Monthly Archives: August 2013

Travelling Far To Find My Home

Let it be known. I have a freakish addiction to blue crabs.

Let it be known. I have a freakish addiction to blue crabs.

I once thought that doing an Ironman was hard. Having now survived flying with four kids ages 8, 6, 3, and 10 months, I again have redefined the word “endurance.” This time, the epic event that spurred the change wasn’t another triathlon, but an innocent sounding nine day “vacation” on the east coast. In true triathlete fashion, I somehow turned my time off work into a blitzkrieg up and down the eastern seaboard. Let’s recap the highlights in typical race report style.

Leg 1:

Our flight out from Montana was a moderate victory. Despite having to hold a semi- screaming infant for four hours, the puke and blow out diaper count remained zero. I count that as a win. Of course, this early success was hampered by the 40 dollar a night Red Roof Inn following the flight. Let me keep it simple. ANTS.

Yup. ANTS, found right under our baby car seat.

Yup. ANTS, found right under our baby car seat.

After some creative extermination efforts by my wife and I, we were ready for a special needs bag filled with beer. Fortunately, this home brewer had already researched every brewery on our travel route. The quaint Selin’s Grove Brewery in central PA did an excellent job of washing away our insect anxiety.

A great spread at Selin's Grove Brewery.

A great spread at Selin’s Grove Brewery.

After that, it was time for the first auto long haul as we made our way to the family farm in PA. There, we got to enjoy plenty of farm cooking, campfires, homemade wines and local beers, and of course, shooting.



Moreover, the rolling PA hills provided ample opportunities for hill training. Of course, while standing in an open field without a single tree in sight, my Garmin GPS didn’t connect, and I have nothing but time data. Must be that Pennsylvania GPS abyss right?

Leg 2:

After just a few days, it was back on the road for what was supposed to be a relaxing drive to Richmond, Virginia. It was during this drive, specifically while being stuck in traffic outside of DC, that I remembered why I moved to Montana. I may miss Virginia, but I will never miss that traffic. What was supposed to be a six hour drive became a nine hour ordeal peppered with puking car sick kids.

After shouting obscenities that are likely illegal in several states, we made it to Richmond and we had a great time visiting family and friends. Of course, this involved more home brew. Fortunately, I had the chance to stop by home and visit with my parents. It was the first time for two of my kids and it was great to share some memories with them. Even better was doing my long run along the roads I grew up riding my bike on.

My old stomping grounds. Wasn't so lonely on the road as a runner this time.

My old stomping grounds. Wasn’t so lonely on the road as a runner this time. 5K is missing due to more GPS difficulties.

Leg 3:

After having already put in roughly 21 hours of driving, it was time for some serious time outside of a car. So it was off to the family beach destination along the North Carolina coast. Of course, this involved another four hour drive, but this seemed like chump change compared to what I now call the “DC Scandal.” I love the mountains in Montana, but I do seriously miss the beaches of North Carolina. The sand of Whitefish Lake just doesn’t fill my need.

Still my favorite place.

Still my favorite place.

Our time at the beach was some of the first days I’ve had in the past year when I wasn’t travelling for some other reason, like work or a race, and it was great to just finally kick back and have fun with the kids.

I also can't get enough of aquariums.

I also can’t get enough of aquariums.

And running along the beach, even with the god awful humidity, was just heaven.

I was particularly fond of beach finishes.

I am particularly fond of beach finishes.

The Final Leg:

Tired. Grumpy about vacation ending. Sick of crowded spaces. Bloated from crappy fast-food. That was the great state of mind my family was in right before we began the six hours of flying back from NC to Montana. This leg of my vacation made the marathon portion of an Ironman feel like an afternoon nap. First flight, I came to realize that when my infant gets tired, he prefers to scream and kick rather than fall asleep. Wonderful. Also, our flight was delayed. So we arrived in Atlanta 15 minutes before our connection was scheduled to LEAVE…with exactly zero diapers. Thanks to some excellent running by my family, some well placed stores, and a good Samaritan, we made it to our flight. Yep, we were that last baby carrying family coming on board that makes you sweat about that empty seat next to you.

Despite carrying a mini Toys R Us in our bags, our baby refused to be consoled for the first two hours of the four hour flight. After walking a 5k around the rear bathrooms with him, he finally settled into a deep slumber that lasted all the way back to Montana. Not to be outdone, my kid had to finish the trip with a blast by peeing out the side of his diaper and into my lap as we waited to deplane. EXCELLENT.

After getting off the plane tired, sore, sick from repeated small handfuls of pretzels, and with my crotch smelling like urine, I wouldn’t have been surprised to hear Mike Reilly announcing “YOU ARE AN IRONDAD!”


I feel that a sign of a good vacation is one that ends with you longing to be home and at work. I am thrilled to be sitting in my house, even though it is surrounded by foot tall grass. And I can’t wait for the coffee filled aroma of my desk tomorrow. Yet, my vacation wasn’t only a success due to the much needed time away from the daily grind it provided. More importantly, it gave me a refreshing perspective on my life. Sometimes, us triathletes can get caught up on searching for races or events in an effort to fill a sense of accomplishment in our life. After having worked my hardest to help my kids have a great vacation, I realize more than ever that all the sense of achievement and challenge I need can be found in the smiles of my family.

That being said, I’m not stopping racing. Despite the toils of travel, I still got my long run in this morning. Started at 5:30 am, under a half moon and a star filled sky. Negative split. It’s good to be back.

Tough start but loosened up.

Tough start but loosened up.

What’s That Noise: The Mike Spence Triathlon Race Report

Okay,here is my very brief race report….over one week late! I know, I have been slacking lately.

As I am watching my 9 month old slowly inch his way towards me, I am going to keep this brief. Honestly, I mean it this time!


Previously, this race was called the Summit Solstice Triathlon. Why? You guessed it: because it was about a month earlier and put on by the Summit Medical Fitness Center. The date was changed as we were tired of the semi frigid swim that goes with June in Montana. The name was changed for less ideal reasons. The new name put in place in order to honor a colleague of mine, Dr. Mike Spence, who passed away from cancer last year. Not only was Dr. Spence a dedicated physician, he was a passionate supporter of endurance sports, exemplified by his nearly annual volunteering in the medical tent of the Kona Ironman during the last 20 years. It was only fitting for his memory to be honored with this local race.


Okay, but to cutting to the chase. Nothing new….oh except for the set of Zipp 808s and Zipp Disc. FUN.



Pseudo big meal the night before. Just some Nutella on toast with coffee the morning of. Best of all, it took me all of ten minutes to drive to the race, so for once, I didn’t warm up by sprinting to the bathroom from my car after my bladder filled from a combination of HEED and coffee over a two hour drive.



Quick ride for warm up. Cannonball into the water, which was awesome warm. Lined up just behind the fast guys, and it was show time.

Swim: ½ mile, 14:57.

Off we go and I focus on three things: Long reach (thanks Karen!), sighting, and drafting. I am pretty good at sucking in the swim, so these days I figure I might as well do what I am good and suck off someone’s else’s slipstream. I am more prone to veering with my longer reach, so I sighted every six strokes.

Our beautiful swim venue.

Our beautiful swim venue.

Pretty much, it went like clock work. Last year, I was roughly 16:10, and per my colleagues, this year’s course was measured about right. So coming in at 14:57 was a good start to the day.

T1: 1:03

Only things that matters: I didn’t fall in front of Krista on exiting the water. Everything smooth here except I didn’t turn on my action camera. And I even had the perfect cheesy music to set the video to.

Bike: 12.4, 36:19

This is the second time I have done the “bike cleats in the pedals” start and it didn’t work out so well. As I tried to put my left foot in, the strap came out of the loop. It took a good 15 seconds to rethread that and then I was finally on my way.

Pretty much my whole goal for this race has been to crush the bike as much as possible. Last year I was 36:10 and I had been beating this during training. So, with the new wheels, I was eagerly anticipating a PR. Winds were down from before the start, and as expected, heading out was like riding a rocket. First five miles average speed was 28.0!!

On the way out, the only goal I had was not to crash. Accomplished. Coming back, it was uphill and I just worked on pushing it. I don’t know if the disc really helped. What I do know is that it sounded AWESOME. I may have not been the fastest, but I was certainly the loudest. It was like this…

Coming at 34:19 was a dream ride for me. With that plus the PR swim, I knew I had earned my beer(s) no matter what.

Screen Shot 2013-08-04 at 5.05.55 PM

Screen Shot 2013-08-04 at 5.06.49 PM

T2: 42.73

Slipped in and out faster than a whistleblower in a Moscow airport.

Run: 3.1, 23:00

With my frequent easy runs and the dropping back on the intervals, my legs were in no state for pushing the red line and I knew it. I settled into a comfortably uneasy pace and hoped too many people wouldn’t pass me. I made my way up the short hill in much better fashion than last year. Despite my gains on the bike, it wasn’t enough with my run, and I lost two spaces overall. I was about 50 seconds slower than last year, but it was a good pace run. At least I crossed the line standing and not on my knees this time.

Screen Shot 2013-08-04 at 5.09.02 PM

Screen Shot 2013-08-04 at 5.09.37 PM

Overall 1:14:03, 7th male, 3rd place age group, and most importantly, 2:04 PR.

I would describe the race overall as “solid.” Good controlled swim. Steady controlled effort on the bike. Steady run. I comment on this because in the past, my triathlons have basically been moments of hell. I’m not sure if replacing the “solid and steady” race with the surging “oh my God I am going to vomit and crap my pants” race is a good thing, but I will take it, especially as I head back into the territory of the half ironman.

In either case, it was a great day with great friends in honor of a great physician.

PS. I just discovered this online. And you thought you were going to get out of a video. For the interested stalker, I go through at 5:15,  39:30, 40:20, and 1:03:00. See, not on my knees.

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