Monday, September 10, 2012

Calling in the Cavalry

You couldn't ask for better scenery than the offering at the Bozeman Marathon.  With views of the Gallatin, Bridger and Tobacco Root mountain ranges, it was an ideal place to hold a race.  It might have been different a perspective for the sea level-goers, Bozeman has a 4,793 ft. elevation.  Though I'm sure they appreciated the sights while running through farmland with its herds of cattle and horse looking on with bemused expressions, into the city and down a closed off Main Street somewhat full with cheering people.  Luckily for us runners the air had cleared a little overnight to a slight haze.  A large improvement from the smoke choked skies that have hidden the hills from sight the past couple of weeks.

As I participated in the half-marathon, I can't speak for what occurred in the first 13 of the full except that I heard it was quite windy at the gun.  The half started on top of Cottonwood Hill and pretty much went downhill from there minus the two small inclines at mile 6 and 8.  That second hill served to be my undoing because soon after the dreaded stomach cramp began to slow me down.  When I look back at the splits, my pace was fluctuating between 6:30 and 7:00 min/mile.  The first half of mile 8 was uphill and I pushed a 6:38 pace.  Too fast.  Right round mile 10 the stitch kicked in and my mental game got shaken up.  I knew from a previous race this summer that pushing through was going to make it worse, so I slowed the pace by about 20 seconds hoping it'd work itself out but it didn't.  All of a sudden my goal of 1hr and 30 min was slipping away but I continued on while breathing through my stomach.

It's these times in reflection when I learn something truly important about competing.  With 1.5 miles to the finish, a woman in five finger shoes goes barreling past me while saying, "come on, we're almost there!"  She was looking strong and I could feel the guy just in front of me pick up the pace as did I.  Just that one comment from another competitor lifted me up and helped me push through until the end.  Its great having spectators cheering and supporting, but it's the fellow racers who are going through the same physical and mental strain that can have the biggest impact.  I'm sure that woman hasn't a clue how helpful that one comment was, but I'd like to say thank you to the curly-haired, middle-aged woman who rocked the finger shoes and the half-marathon!

On a side note, I finished in 1 hour and 33 minutes.  Seven minutes faster than my previous PR.  So, it was still a great day.  One to enjoy and learn from.  I'm gonna miss this place.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Few Updates

    Wow.  Have I ever been so absent from something in my life as this blog?  Yeah, probably lots of things. 
    As far as the near future is planned, my inaugural triathlon season has come to a close.  Two sprints, an olympic, and a half ironman.  Two nights ago three of my race results were posted to USA Triathlon, the national governing body for triathlons.  What this meant was that I could finally compare myself to racers within my age group who have completed three or more races in 2012.  After scrolling through all the competitors who were ranked above me, I finally arrived to my report.  With an overall score of 76.9, I am ranked 611th in my age group nationally.  Despite the fact that I haven't swam in years nor have I rode a bike longer than half an hour, I was a little disappointed.  (The competitor in me never seems to rest.)  Then I thought I myself, "This is a great start!  There is so much improvement that can be built on this base."  Now all things that I've been putting off because of training issues can take precedent.  Such as climbing to the top of Granite Peak, running the Bridger Ridge, taking part in the local Tuesday night bike races and going all out when I feel like it.  The weather here in Bozeman is just so conducive to all those things.  So I don't think I'll be losing much fitness in the next month.
     I said the next month because this is another transitional period in my life.  Since financial aid won't be providing me with enough dinero to attend classes this year at Montana State U, I've decided that the only logical option is to move back to Washington and attend school there.  It is a better decision to pay in-state tuition than to stick around here for the next year working on gaining my residency.  As much as I've really fallen in love with this area, the motivation and direction I've found during my time year is pushing me to pursue school ever more voraciously.  At almost 30, a year just feels like too much time to wait around.  I want to continue learning so that I can share the knowledge with others, for a fee of course.  Ha!   

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Brief iPhone App Explanation and Training Update.

Lately I've been slacking on my running and instead focusing on my bike endurance and power, but today I went out for a long run at about threshold pace.  The next race on my schedule is a sprint right here in my hometown of Bozeman, MT.  I've already biked and ran the course just to get an idea of what to expect.  The run leg is a great mile out and back followed with a single loop around Glen Lake. 

While I was in WA this past Spring I met up with a friend who I've known since high school.  He talked me into doing my first criterium bike race (super fun) and he also introduced me to an application for my iPhone called Strava.  Little did I know then how useful it would be in my training.  The app can be used to track a variety of different moving workouts.  It measures distance, elevation, time, splits, calories burned, power and a bunch of other features.

Without explaining too much about the features, I'll just show you some examples of a running workout I did earlier today in preparation for my upcoming half ironman.

Once the workout is finished and sent to the Strava network, all of the statistics are laid out.  
The app has a bike default because it was developed for riding but you can change it
to a wide selection of workouts so that the stats are calibrated.
Distances, elevations and speeds are deduced through GPS, hence the nice looking map below. 

In the run format, the app generates this handy mile by mile table.  GAP is grade adjusted pace.  So when you tackle any kind of incline or decline it offers a pace that would be maintained on flats.

I thought this was a fun tracking feature.  Different distances are displayed with overall times and the average pace during that segment.  If you look at my 5K and 10K times you see medals attached to the left side.  Since I've completed these distances in faster times using the app, it notifies me when I've achieved a PR, best time, or bested a previous time.
 Okay this is where the app gets really fun. 
 Last week I ran this course and upon uploading the information for that workout, I created a "segment" titled Glen Lake Large Loop.  Now anybody who uses the app and runs this course will be placed an a leaderboard for their time in this specific location.  Something I didn't mention before is that anybody using the Strava network can create segments of their own.  Which means that you can search through the "Segment" network to find a hill, TT, loop, or stretch of road where others have been posted to.  When a PR is achieved the app notifies you.

Now I'm a poor college student currently so I haven't gone out and bought the premium version which offers heart rate monitoring and plethora of extra features.  Most of which can hone a training session or make it more fun.  Even in the basic form the user is encouraged to "follow" other riders/runners.  Last night I joined the local bike racing circuit and one of the local riders I follow from the area participated in the same road race as I.  So his stats show up when he completes a workout.  It's one way to compare my improvements other than solely against my past achievements.

So if you feel like getting more competitive with others/yourself or you would just 
like to track how far you went and how fast.  This app is free and easy to use.  

Going out for a hike?  Track your elevation gain and see it on a map.  
Don't have a bike computer?  Throw your phone in a pouch and 
see how fast you went down that big hill on the other side of town. 

 It's a lot more fun than playing Angry Birds on your couch.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


From the city to the sky, there's always something to see.
Tucked away or proudly displayed,
are momentary pieces of harmony.

Fourth of July 2012

Mt Baldy is the first Southern peak of the Bridger Range.  4 miles in + 4000ft elevation.

The Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Area lies over and through that range.

Rabbit Paradise
(if I were one in the summer)

Taking this photo was just an afterthought after stopping 
halfway up the 9% section on Kelly Canyon to catch my breath.
The east side of the Bridger.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Spring Festival Super Sprint Triathlon

The majority of my close friends and family know that I've taken up competing in triathlons as my new sport.  I've only participated in one, which was the Spring Festival Triathlon, a Super Sprint distance on June 28 in Moses Lake.  The legs of each discipline was a 400 meter swim, a 10 mile bike and finishing off with a 5K(3.1 mile) run. My intro to the sport was an amazing and learning experience.  I realized that wetsuits, no matter how restricting they may feel, are very nice to have.  There were three men and zero women who were not wearing them.  I was one.  So note 1: next time get a wetsuit and practice taking it off.
Start and finish of the swim at about 6:30 AM
My bike in the transition area with about 20 minutes until the start.

That being said, my swim was very poor.  It took me 7 minutes and 46 seconds to go the 400 m.  I couldn't find a rhythm and I kept drinking gulps of lake water (this might have helped my hydration, but I would have preferred drinking clear water opposed to brackish silt water).  Coming towards the last 50 m or so, I took a look back and noticed there weren't too many green swim caps.  That view reinforced how poorly I was doing and inspired me to hit the bike and run extra hard.  Thank goodness the swim was so short. This won't be the case in my next race.  More on that later.  On to the bike portion.  I'll skip a description of the transition phase since all that occurred was putting on my shirt, shoes, helmet and sunglasses then running out of the transition area.
Heading out of the transition area for the start of the bike leg.

Right of the start the bike started with a steep 50 m hill and a mile of mellow hills.  Once I reached the flat section, it was all about keeping a strong pace.  I kept my cadence between 90 and 100 rpm, which is how I like to ride, and the speed at 22-25 mph.  After such a bad swim, I kept thinking how I need to hammer the bike and go all out on the run.  But there was this voice in my head questioning if my pace was too hard and would I blow up in the run?  Well I put those thoughts in the back and continued pushing the bike because I passed about 5 to 8 riders.  I really can't remember how many but the fact alone felt good and helped me forget the first leg.  As the transition area came back into view, I tried unbuckling my shoes so that I could get my feet out and on top of the shoes but it didn't really work.  Next time I'll start that earlier and make sure I'm barefoot off the bike.  In the end I had a 29 min ride.  Overall 20 mph pace.  Not bad for my inexperience.
Coming in off the bike leg.

Transition 2-  1 minute and 13 seconds earned me the 56th rank on T-2.  What happened?  I'm blaming it on the shoelaces.  While everyone else had these neat clips that allowed them to just pull the laces up and it automatically held them in place, I was busy double knotting mine because they are so long.  Note 2: gotta go find those.  It'll probably save me at least 30 seconds.  That's a lifetime in these short races.  Ironman races?  Forget 30 seconds.  That's nothing.  Anyways on to the run.

Funny thing happened in that first half-mile.  I noticed how my legs felt full of lead, my feet were numb and I forgot to put on my wristwatch.  Note 3: wear a watch.  So I had no idea how fast I was running nor could my legs and feet give me an idea of my speed.  After a half-mile of feet slapping concrete, the blood finally circulated and I found a fast but comfortable rhythm.  I wasn't sure exactly how the course was laid out because I didn't actually look at it before.  Note 4: preview the course.  Ok, ready for the exciting part?  I am, this still gets me excited thinking about it.  Half way through the run, I saw a racer up ahead and I was steadily gaining ground.  I couldn't quite make out his number at first (the volunteers put our ages on the back of our left calf), it looked like a 20, 30, or 40.   But as I reeled him in, I noticed that it was a 30, like mine.  This guy is in my age group and I'm about to pass him!  No sideways glance, no spoken words, just zipping past.  I wasn't sure if he would increase his pace once he noticed my number and I didn't look back to find out.  (Sports psychology has taught me a backward glance infuses the chaser with confidence because it's a sign of worry.  I wasn't about to give him that edge)  Another mile was left to go and I was feeling good.  Quick cadence and strong legs propelled me into view of the finish, where I could see the clock.  First look brought a realization that I was about to break an hour.  Yup 59 minutes and 4 seconds!  I finished my first triathlon!  With a good time to boot!
Look at that smile.  I was feeling mighty good at this point.

In the finish area, the first racers were chatting while rehydrating.  I figured I might as well do the same.  Time to share accomplishments and pick some brains about techniques.  I wasn't sure how well I placed yet but soon after the race director notified the crowd through his bullhorn that up-to-date results had been posted.  Most of the races, including myself walked over to the trailer to look at times.  And what did my eye behold, but an 11th place finish with a 3rd in my age group.  All I did was walk away with the biggest grin on my face.  I knew I was going home with a medal and the satisfaction that all my hard work paid off in the end.
Not all of the results, but the ones that matter.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A lot of time has passed since I've posted and quite a bit has happened since then.  I finished my first semester back in college, spent all of May in WA, completed my first triathlon, and I donated all of my hair to Locks of Love.  I'd say that was a pretty good start to the summer.

Now that I'm back in Bozeman, it's time to refocus on some of my priorities.  Namely improving my Spanish, finding a job, and practicing some smarter training for my future races.  There are two Spanish clubs here that I'll be joining this week.  One through the school and the other through  These will reinforce the learning I'll be doing in my class and provide some time to practice it off the cuff.

Have I ever mentioned what a great program couchsurfing is?  Well if I haven't, I'd like to say that it has been very helpful in meeting new people in the area and other travelers like myself (even though I haven't done much lately).  There are less than a million people living in MT but it receives over four million visitors each year.  I'm looking forward to meeting some of these travelers this Summer.  Hopefully I'll have some time to get out there and appreciate this beautiful area with them.

Just a heads up, I'm going to get a bit random from this point.

Back in early March made a piece of art for my sister's birthday.  I posted a photo of it before it had gone in the kiln.  This is the finished form.  You can see the waves in it.  This was planned so that a candle could rest in the center.  I really like how the background glass adds a movement of passing wind.  I hope I can do some more experimenting in the future. If you ever go to Whitefish, MT, check out Stumptown Art Center.  They've got a neat thing going on up there.

The Black Keys handling business at the Key Arena.  
Super talented guys with blues in the soul and rock 'n roll running through their veins.
My friend Steve has got a nice bloom going on in his front yard.  These Irises were flooding the hill with such a vibrant color.  I wanted to snip a few but thought they were too pretty to take. 
I spent all of May at my parent's house helping with some projects.  The neighbors got a new puppy.  She's a Shiba Inu and she liked sitting on this rock watching us work in the yard.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Spring Biking in Yellowstone

     I live in Montana, mountains are cool, what do you expect?  Everywhere you look there is a mountain with a name.  If you're fortunate, there is a signpost nearby.  For those eagle scouts out there, a detailed topography map and compass.  Put me in the former group.

     Yellowstone opened today!  For bikes and walkers that is.  The west highway from Mammoth Hot Springs to West Yellowstone opened to outdoor enthusiasts on either foot or wheel.  I took the opportunity to drive up to Mammoth and get my first Spring ride in.  For the occasion I threw a new chain and some click-in pedals on the ride.  I figured I might as well get serious about the bike gear and pony up some cash for shoes and pedals.  Best investment yet.  To my initial dismay, just past the car barricade, the asphalt looked like it had been replaced with a dirt road.  My first thought was that I should have brought the mountain bike I don't own.  Thankfully, 50 yards ahead uphill the road showed its true color.  Fairly smooth pavement.

        I was unsure of how far I should go.  So to Norris would be my destination.  42 miles roundtrip.
I'd say the road is mostly up hill to Norris.  Which made the return trip that much more fun.  Cruising in big gears all the way back.  What a relief. That was my longest ride to date.  But that record will be surpassed next weekend.  If it's nice out, I'll keep on trucking to Madison.  I'm looking forward to seeing see more buffalo, mudpots, waterfalls, and sunshine too.

       Oh, hey Mt. Holmes!  Thanks for the boost earlier.  I'll get you back next time.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


 How does it look 
when split in two;
What do you have?
a photon with shoes.
           In the Sun, slick sidewalks lose their hold.

 Raise your hands if you like tan lines!

 Postcard worthy?

20 different
paintings lie visible 
                                                                                                            atop their ancestors

Lone Peak, Big Sky, MT

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring Break in MT

Last week was Spring Break, so instead of driving all the way down to Laramie to visit my sister (sorry, we'll see each other this summer) I went up to Whitefish for a bit of snowboarding and to check out Stumptown Art Studio again.  The latter is becoming one of my favorite places in the state.  I always get inspired in there.  The people working, the mantra; they got a cool thing going on up there.  Maybe it's Glacier's stark cool blue ice sending down its healing waters towards Flathead Lake.  I'd like to find out one day, but leaving the magic be a mystery is fine by me.

Flathead lake, looking North

13th Annual Nate Chute

I want this chandelier.  Stained glass is always cool.

He's made from felt!

A birthday present.  Later on it was melted down and all the
glass was fused together, then slumped into a candle holder shape.
I still haven't seen it past this stage.  I'm quite curious.

Kalispell original 
Wouldn't this make a cool piggy bank, albeit a heavy one.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Recent Doodles and a Bon Voyage

Classes have taken over most of my free time lately, 
so my productivity in creation has slackened a bit.  
That and my new conga drum 
has been keeping me preoccupied.  
When I visited Dublin in July last year.  I came home with some coasters from the Guinness factory.  This little guy was staring at me with a smirk.  I had to turn him into an expat.  


I came across an interesting website that is basically a paint application with a few tweaks.  It was fun letting the lines connect to each other.  Scribbles

Since my roommate will be racing in Europe much longer than he originally anticipated.  I celebrated my last beverage in Rodney Dangerfield's face with a photo.  ¡Ciao!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Artemesia Gentileschi

A Baroque painter who worked amongst the Caravaggisti.


Saint Cecilia Playing a Flute


Judith Beheading Holofernes

Susanna and the Elders