Monday, September 17, 2012


Black Diamond Olympic Tri.


I mean WOW!!!!

A much better day that I thought. WOW!!

I am exhausted and tomorrow I go back to work but what a way to finish the summer AND I got to spend some time in Enumclaw, a place that I have driven through on the way to Rainier but never stopped in. 

 I had booked a room at the Park Center Hotel for the night before the race reasoning that it would make for an easier morning. The place is clean and relatively quiet and very reasonably priced. 

We got in about 4:30 or so and checked. PA, who was going to do the Olympic DU, wanted to go sit and read at SBUX so we found one a few blocks from the hotel AFTER walking around the downtown. Glad I got to see that before it is completely dead. There is some sort of bypass and all the action as it were is over by that road. That was where the SBUX was. Were I alone I would have chosen one of the smaller coffee houses there. 

Pretty soon we were hungry and ended up sitting at the bar at the Rainier Bar & Grill happily munching hamburgers, having a pint, and chatting with this guy who had completed his first half iron distance that day. He had already had 3 pints, a salmon salad, and ordered and started eating a veggie burger and fries. He was pretty funny. From PDX. A good runner but, as he put it, he sucked at everything else (was the last man out of the water apparently). He said that he was unlikely to do one of these again. 

Stopped at the Pie Goddess for a piece of pie, everyone was raving about this place and I needed more carbs so what the heck. The door was open but no one was there. Soon there was a line of a sorts before we found someone. I got a piece of apple walnut pie, the filling of which was most interesting. Not sure what she did but it was so smooth and creamy and tasty. Ate that back at the room. PA watched the USC-Stanford game and I read. 

By 9 I could barely keep my eyes open and called it quits around 9:30. Slept hard until 2 and then started waking up. The people in the room next to us popped the cork on a bottle of champagne at about 2:23 but were dead quiet by 3. I willed myself back to sleep and managed until 6:30. 

47 degrees when I woke up. Started debating what to wear after the swim. Stay with my wet sleeveless shirt or change into a short sleeved shirt that was dry? Opted to lay out the second shirt. 

Quick breakfast at the hotel and off we went to the park. PA dropped me off so I could go get my bike set up and went to find a place to park further down the road. I checked in and after getting body marked found a good position on the rack assigned to my number and just got ready. Don't know why but I kind of like this whole body marking thing. Race number on my left calf and my age on the right. 

"Please be at the beach by 8:30 for pre-race orientation talk" so I got my wetsuit on and went down to the beach. Small lake. I just emailed you a picture. The Olympic swimmers would be doing two laps around the read buoys before heading into the shore. Kind of ingenious actually as they were going to have three different types of races going on top of relays. 

I was feeling pretty stiff from the bed and wanted to get into the water to limber up a bit. So I did after hearing the first round of announcements and course descriptions. Turns out I went in too soon and spent fair amount of time cooling down in the water, getting out and standing on the shore was even cooler despite the sun. They had a chorus sing the national anthem and then the races started. I think my wave went off somewhere around 9:18 or 9:30 I don't know. We had to keep the red buoys on our right and I lined up on the right flank. This would take me closer to the buoy line without getting swum over in the general scrum. No men standing behind me, we went out in male and female waves. 

Off we went after the try-a-tri folks cleared their first turn at the green buoy on the left and the scrum wasn't bad. I made the right decision about where to be for once and was able to get into my rhythm very early on. There was some contact but nothing like at Chelan or in either of the OWS races I have done this summer. Water was green like Green Lake and I couldn't see much so I just swam and thought about the rest of the race. T1, bike, T2, and run. It was kind of nice to occupy my mind in this way as the time on the course went so fast. 28:55 as it turns out. 

Hit the the beach at the head of a bunch of other swimmers and was the first off the matt and up into the transition area. I've managed to conquer the wobblies that I had last year and can run solidly out of the water. Very nice feeling. 

T1 went pretty well. THIS time I had remembered to untie my riding shoes before hand and also pre-powdered them. Mucking around with socks was a pain in Chelan so I decided to just go barefoot. My feet and hands were pretty cold and that made getting my wetsuit off and tying shoes a bit of a challenge. 5:34

Run out to the bike felt fine and once things felt pretty good once I was out of the park and on the course proper. I started spinning up in my middle ring rather than jumping onto the big ring right away. My quads felt really cold and I just didn't feel like I was getting any spin or power. Couldn't really tell my cadence as my sensor had packed it in overnight, it was working yesterday. Just rode by feel and I was feeling awful. This was made all the more frustrating because it felt like I was only going about 12-14 mph and was getting passed by people on straight bar crossover bikes at this point. There was a fair amount of climbing in the first 30 minutes or so and I was thinking foul thoughts, eating and drinking, and all of a sudden whatever was holding my legs back seemed to let go and off I went. It helped that there was a series of downhills. 

There were two very strange out and backs on this course. The first had us going right off the main route and then climbing to a dead end. As I came through the turn, slowly as it was sharp and coned, one of the volunteers asked if I had a pump another rider could borrow. I stopped and started getting a cartridge out for the guy. He said he didn't know how to use it, thanked me, and said his wife would be along soon. I left. This attempt at kindness cost me 3-4 minutes I suppose. 

Going up this section I noticed a couple of people with flats and on the way down quite a few more. There were at least 5-6 people fixing flats. I wonder what it was they ran into. Later on people were talking about this. I suppose someone in the neighborhood was pissed off and put something down. One person I overheard said he pulled a thumb tack out of his tire. Lucky me. 

The rest of the bike was uneventful and kind of fast. I was out of the saddle a few times on some of the climbs which were mostly short and only sorta steep. Finished the ride between 18 and 25 mph before slowing down to get back into the park. Could not disengage my cleats at the bike dismount line. Managed to without toppling over but did wobble a bit. 

T2 went fine.  Double tying shoes and eating and drinking something. 3:24

Run was basically a strange looking lollipop course. There were some marginally steep hills but, again, they were not too long. I just ran. Not all out but fairly hard. Still it felt pretty strange. Did some passing and got passed but just kept going. Mile 6 was the best actually, also the slowest, because it was on the trail around the lake. This was hilly. The course markers had put white flour or something on all the biggest roots, a nice touch, but I was in my element really. Tired though, very tired. 

Passed a kid who said that I was less than 10 minutes away from the finish, ran for a couple of minutes, turned a corner, ran downhill and there was the finish. 


Got very hungry once I stopped so I had a bit of a snack, found PA, and packed up my stuff. We rode to the car and then headed home stopping in Maple Valley for lunch. Taco Time. The cleanest and friendliest Taco Time I've ever seen and also with healthy food. This is my second time eating at a TT since I moved here in 1997. The first time I was not at all impressed. This time, much better. 

A very nice way to finish out the summer but now I have to think of what is next. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Flipping that Zombie Switch

Fifteen days remain in the summer and last week that switch in my head flipped from vacation/summer-mode back to "work mode." I am not really sure how I feel about that given how rejuvenating the past three months have been.

This morning I've been thinking an awful lot about Zombies.

My Fall section of International Relations will revolve around a Zombie Apocalypse theme.

Thanks for this (or blame really) goes to Doug Van Belle and Daniel Drezner who have done some fun writing about Zombies and International Relations theory—Van Belle wrote a very interesting piece on bringing Zombies into the classroom which I was supposed to review (on deadline) but which I never quite got around to and Drezner who has been blogging and writing about such matters since 2009. Very cool stuff and I am glad they did the heavy lifting as I am just not that creative, at least as far as The Undead are concerned.

Maybe it is because I really don't know much about Zombies having not paid attention to the canonical literature. The films are repetitively gory and, as a friend observed the other day, if you cannot outrun them then you are really pathetic. He was, of course referring to the traditional Romero-esque Zombie and not the super-Zombies of "Dawn of the Dead." Either way you are dead, or maybe not . . .

Then there are all the students who have been playing Zombies versus Humans. They seem more engaged in running around and engaging in shifting alliances than reading Morganthau and/or Waltz.

It has been fun to go through this literature and to see how deeply Zombies have penetrated the Zeitgeist (why that is another matter of discussion) including running (as in Run For Your Lives).

Very much looking forward to trying all this out.

Meanwhile my work email is cluttering up with all kinds of messages from textbook publishers offering tips on "engaging different learning styles." I wonder what "learning style" (blech) suits the Undead?