Saturday, August 27, 2011

More Stories from the Trail

Near the summit of Twin Sisters Peak
    For those that read my last post, my 4 year old son Cooper had a revelation about the looks of God.  This was where he thought God had a mustache.  Well this little musing is along the same lines.  So I will begin by setting the scene for you.
    We had begun the day in Rocky Mountain National Park.  We had decided to summit the Twin Sisters peaks.  These were two peaks that are 11,250 and 11,400 respectively.  The trail was roughly 3.5 miles to the top.  The peaks themselves are just a few hundred feet apart so once you top the first you walk the saddle and then scramble up some boulders to the top of the next.
    It was a beautiful morning, temps were in the mid 60's to start and not a cloud in the sky. The family was coming off a hike yesterday of nearly 8 miles and 2000 feet of elevation gain.  It seemed that everyday we managed about 8 miles and some sort of elevation gain.  Every day both our boys Connor (10) and Cooper hiked solidly.  Connor hiked every day without complaint and I think proved a lot to himself about how strong he was.  Now Cooper on the other hand was pretty resilient in that he hiked for at least an hour and a half each day roughly 3-4 miles at our pace, and once he tired he hopped in the backpack which I happily hauled each day.
    We had made the first summit in roughly 3 and a half hours.  Cooper had hiked about an hour of the three and a half then I hauled him the remainder of the way.  At the top we chose not to spend too much since the winds were picking up and the rain was in the distance.  Kerrie and I made the decision to pack up and begin the long hike back down. 
    We made good time and Cooper had fallen asleep in the pack for about the first hour.  This helped me focus and move quickly through the most technical portions of the descent.  Once Cooper woke up he asked to walk a bit.  It is here that the walk became very interesting.  Cooper had once again regained his chatterbox mood and had a multitude of questions, the way I know they were questions is the "Right Daddy?" following the constant stream of chatter.
    The clouds darkened and I knew we were going to get caught in the rain.  Cooper on the other hand had a different thought. 

Cooper turned and said,"God has made a beautiful mountain right daddy?"
Me: "Yes". 
Cooper: "We are good people right daddy?"
Me: "We try to be."
Cooper: "Well if we are good people then God won't let it rain on us right daddy?"
Me: "Well sometimes good people get rained on."
Cooper: "I know God won't let that happen to us right daddy?"

    It was at this point the first drops of rain began to fall.  Cooper was still walking and chattering but I was encouraging him to move a bit faster.
Cooper: "It's OK daddy we are good people, it will be OK"
    Well, we must not be entirely that good, and I blame it on me because the rain started to fall a bit heavier.  I stopped and told Cooper to hop in the backpack so we can move a bit faster.  Cooper was a bit upset, and finally lashed out;
Cooper: "Daddy, why isn't God listening and making the rain stop?"
Me: "Because he needs to water his garden"
Cooper: "But our garden is far away, is it raining there?"
Me: "No I think it is just raining on us"
Cooper: "Well, I think I will ask him again to make it stop, OK Daddy?"
Me: "Sounds Good."
    Well the rain never really stopped, it did slow and became intermittent but I think Cooper talked to me more than God the rest of the way down the mountain.  But for one hour of that hike, I again walked in amusement and fascination of the mind of my 4 year old.  It really thought hard about how I need to keep impressing our morals and values because I know deep down something is resonating. 
    I also need to keep listening a bit more because I think I have agreed to give Cooper, a new car, truck, four wheeler, bike, trees, dog, house, toys, tractors, end loader, a combine, and who knows what else!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Does God have a mustache?

  I have recently returned from our annual family vacation. My wife, boys, and myself had been looking forward to this trip for at least 4 months.  We made a loop from South Dakota, Wyoming, and concluded in Boulder, Colorado, prior to our return to Iowa.  This was one of the best trips we have ever taken as a family.  It also had one of the most interesting conversations I have ever had with my 4 year old Cooper.
  It truly is amazing what your children absorb.  The smallest things that you think they will never hear or pay attention to, you hear uttered back to you verbatum.  Not only verbatum, but they remember them for years!  I truly try to always lead by example, use teachable moments, and always talk about our values and morals.  Now, whether that gets absorbed in their heads is yet to be seen fully, but I do have two of the best boys a dad could ever have.
  The stories that really stuck out were at the oddest moments and I truly wish we had them on camera.  Our family was at Mt. Rushmore on the second day of our trip.  We were told to stick around till the evening and watch the show.  The show is amazing and really brought me to tears.  They brought all the veterans that were at the Mt. and had them come on stage.  The presenter then said these are our vets and let us say thank you.  For fifteen minutes the crowd stood and clapped, everyone in the crowd.  What a moment.  So stick around for the show.
  Well before the show we were hiking on the trail that goes near the Mt.  Cooper was walking next to me and we were talking about the trail and nice day, when out of the blue he points (to George Washington) and states, "Daddy, is that God?"  I was so taken off guard.  What a concept.  At this moment of our serene surroundings, Coop was thinking about God.  My answer,"No, that is one of the founders of our country and a very special honorable man."
  I could hardly contain myself.  I was left with nothing to say. I quickly told Kerrie about Cooper's comment and that moment he and I just shared.  It was about ten minutes following that comment that Cooper then set the tone for the rest of our trip.  We were still walking under the Mt. when he turned to me once again and said,
                 "No, I think your right daddy, that wasn't God.  He has the mustache!"

  I beamed and held my laughter, and stood beside myself.  The ability for my little 4 year old to think about God, to think what he looked like, to think he even could grasp what he was saying.  It is too funny.  I was proud and just said to him, "You know Coop, you might be right." 
  More stories from the trail to come...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Boulder 70.3 Post Race Expressions

  Well, it is in the books.  My final half ironman for the year is complete and with that the main focus of my race season is done.  I can say with utter validity that I met 2/3's of my goals with this race, for reasons I will explain as you read on.  As I always do, I must first thank the best support crew any racer can have.  Lil' Coop and Con have been real troopers and managed to show up on the course when I needed a smile the most.  I race with them always in my mind and my heart.  I love seeing them around the corner with their hands out waiting for a high five.
  But truly the best support is my wife Kerrie.  She has been there for every smile, minute, and tear.  And after this race there were a few.  She has been my biggest fan, loudest cheerer, and first one that I look for when I cross the line.  Thank you Kerrie for making me what I am.  She knows that I write this on purpose by the way, just for the tear jerker moment.
  Now for the race.  The city of Boulder is at an elevation of 5500 feet above sea level (give or take a bit). The weather started absolutely pristine, temp at race start was 65 degrees, 0 humidity, and no wind.  The reservoir itself lies east of the foothills to the Rockies.  The water was dead flat.  My race started with not a cloud in the sky, and the most beautiful sunrise, water temp was 74 degrees so I donned my wetsuit.  The gun sounded I hit the water, we started at shoulder depth so it was not so much a tread start which is my favorite.
  Within the first 400 yards I felt a bit overwhelmed and could not feel right.  It was a weird panicky feeling that I have never had before.  I slowed my stroke a bit and pulled stopping my kick altogether.  I found my groove as well as two swimming partners and quickly picked up my pace again at the first turn.  The rest of the swim was uneventful, with the exception of a swimmer that tried to swim over top me with 200 left to go.  For those that do this it is unnecessary. There was no need for this action and I wished to pull this guy back as well as throw an elbow into his gut, but I did not.  The swim split was 00:38:02.
  First transition was quick (2:28) as I was excited to hit the bike course.  The weather had begun to heat up a bit and still no clouds, and no wind!    The bike course starts with about a 6-9 mile climb at a 3% grade roughly.  Then it turns into nice rolling climbs for the next 5 miles, until you make the turn on St Vrain Road.  When I made the turn, holy cow!  They say that Boulder is the fastest half iron bike route there is.  Making that turn I went to 44 mph with out peddling.  I did not touch my pedals for 5 miles. Once I did pick my pedalling back up I held 30 mph for another 3miles or so.  I finally settled in to a pace of roughly 23mph for the remainder of the loop.  This is a two loop course and the second loop was met with increasing winds and heat. 
  At around the mile 40 mark I noted that I was no longer hungry and could not stomach my normal nutrition regime. I tried to force a bar in as well as fluids but I was focused on my cadence and keeping my head down due to the increasing head winds.  It was difficult to determine which way the winds was as the mountains and turns kept it always swirling around.  Winds were constant and steady at around 15mph.  The sun was getting hot well on its way to 95 degrees plus, but still no humidity.
  If finished the second loop with a PR at 2:26:49 avg 23mph (or for those that wish to be exact 22.89 for 56 miles) this also put me 33rd out of 180 in age group.  I came into transition pumped because I knew I was right on pace for my 5 hour flat goal. I made a quick transition again (1:38) and headed out on the run.  I saw Kerrie, and hollered quick that I killed the bike and was uber pumped.  I kept my pace easy out of transition to start.
  The run is barren and very lonely.  It also is a two loop course.  It has three long climbs at about 3%grade and is about 80% gravel and crushed rock.  It also lacks shade.  There is absolutely not a lick of shade on the course.  Water stations were at every mile, but fans and motivations were lacking.  By the fourth mile I knew I was in trouble.  The temps had risen to over 95 degrees, still no humidity, and the winds were picking up even more.   I ran a slow first 6.5 knowing that I was not feeling at all like myself.  I was dizzy, bloated, cotton mouthed, and suffering with every stride. 
  I coaxed myself to continue running, albeit slow through the party atmosphere and finish line area.  I saw Kerrie and heard her cheering and did not wish to alarm her as to how I was feeling, but I know she knew.   The dizziness was increasing and getting worse.  I had told myself to run to mile 7 then I could assess and walk to make sure I finished.  I could not drink enough to quench my thirst.  I also noticed that I had not sweat for about the past 3 hours.  I knew dehydration or something had settled in and the only way to salvage my race was to begin my death march. 
  I tried to run a bit and walk but ultimately for 3 miles I walked.  I was devastated.  I had worked so hard to hit my goal, but now that was not going to happen.  It was all I could do to keep moving forward because the trail was moving in circles, my stomach felt huge and bloated, and my mouth was dry as a desert.  By mile 11, my friend and teammate Jared had joined me, and I was relieved to see that he was having a hard time as well.  We took a quick photo together and continued on.  The run left me miserable and depressed.  My split (2:33:47).  This was about 45 minutes off my goal time.  The race finished for me at 5:42.
  All in all, the race was a big lesson.  Altitude for me was not a factor.  I spent 10 days prior to the race at altitudes above 7000 feet and even three days at 10,000 feet.  I did learn that I was definitely dehydrated.  The dry heat left me without the normal sweat rate that I was accustomed too.  We had a great family vacation and summited 3 mountains.  I did not drink enough water prior and my race nutrition leading up to the race was not the normal for me.  I look forward to next year and possibly re tackling this monster course.  
  On a side note, there is a big congrats to my son Connor.  We found out when we are on this vacation that he has qualified for the IRONKIDS National Championship race in Des Moines.  Thanks again for all of the followers and well wishers.  I have one more story to come, so keep your eyes looking for the next motivating story to come.