Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Barn Burner 104 Race Recap


2011 Barn Burner 104
I'm going to warn you right now, this is a pretty lengthy race recap.  But, I've included a lot of photos for your viewing pleasure!

We headed out to the Flagstaff area on Friday morning.  We arrived in Flagstaff just in time to experience the afternoon flood gates opening up.  There was about 8 miles of dirt road that we had to drive on to get to the actual race site, and since it was raining quite heavily, it was now 8 miles of mud road, which my white minivan did not enjoy.  Once we finally made it to the race location, the rain had stopped and it was time to set up base camp!

Our home away from home for the next two days
We were pretty lucky because part of our team (my mother-in-law and her husband, Old Wise One) had arrived the day before us and picked a prime spot for camping.  We enjoyed each others company for the rest of the afternoon and into the evening, and then headed off to bed to hopefully get some rest for the big 104-mile relay!

At about 5:15 a.m., the music was up and running and the announcer for the day was already giving his lungs at little work.  I woke up to use the bathroom, made my way back to the trailer only to find that I couldn't get in.  Somehow the door had locked behind me.  I wasn't racing until later in the day, and I had no urgent need to get back into the camper, so I decided against waking someone up to open up the door and just took a seat outside and covered myself with a blanket.

I was pretty comfortable just sitting in my chair
Once everyone had risen from their slumber, and the rest of our team had arrived, it was time for the official pre-race team photo.

The team!  (Old Wise One, Beth, Mark, me)

The start was pretty interesting.  They had everyone start a set distance away from the bikes and run to their bikes, which caused a huge bottle neck.  Old Wise One was the lucky one who got to experience this part of the race:


Once that mess was over, he was off to a glorious 26 mile mountain bike ride.

Old Wise One at the beginning of his 26 mile loop

Next up was Beth.

Beth right after Old Wise One handed her out bandana/baton
After Beth was Mark.

Old Wise One and Beth posing with Mark (middle) after he finished his leg of the race
And riding last was going to be me!  Since we figured we each would take somewhere between two and two and a half hours, I had plenty of time to prepare.

This is how I spent most of my day...deep mental preparation!
It was sort of a weird morning for me as I didn't really have a plan in mind on how to eat during the first part of the day.  Normally for races I wake up, have some coffee and a bagel, and that's about it.  Since I was going to be riding some time after lunch, I had to improvise a little.  So I woke up and had 2 cups of coffee, a bagel and a banana, and then started sipping on some water.  Later I had a Marathon Bar, and cracked open another bottle of water.  After Mark had been out on the course for about an hour, it was time to put on the battle garb!

Getting ready for not only my first mountain bike race, but my 4th mountain bike ride ever!
Once I was ready, it was time to head over to the transition area and wait for Mark to arrive.

Hanging out, waiting for my turn!
Once Mark arrived, it was time for the bandana hand-off, and time for me to get moving!

Mark handing me the bandana/baton.

It was at this point in time that things got a little sketchy.  Like I mentioned earlier, our drive up to the race location was accompanied by a pretty nice rain storm.  And, as I wrote last week, there was supposed to be some rain on race day.  Up until noon, there wasn't a cloud in the sky.  When it was time for me to go wait my turn to ride, there started to be more and more clouds.  We did our exchange, and I was off.  Little did I know that about 5 or 10 minutes after I started my ride, the entire transition area and camping area was being not only rained on, but hailed on too.


That storm caught up to me when I was about 45 minutes or so into my 26 mile loop.  It was nice at first, until it started coming down really hard.  Then, I just decided to laugh about it and keep on keepin' on!

Coming around the last turn before the finish...all smiles!
We had hopes of finishing under 10 hours, which would allow us to earn a belt buckle.  It was pretty tough to estimate what our actual finishing time would be though.  As the day continued on, it became clearer that we were on the right track.  And since we had all done as good, if not better than we had hoped, when I crossed the finish line, our total time as a team was 9:01:43!  We had plenty of time to spare!

Thumbs up for a successful race!

And another thumbs up!
Remember that rain storm I was talking about?  Well, it might be hard to see in the above photos, but I got pretty muddy out there on the course.

Do I have anything on my face?  No?  Okay, thanks.

Good thing I had these sunglasses to keep the mud out of my eyes!
And at some point during all of the rain and "rock garden" excitement, my helmet suffered a little wardrobe malfunction.

Yep.  That's the inner lining of my helmet down around the bottom of my head.
Fortunately, there were some portable showers that were brought in so that the athletes could shower after they were done.  Unfortunately for me, they mysteriously lost water pressure when I was done with my portion of riding, which was the muddiest portion of the day.  Funny how that works!  But that was the beauty of having the camper...I just took a little shower out in the open (with clothes on of cousrse!).

The craziest part of the race actually took place about 5 minutes after I was done riding.  We were all standing around talking about the race when, well, just watch this video (pay close attention at the 1:50 mark).


This is what happened:

That is one flat tire!

Look at the size of that thing!
It was absolutely crazy!  I'm not too sure how it didn't pop on me while I was riding, but I'm sure as heck glad that it didn't!

After I got all cleaned up and ate some food, it was time to go get our prize.  Mark and Beth hung around for a little while, then had to take off so they weren't able to be there to receive the belt buckles.  Lucky for them, because they just missed out on a big mess.  The only negative of this whole event was they way they handed out the belt buckles.  It was quite possible the most unorganized thing I've seen in a while.  But, after a lot of standing around and confusion, I finally made my way up to the table and just told the guy that my team earned 4 of the smaller belt buckles.

Finally getting my hands on the prize!

What a glorious belt buckle!
Old Wise One and myself posing with our new hardware
A belt buckle with a bottle opener...now that's useful!
This race was a great success, not only for the team but for myself as well.  As a team, we accomplished our goal of finishing under 10 hours.  For myself, I completed my first mountain bike race and didn't crash!

Thanks to Mark, Beth, and Old Wise One for allowing me to join the team on such late notice.  And thanks to Old Wise One for letting me use your bike on race day!

I think I see a larger belt buckle in our future!  Thanks for reading!


Monday, August 29, 2011

IMAZ Training - Week 31

Race week again!  There's nothing like having back to back race weeks.  Last weekend was Barn Burner 104, and this weekend it's the Disneyland Half Marathon.  Last year I was able to smash my previous PR for the half marathon distance at this same race.  This year, that's not really my goal.  The main reason that I'm doing the Disneyland Half Marathon this year is because of the Coast-to-Coast challenge.  To explain it simply, there's a special medal that you get if you do a Disney race in Florida and California in the same calendar year.  On that note, this week is somewhat taper again, and somewhat not.  Whatever you want to call it, here's week 31:

Monday - Swim :45.
Tuesday - Run :45.  Swim 1:00.
Wednesday - Bike 1:30.
Thursday - Run 1:00.  Bike 1:30.
Friday - Rest
Saturday - Run 3 miles easy.
Sunday - Race day!  Run 13.1 miles!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

This weekends bike race could be a wet one!

This weekend I'll be participating in a 4-person mountain bike relay race.  We will each be riding a little over 26 miles through a course up near Flagstaff, AZ.

Tentative race course for the 2011 Barn Burner
As a team, our goal is to finish under ten hours so we can earn our glorious belt buckles.

The Buckle!
If everything goes as planned (the plan being that everyone else goes fast enough to make up for my slow butt!), then we'll be cutting it pretty close, but hopefully be on time.  One major factor, other than there being a super slow, novice mountain biker on the team (me!), could be the weather.  I went ahead and took a look at the weekend forecast for the race location, and it looks like it could be a little interesting...

The dreaded weekend forecast
The most important thing to note in the above photo is the stats for Saturday (race day).  More specifically, lock your eyes onto the bottom of the Saturday column, where it reads "Precip: 40%".  That's not the kind of number I was hoping to see for race day.

Mountain biking in the rain is probably pretty fun, of course, I wouldn't know because I've only every mountain biked three times!  I assume it would be a good time though.  I also assume that I would be quite a bit slower than what I would be if it were dry out.  The good news is that there's still a few days until race day, and there's plenty of time for the weather to change its mind!  

RAIN RAIN GO AWAY!

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Congrats to Mike Plowman!

In my family, both immediate and extended, there's a fair amount of people who do endurance events, including sprint triathlons, half marathons, marathon, and Ironmans.  Even though there's a lot of us that are out there racing, it's not every day (or any day, really) that one of us qualifies for a world championship.

Earlier this month, The Wife's uncle, Mike, raced in Ironman 70.3 Philippines.  He had a torn calf muscle a little while back, so he wasn't expecting anything crazy at this race.  He finished with a time of 6:28:05 in the M45-49 age group.  He went to the Ironman 70.3 World Championship slot roll down, and ended up with a slot!

So, congrats to Pappy for earning a slot at this year's Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas, NV!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

IMAZ Training - Week 30

Race week!  That's right, this week is now a race week.  I agreed to ride a mountain bike for a little over 26 miles as part of a relay race this coming weekend.  I've only been training on a mountain bike for about a week and a half, so it should be interesting!

Since this is a race week, I'm going to do a semi taper, and yet still try to get some solid training in, as my ultimate goal is Ironman Arizona.  I have a rough schedule set, but I'm not going to be too concerned if I am not able to get everything in, since I do have a race at the end of the week, which will most definitely be a harder effort than most of my training days.

Monday - Bike 1:30.  Run 1:00.
Tuesday - Bike 1:00.
Wednesday - Swim 1:00. Run 1:00.
Thursday - Bike 1:30.
Friday - Bike 1:00.
Saturday - RACE DAY - 26 mile mountain bike ride.
Sunday - Run 2:30.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Thursday's solo triathlon

Originally I had a loooooong bike ride planned for Thursday morning.  Unfortunately, my usual training partner, The Captain, fell a bit under the weather.  I did a pretty tough mountain bike ride on Wednesday, so I wasn't to bummed when the thought of changing my training for Thursday came into my head.  With The Captain out, a 5 hour bike ride sounded pretty lonely.  So, I decided to do a little brick session.

Thursday's brick session was initially going to be a swim/bike brick.  One of the things that I know I suck at is doing the bike after I swim.  I've been getting decent at doing all of the sport individually, but typically during an Ironman I am pretty beat up after the swim, which effects my biking negatively.  I looked at my training plan for the week and decided to do a little rearranging.   I decided to go ahead and just do a little triathlon on Thursday morning instead of the long bike ride.

I woke up at 5:37 a.m. and headed downstairs to get myself ready.  My plan was to be out the door by 6:15 a.m.  Today's solo triathlon would be a little different in that I had to first ride my bike a little over 11 miles to get to the pool.  Once I was at the pool I would be able to actually start the triathlon.  

The pool I was swimming in is a glorious outdoor pool.  Here's a couple shots of it:



I'm going to apologize right now because I didn't take any other pictures to share with you.  The next time that I do this I'll take some pictures of my little transition areas and whatnot.

After I biked over to the pool, at a pretty easy pace (since this wasn't part of the triathlon yet!), I took about 5 minutes to get set up and get in the water.  I ended up swimming 30 laps (1500 meters) before exiting the pool.  I should explain that my goal for the day was not to do anything representing the Ironman distances.  My goal was more to do something that represented an Olympic distance triathlon.

I exited the pool and took about 4 minutes to get back into my biking attire and on the road.  I road around the neighborhood where the pool is located and then back toward my house.  All together, I road 28 miles after swimming (plus 11 before swimming makes for a 39 mile biking day!).  By the time I finished the bike, it was just after 9:00 a.m., and it was already getting pretty hot.

I quickly changing into my running gear, chugged down some Ironman Perform and headed out for my run.  I was planning on doing around 7 miles for the run, but I knew as soon as I was done with my first mile that I would have a tough time finishing three miles.  I ended up with 4.59 miles, and they were pretty sloppy miles.  My first two miles were good (sub 8:00/mile) and my last two miles were not so good.  I would like to assume that it was due to the heat (it was already over 95 degrees by the time I started the run!), but chances are that it was because I really haven't done a ton of brick work up until this point.

Taken from my Garmin calendar
What I learned from today was: I can't expect myself to hold the paces I want to hold when it's this hot out, and I need to do some more brick work!  I'm going to figure out a way to get in some sort of brick work each week now.  I've been meaning to do it from the beginning, but somehow the brick portion just got lost in the shuffle that is my busy schedule.  It's very hard to find time for a long run, a long bike, and another long workout (a brick workout) all in one week.  But, it has to be done!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Weekly Training Tip - Bring a phone

Hopefully everyone out there does this already, but there's some that might not.  I recommend always bringing a phone with you when you are out doing your training.  Even if you're only going out for a few miles and don't think that you are going to be far from home.

When I'm out on my bike, I always have my phone with me, and I've had to use it a few times.  The obvious reason why you might need to call someone is that you got a flat tire.  Hopefully you carry a spare tube and some CO2 cartridges so you can change a flat.  But I've had the unfortunate luck of getting two flats at the same time!  Since I only carry one spare tube with me, I was unable to repair the second tire and therefor needed a ride home.  Bummer.  Another reason to have your phone on the bike is in the case that you have a little crash.  Bike crashes aren't all that uncommon, and you never know if you're going to bend a wheel or break a chain.  There's many other reasons to carry a phone on the bike.  Don't waste your time thinking about all of them, rather spend your time figuring out how to get your phone on your bike!

When I run, I stash my phone in my water belt.  I don't typically venture out too far from home when I'm running, but there's always that chance of twisting an ankle or pulling a muscle.  I don't usually have an excess amount of time, so if I had to limp home halfway through a run I'd probably be really late for something.

Lastly, you never know if someone is going to need to get in touch with you.  My rule of them is that I typically screen my calls while I'm training.  If it's someone who knows I'm out training and they are still calling, I figure it might be important (like when The Wife calls me).  If I don't know why they're calling it, it let it go to voicemail and figure that if it's really important, they'll call again.

It's mostly a safety precaution, but carrying your phone is one of those things that might give your or your family some peace of mind while your running or riding around out there with all of those crazy drivers.  Do yourself, and your family, a favor and figure out how to start bringing your phone with you when you train.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

My first solo mountain bike ride

As I posted a while back, I have agreed to be the fourth member on a team for a relay mountain bike race.  Up until last week, though, I had never ridden a mountain bike, on a mountain.  Years back when I was a little kid, we had mountain bikes to ride to school.  But this is completely different.

Last week, I went for my first mountain bike ride with Old Wise One (who you may have seen comment a time or two on some of my postings).  We went out for a 7.34 mile bike ride that was relatively flat.  It was a great ride to test out the bike that I'm am borrowing for this race, and to make sure I could get some sense of shifting and not crashing.

Today, I went out for my first solo ride on the mountains.  There's a new trail somewhat near my house called the Sonoran Trail System of North Phoenix.  From what I read on the internet, this trail has been under construction for the last 6 months or so and is now open.  Not knowing anything about mountains, or mountain biking, I figured this sounded like a good place to start.

I got to the trail at about 8:30 in the morning, and I was the only car in the parking lot.  I preferred this because I figured I'd be going kind of slow and/or crashing, so I didn't need any witnesses of this poor display of mountain biking.

The is the bike I'm borrowing from a buddy of mine (thanks Steve!)
I knew that this ride started with an absolutely ridiculous uphill, and I still underestimated it.  Right out of the gates, this trail climbs about 500 ft in 1.12 miles.  It's pretty intense.  In fact, this ride had a crap-ton of climbing in it.

Elevation profile
This is the path I took, though there were a couple other options.
I started at the little green "play" marker and took the path counter clockwise.  Once I completed a loop around the mountain, I simply turned around and did the mountain in a clockwise fashion.

I only had one casualty along the way, and it really was a minor crash.  I was going up a pretty steep hill and was standing up to pedal (I don't know much about mountain biking, but I think I've learned that standing while pedaling uphill is not a good idea).  At first I though I had slipped out of gear, causing me to lose my footing and fall forward, and subsequently tipping over.  I got up, inspected myself, put the chain back on the bike and continued.  This happened right before I turned around to do the mountain the other direction.  When I got back to my car, I realized that the rear tire skewer was no longer tight and the rear wheel was not on tight.  So my new theory is that when I was pedaling, I somehow pulled the tired out which caused the chain to fall off, and caused me to fall.  Either way, I had a minor fall.

Minor cuts to my left knee from the ground

A couple of minor scrapes on my left leg from the pedal

Another view of the scrapes on my leg from the pedals.
This trail was a bit different from the other trail I rode last week.  I was a bit more apprehensive to go fast on today's trail.  Why?  Well, just take a look at my surroundings...

That would be a painful crash
It's not like the whole course was like this, but there sure were a lot of these sharp little guys out there.  Aside from that, I thought I didn't do too horribly.  I didn't quite go the pace I wanted, but I was riding pretty cautiously.  And, as I found out after I got home and looked up some stats, I did a heck of a lot of climbing!

Elevation gain/loss totals
So during this 12.5 mile trail ride, i climbed 1,670 ft.  That's crazy!  But, I though, how much climbing am I going to be doing for my upcoming race?  Well, according to the race website, 1,627 ft.

Barn Burner elevation profile
So according to this profile, I did the same amount of climbing in half the distance.  It's really tough to actually compare the two courses, but all I'm hoping is that this ride I did is a good training ride for this race I'm doing.

After it was all said and done, this bike ride kicked my butt!  Those uphills were absolutely brutal.  But, it was a really good workout, and I'm definitely going back to ride this trail a few more times before race day (which is only a week and a half away!).

Sunday, August 14, 2011

IMAZ Training - Week 29

I made up for some lost time this week and got a ton of workouts in.  And it was perfect timing, because it was the last week of the current BUILD phase!  Now, it's time for two weeks of PEAK phase and a race week leading up to the Disneyland Half Marathon.  For now though, I'm just going to focus on week 29.  So here it is:

Monday - Swim 1:00.
Tuesday - Bike 1:30.  Run 1:00.
Wednesday - Mountain bike 1:30.  Swim 1:00.
Thursday - Bike 5:00.
Friday - Bike 1:00.  Run 1:30.
Saturday - Mountain Bike 1:30.  Swim 1:00.
Sunday - Run 2:30.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Weekly Training Tip - Get set up the night before

This tip is a short and simple one.  I find that if I have a long workout planned for the morning, or even a short one for that matter, it's much better for me if I set all of my stuff out before I go to bed.  It's much nicer to wake up in the morning and relax before the workout than to feel like I'm rushing myself trying to get water bottles filled, tires pumped, Garmin pieces all together, whatever.  It may not seem like much, but it really is.

It is even more beneficial to pack the night before when you are doing a long workout, or traveling to your workout location (pool, driving to meet up with someone, whatever).  It gives you a chance to get an almost "pre race" experience.  When I am preparing for a 4 hour bike ride, the night before I make sure that I have all of my water bottles and all of my nutrition, whatever spare tubes I will taking, and any other things I may be using on my ride.  Then when I wake up in the morning, all I have to do is go through a quick checklist to make sure one last time that it's all there.  And as an added bonus, it gives you the option to sleep in for just a few extra minutes if you'd like!

I personally do this just about every night, since I almost always have early morning workouts.  It's very nice to be able to take my time waking up instead of hearing the alarm going off and waking up in panic mode because I now have to find all of my required items mentally prepare for my workout at the same time.  Try it out...I'm sure you'll like it.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Check out these triathlon training videos

Everyone once in a while, the stars align and all is well in the universe.  And when that happens, greatness is created.  Well, that's exactly what happened when Virgin Active created some promo videos for the London Triathlon.

Virgin Active Health Clubs is the title sponsor for the 2011 London Triathlon, and they came up with some very awesome videos.  They are full of tips on how to train and be successful, and you don't even have to leave your house to do it!  Here they are...ENJOY!




Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sad news for New York City Triathlon

There's a reason why the three sports of triathlon take place in the order that they do (at least in my mind).  To me, that reason is that swimming would be extremely unsafe if it were the last event.  Unfortunately, even with the swim portion being the first event, it can still be quite dangerous, and the recent New York City Triathlon is a prime example of that.

I wasn't at this race, so I won't even begin to speculate on what happened.  According to this article, there were 28 participants removed from the swim portion of this race, and now it is reported that two of them have died.  To me, 28 people needing assistance during the swim is probably not all that high of a number.  And with the chaos that takes place during the swim, I'm actually surprised that there aren't more death.  Unfortunately there were two deaths resulting from this race.  

You can read an article on this story from Competitor.com by clicking here.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

I hope nobody was tricked by the spam post!

Apparently my email was hacked and there was a spam post on my blog for a few hours.  It contained a link, and I hope nobody clicked on that link.  If you did, sorry!  I'll have some more "real" posts soon...

New tri clothes pictures!

I wrote a little post about a week ago about some new tri clothes that I have recently come to own.  At the time I wrote that other post, I wasn't able to include pictures of said clothes.  Well, today is your lucky day (if you consider seeing my new tri clothes as lucky, that is)!

First up is my new pair of Pearl Izumi tri shorts.  They are black and white and have one zipper pocket in the back.
Pearl Izumi ELITE IN-R-COOL tri short
Next up is the TYR Competitor tri short.  They have one rear zipper pocket and a small side pocket on each leg.
TYR Competitor tri short
And now we're in to the clothing that was purchased for $5 each at a triathlon in Colorado.  Crazy!
First is the TYR Tracer tri suit.  Again, purchased for $5.
TYR Tracer tri suit in black.  I found it on sale online for $119!
 This next piece is an Ironman compression cycling jersey, also purchased for $5.  There's two views of this one...
Ironman compression cycling jersey, in black.  This is the back, with 3 large pockets on the bottom, and the M-dot on the top.
A close-up of the front of the Ironman jersey...
 Lastly, there is a tech tee, again, purchased for $5.  It's a red shirt that doesn't leave any questions...
What is triathlon again?  Oh yeah, swim, bike, run.  Duh!
This is the front of the shirt.  It's a very comfortable shirt, and for $5, it's even more comfortable!
Alright!  Don't you feel so much better now that you've had the chance to see actual photos of my new tri clothing?  I know I'm sure going to sleep better at night.  Thanks again for reading!

Monday, August 8, 2011

More South Dakota love

My recent post on South Dakota was a bit long due to there being so much to share.  And can you believe it?  I have even more to share!  It's really just a few videos that I want to share, mainly to let you experience what I experienced.  So here we go!

This first video is from when we were in Bear Country.  We were driving through the portion where all of the bears were (as opposed to the other animals that were in Bear Country) when all of the bears began to walk away from us.  (Listen closely at the end and you'll hear my daughter's first attempt at using profanity...not our proudest moment, but pretty funny!)

video

This video shows what all the bears were running toward...food!

video

And last but not least, a video from my second run of the trip.  As I mentioned in my previous South Dakota post, our second run took place alongside a creek.  I mentioned to The Wife that it would probably feel really good to walk into the creek after our run, but unfortunately the creek was quite a bit of a way from the place we were staying.  So we opted to skip the creek dipping.  On the way back to the condo, we came across some sprinklers and The Wife thought that the sprinklers would be almost as good as the creek.  This was her attempt at cooling off in the sprinklers.

video

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

IMAZ Training - Week 28

Due to a little trip planned to South Dakota, week 27 was more of a recovery week than I would have liked, but I was still able to get a couple of really good workouts in.  Week 28 is going to be back on track, and there's really no time to rest now.  I'm going to go pretty hard for the next 4 weeks until I have the Disneyland Half Marathon.  So, here is the plan for week 28:

Monday: Bike 1:30.  Swim 1:00.
Tuesday: Run 1:00.  Possible 5:00 bike ride, if I can adjust my schedule.
Wednesday: Bike 2:15.
Thursday: Run 1:30.  Bike 1:30.
Friday: Mountain Bike 1:30.  Swim 1:15.
Saturday: Bike 2:15.
Sunday: Run 2:00.  Bike 1:30.  Swim 1:00.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

South Dakota!

This last week was spent almost entirely in South Dakota.  You're probably saying to yourself or your neighbor, "Why would anyone go to South Dakota?"  Well, the answer is simple.  To visit some family members!  More specifically, The Wife's grandparents.  They were going through some great-granddaughter-withdrawal and offered to let us come visit them for a week, and so the trip was planned!

I knew that my training would be taking a little break during this trip, as I would be without my bike and I assumed I wouldn't be able to find a lap pool.  The one thing I was planning on doing during this trip was running.  I was keeping in mind, though, that the point of this trip was to go visit family, so I wasn't planning on doing any major workouts...it was going to be more of a recovery week.

We flew in and got right to business.  From the day we were there to the day we left, we didn't really spend a whole lot of time just sitting around.  I know, there's actually stuff to do in South Dakota!  Here's a quick photo summary of some of the things we did and saw:

My daughter is on that train, at a HUGE free park called Storybook Island
My daughter playing on a bouncy thing at Storybook Island.

A group of baby bears at Bear Country

Those same baby bears climbing a tree...crazy!
A big bear sitting on a log, watching as we drove by in Bear Country.

Mount Rushmore

Another shot of Mount Rushmore

The historic 1880 train

Out tickets to ride that historic 1880 train

A group of pink motorcycles.  We went to Sturgis, and this was the week before the big biker rally.  There were already a ton of bikers in town for the rally.

Even with all of these pictures, I didn't include pictures of Old MacDonald's Farm, the Crazy Horse monument (similar to Mount Rushmore, but for Indians, and actually much larger than Mount Rushmore), or the winery that we visited.  Like I said, we kept ourselves quite busy.

As for my training during this trip.  I was able to squeeze in two runs.  My first run was on a very interesting treadmill in the condo's that we were staying in.  My second run almost didn't happen.

The Wife and I were going to run together during this second run, and we were planning on doing somewhere between 6-8 miles.  We arranged for our daughter to watch a movie after dinner over at the grandparent's place so we could do our run.  The only problem was that there was rain in the forecast.  We took a short nap in the afternoon and awoke to the sound of thunder...and rain.  We checked out the forecast and found that it was actually supposed to stop raining for about 2 hours.  Perfect!  We rushed to get ready and took our daughter over to the Great's place.  When we stepped outside, it was still semi-stormy looking, but we could see that the nasty clouds were moving away and we had a short window of opportunity.

Waving goodbye to our daughter and Grandpa

The view as we walked out the front door...not too stormy, but still a slight sprinkle.

The view back at the condo...very stormy, but moving away from us.
 The run was a very scenic run.  It's too bad that we had to be back eventually, because I probably could have run forever with path we took.  Everything was so green, and much more pleasant to look at than Arizona is.  We took a main road back over to Storybook Island and met up with a pretty awesome running/bike path. 






Sorry this one is blurry...it was an action photo.  No time to stop!

The best part of this path!  No motor-driven vehicles!
We ended up only running a small portion of the path, and it was still awesome.  We spent our whole run alongside a small creek/river and giant trees.  If I could find a place like this to run close to my house, I'd probably run every day...and enjoy it much more!

So the South Dakota trip was a success.  We had a lot of fun hanging out with The Wife's Grandparents, seeing all of the sights that are around The Black Hills, and even got in a few workouts!