October 31, 2008

As some of you may already know, I'm currently working at a mine camp in northern Saskatchewan (McArthur River Mine). We're about 100 kilometers from the Northwest Territories and it's pretty cold and snowy up here.

Mine camp

Arthur the camp pet

October 19, 2008

Denver Half Marathon

This morning was the Denver Marathon and Half Marathon. I headed down to Denver with a co-worker, Jessica, to run the half marathon. Josh and Erich, Jessica's boyfriend, also came along to spectate/photograph/support. The conditions were pretty nice, with temperatures in the low 50's at the start. Normally I would say this is a bit cold, but I ran in below freezing temperatures earlier this week, so today felt nice and warm.

Jessica and I headed out for a short warm-up jog about 40 minutes before the race. We then headed to the porta-a-pottys for one final stop, but the line was about 100 people long. So, we jogged a couple blocks to the Sheraton, where only four people were in line for the restroom. By the time we handed off our warm-ups to our spectator boyfriends, we had about 10 minutes to the start. We walked to where we wanted to be in the start line, but unfortunately were on the wrong side of a fence separating the spectators from racers. We then realized we would have to walk through the crowds (spectators) about a block to make it to the end of the starting corral and then push our way back through an even bigger crowd (racers) to be in the 7-minute/mile starting zone. The fence was too high to jump over and too wobbly to climb over. I contemplated attempting to slide under the fence, but this would be a bit close and it would be awful to be stuck under the fence when the race started. Then I saw a man help a woman over the fence. Left with no other option, I asked this stranger if he could also give me a lift. So with the one guy on the inside grabbing me by the armpits and one on the outside boosting my legs, I safely made it to the start line with time to spare. Jessica made it over the fence in the same fashion. Thanks kind strangers ... I really owe you.

The start.

I started the race much faster than I should have at 6:40 min/mile. At mile 2, I realized that although Jessica insisted that she was going to slow down, she was obviously lying. So I let her take off in front of me. The rest of the race wasn't too exciting. Just put one foot in front of the other, repeat.

I finished the run in 1:31:04, which is a bit faster than I expected. However, this just makes me want to run another half because I know I can go more than a minute faster and break 1:30. Jessica finished 2 1/2 minutes ahead of me and won her age group. It's probably for the best that I didn't try to stick with her as she never did slow down much.

October 10, 2008


The tri team puts on a 5K race series as a fundraiser. After volunteering the last two weeks, I decided to join the fun and run the race yesterday evening.

Finally, after 10 years, I was able to PR in a 5K. A real PR. Not this post-high school stuff I was blabbing about. It was only a 2 second PR, but who cares.

Nine days until the Denver Half Marathon. And since this is my first (standalone) half marathon, I am pretty much guaranteed a PR there too.

October 05, 2008

Bloody Christ! It's Fall!

This weekend I went back down to the Sangre de Cristo (Blood of Christ) Mountains to hike yet another 14er. I knew the weather would be questionable, so I carried enough clothes and gear to be prepared for anything.

I decided to do a quick trip on Friday evening, leaving Boulder after dinner and arriving at the trailhead at 12:30 Saturday morning. I slept for a few hours before starting the approach. I felt quite out of shape after taking it easy for a few weeks to let my foot heal. After an hour of walking, I felt like I should have been at the top, when in actuality, I had just reached a point where I could see the mountain for the first time.

First glimpse of Mt. Lindsey

The top 1,500 feet or so were a bit snowy, with verglass beginning to form on many of the rocks. I avoided this by taking Mt. Lindsey's Southwest Ridge route (the normal trail stays well below the ridge where the snow tends to accumulate), only to encounter another of the mountain's defenses, 40 mph wind. One stretch of about 100 vertical feet was quite steep and exposed. I was really enjoying myself on this bit when a stronger-than-average wind gust slammed into me. I remember thinking "Whoa!" and then taking a second to remind myself that I was somewhere that falling really wasn't an option, and I needed to be careful. I embraced the wind and took my time through the rest of the steep section, only to finish and wish that more of the climb to the top was like that last stretch.

Final steps to the summit

After the fun stretch, it was a windy scramble-stumble to the top (I'm sure I would have appeared drunk had anyone been there to see me). I spent about a minute or two on the cold, windy, and generally inhospitable summit. The clouds came and went quickly in the high winds, providing an occasional view down into the surrounding valleys. It was now that I realized it was fall and that there were bright yellow aspens all over. On the way up I had passed through the entire aspen zone in the dark. Not so on the way down.

October 03, 2008

Tri Babes

Like many people (particularly women, sorry for the stereotype), I like to buy things on sale. I can't pass up a good deal, even if it is something that I don't actually need and sometimes don't even really want. This usually happens for things like clothing and outdoor gear, but is not limited to material items. Current example: triathlon. How could I pass up the opportunity to enter a race for 77% off the normal registration fee? Forget that I wasn't planning to do a tri this fall. And that I stopped swimming and biking so I could focus on half marathon training. And that the normal triathlon prices are so astronomically expensive, that this really isn't an amazing deal. These details are not important, what is important is that I was getting a good deal.

So, that's how I found myself at the starting line for the Tri Babes race weekend before last. This was an all-women sprint distance race (750 m swim, 12 mi bike, 5 k run). This was my first all women's race and I didn't notice too many differences from a normal triathlon, but I was pretty happy to not have men molesting me on the swim and sprinting by me in the bike and run.

I should go back and explain the real reason I was at this race. After swearing I would not do so (because hanging out with undergrads makes me feel old), I finally caved in and joined the CU tri team. I decided that this winter should be devoted to staying in shape, rather than drinking beer and eating junk food and pretending that skiing will keep me fit (which it might if I did it more than once a week). It was through the team and by volunteering at a race a few weeks ago that I got such a good deal on this entry fee. Ten women from the team competed in the race, many of them new to the sport.

The race went fairly well. The swim was uneventful, but the bike was not. Early on, I took a wrong turn when I followed the person in front of me. It is rather amazing that I succeeded in getting lost on this course because it was incredibly well-marked and there were volunteers at every intersection. There were even two volunteers at the intersection where I made the wrong turn ... they just neglected to say anything. After I realized my error, I re-traced my path and probably only lost about a minute.

Then I had an energy gel catastrophe ... again. I was squeezing the gel into my mouth when I felt a chunk. Josh and I have both had chunky Clif Shots recently. We don't know if this is because they are old or if they went through a freeze-thaw. When we return from a trip, all unused gels get thrown back into the drawer, so it is impossible for us to track the history of each gel. If anyone knows the cause of our chunky-gritty gel problem, please enlighten us, as these are really unappetizing. But this is off topic, because it was not the gel that was chunky, but the fact that I had a dime sized piece of wrapper in my mouth. I am pretty sure this wrapper chunk came from inside the packet because I inspected the packet afterward and determined it was not a piece that was torn off while opening. Because gel is nearly impossible to spit-out and I didn't want to risk swallowing this piece of plastic/foil, I was left to stick my finger in my gooey mouth to remove the offending wrapper piece. This led to stickiness all over my fingers, then handlebars, face, shorts. However, I have not found any gel on my helmet ... yet.

But I guess my issues on the bike did not hinder my run, as I ran an 18:06 5K, besting my PR by 2 minutes ... just kidding. Obviously the course was much shorter than a 5K. Which I am kinda bummed about because I have been feeling pretty fit, light, and fast lately. I thought I might have a chance to break my post-high school 5K PR (because the HS PR is still too fast to even contemplate breaking), but I guess that will have to wait for another day.

I ended up in 3rd place overall (out of 222) and 1st in my age group (out of 38). The CU team had a pretty good showing with 2nd and 5th place overall finishes as well. Even more important, the girls new to the sport seemed to have a good time and may be headed toward full triathlon addictions, which are easy to get and impossible to break especially with reduced entry fees as temptations.

No pictures this time. I carpooled to Longmont for this race and left Josh at home. I figure I drug him to enough races this year, although I think he may have been a little more excited for this one as a result of the multitude of fit looking women and the absence of men in spandex.