4 days…

In four days, I’ll be at the start line of the Bridger Ridge Run at 7,500 feet, which I think will be the highest I’ve ever been outside of an airplane. I’ll then run 19.5 miles, rising 2,000 feet in the first 2 miles, with a total elevation gain of 6,800 feet, and a total loss of 9,500 feet.

I’ll have at least 4 names written on my limbs in sharpie. No names shaved into my head as yet, though (your $200 donation makes it happen).

It’s currently looking like I will not be wearing a tutu, either (just need another $700 to make that happen!).

I’ve discovered that summer is charity season (never noticed before), and even if it wasn’t, it feels greedy asking people to donate again, so soon after they so generously donated to my Ironman fundraising. Lesson learned: one crazy charity event thingy per year. But THANK YOU to all who did donate again (or for the first time). Even if the mountain beats me we will still have gathered several hundred dollars to help sick kids, which is awesome.

My training has gone pretty well, and I feel as prepared as I could possibly be given my time constraints, and going from ZERO trail running to taking on the “most technical trail run ever created.” I’ve been to Mt. Rainier twice, and Hurricane Ridge once, and I enjoyed each run more than the last. I’m a little annoyed it took me so long to get into trail running, as it’s just so much FUN!

The constant shift in scenery, the wind in the trees, the buzzing of the insects (even if the deer flies make me want to run with an electric swatter)… it all just adds up to make me feel more ALIVE than ever. Pace becomes a secondary concern, and my usually rambling thoughts go fuzzy as I need all my focus to keep my balance and place my feet on different angles, different terrain, with every step. I fly through mud, over rocks, under branches, over logs, and I can’t get enough of it.

I am not without trepidation, however. I’m concerned that my calves will get completely toasted in the first two miles and I’ll have to walk the rest of the way. I also worry that, not having had time to do a lot of downhill training, my quads will disintegrate from all that descending. Even if my muscles work perfectly, there’s the technical aspects, wherein I could easily trip and break my wrist, or twist an ankle, or slice open a leg on a sharp rock. Or I could get lost and end up wandering around for a few hours. All of these things are possible, and indeed have happened to people in previous races.

But no matter. I can’t help but be totally psyched.  It’s going to be one hell of an adventure, no matter the end result.

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Race Report: Ragnar 2012 – Northwest Passage

[I know you love my writing and all, but before we get to that, please note that if I don’t get another $900 donated in the next 6 days I will not be wearing tutu on the top of a mountain range, and sick kids will cry, and you’ll feel awful. So please chip in today!]

Ragnar Northwest Passage, Blaine to Whidbey Island, WA – July 20-21, 2012

Our brilliant and highly organized team captain came up with the team name this year, Mortal Wombats, and my buddy Matt designed us a sweet t-shirt logo based on the old Mortal Kombat design:

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Mt Rainier training / I want to wear a tutu

Please, help me wear a tutu. It’s for sick kids!

The Bridger Ridge Run is now less than 4 weeks away, in which I’ll be running 20 miles along the spine of a mountain range, between 7,500 and 9,500 feet of elevation, with 7,000 feet of climbing and over 9,000 feet of falling descending. To prepare, I’ve been going to Mt. Rainier.

photo credit: Alida

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Race Report: Ironman CDA – part 4

Ironman CDA, Coeur d’Alene, ID – 06/24/2012 (part 4… here’s part 1part 2, & part 3)

The Run (26.2 miles)

I jogged into the changing tent with my run bag and found an empty spot on the wall. The tent by now had a distinct odor of… effort. I quickly removed my helmet, gloves, bike shoes and socks.

I put my Garmin watch on first and turned it on, hoping it would find some satellites by the time I finished putting everything else on (socks, shoes, run hat, gels, salt tab tube, sunblock spray). I also had some running shorts in the bag, in case my tri shorts were bugging me, but they weren’t. While changing, a guy near me asked a volunteer to help him into a fresh jersey (lycra/spandex, like the one I wear). They’re nearly impossible to get on once you’ve got a good sweat going. We exchanged a few words about how we wished we were the sort that could throw on a cotton tshirt and go for a run, but agreed that would just end in chafed, scabby nipples. Gross.

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Race Report: Ironman CDA – part 3

Ironman CDA, Coeur d’Alene, ID – 06/24/2012 (part 3… here’s part 1 and part 2)

The Bike (112 miles)

I trotted out of the tent to the racks and ran up the line. I had walked the route a couple times in the morning, figuring out the right combination of counting and landmarks that my swim-addled mind would be able to remember. “Two racks past the big tree, far side… two racks past the big tree, far side.” I found my bike and got it out of the rack without knocking anyone else’s bike over, and ran with it out to the mounting area.

so very, very cold…

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Race Report: Ironman CDA – part 2

Ironman CDA, Coeur d’Alene, ID – 06/24/2012 (part 2… here’s part 1)

Sunday, race day

I showered and applied a thorough layer of sunblock while Alida toasted a couple muffins for me (she was taking her “Iron Sherpa” role very seriously… and did a great job). I also had a couple packets of oatmeal and a banana. I was pretty calm at this point, just following my pre-race routine and checking things off the packing list. I went through my usual limbering up routine, packed up my frozen (well, mostly) bike bottles of Cytomax, gels, etc, and we set out for the park.

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Race Report: Ironman CDA – part 1

Ironman CDA, Coeur d’Alene, ID – 06/24/2012 (part 1)

Friday

My packing list for this trip ended up being 3.5 pages long (8pt font), though one whole page of that was just for my transition bags, which included items from the main list.

I managed to fill my car’s trunk completely. It was impressive.

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BRR & Tutus for Child’s Play

My race report for Ironman CDA is in the works but to quickly summarize: COLD swim COLD COLD swim COLD bike bike STOMACH CRAMPS bike bike YAY SUN bike bike bike run run run HOLY CRAP I’M TIRED run run run FINISHED! … in 14:52:57.

More on that later. For now, though, I’d like to draw your attention to my next crazy thing, which is the Bridger Ridge Run, in Bozeman, MT. On a lark, I entered the lottery registration process, and ended up getting in, so now I have to do it. “It” in this case is a 20 mile trail run (I never run on trails) between 7500-9500 feet (I’ve lived at sea level my whole life), 6 weeks from now (… shit).

Since that’s a rather crazy thing to try to do, I thought I’d up the crazy ante and raise some more charitable funds at the same time. My charity of choice this time is Child’s Play.

Here’s the breakdown. If I raise…

$1,000: I’ll run the BRR in a fluffy pink tutu
$2,000: I’ll run the BRR in a full Ace Ventura ballerina costume (w/ trail shoes instead of boots, of course)

Greater Bonus: I’ll shave the names of the first five people to contribute $200 or more into my head.

Lesser Bonus: Anyone contributing $50 or more gets their name written in sharpie on the arm or leg of their choice.

Hopefully this all results in my running the BRR as a ballerina with various names written on my arms and legs and shaved into my head, as that means a whole mess of money going to sick kids.

I’d appreciate your support, which can be shown in the form of cold hard (electronic) cash, here: http://watchwilltri.chipin.com/brr-and-tutus-for-childs-play

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#1401 vs 14:01

When I started my Ironman training program 5 months ago, I decided that an achievable finish time for me would be 15 hours. This was my conservative, OMG-WHAT-THE-HELL-AM-I-DOING estimate. In the past month or so, as I’ve swam and biked further than ever before, and my confidence has grown, I’ve started to revise that estimate. My knee problems have all but disappeared, I seem to have solved my gut cramp issues, and I’m finally, reasonably sure I’m not going to die in my attempt.

I looked up my bib number in the participant list a couple weeks back: 1401. Yeah, that sounds about right. New goal: beat my bib number.

No matter how much planning I do, it will be a very long day, with lots of variables completely out of my control. I’ve done the training, I have my nutrition dialed in as best as I can. All that’s left is to execute, and adapt as necessary to whatever the chaos of the day decides to throw at me.

I’ve been completing my 4000yd swims (2.27 miles) in about 90 minutes, and I’m faster in a wetsuit and after tapering, so 90 minutes is the goal time for the swim.

I averaged 18.5mph on the bike in Walla Walla (for 24 miles), and that was before my parents decided to buy me an aero helmet (woot!), which in testing has definitely improved my speed. So, I’m estimating an 18mph average for Ironman (but hoping I can go a bit faster than that), which would make for a 6.2 hour bike split.

And then there’s the run, or more accurately, the FREAKING MARATHON. I’m a bit worried there. My legs are strong, and a few weeks ago I ran 16.5 miles the day after riding my bike 100 miles, and I didn’t die. However, I haven’t run a marathon since October, and I don’t know how my legs will be fairing after the bike, or if I’ll have consumed enough calories on the bike to keep from bonking, or if my body will just shut down at some point because it says ENOUGH ALREADY. I just don’t know. And that’s exciting! My goal is to keep it under 5 hours for the marathon, which, given how strong my legs have felt lately, actually seems rather conservative.

If I have a perfect day, and nail the swim, crush the bike, and destroy the run, it’s possible I could get close to 12 hours. My goal times above actually have me finishing in about 13 hours. But, things will probably go wrong, and if I really push it on the bike and rip my legs up I’ll end up having to walk 26 miles, which would be disappointing.

So, as appealing as getting under 12 hours in my first Ironman sounds, it is in no way a goal. I never train with a power meter or heart rate monitor, I just go by average speed and more importantly, how I feel. I know where the sweet spot is, where I’m pushing myself but not destroying myself. I’ll just try to find that spot on the bike and hold it there, whether it’s 20mph or 15mph.

And then on the run, I’ll be wearing my Garmin, and I’ll hold myself to an interminably slow pace of 12 minute miles for the first 5K, no matter how awesome my legs feel right off the bike. I’ll then slowly let the speed creep up, but probably no faster than 9:30 until mile 18. And then we shall see.

No matter what happens, it’s been one hell of a journey. No matter what happens, I’ll enjoy the attempt, the spectacle, the camaraderie, and the crazy screaming of friends and family on the sidelines. No matter what happens, I’ve already won.

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$2,849

I dropped off a couple of big fat checks with the local Alzheimer’s Association this morning. One was for $1,849, the other for $500, which will have a matching contribution from Microsoft for another $500, making a grand total of $2,849!!!!

Ho. Lee. CRAP!

Many many many thanks to all the friends, co-workers, and strangers who donated, and a special shout-out to Alida, who raised a very large portion of the total by promising to run a bunch of races in ridiculous fabulous outfits (the registration fees alone will total over $200). Rockstar. She also captured the donation magic below:

 

Now I just have to complete a full freaking Ironman, 11 days from now. No big deal.

Here’s to you, grandpa!

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