Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ouroboros - Ten Years

As if October were not busy enough, I currently find myself in the City of Roses (Portland) for the Land Trust Alliance's 2009 Rally. This was my fourth Rally experience. The first was 2004 in Providence, RI. I certainly was interested in Madison for 2005, but that did not work out. Then in 2006 I attended in Nashville, TN. I then found myself in Denver, CO for 2007. After a polite "pass" for Pittsburgh in 2008 (I had visited the city recently), coming to Portland in 2009 was a no-brainer! At the time, I did not realize the significance of being here at this particular time.

It was right before lunch on Tuesday when I met a familiar face did this all come together. Following my graduation from the University of Washington in 1999, I was looking for a job. My main degree was in Forestry, and I had become involved with the Society of American Foresters. So I thought it would be an excellent idea to come to the Oregon Convention Center for SAF's annual conference.

One fateful morning I arrived early for an organized breakfast. I recall being assigned a mentor, an older gentlemen. Per instruction, I told him about my interests, specifically in forestry and history. Later in the breakfast several of the "elders" were invited to stand up and talk about their mentee. This guy turned out to be a loud mouth, but told the crowd about my interests and he then pointed across the room and mentioned there were two gentlemen who would want to talk with me.

Those gentlemen turned out to be Judson Edeburn, Manager of the Duke Forest at Duke University, and Steve Anderson, director of the Forest History Society (also HQ'ed in Durham, NC). After the breakfast they did descend upon me with rapt fascination. I told them once again my interests. I knew very little about Duke, and could hardly pinpoint where exactly it was located. I did know they had a great basketball program with a coach whose name was hard to pronounce.

Turns out Judd and Steve were talking about finding talent to research and write a book about the history of the Duke Forest, which would be turning 75 in 2006. They talked about the School of the Environment located at Duke and whether I would be interested in pursuing an advanced degree while researching a book.

Naturally this was all overwhelming. They said there would be significant (although not complete) funds for me to come. I returned to Seattle a little stunned. I did take a job with the Chief Seattle Council for the time being, but the wheels were in motion.

So in August of 2000 I cast my lot and headed eastward. It was ten years ago in this convention center that it began. And now in October of 2009 I was headed to grab a lunch when all the sudden there was Steve Anderson. It was his first time attending Rally, the FHS had a booth and he was hoping to get land trusts interested in the archival services they had mastered.

Ten years. What would have happened had I not come to Portland, or gone to that breakfast? I never would have gone to Duke, never would have adopted Winston, and never moved to Charlotte. I am so glad I don't skip breakfast!!!

I am also pleased that the book was published. It was hard to leave Durham without a finished product, but the original thoughts of me staying through a PhD were scrapped early so it was implied that I would go as far I could go. I do recall Judd and I getting through some great oral histories.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Have Super Glue, will Ironman!

And so the months whittled down to weeks and then days before my third attempt at the Iron distance triathlon. This time I was following the footsteps of many of my Charlotte friends who had completed Ironman Coeur d'Alene in 2008. Complaints of cold water aside, I knew attempting this race made a lot of sense since it was in the neck of the woods from where I grew up! It is the closest Ironman "brand" race to Seattle, but not by much as the drive is roughly the same to get to Penticton, BC for Ironman Canada. The timing in August might have worked - maybe next time I'm dumb enough to consider this suffer-fest.

The nice part about flying into Seattle a week before was the opportunity to just relax and control my urges to freak out. I flew out on Saturday the 13th and was picked up by the units. Our family numbers grew that Tuesday when my sister and her Spanish entourage came into town. One of my equipment concerns was related to my rear tire. I had taken Holman, my Trek Madone, in for routine maintenance while still in Charlotte. They found some cracks in my rear wheel, but assured me the replacement (thankfully the wheel had a warranty on it) would be back in time for me to ship the bike out to Kirkland. WRONG. Faced with the prospect of 112 miles with a tinkertoy loaner, I found a sweet set of Edge 68 carbon clinchers (thanks Andrew M!!) to rent from a shop in Fremont. On Thursday my dad and I picked up the wheels then rode a 33 mile loop around the southern part of Lake Washington. I could really tell they were superior wheels, and only had a problem controlling them as I attempted to hammer across the I-90 floating bridge in aero position (the crosswinds were quite noticeable).

One sweet ride...

Friday morning the three of us packed up our gear, and Holman on top of the Matrix and began the long journey eastward across our great State. For those that have never made this journey it is quite a show in diversity, perhaps on some stretches an utter lack of it. Our immediate destination was my friend's house in southern Spokane. The biggest disappointment of the trip was that I would not actually be able to see my friend Ben there. They were gone that weekend for a wedding outside New York City. But there were some of his relatives staying there to watch their house and two dogs. When we got there no one was home, so we continued on to Coeur d'Alene, as I had to register by 4PM or not be able to race. The weather was dreary, and as I began the registration process the rain started to come down. This experience was the opposite of Wisconsin, which was all indoors at the convention center. There was time for us to drive the bike course, and then parts of the run. No doubt had I been here before, but the memories were vague.

The bike course first went down the east side of the lake to an actual dead-end. From there it went through town and up towards Hayden Lake. It was a beautiful area, but one whose history was (is?) spoiled the presence of the Aryan Nation. My immediate concerns were some tough hills coming out of the lake area then some nasty rollers that would no doubt hit you twice for a repeated period in the stomach.

My parents then dropped me off for the dinner event. Since this was an utter stranger-fest for me I immediately took up conversation with an older gentlemen behind me who just happened to be from the Charleston area. I was wearing my Langley Pond attire (well, most of it after my socks were violently destroyed by Belvedere the attack beagle). David was from Goose Creek and I thoroughly enjoyed talking with him and listening to all the Ironman distance and other races he had accomplished during his career. The pasta dinner was mediocre at best, thankfully I didn't suggest my parents pay an extra $25 each for such fare. The Greek food they had that evening was obviously much better and no doubt less expensive. The program was virtually the same show I experienced in Wisconsin. Hey look, it's Paula Newby-Fraser! Okay I admit it, she's won more Ironman titles than anyone else so she's my hero and I'd probably listen to the same speech over and over. The story of the gentleman who lost upwards of 150 pounds was quite amazing! Other than that this was an exercise in calming, of making me believe I had a shot to make this thing happen ... again. The promotional videos weren't all that soothing to my equally nervous digestive system, so I had to leave a little early. I am sorry that I didn't see David again. (Ironically enough, he finished just minutes before me on race day!)

I did make it back into the big tent for most of the pre-race meeting. Afterwards I met up with the only friend I actually know doing the race. Josh lived in Charlotte for several years while his wife was completing her residency. Despite having been over to Josh's house in Charlotte and now where they live in Boise, I had yet to meet his wife so it was very special to meet Kristen. We chatted for a few minutes, then the red machine (my parents have a thing for red Toyotas...) came to pick me up. We then drove back to Ben's house in Spokane. There we all got to meet George, Linda, and Shirley. Also present were the two dogs. I had met Annie several times, she has always been quite shy. The real interest here was to meet Lilac, a dog they had recently adopted whose resemblance to Winston was just a little more than striking.

Winston fans of the world - don't freak out, this is Lilac

Lilac would literally sit down on Annie! Talk about pushing around your passive friend...

After chatting with the relatives the three of us left via the front to unload the car. My parents went out first and after I went through the storm door (a variety much heavier to the ones I am used to in North Carolina) it slammed back at a speed that caught me off guard. I immediately felt a massive pain in my left index finger. I pulled it around where I could see it and it was gushing blood. Thankfully I knew the EXACT word to use in this situation, as this past week I had viewed a most interesting documentary entitled Fuck. It consisted of a wide variety entertainers and politicians, both far left and far right, discussing swearing, why people use it, and the history of this word. I highly recommend it, but only if you can take 857 uses of the word during 90 minutes....

Would this storm door ruin my Ironman?!?

Back to Stone Lane, as all was not well in suburbia! I immediately put pressure on it and elevated the finger. Pacing back and forth, you might have guessed I was on a ship at sea but no it was a breezeway somewhere in south Spokane. It was about ten minutes before I had a look at the source of my immense pain. The cut was small but it was DEEP! It was well over a half hour before it showed any signs of slowing down. Naturally I was in a very poor mood, considering I might have to spend 3 hours in an emergency room waiting room and pay handsomely for the experience. Just registering for this race ($551!!!) and everything else was enough to bankrupt me... After a phone call with Ben the three of us drove to an urgent care place several blocks from the house, but it was closed. In the end I fell asleep in the basement office with my finger all wrapped up.

I slept reasonably well, considering the adjoining room lights had to be on! That morning I had a look at the offending finger, amazed that such a small cut could have bled so much and now could hamper my chances at this race, which was obviously a big deal. Of immediately concern was to keep the cut from opening while swimming 70-80 minutes then holding on to the aerobars for 6-7 hours. We eventually went to the drug store to look at various splints, tapes, etc. After some consultation we felt the best plan was ointment on the wound, a sleeve, and then the waterproof tape wrapped twice. Then there was a bit of waiting, and of course the edgy anticipation that goes with it!

We then packed up our things and left once again for Coeur d'Alene. The weather was looking a little more promising at the moment, but there were many whispers about the grimy weather to come the one day it did matter. I personally would prefer the cold and dreary to the merciless heat. The first order was dropping off the bike and the bags. Unlike all the other triathlons I have experienced, at these Ironman brand races you have to rack the day before, and then drop your bike and run bags off as well. Those two bags are kept separately. This is done because there are so many racers! I could only marvel at the sea of bikes in the transition area. By my count of swim finishers, there were at least 2200 bikes there at the start of the race. I think it would be extremely fair (conservative) to say each bike is worth at least $4,000. That's $8.8 million dollars worth of equipment!! Even my bike with those wheels was worth well over that average. Speaking of which, I don't think I saw another set of Edge 68s. Just a sea of Zipp 404s and 808s. All of these wheel sets are a minimum two grand. That's INSANE! See, I'm just not that good (or rich) to see the sanity of owning something like that. So I was treating myself to some special ice cream for this race...

I believe it dawned on me while dropping off my bike that I left my wetsuit back in Spokane!! It had been stored away because about the worry of Lilac chewing on it. So that was a total pain to have to drive back. At least it wasn't left it Seattle. We were really dysfunctional that afternoon. After leaving we had to go back AGAIN for my mother's purse. The hope here was that we were getting all this dysfunction out of the way before tomorrow! That meant we were slightly late in showing up in Post Falls for dinner with Josh and Kristen.

We ate at this strange restaurant called G.W. Hunter's. It specialized in MEAT, you know, steaks, but with a lot of venison and elk options. There was also scripture and weird religious stuff plastered most everywhere. We later found that to be most hypocritical. The meal and company was just delightful, my parents thoroughly enjoyed talking with Josh and Kristen about the Pacific Northwest, Missouri, and North Carolina. Thankfully for me it took a lot of the edge off, but that sinking feeling was not far off. I really stuffed myself with the fettucini, which might had been a life saver. When we paid for our meal with the credit cards we noticed they were slow in getting them back, and then they were all mixed up with another table. My dad would learn the next day someone at the restaurant had stolen his credit card number! Thankfully Josh and I suffered no such downfall. After much insisting from Kristen, I let her have a look at my finger (she is an emergency room doctor - the only other ER doc I know in the Charlotte area has to be clinically insane - don't ever have a traffic accident or get shot near Northeast!) While it was on the verge of being too late to stitch, she completely recommended superglue!

So after saying goodbye we duly headed off to get some cyanoacrylate goodness. It was kind of weird after having believed all that hype on the label about under no circumstances getting it on your skin, but apparently the the medical profession essentially uses the same cyanoacrylate-based glues. Okay. Let's do it. Our home for race night was the Comfort Inn in Post Falls. Getting rid of the bike and the transition bags also greatly reduces the stress for the previous evening and race morning. It wasn't too long after the glue was applied that I was in bed. And I slept rather well! Definitely better than the two previous nights before Vineman and Ironman Wisconsin.

I seem to recall the alarms going off slightly after 4:30. Immediately I opened up the reefer and started to down my four cans of Strawberry Ensure. Yum. Well, sort of... Since Kristen's plans for the day apparently consisted of watching HGTV all day, she dropped Josh off with us shortly before 5:15. It was already light by then, considering it was the summer solstice and the longest day of the year. And naturally that would be true for most of us out there. The longest day. The drive over to CDA was short, and it was easy for us coming down Northwest Blvd to get a parking spot at the college. The walk over seem to last a long time, but that would be dimmed into the quiet recesses in no time. What walk?

My immediate concern upon seeing the water was the moderate winds coming into shore. That meant two long 900+ meter stretches against the current and what looked to be some sizable rollers for a lake. Naturally I had it good on the Russian River and then the placid Lake Menona. Given the extremely low water temps from last year, I religiously followed the water temps this year, and it was apparent it would NOT be in the 50s. In fact, it turned out to be 65° and absolutely perfect with a wetsuit! I didn't think about the temperature once! But hey, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Last year I had opted out of the whole special needs bag for the bike - this year I was going back to half a sandwich, banana, the rest of my GU gels, and that last can of Ensure. Definitely was passing on the special needs run thing. Josh was all cavalier about special needs. The first real order of business was to get bodymarked. Josh and I got in separate lines. It would appear this would be the only time I got a better split!

I don't even remember what I was thinking here - my face definitely says something

The pro start was at 6:25, which was quite different from Wisconsin (6:55, five minutes before the start). Why should they get their own start? If they're not good enough to immediately separate themselves from the arm-thrashing masses, then they shouldn't be pros!

People do this for a living?

The big difference from Wisconsin was that it was a beach start. Oh joy. Josh was then the first to put on his wetsuit. He was in a small minority of folks going sleeveless. He was also in the small minority of folks planning to finish in an hour. My awesome parents were there to help me into my suit and then prepare my finger. This was done with plenty of time as all three of us remember the near disastrous Vineman start.

If I don't look nervous then I did a good job fooling you!

And so the minutes slowly ticked away. Josh and I then followed the fellow seals to the beach entrance. There it was some of those pictures you see with a thousand seals on a beach, except most of the seals there had red or white caps on. When I saw the pros come around for their second lap I knew something was amiss - their times were slow! Beware young Bodien! This is not a good sign!

Orr! Orr! Orr! Ironman!! Orr! Orr! Orr!

When I realized how wide the spread was, I moved to my right (towards the outside) and more towards the back. My plan was to wait a few seconds, then calmly walk in. I knew my place, and it wasn't at the front. I also knew I have an average to slightly below average time. I tried to place myself accordingly.


FINALLY 7AM on June 21, 2009 came around and I could finally led go of all the frustration and anxiety. Well, on paper I guess. This course had less turns (turns = bad) but I would easily deem the first twenty minutes far worse than Wisconsin. I could not get any sort of rhythm. It was now a different kind of frustration. I'm not exactly a straight swimmer, but hordes of racers were coming it at weird angles with just massive amounts of blocks and kicks. I knew above all else to remain calm and repeat how insignificant the swim was to me. It's a joke. What, 80 minutes or something? That's change over a very long day! I slowly started to see the tape unraveling; it didn't appear to be a major issue though. Rounding the first turn was not as bad as the people and swimming into the current. When it came time to head back to the beach I could really feel the current bringing me in! Smooth operator. Was not looking forward to the whole getting out of the water thing, which was also different than last year. When I looked at my watch and saw 41:55 I really had the wind taken out of my sails. That was horrible!

I became really pissy and I shoved my way pass the throngs going over the mat. And walking back into the water felt really awkward on my body. There were still too many people around me, and I felt myself descending into a real bad funk. I just remember being tired at the prospect of another go this time last year. I wasn't tired at all now, just depressed. And then came the current. But then it was obvious I was passing scores of Iron-folk! This helped some, made me believe I had a shot at running a negative split and improving my lot. For some reason the "surf" back in did not really happen. By then I was really beginning to feel it. There was about four inches of loose tape, but it was stabilized. I did cramp once shortly after beginning the final 900 meters back in, and then around 3500 meters some lucky bastard got the winning kick and cleanly took off my googles. I definitely did not panic, even with my towel not at my side, but it really screwed up what little rhythm I had left. Definitely time to move onto something else! When I hands hit the bottom of the lake I slid my body up and launched up with a fair amount of grace. I was devastated to look at my watch and see 1:25:82.

Glad to be done but extremely disappointed with my time

That time was my slowest of the lot, an amazing 9.5% slowdown from Ironman Wisconsin and 13.5% down from my Vineman PR of 75:38. Naturally I had to be aware of the environment of those three swims before I began the dangerous comparison of a Granny Smith to a Golden Delicious. Really though, there was no surprise to be had; I performed right on target. My PR year in 2007 I swam 39 times during the six months before the Ironman for 37.8 miles. In 2008, I swam 22 times for 22.2 miles. And guess what my stats were for 2009? Twenty-two swim sessions for 20.5 miles. Bingo. The only real swim to my credit this year was the 3000 meter open swim a few weeks before the race. Scott reaps exactly what he sows.


My first concern was being able to reach back and get the velcro. Check. There were plenty of strippers available, and I think I surprised my stripper in the way I was accustomed to being stripped. But he saw what I was doing and that was no big deal. In the past I have had some painful cramps at this moment, not this time! Even better was that I did have to run up a circular car ramp before I changed!! Yay!!! Yeah, I was totally looking forward to the changing tents. Not. Hundreds of naked men running around, stuff swinging around. In fact, at the time the women's tent didn't sound much more appealing. As St. Jerry preached to us in "The Apology," there is such a thing as good naked and bad naked. I left my bandage as is since the nice young man who came up to me did not have any scissors. I felt cool and collected as I methodically put on everything in my bag. I was excited that I would most definitely cut my T1 time from Wisconsin (9:37), and that I did (7:13). I obviously did not realize that at the time, since my watch had accidentally been stopped while taking off the suit. I should have just taken it off, but I did not. The run towards my bike was fine, I was most excited that I spotted my parents at the appropriate tree from me to head left. And there was Holman, waiting for me with his slick rental wheels. As I crossed the mat I zeroed my computer and made a fairly clean mount. The long agony of the ride had begun.

Five seconds into the bike. Am I done yet?


I realized almost instantly that I had put my race belt in the wrong bag. In these races it is required to wear your belt with the tag facing back. And I didn't have one. Oh well, couldn't be helped. I was worried for the first few hours that I would be penalized, but that actually never happened. It was a little disconcerting to see several folks with flats in the first couple of miles. After climbing up Lakeside the first section of the bike course is essentially an out-and-back along the Lake Drive to the dead-end.

Cruizin' along the lake. The easy part.

About half way on that section is a hill of no small magnitude. I comfortably labored up and then down. Shortly after I turned around began the ride back into town. There was one section after coming back down through town with a tight right hand turn then climb up Government Way. The crowds were so thick there the first time around I had the climbing power to get out of my saddle and powerfully climb within inches of the spectators. I was completely pretending like I was in the Tour de France winning the yellow jersey with that effort. Damn that felt good. Probably the only time I felt alive and ravenously excited about the day ahead. From there it was strip mall/suburbia as the course fed north towards Hayden Lake. I was able to get down in aero and hammer constantly above 20 mph. Right before turning off to 4th Street I passed the race leader Francisco Potano, plunging south to start his second loop. He would ultimately finish the bike course in 4:40. Keep that number in mind. He also appeared to be doing a sizable job on his competition! Back to planet mediocre age grouper, I knew as the team (Holman and myself) wove through the golf course the first climb up to the lake area would begin. Weather at that point was in the low 60s and cloudy. The weather started off at its best with the start of the race and worsened through the day.

The lake really is much nicer without the white supremacists...

At Wisconsin last year there were several hills with "slow" and hay bales below. This was the designated area for this race, although I didn't find them as foreboding. What was tough was the Mile 30-35 (Mile 86-91) stretch, first with the English Point Road climb which caught me off guard, even after driving the course the other day. From there were multiple punishing rollers all the way to the strange northern section. Once back on the oncoming traffic, it was clear to see those cruising at much higher speeds. By this point I had convinced myself the 10 minute hole from the swim wasn't all that important, and I could make up the difference here. At the 37 mile turnaround on Ohio Match, it was certainly great to see my parents cheering me on!

Rounding the bend on Ohio Match

Over the mat and back towards town I go!

Mom and dad were able to jump down to Garwood and see me again as I came back around on the strange side loop, which consisted of some additional punishing climbs up Hudlow Road back towards Rimrock.

Out of my seat for this? Very sad.

While climbing out of Rimrock I made a poor gear decision and lost my chain. So there I had to hop off and make the quick work of spinning it back on. It seemed like a mini holiday! It was around this time that I started to feel rather sick to my stomach. Besides my GU gels and salt tablets, I had forced a few strawberry Newtons down my throat. The mild temps and plenty of water and Gatorade was definitely a good situation. Still though it just got worse and worse. Perhaps the nadir was when I was coming back down 4th and the winds were blowing against us. I spotted one guy with a big Spam jersey. It was there I nearly threw up. I pushed on though, finding the journey back into town much harder than I anticipated. Still the pace was high as I was desparate to split. I forgot the actual time (since there was no mat) as my ability to do math during these events is just rather abysmal. Somewhere around 3:05 to 3:10. For some odd reason I was most concentrated on figuring out if the race leader would lap me on the second time around. It seemed evitable, but perhaps not? The extra joint on Northwest Blvd took forever! But then I was climbing up downtown and once again found myself alongside the lake. I recall taking the hill alongside the lake well. At the special needs section I took my bag and stopped. I looked at each item and said "no way." I did force myself to eat the half of PB&J I had been carrying in my back. I took my gels and left the Ensure for my retirement. I must have spend around three minutes stopped. Back on the pain machine. Nochmal...

I really didn't find myself all that sore as my last go at this insanity, although I was prone to the random crying I found myself dealing with last September. Back at my special little turn up Government there were definitely much fewer people. Even worse as I rounded the bend at a high speed there was a guy further up spralled all over the pavement. Fresh Ironman roadkill... I saw some liquid draining down the hill, and I could only hope that was his drink. Security was just rushing him and forced me to veer hard left. Okay, it wasn't quite like avoiding Beloki and riding through the field, but it was a decent show of bike handling. On retrospect, I suppose that was my "Tour" corner. By this point I was struggling to push myself in aero position. I absolutely abhor it, as it's tough on my graft and back. Quite naturally I wanted off this thing. But what would I rather be doing today? Reading entries from

By this time it was a dread-fest for all the climbing around Hayden Lake. I took the hill out of the golf course quite well, then definitely took more risks on the hairpins leading down to the big English Point climb. Once again it was the five mile stretch that was just hammering down on me. My climb was steady, but very slow. I threw myself over the hump leading to the big roller on Hayden Lake Road. As I was punished through Dodd Rd I began to wonder if it would be easier next time to just go to Carowinds instead. By the time I reached the Ohio Match turnaround (Mile 93) my computer showed my average down to 17.2 (the actual avg would be lower with my two stops), so I knew my 17.8 performance at Wisconsin could not be bested. I just had to hang on to the summit of Rimrock and then push as hard as possible. I set a goal of 17.5 by the end of the ride. For the last 19 miles I did push it hard. It was like the return leg of Wisconsin, hammer hammer hammer! On Fourth Street I saw the most interesting fans. One person was dressed up in a full scale version of Elmo, there was also a raucous motorcycle group handing out beer and what not. I thought I spotted one younger man taking them up on offer. Before turning onto Government I had to ask him if what I saw was true. Apparently not, but it was in line with me losing my mind! I also remember picking a rider to not lose. No, I did not draft (like some other people I know), but I did keep her in sight until the last turnaround on Northwest. Indeed I had pumped my average up to 17.4 with some hard work, but the official time would be 6:30:25 (17.2 mph), which meant I was off the bike for three minutes and twenty one seconds. What really mattered was that I was OFF THE BIKE!!!

Once again my farming exercise was true to form. Last year I PR'ed on the Wisconsin course. I plowed in 1,795 miles on 73 separate occassions. This year, despite my Double Down epic, I only biked 54 times for 1,476 in the six months leading up to the race. Weather and elevation considerations can work these numbers to a certain degree, which I believe is why Vineman saw the slowest time of the lot, but I still had numbers near to equal my Wisconsin training. I do believe the real reason I wasn't way down were the aerodynamic rims I was riding on.
Consider also I am complaining about a range of six FRIGGIN' minutes! To bike 112 miles. How weird is that?


Praise be to the mighty Holman, who safely shepharded me through 112 miles of Ironman goodness. With the handoff of Holman I clip-clapped through the bike area and had my bag handed to me. Dear lord, not the naked tent again... As with last time, I kept the eyes down low to find some empty seats near the end. I changed every single piece of clothing on me. And then the second point of absolute exhiliration! There was a trough in one corner. When I was done I sat up (and had a terrible dizzy spell, nearly passing out) and walked over to take a leak. It was the only time I had to use the bathroom the entire duration of the race, and that was just #1. Damn it felt good. Thankfully as well my Garmin GPS watch caught reception before the start, so I threw the normal watch into the bag. Last year in Wisconsin the Garmin did not start in time. As I crossed the line, I hit the start button and also recorded a 5:59 time, which was actually a loss of 14 seconds from last year. Okay, so I've dug a big hole, but that leak felt SO GOOD!


The first order of business, besides figuring out if I was somehow capable of running after 112 miles on a bike, was to take care of my finger. The extra bandage had not worsened during the ride. The run course first went east along a paved pedestrian path to a turnaround point, where I obviously did my patented front turn. Both times I impressed nobody. After that little climb back on to the path I decided to just unwrap the damn thing. And sure enough the super glue had held, it had not torn further. I threw away my detritus and started to concentrate on my goals. My thighs only felt like bricks for about 15 minutes. Unlike Wisconsin, I had a real shot of doing this run without stopping. The major obstacle on the run course would be the hill on Coeur d'Alene Lake Drive. I did not know how far up the hill the run involved. I assumed the full banana. My pipe dream was to beat five hours. My PR is from Vineman (5:07:23). The six months leading up to that race I did 84 runs for a total of 561 miles. I knew I was incapable of virtually all math at this point, and had remembered I needed a 11:27 pace for my pipe dream. Also, it was certain that my GPS watch would overstate (or I would zigzag running more than 26.2 miles), so it would probably be five seconds or less of pace to figure in.

For the first mile, I ran a way too fast 9:54, then eased off with a 10:21 and then a 10:51. This slow progression continued up to Mile 8, peaking a 11:41. In this little cove area I spotted the only pro whose face/name I recognized - Kate Major. She must have been going in for the finish. Wow. Apparently Desiree Ficker dropped out after she heard I was coming; it all started when Chris Page looked up her phone number for me! ;-) Around Mile 7 it began to rain, slightly at first. As I stated before, the weather worsened throughout the day. I was dressed in my Sharksbite singlet and shorts, but still felt even the worst weather would still be within my confines of marathon distance tolerance. It was also there that I now had been running along the lake and faced the "big hill." I took that mother at the same pace and came down elated I was on my way back to finish the first loop. It was during this time that I saw my friend Josh. He was also turning around on his second lap, running what appeared to be a very constant 7:30 pace. After the next mile I saw a drop down to 11:26, but then it popped back near a twelve minute mile for the slight hill near the big resort. It was during this time that I gave out my "best dressed" award. The worst went to the spam dude. This one went to a woman who I heard someone else call Jaime (she was holding her bib crumpled in her hand). She had a camo top and running skirt, followed up by hot pink compression socks, yellow (?) running shoes, and some sort of flashy visor. Totally rad.

I left my camoflauge running skirt at home...

From there on to the last few miles I was in the twelves and low thirteens. That's pretty lame this is considered "running." I certainly would consider it unacceptable running a marathon on its own. But there I was, in misery land endlessly putting one foot in front of the other, alternating my drinks, sucking oranges, stashing gels (which I was tolerating much better), working my routine.

On Mullan Avenue. Running. Shuffling. Whatever you call it, whatever it takes

I recall at some random early time during the run it dawned on me that the race leader had not passed me on the bike. That's my mental state right there! I was very energized coming down into town and beginning lap LAST! By then the wind was starting to pick up again, and with the rain it was cold. Well, at least for the spectators. Not me. My engine was laboring along. No doubt if I was out in the same conditions all day, or even worse stopped, I would go hypothermic. Not a concern. While coming back through Mullen Avenue I spotted perhaps the only other person from Charlotte I knew. I had just met her a few weeks back on a ride, her name was Pat and she was in the F50-54 category. She had finished here last year with very similar splits (to me), and she was definitely pushing the front on the bike ride I went on. I only recognized her because she had a yellow Inside Out shirt on. I called her name but then realized everyone knew your first name (which is an AWESOME thing). Her placement seemed off though! Was she finishing her run? Or coming back from her first? Whatever it was, her time was off one way or the other. And so I labored back on to the lake shore. Near the base of the climb my fears reached their climax. I wanted so badly to climb!

Before the aid station was the first time I spotted Ken Korrell. He had a shirt on announcing he had beaten cancer to participate in this Ironman. Well, this was obviously someone I wanted to talk to. Together we labored up the hill, and I felt a new surge of strength to make it so. Now I was doubly excited (better than lunch time!) as now all I had to do was run back to the finish line! Ken and I were paced just right, as so we began to talk. He was from Spokane and had just finished chemotherapy six months ago! Wow. I could tell during this time that all the assorted excitement was pushing my pace up. After peaking at Mile 21 (13:09) my pace mostly dropped until the end of the race. Unfortunately he liked to linger some at the stops, so around the resort hill I slowly pulled away, becoming more and more excited about the end to this ... event. Ken would eventually finish 1:03 behind me to take his first Ironman - CONGRATULATIONS KEN!

By this time the rain and associated cold wind had died down where I saw runners shedding extra clothes. That would not be necessary for me. As I pushed through the snooty part of town, I geared myself for the tortuous little rise up Pine St and over to S 8th St. From there it was only a couple of turns onto the long finish stretch of E. Sherman Avenue. And the best part was it was a gentle decline to the finish. Damn I was excited!!! I picked up the pace, turning the legs at a speed that would normally kill me (by this point in the day). I hadn't focused on the exactly what the finish time would be (since I had no watch timed through the whole thing) but I knew my last kick was going to be good enough to at a minimum do better than last year! I raised my hands as the crowds cheered me through to the finish line. Hurrah! 13:22:01!!!

Put your hands in the air, if you don't care (for more Ironman fare)

The run was the anomaly with my farming hypothesis. Recall in 2007 for the six months prior to Vineman I ran 84 times for 561 miles. Result- 5:07. The course was the hardest of the three with the highest temps. Last year, fantastic weather at Wisconsin. Six months prior 637 miles on 106 runs. Walked the tough hills. Result: 5:28. This year I ran a MEASLY 385 miles on 69 occasions. Yikes. But I still managed a 5:12, which narrowly comes in under a 12 minute pace! I'll stack this one up to an easy course and cool temps. I was very pleased to redeem myself from the Wisconsin run last year!

The End?

After going through the chute the lady assigned to me had to keep grabbing me from walking away. She gave me my shirt and medal, and then the absolute best feeling of the day was to get a hug from my mom and dad! I walked over to the area where they were serving pizza and it tasted like absolute dirt. No doubt just about anything would taste that way. I slowly paced my way around the tents before exiting the secure area. Dad was on the phone passing on the good word while mom and I slowly walked towards the area for me to retrieve my bags. The three of us then slowly made our way back to the car, which was parked more in the downtown. As I heard the crowds continuing to cheer the finishers, I honestly wished I felt like staying and cheering on my comrades. But I felt much like how that pizza tasted. It was so wonderful to have a support crew for the relatively short journey back to Spokane. I seem to recall we were there before 10PM. I didn't waste much time going to bed. And I didn't fall asleep right away. Nor did I sleep well. I was still covered in Iron grime, had to deal with the lights, and my body temp and aches jumped all over! But I was happy! Tomorrow I would get to see my girlfriend and actually be on vacation!

Geeky Stats

Main Results Search Page

Total Time 13:22:01 - 1283/2032 [0.631]

Swim Age Group 178/238 [0.748]
Swim Overall 1393/2152 [0.619]

Bike Age Group 163/237 [0.688]
Bike Overall 1188/2097 [0.567]

Run Age Group 182/231 [0.748]
Run Overall 1385/2032 [0.682]

Adjusted run splits
Mile 1 - 9:54
Mile 2 - 10:21
Mile 3 - 10:51
Mile 4 - 11:03
Mile 5 - 11:20
Mile 6 - 11:39
Mile 7 - 11:30
Mile 8 - 11:41
Mile 9 - 11:26
Mile 10 - 11:51
Mile 11 - 11:58
Mile 12 - 12:03
Mile 13 - 12:00
Mile 14 - 11:58
Mile 15 - 13:02
Mile 16 - 12:35
Mile 17 - 12:54
Mile 18 - 12:39
Mile 19 - 13:12
Mile 20 - 13:08
Mile 21 - 13:09
Mile 22 - 12:17
Mile 23 - 12:26
Mile 24 - 12:34
Mile 25 - 11:58
Mile 26 - 11:57
Finish - 8:57

Thursday, April 30, 2009

As seen on the road...

License Plate #10 of 51 - Alabama- 4/24/09

Seen in the parking lot of Highfields Events Center outside of Aiken, SC at the Aiken Spring Classic horse show.

License Plate #11 of 51 - Illinois - 4/24/09

Seen in the parking lot of Highfields Events Center outside of Aiken, SC at the Aiken Spring Classic horse show.

License Plate #12 of 51 - Maryland - 4/24/09

Seen in the parking lot of Highfields Events Center outside of Aiken, SC at the Aiken Spring Classic horse show.

License Plate #13 of 51 - Michigan - 4/24/09

Seen in the parking lot of Highfields Events Center outside of Aiken, SC at the Aiken Spring Classic horse show.

License Plate #14 of 51 - Minnesota - 4/24/09

Seen in the parking lot of Highfields Events Center outside of Aiken, SC at the Aiken Spring Classic horse show.

License Plate #15 of 51 - Mississippi - 4/24/09

Seen in the parking lot of Highfields Events Center outside of Aiken, SC at the Aiken Spring Classic horse show.

License Plate #16 of 51 - New Jersey - 4/24/09

Seen in the Aiken, SC Quality Inn parking lot. Too bad I didn't stay for the tailgate party.

License Plate #17 of 51 - Ohio - 4/24/09

Seen in the parking lot of Highfields Events Center outside of Aiken, SC at the Aiken Spring Classic horse show.

License Plate #1 of 13 - Ontario - 4/24/09

The real find of the show - FOUR Ontario plates. Seen in the parking lot of Highfields Events Center outside of Aiken, SC at the Aiken Spring Classic horse show. It immediately made me sad I'll probably never see a Nunvaut plate in my life. I can say I've seen several Northwest Territories plates - both are shaped like a polar bear.

License Plate #18 of 51 - Pennsylvania - 4/24/09

Seen in the parking lot of Highfields Events Center outside of Aiken, SC at the Aiken Spring Classic horse show.

I've got at least two friends in Pennsylvania...

License Plate #19 of 51 - Virginia - 4/24/09

Seen in the parking lot of Highfields Events Center outside of Aiken, SC at the Aiken Spring Classic horse show.

Is Virginia for lovers or rabbits? I can't remember!

At little closer to home, I got a few more shots of Deloitte Walking Man today!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

My Obsession With License Plates

Okay, I'll be the first to admit it - I love license plates. Much of this is rooted in long distance (driving) family vacations out west. Spotting license plates from other states was fun! And of course, living in Washington I quickly learned that spotting a Rhode Island plate was like the Holy Grail or something.

As I matured, this null hypothesis was somewhat challenged when I put together a table trying to quantify the probably of seeing a state plate in Washington, based of course on distance and the number of cars in each state.

Recently I have started another high-risk hobby. No, not mountaineering, but something far more dangerous. Trying to take photos of license plates while driving! Danger Will Robinson! I absolutely love to contribute to Insanity Plates, rooting out all the tools with their dumb plates.

I do want to be clear that as much fun as spotting shiny pieces of metal as I have, it will never take place of documenting the habits of Deloitte Walking Man, whom I spotted again this week!

DWM likes to read the paper at the Scaleybark Library

In addition to Insanity Plates, as of April 1, 2009 (Day 0) I have a new project. And that is to snap photos (they don't have to be vanity plates) of license plates from each state. I am curious to see how long it takes me to get 40 of the 51 plates. Another piece of motivation here is that I'm currently reading a very interesting travel piece of fiction titled The English Major. Not exactly Travels with Charley, the protagonist is a 60-year old teacher-turned-farmer who after getting dumped by wife travels around the country, throwing out jigsaw puzzle-sized representations of the states as he passes over each state border. I figure my endeavor need not be so injurious to my environs.

Unfortunately some of these plates I get one shot and they are blurry. Here is what I have so far.

License Plate #1 of 51 - North Carolina - 4/1/09

It's no joke. When I walked out the door on April Fool's Day I most certainly first saw and documented a North Carolina. I live there. Duh.

What better plate to associate with North Carolina than GODIZGD! I did submit this to Insanity Plates (IP), but they must have declined for fear of alienating the church-going demographic of their readers. South Boulevard, Northbound, Charlotte, NC

License Plate #2 of 51 - Florida - 4/1/09

This plate still appears to be the crown jewel of Insanity Plates. Extreme Tool!

Dude, you do NOT kick butt. The real sad part is that a car similar to this killed a Winthrop professor, her daughter, and another kid just weeks later. Two jackasses were racing down Highway 49 near the Lake Wylie bridge. South Boulevard, south of Woodlawn, Southbound, Charlotte, NC

License Plate #3 of 51 - South Carolina - 4/13/09

My intention is to replace blurry plates with better quality shots as they come available. On our way to the mountains.

License Plate #4 of 51 - New York - 4/13/09

My intention is to replace blurry plates with better quality shots as they come available. On our way to the mountains.

On our way to the mountains

License Plate #5 of 51 - Tennessee - 4/13/09

On our way to the mountains

License Plate #6 of 51 - Kentucky- 4/13/09

On our way to the mountains

License Plate #7 of 51 - Georgia- 4/13/09

On our way to the mountains

License Plate #8 of 51 - Massachusetts- 4/20/09

Northbound on South Blvd at East Blvd, Charlotte, NC

License Plate #9 of 51 - Nevada- 4/22/09

This beauty was good enough to make Insanity Plates. Mainly because it was so lame and unimaginative. On Morehead St heading towards Providence Rd. Charlotte, NC

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Run For the Money 5K Race Report

The Run For the Money event in Gaston County is definitely not your typical Saturday 5K. This event, started in 2003, is focused on the community first. For anyone that shows up that morning to downtown Gastonia they are greeted by lots of energy, booths featuring all the non-profits in the area, karaoke singing, and even aggressive women dressed up as cats trying to distribute raffle tickets.

The main focus for the event is help non-profits in the county raise money. The foundation does this by matching funds raised. My employer is only one of nearly 100 non-profits that leverage the generous match (usually around 70% for the first $10,000 raised). There are also other ways for these groups to raise money, such as the karaoke contest and having an outstanding booth.

The Foundation also sets aside $11,000 in prize money for the 5K event. My first time running this 5K was back in 2004. Back then it was located off Garrison Blvd and I ran a 21:30 (6:55 minute mile pace), a PR for me at the time. However, it was also clear that I would never win any prize money. The prize structure awards $1000 for the male and female overall finishers, then $500 for age group first place (ten year increments), and $250 for second place. So as I continued to participate it and made more running friends in Charlotte it dawned on me the way to do this was to recruit top talent to come out and race.

Each year the event has drawn more and tougher competitors. Last year there were 570 finishers, and this year that number grew 32% to 750. The 2008 race was probably the best edition for the Conservancy, with Paul and Rebecca taking overall awards. This edition I knew would be more of a struggle, as Paul was very clear to me early on that he was not going to be in the shape necessary to win overall. I lost quite a bit of talent, including our most consistent money winner, who also happens to our site steward at the Eastover Ridge property. Thankfully I did happen to find replacement talent in the M50-59 category with Pete. The weekend also coincides with the Boston Marathon, which definitely hurt the shaping of the team. That Saturday also coincided with RaceFest, the big spring half marathon in Charlotte.

The weather for 2009's edition was just gorgeous, sunny and 58 degrees, with a gentle 4 mph wind. Upon our arrival I sought to gather intelligence on the new course. Paul was out here at 8AM to check it out. His comments were that it was tougher than the old "industrial" course to the east. Some rollers for the first two miles, then a tough hard hill, followed by a gradual ascent up to the finish line.

The race experience here always seems to be the same for me. I have always had the expectation of being able to break 20 minutes, but I never specifically train for these distances. So I suffer each year and pull back. I just seem to be more into the endurance aspect of longer events. Anyone who has ran a 5K in under 22 minutes, or even longer, can tell you how painful they are!

It was the general consensus that the 2009 course was much nicer, winding through nice shaded residential areas. My role was similar to last year. My main concern on the female side was closely watching Allison (our "competition," but still an awesome person), most noteably her spacing with Rebecca and Melinda. There was no question in my mind, unless one of the non-profits recruited Megan Hepp, that Jocelyn would once again take the overall female win (she won it all in 2007 under the pseudonym "Jacelyn"). At the Mile 1 marker I paced in at 6:20, technically under what I needed for miracle 5K, but I knew that was not going to last. At Mile 2 I came in at 6:47, losing steam in steady motion. It was there that we hit the toughest hill of the course - it was rather steep but not all that long. I was still in the game to see that Melinda was doing well enough, especially since the only female I spotted anywhere near behind her looked to be in the F20-29 category. The rest of the race was just pain pain pain for me. I happily embraced my central belief that was you reap is what you sow. And I didn't sow any beans for this race. My efforts were much more concentrated on getting the best talent on our team. During this time Bruce came up alongside and eventually moved up. I had slid over a minute back at Mile 3 to a 7:26 pace, finishing the last tenth at the same pace. I finished 52nd at 21:42, a 7 minute mile pace. Blah.

How fast could you make it to this line? If you try hard, it'll hurt!

Of course after finishing and getting over "so I'm not going to die after all" hump I obviously wanted to know how everyone did! After seeing Cody Angell at the start line, I was not surprised to hear Paul did have to settle for second place this year. Cody did take 13 seconds off Paul's winning last time last year, winning $1000 for Belmont Abbey with an incredible 5:09 pace. Paul did manage to stay in the 16 minute window (but barely) so kudos for him! It seems almost certain that would be good enough to at least take $500 and first place in the M30-39. A newly married Stan the man was also found on the pavement. For claiming to be fat and out of shape, his time around 19 minutes that very respectable. The word around the campfire was that Jocelyn did in fact win easy. Outstanding.

Most of the crew went for a cool down run while I ambled around the booths, enjoying the sunshine and whatnot. It was especially awesome to see such a large presence this year with Girls on the Run. Thankfully they started the awards ceremony earlier than last year. I was a little worried as some of the CLC runners did not get back in time, but it really wasn't big of a deal. They started with the age group awards young and worked their way up. I was really impressed with some of the young talent. I've never found anyone to run those categories though. With Ma Bell at Boston this year, our team did not feature an age group finisher under 30.

Stan, Melinda, Bruce, Chris, and Pete milling about. Check out those other butts! ;-)

Perhaps the great amount of competition this year was in the M30-39 category. With his second place finish Paul took the $500. Unfortunately with the stout performances of Keith, Stan, and myself (yeah, right!) none of those were good enough for second, as the placer was only 10 seconds behind Paul!

I wish I could be as "out of shape" as Paul!

As for the females in the same age groupers, my congrats go out to Allison, who apparently slipped past Rebecca for the top age group prize. Allison was very consistent with regards to her performance last year. Rebecca was obviously disappointed, but she still won $250 for the Conservancy! Rebecca, if you're out there I love ya kid - you know you're awesome and you'll quickly learn badminton blows - you will bounce back!!!

Rebecca showing off the litt'l puker to the presenters

The Conservancy's real strength this year was the 40-49 category! In the male category Chris hammered out a near six minute mile performance, besting his competition by over 30 seconds (which is a lot of time for a race like this). On the female side, last year Melinda was bested and had to settle for second place. This year she ran 21:15 and actually won big. Melinda and I were musing what happened to the woman from last year. Turns out she both graduated to F60-69 and ran slower. That was very exciting for Melinda!

Melinda receiving her well-deserved award for first place!

Over the years that the Conservancy has fielded a team, the safest win has always been in the M50-59 category with Mike's amazing performances. Unfortunately he is working through some hip issues now. An equalizing amazing athlete, especially for his age is Mr. Pete. It's very rare to find talent in that age group, so I feel especially fortunate. Pete's time for 2009 was even a few seconds faster than Mike.

Pete going over the litany of races he won over the years

The biggest surprise, hands down, was the Conservancy's rough kick from the throne. A man named Bryan Allf came in and ran a 17:58 - UNREAL! We were all shocked, a real indication of the kind of talent that now comes into this race. The last prizes to come out were for overall. And of course Jocelyn had her own cheering section! One of these years the race organization might even spell her name right or even better yet, pronounce her name correctly. I know the feeling (they spelled my name wrong- d'oh)

Who on earth is JACELYN SAKORA?!? Two time RFTM winner, that's who!

I feel so blessed to have so many friends come out and run for our cause. I want to give very special thanks to the one volunteer who has, in my opinion, made the largest impact. That of course is Nancy Pierce, who has tirelessly volunteered her photography (and running!) skills to advance our mission of land protection in the Charlotte area. Kudos to Nancy!!

So overall, many thanks to Team CLC, who volunteered to come out on their Saturday and race hard for a good cause. Our team raised $3,000 dollars to help advance land protection efforts in the Charlotte region - great work!!!

Scott, Stan, Chris, Paul, Jocelyn, Melinda, Bruce, Rebecca
Keith and Pete (Nancy not shown)-- all part of the Team CLC machine!

Complete Race Results