Category Archives: Reader Favorites

Bubble Boy

Bubble Boy Frontal

Bubble Boy 

Many of you were at the annual Trilanders dinner last month. For those of you that weren’t, Jon Anderson and Martin VanDenack shared the concern of many of you that I was having a pattern of fairly serious bicycle accidents. There was the “Iceman Crash of 2000” that caused an A/C joint separation. Then there was the “Saugatuck 100 Miler Crash of 2002” that caused a flake fracture of my left hip and a large hematoma that had to be surgically removed. Then there was the infamous “Ironman Crash of 2003” and I won’t bore you with the details of that one again.

So it touched me that they cared enough and took the time to fabricate a protective suit so I would be safe when I rode my bike. I’m sure many of you thought it was a joke, but I took it seriously. The attached pictures are of me on my bike. Yes, I’m on the trainer in front of the Florida mobe, but I wear it on all my rides. I get a few stares, but I’d rather be safe than look good.

I have a suggestion or two on the design. First of all, you can see by the picture from the side that my stomach is well protected, but the hip and the head could use some padding too. Secondly, you can see by the picture from the front that the family jewels are adequately protected but, while putting all my weight on the seat, the bubbles started popping left and right. It was a great sensation (hence the smile on my face), but weakened the protection capabilities fairly quickly.

And thirdly, unlike our tri suits, the fabric doesn’t breathe well. It would be fine for the people on that weight loss show to use it to sweat off a few pounds quickly on weigh in day. But, as many of you know, I have a problem with dehydration during long hot races. Wearing the suit in a race may not be my best choice.

I still don’t remember the bike accident at Ironman Wisconsin 2003, but the attached pictures may shed some light on what might have happened. The picture from the side shows me looking at the camera. You all know that there are cameras all over the course during Ironman races taking pictures of all of the pros and some of the age groupers. It’s possible that one of the cameras came by while I was on McCoy Road. I probably looked at the camera and posed for a picture. By the time my eyes went back to the road, there were the potholes and the rest is history. Timing is everything.

Speaking of timing, I rode the Suncoast trail the other day from Anderson Snow Park to the South. About a mile before I got to Highway 52, I met a group of riders that Jean and I rode with last year a couple of times. I went on to the highway, turned around, and caught them just as they were getting to County Line Road, about a mile and a half from where I started (obviously they were riding very slow). They stopped at Anderson Snow Park for a bathroom break and we chatted for a couple of minutes (no, not in the bathroom…outside). It was the first time they had ridden that section since last year and it was the first time for me too. Timing.

On my next ride, I parked at the same spot and took the trail North. It’s hillier and crosses Spring Hill Drive, a very busy road. I waited for the lights to change and crossed in the crosswalk like we always should. I got a mile or so down the trail and a Snowy Egret flew across the trail a few feet in front of me. When he crossed the trail, he dropped a load of what was probably the last four meals he had eaten. If I had been 3 seconds faster, I would have been wearing it. Timing.

I’ll be flying back to Hastings on Thanksgiving Day (do you think they’ll serve turkey and dressing on the plane?) for a meeting Monday morning at 7AM and our normal hospital board meeting Tuesday at 11:30AM. I’ll fly back down here on Wednesday the 30th.

Ta ta ’til next time

Just (Hot And Sweaty From The Pictures) Jack

Beginning Training

 Jean and I are back from our trip to San Francisco to see Anna, Matt and Tonya. We checked on them and they seem to be behaving as young adults should so all seems well. I got some groceries today and my grocery bag stuck to the kitchen counter. There’s a 99.9% chance it’s food that didn’t get wiped off but Rocky was here alone while we were gone and we all know what can and often does happen spontaneously in the kitchen so we’re having it professionally cleaned.

Over the holidays, while I was recuperating, I started fessing up to Mom about my mis-spent youth. I told her about when Jimmy Wohler’s  parents went on vacation, left him home alone and I told Mom and Dad I would be spending the night at some other kids house but actually went to Jimmy’s. The police only showed up once all weekend and I didn’t admit to any of the details of our activities (Mom’s family has a history of heart problems and I didn’t want to be the cause of a meltdown after IM Wisconsin 2003) so I thought this conversation would start to pay for all my sins. Not so! Paybacks are hell (Mom, paybacks are heck).

When we got our tickets they were replacement tickets for last September’s canceled trip so Northwest Airlines picked the seats. First of all they were in the last two or three rows on every flight and secondly they were always directly in front of children who traveled badly. On the flight out the girl was kicking my seat and, at the top of her lungs, was bawling and wailing that her seat belt was too tight while mother and grandmother told her the plane wouldn’t take off unless she stayed in her seat.

On the way back a guy about 35 was supposed to be behind me. He notice a family was split apart by the aisle and asked if they wanted to switch seats. Of course they said yes. This time I had a happy girl who was swinging her legs while she colored, kicking my seat the entire 3 1/2 hour flight. She sang the alphabet song at least five times in a row and did the “John Jacob Jingleheimerschmidt” song at least fifteen times (isn’t there more than one verse?). She was by the window as we crossed the Rocky Mountains and must have asked her parents a dozen times if we were going over the North Pole. On the last flight a couple two rows in front of us had what appeared to be twins about 4 months old who screamed almost the entire trip. Needless to say napping was out on all flights. As they say, what goes around comes around.

Without dwelling on “bike-dive” recovery issues it appears I have developed some bathroom problems. Before you think you will be grossed out, read on. I noticed there wasn’t a towel on the shower door where I always keep it so I got a nice one out of the drawer. After my shower, as I was drying off, I noticed my feet were getting wetter and wetter (no, it wasn’t an old man leak problem). Apparently I had let the towel drop a little low and I was standing too close to the toilet and you know the rest. Luckily the toilet had been flushed. Lesson one-don’t stand so close to the toilet with a towel in your hand.

While we were in San Francisco we stayed at a great bed and breakfast called “Inn 1890” ( see ). We were in the lowest level with a walkout to the small back yard. Being at that level, the toilet and shower were in two small separate areas on a raised platform. In the shower area, the shower stall was raised even further. The shower area was so small that you had to hang your towel just outside the door. As I retrieved it I thought I was stepping down one step when I was actually going two. Without getting into the physics of the whole thing Jean saw a naked old man quick-stepping across the room and almost take a header into the wall about 10 feet away. Lesson two-pay attention to where you step.

The first night we were there we went out to eat with Matt, Anna and Anna’s roommate, Maread (Tonya had to work late so we punished her by making her cook the following night-Salmon, Asparagus, Baby Carrots and Garlic Potatoes preceded by a couple of bottles of excellent wine-great meal!!). After we got back to our room Jean and I went to bed. It was 9 their time but 12 our time which is past the old folks bedtime. As many do I felt the call to nature in the middle of the night. There was a small amount of light coming through the windows but not enough to see where the light switch was so I was feeling around the walls. As I went past the sink my wrist bumped the 20 oz. container of hand soap and it went to the floor.

The good news was that it was plastic so it didn’t shatter. The bad news is that the top popped off and 19 of the 20 ounces spilled on the floor right in front of the toilet. After a couple of choice words (Mom, it was Oh Crap!!) I got one of the hand towels and started to mop it up. Again, without going into the physics of the whole thing, soap doesn’t soak into a towel very well so I rinsed it out in the sink. First of all there were so many suds I thought they would be coming up out of the street drains the next day. Second of all is Lesson three-If you really have to go (number one, not number two) don’t run your hands under warm water.

At that point I couldn’t wait so I took two washcloths and put them on the floor where my feet would be so I wouldn’t slip in the soap. I misjudged the placement of the washcloths and I wasn’t quite as close as I should have been. I had to lean forward with my hand on the wall behind the toilet for proper trajectory. By then Jean had been awakened by my turning on the light outside the toilet room to see what I was doing and the sound of constant swearing (Mom, I didn’t swear-Jean just thought I did but was obviously mistaken). Needless to say she wasn’t very happy and disgusted to see her naked husband standing in the bathroom on two washcloths taking a pee. She thought I had a relapse and she didn’t want to go through that whole recovery process again. Lesson four-don’t make your wife mad in bed-the thought lingers and it plays havoc with other activities.

Lucky for me Jean is in the first few weeks of her training for Lake Placid and I start my training for Wisconsin on Monday so we won’t see each other much for six months. The week after Wisconsin I’ll swim the Tiburon Mile with Matt and Anna (?) out in San Francisco Bay so maybe the irritation will wear off by then. I’ve tentatively penciled her in for the Friday of the fourth week in September. 

Better go. It’s run day and times a-wastin’.

Just Jack

Bike Wreck

I woke up sometime the day after the “big race”. I was doing Ironman Wisconsin which consisted of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike and a 26.2 mile run. I remembered the swim and the start of the bike but couldn’t remember any of the rest. I thought our triathlon group had celebrated when everyone had finished and I thought I drank too much because I felt like I had a terrible hangover. Those thoughts sound like it was a while before I understood I had been in a bike accident but what seemed like a long time was about three seconds. I don’t remember who was there but it didn’t take me long to realize that I had been hurt and was in a hospital.

The first people I remember were my wife, Jean, and Roch Frey, the Ironman bike race director. I don’t remember what we said to each other but I’m told we discussed the benefits of morphine. Jean had been pulled out of the race, a race she would have won in her age group to qualify for the world championships in Hawaii, by Roch when she was half-way through the bike portion because I was in the hospital and “wasn’t good”. He had brought her to the hospital and had gone back to our hotel room to pick up a change of clothes since she was wearing her bike riding outfit.

At first I didn’t know how severe the injuries were. Jean, the doctors and the nurses told me things but I would forget quickly and it was much later before the words stuck with me. I had suffered a fractured skull, fractured scapula (we didn’t find that out until much later in Grand Rapids), left eye contusions with the eye swollen shut, road rash on both elbows, both knees and my right ankle, and three brain hematomas-one epidural and two subdural (my right ankle took five weeks to heal which was the least of my worries). When I was taking my first shower I noticed a huge bruise that went from my butt cheek to the joint on the back of my leg. I was extremely dizzy and lost most of the hearing in my right ear. That was because I had bled both inside and outside the ear and the dried blood had caked on the eardrum. My hearing came back eventually.

Bleeding inside and outside my eardrum frightened me. I knew that when people bled like that there was likely to be brain injuries and I didn’t know where that would lead me. I knew who I was and who everyone else was too so I knew I wouldn’t be a vegetable but would I ever be normal? And what would normal be anyway? Would I ever be able to ride a bike again? How about run or even walk?

I only remember small pieces of my stay in the hospital at Madison but it seems like I had tests all the time. Jean told me that I wanted to leave the hospital and was happy when I was discharged. She was not. She had been in telephone contact with our family doctor and he said it sounded like I shouldn’t be discharged but the doctors in Madison did it anyway. He told Jean to keep an eye on me and, if anything serious happened, pull into the first hospital she could find. Jean flew Sara, my daughter, over to Madison to help her get me home since she couldn’t drive and watch over me at the same time.

I don’t remember the night I was discharged from Meriter Hospital in Madison. Jean said we went to a Perkins restaurant to eat dinner and all she could get me to eat was a chocolate milk shake. I vaguely remember getting in the car the next morning and, when we pulled out of the parking lot, telling Jean we were going the wrong way. I don’t know how I knew that since I had never been to that motel and had no idea what part of town it was in. I would guess that somewhere in my memory I had seen signs from the day before when we came from the hospital.

I remember very little of the trip home and I’m told I slept sitting up off and on most of the way. I remember we stopped at a McDonalds for lunch in Michigan City, Indiana and, when I got out of the car, I felt terrible. I remember walking around in circles in the parking lot. When Jean got the food I’m told I went inside and ate some of it. I don’t remember much of the rest of the trip home and little about going into the house. I vaguely remember Pat Loftus, a good friend of mine, being in my bedroom telling me I had to go to the emergency room at the hospital so I did.

When we got to the hospital I remember they got me a wheelchair and it seems like I went into an examining room right away. The rest of the examination was a blur and I only remember Doug Smendik, a doctor but not an ER doctor nor my regular doctor, telling me I was sick and had to go to Grand Rapids to another hospital. I remember they put me in an ambulance, strapped me to a narrow gurney, and away we went. I don’t remember much of the trip and don’t remember arriving at Spectrum Hospital (I still call it Butterworth).

I remembered more of the stay at Spectrum than in Madison but I still would forget many things. I’m told I would receive telephone calls, talk at some length, and then forget the call soon after I hung up. I’m told I was flirtatious with the nurses which is not at all like me. I do remember trying to give one of the nurses a $10 tip because she was doing such a good job and telling Jean she was really nice but quite homely after she left the room. I’m told I had one day that I swore constantly. I don’t remember much of that although I do remember swearing some when I got in the shower for the first time. It seemed like every spot on my body hurt and, when the water hit me, hurt even worse. At the same time I was hooked up to an IV and a bunch of wires and was a little irritated that I couldn’t unhook them all and shower like I used to. Jean tells me I was a little snippy with her when she tried to help me into the bathroom.

I’m told that there were times when I would quit breathing and my heart rate would go down to around 20. The nurses didn’t know what to do so they would send me down to intensive care where I would get straightened out and get sent back to the floor. Jean says eventually they told her to rub my feet when I wouldn’t breathe and that would stimulate me to start again. I do remember some of the tests and the nurses or aides getting me up to walk around the hallways.

One of the procedures I remember was when they sent me to be tested for seizures. It seemed to me I was in the basement in a small room. I remember the start of the test but don’t remember anything they did. I may have fallen asleep or they may have “put me out” but I do know that when I awoke I felt my face and it seemed like it was covered with spider webs. I felt like I was in the basement of a haunted castle in some mid-fifties horror movie.

At another time they sent me down to have a “Cat Scan”. Again I felt like I was in a basement but the room seemed brighter and I was in a conversation with the tech administering the test. She told me that the results would be read by a radiologist named Scott Lancaster, a doctor who had practiced at Pennock Hospital where I was a member of the board of trustees. I don’t know whether I told her or someone later but I remember saying “Oh yeah. He’s the radiologist that’s suing us”.  Again that’s not like me because I spent thirty years in Public Accounting where confidentiality was a way of life.

I went home after the fifth day and thought I felt fine. When I got home there were a couple of friends from our triathlon group and we visited about things I don’t remember. My mother and my two other children had flown in from Florida and California and I remember them being there the next day. I know they were concerned and I told them I felt fine but they knew differently. I couldn’t sleep in a bed because it hurt to lay my head down on a pillow so I slept in a Laz-e-Boy chair for six weeks.

I was unable to drive a car and was allowed to walk by myself for a half hour at a time. I would walk to the bank, walk to the post office and would walk through the downtown area. I saw many people I knew and would talk about my recovery from the accident. As time went on I walked farther each day but still was not allowed to exercise much. Jean tells me I was an SOB for the first couple of days and she “couldn’t do anything right”. I don’t remember any of that and, apparently, it didn’t last long.

About six weeks after the accident my mother and Jean drove me down to Florida where I would spend time recuperating. The nice weather made it easier to walk outdoors and I was able to walk farther and at a faster pace than my walks in Michigan. I began driving at around eight weeks and started lifting weights and swimming around that same period of time. I noticed improvements each week up to around three months. I felt entirely recovered but that wasn’t really the case. After that the changes came about more slowly and still continue today, but I consider myself cured.

All through the recovery period I would have memory difficulties and would be unable to think of certain words. I would often have trouble coming up with someone’s name. It was often a friend or someone I had known for several years. I would remember where they lived, where they worked, their wife’s name, but theirs wouldn’t come. I would usually remember it later. Sometimes it took two minutes, sometimes two hours and sometimes two days but I always would get it eventually.

Sometimes the words I couldn’t get are everyday words I have known all my life. I remember telling my son a story about my first visit to New York City. I was staying at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, and I described the train ride into the city in vivid detail. It was a long story and ended with the sentence “Then the other drunks helped him to his feet and took him back to sit on the …….”. I couldn’t get that last word but I knew what it was. I described it to him as a thing that comes up out of the ground that flattens out with two “ears” and has water in it. He asked “Do you mean fire hydrant?” and I said “Yes”. I went home and told my wife the strangest thing had just happened and described the story to her in a short version. I said “When I got to the end I couldn’t remember the words ……”. They wouldn’t come again.

Those episodes continue today nearly six months from the accident except that when I finally get the word I usually don’t forget it. The words have been common like resume and shoulder and convoy among many others. Most of my friends and family know that missing words may happen and they are very understanding. Jean and I have an agreement that she won’t help me with missed words or forgotten names. We both feel that forcing me to work on remembering may help in the recovery process. If not at least it’s a fun little game. Often minutes and sometimes hours later I’ll walk by her and say nothing but the missed word. Sometimes it takes her a minute to figure out what I’m talking about but she always remembers the situation and says “Yes, that’s it”.

There are many stories about what I did during the hospital stays. Some I remember and some I have learned second hand. During recovery I would e-mail my friends and family with my recovery progress. Looking back at those e-mails I can see many changes. The early ones were brief and told limited information about my progress. As time went on they became lengthier. Sometimes they were serious and talked about the accident and other times they contained stories in my strange sense of humor. Whether for the humor or the information on the healing process many friends and family told me how much they enjoyed the e-mails and I should “keep them coming”.

I have been very open with my progress and have noticed some changes in my personality. Before the accident I was quiet and soft spoken. Since the accident I notice I talk much more than I did before and usually say exactly what I think. I don’t think I say things that are offensive to people and I don’t walk up to women on the street and say “My, what a nice set of jugs you have”. I find myself at meetings talking more than I should and have attempted to tone it down a little. I still say things I think need to be heard but I try not to go overboard to the point of boring everyone.

Without going into detail about the countless adventures during my recovery this would be the end. But there are many parts that only I know about. I have told a couple of people a couple of the stories but not in much detail. Borrowing from radio personality Paul Harvey, “Here’s the rest of the story”.

In one of the e-mails I sent to friends and family keeping them informed of my progress, or at least my take on my progress, I mentioned that when I first awoke I felt like I was coming from a spot that was pitch black, quiet and I was alone. I’m sure that many felt I was thinking I was in that spot between living and dying and was having one of those “near death experiences”. That isn’t what I felt at all. My accounting geek thought process had to put everything into its proper niche. I thought the appropriate niche was the reaction of the brain when severe trauma occurs. I have no medical background but felt that when the brain is injured it shuts down all non-essential processes (dreaming; unrelated thoughts, etc.) and devotes its entire existence into healing and recovery.

That doesn’t mean I never worried that I was close to death. I’m not afraid of dying. It will happen to all of us sooner or later, but I wanted it to be later. I have some things left undone and probably always will. Maybe I see the need now to tie up all the loose ends because life can change in one split second. I joke about wanting to spend the money I worked hard for all my working life rather than let Jean spend it on Guido, the cabana boy but that really is a joke unless anyone has seen Jean and Guido while I was in Florida. My worry was that what I set up in my trust in 1991 when all the kids were home it is different than what I would set up now that they are all grown up (no jabs intended-they are all grown up much as Mothers think they aren’t). So it’s time to get the trust fixed along with Jean’s will which leaves everything to me that I don’t need and her boys do.

I’m sure that many also felt that the part that talks about feeling all alone was a scary part to me and it wasn’t. I felt all alone because I was. I know there were doctors, nurses, family members and friends around but they were only around part of the time. I had lots of trouble sleeping at night, probably due to the pain, and I was alone most of that time. Family and friends were home sleeping in their beds and the nurses were trying not to bother patients so they could sleep so there was no one there.

It sounds like a complaint but it’s not at all. It’s great to have friends that come by and show that they care; doctors come by and tell you that you are improving; nurses that come by and take care of your basic needs (I hope I was never catheterized or had to crap in a bedpan); family that would come by and show you their love and concern; but you are still alone with your thoughts-sometimes for long periods of time. I also don’t think I had life changing revelations. I thought about the thoughts and beliefs I have had all my life even though they often oppose the accounting geek side of me.

In that same e-mail I say I fear that …”an arm could reach out and pull me back to the black hole”. I’m sure that many readers felt again that I was worried about dying or becoming a vegetable and that wasn’t it at all. During that long time alone I had lots of time to think about my life and life in general. I worried about family and friends and their uncertainties but in the long run my biggest worry was that I would be the kind of person I read about in the papers or hear about on the news programs that spend all their time trying to blame someone else for their misfortune. My heart breaks when I think about the victims of the 9/11 tragedy but it wretches when I hear newscasters push and prod people to put a price tag on “compensation” for their loss. The same goes for the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing and the other disasters in life; some man-made and some natural disasters.

It’s not that I disagree that individuals that directly cause tragedies should not be accountable, but the blame finger points in too many directions and tries to include too many of the indirect sources. The argument can go on and on and many people feel strongly that the blame should go as far as it can. But how many people agree with the jury award of millions of dollars for the woman that sued McDonalds because she spilled hot coffee in her lap? A friend of mine is the treasurer for a boat manufacturer that was sued by the family of a man who drank liquor all day long, was extremely drunk, pulled the pontoon boat into two feet of water, climbed onto the roof of the pontoon and dove into the water breaking his back because there wasn’t a sign that said “DO NOT DIVE OFF THE ROOF OF THE PONTOON-IT MAY CAUSE SERIOUS INJURY OR DEATH”. The family won the case.

My worry was, is and will always be that I try to blame someone or something for the bike wreck or other things that changed my life. I think it’s healthy to try and find out how it happened so I can do what I can to prevent it from happening again. But first of all my accounting logical brain tells me that there’s a huge possibility that the wreck was my own fault. I don’t care if a six foot trench caused the accident. Probably 1,200 plus riders went by that same spot before I did and didn’t fall so I shouldn’t have either. I have second guessed all kinds of possibilities and the Ironman organization has been no help at all. From the front tire catching in an expansion joint or road crack to too much weight forward causing a loss of control and everything in between, blame doesn’t matter. I was telling one of the guys at the YMCA about the accident and he asked me if I was wearing a helmet. I said yes but it broke into three pieces (that’s second-hand information-someone threw my helmet away for me so I’ve not seen it). He said “You ought to sue them”. I said “If I didn’t have the helmet on I would probably be dead by now”.

I’ve made arrangements to enter the Ironman Wisconsin again in 2004 against the advice of some of my friends but mostly with support and understanding. I’ve used the macho explanation that I have to “beat the race that beat me” but that’s not really how I feel. I feel that I have to face down the “demon” and the demon is me. I’m sure I will make a pilgrimage to the spot where the wreck happened and spend a few minutes alone to look or pray or swear and that may be a necessary part of the race but I need to do the race without trying to pawn the blame on to myself or anyone else. What happened has happened and nothing in this world will change it. If I use the tragedy as an excuse I’ll be losing control of my choices and that’s not the way I want things to be.

For some people maybe pointing the blame finger works so they feel better. I could blame someone else or myself and use that crutch to excuse myself for drinking too much or living in anger or carousing in bars or becoming depressed. Maybe some people feel that I do any or all of those things although half my time in bars is spent drinking caffeine free diet coke but that’s not the point. We all live all our lives the best way we know how but do things that are “life’s choices”. We are on this earth to live and we make our own life’s choices every day. Some of those choices are good and some (mine included) are, in hindsight, not so good. But that’s the human condition. And when our final number comes up we add the pluses and minuses and see if we are where we wanted to be. For those who have a base in religion as I do, we feel we are ultimately judged by God. For those who aren’t religious and those who are, we know we are judged by everyone who has ever known us.

But before those other judgments happen we spend our whole lives living and judging ourselves on an ongoing basis and I want to think I have a rolling “A”. As Anna recently put in an e-mail about her history test, maybe only a 90 but still an “A”.

Final Recovery Report

 Here is the final recovery report. That doesn’t mean I’m fully healed, but the major portion is over and the long process of baby steps will continue for 3 to 6 months. Jean and I will be leaving for Florida on Friday and I will be forced to heal on the beach.

First an update on last week’s report. My conversations with Rush Limbaugh have been terminated about OxyContin. I’m not a big fan of Rush, but I admire his fortitude to admit to the public he is addicted to pain killers and to admit himself to rehab.

Second, sadly Bill and I didn’t get any volunteers to wield the magic markers so we resorted to phase two. Since Bill is working long hours and I’m not, I was assigned the task of creating stencils for the marking. Our thought was to put the stencils on a bench, mark the blank areas with magic marker and then sit on them. Sadly there were two problems. With my brain not fully recovered I put the stencils on the bench so I could read them while Bill slid into his thong. So when we sat on them, the words imprinted backwards. Secondly I used permanent magic markers instead of the washable kind so the mistakes will have to wear off. We looked like dogs with anal gland infections as we scooted along the carpet trying to erase the errors.

I had two medical appointments in Grand Rapids. The first was at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital on Tuesday and the second was with Dr. Visser, a Neurologist on Friday. At Mary Freebed test one was to park the car in the parking ramp and then find our way to the 8′ x 8′ registration room embedded within the clinic. With directionally challenged Jean at my side, we were able to find it after wandering through the restricted construction area only once. I met with a Psychiatrist for the first half hour and a Physiatrist the next hour. Both said they were pleased with my recovery so far and I seemed better than they expected after reading the hospital reports from Wisconsin and GR hospitals. The Physiatrist had two recommendations which didn’t thrill me. One was to take part in the Drivers Rehab test to see if I could drive well. Oh by the way, the cost is $900-$1,000 and, oh by the way, it isn’t covered by Insurance. I think I’ll try to entice Ernie (retired teacher, driving instructor, driver’s license tester) to test me at a reduced fee. The second recommendation was to practice having bike wrecks without landing head first. If anyone has football pads and a helmet, I would like to borrow them.

The visit with Dr. Visser was likewise encouraging. I quit taking the pain medications on Thursday and he seemed OK with that. He will continue me on the Dilantin anti-seizure medication for six months, and if no problems, pull me off then. During the mental tests he did find that I was a full inch off plumb which brings me to this dilemma. What do you think?

a) I will never make it to normal and will spend the rest of my life trying to blend in with all you normal people and hide my shortcomings, or,

b) My recovery takes me to exactly where I want to be. I’m different-maybe better, maybe worse, but definitely different.

(choose b, choose b, choose b, choose b)

Early in the week I asked Jean about some of the things that went on in the first couple of days after the accident. I heard things that made me feel uneasy so I don’t want to know the details any more.

To end on a serious note:

A friend held me while I bled on the road until the ambulance came.

Jean pulled out of the race she was doing well in to watch me travel through the darkness.

A friend gave me a medicine bundle to guide me in my return from the abyss.

A friend gave me a finger puppet to entertain myself in the hospital.

My daughter flew from Hastings to Madison to help Jean get me back.

My son and daughter flew back from San Francisco to help me through some difficult days.

A friend gave me an Ironman Wisconsin cap to protect my broken head.

A friend gave me a squeezable ball to release tension during my bad headache days.

A friend gave me a heatable neck ring to ease the tension in my whip-lashed neck muscles.

A friend gave me cookies to nourish me in my recovery.

A friend gave me home-made chicken soup to nurse me back to health

A friend gave me Bell’s Beer to celebrate my full recovery, whenever that is.

Friends and family have sent cards, e-mails, have called and stopped by to see how I was doing.

I spent four years in college and thirty years in public accounting and it took this freak accident to teach me that all of the above is more important than the balance in my checkbook.

I fear the past. The place where I first went was pitch black, quiet, and I was alone.

I fear the present. I’m halfway through recovery, but I know an arm could reach out and pull me back to the black hole.

I’m apprehensive about the future. I don’t know where I’m going but I thank God I have friends and family to help me along the way.

Permanently 1/4 Goofy Jack

Trilander Dinner 2003

Two years ago we heard the story about the Trilanders and how our group was formed. Last year we looked back at the season, our accomplishments, our injuries and our training. This year the committee thought it would be appropriate to look to the future.

On January 19th I asked everyone to e-mail me with their 2003 season goals and their 2003 training objectives. Some e-mails were not functioning so they never got the message and some chose not to send them in. Some may have feared that they would be held up to public scrutiny or ridicule which may be true. Others may have been afraid to commit themselves for fear of being considered cocky or overly aggressive. Still others may have been afraid of failure and that not committing to a goal means you can’t possibly fail. Some may have thought this was a really cheesy idea and didn’t want any part of it. But many did respond. Some goals and objectives were short and simple. Others were quite detailed and specific. Here are the responses. The committee may have edited and corrected for spelling and punctuation. But as Tom Brokaw would say, “Here they are in their own words”.

Harry’s season goal is to finish Ironman Wisconsin. His training objective is to not allow the Ironman training to consume and dominate his life considering his personal and work obligations.

Kim’s season goals are to do the White Pine Stampede 20k cross-country ski race in 2 hours or less, to complete an Olympic distance triathlon this summer, to complete the Fifth Third Riverbank Run and to possibly complete the Bayshore Marathon in less than 4 hours. Her training objective is to complete a 10k race in 8 minute miles or better.

Gary said his season goal is to keep having fun doing what we are doing and his training objective is to keep training. He is looking forward to the long distance training we will be doing this summer and is glad he will have the summer off. Gary was once overheard saying that his goal at Ironman Wisconsin is to run the entire run portion which sounds redundant but if you’ve done an Ironman you know what he means.

Jenifer’s priority season goal is to arrive at the Ironman Wisconsin start uninjured and to complete the race. Her main training objectives would be to train wisely, consistently, and listen closely to her body. When something hurts…stop! When needing some time off…take it! Her other season goals are to do the Fifth Third Riverbank Run in 2:05 (does that mean if she gets to the finish line in 2:04 she’ll wait a minute to cross?), place 1st, 2nd or 3rd in her age group at the shorter triathlons and to “drink less and weigh less”. (She says the two are closely linked and appears to be off to a bad start on the drinking less part tonight). Her other training objectives are to return to sub 8 minute mile pace by the Fifth Third Riverbank Run, have a 12 minute half mile swim time, do the long time trial in 1:04 or less, remain uninjured, and to train wisely.

Diane’s season goals are to finish the Boston Marathon in less than 4:30, finish Ironman Wisconsin in less than 14 hours, to beat Karen Standley in at least one race this year and not to finish in 4th place in any race this year. Her training objective is to remain injury free.

Bill Bradley’s season goals are to complete the Fifth Third Riverbank Run, to do an early summer triathlon (either Johann’s or Macatawa), complete the Seahorse Challenge (which by the way is early this year…the day after Macatawa) and to complete his first half Ironman race at the Muncie Endurathon.

Martin’s season goals are to finish Ironman Wisconsin in less than 12:30 and to finish the Fifth Third Riverbank Run in less than 2:05. His training objectives are to improve his long distance running pace to less than 8 minute miles and to average 24 miles per hour on the 16 mile bike time trial. He plans to do the Fifth Third Riverbank Run, The Ann Arbor Triathlon, the Seahorse Challenge Triathlon, Hubbard Lake or Johann’s (they are on the same weekend), the Muncie Endurathon and Ironman Wisconsin.

Lynette says her goals are very simple. She hopes to start the season injury free and remain that way. She feels that will help her improve her time and distance.

Pat Purgiel’s goals are to successfully complete a triathlon (any triathlon), run a marathon in 3:45 or less (which is Boston Marathon qualifying time for the for the elderly), run the Fifth Third Riverbank Run in less than 2 hours, and meet the dream woman of his life except that I should only list the first three so would the jury please disregard that last one about meeting the dream woman of his life because that would embarrass him and we wouldn’t want that.

Judy Anderson says she doesn’t do triathlons but her training objective is to run pain free at some point in the near future and to finish the Fifth Third Riverbank Run.

Becky’s goal is to swim 1.2 miles in less than 1:30 or whatever the swim cutoff is for the Half Ironman. Her training objective is to not get injured, something that is proving hard to do.
Jim’s season goal is, and I quote “To kick ass and take names later and also to see the entire team cross the white line at Ironman Wisconsin”. His training objectives are to stay focused and have a sub-13 hour Ironman God willing.

Larry Etter’s goals for 2003 are to make it to the start line at Ironman Wisconsin capable of competing, to finish Ironman Wisconsin in less than 13 hours, to finish in the upper 20% of swimmers in his age group in all races, to finish in the top 50% of all bikers in his age group in all races, to finish close to 50% of all runners in his age group in all races, and to have fun doing all of the above.

Jack’s goals are to finish an Olympic distance triathlon in less than 2:45, improve his times in all repeat races by at least five minutes, to complete the Muncie Endurathon in less than 6:15, and to finish Ironman Wisconsin in less than 16:18:01. His training objectives are to integrate lactate threshold training and VO2 max training in his schedule, improve swim times by at least 5% in all races, solve his leg cramping problem through better conditioning and hydration, and most importantly lose 30 pounds by the first triathlon. First of all 170 pounds on a 4 inch wide bike seat has to be more comfortable than 200 pounds on the same seat. Secondly I defy anyone to get in their season’s best condition, strap on a thirty pound pack, ride the 24 hour challenge route and then run any distance, let alone a marathon.

Jean’s season goal is to make it to the start line at Ironman Wisconsin injury free. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Her training objectives are to improve times in all three sports and to do the 24 hour challenge route once a week beginning in June. She also says she wants to be the strongest woman in her age group.

Jon Anderson’s schedule has changed drastically since Mark got called up for the reserves and may be gone for a year or more. His season goal would be to finish Ironman Wisconsin in the shortest time possible with the least amount of training. He would like to finish the swim in less than 1:05 and complete the bike course in 5 hours or less. His training objective is to get faster on the bike and concentrate his training to that end. He plans to train no more than 15 hours per week.

The one common theme that stands out is that everyone wants to remain injury free. After three years of hip tendonitis, shin splints, an AC joint separation, a flake fracture and a large hematoma, I’m not the one to give advice on how to do that.

This is the point on the Tonight Show when Johnny Carson would turn to Ed McMahon and say “With all these season goals and training objectives you would think that everything was covered”. Ed, by that time half in the bag, would reply according to the script “With all those goals and objectives there couldn’t possibly be any more that haven’t been thought of. If there was a book of goals and objectives, it wouldn’t have any that weren’t thought of by this group”. At this point, after the set-up, Johnny would say in his dorkiest voice “Not so my large pickled friend”. The committee came up with some suggestions that we may not have considered. As always, I apologize to the spouses and supporters for all the inside jokes.

Most of you know that Harry is Chief Operating Officer at Pennock Hospital. You also may know that there is a critical shortage in nursing and many other health care fields including Pharmacists. Harry, by training, is a Pharmacist. So after Harry spends all day at his regular duties he often works at the Pennock Pharmacy to help with staffing issues. Some people on the Board of Trustees have noticed that several months after Harry started working in the pharmacy there were a lot of pharmacy techs off on maternity leave. There may be no connection but the committee feels that Harry may have more energy for training if he spent less time with those young women.

One member of the committee noted that Kim has a little trouble sticking with her own training schedule. She comes to the Sunday runs saying she plans on running 5 miles, but ends up running whatever distance everyone else goes, often 8, 9 or 10 miles. Unlike Jack she may want to put on a little weight so she isn’t sucked along by the team vacuum.

It’s hard for the committee to suggest anything to Gary. He can lay off running for two weeks and then go out and run 10 miles just to keep someone company so they don’t have to run alone and he usually has to slow down to do that. However, the committee did feel that Gary is just a little too hyper, should calm down a little and learn to just take life as it comes.

Jenifer’s goals and objectives said it all. Just listen to your body and it will tell you what to do. But the committee suggests that Jenifer not train alone so much. It may be beneficial to find a training partner to work with. It might be helpful if that person liked to talk a lot too because they could share their experiences. We also hope that giving up her 30 minute pool soak before swim workouts doesn’t have a negative effect on her training. Jenifer should also try to be a little more upbeat and enthusiastic about life and her training.

With a new Softride, VO2 max testing, a swim workout book, attending a Florida Triathlon Training Camp, a new computrainer and Boston Marathon training, what ever happened to Diane’s workout philosophy that “Less is better”? The committee does suggest that when she runs with Pat and they come to a fork in the road that she turns the opposite direction that Pat thinks is correct.

In his list of goals and training objectives Bill said that he wants to be just like Jack. Does that mean he wants the guys in the locker room to comment on his anatomy? For those of you that don’t know what that means, let me know and I’ll see that you get a copy of the e-mail from Florida.

Medically we know that people have different levels of testosterone in their bodies. We also know that an important part of training is to know your lactate threshold and incorporate lactate threshold training into your schedule. The committee feels that Martin may be the most technically qualified to develop a machine to determine a person’s testosterone threshold. The test might consist of blood tests while reading a variety of men’s magazines, the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and the Victoria’s Secret catalogue. Once the threshold is established it could be correlated to the lactate threshold so that overtraining due to testosterone overload doesn’t occur. We’re not sure what kind of training would be necessary to alter the testosterone threshold but we do feel sorry for Jane.

Lynette had some concerns about staying healthy and injury free during her training schedule. One way to achieve this is to not train when you are overly tired. Lynette may want to consider having Harry work more hours at the pharmacy so she gets her needed rest.

The books say that when you are training at an aerobic level you should be able to carry on a conversation with your training partner. Pat must be extremely concerned that he is going anaerobic because he is continually testing to see that he is in that aerobic range. To combat this behavior the committee suggests that Pat try to run the entire 7 mile Cook/Quimby/Broadway loop with at least one other person without saying a word. He may also want to consider wearing a pin-on GPS so he isn’t led astray by Diane on the Sunday runs.

We can’t criticize Judy’s training objectives because of her physical problems. We do suggest, however, that she sit down with Jenifer and Jean and find out how they are able to listen to their doctors, completely stop training and let their injuries heal properly.

We hope that Becky doesn’t have a bladder control problem. When Bill and I follow her on these long winter runs we see urine at every mailbox but she blames it on the dogs. It’s nothing to be ashamed of and happens to lots of people. Also, we don’t know of any triathlon that allows dogs to assist the participants so we suggest that Becky try to get her heart rate above 115 as the dogs pull her up the Yeckley/Cook/Quimby road hills.

It sounds like Jim may have his hands full as Trish’s due date is just before Ironman Wisconsin. We do, however, suggest that Jim make it a training objective to swim at least once before each race. Also, there will be a collection taken up later so Jim can invest in a pre-race hair brush.

Larry’s training is by the book or more precisely by the books. But remember the old saying “Don’t judge me until you walk a mile in my shoes”. The committee thinks it would be helpful for Larry to see how well off he is and how the other half lives. They suggest that he go a week without wearing his heart rate monitor, charting his training activities or logging his running shoe mileage. If he has difficulty, there are support groups that would be willing to talk him through the rough times.

The committee couldn’t find any fault with Jack’s scheduled activities. His season goals are realistic and attainable and his training objectives are reasonable and appear to be complete. He doesn’t appear to have any quirks or idiosyncrasies that they could poke fun at. The committee is concerned that if Jack does lose 30 pounds, he will also lose his excuse for not doing well in some of his races. He is encouraged to develop a stand-by injury in the event of a poor performance.

The committee is concerned that any criticism or jokes directed at Jean may be met with physical and/or sexual consequences. The committee is not at all concerned that she spends all of her waking hours either swimming, running, spinning, lifting weights, riding her trainer, attending yoga classes, attending Pilates classes, doing Pilates tapes at home, doing yoga tapes at home, reading nutrition books, reading running books, reading biking books, and reading triathlon magazines. The committee likes her decorating theme in the bedroom that makes it look like a Dr. Scholl’s display case. Jack was a little concerned in Florida when he caught Jean eying his foot for a transplant. They aren’t the same blood type but Jack has seen calls on the caller ID from the Duke University Medical Center.

The committee has heard unconfirmed rumors that Jon Anderson spent much of his recent vacation on the cruise ship working on alternative training techniques. An anonymous senior level White House official has told CNN that the new training formats may include consuming large amounts of alcohol before talking on a cell phone, walking around in our underwear and some cross-dressing. I know a guy at the Seven Springs Y in Florida that may be interested in the last two parts.

If any of you are offended by any of these suggestions don’t blame me. Talk to the committee although I’m not really sure who the committee is.

To be serious for just a minute, it was a common theme that everyone wanted to stay healthy and injury free. That’s not likely to happen but we can minimize the occurrence rate and severity if we plan our workouts carefully, think about what we are doing and, as Jen suggests, listen to our bodies. I look around and see people like my next door neighbor, who is younger than me, healthy one day and fighting for his life the next. Like Johann Visser, he is running a race he probably won’t finish. We should thank God every day that we are able to whine about our injuries, listen to a good friend all 7 miles of a 7 mile run, cross dress and even pee on mailboxes.

Above all, Larry and Gary said it best “No matter what your season goals and training objectives are, the most important thing is to have fun”.


If you are easily offended you should delete this e-mail now and not read any further. This is smut!! Not intentional smut-sociological smut-but smut nevertheless.

When most people meet me they think I am a conservative, laid back typical accountant, which I am. But as people get to know me they come to understand that I have been up and down the road a few times. So when I say that I have never experienced anything like this before, it’s saying something.

When I came out of the YMCA today I told Jean that I didn’t know whether I had just been hit on or not-hence the dilemma.

The YMCA is about 14 miles south of Hudson in a fairly new area on the way to Clearwater. The first time we went there to work out was at three in the afternoon. The other YMCAs we have been to in Florida have been mostly senior citizens-yes, older than us. This one was over run by high school kids. The next couple of times we tried to get there mid-morning. Each time it has been over run by young mothers. The stationary bike spinning class was all young women and was in one corner of the main room. There is a Pilates class going on in one of the workout rooms, again all young women, and a step aerobics class in the gym. Yes, you guessed it, all young women. Two or three personal trainers have group sessions with four or five young women in each group.

While lifting weights, Jean and I had to alter our routines because the groups would take over an area and stay for a while. They were sometimes lifting weights but always talking. After lifting, we both went to the outdoor pool and swam for an hour or so. After swimming we took showers. The shower stalls had no hooks or shelves to put a towel, goggles, shampoo and my glasses so I put them across the aisle on a bench in the handicap shower. I finished showering and went over to the handicap shower stall to dry myself off. I looked down the aisle and, at the end of the shower room, are hair dryers (like the hand dryers in bathrooms) mounted high on the walls. I saw a guy down there dressed, but holding something up to one of the dryers.

I’m not an exhibitionist but I’m not shy either so I was standing in the aisle drying myself off as normal. I didn’t have my glasses on, but it seemed like the guy down at the hair dryers kept looking at me. When I was dry I wrapped the towel around myself, picked up my goggles and swimsuit and walked down past the guy to the door. He watched me all the way and was smiling at me. As I got closer to him I could see that he had a t-shirt on but no pants or underwear. He looked to be about sixty-five. As I passed by him, he said, and I quote “You know you have a nice healthy pecker there”. He went on to say “A lot of big guys have those short little stubby ones, but yours looks real good. It’s nice to see a good pecker on a man.” I was flabbergasted and didn’t know what to say so I timidly said “thank you”.

I went out the shower room door and he followed me. I went to the locker where my clothes were and his locker just happened to be right next to mine. His things were all spread out on the bench and he started talking to me as we both dressed. He told me he was from Long Island, but was retired and lived in New Port Richey. He worked at a grocery store part time as a bagger for some extra money.  I was shaking like a leaf and my towel slipped off twice (I hope it didn’t come off “subconsciously” on purpose) before I could get my clothes on and get out the door.

So here’s the dilemma – Was he hitting on me or was that the worst choice of a conversation starter in the history of the world?

On the one hand, if he was trying to pick me up he wouldn’t have referred to me as a “big guy”. That’s like telling a girl her extra weight looks great on her-not a good line. Plus, he really didn’t say anything off color after that and didn’t ask me for “a date”. He didn’t follow me out the door and I never heard from him again. So maybe after swimming and the resulting shrinkage, he was just giving me a compliment to be kind.

On the other hand he broke three of the most important locker room rules:

1) Don’t stare

2) If you are talking to a naked man, maintain eye contact at all times

3) Never verbalize what you see (if you do, making fun with comments like “Oh My God!!!” or “ha ha ha ha” may be acceptable. The line “you have a nice healthy pecker” is way off limits)

So what do you think?


Trilander Dinner 2001

We all remember the end of the 2000 Triathlon season, but let’s recap. The season ended for some at Reeds Lake and for some at Pineman, but wherever it ended, there was a bit of sadness and anticipation. Sadness that the competition had ended and we would have to wait 8 months to see competitors that we only saw at Triathlons; wait 8 months to have lunch at some bar/restaurant in sweaty clothes with numbers on our arms and legs, talking about what went right and wrong and sharing stories about what we saw and experienced; wait 8 months to see some of the team members that trained alone, or didn’t spin; wait 8 months to sit around a motel room drinking beer/wine/soft drinks replaying the entire day for each other and for families who felt a little left out because they weren’t privy to the “inside stories” or couldn’t identify with the “Triathlon High”. Anticipation to see which of the Trilanders would stick with it; who new would join the group next season; who would go out of our age group or come into our age group; what would be our next “big goal”; how would we improve and what we would do if we didn’t.

Over the winter training continued for most of the team members. Some decided that Triathlon wasn’t their “thing” and some decided to pursue other interests. Harry had a wreck at Reeds Lake, which broke the front fork on his bike and did something nasty to his shoulder. After spending all those years in health care, he knew better than to seek medical attention for a serious injury, so he didn’t. Being a Pharmacist by training, I’m sure he knew better than to self-medicate. He passed the “Old Warrior” baton to the “Young Warrior”, King JD and semi-retired from Triathlon (although later we will find out that he didn’t completely retire).

Jack did an endo at Iceman 2000 and ended up with an AC separation. The judges gave him sevens and eights for the dive because his feet separated and he made a large splash when he landed. Not knowing any better, he did seek medical attention (although he didn’t have an answer for the ER Doctor who asked “If you had the fall at the twentieth mile, why in the hell did you finish the race”?)

Jean decided to run into Larry’s back tire in the 65th mile of a 70-mile bike ride. She admitted that she wasn’t paying close enough attention, which shocked everyone but Jack. She did her dive in the tuck position along the M-79 pavement. The judges gave her all nines because, although her leg position was good, she made a large splash when she landed (kind of runs in the family, doesn’t it). She broke her thumb in two places, had a serious road rash, and had multiple bruises that affected her training for several weeks.

Bill was running with the normal (or abnormal) group from Diane’s on an icy Sunday morning. Diane thought Bill was spiritually moved when she looked over at him on one of the hills because he was on his knees talking to God. Being the medical professional she is, she soon realized that he had fallen and hurt himself. She called Mike who came and picked him up. While rehabbing the knee that he had munged up (ask Diane if you don’t understand this medical terminology) he developed problems with his Achilles, which added to his down time. We would learn later that it took him out of most of the season.

Jen developed plantar fasciitis. No stories, no jokes, it just happened. It took Jen out of the entire Triathlon season. But she’s on the mend and is looking forward to next year with some trepidation and a lot of hope.

Kim and Lynette both developed plumbing problems. If it were prostate problems, penile frostbite, jock itch, sensitivity due to lack of support or any of those “man problems” I could think of something really sarcastic and clever to say, but let’s just say “the plumber was called in and the pipes were repaired” and leave it at that.

Over the winter King JD found several new victims for his diabolical schemes. Martin, Becky, Katie, Tom and Patty answered the call. They said it was under their own free will, but the bruising showed a little bit on the edges.

Martin had a testosterone surge a week before Lake Macatawa and decided to do some speed work on the treadmill. When his hamstring went, onlookers thought he had been touched by the Holy Spirit, but when they heard the language, they knew it was something less Biblical. Apparently Martin has a high testosterone threshold, because he limped through two races before deciding the hamstring needed some rest. Jane and the girls swept him off to the Grand Canyon before he could hurt himself any worse.

Lake Macatawa (or Lake Macatoilet to some of the Trilanders) was the first Tri of the season. Katie, Tim, Jim, Jon, Dennis, Jerry, Martin, Diane, Becky, Jack and Jean all competed. Age group awards went to Jon with a third, Diane with a third, and Jean with a third. From the highlight reel, Katie completed the swim in good form (although a week before at Algonquin Lake, she looked like she was going to have a panic attack in the water); Jean got a third using her mountain bike and wearing a pretty purple cast; Jon had an outstanding bike leg and finally won one for the men’s team; and Becky almost lost her favorite water bottle but whined so much that Jack gave in and took her back to find it. And by the way, we missed Jen, John, Larry, Kim, Gary, Patty and Bill.

The second Tri of the season was Seahorse. It was a new venue this season and consisted of a Sprint race and a Challenge race. It was a hot and humid day. Diane had a panicked expectant mother go into hysterics when she thought that Diane was going to be gone for a few hours, so Diane didn’t go (Diane, we need to work on priorities). Participants complained of not enough water stops and confusing directions at some of the spots in the run, but all in all, things went well. Katie, Kim and Becky did the Sprint race and Jim, Jon, John, Gary, Larry, Jack, Tim and Martin did the Challenge race. From the highlight reel, Kim got a second……… If you’re waiting for more, that’s it. Everyone had good races, no one got hurt, and everyone finished. Katie had a flat with about 5 miles to go but rode it in on the rim and learned something in the process (don’t ride it in on the rim). Jim left soon after the race muttering something like “I don’t know what makes me think I can do an Ironman after that exhibition” (which Jack also said but not in repeatable words); and Jon was so exhausted that he skipped the group lunch, went home and took a nap. And by the way, we missed Jean, Jen, Patty, Diane, Dennis, Jerry and Bill.

The third race of the season was Gun Lake aka the Great Lakes Chamionships aka Evil King Adriano’s race. The day was stormy, hot and humid. There was rain when some of the participants were leaving the water, thunder and rain on the bike and some rain on the run. Jon set up the Trek tent with a big poster of Lance Armstrong only to be commandeered by Adriano for the awards ceremony. The race consisted of a Triathlon and a Duathlon. Tom and Harry (see he didn’t really retire) competed in the duathlon and Becky, Katie, Jim, Jon, John, Jerry, Kim, Diane, Larry and Jack competed in the Triathlon. From the highlight reel, Diane got a third. Jon had another outstanding bike and everyone seemed to have a good time at the “hometown classic”. Harry couldn’t seem to catch Jerry on the bike so, in a burst of gamesmanship, he snuck up behind him and yelled so loud that Jerry lost control, fell down and went “Boom”. Harry could be seen riding off chuckling and sarcastically saying “poor Jerry”. John Hopkins, in an effort to show off for the girls at the bike transition, dove over the handlebars thinking one of them would catch him. They didn’t. The judges gave him a 9.9 for a near perfect dive (the only 10.0 given in recent memory was Diane’s endo at Deep Lake, the easy part). And by the way, we missed Jean, Jen, Gary, Martin, Dennis, Tim, Patty and Bill.

The Mark Mellon Memorial Triathlon at Gaylord was the next stop for the Trilanders team. However, due to some family commitments, injuries and a plethora of other weak excuses, only Diane and Jack competed. The water didn’t appear any cleaner and the mass start was not any less congested, but the T-shirt won the award as the best over the past two seasons. From the highlight reel, Diane got a second in her age group. Jack knocked 13 minutes off last year’s time so he finally stopped whining. Tim Shaw and his wife and son competed in the twilight and kids events for their 2001 triathlon debut. And by the way, we missed Katie, Kim, Becky, Jean, Jen, Patty, Martin, Larry, Tim, Jim, John, Jon, Dennis, Jerry, Gary and Bill.

The next race of the season was the Great Buckeye Challenge half-ironman at Buckeye Lake near Columbus, Ohio. John, Jean, Becky, Diane, Larry, Jack, John, Jim and Gary competed. Jim’s friend Brian was an adopted Trilander for the weekend. The swim was in Buckeye Lake (it was so shallow that Becky could have walked across) and the water was a green murky color. Race participants were encouraged not to drink the water, as Gatorade was available. The bike consisted of 40 miles of rolling hills with some challenging climbs and some exciting downhills. The last 16 miles were gently rolling, which seemed flat by comparison. The run was 13.1 miles of rolling hills that felt like mountains. Gary said he thought he saw a flat part out there, but it turned out to be an illusion much like “Mystery Spot” at St. Ignace. From the highlight reel, Jon got a fifth in his age group and had one of the top bike times. Jean got a first in her age group after not running most of the summer. Becky was fourth overall woman in the duathlon event. Everyone thought that it was nearly as tough as Pineman was last year (easier bike, much harder run) and everyone was whipped when they finished. Jack’s legs cramped at 35 miles on the bike and he didn’t quit whining about it until September. Larry was away from home without his family and ended up with a hickey on his neck, so the story is that the wetsuit caused it. Diane, who was also away from home without her family, had some chafing in a private area, so the story is that her triathlon suit caused it. Jack was having fun teasing them about their misfortunes until he got in the shower and the soap and hot water disclosed chafing in a very sensitive area. We won’t talk about where it was, but the team physician, Dr. Ebaugh, after an hour of examination, diagnosed the condition by its medical name, penis painis. And by the way, we missed Katie, Kim, Jen, Patty, Martin, Dennis, Jerry, Tim and Bill.

Bill and Becky were the only Trilanders who did the Niles Triathlon. It was on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend. Although this reporter did not witness the event, the story was told by one of the participants (can we believe him?). This was Bill’s first race of the season after spending most of his time in rehab (not alcohol or drug rehab, physical rehab). The swim started out congested and Bill found himself having a panic attack in the middle of the washing machine (rookie mistake). He headed for some open water and things improved. Becky was turning cartwheels because she wasn’t last out of the water (she has promised to give a demonstration after this is over). After running through mud, then wet sand, then sand and finally grass the participants had to fight hornets at the bike transition. The rest of the race was a good one for Bill and Becky. Becky passed lots of people on the bike and run and so did Bill. And by the way, they missed Diane, Katie, Kim, Larry, Jean, Tim, Jen, Patty, Martin, Jim, John, Jon, Jack, Dennis, Jerry and Gary.

Bill and Martin were the only Trilanders to do Reeds Lake this year. Diane had signed up, but after a middle of the night delivery and a flat tire on her bike, she decided to go back to bed. They both had good races and ended up with times less than two hours. Both had recovered from their injuries and were encouraged by how good they felt. However, a little bird told me about Bill’s escapades in the transition area. Since Bill had been rehabbing all year, he apparently didn’t use that time to practice smooth transitions. On the swim to bike transition, he got out of his wetsuit in good shape, moved his neighbor’s crap that had been piled on Bill’s neatly arranged equipment, and got into his bike gear. As he started out, he realized he only had one sock on, so, not wanting to look like an idiot, he took the time to take his bike shoe off and put his other sock on. As he was coming in on the bike, he had a flashback to not one, not two but three previous Reeds Lake races where he dazzled the crowd with some dismount acrobatics. He was careful not to embarrass himself, so he took his time and made a perfect dismount. He went over to where his run gear ought to be and his neighbor’s bike was laying on it. He gently took the bike off his gear, slammed it on the ground and proceeded to change into his running gear. He got up and started running when he heard clomp, click, clomp, click and realized he was wearing one running shoe and one bike shoe. At least he didn’t embarrass himself more by running the whole race that way. And by the way, they missed Diane, Katie, Kim, Becky, Jean, Jen, Patty, Larry, Tim, Jack, Jim, John, Jon, Dennis, Jerry, and Gary.

The last race of the year for six Trilanders was the Great Floridian in Clermont, Florida. It was a full ironman distance race. Nine people originally made the commitment to train. Jen had her plantar fasciitis and Gary decided to wait until next year so they could do the race together. Jack tried to ride up Jon’s back tire and found out why everyone says don’t do that. Diane, Jean, Jon, John, Larry and Jim did the race and Becky, Martin, Jack, Laura, Emma, Ben and Claire were the support team. Laura did the honors of painting toenails red, white and blue for Jon, Larry, Jim and Jean. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but seemed a little out of place for a man on the beach at Venice and the showers mysteriously cleared for Jon and Larry at the fitness center. Jack knew that Jen and Gary would love to have been there, so he provided up to the minute race reports on his cell phone. The reports were relayed to Jack Wiswell and the rest of Rumplestump. The day was hot and humid. It started out warm and peaked at 85 with a fair breeze both morning and afternoon. Everyone made it out of the swim in about the time they would have guessed. After the wetsuit stripping show, the support crew joined by Jack’s brother Bob (also known as Bobbie Butane) headed for Sugarloaf, a hill longer and steeper than any we had seen before (yes, I think longer and steeper than Butlers Baddest). The view was spectacular and it was interesting to see all the different styles of riding. Some stood, some sat and some did whatever it took to get up the hill. Diane was in some discomfort at that point and had decided to take her time and at least finish the race. Jim ended up with flat tire problems (I never did find out whether it was two or three, but at that point, it wasn’t a question you would want to ask him). Everyone finished the bike, some in better shape than others and it was on to the run. For some it was a smooth run punctuated by some walking. For others it was a forced march punctuated by some running. All finished the race and at that point it didn’t matter how. They were Ironmen. (I suppose the politically correct term is Ironpersons, but until they call it Ironperson Florida, Or the Ironperson World Championships, it will be Ironmen). Jack spoke for all the support crew when he said that it was easier to be in the race than to watch it. When you’re in the race, you are putting forth all the effort you have and you are consumed by the part of the race you are in. As a spectator, when you see your friends having trouble, it’s hard because you can’t do anything about it. From the highlight reel Jon Anderson had a spectacular bike leg, John Hopkins had a sixth, Diane had a third and Jean had a second. And by the way, they missed Katie, Kim, Becky, Jen, Patty, Bill, Tim, Martin, Jack, Dennis, Jerry, and Gary.

And so ends another triathlon season. I am reminded of a quote attributed to Teddy Roosevelt that I have repeated as a mantra throughout many races the last two years.

“It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again because there is no effort without error and shortcomings, who knows the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the high achievement of triumph and who at worst, if he fails while daring greatly, knows his place shall never be with those timid and cold souls who know neither victory nor defeat”.

That quote can serve as a great comfort when you turn around and come back because you panic in the swim; when you finish the swim at the same time as the guy pulling the raft with the crippled kid; when you’re the last one out of the water; when you are sitting on the side of the road with your third flat tire; when you start the run portion with the guys who have already finished the race and are cooling down; when you are finishing the run as the awards ceremonies are going on; and when you are in the medical tent during or after the race.

But it’s a two-edged sword. As some of us know only too well, when you are injured you aren’t in the arena. Your face isn’t marred with dust and sweat and blood. You don’t feel like you are a part of the group even though you are. Some of us react by withdrawing from everything. Some of us react with tears. Some of us say things like “The only way I would go to Florida to watch that race is if someone gave me a lobotomy”. (Who would have said something like that?). But however we react initially, we all come to the conclusion that what this whole Trilander thing is about is the journey. It’s not the first tri, or the half ironman or the full ironman or the escape from Alcatraz. It’s a bunch of friends journeying together with a common interest. It’s the Sunday runs and brunches. It’s the long winter of spinning classes with Jon pushing us through “The Race”. It’s swimming Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings at the pool in the winter and at Diane’s in the summer. It’s the Tuesday night group runs. It’s the training on your own and then comparing training notes with the rest of the group. It’s the weekly summer “Century Rides”. It’s getting together at this dinner with friends and talking about the season and injuries and new goals. So let’s get at it. It’s not the end of this season but the beginning of next season. It’s not six months until the next race; it’s a winter of fun with friends.

By the way, if you haven’t done so already, be sure to check with King JD to see what your next year’s goal will be.


 There was once a young boy named Jon Dewey, but his family and friends called him JD. He lived in a land called Everyone. It was called Everyone because everyone was able to do everything. His life was just like everyone else’s life. He went to school and everyone else went to school. When he went out for recess, everyone went out for recess. And when the children played together, everyone took their turn. And at the end of the year when they would have their track and field day, everyone got a blue ribbon whether they finished the race first or last.

Everyones’ mothers told them bedtime stories and JD’s mother was no exception. One of his favorite bedtime stories was one that his mother told him about a place called Triland. Triland was a land that was far away from Everyone. Normal people did not live in Triland. It was the land of the immortals. It was a land of all play and no work. And when the immortals played, they played games that only one of them would win. When they swam, they would change themselves into dolphins, and would swim faster than anyone from Everyone could imagine. When they rode their bicycles, they would change into race cars and would go faster than anyone from Everyone could imagine. And when they ran, they would change themselves into Cheetahs and would run faster than anyone from everyone could imagine. JD would fall asleep and dream about one day moving to Triland and becoming the King.

JD grew up in Everyone and went on to college at Everyone University. When he got out of school, he got a job at Everyone Body Parts Factory. This was a place where Everyone would go when their body parts wore out. Everyone body mechanics would fix the broken down parts and JD’s job was to test the body parts to see that they worked like Everyone else’s body parts. He got married and began to raise a family, just like everyone else in Everyone. He had a wife, Laura and two children, Emma and Ben. JD loved his family and he loved his job at the Everyone Body Parts Factory, but he still dreamed of Triland.

One day, JD decided that he was going to pack all of his belongings, and put his family in their Everyone-mobile, and he was going to move to Triland. And so he did. When he got there, he was amazed. There were no immortals living there. The people looked just like the people in Everyone. When he swam, he felt like he turned into a dolphin, just like in his bedtime story. But when he looked, it was just JD swimming, but swimming faster than he had ever swam before. But every once in a while, when he was swimming, he would stop and flail his arms around wildly, and then start swimming again. Laura asked him what kind of new stroke that was. Jon told Laura he was just shaking the weeds off his arms. When he biked, he felt like he turned into Bobby Labonte’s race car, just like in his bedtime story. But when he looked, it was just JD on his own bike riding faster than he had ever ridden before. When he ran, he felt like he turned into the fastest Cheetah on the Serengheti, just like in his bedtime story. But when he looked, it was just JD in his PF flyers running faster that he had ever run before.

JD decided to make himself the King of the Province of Special in the land called Triland. He made Laura his Queen and named her Queen Laura of Brunch. He made Emma his Princess and named her Princess Emma of Drawing Pictures. He made Ben his Prince and named him Prince Ben of Running Naked. He represented his Province in the Triland games and won many blue ribbons. Not just blue ribbons for being in the race like in Everyone, but blue ribbons for being first. King JD surveyed his Kingdom and was very happy. But something was missing in the Province of Special and one day it came to King JD. King JD had no subjects. What is a King with no subjects? King JD fell into a mound of despair. A King with no subjects. How sad is that? King JD moped around the castle for days, unable to eat or sleep. The only music King JD would listen to was Michael Jackson. Queen Laura had just about had it with King JD! She was pregnant with another Prince or Princess and she could not stand to see JD unhappy. Queen Laura was wise, and she knew that nothing would bring King JD out of this Blue Funk unless he had some subjects. She told JD to go back to Everyone and see if he could talk anyone from Everyone into moving to the Province of Special in Triland.

King JD set off for Everyone with a knapsack filled with oatmeal raisin cookies and a bottle of Province of Special pure spring water. He went to the Everyone Body Parts Factory to see if he could talk anyone from Everyone into moving to the Province of Special in Triland. When King JD got there, he went to the Everyone Games Room. This was a special place where everyone from Everyone would practice swimming and biking and running. Everyone would be swimming in the Everyone Games Room pool. They would swim back and forth, forth and back. Never going anywhere because there wasn’t anywhere to go. Everyone would be biking on bikes with no wheels. They would bike for an hour on a bike that would never move. Never going anywhere because there wasn’t anywhere to go. Everyone would be running on treadmills.They would run as fast as they could, but they would never get anywhere because there wasn’t anywhere to go.

King JD knew that everyone in Everyone thought that there were only immortals in Triland. But King JD was a dreamer, and he knew there were other dreamers that he could convince to move to the Province of Special in Triland.

First he saw Lynette the Body Parts Nurse. A Body Parts Nurse does all the things that the Body Parts Mechanics don’t want to do but want to get paid to do. Lynette the Body Parts Nurse and King JD were involved in spinning together (no, not that kind of spinning!!). This spinning is where everyone from everyone would go to ride bicycles that didn’t go anywhere. King JD knew that Lynette the Body Parts Nurse knew how to swim, could ride a bike, and knew how to run. King JD started with little hints here and there about how nice it was living in Triland. He told Lynette the body Parts Nurse that immortals did not live in Triland. The inhabitants of Triland were real people-special people, but real people nevertheless. King JD coaxed Lynette the Body Parts Nurse with words of encouragement like “You can do it! It’s easy. No problem”. Lynette the body Parts Nurse agreed to move to the Province of Special in Triland. After she was there, she realized that she knew much more about herself than she ever had known before. She had learned initiative, determination, capabilities and limitations. She found personal triumphs and had her share of tragedies. She found great personal satisfaction and conquered fear and self doubt. She was happy she had moved to Triland and yearned for others to move there too.

Then he met Larry the Flyboy. Larry had been in the Everyone Navy, but instead of cruising the Everyone Ocean in Everyone Navy ships like almost everyone else in the Everyone Navy, he would fly in the air in Everyone Navy Airplanes, making the skies safe for everyone in Everyone. Larry the Flyboy had just finished running in a Marathon at his Grandma’s house in Western Everyone. He was very tired from running, so he decided to swim for a while instead of run. So he swam in the Everyone swimming pool in the Everyone Games Room. He had heard of “cross-training” before and thought it would be nice to start spinning in the Everyone Games Room spinning room. That was where King JD cornered Larry the Flyboy and started talking with him about moving to Triland. Since Larry the Flyboy wasn’t certain his Grandma would invite him back to run in her marathon, and he needed a new challenge to vent his pent up energy, he agreed to move to the Province of Special in Triland. Larry the Flyboy thought that he knew all there was to know about training in Triland, but after  a serious case of Triland Road Rash, he realized that you should only get off your bicycle after it has stopped. King JD coaxed Larry the Flyboy with words of encouragement like “You can do it! It’s easy. No problem”. This is starting to sound a little repetitious, isn’t it? Larry the Flyboy loved Triland and enjoyed training with other people that could remind him not to fall off his bike unless, of course, he wanted to.

Jean the Jock (yes, women can be jocks even though they don’t need to wear them) had been taking Everyone aerobics classes for years. You see, Jean the Jock grew up in Everyone at a time when Everyone girls didn’t do athletic things because the Everyone boys said they would get hurt, that they weren’t tough enough and that they couldn’t run. If they wanted to do anything athletic, it was cheerleading at the Everyone football games. Everyone football games were where the Everyone High School boys would run around and knock each other down to impress the Everyone girls, especially the Everyone cheerleaders. This made Jean the Jock mad. She knew she could do anything the Everyone boys could do and could do some things better. She practiced Everyone aerobics, just waiting for her chance to prove what she could do. King JD knew that girls could live in Triland too, and talked to Jean the Jock about moving to Triland. Jean the Jock told King JD that she swam like a rock, and wasn’t sure she could live in Triland not being able to swim. King JD coaxed Jean the Jock with words of encouragement like “You can do it! It’s easy. No problem”. Jean the Jock, being a true blonde, believed King JD and agreed to move to the Province of Special in Triland. She practiced and practiced swimming. Finally she was able to swim far enough to take part in the Triland games. It was then that something came over her. There was a competitive spirit that no one else knew she had. She didn’;t just want to compete-she wanted to be the best. So she worked hard with encouragement from King JD and became the best in her age group at the Triland Games.

Lynette the Body Parts Nurse’s husband was Harry the Man. He was called Harry the Man because he had lived in Triland before King JD ever thought of moving there. Back in those days Triland was a much different place. Oh, the swimming was the same and the running was the same, but bicycles had not been invented yet. The Triland games were swim, run, swim in those days. They didn’t lose many people in the first swim or the run, but that second swim was a disaster. Only half the people made it out of the lake-they were so tired from the run. Harry the Man knew that bicycles would be invented soon, but until then he had to come up with something. Triland was running out of Triathletes (that’s what they called the people who lived in Triland in those days). Harry the Man suggested using hay carts with stone wheels (this was a real breakthrough because wheels hadn’t been invented yet either). They would swim across the lake and the grab the cart with the stone wheels. Then they would go out to Parmalee Road and haul the carts up the hills.They would jump in and ride down the other side. They continued one hill right after the other. They lost a few people that way because they didn’t have steering wheels (you guessed it-they hadn’t been invented yet), but not as many as in the second swim. Harry the Man talked about his days in Triland but no one would believe him. Everyone in Everyone thought Harry the Man was making up stories because they knew only immortals lived in Triland, and Harry the Man was no immortal. So he decided to join King JD, Lynette the Body Parts Nurse, Larry the Flyboy and Jean the Jock in the Province of Special in Triland to prove that he could do a Triathlon.

You remember Jack and the Beanstalk. Well, when Jack grew up he became -what else – Jack the Bean Counter. Jack the Bean Counter’s problem was that, apparently, every time Jack counted a bean, he would eat one too. Jack the Bean Counter knew how to swim since he was a little Beanstalker. But one day, he was swimming in a pool of alcohol, and his arm came right off. He went to the Everyone Body Parts Factory to have a new arm put on. After that, he didn’t swim at all. Jack the Bean Counter also used to run down the streets of Everyone, but when his arm came off swimming, he used it as an excuse to quit running altogether. The only exercise Jack got was his counting finger. He had the thinnest counting finger in the Everyone Body Parts Factory Games Room. Jack the Bean Counter went to the Province of Old to help his mother and father move from one Everyone house to another Everyone house. His brothers Smoky Bill and Smoky Bob helped the Senior Beanstalkers move too. It was then that Jack the Bean Counter realized that he was getting older and fatter and unhealthier. Jack the Bean Counter realized that having a thin counting finger was not the same as being healthy, so he decided to do something about it. His wife, Jean the Jock was already living in Triland, and King JD convinced Jack the Bean Counter that it was never too late to move to Triland. So Jack the Bean Counter joined his wife Jean the Jock and the others in the Province of Special in Triland. Jack the Bean Counter participated in the Triland Games and ended up in last place each time, but that didn’t matter. He never quit and he knew he did his best for that day and he beat everyone in Everyone that was sitting on their couch watching the Everyone television, and that was good enough for him.

At the entrance to the Everyone Games Room, King JD met Tim from Tony the Tiger Land. Tim had just started a new job in Everyone at the Everyone Hose Factory (get your minds out of the gutter). Tim had dreamed of living in Triland since he was a small boy, but he knew that mere mortals did not live there. He had always dreamed of doing a Triathlon (that’s the game all the special people in Triland played) before he was thirty, and at 29 he didn’t have much time left. King JD used his special convincing powers that only kings have, and so, Tim agreed to move to the Province of Special in Triland.

Jerry the Yellow-jacket worked at the Everyone Body Parts Factory. No one knew exactly what Jerry the Yellow-jacket did there, but it must have required drinking a lot of coffee in the Everyone Green Street Café because that’s where King JD found him. Jerry the Yellow-jacket had heard of Triland, and had talked about moving to Triland with a bunch of Tri-Kats. These were special cats that were the pets of the immortals in Triland. King JD explained that he had already moved to Triland and that some others had decided to move there too. Jerry the Yellow-jacket didn’t know if he could talk his wife into moving to Triland and leaving all their friends. So he bought her flowers, and a card (for no reason at all) and put on his best smile. When Jerry the Yellow-jacket arrived home, his wife was standing in the driveway with her bags packed. She and all of Jerry the Yellow-jacket’s children were wearing the official Triland T-Shirts. Jerry the Yellow-jacket knew he was on his way to Triland and it made him very happy. Jerry the Yellow-jacket was a good swimmer, but what King JD didn’t tell him was that he would not be swimming in a nice, clean, warm pool, but would be swimming in a place called Lake Macatoilet where the water was cold and looked like chocolate milk. Jerry the Yellow-jacket was beginning to have second thoughts about this move to the Province of Special in Triland, but he looked around and saw other Yellow-jackets. That made Jerry the Yellow-jacket feel good because he knew that he was among friends going through the same misery that they were.

Kim the Finger Painter was happy swimming in the pool in the Everyone Games Room at the Everyone body parts factory. She would swim back and forth-forth and back. Not going anywhere. Kim the Finger Painter was happy with her life. She enjoyed swimming alone because she didn’t want to inflict herself on any team for fear of failure. Her self-confidence was non-existent. King JD would hint to Kim the Finger Painter that “good swimmers make good Triathletes”. He didn’t say much more than that. King JD knew that Thursday was the day that Kim the Finger Painter went from school to school and sniffed glue with the Everyone School children. Oh, she pretended that it was “art”, but everyone knew it was just legal glue sniffing. King JD had to catch Kim the Finger Painter when she was light headed. He cornered her at the Everyone Games Room pool and talked her into moving to the Province of Special in Triland. When Kim the Finger Painter awoke from her stupor, she realized what had happened and she was frightened. She tried to swim away across Lake Macatoilet, but she couldn’t see the lines on the bottom and she lost her way. She returned to the shore and there were her new friends to greet her. This made Kim the Finger Painter very happy. She liked her new friends because it did not matter to them how she did or what she did. They gave her wholehearted support and encouragement without one string attached.

Diane the Body Parts Mechanic had been a runner for most of her life. She was satisfied to run by herself in the Everyone running races. She would race against herself, but wasn’t very interested in racing against other people. She just wanted to do her best. Diane the Body Parts Mechanic was very busy working at the Everyone Body Parts Factory. It seems that the boys from Everyone and the girls from Everyone were getting together and making everyone babies. Apparently they didn’t want anyone to know so they snuck in the Body Parts Factory in the middle of the night. Diane the Body Parts Mechanic’s job was to help the babies come out. King JD had known Diane the Body Parts Mechanic for a long time. He knew that she had run for a long time but that she did not swim very much and didn’t even own a bicycle. King JD talked Diane the Body Parts Mechanic into buying a mountain bike and riding it in the snow. King JD must have used his special kingly powers because Diane the Body Parts Mechanic hated the cold weather. It was ironic that Diane the Body Parts mechanic broke one of her own body parts and while she was recovering, she couldn’t run or bike but could only swim. You don’t think King JD had anything to do with that, do you?? Diane the Body Parts Mechanic moved to the Province of Special in Triland because she had heard that there were therapeutic mineral baths there. The other special people in Triland knew that Diane the Body Parts Mechanic hated sleeping past five o’clock in the morning. But they agreed that if Diane the Body Parts Mechanic would make them coffee, and give them bagels every Friday, they would swim in the therapeutic baths and keep her company. Diane the Body Parts Mechanic was happy that she had found new friends that had given themselves the gift of good health (even though it made less work for the body parts mechanics).

Denyse the Builder and her husband were very busy building Everyone business buildings and fixing up everyone homes for everyone in Everyone. Denyse the Builder had been so busy she hadn’t had time to look in the mirror and when she did, she didn’t like what she saw. Denyse the Builder decided to change her life so she could feel good about herself again. She knew it would take a long time to do it, but it would be well worth the wait. After a time, Denyse the Builder decided it was time to join the people at the Everyone Games Room and work with a personal trainer. She heard that King JD was in town trying to recruit people to move to the Province of Special in Triland. Denyse the Builder knew that if she moved to Triland and surrounded herself with healthy people, it would help her become more healthy. So Denyse the Buyilder (knowing that she could be a builder in Triland too) moved to the Province of Special in Triland. Being a part of the Triland family has helped inspire Denyse the Builder to reach her goals.

Years ago, Jen, the Storytelling Retro-girl had moved to Everyone from Retro World and was having trouble finding a place to feel like she belonged. She wandered into the basement of the Everyone Body Parts Factory and found the Everyone Games Room. She had spent years swimming, biking and running alone, and because everyone in the Everyone Games room was so friendly and nice, she did not mind never going anywhere. She did not mind not having anywhere to go. She was so happy just to feel like there was a place where Retro-girl fit in. The people in the Everyone Games Room did not seem to mind how much she talked, or how loud she was, or the extra energy she often needed to burn off in the Games Room. Retro-girl, Jen met King JD when he was leading everyone in a class about how to bike on bikes with no wheels and she was impressed with King JD’s talent and gift for being able to help everyone  believe that they could accomplish anything. What was so amazing was that King JD did not push or prod or yell…he simply suggested, with a smile, that everyone’s lives would be much better if they set goals and believed in themselves. And then he would let everyone decide for themselves….oh, every once in a while he would whisper a suggestion into everyone’s ears, followed by…”You can do it….It’s GREAT!” Or he would call them on the phone each day just to see what they were doing to physically and mentally better themselves that day…of course he assumed they had planned that part  of their day first. It was all a part of his plan to lure as many people from Everyone to come with him to Triland. You see, King JD had a strong belief that with a positive attitude, everyone in Everyone could make their dreams come true. To King JD, the sky was not even a limit, but it was more fun to accomplish dreams when you had a group of dreamers to accomplish them with. And, He knew the Province of Special in Triland was the place where everyone’s dreams could be realized. At first, the Storytelling Retro-girl resisted the move to Triland. She thought that her life needed more “balance”. But, she soon realized that she had always held back a bit, always placed some limits on what she thought she could do. King JD had shown her that anyone from Everyone (even a transplant) could do anything, if they wanted. And so, the Storytelling Retro-girl gave up her wool running hat, her cotton sweats and her perceived need for “balance”. She traded it all in for Cool-max, Micro-sensors, heart rate monitors, and rubber suits. She followed King JD and the other wonderful subjects, and moved whole-heartedly to the Province of Special in Triland to make dreams she did not even know she had, come true. The move to Triland changed Jen’s life completely. She never knew what it felt like to go beyond the sky’s limits. She learned to do things with King JD and the other subjects that she never knew she could do. She even developed the special gift of dropping Muffins while running, and thus was given the new name of Muffin Girl, (You should see the strange crop of corn in Triland).  Jen had never known this Joy and Happiness before, except for the time she spent with her partner, The Lone Ranger. She knew that moving to Triland with King JD was the right move. There was no turning back. And she had a loving admiration for all the other subjects who had followed King JD to Triland.

Gary was the Lone Ranger of Everyone. He was married to the Storytelling Retro-Girl. Together, they had done many things, but it was not always the Lone Ranger’s style to follow anyone in Everyone anywhere. The Lone Ranger, Gary, was use to doing things in his own way, and in his own time, but he fully supported everyone in Everyone to do things in their own way too. Oh…The Lone Ranger, Gary loved to come the Games Room in the basement of the Body Parts Factory to join everyone in Everyone there who were riding bikes with no wheels, not going anywhere. He always felt stronger when he left. His favorite bike leader was King JD, and the Lone Ranger always showed up in his classes. He enjoyed the challenge and the camaraderie of the others from Everyone there. The Lone Ranger was very good at supporting everyone in Everyone and he made them feel successful and good about themselves. The Storytelling Retro-girl could attest to that. The Lone Ranger had an undying faith and belief that everyone in Everyone should always do and feel their best. You see, the Lone Ranger, Gary’s life work was to help the younger people of Everyone who where struggling to learn all they needed to learn. He made them feel like they could learn anything. The Lone Ranger had a quiet way of making everyone in Everyone feel fine being just the way they were. When King JD asked the Lone Ranger if he wanted to move to the Province of Special in Triland he said yes. He had  watched his Retro-girl start to transform herself into a strong subject of King JD’s Province of Special in Triland. He saw that now she could swim like a Dolphin, bike as fast as a race car, and run like a Cheetah. The Lone Ranger started to train in Triland, but, he would often leave to go do other things. And so, sometimes he trained in Triland, and sometimes he trained alone, and sometimes, he and the Retro-girl would train together. The Lone Ranger used a special hops-based beverage to help his training along. The Lone Ranger had long, strong arms, long strong legs, long strong hair and a very strong mind. He was a natural at swimming, biking, and running. Some of the subjects in the Province called the Lone Ranger a Gazelle and they loved to watch his easy smooth running style. The Muffin-dropping Retro-girl was glad that the Lone Ranger wanted to be in the Province of Special in Triland because she hated to be without him. So, now with all the other subjects, they could both share in making new dreams come true. And so you see, King JD even lured the Lone Ranger into Triland because it WAS much more fun to accomplish dreams when you had a group of dreamers to accomplish them with. The Lone Ranger often supplied the subjects with his special hops-based training beverage after long and demanding races and it really seemed to help ease everyone’s pain.

Elaine the Speed Skater had lived in Triland many years before King JD ever thought about moving there. In fact, she had lived there when King JD was a young boy, sitting on his mother’s lap, listening to the stories of Triland. She even lived there before Harry the Man lived there. Elaine the Speed Skater had swam like a dolphin, and biked as fast as a race car and run like a cheetah, but she hadn’t done those things for a long time. She had married Len the Race Car Driver and had lots of children. Her time was taken up with raising a family. She often longed for the day when she could move back to Triland. When she heard that King JD was looking for special people to move to Triland, she jumped at the chance. She practiced swimming in the Everyone Games Room swimming pool, and when she moved to the Province of Special in Triland, she swam at Diane the Body Parts Mechanic’s House (as long as there was coffee of course). When she swam in Lake Macatoilet with Jerry the Yellow Jacket and the other subjects, something strange happened. Her body parts rusted and they wouldn’t move. They took Elaine the Speed Skater to the Macatoilet Body Parts Factory but couldn’t find any reason why her body parts rusted. Elaine the Speed Skater was sad because she wanted to live in Triland, but her body parts just wouldn’t cooperate. She decided that if she took some time to rest, the body parts would fix themselves. She would go to all the Triland games and help the others get ready and give them words of encouragement. This made the subjects of King JD very happy because Elaine the Speed Skater was still part of the family. This made Elaine the Speed Skater happy too.

Bill the politician had also lived in Triland, but much more recently than Elaine the Speed Skater. He would take part in the Triland games, but he would be all alone. He would drive to the Triland games alone, he would swim, bike and run alone. And then he would drive home alone. Bill the Politician would talk to some of the people at the Triland games that he had seen at other Triland games, but he still was alone and he liked it that way. Bill the Politician decided to run for President of Everyone and spent lots of time on the campaign trail. After a time, he could see that his campaign was not reaching the people, so he decided to come home. He heard that King JD was in Everyone looking for special people to move to Triland. He liked training alone, but he thought he would give the group workouts a chance, so he moved to the Province of Special in Triland. Bill the Politician liked living in Triland and liked working out with the other subjects of King JD, but he liked working out alone too. He was still busy with family activities so he couldn’t spend all of his time in Triland, but Bill the Politician was happy because he loved to watch his son and daughter play their games and he knew he wouldn’t have them around that much longer. He even changed his name from Bill the Politician to Bill the Counselor.

Jim the Engineer had lived in Triland for quite some time. He had raced in the Triland races many times, but he had never dared do the half-ironman triathlon. The half-ironman triathlon was a race that only the immortals could do, or so the people in Triland thought. But King JD was wise, and he knew his subjects would do anything he asked (no, not just anything within reason—ANYTHING!!). Some people called the half ironman triathlon the “Tin-man” race, but those were obviously people who had never tried it. King JD convinced Jim the Engineer that he would have fun if he moved to the Province of Special in Triland and joined the group. So Jim the Engineer did just that.

Others moved to the Province of Special in Triland to join King JD and his subjects. Marsh the Football Man moved to Triland to be with his wife Kim the Finger Painter. He had some trouble swimming in the Boy Scout pond so he decided to live in Dua-land which was next to Triland until he could practice his swimming more. But he promised–you all heard that– he promised to practice swimming all of the cold time and would make a permanent move to Triland in the spring. Dennis the Spinner had some trouble swimming in Lake Macatoilet and also promised to practice his swimming so he could move to Triland permanently. Bobbie the Painter moved to Triland for a short time, but she had just gotten married and seemed to have other things on her mind. The subjects of King JD knew that Bobbie the Painter would be back.

King JD and all of the subjects were very happy and life was good. King JD even wore a hat that said life is good. King JD and his subjects were a family and that made them very happy. Because, you see, when you are family, you stick up for each other no matter what. When you are a family, your love is unconditional. When you are a family, each contributes according to their own ability. When you are a family, you look to each other for support when you are sad, you look to each other to share your happiness, and you look to each other for help when you need it. And your family is always there.

I would like to say that King JD and his Queen Laura of Brunch, and Princess Emma of Drawing Pictures and Prince Ben of Running Naked and all of the subjects of the Province of Special in Triland lived happily ever after. And they did– but they knew they could be happier if it weren’t for the evil King Adriano and his subjects from the Province of Alpine in Triland, but that is a whole other story.

Fred Eckardt

Fred was my “ex” father-in-law and I always considered him a good friend as well. He taught me a lot about life in general and I never really thanked him for that before he died. Fred had lung cancer and went into the hospital for an operation. His wife Dorothy, my “ex” mother-in-law, got sick and went into the hospital around the day of Fred’s operation and died a couple of days later. Fred came through the surgery just fine, suddenly took a turn for the worse, and died a few days later.

Remember-the evening before you went into the hospital for surgery, and you and Dorothy and I were going over some last minute instructions in case something happened, and you were telling me how to shut off the heater in the gun shop because Dorothy didn’t know how to do it, and we talked about death and dying, and you said “…after all, outside of my family and a few friends, who’s going to know or care if I’m dead or not?” Remember-when Sue and I had only been dating a couple of weeks, and she had told me how you delighted in giving all of her dates a hard time, and I was bringing her home one early evening, and the roads were a glare of ice, and I turned in the driveway, and the car didn’t turn, and I ran into your truck, and it didn’t do any damage to the truck or my car, and I walked the five miles from the driveway to the living room, and I told you I had run into your truck but it didn’t leave a mark, and you didn’t even go out to look (at least until after I had gone), and you just said “No harm done”.

I think-you probably were thinking that this is just another one of Sue’s dates, and he probably won’t last long at this rate, and his hair is too long anyway, but you were trying to teach me that it’s important to admit your mistakes, and even though it’s hard sometimes, you have to be willing to accept the consequences of your actions.

Remember-when I was working for you out at the garage, and I did a lot of odd jobs, and once I found a dollar in the front yard while I was raking, and a dollar meant something then, and you gave me a shovel to go out and dig something, and I used the shovel to pry a rock, and I broke the handle of the shovel, and when I told you, you just said “I’ve been trying to break the handle of that shovel for 15 years”.

I think-you were trying to teach me that by correcting someone with kind words rather than harsh words, they learn a better lesson.

Remember-the story you used to tell me about when Gerald Ford came out to the farm where you grew up, and you had been shooting pigeons with a 12 gauge shotgun, and he wanted to shoot pigeons too, and you talked him into pulling both triggers on the double barrel at the same time, and you told him if he braced himself against a tree it wouldn’t kick as hard, and you knew that would make it kick twice as hard, and I was impressed that I knew someone who knew someone who became President of the United States.

I think-you were trying to teach me that no matter how important other people think we are, that people are still just people, and we should treat all people with dignity and respect, even though they may not grow up to be President.

Remember-when we all went camping in your fifth wheel trailer, and at night when Dorothy was getting ready for bed, and the curtains were drawn, and Dorothy began squealing, half crying, half laughing, and you asked her what was wrong, and she said she had gotten the tubes of Ben Gay and Preparation H mixed up, and how we all laughed.

I think- you and Dorothy both were trying to teach us that we should never become so self-centered that we can’t laugh at ourselves.

Remember-when I was home on leave from the Air Force, and it was during deer season, and I wanted to go up to Grand Marais to hunt with Dick and Mildred and Dickie and Warren, and you knew we had a better chance of shooting a deer out our back door, but you drove us both up there anyway, and there was so much snow you said “The snow is ass deep to a tall Swede”, and we didn’t see any living thing, not even a chickadee, all the time we were up there, and we came back and hunted the last couple of days of the season at Dick and Mildred’s at Gun Lake, and you and John brought back a deer so that Johnny and Mike and I could have the opportunity to field dress it.

I think-you were trying to teach me that being with family and friends is more important than anything else in the world.

Remember-the story you used to tell me about hunting with your brother-in-law, John, and John would eat chili every night in deer camp, and you would follow him through the woods, and every time he would relieve his gastric distress it would cause you nasal distress, and so you laced his chili that night with Sal Hepatica, and the next day when John reduced the pressure he got a little surprise in his hunting suit.

I think-you were trying to teach me that even grown men do foolish childish things, and it’s okay to do foolish things—–sometimes.

Remember-when Sue and I split up, and we knew we had disappointed you and Dorothy (especially Dorothy), and whenever I stopped at the mill that summer you would shut the saw off, and you would sit on your chair, and light up your pipe, and we talked a lot that summer, and you never lectured me, and you told me over and over that I would always be your son-in-law.

I think-you were trying to teach me that even though people we love do things to disappoint us, we should continue to love them with the same unconditional love that God has for us.

Remember-the night Dorothy died, and after Sue and Joe and Matt and Sara and Anna and I had said good-bye to her, and we walked the five miles from Dorothy’s room to your room, and we waited outside your room for hours (or maybe it was just minutes), and we all walked in looking as if someone had died, and before we could say anything you said “With this gathering of people, the news can’t be very good”, and you ended up comforting us.

I think-you were trying to teach us that no matter how heavy our own burden gets, we should do whatever we can to relieve the burden of others.

Remember-the last time I came in to see you in the hospital, and we talked about the duck I was carving out of redwood, and the redwood was from a man who used to build picnic tables for the State parks, but I shouldn’t tell anyone where the wood came from, so I won’t, and I told you that the grain was hard, and the wood between the grain was soft, and when you worked with it, it would make ridges in the texture, but I thought it gave the duck “character”, and your face beamed.

I think-you knew that I had learned from you and our friend Davey Duck that computers and machines can make perfect ducks, but it takes human hands with God’s help to bring out the true beauty of a piece of wood.

Remember-in that same conversation we talked about me helping you with some things since Dorothy was gone, and you said that you would ask me for help, but only if I charged you, and you knew that I wouldn’t charge you, and I told you I wouldn’t because I didn’t charge family, and I felt good because I could help you, and we talked about our relationship, and you almost said “IT”, but you didn’t, but I knew, and you knew I knew.

I think-you were trying to teach me that you should never take people for granted, especially not family, and by making an offer you know they won’t accept, you give them the opportunity to do something for you, and it makes them feel good about themselves, and it’s hard for some people to say “IT”, but it’s okay if you live “IT”.

I learned-other things too, like it’s important to keep your commitments, and it was more important for you to keep your Valentine’s Day date with Dorothy than to spend any more time with us.

I hope-I’ve learned my lessons well because you’re not around to test me, and if you see Bill Riggs around, tell him I learned his lessons too, and I’m sending this letter along with you so you can read it, because you always has a hard time hearing me (you always said it was because I had a soft voice, but I think it was from when we shot the .44-40 revolver at the shooting range under a roof with no ear plugs and neither one of us could hear anything for the rest of the day), and I’m reminded that even grown men do foolish things—sometimes, and don’t show this around up there because if Gladys Youngs sees it she will have it all marked up for bad punctuation and grammar and run-on sentences.

Remember-when you said “…after all, outside of my family and a few friends, who’s going to know or care if I’m dead or not?”

I think-you were trying to teach me that what we are and what we know, we pass on to our children and grandchildren, and they pass it on to their children and grandchildren, and we live on in them, and a hundred years from now when no one remembers who Fred Eckardt was or who Jack Walker was or who anyone else in this room was, that they will be who they are, because of who we were, and they’ll be better people for having a part of you, and they won’t even know it, but we will know.

But on the other hand-maybe you weren’t trying to teach me anything, and I’m just being too sentimental. Sorry.