Saturday, December 28, 2013

2013 Holidazzle Run

This was the 5th year of my annual Holidazzle run. Part of this tradition includes an annual Christmas mixed CD that I also post on this blog. I threw in some oldies this year and was really happy with how it turned out. Until next year, Christmas tunes and Holiday runs!
Bar stop at the Park Pub on Phinney Ridge - picture from their FB page
Party Hard – Zach Gill
Silver Bells – Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors
Jingle Bells – Sammy Davis, Jr.
Little Drummer Boy – Pentatonix
Merry Christmas, Baby – Otis Redding
Something in the Air – Grayson Sanders & Jono Feat. Lauriana Mae
The Christmas Song – Gavin DeGraw
December 25 – Francesca Battistelli
Baby It’s Cold Outside – Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors
Love Is Christmas – Sara Bareilles
Wonderful Christmastime – Demi Lovato
Christmas Must Be Tonight – Bahamas
I’ll Be Home For Christmas – Frank Sinatra
What Christmas Means to Me – Cee Lo Green
Go Tell It On the Mountain – Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors
Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – Darlene Love
It Came Upon A Midnight Clear – Norah Jones
Silent Night – Sarah McLachlan
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – Christina Perri
Winter Wonderland – Kate Havnevik
Christmas Time Is Here (Charlie Brown Theme Vocal) – Vince Guaraldi Trio
Auld Lang Syne – Colbie Caillat

As far as Christmas cookies, I made a lot of my favorites and tried one new recipe. There were way too many leftover sweets!

Jimmy’s Pink Cookies
Chocolate Ganache Macaroons
Monster Cookies
Chocolate Mint Patties
Peanut Butter Kisses
New Recipe from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook: peanut butter and chocolate fondant

I also cooked up two types of chili, this chicken tortilla soup, and a few salads. Plus, there was the usual drinks, appetizers, and other Christmas party food (homemade Chex mix). I once again had a great time with my close friends, running through my neighborhood, seeing the holiday lights, and cheers-ing the season! Happy Holidazzle!


Kojak totally stole the show with her costume.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

2013 Goals

There are only a few more days before we turn over the calendars and dream new dreams in a new year. Whatever is left undone can, of course, be carried over to 2014. Or you can scrap the resolutions and tasks of 2013 and move on to the even better things ahead. But before we change out our calendars, I wanted to reflect on 2013, give some thanks, and put a little closure on the 2013 edition of my public Internet diary (aka – my blog).

2013 Starbucks wrapper goals
In January I wrote about the bucket list my friend Jenn and I dreamt up and wrote down on the back of a Starbucks wrapper in 2006. Also in February I wrote down some athletic goals for 2013. The list above was pinned up at my work desk, as a daily reminder. I nailed some and came a bit short on others. In no particular order, here they are:
  • Half Marathon PR – YES, a 1:26:05 at Lake Sammamish Half Marathon 
  • Ironman PR – no, I was 46 seconds shy of my 2011 PR at CdA this year
  • Ironman swim PR – sub 1:06 – yes to the PR, no to the 1:06, I swam 1:07:07 at CdA
  • Ironman Run PR – sub 3:30 – no, I ran 3:35 at CdA
  • Sub 19:00 5k – YES, an 18:44 5k at the Mustache Dache and the female win!
  • Hood to Coast Awesomeness – YES of course, this goal was perhaps some low hanging fruit. We always have fun!
  • USAT All-American – TBD on this one. I’ll have to wait until 2014 to find out.
  • Half-Ironman PR – YES, 4:48 at Austin 70.3
  • Half-Ironman sub 1:30 run – no, 1:33 at Oceanside, 1:37 at Black Diamond, and 1:35 at Austin this year. Last year I ran 1:32:01 at Oceanside...
  • Sub 31:00 8k – no, but I think if I could have added 3 more kilometers to the Mustache Dache or Turkey Trot, I could have made it. Seafair was not the race for me to try it.
  • Run a XC Race – YES, and I loved it. More XC in 2014 I hope!

In 2009, when I first started getting serious about triathlon and figured things out with help from a coach, PRs came easily (the bar was set low, apparently). From 2009-2011, I broke my PRs every year at every distance (sprint, half Ironman, Ironman, half marathon, marathon). I can’t say I took this improvement for granted, but I know I didn’t appreciate it the way I do now. In 2012, I had a bit of an off year. Nothing was horrible, but there was a lot of fatigue and flatness in my races. In retrospect, that year taught me even more about fully appreciating small improvements.

Amazing highlight of 2013 - winning the amateur title at Ironman CdA
That’s part of the reason there was a new freshness to my triathlon season this year. I appreciated the small steps along the way, even if there were times or races when I came up short. I broke some new barriers, but the goals were reasonable and manageable, and if I didn’t reach them, I improved other things, or had fun, or spent time with friends, or did (blank important thing) while trying. People get so wrapped up into times and placing, and qualifying for World Championships or Olympic Trials, that I think they lose sight of the incremental improvements that may be necessary to reach that new level or a new time barrier. And they also might lose sight of the reason they’re dedicated to their sport in the first place – if you’re like me, it’s because you freaking love it. So maybe next year I’ll include goals like, “laugh ten times during an Ironman,” or “run a race in costume” just to keep the happiness factor way up. Or I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing, and surround myself with supportive training partners and friends, as I enjoy this crazy ride.
Annual GAMBIT - Gerry A. Marvin Birthday Invitational Triathlon, a fun Olympic distance
race with our friends in Chelan! G and I won the male and female divisions.

There are so many people to thank this year - friends, family, teammates, sponsors, co-workers, and blog readers. In no particular order:

Part of my Run Family - Oiselle Sisters in Sport Thanksgiving morning
Oiselle and the women who make up my Run Family - thank you for inspiring me on a daily basis with your kick-ass talent, hard work, dedication, creativity, and passion for sport!
Sydnie, my best friend and training partner – thank you for the early morning runs and swims, living across the hall, and the occasional dinner together or fro-yo stop. Congratulations on your new PRs. I can’t wait to see what next year brings for you!

Gerry, the BF – you’ve cooked me too many breakfasts to count, trained with me, been patient with my schedule, helped fix my bike, and supported me at many of my races. Thank you for having broad shoulders for me to lean on.

Kainoa, Jake, and Hallie – three of the coaches of PauoleSport who have supported me both on and off “the field.” More importantly, thank you for leading such a fantastic group of athletes reach their goals.

Hood to Coast Awesomeness!
And of course this annual review would not be complete without a thank you to my family and my parents who have supported me since day 1. My dad continues to fight cancer and we are all thankful that he was admitted into a clinical trial this month administered by Bristol Meyers Squibb. He’s receiving treatment every two weeks for Nivolumab the PD1 Inhibitor immune therapy. The control group of the study receives chemotherapy, so he was thankful to test the new drug instead. In his words, “Basically the theory goes that cancer cells resist the body's defenses by covering themselves with an antibody called PD1.  The new drug inhibits the PD1 covering and thus allows the white blood cells to fight the cancer successfully.” In my mom’s words, “your dad just seems really happy these days!” In my words, “we’re all lucky to have him a phone call away.” I’m flying home on Saturday and looking forward to some Minnesota family time.

It's been a very Lucky '13!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Club Cross 2013

The 2013 Club Cross Country Championships in Bend, OR lived up to all my expectations in terms of fun, fast running, and Flotrack/RunnerSpace nerd stuff. I drove down to Bend on Thursday with part of our Oiselle team (we had over 20 women racing in the Masters and Open race) and settled in to the Little Wing house with our sweet hosts Mel, Christine, and Betsy. Friday was spent checking out the race course, doing an easy run workout led by Lauren (Fleshman – yup), a team meeting, attending an athlete panel, and good eats in Bend.

My nerves and expectations for this race were relatively low. Cross country is new to me and although, I’ve been running for years, I still have a lot to learn when it comes to this type of training and racing. But that’s part of the reason it was SO cool that I was even AT Club Cross! Oiselle gave me the opportunity to line up against the country’s best teams and top runners and wear our team colors, even if I couldn’t capitalize on my best talents.

Start of the Women's Open Race
Hilarious pic from Runnerspace - rough course
Race morning had a fun vibe. I got there early enough to watch the Masters race and saw my role models like Sally, Kristin, Lesko, Regina, and Allie pump up and down the unrelenting section of hills on the back half of the course. They were so smooth and strong; it made me dream of my 40th birthday and the day I can run “faster as a master.” After a warm up, some drills, and a quick change into my spikes, I made my way to the start line for a few strides and a cheer with my Washington teammates. The gun went off and I held back for the first loop, tried to pick it up the second loop, and ran with anything I had left on the third loop. The course was TOUGH! And I say that not just because I’m new to Cross Country and my time wasn’t great, but because everyone was saying how hard it was. There were hills upon hills, winding descents, and hay bales to hurdle. Regina Joyce (former Olympic marathoner and Oiselle teammate) told me she’s been running cross country for over 40 years and that was definitely the hardest.

KMet, Sally, Gwen Lapham (women's Masters winner from Seattle!)

Me over the hay bales, me toward the finish, some fast guys (photo cred on first 2 pictures: Sarah Boone of Oiselle)

After crossing the finish line, I buckled over, took a giant breath in my oxygen deprived state, and let out a pair of snot rockets. When I looked up my teammate Lauren Fleshman was there to congratulate me with a hug. She and all the Oiselle women were so freaking supportive throughout the whole weekend. Read about the Lesko's journey here and KMet's thoughts here. From the long drives back and forth, the pre-race festivities, hanging out with Little Wing and the PickyBars/Oiselle party (for all you running nerds, Evan Jager was there), even the Sunday hangover, it was all unforgettable. I’m still laughing from all the wonderful memories and thankful for the time spent getting to know my teammates. I can’t say that I ran to my full potential (I know I have faster cross country races in me), but that’s a risk I took in trying something new. I’d love to enter more races next fall and find ways to enhance my running. Club Cross is coming to California in 2015 and I’m hoping to sport the Oiselle bird again there. To all my run family, thank you for a wonderful trip and being part of this wonderful life!


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Offseason Post #2 (The Training Post)

View from a trail run a 15 minute warm-up
jog from my house. Part of "do whatever
workouts sound fun" plan.
In my last post I blogged about what I’ve been up to during my offseason. I tried not to go into too much detail about the workouts, or rather lack of workouts, I’ve been doing, because I didn’t want it to overshadow the wine tasting and cooking classes and other things I’ve been doing for fun. But the truth is in order to set myself up for success in 2014 I still have to take note of my health and fitness.

I’ve learned from my past experiences. Ever since I’ve been a semi-serious triathlete (i.e. working with a coach, trying to climb podiums, making it a lifestyle, etc.), there has been a dedicated “off-season.” After 2010 I hit it  [rest] hard, because I was pretty burnt out after my first trip to Kona. I allowed myself only one run and one bike per week and light swimming and yoga when I could get myself out of bed. It paid great dividends and set me up for an excellent 2011 season. After 2011, I think I fooled myself into thinking I didn’t need much of a break. I had one month without coaching after Kona, then I ran NYC marathon, and then I started training for my 2012 season. During my month off, I fell mountain biking, f-ed up my shoulder, and couldn’t swim for 2 months. Looking back, it’s no wonder 2012 didn’t go great; I went into the season not fully rested and a little injured. After 2012, I didn’t really have a plan, but my off-season was rather long (September – December) and I followed the “whatever workouts sound fun” training method. It’s a great method, but it doesn’t give you time to work on your weaknesses while you have some spare time.
There are some good articles out there about how to spend your off-season. I liked this one by Matt Lieto and his advice on allowing some structure for the type-As, as well as some ceilings not to allow too much. I try not to worry much about my weight this time of year, or really ever. Rather than throwing my healthy eating habits out the window, they pretty much stay consistent with the rest of the year. I bake around 8-10 batches of cookies this time of year for my annual Christmas run, so maybe it’s the behind the scenes manhandling of the sugar and butter that turns me off from eating too many sweets. I also try to sleep a lot (10 hours last night!). That has to be good for something, right?! Another great offseason post is this one by Alyssa Godesky.
As far as workouts, I’m trying to be a little smarter about working on some weaknesses and areas that need attention without overdoing it in terms of intensity or volume. Over the past few years, I’ve noticed aches and pains that have started creeping in. [If you don’t follow the Twitter handle @thisis30, you probably should. I don’t think I had these issues in the W25-29 AG.] None of the aches have kept me sidelined, but my left leg is consistently a jerk and it’d be nice to not a have a sore piriformis (pain in the ass). I made an appointment with a Sports Injury Specialist/Chiropractor who happens to sponsor my triathlon team. Dr. Rindal did an overall assessment and identified areas of weakness and inflexibility (tons). He then gave me a handful of exercises and foam rolling to do a few times a week to improve these areas. It’s hard to say just yet how this will transfer over into injury prevention over the next year, but I can already tell my hip abductors and lower abdominal muscles are stronger than they were a month ago. I’ll check in with him later this month and throughout my 2014 season. More importantly, I'm hoping I develop some good stretching and strength habits. Depending on your insurance, it can be a fairly inexpensive way to boost your athletic performance. Keep in mind that if you have a Health Savings Account (HSA), this is a good way to use up the money before the 31st.
Just like training plans, there’s no perfect solution to fit everyone’s needs in an offseason. It depends on the past year and what kind of season you have ahead of you. But based on my experience, finding ways to enter the new year fully rested, injury free, with perhaps small improvements in some areas (flexibility, strength, stronger hips, etc.), will set you up for a successful season. But most importantly, take some time to relax and enjoy the holidays with your friends and family.
Best of the Season!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fun Things to do in the Offseason

Hi! Oh, hey there! I made this list a few days after my last triathlon of 2013. It’s a few things I want to do during my offseason. Some of the items include workouts, a lot of it includes good food, and all of the items involve some time and planning, which are often neglected when I’m balancing 20 hour training weeks and big races. I realize the offseason should be a time to unwind and creating one more “to do” list kind of defeats that purpose, but I didn’t want the weeks to fly by and January to come around thinking, “why didn’t I plan X when I had the time.” So, here’s my list.

1.   Take a cooking class – I attended a Farmer’s Market class at The Pantry.

2.   Ballard Brewery Tour.

3.   Woodinville Wine Tasting – I went with 2 teammates, not far from where we do a lot of our bike training.

4.   Visit Capitol Hill Bakery Nouveau – the West Seattle location is a diva favorite, but I still have yet to visit the one on Cap Hill.

5.   Plan a fall run and brunch with training partners – I went for a beautiful fall 10 miler with teammates Sydnie and Sarah followed by brunch at my house with other training partners and lots of laughs.

6.   Read 4 new books – I’m 1 down, 3 to go.

7.   Start a new TV series with Sydnie (best friend and across the hall neighbor) – Sydnie and I have started House of Cards.

8.   Attend the Seattle Men’s chorus Christmas concert, which is an annual favorite.

9.   Plan a trip to Bellingham.

10. Go to dim sum in the International District.

Cooking class at Delancey, friends at the Mustache Dache 5k, home improvement work & a chance to wear the poor fitting IM hats
Some not so fun things that I’ve been doing:

1.  Home improvement projects – currently in the mix of painting my condo.

2.  Getting sick – I spent 3 days in bed last week with the flu and I have a newly sore throat. This time of year, my immune system takes a little break and I find myself forced to slow my roll.
And some not so offseason things I’ve been doing:

1.  A few shorter run workouts for XC Nationals.

2.  I ran (and won, which was a total surprise!) a 5k on Saturday. This was the second year in a row that my friends and I ran the Mustache Dache 5k. It’s a really fun event for a great cause.

3.  Getting up early for Masters swim workouts on days I don’t feel sick (I didn’t swim at all last week) and I’ve also been doing this ab routine by the amazing Dr. Lesko.
I’m trying to strike the right balance of being lazy when I can (my bike workouts don’t last much longer than an episode or two of Dexter), but not a total sloth. I’m also making sure I eat well, visit a sports medicine doctor/massage therapist, and do a fair amount of foam rolling and stretching. Tuesday I found myself trying to schedule out the week with weight training and swim and bike and run workouts. But I caught myself and was reminded that there aren’t many months during the year when I get to shower and get ready at home or go home right after work, instead of heading to the gym. So I gave myself the day completely off on Wednesday and enjoyed sleeping in. And then I did some painting after work and read until I fell asleep. The routine of going from workout 1 to work to workout 2 to bed is exhausting several months out of the year, so I need to make sure I try and stay away from that until training officially starts again in January. Besides, I have a lot of other fun things planned until then.

What else can I add to my lists or what do you enjoy doing in the offseason?

All the Best,

Friday, November 8, 2013

XC4Life…Well, Starting Now

I don’t know if I’m just a 31-year-old curmudgeon or just narrow minded right now or a little of both, but I feel that once you reach a point in your athletic career there aren’t *that* many chances to try something new in your sport. There are new courses, new opponents, and new gear, but there’s rarely a chance to enter an event with the “I have no idea how this will go” mentality. I’d say my progression as a runner was a bit unconventional. Growing up I played golf and tennis and I cross country skied. We ran a lot for skiing, but there were only a few instances when we were timed. So my first formal running race was an ill-prepared (but fun) half marathon back in 1998. Unlike a lot of experienced runners, I skipped over 400s, relays, and 5Ks on muddy cross country courses. But when Kristin Metcalf, Team Manager at Oiselle, asked me if I wanted to run cross country this fall, it was hard to say no, especially when it meant the opportunity to run at Club Nationals in Bend, OR this December. Throw in a chance to hang out with Lauren Fleshman and Project Little Wing and I was sold!

I took this shot of the uphill finish line during the men's race.
Beautiful, sunny fall day in Seattle.
The problem, however, was that my triathlon season was in full swing until October 27th, while many of the XC races took place earlier in the fall. It didn’t make sense for me to jump into a local 5k or 6k on a muddy track, especially as a newbie, when I needed to stay healthy and put in miles on the bike or long road miles. That meant I’d only have a couple chances to race locally before we travel to Bend. And I wasn’t going to have my first XC race include something with “Nationals” in the title, even if I’m in it primarily for the experience (and a trip to Bend, the magical endurance town). So I decided to race last Sunday at the Pacific Northwest TF XC Championships, a 6k race on a very difficult course (so I’m told – I have no comparison other than the road). Being one week off from Austin 70.3, the timing was less than ideal, but the race was about 2 miles from my house and had a 10:45 start (and it was $10). Once again, it was very hard to say no. Besides, with 4 other Oiselle girls, we had enough to score as a team, which always makes things seem a little more exciting and a little more “worth it.”

Kayla, CK, Jena, Sarah, Natty in the Distance Shorts (personal favorite)
Picture from @Oiselle_team
So I decided to lace up on Sunday and, of course, I loved it. It was hard, my legs had very little pep, the pace burned my lungs, I finished near the back, but it was a beautiful day, and I had an absolute blast. It was something new and no matter what happened, I was guaranteed a PR. It was my Rando-Race for the year, as described by Sarah Mac. I met up with the Oiselle girls Sunday morning – Kristin was there as support and get us signed up, Kayla, Natty, Jena, Sarah were there to run, and Julie was there to cheer. It was great to have the moral support and jog a warm-up lap of the course together. Natty pointed out things like, “here’s the 1k to go mark – less than 3 laps around the track,” as well as where to go for the second and third lap versus the finish line. Gerry was out on a training run and met me before the start to watch the race. After bathroom stops, pinning our numbers, and taking off layers, we made our way to the line. Kristin took a team picture and we all lined up together, as I asked a couple newbie questions before the gun went off.
While CEO Sally was running NYCM, her
hubs was the lead biker.
Photo by @oiselle_team
Honestly the race went by so quickly there isn’t much to report, not because I was so fast, but because I'm used to 10 hour races. With tired legs from the weekend before and my lack of experience, it’s not like I was going to make any bold moves in the first couple kilometers. So I held on (behind them) with Natty and Jena as long as I could until the pack naturally spread out. By the second and third loop, I was basically running with a group of girls. I’d get passed on certain sections and then pass them back. There wasn’t much time to think or dwell, and only once during the race did the thought “how would this go on fresh legs” cross my mind.
I finished in 24:52 and was outkicked in the last 20 meters. Sarah was there to greet me with a, “Good job. You’ve done way more in the past week than that girl has.” My time or placing are nothing to brag about (36th out of 46), but there were quite a few girls stacked in the minute ahead of me, so it’s not like I got lapped or had a huge gap from some  of the other runners (legitimate fears going into this race) and from what I know, the field was made up of some of the fastest girls in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellingham area. Based on how sore I was Sunday afternoon through yesterday, I ran plenty hard – the course had many uneven sections, which made my hips ache; I just think I can run harder with some more rest. From now until Bend, I’ll get in a couple 5ks to work on some speed and I’ll do a few training runs in spikes (2 day shipping turned into 5 day shipping and my shoes came on Monday – thanks for nothing).
Yes, of course I wish I could go back in time and sign up for cross country races in my youth. I’m sure I’d have some fond memories from junior high and high school races. But at the time, playing tennis was more important every fall. And I have memories with those teammates that I’ll cherish forever. So now, the only thing I can do is look forward to the new XC memories I’ll make as an adult, including my first race.

Lots of XC Love,

Friday, November 1, 2013

Austin 70.3 Race Report

“Put it in the big ring. Giddy up!” said Chris McCormack at the 2010 awards ceremony the first year I was in Kona. That was kind of my theme for the second half of the 2013 season and also my most recent race in Austin. Neither one came up short in the fun factor – the past few months since Ironman CdA have been a lot of fun and the trip to Austin was an absolute blast. I was able to put together a solid race on Sunday and walk (well, run) away with a 6 minute half Ironman PR. I flew down on Friday morning with Gerry (the BF) and my friends Arielle and Garth Knutson. We’re not related; it’s just a coincidence (and a lot of fun) that we have the same last name. Julie, our 5th roommate in the AirBNB house flew down a bit later on Friday. The rental house was pretty cool – huge community garden, at least a dozen chickens and ducks, good outdoor space for sharing meals together, and a little man cave area equipped with neon bar signs, and ESPN Red Zone for the guys who could stay up late watching football Saturday night. We all bonded over drinks, food, and triathlon.

From left: with Arielle, Julie, and the party bus parked outside our rental house, pre-race pic with the BF, Gerry packing my bike on Sunday.
I definitely need to work on taking more pictures at races next year!
But you probably don’t care about how we bonded over free-range chickens and organic lettuce; so instead, here’s how the race went down:

Sunday morning I woke up 5 minutes before my alarm to the sound of thunder. There was lightning and more thunder, but we stuck with our plan to leave the house by 5:30 to make it to transition in time for our 8:30 swim wave. Garth and Gerry joked that their biggest worries would be, “having to share the one umbrella in the rental house” and “having to pack those ponchos.” Thanks fellas. The house was about a 20 minute drive from the race, so we figured 3 hours would be more than plenty of time. But with a traffic back-up near the lake, we ended up cutting it quite close; we got off the shuttle around 7:05, got body marked, and made it out of T1 by the mandated 7:15. The start was delayed 15 minutes and we had time for multiple bathroom stops, a shakeout run, and some more waiting around.

Swim – Ugh, the frigging swim! I felt like I had a good start and was on some solid feet through the first two turn buoys. But on the way back, there was a little chop, not waves or anything, just current/ripples/not flat, and crowded water. Gotta love being in the wave #13 or 15 or whatever it was way back. I tried to swim inside the sight buoys, but there were kayaks lined up and safety volunteers telling me not to swim that way. So, I trudged along and eventually made my way out of the water in 34:07 – far from my best, but not a total disaster. Swim times were on the slower end that day and I’d say I left a minute or two in the water.

T1 – The day before we were warned about the goat head thorns in transition that could hurt our feet and puncture our tires. I even stopped once while running up the hill from the lake to pluck a thorn out of my foot. After throwing on my bike shoes and helmet, I carried (instead of wheeled) my bike to the mount line. My HR was pretty high and my typical breeze through transition felt like I was in slow motion. I saw my friends Teresa and Rebecca and thought, “I hope I look ripped carrying my bike, because I am working really hard.” I made it out of T1 in 2:37 and was lucky enough to not have any damage to my feet, cleats, or tires. Gerry and Garth were at the mount line and later said there were dozens of people with flats coming out of T1 and there were volunteers helping rider clean mud from cleats, so athletes could clip in.

Bike- In my opinion, the bike course isn’t anything special. It’s pretty flat, a couple technical turns, some tough road conditions, and no major climbs. Other than a little spin on Saturday, it was my first introduction to riding on Texas roads. And I can assure you, there will be far fewer complaints about road surfaces anywhere else. There weren’t major potholes, just poor chip seal, lots of bumps, and some uneven areas. Being in the third to last wave, the roads were really crowded. There were a couple times when I had to brake or jockey around to not get caught up in someone’s draft. It was a bit frustrating and definitely made starting in the women’s pro field seem more enticing. I was getting a little bored of the course toward the end of the ride, so at mile 41, a completely flat mile with no turns, I counted people. I passed 10 people in 1 mile. That’s kind of a lot, considering each mile lasts less than 3 minutes. I felt okay on the ride, not great, but pretty solid, and I kept pushing 56 miles until I got to the dismount line in 2:34:43.

Run – T2 was nothing fancy, no mud or goat heads. I was out on the run in 2:11. The run was tougher than I thought it would be when I signed up for this race. It’s a three loop course and the loop basically runs from T2/finish arena to the lake and back with a little off-road, grassy, gravel portion and a hill that you run up and down in the middle. My first couple miles were fast and by the time I got to the lake I made myself take some PERFORM and settle my heart rate. By the time I finished my first loop, I felt like I was running a lot stronger, even though my pace had slowed down a bit. The guys told me what position I was in off the bike (9th – ouch!), but with the crowds of people, I couldn’t tell where the other W30-34 were. I just kept running hard and telling myself, “it might be an ugly run course, but don’t make it an ugly run.” Perhaps I could have gone for a little more positive self-talk? It didn’t feel like I slowed down that much on the run, but I’m frustrated in my 1:35:11. I realize it’s not horrible, but I was hoping to break 1:30 this year and I really thought it was in the cards on Sunday. The finish line in the rodeo arena was cool and it was really fun to see Gerry and Garth out on the course, as well as other Seattle friends who made the trip down.

Check out this link to see the video Garth put together from the race. It features Matt Chrabot and Rebekah Keat (pro winners), me, Julie Vieselmeyer, Arielle Knutson, Graeme Roche, Gerry, and our rental house. There are a lot of “Go Knutsons” in there, as well as punctured tires, muddy cleats, and a new girl rock song, “Pumpin’ Blood” by NONONO (chosen by best friend Sydnie).

My overall time was 4:48:49, which is a PR for me and a pretty solid time. This landed me in 6th place for W30-34, which was a little disappointing, but I’m getting over it. I took solace in seeing that I stacked up okay against some female pros (and I wouldn’t have been the last out of the water) and that my time at last year’s race would have been 2nd in my AG. I know I still need to sharpen my skills at the 70.3 distance and this excites me. It’s a fun distance to race and there are many more opportunities to prove myself down the road. Sunday night we gorged on Mexican food, margaritas, and took a stroll down 6th St. On Saturday night Garth and Gerry set up a bet that whatever girl stayed out the latest on Sunday, Gerry would pack their bike. I was so thankful when Julie and Arielle called it a night – we stayed out pretty late for W30-34 triathletes!

Now the season is over and I’m decompressing, debriefing, planning my offseason (there’s some good stuff in there), and figuring out what the heck I’m doing in 2014. Lots of exciting stuff to come, including my thoughts on 2013 (mostly positive)! Thanks for reading.
With Heart,

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Black Diamond Half Ironman Race Report

I put the Black Diamond Half Ironman on my race schedule this fall for a couple reasons: 1) it’s local and low-key, 2) I haven’t had a chance to race it since 2008, and 3) it would fit nicely as a training race to get back in the swing of things after a mid-season break post-IMCdA. July and August were spent relaxing, visiting friends and family, taking time to be support or be a spectator at races, and enjoying parts of summer that are sometimes neglected when I try to fit in too many “A” races (*for this triathlete) in too little time. That said, my workouts have been pretty light over the past couple months and my fitness on race day was going to be a big old question mark.

Black Diamond is about 90 minutes southeast of Seattle, tucked behind some farm country with, if it’s clear, views of Mt. Rainier on the drive down. The swim is in Deep Lake and start/finish lines and transition area are located in Nolte State Park. In my opinion, it’s a great setting for a small race (Saturday had 168 HIM racers, Sunday had about 230 sprint and Olympic racers). If I had little kids and a husband, I’m sure they’d find it very family friendly. The start time is a reasonable 9am, so I could get up at my normal 5:05am and hit the road just after 6, and still have plenty of time to talk to a few friends at the start, set up my transition area in an okay spot, and get in a good warm-up jog and swim before it was go time.

Swim – 33:10 I swam well for the first three quarters of the race and then I felt just tired, like my lack of fitness was catching up with me. With about 500m to go, I took a few strokes to calm down and swam steady to the swim finish. The women start with the relays, 5 minutes behind the elites, and 4 minutes behind the rest of the men’s field. (I found out there was an elite wave 10 minutes prior to the race. It ended up being 5 men. I’m glad I didn’t start with them.) This meant there were some slower guys to swim through for the majority of the swim. But for the most part, it’s a pretty honest swim – clear markings, and because the lake is small and tree-lined, calm water.

T1 and bike – I ran out of the water semi-pleased with my swim, but was truly grasping for air and didn’t have the spring in my step that I normally do to try to fly through transition. Even getting my arms out of my wetsuit felt like a chore. T1 was a slow 2:52 (it’s a small transition area) and then I was out on the bike with what felt like a really high heart rate. For the first 8 miles I felt slow and powerless. I tried to eat, but chewing my delicious chocolate powerbar seemed like work and I had to spit it out. I coughed up some lake water and thought it was going to be a REALLY long day, like one of those days you almost hope something goes so wrong that you have to stop (seriously, bad self-talk going on at first). Then, I got passed by two girls. That’s when things started to feel a little better and I was riding a more normal speed. I certainly wasn’t crushing it and my legs felt flat versus rested, strong, and peppy, but I stayed in good position and came into T2 in a somewhat respectable 2:43.

Run – the woman who finished the bike 30 seconds in front of me stopped to eat a ham sandwich in transition (not really, but she was not fast out of T2), so I passed her and by the time I was out on the road I thought I might be in first place. My run legs felt okay, not great, but strong enough, and I was just hoping to keep it in the low 7s to finish out my training race. At mile 2.5 I saw a girl who was a good 10+ minutes ahead of me. My thought was “dang! She had a monster swim-bike!” At mile 6 she was four minutes ahead, and at mile 7 three minutes. At that point, I stopped worrying about my pace and focused on the chase. I glanced at my watch a few times and was running steady 7:10s-7:20s. The run course is actually pretty tough; there are a lot of out and backs that go up and over hills and the last mile and half is a lap around the lake, which is cool, but also hilly and rocky. On the last out and back, I was about 20 seconds down and an older guy racing told me, “you’re going to catch her.” I love the old dudes who race. By mile 10, I made the pass and was on my way to the finish. At that point, since it was pretty much a training day and there were no girls hot on my heels, I could cruise in and leave the deep digging in the well for another day. My final run split was 1:37 for a finish time of 4:58:00. I later chatted with the woman I passed on the run only to find out she was part of a relay and her boyfriend/husband (?) had the monster bike. She was really nice and said that she was going to tell me she was part of a relay, but by the last time I saw her, she knew I’d pass her anyway. Besides, it was really fun to have someone to try to catch.
From Left: Swim course in Deep Lake, typical countryside views, beer tent at the finish.
Finish times were a bit slower this year (I think my time would have put me in 3rd last year), but it was still nice to show up as the fastest female on that day. It was a reminder that I have a lot of work to do for the rest of the season. My bike and run aren’t quite where they need to be [my swim is a work in progress] to race as fast as I’m able, nor is my overall fitness. But that was really no surprise. I’ve had very few rides over 3 hours or runs over 90 minutes in the last couple months and that’s been entirely by design. Without any big races from July to now (just fun stuff), I was able to afford some rest and give my body a break. That break is now over and just like my training schedule shows, it’s business time until the end of October.

Thank you to the folks at AA Sports who put on an excellent event! There was a tasty lunch with my favorite dessert – strawberry shortcake, and lots of fresh fruit, and a beer garden serving up Deschutes beer, 2 per racer; this lightweight limited herself to 1 (post-exercise and a long drive home...I had to be responsible). As a bonus, the overall winners were given big beer steins, a 6-pack of Deschutes, a loaf of organic bread, and other fueling goodies. I’d recommend this race to anyone in the Seattle/Tacoma/Olympia area or anywhere in the Pacific Northwest. It’s good for experienced racers looking for a fast course or a training race and it’s great for new triathletes (sprint, Olympic, and tri-it races too).  Besides, it’s always nice to support the smaller, local races.

Back to work!

Monday, September 9, 2013


Well, I had one of the crappiest things happen to me as a cyclist two weeks ago – my bike was stolen. It wasn’t my race bike, and there was no trauma or injury involved, so I’m trying my damnedest to keep things in perspective. But as any cyclist or triathlete knows, we get pretty attached to these gentle steeds. And when something is taken from you against your will, you feel like the memories and miles logged on that bike or the future bike commuter days need to be mourned for at least a little while.
Walter Jr. (aka - Flynn) knows exactly how I feel
I bought my Trek 1500 SLR WSD in the summer of 2005 just a few short months before my first triathlon. I did a fair amount of research and invested in a good bike fit before finding and test riding this bike. At the time (other than my college education and Roth IRA), it was the biggest investment of my life and I knew it would bring me many happy miles and memories. I had no idea it’d be the gateway to the triathlon world that I am now so heavily vested in.

In comparison to the fancy TT bikes or road bikes that I see from many of my current training partners, my old Trek was nothing special. In fact, I often got a lot of flak for riding it: “when are you going to get a new road bike?” “You still ride that thing?” It was 8 years old this year, needed a tune, new bar tape, and I probably could have replaced the chain ring (it was a – gasp – triple, but I haven’t used that ring for years!). But it was the perfect rain bike or commuter bike. I brought it along on dozens of park tours and Tuesday Night Hill rides. It was there for my first crash, first concussion, first time I rode from Seattle to Portland, first World Championships, and most poignantly first triathlon.

And it pisses me off even more that it was stolen right out front of my office, about 20 meters from where our security guards sit. Why, oh why didn’t I lock it in the garage lockers that day? Maybe because there are dozens of other bikes in the broad daylight and I’ve locked it there several other mornings. I haven’t completely given up hope finding my bike. The day after it was stolen I found it on Craigslist and was setting up a sting operation with assistance of the UW Police (I work for the University of Washington).

This is the cracked out Craigslist ad:


And here’s the very vague text conversation I had trying to set something up:

notice the period question mark punctuation and
 very vague "we will meet somewhere"


I have a hard time believing someone else could have gotten in touch with the seller (he stopped returning my texts and the PD tried separately without luck). I also don’t think anyone could understand what he was trying to articulate with “i need to sell my bike ASAP cause i really have to pay for some verry important bills that they cant wait…” “in perfeckt condition, the bike is amazing i love it…” Funny, because Sydnie did some Internet sleuthing and found the guy’s phone number on Facebook. The phone number linked was most definitely a man’s name and likely not the “perfeckt” bike for a Women’s Specific Design. It’s also hard to believe that shimano ultegra and shimano 105 is the best combination. I do like Shimano, but everyone knows this isn’t their best line of components.

I was creeped out and started to cringe when I saw the photos online. The guy removed the handy coffee cup bottle cage and changed out my seat (someone else’s seat – gross!). And people keep telling me that the bright side is that I can start looking for a new bike. But I was hoping to invest in a new bike for training AND keep my old Trek for riding to work. Yes, it’s fun looking for a new bike, but when you’re trying to replace something that was perfectly acceptable to get you from point A (home) to point B (work) and back, the replacement process is just not that fun. It’s probably the same feeling of replacing an old pet, but in this case more practical and less cuddly. At this point, all I can do is keep an eye out on the Seattle PD Twitter feed @getyourbikeback and hope that my poor, beloved WSD Trek is found and eventually returned to me. For now, I’m just so bloody mad that I can’t ride my bike to work (there’s no way I’m taking my race bike). So good job thieves, you’ve ruined my day and added a car to the commute.
This is what it looked like, except I switched the pedals to some older blue Look pedals that were perfectly worn in for commuting

A few more things I learned:

Several people sent me this article about a girl who stole her bike back in Vancouver and was on the Today’s show. (This article kind of annoys me because she’s not wearing a helmet.) My friend Jenn, the same friend who also writes her goals on the back of a Starbucks wrapper, stole her bike back from a Craigslist ad a couple years ago (but was not on the Today’s show). She promptly sold it a few days later and still gets mad thinking about how the guy was never arrested. I realize that I could have tried this approach, but a) I didn’t want to get robbed and b) I was willing to wait in hopes that the police could make an arrest. It didn’t work, but my safety was also not threatened.
A friend of mine is a detective told me that only the cops who work in the jurisdiction can help you with the sting. For example, if I planned to meet the seller in Kirkland, I couldn’t call the Seattle police to help; I’d need to call the Kirkland police. The UW police, however, were willing to help me wherever.
If you ever get into a situation like this, don’t try and meet the seller alone. Always make sure it’s a public place and have someone with you. Unfortunately, what often happens is the buyer (victim) is robbed again.

This website entertains me: 
WRITE DOWN YOUR SERIAL NUMBERS for ALL your bikes. Go do that right now! It’s the easiest way to identify it if it’s later found or if you find it on Craigslist. And keep them up in a spot you can’t lose them. I have them taped on the wall in my laundry/bike gear room. I was 90% sure I had mine written down, but actually ended up having to call the bike shop who had it recorded for me. Thank you, Redmond Cycle.

If you have any leads on a Trek 1500SLR or are looking to unload a good commuter bike, please contact me via Twitter @cknutson82 or through the comments on this blog.

Thanks, ride safe, and love your bikes!