Highlights of Summer

Ore To Shore Mountain Bike Marathon
This years Ore to Shore performance may have been outshined by Annika's on stage debut. 
It's hard to compete with a 5 year old child playing a deer. Little lone  a deer with antlers that just won't stay in place. It didn't seem to bother her too much. 
I sort felt like performing as a deer with falling antlers is about like racing a bike with a seat that falls down. 
Thankfully we had no mechanicals on course. No accidents. Not even a lost shoe for Team Neuschwander. Yes, I said that. Who looses a shoe in a bike race? Despite the ankle ratchet some riders lost their shoes in the mud. I only stepped in until mid thigh and envisioned needing a snorkel. I can't imagine suspending my race to look for a sunken shoe nor can I imagine riding any length of time barefoot on a pedal. I do imagine that if you race long enough your number will come up. Eventually one will be forced to deal with the unthinkable. Just a lot of mud. Did I mention mud? 

 We had a lot of mud. Times were slower across the board than last year but still was a fun day of racing says the woman who did not do the majority of the clean up.  I would have been happier to race the course in better conditions so we could spend the afternoon picking blueberries... but  was not to be.

I think I left a big chunk of my quads in Copper Harbor the weekend prior. I met a girl named Mary. She was mighty strong. I would get ahead on the climbs and she would catch me and pull ahead on the flats. When we hit the pavement on Hoist road I wanted to draft. I just wanted to sit on her rear wheel and let her do all the work. I'm not a bad person. It's was my quads who were being a**holes.  The race was draft legal and.. she was pulling at a pace that seemed plenty fast. Guilt burned stronger than my quads and I forced myself to the front to take a pull. There was a pack of 5 men riding that I would not feel bad drafting off. I suggested we work together and get those boys. It was a big gap . We made short work of closing  it. Unfortunately the men had blown up and couldn't hold our wheels. Mary and I had no choice but to drop them boys. We reentered the singletrack and enjoyed much dryer terrain near Forestville. Mary and I went back and forth a few more times but having the home field advantage I eventually pulled away.  At the end of the day I was 9th woman (vs 16th last year)...and that actually means something. It means I earned a preferred start for 2018...  which means my bike gets to start at the front of the race (no guarantee it will finish there). I will be granted the privilege to pee in a port potty just before race start  and not start behind 1,000 other bikes and not have to ride around bike crashes in the first minute of the race.  For a minute let's be totally honest I'm just excited to have a merit based opportunity to line up in front of really flashy looking 30 year old girls who ride their bike 6-7 days week and have no wrinkles...Sadly I'm not sure the mechanic in chief has any desire to return to the race start if it is a wet summer. 

Best race of summer quite possibly and best kids race in the world: Marquette Trail 50 kids race. A real gnarly trail run followed by pizza and dancing to live folk music. It's the best of times. Isaac ran the whole thing!

Family Hikes
We started a tradition/new routine of hiking Sugar loaf before church on Sunday mornings
I'm not sure it helped get the kids wiggles out before sitting quietly in a pew  but it sure was fun.
And the view from the top is devine.
Annika launched herself and landed on the top bunk. Her "nest" is her happy place and once was her Dad's
Isaac is not so patiently waiting for his flight feathers
After a hot afternoon spent inside rearranging furniture we headed to the water fall to cool off.
I took the long way a found this on the trail. Early August and in peak color. Tim said "that leaf just gave up on life" Maybe it won the race to reach full beauty.

This is Isaac. It's 100% who he is right now. 100% who he has always been ...really since before he was born. I've warned future teachers of the impending class clown.

This is Annika...

And so is this....

And this
And this
You can't really bet on what you are going to get
Except a whole heart and a lot of spirit
And just like that it was Labor Day and back to school
Pink Cowboy Boots
Birthday party at Peak Gymnastics
Grandma and Grandpa at the house!

Best way to contain kids ever.
Annika turns 6 


 A weekend in Copper Harbor never ever disappoints. This weekend was no exception. Copper Harbor is a magical place with about 3 small hotels/cabins, 2 restaurants, zero cell phone service and countless mountain bike trails.

 Copper Harbor's entire economy exists on mountain biking. It is all about mountain biking except for one weekend a summer when it is all about triathlon...Ok, it's all about triathlon for about 4 hours. Then it is once again all about mountain biking.

I suggest bringing some skills, some pads, some suspension or riding on the kiddy trails.

In years past I gave a little thought to the Copperman Triathlon but did not secure accommodations in time. They fill fast unless you have gear to camp. (Airstream renovations underway).
I scored us a rustic hotel room at the Lake Fanny Hoe resort. It was on Lake Fanny Hoe, a stones throw from "Squirrel Park" and a 4 minute pedal from the race start.
.It was perfect except...

...it did not guarantee a good night of sleep. The crooked lamp shade says it all. 
But on race day or any day... who needs sleep to ride a bike? Certainly not Isaac!

This was my first triathlon in four years. 800 M swim, 23 mile bike, 5 mile run.  This distance was manageable. I knew the event would be fun.  I log hours of endurance training between what my is offered in my basement and out my backdoor. Attempting to coordinate minimal swim opportunities with childcare is a big fat joke though. So I just decided that a few swims would be good enough and I wouldn't stress out about it.
I heard a lot of nervous chattering race day morning. Talking of hyperventilating, holding kayaks, constrictive wetsuits.  I was nervous.... Nervous that Isaac would get bit by the otherwise friendly dog whose tail he couldn't resist pulling.  I left Tim outnumbered by irrational and impulsive little people and breathed a sigh of relief as I got in the water.   I'm the one with my hands together in prayer. I'm not praying that I have a great swim. I would need 10,000 hours of swim training to have a great swim.  I'm praying my children behave so my husband can tolerate me participating in an event like this again.
Where's waldo?  The hand attached to the arm with Xterra written in red. I used to think my swimming was hopeless. I feel differently now. I actually like to swim and would be interested in logging hours of training and taking lessons to  master the craft. It just it a scheduling nightmare right now. So I'm saving that for life next chapter....
Out of the water I felt a little spent but my swim was fine  for me. As Tim said it was "irrelevant" I was the 9th women out of the water and left transition in 5th...despite my wetsuit getting stuck on both ankles and flopping around like fish out of water to get it off.

It was on to the bike to continue making up ground and recover from my swim. I reviewed the times from last years race the day I signed up. There were some "ringers" from far off lands like Duluth, Chicago, Twin Cities but to be honest none of them looked like they were triple threat ringers who could blow my doors off in all three disciplines.  I thought I had a legitimate shot to go top 5 and had a rough time predicted for each event.
Tim told me to roll the disc for old times sake but not to expect myself to go as fast as I used to  past because "you don't train like that anymore." This is where our race plans/expectations differed. I just was physically unable to roll a Zipp disk (restickered in custom pink that even says idropboys.com)  wear an aero helmet and waste my time out there on the course believing I couldn't be as fast as I once was.  I just  believed "as fast or faster." I know you can't "not do the work" and be fast....but what if maybe you did do the work and then you marinated in it? Trust me when you spend as much time in the kitchen as I do...you've got to think of the chicken ...not like a chicken... The best chicken is marinated . You do the work and then you let it soak in. The keeping it cool in the fridge is the smaller daily efforts you've made over the last 4 years. This was likely to be a 2 hour event not a 5 -12 hour event.
I finished the bike 1:04:30 which is 21.6 mph. It was faster than I projected but probably a little soft vs myself prior to 2010. It's defiantly something I could easily clean up if I focused on the specifics of it. The bike was beautiful and I had a lot of fun riding hard and fast.  Onto the run I didn't know what place I was in. Judging by the two bike turn arounds I thought I had passed every woman in the race. I sort of thought if I was leading somebody would tell me. I'll confess I felt a little out of sorts coming off the bike and moving onto the run.  I didn't hurt at all or feel over fatigued. I really felt a little spinny. Apparently I wasn't used to moving on a bike at 20 plus  mph and then running. The disk is classic and it makes a cool sound but it is a stiff ride and I felt a little like I jumped off a merry go round and started running.  I guess that is what one deserves if they really have only done brick runs off a trainer or mountain bike that end with a slow uphill grind before running.
I made a last minute race ecision not to wear my Garmin for a couple of reasons. My heart rate monitor battery always dies when I wear it in water so the HR would be useless. It's a Garmin 630 which has advanced run metrics which are cool, but is not a triathlon specific watch. The ability to switch from swim to bike to run option with wet fingers and seemed like a lot of futzing. I had a strong feeling that I would end up looking at at average pace that would reflect my swim, bike,  and run and be totally useless. It just seemed silly to think about messing with a watch when you have decided that embracing the day was your biggest priority. In future, I would just use a low end gps or even a standard watch for mile splits vs having no metric.  The "merry go round running" feel had me wondering if I was running  6:00 min/mile or 16 min/mile. I couldn't get a great gauge on my efforts. I tired to evaluate my breathing and determine if I was slacking or going to implode. I wanted to go as fast as I could but not blow up and waste a good overall finish.  A women  doing the relay whose race resume I know well for holding running race course records   blew by me. I thought I must be moving slow and need to get a move on but then I realized I could still see her. I knew her well enough to know she was probably running 6:40 -6:50 pace per mile.  I was probably running at a decent pace. The run course was an out and back with variable surfaces and terrain. It's a great run course. Hilly but not hilatious. Eventually I saw a leading male headed back who informed me that I was in second place and 1:30 down...  Just because I had not expected the win when I sat in front of the computer screen signing up doesn't mean I wouldn't have enjoyed it ;) I sort of waddled in denial that really I wasn't in second. How could I not have seen her? How does he know I am 1:30 down when I didn't know she existed? He's thinking of my friend who is running the relay. He must be. I couldn't really find it in my heart or head to think I could make up 1:30 on somebody who already swam and biked faster than me. I figured if that was the case she could run faster than me too. Good on her.  I did gain confidence though that I would not implode before the finish and was a little ( or a lot ) worried about who might be behind me. I tried to pick up the pace. I spied the 3rd place female after the turn around. She looked like she was flying. All I could think is "She's coming for me. I can't let her get me"

Turns out I was right and I was wrong. I was right I couldn't make up 1 minute 30 over the course of the 3 miles left. I was also wrong about thinking if somebody was good enough to swim and bike faster than me they could out run me too. It turns out that over the course of a 5 mile run I took 3 minutes out of a 4 minute lead. Comments like "just believe in yourself "or "never get up do not motivate me". They are just magical thinking.  Mathematical story problems extrapolated from real race scenarios do. If the course had been 10 k vs 5 miles it may have been a sprint finish.

The 3rd place woman. The one who was "coming to get me" and looked like she was flying on the run. It turns out I was right. She was coming to get me but she only ran at a pace of 2sec/mile faster than me. If I thought she looked like she was flying, I must have looked like I was flying too. Not that  life is all about appearances but in my book looking fast and having fun are often as rewarding as podium finishes.
Ironic that so much of my time is spent managing dwaddling children. Teaching them to efficiently remain on schedule and task.  After nearly 2 hours of racing I showed up to the finish 1 minute late. A bit of a shame as I'm certain I could have shaved off a minute from somewhere. I'm sort of hoping the same could be said of my competitors. 
I really was over joyed with my day because the race just seemed to capture everything I have always loved about the sport and I got to share the day with my family. Onward with the weekend of mountian biking, swimming, playing at parks and eating ice cream. It really was a banner weekend.

As Isaac would call it "King King." Don't be fooled by his offer to share.  He'll hold out his cone as if to share and then say "No!" and take it away.  2 year old pride!