Sunday, December 28, 2008

Dog Days

We borrowed Hanza (Sherman's best friend German Shepherd) today and took the dogs for a hike up Neff's Canyon in the afternoon. It was a good chance to try out my new gaitors (thank you Albert!). They passed the test with flying colors---now I just have to wait for my new snowshoes to arrive and I'll be all set! I also picked up a new set of poles since mine mysteriously disappeared during the summer. They are nifty Black Diamond adjustable jobbies that will work well as both trekking and snowshoeing poles, maybe even for downhill skiing if I get the urge. My new racing shoes also came in this weekend (thank you Glen at Wasatch Running Center!) and I replaced my old Timex Ironman watch with the same of the newest version. This is my third one---I love the watch because it is feminine yet has all the features I need. However, I play hard and that tends to take a toll on the watch after a while...

Friday, December 26, 2008

Where Have All The Flowers Gone?

Back in Salt Lake

I just got back from a trip to Indiana last night...bang in the middle of a snowstorm in Salt Lake! The pictures above are the 'leftovers' from today on our walk with Sherman at Bonneville Golf Course. It's really pretty snow, nice and powdery and perfect for skiing. Perhaps the xc skis will make their first appearance of the season this weekend. The Indiana end of the trip yesterday was fine---just very cold!---but once we got into the Rockies there was a big storm brewing. I just assumed the runways got cleared off BEFORE planes landed in a snowstorm...I learned last night that that's not the case! We landed on at least 6 inches of the white stuff. The baggage claim was a zoo, and there were no cabs to be found. Thankfully our good friend Alex came to pick us up with his new snow tires, which definitely came in handy since I-80 hadn't been plowed at that point!

The trip to Indiana was nice and relaxing. I ended up mainly just hanging out with my family, amusing my little niece, and reading books. Albert and I never really adjusted to the time change, so we stayed up late and slept in every day. We weathered the cold and ice and ran a few times while we were there, but I have to say despite the lower altitude (and subsequent greater lung capacity!) it wasn't really much fun running there. A minus 34 degree windchill has a way of putting a damper on your spirits. My family celebrated the holiday on Christmas Eve which was really cozy and a tradition that I prefer anyway. It reminds me of the annual Christmas Eve party at my grandma's house when I was little...very fond memories. I wanted to try out a wonderful recipe for homemade cranberry sauce but unfortunately the cranberry shipments got caught up in the storms and none of them made it to northern Indiana. So we had canned cranberry sauce instead.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


We are snowbound this weekend! After an amazingly HUGE full moon rising over the mountains last night the weather suddenly became very unsettled with gusting winds and foreboding warmer temperatures. This is usually a sign that a big dump is on the way. We were not disappointed, as the snow started falling at about 8:30 this morning and looks like it's settled in for the weekend! I suppose I'll have to get reacquainted with my bike trainer and rollers. I was able to run outside this morning---just an easy 4-miler---but Albert didn't make it out for his 22-miler. That may have been due in part to the after-effects of a holiday party last night, but the weather certainly would have been miserable for a long run anyway. But it's great for cross-country skiing! Can't wait to dust off those skiis.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Come on Snow!

We're currently stuck in the doldrums between the stunning colors of autumn and the fresh brilliance of winter snow along the Wasatch Front. I was browsing through some recent photos and found this one above, taken on a hike at Snowbasin in Ogden Valley, Utah. It dates from late September, when the leaves at the higher elevations had changed to a patchwork of gold, red, and orange. Now most of the leaves are on the ground---or already bagged up and shipped off to the city compost---and we're just sitting here twiddling our thumbs waiting for some fresh white powder to dump on us! I hope it happens soon, my xc skis are ready to come out of the closet!

South Davis Swim Meet

Here's an update for my Aunt Candy (my number one Philly fan) who wanted to know how the swim meet at South Davis went. It was my first trip to the South Davis Rec Center in Bountiful, and what a beautiful facility it is! From what I could see there are multiple swimming pools, ice rinks, state-of-the-art cardio equipment, aerobics rooms, and weight machines. It has a real family feel to it (unlike the gym where I work). The competition pool is 10 lanes, 25 yards, with an additional warm-down pool and diving boards in the deep end. The meet itself attracted some 150 swimmers, which is a pretty good size for a masters meet. The first event of the day was the 1650yd. freestyle, which my friend Brad Gale (of Pool 'n' Patio fame) won in good style in about 18:30. Next up was the 400IM---my first event. Keep in mind, I took 3 months completely off with the broken arm and since then have been swimming 1-2 times a week! I'm not quite sure what I was thinking in signing up for the distance IM. But I swam it and won the women's event---not in a very fast time and certainly not with ease! The butterfly felt great which was surprising because I really haven't had a good rhythm in practice. When I got to the the backstroke, however, I realised that the fly had probably been a bit too fast---and I had 300 yards to go! Yikes! I made it through, albeit with dead legs. Next time I'll pace myself a little bit better.

I also swam the 100 and 200 IMs, 50 freestyle, 100 breaststroke, and the 200 medley and freestyle relays. I won the 200 IM, was 3rd in the 100IM, 2nd in the 100 breast, and about 5th in the 50 free. My times were pretty awful, but as I haven't swum in a meet since college and I certainly don't get near to that same kind of yardage, it's hard to know what is a good time anymore. The relays were a lot of fun, especially the freestyle relay at the end of the meet because 74-year-old Jim DeMet was our anchor and he out-touched the next team by 6 one-hundreths of a second! Way to go Jim!

There are a few more masters swim meets this winter and I'll probably do as many as I can. I'd like to play around with some different events and see what I can do. Swimming the breaststroke was just too depressing---I can't even get near to what I used to swim!

Next event up: P.F. Chang's Rock n' Roll Half Marathon in Phoenix on January 18th! Albert is running the marathon so we're both in the midst of some specific run training right now. December is a busy month, what with holiday parties and spending a week in Indiana, so it's good to just focus on running and let the swimming and biking sit on the back burner for a bit.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Sherman in the Leaves

Most of the leaves came down suddenly last weekend, and Sherman seemed to enjoy the new carpet in the back yard. It wasn't very long lived though---the neighborhood leaf pick-up is this week so Albert and I spent a few hours raking and bagging (with Sherman's help, of course!). Now the yard is bare and dismal. Come on, snow!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Busy week and a SWIM MEET!

Whew! It's been a busy week...busy couple of weeks, actually. Two weekends ago I flew to Indianapolis for a surprise 30th birthday party for my dear friend Betsy whom I've known since the first day of kindergarten. It was great---she was SO surprised! My brother and his wife also made the trip to Indy for a day and we took their two-year-old daughter (my niece) Madelyn to the Indianapolis zoo. Maddie is on an elephant kick right now so of course that was a big hit. She is a strong-willed little girl, very articulate and TALL. If what they say about doubling the height at age two to get an estimated adult height is true---watch out WNBA!!!

I've recently picked up a new responsibility as the Registrar for Utah Masters Swimming. It's a volunteer position that involves processing all the Utah Masters registrations, printing out the new cards, and sending them off to the swimmers. I met with the out-going Registrar on Monday to learn the ropes, and since then it's been a crash course because 2009 registration just opened and there is a swim meet this Saturday---and they all need to be processed before then! So I've been a bit frantic with getting all that sorted out.

To make things more exciting, I'm actually swimming in the meet this weekend! I think I signed up for 5 events but I can't remember all of them---100 and 400IM for sure, 50 free, 100 breast, and one other event that escapes me right now. Should be a hoot! I'll be sure to post an update of how it goes!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


This week is a whirlwind! On Friday I'm flying to Indianapolis to spend the weekend with my good friend Betsy whom I've known since kindergarten. She is turning 30, which means we've known each other for 25 years!!! The only people I've known longer than that are my family. If things work out, I'll also get a chance to see my brother, his wife, and my little niece Madelyn. Can't wait!

Training is going well. Monday marked the first official day of my organized running plan for the Phoenix Half Marathon in January. After six weeks of consistent strength training I'm feeling strong and ready to tackle some higher mileage. This is a perfect time of year to run, the leaves are changing and falling on the ground, making a nice soft carpet on the trails. Sherman and I have been thoroughly enjoying our Pipeline runs, and we usually top them off with a rousing game of chuck-it in a nearby schoolyard. He is getting quite good at giving the ball back after fetching it. It's great to have such a food-motivated dog!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Break

It doesn't really take a trained eye to see that somethin' just ain't right!

The Arm Story

As I'm not always so great about keeping in touch with people (hopefully this blog will help!), I've had several requests to hear the story of what happened to my arm. So here goes. July 5th, 2008. Morning bike ride with a few roadie friends, great ride, up and over Emigration Canyon, then up East Canyon. It was one of the best rides I've ever had; what is usually a pretty tough grueling climb felt easy that day. A couple hours later, some other friends called to see if Albert and I wanted to go mountain biking. Good old gung-ho me couldn't say no. So we were riding up a trail in City Creek Canyon with our dogs in tow. A mile or so up we crossed over the road to head down a small path on the other side to where the dogs could get water from the creek. Coming off the road there was a sharp left hand turn onto the path with a drop-out. I've always been a bit shakier at left-hand turns than on rights, and when I saw the drop-out I freaked out and slowed down too much. I wish I had a great story of a high-speed-moose-stepped-out-on-the-path-and-I-flew-over-the-handlebars kind of crash, but alas it was more of a tipping over sideways and taking the brunt of it in my arm. I'm guilty of breaking Rule Number One of bike crashes: never stick out your arm to break your fall! You end up breaking bones instead.

Which is exactly what I did. I snapped the radius clean across just above the wrist, and chipped the ulnar process (the knobby bone on the outside of the wrist). It was obvious right away that something was broken. My hand looked like it belonged to someone else and had been crudely stuck onto my arm instead. Luckily we were near the road, unluckily the road is closed to cars. So an ambulance was called and the canyon road subsequently closed to pedestrians and cyclists to avoid a collision with the emergency vehicles. Once at the emergency room, the doctor set my arm (which was actually kind of cool to watch) but told me he wanted to keep very close tabs on me because of the severity of the break. I saw him again two days later and he put me in a hard (waterproof!) cast. If the bones stayed in place there would be no need for surgery. Unfortunately, at my three week check-up the x-rays were not so good and I had to go in for surgery two days later. They put five removable pins in my arm to hold the bones in place, then wrapped me up in a clunky (non-waterproof) cast. With the pins poking out of my skin under the cast, there was a huge bump on the back of my wrist and it was bent forward at a funny angle to make way for the pins. So my arm basically looked like a big white lobster claw. Very attractive. Luckily I only had to wear it for three weeks. Then the pins came out (with pliers, made me queasy) and another waterproof cast was put on. Two weeks in that then I was home free! Or so I had thought. But my arm was pretty weak and shrivelled, and no matter how much my brain told it to move my wrist simply would not bend even a little bit. A little time and some rehab exercises have done wonders though, and as you can see from my last post, I'm back in the saddle again!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Powell3 Triathlon and Red Canyon

This past weekend, Albert and I celebrated the changing of the seasons with one last trek to Southern Utah to enjoy the relative warmth and desert scenery before winter seriously sets in. The main 'excuse' for heading south was that in a fit of enthusiasm after completing the Legacy Bike Tour in September, I decided that my arm would be healed enough to hop into a late-season triathlon and see if I still remembered how. The race was the Powell3 Triathlon, a small second-year event which I also did last year. The setting is absolutely stunning and, with the exception of having practically invisible swim buoys, the race is well organized and stress-free. Two laps on the swim, 2 laps for the bike with a steady challenging uphill then a swooping downhill, followed by an out-and-back run. I surprised myself by not only winning the event, but posting a time that was almost 5 minutes faster than last year! I'm beginning to think training is over-rated. :) Needless to say, it certainly felt great to get back to competing and to end the season on a positive note.

We decided after the race to head a bit further north to camp and hike near Bryce Canyon. Ever since Sherman joined our family, we've had to look a little further off the beaten path to find places where dogs are allowed. Bryce Canyon = National Park = no dogs allowed. So we settled on Red Canyon instead, a little to the east of Bryce but with the same kind of red and gold "hoodoo" rock formations. There's a visitor center, a gorgeous little campground nestled among the red rocks and pine trees, and a trailhead to an extensive trail system all within 1 mile of each other. We tucked in for a cozy night of camping, then in the morning packed up and headed off for a 3 hour hike on the various loops in Red Canyon. Gorgeous! I've posted several pictures from the hike below---I tried to cut it down to just a few but there were just too many good ones! All in all, it was a great trip and a good way to hail in the coming of winter.

Red Canyon

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Dog Sitting

For the past week Albert and I have been borrowing our good friend Anna's dog while she is away on vacation. Hanza is a beautiful German Shepherd about the same age as our black lab mix Sherman, and conveniently enough they are best friends. They are so much fun to watch! Hanza is very high energy and focused (especially when it comes to sticks, tennis balls, and frisbees) and we are all getting plenty of exercise. Over the weekend we took the boys on a hike in the foothills and they had a good romp in the new snow. Above are some pictures taken from that day.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

And We're Live!!!

Welcome to my new website! I've created this blog to keep an easily accessible record of my adventures as an elite triathlete. While I plan to primarily post updates and pictures of training and racing, I reserve the right to occasionally include completely non-sport related ramblings!

So here we go. Yesterday was the 2008 Hawaii Ironman World Championships in Kona. It lived up to all the usual hype, and then some! Despite being a non-Ironman competitor (so far), I've actually been following this year of Ironman racing with a higher level of interest than usual. Part of this was due to the fact that I was laid up for most of the season with a badly broken arm(a story for another time) and had some extra time on my hands. The second reason is that the Ironman distance has been taken to a whole new level on the women's side in the past twelve months. In past years, the men's side has generally been the more anticipated race and has drawn more media coverage. This year the women definitely topped the bill. The incredible Chrissie Wellington had a lot to do with that, but there have been some absolutely stellar performances produced by other Iron Ladies this year (Erika Csomor, Sandra Wallenhorst, Belinda Granger, Yvonne Van Vlerken to name a few). I won't go into all the details (you can find them at a number of other websites), but when the eventual winner is stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire for 10 minutes and STILL manages to secure a victory by 15 minutes, you know she is in a league of her own. Also having two women run sub-2:59 marathons (the two fastest female run splits ever on the course) speaks to the talent of the field. Simply amazing! And kudos certainly go out to Linsey Corbin, the top American who finished in 5th place. Yeehaw, you go girl! Also congrats go to Caitlin Snow, running a 3:01 marathon in her Kona debut and finishing in 12th place (qualifying with a win at Lake Placid in July and a sizzling 2:59 run split!). It's really neat to see someone I used to race against at ITU events taking a successful crack at the long distance.

As for the men, Madam Pele was her usual temperamental self, smiling on some but not on all. Defending champ Chris McCormack was one of the unlucky ones cursed with a mechanical issue on the bike that took him out of contention. In the end, last year's runner-up Craig Alexander prevailed, nipping the jack-of-all-trades Eneko Llanos of Spain by three minutes. Uber-swimmer Andy Potts, 2004 Olympian and defending 70.3 World Champion, was top American in 7th place despite never having done an Ironman before. Watch out gentlemen! When he starts training specifically for that distance he is going to be unbelievable.

One other notable I must mention is my good friend and former co-worker BJ Christenson. In his second trip to Kona, he placed 21st in the 30-34 age group with a 9:37:19. He had significant improvements on his swim and run legs from the last time he was at the Big Dance, and overall was 3 minutes faster than last time on the course. Way to go Beej!

So what did I draw from the Hawaii Ironman this year? It was definitely inspirational, but I sort of felt like a kid left at home from a party that everyone else was invited to. I can imagine how magical it must be, but there's no way I would really know unless I experienced it for myself. I'm finally starting to have a gnawing interest in my gut, wondering what I could do if I tackled that distance. Guess there's only one way to find out...