Monday, October 27, 2014

Babies, Beer and Ghosts

What a fun weekend!

I was originally going to take a Plymouth State class but for some reason did register/totally forgot about it. What remained was a nice three day weekend where I was able to visit my goddaughter, brew some beer and pace an ultra.

The Baby
No offense but my god-daughter is the cutest. I realize that there are probably some irritate(and mis-guided) mothers out there thinking that their children are cuter, but you would be mistaken. I am sorry that a combination of seeing yourself in your child, pheromones and genetics makes you think that but, trust me, Olivia is the cutest:)

My dad and I drove down mid-day Friday to baby-sit and we spent the afternoon playing with her.

Sporting a hat that Amber got her from Kona

Olivia and her grampy

After having dinner with my parents and brother, I headed into Boston for the night stopping at several of my favorite bars from when I was at Northeastern.

Something's a brewin'
The next day I headed out to Hopsters in Newton where my good friend, Kendra, had bought me a brewing session for my birthday. If you have never heard of, or been there, and you like beer, you are missing out!

There is a book of various beers that you can brew and they actually take you through the whole brewing process, from picking the correct hops and stirring the wort. In all, it takes a little over two hours but there is enough down time where you can order yourself some food, or drink of course...
Don't be surprised if many of you will be receiving a custom beer for your Christmas present this year:)
A guide to the grains
The brewing process
The beers of Hopsters

It was certainly a fun and educational day and I didn't realize how little I knew about beer until I got there. Just the variety of hops used is amazing.

I then headed up to Nashua where I had booked a hotel so that I could be close to the aide station for the Ghost Train 100. This race would be my friend, Michael Wade's, first attempt at running 100 miles. He was running for a good cause and had definitely put in the mileage. I was to pace him for the last ten miles.

From 9am on, I had been receiving text updates from the other members of his crew. Michael had made a chart estimating his paces so that we could best plan how to pace him. The amazing thing was that he was almost exactly on if not a little ahead of his pacing. He went through miles 67.5 averaging 12 minute/miles but apparently that included a few bathroom breaks as well as planned eating breaks. I didn't want to possibly miss him so I headed over to the trail head at 2:30am. As I was shivering while waiting, I realized just how cold it was and ran back to my car to get a space blanket, hat and gloves which I shoved in my pack. 20 minutes ahead of schedule, I hear Michael come to the check point, yell Danny let's go and continued to move. Throwing down the coffee I was sipping on, I sprinted off to meet him.

You may recall that I once ran the Vermont 100 and dropped out at 88.6 miles. Michael seemed to be at that point too, really struggling to keep himself motivated and not stop. I know just how hard each of those miles are and how insurmountable that remaining distance can feel. I also knew that Michael wouldn't be someone who would quit easily. Sure enough, despite telling me that he felt light-headed, was cramping, and had a generalized apathy for running at that point, he kept on moving. We went through periods of silence and conversation, with Michael probably motivating himself far more than anything I could do. The 100 mile distance is a race you do for yourself but also for others. Michael needed that internal drive to put in all those miles of training and to get to that 90 mile mark. At that point however, he had used up all of his internal drive and wasn't doing it for himself anymore. That's where I quit at Vermont. However, Michael wasn't doing it just for himself but for Sam and everyone who had believed in him.

It's always darkest right before dawn
Michael mentioned this just as the darkness started to more closely envelop us and also as the temperature dropped another few degrees. Luckily I had those gloves and hat which Michael wore for the next hour or so. And just like the temperature and light, Michael's mood which once appeared to be darkening now started to brighten. In fact, by the time we had reached mile 95 we were running at a steady clip again. We actually ran the last 5 miles over 6 minutes faster than the previous five!

Despite reaching his nadir in the race at mile 90, Michael was able to pull through, run strong for his last five miles and finish within 13 minutes of his predicted race time: 22:13.

Yes you are reading that correctly:  22 hours and 13 minutes! That is a very long time to be running but also a very fast 100 mile time. I know he has said that he is one and done but with the awesome first 85 miles he put together, I can see a sub 20 hour 100 miler in his future:) Just saying.

After congratulating Michael and sending him off by his children and loving wife, I headed home where I proceeded to sleep away the majority of my Sunday. It was probably the weekend catching up to me but it was actually a great leisurely way to end a fun weekend.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Amber Finishes 21st at Kona!

This blog will start where the last one ended: with cliff jumping. This time Amber was convincing her father that it was a good idea to jump into the ocean from a cliff. After only a fair amount of cajoling, she did convince him.
Amber's father and Amber getting ready to jump
Kona: The finish First
                                                   21st at the World Championships!!!! Such a wonderfully painful sufferfest. Loved every moment!
This time, Amber had already completed Kona finishing in a time of 9:45 which was good enough for 21st female. While not terribly excited about her finishing rank, the race did give her confidence that she could contend with the best triathletes in the world. And the fact that she was able to do a  4+ mile hike with 1,500 foot elevation gain the very next day tells me it was the conditions more than her fitness that prevented a higher finish.

A hike? The day after Kona? Yep. That's Amber for you. We hiked to the Captain Cook Monument which you can only access by boat or hiking. Last time we were there we kayaked across the bay but this time, joined by her parents, we hiked down to it. We spent the afternoon snorkeling around and then had to hike the 1,500 feet back up to our car. I definitely prefer hiking in the opposite direction where you get the hard stuff out of the way first. The next day Amber and I went stand-up paddle boarding.

Look at all the nice pictures of Amber and I stand-up paddle boarding:

Oh don't see any? Well that could be because I lost my underwater camera after my 32nd time falling off my paddleboard. Meanwhile, Amber two days out from an Ironman, was paddling around without issue. I would like to say that there was something wrong with the board but I think it was the operator that was the issue. Anyway, here are a few pictures from our hike instead.
View from Captain Cook Monument

The hike down

The cliff we hiked down is in the background
 Luckily before we hiked, Amber stopped, for the 13th time, at Lava Java where she restocked her depleted carbohydrate stores with a little cinnamon bun.
That's the size of my head. Or half the size of yours Danny.
 Oh yeah, why were her carb stores depleted? The Ironman!
So it ended with the marathon which she did in 3:21 which was a bit off her race pace but considering the heat and humidity was still pretty amazing. Every time I saw her she looked strong.
 Miki Moto's photo.
Amber on Ali'i Drive
 The first time I saw her on the run, she actually turned to me and started talking to me. I had to yell at her to just keeping running. After the race I found out she was telling me how windy the bike course was and how she almost got knocked over on several occasions.
Still Smiling
 Before she got on the run, she had a little 112 mile bike ride to do which I was lucky enough to see her at one point, the hot corner, several times. Each time she looked strong and riding confidently.
After we were able to catch Amber a few times in the first few miles of her bike, we sent her off on the Queen K.
Amber coming up Palani

 What we missed from the times we saw her were the miles in Hawi where the wind was the worst it had been in the last 20 years. Being on the slighter side, Amber had a considerably harder time keeping the rubber side down than her bigger, yet still fair, competitors. Due to the wind and the oppressive heat she finished a few minutes off her goal race pace but still came onto the run in 22nd place.
Amber getting out of the swim on the bike.
 The real question is what would have happened if Amber was able to get in with the pack of women just ahead of her in the swim. Despite a strong swim, she didn't come out of the water where she should have which made riding more challenging. I think, had she come out a minute or two earlier, her whole day would have turned out definitely.
Amber putting on her TYR Torque speedsuit

View of the swim start
 That's the beauty of racing, there are always areas in which you can improve and make yourself more competitive. For Amber, she had a solid day but not a spectacular one and I know that if the elements all come together, she could get a better result next year for sure.
Amber at Lava Java before the race
Again, thanks again to all of Amber's supporters out there who helped get her to Kona early to acclimate. Having only been out there for a few days, I was dying in the heat but she seemed to handle it fairly well. The plan is to get her back out there again next year and this time as a contender. Stay tuned.

Up Next: Amber will be taking a much needed week or two off before getting ready for the winter race season which includes a winter triathlon and the World Snowshoe Championships. Who knows? She was talking about entering a Spartan Race the other day.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Amber is ready to rock!

This blog post is going to be pretty brief because we are trying to maximize our time left in Kona. Amber took me for a short 20 minute run today trying her best to capitalize on my life insurance policy apparently. Seriously though. I nearly drowned in my own sweat while she was giggling and having a grand old time on what(in her words, was a shake-out run), Yikes! Not that I'm in the best shape but I think a big part of it was her time spent out here acclimating. So thank you everyone who supported her and allowed her to get out here early. 
She is looking super fit and probably has gotten her fill of sea turtles(we saw five yesterday while snorkling) as well as cliff jumping(the video below doesn't do the 20 foot cliff justice) so should be ready to rock. 
The race starts at 6:30am HI time which is 12:30pm EST so feel free to go for a nice long run, bike or swim before getting back to send her your vibes from noon until 9:45 ish:) 
Anyone have a better prediction?
View from our condo

Amber cliff jumping

do it again? 

Amber jamming out to Taylor Swift

The cliff

Amber reconnoitering the cliff jump