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.

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!

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