Thursday, April 28, 2005

Farmington athlete wins age group in inaugural Arizona Ironman

Farmington residents Cathy Tibbetts, 50, and Keith Peterson, 55, were among 1,682 finishers at the inaugural Ironman Arizona Triathlon in Tempe on Sunday.

Tibbetts finished the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and 26.2-mile run in 12 hours, 18 minutes, and 52 seconds, while earning a first-place age group finish and a slot in October's Hawaii Ironman. Peterson finished in 15:10.53. It was Tibbetts’ first Ironman and Peterson’s third.

Tibbetts, an optometrist, has been running for nearly 30 years but she only recently started focusing on swimming and biking. She rode her first bicycle century in Grand Junction in October and she started swimming with the Farmington Masters program in the fall.

“I never really gave much thought to doing an Ironman, but last summer when I heard that there was going to be one in Arizona, I just decided to go for it,” Tibbetts said. “It was challenging having to train indoors for so much of the Farmington winter, but I was able to go to Arizona a few times to get in some long rides.”

Peterson, a sales manager at Webb Chevrolet, went into Saturday's race with few expectations.

“I just want to have fun,” Peterson said. “I want to have a good race and I want to be able to converse with people on the run.”

Peterson's wife, Debbie, and their daughter, Bree Ann, accompanied him to the race.

“We also visited my other daughter, who lives in Phoenix, and made it a nice family weekend,” Peterson said. “The race venue was set-up with multiple loops, it was spectator-friendly and I got to see everyone several times.”

Tibbetts set three different alarms in her hotel room the night before the race. With months of preparation behind her, she was taking no chances. While Tibbetts made it to the swim start with plenty of time to spare, she still had her share of difficulties.

“It was a mass start and I got kicked and pushed around quite a bit,” Tibbetts said. “I was glad to get out of the Tempe Town Lake and onto dry land for the bike section.”

Peterson, who is not a strong swimmer, was also pleased to finish that section, but his real challenges began when he hopped on his bicycle.

“I made a cardinal sin because I tried something new on race day,” Peterson divulged. “I heard that all of the pros were using salt tablets so I tried that, but my stomach became upset and I couldn't get any food down.”

While Peterson struggled with his upset stomach during the bike section, Tibbetts found the gusting wind to be problematic.

“I was in my smallest gear, pedaling furiously and all I could manage was 12 miles per hour for sections of the course,” Tibbetts explained.

Peterson's stomach settled down before he got off the bike, but when he drank some chicken soup during the run section, his problems started all over again.

Tibbetts, who is sponsored by Montrail and KIVA, made up quite a bit of time on the run and passed several people, including a few that were in her age group.

“Everyone was marked with a race number on her thigh and arm and age on her left ankle,” Tibbetts said.

But with a loop course and athletes moving in different directions, Tibbetts was surprised when she discovered that she had finished first in her 50-54 age bracket.

“I had no idea, but I'm excited to go to Hawaii Ironman,” Tibbetts said. “Now I guess I’ll have to keep up with the biking and swimming.”

Hawaii entries are coveted among aspiring triahtletes and are only given to the top men and women in each age bracket. Potential Hawaii athletes can also enter a lottery for a race slot.

Peterson entered the lottery and raced in 1992. He has been applying for another lottery spot since so he can go back to Hawaii, but so far his number hasn’t come up.

Debbie and Bree Ann were proud of Keith and his race finish.

“When I was leaving Farmington High School last week to watch the Ironman race, someone said, ‘I wish my dad did cool stuff like that,’” Bree Ann said.

Bree Ann plays softball and volleyball and is inspired by her father.

“Sometimes I know I just need to leave him alone when he’s downstairs working out on his bicycle wind-trainer at home,” Bree Ann said.

Both Tibbetts and Peterson were impressed with the race organization.

“There were volunteers everywhere to help out,” Tibbetts said. “The gave you food and water, they cheered everyone on and they even helped take off competitors’ wetsuits when we got out of the cold water,” Tibbetts said.

“With a race like this, you need good support,” Peterson said. “The race is long and people can get into trouble if they don’t have enough to eat and drink.”

With a nice year-round climate, many running trails and a first-class swimming facility, Farmington residents have potential to make an even stronger showing at next year’s Ironman Arizona event.

“It's just a matter of training,” Peterson said. “I tell people to ‘Just do it.’”

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Journey to see Red Sox play worth the effort

I've always been a Red Sox fan, but following last year's improbable comeback - after being down three games to nothing against the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series - and a subsequent World Series victory over the St. Louis Cardinals, I became rabid.

As soon as the 2005 schedules were announced, I conspired, schemed and made plans to see my beloved Sox.

"The Sox are playing the Diamondbacks in Arizona for a couple of special games during spring training," I announced to my wife last December, while both seeking her approval and her desire to accompany me.

"Go ahead and have fun," Cathy said. "But I'm not going down there with you."

I dislike driving and haven't owned a car for 15 years. I usually ride my bike, run and walk everywhere. I thought about biking to Phoenix, but even I have my limits.

I bought tickets the first day they went on sale in January, and I scored great seats behind home plate and on the third base line. With high gas prices, I decided to ride Greyhound (20 hours each way) for $99 round-trip. I then booked a room at the Hampton Inn in midtown Phoenix, just three miles from Bank One Ballpark.

I left on the 9:30 a.m. southbound bus from Durango on a Wednesday morning and arrived in Phoenix at 2:30 a.m. on Thursday. Greyhound takes the long way around with many stops and holdovers in Albuquerque and Flagstaff.

I was ecstatic and the first one in line at 3 p.m. to get into the game. I walked into the ballpark using the players and media entrance. Jerry Remy, a former Red Sox player and current TV announcer, walked in front of me. He had a paunch and was smoking a cigarette. I was disappointed.

I went up to the press box behind home plate and talked to some of the media personnel.
I then made my way to the Red Sox locker room where David Ortiz, Red Sox slugger and last year's World Series hero, was sitting on the couch watching a movie. I sat down next to Ortiz, made small talk and tried to get an interview.

"Ever been to Phoenix before, David?" I asked, since the Sox (American League) normally don't play the Diamondbacks (National League).

"Never been to Phoenix," Ortiz answered.

"Where are you from?" I asked.

"Dominican Republic," Ortiz said. "But my wife is from Wisconsin."

An Arizona Diamondback clubhouse manager was apparently put off with my interview style, or maybe it was my Red Sox hat and Ocean Pacific red beach shorts. He asked who I was and wanted to see my credentials.

I leapt off the couch, presented my press pass and apologized before making my way to the playing field to watch batting practice and talk to the other writers.

In the game, Bronson Arroyo, who has the most unbelievable high leg kick, struggled on the mound but the Sox pulled through 10-9.

The next day I came back to the ballpark and took my seat on the third base line, 10 rows back. The Diamondbacks shelled knuckleballer Tim Wakefield and won 10-3.

Next column, it's back to running, biking and swimming … sports I understand.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

La Luz Trail

Corner Pocket: La Luz Trail, N.M.© April/May 2005 - by Marc Witkes

Of the many great benefits to Albuquerque, including a mild and dry climate, the cheapest airline tickets in the Four Corners, and the Isotopes: a minor league baseball team, the Sandia Mountains and La Luz Trail are near the top — in many ways.

This amazing area boasts 180 miles of trails, Sandia Peak ski area, the world’s longest passenger tramway, 58 species of mammals, 34 species of reptiles, 189 species of birds and 1,500 species of plants.

And of the many ways to enjoy the Sandias, my favorite is running or hiking up the La Luz trail and taking the Sandia Peak Tramway down.

Constructed in 1964-1966 at a cost of $2 million footed by Bell Engineering of Lucerne, Switzerland, the tramway whisks passengers 3.6 miles down in 14 minutes.

To get to the parking lot and tramway terminal, drive north on Tramway Blvd. and turn right (east) on Sandia Heights. Costs are $3 per car and $15 for the tramway.

Start your run or hike on the North Tramway Trail in the northeast corner of the lower tramway parking lot. The trail begins at 6,559 feet elevation, skirts a residential area for two miles, climbs 800 feet, turns east and descends to the junction of La Luz trail. A "5 mile" sign marks the beginning of a series of 19 switchbacks, many of which are cut through rocky sections made up of layers of shale and limestone. At the Y near the top of the trail, turn right and proceed to the top terminal and High Finance Restaurant (10,378 feet elevation).

While moving up La Luz Trail, you’ll notice dramatically different weather patterns and topographical features. There are four different climatic zones in the Sandias. The Upper Sonoran Zone lies at approximately 5,000 to 7,000 feet elevation, the Transition Zone at 7,000 to 8,000 feet, the Canadian Zone at 8,000 to 10,000 feet and Hudsonian Zone above 10,000 feet. In layman terms, you’ll start in the desert, travel through a wet area and finish in a spectacular alpine setting. Because of these transitional zones, taking off and putting on your jacket, gloves and hat is a common occurrence.

None of this matters that much as you struggle with a shortness of breath while climbing trail sections with a 12-percent grade, but try to pay attention. Juniper, pinion, Gambel and Gray oak, aspen, Douglas and corkback fir, Englemann spruce and limber pine, all quake along the trail. Wildflowers also rage from May to August.

La Luz trail is open year round with the best time to visit in the spring and fall. In summer, temperatures are hot. In winter, you’ll need snowshoes and hiking poles.
40th Annual La Luz Trail Run

Hiking or jogging the La Luz too casual for you? How about racing to the top with 400 other runners on August 7 for the La Luz Trail Run. Register on April 1 at — and quickly, it fills fast.

While conditioned mountain goats can top out in one and a half hours, hikers take closer to three hours.

The course starts about one mile north of the tramway. Competitors run 1.8 miles on pavement to the Juan Tabo picnic grounds before bounding up the trail for 7.2 miles.

Pat Hickey, 55, a local, has run the race four times. "When I was more competitive it was one of my favorites and very challenging," Hickey said. "The race was also featured in a 2001 Trailrunner Magazine as one of the ‘12 Most Grueling Trail Races in North America.’"
My wife, Cathy, who introduced me to La Luz a few years ago, won the Master’s Division in 1995 and 1996.

"La Luz is one of the hardest races I have ever done in my life but it is also one of the most beautiful courses," Tibbetts said. "I may go back and do the race again sometime but for now I’d prefer to run up at a casual pace, have a romantic lunch at High Finance Restaurant and tease my husband on the way back down who’s terrified of heights and gondolas."

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Bicycles everywhere before Ironman Arizona Posted by Hello

Ironman Arizona "calm before the storm" Posted by Hello

Monday, April 04, 2005

Tri the Rim Triathlon offers spring checkup

Student Affairs Director Bill Bolden has been involved with the Fort Lewis College Tri the Rim Triathlon for each of its 17 years.

This community event, to be held on April 16 at 10 a.m., features a 500-yard swim (10 laps in the FLC pool), 12-mile bike (three laps around the rim) and a 5K (3.1 miles) run (once around the FLC campus).

Both teams and individuals are encouraged to participate.

Participants come from throughout the Four Corners to compete in this annual spring rite, but the race has also drawn athletes from Denver, Colorado Springs, Salt Lake City and Albuquerque.

"This is a good spring check-up for your fitness level over the winter," Bolden said. "We have many generous sponsors at this race, and everyone should get a prize."

Hassle Free Sports, Durango Sports Club, Trimble Hot Springs and Brown's Sport Shoe have all been long-time sponsors of Tri the Rim.

With a fun course and great swag, what more could area triathletes possibly want?

"A lot of first-timers are afraid of swimming that far and that's why we have a sprint format," Bolden said.

"Even slower swimmers will make it out of the pool in less than 15 minutes."

With constantly changing spring weather conditions, area triathletes would also do well to hope for sunny, blue skies.

Megan Raymond, assistant director for housing at FLC, is helping with the triathlon and is shadowing Bolden this year.

"This is a good kickoff for a fun summer of events," Raymond said.

"We have a new run course that's part trail and part road and it's all on the rim so you won't have to fight traffic."

In past years, the run portion of the triathlon went down Goeglein Gulch and back up again.

Raymond had a little difficulty measuring and setting this year's run course.

"Every time I tried to measure it, there were a lot of wet, muddy spots," Raymond said. "But I think it's pretty close to actually being 5K."

Steve Stovall, 64, marketing professor at FLC, will be competing in his ninth Tri the Rim.

"It's a good time of the year to have a race because it provides me an incentive to train through the winter," Stovall said. "At my age, it's good to cross-train so I can stay healthy."

Stovall thinks of himself as a runner who is disguised as a triathlete. While competing at the Freedom Days Triathlon in Farmington a few years ago, Stovall had a panic attack in the water.

"I had to walk most of the 10K (6.2 miles) run and the bike portion was a sheer hill," Stovall explained.

Since there were only two people over the age of 60, Stovall finished second in his division and won a nice ceramic bowl.

"That was my reward for sticking it out," Stovall said.

Gary Goold, 51, has completed 15 or so Tri the Rims and is planning to participate this year.

"The thing I remember most about all of the triathlons is that they are consistently well-organized," Goold said.

"I do these for fun because I enjoy the activity and cross-training."

For more information and registration, call Bolden at 970-247-7508.