12.26.2008

No Rest for the Weary

Once again we booked the EARLY flight out of town. The last time there were very few concerns about whether we were going to be able to fly out. This time Mother Nature wanted to make this trip just a bit more interesting.

After heading out to my parents place the night before, the 3:15am wakeup call was not a pleasant surprise. After a quick shower we were on the road and heading to the airport. I was hoping it didn’t look like a homeless shelter since so many flights had been canceled because of all the snow. The one blessing of having a 6:15am flight is that zero hour is even early at the airport. The lines were relatively short and we were through check-in and security in less than 45 minutes.

Sitting at the airport before our first flight. We are just happy to be through security on time.


So there we are in the concourse nice and early. Shortly before our departure they loaded the plane and the door is shut 5 minutes early. Are you kidding me? All this crazy weather and we are actually getting pushed back from the gate before our scheduled departure. NICE!!!

Is this Spokane or Salt Lake City?


The de-icer starts working its magic and then the stall begins. We sat just 100’ from the gate and waited for over an hour as the captain and flight attendants did absolutely nothing to inform us of cause for delay. Under any normal circumstance I really don’t worry too much about these delays but when your layover is just 25 minutes there really isn’t much time to spare. After trying to calm down my worrisome mother (she REALLY wants to make it to Virginia on time), I tried to make a quick call and see what other options we had incase were didn’t make our connection.

OK now this is Salt Lake. Bone dry.

After learning our only option would be to fly through Atlanta and get in 5 hours later, we really wanted to make this flight. About halfway to Salt Lake our ever so talkative pilot finally makes a verbal appearance and was ‘pleased’ to inform us that we would be arriving at 9:30am local time. Perfect, that would give us exactly 5 minutes to exit the plane and make it to the next.

We made the flight.

Thankfully we arrived about 5 minutes earlier than expected and were able to get on our connecting flight with just a few minutes to spare. There were only two people behind us and one was a crew member. I am glad that we made the flight because Mom was not going to be happy if we had to figure out another option.

A view our of the plane.


The Shenandoah River!

We landed safely in Washington D.C. and made it to my sis's place. Even though it was a bit of a stressful trip, I am glad we made it.

12.18.2008

Foreign Shopping

How many of you shop at the same grocery store, religiously? You know exactly where everything is and you can get what you need and get out as quickly as possible.

Well since I am now eastsider (east side of division), I now have to shop at the local Albertsons. I walked in and honestly it felt like I just entered a foreign country. I had no idea how the store was laid out or where anything was.

I walked aimlessly throughout the entire store trying to find some of the necessities. I would have asked some of the employees where to find stuff but I wasn't sure they would understand me or I would have even understood them. I am happy to report that I did EVENTUALLY find everything I needed and made it home before this crazy snow storm hit.

12.16.2008

Ice Phenomenon!!!

I am pretty fortunate to work at a place where I am not stuck in a cubicle or staring out of a window at the building next to me. As a landscape design/build company we take pride in our work and we like to showcase our skills at the office. We have a large pond with a waterfall and stream entering into it.

Each year during the cold winter months the pond and waterfalls freeze over and create some pretty cool ice sculptures. Since the temperature varies each day, so does the amount of ice. The "sculpture" is always changing.

6' Waterfall- The water is flowing behind the ice wall.
Stream Cover in Ice- The water is also flowing under the ice cover.

I have seen this occur the past few years and I am always amazed on how different and cool the ice looks. Well this year, we experienced something completely new.

No one in our office has ever seen this happen. I really can even explain how it happened but this is done 100% by mother nature. There was no tools involved in doing this.

At one point we looked out the window and saw this perfect circle forming in the ice. Because of the water moving in one direction from the waterfall and the other from the stream, apparently the friction of the moving water caused this circle to form.

video

Shortly after the video the circle froze over again but I have to say this was one of the strangest and coolest things I have ever seen. I probably wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it for myself.

12.14.2008

Movin' Day!!!

Moving is never fun, well unless you have some of the greatest movin' buddies around. This Friday was my big moving day. I didn't have to work so my plan was to get an early start and just keep going until I was all moved out.

In the beginning it is actually kind of exciting since you know by the end of the day you will be in your new place. Then you really start to realize how much 'CRAP' you really have and that this task can become a bit overwhelming. I am glad to say that I have some of the greatest friends that would drop everything to come and help me out. My buddy Chris showed up bright and early and help me with the first few loads while Jessi, Roger, Natalie, Trish, Tiffany, Eric and Emma showed up after work and helped me finish up. Jessi and Tiff even began cleaning the old place and I even think they dragged Eric into vacuuming. Seriously? Are you kidding me? It was above and beyond .

My last move was from one room into an entire house and was pretty simple. I really didn't have that much stuff. Now reverse that and after two years of living in a house and trying to stuff all my things back into one room, well didn't exactly go so well. Thankfully the new place has (well had) a garage and now it is packed full. Now the fun really start as I try to get rid of some stuff and hopefully simplify just a bit.

Thanks again to everyone who helped. I honestly would still be moving stuff over right now if it wasn't for all the help. I think the reason we hav no pictures of the move is because of how fast everyone was working. Now it is time to get settled into the new place and HOPEFULLY find someone who wants to rent out the most fawesome house ever. Anyone interested?

12.01.2008

Winter Wonder Workouts!!!

This post is going to cover a TON of stuff but it has just been that kind of week. It is winter and between my job and training everything is suppose to slow down, but what fun would that be.

Since I enjoy food so much, my new tradition is to join my triathlon club, Tri-Fusion, for the Thanksgiving morning Turkey Trot at Manito Park. We all show up pretty early, freeze our butts off and then run one or two loops. Honestly it is way more fun than it sounds and I wouldn't want to miss it.

Tric, Nat, Greg, Sheena and myself before the race.

Jessi and I running SUPER fast:)

So if I didn't get enough running on Thursday morning a group of us got together on Friday after our big dinners and decided to work off those extra calories. I had a feeling that this run was going to be just a tad bit different then the leisurely jog yesterday. We started off at a rather comfortable pace as everyone began to warm up. Soon Roger and Hosh decided to pick up the pace and left the rest of us following in the wake.

I believe we ran just over 6 miles and we averaged just over 7 minute miles. I haven't ran that fast for quite a few months and it was exciting to get back at it. My knee was feeling good and the run, though tough, was a lot of fun.

Paul (Portland Tri-Club), Ty, Josh, Eric, Me, Roger before our 10K run.

Taking in all those calories we just burned off!

Saturday was spent in the Thompson's basement since mother nature decided it was time for Spokane to receive our first snow. Originally we were going to brave the cold weather and hit the road, but after over an inch of snow we were stuck in teh basement. These rides can be brutal but with such a great group of people, they really fly by. Even if you have a crash, freaking inside.

Roger, Me, Jessi, Nat, Turtle(Nate), and Tric
Roger and I making sure I didn't do any damage to his bike after my crash. I was not to worried about mine but definitely don't want to ruin his bike.

I finished the weekend up with an awesome swim workout on Sunday and couldn't wait to get the next week started. Thanks to everyone who helped me stay motivated through all the workouts, you guys ROCK!!!

11.26.2008

Morning Workout!!!

Early morning workouts are the best, right? After another great workout Tuesday night, we picked up our tired asses and headed back to the gym this morning for a 5:30am workout. I really like getting my workouts done so early even if it is sooo difficult to pull myself out of bed. But once I am up, I am good to go.

Today we focused our efforts on legs and core. After seeing the pain and suffering that was inflicted from last Wednesday's workout, I couldn't wait to put Tim and Natalie back through the ringer:) This time Tric joined in on the fun.

There are no actually pictures of all the fun we were having but if you want proof just ask Tim, Nat or Tric if they want to meet you at the gym tonight:)

Thanks again guys for the great workout and can't wait to suffer next time.

11.24.2008

Liver? What Liver?

+A was on(off) their game tonight!

This weekend was about letting loose and having a good time. The party began with the Tri-Fusion End of the Year (night of over-21 beverages) Party. Though many of these people train hard, there are just a few times a year they might just party harder.

One of many visits to the bar!


How could I resist?



Hanging with the boys. Turtle, Me, Captain and Eric


The party was awesome and it was great to catch up with everyone. I will say that I did my fair share of beverage drinking and had to pay for it the next morning. I can’t say I was completely worthless but if there is anything just above that state, then I was there.

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In case you were to busy trying to watch 'good football teams' play this weekend you missed a great game. Like they say, throw out the record books, honestly PLEASE throw them out, atleast for this year.

The Cougs came through with yet another awesome game and beat the Fuskies for the 4th time in the last 5 years. AWESOME!!

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Then it was time to head to the old stomping grounds and celebrate my buddy’s wedding.

The first glass of beer had memories of the night before but once it starts flowing; only trouble follows. The wedding was a blast.

Out for the garter catching. I was acutally called out by the groom over the mic because I didn't come out at the beginning.


Apparently there was a box of glasses from the 1950’s sitting around and what kind of party would it be if they were just left laying there. Definitely a highlight of the night was seeing all the different types of glasses people actually wore back then.
Dancing! I don't even know who took the picture because the glasses made everything a blur, well until later in the night when everything started to clear up.
Look at those glasses!
Seriously, everyone had them on.

Well, I can definitely say I am glad this weekend is over. Now it is time to go through detox and get back to REAL life.

11.19.2008

BEEP! BEEP!

With triathlons on a winter hiatus, I have begun my winter workouts. I still plan to ride a bit and will probably run once or twice a week. Since swimming occurs indoors, I still plan to take full advantage of my master swims and will hopefully be in the pool 2-3 times a week.

Last weekend were my first two trips to the gym and it took until this morning for my body to feel up to actually working out again. It is amazing how many different muscles are used during weight training.

I also came across my new training partner for swimming. In the past few weeks and even in most of my races this year, I noticed that my swim stroke cadence would begin to drop off rather drastically as I finished each set. I have a problem going out to fast and then fading near the end.

Well on Monday night, Kevin our master’s coach, introduced me to the Finis Tempo Trainer. This little toy really helps me focus on having a consistent and strong stroke throughout each set. You place the little gadget up under your cap and it beeps at a specified interval. Though the sound could be annoying to some, I find it way more helpful.
It was fun experimenting with different stroke intervals and I notice how difficult it was to finish with the same cadence that was SO easy in the beginning. I by no means am an expert in swimming or teaching swimming but if you ever get an opportunity to use one of these you might just find some benefit.

PS. Try setting the interval to 0:50 (half of a second) and swim. Apparently this is what the Olympians swim their 50m sprints at. It feels like you are just throwing you arms in front of you as fast as you can.

11.13.2008

Bongo Bangers!!!

So Tuesday night was our last night we spent in Florida. After spending the day at the beach we decided to head out and see what the little town of Dunedin to offer. Be sure to pronounce it du ni din instead of dun din, because the locals will look at you funny. Before the night was done, I am pretty sure I have found my new calling. I doesn't involve landscaping or triathlons, I am starting a band.

After walking through the extremely large downtown district, all 3 blocks of it, we decided to head to the local brewery for a few drinks and some appetizers. Little did we know what we were getting ourselves into.

As we grabbed the closest table, we noticed that a band was setting up on a small stage right next to us. We thought this could be fun, sitting here listening to some live local music.

Before you knew it, there were probably 10 people gathering around with bongo drums. We are now trying to comprehend what is actually going on. Apparently every Tuesday night the locals gather at the brewery and have a drum circle. They all get together, bring their own drums and instruments and sit around and play music. There was even a didgeridoo, who knew they actually play thouse things outside of Australia. They encourage dancing and if you are game, you can even join in and play one of the extra drums.

Natalie and Lyara

Lyara and I playing in the band.

First off, Lyara jumps to the side of the stage and grabs a drum. Before you know it Natalie is sitting next to here also playing a drum. Since I really didn't want to just sit back and do nothing I jumped in for a few minutes. It has to be one of the weirdest, most interesting, and fun times of our trip.

Here is some video of this crazy night.

I WILL HOPEFULLY GET THE VIDEO UP SOON!

So if any of you have an extra set of bongo drums and want to join my band just let me know.

11.12.2008

Pics from Florida

11.09.2008

World Championships 70.3: Race Report

Four ways to know you are in Clearwater, Fl.



1. The temperature is 80 degrees in November.
2. There is enough carbon fiber to build an aircraft.
3. There are age-group athletes that can do a half-ironman in less than 4 hours.
4. You can PR on your swim by over 4 minutes and still be 80 out of 92 in your age group.



Getting body marked before the race. Using ink!!

I went to bed on Friday night knowing that Saturday morning was going to be an adventure. Some of the best athletes in the world will be there and of course little old me. After getting up at zero o’clock once again, we got ready and headed down to Clearwater to get the day started.


Transition Area


After dropping off my bike and gear bags yesterday, there really wasn’t to much to do before the race and since my wave started 75 minutes after the pros I had a long time to wait. Most of the time was spent hanging out with Greg, Natalie and Lyara and watching many of the age-groupers waves going off in 5 minute intervals.


In transition before the race.


Greg and I before the race.



After a quick warm-up swim, I was in the athlete corral and it was time to go. Trying to take the whole atmosphere in, I talked with a few of my fellow athletes to see how they felt. Here is my brief conversation with a guy from Rhode Island:

Steve: How’s it going, you feeling ready.
Fast Guy: Yep, you?
Steve: Yeah, should be a fun day.
Steve: Where did you qualify?
Fast Guy: Rhode Island.
Steve: That’s cool.
Fast Guy: How about you?
Steve: Lake Stevens, I took a role down slot.
Fast Guy: Doesn’t matter, you are here.
Steve: That’s true.
Steve: How fast you planning on doing this?
Fast Guy: 4 hours!!!
Steve (to self): Holy Shit!! What am I doing here?
Steve: Well you have a good chance at being near the top.
Fast Guy: That’s the plan.
Steve: Good luck.
Fast Guy: You too.
Steve (to self): I need more than luck:)

Back at home I had this brilliant idea of sprinting down the beach and trying to enter the water first. Well that plan was quickly forgotten as soon as I was standing there looking at some of the greatest athletes in the world and knowing that getting swam over really doesn’t sound like fun.

So I am standing at the starting line, getting ready to race the biggest race of my life. I am not sure why but I wasn’t really nervous. My energy was up and all I wanted to do was give this race my best effort and not come in last place for my age-group.

The cannon goes off and my race begins. We all start wading into the water and we were off. The first few hundred yards were a bit rough with getting punched a few times in the eye but I was able to get into a good grove and just did my best to keep the feet in front of me in sight. I was hoping to hang on as best I could and try to not be the last one out of the water.


Exiting the water, heading to T1



As I was approaching the beach I just focused on staying calm and keeping my effort steady. I swam until my hand reached the sand and stood up. Starting running through the water while taking my wetsuit off. After I was halfway up the beach I looked at my watch and saw 32:50’s and new that I had a great swim. My goal was sub 35:00 and if I was sub 32:00 that would have been freaking awesome.

I went down the beach, through the showers, pass the wetsuit pullers and into the transition area. At this point I had no idea where I stood but once I say T1 almost empty I knew that I was near the back of the pack.


Heading out of T1



I quickly grabbed my bike and headed out of transition ready for my longest ride since July 6th. I heard Natalie and Lyara cheering which was great motivation to get going.

One of the negatives about starting in the last wave of the world championships is that there is absolutely no one behind you and since EVERYONE else is so fast there really isn’t too many people in front of you either. I spent the first hour trying to chase some people down so I didn’t feel like I was out there all by myself.

I started to see the famous packs of rides that are so common for the world championships and I really wondered what was going through some of their minds and why they were so content at sitting on the wheel in front of them. I know that it is very difficult to get out of the packs but there is a reason it is against the rules and the athletes need to respect the rules and do their best to not cheat.

After one of the first turn-around’s I began to catch some of the waves ahead of me and was beginning to join some of the packs of riders. I rode up on the first group and decided I would do my best to pass a few and try my best to not draft. After passing one group of riders I noticed rider number 1249, Robert, was pulling a group of three girls for the last few miles.

I asked him how he was doing since he was pulling them along and he laugh. It was at that moment that I passed and my good buddy Robert jumped on my wheel. This was the beginning of a long day for Robert looking at my ass. Literally he was on my wheel for well over the next 15-20 miles. At one point I looked back and there was a pack of at least 20 if not more than 30 people in a straight line right be ME. I felt like Roger on our famous Greenbluff loops. They were all there content sitting on my wheel and letting me pull them throughout the race.

I know the smartest thing to do would have been to pull for a bit and then let someone else take the lead and give me a break. But I didn’t come here for a training ride. I if had a chance to win this or even be competitive then maybe I would have done something different. For me personally it was about racing my race. I hind sight this might have caused me to push a little to hard and struggle a bit during the run but I was ok with that.

I really felt strong throughout most of the bike. I knew I was pushing a bit harder than normal because of the people on my wheel but at no point did I feel that I was overexerting myself. I was glad to see that Robert and a few other riders actually received some time penalties for their drafting, which helped justify why I rode like I did.

As we made our way back into town, at about mile 45, I started to wish the bike was over. I had a feeling this would probably happen since this was as far as I had rode in any training rides since my last half Ironman race. My legs were beginning to tire and my speed dropped dramatically. Unless you were following the Ironman website when I was averaging 201,600 mph.

I finally made my way back over the causeway and into Clearwater Beach to make my transition to the run. As I dismounted my bike my legs felt pretty good and I was through T2 pretty quick.


Running my first lap.



In my last two half’s my first mile pace was in the low seven’s. I know this is too fast and did what I could to slow down. My first mile was just over 8 minutes and I felt like I was going slow. I tried to keep that pace and my next two miles were in the same ballpark. It was now that I wanted to pick the pace up and see if I could reach my goal of 5:10 for the entire race.

This is also when the wheels began to fall off. I am not sure exactly what happened, but I am sure it was a combination of the length of the workout, a bit of dehydration and the heat. Each mile began to get worse and worse. I wish it would have been my knee because I knew I could have ran through the pain, but instead it was my stomach. It wasn’t the pain I experienced in Boise with the side stitch but and overall stomach ache.

Each time I tried to increase my effort the stomach got worse. I SLOWLY watched each mile get slower and slower, until it was a struggle to stay under 12 minute miles. My body was not ready for this kind of torture and it showed as I began to fade and I looked forward to each aid station so I could walk. My quads and right calf muscles began to cramp and walking was the only thing that felt good. I believe I stopped only 2-3 times between aid stations to walk for just a few second, but it felt like an eternity.

I finally reached the causeway for the final time and told myself that I would not walk no matter what. I am pretty sure I was shuffling slower than a snail but I did not walk. The last few miles were pretty brutal but I did cross the finish line and received my world championship medal. This was definitely not how I wanted my race to go but with how my training has been, I really and not shocked by the results.


Icing the quads after the race.


Since my training had been nothing short of sub-par, everything that happened in this race made complete sense. I could have gone out there and just slowly went through the race but I wanted to come here and give it all I had. Even though this year it wasn’t enough to finish strong, I learned that if I ever want to make it back to an event like this there was to be a dedication and desire that goes beyond just being a triathlete. I really don’t know how this race will affect me in the future but it was definitely a great learning experience.

Now it’s time to go play in the sun:)

11.07.2008

Day 2: The Day Before


Well this morning came early enough. Once again waking up at 4 am it was time to get up and start the day. I guess it wasn't 4am here but it was back home. I opened my eyes to the sun shining and couldn't wait to see Florida.

As promised, here is the view out our condo. Tim, I think it may look a little different then yours now.

After eating some breakfast we headed down to go for a swim, a quick brick workout and get checked in. When I walk out the door just after 8 am I was shockeed on how warm it was. I am beginning to think how warm it is going to be during the race.

After meeting up with Eve Nelson, we headed down to the beach for my first ocean swim. The water looks just like all the lakes back home, but as soon as your face hits you can instantly taste the salt.

Eve and I getting all suited up.
Steve Kramer, Eve, myself and Greg before our swim.
The swim is a beach start, which means you have to run down the beach and into the water. At Clearwater, the shallow water extends about 100 feet before it is deep enough to dive in and start swimming. We started out with a few practice runs and then headed out for about a 1/2 mile swim. Overall I was please with the swim and since the water was relatively flat it really wasn't that different then swimming in the lakes around Spokane.

Coming back aftere the swim. I grab Nat a seashell only later to find out it still had a creature living inside.

The freshwater showers used after you are done with the swim.

We then headed out on our bikes for a short ride. This was my first ride on P-Dub since he was shipped off and it went pretty good. I am having a few shifting issues but I think it will be ok for the race.

Greg and I before our ride.

Nat, Greg and I on our run. Notice our fancy new visors.

We followed the ride up with a run and our new visors, Thanks Emma. Also thanks to my awesome teammates for the goodies and great quotes for the bike. It will definitely be inspiration while I am out there sweating my ass off.

P-Dub all ready to go.
Time to play like a champion. Thanks B's.