Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Ever swim with Whales??

Last week was a new adventure. Earlier this year a few friends that I work with made plans to travel to Canada for a fishing trip in September. It would be perfect, cool temperatures, remote wilderness, and tons of silver salmon! The perfect “man” trip! Little did I know when I made these plans that I would be right smack in the middle of intense Ironman training.

With the plane tickets booked already, there was no way of backing out of this trip. In addition, I REALLY wanted to go fishing so off to Canada we go. My trip started early on Sunday morning. Up to Portland, then to Vancouver, B.C., then a short plane ride to Campbell River. From Campbell river we had a 2 and a half hour drive up and over a mountain, literally. The road was dirt most of the way. Around 9:30pm that night we finally made it to Tahsis, our new home away from home.

Fishing started early as it usually does so no room for training before heading out on the water. The scenery was incredible! Fishing was a little slow, but we were catching enough fish to keep a smile on my face. Water temperature was 58 degrees, plenty warm for a swim with a wetsuit. Around noon I decided that I should probably slip on my wetsuit and go for a little open water swim. We were trolling in a remote bay that had timber right down to the waters edge. My plan was to swim back and forth from one side of the bay to the other, about a 200 yard lap. Then something crazy happened. As I was planning my swim and exactly where I would be swimming a huge whale came barreling out of the water, EXACTLY WHERE I WAS GOING TO BE SWIMMING! After seeing this enormous creature hogging my “lane” I decided against any open water swimming as you can imagine. I was a little bummed because I really wanted to use my new Aqua Sphere wetsuit but it just wasn’t meant to be. Can you imagine swimming and having a giant whale swim by? Or better yet, bump into you! That’s just crazy talk!

After fishing 10 hours we made our way back to Tahsis. We cleaned the boat, cleaned the fish and headed to the cabin. The sun was setting and I knew if I was going to run, I would have to do it right now. I was tired, hungry and I’ll be honest, running was the last thing I wanted to do. I ate a few PowerGels to give me a little pick me up and laced up the shoes. Man was I sluggish. It seemed like I wasn’t really running, but more of a speed walk. I went a few miles and looked at my pace, it was official snail pace. The challenge is my heart rate was as high as it is when I do intervals. Not a good combo. I ran up the road we came in on 4 miles before realizing I had to run back down this same road to make it back home and it was almost dark. The streets were lined with brush and trees. The sky was barely visible in the thick canopy of trees. As I made my way back it seemed like a tunnel was formed and it was closing in with darkness. Needless to say my pace picked up a bit since I didn’t want to get eaten by a bear. Once I made it back to the house I was glad to be home, but very glad that I pushed through the workout.

The next day we had a great day of fishing. If you ever have the chance to catch silvers, these fish are amazing. Fishing was so good that we didn’t make it back to the dock until it was dark. Same situation as the day before, tired, hungry and knowing that I needed to run. I quickly did my chores and laced up my shoes again. This time I didn’t venture outside of the little village but did 2 mile loops. My pace an heart rate were much better this night. I think it was because fishing was so good!

The next day was our last day and I knew if I was going to get a run in that it would have to be before we got on the boat. The only challenge with this was I was already getting to bed late and my two friends (and I) wanted to get an extra early start back on the water because we didn’t have a lot of time before we had to leave and our optimism towards the amount of fish we were going to catch was high. The next morning came fast and once again I found myself running the 2 mile loop through the village. As I ran I realized that not a soul was awake which was kind of cool. I got my run in and quickly got ready for some more fishing.

Unfortunately we had slow day and like that we were making our way back over the mountain to Campbell River. Sleep came quickly that night.

The next day was a full day of travel. I made it to Boise around 5:30 and was greeted by smiles from my kids and wife. I love it when they get to pick me up from the airport. Unfortunately as soon as I got home, I knew I had to get on the bike. It had been 5 days since I last rode and the countdown to Kona is not slowing down. I was on the trainer by 6:30pm and rode the first 60 miles of the Kona course. 3 hours total ride time. It felt good to be back in the saddle and I had a special little training partner for part of the ride.

The next morning I rode another 30 miles of high cadence spinning in the early morning then headed to pool. No fear of giant whales or sea creatures at the YMCA. I swam surprisingly good. I have to imagine the rest was good for me. I then went into the office for a few hours before heading home for my long run. I ended up going 20.5 miles and it was a little tough. I was pretty tired from the previous workouts and the travel but got the long run in which is always nice. That night Andrea and I went to Les Mis with some friends. It was good, but a little long. 3 hours with it ending at 11pm is way past my bedtime. It was nice to spend the evening with Andrea though.

The next morning came quickly once again and before I knew it I was back in the pool. I swam the full Ironman distance straight. Swim time was 1 hour 17 minutes. Swimming is not my strongest of the 3 disciplines but it’s still fun to do. After my swim I was back on my bike only this time it was outside. The air was filled with smoke from the surrounding forest fires in the Boise area but it didn’t seem to bother me too much. I rode 92 miles and called it a day. By the time I finished it was 4:00pm and I really wanted to spend some time with my family.

This week was a good example of just how patient and supportive that Andrea is. I felt guilty each time I had to hit the road to train instead of being with her and the kids. Each time though she always showed me her support and encouraged me to keep going. I don’t take this lightly and recognize that her sacrifice to make this possible is just as big or bigger than the sacrifice an athlete takes to train for an Ironman. Such a key component!

For the week I swam 7400 yards, biked 182 miles and ran 41.5 miles. Not as much mileage as I’ve had the last few weeks, but I had to dig as deep as I’ve ever had to this week to get it done. In the end though, it will all be worth it if I can cross the finish line in Kona for my precious ORPHANS WITH DOWN SYNDROME!!

Monday, September 10, 2012

1st Annual Race for Maggie

A few months ago I posted to my blog about our idea to organize a race to raise funding and awareness for Maggie, our current RODS orphan.  Today that idea became a reality!
The day started with a 4:15AM alarm clock welcoming Andrea and I to the days activities.  After a 12:15AM bedtime for us because of a very fun trip to McCall with some work associates, we were both a little slow to “rise and shine”.  Luckily the thoughts and excitement of getting to see the race come to fruition helped boost the energy level. 

Bear Creek Park was chilly and the grass was still wet from the dew that would surely dissipate once Mr. Sun came out to play.  Setup went well.  It was fun to see the headlamps of the volunteers busily working like an active beehive, paying special attention to every detail. 

Before we knew it, racers started showing up and registration packets were being handed out left and right.  The Half Marathon started at 7:00am sharp.  One thing I quickly noted was the energy and anticipation that the racers brought.  I love that about racing! 

After the Half Marathoners took off we started working on registering all of our 10k participants.  Our volunteers did a great job!  Organization was good and the many hours of planning were paying off.  The other welcome sight was the warm sun who was now happily shining down on everybody.  We couldn’t have asked for better weather today! 

Our second countdown of the day was now upon us as the 10k racers toed the line.  Off they went!  Once again, the competitive look in many of their eyes and that energy was ever present.  This was fun! 

Participants for the 5k were already arriving and pinning their race numbers to their shirts.  This being my first race to organize I was a little nervous.  Having Angela Redding and Matthew Hansen as part of the Race Planning Committee really lightened the load and gave me peace of mind.  They are great! We had 2 races going on and 1 more to get started before racers would be expected at the finish line.  So far so good. 
The 5k was our largest group to race by far.  The diversity in this group was inspirational to say the least.  There were very serious runners and others who I wouldn’t consider serious runners but definitely serious advocates of Orphans with Down Syndrome.  It was a sight to see watching them all take off running and knowing that each of them were playing a part in helping Maggie find a home.  As they made their way through the course I thought to myself, “I can’t wait to see how much this will grow for next year!” 

About an hour and a half after we started the Half, our first finisher came cruising in to the finish.  That was the first of many high fives I got to give to each of the finishers.  It’s fun to race, but it’s also a lot of fun to get to see each of the finishers cross the prize line with big smiles on their faces and a look of accomplishment in their eyes. 

One by one the racers came in and crossed that finish line.  Volunteers were busy recording times, handing out waters and making sure everybody was doing well.  It’s a great reminder to remember the power that comes when a group of people come together for a common cause.  There is only so much that any one person can accomplish on their own.  Together, on the other hand, we shall conquer!

As the final 5k racers finished we prepped for the grand finale, the kids fun run!  We also prepped for our special visitor for the kids fun run, HANS!!!  A few weeks ago, a close friend of mine came up with an idea.  He asked if he could dress up as HANS, an “elite” athlete equipped with giant muscles and of course a European accent to go along with those muscles.  We introduced HANS when all the kids were lined up and told them that for everyone who beat HANS in the race, a donation would be made for Maggie.  The kids loved it!  Off they went chasing down the European giant.  Luckily, in the final stretch HANS took a spill on the grass and each of the kids passed him by!  It was great! 



On a personal note, I got to watch my little princess Brynlee run the race.  She made Dad so proud!  She didn’t hold anything back and finished very strong.  I could see the look in her eye that I feel when I come down the stretch towards the finish line, heart pounding out of my chest, having just pushed myself to the absolute limit.  I kneeled down just past the finish line as she sprinted across right into my arms.  I picked her up and she gave me a huge sweaty bear hug.  I could tell that she had pushed hard for Maggie and I was so proud.  She has that fire in her.  I hope to get to race many races with my kids in the future.

Everyone was so supportive of our efforts for the race.  Those words of encouragement go a long way when you put take the plunge to put these events together not knowing how it will turn out.  I am also thankful for all the help taking down.  We were all a little tired, but once again, many hands make for quick work! 

As a closing note, it looks like about $2,000 will be able to be donated to Maggie after all race expenses are paid.  This is one of the main reasons why we do this.  The other is to create awareness for the circumstances our little orphans are facing.  After today, we know that at least 200 more individuals are aware of Maggie and the hundreds of others who are in orphanages and mental institutions.  It will become very real for us all when we organize a race and have one of the orphans we raced for in years past there to welcome the racers cross the finish line.  What a day that will be!