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.