Friday, July 25, 2008

Hasta La Agusto, Baby

This will be my last post until the fourth of August. I have a full weekend of cycling and beer drinking planned, then am leaving bright and early Monday morning to visit EMILY!!!!!!! in Colorado Springs. I am so excited. One full day in CO Springs, then we'll head out to Lake City to meet my brother, sister-in-law and some of their crazy friends for a few days of camping and general debauchery. Last time I saw Chuck's friend Nolan, he was playing casino commando in the fake ferns in the Bellagio buffet after my brother's wedding and after consuming at least fourteen free champagne refills. (Or maybe it my brother-from-anutha-mutha Cody who had the 14 refills...I had about 12 myself and lost track of everyone else's consumption around number eight). It should be some good times. At some point, we're planning on hiking to the top of Uncompaghre Peak--If we can sober up long enough to get the hike organized.

There are a few topics that I've made a general rule to avoid on this blog: work (for ethical as well as practical reasons like keeping one's job) and romance (because what is put on the internet stays on the internet-no matter what anyone tells you otherwise). However, I'm going to break form just a tiny bit here to endorse something that I experienced for the first time yesterday. The bike date. As distinguished from a ride with an existing significant other or a group ride whereby someone with whom you are infatuated also happens to be along for the ride.

I had a bike date last night. If you're a cyclist, the advantages of this arrangement are obvious. For the uninitiated, here are the perks:

(1) It involves riding a bike.

(2) You get to hang out with someone that you find attractive and is probably wearing lycra. Nothing in a bike kit is left to the imagination, so you can check out what you're getting into ahead of time.

(3) You automatically have something to talk about (bikes, duh) and if you find out that you don't, in fact, want to talk to this person anymore, you can find a hill to ride, and use the resulting loss of breath to avoid further conversation.

(4) Cycling presents many opportunities where you can observe how your date deals with stressful situations. If you are on a bike date and are cut off by an idiot motorist, and your date responds by hauling the driver out of the car and beating his head on the curb, you'll immediately know that this is probably not someone you want to bring home for Thanksgiving.

(5) For guys, a perfect opportunity for a recovery ride and the opportunity to show off your manly climbing skills while your date good-naturedly huffs and puffs up that 3 percent grade behind you. For the ladies, a perfect opportunity to simultaneously (a) get in a good tempo ride and (b) revel in why god created lycra bike shorts.

Yesterday evening was a gorgeous one for a bike ride...mid 70s and no serious headwind. Would've been a great ride even without the date component, but that definitely heightened the experience. For the record-I can't recommend enough the experience of making out at a stoplight for an audience of exasperated soccer moms in Lincoln Navigators. Viva la bike!

Have a great week, friends!! I'll post again on the flip-side.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Short Track Week 5: My Season Finale

Hey, I bet you can't guess what place I got this week? No seriously, you'll never guess.



Since I only gave myself an hour to bitch about Monday's race and that deadline has long passed, it'll have to suffice to say that (1) I jammed my shoulder twice and rode pretty carefully after the first lap, (2) Could not do the second log set cleanly to save my life and (3) WAS ROBBED OF MY TOP TEN FINISH BY TWO SINGLE SPEED ASSHOLES WHO FORCED ME OFF THE LINE WHEN I WAS ABOUT TO PASS THE GIRL WHO GOT TENTH. Fuck you guys. Seriously. I hope whoever won that battle for 23rd place is really happy about it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tuesday Shoulder Update: On the Road Again. Sigh.

Just returned from the shoulder doctor. No muscle tear, but some serious tendinitis and fluid build-up that is probably a direct result of the fact that I continued to mountain bike after the injury.

The prescription: physical therapy and NO MOUNTAIN BIKING until the inflammation is gone and I'm pain free. Either that or I can probably kiss cross season good-bye. Fuck Fucking Fuckerton.

So I'm stuck on my road bike for at least the next few weeks. GRRRRRRRRRRR.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Memorializing The Best Idea that Team HTFU Has Ever Collectively Generated

During a BBQ that I was, unfortunately, unable to attend, Beth and Mo of the HTFU crew came up with a brilliant idea for a line of nutrition bars that would reflect both the nutritional and emotional needs of women. The name of the line will be "HTFU"-sounds healthy, eh?

There will be several flavors (I'll update this list as we come up with new ideas):

The NDN: "Next-Door Neighbor." We're still working on the optimal flavor combination that fully captures the walk of shame one feels after hooking up with someone they will inevitably see in the dog park every day until selling the house and moving to Northeast.

The SEB: "Someone Else's Boyfriend." The SEB gives you a huge rush that you want go back for over and over, but you really shouldn't go back at all because it was such a god damned bad idea in the first place....chocolate chunks, caramel, toffee chips and an optional tub of cool whip.

The ONS: "One Night Stand." Laced with ginger so you get that funky feeling in your stomach within four hours and wake up somewhere that you've never been before, but most definitely never want to be again.

The GRS: "Good Riddance Sucka." The break-up bar. Healthy and refreshing, with a touch of citrus and a splash of "thank god I don't have to deal with your crazy narcissistic ass and/or pot habit and/or mommy issues anymore."

The FB5: "F@$!-Buddy Five"-an amalgamation of Beth's favorite number and Mo's second-favorite relationship configuration. The flavor of this bar, however, is inspired by Mo's first favorite relationship: with any under-21 male that she can buy beer for while he hangs out at his mom's house playing Grand Theft Auto. Salty, sweet and with a kick, but with an energy burst that lasts for only two minutes. Preferably consumed with BAWLS Guarana or some other gamer-endorsed sports beverage.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Friday Shoulder Update: No News is Good News

For everyone that has asked (and thanks for that!), I won't know the results of this morning's MRI until Tuesday morning. That is, unless, someone out there knows how to read the MRI film sitting in the backseat my car.

All I have to report is that the MRI facility at Providence is very nice. They give you a warm blanket and really good earplugs. I actually fell asleep (if you have ever had an MRI, you will understand why this is nearly impossible), but that probably had more to do with getting up this morning for a 5AM run than the earplugs.

I'm going to hash again tonight and will post a report sometime this weekend.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


After waiting thirty-one years to find an activity that I am perfectly suited for, I found it last night. Hashing. It combines several of my favorite things: beer, running, nudity and non-stop innuendo. I am, however, currently questioning the wisdom of doing a hash run when I have to try and stay awake and alert in a meeting the morning after.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Short Track Week 4: I Guess Eleven is My Lucky Number

Had a great race at short track this week. Was able to put in a race effort for the full 30 minutes. Cleared all logs. Still finished eleventh-again. Can't help but laugh.

Off Topic: I'm compiling a list of down and dirty make-out songs. One of my favorites: When the Lights Go Out, Black Keys.

What are your favorites?

Afternoon shoulder update: After multiple x-rays and two hours in a doctor's office, the doctor is still not convinced that there isn't a tear in my left supraspinatus. I'm scheduled for an MRI Friday morning. Tear=surgery, so keep your fingers crossed for me.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Team Balsaque vs. the Nettle Patch: Vashon Island Xterra Race Report

Here is my race report for the Vashon Island Xterra, held at Dockton Park on July 13, 2008. I'll keep incorporating pictures as the week wears on...

Team LL Stats:

Total Time: 2:07.37
800m Swim (Lora Koenig): 16:23.1
T1: 27.4
14ish mile MTB (Trigrrl): 1:17.91 (9.7 mph and 2.57 nettle bush crashes per lap)
T2: 1:15.3
3.6ish mile trail run (Trigrrl): 34:29

2nd out of 4 relays.

Saturday: Team Balzaque Drinks Tequila and Sleeps in the Belly of the Whale

Vashon Island race weekend started bright and early. Megan and I met Doug at his house at 8AM to load up the car and we were on the road by 8:30. The trip to the Point Defiance Ferry was uneventful. I sat in the backseat and alternately read sections from a mountain bike skills book (alas, no specific chapter on turning right) and my favorite new book, "Stuff White People Like" (link is to the website of the same name).

The Point Defiance Ferry was my first time on a ferry. Damn, the sights of the Sound were gorgeous.

We met Jenny Stangl and Carly at Casa Bonita, this kick ass little Mexican Restaurant in Vashon. It was unanimously decided that our optimal pre-Xterra race preparations would include mexican food and no fewer than three margaritas apiece. Here we are collectively vibing that fifteen minutes is too long to wait for a margarita:

I found my new boyfriend hanging out at Casa Bonita. He's the shirtless hottie with the middle of the photo with the trucker hat and suspenders. His name is Roy Bob Jr. and he lives with his mom in a single wide five miles outta town. RB is a carnivorous Leo who likes chainsaw art, Monday Night WWF on a widescreen projection TV, shotgunning Keystone Ice and shooting at road signs. And remember ladies, I saw him first:
The Xterra weekend coincided with the Vashon Island Strawberry festival. My favorite part of the street fair was the two good ol' boys with guitars and an amp simultaneously playing "Christian Glam Rock" (their label, not mine-I can't make that kind of shit up) and ogling every underage female within ten feet. I was unable to find a commemorative t-shirt with a unicorn-riding strawberry, but we did find a most delectable mid-afternoon snack-a kebab of chocolate covered strawberries.The lovely lady in the middle is a gal pal from my days at Linfield College, Lora Koenig. Lora just finished defending her PhD at UW and graciously agreed to swim for me after my second test swim crashed and burned earlier in the week.

After checking into the campsite, taking a post-tequilathon siesta and settling into our Deluxe Whale Teepee (complete with an indoor (!?) fire pit and three empty Heineken bottles), we drove out to Dockton Park to pre-ride the mountain bike course. We were quite lucky to have Lora and her handy-dandy Garmin navigation equipment along for the ride. I think we saved 2.3 minutes and discovered two previously abandoned roads on our way to the park.

I'll save a description of the course to the actual "race report" section of this post. Suffice to say, there was a significant amount of frustrated swearing, tipping over and putting a foot down during the first third of the course. I also did hands-on reconnaissance on every goddamn stinging nettle patch near the trail. At the top of the ridge, we ran into two of the official Xterra representatives riding the course backwards. I knew we were in for a good time when I asked one, "Is there a time penalty for swearing?" and his answer was "I don't know what the fuck you're talking about." This was going to be my kind of race.

Here is Camp Whale after the pre-ride, eating a healthy pre-race meal of beer, cheese, salami, crackers and gummi bears.

During a downwardly-spiraling conversation fueled by Ninkasi and the intoxication of gorgeous setting (at one point a young deer maniacally ran through the tents in the meadow), the initial course of which I cannot recall, we deemed ourselves Team Balzaque (if the humor of this moniker isn't immediately apparent, say it out loud). If Balzaque could not emerge victorious over the Ironheads on race day, the least we could do was crash a lot and clear the trail for them as they lapped us.

Sunday: Can the Garmin Navigate Me to the Local Nettle Patches?

Sunday morning dawned early, clear and cool. Team Balzaque brewed up some cowboy coffee, loaded up the cars and headed back to Dockton Park for the main event. Some pre-race gear carnage and the bay where the swim was held:If you don't recall my nutrition issues during my last off-road event, let me provide a recap: not enough calories = late ride bonk. I have discovered that pre-race nutrition is more important for me in an off-road event because I find it difficult to concurrently eat and stay upright on the mountain bike. On this go-around, I obviously needed to try a new strategy.

I decided to load more long-term (complex carb/protein) fuel into my breakfast and rely on Heed and a single, "in case of emergency only," packet of Gu for the race. Breakfast consisted of coffee and two pieces of peanut butter toast. Two. This idea only turned out to be half of a good idea. Bad half: I spent the hour before the start time nauseous from the effort my stomach was putting into digesting that much peanut butter and bread. Good half: I had no nutrition issues during the race.

The men took off at 9, followed by the women and relays at 9:10. The first member of Balzaque out of the water was Doug, followed shortly by Carly. Stangl, Lora and Megan were not far behind. Lora and I had a quick timing chip exchange, and I was off and, uh, running.

The bike course was two 6.5 ish mile loops. The first quarter mile was, for me, a bike and hike. The steep pitches were so frequent that it was more efficient just to push the bike the entire segment than to constantly have to get on and off of the bike. I passed Carly on this stretch and didn't see another Balzaque until the very end of the run.

The bike and hike was followed by a fairly technical section though the forest and some section of trail that was so twisty and overgrown that it was very difficult to gauge the trail more than fifteen feet in advance. Although I had a couple of spills in this section during both laps, it was awesome. I rode through, around or over some sections that I didn't ride on Saturday, only because my legs were burning (and not from the nettles, that was a different sort of burning) and I didn't want to have to stop and start up again.

At the halfway point on the course, the trail hit its highest point and we began the "Return of the Jedi" section. I refer to it as such not because I was chasing little hairy lifeforms through the woods (most of the men that were lapping me were tall and smooth-legged), but because it was heavily wooded, fast, with smooth trail and lots of tight turns that required me to commit to taking some chances in order to keep up with the women that I was riding with. Some of these chances worked, some of them led to some trips into the nettle patches and finally being dropped by the folks I was riding with. C'est la vie.

The final third of the course was almost exclusively downhill, including a section where I caught some air off of some roots and a section where I did a skidding switchback turn for the first time. Not purposely, but it worked splendidly.

All in all, I had a great time on this bike course, although it was a difficult course that really tested my bike-handling skills. I am still, however, pretty frustrated that I still have significantly more fitness than I have ability to ride fast on singletrack. Just be patient, grasshopper.

The run took us back up the hill from the bay and into the trail system. The first mile was a steady, and sometimes steep, uphill. I made a mental note that I will place hill repeats on Wild Cherry on my 2009 Xterra training schedule. When I could run, I ran strong and smooth, probably because I didn't burn through all of my energy on the bike ride. The second and third miles were a series of steady rollers and final push involved a 1/2 mile stretch of pavement and a bomb downhill on loose and dusty singletrack back into the park. Stangl caught me with less than a quarter mile remaining. I tried to stay on her tail, but that lasted all of fifteen seconds. She is a speed demon. I am a bowling ball.

Doug and Lora greeted us at the finish. Stangl and I were followed by Megan and, last but definitely not least, Carly, who received a five moon salute and cheers of "Go Balzaque" as she ran into the finish chute. Everyone was sporting a huge grin after the race and the first thing each person said after they crossed the finish line was some variation of "That was so much fun!!"

And it was. SO. MUCH. FUN. Thank you Xterra and BuDu Racing.

We stuck around for the awards ceremony (which involved Stangl participating in a push-up contest and grown men shotgunning gatorade), reloaded the cars and headed out to catch the ferry. Here was our post-race celebratory meal, eaten while waiting in line to get back on the ferry.

Team Balzaque already plans on representing at Vashon Island Xterra 2009. We are now accepting applications for new team members. In order to qualify for Balzaque membership, you must:
  1. Be able and willing to consume large amounts of pre-race margarita and/or beer.
  2. Participate in the pre-ride swearing contest.
  3. Engage in the steady sexual harassment of your team members, other racers, the men who take money for the ferry and local teenagers selling chocolate covered bananas.
  4. Have an almost illegal amount of fun.
See ya in 364 days!

Thursday, July 10, 2008


I went up to Tabor last night to watch my very special lady friends compete in the last Tabor race of the summer. I rode up, did my workout before the races started, then found a nice patch of shade in which to kick back and to watch the suffering. Whoops, I mean watch the action. I took my helmet off and placed it right behind me. When I turned around to put it back on an hour later, some dude's clothes were stashed in it. Including some inside-out underpants.

I knew these were not my underpants for several reasons:

1. I don't look good in plaid.

2. They were a size small.

3. I wasn't wearing any underpants that day.

I can not state highly enough the gravity of this situation. Something that has touched some random guy's junk all day long now had to come into contact with my head. Because I usually require someone to, at the very least, buy me a cocktail before there is any sort of junk-fabric-my skin interaction, I wasn't sure what protocol to follow.

I had several options:

1. Make the situation know to those sitting near me on the grass: "Hey, is anyone missing some underpants? If so, would you mind getting them out of MY HELMET?"

2. Pick up each individual piece of clothing and place on grass, pausing to search for a wallet in the pocket of the shorts. I figured that $10-$20 would a fair price for an hour's worth of junk storage.

3. Ride home without a helmet.

The first option was awkward, the second illegal and the third would subject me to the wrath of Beth and the loss of a brand new $150 helmet. In the end I just dumped the whole lot on the grass, fished out my sunglasses and beat the pavement home.

I can't quit itching my head this morning. I am going to be pissed off if I've ended up with some dude's junk funk in my hair.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Short Track Week 3

This year I have adopted a not entirely successful modus operandi at short track-start great, then crash out of the top five. I'm so consistent with the strategy that its getting f-in ridiculous. This week was more of the same. Great start. Stack it at the gravel hill on the first lap (I have not made it successfully over this hill this year because someone always eats it in front of me). Chase back up to the front group. Stack it at some really easy place on the course, probably on a right hand turn. Chase. Stack it at some other really easy place on the course. Run out of energy to chase. Race Kristin W. in the last fifty meters for another rad mid-pack finish (this week I came out on top). Eleventh out of twenty for the second consecutive week-how's that for mediocre consistency? Clean gravel out of knees. Eat PB&J sandwich. Go to Lucky Lab for a beer.

This is what all of my knees and elbows look like this morning:

And the back of my calves look like someone laid into me with a bamboo cane. As does my entire right posterior region-and no, I'm not going to post a picture of that, so don't ask. Its really a good thing that I'm not dating anyone right now. "No-seriously, I'm really not into that kind of kink-I just can't turn right on my mountain bike." Yah, right, uh-huh. I'm starting to get impatient with cycling clothing manufacturers. I'm going to need that cycling bubble suit sooner rather than later.

And on a completely different topic, my favorite picture from the TNT after party. Beware the wrath of the Batman sunburn kung fu master:

Monday, July 7, 2008

Rocking the McKenzie River Trail-That Is, Lava Rocking

Yesterday I rode most of the McKenzie River Trail with Megan. We started from Fish Lake Creek and rode to the Boulder Creek camp areas (a bit south of the "3507" box on the map above. We had planned on riding the whole thing, but then we got off course, then the upper section of the trail was pretty technical and made for slow going and then there was some even slower going when we decided to preserve our bodies and bikes by walking through most of the lava fields south of Tamalich Falls.

Here we are at the start (sorry about the poor cell phone picture quality):

Here I am at Koosah Falls, before Megan and I realized that we missed a bridge and were on the wrong side of the river:We got back on course at Carmen Reservoir and managed to get 4 hours of singletrack riding in before my Dad and I had to head back to Eugene for the final day of the Olympic Trials. I definitely need to go back soon for a second run...the trail was just starting to get fun (i.e., less technical and more climbing) when we had to pull off.

Excellent ride on an excellent/wonderful/fantastic/beautiful trail.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Redemption at the 10K Corral

Since I was going to be Eugene for the Fourth of July, I decided a few weeks ago that I would participate in the Butte to Butte 10K. I first did this race while studying for the bar in 2003, but haven't done so since then. For me, its a challenging course. The first mile is uphill, followed by one and 1/2 miles of downhill and winding up with 3.5 of flats through the streets of Eugene. Neither steady uphills nor steady downhills are my favorite, but there are usually over 4000 people that do this race, so there are plenty of people to pace off of and/or pass. And we all know how much I like passing people and crushing the souls of the weak.

Despite the lingering fatigue in my legs from Sunday, I had been looking forward this race because I needed to alleviate some nagging doubt about my ability to run at something faster than ten minute (OK, OK, twelve minute) pace.

I did a few things differently that I typically do for "fun" runs. First, I got up a bit early and ate. Second, I did a pretty thorough warm-up: a few track laps of jogging and two laps of the active stretching drills that we do in Jeff's class. I think this made a huge difference because although the start was slow due to the hills and the sheer number of people that participate, I was loose and comfortable ride out of the gate.

When I headed over to the start area, I ran into some good friends from my days at Linfield: Joel and Lora. Lora is from Eugene, but now lives in Seattle. It didn't even cross my mind that they might be here for the weekend, but with the holiday and the trials in town, they made the trip south for the weekend.

Lora decided that she wanted to run with me and I think she held on until the last steep pitch on the climb. After that, I ran alone, accompanied only by the kickin' tunes coming through my new headphones.

I can't lie. My overall pace was about 8:17, but I had to work hard and focus to keep that pace. I really need new shoes and my feet are still very tender from Saturday's flip-flop trek. But I know that I went as hard as I could, as I had nothing left to accelerate on in the last half mile.

51:27 (8:17 pace)
Mile 1: 9:40
Mile 2: 7:41
Mile 3: 7:43
Mile 4: 8:10
Mile 5: 8:08
Mile 6: 8:03
Last .2: 1:58.

This is a full minute slower than 2003, but at that time I was running 4-5 days a week and started near the front of the pack, so I'm considering today a total success.

In other running news, I went for a 3.5 mile run yesterday with my brother Chuck. This is a truly remarkable event because it was the first athletic activity that we've ever done together that didn't involve one of us ending up either (1) bloodied up under our parent's basketball hoop or (2) grounded. I am really proud of him. He has lost over 4o pounds in the last few months and is planning on running a marathon in October. After that is over, I am going to start working on him about doing a triathlon with me late next year.

Happy Fourth of July!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

If I Can Average .5 Wrecks Per Short Track Race, It'll be a Good Month

Short track season, all glorious 6 weeks of it, officially began two and a 1/2 weeks ago. Damn, I wish it lasted the whole summer.

Since the races are short, so are the race reports:

Week 1: Totally psyched, even in the face of racing an extra 10 minutes this year because I moved up from beginners to Sport 19-39. I got a really bad start because I couldn't get clipped in. Took out Sage and Amber on each side of me. Gah! Sorry! Caught back on pretty quickly, though, and worked my way into the top 5. Great course, but got off the bike through the tight moguls in the woods-partially because there was no room to ride around the other people that dismounted and partially to prevent a repeat of my warm-up lap (whereby I ended up flat on my back unable to clip out of the pedals). Sage passed me in the last lap. I thought she was lapping me, so I let her go. Bad call. She must have crashed at some point and was just catching me. That's what I get for pussying out. Finished 6/11.

The mood at the end of the race was sober. It turns out that the single speed rider that I thought just got off course and took a spill right ahead of me in the start area actually had a heart attack. I've heard that he's OK, thanks to some quick thinking spectators. The whole incident reminds me that I need to go get re-certified in CPR.

Week 2: This race was only 30 hours after the Pacific Crest Duathlon's slow descent into hell. I knew my legs would be cooked, but I had just picked up the new bike and there was no way in hell that I wasn't going to take it out to race.

This time I got a great start and got through the lap in second place, right on the wheel of the first place rider. I was pretty stoked at that point-I knew my fitness wasn't enough to hold onto that position permanently, but my bike handling through the rough spots was awesome. I managed to hold on to second until Colleen passed me in the woods, but I was feeling really strong. Then we hit a hairpin turn on some gravel and I ended up ass over heels in the middle of the road. A few gals passed me then and a few passed me later when I pulled of the course a few minutes later in a panic that I had destroyed the back dérailleur on my new toy. Turns out that the chain had just slipped to the little ring. Whew.

I chased for the next twenty minutes, passed two ladies and almost caught Kristin Wille, who is a really strong rider, in the last 20 meters. Turns out that she rode over 100 miles the day before, so she was probably more worked over than I was. Finished 11 out of 20.

If I can put a full race together one of these days, I think I might be able to crack the top five. If not, who cares. I just love feeling the huge smile on my face every time I finish racing.

The bad news is that Beth bashed up her wrist again while we were warming up. Get well soon, Princess!

A Bad Strategy Executed Perfectly: Pac Crest Weekend Race Day

Pacific Crest Olympic Duathlon-June 29, 2008

The Stats
Total Time: 2:41:52
Bike: 1:25:26 (approximately 19.8 MPH) 45th out of 179, 5th fastest female bike split.
T: 1:47
Run: 1:14:40 (approximately the speed of paint drying)

86/179 Overall
18/73 Women
1/6 Age Group

The Race Report:

First off, I am going to credit Emily Brew with the perfect description of my race: A Bad Strategy Executed Perfectly. My goal was to go out and hammer the bike, then just make it through the run. With the heat and the condition of my lungs (gunked up) and feet (tore up from the floor up), my run split was going to be pathetically slow no matter how hard I rode on the bike. So, I told myself, why not just time trial the bike leg? The answer to this fairly rhetorical question will become apparent by the end of this post.

Rode up to Wickiup with Doug and Seth, blasting Volume II of the TNT CDs. I didn't feel nervous at all, as my race on Sunday was basically an afterthought to getting the 1/2ers to the finish line on Saturday. Wasn't having any problems with getting fluids into my system (foreboding foreshadowing music here) or getting my GI system to quickly move through the pre-race routine.

Our race started at around 9:10. They sent the duathletes off in pairs in 15 second intervals. By 8:45, the self-selecting starting line was already running the entire length of the transition area and I had decided to wait until the end because there would be more people to catch on the ride. I am highly motivated by crushing the souls of the weak as I pass them on the bike. Robin Vertner, however, had secured a spot in the front and needed a start partner, so I rolled up the line to start with her. Most of the folks in the immediate vicinity were on hybrids and mountain bikes, so I created a bit of a stir with the tritard, the Kuota, in all of its black and pink glory, and the aero helmet.

The first 10 miles of the bike were uneventful. Kept the bike at about 22-25 MPH on the flats and kept the cadence at an appropriate 75-80 RPM on the rollers. Had a couple of words with a few middle aged men than wouldn't drop back after I passed them, but I've gotten used to that in the last few years. I really wish they could just let me go...most of them will inevitably catch up to me on the run.

At about mile 11, we begin climbing for 3.5 miles. I don't particularly like climbing on the Kuota, as it is too light for me to control when I get out of the saddle to climb, but I manged to keep a nice steady pace and was only caught by two or three of the men that I passed on the flats.

The last 1/2 of the course is downhill or flat, which are my specialties. I was fast, but pretty uncomfortable the entire time. I hadn't been in the aero position on the Kuota for more than a 20K and my neck and ladybits were starting to scream at me around mile 15. My decision to forego the chamois cream was a bad one. The road was not in the best condition to make riding a full carbon bike and wheelset a comfortable experience. I could feel my teeth and uterus rattling in my head.

As I approached the last stretch before the transition area, I began to have some issues with a rider that refused to get off my wheel or would pass me at full speed, only to slow down after getting around me. The third time I passed him I decided it would be the last time and cranked it up to about 27 MPH (into a headwind) for about 3 minutes. I saw red, stars, spots and Jesus during this time, but I never saw this guy again. Turns out it was because he got pulled off of the course and DQ'd for drafting. Menfolk-for the love of god, accept the fact that sometimes we are faster than you and just let it go. That dude paid 80-some dollars to get DQ'd for letting his ego get in the way of my safety and his safety and the kindergarten-era concept of working and playing well with others. Step off, Number 2022, you would have passed me on the run anyways.

There was something else going on while I was putting the hurt down-i drank both of my water bottles. Large water bottles. I usually only get through one in a short-course race and brought the other one only in the event that I got a flat or otherwise was out on the course longer than anticipated.

I started feeling funny as soon as I got off the bike and was trotting into transition. The sloshing noise coming from my gut must have been audible from at least 10 feet away. I racked the bike, took a gu, threw on my shoes and speedwalked out of transition while securing my other gear-visor, racebelt and handheld water bottle.

The first 1.5 miles of the run course were a cruel, cruel joke. There are several inclines that wouldn't be difficult on fresh legs or in favorable weather conditions. Unfortunately, I had neither. And I did not feel good. After trying to run for about a 1/2 mile, I slowed down to a walk to let the nausea pass. When it didn't pass after 5 minutes, i finally had to walk off of the course and yak up a stomach full of fluid.

It took another ten minutes of walk/slogging before I decided that puking was, in fact, the right decision. The heat and my blistered feet were limiting my ability to move any faster than the slog, but I didn't fell like a bloated mess.

And so began the cycle-run 5 minutes , walk 1, douse self with water frequently, stop to refill at all aid stations. Rinse, repeat. It was slow, but I was moving forward.

A funny think happened at about mile 3. I started smiling and couldn't stop. I had, physically, felt better in my life, but I felt at peace with my slow progress and the race experience. Or maybe I had simply lost my mind. I chatted with everyone that was cheering along the bike path and stopped for about a minute to exchange water gun fire with some kids at mile 5. It didn't take nearly as long as I though to reach mile 6 and the TNT wall of noise.

Then I was done. I stood in the ice water shower for at least 5 minutes (I was in there long enough that one of the volunteers not so subtly asked me to move on and I not so subtly ignored the request) then moved into the recovery area. They had a ton of food, water and sports drink, but the only thing I wanted was something that would make me burp. Doug tracked down a soda, then a beer, for me, and after a few impressive belches, I finally started to feel quasi-human again.

After completion of my not-so-perfect race plan, I began my not-so-perfect recovery plan. Drank a couple of beers, which killed the nausea and eventually triggered both my appetite and my "drinking outside with beers" voice. As a result, cheering in the Olympic Team was a blast.

After we finally got back to the house, I notices that my back felt really hot. Turns out that I had a radioactive sunburn in the rough shape of the Batman logo on my upper back and shoulders.

The weekend closed with a great TNT party, lots of hugs and a few tears. Thank you to everyone that conspired to get me my new pink jersey, pink knee warmers and the gift certificate for some cool schwag from Cyclepath. I'll probably put it toward some pink Chris King hubs for my mountain bike.

I love you, TNT family, and thank for one of the best weekends, ever.

Pac Crest Race Weekend Days 3 and 4

Friday: We woke up to some serious heat that turned out to be only a preview of what the weekend had in store. Spent the morning watching "Flight of the Conchords" clips on YouTube and drinking a lot of tea. For some unknown reason, my throat was (and still is) bothering me, perhaps because of pollen and the haze blowing in from the northern California wildfires.

Picked up packets and headed out to Wickiup so that the 1/2ers could set up their transition areas and get a final swim in the reservoir. The only incident of note occurred as Diane, myself and several others were waiting in the shade waiting for Randall to get out of the water.

This guy is pacing in an agitated manner near the exit of the transition area. Our group had the following exchange with him.

Him: You guys know anything about this race?
Us: Um, yeah, what's going on?
Him: I can't believe this transition area. The ELITES are supposed to be near the exit of the transition area, not the front.
Us: Um, ok.
Him: This is ridiculous. I have never been at a race where the ELITES are in this part of the transition zone.
Us: Um, yeah. Ok.
Him: More bitching and grumbling (at this point I'm focusing more on not saying something snarky than what he is saying).

Dude, we got it. You're ELITE. And you're going to have to jog an extra 100 feet in the transition area during a time in the race where no one but you and a couple of your ELITE buddies are even in the transition area. Boo hoo. At least you won't even have to share the air with the people that are racing to RAISE MONEY FOR CANCER RESEARCH and will be happy just to finish. (FYI: Not only did you totally made an ass out of yourself, but we know who you are...way to represent Portland and the Ironheads.)

I followed Wickiup with a nap before heading over the TNT pasta party. Free food and some amazing speeches by Bob and Terry Jordan. The Jordans lost their daughter Emily to leukemia more than a decade ago and tell their story to us every year. No matter how many times I hear them talk, it always reduces me to a mushy patch of tears. They are amazing people and we are so lucky to have them as a part of our team.

Saturday: Race day for the 1/2 team. By the time I rolled out of bed at 5:30, applied six layers of sunscreen and gotten dressed, most of the house has already up and had finished eating. Chris, Jane and I arrived at Wickiup around 7. Audrey had procured a VIP pass for me, so I was able to go into the transition area and mingle with the team. I would have probably gone bonkers if I had been forced to wait outside of fence.

Race started at about 9 and the highlight was the arrival of Team member Ali's boyfriend and her friends. They showed up in crazy costumes and played the drums outside of the transition area. They should seriously think about holding a spectator training camp...not only did they have drums, but they changed costumes 4 times. Ali's boyfriend is a cancer survivor and his final costumes was a full-on lycra "Lymphoma Man" superhero costume.

We stayed long enough to cheer every last swimmer out of the water, including the man who doggy-paddled the entire 1.2 miles and had his daughter waiting for him in the transition zone. It was really cute.

Then came what was truly the highlight of my weekend: supersoaking runners with Jane at the halfway point of the run. Chris, Jane and I hauled several water guns and several coolers of ice (with my beer in it) onto the course and sprayed down every runner that requested it. Considering that it was between 95-98 degrees that afternoon, we got a lot of takers. My favorite exchange of the afternoon came early on, when I was still learning to control the blast function on my water gun.

Cute guy: what can i get in exchange for a full spray down?
Me (after two beers and a lot of sun): either a beer or your phone number.

I then blasted the guy full on with ice water. In the crotch.

Cute guy: after that, you probably are going to want the beer rather than my phone number.

And so on. It was a great afternoon. I knocked some guy's hat off, sprayed water up both Seth and Doug's noses and laughed more than I had in a long time.

Towards the end of the pack, our Teammate Amy C. came through and you could tell she was in a bad, dark place. We waited for our last Teammate to come through (a beaming Julie Arts, just chugging along) and then Jane and I started to head back to the finish area. Not far from the river, we ran into Amy again. Almost immediately, I made the decision that I would finish the race with her if she wanted me to. And she did.

So Jane pedaled behind us and I walked for 5.5 miles. In flip flops. Something that I would not recommend to anyone, ever. Thank God I had a mission to get Amy to the finish line or I might have chewed my feet off by the end of the race. I finally got smart and slathered the soles of my feet with Vaseline at each aid station, but they were pretty beat up when we finished.

But we finished. I don't know whether you read this, Amy, but I am so proud of you. It is so much easier to quit than to persevere, and you fought through like a champion.

All in all, the Team survived the race with minimal carnage. I couldn't say the same thing for my feet. I babied the heck out of them all evening and hit the sack early after gathering my things together for my own race day.