A PNW Woods Run

Like many folks, I travel some for work.  Typically, most of my trips keep me on the East Coast – sometimes venturing into the mid-west or to Texas.  I’d hardly classify any of the places I go as being visually awe-inspiring or “cool”.  Not that places like Dallas or St. Louis are bad – they just aren’t as visually compelling as some other parts of the country.  Some of my recent trips have broken this mold, though.

Earlier this year, I spent a week in the Sacramento, California area.  Sacramento is very close to Napa Valley, so I was able to take an afternoon jaunt over to experience some of wine country.

Several weeks later, I spent time in Tucson, Arizona and Salt Lake City, Utah.  Both of these places were tremendously beautiful and unlike any other place I’d been.  That being said, my work schedule didn’t allow me to really get out and explore too much.  I did have a couple of good runs in Tucson, but wasn’t able to in SLC.

I recently was able to spend a little more than a week in the Seattle area.  To say that the PNW is beautiful is a huge understatement.  Were it not for the long rainy / gloomy season (basically fall through late spring), I think I’d love to live there.

Forced to spend the weekend in the area, I decided to do some exploring and sightseeing.  Saturday afternoon, I drove south to Mt. Rainier – the iconic volcano that on a clear day you can see from Seattle.  Like Mt. Saint Helens, Mt. Rainier is a living and active volcano.  Although it hasn’t erupted in some time (like since 1894), the potential is that it could blow again.  Unfortunately, the weather was not cooperating – it was raining at lower elevations and snowing at higher elevations.  You couldn’t really see the mountain at all.  I was able to get out and do a little hiking – and surprisingly, there was still quite a lot of snow covering.  Even despite not being able to see the top of the peak, the scenery was beautiful and well worth the drive.

Sunday brought beautiful weather – a high in the low 70’s and hardly a cloud in the sky.  Thinking it might be a great idea to go for a trail run, I consulted the Almighty for where to go.  (I Googled it).  The closest place for hiking or running that afforded a good potential to see Mt. Rainier was Tiger Mountain State Forest.


Tiger Mountain State Forest is actually comprised of several peaks – East Tiger Mountain, West Tiger Mountain, Middle Tiger Mountain and Poo Poo Point.  Each of the summits and the trails leading too offer different and unique views and challenges, I’m told, but East Tiger Mountain affords the best view of Mt. Rainier on clear days.  It also happens to be the tallest of the summits at 3000 feet elevation.

The trail that I took was more gravel road than “real” trail.  The mountain is crisscrossed with mountain bike trails, but I didn’t want to get in their way or get creamed by some cyclist who might have lost control, so I thought my route was likely going to be the best choice.  The fact that it was a gravel road didn’t make the run any easier.

The first 3.5 miles were essentially all up.  The slope varied, of course.  There were sections that were really steep and others that were still inclined, but not so leg crushing.  Living in Florida, I don’t get the chance to run on hills….ever.  This made for a long, painful, slow slog up the mountain.  Given the altitude and lack of hill training, I thought my heart was going to explode from my chest.

The summit, though, was amazing.  The view opened up towards the south – you could see towards Tacoma and the surrounding area, of course, but the landscape was dominated by the peak I had so wanted to see – Mt. Rainier.


What a sight to behold!  The mountain was a good 50 miles or so away, but it looked as if it were literally a short drive away.  It was beautiful!  Certainly well worth the pain I endured on the run up.

I got a mile or so of ridge running in near the summit, all the while stopping to take more pictures.  Finally, I decided I needed to head back down the mountain and call it a day.

As difficult as running 3.5 miles uphill is, running 3.5 miles all downhill is no picnic either.  In fact, running down may bring on more quad-busting pain than running up causes.  By the time I’d made it back to my car, I was literally out of gas, exhausted, and so, so thirsty (my expert running skills did not compel me to bring a water bottle with me on the run).

Running in the PNW is nothing like running on the East Coast.  At least not the Florida coast.  The terrain is different, the air is different (there was NO humidity), and the people were different.  Literally every person I passed along the trail greeted me, asked me how I was doing and seemed super friendly.  This was quite possibly the most difficult run I’ve had in years, but also one of the best, most rewarding runs as well.

Random Thoughts While Swimming


Earlier this week, I read a thread on Slowtwitch that focused on what people think about when they are swimming, biking or running.  The thread was pretty interesting.  Some people talked about how they get into a “Zen” and get really self reflective.  Others comment that they focus on their form, what they’re trying to accomplish during the workout, and such.


Apparently, I’m nowhere near as deep as some of those folks.

I decided that I’d sort of keep track of things I thought of during last night’s swim; randomness prevailed.  Some things were focused on what I was doing….and others were, well, just random.

For your reading pleasure, a few of the really random things that popped in my head during the 75 minutes I was in the pool:

“Man- it’s really windy tonight”

“This water is colder today than it was Tuesday”

“Why are lane lines black?”

“Breathe on 4 strokes, then 2”

“That was a great lap!”

“Don’t cross the arm over center”

“High elbows”

“Why is the swim coach yelling at his kids?”

“I love warm water coming out of the jets”

“I need to pee”

“I wonder how many people just go in the pool?”

“90 degree elbows on the pull”

“Ugh – that burp tasted like peanut butter”

“What lap was this?”

“I love that Yoda knit cap that coach has on”

“I wonder what swimming in Lake Erie will be like?”

“Earth has no burdens that Heaven can’t heal” – lyric from a David Crowder song

“Blow out from your nose”

“Tuck your chin”

“Last set!”

“It’s gonna be cold when I get out!”




Blazing Speed in the Pool

The US Open, NCAA, SEC, and American records were all broken in the 50 SCY Free yesterday at the SEC championships.

Caeleb Dressel – an 18 year old (EIGHTEEN) kid from Jacksonville, who swims for the University of Florida – went a crazy-fast 18.23 seconds in the finals, breaking his own record of 18.39 seconds (set during morning preliminies yesterday).

You can watch the video of this amazing speed below.  Caeleb is in lane 4.

This time is wicked fast.

For comparison purposes, this swim – if considered in a non-swimming context – is sort of like a NFL running back going 4.0 seconds in the 40 yard dash.  Or a golfer making two holes-in-one in a row.  Or a baseball pitcher throwing a 110mph fastball.  Basically, it’s off the chart.

After watching this last night, I thought comparing Dressel’s time to my personal swimming ability might be fun.  It’s actually very humbling.

During my swim workout last night, I was turning 100 yards in 1:20.  That equates to about 20 seconds per 25 yards.  Caeleb covered TWICE that distance, and still beat me by the equivalent of a body length or so.  Said differently, I could race Caeleb where I’d swim 25 yards and he’d swim 50 yards – and he would win.  Handily.  Easily.

It’s mind boggling to me how fast that is.  And frankly, I suspect he’ll go faster.  Word has it that Caeleb was not shaved and tapered.  I don’t think he was wearing a speed suit.  He’s saving all that for the NCAA meet next month.  How fast will he go?  You never know, but my money is that he becomes the first sub-18 second swimmer ever.  I’m calling it now:  17.92 will be his finals time at NCAA.

Talk about blazing speed!

The Re-Bucket List


Back in 2008, I decided to cross off a some of my bucket list items.  First, I wanted to run a marathon.  Secondly, I wanted to do an Ironman.  And so I did.

My first marathon was along the Atlantic shore here in Jacksonville as part of the “26.2 with Donna – the National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer”.  That particular race (which still runs every February) was a fantastic initial marathon.  Pancake flat.  A couple of miles on the beach.  Great crowd support.  Amazing women and men who had beat (or were in the process of beating) breast cancer.  My finishing time was not great (and really isn’t important)…but I was successful in crossing that item off my list.  Incidentally, back in 2010, I did a “Ten Questions With…” interview with Donna Deegan – the founder of the race.  Click HERE to read that interview.


On the run course at IMFL in 2009

Following that marathon experience, I signed up to race Ironman Kentucky, in Louisville.  I was severely underprepared for that race.  I tried to train without a real plan.  I didn’t think that the hills would be all that rough.  I didn’t devote as much time as I should have to training.  As a result, the race was a disaster!

I got into the swim expecting to have some downstream current.  There wasn’t any.  I sort of freaked out mid-swim and ended up having to do some backstroke and breaststroke.  I finished the swim in close to 1:40 and then headed out on the bike.  So….in case you were wondering….Louisville is NOT FLAT.  I was seemingly going up or down the entire time.  I tried to take my time and pace myself, but by the end of the bike, I was completely gassed.  I started out on the run and very quickly determined that that leg of the race would be a combination of running and walking.  By the time I got through 13 miles, it was more walking than anything.  I made it through 18 miles and got pulled off the course.

Upon returning to the transition area – completely devastated about my performance – I called home to speak with my wife.  Believe it or not, she had already signed me up for Ironman Florida – in just about six weeks’ time!  She really wanted me to cross off that bucket list item!

And so, in November 2009, I toed the line in Panama City Beach for IMFL.  The swim was much better than in Louisville – even despite the Gulf being seriously choppy.  The bike was great – much more along the lines of what I was accustomed to.  I did a modified Galloway approach on the run – running 3 or 5 minutes and then walking 1.  And best of all, I finished!  The time was not great (15 hours and change), but…..I FINISHED!

Cross that baby off the list!

Except that baby is back on my list again.

See, for the last couple of years, I’ve been thinking about doing an iron distance race again.  Sometimes when I’m in a rough spot on a run, I call up a mental picture of crossing the finish line at IMFL or remember that feeling of accomplishment.  But, I’ve held off on actually doing another race.

Things started to get serious last year – my friend and I were talking about doing a full.  It was on his bucket list, after all.  Plus, he wanted to do one before he turned 50, and time was running out.

We had our eyes set on doing Beach to Battleship in November 2016.  This Wilmington, NC, race had developed a fantastic reputation for being a super-high quality independent iron distance race.  The price point was much lower than Ironman, the swim was current aided (and crazy fast), and the rest of the terrain was similar to northeast Florida.  Plus, the November timing was perfect.

And then, B2B decided to sell out to Ironman.  While I certainly am open to racing an Ironman event, to me it was difficult to reconcile spending $300 or so more on race entry fees for substantially the same race – just because of a name change.

Enter Rev3 Triathlon and their race at Cedar Point!

Cedar Point

See, I’ve been on the Rev3 age group team for a bunch of years, but have never raced at Cedar Point.  Honestly, I’m not sure why – other than the fact that Sandusky, OH, is about 17 weeks away by car and not super-easy to fly to, either.  I do love roller coasters, though, and by all accounts the course is quite similar to what I’m used to.

So….Rev3 Cedar Point is now on my 2016 bucket list!  The race is September 11th this year, and I’ll be ready to race.

And this time, it’s not just about completing the distance and crossing off a bucket list item.  This time, instead of “Complete an Ironman”, the bucket list item is “Race Rev3 Cedar Point”.  There’s a real, tangible difference there.


Triathlon Things I’d Buy After I Win Powerball

Like lots of Americans, I like to dream about insane wealth.  Wealth beyond measure.  Beyond my craziest dreams.

Well, dreams could come true tonight when the estimated $1.5 Billion Powerball Lottery is pulled.  I have an awesome chance of winning (something like 1:260,000,000).  So…..when I do win, let’s imagine that I take the cash option – which will net me roughly $850 million prior to paying taxes.  Subtract about 40% for taxes, and that will leave me in the ballpark range of $510 million.

And let’s assume that I want to spend ALL of that money on triathlon related things.  What could I buy?

Of course, I’d want to have everything that I could possibly need to be successful at triathlon, so I’d want to be able to train year-round, in comfort, and have the best-of-the-best.

So….here goes:


All good super-rich triathletes need good training locations.  I figure I’ll buy several.

Boulder, CO.  They say that Colorado is prime training ground for triathletes.  Plus it offers training at altitude.  So, I need a place there.  I think I should buy this nice, small 20,000 square foot house with 7 bedrooms and 7 bathrooms.  Plus, it’s a bargain at just $7.5 mil.


Whitefish, MT.  I love big mountains, and I want to be like Hillary Biscay – so I’ll spend some time living and training in Montana.  Plus, this little bungalow is close to Glacier National Park – one of the prettiest places on the planet.  It’s s quaint cottage at 12,000 square feet and 7 bedrooms – for the cheap price of just $8.75 mil.


Siesta Key, FL.  As much as I love the mountains, Mrs TriMadness loves the beach.  And why not have a house at the best beach in the USA?  We’ll pick up this nice beach cottage on the southwestern Gulf-side of Florida, south of Tampa, and I’ll only drop about $8 million.


On The Road.  As a super-rich triathlete, I’ll be racing a lot (because I won’t have anything else to do).  I’ll need to have some way to get to and from my races.  Depending upon where in the world I’ll be racing, I’ll take one of a couple forms of transportation:

Airbus ACJ319.  I’ll likely need to fly some – like to Europe or Australia or somewhere.  To do that, I’ll hitch a ride in my $80 million private plane.


RV:  Featherlite Vantare Platinum Plus ($2.5 million).  This is not quite the most expensive RV out there, but it’ll do for me.  It has Swarovski Crystals all over it, can sleep me and 8 friends, and I can drive it anywhere I need to.


So – now I have a place to live and ways to get around to all my races, and I’ve only spent about $107 million.

Bike:  Naturally, I’ll need a new rig to ride on in my races.  Perhaps I’ll get the Felt IA FRD bike.  Comes complete with Shimano Dura Ace Di2 components, some sleek aero wheels, a power meter, and much more.  Plus it’s only $15,000.  I’ll buy one for each day of the year (’cause you never want to ride your tri bike again after you pee on it).  Total cost: $5.4 million.


Wetsuit:  Same concept as with the bike.  Once I “warm up” the suit just once, I’ll never want to wear it again.  So I’ll get 365.  I already have a TYR Hurricane Cat 5 wetsuit, and I like it – so I’ll get the next version up….the TYR Freak of Nature.  And at $1200 each, I’ll only have to spend $0.5 million.


Extra Wheels:  It’s probably a safe thing for me to have extra wheels on hand just in case I trash a set or so each day.  I’m not set on any particular brand of wheels – but let’s figure the top of the line set runs about $2500 each.  I’ll buy 500 sets of wheels and spend about $1.25 million.

Other race gear, Swag, Clothing:  I’m going to race A LOT.  In fact, I’ll race so much that I’ll make the Iron Cowboy look like a chump.  And like all good triathletes, I’ll only wear race gear and tri-specific clothes.  I better set aside $1.5 million to cover all of this stuff

Race Nutrition:  I’ll need to eat when I’m training.  I’m partial to Powerbar products, so maybe I should just buy the company.  Nestle bought Powerbar for about $200 million a year or so ago.  Maybe I could buy Powerbar from Nestle.  Or maybe I could buy Picky Bars from Jesse Thomas.  Let’s do that.  I could probably get that for $10 million or so.

Races:  As I said above, I will be racing a lot.  And who wants to pay all those pesky race entry fees?  I’m going to just buy some races.  WTC recently sold out for $650 million – that’s more than I’d want to pay for races.  Maybe I could buy a bunch of other race series (maybe all the independent triathlons in the country).  Let’s earmark $200 million for that.

Coaches, Nutritionists, Chefs, Massage Therapists, etc.  I’ll need a stable of support people to help me get ready to do all this racing.  I should hire the best of the best.  Michael Phelps can be my swim coach.  I’ll also have Andy Potts on retainer (because he’s an awesome open water swimmer).  Meb Keflezighi will be my running coach.  Maybe I’ll hire Jan Frodeno to be my bike coach.  Great people, but in reality people are cheap.  All of these folks should be attainable for $5 million per year (total).

Hmmmmm.  I’ve only spent about $330 million dollars.  What’s left to get?  What do you think?  Any suggestions?

I’ve got cash to spend….