Tuesday, August 26, 2008

One of the best runs in 30 yrs....

Ok, so yesterday was one of the top 5 bike rides ever, and today was one of the top 3 runs ever. I drove 6 miles to get to the trailhead and then took off down (and up) the most beautiful mountain / forest trail I've ever run on. High above L. Tahoe with temps about 60. Worship music via iPod in my brain... After 2 miles I came to a lookout over the lake. Huge boulders - hundreds of them...I stood on the top rock and just took in the view. Wow.
Another mile or two brought me to Watson Lake, which, I biked to yesterday on the paved road. Again...still spectacular! Ran back thinking about God's kindness to me in allowing me the strength and health to run, and, in such an incredible setting. Psalm 148:9 encourages creation to praise God - "Praise the Lord...mountains and all hills..." Mountains rise up pointing to God and His glory. How wonderful to run 7 miles through some of that glory!

It's only a deal if it's where you want to go. Find your travel deal here.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Lake Tahoe - Yea God! Beautiful!!! Best bike ride in 15 years.

This morning I climbed on a rented Trek road bike up from Kings Beach where we're staying at about 6,000 ft., to Brockway Summit at 7,000 something ft. on Highway 267. Most of that initial climb came in the last 1.5 miles of the 3. From there I got on a little used road, number 73 heading west through the Tahoe National Forest. Spectacular. View of the lake down below were awesome. Climbed another 1,000 ft. over the next 6 miles or so. Saw a sign for Watson Lake. OK. Sounds pretty - another alpine lake - I think I better keep riding til I found it. I LOVE exploring and discovering! So, I climbed and climbed, then screamed downhill, then more climbing. It was amazing. I saw one other cyclist, one car and several logging trucks and that was it.
I saw signs for ski runs...part of Northstar Ski area. The road I was on was actually part of the backside of the ski area. Finally a sign for Watson Lake. I hoped the road to it was paved since I was on a road bike. It was and after another mile or so I came on one of the most beautiful mountain meadows/lakes in the US. I had taken me about 1 1/2 hours to get there but was it worth it. One other family there relaxing.
I loaded 3 new worship CDs on my iPod just before leaving on this vacation...riding through the forest, the great smell of pine trees, views of the lake, flying on the downhills, listening to fresh worship music...well...life doesn't get much better than this for this guy. I like to rate my runs / rides sometimes. This might be the best ride, all considered, that I've done since taking up cycling 15 yrs. ago as part of triathlon.
"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." Yes He did! And what a fantastic job!!! Took me about 35-40 min. to get back down...90 going up so what does that tell you? Will probably do it again on Wed., and, I may just keep going once I climb to Watson Lake because according to the map...the road ends up in Tahoe City, about 9 miles south of where we're staying. Could be a really long ride, but hey...I'm on vacation. Thank you Lord!

It's only a deal if it's where you want to go. Find your travel deal here.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Smaller Races...Just as much fun as the big boys...

Recently I participated in two races in Nebraska when I was back there for a week. First race was in a community on the south side of Omaha named, Papillion, and the second race was about 25 miles south of Omaha in Plattsmouth, NE. First race had about 160 in it and the second...not sure...maybe 70 or so.

I love the laid-back attitude that these races have. Sure, you race hard, but the feel is very different than races with hundred or even thousands in them. Neither were USA Triathlon sanctioned so all the picky rules were...non-existent. Plenty of room in the transition areas. No drafting marshals and no one takes advantage of that. Lots of first-timers. Lots of friendly chatting before and after. Lots of opportunity to meet new friends.

Before the first race, I spied the 1st place overall award - a large beautiful plate with the race logo in the middle and "Champion" at the top and "2008" at the bottom. Sweet. I knew someone had to win it. I also knew I was experiencing a very busy year with not as much time to train or race - low-key as I already written about, so I planned on seeing that go into the hands of some 30 yr. old speedster...not an old 51 year old.

500 yd. lake swim. Came out 6th or 7th, and must have had a super fast transition to the bike, because after passing one or two guys on the bike, I asked a policeman how many were ahead of me...expecting him to say 3-5, only to have him yell..."none." OK, that's good news and bad news, cause now I know I leading, Good News, BUT, I now have 160 people coming after me. Hammered the 3 loop bike course as hard and I could and took off on the 3 mile run with a guy about 300 yds. behind me. The run was out and back and at the turn-around he had cut my lead to about 100 yds. I could see that beautiful 1st Place plate slipping away...

Had to decide to run super hard for the next few minutes to hold him off, or, continue to run at the same pace, and when he caught me, to pick it up and stay with him. I decided to go hard then so for the next 5 minutes or so I went really hard. With about 1/2 a mile to go I snuck a look back to see the gap had reopened. If I could maintain this pace I should have it.

My 77 yr. old Mom and 81 yr. old Father, my sister and her son were there at the finish line yelling encouragement as I ran in and won. Sweet. Small, local race, but tons of fun, and...that plate is nice!

Fast forward one week to the following Saturday. Smaller race, but faster competition. 500 yds. in a pool, then a 15 mile bike and a 3 mile run. One of the toughest sprint courses on the planet. Hills, hills and more hills. Thank goodness the swim was flat! We went off in different heats so you didn't how you actually did until the final results were announced. But, the faster guys were in my heat so I was able to see how I was doing against them. A new friend Jim, beat me out of the water but I caught him fairly early in the bike and passed him. I knew he was a faster runner than I right now so I had to try to build up a lead on him on the bike...to no avail. He stuck with me like glue. Starting the run together, I knew I was in trouble. I thought we might be in 1st and 2nd place, or maybe, 2nd and 3rd...

As I said, hills, hills and more hills. Brutal 3 miles. Jim slowly pulled away and ended up beating me by just over a minute. He went 1:04 something and I went 1:05 something...and someone went 1:02 something to win the first place trophy. What I kind of thought would happen the week before...happened this week. So, I went back to my folks place having won my age group and getting 3rd overall.

Good things do come in small packages and good races do happen in small communities. Bigger is not necessarily better. I look at the Christian mentality in the USA and it's always...bigger IS better. Bigger churches are the "best" ones. Big offerings are the best. Having a "Big Name" come and speak makes a church special. Big church campuses are signs of success. These are not Kingdom values but "Super Sized" fast food values of our culture. Can't help but think about where Jesus was born...in a very small town...in obscurity. REALLY good things do come from small communities - some fun triathlons, and, someone REALLY special who changed the world.