The next challenge! (Also known as: summer is awesome!)

Recently, I got an e-mail I didn’t expect to get. One that made my fall race schedule a little more difficult. See, way back in April or May or something – I don’t know when it was, but what matters is that it was before the opportunity to do the Coeur d’Alene Ironman came up at all – I decided that I would get on the wait list for The Rut 50k. I was 106th on the waiting list. The idea was, if I got in, I would do it. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t. That simple. Leave it up to fate.

For those of you who aren’t in the know, The Rut is nothing to shake a stick at. It’s basically 31 miles of running up and down a ski resort, with 15% of the course taking place off trail. We’re talking 10,000 feet of elevation gain in 50 kilometers. We’re talking scrambling over rocks and scaling mountainsides. We’re talking a¬†minimum¬†elevation of 7,500 feet.

So anyway, in case you hadn’t figured it out by now, at least 106 people decided they weren’t up to the challenge in one way or another, and I got the e-mail saying I had 72 hours to claim my spot if I wanted it. I did some quick math and decided that, based on previous experience, four weeks should be enough to recover from this in time to head down to Kona and rock Ironman Worlds. I claimed my spot and began to plan.

So here’s my race line-up for the rest of the year:

Sept. 6th – Garden City Triathlon (Olympic Distance)

Sept. 13th – The Rut 50k

October 11th – Ironman Kona

That’s it! Only 3 more races this fall., unless I jump in a couple cyclocross races. We’ll see.

Last weekend was a good time. I raced the Polson Triathlon on Saturday, which is one of the best races I have been to. All sorts of good schwag, a great course, good competition, and prize money for the top five.

Polson 2014 Swim Exit
Headed onto the dock for lap 2 of the swim, rockin’ my super-sweet Orca 3.8 Enduro wetsuit.

The race was a fun one. I came out of the water all alone in second place, and was caught by Montana’s rising star of triathlon, Ian Mallams, on the bike. We came off the bike together, after I lost both of us about a minute by taking a wrong turn. Meanwhile, the steadfast race director Matt Seeley was too far ahead for either of us to have any hope of catching, and we had about a 12 minute gap on 4th place. It was a two-man race for second. I knew Ian was a faster runner than I was, but I hung on for dear life as long as I could, figuring if I blew up it wouldn’t really matter as far as place was concerned, and the only way I had any hope was to lay it all on the line.

“As long as I could” turned out to be about 3 miles. After that, as Ian slowly pulled away, I concentrated on not letting the wheels completely come off. I held on to what I figured was a reasonable pace, and cruised home solidly in 3rd place. While my overall time was slower than last year (primarily from the swim, and also the wrong turn on the bike), my run split was over a minute faster.

Polson 2014 Awards
Best award ceremony stage ever.

Sunday was more relaxed. I went on a long, easy morning trail run, then spent the rest of the day picking huckleberries.

Kava may have eaten a few too many huckleberries…bad news.

Also, I learned something new while picking huckleberries: Caterpillars can sting you, and it hurts, quite a lot. So be careful not to kneel on any caterpillars.

Caterpillar Sting
It looks a little gruesome when it’s healing, too. Who knew?

But on the plus side, I can now make:

Huckleberry muffins!
Huckleberry muffins!

August in western Montana is pretty great. Especially when there’s no smoke. Here’s to a great September!

Reunions, concerts, and, yep, another race

I can already tell the second half of the summer is going to be over before I know it. Between Ironman training, helping to organize the Garden City Triathlon, 40 hours a week at the bike shop, and finding time for everyday life, free time is hard to come by these days.

I found time the other weekend to make my way back to Colville for my ten year high school reunion, and I was very glad I went. It was amazing to see so many people from the old days, and really, the class of 2004 hasn’t changed that much. People have careers, families, etc, but deep down they’re all the same people I remember seeing essentially every day for 12 years.

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Just look at that fine group of people, all out in the world achieving their dreams and stuff! Photo by Kimberley LaDuke Photography

So anyway, that was a blast, and I even got to go ride bikes with Colin McGrane. Who knew that ol’ dog would get into cycling!

So then after that, Kailee and I went to go see a concert. Some British guy, I think his name was Paul something. Regardless, he played a great show for the 25,000 of us the crammed into the Griz football stadium.

He used to be in a band. They were pretty obscure, you’ve probably never heard of them.

Oh yeah, and then I did a triathlon. I do those sometimes.

The Bitterroot Classic was a full-on training race for me this year. Hamilton, being 50 miles south of Missoula, is the perfect distance away to make an excuse for a great Ironman training day. On top of that, the race is an afternoon start. I left the house at 7:00 in the morning, met up with a few friends, and rode to the start.

During the race, I will say that I didn’t feel the pep that I would normally prefer to have for a sprint triathlon, but well, that’s what you sacrifice when you start training for longer distances. I was still able to pull through for second place overall behind the one and only Matt Seeley, who effortlessly gapped me on the swim and never looked back. I think he’s been spending some time in that fancy new pool they have up in Polson. Or, at least, more time than I’ve been spending in the Grizzly pool, which is admittedly not enough. But it’s just so nice outside, and riding bikes is so much fun.

The Bitterroot was also a great day for Team Stampede. We took 2nd, 3rd, 7th, and 8th in the men’s race, and Shelly Pedersen pulled off seventh overall in the women’s field, winning her age group. Meanwhile, the Stampede ladies represented well at the Coeur d’Alene Triathlon; Pam Estill won her age group, Shanna Stack was third, and Debbie Smith was third in the Athena category. Go team!

After the race, the ride home was a bit more up-tempo than the ride down. It was good to get some miles in the legs, and a huge thanks to Ali Bronsdon for riding all the way there and all the way back with me. Last year, I did the ride home all alone, and I’ll definitely say it felt a lot shorter this year.

Three days till the Polson Triathlon, then finishing the necessary work that needs to be done for Garden City on September 6th!