Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Sneak Peak at the Tour de Kitsap 2010 route(s)

My original plan was to participate in the Munchen Haus bike ride over in Leavenworth, however circumstances were such that I was home in Kitsap County on the morning of the ride.  Despite being home, I was still mentally prepared to do a century ride that day, and so decided to check out the Tour de Kitsap route, which is coming up July 25th. I've ridden most of the sections before, except for the loop out to Scenic Beach and around Kitsap Lake. It's a gorgeous, hilly ride in every direction.

I started out from home and hopped on the route in reverse at the junction of Totten and Widme roads out near Suquamish. From there I had mostly cloudy skies through Suquamish, Indianola, and Kingston. As I approached Port Gamble, though, the skies cleared to mostly blue and I took the opportunity to sit and have an apple, a blueberry muffin and a Red Bull while watching the bustle of people at the farmers market.

"What a great day for a bike ride," one lady exclaimed to me, as I sat. I smiled and replied, "we'll see what it looks like by the time I'm done." I was 26 miles into my ride and had many more miles, and hours of riding left before reaching my brother-in-law's house in Tracyton, where I would meet my family for dinner and catch a ride home.

From Port Gamble, I headed along the highway past the Hood Canal Bridge and turned off toward Memorial State Park, riding through Lofall and the surrounding communities, heading towards Finn Hill in Poulsbo and then on to Clear Creek road, which leads all the way into Silverdale. From there, the route jumps over to Old Frontier, which led me to Newberry Hill and out to Seabeck Highway.

It was on Old Frontier that the torrential downpour began. I kept hoping it would abate, as I was determined to make it out to the Seabeck Highway loop, as well as Kitsap Lake....the portions of Kitsap I had yet to explore on bike.

Newberry Hill is actually at the very start of the Tour de Kitsap ride, which begins in Silverdale, and is a very long hill, with a roller in the middle. I put it in an easy gear and kept a steady pace and didn't have much of a struggle with it at all. At the junction with Seabeck Highway the course goes right  and I enjoyed the looooooong downhill that loops around toward Scenic Beach State Park. In fact, it was such a long hill that pedaling was a waste and as it was raining buckets on me the whole way down, I got quite cold and stiff  and looked forward to pedalling again by the end of it.

Along the canal I stopped at a little store near Lone Rock that was closed, but had a covered patio with a picnic table, to get out of the rain and respond to the ringing of my cell phone. It was my husband, offering to come rescue me from the downpour. I declined. I could see a large patch of blue sky heading my way over the canal and had a good feeling. I would be riding in the sun again soon, I just knew it.

Or maybe not. The rain continued and I began to get quite hungry. Shorty after turning off onto Holly Road I came upon a Texaco/Food Mart with a sheltered store front. Inside, the clerk eyed me with much concern and encouraged me to stand by the food warmer. I laughed and ordered a burrito. Yum, chomp, and I was on my way again.

I decided to skip the Kitsap Lake portion of the ride and turned left onto Seabeck Highway from Holly Road, heading back to Newberry Hill-where the sun did come back out to greet me! Despite the reemergence of the sun, my hands were wet and cold and I was having difficulty shifting from my small chain ring in front to the big ring, so I spent the last several miles spinning at a slightly higher cadence than I would have normally chosen. Such is the dangers of riding in the wind and rain, but it was all worth the effort.

Newberry Hill led me down to Old Town Silverdale, where I turned and headed along the bay, up Bucklin Hill to Tracyton Road, arriving finally at my brother-in-law's place and the promise of dinner and a hot shower. My husband was kind enough to bring me some dry clothes to change into.

What a gorgeous ride, even in the rain.
72.6 miles, 5 hours 12 minutes of cycling

Tour de Kitsap  - July 25, 2010 offers 32, 46.8, 71, and 100 mile routes with aid stations and support. It is part of Silverdale's annual Whaling Days Festival.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Me vs. The Water

Pool Time
I refuse to be conquered by the water. I will swim confidently. Damn it. That was my mentality when I arrived at the pool the day after my lake fiasco last week. I was thinking about the pool the way a fighter might consider his or her opponent in the ring. I was mentally shaking my fist at the lap lanes as I walked out of the locker room. That's it, I'm doing this. No more warm ups, Total Immersion drills, counting strokes, taking yoga breaths at the wall......nope, just get in and swim, and don't stop. Okay, stop eventually, but not before 45 minutes was up at least. Guess what? It happened.

Okay, I confess, I cheated a bit. I used a pull buoy for the whole swim. (Which is just more proof of how intimidated I am by swimming.) My kick is such that it is hindering me more than helping me anyway, so I used arms only for 30 straight minutes, at which point cramps I had been fighting in my toes, feet and finally calves got the best of me and I decided it was time to get out. I was thrilled though, that I didn't feel tired or out of breath the entire swim, so I dubbed it a success and made a mental note to arrive at the pool hydrated next time.

Lake Time
Fast forward to the following Tuesday, back a the lake. I didn't want to use that same old shorty wetsuit  that I had been so miserable in last week, and I didn't have time on short notice to pick up a rental. But I really needed to get back in the lake, so, in an apparent attempt to sabotage myself, I decided to us my husband's old surfing wetsuit (he's six foot two, I"m five five and a half). If nothing else I provided everybody with some comic relief.

This time I stayed closer to shore and did loops around the pilings. I didn't feel too streamlined, but I did feel buoyant, which boosted my confidence. Still, it was COLD and I was ready to get out after about 650 yards. 

Pool Time
Wednesday morning I went back to the pool and resolved myself to swim 1500 straight with no pull buoy and no rest breaks. I did a short warm-up then started off, counting wall tags to make sure I swam the whole distance. Lo and behold, I DID IT! I got into a good rhythm with my breathing and just kept going, taking one short break to swish my goggles in the water since they were fogging up. On my last wall tag I looked at my watch: 37 minutes! That's a respectable time, I thought, a capable time. I even had the energy to speed up for the last 100 yards. I got out of the pool thinking: bring on the half iron man!

Now, to see if I could feel this good in the cold, open water of the lake in May.

Lake Time
Thursday morning, back at the lake. I had a new wetsuit this time. A full suit, but sleeveless and it fit me. Perhaps my subconscious is trying to tell me something though, because just as I arrived at the lake I realized I had forgotten my cap and goggles! Crap. Elisa saved the day by producing some kid goggles out of her son's swim bag. The cap I could do without.

I felt better this time and I liked the sleeveless wetsuit. My arms had easy, full range of motion. Still, it was cold. Brr. The wind and a few raindrops were present, and also a few rays of sun. I managed about 700 yards of good freestyle and headed in to shore feeling more confident than the last time, but knowing that the more times I get in the lake before the Blue Lake Triathlon on June 6th, the better.

I'm heading back out tomorrow to tackle the lake yet again. Wetsuit, check. Goggles, check. Swim cap, check. Booties, check. Gloves, check. This time I'm going to try to stay warm and swim a full mile.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Rhody Run 12K - Port Townsend, WA

Sunday - May 16, 2010 - Michelle! Are you still up for Rhody Run??? 

I already knew the answer.  She wasn't the only one.  We were joined by eight other ladies that also ran the Viking Fest 5 miler over the weekend that headed north to Port Townsend, WA to run in the ever popular Rhody Run.  Okay - so I didn't actually run in the 5 miler, but I did cheer all my friends to the finish line.  I took one for the team - the family team and ran with my two oldest boys in the 1 mile 'fun run' instead - wouldn't trade that for anything!

The Rhody Run is a 12k (7.46 mile) run/walk that starts and finishes at Fort Worden State Park in the quaint town of Port Townsend which is located about 40 miles north of the Hood Canal Bridge on the Olympic Peninsula.  The race is held annually on the third Sunday of May in conjunction with the local Rhododendron Festival.  Over 2,400 individuals attended the event this year.  (I hear it's because of the shirts - but I think it's because of the beer.)

2,400 people.  That is a lot of people.  People parking, people picking up race packets, people in line for the bathroom, more people in line for the bathroom, people waiting for the starting gun, people walking and people running.  I wasn't really prepared for the number of people. 

There were five of us ladies riding together and after picking up our race packets we head straight to the looonnggg line at the restrooms and actually made it to the starting line about 5 minutes prior to the gun.  We found signs for pace approximation (which were completely obsolete) and were able to find a few more of the ladies we knew would be running.  Michelle headed toward the front of the pack to get her run on as best she could. 

The start of the race was slow.  There were a lot of people (did I mention that?) and they were all at varying speeds.  The ones that were troublesome were the walking variety.  Walkers are welcomed on this course and they start mixed right in with the runners.  It was a bit of an obstacle course getting around all the folks walking 3 and 4 abreast with strollers and backpacks - but after the first mile, the field was leveled out. 

The run takes you out of the park and onto surface streets through rural Port Townsend.  There are hills and flats and everything in between.  Neighbors are supportive with entertainment, extra water stations and the occasional sprinkler to provide a little added cooling.  The biggest surprise was the champagne station at mile 6.  As far as 12k courses, I have been told, this is one of the more demanding ones.  (Why of course!  The Oly Peninsula rocks!)
My favorite part?!  Passing Audrey and Debbie Jo on the downhill of mile 5.  At least the legs are able to go fast once in a while.  (I must mention here - my lead over the two I passed only lasted for a couple minutes - as soon as we were back on flat land my lungs caught up with the tree trunks and I was humbled back to where my ability has brought me).  My finish 1:10:56 (9:31 pace) which I'll take! 

Michelle finished in the top two of her age group at some lightening speed rate around 56:26.  Way to go!

I am still stumped - can anyone answer?  This is the Rhody Run...


(Photos courtesy of Naomi Nichols.  Thanks Gnome!)
Tara, Nom & Donna looking great before the race!
Katie and I with happy man in the background.
Race start
A quiet road in the woods.

The finish!
CHEERS!  It looks like a good time was had by all.
back l-r:  Debbie Jo, Andy, Michelle, Patty, Audrey, Nom, Tara, Katie
 front l-r:  Elisa, Donna

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Viking Fest 2010

Saturday, May 15, 2010 - Sunny skies greeted us the morning of the Viking Fest Road Race here in Poulsbo, WA. Our family has been participating in our respective home town fun runs for many years now and this year was no different. Our younger two children were all set to run the 1 mile, one with a buddy, the other on her own. Their grandma was waiting for them with the camera poised at the finish line down on Front Street. We saw many friends, neighbors, schoolmates and team-mates lining up along with us at the start lines.

Elisa was out on the 1 mile course with her two older boys, along with many other families, while my husband and I opted to run the 5 mile course. I have mentioned before that I have been rehabilitating from an injury for the past year, so this was a good test to see if my body could handle the intensity required of a road race. I've been mainly sticking to swimming pools, bike rides, dirt trails and low key social runs for quite some time now, happily I might add, but I did relish the idea of really gunning for a best effort in a foot race.

Warming up prior to the race start near Lion's Park I felt pretty springy and that seemed like a good sign. Unfortunately, I had to pee, but the port-o-potty lines were too long and the race start was too near, so I just had to wait until after the race - darn it! Oh, well, I didn't have to got that bad.

Once the horn sounded, we were off and fast. It is a downhill start and a mostly flat course along the beautiful shores of Liberty Bay, with a nice steep downhill before you round the bend and head straight down Front Street to the finish in front of the famed Sluy's Bakery (think Poulsbo Bread).

I tried to stay comfortable for the first couple miles, and soon found that I was passing people steadily. I looked for the ponytails, they were the ones I was competing with after all (although I did get tricked by a few long haired men!). According to a couple helpful gentleman that I passed, I was the 6th place woman, so "go get 'em!" they said. I tried. I did catch a couple gals, but then was caught myself by a young lady with a lot of gas left in her tank on the straightaway to the finish. I didn't have my usual kick, but felt very happy to see my time - 35:13 on the clock as I hit the finish line. I was feeling a bit queasy, but just the right amount to know I'd given it all I could without making a mess for the poor volunteers to clean up.

Later, Sam and Max (Elisa's boys) competed in the kids dashes and we cheered them on. I checked the results board and found that I had won my age division (Women 40-49), yahoo! What a great morning. We headed home for a quick lunch and then back down to town for the parade. Our oldest daughter was playing saxophone in the Poulsbo Middle School marching band. Go Panthers! I love being part of the annual local festivals and Viking Fest is an especially good one.

"Are you still up for the Rhody Run tomorrow?" Elisa asked me, as she headed home with her family after the race. "Yep."  See you in a.m.

Rainey tearing down the home stretch. 6:59

Shawn - he was disappointed in his time 34:09 (slow for him)

Michelle (me!) 35:13

Susan (my sister), Sloan, me, my Mom

Sam (left), smiles to the finish of the kids' dash

Max (orange shorts) sprints down Front Street while Elisa (orange shirt) cheers
Kids Dash

Mikhaela - Poulsbo Middle School Band

Friday, May 14, 2010

A couple reasons why I look forward to getting on my bike....

These photos are just a few of the sights from this week's cycling time.  I biked on Sunday for 20 miles from our cabin on the east side of the Cascade Mountain Range and again on Thursday for 26 miles near Wildcat Lake on the east side of the Olympic Mountain Range.  The sights, sounds & smells I experience on a ride are what keep me going back for more. 

Chiwawa River Road  near Fish Lake in Chelan County, WA

Seabeck Holly Road along the shores of the Hood Canal in Kitsap County, WA

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Reflections: Riding the North Olympic Discovery Trail

No kids
My husband and me; sunshine
Change into cycling gear in the backseat of the van on the Port Angeles pier
It's quiet
Swing a leg over the saddle; cleats snap
Pedal along calm straits and benches facing seaward in the grass, beckoning repose and reflection
Hard packed dirt and pebbles for a stretch, bumpy back to smooth

A litter of pine cones and twigs greets us; our wheels search smooth blacktop
Twists and turns; sharp descents to wooden bridges over brooks and rivers
The sun finds it's way to us through thick clouds
Snow capped peaks loom over big red barns, and gentle-eyed cows munch green blades of grass
We pedal on, smiling, breathing deep
Ladies walk poodles
Trail side, a cyclist's bike and pack are discarded in exchange for roller blades-his arms circle fast, warming up for a hard push along the straightaway near the airport
"Beautiful day, isn't it?" "Yes, it is."
Signs change to white with old-town brown fonts; we miss a turn; miss another

Twenty one miles and turn around
Was the wind at our backs before, or did it just pick up?
A pause to interact with cows and calves, our roadside spectators; they're interested in us, but a bit shy
Railroad Park, another pause - are we getting tired?
Nature calls, a handful of Peanut M&M's shake out of the bag, into the hand, up to the mouth: our fuel
Goofy pictures, laughter
Ride on

Twists and turns, in reverse
Kids jump on a backyard trampoline; jump off homemade dirt ramps on BMX bikes
Two cyclists are up ahead with matching Nike sacks on their backs
"On your left."
She moves right. "There's one more behind me."
She moves left, I brake and move right; she moves right. Her bike leans right as her foot comes to the ground.
Too late. Wheels collide. Hand, hip, shoulder, jaw and helmet hit blacktop.
Husband is off bike and jogging back.
She feels worse than I do. I'm okay, just can't get my shoe unclipped.
She does it for me, helps me up. "Sorry!"
"It's okay."
Pedal on. Stop. Right brake lever and shifter is mashed in, but it works.
Pedal on.

The wind challenges us.
Our thighs begin to burn. Water bottles are drained. M&M's eaten.
No more chatting; no more pictures.
5 miles to go, we know because there are mile markers informing us
A sharp left onto a looping stretch of dirt and pebbles
I stay to the edges, where it's grassy, for smoother riding
Round the bend comes a dog, galloping at top speed, tongue lolling out to the side
A leash pulled tight; a hand
A young man in a crouch-flying on roller blades, his dog pulling him along like the Grinch's poor beast!
He comes out of his crouch as he sees me in his path; I swerve right just in time

Pounding heart, queasy, adrenaline shocked stomach
Breath deeply, turn the crank
Round the unpaved, rocky loop, back to paved shoreline
42 miles
Feeling goofy as we roll onto the pier in P.A.
We take some pictures, load the bikes, surreptitiously change in the van again
A gang of foul mouthed adolescents are parked at the adjacent playground
"Let's get out of here, where should we eat?"
Hungry, can't think straight.

Heading out to Sequim he grabs a lone banana from behind his seat and doesn't offer to share.
"Hey, can I have some of that?"
He rips off the end that he's just bitten and hands it to me with a wild look in his eyes. I gobble it down.
"Okay, let's turn around and go back to that Thai place by the pier", I say.
We do. Cold drafts and spicy noodles fill our bellies. "God, this is so good."
Big belly laughs.
"We don't usually fight over a banana before dinner."
DQ chocolate dipped cones for the car ride home

Kids are in bed.
"Thanks, Mom."
"Okay, I love you honey, bye."
Grandmas just don't know how much richer our lives are because of them.
Ride on.

Airport section

Whimsical, charming...

Spectators by the wayside

Railroad Bridge

Where's the Thai food?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Treading Water

Right. It is a good thing that I signed up for the Blue Lake Tri before swimming in the lake yesterday with the so-called troops. Or is it? I've swam in Wildcat Lake many times in my life and have never worn a wetsuit. Last September at the Tri Turtle Tri, which is held at this very same lake, I felt perfectly fine swimming 800 yards in my two piece swim suit. No problem.  Yesterday, I dug out my old shorty wetsuit, which is a bit too small, and arrived back at the beach after our 1/2 mile swim completely frozen. The water is cold in May. (!)

Mentally I was not in the game either, I was seriously wondering why I signed up for a triathlon of any distance, I don't even like swimming! My wetsuit felt like it was choking me and the range of motion for my arms felt restricted. Plus, the troops were moving out and I was falling behind-flailing. I felt stressed out the whole way across the lake and back, and was happy to see Audrey-one of the troops-come swimming back out to give me moral support for the final 200. I didn't really feel like I was even moving forward at that point, just treading water.

Back on the shore I had to make a real effort to keep my teeth from clacking together; it took me an hour to stop shivering.  This was just a no-good, rotten swim workout for me and the competitor in me needed to do something to get myself back on track, so after I (finally!) warmed up, I made a bee-line for Poulsbo Running to try on full performance wetsuits. They have several choices and offer weekend rentals for $35 . Just trying one on gave me a bit of a boost. The mental edge is not to be trifled with.

It's funny, but it seems to be true that my workouts always seem to mimic how my life is going.  Maybe if I can get rid of that pile of laundry, get my sick kids healthy, and check a few other things off my list, I will have a better swim. Will I be ready in three weeks to swim 1500 meters? My confidence is shaken but I am still resolved to go for it. We'll see. I know the troops will be cheering me on. I may not love swimming, but I do love a challenge.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Transitions, and not T1 or T2.  I mean training transitions.  The time post major race event that moves ones' focus to the next major race.  That's where I am or I should say, was most recently. 

I finished the Wenatchee 1/2 Marathon in mid-April and now three weeks later have FINALLY got my head to switch gears onto my next major event - the Blue Lake Olympic Triathlon - in less than four weeks.  A one mile swim, followed by a 26-mile bike with a 10k tacked on the end for a cool-down.

Thankfully, Michelle and I have been maintaining a bike routine (mostly) weekly so I am comfortable that the bike leg will go okay.  I've been making it to the pool weekly with my goal being twice a week but swimming in a pool says NOTHING when preparing for a race that swims ONE MILE in a cold deep lake.  It dawned on me just two days ago that I NEED TO GET INTO THE LAKE! 

Wait!  It's MAY.  In Washington.  The lakes are cold in August in Washington.  Hmmmm?!  Why did think that an oly tri was a good idea in June?  Oh, because that's when it fits into that master schedule I planned out in January.  Time to round up the troops. 

The troops showed up.  We jumped into the lake this morning and swam our first 1/2 mile of the season in open water.... hallelujah!  Yeah, it was cold - but once you get going the coldness wears off and a smile appears because that first plunge is over and now the routine will no longer include a dip in the pool - it'll be off to the lake! 

Olympic Distance was still the right choice!  Right Michelle?!  Good thing we signed up before the swim this morning.

Maybe I should start running again.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Roots Rock

Forest 5k - Port Gamble, WA.
Roots Rock Trail Running Series
  • Two Adidas knit hats
  • A stylish ball cap
  • Two sweat/headbands
  • 1 pair Smartwool knit liner gloves
  • 1 Amphipod Micropack
  • 3 short sleeve Roots Rock technical shirts
  • 2 blue & 1 red age group ribbons

Yes, Poulsbo Running knows how to host an event and those in the know hang around for the awards, 'cause there's always lots of goodies coming out of Brooke and Chris Hammett's magic cardboard box. So, before you scoff at my hard won podium prize, ask yourself the following: "Where the hell was I this morning and why doesn't my car smell as good as Michelle's?" Hmm? Yes, well, there is always the Timber Town 10k in July. I am planning to kick your booty if show up, just so ya know. It is a race afterall, and running like a wild woman through the woods can be very therapeutic...but I'm preaching to the choir here.

Shawn & Sloan (right side) - A last minute registration. 

This last week has been a hard one for our family, as we said goodbye to a dear loved one who recently passed away. We had penciled the Roots Rock Trail Running Series races onto our calendar and after a long, sad week, a local 5k sounded like a good thing to do.  Shortly after tucking in for the night I heard my cell phone jingle. Who could that be this late at night? My phone happened to be on my bedside table so I flipped it open and read the text message from Elisa. "You are running a 5k tomorrow" it said. Is she freaking psychic? No, apparently she remembered that I had wanted to bid on the race series donation that she had procured for our kids' elementary school auction, which is where she was texting me from, so she bid on it for me and won. Sweet deal.

Sunday A.M. - After chugging our usual morning cup of coffee and hastily throwing on our running gear, my husband, Shawn, and I jumped in the car and headed down the hill toward Port Gamble. Just after exiting our neighborhood, my husband's cell phone rang. "Uh, oh, that's probably Sloan," said my husband. Our nine year old son wanted to run the race, but was still sleeping when we snuck out the door. We hung a u-turn and headed back to get him. I looked at my watch, yep, we would still make it to the race on time, barely. (We did, and...relief!....I even had time for a quick trip to the restroom.)

Banjo music livened up the pre-race routine.

22:35  Finished. I haven't run a 5k in quite some time and didn't get a chance to warm-up. The first mile was a bit of a shock to the system, but then I settled into a pretty good rhythm. The course was muddy and started in town, heading out through some rolling, grassy meadows, then looped back into the root strewn singletrack trails of the woods, which soon delivered us to an old logging road. The road took us out further into the Port Gamble trail system and then back to the finish. I've run on this section of the Port Gamble Trails before and I always have the uncanny feeling that I'm running uphill in both directions. It's great fun. I highly recommend it. Click on the link above for a map of the trails, just be aware that new trails have and are being made, so there are more single tracks out there than you will see on the map.

Sloan rockets to the finish. (30:21) He ran the whole course on his own.

Shawn, Sloan, Michelle (me). Shawn placed second in his age group (20:42), plus he also scored a knit hat during the raffle. It's amazing how happy winning a raffle prize can make you. We all felt thrilled to have our numbers called out. Bingo, bingo, bingo. Yeah. It really is the small things that make life good.


Sloan races back after receiving his Boys 10 & under blue ribbon, plus a cool Adidas XC knit hat from race directors Brooke and Chris Hammett, owner's of Poulsbo Running.

Say cheese. Top 3 ladies 40 and over. We still got it. :)