Thursday, September 22, 2016

Xterra Nationals - Pan Am Champs - It's Like Triathletes Who Watch a Lot of Hockey

Can't believe Nationals has already come and gone so quickly.  I look forward to it all year and it always zips by but this year particularly so because all of a sudden I'm focused on Worlds and the details of my trip to Maui.

Anyway, I had a great time though not the best race.  Swim and bike went well (mostly) as did the first 2 1/2 miles or so of the run but then I became dizzy and had to slow down, walk some hills, etc.  The temp. wasn't as cool as last year but wasn't terribly hot either.  According to my Garmin it was 61 degrees for the bike and 72 degrees for the run.  Apparently my new normal is for 72 to be too hot.  Xterra Buffalo Creek was 75 degrees for the run and I struggled with dizziness there too.  Maui is going to be interesting, not sure how I'm going to manage mid-80's and humid.  Got 4 1/2 weeks to figure it out.

Nonetheless I had a fun trip.  Jonny graciously stayed home to look after Lola who we thought would struggle with the trip.  But I went with a woman I know from racing and my coach, we've done some riding together.  It was fun to go with someone else interested in Xterra, not too many of us out there let alone women from our age group.

PRE-RACE PREP

I got there on Tuesday and attempted to pre-ride the bike course on Wednesday.  It had rained the previous day and night and weather was cloudy when I started riding.

Started at Snowbasin, rode down to the Green Pond trailhead and picked up the upper portion of the course.  Ran into a moose family last year on this portion of the course so I was on watch for them.  This year did not disappoint, saw some big hoof prints and eventually this guy.


He stared at me for a while, went back to browsing then back to staring at me.


These photos are zoomed and I was a decent distance away but still close enough that he could have easily charged me if he wanted to.  I got off my bike and slowly passed him on foot.  Thankfully he was more interested in brunch.

A bit down the trail I ran into a runner who told me she saw a calf right off the trail but I never saw it.  Wildlife can move off so quickly.

The trail was a little muddy in places but firm and rideable.  Such beautiful views even in the cloudy weather.





I had dropped my friend at the start of the course since she wanted to ride the whole thing and just as I was thinking I would text her that I was cutting the ride short and stopping at Snowbasin due to deteriorating weather, I got a call from her that the lower portion of the race was super muddy and unrideable in some sections.  She was going to get off the trail at Green Pond and ride up the road to Snowbasin.  Since neither of us made it up to the Sardine Peak loop which is the latter part of the course we decided to ride it the next day and hope for better weather and trail conditions.

Thursday was more cool and cloudy in the a.m. so we stalled for a bit and waited for the predicted afternoon clearing which eventually came.  Unfortunately my friend had a broken shifter cable and had to drive back to town to get it fixed so I was on my own on Sardine Peak.  The pre-ride up Sardine is the highlight of my trip.


 The race was a week earlier this year so not quite peak time for the leaves but still some great color.


The colors were even more brilliant 2 days later during the race but it's hard to enjoy them when you're going as fast as you can.


The sun was finally starting to come out.  It was full on sun and blue skies by the time I finished my ride.



The peak in the photo below is Sardine Peak.  The race doesn't go up there, not sure if there are any official trails or climbing routes.



Another view of Sardine (the peak to the left).



I stopped a lot for photos.


So much for the bike course.  No photos of the run course, didn't do a pre-run.

Friday is my rest day and obligatory trip to Antelope Island State Park.  Didn't see as much wildlife as usual but there was an antelope.



 And buffalo having a siesta on the shores of the Great Salt Lake.


Lake was super low this year.



Compared to last year.



RACE DAY

It was a perfect morning.  Wasn't even cold while setting my gear up in transition.









SWIM

For the first year I didn't go to the pre-race briefing and for the first year there was actually something significantly different about the course.  Normally the swim is 2 laps but this year it was only1 big lap.  Which would have been fine except I couldn't see a single buoy for the course from shore and I never saw a map showing the buoy layout so I had no idea where the course went.  Also they set the women and relay people off in a different wave from the men this year so we didn't have a huge 300+ person mass start.  Had only some very minor crowding at the start on the swim this year.  I ended up following the crowd to the first turn buoy which magically appeared in front of me all of a sudden.  I was right in line with it so I think I had swum a pretty straight course.  But the next turn buoy?  I could sorta see a buoy way off in the distance but the crowd of people veered way off to my left and I worried that there was a buoy out there that I couldn't see.  Even when I saw a kayak go off to re-direct the crowd I still kept wondering if I was on course.  Thankfully I was and I'd swum a much straighter line than if I'd followed the crowd so I'm glad I trusted my instincts but still, wasted some time and energy keeping an eye on the off course crowd.

Air temp. was 55 degrees per Garmin, water temp. 65 degrees but felt warmer, maybe 67-68 ish.  I swam 1713 yard per Garmin, 1678 per Strava, either way a pretty good number compared to other folks on Strava.  Time was 33:17 or 1:57/100 yards (per Garmin).  This is a bit slow for me but I knew it would be a long day so I was holding back a bit and I was unsure about the course.  Overall was pleased with my swim and had fun out there despite the confusion.


BIKE

I was having a good day on the bike for the first climb up Wheeler Canyon and all the way to the descent at Green Pond and then . . .  I got stuck behind a guy on a fat bike.  And he was going SO SLOW.  Coming from me that's something.  I'm very conservative on that descent.  But this guy was barely moving and absolutely positively refused to move over to let anyone pass him.  And his bike was so huge that it was impossible to squeeze by without him scooting over any.  We came to a place where we crossed a paved road and he could easily have moved over and let the 20-30 people stacked up behind him pass but no, he still refused despite my pleading.  I'm pretty polite about passing but not pulling over at the road crossing was super super obnoxious.  Lots of irritated people behind him.  Maybe I shouldn't have been so polite.  Finally the trail widened out enough that I was able to squeeze past his tank of a bike.  Sheesh I think Xterra needs to ban fat bikes if the folks riding them don't have the etiquette or the skills to pull them over off the trail enough to let people pass.  The other weird thing about this guy was that he had a number 990 (or maybe 909) written on his calf.  Typically you only have your age group on your calf, not your bib number and while there were number in the 900's in the sprint race (none in the champs race), there was no number 990 (or 909).  So something was weird about the guy, maybe was pretending to be in the race?  Maybe blocking the race on purpose?  I dunno.  I didn't notice if he had a chip or a number plate, I was focused on trying to find a space to pass.

Edited to add:

I found the Fat Biker in the race photos and he was actually #996 not 990.  He was part of a Sprint Relay.  I didn't realize there was a Sprint Relay and didn't initially notice it in the results.  So yeah this dude held up people trying to qualify for Xterra Worlds for a Sprint Relay.

Once I got past Mr. Rude Pants it was all good though.  Had a good climb up Sardine Peak trail, rode some switchbacks that I sometimes have to walk, legs felt strong.  Had a bottle of UCAN and 2 packets of Justin's nut butter (chocolate and vanilla flavored, both have sugar).  Added in the nut butter in case the dizziness I've been feeling during the run portion of the race is due to not enough food.  Normally I'd only have the UCAN bottle and maybe a UCAN flask.

Up until I ran into Fat Bike Boy I was thinking I would be faster than last year but those hopes were dashed with the cluster created by Fat Bike Boy.  I ended up with a time of 2:50:35 compared to 2:47:38 last year.  Ah well, still a good effort.


RUN

The run started off so promising.  I felt good off the bike, ran the first portion of the big hill out of T2 all the way to the super steep bit.  Normally I find myself walking well before that.  No cramps on the downhill at mile 2, I've been working on a breathing technique to avoid those and it worked great.  Then around the 2 1/2 mile mark the wheels suddenly fell off.  Once again I found myself struggling with dizziness and I had to slow down and even walk in some places.  I found myself stumbling and even fell though wasn't hurt.  So weird.  I finished but with my third slowest time ever, slower than the past 2 years.  Nonetheless the run course is so beautiful.  I kept looking up and gushing at the bright reds and yellows and oranges.  Even a bad day on the run course is still pretty spectacular.

Race Participation Stats
This year the Xterra Nationals were called the Xterra Pan American Championships.  They still served as U.S. Nationals but also somehow involved their Pan American Series which included a lot of races in other countries.  There was no qualification, anybody could enter.  I'm guessing this was an attempt at gaining a wider participation field by encouraging folks from other countries to come to Utah to race.  I think.  The whole thing is a little baffling.  There were also 2 less qualifying races for Worlds in the U.S. but more opportunities in other countries.  I know, kinda baffling but I guess they had their reasons.

So how did this effect participation at Nationals this year?

There were 334 people entered in the Nationals race this year, 310 started.  Last year 313 started, not sure how many were entered.  The Sprint race had 286 entered this year and 268 started.  Last year 235 started.  Last year there was a Long Course race that was the same as Nationals but did not require qualification and there were 108 starters in that.  This year there was a relay with 8 teams or 24 starters, can't find anything in the results about a relay last year.

So overall in all races there were 602 starters this year and 666 starters last year.  Curiously there were 13 less starters in the Nationals race this year despite the fact that there was no qualifier and last year there was though admittedly it was very easy to qualify as long as you had an Xterra near you.  The really curious thing is that there were 106 people in the Long Course race last year, presumably mostly locals who didn't bother to travel to get a qualifier for Nat's. (there are no nearby races in Utah).  I fully expected those folks to enter Nat's. this year since there wasn't a qualifier and thus no separate Long Course race.  Yet the Nat's. race had 13 less people.  The Sprint race did have 33 more people and there were the extra 24 people in the relay so maybe some of those Long Course folks entered Sprint and Relay.  But why?  There was a Sprint race last year.  Puzzling where those 106 people went.

Edited to add:

There was also a Sprint Relay this year that I didn't notice in the results when I did this post yesterday.  There were 16 teams starting or 48 people.  There was also a Champ relay with 8 teams or 24 people.  This prompted me to check 2015 results and there was a Long course relay.  Long course had 14 teams or 42 people.  Results for 2015 Champs and Sprint are overwritten with 2016 results so I don't know if there were relays (probably there were) and if so, how many teams.  So the overall total of people is 674 for 2016 and 708 plus probably more for the Champs and Sprint relays for 2015.  Still curious about where all the Long Course folks went and if some went to the Sprint race then why when they could have entered Champs which was the same course they'd done last year?

Triathlon is seeing a decline in participation across the board, all types and distances as is the marathon.  Some speculate that the millennials need zombies and fire pits and other gimmicks to hold their interest (gotta have a dramatic photo and story for Facebook).  But participation in the 20-29 age groups has always been low.  That demographic is dealing with college and financial stresses and doesn't have the time and funds for hobbies, especially time and money intensive ones like endurance sports.  The same is true for dog agility.  I always laugh when people say the kids are the future of agility because while it's great to encourage kids in sports, the middle aged ladies are really the past, present and future of agility.  Many millennials also suffer from chronic health issues starting in their 20's.  Many are not physically capable of competing in endurance sports.

I think another reason for the triathlon decline is the huge emphasis on Ironman.  Folks see the Ironman melodrama on t.v. and decide to do it as a bucket list thing, one and done.  And as the older folk cross it off their list and the younger folk with no interest in competitive sports are running from zombies and getting e coli at the mud runs, race participation is declining.  Not sure what the future holds but it's both interesting and discouraging to see the trend hitting Xterra.

Final Stats

Swim:  33:17, 1713 yards, 1:57/100 yds., 26 strokes/min.
            (Last year 34:00 swimming time/1842 yards, 1:51/100 yards)
             277/338 overall (258/323), 73/86 women (58/86), 6/6 age group (6/11)

Run Up Ramp to T1:  1:24 mins. (1:44)

T1:  3:18  3/6 age group (4/11)

Bike:  2:50:35, 17.45 miles, 6.1 mph (2:47:38/17.65 miles/6.32 mph)  298/312 overall (294/323)
           74/85 women (88/96) women, 6/6 age group (9/11)

T2:  1:53 (1:53), age group 4/6 (5/11)

Run:  1:35:12, 5.96 miles, 16:00 min./mile (1:26:08/5.87 miles/14:40 min/mile)
          305/310 overall (290/342), 81/84 women (85/96), 6/6 age group (9/11)

    Run Splits:

    Mile 1:  17:23 (17:24 last year)
    Mile 2:  12:50 (12:47)
    Mile 3:  17:33 (15:57)
    Mile 4:  17:57 (15:49)
     Mile 5:  16:25 (14:32)
     Mile 6:  13:11 (9:39)

Final Time:  5:06:43 (4:54:33),  294/310 overall (286/323),  79/86, (84/96), 6/6 age group (9/11)

Monday, September 12, 2016

So I Did a Thing

I registered for Xterra Worlds yesterday.  I know.  I'm not sure why I had a change of heart. exactly.  Part of it is the whole losing Strummer so unexpectedly thing has created a sense of urgency in me about not waiting too long to do stuff.  Now duh, I know, you shouldn't put stuff off that you really want to do, at least not for too long.  Life is short, you never know what may happen, and all that blah blah.  Thing is that Xterra Worlds isn't a huge major thing for me like it is for some.  Mostly because of the long, expensive trip to Maui and also Maui not being top of my list of places I want to go.  But there is a part of me that thinks it would be cool to experience a World Championship and Xterra Worlds are the big one of the off-road triathlon world.

I first saw Xterra Worlds on t.v. back in the early 90's and it seemed so cool but also such an impossible goal.  Watching the godfather of mountain biking Ned Overend struggle with running on the sand at the end of the race was inspirational but also off putting.  That race looked SO hard.  It was one of those thing where you think, 'That would be an amazing accomplishment but it's so crazy impossible that's it's not worth aiming for.'  I was in my 20's and had just moved to Colorado and was new to mountain biking so the thought of doing a challenging mountain bike race let alone a triathlon with an ocean swim seemed beyond something to consider.  But now at 52 I have many years of mountain biking and triathlon under the saddle it doesn't seem so daunting or even like such a huge accomplishment.  It will be hard and long but certainly within reach.  The course has changed throughout the years and has gotten a lot better.  More singletrack vs. dirt roads with stickers that caused a lot of flats.  The biggest challenge for me will be the heat. 

And while Maui doesn't call to me I'll be meeting my aunt who loves it so it'll be more of a vacation than just going for a race.  She wants to do some whale watching thing though I think we're not there during whale season so I'm not sure how that'll go.  But whatever.  I'm happy to see her and have the opportunity to experience a World Championship and an ocean swim.  And see someplace new that I wouldn't normally go, someplace totally different from the mountains.

On top of all of this I leave for Xterra Nat's. tomorrow.  Probably wouldn't have gone this year if I'd know I was going to Worlds but I had zero expectation of qualifying at Beaver Creek and actually signing up and going so I'd already paid my entry and made travel/hotel plans for Nat's.  Plus I love Nat's., look forward to it every year and it would be sad to miss it.  At least this year shouldn't be too expensive since I'm traveling with someone and splitting gas/hotel expenses.  But it feels weird packing and planning for this trip while also making arrangements for an even bigger trip, both to do races.

Ah well, you only live once.  Thanks to Ned for the inspiration all those years ago.  Looks like I'll be going to Maui after all.


Thursday, September 01, 2016

And So It Begins - Running Contacts Part Deux

Well you knew this was coming.  When I taught Strummer running contacts lo the many years ago the only resources I had were an article on Silvia Trkman's website and some video of Daisy Peel teaching her dog.  That was about it.  And nobody in my area was training them at the time so I had no one to compare notes with and share shoulders for crying on.  But now?  Lots of resources including a DVD from Silvia which is what I'm currently using.  And some other locals who have been through it, in fact some even appeared on the DVD training at the place where I train.  So hopefully between all I learned from Strummer and all the new resources as well as local people I can pester things should go more smoothly this time around.  Ha.  Famous last words I'm sure. 

The first thing to do is get some video footage of the dog running.  So I took Ruby to the dog park this morning and while she had a grand time running around it was very hard to get footage of her because she was so far away or running towards me or trotting instead of running, etc.  I got a nice photo but video not so much.



So this afternoon I busted out the old treat gizmo and my GoPro and did some restrained recalls to the treat gizmo then called her back to me for more treats.  Back and forth, back and forth.  Seems like it should be tedious but somehow I like it.

The video analysis is tedious though and I don't like it.  Especially since I wasn't sure what to do with the footage at first.  Finally settled on picking a few reps, zooming in and putting it in super slow motion.



Unfortunately we've had a very dry summer and I gave up trying to keep the grass alive so her little tan legs blend in with my tan grass.  But I can get a reasonable idea.  She has decent rear leg separation but her reach (distance between last hind foot to hit and first forefoot of the next stride) is practically zero.  Ideally it would match her rear leg separation.  Or so Silvia says.  But Ruby has that long back compared to her leg length so it makes sense that her reach would be short to non-existent.  On the plus side she doesn't seem 'airy' and she run low to the ground, again functions of her structure.  I think she'll be a good candidate for running contacts and that it will be more fun for the both of us.  Someone please remind me I wrote this when I'm banging my head against the wall and wondering WTF I was thinking.

Next step would be to start her on a flat piece of astroturf that I have but first I want to work on her running and chasing a bit more.  She's finally excited about her lotus ball and will chase it but I want her even more excited about it and maybe chasing some other toys before we get into full on running contact training. 

So overwhelming to train a new dog, so much new stuff to learn and old lessons to remember.



Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Xterra Worlds and Red Chiweenies Can Jump

Opened up my email this morning to the surprise of an invitation to Xterra Worlds in Maui in October.  A couple of weeks ago my coach asked me if I planned on going if I qualified and I told her I wasn't sure I'd qualify and I'd almost certainly not go if I did.  I've been struggling with the heat this summer and Maui has humidity on top of heat, something we don't have here.  It would be fun to swim in the ocean but nothing else about the race seems fun other than that it's WORLDS and shouldn't I be excited about going to WORLDS?  While I would like the experience of it, the logistics and $$$ involved are daunting.  It's a whopping $525 just to enter!  Then there's Lola.  Jonny would have to stay home with Lola and I'd feel bad going to Hawaii without him.  It's a long, hard race in race conditions that don't suit me but there is a perverse side of me that likes a challenge.  I have until Sept. 14 to decide. 

I introduced Ruby to jumping the other day and while she doesn't immediately scream Agility Dog, it doesn't look so bad on video.



It's been 10 years since I've taught a dog to jump so my training skills could be better as well.  I pulled out Linda Mecklenberg's 'Developing Jumping Skills' book last night to give myself a refresher.  Her writing can be a bit tedious because she's trying to give precise instructions but I followed her methods for Strummer and was pleased with his jumping.  I think One Mind offers a free trial period and I might try that out.  I love the DVD I have from them but there's no foundation stuff on it.  Not sure if their website/online program offers foundation training.  Ruby's not a fan of shaping, she sits down and stares at me rather than offering behaviors so we're going to continue to work on that.

I also bought Silvia Trkman's Foundation DVD and I'm borrowing her Cik and Cap DVD from my training partner and she has a lot of good stuff.  I'm not a fan of the constant chatter she provides her dog on course but I think I went too far the other way with Strummer and didn't provide enough verbal cues.  So this time around I'm going to work a bit more with training verbals.  Don't think I'll ever get to the point of yelling, 'Tunnel!  Tunnel!  Tunnel!' a million times before the tunnel but I think using more verbals will be an interesting experiment.  I also borrowed her 'Ready Steady Go' DVD from the agility club library and there was some good stuff in there too.  Ruby is getting more excited about playing but she still needs to be in the right mood.  She actually pulled the stuffing out of a toy the other day!  Never thought I'd be so happy to see that.  I even took photos but somehow I can't find them now.

In other good news I'm tentatively declaring victory over the wasps.  I still see them in my yard and vegetable garden but it's been a couple of days since I've seen any coming and going from the wall.  I found out it would have cost $135 to have someone come out and exterminate them, a fee I gladly would paid, but they would use pesticides, some kind of foam or something sprayed at the gap between the foundation wall and siding.  The wasps going in would carry the pesticide inside the wall to kill of the hive which is fine but what about the wasps coming out?  I worried about having chemical laden wasps lying dead in my yard and Ruby eating them or having them get in my vegetable garden which is right next to the wasp infested wall.  So I was glad not to have to resort to that.  At least I have my yard back and the dogs can come and go freely.  Horrible bastard wasps.  This fall I'm going to seal every crack and gap I can find and in the spring I'm going to be more vigilant for possible hives forming.

If we are even here in the spring.  Every day the San Juans beckon more and more.  A house/ranch that looked almost perfect to us came on the market some weeks ago and quickly went under contract.  Which was weird because the house is small (1340 s.f.) for most Americans and kinda weird looking from the outside.  But there are outbuildings for animals, a guest house, fenced fields, even a fenced arena.  In a beautiful location right next to Mesa Verde but only 2.8 miles from town on a straight country road (no mountain driving).  And senior water rights!  I figured that was maybe why it was snatched up so quickly, most houses sit on the market for months out there.  But something happened and it's back on the market.  And of course we can't get down there to look at it because of Lola plus there's the concern of why did the deal fall through?  So we'll see. 

Miss Lola.  Totally worth all the travel restrictions.



Monday, August 22, 2016

Xterra Winter Park - Snow Mountain Ranch

This race was supposed to take place 2 weeks ago but was postponed due to heavy rain/flooded trails.  But this new race day turned out to be perfect.  Started out a bit cloudy like last year.



The drive over Berthoud Pass was spectacular as low clouds hung in the valley below the pass.  It's always a weird feeling driving above the clouds.  Have some video on my dashboard cam, maybe I'll get around to downloading it before I erase it.

Anyway the swim went well for me despite the cool cloudy conditions and cold-ish water temps.  I never heard an official temperature but 2 weeks ago it was 63 degrees so I'm guessing somewhere between 61-63.  According to Garmin, air temp. was 36 degrees which I seriously doubt.  I think my phone said 42 degrees when I arrived at around 6:35 a.m.  Felt more like mid to upper 40's by race start at 8:00.  But who knows.  All I can say for sure is that I was fine, no worry or hypothermia or terrible head rush of my brain is freezing when I put my head in the water though it was for sure cold.

Swim was short this year at 767 yards (supposed to be 1100), even shorter than last year, but nobody was complaining including me.  I swam harder this year, wasn't so concerned about panic or the altitude, but not as hard as I can.  Pace was 2:05/100 yd. compared to my typical triathlon pace of 1:50 or so but this included a run out of the water, across a short bit of beach and back in again for the second lap and I took a few seconds on the beach to catch my breath a bit before starting the second lap.  Last year's pace was 2:15/100 yd. so that was a big improvement.

T1 was pretty fast despite wearing swim socks and neoprene cap.  Those regular shoes for flat pedals are so much faster to put on than bike shoes w/ cleats.

Bike went well but was slower this year, 7.0 mph compared to 7.3 mph.  My knee was bothering me a bit on the steeper climbs and I felt my mind wandering a bit.  I didn't have as many people to ride with this year somehow so I found myself losing focus more easily.  Course was a half mile shorter than last year and descended Coyote Tooth on a different trail that I walked in a few places so that may account in part for the slower time but the sections were so short I can imagine it was a huge factor.  I did ride down the steep section into the gully that I walked last year, just made sure to control my speed going into it and it was no problem.  Some guys at the front of the race spotted a couple of moose but I never saw them.  And a woman was held up for 20 minutes by a bear on the trail.  You never know what might happen during an Xterra.  Though I do remember the one year that a woman hit a bear on her bike during the Boulder Peak Triathlon.  No wildlife sightings for me this time, darn it.

Run went really well, over 2 minutes faster than last year and my knee didn't bother me too much.  And I held off someone coming from behind at the finish line which is always a mental challenge for me so I was happy about that.  Sun came out for the run but it was still plenty cool.  So much better than Mountain Champs. where it was so hot.

Overall a great race day for me, had fun and some improvements over last year.  Finished in 3:06:56 compared to 3:14:10 last year though swim and bike were a bit shorter this year.

And you gotta love the finish area.



Plus some unexpected bling for me.


There was someone in my age group who finished ahead of me but she finished in the top 3 women overall so I got bumped up a spot for 1st in the age group.  Sort of a weird thing but that's how most races do it.


FINAL STATS

Swim:   767 yards (861 yards last year) (per Garmin), 15:57 (19:30 mins.) 2:05/100 yards (2:15/100 yards) 26 strokes/min.

T1:  2:32 (3:42 last year)

Mountain Bike:  13.4 miles (13.9 miles last year), 1834' elevation gain (1788'),  1:56:07, 7.0 mph (1:56:28, 7.3 mph)

T2:  0:51 secs. (54 secs. last year)

Trail Run:  4.0 miles, 500' elevation gain, 51:21 (53:36 last year), 12:57 min./mile (13:28 min/mile)

Finish:  3:06:56, (3:14:10 last year)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Take Back the Power

What's your plan for tomorrow?
Are you a leader or will you follow?
Are you a fighter or will you cower?
It's our time to take back the power

The Interrupters, 'Take Back the Power'

This!



Have been feeling sort of sluggish this summer.  Maybe the heat, maybe the hormonal adjustments, maybe the losing Strummer, probably a combination of them all plus who knows what.  My race from 2 weeks ago (Xterra Winter Park) was postponed to this weekend due to some freak rain and flooded trails and 40 degrees and cloudy on race morning.  I was so thankful the race director postponed.  Apparently one person was giving him a load of hassle, sending loads of texts with pictures of the trail in places where it was o.k. on race morning.  But the area just out from transition was mud so goopy that you'd sink in it and standing water on other parts of the trail and did I mention the 40 degrees and cloudy for race start?  The race starts at just under 9000' which means the water is cold.  63 degrees or so which is not crazy horrible but still cold enough and add that to 40 degree air temp. and he would have been pulling people out of the water with panic and hypothermia.  I think those conditions would cross my line and I might have skipped the swim.  So I'm very happy to be racing this weekend where conditions look just about perfect.  Some afternoon rain storms predicted for a few afternoons previous to get the trails nice and tacky and sunny with a high of 71 degrees for race day.  Will still be cold for the swim (probably low 50's air temp. and colder water temp. than 2 weeks ago) but with the sun out it should be do-able.  Then perfect conditions for the bike and run.  I can't wait.

Except for the sluggish.  Dragging my ass swimming at the Rez on Tuesday and this morning was even worse.  But Jonny showed me an Interrupters video and now finally I've found a new theme song and hopefully some new found energy to go along with it.  Add in 2 more days of rest, some cooler temps. and the beauty of the race venue in the mountains and I should be good to go.

Another contributing factor to the malaise could be that I'm still battling the wasps.  I see these crazy people on YouTube with their various methods of wasp extermination and they seem like they've lost it, a bit touched in the head or something.  But now I understand.  It becomes an obsession.  You think you've finally won and then you see they've found another way in or are building a nest around the corner or have learned to avoid your Shop Vac nozzle.  Crafty little bastards.  So far I've been through:

6 bottles of dish soap/water solution
5 wasp traps
2 sandbags
2 rolls of duct tape
2 tubes of caulk (about to buy tube #3)
2 ladders
1 plastic rain poncho
zillions of rags
1 Shop Vac

And still they persist.  But I'm getting upper hand, definitely a lot less of them around and they're active for less hours of the day now that we have more darkness and cooler mornings.  But still, this is what my house currently looks like:


I know, I'm like the other crazy internet people.  But I will prevail.

In happier news my garden is doing well.  Zucchini plant is going crazy.  One in particular got way too big because I couldn't get in there to pick it due to wasps.

Big as a Chiwowow


Or maybe she's small as a zucchini.

She's doing great these days.  Took her on another 20 min. run this week and she loved it.  One more week and she's cleared for any and all activities including jumping.  I think she likes her new home.


She looks gigantic in that picture somehow.  Cameras are funny things, I wasn't trying to have an optical illusion.

Ah well, time to fret over my race gear and check out the wasp situation.  Take Back the Power!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Are You Faster Than a Chihuahua?

How about smarter than a wasp?  Because apparently I'm neither.  Took Ruby running with me for the first time a few mornings ago and she was hauling ass.  She was all business and pulling me the whole way.  We only went 20 minutes because it was warm and it was her first time.  But she's ready for more once it cools down some.  I think she may even be ready for some real hiking by fall.  So calm in the house but such a scrappy little thing outside.

Still battling the wasps.  Turns out the little bastards have teeth and can chew duct tape.  So I no sooner block off a hole with more duct tape than they chew another one or actually pull the tape back.  This morning I saw one gnawing on a piece of foam I'd stuck in one crack.  Chewed big chunks of it away and got in.  Home Depot man was wrong about the caulk being strong enough to keep them out and even worse they sell caulk type stuff specifically for wasps/bees/insects:  http://www.homedepot.com/p/GREAT-STUFF-16-oz-Pestblock-Insulating-Foam-Sealant-11034540/203282346  No idea if it works or why the Home Depot guy didn't suggest it and of course the Boulder store doesn't have any.  Would have to drive the 20 minutes to Louisville and hope the one remaining can is still there.  Or maybe it's time to admit defeat and call in the professionals.  Because those professional guys in the videos are wearing special suits that cover their heads and faces and I'm out there in shorts and a tank top and flip flops if I even bother with shoes.  I did start off with a heavy winter coat, pants and hat but that gets old super quick in 90 degree temps.  And all I'm armed with is a piece of duct tape that I slap down quick as I can then run like hell.  I have one more idea to try and then it may be time to call in somebody who knows what the hell they're doing.  And at the bare minimum I should probably buy some Benadryl just in case.

My race last weekend was postponed due to flooded conditions on the trails.  We've been have a super hot, super dry summer except for when I have a race in the mountains.  Oh well, lost a week of training to tapering because the storm didn't come through until the day before the race so didn't know it was postponed until late afternoon on Friday.  On the other hand maybe a little bit of extra rest isn't the worst thing in the world.

Sunday morning at around 10:15 I heard sirens heading for the general direction of the Ironman bike course.  LOTS of sirens.  I knew it wasn't good.  A woman swerved into traffic and was hit by a car and did not survive.  Terrible tragedy.  Lots of blame and finger pointing going around, especially at the race director but really it's just a terrible accident and a risk of competing on a 60 mph highway that's open to traffic.  The bike lane was separated from traffic by traffic cones and the woman swerved out of the cones and into a car.  Impossible to know exactly why but a likely scenario is that she was trying to pass some riders and another rider in front of her pulled out in front of her also trying to pass someone and cut her off so she swerved into traffic.  Though this is pure speculation.  Terrible tragedy and the fourth cyclist killed in Boulder County since late May.  Another one of those deaths was on a road I also travel very frequently both in the car and on my bike.  I've ridden that stretch of US 36 where the Ironman cyclist was killed a zillion times as well since it connects my house to some Open Space trails.  I long ago stopped doing long rides on my road bike and this past winter I stopped riding on US 36 to get to dirt roads on my mountain bike choosing instead to drive to a trailhead and pick up the dirt roads from there.  Traffic on that road has increased significantly as well as the number of distracted drivers.  I see cars drifting in and out of the bike lane all the time and all over town, not just US 36.  I rode 2 miles to my office and was nearly taken out by a school bus that drifted into the bike lane.  I've come to the conclusion that bikes and cars in the same roadway are incompatible and it's just not worth it, especially with the Too Many People thing we have going on as well as all the cell phone zombies.

I think today is meant to be our last day in the 90's, should be cooling off to the 80's but I'll believe it when I see it.  Looking forward to fall and runs/hikes with Ruby and maybe even starting some agility training with her.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

You Knew It Was Going to Come Down to Duct Tape

Yeah I know, you're sick of the freaking wasps.  Believe me, so am I.  But I think victory is finally mine!  And all thanks to duct tape.  This morning there were more wasps in the trap and still some hovering around the access point so I wondered if they'd found a way in.  So I added more duct tape to the t-shirt/duct tape combo and after an inital swarm I seem to finally have peace at my door.



No gasoline or explosives or toxic chemicals or hippy dippy concoctions, just good old fashioned duct tape.  And a sticky wasp trap for the stragglers.  I've seen a few random wasps buzzing around the yard but so far nobody coming or going from the access point.  Hopefully by tomorrow they'll be totally gone.

In the meantime I put up a little barrier so no birds or dogs end up with sticky wasp trap stuck to them.  Because if I still had Strummer he'd totally end up with sticky wasp trap stuck to him.  In fact no way this would be enough barrier to keep Strummer out but for my current pack of Good Dogs this is fine.


Now, the question of the day is, do wasps make honey?  The internet has mixed reviews on this question but I'm with the 2 sensible guys here.