Saturday, December 29, 2007

Winter training plans

As a triathlete, I occasionally find living in Seattle challenging...especially in the winter. The short days make training more challenging; the swimming, cycling and running all create unique challenges.

When my alarm goes off at 4:30 AM for my morning swim it actually feels like 2 AM and I find it easy to just hit the snooze - not just once but at least 5 times or to the first hint of day light. Often thinking that bowling would be a more suitable sport!

A run is less of a shock to my system yet I rarely can avoid the cold and wet. Soggy shoes are imminent! The glowing from my lime green clothing so that I can be seen by drivers makes me feel like a car flare. If I could only find treadmills more desirable!

With lights and fenders added to my bike, cycling remains my favorite however I am surprised at how many friends choose not to answer their phones or respond to my e-mails when I am searching for a riding partner. Although warmer and drier, spinning in the garage just isn't the same - although more entertaining when Lisa turns it into a Karaoke session and holds onto the microphone (a Nuun bottle serves this purpose) singing her favorite 80's tune. Yes, it is worth dropping by for a spin!

So just when when winter training seems a bit more challenging and hibernation seems like a great idea Lisa, my training partner and warm blooded friend has what she claimed to BE A GREAT IDEA...that should have been my first clue!

Her idea, 'Lets make a Team FASTT Christmas card to send to our friends, members and sponsors!' Her idea seemed so simple; snap a picture, print the cards and mail them out. Before agreeing I failed to ask the important questions such as, "What are your ideas for this picture"?

They were endless: lights around the bikes, running in the snow (should we find some), swimming outdoors...did I hear her right? Arguing is useless....she doesn't take NO easily!

Here we are; middle of the winter, thirty two degrees outside with the lake water below twenty degrees (or did it just feel like it), standing out there in our wetsuit. I begged for the simple request of just zipping up my wetsuit and standing on shore but apparently that was not in her plans...wetsuit was only to be pulled up to the waist so we could sport our TF tri top. Yes, they look good but they are made for warm weather....couldn't we wait until spring to show them off? Apparently not! There we stood in the icy waters of Cottage Lake with frozen feet and shivering bodies trying to smile but all I could mutter, as seen in the photo, was "I think we must have misread the winter training plan!"

Thank God we have now received our winter clothing....I can be spotted out there on my bike or trotting up the hills but you won't be seen in Cottage Lake until late spring!

I hope that you all had a memorable Christmas and I look forward to seeing you all when we come out of hibernation!

Happy New Year.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Not alone on the Mountain

After being layed up for several weeks recovering from my unfortunate accident, I was excited to get back out to exercise. I didn't want to miss my monthly climb of Mt. Si. This would be my first time actually walking normal and not favoring my sore toe and I was ready for the challenge. Kris, I and my dog Rally met up with RTBers Karen Nolting and Patty Swedberg. We headed out on the trail in the slight drizzle. After about 1/2 mile I knew that I was not going to be able to keep up with the others. I would like to use my toe as my excuse, however, I really just felt out of shape!

The day was beautiful and it felt so good to get back outside with some exercise. Rally carried her own pack (with extra water) and she was lagging a bit behind. I felt a little guilty for making her carry the water but figured she would want some later. Karen was with me for a while but I could tell that she wanted to go faster so I let her go ahead and the three quickly went out of sight. They stopped for me a few times. This is very frustrating when you know you can't keep up and you know that they don't want to stop but stop anyway not wanting to leave you behind. Each time I told them to not stop and wait. I said it was not fair because they were getting more rest than me. Patty said that bike superstud E. Eronomo once told her that "until she could keep up, then she had nothing to say about it". So that was that.

The last mile Patty, Karen and Kris took my words to heart and just kept going. I was alone for these last long and difficult switchbacks. I started to feel alone and a bit sad (especially because I just could not keep the same pace) and began to second guess if I was going to correct way. The trail is very well marked but I wondered why I had not seen them in a while. I stopped and looked around and really noticed the beauty that I was surrounded by. The leaves below were turning color, it was a bit foggy and it was still and peaceful. I really felt Gods' peacefulness in his creation. I looked straight up and saw the path to the the top. I really felt God reminding me that all you have to do in life when you may feel a bit lost, alone or scared is to take a moment to stop; stop and listen to God and to focus UP. He is there and he will point out that path to take and make it clear which way to go.

The forest may be thick and scary but if you just keep persevering, you can see the light through the trees. Well today's trees were not scary, but absolutely beautiful in the calmness of the forest.

I finally reached the top to see them all eating as Karen attempted to go a little higher. I got a short rest then off we went down. I learned a great lesson after the first time we hiked and RAN down the entire mountain. Lesson learned: You won't be able to walk for a week! And walking like a duck looks very foolish! So I decided I would just walk fast. The other three took off running and I never saw them until the bottom. I couldn't help but try to run too. (something about my stature and downhills, they work together well). Unfortunately, but maybe a saving grace, my toe hurt pretty bad going down. I ended up kind of limping the entire way down. I had Rally with me though. She was so cute. Rally would run ahead then stop and look back at me waiting to get closer then she would run some more.

I spent the entire time going down focused on God. I turned my sad aloneness into a wonderful time alone with God. When I got to the bottom, Kris asked me how it went, I remember saying "it was good, I was not alone, I spent the hike with God!"

Monday, September 17, 2007

The End of a Great Season

By Kris Stolmeier

A blog? I have never written my own; only read others or had them written about me. Now it is my turn? Well, with a whirlwind weekend I am going to give this a try.

Competing this past weekend was the end to a great season; great because it was filled with a multitude of firsts that included; first ½ IM, first IM, first Olympic. Of course, there were a few sprints in there too. Did I leave anything for next year?

The weekend started with the Flowing Lake triathlon on Saturday which happens to be one of my favorite sprints because it is a great course for cycling. It is a mere 400 meter swim, a short 4k run and a great 13 mile cycling course filled with hills, fast down hills and some sharp corners.

The details of the race were shared in Lisa’s blog but I need to add that it was great sharing this race with so many friends, family and TF members. Lisa was at the finish line (crutches and camera) cheering me and other TF members on as we crossed the finish line (although I would have much rather had her competing). My husband, Tim, was taking off chips and my daughter, Sydney, placing finisher’s medal over the athlete's heads. Great of Rory and Deanna of BuDu Racing to put those spectators to work! And where was my 14 year old son, Sam, during all of this? He was at a cross country meet but would be joining me on Sunday.

Sunday was the Kirkland Triathlon. I love ending the season with this race; competing as part of a relay team. This year would be no different. My son was our runner, Patty Swedberg, Owner of Raise the Bar, was our speed swimmer and I was the cyclist. Team Gewurztraminer! (Named in remembrance of all those wineries Patty and I passed on our way to IM Canada in which we never got to actually stop and taste the wine, not even sample the ‘fine’ whites; in fact I don’t even know if we can say or spell this one!)

I dragged Sam out of bed early Sunday morning. Late enough that the coffee shops were actually open but early enough that we could still park within walking distance of the park. (It was not until later that I would learn that a caffeinated drink in my other hand might have benefits!)

Sam and I just hung out; visiting with friends and teammates that were also up at this ridiculous hour. Oh’ to be 14 years old again! No warm up or pre-race jitters from Sam! No bathroom stops…just some time relaxing on the grass. His only worry came at 6:30AM. “Where is Patty”, he asked repeatedly. “Call her, Mom”, he kept yelling out. When she didn’t answer, he was convinced she had overslept! Who would swim? All I had was my cycling 'stuff'. No worries – Patty arrived at 6:40 with a coffee in one hand and another caffeinated canned drink in the other. Besides the fast twitches and quick words, she seemed relaxed and ready to go!

She was! She was out of the water in no time. An amazing 12:34 split. A high five and I was off; veering my way through the long transition to bike mount and then onto another great course with some good hills, long flats and fast descents.

My computer wasn’t working and the 12 miles ended far too soon. As I rounded the last corner in transition I saw Sam ready to go; legs wanting to move forward. He took off as soon as I tagged him.

Patty and I made our way over to the finish line; meeting up with some of her team members, yelling out to some of mine, watching a nasty crash with the athlete making her way to the dismount line – all while Patty is snapping photos. I don't think she ever puts that camera down! We arrived just in time to see Sam cross the finish line.

Sam finished looking strong. The results said it all…Patty had a great swim, my cycle time was good – the pressure was on having to go up against Suz Weldon; the fastest cyclist in all of ….. a lot of places…and Sam’s run time was great! Best of all, I didn’t even have to get wet!

A great way to end the season…surrounded by friends and family!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Team FASTT members DOMINATE Flowing Lake

By Lisa Worthington

Wow! God is Good! What an incredible day. The injury to my foot just two days before my last race of the season turned out to be such a blessing. I may have been forced into this retirement this season a week early (maybe two weeks thanks to Mt. Si) however I had such an incredible experience at the Flowing Lake Triathlon today.

Team FASTT had 15 members competing today and we were out in full force. We had such incredible accomplishments, first time racers, overall winners, numerous age group podium finishes, conquered swim fears, smoking bike times, and well attended pre-race tri-prayer. So here is the race from my perspective: as a spectator.

This was only my second race a real fully involved spectator. I had SO much fun. The day started early with no pre-race jitters. When Kris and I arrived, there were already 3 cars in the lot, I felt the pressure to "race" down to the transition area to find a good spot for Kris. We always like to arrive before everyone has even poured their early am coffee to pick the prime spot. Today I was not racing but I wanted to be mental support person for Kris, Merg, Deb, and Darlynn, as well as rah rah support for everyone else. I however was on crutches! This was going to be tricky since I also wanted to video tape and take pictures as well as lend support to Deanna and Rory with BuDu Racing (our wonderful sponsors and excellent race coordinators).

As it turned out the 3 cars were just workers and thankfully Rory opened the T zone just for us. Kris got prime position as she was out for the win, unless of course Patty Swedberg (Raise the Bar) took me up on taking my race entry. With spot secured, Kris actually helped me more than I did her. She carried the banner, brochures, and my chair. I reverted back 15 year to the old fanny pack loaded with all my goodies, phone, camera, video camera and spare tube (just in case).

It was so cool to see TF members one by one, looking so sharp in their team kits show up and take their positions. Most racked near Kris but others took position at other end racks. BuDu did not need any help with registration which was great because I got to just hang out in the T zone. Deanna made the announcement that no spectators should be in the T zone, but she called me "special" :) She handed me a black marker and then I felt REALLY special. I was now a body marker! Ok, next to being a body oil lubricator (swim meets) this was cool! I saw some really nice arms out there, not to mention calves! Athletes rock! I made sure to put a smiley face on everyones number that had an 8 or 0.

I hopefully got everyones picture pre-race which juggling the body marking. Then I borrowed Rory's megaphone and stepped outside my comfort zone. I made an announcement for a pre-race prayer. I announced it for TF thinking maybe someone else might might want to join in. Well what a blessing I found not only TF but many many other athletes as well joined round arm in arm for a prayer. God is Good! No, God is Great! Ok, now time to calm some nerves.

I tried to calm some nerves of some anxious swimmers as well as Merg, Yeah, this was her very first triathon. I was SO excited to watch her complete this race. The waves went off, 5 minutes apart. Tom, out of the water in the top 5! He looked sharp running through the T all blue and white, with Steve not too far behind then Morgan. Morgan, what a stud, his first triathlon and new member as of 6 days ago. His kit accented by his tatoos, he looked just as strong. Tom, you better watch out for those two, they are on your heals!

Kris, fifth women out of water, not too shabby for a "non-swimmer" :) I watched all the gals as they all ran strong out of the water and through transition. It is amazing to see how many people just take their time and hang out before heading out on their bikes. Not TF, they are competitors! I thought Merg was in the top 12 as I yelled this to her, she later told me I was not very smart. Oh, well she looked great! Debbie, Yeah, told you that you would be no where near last! You rocked girl. The only thing I really missed that I wanted to capture on film was Marks' flying leap onto his bike. I would then use that footage to SHOW at the next tri clinic as I will not be demonstrating that anymore :) I guess I will have to go to a cross race to capture that move as well as watch his wife Sarah take another win! Good job Sarah.

I then positioned myself at the end of the finish line chute. I recruited Tim and Sydney to help with chip straps and handing out medals. I just stood and directed, while taking pictures and trying to video everyone crossing the line. First place male, Wow, under an hour with number 2 right behind. Then came Tom, Steve, Morgan, Mark, Richard, Serosha, (not too shabby for running a THIRD lap, who taught that kid how to count? I heard he road the course again after just because ) Then the women, Kris (first overall and qualifying for Nationals - thanks I didn't want to race without you), Nancy, (nice finish girl, your bike smoked!). Debbie Bond (finishing ever so strong), Vinette (ouch, you still looked great and finished strong despite dropping your chain and crashing- your tough), Darlynn (you know your awesome),Clarise ( oh, so strong looking),Marcie (Great job and always smiling), Mergie (Yeah! this was your day girl), Faye (strong strong finish, nice job), Debbie Boyce (you were strong the whole way and I don't think I heard you in the water :), and Kristine (for only your second tri, How cool are U? You rock!) So a good day was had by all. I can't even name all the awards that were handed out.

Big congrats on first time finishes first and formost. A ton of AG awards and hey OVERALL to Kris! Im so proud of everyone and it was just an incredible experience to be able to be there to support you all and watch you all FINISH STRONG!!!!!