Here’s a quick recap of a racing+camping road trip Heidi and I took a couple weeks ago. We first went to Boise, ID and raced the Ironman 70.3 there. My folks live in Boise so after the race we spent a few days hanging out with them and my sister, who was in town from Alaska. (She and my mom were getting ready to travel to Europe for a couple weeks.) We spent some time exploring different areas of Boise. I was able to go on a short motorcycle ride with my dad while Heidi and the “girls” did some shopping and ran errands.

We then left Idaho and went over to Bend, OR for a couple days. Neither Heidi nor I had ever been to Bend so it was fun to check it out since we’ve heard so many great things about the city and the area in general. We camped in Tumalo State Park, which is north of Bend just a few miles. It was a really nice little campground. We had some full days in Bend, exploring the town, hiking a little, and, of course, doing a nice bike ride on the Twin Bridges Oregon scenic bikeway.

After Bend we headed north and camped in the Mt Hood area for a night. We stayed at a really nice (and wooded) campground called Frog Lake and did some hiking up at Timberline Lodge. We were able to hook up with the PCT at Timberline, which was pretty neat. I was really impressed with Mt Hood and would like to go back and spend some more time there.

After Mt hood we moved onto Mt Rainier in Washington. I had been there a couple times as a kid, but Heidi had never been there. So I was pretty excited to show her how amazing it is and I think she was won over. We spent a couple nights camping at Ohanapecosh, which was amazing. Tons of huge trees, right on the Ohanapecosh river. We did some great hiking right near our campground and up at Paradise Inn. The weather was really nice and we had grand views of the mountain all day. On the last morning we left the campground early and rode our bikes 23 miles up to Paradise Inn, which was a spectacular ride and a great way to end our time at Rainier.

After leaving Mt Rainier we headed over to Olympic National Park (Staircase) for a couple days. It was a lot more remote and laid back than I had expected, which was really nice. The campground at Staircase was really great — very wooded and quiet, right on Lincoln Creek, which flows into Lake Cushman. We hiked part of the Dry Creek trail and didn’t see a single person the entire time.

We left Staircase and drove up to Port Angeles and caught the Black Ball ferry to Victoria, BC. We met our friend Alison there and she took us on a nice bike ride around Victoria. We then went up to Duncan and spent a couple days with her and her husband, Jason. We swam, did some hiking, ate a lot at the Duncan Garage, and pretended we were Canadians for a couple days.

We ferried out of Sydney, BC and were back in Washington. We got bogged down in some Seattle traffic so we didn’t make it as far south as we would have liked, but found a camping spot at Seaquest State Park, which is right by Mt St Helens. We were only there for an evening, but were able to do a short hike around the campground, which was a nice way to relax after a long and tiresome drive through Seattle traffic.

The next day we made our way down the Oregon coast and camped in the California redwoods at the Del Norte Coast Redwood State Park (aka Mill Creek campground). Again, we had great weather and a really awesome camp spot. We were so lucky to have found so many amazing campgrounds, almost all of them filled with huge trees towering over our tent.

We left the Redwoods early the next morning and busted down the entire length of California in a marathon driving day. Our good friends Chris and Cathy let us borrow their Toyota 4Runner for the entire trip, which made it so much more enjoyable. We had so much racing and camping gear that even that rig was pretty full. I’m not sure how we would have been able to fit everything in our little Matrix!

We had both been so excited for the trip that I was afraid we were going to be disappointed because we had built it up so much. For weeks before the trip we were talking about how much we were looking forward to it and, really, just getting out of town and doing some camping, away from work and the hustle and bustle of every day life. But, my fear of disappointment ended up being silly because we had such an amazing time. We saw so much beautiful scenery, camped at so many great places, and hiked/biked so many awesome routes. I can’t wait to go back and spend weeks (and weeks!) camping and exploring in this part of the world. Mountains, trees, a tent, a couple bikes, and the best camping partner you could ask for. What else do you need to be happy?

The other main reason we traveled back to North Dakota last weekend was to see Heidi’s sister, Haylee, and her boyfriend, Seth, compete in the 2015 NPC Gopher State Classic bodybuilding show. (If you’re an expert in this stuff you’ll have to bear with me since I probably don’t have all of the terminology correct. It’s probably not correct to call it a “bodybuilding” show since it’s more than just bodybuilding, but that’s what I’ll call it. I know that kind of thing drives me crazy re: triathlon stuff so I should probably get more educated, but….) At any rate, Seth has been weightlifting for a long time and Haylee just started getting serious about it last year. Over the last month or so they competed in Fargo and again in Wisconsin. The Gopher Classic in Minneapolis was their third and final show of the year since they want to take a little time off and focus on training hard and building up for next year.

It’s been really cool to follow their progress over the past 6 months. Seth has been completely ripped since I first met him so it hasn’t been as dramatic watching his progress as it has Haylee’s. Not to take anything away from him or the work he’s put in — he’s been in mind-blowing form for all three shows. But I think Haylee has lost like 30 pounds over the past few months and has completely transformed her body. To say the least, they both look really amazing.

But if the story was just about looks it would be kind of boring. I’ll go out on a limb and make the claim that if you’re doing this kind of stuff, be it bodybuilding, bike racing, ultra running, triathlons, for the right reasons, the end result is just a side-effect. The icing on the cake. I know it is for me. When I work hard for months in preparation for a race, I really don’t care too much about the end result. I mean, sure I want to do my best and, like everyone, want to place as high as I can. But what drives me is the training and the journey of it all, seeing how that affects my body and mind. And I think that’s the case with Seth and Haylee, too. They’ve been so dedicated to their training, calling it “inspirational” doesn’t really come close to capturing it. To compete in their sport you need to track your food intake like some kind of crazy scientist. And not just track it, you need to make sure you stick to your nutrition plan. No desserts. No beers. No cheats. And you need to hammer your workouts, day in and day out, no matter if you’re tired from work or it’s too cold to get out of bed in the morning.

So in my mind, that’s really the most impressive thing about Haylee and Seth’s accomplishments. It’s not that they have amazing bodies. It’s that they’ve had the dedication and fortitude to overcome all the doubters and naysayers and temptations and believe in themselves enough to reach their goals. The level of hustle these two have displayed over the past few months is crazy and I know both Heidi and I have been super-inspired by both of them.

So when the competition was all said and done, Seth got second in his class (his third second place of the year!) and Haylee was tied for third place in her division. How awesome is that?

Seth and Haylee at the Gopher Classic

Seth and Haylee at the Gopher Classic

Be Limitlessly Fit

Heidi’s brother, Hayden, is a senior art student at Valley City State University. As part of his last semester he had to put together a talk about his final art project and host an “artist open house,” where he presented his work and answered questions about it, etc. Rather than make the trip back to North Dakota for his graduation ceremony, Heidi and I thought it would be more meaningful to go back for his talk and art show. So we took some time off of work and flew in to Fargo to check it out.

Hayden’s got a ton of art talent — he’s awesome at drawing and painting — but really shines at ceramics. He does both pottery and sculpture and his show, titled, “Kids from the neighborhood” was focused on sculptures inspired by some of his childhood friends.

Before the evening show Hayden gave a presentation about his work and overall growth as an artist. He did a great job and it was so inspiring to listen to him talk about his passions and see how much he’s grown over the past few years, both as an artist and a person. I’ve been watching a lot of Gary Vaynerchuk videos lately and since he’s always talking about hustle, I’ve got that on the mind. As I was listening to Hayden talk, I kept thinking that the coolest thing about him isn’t his creativity or artistic ability. I mean, those are totally cool and I’m always super envious of people who have those talents, because I certainly don’t. No, the impressive thing about Hayden is that the kid’s got hustle — big time. Obviously, he’s going to school. But he’s also cranking out art project after art project. And working different jobs, sometimes till 3am. And creating hip-hop songs/videos. And selling pottery at flea markets. He’s hustling all over the place, completely crushing it.

He lost his dad when he was really young and had some rough times growing up. He has a supportive family and a bunch of amazing sisters to serve as kick-ass role models. However, there was a time when I thought he was gonna end up one of those people who had a ton of talent and potential, but somehow missed the mark and got stuck on the wrong path. But he turned things around. He found a solid mentor at school, cultivated his passions, and, most importantly, worked his ass off.

I’m super-proud of him and although I feel like I’m still getting to know him, consider him a brother. His creativity and worth-ethic energize and inspire me to work harder and be the best person I can. The kid’s only 22 so he’s just getting started. I’m expecting his best is yet to come.

Last weekend Heidi and I raced the CA 70.3 in Oceanside. This was the third time I’d done this particular race — the last time was in 2010. I’m going to keep this short because I hate writing these things as much as people hate reading them (not like anyone reads this blog, but, that’s neither here nor there). Here’s the important stuff — the stats:

Swim (1.2 miles): 0:36:33
Bike (56 miles): 2:41:54
Run (13.1 miles): 1:49:16
Total: 5:17:58

Let me go on the record and just say I don’t really like racing all that much. The week of the race is nerve-racking (I still haven’t figured out the magic sauce to have a successful taper week) and the race itself hurts like hell and gives me serious heartburn in the hours before the start. I prefer hard training weeks where the only pressure is to get out of bed and kill your workout. But, I guess that’s the beauty of racing — it keeps you honest during your training and provides a nice checkpoint to assess how well things are going. As I get more experience and more races under my belt I’m also finding I’m less nervous on race day and am starting to feel like I have my shit together a bit more than I have in the past. Overall I’m pretty happy with how the race went this year. It was the fastest 70.3 I’d ever done so that’s cool. But, I keep thinking I’m capable of more, which is a good thing because it’s motivating me to want to work harder and get more serious for Boise 70.3 in June. Well, at least more serious for a non-serious racer, such as myself.

Anyway, back to the race, starting with the swim. Usually I’m freezing my ass off during the swim, but we lucked out and the water was very warm — by far the warmest of the three ocean races I’ve done. I was comfortable for most of the swim, but felt like I was pushing it pretty hard at times. The turnaround messed me up a bit, as I couldn’t find the next buoy. But, I got back on course and thought I had done a decent swim — until I stood up on the boat ramp and looked at my watch. Not sure what happened there, but not the best swim time for sure. It sounds like other folks experienced the same so maybe the course was a little long or there was a swell or something.

Me and Heidi at the start

Me and Heidi at the start

The bike was uneventful, which is always a good thing. Again, I was having fun and felt like I was in control, but still keeping things on the edge of uncomfortable. The “backside” of Pendleton is so pretty (think: rolling green hills everywhere). But, the last 10 miles of the course are a killer — always a headwind and always longer/harder than you think it should be. I didn’t see too many 40-44 males on the bike, which is usually a bad sign (i.e., they’re all ahead of me). But, I was the first one to rack my bike in my area so I was happy about that. Whenever I’m racing I’m always just happy to be “delivered” to the run start without having had any mechanicals or any major physical issues.

The run kind of sucked, but that’s nothing too revelatory since most triathlon runs kind of suck. The elastic race lace on my right shoe broke in transition so I had to tie some makeshift knots just to keep my shoe from falling off. And I had a pretty bad quad cramp right at the start of the run. But, I ran through that and started feel a little better as the run went on and I got settled in. There are a couple pretty steep little sections on the run course and going up the first one caused my right hamstring to totally cramp. Again, though, I just ran through it and it finally went away. My friend Monica flew by me around mile 3. I dug deep and decided to try to keep up with her. That worked until I tripped on a seam in the street and fell down. Not the best start to the run, but thankfully I didn’t get hurt and was able to keep pushing it. It’s a minor miracle, but somehow I was able to finish the run without having to walk. Normally the run in a 70.3 is pure torture, but it sure seemed worse this time. I think I went out a bit too hard on the bike because I was totally shelled on the run.

On the run

On the run

Overall, it was a really fun race. I love racing here in our backyard because we’re racing with our friends and there are a lot of people we know cheering us on. I’m happy that I was able to stick it out on the run and not give in to the ever-present temptation to walk.



Up next: Boise 70.3 in June!


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