Our Everyday Adventures

We are not adventurers by choice but by fate – Van Gogh

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Our First Triathlon ~ Queen City Tri

Post by:  Jake
5/30/11

May 21st, 2011 marked our first triathlon, the Queen City Tri.  Since mid-January Veronica and I have been training nearly every single day for this event.  We signed up for a beginners triathlon course at our local health club, Crossroads Fitness, and with about 18 other people we’ve been learning to swim, running together, and taking out the road bikes together.  The class has been incredible and has certainly provided the motivation, accountability, and structure we’ve needed in order to get in shape for the tri.  It’s safe to say, Veronica and I are in nearly the best shape of our lives because of this class.

The triathlon we chose to make our first was the Queen City Tri.  It’s a “sprint” tri designed for newbies like us.  Registration was limited to 90, and we heard that although the race filled up super quick, 57 of the 90 participants were first timers.  Pretty cool to see so many new triathletes considering Helena is a fairly small town and this is a pretty “local” event.  Registration is capped at 90 because the swim component of the race is done in an outdoor heated pool with capacity for 10 swimmers at a time.   The distance of this tri was a USAT sanctioned “sprint” meaning, 1,000-yards of swimming, 12-miles of biking, and 3-miles of running.

1,000-yards of swimming didn’t sound like that much at the beginning of our class. That is, until I tried to swim just 500-yards and felt like my lungs were going to explode.   All of a sudden, 1,000-yards felt unattainable, and I realized quickly this would be the most challenging component of the race.  Even after countless hours in the pool doing swimming drills, and endless laps, the swimming leg did prove to be the most challenging for me.   The outdoor pool was heated to a hot-tub-like 83 degrees, which felt nice initially since it was a cold, overcast day.  The heat certainly began to wear on just about everyone, and from what I heard from the pro’s it slowed everyone down quite a bit.  After about 23 minutes of swimming, I was out of the pool and onto the bike.  Veronica finished the swim in about 26 minutes, although our transition times were a bit screwed up, so I’m not sure what our “actual” swim times were.

Going through the transition from swim to bike meant a brief barefoot run, down a sidewalk and through some soggy grass to get to our bikes.  We had setup our bikes hours earlier, and placed all our gear on a towel below our suspended bikes.  Sunglasses opened, laying in our helmets, socks rolled to go onto our wet feet easier, speed laces in our shoes… all these things were little tips we learned to help the transition go a little quicker.  Once on the bike, we sped through town as fast as possible, weaving through the pot-holed streets of East Helena.  With heats of 10 people, the course quickly becomes deserted as people get spread out very quickly.  This is a bad thing for me, as there’s no one to “chase” down, or no one coming up on my heals to provide a little extra motivation to pound it out a little quicker.  I was simply out there on what felt like a leisurely peddle through the countryside.  I felt like I could go quicker with a little extra motivation, but coming off the swim, the motivation was just gone…

12-miles later, the biking was done, and it was on to the trail running on a rocky cobble/ dirt trail.  Getting off the bike feels good, that is, until you take your first step to start running.  My legs felt like iron tree trunks, and everything inside of me screamed to stop running.  Even my brain was saying, “it’s ok to walk a little… there’s no one behind you, go ahead and walk…” But I gritted my teeth and kept running.  At about 0.75-miles I glanced back and saw someone coming up on my heels.  I told myself I would not get passed, and kicked it into high gear to prevent that from happening.  I ended up passing someone on the run, and crossing the finish line with a total time of 1-hour 31.43-minutes, good enough for 3rd place in my age group.  Only 1-minute off from my goal of an hour and a half.  Veronica raced two heats ahead of me and finished with a time of 1-hour 39.4-minutes, placing 4th for her age group.

People keep asking us if we’ve got the Tri-bug, and when’s our next race… Although there are several other races this summer, there’s also so many other adventures we’d like to have, from backpacking to rock climbing to simply traveling.  Our weekends are filling up fast.  I do think the triathlon class, and this race were exceptional experiences and were perfect timing in our lives.  It’s motivated us to get back into shape, and getting in shape all winter has opened the door to a summer full of high-energy pursuits.  We will certainly do other triathlons in the future, but for now, there’s nothing else on our calendar for this summer… That could change tomorrow though.

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Sea to Summit Gear

Post by:  Jake
5/30/11

Sea to Summit makes some of the nicest and most useful accessories for backpacking/camping or pretty much any kind of adventure. From backcountry trowels to the kitchen sink, there’s not much they don’t make. Recently I got to try out a handful of Sea to Summit gear, and I must say, everything I’ve used rocks.

Although this Australian company has only been around for about 20 years, you’ll certainly find their products lining the shelves of any quality gear or travel shop as their product line has exploded in recent years. Their in-house person let me know that the company is still owned by the people who founded it, and both founders still work in the business, coming up with innovative products like modular travel bags, sleeping bag liners, and dozens of other types of travel accessories like clothes lines and umbrellas. Travel certainly isn’t their only pursuit though, as they make some bomber dry bags, super light weight sleeping bags, and piles of other camping gear.

Our gear test focused on some of the Sea to Summit backpacking products.
The Guide Map Case I used for the adventure race a few weeks ago proved to be invaluable. I chose the size small so I wouldn’t have a giant poster sized case dangling from my neck as I raced, and it was the perfect size. At 12-inches by 8.5-inches it’s perfectly sized to carry a folded map, compass, utm card, pen/pencil, race passport, ect…   Unlike many map cases which are made of PVC, this one is constructed of a high-tech film called Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU for short), which stays flexy down to minus 40 degrees and doesn’t yellow.  Even the Ziploc closure is made of TPU.  I’ll certainly be using this all summer for normal and super-light backpacking trips.

The Kitchen Sink and Trek & Travel Pocket Soap are a fantastic addition to your backcountry kitchen. The unique designed of the sink is engineered so that the weight of the water inside keeps the walls of the sink upright. Brilliant! The Trek & Travel Pocket Soap, at 1/2 an ounce is airport safe and is simply a necessity for light weight travel of any kind. A tiny plastic container dispenses 50 “leaves” of dried biodegradable soap. Very handy, and well worth the $3.95

The collapsible Pocket Trowel is another well engineered product. Built of glass-reinforces nylon, it’s super strong strong, light, and has a small amount of storage in the handle.  Because it collapses down to half its length, it fits easily in any tight space, and will certainly see lots of unglamorous use this summer.

Overall, we were excited to test such great stuff, and we will certainly be adding lots more Sea to Summit equipment to our gear closet.

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Final Flight Book Review

Post by:  Jake
5/21/11

I just got done reading Final Flight and wanted to share my thoughts.  I love non-fictions, especially ones that deal with mysterious dead bodies found frozen in ice.  The back of the dust jacket reads: “In October 2005, two mountaineers climbing above Mendel Glacier in the High Sierra find the mummified remains of a man in a WW II uniform, entombed in the ice. The “Frozen Airman” discovery creates a media storm which draws author Peter Stekel to investigate and stumble upon the case of a navigation training flight crew missing since 1942. Early attempts at recovery are thwarted due to empty graves, botched records, bad weather, bad luck, and bad timing. Then, in 2007, Stekel himself discovers a second body in the glacier.”
 
The author, Peter Stekel, does a great job developing the mystery.  His writing style is simple and to the point, yet he does a great job of conjuring up images of alpine glaciers, WW2 plane wreckage, and frozen remains.  The first half of this book is really hard to put down, as you’re on the edge of your chair page after page, trying to figure out who the frozen bodies belonged to?  After the big reveal, I felt a little less motivated to wade through the remainder of the book which talks about the lives of the young men found in the ice.  Though, not necessarily finger nail biting, the remainder of the book does an excellent job portraying these men’s lives, and the lives of so many during the first few years of WW2.  Overall, a great read and very worth $15 for the paperback.

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How to Have an Adventure – 10 Tips on Planning Your Next Getaway

Post by: Jake
5/18/11

“We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!” ~Bilbo Baggins

1.) Make Adventuring a Priority. The biggest reason people don’t go have adventures is because they don’t make it a priority in their life. We all have busy lives, and it’s nearly impossible to “all of a sudden” have a free week, and funds to go travel. That is of course, unless you’ve made that a priority in your life. My wife and I would much rather spend some of our hard earned extra money on traveling to have an adventure then say… on a new flat screen T.V. or a nicer car, ect… There’s very few extracurricular priorities in our life that come above adventuring. We will gladly sacrifice other creature comforts if it means we get to experience life passionately through traveling and adventuring. For as long as we’ve known each other we’ve understood what traveling does for our souls, and we’ve made it a priority.

2.) Plan Ahead. Over the past several years I’ve found that periods of my life that have been a bit sedative have been a result of simply not planning to have an adventure. I hear friends say all the time… “We’ll go when we can afford it.” or “We’ve just been so busy the past few months, we haven’t had time to have fun.” By planning ahead, you set a date and therefore a goal. If the trip will cost a lot of money, you can plan for that and start saving. If the trip will require a lot of time off, plan for that, and start cutting out the 1/2 days off work, or the days off to go golfing or fishing, skiing, ect… Making a plan will make your adventure happen.

3.) Set Goals. I’ve always hated the forced goal setting exercises we all do in the group classes that no one likes, but setting goals is extremely important. Don’t just set one goal, like “I want to visit New Zealand”, set your final goal, then several incremental goals along the way. I want to travel to New Zealand. It’ll take 2-weeks of vacation time, and I’d like to do it comfortably so I’ll budget $3,000. How long will it take me to save up 2-weeks of vacation time and $3,000? Let’s say 18 months… Now, break that into smaller more manageable parts. Over the next 6 months, I’ll need to have saved about 3 and 1/3 days off, and $1,000 which equates to about $166 per month that I need to save? Is that goal attainable? Re-adjust if necessary.

4.) Sacrifice. This is certainly the hardest part of planning for your next adventure. After you have your goals set, and you know what it will take to achieve those goals, you’ll probably need to make some sacrifices to make those goals happen. The hardest sacrifice for me is saving up time off from work. It’s tough to balance taking a 1/2 day or day off for a quick short adventure to nearby locations with adventures that require more time off; but, if I have a goal in mind I can try harder to adjust my work schedule to take advantage of some work flexibility like working 4-10′s or working over 1 weekend to get a longer weekend the next week.

5.) Save, Save, Save. One of the hardest things most people run into while planning out their next big adventure is how to afford it? Sure, it’s tough for most people to come up with an extra few thousand dollars to take a vacation at will, but if you make your trip a priority, set some attainable savings goals, and sacrifice to get there, you’d be surprised how far you can go. I’ve heard of many normal everyday people saving for several years to take a super expensive ($30,000+) once-in-a-lifetime trip like hunting big game in Alaska, or climbing a huge peak in a foreign country. A tip that helps us save for a vacation is to purposely save “vacation” money in a separate savings account, or a jar in your sock drawer or something similar. Be vigilant not to rob the fund when you need a little extra cash. I find if we just put the vacation money in our normal savings account, it blurs the lines and gets fizzled away. Make a goal to save a certain amount of money towards your trip each month, and if you come across some unexpected money, save it; don’t blow it.

6.) Go Big. Think outside the box, and dream big about your next adventure. Think of something on your bucket list, something that requires some planning, and most importantly, something that can get you excited. I’ve found the more I can plan and research an adventure, the more my excitement and anticipation builds up.

7.) Carpe’ Diem. Seize the Day. When you’re on your next adventure, take advantage of every single moment, every opportunity. When faced with choices of doing something or relaxing at camp, take the opportunity. There’s plenty of time to relax when you’re dead, but just think, “will you ever be back?” Maybe, maybe not. Either way, be spontaneous, you won’t regret that, but you might regret not taking the opportunity.

8.) Solo or Team Travel? Doesn’t matter, just go. I prefer to travel with company. My wife, my family, my friends, co-workers, ect… I’m a social traveler and like to travel with someone to talk to and someone to share adventures with, but that’s not saying there’s not a place for solo travel. I have several friends that prefer to travel alone, and they end up meeting some terrifically fascinating people along the way. If you have friends to travel with, cool, if not, don’t let that hold you back, go meet some people.

9.) Get Inspired. Want to have an adventure, but not sure where to go or what to do? Lonely Planet  makes some of the best travel books available. Go down to your local gear shop and start browsing through the travel section. Let your imagination run wild, and keep in mind, any adventure is possible with the right amount of planning. Not comfortable taking the leap and going without a guide service? No problem, it’s not quite as budget friendly but adventure travel companies are everywhere these days and their entire business is thinking up and planning “adventures”. Get a couple trips under your belt and pretty soon, you’ll be ready to plan and execute your own adventures.

10.) Just Do It. Don’t stress out about planning an epic adventure. The most important thing you can get from this list of advise is to just do something. Great adventures rarely come to someone who isn’t proactive enough to get off the couch. Start small, start local, and pretty soon your adventures will get bigger, grander, more elaborate, complex. And they will never cease to be a great time.

“It’s a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no telling where you might be swept off to.” Tolkien.

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Spring Running Apparel Demystified

Montana running can be unpredictable.  In one given day, the sun will shine, then it will rain and a snow blizzard will pass through.  Then the sun is back out and I start to wonder if the weather is having an identity crisis—“Uh…what season do I want to be today?  Winter, Spring, Summer?”

So when it comes to wanting to run outside, the weather makes it extra difficult to decide what to wear.  I recently had the opportunity to try some Brooks running gear, and needless to say, with the unpredictability off spring weather, Brooks has a great line of apparel to keep you running happy.

Great Picks:

Nightlife Equilibrium Long Sleeve Shirt

This shirt is unbelievably comfortable and very versatile.  Although I was a bit intimidated by the fierce color, it’s become my running shirt of choice when hitting the city streets.  Part of sharing the road is making yourself visible to others.  And although the shirt was designed for night running, it’s great for daytime too.  And for spring running I’ve found the shirt to be comfortable in both cool and warmer weather.  Breathable, moisture-wicking and true to size (athletic fit).

My only complaint is that the some of the reflective detailing (logos/lettering) has started to peel off of the fabric.  Now, the added reflective features are nice, but let’s face it—I’m running in a bright, lime green top!  If you can’t see me, we have other issues.  Certainly not a deal breaker.

 

Infinity Women’s Beanie

The best part about this hat is that it keeps my ears warm, but doesn’t make me too hot. (I hate headbands…) The fleece band is comfortable and helps wick moisture while the main body is a not-too-heavy stretch polyester/spandex blend.   It’s lightweight and fits nicely in a jacket pocket if I decide I don’t need it along the run. And so far, the reflective detailing has remained intact.  There is even a built in ponytail  door for those who want their hair up—personally, I find it to act as a nice built-in vent!

 

Glycerin Hybrid Jacket (pictured below)

Unpredictable Montana Weather: Case in point. This picture was taken in late April. With the cool weather and skiff of snow, the Glycerin Hybrid Jacket was perfect.

This is a great spring jacket.  It would definitely be too heavy for warmer days, but on cool, crisp evenings or for brisk walks, it’s great.  The company advertises the jacket for use in 45-65 degree weather.  I personally have found it great for temps down to 35 degrees but probably wouldn’t use it above 55 degrees.  The material is soft and comfortable and the style is semi-fitted with a stretch banded bottom that keeps the jacket from riding up while you run.  The sleeves are longer than usual (which I love) and the cuffs have thumb-holes for added comfort and functionality. There is even a waterproof MP3 interior pocket that is a great bonus.  Overall—great fit, comfortable, must have for those cooler weather days.

(The Brooks Glycerin Diva Jacket the closest thing available online.  Same concepts but an updated, more feminine cut.)

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Mastering the Art of an Active Recovery

Post by:  Veronica
5/1/11

Jake and I have been in full-swing triathlon training for about eight weeks.  That’s two full months of swimming, running, biking and core weight training in some combination 6-7 days a week—except for the two active recover weeks we’ve had—or supposed to have had…

Technically, we’ve cheated.  Not in the way that seems logical—we’re not cheating ourselves by skipping workouts.  Actually, we’re cheating ourselves by adding extra workouts (hitting the pool or going for a bike ride on days off) and failing to give our bodies (not to mention minds and emotions) a break.

Why would the extra workouts be bad?  Isn’t the old mantra—practice makes perfect?  Actually, I’ve always preferred the revised version—perfect practice makes perfect.  Something that is hard to come by when your body and mind are exhausted.

The underlining fact is:  when I take advantage of rest days or recovery weeks, my mind and body is ready to push harder in the more intense days or weeks of workouts.

An active recovery is an important component to any training regimen, because it:

–Boosts the body’s ability to perform during key workouts

–Allows the body to replenish its energy and nutrient levels

–Allows the body to repair damaged muscles and tissues

–Allows the mind to rest (an equally important component to physical recovery) and gets the athlete ‘out of their head’ if their mental energy has gotten in the way of optimal physical performance

When I had the idea to write this post, the active recover week hadn’t yet began.  But I wouldn’t let myself write this article until I’d actually done what I wanted to preach.  There will be no pot calling the kettle black!

So here I am, at the end of my active recovery week—mentally and physically rested and ready to tackle the competitive phase of my triathlon training.  Yes, I followed the recover week workouts, dropping my time and intensity.  My legs (which needed a rest after a 7 mile run last weekend) feel great and I’m ready to push myself harder in this next week’s tough swim and brick workouts.

“Sometimes the most urgent thing you can possibly do is take a complete rest.” –Ashleigh Brilliant

I found these articles on Active Recovery to be interesting/helpful:

http://trainforeverydaylife.blogspot.com/2011/03/importance-of-rest.html

http://www.strengthspeedagility.com/sport-and-exercise-muscle-recovery

http://www.bodyresults.com/e2activerecovery.asp

 

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ROAD ID Contest–We Have a Winner!

Congratulations to Jim! He was chosen using random.org to win a RoadID product of his choice.

Big thanks to Road ID for supplying the prize! and thanks for all who entered. Keep your eyes peeled for future give aways!

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