Monday, November 25, 2013

IM Arizona 2013 – The Day has arrived………


“John Tate, You are an Ironman.”   What a great thing to hear as you cross the finish line of your first Ironman.  



David and I got to Tempe on Thursday and after I dropped him at the Hotel, I jetted out to meet Laurel and Bill at a little athlete’s get together.  It was great to see her and finally meet Bill in person.  They are such great people and friends too. 

Bill, Laurel and me.

Friday morning found David and I heading out to the B-Line to go for a practice ride so David could get a feel for part of the bike course.  It was a very nice ride.  Thanks to Laurel, I was able to ride the course back in May.  It was a lot different as I was now riding it on my TT bike and had a few months of conditioning under my belt.  The pace David set felt good and I felt like I could keep my goal of maintaining an average speed of 18mph on the course during the race and having enough left for the run.


David getting ready for his first ride on the B-Line
Where's the Beach?

I can still remember riding with Laurel on my rented road bike and her on her mountain bike training for Leadville.  She killed me.  We went down into Fountain Hill area for a detour at the turnaround.  What a gorgeous community.  On the way back into town we came across what must have been a couple hundred CO2 cartridges spread out on the side of the road.  Laurel, being the ecologically minded person, one of her many fine qualities, stopped and we picked them all up.  Filling up our water bottles and our bike jerseys we headed back to the shop and put them in the recycling bin.  Found out they were spent cartridges’ the Arizona Department of Transportation discarded after use.  Shame on you ADOT!!!!!

Friday afternoon David and I went for a short run to shake things out and take a look at the turnaround point of the swim course.  Then Saturday morning we headed down to the water for a nice little practice swim.  Felt good getting in the water and getting a feel for the temperature, it took the edge off the nerves a bit too.


Race Day

Swim
Pretty crazy!!!  Got up early and started my pre-race nutrition plan.  I was nervous as all get out.  A bit excited too.  Just wanted to get in the water and get going.  We donned our wetsuits and I gave Robin one last kiss and headed to the start of a very long day.  I had planned to stay to the right and back of the swim group as I had done in previous open water situations.  However, somehow I found myself right in the middle of the pack.  The cannon went off and the craziness began.  Swimmers climbing over you, grabbing your feet, hitting you as their hands entered the water trying to get the best positioning for themselves.  After a couple hundred yards I found a pretty nice line and was able to get into my rhythm.  Because of the craziness, I didn’t have to spend too much time sighting.  I did however find myself staying right on course with the buoys.  Not sure if it was the best plan, but I managed a pretty good swim (1:39) for this non-swimmers body and my first real mass(ive) swim start.  Out of the water and heading for T1 was a great feeling.  I was anxious to get on the bike and get going.

Race Morning.  The last smile of the day until we cross the finish line.



And they're off!

Bike

Seeing Robin as I was mounting my bike and heading out was awesome!  Her smile and encouragement is always an inspiration for me during these events.  I was on my way and feeling great.  My goal for the ride was to get it done under 6:30.  No crosswinds on race day made for a nice fast ride.  I had just gotten out on the B-Line when David hollered at me as he was heading back into town to start his 2nd loop.  All I kept thinking to myself, I wasn’t going to let him catch me.  I stuck to my nutrition plan and rode through every aid station taking in some fluids.   

I kept looking at the horizon for the different landmarks I stashed away in my head from my two rides on the course and many sessions on the trainer and the Tempe Spinerval DVD, so I had some idea as to how close I was getting to the turnaround.  After the first turnaround I picked up speed as we headed downhill and felt like I was flying with little effort.  I got back into town for the start of my second lap and once again, there was Robin.  Smiling and cheering me on.  

As I approached the turnaround out on the course I really had to use the restroom.  However, there was a line so I kept going and finally stopped at an aid station on the way back after getting off of the B-Line, as there was no line.  The folks took my bike, filled my water bottles for me while I was doing my thing.  I took off and about a couple hundred yards from the station my rear wheel flattened. Mile 65, flat tire, great!!!!  I quickly changed it and was back out on the road.  It was a good thing that at the last minute before we left Portland, I decided to buy another stem extender and set up a tube in case I had a rear flat as I didn’t want to have to take the only one I had off and put it on a new tube on the course. That little bit of planning really paid off.  It was the best $4.00 I have ever spent.

As I came into the chute heading for T2, there was Robin, again cheering me on.  I managed to finish the bike within my goal with a time of 6:14, which gave me an overall pace of 17.9mph, with 2 bathroom breaks and 1 flat repair.  And David didn’t lap me, I was very happy.




Coming back into town.

Run

I was two-thirds done and ahead of my goal time.  I headed out on the run and was still feeling pretty good, tired, but good.  I watched my pace as I was going a bit too fast at first and needed to slow down.  I was wearing my Hoka One One’s and in training they always felt great after the bike.  Felt like I was running on pillows.  Felt the same on this day too, which was a pleasant feeling.  David hollered at me again on the run course.  It was nice to see him throughout the race.  It always gave me a boost, right when I needed it.  Of course, once again I couldn’t let him lap me, so that was my focus on the first half of the run, keep going and don’t look back.

The run course was absolutely gorgeous as it was along the riverbank on both sides.  Throughout my training the past year, I spent numerous hours and miles running around the waterfront in downtown Portland where we live.  So I kept associating my run in Arizona with different spots back home.  I kept telling myself, I was just out for another long Sunday morning training run.  It really helped. 


First half of the run along the riverbank.

I had planned on running through the aid stations my first few miles.  I stuck to the plan but also knew I needed to slow down a bit or I would blow up later.  I didn’t slow down to my preplanned race pace until somewhere around mile 9.  Later, this would end up being a big mistake.  I did see Bill, Laurels boyfriend, and said Hi as I went through one of the aid stations.  He yelled out my name over the loudspeaker as I went by.  It was really nice seeing a familiar face at that point. 

I made it to the halfway point and no David, so I was happy and proceeded on my second lap as it was starting to get dark.  About mile 18 I started to fall apart and I wasn't sure why.  I made sure I was taking in my nutrition as planned, walked through a few aid stations, and didn’t go all out on the swim and run.  I just felt spent.  Then it hit me; I should have slowed down much sooner in the beginning of the run.  Told myself so many times I would not go out too fast on the run, but I did.  That is lack of experience for you.  Too late now, for the first time in the event I was in fear of the possibility of not finishing. 

I almost got into a panic and overwhelming sense of failure.  A solid year of Ironman preparation and training to get here and then to fail on a stupid avoidable mistake, I felt a bit of depression coming on.  Then all of a sudden, there was my angel in disguise, Robin.  I handed her my sunglasses and she walked with me for about a half mile.  Giving me the encouragement I needed.  My energy was renewed and off I went, running to the next aid station as I smiled and told her I would meet her at the finish line.  I was not about to give up at this point!

I ran to each aid station then walked through them and ran to the next.  The last 4 however, my adrenaline kicked in and I ran through the rest, and skipping the last two, running all the way to the finish line.  I rounded the corner and headed down the finishers chute, I was about to finish my first Ironman.   I was so overwhelmed with joy hearing Mike Reilly say those coveted words, “John Tate, You are an Ironman.” and better yet, to see Robin (and David) at the finish just made one of the toughest and longest days of my life perfect and complete.  My goal was to finish my first Ironman in less than 14 hours, and finish strong.  Mission accomplished; 13:51 and with a big smile on my face.

What a very long day!

 
Will I ever do another Ironman? Absolutely!!!!

Acknowledgements

5 years ago, after a heart attack, the doctor told me I had 3-5 years left on this planet if I didn't change something in my life.  What a wakeup call and dose of reality.  I had to change as I did not want to leave my true love alone.

5 years later, filled with a lot of change and training, hearing those ever coveted words over the loudspeaker, "John Tate, you are an Ironman."  They were the second best words I have ever heard. Robin saying "I do", still number one.  

The journey to IMAZ 2013 was filled with so many wonderful experiences.  I met and shared time with some of the most wonderful people I have ever met.  Was it easy, No! But then again, nothing worth anything is ever easy.

David Hopper has been such a positive and great influence in my life.  Getting me to do my first marathon (Eugene 2013) all the way to finishing my first Ironman, he was there all the way with undying support and a fountain of knowledge.  I could not have accomplished all I did this past year in getting to Arizona without him. He was (and is) such an inspiration and mentor.   Thank you David for everything, I could not have done it all without you.  All the training in the freezing cold, rain and heat of the summer was a lot of fun and at times a bit painful, but well worth it.  You are a true friend and I am so glad our paths have crossed.  I look forward to our next adventure, whatever that might be.

Thanks to Laurel Darren, Ertan, Ami B., Will Cortez, Athlete’s Lounge, Vernier Software and Technology, and a host of others, for all your help and support in fulfilling a dream.

A Big Thanks also goes out to my mother and family for believing in me and not writing me off.
 
And of course, Thanks has to go out to my strongest supporter, my lovely wife, Robin.  We did it sweetheart!  We turned it all around, from a hospital bed and downward spiral 5 years ago to finishing an Ironman.  You stuck with me, had faith in me, always encouraged me when I thought I couldn’t, took care of the household when I needed to train long, took the dog out in the rain, gave me dry shirts on my 6 hour indoor trainer rides, carting my bike, running and swimming gear around on every vacation, you made so many sacrifices, so that I could complete a dream.   I bow down to you and your immense patience with me during this journey.  Thank You my love! 



Athlete's dinner with my true Love, Robin.

The journey to IMAZ 2013 has come to an end.  But as one chapter ends, another begins.  What next?  Stay tuned and remember, no matter the situation, and no matter what people tell you, it’s still up to you and only you to determine the outcome and your future.  You can accomplish anything you want.  You just have to believe in yourself, have patience and don’t let go of your dream.  It also takes a lot of support from those around you who really care and truly love you.
 
Morgan Freeman, in the Shawshank Redemption said it best, “Get busy livin, or get busy dyin.”  I chose to get busy livin(g) and I haven’t looked back since.  Until the next adventure, I wish everyone the best in fulfilling your dreams and aspirations.


John “Ironman” Tate

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The race - David

Pre-race - John and I got in to town Thursday.  My mom flew in with us but she left to visit with her friend for a couple of days.  I was a little paranoid that something was going to happen to my bike in transit, but it made it just fine.   In the days leading up to the race, we were able to enjoy the college town in Tempe.  We also did the all the normal athlete stuff - athlete dinner, practice swim, bike checkin, etc. without issue.  I was able to see my friend James who had a booth for his business set up in the athlete village.   The night before the race John, Robin, my mom and her friend, and my friend Matt's family were all able to meet up for a nice pasta dinner.
Sunday morning we were up early and were able to find pretty good parking.   Ironman is super well organized and we didn't have much problem getting our gear together and getting body-marked.  The port-a-potty lines were humongous but we expected that and got in and out in plenty of time.   Before we knew it we were all lined up with the masses getting ready to jump in the water.


Swimming from the entry point to the start


Swim - We jumped in to the water a few minutes before the start and had to swim up to the start area.  It was pretty congested and I had read so much conflicting information about where to line up that in the end I just swam up near the middle  and probably 8-10 rows back.    My goggles never fog, but they decided to fog up completely on race day.   So, I really couldn't see much of anything once we got going.  I just tried to follow the splashing in front of me.  There were people all around me most of the way out.  I never really saw a buoy at all until the turn buoy.   On the way back I ended up way to the right of everyone else.  I knew it probably wasn't ideal but I enjoyed the little serenity I got out there.   It's really a long ways to swim, especially when you haven't really trained for the distance.  I felt OK but it just seemed like we were out there forever.    I had to wait for a bit to get up the stairs because it was crowded.  Then, I didn't have the strength to pull myself up without some help!  I had a person or two yell at me for holding up the line but there was nothing I could do about it.   I looked at my watch at the top of the stairs and was surprised at how slow I was - 1:24.   My slowest IM swim by a long ways.   Oh well.  Glad that was over.  It seemed like a long day already.  After the swim I was 255th in my age group (40-44) and 1471st overall (right smack in the middle of the field).


Bike -  I got through transition pretty quickly and on to the bike.  The course is about 19 miles out, with a 4 mile small hill at the end and then returning on the same route.  Then repeat this loop 2 more times.  The loops make it pretty easy to break up the course in to manageable sections.  Cycling is my strongest discipline so the first 19 miles was just passing people the entire time.   I probably passed about 500 people (no exaggeration) on the first leg.  We we crested the hill and came back there was a tailwind so it was very fast.  At some point on the way back I saw John going the other way.  I thought I'd see him many more times with all the out-and-backs but that wasn't the case.  At the end of the first lap I had an average speed over 23mph, but was riding easily so all was good.   I saw my mom and her friend for a split second at the turn around.  Somewhere in the early part of the 2nd lap I actually got caught from behind by a big fast looking guy.  I stayed with him the entire outbound leg.  It was a nice mental break to have someone else dictate the pace, even if I didn't get any physical benefit from it.  At the turn-around I was expecting a nice tailwind again but the wind had changed and I think we might have actually had a bit of a headwind this time.  There were 3 or 4 other people that tried to latch on to the fast guy after the turn-around and because of drafting rules it made it a little difficult to stay close to him.  He got a gap and it didn't seem like a smart move to chase him down so I was once again by myself for the rest of the 2nd lap.   On the 3rd lap I found myself going about the same speed as another guy.  Not sure if I caught him or he caught me but we seemed pretty compatible so I let him set the pace for most of the 3rd lap.  With about 10 miles to go I realized that I had a good shot at going sub 5 on the bike so I left that guy behind to try to accomplish that.   In the end, I did a 4:58 and change for a 22.5mph average.  And, I was still feeling quite good.  After the bike, I moved up to 63rd in my age group and 325th overall (passed 1146 people on the bike!).

Finishing up the bike ride


Run - I was looking forward to using the bathroom in T2, but all of the port-a-potties were full!  So, I had to stop in the first half mile of the run.   As is always the case, the legs take some time to get used to running.  And, my HR was way too high so I had to ease up.  I passed the fast cyclist guy in the first half-mile and I could tell he was in for a VERY long day.   By mile 2 I was feeling pretty horrible.  I couldn't get my heartrate down and I felt like I was losing energy so from that point on I walked through every aid station (every mile) and ate and drank something.  There were times when I still felt horrible but all-in-all I felt like this was something I could sustain.   I started feeling good just before the mile 7 aid station so I decided to run through that one.  Big mistake.  Soon after I started feeling miserable again so I went back to my plan.   You can see my walking breaks here:


The course is 2 loops and I was able to see John as I was finishing up my 2nd loop (he was 4 miles in to his first loop and looking good).    At mile 17, I looked at my watch and was at 9:25.  My IM PR was 10:55.  I had 90 minutes to do 9 miles.  Oh man.  Do-able, but just barely.   I kept up with my strategy and was just slightly behind my needed pace at mile 23.  At this point, it started to get dark which gave me some new energy for some reason.  I gave it everything I had and skipped the last couple of walking breaks.   The last mile seemed to drag on forever and it was dark enough that I couldn't see my watch anymore.  I was so happy to round that last corner and see that I had made it!  10:53:44.   A new PR by about 90 seconds!   I ended up 69th in my age group, and 365th overall.



I got a little dizzy after the race and had to sit down for awhile.  The awesome volunteers stayed with me and picked up my medal, shirt and hat for me.  Once I got some salt in me I started feeling better.  

I continued to feel pretty miserable the rest of the day, but was able to meet up with all of our supporters and see John finish strongly a short time later.   

Ironman #7 complete.  Not feeling the need to do another one any time soon, but I'm sure I'll be back at some point.   For now, my focus has turned to the Boston marathon (my first) in April.







Wednesday, November 13, 2013

IM Arizona Prediction


I see David posted his history of past Ironman events and what his predictions for this one will be.  I think he definitely has a chance for a PR on this one.  Go David!!!!   He has done the training, and the weather looks like it is going to be cool and mild.  Which will make for a nice race experience.

So, I guess I should post my predictions.

Previous Ironman events, Zero.

This weekends prediction; finish and finish strong!!!  Meaning running the whole marathon.

Actually, I am hoping for 1:45 for the swim, around a 6:30 for the bike and 5:00 for the run. With transitions, a total time of around 13:30.

I will have to admit, I am a bit nervous right now.  I did as much research as possible on what it takes to train for an Ironman, put a plan together for the year, executed the plan and adjusted accordingly throughout the year.  Watched my nutrition, lost a bunch of weight (30 pounds), Did a couple of half marathons, a full marathon, a half Ironman, and an Ironman relay (swim portion) to test my nutrition plan, and see where I am in my training. It all comes down to this Sunday.

I am looking forward to seeing Laurel, my Arizona friend, who took time out of her day before work at 6:00 am one morning, meeting me at Tri-Sports in Tempe early in the year the taking me and my rental bike on one loop of the bike course, with a detour through Fountain Hill at the turn-around.  It's been an amazing year.

We are headed to the Airport tomorrow morning and will arrive in Tempe around 2:30pm.  I shipped my bike through TriBike Transport and hope to make it to the pickup site before they close on Thursday.  David and I would really like to get in a little ride on the course early Friday morning, check out the run course and get a swim in on Saturday morning.  Other than that, relax, rest and get ready for our long day on Sunday.

I wish David and all the other athletes out there the best race ever this Sunday.

John



My IM history and predictions

I've done 6 IM's over the years:


Racehigh tempSwimT1BikeT2RunOverall timeOverall placeAG Place
IM California 2001691:13:416:20:005:21:303:29:004:22:5211:07:51371/155992/299
IM Canada 2002781:13:084:57:005:18:371:44:004:17:0210:55:28361/194590/335
IM CDA 2003931:10:184:51:005:27:405:37:005:46:4112:35:05494/1344113/213
IM CDA 2006891:19:187:18:005:27:458:04:005:23:3212:25:56565/1920136/340
IM Canada 2007721:18:396:11:005:32:326:01:004:49:1311:52:36771/2445154/350
IM Canada 2011861:19:2210:42:005:28:083:06:004:42:5511:44:11532/2565114/386


I think my swimming is right in line with what I've done in the last 3 races, maybe slightly slower.  I predict a 1:22.
My cycling is simply not as good as it has been in the past.  I contribute this to my lack of bike racing this year (only 2 races!).   But, I HAVE put in all the long miles on the TT bike.   So, with the flat course I predict somewhere between 5:15 - 5:30 on the bike if all goes smoothly.  
With transitions, that should get me to the start of the marathon in just under 7 hours.   That gives me a "chance" to go sub 11 with a decent 4 hour marathon.  Note that my best IM marathon is 4:17.   Things can and often do go really wrong in the IM marathon.  Still, I think it's possible.   I did run 3:09 and 3:10 in my 2 open marathons in the last year, so I SHOULD be able to go under 4.   That's the plan!


Friday, November 8, 2013

2013 Kona World Championship



What A Great Day!!

Mirinda Carfrae winning Kona 2013
What a great day it was.  My wife and I flew to Kona for a 2 week stay.  I wanted to watch the World Championship this year and it gave me the chance to continue my training for IM Arizona in a nice and WARM place.  Our day started at 3:00 am.  We arose and headed the back way to Kona from Wiamea.  We found a spot to park at Walmart and walked down to the sea wall from there.  Found a great spot and waited for the race to start. Before the cannon went off for the pros, there was a lot of activity both in the crowd and all the volunteers going through their briefings and heading out on their paddle boards, outriggers, etc.

Swim start from Sea Wall on Ali'i Drive


Outrigger blowing Conk Shell 

                       
         
Volunteers getting ready and heading out


Age Groupers prepare to enter the water

Early morning crowd waiting in anticipation of the swim start

The cannon goes off and the pro men take off.  The crowd cheers with excitement as the women prepare to start.  Moments later, the second cannon goes off and startled everyone around us.  The announcer calls for the age groupers to start making their way to the starting line.  Some hold back until the last possible moment while others took advantage and got a little warm-up swim in.  Some age groupers headed toward the seawall to look for family and get a last glimpse of their smiles before heading out on a very long day of racing.  The cannon sounds and they are off.


Age Grouper and one last "Good Luck" from the family before heading to the starting line



Thumbs Up!!!!  We're good to go.



Happy to be here



Gathering thoughts.


And they're off............




Pro Men Lead Pack.  Pretty Tight!


A little sunscreen please.



One down, two to go.




Palani Loop



A little "Down Under" support



Mini Pace Car.


We took a bit of a break and headed to Walmart where we parked. After a bite to eat and something to drink we headed back down to the event where I managed to find a great spot to watch the runners coming up from T2 and heading out.  It was really great to see the leaders heading out on their run.






3 Time World Champion and course record holder Craig "Crowie" Alexander





Meredith Kessler.  You Go Girl!!!!!



Rinny on the run


Time to start making our way to the finish line.  Won't be long until we see these folks again for the last time of the day.  How exciting!!



Finish Line Prep



The infamous Mike Reilly



Frederik Van Lierde - 2013 Ironman World Champion



Victory is sweet!


Focused!


Probably the last one for Crowie.




The Blazerman Roll.  What a way to end the day............

It was quite the day for everyone.  We started at 3:00 am, heading toward the town of Kona.  Made our way around the course in town throughout the day to get a good look at the athletes in different stages of their event.  It was quite the site.  The air was full of excitement and energy.  We couldn't have asked for a better day during our stay, at least for me.  Being able to spend time, over the course of the 2 weeks we were their, training with and watching some of the greatest Triathletes in the world was an experience I will never forget.  And to be able to share the experience with Robin, priceless.

The 2013 Ironman World Championship has come to an end, but the memories will last a lifetime.  I fell lucky and blessed to have been able to share the experience with so many people.  This trip was another milestone for me in my journey to my first Ironman in Arizona.  What an inspiration all of these great athletes have been for me.  I may never cross the finish line at a World Championship,but being there, watching these great athletes cross the finish line, made me feel like anything is possible.  In their own way, they have made a dream of mine become a reality.  

As I head to Arizona next week, I will be thinking about this day and everything that has lead up to it.  The fun, the hard work, all the many hours of training, the pain and suffering and sacrifices made along the way.  The journey has been great, however, it isn't over yet.  The best part is yet to come.  I am both excited and nervous about next weeks race.  The best thing of all, Robin will be there, as she has been at all my races.  And when I start to feel like I may not be able to go on, I look up, and see her in the crowd.  My spirits are lifted, my batteries recharge.  The best part of all, her smile, it breathes fire and life back into my tired body giving me the energy to keep moving.  Making my dreams become reality.  

I could have never accomplished what I have so far on this journey without her.  Her love and support has been more than I could have ever asked for.  

Next stop, Tempe...........

John  










Monday, November 4, 2013

Kona Training


Robin and I had an opportunity to head to Hawaii for a couple of weeks this year during the time the World Championship was being held.  I was pretty excited about the opportunity to not only watch the event, but also spend two weeks training for Arizona in such a beautiful paradise.  

We were fortunate enough to stay in a friends house in Waimea, just north of Kona about 40 miles.  I rented a road bike, Specialized Roubaix, from Bike Works to use for training for a week.  I was also looking forward to taking advantage of all the open water available for swimming.  And running, well, we were staying on a ranch so there were miles of roads and trails at our doorstep which made for some very beautiful runs.

Nice day for a run.
One of my long runs was a 20 miler toward the end of our stay with an overall elevation gain around 1000 feet.  It was a gorgeous day, of course, is there any other type of day in Hawaii.  

20 mile run elevation map

My last long swim was a 3 miler.  We managed to find a "limited public access" to a beach in one of the resorts that had some pristine conditions.  It was a quarter mile across which was perfect for 1/2 mile laps.  The first swim I did in the cove was just one lap to get a feel for the water and surroundings. Lots of pretty cool fish below to watch while swimming.  Okay, look forward and quit paying attention to the fish below.  We need to practice our sighting skills in open water.  One thing about the cove is that since it had very limited public parking spaces available, you had to get there between 6:30 and 7:30 in the morning or they filled up.  So we were up early on swim days, which was pretty much every day, in order to get there in time, secure our spot and hit the quiet beach.

My Open Water Lap Pool.  1/2 mile laps.


3 miles in 2:15.  Not the fastest, but not bad.


The bike training was a blast.  Spent all of my training on the Ironman route down the Queen K Hwy and up to Hawi.  The route wasn't nearly as flat as I thought.  Robin was great on my long training rides.  She would drive up the road, pull over and hand off new water bottles when I needed them.  I was able to stick to my nutrition plan without carrying a lot of fluid on the bike.  She was pretty much my mobile aid station.  Having her there also helped on brick runs.  Being able to hand off the bike, put on my running shoes and take off in a couple of minutes was great race simulation training.  

Of course the days leading up to the World Championship, the Queen K catered to quite a number of athletes getting used to the course and trade-winds. I met some very nice athletes during my training sessions.  It was probably the closest I would ever get to sharing the Queen K with the pro's and other World Championship qualifiers.  

Queen K Elevation Map


Before our trip I had won a photo contest at the local tri shop here in Portland, Athletes Lounge.  As soon as I found out, I headed down to the shop, picked up my gift certificate and immediately used it to purchase the new Specialized Evade aero helmet to take on the trip.  What a great helmet.  Kept my head cool during the hours I spent on the road and was very comfortable to wear.

New Specialized Evade Helmet


Coming into Robin's aid station to swap water bottle




And I'm off again, what a great backdrop for a long morning ride


During one of my rides I stopped by the Expo and ran into one of our Portland Pro's, Chris Bagg. Doing his time in the PowerBar booth.  It was great talking to him, gaining some valuable advice from a pro, loading up on fluids and the endurance energy blends they had, pretty tasty.  I also learned that his wife, Amy, was competing in the World Championship.  Way To Go Amy!!!!

Learn more about Amy and Chris here http://chrisbagg.com/coaching-files-qualifying-amy/

Chris and his lovely wife, Amy.
Well, two weeks went by pretty fast and before I knew it, we were back in Portland.  Monday was a very cold bike ride into work.  We're not in Hawaii anymore Toto.  It sure was nice to not have to worry about anything on vacation other than training and resting.  Even with all the training I did, it was a very relaxing time.  And having my wonderful wife with me the whole time along with all her support, Priceless!! 

John