repeated…


So, despite this blog post, I made the decision to do Pacific Crest as a practice race for Vineman. I still hate this race, but it was ideal as a practice race for a couple of reasons:

1.) Heat: One of the things that is really scaring me about Vineman is the fact that the temp is likely to be between 80 and 90 degrees. Pacific Crest is typically pretty toasty and this year did not disappoint.

2.) Uninspiring run course: From everything I’ve heard, Vineman’s run course is hot, isolated and uninspiring. I can’t think of a better practice for that than Pacific Crest’s terrible tour of Sunriver resort.

3.) Practice with new stuff: I wanted a chance to see how the kit and wheels did in race conditions and test out my nutrition strategy.

4.) No other options: There were literally no other half-iron distance races in this time frame. Everything else was either too early or way too late.

With all of those things in mind, I signed up. I lucked into a free place to stay from a girl on Slowtwitch who I’d met when I’d volunteered at Ironman Canada. She’d posted some questions about the race on the forum and I’d mentioned that I might be up there as well, so she messaged me and offered me a place to stay at her dad’s place. So nice! (And after all of the Smokey Joe expenses, pretty much the only way I could make this race happen financially.)

Per usual, the day before the race was filled with all sorts of errands. Thankfully, there was an option to pay 10 bucks and drop your bike off at Packet Pickup for them to transport up to the lake. Since this saved me two hours of driving, I considered it money well spent. I passed this sign as I was checking in and thought it was amusing:

PC_DeschutesThere’s something about a brewery congratulating you on your courage that makes me laugh. I also snapped a photo of tomorrow’s goal:

PC_finishLineI was able to wrap up all my errands and spend a nice relaxing afternoon/evening hanging out with Lisa’s lovely Dad and Aunt. They made a delicious dinner and then it was early to bed.

Because I was doing this race solo, I was a little worried about where I was going to park on race morning. I needed the car to be close enough to hobble to post-race, so I left extra early and scored a nice convenient spot somewhat close to the finish line (and a grocery store, score!) I walked over to transition, set up my T2 and caught the bus out to the lake/T1. As usual, the bus ride was a mix of quiet and nervous chit-chat. It was already a gorgeous day out:

PC_BusRideWhen I got up to the transition area and found my bike, I realized I’d remembered my race number wrong (and set up my T2 in the wrong spot!) I had to have a volunteer fix the number on my calf and felt like a total spaz. (Why yes, I have been doing triathlons for ten years, thanks for asking!) I set up my transition area and tried to keep the butterflies in check by reminding myself that this was basically a training day with company. I also learned that for some unknown reason, they’d changed the swim course to be two loops. Which meant that those of us in the second to the last wave would be passed by all of the people in the the four waves in .6 miles of space. Blergh.

I went in for a practice swim and reminded myself of how freakin’ cold that damn lake is. They claimed it was 67 degrees, but it sure felt colder than that to me! When it came time for our wave to line up, I found a really good spot, to the right of the start, in line with the buoy. There were only two fast looking guys near me, so I didn’t have to worry about a lot of people next to me, although there were a million people to my left that would be merging into my line. I decided not to worry about it.

The horn blew and I focused on just taking it out nice and smooth and use the time before the first buoy as a warm-up. I was surprised to not really have too much congestion from folks merging in. There were a few TnT-ers with some crazy swimming (special shout out to the person somehow swimming freestyle arms and a scissor kick. I’m not sure how you could even do that!) but for the most part I avoided them. After the first buoy, it was a total cluster. There were slower people breaststroking and faster people from the previous waves trying to get through. I got caught up in a big pack just after the second buoy and had a total panic attack. Like, had to stop and catch my breath/calm down freak-out. It totally sucked and threw me off my mental game. I had one other section where I had to stop to figure out where to start the second lap, but by the second lap I found a bit more open water and was able to get a steady pace going again. It was a super slow swim time, but according to my Garmin, I swam 1.27 miles. Sigh.

I finished the swim and wobbled my way to the bike. I struggled into the Coolwing sleeves (I’ll have to wear these under my wetsuit if I use them for Vineman, they took FOREVER to put on.) I finished my changing and stuffed all of my crap into the plastic bag and headed out. I felt surprisingly good on the bike, but tried to keep things easy for the first part. (Which was hard, I really wanted to to fast and pass more people.) I kept up on my water, but my stomach felt really weird and queasy. I assumed it was from the swim, so I eased off the food until my stomach felt better.

By the time the climbing started, I felt like I was riding well. I was steadily passing folks and not getting passed back too often. I was drinking my Infinit and taking in some gel, but not really wanting to eat the solid food I’d brought along. The heat wasn’t too bad, except when we got to some of the longer climbs. Then it was brutal. The climbs weren’t as easy/breezy as I remembered from Leadman, but they weren’t as bad as the last time I’d done Pacific Crest either. I kept my effort as low as possible on them, but was feeling frustrated that I wasn’t going faster. I was so happy to get to the big descent back to town, looking forward to making up some time. But as I started barreling down the hill, a cross-wind hit and moved me over a foot or two. I screamed and grabbed the brakes and nearly stopped the bike, I was so scared. This, of course, made me take the rest of the descents far more gingerly than I ordinarily would. It got better and I started to get a better sense of how to handle the bike in the wind, but it really rattled me.

Plus, my stomach was feeling really weird and I was feeling just strange. I wasn’t sure if it was heat stroke or what was happening, but I was just feeling AWFUL. It was a struggle to ride the last five miles and I wasn’t sure what was happening. I was in tears when I finally pulled into the transition area, but the minute I stood up and started walking the bike, my stomach started growling like crazy. I was super hungry and bonking like crazy. I put my bike in it’s proper place at the rack and walked over to where I’d incorrectly set up my run stuff. I sat down, burst into tears and ate a Honey Stinger Waffle while I changed into my running stuff. I was a mess, but I stumbled my way out of transition and on to the run course.

I’d put my phone in my pocket, so I got it into my head that I should call the boy and get his advice. I sat down on a stump, next to some poor bastards condo, hysterically crying while other racers jogged by me. The boy talked me off the ledge and helped me realize that doing the run was going to put me in a pretty deep hole that would likely effect my ability to train for the rest of the week and that was just stupid. So, I decided to cut my losses and call it quits. It’s official, Pacific Crest, I’m done with you. You aren’t the race for me.

The next morning, I was feeling deeply regretful that I didn’t know if I could have rallied from the bike nutrition fail. It was making me feel insecure about my readiness for Vineman, so with a fairly empty stomach and a decent level of hydration, I went out to do a hot weather run in 90 degree Salem. There’s a great area with running trails at Minto Brown park:


I’d planned to do a 90 minute run, but ended up getting lost and doing two hours. I stashed a couple of bottles of water at various places, but only ended up passing one of them. (D’oh!) I was able to eat myself out of that empty/pre-bonk feeling and found a run/walk strategy that helped when the heat got to me. While I ran, I thought about the previous days’ race and what I’d learned from it. I actually found myself feeling better about the whole experience and extracting things to apply to my upcoming race.

So, even though it was a really crappy race experience, it was a great training weekend. I’m still feeling nervous about Vineman, but I’ve got some sound strategies to make the race go better.



In the thick of it


Training is a funny thing. At the very beginning, it’s fun and motivating. But as the weeks go on, the novelty wears off and you have to find ways to get yourself out the door. Then, I always seem to hit a point as the event looms closer that the combo of physical exhaustion and nervousness at the proximity of the event turn me into a bit of a mess. It’s at these moments that you just have to take motivation where ever you can find it.

This weekend, I had to do a practice ride in my race wheels and new race kit. I made a plan to have T meet me in Snohomish, where we could do a short ride together and then get a slice of pie or something. Originally, I’d planned to leave early in the morning to avoid some of the multi-use path traffic. But I procrastinated and talked the boy into making banana pancakes for breakfast, so the denizens of the Burke Gilman were going to have to deal with this girl:
RacePractice(I really wish I could have borrowed an aero helmet to complete the ensemble… ) It was a beautiful day, but I was still having a hard time getting my head in the game. I did my best to look at the scenery and get the work done. It took me a little longer to meet up with T than I wanted, but I found him eventually and we had a nice little ride together. There was a section where I could put the hammer down with the new wheels and pull T along, which was pretty awesome. All told, I got 60 miles on the bike – not too shabby. Afterward, I went out for a short brick run. It felt terrible for the first couple of minutes, per usual, but it actually felt pretty decent after that. And turned out that I was going much faster than I thought I was, which is never a bad thing. Then there was a delicious slice of pie with the boy in the sunshine, so it was a successful day all around.

The next morning was another tired/don’t wanna sort of morning. I had friends doing Ironman Coeur D’Alene, which provided excellent motivation and reminded me of what I’d be facing in one months time. (YIKES!) As an added incentive, T made biscuits for breakfast, which Wally was very interested in.

WallyBiscuitsI needed to do a bit of open water practice, since I’d missed my opportunity last weekend. Unfortunately, I hadn’t been very good with the sunscreen yesterday and had a nice little sunburn on my back. That made the wetsuit very un-enjoyable. But even with gray skies and a little rain, Green lake was as smooth as glass without a hint of wind, so it was a pretty decent swim. T brought Wally to the lake for a little walk/swim. I tried to coax him out to swim with me, but he wasn’t having it. (I don’t think he wanted to leave T, sweet boy.)

Afterward, I rested up for a little bit and watched more Ironman coverage. Then it was back out the door for a run. I told myself that I had to do at least two loops of the lake, but got myself to do three, which made me happy. I felt pretty solid too, which was nice. We had a nice chicken dinner and got to see David finish his first Ironman. I know it’s been a goal of his since his bike crash before IM Canada in 2009, so I’m very happy for him.

Oregon whirlwind


Back when I started setting up my training, I put a few events on my calendar to break up the monotony of training alone. I thought it would be nice to do a weekend down in Portland as one of those breaks. What I didn’t count on was how logistically difficult it would be to squeeze in time with both families, T trying to get some work done and all of the training I had on my plan.

Early start to the day. T was working all day, so we dropped Wally off at doggie daycare and I took the day off to hang out with my mom. I made her go to a tri store with me (birthday $ + sale price + no sales tax = new wetsuit for Vineman. Yay!) Afterward, we went to the Rebuilding Center – this giant place where people bring stuff from their house when they remodel or tear things down. It has a little bit of everything and a lot of little things:


For example, an aisle of doorknobs:



My favorite was the shelf of toilet tank lids:

RC4It was a really interesting place to look around. I envy those people who can look at stuff like this and turn it into amazing things, but unfortunately, I’m not one of them. My mom scored a couple of old oak drawers that she’s going to make into little shelving units to display some creche scenes, so I’m excited to see how that turns out.

We headed over to SE Portland where we had lunch, got some cupcakes for desert and poked around a couple of shops. Then we headed home to relax in the backyard sunshine with Bingley (aka the holy terror):


He’s a lap and guard dog in one!

Who, like all pugs, knows when he’s being made fun of:
Bingley2Todd eventually joined us after battling the Friday evening traffic. Lucky for him, we got to sit in some more to drive down to Salem. Yay!

Another early morning to get ready to ride. The dogs were still sleepy:

WallyBlueBlue is now Wally sized, but still a puppy:

WallyBlue2Originally, I’d planned to do a century up in Silverton, but it was a bit more catered (and expensive) than I needed. So, I was planning to do a mostly solo 100 miles down to Brownsville, the town my grandparents lived when I was a kid. Sarah and Susan joined me for the first leg of the ride, it was nice to have such… um… fashionable company:

RainbowBrightIt was a lovely day for a long ride. We even saw a baby llama:

babyLlamaAfter about an hour and a half, I bid farewell to my riding companions and continued on my way. There was a section of the ride called the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway. I couldn’t figure out why they would possibly call it that:




At some point in here, a mini-van coming toward me stopped and asked “if I was part of the bike race.” Um, nope. Then I passed an intersection where some obvious volunteers were hanging out and chatting. I was clearly coming from a direction they didn’t expect, so they watched me pass without comment. Then another five minutes later, a pick-up truck pulled up next to me while I was refilling my water bottle/taking a picture and ask if I was in the triathlon. (There are so many things to love about that question.) So, should you ever contemplate doing the Albany Triathlon (my best guess as to where the race would be), the whole community is looking out for you!

Eventually, I made it to Brownsville. It was mostly unchanged, but they’ve kept the historic downtown section nice and clean. It’s still a cute little town. (Fun fact: they filmed the movie Stand By Me here back in the 80’s.)

BrownsvilleMedleyI was pleasantly surprised by how much I remembered. I was easily able to navigate the way from the park, (where we used to swim in the river) to my grandparent’s old house (now owned by white trash, complete with car on blocks.) Then it was time to hit the road again. And deal with the terrible scenery and copious amounts of traffic:


Scenery5The rest of the ride went without incident. Except for needing to pee and not having anything but open farmland and stupid towns that don’t have obvious restrooms, I was pleasantly surprised by how well the ride was going. I made it back to Salem just in time to shower and gather my wits for the BBQ Susan was having. When I came out to the backyard, Susan and T were testing out the croquet set up. Blue added a “miniature golf” quality to the game:

BlueCrocquetWe had a nice meal sitting in the sunshine. I was pleasantly tired from the days ride, but there was no rest for the weary. Time to head back up to Portland!

Today was supposed to be the Hagg Lake Open Water Swim. I wanted to practice the 2.4 mile swim in race-like conditions. Unfortunately, I didn’t plan well and we were too late getting out of my parents house. (It’s much further to get there from my parents’ house than our previous residence, so we completely mis-calculated how much time we needed.) I beat myself up about that for a little while, but it gave T a chance to visit a few more locations and finish up some work. Then a long drive back to Seattle. Whew!

Overall, it was a good visit but it was much more frantic and stressful than I wanted it to be. Hopefully, I can remember some lessons to make future visits go more smoothly.