Saturday, August 29, 2009

Living in a Bigger World

Have you ever been back to a place, that somewhere in your lifetime you spent a LOT of time. Somewhere you have a lot of memories, like you could go back to that place with just a blink of an eye?

Priest Lake, Indian Creek Campground - that's my place. We spent a week to 10days there every year growing up for as long as I can remember. If we were friends growing up, you probably spent some time there with me as well. Even in College I brought a few of my roommates there for a weekend in the summer.

My parents would be first in line on the phone (post holidays) to reserve our week, the second week in August. Yes, you had to make reservations in JANUARY for August to go CAMPING?! Usually, we had 1-4 campsites between all of my parent's friends, and, if we were lucky we got the sites along the creek, no campers behind us... just skunks, and bears and well - pretty much all the critters that hang out in the woods.

So many memories. Night swimming and volleyball on the beach. Frogs in my tent (ok, I would like to forget THAT one). Singing "Achy Breaky Heart" at the top of our lungs. My first Kiss... (I would actually like to forget that one too). My first (maybe?) drunk - ugh, wine coolers and Bud Light....Parasailing, horseshoes, smores..

So, I just couldn't fathom NOT returning up to the lake, if even for just a day to bring back some of these memories. We figured we could be gone about 10hours and the dogs would be ok - not fun for them, but also a lot of work if we had brought them.

I researched a few day hikes that I thought might give Shane the opportunity for some photographs, but the descriptions on line were without maps so we were left to wing it on the road.

The drive up to the lake was as beautiful as I remembered, but the brand new road made it much more pleasant. Even before we got to the turnoff to the East Side of the lake, I started noticing how much had changed. New homes along the lake. A new gas station, cafe in Coolin...

I guess that is what 10years will do for you.....

Some things were the same though. Like rounding the corner on the road and suddenly you are just a few feet from the gorgeous, crystal clear lake. Nearing the turnoff to the campground and seeing the nice beach from the road.... It brought back so many memories.

Unfortunately, our hikes didn't so much happen. We couldn't figure out the directions that read something like "turn on this road, follow the well packed road, park here, blah blah"... After about an hour or so of driving around, we were losing time so we decided to head to the campground where, I knew I could at least find a short little hike up to view the lake.

Even the campground is so different. A brand new state park facility, new campsites, new CABINS?, new boat launch..... It was the same, but also soooo very different. So much 'smaller'..

One thing remained the same - the gorgeous view up the "view point trail" - a short moderate hike through gorgeous woods....

to a point overlooking the lake...

After the quick trip down we went over to the creekside of the park. I have to admit this was pretty disappointing. I remember spending hours on end running through the trails on the creek - crossing fallen trees to get to the other side. I remember this one tree - it was shaped like a camel - I looked for it, but it wasn't there. In fact, so much seemed worn down, like the storms just came through, took out half the trees and the trails.
As we were walking back, heading down to the water, I wondered if it was just me? Just my perception of the place I spent so much time at as a kid? Did I make it seem bigger or more grand than I was seeing this time? Or, has all this time and new amenities and the popularity of the place changed it?
We were walking along the water on our way back to the car and this is what really seemed different. The swimming area seemed HALF the size. The Dock only reaching half the distance? Even the log poles along the dock, that I remembered people climbing up and jumping off seemed half the size.... Was it real or was it me again?
As I was explaining how different everything looked, I told Shane I thought it must just be perception.. His response?
Your world has just gotten bigger....

As I thought more about it it's so true. While I'm probably the same size I was when I was growing up (give or take a few curves, ha!) - The world that I am part of is BIGGER. I travel, I explore. Instead of swimming out to the buoy in the swimming area, I swim 2.4miles.... Instead of hiking through some short trails, I run 26.2 miles. Yes, I think he has it right - my world is bigger.... And, as much as I was so looking forward to my vivid memories looking the same... I'm pretty happy with how I see it all today....
After several hours of driving and walking around, we headed to the other side of the lake to Hills resort for a fantastic dinner...
I think we might be back here someday, this time with the dogs & for a couple of nights in one of their cabins.
If you ever get the chance and you haven't been - this lake IS a Jewel, and if you don't get to see it, and dip your toes in the clear water, you are missing out.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Summer Wrap up Weekend 1

Where has the time gone? We left Arizona over 7 weeks ago! The first week in Utah flew by, probably because we were running ourselves (or, being drug) into the ground by the Billy Goat Benny, and Supa... But, 6 weeks in Coeur d'Alene ALREADY. WTH?

With only 2 weeks left we were starting to realize we hadn't done nearly what we wanted to! Shane has been working his tail off, and while my work hasn't been all that busy - races are behind us, we needed to take the next 2 weeks and really enjoy ourselves!

We started out Friday! Date night :-) We headed out to the floating restaurant, Cedars (I have ALWAYS wanted to eat here!). It was a nice night, perfect temperatures, but a little windy (which made for an interesting meal on the floating patio!). The food was fantastic. I chose seared scallops with red mashed potatoes & green beans - I made a really good choice. Shane had the cedar plank salmon with wild rice & veggies. Of course finished with a chocolate molten cake.

For as long as I've wanted to eat here, it definitely lived up to my expectations... Someday I want to pull up on a boat for dinner :-)

The view of Tubb's hill from the patio (a.k.a. "Bubb's Hill)

Saturday we woke up to a nice COOL morning. I was trying to build up some mileage so the plan was for Shane & the dogs to run out 30mins with me, then turnaround - I would head out for an additional 10before turning around. I've got the crazy idea to "try" another marathon... That is a whole other post though - so I'll save it. Long story short a 16 week training plan will start, well today actually - and the long run on the schedule is 2hours - I'm not quite ready to jump that high so I though 1:20 was good.

I've had some sort of respiratory cold/infection since Tuesday so my lungs have been less than great for a week. I made my best of it, wheezing through the first half of the run, but finally getting more air on the way back in. It was a perfect cool morning with a breeze. 1:20 in the bank!

When I got back home Shane said "I don't want to work today!" I know, it's Saturday - DUH. I'm ON IT! Hmm, what can we do? Let's drive up to Sandpoint! So after some yummy huckleberry pancakes (Let the IDAHO EXPERIENCE BEGIN), we were showered and on our way.... Almost. The traffic on the highway leading to Sandpoint (only 40miles away) was horrendous. We were stop go, stop go for 30mins, only moving about 2 miles. We actually pulled off the highway, ready to bail on the trip, but found a slight shortcut to get us ahead of most of the delay. Pheww...

About 90mins later we were FINALLY in Sandpoint.
Hungry, and ready for?????? We actually had no idea what we were going to do.

First stop - FOOD. We started walking down the main street along the water and saw a pretty big line forming outside of this place... MUST be good. One look at the menu & I had found my perfect place. One full page of baked potato lunch options. Seriously, my heaven. Post long run fuel - gotta love it.

Next up? Wine tasting - The Pend d'Oreille Winery. Who knew? I swear this was NOT the plan - I found it in the Sandpoint Magazine on the way up...honest
I fell in love with my first taste - A Malbec (not usually one of my favorites). It was interesting, nothing like I've ever had with a spearmint finish. While the other reds I tasted from the reserve list were GOOD, this one was GREAT. I can't wait to try it with some food!

After the wine tasting, we decided to drive around the lake a bit - see how it compared to Coeur d'Alene. The lake is HUGE - quite impressive actually. However, every driving around the entire CDA Lake a few weeks ago, we were more convinced we someday want to call CDA our "partial" home...
A little further up in Northern Idaho is just a little too, well - this sign says it all.
I kid you not people - you can't make this stuff up. It was right along the main highway through town at a Bar/Grill. Nuf said.

As I was looking through the rest of the Sandpoint Magazine to see if there was anything else we wanted to check out, I saw an add for "Laughing Dog Brewery." Although beer was the last thing on my mind after wine tasting, when I mentioned it Shane perked up. A business acquaintance he knows was just telling him about said brewery and how they were having an anniversary party and it just so happened to be well, this day. So, we stopped by the brewery to see if we could find his friend.
Have you ever been to a beer festival, or any sort of beer tasting event? It's like nothing other. Especially in Northern Idaho :-) These are straight up cowboy, beer drinking hicks. Trust me, I know my roots & where I came from, but I have to admit it's been a WHILE since I've seen something like this.. Stumbling, sloppy, DRUNKS. Wow. My Idaho experience is almost complete. That said, we did find Shane's friend, visited for a bit & I had a very good Huckleberry Ale! It was light and crisp and not too hoppy! Just the way I like my microbrews.

Our Sunday was actually already planned. I found a local wine I really liked, and also found they had a tasting room close by. When in Rome..... So, I summoned some of my girlfriends and Shane & I met Joy & Molly for an afternoon of wine tasting at Townshend Winery. The winery is close to Mt. Spokane in an area of farmers & fields of every fruit and veggie you can imagine - Green Bluff.
The wine tasting was GREAT. After having been to several wineries in Sonoma where you learn what varietals you do and don't like, and even start to narrow it down to your favorite vineyards (Alexander Valley), I wasn't expecting to have to winery trips where I enjoyed nearly EVERYTHING - including a very nice Viognier (which I had to try after regretting passing it up in SandPoint once I read the description).
We finished up our wine tasting with a couple of pictures, and headed to a neighboring farm for lunch and a little more wine.

The afternoon was GREAT. Perfect weather, company, wine & good food. We finished off the trip with a visit to Grandpa, pie in hand. To say he was pleased is an understatement when we walked in carrying sweets!
Next installment - a Dinner Cruise on Lake CDA & daytrip to my childhood favorite, Priest Lake!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Seattle, Wedding, Early Birthday and MORE.

This past weekend was my dear friend Shelby's wedding in Seattle. Shelby & I were good friends at WSU - always living with in steps of each other. The friendship continued on when she moved down to Arizona with me a couple of weeks after graduating, for the summer. A year or so later she had moved back to Arizona for a couple of years. Those were some fun times.. In fact, Shelby was the one who drove Shane & I (much to Shane's dismay) to the airport for our very first marathon in Monaco.

Perfect timing with our summer trip, so we were able to just hop in the car & drive over. A quick, but VERY eventful weekend.

I decided to surprise Shane for an early birthday gift by getting us a room at the Four Seasons. He has heard Melisa & I brag about the comfort and perfection of staying in the hotels, but he had yet to experience it. The Seattle Hotel was in the perfect location for the weekend, so we were completely set up. I had Shane fooled, thinking we were staying with my uncle in NewCastle until we were less than a mile from the hotel. I'm pretty sure he enjoyed his stay....Really, I'm not sure how anyone would not.

Friday evening was a group Mariner game - 70 wedding guests would be attending the game together! Shane & I met up with my very first friend from Arizona, Angie - and her good friend Ryan for some food & drinks before the game. It's funny that I spent more time with Angie this weekend then I have in the last 5 years and we live less than TWO miles from each other. I think we both remembered how much fun we can have together, so our visits will be much more frequent again!

The baseball game was fun, or rather the social aspect of the baseball game was fun ;-) We headed out for a few more drinks (One can only have so many $7 bud lights at the game) - then back to the hotel for a nightcap. I had also surprised Shane by bringing a bottle of the FireFly Sweet Tea Vodka with us, so we grabbed a glass & headed to the pool level of the Hotel & sat by the fire... I have to say I'm not nearly as pleased with the Firefly as so many that told us about it! I'm more of a tart/sour person vs sweet - I don't even like sweetened tea. But, with a splash of lemon it did the trick.

We ordered room service for Breakfast after lacking on the food intake Friday - we were STARVING (and maybe a leetle hung over). It was quite the spread. Omelet with Mushrooms, cheese & smoked salmon. Pancakes, Toast & Hash browns. Fantastic way to start the day!

After a quick photo op on the rooftop, we headed a few blocks over to Pikes Place Market...
It really is a place like no other. Great People watching. All the fresh Seafood you could ask for. Produce that makes your mouth water just SEEING it. Street Performs. And, of course - the flagship Starbucks!

We pretty much just spent the afternoon eating, and drinking. Beechers had THE best Mac & Cheese I have ever tasted, along with a yummy crab sandwich.

Angie opted for a bit more, ugh adventurous snack of "chicken on a stick." Need I say more?

Once our bellies were good and full, we headed to The Tasting Room for some wine. Wine plus Yahtzee - too fun!

We got home just in time to shower & get all purdied up for the wedding! Finally, we actually looked like we belonged at the Four Seasons :-) Even had a celebrity spotting! Toby Maguire was leaving the fitness center & heading up to a Private Residence as we were on our way to the Lobby - too funny!

The wedding, and especially the bride were stunning. We were out on Mercer Island, right along the water - perfect setting!

The ceremony was fantastic. It was performed by the couple's good friend Andy making it more personal and special.

After high 5's from the new bride & groom to their wedding party - it was time to get the party started!!

Shelb was out on the dance floor all night - giving her man Matt some tips on her 'moves'....
Shane, Ryan & I kept our gimpy friend Angie company all night at the table. She just had foot surgery so even walking around was a bit difficult. At least that is what we told ourselves for being so lazy & not out dancing with everyone else :-) We kept ourselves plenty entertained tho...

Our creative centerpiece....

Shane - eating his "cake"

Don't even ask - but I just love this picture ;-)

It was an absolutely fantastic weekend. From the early birthday surprise & lush accommodations at the Four Seasons... To the fun night at the game... To the great afternoon spent at Pikes Place. To the wedding and reunion of some of my favorite people in the world - and those I had not seen in a VERY long time. And lastly ending with the fresh crab we brought home & enjoyed for dinner last night...
Nuf said!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Coeur d'Alene Scenic Challenge

Relays are FUN. Seriously... no stress, just show up & do your part! I've done one relay before, in Mexico - I totally forgot how much fun they can be.

The CDA triathlon is something I found on line a LONG time ago. I don't even know why I was looking at races in this area, because we had not started our plans to come here for the summer yet. Anyhow - I looked it up for this summer, and if happened to fall the week after Troika, what was supposed to be our 'A' race.... Had I only known.....

So, still not wanting to give up on the race, I put out an "Ad" on Facebook looking for someone to join Shane & I for a team. My only thing - I was going to swim. After swimming in 2 different, not so pretty lakes this summer I wanted to swim in CDA. Not to mention I had had about enough with my sub par swim times lately.....

Sure enough my Facebook post worked and within 24hours of posting we had a runner. How cool is this. A girl that I have not seen for about 12 years said she would love to do it! We were really good friends in Jr High playing softball together - then again in High School, but she was in a class ahead of me & I'm not sure I even saw her after she graduated.

But, Spokane is a big, small town - and well - if you knew someone once upon a time, chances are you still know them.

The forecast was PERFECT for racing. At one point I was almost bummed I wasn't doing the whole thing, because I actually recovered quite well from Troika. Of course that was short lived when we had a few too many cocktails on Friday night, but who's counting?

The weather was cool and overcast - windy which made the swim interesting. Nothing like IMCDA in 07, but enough to notice. I made the decision based on the cooler weather that I would be able to handle my long sleeve wetsuit without overheating....

3 waves went out ahead of mine, being the last. I got in my typical front position, close to the buoy line and before I knew it we were off. It was CHOPPY and for only having about 120ish people in my waive - it was very brutal. I was dunked under water, had my legs grabbed and pulled down MULTIPLE times. I felt like the front of the pack was slipping away... and got very frustrated.

Eventually I weeded through some people and by the 2 buoy I was feeling much better. I had a good stroke, alternated breathing & sighting DEAD on with the line. By the first turn I had caught up to the next wave & was surrounded by bright orange caps. After the first turn we had a nice current pushing us to the final turn... I had a lot more room & felt fantastic.

After the last turn the current pushing you back into shore was STRONG. If my timing was right I could actually feel the waves pushing me....

In the final stretch I was beside another silver (relay) cap - I started pushing as hard as I could trying to get out of the water in front of her, but she was moving.... Unfortunately for her, she made the mistake of standing too soon. I saw her stop, and stand up as I still took a good 3-5 more strokes before I touched the bottom. I stood up and started running up the beach - looked at my watch and saw 22:xx!!

I was so excited I just flew by everyone to the relay "pen" - found Shane & told him my time (not that he cared at that point, he had his part to do). I was ECSTATIC. After all my hard work and lap after lap after lap in the pool, then disappointing swim times I finally DID it!!! I finally had MY swim. I think this was a more gratifying victory than any PR I've had this entire year.....

And then I heard rumors that the course was SHORT. Someone had to go and burst my bubble. Short or not, even if it were, I'm still happy. I swam HARD, I got out of my comfort zone and I did WELL. Based on a few of the top times compared to last year swim time - my est if it were short was 100-200? So even with that I would still have a PR swim & still be happy...

But, officially - 21:57 - I'll take that ANY day.

What a RACE - over 100 people and the BIGGEST relay group I have ever seen... Someday I'll do the whole thing :-)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Troika Half Ironman

When I signed Shane & I up for this race, I thought it was perfect timing. A few weeks after we got to CDA, then we could spend the rest of our summer just having fun, not on a schedule. We only had about 8 weeks to prep - So I created a modified schedule to get us to race day. I used some old schedules from a Mark Allen training plan, but had to cut down the mileage because we didn't have time to build up to them. We also had a goal of trying to do more tempo/speed vs slow long.

That plan worked for a while. We were working hard, seeing results and having a LOT of fun.

And then the travels began. We were able to keep up our running, but the biking mileage and swimming took a huge dip. The last few training rides here I felt like crap. Sluggish & tired around the 2hour mark. I kept telling myself it was just from the travel & racing, etc.... but deep down I knew we just didn't get in enough long rides. In fact, our last long ride (3hrs) was on June 27th. The one before that..... was the a month before that in May - right before my bonk where I took almost 2 weeks of rest....

After this race Shane & I both decided it's really just not worth it to do such a long race without being properly trained. Now, every one's body acts differently, but I've been doing endurance stuff long enough to know that my body NEEDS the extra distance. In a marathon training, I can not get by by just doing 16 or 18 miles. I absolutely need at least 1 20miler. If you look at my logged hours of training overall, they are high. But, they just weren't at the right time for this race. After my last 3hour ride over a month ago, my weekly bike miles were around 70miles per week avg. I only had one week that totalled 100miles, and that was in June.

My swimming also took a plunge - I usually swim masters 2-3 times per week, logging 6-9k yards per week. In the last month my swimming dropped to 2 times per week & only about 4000yards. And, let me tell you I felt it out there!

All that said and done - I still had a GREAT time at the race! My times were as well as could be expected on the training that I did. I had the biggest improvement in my run split, which is where a lot of my focus has been in the last year without my IT band killing me. That made me VERY happy.

The swim was a typical swim for me, except for the first time ever I ran out of fuel. I was just tired. My lack of time in the pool in the last month was noticed big time on the last stretch in.. This is usually where I hit my stride. Normally I would have a big goal of doing what I can do in the pool (for time) and hoping for around 32-33mins. However, based on how I felt swimming in open water the last couple weeks, My goal was about a 34mins.

The swim was quiet - the men took off 5mins before the women so we didn't have all the chaos. It was a beach start & everyone was spread out pretty wide, then shot together into a V. I had a lot of space in the entire swim, but not a lot of draft.

Official swim time: 35:11 - I thought it was 36mins on my watch, so not sure where that extra time came from.

T-1. My goal was to redeem my 2:43 t-1 transition from my SPRINT. I wanted to be out of there in 2:20. The only sticker was that you had to get all of your stuff into a bag that would be brought to the finish. I sat down as soon as I got to my bike to get the wetsuit off. It stuck a little on my calves, but I had my chip under the suit this time so it came off much better. I was on my bike fairly quick.

Unfortunately as soon as I got on my bike my chip was coming off so I had to stop, pull over & fix the strap. I was back up on my bike & my gatorade bottle flew out, so again I had to turn around get the bottle & start all over. I wasn't sure if the extra time was included in T-1, or the bike because I never hit a lap on my garmin. After seeing the results it was on the bike time, not my T-1

Official T-1 time: 2:17

The bike. I pretty much said it all above - I didn't have enough miles under my belt. Period. I knew it, I couldn't change anything. It was what it was. That said, I looked at the bike profile, and my ability and came up with a goal of 2:50. My first half IM time was 2:57, 19mph. It was on the Soma course, which in my opinion doesn't compare to any other race I've seen. It's flat and FAST. On the profile it looked like you got a good downhill portion for about 15miles from 30-45. It wasn't so much the case. There were some downs, but they included ups as well.

The first part of the bike miles 1-16 were FAST. Slight up, slight down. My avg at that time was 21.3mph. It was FUN. I rode a lot with Spokane Al - what a rock star. Of course around mile 20 he took off & I never saw him again until the run.

I really struggled on the bike. I just had nothing. I sat about 100 yards behind a girl in my ag for about 20miles. I just didn't have it in me to try to pass her. All I was looking forward to was mile 30 when I though that the downhill stuff was going to start. I was lightheaded, and sluggish.

Then, right around mile 30ish I got a HUGE boost. I heard my name being cheered, and looked over and it was Jessi - the local tri superstar in the PNW! Not knowing anyone else out there, it was such a good kick in the pants I was able to pass the girl in my Age group on a hill. Thanks Jessi!

My momentum lasted a while, but not all that long. I kept watching my avg speed decrease. I was doing all I could to not let my avg get under 19mph. I felt a little defeated, but at least I didn't get passed by anyone in my AG! :-) And, actually didn't really get passed at all - besides a couple of men and one girl at the beginning. All in all I was just not comfortable on the bike - my back hurt, my neck hurt.... again, just lack of saddle time.

Nutrition was ok - I hadn't done enough long rides to practice so I had to wing it. I struggled with the gatorade so eventually threw it out. I tried to do 100cals (Gu blasts) per hour, but struggled so it ended up being more like 40mins. I did a total of 4 servings - 400cals, plus 1 gel - 500cals total. I did 2 thermolytes every 45mins (total of 6) and 1 tylenol every time I took the salt. I really think the tylenol helped me out on the run.

Official bike time 2:57:46. I was not happy about this at all, based on the times I saw from previous years, however looking at the official results today - EVERYONE was a lot slower.

T-2 - :32

BEST T-2 EVA! I had actually practiced taking my feet out of my shoes on the bike, but by the time I got to transition, I completely forgot! They had volunteers standing there waiting for you to take your bikes, shoes, helmet, whatever. I was a little confused, but just did what I was told.
Then, a second volunteer called me over and handed me my bag of stuff. Visor, shoes & bag of gels & salt.

My legs immediately felt great doing something other than being on my bike. My stomach was upset a little, bloated and FULL, so I knew it would be a struggle. My goal was to stay around a 9min pace. I was hovering around a 9:10-9:15, but then I would stop at the aid stations. I was SOOO thirsty. I took 2 wet sponges & put them on my shoulders every station. I also drank 1-2 FULL glasses of ice water. It wasn't crazy hot (for me), but I knew my best shot at hanging in there was to keep myself wet & cool.

I really started to see people dwindle. Walk, stretch, cramp. I tried to get anyone I passed to come & stick with me... just trying to give them a little boost. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't....

At the turnaround my watch said 1:04. I'm not sure if that included the Transition or not? I was really starting to fade, so I went through all the aid stations and walked like they were Ironman. I ate a couple of oranges, but mostly just wanted ICE water. I was able to run in the 8's as soon as I got water, but I lost all the time I made up walking through the aid stations.

What I was most shocked seeing was all the people walking on the way OUT to the turnaround. I think the heat just really took a toll on people from the area. It was 90-95 with only partial shade on the run. Tough conditions when you are not used to them.

In the last mile stretch I saw Jessi again - and she gave me another big boost. I was starting to get a blister on my left foot so everything was getting uncomfortable. The finish had a short little uphill stretch, but my friends (Hoch family) were all there, as well as Shane to cheer me in.

Of course I had to crack a little joke and say "One too many lemon drops!"

Official run time: 2:06:44. With all the walking thru aid stations I did. I will TAKE it.!
Total nutrition on the run. 2 gels, 2 salt tabs & lots and lots of water...

Official time: 5:42:27 - a 23min PR!

After seeing the official results I'm a lot more happy. I came in 15/69 overall. The top 3 girls in my age group were 3,4,5 overall. They smoked me!

It was a great race, beautiful course, best volunteers ever. I would do it again in a heartbeat, just with more miles under my belt on the bike!