2008 Royal Victoria Marathon
Royal Victoria Marathon 2008, around kilometre 16
Photo by ASI

2008 Adventures in non-triathlons

This year actually didn't contain a single triathlon, but I did get out and do the Seattle to Portland ride and Royal Victoria Marathon so I felt as though I accomplished something.

December

Beer Mile

Possibly the silliest athletic (and I use the term loosely) event I've ever participated in, I showed up at an undisclosed location (high school track) on an undisclosed day in December on a dark Tuesday evening for my second beer mile. I seem to remember that the year before it was raining, but this year we were having an unusual cold snap so we had to contend with our running shoes filling up with snow as we crossed the field as well as some treacherous ice patches on the back side of the track. A few of my fellow Y tri members who were going to show up even stayed home because they assumed it was called off because of the weather. Wimps . . . (No, if you guys read this, I don't mean that. I mean “wise choice”.) My race was less than stellar. In fact, I'm embarrassed to report that I had to run a penalty lap, and you know what that means. (If you don't know, the less said the better.) At one point I thought that I was going to come dead last in the race, which would be a first in my triathlon career, but in the final analysis there turned out to be a few people behind me. Luckily a friend of mine who had jammed out on the race in order to drive a friend to the airport arrived just in time to cheer me on during the difficult fourth beer and then ran with me in my lonely last two laps. Of course he also took some embarrassing photos of me and posted them on Facebook, but he showed restraint.

November 29

Gunner Shaw

Oof. After hardly running since the marathon, I went out and ran the slowest 10k ever at the Gunner Shaw. Apparently this year the course has been remeasured to be an accurate 10k after being short before, and it made a difference. My only excuse for the slow time is the extremely hilly terrain and the need to slow down to splash through some of the puddles. There was one section of the course where the fastest runners were coming back while I was still on my way out and I couldn't believe how fast these guys were running down some very steep and rocky terrain. They were skilled and determined.

October 12

Royal Victoria Marathon

This turns out to be the only event that I've done for all four years that I've been racing: three times the full marathon and one time the half. The funny thing is that all three marathon times have been within 3 minutes of each other. This year was my personal best by something like 17 seconds, even though I trained less than the other two times. Apparently my body is just really comfortable running at that pace. Next year, maybe I'll run faster.

Nothing remarkable happend this year: great weather, good race, nice shirt. Started running with Grant, saw JoAnn doing the half, talked to Bill from the Tri club, saw some fast friends before the turnaround.

July 12 & 13

Seattle to Portland

Seattle to Portland is a big, big ride that goes from—well, you guessed it. The total distance is 202 miles or 320 kilometres, and most people do it in two days, although a large minority do it in one day. When I say it's a big ride, I'm not talking about the distance so much as the number of riders. The race—or ride, I should say as it's not a race and they don't even keep time—sells out at 9,500 people, and it sold out this year as it usually does.

I took the Clipper over the day before, which was really convenient as it drops you off right downtown. I met up with Taralyn and we stayed at the Washington University dorms. It was funny arriving at the dorms because I think I stayed in the same building when I was 14 and I was there with my parents for a conference that my father was going to. I just barely recognized it.

The starting line for the ride opens at something like 4:30 (brr), but we elected to start a little later. Because people start at different times and take various breaks along the way, the pack never really sorts itself out and there's constant passing. At one point, after I called out “on your left” for about the 500th time, I remember hearing a woman comment, “I'm going to be hearing that in my sleep tonight!” The route for the ride was very nice: hardly any highway, markings on the road, should you run out of other cyclists to follow, and on the second day, a nice section of trail.

We camped halfway at the Centralia college campus. We were allowed to camp in any green space in the area, which meant that people were pitching their tents on the college lawns and even on the boulevards of the streets. There were all kinds of tents with cheap lasagna dinners. After dinner we relaxed in the beer garden and watched some Tour de France on television before crashing for the night. It was so hot the whole weekend that even at ten o'clock at night I was just wearing a t-shirt and I would have left the fly off my tent except that there was an all-night light shining next to me. Everyone was pretty much up at dawn the next day, eating a pancake breakfast at the college cafeteria and then rolling out of town for the second hundred miles.

I was a little sore on day two. The legs were ok, but I'm not quite happy with the seat I was riding on. I had bought a big cushy mountain bike seat for the trip and then packed the Serfas road bike seat I'd been riding on earlier in my bag just in case I wanted to switch back for the second day. I'd also forgotten my gloves, which could have been pretty serious, but I was able to buy a new pair at the lunch stop on the first day. We were lucky with a tailwind and rolled along at a pretty good pace. The last 20k into Portland I was pretty ready for it to be over, and then finally we came into the finish in a park. We joined the little kids in the water park to take a clothes-on shower after we dropped off our bikes and then changed discreetly into clean clothes. The last part of the trip was the surprisingly long bus ride back to Seattle.

Overall it was a great event. Extremely well organized, with everything you need from food and drink to bike mechanics at the rest stops to organizing your ride back. The only thing was that you have to either start with the very first group, or just be relaxed and prepared to take your time because there are so many people that you have to line up for bathrooms, water, everything. It was a very fun atmosphere, though.

July 18-21

Penticton Training Weekend

I joined up with some people I know who were heading up to Penticton for an ironman training weekend. Since I'm not doing the race, I agreed to come along and drive the support car for Saturday's ride of the bike course. Eight of us piled into Taralyn's parents' house on Skaha Lake, bedding down in both bedrooms, the laundry room, the mobile home, and the suite in the garage.

The weather was hot, so everyone needed fresh water and ice whenever possible. The group also spread out hugely with some slower cyclists bringing up the back and some really fast ones riding off the front, so it was challenging to get everyone seen to at reasonable intervals. The emergency fallback device was the cell phone, so that a rider in need could call me for help, but we discovered that there was no coverage on the whole Yellow Lake plateau, which made things more complicated. Nevertheless, there were no mechanical failures, not even a single flat tire for any of the ten riders over the 180 km. So I didn't get to display my flat-changing expertise.

Susan and Taralyn and I managed to get in a wine tasting on Sunday after we'd finished the run and had a nap. This is the first time in at least five trips to Penticton that I've finally gotten around to some wine tasting. We managed to fit in three wineries in about an hour. At the last place we walked in at five minutes to closing. Our wine tasing host splashed generous portions for us, which we were tossing back pretty briskly while gave us some unvarnished opinions on his wines. There was one wine that he didn't even bother to pour for us, since he claimed that this grape was “shit” in the whole Okanagan and the only reason they made it was because people insisted on buying it. (Do you think I remember which wine that was? No.)

On the way back we were in a hurry, but we still stopped at the Bear fruit stand for a peach milkshake (Bob said, “they're worth a ferry”) and I got some amazing cherries and fresh peas.

I'd like to still be up there, hanging out in a great house by the lake, just running and riding and eating and sleeping. Lying on the grass in the sun and doing a little swimming on the beach.

In honour of the training camp I leave you this link to the epic training camp.

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