Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Never say never

I sit in the comfort of my own room, on my own bed, beside my finally quiet pup. Two days ago I witnessed countless triathletes complete an endeavor I’ve always watched from the sidelines as a spectator, perfectly content to remain that way. In years past, my parents and I would make our way over to Coeur d’Alene, arriving well after the athletes had entered the water. Many had already transitioned onto the bike. I’d never witnessed the swim start, but after seeing video of the chaos, I thought I better see it in person. In all the triathlons in which I’ve competed, I’ve only been accustomed to the wave start. Never have I imagined having to exert myself just to find my place in a crowd of thousands of athletes about to enter the water.

Athletes waiting to begin their day...
What a wait.
The professionals started out nearly forty minutes before the thousands of age groupers who were to follow. The stronger professionals had completed one loop of the 2-loop swim just as the national anthem was sung. Before I had even registered what had happened, the mass of green and pink swim caps began to move. Soon after, the water churned. It looked like a wave of ants scuttling across the sand. Yet here, thousands of athletes jostled for position, for air, for space. Ironman CDA had begun.

I made my way to the bike exit to watch how athletes handled themselves having just come out of the cold water. Some shivered. Others guzzled down food. A few smiled and cheered. The ambient temperature still hovered just over 50 degrees. Some had decided to forgo the warmer clothing for sunscreen, while others clothed themselves in layers. After about an hour, I made my way to the bike aid station where I would not only spectate, but also encourage athletes on the bike course.

People respond so well to a smile. My teammates and I made every effort to support the athletes on to the aid station, having just positioned ourselves at the top of the hill. I noticed how athletes responded to our encouragement, to the music with an uplifting beat, to our smiles. Anything to get people’s mind off the present and use their energy to propel themselves up the hill to the beat of the music. Later, I moved back to the aid station where athletes held out their hands for water, energy drink, and food. To serve these athletes who had exerted countless hours to get to where they were, to help in whatever way they needed, made my time seem fleeting. The sun had finally come out and the temperatures had climbed to well above 70 degrees. These people weren’t done yet. If they hadn’t already started their second loop of the bike course, then another 56 miles awaited them before they could set foot on 26.2 miles of pavement.

I don't know who motivated who: There was no way I was
going to stop cheering when I had athletes like her smiling
back at me! Photo by Jayne Anderson.
Temperatures climbed quickly, making the aid stations pretty
important places for athletes to refuel and hydrate.
Photo by Jayne Anderson.
Before my day of spectating and volunteering came to an end, we hopped in the truck to make our way back to the city where athletes were racking their bikes, donning their shoes, and heading out for a marathon finish. I had the opportunity to spot a teammate on his way to the transition area. He looked strong making his final descent. We caught his attention, gave him some cheers, and let him find his rhythm as he prepared mentally for what was to follow.

Sherman Avenue had filled by the time we arrived. The first professional had just rounded the turn and flew to the finish line. I watched, like I’ve always done before, how pro after pro crossed the line, looking as though they could run another 5 miles. I have always thought it must be these kinds of finishes that convince people they can do it, too. Last year I walked along the run course and witnessed those who did not exude that strength, but instead shuffled and walked in pain to just get it over with. I think of these images and am certain these are the ones that have convinced me I will never put myself through this. Though family, friends, and teammates told me to “never say never.” I still say never.

Two days ago I witnessed countless triathletes complete an endeavor I’ve always watched from the sidelines, perfectly content to remain that way. Two days ago I watched my teammates I’ve trained with all winter and spring finish something I’ve always said I’d never do. Two days ago at least twenty people asked me if I had plans to sign up for 2013, and at least twenty times I said absolutely not, that I would never put myself through such pain. Yesterday, the idea started to gnaw at me, melt away that wall I’d put up at least five years ago while watching my first Ironman CDA.

I said “never.” They said, “Never say never.” Yet here I sit, in the comfort of my own room, on my own bed, beside my finally quiet pup. This morning, I did the unthinkable. I pulled up that online registration. I gave my information, paid my money, said my prayers. I clicked that final button.

I’m racing Ironman Coeur d’Alene 2013. Let the “fun” begin.

The homestretch...Sherman Avenue.
I don't think it'll look like this next
year. I'm guessing it'll look even better...
if I'm still conscious by then.
I don't know if I should be thanking these people or not, but I thought I better give them credit for helping me make my decision. You guys better hope I don't regret it later!

Craig, Jayne, Bryan, Josh, Mike, Matt, Virginia, John, Sandra, Robin, Kari, James, Kathi, Erica, Haley, and most importantly, the parents.

To myself: Meghan, when you forget why you decided to do this, watch:

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Trailblazer Triathlon

What a team! After our busy morning cheering the kids along in their very own triathlon at the Trifusion Kid's Tri, the "big kids" got a chance to have some fun at the Trailblazer Tri in Medical Lake that same afternoon.

I'd never done this triathlon before, but the course felt very familiar as it mirrored the Wunderwoman and Medical Lake Kiwanis triathlon courses. After a long day on my feet, I was surprised by how quickly my body responded to yet another of my crazy demands. As a low-key race, I kept telling myself all I had to do was have fun. Quite frankly, that's what I did. Craig Thorsen let me borrow Erica's race wheels to see what they felt like. While they made my bike look fast, I no longer have enough spare money in my pockets to afford something so fancy.

Left to right: Bryan Rowe, Ronnie Crenshaw, Natalie
Gallagher, me, Mike Winnet, and Dave Erickson. On our way
to the other side of the lake for the swim start. The bed of that
truck was HOT!
Despite receiving some flack for it later, one aspect of this race that I won't forget was the swim start. Some chose to swim across the lake to the start, but others and myself chose the alternative: to hang off the back of the pickup and let someone drive us over. It turned out to be a fun experience, but next year I'll probably just swim. A sharp contrast to a few weeks ago, the lake felt much like the water in Boise. And when the gun went off, I hung onto Nate Duncan's feet for as long as I could until he lost me half way across the lake. Nonetheless, I came out of the water behind a few of the faster swimmers, slipped (literally!) out of my wetsuit, and hopped on my bike for a quick 12 miles around the course.

Picture by Aubrey Winnet. I'm headed out to chase down
Ronnie and Steve. I never could catch Ronnie, but I enjoyed
closing down on him and hanging on for a short time.

Picture by Jessi Thompson. 

I followed (not drafted) Ronnie Crenshaw out on the course for quite some time. The target on his back was what kept me motivated to keep working harder than I probably would have without someone in front to chase. I knew of several guys chasing me, one of whom, Russel Abrams, soon caught me and flew by to chase Ronnie down as well.

Picture by Aubrey Winnet. Finally! The finish line
seemed it would never arrive. My Timex kept displaying
an incredibly elevated heart rate and a pace that felt
slower than it actually was. 
Of all runs I can remember that followed my bike leg, I don't think any one of them have hurt as much as this one did. I don't know if my tired legs were the result of a harder effort on the bike or the time on my feet all morning at the kids tri. Nonetheless, I felt sluggish, and the heat of the sun as well as the blister forming on my left heel didn't help. There is something so worrisome about continuing to run on a blister you know is only getting bigger. As I write this, 4 days later, it's still agonizingly painful to run and bike. I can only hope it heels sooner than later and can definitely say I won't be running barefoot in my bright yellow Asics racing flats again!

I can't complain about the sun. If anything, it demarcates the beginning of what will be a long couple months training in hot weather to prepare me for Las Vegas. I've always preferred to run in the early mornings. Not anymore!

In the end, I flew through to the finish thanks to the encouragement of Erica, who met me at the corner and followed me in on her bike. Jessi Thompson took some great photos and hollered me into the finish. Tons of other teammates and their family members cheered me in, and I couldn't help but feel so thankful for the great group of friends I've been welcomed into. I was happy to know I'd only come in a little over 2 minutes behind the great Haley Cooper-Scott, my friend and fellow classmate. Another classmate, Kari Budd, also raced and had a great time at her second ever triathlon. 

In just three days, I'll have the opportunity to cheer in many of my teammates and friends competing in Ironman CDA. I can't wait to be able to experience the atmosphere I crave each year that is created by the amazing athletes and spectators drawn to CDA. We are a great group of people, devoted to each other's care, fitness, and well-being. 

Doctor of Physical Therapy ladies! Me with Haley, Kari,
and Becky Iden. We had lots of fun on a warm and sunny
Saturday afternoon.

Monday, June 18, 2012

When the little ones give it a tri

I had the privilege of partaking in Trifusion's annual Kid's Triathlon this past Saturday. Having only seen pictures of past events, I could already tell this experience would serve as one to remember. Not only did I have the opportunity to work alongside my friends doing something other than swimming laps or riding hills, but we, as a team, provided some of our community's youngest the chance to see and experience what many of their parents do. In addition, they witnessed a healthy dose of competition, fitness, and fun that will hopefully translate to greater motivation to stay active on their own.

The kids weren't the only ones having a great time. Parents came out to support their kids, which meant that not only did they stand on the sidelines, but many helped take off swim caps and goggles, and then don shoes and helmets before running their kids out to the bike course. As one of the volunteers stationed in the transition area, I witnessed several of the kids had some pretty impressive mounting and dismounting skills that left me wondering if I could ever do anything so smoothly. Others simply took in the atmosphere and enjoyed their time in transition as their parents frantically waved them on and encouraged a faster performance. I saw plenty of barbie shoes and dinosaur socks in the youngest wave of competitors. The small boy with the shark helmet clearly knew what he was doing in his effort to intimidate his way through transition after hopping onto his bike.

Each child, after coming out from the aquatics center, was waved through transition and helped onto the bike. Depending on the wave in which they were apart (determined by their age), they rode one to four loops around a designated bike course lined with Trifusion volunteers and parents. Upon arriving back into transition to park their bikes and throw off their helmets, they were directed to a funny guy wearing a bright orange shirt and red afro wig that pointed them to the run course on the grassy turf behind the aquatics center.

Having spent all of my time in the transition area, I can't speak for what went on at the finish line. However, kids came back with smiles and medals around their necks to claim their bikes and gear they had left just minutes before.

Quite frankly, I can't exactly put into words how being apart of this event made me feel. To have the chance to cheer on such young kids through the sport I've come to rely on and respect for it's ability to give me fitness, find me friends, and remove my stress makes me feel so much better about where this sport is headed in the future. It's certainly a sport of inclusion and participation. The Trifusion Kid's Triathlon goes to show age hardly matters.

After setting up transition and putting on the swimsuits,
these kids are ready to go!

A triathlon wouldn't be a triathlon without
having your body marked. Kari Budd watches
this little guy's reaction.
The swim was held in Whitworth's Aquatic Center, where
kids swam anywhere from 20 to 100 yards.

What looks like mad chaos actually turned out to be just that.
These guys are headed out to ride three loops around the bike

The Greenfield family getting ready to head out onto the
bike leg.
Six happy campers!

Finally, for the purpose of fulfilling a service learning project for one of my physical therapy classes, I want to make sure a few points are clear, if they weren't already done so in the blog above.
  1. This opportunity to volunteer reflects what it means for physical therapists and our job to promote a healthy, active lifestyle. It is one thing to do so when our clients/patients are adults, but it is an entirely different and unique opportunity when we can start at such an early age. Many of these kids have parents who compete in their own events: road races, cycling events, and triathlons. There aren't as many opportunities for these kids to have a chance to experience these activities. Having the chance to volunteer at this kids triathlon allowed me to support kids in an endeavor that I've come to enjoy and respect myself. 
  2. Perhaps the greatest point I took away from the article, The Servant as Leader, by Greenleaf, is that some of the greatest leaders are the ones who listen, who contribute, and who are servants themselves. The kids triathlon allowed me and triathletes like myself to serve those in the triathlon community who are perhaps the most overlooked. Triathlon is definitely more of an inclusive sport than many others, but rarely are they available to the younger crowd (sub-12 years). When you think about it, you more often hear parents say, "I'll be busy this weekend shuttling my kids to their soccer/basketball/baseball games," versus, "My kids have a triathlon this weekend we'll be going to." While there is nothing wrong with this, it goes to show how unique of an experience the kids triathlon is. 
A video highlighting the event: By Dave Erickson 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Mother Nature's stab at hyperbole: Boise 70.3

Photo by Ben Bao Tran

My hands looked swollen and red. Just moments before I’d donned my wetsuit, clumsily, because I couldn’t exactly feel what I was doing. The light drizzle that met me as I descended from the bus had turned into a steady rain. It didn’t take long for the wind to pick up and carry it sideways against our faces. The 45 degrees my iPhone displayed felt like sub-40. My wetsuit kept me somewhat warm, and my double swim caps kept my hair from getting wet. Funny thing is, I could see my bare feet on the wet pavement, but I couldn’t feel them. Amy Wilcox turned to me and said my face had turned blue. I had no doubt, as a number of people around me had turned funny shades of white, blue, and red. An ambulance that sat idle as I walked into transition suddenly turned on its lights and started down the long road toward town. I thought that ambulance was there for those who needed it during the race. The sooner I got this race started, the better. I was ready to go! Let’s do it!

I still stood in transition.


Two weeks ago I sat in a car with Matt Beard on our way home from Walla Walla, WA. We ended up on the topic of Boise 70.3. Having just finished Onionman, a race whose conditions started out really cold and windy, we thought how funny it would be if Boise was a race of the ultimate weather extremes. No joke. Our hypothetical race looked like this:

Triathletes met 5ft swells in the swim, battled through 50mph gusts and pouring down rain on the bike, only to encounter 90-degree temperatures with blaring sunshine on the run.
My only advice to you would be this: Don’t ever plan your worst race. Ever. You may just find yourself at Boise 70.3 with conditions like this:

Triathletes were shuttled up to Lucky Peak Reservoir, where they met 45-degree temperatures, 30mph winds, and a light drizzling rain that turned into downpour by the time athletes had to leave the transition area and wait for their swim wave to enter the water. Water temperatures had dropped from a comfortable 64 degrees earlier that week to 57 degrees by race day morning, and reports of snow on the bike course—along with dangerous wind gusts—prompted race officials to shorten the bike leg. As if weather extremes couldn’t be displayed any better, athletes were met with warm sunshine by the middle of the half marathon.

In Transition 1. I think this was the only time I smiled...
only for the camera.
I thought it would be fun to write this race report in hyperbole, but Mother Nature made my job a whole lot easier by simply making it reality. Looking back, this race was more a mental challenge than a physical one. In fact, the biggest obstacle in this race was whether to start the race at all. Participants and spectators alike sought refuge behind two large trailers near the docks at the swim start. To say we felt cold would be an understatement. We didn’t shiver. We shook. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I shook so hard with cold. I watched as Wave 6 entered the water and finally went searching for someone I knew. Craig? Erica? Anyone? It wasn’t until I found Lianne Nye that I broke down. Two women pointed at me, and I didn’t know if it was because I was crying or because I had turned a funny shade of blue. I’ve never cried before a race! Actually, I’ve never found myself in a situation that I seriously questioned my sanity. Everything about this felt stupid.

Like waves do, they keep moving. Before I knew it, my wave slipped over the starting mat and my feet stepped into Lucky Peak, water that actually felt warmer than the air. Warmth also ran down my legs, and I realized with feet in the water and pee in my wetsuit, there was no reason to turn back.

Checking in the day before. Craig Thoreson, Erica Zeimer,
Natalie Gallagher, Dave Erickson, Nate Duncan, Bottom
row: Me, Amy Wilcox.

Group ride in the sunshine: Friday.

Weather on Lucky Peak was drastically different than in
downtown. Trifusion is checking out the water.
Lucky Peak: Friday night. Sunshine prevailed, but
we couldn't ignore the clouds.

Friday morning, while spending time with my teammates and checking in at the Boise Center, I had the opportunity to ask questions and receive suggestions to use for race day. Dave Erickson enjoyed joking around with me by offering “tips” the experienced triathlete would only describe as nonsense. He did preface the one tactic I began to use immediately upon entering the water with, “Now this is serious.” His serious tip was this: plunge your face in the water and blow bubbles to acclimate your body to the cold water. I did just that about 5 times, but each time I did it, the water felt colder and colder. Three minutes flew by, and I was off on my 34:05 swim through water that started off calm, but soon turned choppy.

Transition 1: Friday night.
I had plenty of time to strip my wetsuit in the long trek up to the wetsuit strippers. All through the swim, my fingers were splayed out at funny angles. I quickly realized why proper pull technique is essential. With fingers that didn’t work, I wondered exactly how I was going to get out of my wetsuit. Thankfully, it peeled right off after I fumbled around with the Velcro at the back of my neck for a time. The volunteers did a great job of making my escape easier so I could tackle the challenge of getting ready for my bike leg. I never thought I’d have so much trouble with Velcro. I couldn’t even get my shoes on. And my helmet? My race belt? You’d think I was drunk watching my failed attempts to snap together the clasps. Putting socks on cold toes you can’t feel makes for an interesting experience as well. I met Amy just as we left T1, wished her well, and headed out for a snotty and cold 15 miles of cycling.

Transition 2: Saturday morning = cold and wet
My hands never warmed so I had the same issue donning my K-Onas. I finally just had to sit down to steady myself before taking off for the course. I got into a rhythm pretty quickly, and by the time mile 2 rolled around, I could finally feel my fingers. Mile 3 brought sunshine to all of us cold-bodied crazies. Stomach cramps met me at mile 4. When you can feel the water and nutrition you consumed on your bike leg start sloshing around in your gut, you know you’re in trouble. Thankfully, it didn’t seem to affect my speed, as I was able to hold my pace at around 7:15min/mi for a heart rate around 165bpm. It kept me in the moment.

I rounded that turn to start my second loop as a pro ran to the finish line. My feet kept on moving. A group of geese and goslings ambled across the path right before the first aid station. Apparently they got a memo to join some kind of party? By mile 10 my feet ached, but a short 5k was all I had left. I let myself speed up a little and hung on until mile 12. A man I’d followed up until then ran alongside me. We held each other to a steady, quick pace before racing into the crowd.

The scene didn’t quite compare to what I’d been apart of at Ironman Coeur d’Alene. Yet what a cool experience to run alongside a cheering crowd, return high-fives to the outstretched arms of little kids eagerly awaiting the finish of their parents. This race didn’t turn out to be the race I’d prepared for. I feel a little sheepish telling people I completed a whole half Ironman. Yet while each of us prepares to race a full 70.3, I learned we should all be prepared for any changes that might change the dynamics of a race. I have yet to prove I can complete a full 70.3, but I did learn that when my mind thinks enough is enough, the body can go a little further. Looking back, I’d have been disappointed if I’d stepped away from the water and chose to forgo the race. You don’t get to Las Vegas through uncertainty and hesitation. I guess it’s already time to look past Lake Stevens. Vegas awaits. 

Photo by Sophie Wilcox. Thank you for coming out and
cheering us all to the finish!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

My opinion...For what it's worth

My first Half Ironman 70.3 turned into Boise 29.3. I may be the only one to say that I respect the officials' judgment call on this one, because apparently, a few of my triathlete comrades lack sufficient brains themselves. The comments I'm reading on Facebook leave me pretty disturbed. Let me just put this out there: I entered this sport because it looked tough and challenging. It pushes anyone who enters these races to their ultimate limits and requires a demanding amount of time to complete the training necessary to succeed. I entered this sport because of the people. Healthy, smart, fit, inspiring, motivating. I can't think of a single person who has questioned my ability to participate in this sport. I entered this sport because anyone can do it. I passed people younger and older than me, some as old as 74. I watched one woman hobble along the run course, surely just on her first lap. She looked like her knees were going to cave in. Yet she was running.

I did not enter this sport to play stupid. Plenty of people have questioned my choices about training in conditions that would encourage the average person to take cover in the comfort of their homes. Let me be clear: I train in the weather we encountered today in Boise. I was prepared. Perhaps others were not. The fact that others were not apparently have some people berating the officials (from what I've seen on Facebook) about making the bike leg shorter from 56 miles to 15. Did I not just say I entered this sport because of it's inclusiveness, it's invitation to others to choose a healthy lifestyle and give it a go? Here are some of the comments that have me concerned:
  • "If you are not prepared (and a lot of people were not) then don't do it."
    • My take: From what I have heard, Boise presents as a great race for beginners. I value the people in this sport who strive to attract new people to the world of triathlon. To encourage people not to do something just because they aren't as strong as some of the more serious triathletes is damaging. How could we possibly encourage others to participate if we have people making comments like this?
  • "They made the wrong call. The wind is not that bad. Don't triathletes prepare for all conditions? Seriously...it's pathetic."
    • My question: Did you actually drive out to the plateau with the worst wind conditions to see how they were yourself? From what I gathered from people who have raced this course in the past and who actually LIVE here, the weather in one area of Boise is not the same as that in another. For instance, I checked in my bike in the rain last night. Upon heading out to drive the bike course, we had sunshine. Having said this, I did NOT go to the areas the officials claimed had dangerously high winds, so I cannot comment on the validity of the decision made by the officials, and I will not. But seriously? Unless you went out to see for yourself, I don't think you can comment either.
  • "It was the wrong call. Awful officials..."
    • My opinion: While I find myself slightly disappointed that I didn't have the opportunity to put my training to the ultimate test today at my first Half Ironman event, I do not, and WILL not fault the officials for the final decision they made. I watched an older gentleman shiver while sitting on a curb waiting for his swim wave to start. His face was blue. I stood next to athletes young and old absolutely chilled before even entering the water. There wasn't a single person not shivering...no, SHAKING with cold. Quite frankly, I think it's people who make comments like this who are "awful" for the sport of triathlon. We should take pride in the fact that we are a friendly, inviting group. To tell an old man that could have been my grandpa to "pack it" simply because he wasn't strong enough to handle the conditions is pathetic.
(If I may include this, some of these comments were made by someone I passed spectating from the sidelines, NOT competing. It leaves me to wonder what he may have been thinking if HE had tried to clamber into a wetsuit already drenched from the cold rain, already so cold from the wind that he couldn't feel his fingers well enough to actually don the wetsuit, and shivering so violently while waiting for HIS leg to begin, which likely would have been at least 30 minutes after the first gun went off.) 

On a final note, my race report is coming. I just had to get this off my chest. For those of you who disagree, feel free to do so. I have an opinion, too, and I think it's a legitimate one. So by all means, call me what you want: Pansy, Chicken, Girl. Whatever. I'm happy to know plenty of hardened triathletes with warm hearts. Those are the people I'll stick around, continue to train with, and strive to emulate. 

For those who finished today: You are a true competitor. Truly inspiring.
For those who decided to throw in the towel: You made the right decision. Don't doubt yourself about it. As my mom would say, there is no sense in risking your safety for one race when another one will follow.
For those who were disappointed with today's decision: Find another race to prove yourself. DON'T blame the officials for considering the safety of the ENTIRE field of athletes today. YOU are not the only one out there. Respect the fact that the sport of triathlon is compromised of a wide array of competitors: different ages, different backgrounds, different goals. This is just how the sport should be advertised. Don't tarnish this sport with poor sportsmanship and behavior.

On that note, I'm finished blowing steam. I have a body to recover. Good night, and congratulations to everyone! To those who followed me and others competing today, I can't express enough thanks and gratitude for you taking the time to leave thoughtful notes of encouragement and congratulations. It didn't go unnoticed. Thank you!

Friday, June 8, 2012

And so the fun begins...

I had the privilege of waking up to gorgeous, warm sunshine. In addition, the weather report on my phone forecasted much different conditions for tomorrow. At least today's short and easy workouts would leave me with a tan, as there is no way tomorrow's forecast of cloud cover, 70% chance of rain, and 20-30mph sustained winds with 45-50mph gusts were going to do anything for me.
Sunshine and a slight breeze... Maybe tomorrow?

As I look out the window, the sun still shines, the transition bags are packed (hopefully with the appropriate gear and nutrition I will need at each of the two transitions), and my stomach full. We--my Trifusion teammates and me--spent the day getting in our last workouts, checking into the race, ambling through the Ironman center, and checking out the course and logistics of what would take place tomorrow. I woke up feeling confused about how tomorrow would pan out. Tonight, I go to bed exhausted and anxious. Yet having the myriad of people back home sending me encouraging comments, texts, and emails throughout the day really helped ease my fears. Kathi Best reminded me to have fun. Bryan Rowe swears I'm badass. Rosi Guerrero is convinced me just being here should bring fear to my competitors. Jayne Anderson texted me a briefing on how tomorrow should look. Jarod Crooks is confident all our miles in the rain, winds, and hills will pay off. Finally, my mom encourages me that God has tomorrow all lined out, so there remains no need to worry. So I try not to worry.

We started the morning with a light run before checking in and touring Ironman Village. I was drawn to the GU table and met a nice lady I'd recognized by name on Facebook. It's funny how this world of triathlon has required I meet people by text before putting a name to a face. Nonetheless, she kindly gave me a sample pack of GU Brew, Peanut butter gels, and electrolyte tablets. Thank you, Kat! A short bike ride in the sunshine soon followed, and Craig Thoreson and Erica Zeimer did a great job of pointing out things to watch for on the run course. After interspersing a couple of 2 minute pick ups, we were ready for lunch.

Not much time could be spent eating, as we needed to check our bikes into T1. On top of Lucky Peak Reservoir, the clouds let loose just as we arrived. We racked our bikes, checked out the water temperature, and began our trek of the bike course by car. I counted 3-4 hills, mostly steady climbs that hardly compare to Charles hill. Jarod might have been right, though I don't know what they'll feel like with the wind to pedal against, too.

Here is a video of our ride, put together by Dave Erickson. Thank you!

David Dennison's father prepared a perfect pre-race dinner of pasta and cooked vegetables. Both David and I have everything ready for tomorrow morning, so now we simply relax. For me, that translates into getting some studying done for the finals I have to conquer upon returning to Spokane on Sunday. Until then, I look forward to surviving tomorrow's race! Thanks to everyone for checking in on me and for the amazing words of encouragement I've received from friends, family, and teammates. Let the fun begin...
On our way up to Lucky Peak Reservoir to
check in our bikes. Notice the rain clouds...

The water in which we'll swim. Relatively
calm considering the winds up there.
Volunteers told us the water temperature is
59 degrees.

I'm in.