Lake Stevens 70.3: Road Trip

After a short trip up to Priest Lake to hang out with some friends, my adventure to the Lake Stevens Ironman 70.3 began. Natalie and Greg picked me up shortly after 7 am on Friday and we were off. I found a nice surprise as my bike was covered with pictures and words of encouragement from my A+ teammates. You Rock!!I spent the first hour or so trying to catch up on some much needed sleep that was desperately missed the night before (gotta love the lake on the 4th of July weekend). I was glad to see that Natalie had packed the Tri-Fusion road trip must, cookies so I was good to go. The trip over was rather uneventful except for our need to test faith and see how far their truck could go with the needle on “E”. There was some brief discussion and we finally made the call to pull off and fill up. Notice the gas light is also on. We are still on I5 at this point.The truck is supposed to have an 18 gallon tank and it only took 16.5 to fill it up. I guess we had PLENTY of gas left before we were parked on the side of I5 with are thumbs out looking for a ride. The funny thing is that the 16.5 isn’t even close to the 17.2 they put in it right before they picked me up. Now that is the definition of running on fumes:)

After a long discussion on where we were going to eat lunch, Denny’s was chosen. In any normal town at any normal Denny’s this would have been a completely logical and understandable place to fill our empty (kind of like the truck) bellies. As soon as you walked through the door, the atmosphere was just a bit off, but it is Denny’s and the food is usually pretty good so what the heck, let’s give it a try.

As we were waiting for our food the table behind us who found a piece of cardboard in her hashbrowns. I couldn’t wait to see what I was going to find in my food, was it going to be hair or maybe a finger nail. Maybe my bill would be cooked right into my meal. Fortunately our food was clean and we were able to actually eat it.

The rest of the day was spent going through registration, checking out the transition area and driving the bike course. Phaedra had done this race twice and tried to tell me it had a few hills and your times might be a bit slow. As soon as we started driving the course the term “FEW” began to look like an understatement. The more we drove the more hills seem to appear. I really haven’t been training too much on hills this year, besides the weekly Death hills, but I think I lost count at Death Hill #47.
One hill especially stuck out on Dubuque, pronounced “Du Boo K” for this trip in case you were wondering. The hill looked very long and was not a pleasant site to see at mile 20 and mile 44. This is a two lap course. So every single hill we saw, we were fortunate enough to get to climb them twice.

After a nice and relaxing dinner at Red Robin we headed back to the hotel to finish setting everything up for the race and to relax in front of the TV. Since I had very little the night before I was sure I would get a good nights rest and wake up refreshed. I always seem to forget how difficult it is for me to actually sleep in a hotel bed and the entire night was spent tossing and turning. If I plan to do any more races where I travel I really need to get over this so that I am ready for my races.

Saturday morning began with a huge complimentary breakfast at the hotel. You have to love the Quality Inn. We had sausage, eggs, cereal, Danish, oatmeal, cardboard, bagels, English muffins and of course the greatest hotel breakfast food of all time the Belgian waffle. I thought I did pretty good stuffing down 1 ½ waffles but Greg with the bottomless breakfast stomach wolfed down 2. Nice work.

After breakfast we head back to the race site to meet of with Phaedra and drive the course on more time. Like I said she has experience on the course it was extremely beneficial to get her take on a few of the hills and how she suggested attacking and braking throughout the entire race. We did have to stop and try to climb on of the hills. This just gives you an idea on how steep they really were:)
When returned to downtown Lake Stevens we meet up with the Tim, Andy and Trish who all took time out of their busy schedules to come over and cheer for their fellow Tri-Fusion teammates. If you ask me that is pretty damn HARDCORE. We all went a nice quick ride and run just to keep the legs moving and so many hours in the car.

The ride was nice and refreshing while I really wish I would have skipped out on the run. As is usually protocol for me, I had to make a quick pit stop and since none of the porta potties were open yet I opted for the nearest bushes. In hindsight this turned out to not be the smartest idea. As I was making my way off the side of the road I happen to stop right near the most anti-triathlete weed in the whole area. I had heard stories about a few of the locals not liking the idea of 1400 triathletes invading their precious little town but not the plants, who would have thought.

After my brief run in with the little demon I left with a stinging sensation in my leg that wouldn’t go away and was starting to turn a bit red. Not really one to seek medical attention I decided to do the whole wait and see, to determine if it was anything potentially harmful. I was racing tomorrow so it just going to have to wait. I believe the little bugger had a few hair-like needles that were embedded into my leg but slowly throughout the night the pain started to diminish and the little bit of redness started to dissipate. I tried to use some packing tape (no Tiff we didn’t have any duct tape, and yes it has been added to the race day packing list) to remove as many of the hairs as possible.

Just before we left Natalie noticed Tim still had his rear race wheel on from Ironman and since it was WAY better then the one I have, I asked if I could use it for the race. I was unable to ride it but it had the same gearing so I should be good to go. Thanks for letting me borrow the wheel.

We made a brief stop at the hotel to shower up and change before we headed off to dinner. It was at this point I think I made the more important discovery of the trip. Apparently I have been using Hammer Gels with Caffeine. For the majority of the world caffeine is in their daily diet as they stop for their morning coffee or latte at Starbucks or one of the other million coffee stands dotting the streets. Almost a year and a half ago I drank my last soda and for the most part of been completely caffeine free. I have a tea every now and then but my diet involves hardly any caffeine.

So I began to us my brain (I know this may come as a shocker to some of you) and started thinking about the gels I used in Boise. I soon realized that I had probably taken at least 4-8 gels that had caffeine in them. Was this the cause for my side stitch? It was the best explanation I could come up with. My body my have been in a caffeine overload and that might explain why I was in so much pain. So after some quick thinking we decided we would try to find some gels without the caffeine and I was going to use those for the race on tomorrow.
The evening was spent eating some great food at the Olive Garden with the Gallagher’s, Phaedra and Trish. We were able to talk a bit of strategy and ease our minds from the next day’s adventure. Afterwards we headed over to the local Big 5 and they just happen to have a box full of Raspberry Cream and Vanilla, both free from caffeine. So I loaded up and was just hoping this would fix my problem and I would be able to complete the race.


Michael W. Bergquist said...

Aha! The first one to respond. I was wondering if you'd have a cliff notes version of your story ... after your comment about my story being too long :0). It sounds like you had a good time and got there with plenty of time to settle in and have a good race. I'm a bit jealous, but at least I didn't have to deal with some sort of an allergic reaction to the bushes I came in contact with. I already know the results, but am curious to hear about how the Iron Horse's story.

Tiffany said...

Great post! Note to self: If I ever do a half, it will NOT be Lake Stevens. That bike course sounds like my own personal hell! I loved that pic of you guys on your hands and knees climbing the hill. That was HILLarious! (man, I'm funny!)

Sorry about your run in with the plant! Glad to hear you are adding duct tape to your packing list! ;)

Can't wait to read the race report!

Phaedra Cote said...

It was really fun to hang out with you guys before the race.....It was funny reading your recount of driving the course and I'm glad to hear it wasn't as bad as you thought it'd be.

I'll comment more on the post above.

Good times, good times.
P. Keebler

Trish said...

I am so glad that you had such a fun time with the Gallaghers! It is always nice to head to a race with friends :) It was also fun doing the pre-race ride and dinner with you guys! Even though I wasn't racing, I was nervous as HELL about that bike course! I am so glad you guys could handle it!