Friday, May 29, 2009


My race number is 228: That's the lowest race number I've had so far. Maybe that means my time will be low as well.

It takes a lot of gear to compete in a triathlon. Besides the obvious like the bike, goggles and shoes, there's a myriad of "stuff" you need during the race. Fortunately, you don't have to carry it all with you throughout the race. That's what the transition areas are for.

Here are some photos of most of what I'll be packing along during each stage of the race.

Swim gear: Goggles, racing clothes, blue seventy (a nonwet suit, wet suit), swim cap, energy gel, watch, and body glide (to prevent chafing.) Not pictured: nerve enough to get into the water with 1,300 other crazy maniacs at 7 in the morning.

Bike: spending 3 hours on this thing mostly climbing hills.

All the gear I'll be lugging up hill (except the tire pump and the towel). Thats a peanutbutter and jelly sandwich (my comfort food) and banana chips next to the energy gels. I'm hoping to psych out my competition when they see I'm so relaxed that I'm eating a sandwich during the race. Besides, I need the carbs for the run. My son Daniel (U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Wrighthouse) bought me a Marine tri jersey for the race so I'll be representing him and the Marines during the race.

Ugh! the run. I can handle 10 miles, which I've done a lot, but 13.1 really seems to hurt. My plan is to just go out and think about doing 10 miles and just try to gut out the last 3.1.

Tomorrow wraps up 6 months of training. I've put in thousands of miles in the water, on the bike and on my running shoes. It's time to put it all together and have some fun.

P.S. The photos to the right are from last year's Honu. I've lost 10 pounds since then, put on some muscle and put in a lot more miles. This should be fun!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


In a few days, I'll be getting into the ocean with 1,300 other people waiting for the horn to blow to signal the start of the Ironman 70.3 Hawaii. When the horn blows, we'll swim 1.2 miles, run up to our bikes, jump on and bike 56 miles, jump off our bikes then run 13.1 miles for a total of 70.3 miles. But first we have to survive the swim. And I am still trying to convince myself that I know how to swim. After all, it's only been less than two years since I first learned to swim.

My journey to learn how to swim began when Karen found some swimming goggles lying on the ocean floor. It had only been a couple of days after the 2007 Ford Ironman World Championship and Karen and I were snorkeling at the pier. On our way back to the beach Karen spotted the goggles and dove down to retrieve them. Since neither of us knew how to swim she nonchalantly threw them over to me and said I could have them.

Little did we know that those TYR brand goggles would set me on a journey that will find me in the water with 1,300 people in a full-contact 1.2-mile swim come Saturday. In these past two years I've swam nearly 500,000 yards, learning everything from proper breathing techniques to how not to lose your swim trunks.

A few days ago, the ocean claimed what I owed it: swimming goggles. Karen, Rebecca and I were at Hapuna Beach and I was out in the waves taking pictures of Karen body surfing. We had just finished swimming and were playing around in the waves when a big wave hit me and rolled me along the sandy bottom. When I came up my goggles were long gone. And my debt to the sea paid in full.

Hopefully, someone will find my goggles while playing in the waves at Hapuna and get the urge to learn to swim. Maybe someday they'll find themselves lining up with 1,300 other people at a half Ironman staring down their fear as that horn goes off. Thrashing for their life for the first 200 yards before finding their rhythm and remembering they do know how to swim thanks to some found goggles.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Before rumors fly rampant I thought I would give the real story.
A few days ago I went on a bike ride with professional triathlete Bree Wee.

(Bree Wee at St. Croix 70.3. Photo by

Wee and I rode about 50 miles, mostly uphill it seemed. We were climbing the last 5 miles or so before we reached the turn around to head back. We were moving at a pretty good pace when we simultaneously decided to have a sprint race uphill. The extremely large sounding dog in the driveway we had just pedaled past had no influence whatsoever on this decision. I promise.

I think Wee just wanted to run me into the ground, but to her surprise I flew by her and left her at the mercy of the beast quickly gaining on us. We were easily hitting 30 miles per hour (well I was, Wee was struggling to keep up), uphill on one of the toughest parts of the Ironman course.

After all was said and done I can say I out sprinted a pro triathlete up hill on the bike. Well, that's my version and I'm sticking to it.

Now the rumor going around about our "sprint" goes like this ....

Bree and I were biking along at a pretty good clip when we passed a driveway on our side of the road. We heard a large dog begin to bark. No biggie, we were moving too fast for a dog to catch us. But to my surprise that barking (a large pitbull by the sound of it) was getting closer.

I picked up the pace a little but the barking got even closer. My heart began to race, not from the pace but because I was sure I could feel the breath from that vicious, cyclist-eating pitbull on my ankle. The barking was so close now I new I was going to feel its teeth sink into my flesh at any moment.

(This is exactly what I visualized was chasing us.)

I was pounding the pedals so hard that I left Wee to fend for herself. See ya! I have this terrifying fear of barking dogs that overrides all sanity.

Closer and closer the barking got. Suddenly, a pickup truck pulls up beside me and slowly begins to pass by. The dog's barking is in my ear now. "OMG! It's a giant pitbull!" was my first thought. And then I see it. A border collie in the back of the pickup happily barking at the funny bikers.

Relieved and embarrassed, I sit up and slow down to let Bree catch up.

Both of us laughing, I weakly muttered "Boy, that was a good opportunity to sprint. I thought that dog was chasing us."

Bree: "So did I until I looked back and saw it was in the back of that pickup."

Me: "You know, dogs are excellent sprinters." Still trying to cover my tracks.

A little while later on our way back I was riding out on the road (that's what I like about riding to Hawi, not much traffic so you can ride on the road some) and Bree was riding on the shoulder when she looked over at me and said, "not taking any chances with this dog, huh?"
I said, "What do you mean?"

She points a little ahead of us at a little rat-looking dog running along the side of the road ignoring us.

Sunday, Rob Van Geen and I went for a training ride. We were supposed to ride the Honu course from Hapuna Beach to Hawi and back. But once we got up to Hawi we decided to ride to the end of the road. I've never been past Hawi before so I thought it would be a great ride.

What I got was the hardest training ride to date. I was totally surprised by how hilly and windy the road to the end was. The steep up and down hills, tight, single lane turns mader me feel like I was in the Tour de France or something. I nearly ran off the road on a couple of turns and almost had to walk on a couple of the up hills because they were so steep. I almost fell over. For the day we ended up riding about 62 miles in less than 4 hours and got a lot of hill work in and a lot of sight seeing.

Me at a park just past Kapaau.

Rob at the same park. This park had the steepest hill I ever tried to ride a bike up.

Rob cruising ahead on the way to the end of the road.

A coffee tree farm.

Finally the end is near.

Pololu Valley lookout. The end at last. My legs were rubber by the time we arrived and we still had 30 miles of riding to get back to where we started.

The valley. The vog (volcanic fog) 0was so bad we could barely see the cliffs. But it made it look like the chilly Oregon coast. Except for the palm trees.

Mule rides down into the valley is advertised on this sign. All these photos were taken with my very sweaty cell phone so I'm surprised they turnout at all.

Five miles on the way back we stopped in Hawi for a much-needed smoothhie break and this couple was outside the shop playing. I believe they called themselves the Elementals and they sounded pretty good. It was a long training day and probably my last hard day before Honu in a couple of weeks. A nice way to end the training and begin the taper.

Monday, May 11, 2009


(Me finishing my longest day of training ever. An 81 mile bike ride (5 hours) and a 10 mile run (1 hour, 39 minutes. I jumped in the pool and went swimming right after this.)

Last week was one of those never-ending training weeks. A week of Long distances on the swim, bike and run. I set a personal record in both daily and weekly distances in swimming, running and biking with the biggest day last Saturday with a 5 hour (81 mile) bike ride followed by a 10-mile run.

It was one of those weeks where when Karen asked me what training I did that day I would start off saying something like,
"well, I swam 4,000 yards."
Then Karen would say, "and then?"
I would say, "I rode the Honu course plus extra, about 65 miles."
"And then?"
"I ran for an hour on this really hot and hilly road."
"And then?"
Well, you get the point. It's crunch time for Honu and last week and this week are heavy training weeks.

I love this clip. "And then?"

This week I'm hitting the hills hard on the bike and the run. Swimming the Honu course and hitting the hills again with a long run and a long bike ride thrown in later in the week. Then comes the taper. Less than three weeks till Honu.

(On the road to Hawi. It's a little blurry but a canoe race with a dozen or so canoes where just leaving Kawaihae Harbor and heading north for an 8 or 10 mile race. This was taken during my 5 hour ride.)


What do you do when you don't have time to go out on location to do urban sketching? My time is very limited and I often don't have ...