Friday, August 7, 2009

St. George Triathlon

Quote of the Day:
Life is 10 percent what you make it, and 90 percent how you take it.
Irving Berlin

My nephew-in-law, Ryan, (I still can't get used to that, I'm not that much older than him) and I did the St. George triathlon this year. I registered for it in December and was excited to do it. although I've been participating in cycling and triathlons since 1994, I've mainly been a cyclist for the past 10 years due to knee pain while running. My last triathlon was in 1999, and before this year my last running event was in 2000. Last fall Rhonda challenged me to do the Moab Half Marathon with her in the spring, so I got on some glucosamine and chondroitin, did some stregthening, and started training. As this race got closer, I was feeling well trained, but I was feeling a bit sick the week of the race and was worried how it would affect my performance.

Ryan and I went down the day before the race, rode part of the course and did some swimming in the reservoir. The weather was beautiful and I was excited for the race. I was feeling mostly better physically, but still had some lingering effects. We checked in and got our packets, then went out to dinner to carb load on some pasta. It was about a 45 minute wait at the restaurant, and I bet 3/4 of the people there had body markings on their arms and legs (race number and category).

We woke up very early to make sure we were not rushed getting to the event. Even though we were some of the firsts ones there, we had to park a mile or so from the transition area and ride our bikes with all our gear. The sky was clear, but there was a pretty good wing. After locationg our spots in the transition area, we walked down to the water to see how the wind was affecting it. The waves were huge! As the morning went on and start time was approaching, the race directors were hoping the waves would drop down a bit. The kayakers who are in charge of pulling struggling swimmers out of the water were worried that they couldn't keep their position in the waves. The race director delayed the start for about 40 minutes, then announced that the race was changing to a run-bike-run triathlon. Those strong swimmers were quite frustrated, the strong runners were giddy, and the strong cyclists just wanted to get going.

I did okay on the first run, but since it was off raod and we had to run up a major sand hill, my time wasn't that great. I did reaaly good on the first transition (T1), and made up some good time on the bike, which is my strongest event. My second transition (T2) was fair, but I didn't do very well on the second run. It was okay, just not great.

There are a lot of things I like about participating in these events. I like having something to work towards; I'm a bit competetive, so I like the challenge of racing; I love the energy in the air surrounding the event (including the day before race day); I love conquering self and doing hard things; I love how my body feels after the event; but most of all, I love how good the food tastes at the finish line! Fruit never tastes so sweet and juicy, water never quite as refreshing, and that post event meal tastes like manna from heaven!!!!!!

Weaing the Team Excelerator cycling team jersey. Our company is one of the team sponsors, so I needed to get some advertising in!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Quote of the Day:
It is much easier at all times to prevent an evil than to rectify mistakes.
George Washington in a letter to James McHenry on August 10, 1798. Although Washington liked McHenry personally, it was no secret that Washington often complained of McHenry's incompetence as an administrator. Washington must have been frustrated with him on August 10th.

Recently we took our family to Disneyland. We had been wanting to do it for a while, and finally did it. Here's a recap of the trip.

Day 1:

Left home at 6:00 AM. We had packed some food to eat as we drove, and looked forward to an In-n-Out burger for lunch in St. George. The weather was really bad the entire drive down. We faced winter weather through the mountain passes, horrible wind through Nevada and California, and were very happy to end the long day of bad weather. We pulled into Anaheim at about 7:00 PM.
Day 2:
DISNEYLAND!!!!!! This was a wonderful day! We got there early and stayed late. We were all exhausted, but it was just the beginning. We loved Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, Soarin over California, and California Screamin'. The first ride of the day was Pirates (personally this was my favorite ride. We took our own lunch into the park and left it in the lockers on Main Street.

Waiting for the shuttle at the hotel.

Splash Mountain

Day 3:
San Clemente. We drove down to San Clemente, which is a nice beach town south of Los Angeles. I really like this town, there are quaint shops, beaches, art galleries, etc. We had a picnic at a local park, then spent the rest of the day at the beach and pier. The water was cold, but the kids didn't mind at all.

Picnic at the park

Playing on the beach

Sign by the pier

We put our feet together for a picture everywhere we go. We probably have dozens of pictures like this through the years.

Christian and Rhonda playing beach tic-tac-toe in the sand with different colored rocks.

Day 4:

More Disneyland!!!!! We were all exhausted by the end of this day.

Lunch just off of Main Street. We could eat and listen to a quartet singing each day.

Space Mountain. We bought a book called "Hidden Mickey's" that tells you where there are hidden Mickey Mouse heads throughout the park. Each ride has at least one or two. the Haunted House has a table setting in the ball room shaped as a mickey head. Pirates has 3 Mickey heads throughout the ride. You can see here that the middle speakers on Space Mountain are in the shape of a Mickey head (right by Jonathan's left shoulder). The big speaker is his face, and the two smaller speakers are his ears.

Ben jumped on and said "Dude, there's no way I'm freakin' walking".

Complete and utter exhaustion (but we still had to ride the rides until closing).

Day 5:
The Angels baseball game. We hung out, swam (until we were prunes), played games and did some things around town for the first part of this day. That night we went to the Angels baseball game. They lost the game, but it was a lot of fun being there. We got matching hats, ate peanuts and threw the shells on the ground, and each of us got a free souvenir blanket.

Board games in the hotel room

Pool-side (we lived there that day)

The game. It was cold, so we needed the blankets!

Day 6

Hollywood. We swam more this day, hung out a bit, went to Long Beach for a while, then went to Hollywood. It was a really windy day, and kind of cold. There were very few people on the beach, so we felt like we owned it. We went to Hollywood when it was still daytime, so we felt safe. However, being quite normal people, we still stood out and looked a little freakish (relatively speaking). We walked the boulevard and saw some of the stars, went to the Chinese Theatre to compare our hand and shoe sizes to some famous people, bought some souvenirs, then got the heck out of dodge!

Long Beach (you can see how crowded it was)

Next to Walt Disney's star.

Julia by her star (we've always known she was a star)

Amy by her future star (they're saving the spot just for her)

Christian is about the same size as Arnold!

Jonathan wearing his Jimi Hendrix shirt by Jimi's star.

Day 7

More Disneyland. We used our early bird pass and got in early, and stayed until closing. We were so tired, but we just had to do it. We made sure that our last ride was same as the first, Pirates of the Caribbean. We actually rode it several time at the very end because there was no line.

Day 8

The long ride home. We got up and went to breakfast, then packed the car and headed north. We contemplated staying overnight somewhere, but decided to just make a mad dash for home.

We stopped at an off ramp in St. George to stretch our legs, take a little jog, throw some rocks at a construction barrier, and swap seats.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Moab Half Marathon

Quote of the Day: “If you hear a voice within you saying ‘you cannot paint’, by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” Van Gogh

Last Saturday Rhonda and I ran in the Canyonlands Half Marathon in Moab. This was an incredible race!! Rhonda ran the race last year, but this was my first time.
We drove down Thursday morning to get a bike ride in on Thursday afternoon. We rode a trail called Klondike Bluffs, which goes into Arches National Park. I’ve ridden the trail before, but it was so fun to ride it with Rhonda. This was her first time on slick rock, and she did awesome! The scenery was incredible.

Rhonda and I on Klondike Bluffs trail

We read that there was dinosaur tracks along the trail. We think these must be those dino tracks.

Fiday morning we went up to Dead Horse Point, which is north of town on Island in the Sky. The view from the point is amazing. Everywhere we went there were a lot runners, which was fun to see. After seeing some sights we drove the half marathon route, which is so beautiful. We walked around town some more and just soaked up the sun. The weather was wonderful.

Dead Horse Point

Friday afternoon we met up with our neighbors who were running in the half marathon as well. We stayed in a really nice condo that had a pool and ping pong table, private hot tub, plasma tv, and other nice amenities. We cooked a nice spaghetti dinner to carbo load for the run, went out and had desert, sat in the hot tub, played pool and ping pong, and stayed up late playing board games.

Because of Rhonda’s experience last year, she prepared us really well for the cold early morning temperatures, but hot weather during the run. The run starts 13 miles north east of Moab, follows the Colorado River for the first 11 miles, and then the main highway into Moab for the last 2 miles. They shuttle all the runners from Moab up to the start line by bus starting early Saturday morning. With over 4500 runners, this is no small task. Because of this, the run doesn’t start until 10:00 AM. They start shuttling the runners quite early when the temperatures are still cold, and then all the runners, especially the first ones up the canyon, stand in the cold at the start line for a couple of hours. We waited until 8:00 or so to board the bus, but we still had to wait for well over an hour at the start line. We took some old fleece jackets to wear until the start of the run, but before we made it through the first mile we had taken them off and thrown them alongside the road (all clothing discarded along the run was donated to charity). Last year Rhonda wore a nicer jacket and had to tie it around her waist. I’m so glad she prepared us this year.

We both finished the run with Rhonda finishing over a minute in front of me. The park where we finished was crazy with people, so we didn’t hang out for the food and fun; we went right back to the condo, sat in the hot tub and had some good food. It was an incredible weekend!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Porcupine Rim-Moab

In October of 2006 a group of guys went to Moab to bike the White Rim Trail. The White Rim is a fairly easy trail with amazing scenery. The trail is about 100 miles long, depending on where you decided to have your shuttle pick you up. I've ridden it a couple of times and loved it.

We had a great trip planned that had been in the works for months and months. The White Rim is in Canyonlands National Park and has some very strict rules for biking and camping. Several months earlier we were able to reserve campsites for two nights, and were ready to complete the trail in 3 days. This would gives us an opportunity to get some hiking in along the route as well, including a hike out to the confluence of the Green and Colorado rivers.

We drove down in two different groups on Wednesday and were going to bike the trail Thursday through Saturday, then come home Saturday evening. The first group went down Wednesday morning, and the second group went down Wednesday afternoon. I was in the second group. About half way there we got a call from the first group telling us that the White Rim Trail had been washed out by a major rain storm that week and had been closed. I thought they were kidding, and didn't fully believe them until I pulled into Moab.

We were disappointed, but how sad could we be, we were in Moab with bikes, camping gear, and 3 days off work! When in Rome...! We decided to bike some day trails and set up camp in the Sand Flats area, which is by the Slickrock trail. One of the trails we biked was Porcupine Rim. Most of us had ridden the trail at least once, but it really is one of the best trails in Moab.

The storm had passed by Wednesday and we had pretty good weather for the trip. We slept under the stars, but at 5:00 or 6:00 on Saturday morning it started to sprinkle, at we got a little wet.

I added links to 3 videos on You Tube of this trip. This first video is a 7 minute compilation of the trip. The videos aren't great because they were taken with a still camera.

These next two videos are included in the compilation video, but I think it is so funy that it's worth listing separately. On Porcupine Rim there's a little jump made of sandstone that someone built years ago. We were going off the jump, then hiking up and doing it again. One of us had a great idea (?) to lay down under the jump and the others could jump over them. Two of us did the jumping. The first video is of me jumping over a guy named Brandon. I didn't realize he was going to lay his bike down between his legs until I was close enough to the jump that I couldn't back out. Luckily, I cleared him and his bike. The second video is of a guy named Dax who didn't quite have enough speed to clear both Brandon and his bike. Make sure you have your sound turned up on the second video, you can see how much compassion we have for poor Brandon, we didn't ask if he was okay until we had stopped laughing.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Moab Biking and Half Marathon

I love quotes! I think I'll give a quote at the beginning of each post.

"No man for any considerable period can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true."
Nathaniel Hawthorne

Next Saturday (March 21st) is a pretty eventful day for us, it's my parents 50th wedding anniversary, and it's also the Moab Half Marathon in Southern Utah. We're driving down on Thursday to get some biking in before the run. We're renting mountain bikes on Thursday and biking Klondike Bluffs trail, and then on Friday we're going to bike the route for the half marathon (we're taking our road bikes for that ride). Both of these rides our somewhat short and not technical, so I don't think it will affect our run on Saturday.

As much as I love road cycling, I also love mountain biking. I went to Moab for the first time in the spring of 1995, biked Porcupine Rim and Slick Rock, and was hooked from the beginning. I have no idea how many times I've biked in Moab since then, but I think I've biked the majority of the trails, at least the well known ones quite a few times each. Some of the trails are half-day rides, some take all day, and others are multi-day trips (we've had support on those). Here's a picture of me on the Portal section of Poison Spider trail a few years ago.

There's a group of us that started going down together a few years ago. Although we had a lot of crashes on every trip, we had never had a serious injury. A couple of years ago we must have jinxed ourselves because we came home from that trip with a broken leg, a broken arm, and more skin on the rocks than on our bodies. We've all been back; it was all worth it!

I love Southern Utah, and I am so excited to spend a couple of days down there again. I'm also very proud to have the parents that I have, and I'm excited to come home right after the run to celebrate their anniversary with them and all my siblings. It's going to be a great day!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Training and Preparing

I learned a great lesson a few weeks ago. Rhonda has convinced me to take up running. I’ve run some in the past, but not recently and not more than 6 miles (and that was walking for part of it). I don’t think I have ever run more than 3 or 4 miles at any one time. A few months ago we signed up for the Moab ½ Marathon, which is on March 21st, and I started to train with her. Her training is far beyond mine, so I would train on my own through the week and we would run together on Saturdays. For a lot of the runs, my training distance was shorter than hers so I would meet up with her and her friends and finish with them.

A few weeks ago I decided to jump my distance up quicker than I should have, and went from doing 5 miles up to 10 miles. I had never run that far, and should have worked up to 10 miles over time. Normally I have a fairly low resting heart rate and a max heart rate in the upper 180’s, but I had overdone it leading up to that run. Here’s a graph of my heart rate that day.

My heart rate was pretty high all day because I hadn’t rested and recovered well that week. We took two short water breaks at miles 2 and 6, and I seemed to recover pretty quickly at both stops. When we got to mile 7, my heart rate started to peak and stayed maxed out pretty constant for the rest of the run. I’ve never ran this far and my body knew it. I kept a pretty close eye on it for the rest of the run trying to keep it down. I could feel myself starting to bottom out. Between miles 7 and 9 it stayed about 5-6 beats under max and I was feeling okay (we had to stop at a stop light at mile 7.5, and it dropped to the high 160’s). At mile 9 we started going up a slight incline and my heart rate maxed out. After about ½ mile at that heart rate, I needed to get it down; my body couldn’t keep going. I said I was going to walk for a bit to get it down, and then start running again. Instead of walking we slowed the pace a bit (by about 30 seconds/mile). My heart rate immediately dropped by 12-15 beats per minute and I felt good again. This is so interesting to me. First of all it proves the point of training: once I hit a level of running beyond what I’ve ever done, my heart was struggling to keep up. I should have built up to the level I wanted to be at and not spurted. Secondly, it is amazing to me how quickly my heart rate dropped once we slowed the pace by just a little bit: I learned that I shouldn’t run faster than I have strength. A very insignificant change in the pace brought me back to a level where I could function well without burning myself out. (By the way, my pride made me push it hard at the end to finish strong, that’s why my heart rate went up again).

I think there are some great lessons here for running, but I think the lessons carry over to other areas of life. If I want to increase my operating level in any aspect of my life, spiritual, physical, knowledge, etc., I should build up to the level I want to be. It’s the tortoise and the hare scenario, I can either be steady and consistent, or inconsistent and a “spurter”. The hare had a pattern of overdoing it, then stopping, while the tortoise stayed his course and didn’t exaggerate his efforts. Slowing down, even just a little bit, may put me back on track so I don’t burn out.

Here’s a link to a great talk on being steady and immovable:

Conquering Self

About 4 years ago Rhonda decided she wanted to take up running. We got her some running shoes, but they weren’t very nice in case she didn’t like it. She hated running in the day because people might see her, so she’d run in the early morning when it was still dark. One neighbor saw her and criticized me for allowing my wife to run alone in the dark (I still find it funny that he thought I controlled that). We have a track in our community that is a little over ½ mile long in an oval shape, so she’d go there to jog. When she first started she could jog the short length of the track, walk the long length, jog the short length, jog the long length, etc. Over the space of a couple of weeks, she worked her way up to jogging the long length and walking the short length. She kept working at it for weeks and weeks, and now jogs 4 times a week for distances never shorter than 3 miles. She has become quite the runner. I am so impressed with her! She set her mind to doing something hard and proved to herself that she could do it. Not too long after she started, two of her friends started jogging with her, and 2 years ago they did the Ogden marathon.

Shortly after she marked that off her to-do list, she decided to do a triathlon. There’s a women’s only triathlon here that she decided to do. The only road block was that she didn’t know how to swim. But again she set her mind to it, and started to train. She went to the pool, but still had to plug her nose. We bought her a nose plug, but it didn’t work. It’s probably not possible to do a triathlon with one hand plugging your nose, so this was the first hurdle she had to overcome. When she kind of got over that, she would paddle in the water but wouldn’t move, she pretty much just stayed in the same place. She kept at it, and last May completed her first triathlon. I believe she feels pretty invincible now, not necessarily in an athletic way, but in a deep understanding that she can do anything she sets her mind to. She knows she can make the sacrifices necessary to do anything she wants, which gives her great confidence and power. She tries to keep these things quiet because her purpose is to conquer and triumph over self, not defeat anyone or anything else.

Rhonda does not consider herself any different than anyone else. She considers herself a very normal and average person. She is not a flashy person. She says if she can do it, anyone can do it, and although I consider her to be way above average, I believe she’s right. It’s a great motivator for me, and I hope I can follow her example with defeating the natural.