Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Weekend Race Reports

Turkey Trot 5K
Vancouver, WA
November 24, 2011

Time:  25:49 (8:24 pace)

Simply an amazing example of some of the great people we have in the local area.  This event started several years ago by a group of families that liked to get together Thanksgiving morning and go for a run.  It has grown by leaps and bounds and is one of my favorite events all year. 

Arrived at the event site of Klineline Pond/Salmon Creek Park with Wendy and got signed up and collected our goodies.  For being a ‘free’ event (there is a $15 recommended donation to the Principal’s Checkbook), it is well organized, staffed and the SWAG is pretty cool.

Goal for today was to have a good race, not break any speed records, but also push my effort.  The course was almost exclusively on the Salmon Creek Trail and with 700+ participants, it was very packed.

Gun goes off and we head out, shortly after getting on the trail, I see a man on the ground with a few other people around him.  The trail is slippery in some spots so I figured he had slipped and hurt his leg or something.  There were half a dozen people lending assistance so I kept on going.  Later I would find out from Wendy that the man suffered a heart attack and some of the racers had to do CPR on him.  Yikes, I hope he survived.

The first mile was pretty mellow, kept things steady and then tried to crank it up.  First mile was a 9:20 I think.  Just before the 1.5 mile turn around, we had to ford a deep puddle.  Some people turned around a bit short, but I slogged through, getting my feet wet up past the ankles.  Speaking of ankle, I have a bad injury on my right ankle from walking around Seattle for a week in crappy shoes.  The injury is from my flat feet and my ankle rolling, compounded with the tender area caused by my bone spur.  Ouch.  So every foot strike hurts quite a bit.

I upped the pace and dug deep.  But about a half mile from the finish, I got really fatigued and had to slow to a 9:45 pace.  Ugh.  Sometimes these 5K events are tough if you don’t pace yourself correctly.  After about a minute of this nonsense, I found some energy and picked it back up.  Glided into the finish with a respectable time.

Hot Buttered Run 12K
Ft. Vancouver, WA
November 27, 2011

Time:  1:08:19 (9:06 pace)

This was a super fun event last year and I knew I didn’t want to miss it.  A high energy, family fun and well supported event at Pearson Field at Ft. Vancouver in Vancouver.  Beautiful venue.  Sister and Wendy joined me on race morning.  Wendy and Gretchen opted for the 5K and for me, wanting to test myself a bit, I went for the 12K (7.5 miles).

Remember the ankle pain I have been having?  I decided to visit the running store to have my foot strike analyzed again and see if I need to change my shoes.  The video showed that I am still a neutral runner but it was evident that I was favoring something on my right foot.  The specialist suggested I try some over the counter shoe inserts to give me some arch and heel support.  I tried several types and styles and finally found one that felt pretty good.  So, with new shoes and new inserts (remember—nothing new or different on race day!), I headed out on 12k’s of running fun.

My goal was to maintain a 9 minute pace.  Although I ran a few days ago, I really haven’t done anything of distance for several weeks.  I have been doing a lot of runs in the 3 to 5 mile range.

Things started out well enough, I was digging my new shoes and the inserts felt great, relatively no pain.  The scenery around the fort is so beautiful this time of year.  Big deciduous trees are everywhere and their leaves have all but run their course of the fall colors.  This made for some deep piles of leaves on the road and trails that many runners would swoosh their feet through the leaves. 

I just kept things steady; everything was going well until…… we came to a train in the way.  Hah!  We were on the west end of downtown Vancouver and a freight train had the road blocked.  I had to wait for about 2 minutes but others had to wait a lot longer.  Oh well. 

As we started heading back towards town, I am thinking I was at mile 4.5 or so, I had to dart into Subway and use their bathroom.  Whew!  Thank you Subway, although your sign read “Restrooms are for Customers Only” I will be sure to frequent your establishment on a regular basis.

I was pretty tired and was feeling the sweat rolling off my head and onto my face.  I could taste the salt on my lips.  Just before the finish I caught up to Wendy as she was getting ready to finish the 5K.  “Hey hottie!!!” I hollered as I went by.

Sister was there at the last turn to give me a high 5 before I crossed the finishline.  Whew!  What a run.  Not bad for me, either. 

So, how’s the feet?  The new shoes and inserts worked beautifully.  Although I am still sore and my ankle hurts, this will prove to be the ticket in keeping me injury free.

What a great weekend of activity.  Next weekend is the Jingle Bell Run where I will attempt to break my 5K PR of 23:50!!!  Thanks for your support.

Monday, November 7, 2011

2010 Ironman Coeur d'Alene Race Report

I did this race in June 2010, but wanted to make sure it got placed on my blog.  It was an incredible day and should be shared!  I am currently training for Ironman CDA June 2012, so check back for more updates!

This report is written with the strategies envoked by my triathlon coaches and our team (Endurance Nation). 

Total Time: 15:32:17 (1848 OA, 350 AG)

IMCDA Race Report and the Four Keys

This race report will not only depict my experiences and performance, but also highlight the importance of the Four Keys and other Endurance Nation “secrets” during my race.


The team EN dinner was fantastic. Great location and it was super getting to meet the rest of the team. The connections made at this dinner would later become ever important during the event.

Coach Rich gave his Four Keys talk on the Grassy Knoll to well over 80 people. It served as a good refresher for me, but as I looked around the crowd at the non-EN members, I could see some looks of amazement. “Does this stuff really work?”

Side Note: During the Athlete Pre-Race Dinner I was recognized as having lost the 2nd most amount of weight while training for this event. I won a cool body composition scale. Also, people are curious what I looked like 2 years ago. Can you believe this guy is going to become an Ironman in 2 years???


During a podcast, Coach P listed the importance of having checklists. I typically use checklists for stuff I need to take or put into certain bags, but I have never made a checklist that included things I needed to do on race morning. It seems I’ve always had race morning under control. At the last minute, I decided to make a detailed checklist that covered everything I needed to do on race morning from the time I got up until the time I set foot on the beach for the swim start. I was so thankful to have this checklist because my brain was so distracted when I got to the race site. My nerves were going nuts, I was excited and I tend to get ADD when this happens. Having the checklist kept me focused and I got things done. Even had time for a 20 minute warm-up jog.


Swim: 1:16:39 (2:01/100m—879 OA, 165 AG)

Key: Execution—“Swim only as fast as ability to maintain form.”

I didn’t bother asking other swimmers on the beach what their swim split expected to be, but I did take a look at who was twitchy, who was relaxed and who was scared s*tless. I worked my way down to the water’s edge and lined up directly behind the twitchy fellas in the front row.

Boom! As I predicted, the twitchy fellas took off like a shot, I followed close behind so I wouldn’t be trampled by the masses and plunged into the cold water. The water didn’t feel that bad, thankfully. I wore a neoprene cap for the first time and it seemed to work great cause I didn’t experience any discomfort during the swim (due to the cold).

The first 100m was pretty intense. With quick strokes and jockeying for position I was starting to hyperventilate. I tried to smooth out my strokes, but the steep waves made this difficult. I was not executing like Coach told me so I said, “Mile 18, Mike!” Amazing the first reference to THE LINE came in the first 100m. But it helped remind me to swim easy and with proper form. After that, the swimming went very well. I was relatively relaxed, except for an occasional gulp of water from the waves, or swimming into someone. I even got in some good drafting by following swimmers on the second lap.


“Slow is Smooth—Smooth is Fast”

In race prep I did not plan on having fast transition times. This being my first Ironman, I was more concerned with not missing anything. But I did keep the slow is smooth/smooth is fast mantra going in my head as I changed out. At my next Ironman I will work on being more efficient.

Bike: 7:36:50 (14.7 mph—1830 OA, 351 AG)

Key: Execution—Just Ride Along first 90 mins.

Going through town and then out along the lake I could see why Coach R said to pay close attention to your HR/watts. Racers were just cruising. Mashing it all the way. I just kept it steady and kept reminding my self, “it is a long day—Mile 18—Mile 18.”

When we got to the hills, sure enough Coach was right, guys were crushing it, while I kept it steady and I actually laughed out loud as bikers went whizzing by—Look I’m going backwards!

The “down and through” Coach P emphasized on the podcast worked like magic. I would maintain my effort across the crest of the hill and then down the first third or when I reached about 30mph and it would carry me a good portion up the next hill as I was passing some of the dudes who had crushed it earlier.

As for nutrition on the bike, I am still having difficulty in what works for me. I was using a mixture of protein & carbs and then an electrolyte bottle with Nuun tabs and then water in my aero jug. After mile 60 I was getting really tired and felt depleted. I was craving solid food. I ate some bananas and powerbars at the next few aid stations and started feeling better, but I ratcheted it back significantly because of THE LINE. And my box was clearly aid station to aid station the 2nd loop.


“Take this bike away from me, I don’t ever want to see it again!” That is what I said, but I said it jokingly to the volunteer. He replied laughing, “Gee, I haven’t heard that yet today.”

Again, slow is smooth, smooth is fast. I changed out of my tri-shorts into my running shorts. I hadn’t planned on this, but I was getting some bad chafing from the bike and decided at last minute to make the change. What slowed me down was that I put my hydration bottles in a small cooler to keep them cold while sitting outside during the swim and bike. I had to manage the taking of the bottles out of the cooler and then putting them onto the run belt. Next time I will just freeze them overnight and not mess with the cooler.

Run: 6:24:40 (14:40/mi—1848 OA, 350 AG)

Execution—Easy Run place plus 30” first 5 miles.

Okay, scratch that one because I can’t run right now, my legs are going into revolt.

Box—My box was very small at the beginning of the run. I walked the first 2 miles. In the back of my mind I knew about Mile 18, but the box was too small. I had to dig out my One Thing at this point and that was I wasn’t going to quit, period!

So I plugged along to the aid station and got in some calories. Mmmm, potato chips. These would wind up being the secret to my success. I hadn’t trained with potato chips before, but I was craving these salty, ridged chips of goodness. Between that and copious amounts of water and my G2 Gatorade in my run belt, I started feeling much better at mile 2.

So my box could get a little bigger. Okay, time to count the steps. I started with running 40 steps and then walking 20. I did several cycles of these and then increased it to 60 steps running and 30 walking. Then it was 100 and 30. As the cycles went by I was then able to increase my box to the length of a block or distance. “I will run from here to the turn, or to the sign and then walk 30 steps.” This tactic carried me the entire marathon.


THE LINE—Mile 18. Right at mile 18 I saw my good friend from high school as he was headed back to town and the finish line. He cheered me on and this gave me an incredible boost. I also had seen Carly, Aaron, Jay, Wendy and Al out on the course and they all had helped me get through other rough patches along the way. I was feeling “great” and started to get that excited feeling knowing I was going to finish!

As the sunset over the mountains, it was a beautiful evening. Lake CDA is one of my all time favorite places to be and this was certainly one of the most memorable. I kept the run/walking thing going and was surprised I felt better and better as the miles added up.

I hit the turnaround and caught up to Carly and Aaron on our way back to town. We chatted it up for a bit and did some run/walking. I told them that I was on a mission and was going to keep going. They said, “go get ‘em Mike!” and I was on my way.

The run down Sherman Ave to the finish was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. The crowds, the cheers, the elation, the culmination of a dream. I felt like a champion as I ran what felt like an 8:30/mile pace the last third mile into the finish. Wow! I am and IRONMAN!


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ironman-Hawaii Day 1

Ironman WC Travel--Wed Oct. 5

Very excited to be heading to Hawaii for the first time and to attend the "Super Bowl" of Ironman Triathlons--THE Ironman.

Flying over the ocean is rather boring.  Not much to look at.  Although I did reminisce about being on a ship at sea.  I had made the voyage from Seattle to Australia twice.  Approx. 35 day crossings.  About 6 days to Hawaii where the closest we got was within 6 miles of Waikiki Beach.

I guess my desire (lack of) was tainted by my father's negative jeers about the 50th state.  Too hot, humid, bugs, ugly, expensive, dirty, unfriendly, etc.

While I looked out the window I did see two ships about 1,000 miles off shore.  One was a container ship heading north and the other a cargo ship heading south.  Sometimes I miss those days.  Sense of adventure.  Hint of danger. Something unique. Makes it interesting.

Long flight.  Got up once to walk around and go pee. 

Made it to Honolulu.  While flying over I saw Pearl Harbor and the Arizona Memorial.  Would love to come back someday.  So much to see and do.  Was impressed with the sights, sounds and smells of Hono Airport.

SIGHTS:  Loved the outdoor air of the airport.  Much of the shops were outdoors but under cover.  There was also a tropical garden in the middle.  Lush green plants, water ponds and even fish.

SOUNDS: Immediately when the plane reached the gate, local music was piped throughout the plane.  Upon entering the terminal I could hear Hawaiian Key Guitar music.  Was very pleasant.  Much better than the elevator music of Anchorage and Seattle.

SMELLS:  Mmmmm.  Hawaiian food smells good.  They like their pork and chicken, mixed with the sweetness of tropical fruits and it is pleasing.  I took a pic of a restaurant that is just chicken.  Wendy likes chicken.  There is also the smells from the fragrant flowers.  They have flower stands that will make you a fresh lei.  You can also buy a miniature tropical plant.  I wonder how in the heck could I get one home and then how would it survive in that climate?

Had to take a shuttle bus to the inter-island terminal to catch my next flight once I got to the gate for the flight to Kona it was Ironman-Logo-Themed stuff all over the place.  People talked in different languages, too.  German, Australian, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese.

Decided to change seats to the exit row.  More leg room.  Sat next to a couple from Raleigh, NC.  His friend is doing Ironman.  He did CDA in 2005.

Touched down onto the Big Island there isn't much to this airport.  All completely outdoor, ticketing, security screening, baggage claim, etc. is all outdoors.

There is a nice breeze blowing but it is humid and kind of warm, but very pleasant for sure.

I have about 3 hours to wait until Gretchen and Brad arrive.  I hung out at the baggage claim.  I like to people-watch.  For the most part, I can pick out an Ironman athlete--besides the IM Tattoo, "Biggest, Baddest T-Shirt", IM logo hats, luggage tags or bags.  They have a typical appearance.  Usually tall, very skinny, most men have short hair, shaved legs, athletic (expensive) running shoes.

My coach was right about the T-shirt thing.  I am glad I didn't wear my "Ironman in Training 2012" shirt but opted for the more unique BMW Adventure motorcycle rider shirt.

While watching people get their bags you can see how people act differently in new/unfamiliar surroundings.  While they figure out logistics (location, bags, travel, etc.).  Also the sad faces when they realize their bags or more importantly, bicycles, didn't arrive.  Lots of fancy bike boxes, crates, bags, etc.  I still think Tri-Bike Transport is the way to go.

Sister's plane finally arrived.  In waiting for them at the gate, I looked around and saw about 8 people holding up signs.  Obviously here to pickup someone whom they had never met.  So I quickly sketched out a sign in my journal in big letters, "SISTER ALOHA."  And held up the sign as she came through security.  She cracked up laughing.  We are so silly.

Collected their bags and then headed over to the car rental place.  The lady tried to upsell us on everything.  First by telling us that the car would be much too small given our luggage.  Then the additional insurance, then a GPS system and finally pre-purchasing the fuel in the tank.  No, no, no and no thank you.

Made it to the condo and wow.  This was pretty cool.  A very basic condo with 1 bedroom, bath, kitchen, laundry, living room with a pullout couch and a balcony.  It was nice.  Comfortable.  We immediately saw a gecko.  Very cute.

We dropped some stuff down and then headed out for Safeway.  While driving through town, we could see the Ironman Village and all the ironman logo stuff and people out biking and running.  We were so excited!!!

While at Safeway, wow!  Island prices are different than the mainland.  We had to think seriously a few times whether or not we wanted to pay double for something that we could get back home.  Our total bill, after savings, was $157.00.  Ouch!  But we kind of split it, sis paid $100 and I picked up the rest.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Max Muscle Sprint Triathlon

my Rotary's Max Muscle Triathlon - Sprint triathlon individual results

Max Muscle Sprint Triathlon
September 11, 2011
Klineline Pond/Salmon Creek Park, Vancouver, WA

Total Time:  1:30:28  (8/13 age; 16/67 overall)

Last triathlon of the 2011 season.  Even though I have not been specifically doing triathlon training this year, it has been important to race as much as I can to gain experience and employ appropriate race strategies for given situations (remember when I forgot my liquid nutrition for the Rev 3 half-iron distance event?).  This event is a lot of fun and put on by some great people at Max Muscle nutrition stores in Vancouver.  Plus it is in my ‘backyard’ at the local park less than 2 miles from my house where I do most of my training runs and open water swims.

Swim:  750m 14:45 (1:58/100 yds), 5th out of 67

This was the cleanest I have ever seen Klineline Pond.  I could actually see the bottom up to about 10 feet.  They started all of the sprint distance men first.  Finally a starting official that doesn’t give a bogus countdown… just sound the flippin’ gun and get us going.  I despise countdowns.  Anyway, off we go.  Since I didn’t do any form of warm up, I wanted to just take it easy and enjoy the swim.  I immediately had to protect myself from getting kicked and hit from the guys to my sides and in front of me.  But I have been through this a lot so it didn’t freak me out.  I started stroking and got moving.  I was right next to this guy for about 200m.  We kept bumping into each other and I saw that I wasn’t going any faster than he was, so I stopped for a moment and then tucked in behind him to follow his draft.

We got to the first turn buoy and I looked up and could still see the leader just about 20m ahead of me with about 7 guys in between.  What?  Are ya kidding?  I am in the lead pack!  This has never happened before.  Let me see what I can do for the rest of the swim….

I dug deep as we rounded the turn buoy, cutting it very close to reduce the distance.  I then focused on smooth gliding strokes and a good technique.  From photos from previous events, I notice I pick my head out of the water too far, so I tried to keep my head down.  I quickly zoomed by 3 guys.  Cool!  We went another 200m to the next turn buoy and I could still see the lead guy about 40m ahead now but just 2 guys between him and me.  I came around the next turn buoy and quickly passed the next guy, I was now in 3rd down the backstretch.  I swam hard and was getting tired but didn’t care what it was going to do to the rest of my race, I didn’t want to get passed.

My hand touched the bottom of the pond and I got up.  Whoosh!  I am dizzy.  I wanted to take off running right away, but had to walk a few steps to get my bearings.  I came out of the water in 3rd place, but was quickly passed by 2 guys before I got to the transition timing mats.  Still pretty cool for me!


Into transition and my head was spinning.  Ugh!  I got to my bike and I was seeing spots.  I tried to take off my wetsuit, but I almost fell over.  I needed to slowdown and hold onto my bike while I peeled it off.  Then I fumbled around with my shoes, bib, GPS and everything else.  Ugh.  I entered transition in 5th and left in 10th.  Not good!

Bike:  12 miles 43:56 (16.4 mph) 18 of 67

A challenging but great course.  We headed out and had to climb a hill outside the park.  Then a few rollers with an awesome downhill followed by a steep uphill.  I got up to 43 mph on my bike.  Ooooh baby!  My heartrate was redlined at 152 bpm for quite awhile.  I tried to get it under control but could only get it down to 138 for a short period. 

Much to my surprise I wasn’t getting passed very much.  Usually I am toasted numerous times and it is disheartening.  I got passed just a couple of times before the turnaround.  As the riders went passed me the other way, I counted and figured I was in 13th place overall at mile 6.  I dug deep and didn’t want to get passed again.

Got passed a couple of times on the huge, and I mean huge, hill out of Salmon Creek.  Many riders were walking their bikes, I was in my granny gear, standing up grinding away.  Two guys come flying by me up the hill.  Goodness sakes!

Into transition and I am already dreading the 5K run.  Slam my bike onto the rack, change out my shoes and then fumble with my helmet and hat.  Then grabbed the American flag I had on my bike and headed out on the run.

Run:  5K 29:03 (9:20/mi) 32 of 67

The run continues to be my slowest discipline.  Today’s time was cruddy because of poor triathlon execution during the swim and bike, which I knew was going to happen, but come on, a 9:20 pace for 3 miles?  I should have been able to do 9:00 for sure.  But I was really tired and it was hot.  I had guzzled all 24 ozs of my water during the bike.  I was so parched I had cottonmouth.  The aid station wasn’t until the turnaround.

My initial pace was pretty good at about 8:30.  I even passed a couple of guys!  All right!  But then I had to slow down about mile 1 and it seemed like everyone was passing me.  I got to the turnaround and hung out at the aid station for about a minute guzzling water.

I was carrying the American flag and I got lots of cheers and compliments, “nice flag!’ “love that flag”  “never forget” etc.  Pretty cool.

Came into the park for the big finish.  I raised the flag above my head, I could hear people cheering and clapping.  Then I could hear the announcer Tracy shouting out “here comes Mike Rudolph, our resident Ironman with his American Flag.  Mike you’ve got someone closing fast on your heels!”  I turn around to see a guy sprinting up to me as we had 100 yards to go!  I gesture like “oh my goodness” and took off sprinting.  We were in a dead run and I barely held him off before the finish!  I turned and gave him a high 5, “Hey, I wasn’t planning on that,” I declared! 

Finish:  1:30:28 8th out of 13 in Age (M40-44) and 16 out of 67 overall.

Oh brother!  I was tired.  My right ankle was very sore from overuse during the Hood to Coast relay a few weeks prior.  I was spent.  It was great to see Wendy there at the finish!  Yay!

Overall a good day, although my execution wasn’t very good.  I still had a great time and am glad that I did it.  I look forward to next year when I get to do Ironman CDA in June. 

Thank you all for your support

Quote: “There’s no such thing as a successful triathlon with a great swim split followed by crappy bike and run splits!  A successful triathlon requires great discipline, patience and execution of all 3.”

Monday, September 5, 2011

Camping at Mt. Rainier--Labor Day Weekend

Wow! Had an amazing time camping with Wendy's family at Cougar Rock CG in Mt. Rainier National Park. It has been 14 years since I had been to MRNP and in total, I think I've been there just 4 times my whole life. Cougar Rock CG is located between Longmire and Paradise on the south side of the mountain. The weather was absolutely fantastic, couldn't have asked for more perfect weather!

Headed out Friday with Wendy, Brandon and Erik with the truck loaded down with all of our equipment.  Arrived at the park about 5pm or so and found our spot.  CRCG is a very nice campground with lots of trees.  It has flush toilets and cold water for drinking and doing dishes.  It also has an amphitheater and evening programs. 

Attended the evening program which showcased various trails and hikes around the park.  The Ranger was informative and funny.  We were able to pick up some map sheets for trails in the local area.

Camping is often all about the nighttime campfire.  We enjoyed roasting marshmallows to make s'mores, hot dogs and PB&J pockets on the pie-irons we brought along.  This is so cool.  Ooo---eeeey, gooooo-eeeey goodness!  The kids found a way to wedge a piece of chocolate in a marshmallow and then roast it on the fire.

The night was pretty chilly, but the air was crisp and clean when we awoke.  Made up a nice breakfast of "Wendy's Eggs."  Wendy's eggs have ham, cheese, green onion and Fox Point seasonings.  Erik and I love her eggs.  They are so good.

After organizing we decided to head to Paradise.  Again, the weather was gorgeous, the sky was blue, the sun was warm and the views of the mountain were just breathtaking.  Along the way, we stopped along the road to take in some views.  After some pictures we went to go get back in the truck...."Dad, would you please unlock the door?"  Uh oh!  I had locked the keys in the truck!  3rd time in my entire lifetime and the previous two times were just last year!  Am I losing it in my old age????  We are in the middle of nowhere without cell service.  I recently became a member of AAA, but I wasn't about to wait for hours for an unlock.  Ugh!  After my previous experiences, I knew I could force a wedge in the top of the door between the weather stripping and the jamb.  Then insert a rod like a coat hanger and push the unlock button.  But, what do I have for tools?  I found a rock, but it wasn't rigth enough.  I dug through the back of my truck and found two sturdy tent stakes.  Okay, this will work for the wedge, now what to do about the rod?  We started using a stick but it was too flimsy.  We thought some more and some more.... Erik came up with the idea, "what about using the antenna?"  Of course!!!  I unscrewed the antenna and was then able to insert it into the hole formed by the tent stakes used as wedges.  After some monkeying around, we all jumped around like excited girls on Christmas when the unlock engaged and the truck's alarm started sounding as I freed the door!!!  Hah, hah!!!

We went up to the lodge where we met the rest of the gang.  We showed them pictures of the ordeal, in order and they all got a kick out of the story.

The gang all went on a short hike through the meadows of Paradise.  We found some nice flowers, oh they were beautiful and also a waterfall.  We found some snow fields and of course had a snowball fight!

Later Saturday night we had a surprise 40th Birthday Party for Curtis! 

Sunday morning Wendy and I got up at 5:45 and headed up to Paradise for the sunrise.  Mmmm, wow!  It was so beautiful.  We made it over to Reflection Lakes where I took an awesome photo of the mountain and of a waterfall.  We'll just see if these make it to my portfolio some day.

Later that morning we made bacon, eggs and hashbrowns.  Mmmmm, more yummy goodness.  We tried making eggs on the pie-irons and wow!  They are fantastic.  I am thinking that next time, we should try to cook all of our meals on the fire.  So many possibilities with these devices. 

At the end of our camping loop, there were lots of large trees that had fallen over the years and had made a great playground where people could walk along these logs as they hung about 10 feet off the ground.  It was so beautiful and fun.  Makes me wish Aaron and Lauren were there, they would have had a blast!

We then headed down to Longmire and took in some sights down there.  One of the best times was looking at the suspension bridge and then eating ice cream on the bench outside of the General Store.

Dinner was chicken kabobs.  Mmmmm, had these earlier in the year and they are really good.  In the afternoon, we played Yhatzee.  Later at night some folks played multiple solitaire and Uno.  I was pretty tired so I went off to bed. 

At night, the stars were so magnificent.  The sky was lit up from one end to the other with the Milky Way Galaxy.

What a super fun time camping with everyone.  I especially loved meeting and visiting with Beth and Dave (Aunt and Uncle) Cousins David and Britta and her husband Neil.  Also can't forget David's son Zeke who is 5 and reminded me of my little ones.  Of course we always have fun with Maija, Curtis and Daisy Mae and the Sternbergs--Aaron, Becky, Jordan, Hannah and Marly and Lily, and Gene, Cathy and Sofie.  We had 4 camp spots all next to each other.  What a great weekend!

These storage bins rocked!!!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Amica Mid Summer Olympic Triathlon

Amica Mid-Summer Olympic Triathlon
July 31, 2011
Blue Lake Park, Fairview, OR

1500m swim, 40K bike, 10K run

Time:  Total—2:50:14

The train keeps on chugging along.  Race #4 in as many weeks was the Amica Mid-Summer Triathlon back at Blue Lake Park.  Second race at BLP this year and pretty much the same courses as the Rev 3 Half Iron distance I did 4 weeks ago.  I admit it freely; coming into this event I was tired and beat.  I was also a bit burned out and blah, blah, blah.  No spark, no fire in the belly.  I ached all over; I was sleepy and just kind of wanting to do something different this morning.  But as my dad taught me at an early age, I am no quitter and I aim to finish what I started.

This is an Olympic distance or “International” distance triathlon.  Pretty much universal all over the world, it uses metric distances.  I think these events are the most challenging.  With a sprint event an athlete can basically go all out for 90 minutes, hold everything at threshold and do okay.  At half and full iron distances everyone has to execute some kind of proper pacing strategy otherwise you’ll blow up.  But Olympics require a combination of hard core effort and disciplined pacing.  The balance comes in just how much intensity do you burn.

SWIM  1500m, 28:12 (1:43/100 yards)

I did this same event last year, same distances and pretty much the same course.  My strategy for the day was to go conservatively on the swim and bike and then go all out on the run.  So in the water I go for an almost 1 mile swim.  I immediately started drafting off of the feet in front of me.  I was going to draft as much as possible and keep things nice and smooth.  About 200m into the swim, my feet disappeared.  Better find some other feet.  But no one was around me.  What the?  For the first time I was hugging the buoy line.  I was right next to the marker buoys while everyone was a good 15 yards off.  No one was near me.  How weird.  So, I just kept plugging along and tried to stay smooth.

My swim stroke was not pretty.  I tried doing different techniques and visualizations but then I would have to breathe or sight or once a wave hit me in the face when I was trying to breathe and I gulped a bunch of Blue Lake water (ewwww).  Oh well, just keep going.  My swim time was about 1 minute slower than last year.  Okay, that is alright. 

BIKE  40K, 1:16:51 (18.6 mph)

I had a good transition time and got out on the bike.  The bike course is flat and super fast.  When I did the Rev3 I averaged 18.8 mph on the 56 mile course.  Today I would only have to go about 25 miles so I wanted to do about 19 or so.  I tried to stay in the aero position as much as possible and keep a high cadence. 

Ooooh, my legs are sore.  After 3 intense events, my legs are hamburger.  No power, no drive and they were already screaming at me.  Okay, so much for a good speed average.  I will just stay steady.

An interesting phenomenon happened during my ride, the odometer on my bike that I started in January 2010 was getting ready to turn over 2,000 miles!!!  Holy crud!  I don’t want to miss this, so as the odometer approached 1,999.9 miles I watched it as I pedaled and tried to keep my pace.  Well, talk about distracted driving, I drifted off the path and into the gravel on the shoulder of the road!  Doh!!!!  Good thing I have superior off road skills, the skinny tires were sliding and washing out all over the place, but I calmly brought her back to the tarmac and shook my head, “way to go, dummy!” 

For nutrition I guzzled my full aero jug of water (about 24 ozs), drank 6 oz of diluted G2, and ate a gel and 2 snickers bites.  Came into the dismount line slipping my feet out of my bike shoes and running barefoot into the transition.  My time was almost 6 minutes slower than last year, but the proof would come on the run.

RUN 10K, 59:54 (9:38/mi))

My transition time was fast, the fastest in my class by a long shot.  I am pleased that my transition times have improved, that was one of my goals for this year.

Headed out on the run, saw Wendy and she had made me another awesome sign!  I love it, she is so creative.

Ouch!  Almost immediately I had a bad side ache.  Ooooh, ouch!  It hurt badly.  Okay, time to dig into the toolbox.  I tried stretching while I ran by raising my hands above my head.  That doesn’t work, it seems to make the muscles cramp even more.  Maybe I need to slow down?  I was running at about an 8:10/mi pace.  Oh yeah, that’s way too fast.  I slowed to a 9:10/mi but it still hurt.

After about a mile of hurting I had to walk.  Okay, just 30 steps to assess what is going on.  It didn’t subside and just at that time a guy in my class comes running by.  Oh no you don’t!!!  I ducked in behind him and kept pace.  Okay, this isn’t too bad, we are running about a 9:30/mi.  Other than my side ache I felt fine.  I stayed right behind him, no more than 2 paces apart.  He would look back every once in a while to see if I was still there.  Hah!  This helped keep my mind off of the pain and focus on other things like race strategy.

At mile 2 we came into an aid station and he stopped to take in aid.  I wasn’t about to stop so I grabbed 2 cups of water pouring one over my head and slurping the other.  A few dozen yards down the path he came up to me.  He asked me what Ironman event I did (he must have seen my tattoo).  I told him CDA and he said he did it this year and last and that he also did Canada.  Well, you go then, champ.  He then picked up the pace and went on by.  I tried to keep up with him, but I was really hurting.  My side was on fire and now my legs were feeling like jello.  I had to walk.  Grrrrrr.

There is no shame in walking during a triathlon, no matter what the distance, but I was really trying to smoke the run.  Dang it.  I even thought to myself that I would have done pretty good if not for the side ache.  After walking about 2 minutes I was feeling better and then got back to running, but I could tell that it was at a much slower pace.  I was hovering around 9:30-9:50. 

I could see the guy in my class, with his red and white top, just up ahead.  Okay, lets see what kind of race strategy I can put together to pass this guy before the finish.  I had about 3.5 miles remaining in the run.  I decided to run 30 right foot strikes at an 8:00/mi pace and then 30 right foot strikes at a 9:30/mi pace and keep doing that until I caught up to him.  The first couple of rounds weren’t too bad.  But I checked my heart rate.  150!!  Oh goodness, I can’t sustain that for very long!  I think one of these times I should ditch the Garmin and HR monitor and do everything by feel.  I wonder how that would turn out?

I was really tired and really, really hot!  I had to dowse water over my head at every aid station.  I didn’t have my fancy cotton towel to soak in cool water and place around my neck.  One other problem surfaced at about mile 4—chaffing!  Remember by raw nipples from the safety pins from last weekend’s half-marathon?  Well, they didn’t like rubbing on my wet shirt and became so raw, they started to bleed.  In addition, I had developed some chaffing under the armpits on my new top.  Oh bother.  I need to some Vaseline, but they don’t have any on this course.  I would have to suck it up. 

Finally made our way back into the park and I couldn’t wait to cross the finish line.  As I ran by the picnic shelters I could smell someone barbecuing chicken.  Mmmmm, oh it smelled so good!  I had drunk both of my bottles of G2 (blue flavor) that I later found out turned my tongue blue.

I was trying really hard to keep my run less than 1 hour and sprinted the last couple hundred yards and barely made it in 59:54.  Oh brother!  The finish was anti-climatic, I heard them announce my name, but I was so tired and dizzy it was all a blur.  I saw Wendy and thanked her profusely for being there and supporting me through my adventures.

So I was a full 5 minutes slower at this year’s event over last.  I am not pleased with that performance, but given the big picture of my training (lack thereof) and the intense event schedule, I think just finishing in a respectable time is victory enough.

Next up is the Hood to Coast 197 mile relay the end of August with my sister’s crazy team.  I am looking forward to that.  Thank you everyone for your amazing support.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Lacamas Lake Half Marathon--July 24, 2011

Lacamas Lake Half Marathon

July 24, 2011

Camas, Washington

Time:  1:58:50  (9:04/mile)

Validation!  Yes, I validated my ambitious desire to finish a half-marathon in less than 2 hours.  Remember this was a goal of mine to accomplish this year, which I did back in May at the Eugene Half Marathon finishing in 1:54.  Then I had a disastrous performance at the Vancouver Marathon when I tried to finish a full 26.2 miles in less than 4 hours a month later.  I had not specifically trained for this  half marathon, I did it just for fun and have been trying to focus more on triathlons with the short season I will have this summer.  But I had heard this was a fun event and I should do it at least once. 

Wendy and her sister Maija joined me on race morning.  It was really low-key and we arrived right at the time when the runners were lining up for the start.  I had about 2 minutes to warm up and then get on the running track at Camas High School for the start of the event.  “Just 13.1 miles,” I thought to myself.  Sounds so ridiculous.  That is still a freaking long ways! 

My strategy was to run on feel for the first few miles and then see where I was.  In the back of my mind I would love to finish in less than 2 hours, but this wasn’t my big, high-reaching goal for the day.  It was really warm, the sun was out and we would have to tackle two very steep hills, one at mile 6.5 and the other less than a mile from the finish.  Whatever strategy I employed, I would have to consider these obstacles.

Things started out well enough, I got into a nice smooth pace and tried to just take it easy.  There were lots of people at this local event and I like to people watch, it helps keep my mind off of the pain.  So many people….. so many stories.  Makes you wonder what they went through to make it to the starting line.  Do they do this just for fun?  Was this the result of a dare from a friend?  Are they running for a cause?  Do they do this to remind themselves that they are still alive?

About mile 3 I started developing a sharp pain in my right foot.  Not something I had felt before, it was rather weird.  This persisted off and on for the rest of the run.  I still don’t know what it was, but my body was really fatigued coming into this event.  My body was trashed from the 70.3 triathlon 2 weeks prior, then I did the sprint triathlon last Sunday in which I went all out for 75 minutes.

Up to mile 4 my pace was about 9:25, I was still just running on feeling, not too hard but not too easy, either.  Mile 5 was a blistering 8:05.  I don’t recall why I went so fast for this mile.  I think this was a slight downhill and I wanted to see how I felt.  I didn’t feel too bad, but I still had a big hill to climb at mile 6.5. 

As we ran along the northside of Lacamas lake, we made our way to the Camas Meadows Golf Course.  Pretty setting, but here came an out and back route with a very steep hill.  I sucked down a gel just before the hill and guzzled some of my Gatorade G2.  I tried running up most of the hill, but it was very steep and my legs were burning and my heart rate was over 150.  I had to walk.  Goodness, would this tank my pace?  I got to the top and there was an aid station there, I doused my cotton rag with water and drenched my head with cool water.  I guzzled some water and started heading down the hill.  My legs were feeling much better on the descent and so I really stretched them out and just flew.  Nice.

Gut Check Time

I came upon Mile 8 and did a quick calculation.  The time read 1:15.  With 5 miles to go, I need to average better than 9:00/min mile for the next 45 minutes to make the 2 hour mark.  Oh brother.  I have already ran 8 miles, my heart rate has been around 142 for a long time, I knew I was getting tired.  But I decided to go for it.  I wanted to see what I was made of.  Am I an Ironman or what? 

My strategy was to run hard for the next 3 miles to bank enough time to permit me to walk the hill at mile 12.5.  We had just entered the Lacamas Lake Heritage trail.  This is a beautiful gravel trail that runs along the southern side of the lake.  I have run this trail numerous times and it is one of my favorites.  The trail is about 3.5 miles long.  I dug deep and took off.  Mile 9 was an 8:36, okay super, I just banked some serious time, but what can I sustain?  Mile 10 was an 8:33!  Holy cow!  But now I was starting to hurt.  The thighs especially were on fire.  Mile 11 was a bit slower at 9:12.  Amazing, I had just ran a 5K in the middle of a half marathon and it was a very respectable time. 

But I couldn’t let up.  I wasn’t done yet.  The looming hill still concerned me because the hill is about a half mile long and if I end up walking the hill, it could take 7 minutes.  So I keep digging.  Mile 12 was an 8:47.  I was really, really hurting.  I was starting to employ some self-talk.  “come on, Mike, come on!”  “you can do this.” “What are you made of?”

The Hill

Okay, here it comes.  “Yes!  Here we go!”  I put my head down and concentrated on good form and fluid, effortless strides.  “oh goodness.”  The hill was gradual at first.  Then we made a turn into a neighborhood and it was steep.  It was really steep.  Some of the neighbors had their sprinklers going and their kids had water pistols spraying down the runners.  I signaled over to a dad and a little girl to hit me.  “Ahhhhhh, woooooo!”

I was forced to walk, it was just too much.  I looked at my watch, goodness, this will be close, I can’t give up now.  I really amped up the self talk, started swearing at myself, saying stuff you really shouldn’t say to yourself, but sometimes you need to find motivation somehow.  I decided to walk 20 steps and then run 20 steps and repeat.  I did this about 5 times as I got to the top of the hill.  I liked this, it helped. 

The Finish

I got to the top of the hill, I could see the high school, I checked my time, I knew I was going to make it!  We entered the running track and I had just 300 meters to go.  I stretched it out and finished strong.  Yes!  I was so thrilled to come in under 2 hours.  Yes!  I saw Wendy and Maija and I was so glad for it to be over.  Yes!

So, wow!  I proved a lot with this performance.  I didn’t give up, I didn’t wuss out, I dug deep, I showed some good mental toughness and mind-over-matter techniques to get the job done.  Sweet!  I will have to file this away in my catalog and pull it out again if needed.

Thank you all for your support!


P.S.  One thing to remember next time, take note of the location of the safety pins that hold the race number to the shirt so that the pin protruding inside the shirt does NOT match up with the same location as one’s nipple.  Uh, yeah.  That really hurt.