Saturday, June 29, 2013

Rev3 Quassy June 1: Hilary's Race Report

We picked this race for a couple of reasons: we'd heard great things from our tri friends about the Rev3 races in general, and this particular one takes place very close to my parents' house, providing a very convenient base of operations. After several years of sprint-distance triathlons, both Alex and I stepped up to do our first Olympic-distance races last year and will be doing several more this year.

We headed down to my parents' on Friday afternoon, in time to get in a short practice swim and pick up our race packets at the amusement park. A bunch of fellow Capital Multisporters joined us in using Woodbury as a home base, and we had a jolly pasta party on Friday night. On race day we were up bright and early and my dad dropped us off at the park so that we didn't have to deal with parking. We'd left our bikes in transition on Friday night, as required (big floodlights and security overnight for the several million dollars worth of tri bikes!) and I was happy to find that we had plenty of space in transition to set up our gear and our places were even marked with name tags. The water was beautiful and we went for a quick warm-up swim as the early waves started.

Swim: 1500 meters, 31:06, 27/55 in age group
The water was gorgeous, in the high 60s, and felt perfect with a wetsuit . I positioned myself toward the back of my wave, as usual, and was really pleased that the churning and occasional knocking-about of the start didn't
faze me. I set out at my slow-and-steady pace and tried to sight often enough to stay on course. Then suddenly around the second buoy, two-tenths of a mile in, I started to feel uncomfortable. I didn't get whacked by anyone or inhale water or anything, and it wasn't that I felt physically tired or out of breath. Panic attack is too dramatic, but whatever it was, I pulled up and breast-stroked for a little bit (probably 30 seconds or so though it felt longer) and then managed to talk my head back into the game. The entire rest of the swim was totally fine! The middle leg was a bit difficult because it was head-on into the sun, which made sighting tough, but except for one instance where a friendly paddle boarder headed me off to set me straight, it was uneventful. I was generally pleased when I hit the shore and headed into transition.

Bike: 24.8 miles, 1:24:29, 5/55 in age groupThe Quassy bike is notoriously difficult and hilly. I'd prepared well by riding the course several times on trips home to visit my folks, and by doing some very hilly training rides in the Concord area, and I felt ready for a strong bike leg. And that's exactly what I got! The Rev3 mechanic made a couple of quick fixes the night before, including sorting out a shifting problem, and my bike handled beautifully. I was able to drink a whole bottle of raspberry Skratch and even ate a couple pieces of Picky Bar (which I never want to do when racing). I felt strong on the hills and passed a lot of people, moving way up in my age group standings. I saw a few teammates en route, which was fun, and even the final long hill didn't seem so bad. Here's the gorgeous view we were treated to at the top of that final hill:

My bike leg was 10 minutes faster than my fastest training ride, and I was pretty sure I'd left enough in the tank for the run, as well. The only thing I'd change for the next race is to remember to re-set my Garmin before the race starts so I'm not trying to clear it on the fly! Very silly.

Run: 10K/6.2 miles, 54:53, 17/55 in age groupThe run course is also very hilly, and I'd developed a good Concord approximation course and ran it several times to get ready. The first couple of miles are mostly flat and slightly downhill, and the plan was just to settle in. My legs felt ok, though a little rubbery, which is normal coming off the bike. Though I didn't
feel like I was going fast, my watch told me I was around 8:00 pace. A little faster than planned, but felt good so decided to go with it. I made a quick pit stop at the Mile 2 portapotty and then headed into the hilly section. It was a hot day and I wasn't exactly charging up the hills, but I was moving steadily and passing a lot of people, which added to my energy. I was chasing someone in my age group who had passed me and was determined not to let her get away. We ran side by side on the ridge crest, down a steep hill, and toward the mile 5 water stop. 

I was tired but felt like I was running pretty well, and knowing that Brynna was waiting to cross the finish line with me, spared a few moments thought to what I would do if this other girl and I were racing for the finish. Would I stop in the chute to run with Brynna? I decided that I would. I'm really competitive, but it's not like I was gunning for the age group podium or some kind of championship qualifier. would still be better to beat this girl, and when she slowed for the water station, I kept on going. The nasty (and deceptively steep) hill in the last half mile was painful, but I kept telling myself that it would all be over in just a few minutes, and coach Steve yodeling from the bridge above provided a lift as well! Then it was back onto 64 and then the blessed turn into the park, where Alex and B were waiting to run across the mat with me. 

What a wonderful way to finish! I think that the icy cold, soaking wet towel thrown across my shoulders at the line may be the best thing I've ever felt.

Finish 2:54:54, 11/55 in age groupOverall, I was very pleased with this first race of the season. The bike was the most fun and successful, but I also had a reasonably strong run and am making some gains on the swim as well. It's rewarding to see all of the off-season training paying off.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Trip Report: Father's Day on Mt. Kearsarge

My dad was with us and it was a beautiful Sunday—what better to do than go for a hike? We considered a return to local favorite Oak Hill, which B had enjoyed in the fall, but I proposed trying Mount Kearsarge, and after learning that there was a fire tower at the top of that peak too, Brynna acquiesced.

Mount Kearsarge is about 40 minutes from us, up I-89, and can be reached by auto road and then a very short trail (which, even with a four year old, seemed like cheating) or from the Warner side via a steep-ish, just over mile-long trail. It is one of the New Hampshire mountains known as "52 With A View" and is thus very popular, so we knew we'd have plenty of company.

Here we are at the trailhead:

Brynna was very determined from the start. We had told her that it would be steep, but she kept saying that even if her legs were tired or she fell down, she would just keep on going. It took us a little more than an hour to get to the top, and we stopped about halfway up for a sit-down drink and a snack, and drank and nibbled on the go a few other times. The steep sections actually didn't bother B too much as they tended to be ledgy, and she proved to be quite the little scrambler!

Here she is getting a supporting hand from Alex, with Jasper keeping an eye on her as usual:

Planning her path:

Heading up, up, up with Jasper waiting his turn:

On the ledges toward the top:

We had a lovely rest at the breezy summit, which has panoramic views. Brynna was so busy exploring that we forgot to take any photos right at the top. She climbed the fire tower twice! We all ate lots of Alex's super-gorp (which instead of just Good Old Raisins and Peanuts, usually includes Cheerios, dried cranberries, peanuts, and chocolate chips), and Jasper enjoyed a handful of doggie treats.

We decided to head down via a slightly longer and more gradual trail, thinking it would be easier on the grown-ups' knees and on B's smaller legs. She initially protested, having enjoyed the scrambling on the way up, but was pleased to encounter plenty of ledges on the top part of our exit route as well.

Here's an oddly-shaped tree trunk:

Leading the way off the summit:

And onward:

Brynna did wonderfully until we had about half a mile to go. The trail became less interesting (i.e. the big rocks went away) and she was quite tired. I think that on future hikes I will bring some special treats for this last portion of the walk out, like chocolate kisses or other little candies.

Here she is taking a break with M:

Overall, a big success. B carried her little backpack throughout (with a small water bottle and a small bag of gorp). She seemed comfortable in her LL Bean hiking shoes, a pair of Patagonia trail pants (though she and I both discovered that we need to procure belts for our hiking pants), and a T-shirt. I carried her warm stuff and additional water. She expended some extra energy by climbing over big rocks in the trail instead of walking around, but that's half the fun for her! She showed a lot of pluck and we are so very proud of her for climbing her first real mountain. I recently read a book about hiking the 52 With A View list, and though some of those trails are definitely too long or difficult for B for a few years yet, it had some great suggestions of short-ish, scrambly hikes with excellent view pay-offs, so I think we'll target some of those next.

Jasper, of course, had a great time as well. We often put his doggie backpack on for hikes so that he can carry his own water and treats, but it was a short enough hike that I did that for him on this particular day. He's been doing some occasional limping over the last month or two (we're wondering about arthritis — he's seven or eight now!) but handled this hike without any trouble and didn't seem sore the next day.

All in all, an excellent day, and Brynna's strong legs bode well for a fun summer of hiking!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


This is what Brynna and I picked from our raspberry bushes this evening - about 3/4 quart. It might have been a full quart all told, but a great many ended up in Brynna's mouth before reaching the basket. I don't mind: this is a very fine time of year, and picking berries off the bush is about as good as it gets! Yesterday we got about one cup. There is a great bounty beyond that will gradually ripen over the next few weeks, and one or two smaller bushes that will put out fruit later in the summer.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Shearing a Pig

On the drive home this evening, listening to All Things Considered, I burst out laughing from the following (translated) quote from Vladimir Putin, regarding Edward Snowden:

I personally don't want anything to do with this question, because it's like shearing a pig: a lot of shreaking, but not much fur. [source]