Fire And Rain.

The beginning of September brought with it a massive wildfire located in the Columbia Gorge.  Due to the poor air quality and road closures to get out to The Dalles, Aluminum Man organizers cancelled the race. There’s not much to say about that except a little race cancelation is nothing in comparison to those who had to evacuate their homes not knowing if it would be there upon return. Thankfully, firefighters were able to protect all the homes, which is truly remarkable and deserves great appreciation for those who worked so tirelessly to save properties. They are endurance athletes of special sort.

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Eagle Creek Fire near the Columbia Gorge. Photo: KATU

As for Aimee and me, we made the best of it and did our own little Olympic duathlon instead. I picked a moderate bike course that we could ride at a fair clip and work our legs, she chose a hard run course that burned out whatever was left of us. It was a good work out and we had fun. I didn’t really take note of how long it took us to complete it. Sometimes it is better that way.

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Whew! A hard day of work done.

Rain has begun here though, so there are few days left to ride outside before it becomes the Fall rainy season. I have returned to the pool, my shoulder is doing pretty well, so I decided to start over with my swim training, back to square one and build up. Aimee and I have been looking over training plans since our official training will begin in a couple of months. There are 221 days until IM Texas.

Puppyville here is going strong. We think Kodiak is nearly housebroken. He has had a few accidents, but that has been our fault for not being at hand when he needed to go out. He does go to the door and let us know by ringing the bells hanging on it. He had his first playdate with Eddie, a friend’s dog, and that didn’t go over great, but he did finally warm up. His second playdate was with my parents dog, Jack, which Kodiak enjoyed once they got used to each other. He’s a funny little pup. I have never seen a dog that sleeps on its back or that prefers to turn over by rolling on its back to the other side. Maybe that’s common, but I’ve never seen it.

 

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Thoughts about the devastation of cancer have been on my mind this week as I followed on Caringbridge the last days of an old high school friend. He was one of the nicest guys in school, always had a smile, and made everyone he met feel important. He served 26 years in the Navy and was involved the  military campaigns that have taken place during that time receiving many military awards for his service. He lost his life to multiple myeloma at age 51, too young. A cancer diagnosis of any type is devastating and as you know, I am raising money specifically to wage war against breast cancer through the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The valuable knowledge gained through research will help thousands of people live to old age. Please click the donate button above and make your donation today.

Today, I am thankful for hard working, brave firefighters.

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August is Over Already

The past several weeks have been a whirlwind of a busyness, so much that even as I type it I am having trouble organizing the events in my head, but here goes:

College-Zoe is successfully planted at school and beginning her first week. The trip out was very fun. We stopped for a few days to visit with our good friends Norm and Kitty Swift, their daughter Heather Souder and her kids. We always have a great time visiting with them. They have been dear friends for 27 plus years and it’s always just picking up where we left off when we visit and it is refreshing. During our visit, we did some dorm room supply shopping. Denis and I did a couple runs out in the humid, hot weather. This activity put some seeds of doubt in my mind about racing in Texas. How will I be able to acclimate myself to similar weather in Texas in April while training during an Oregon winter?

After visiting with the Swifts, we headed down to the college where we met up with David who we hadn’t seen since June. He had a successful internship with Watlow in St. Louis, but was glad to be back to his friends and school. This will be his first year in an apartment and his senior year of college. We are looking forward to seeing how the last year shapes up and where his career starts.

Move in day was pretty hectic. We went to church, then ate a quick lunch and moved Zoe into her dorm room. Her roommate is a sophomore, so she would not arrive for a few more days while Zoe went through freshman orientation. It was a tearful goodbye, with her being uncomfortable no knowing anyone, but true to Zoe form, she had a friend by breakfast the next day and seems like the rest of the week went fine for her. We’re excited to see how she likes college and how things go for her.

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And then there was one. Adam is the only child left at home. After leaving Zoe we drove to St. Louis where Denis had a meeting the next day. Adam and I went to the zoo, then later in the day we all went to the most amazing museum/playground ever. It’s called City Museum. It’s a ten story building with wall to wall art that you can climb on. It’s a kid’s dream, but a parent’s nightmare. Tunnels, caves. stairways, tubes, slides 5 and ten stories high, and attention to detail everywhere made this place incredible. It was a great way to end our trip.

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Training: I can’t say we did much while we were gone. It was incredibly busy and we didn’t have access to a pool or bikes, so running was the only thing we did. Upon returning, Aimee and I did a lovely 64 mile supported ride called Beaverton, Banks, and Beyond. The weather was perfect and we had a really good day. My hope is that we get to 80 miles before the rain starts in the Fall.

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Solar eclipse: That was so cool! Adam and I went to my parents who live within the totality zone. Not much more that I can say except it was truly and amazing example of of awesomeness in God’s creation.

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Puppy: We have a new little addition to our home. A miniature husky named Kodiak. He’s a cute little guy and Adam has taken on the responsibility of training him. Good thing too because he is the one getting up in the middle of the night to take Kodiak outside.

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September: School resumes next week and as home schoolers, it means coming up with a good schedule for Adam. I think we have one that will work. Until he gets his drivers license, I continue to be the chauffeur. I am working on my schedule so that we both can get things done.

Racing: One final race coming up before the Fall. Aluminum Man, which I decided to do the duathlon because my shoulder is being fickle from carrying heavy luggage and other stuff. It’s better, I just want to skip irritating it again and continue to work on strength.

I am really slow to write in this blog. I am hoping that some ladies will pitch in and share their stories so I can post them here and you readers will find inspiration or motivation to donate to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. If you would like to do it today, just click on the donate button above.

Today, I am thankful for the fun things in life that God gives us, like old friends and new puppies.

Camping, Training, and Other Stuff.

Summer is in full swing which for us means the annual camping trip to Honeyman State Park located in the Oregon Dunes. We have been doing this trip for around 15 years and it is a highlight of the summer. Our kids look forward to it every year. The weather was quite agreeable with no rain and nice temperatures. This is a camping trip like no other. I think there were around 50-60 people in and out all week. It involves one campsite designated as the cooking site where big camp grills are set up and the men do some major cooking. The week is full of activities like ATV riding, sight seeing, swimming, kayaking, playing on the dunes, and in the evenings we had field games for kids and this year was gameshow nights, so we had Match Game, Jeopardy!, and Let’s Make a Deal. Last year, we did our own version of Survivor. One of the best things about this group is zero drama. The kids don’t melt down and have disagreements and everyone really enjoys each other’s company.

Denis, Wendi, and I fit in some training throughout the week. I did some trail running which I rarely do, but is nice in the early morning at camp. We found a couple of great roads to ride on. The first, was with Wendi and it was a quick bit of flat 18 miles with no cars. The early morning ride took us along the beach dunes and out to a jetty. It was quiet and speedy. The second ride, later in the week with Denis, was also relatively flat, but along a river and back into the woods. We went from two lane roads to narrow roads, to a one lane road. After awhile, I started thinking about bears! I was having a great time and we were doing a nice clip, but about three miles from the finish, my tire blew. Not a puncture, but a real blow out that could not be repaired on the side of the road. Denis rode the 3 miles back to our car and came and picked me up. Fortunately, there was quite a bit of shade, so I was fine. Denis and I also took a swim in a nearby lake. One that we had not been to before. It was cold, but we got a mile and half swim in and I thought some great practice for my upcoming race the next weekend at Tri at the Grove.

However, that race was not meant to be. Midweek after our return, my dad was hospitalized and in need of a triple bypass, so I gave up my bib to be nearby instead of a couple hours away on a race course. His surgery was successful and he is recovering.

I am sure there is more that has happened over the past few weeks, but time has slipped past me to write about them. As far as fundraising goes, the Tri at the Grove race director was kind enough to allow me to have my information cards at packet pick up. Since I couldn’t go, Wendi took them for me. (I also heard she had a great race!)

Please make a donation today. Just click on the donation link above. I am making training progress and would like to see those donations make progress too.

Today, I am thankful for good friends, good times, and good doctors.

 

 

Hagg Lake Triathlon

I’ve had a few good weeks of training and took on my first open water swim triathlon in over a year yesterday. I wasn’t as fit as I have been in the past for this race, but I had a good time racing.

Hagg Lake is west of Portland and a nice big reservoir for recreation. This year was the 34th running of the Hagg Lake Triathlon. I think it is something like the longest consecutive running triathlon on the west coast. This year, they offered a number of different races from traditional sprint and olympic road triathlons to off road triathlons, duathlons and aqua bike races. I appreciate Why Racing allowing me to stuff their swag bags with my fundraising advertising post card so I could spread the word about what I am doing.

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A little fog over the lake.

The Olympic race, which Aimee did, was a one mile swim, 24 mile bike (two laps around the lake) and a pretty hard hilly 10k run. The Sprint distance, which I did, was a half mile swim, 12 mile bike (one lap around the lake), and a little less hilly 5k, but challenging for sure.

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Aimee started her race about 25 minutes before mine. We calculated that we should have gotten out of the water within a couple minutes of each other, but I was 5 minutes slower and she was 5 minutes faster than we predicted, so she was long gone before I got on the bike. My swim was one of the worst I have had out there. I couldn’t get a rhythm for a long time. I feel like the only thing I did well was swim straight from buoy to buoy.  It took me 20 minutes to do the swim, well over my personal best for this race.

The bike course starts out with a quick steep uphill out of the boat ramp area onto the road. I had set my bike to a nice low gear, so no problem getting up and out. However, my legs were just not having it the first couple of miles of rollers and I struggled to get past even the people on big clunky cruiser bikes.  Pretty soon I hit a section of road that let my legs spin for a bit and they finally decided to cooperate. The rest of the ride was nice and I even managed a little PR (according to Strava) on a hill section. One of the things that is nice to see at these races is people who are out there to give it their best shot even if they don’t know what they are doing. I passed a couple of kids (at least 10 years old) who were trying to get around the lake while racing for a couple of all kid teams. They were both trying to figure out the course and how to get up the next hill. They weren’t struggling, just realizing it may have been farther than they anticipated. I know they finished because as I was on the run, I saw their teammates out on the course running.

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Heading out on the bike.

The run again starts with that dreaded uphill out of the boat ramp. I usually get a cramp in my calf by the time I get to the top. I was determined not to walk at any point except to get hydration. I made it to the top and I could feel my calf getting ready to cramp, but it held off. The first and last half mile of this course have two big rollers.  Lots of people walk up and run down. I didn’t want to do that, so I kept my legs moving and made it through them in both directions. I finished this race, but it wasn’t pretty.  2:02. I have done it much quicker in the past.

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Starting the run

Next up, Rolf Prima Tri at the Grove Olympic distance in two weeks. I thought I had three weeks, but only two! I hope I am not biting off more than I can chew with that one.

While I was at this race, I had the opportunity to do some fundraising for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. If you are reading this because you found my info in your race bag, please consider making a donation today, and if you have a loved one you would like me to add to my list of survivors that I am racing for, please leave their name and story in the comments section. Thanks.

It’s For Real!

I wasn’t expecting to get to register for the race today, but thanks to Team Sirius-Tri Club, I was able to exercise the early registration option. It is real now and I am committed to crossing the line on April 28th, 2018. I hope you all will encourage me along the way with your stories of survivorship and donations to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

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Busy and Boring

I have failed to post over the past few weeks for two reasons: 1. My training was pretty loose and boring in the rainy days that were happening. 2. Life happens and we were fairly busy with graduation, parties, finishing up a project, Father’s Day, and a disgusting rat infestation that I will spare you the details except that 20 rats are now gone from our garage and we have not seen any sign of others in over a week so victory has been declared. (Thank you Orkin Man!)

Like I said, training has been a bit on the boring side since the weather has not cooperated a whole lot. I did manage a longish ride with Denis and Aimee. Swimming has been the worst of it as my shoulder took a little hiatus from being well and decided to get sore for a bit. I am better now and have returned to the pool, but am cautiously increasing my distance. I have signed up for two races in July. A sprint tri at a local lake that I really enjoy doing when I can. Last time, I set a PR for that venue. The second race is an Olympic distance race that I have been wanting to do for a few years called Rolf Prima Tri at the Grove. From time to time, Oregon professional triathletes will do this race as well, so it must be a good one. After that, August will be spent getting our daughter off to college and finishing up training for a local half ironman distance race in early September. Then it is focus on Ironman Texas. Registration opens next week and I intend to get mine done immediately. I am hoping it doesn’t fill up too quickly.

To update on my last post about my mammogram. All clear was the result. I wasn’t expecting anything less. Always thankful for that result. I am thankful for research and it is the reason I am doing this training and racing, to raise money for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. If you are a survivor, or know someone who is a survivor or who has succumbed to breast cancer, please leave your or their name in the comments section so I can add it to my list of people I am racing for. Also, a donation to the Foundation in their honor or memory would be put to excellent use by very smart people doing some amazing research to help women (and men) be survivors. Just click the donate button above.

Today, I am thankful for the sun returning.

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My favorite riding partner, Denis. The only day of the year I will keep up with him. He hasn’t ridden in 5 months and I have. Next week, he’ll be riding laps around me as usual.

Sunny Days

The sun has returned to Oregon and we have had some very lovely weather. The kind that makes me torn between getting yard work done and going for a nice long bike ride on country roads. Saturday, I managed to get in a little of both, a couple hours early on the bike with Aimee and Christine followed by a day of getting things done around the house.

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Christine and Aimee on a beautiful Saturday ride.

Friday was my annual mammogram. I actually went out of my comfort zone this year and did not wait for an immediate reading of the images which I have done for the past nine years. I had actually set aside the time to wait because I know it can be as long as two hours sitting in the little lounge at the St. Vincent Breast Center while the images are examined, but my appointment was so early that when Greta, the technologist who took the images, said the doctor still had forty minutes before even getting started for the day, I decided that my time would be better spent working on other things rather than sitting and allowing my mind to wander into the land of “what if.” As I write this, I do not have any results because of the long holiday weekend. Surprisingly, I am okay with that and I have not given it much thought until now. That’s a good thing. So all you ladies reading this who are going through breast cancer treatment right now, do understand that it will not pervade your mind forever. It will fade into the background with time and only rear its ugly head for days like mammograms, MRIs, and check ups with the oncologist. For me, that is 3 times a year, fortunately, I really enjoy my oncologist as a person, so our visits are not much of a burden at all. I’ll tell you more about her another time.

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Friendly technologist at Providence St. Vincent.

How is training actually going? I would say marginally well. Right now my goal is a half-iron distance race called Best in the West that will take place in September. I resurrected the plan from Training Peaks that I used for the half in St. George. It suits my needs. The coach is Matt Fitzgerald and the workouts fit well with my own personal schedule. My current issue is my own stubbornness. I had shoulder surgery back in November and because our yard is in need of so much work, I didn’t listen to it as I carried buckets of weeds that were heavier than my shoulder was ready to take. A small setback, but getting better. I have an excellent physical therapist who I sought out after a week of not being able to get my shoulder pain to calm down. She set me back on the right track.

This is graduation week! Zoe is finished and I have only one more homeschooler left. It will be a great celebration, a small ceremony with about 15 other homeschooled students. After that, I am officially on summer break. Yahoo! Homeschool moms may need them more than the kids!

Oh, the Good Times We Had

Every year since 2012, I have organized teams to participate in a local triathlon. These teams were made up of family and friends who were not necessarily wanting to be triathletes, but enjoyed to either swim, bike, or run. The course was set out near a small college town and consisted of a 500 yard pool swim, a 17 mile hilly bike course, and a 5k flat run. The participants over the years have ranged in age from 10 (my son) to 71 (my mom), from the very fit, like Denis, to the guy who did his first training run the night before the race, something we have now titled, “The Chad Hewlett Method”. Every year, we have gotten out there on the course and had a wonderful time, usually having at least one team win their category. It has been one of the highlights of my season because so many people end up smiling and feeling good. We have never had an accident, or a flat tire, or rain.

The reason I am writing about it this year is because this race no longer exists. Like all good things, it has ended. My hopes to find a replacement race were dashed when we all signed up for a new one, but it was cancelled this year. It may be the end of an era. In memory of all the good times we had, I will add a few of videos from past years just because I am missing the fun of this spring time event.

 

 

Starting Small

The Gator Grinder is a very small local sprint triathlon in a somewhat rural community 40 minutes away. I had never done this race before and I thought it would be a good one to test out my recently repaired and rehabilitated shoulder as well as just give me a boost to get started.

Denis and I headed out not too early in the morning as my swim heat didn’t even begin until 9am, 90 minutes after the first heat. It was a typical Oregon rainy, spring morning. Setting up in the transition area was wet, bikes were getting wet, I had my gear covered in plastic, but there was no getting around the fact that drying off on the bike after the swim was not going to happen.

The swim took place in a nice little community pool (indoors) and was the only time during the race that I was warm. A 500 yard swim which I was surprised to find later when I looked at my results that I had done it in exactly the time I had predicted when I registered for the race ( I didn’t use a watch other than to know the time of day as an experiment from Siri Lindley’s Tri Club). The best part was I was able to hoist myself out of the pool when I was done. During an earlier heat, I had watched a woman struggle with it and I made a mental note to be sure I could get out on the first try. 🙂

No surprise here on the bike, it was wet and slick. The race organizers had done a great job of keeping everyone safe and informed about areas that might be a problem. It was a narrow road out in the country and an open course, so we had to share the road with farm vehicles. I literally could feel my shoes filling with water as I rode through unavoidable puddles. (I don’t like having wet socks on, so I was glad I chose not to wear them for the bike). The only time I came close to slipping was on a downhill curve where I picked up some speed and at the bottom was heading across a bridge. I could feel the bike start to slip a little under me, but somehow I managed to keep it upright and escaped what would have been a nasty crash. After that, it was just slogging through the rolling course until I came upon a house that was on fire! Fire trucks were everywhere. I had to slow a little. It was hard to tell if this was one of those houses that they use to train on putting out fires, or the real deal. I hope it was not the real deal because that would be sad for the people who lost their home. The last mile was a nice flat wide shoulder, so I scooted on into transition and got off the bike.

One of the things I find difficult during transition is getting my socks on before the run. I can’t really seem to get my balance enough to do it very quickly. I noticed nearby there was a guy sitting on a bucket he brought. He got up to go on his run, so I decided just to sit on his bucket and get my socks on. I don’t usually like it when people bring buckets because they get in the way, but I was thankful for that one.

Off on the run. At first, I was surprised that my legs were moving so well. That lasted about 20 seconds, then gravity took hold and felt like it doubled. I just tried to remember two things, one, have a good time because I was almost done and two, try to work on speeding up my cadence (I am snail’s pace slow). Since it was an out and back route, I occupied myself with giving high fives to the people who were on their way back. Then it came to a two loop track at the local elementary school. Right there I felt very, very slow as I was passed repeatedly. Once I returned to the back portion of the run, I could see that I was now being overtaken by all the fast swimmers and bikers who started the race after me. They were all too serious to be willing to accept an encouraging high five, so I gave that up and just concentrated on getting to the finish. It didn’t take long and there was Denis, waiting for me. No fanfare crossing the finish line, just my one super supporter. We checked my results and I was fairly surprised by my swim and run times. I had run nearly 5 minutes faster than I thought I would, so that was a pleasant gift at the end. After getting into some warm clothes and some food, we stayed for the awards and raffle (I won a water bottle) and went home.

What did I take away from the first triathlon of the season? 1. I am not fit and have a lot of work ahead to get to over 9 times the distance I just did. 2. Siri Lindley was right about getting rid of the watch (something I will explain in a later post) 3. Races are always much better if you just go out with the intent to enjoy the day and do your best. 4. Those swim caps that you pick up from previous races work great to keep your bike saddle dry while it’s sitting in the rain.

I am thankful for safe races, a husband who supports me, and the people who are donating to my fundraising campaign. Click the donation link in the menu if you would like to join in funding breast cancer research.

Addendum: While I was out on this little course, Aimee was taking on Ironman 70.3 Santa Rosa. She finished in 8:21:27. Way to go!

Meet the Players

No Ironman training can be done without support. During this year of training, I will have my share of wonderful people supporting and encouraging me as I go through the process of becoming an Ironman.  Here are a few of the key people who will be with me along the way.

I’ll start with Aimee. She will be my training and race partner. The one who I talked into this crazy idea of swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles and running 26.2 miles in one day. We will encourage one another along this year of goal reaching. I met Aimee a couple of years ago at the pool. I probably would not have spoken to her if she had not had on an Ironman swim cap, I usually don’t like to bother people in the pool doing laps. But, I’m glad I did because we have turned out to be good for one another in training together and in friendship.

Next is Wendi, another training partner, but also a sister in Christ. We met as a result of her husband coming here to be a preacher at a local congregation. One thing people know about me is that if I hear you like to swim, bike, or run, I will probably be asking you if you would like to join us in training for a triathlon. Sometimes I get takers, most times not. Wendi took me up on it without any swimming experience at all. She bravely worked on it, and has completed a couple of sprint triathlons overcoming her fear of putting her face in the water. Now she’s hooked and we’ll be doing some of the shorter races together this summer as well as training.

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Aimee and Wendi on a trainer ride.

David, Zoe, and Adam are my kids. They support me in various ways. David is an advertising major, he is helping me with my social media for this fundraising campaign. Zoe is one of my cheerleaders and helps around the house. Adam is the one who takes on  the extra yard work so that we don’t end up with an overgrown neglected yard because I’m training.

Then, there are the moral supporters among them Tami and Dan, our Ironman World Championship volunteering travel partners and friends, my parents who have supported me all my life in whatever I wanted to do, the women who join in training days periodically, and the friends who have no interest in triathlon, but just care about me in general and support this endeavor.

Finally, there is my number one fan, Denis, my husband of 27 years. He did his first Ironman last summer. I am so proud of him for his discipline in keeping balanced in home, job, and training so that nothing suffered loss. He came in 24th in his age group which is a pretty good showing for a first Ironman. He is giving me this opportunity to train and race, and will be there behind me all the way. He is the one who started me in triathlon, the one who will keep me grounded, and the one who will be waiting for me at the finish line.

This past week, I got in some good training and the sun came out for a couple of days. I am doing a sprint tri on Saturday, but I can tell I am not as ready as I would like to be. That’s okay, I will just go have some fun and see what I can do.

I am thankful for all the people listed above, for the people who have donated and for those who are sharing this blog and fundraising effort with their friends.