Monday, May 25, 2009

May Days

May is surely the Northern Hemisphere's most perfect month. To begin with, it's a month that starts with Wildflower, one of the Northern Hemisphere's most perfect races. Then, it proceeds to produce cherry, apple, and lilac blossoms, which make even the most dog poop covered streets of Florence smell delicious. It's a month with long days, but without sweltering heat. Around Spokane, it's the most warmth and green that can be experienced simultaneously, and for type A triathletes at the peak of IM Coeur d'Alene preparation, May is when we get to be complete training gluttons. Ahh.

I don't have a lot of photographic evidence of being at Wildflower this year, so I've decided to include some pictures from past years. My sincerest apologies to those involved. This is Conrad making the most of snow peas in 2007.

Our "family portrait" from the same year.

Dan rocking the Speedo. The real reason I love this photo is the guy about to pee his pants laughing in the background.

Rachael being scary. Funny scary.

This year was a lot more mellow. Still, Eve and I had to test out our super cool looking aero helmets and intimidation faces before the race. I think that Eve made it as far as befuddled but not quite all the way to to intimidation. It's rough being so nice.

This is Annie setting up camp the day before the race - proof that we actually did so. We may have wimped out a little when it started to rain, and that may have resulted in our crashing Eve and Laura's hotel room, but we did camp the next night. We had to prove that we were still a little hard core. I mention is just in case you didn't get the "hard core" vibe from the aero helmet shot.
The race itself was great for me for 67.3 miles. My swim was nothing special, but nothing horrendous either, and I've learned to celebrate that. I was a little disappointed to swim alone (AGAIN!), because my last few races I've actually managed to swim with a pack and thought I had finally outgrown the solo swim. Oi vey.
The bike felt fantastic. Climbing Beach Hill was a breeze, and I was surprised by how many women I passed in the first few miles of the bike. Last year I only caught 2 people total on the bike, and that included one woman who I passed coming down Lynch hill in the final mile. I didn't have any HR data, and I'm still not on the power train, so I was going on perceived effort, and it felt pretty easy. When I got to the top of Heart Rate Hill, some people told me that I was 3 minutes off of the leader, which was exciting to hear. By that point I had deduced who the 3 women were ahead of me and I expected that they all would have swum more than 3 minutes faster than I. I admite that got a little excited at the prospect of having the fastest bike split.
Into T2, and all was going well. We northerners were lucky that it wasn't too hot, and I felt pretty good starting out the run. I am ashamed to say that I wasn't expecting to hold 4th place for long. I knew all of the girls that I had passed on the bike, and I had a pretty good idea of how fast they could run. I decided to start conservatively and save myself for the tough bit at the end. That was the plan anyway. By mile 9, no one had passed me and I was feeling great. I actually started to believe that 4th place was mine and that I might actually catch Erica (because everyone kept telling me that she was just ahead). The fueling was going well, there was enough wind to stay cool, and I was shocked at how much better I felt racing than I did in 2008. At mile 10 I experienced the 2nd most instantaneous bonk of my life.
Side note: The most instantaneous bonk of my like occurred at the 7.5 km marker in the ITU age group world champs in Honolulu. That bonk earned me an ambulance ride to Queens hospital and 6 liters of IV fluid. All for bargain price of $8000. It turns out that my health insurance didn't cover "injuries incurred during participation in amateur sporting events." The moral of that story, folks, is to always read the fine print. And don't forget to hydrate.
Anyway. The last 3 miles of the run were pretty ugly. Heather Wurtele and Tyler Stewart passed me at about 11.5 miles and they ended up putting 3 and 5 minutes on me respectively. It was that ugly. But I kept my feet moving in a cadence that resembled running, I enjoyed the day, and I learned a lot. I keep coming back to Wildflower not because it's a race that plays to my strengths (quite the opposite, in fact), but because it absolutely rocks. The vibe, the course, the road trip (17.5 hours each way, baby), and the organization make it a must do event for anyone involved in triathlon. Every time I drove in and out of the park, I was awed by the fact that 10,000 triathletes can be managed so well.
A major perk this year was that Clancy and Charlie rented an RV with a hot shower and parked it right next to transition. Any shower is welcome after a race, but this one definitely beat standing in line to take a tepid shower at the campsites.
This is road trip buddy Laura waiting in line for her turn to shower. The smile is well deserved after finishing her first ever 1/2 ironman.

In other Spokanite news, Eve had a little run-in with the pavement during the bike leg. She waited at an aid station for 30 minutes for medical assistance to arrive and finally decided to just finish the darned thing. She might not have looked terribly hard core in the helmet, but the road rash certainly gives her transition cred. The elbow actually ended up with stitches.

And now I'm just training diligently for Ironman Coeur d'Alene and enjoying most every second. Time for some pictures of May.
The photo below is a juvenile Boreal toad (Bufo boreas boreas) that I found at my dad's house this morning. Most of my friends know that I love frogs and salamanders, but I absolutely adore boreal toads. I haven't seen one since I worked in Yellowstone, and it was such a treat. Spring rocks.

I actually had to get Aaron out of bed to show him Toady. I know I scored a good guy because he was excited too. That or he has learned enough to feign excitement.

These subsequent photos were taken on a day when my front derailleur wasn't cooperating. I had to get off of my bike to fix it every time I shifted, so I figured I might as well snap some photos.

Admiring Latah Creek . . .

Look a little closer . . .

And closer yet . . .
Deer aren't exactly exotic exotic, but a fuzzy antlered young buck standing in a stream is photo worthy.

When I ignore the tractors spraying stinky pesticides all over the Palouse, I can appreciate its pastoral beauty.

Just a random derailleur stop
One of the more delicious feral apple trees, come September. No, I won't tell where it is. I plan to fully exploit it for sauce and cobbler.

Grow little apples, grow!

Remember this picture from February?
Here it is in May. And this?
Viola! 3 months later . . .

I've always loved the last mile on my way home under the Sunset bridge. I especially love it when there is a train (not pictured).

Finally home, spying our little yellow house through the foliage. Vegetation makes everything prettier. Except, perhaps, for Antarctica.

I hope you've all enjoyed the your days of May as much as I have. Thanks for reading.


Spokane Al said...

May truly is the best when everything, once again, comes alive!

Congratulations on Wildflower - and on your frog find.

Spokane Al said...

P.S. Sorry, I meant toad - I did not mean to offend anyone in either the frog or the toad family.

Roger Thompson said...


Awesome race. I was so excited for your bike split, but your overall peformance...well...minus the bonk that came during the race, was amazing as well. Bonks are best saved for mile 13.1 on the 1/2 IM run though. Though frustrating to have happen when you are doing so well, I have appreciated experiencing the feeling in a race so that I know what's going on. In some cases you can fix it, in others, you simply roll down Lynch Hill.

Bottom line is that you had a great race. Obviously all your training on the bike in the great Spokane weather has paid off. I am excited for your IM Cda race. I know you are going to have a great day.

Thanks for all the "now and then" pics. Makes me appreciate the weather we have now and not complain that it's "too hot."

Congrats on a great day. I am excited for you and your season this year. I will be cheering you on at IM Cda. But I will probably be in the shade.


jessithompson said...

Congrats on a great race, Haley. Loved all the pics! said...

Great pictures, Coops!

Matt said...

Great race at WF! Your gonna rock, IMCdA

Laura and company said...

Thanks for letting me tag along with the big kids down to Wildflower. I learned some good stuff. I'd like to remind people that it's not wimping out to stay in a hotel the night before a race. Especially when your other option is to camp in the (monsoon) rain, and especially-er when there could be a paycheck waiting at the finish line. Not that I would know about that second part, of course, but I'm too old for camping in the rain no matter what the circumstances. Nicely done, girls.

Charisa said...

I LOVE where you live!!! You did great at WF - at least no expensive hospital trip this time!! No CDA for me this year, figured I'll save some $ and just do the big dance :) I'll be cheering for you all day in front of my computer though!!

Katya said...

Thanks for the update; i'll be cheering for 'ya during cda! (full disclosure-i'll actually be sitting on a loong plane flight to france that day, so will have no clue what's going on till many hours post race, but will be cheering for ya nonetheless; )

BreeWee said...

Congrats on your incredible IM race (I was hoping you updated your blog about the experience). Anyways, GREAT!! Will you be in Victoria for camp??? I hope so...

All the best to you!