Monthly Archives: October 2002

Mutual Of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom

 Just a quick note to say I saw the Bald Eagle again. I did a 6 and 2/3 mile easy run yesterday morning. The eagle was sitting on a utility pole at Caspersen Beach. I saw him when I ran South at first. When I came back the sun was shining on him. He was breathtaking.

A couple of minutes later I was going by the water treatment plant and saw a small tree with 5 wild Parrots perched in the branches. There are quite a few around town but I am still amazed when I see them.

Good luck to the “Icemen” for this year this weekend (Harry Doele, Jon Anderson and Tim Etter-is Jack Wiswell doing it? Paul?) Anyway, good luck to them. Keep the wheels on the ground. You can’t out-do Diane’s endo on our first trail ride for form nor my endo at last year’s Iceman for rough landing so don’t even try.

I hope I’m not tapering too much. Two days off a week-run between 6 and 2/3 and 9; bike between 30 and 40; swim a couple of days a week 1/2 hour to 1 hour. I will cut back to little or nothing after Saturday (just enough to keep these old joints lubed up). Larry/Jon-does that sound OK?

Jean lifted weights and swam yesterday and is at a Pilates class this morning. Class was at 7 and she still isn’t back (9:45) so she must have stayed for an aerobics class. Each day looks a little worse for her trying the race. We’ll see when the time comes.

We’ll be on the road after Wednesday (will drive to Panama City Beach Thursday morning – 7 hours or so) so reports will dry up. Brother Bob is talking about coming up to the race and may bring my mother-no pressure there!!! I’m not sure mothers should see their kids (no matter how old they are) in pain. We are hearing about the weather up North. The talk down here is about the coming cold front. Will dip daytime temperatures into the mid 70s for highs and overnight temps near 60-may have to wear the nip guards.


Boring Taper

 I’m at that point when the intensity and duration of workouts is less, and I’ve been doing the long stuff for so long I don’t quite know what to do with myself, so Jean thought it would be great if we went to St. Armand’s Circle shopping. I hate to shop like all real men. She bribed me by offering to buy lunch but I told her it would cost more than that (I don’t know what yet but I’ll think of something). The funny thing is that I bought more than she did. Books, mostly, including a Caribbean cookbook/bartenders guide and three John McDonald mysteries. I call them airplane books because they are easy reading and you can finish a whole book on a flight to Florida.

Did nothing Saturday but lay on the beach in the sun. Sunday did a short run (6 and 2/3 miles) and layed (is it layed or laid, I never get that one right? Is it I layed or I got laid?) on the beach. Am getting rid of my Michigan farmers tan but still have tan lines (Venice isn’t the Mecca for nude sunbathing). Besides, even though the nude body is a thing of beauty, it doesn’t include 55+ year old men.

Saw a typical Florida driving move at brother Bob’s this weekend. It was a one way street around a circle drive with a motel and restaurant in the middle with two traffic lanes. On the right was a parking lot with an in-drive way and an out drive way a block down the road. A woman (and it doesn’t need to be a woman down here, men are worse) went 50 feet past the in-drive way to the parking lot before she decided she wanted to park there. So she went to the out drive way, obviously angled the wrong way, and tried to turn in. She couldn’t make the tight turn so she backed up blocking both lanes of traffic. She went forward, ran into the curb and stopped abruptly. She backed up again blocking both lanes of traffic and pulled into the parking lot scrubbing her tires on the same curb she ran into. When she got in the lot, all the parking spots were angled the wrong way so she spent 10 minutes jockeying the car back and forth before she finally parked. It would have been easier to go around the circle and pull into the in-drive way.

We stopped at Sharky’s on our way home from St. Armand’s for Bait Buckets and on the way home from there saw another typical Florida move. We came to the first intersection and the driver, a man, didn’t even look our way. We couldn’t have been more than 20 yards from the intersection when he ran through the stop sign and pulled out right in front of us. He figured it was his turn and he was going no matter what. 

I did an easy 32.5 miles on the bike this morning. It was windy going south but good practice. I again resisted the urge to do intervals but instead practiced getting into the aero position and finding the right gears to spin. As I made the turn at Caspersen Beach I saw Jean riding the other way. A minute later I saw a mature Bald Eagle rising from the beach and coming over the Palmetto and dunes. He couldn’t have been more than thirty feet directly over my head. I have seen Bald Eagles several times before but I am still in awe every time I see them. It’s just like “Animal Planet” down here between the birds, the fish, the dolphins and the manatees.

Better close as it’s time for dinner.

Jack and Jean

PS – Jean ran short yesterday but leg still doesn’t feel good. Says she won’t do the race but I’ll believe it when I see it. 

The Withlacoochie

 We rode the Withlacoochie Bike Trail yesterday with Brother Bob. I was impressed. We picked up the trail about five miles from its southern end at State Highway 50 about five miles East of Brooksville and thirty miles or so West of Clermont.

The trail is about ten feet wide and is made from asphalt and pulverized tires. When we finished the ride we had tiny pieces of black dust on our legs that smelled like rubber. The trail is flat but you could feel slight upgrades and slight downgrades. There are roads every few miles you have to cross but they are clearly marked and are lightly traveled country roads.

The trail goes through swampy river bottoms and, later, horse farms and fields. It is well shaded and smooth. There are no broken bottles, beer cans, plastic bottles, papers, etc. I never saw any litter at all. Every mile or so there is a bench to rest at or a picnic table to eat a lunch or snack. There are stores at some of the road crossings and even a bike shop adjacent to the trail. We rode from highway 50 to Floral City, about twenty miles, and back. It was an easy spin and a good taper ride.

Jean rode with Bob for a while then rode next to me (you know she must have been uneasy since she never rides with me). When we would meet other riders she would stay next to me and not go single file (I guess she figured since we were the only true bikers out there we deserved two thirds of the road). It’s kind of like riding with Big John, huh Becky?

There were some other riders out there but we never felt crowded. About half were two wheeled recumbents. Most of the riders were men. My theory is that they were trying to damage their prostates so the widows down here would stop chasing them.

We saw a several squirrels (one of them bounded out and did a pirouette under my tire while I was in the aero position-I held on tight but didn’t hit him-I don’t know how I missed because he was right under my tire), two turtles (I think they were Gopher Tortoises) and a snake about six feet long. The snake was on the left edge of the trail and Jean was riding in the center. Her reaction was to shriek (not scream which would have been tolerable) which scared the heck out of her riding partner (me), then swerve over toward me and almost run me off the right side of the trail (apparently the snake snarled at her which frightened her into this behavior). Now I know why I like to ride alone.

We may make a bike rider out of Brother Bob but it’s going to take some work. First of all he won’t wear a helmet. He says it goes back to the days when he rode motorcycle. The bike was old and, if he wore a helmet, he couldn’t hear the parts fall off. Sometimes he would have to backtrack miles to pick them up off the road. Secondly, he rides quite slowly. I think it’s because it’s too hard to keep his cigarette lit while riding fast. And thirdly, his pre-ride energy meal consisted of two hot dogs from the weenie machine at a Speedway gas station at 8:30 AM. I think he’ll come around but we may have to spend a lot of time here in Florida to check his progress.

I’ll sign off now. We are down to two weeks and counting. I’m starting to feel the pre-race jitters. Why did I sign up for this race anyway?

Jack & Jean

PS – Jean still hasn’t run (three weeks tomorrow). Not looking good

Taper Continues

 We picked Becky up at the airport at around three on Friday. By five we had her at Sharky’s trying frozen drink samples. She wanted a Deck Runner but the machine was down so she had to settle for a Bait Bucket to wash down the seafood nachos. We all went fishing with brother Bob (aka Bobbie Butane) on Saturday. Caught several Blue Runners, a Lizardfish (don’t know the actual name), and a Pinfish (which I used for bait). Becky hooked a 28 or 29 inch Cobia. Bob helped bring it in and let it go (they have to be 33 inches to keep). Becky was afraid she may have to stop by Betty Ford Clinic when she got back home after all the Margaritas. We took her back to the airport Monday at 2:30 P.M., went on to Avon Park to see Mom and then drove back home (long day on the road).

I was so happy that, with all the miles of training, my toe nails still looked fine. Not any more. Two turned black so I will have to deal with them over the next few months. I did a taper down to thirteen and a third miles on Sunday and apparently jammed my middle toe. Nail is all red underneath and will soon be black. No Jon, Jim and Larry-I will not be painting my toenails for the race. It may help save the nails during an Ironman but I don’t think I could stand the looks in the men’s locker room at the fitness center.

We looked at four condo units on the beach yesterday and still like ours best. Jean wants to continue looking but I am content. She may have to get her own checkbook out.

We will continue to taper. I took today off. Will run an easy ten miles tomorrow and will go to Hudson and ride the Withlacoochie Trail on Friday with Bob (an easy thirty or forty miles). I’ve been doing thirty flat on the bike in wind and have resisted the temptation to turn the ride into an interval session. Obviously it takes more effort when you are in the wind but am gearing down and spinning more than I would normally do. Jean still hasn’t run (two and a half weeks now) but says the legs feel better and may run a short two or three miles tomorrow.

We are getting acclimated to the heat and humidity. We stopped at a Publix for a couple of things Monday evening and almost froze in the air conditioning. We are looking forward to seeing all of you but are thinking it would be better if we stayed the winter here and you all came down.

Jack & Jean

Starting To Taper

 We took the weekend off for family obligations. I went fishing with my mother and brothers on Saturday. We caught fifty White Grunts (sounds like a medical condition, doesn’t it?) and a Spanish mackerel. We cleaned them all and have them here at the condo. We went to Avon Park (about two hours away) for church on Sunday. The congregation had a farewell luncheon for my mother (she is moving to Hudson) and she wanted us there. I had to drive to Avon Park yesterday and be with my mother at the closing on the sale of her duplex. I’m tired of being on the road without my bike.

I ran twenty miles on Monday ALONE!!!! That is a boring run!! I started at 6:40 A.M. in the dark. By the time I got to the turnaround at Caspersen Beach, it was light enough to see. I started early because it gets so hot. After the second loop (each is six and two third miles) it was warm. I took an extra water bottle and found three beach showers where I could wet my head. (No, not similar to wetting my pants-I’m not double jointed). The people at the beach thought I was nuts, and so did I. It gave me enough relief to make it back to the condo without melting into a puddle, but I suffered the rest of the day from dehydration. We had to make some Margaritas to get some fluids back into my system.

I did a short ride on Tuesday (forty miles flat) and felt good. I ran seven and a half miles yesterday and my legs were tired so I decided to back off today. There was another flat tire last night when I checked the bike so on went the new tires (Continental foldups). I was going to wait until ten days before the race but I can’t afford the tubes (between Jean and I we have gone through four so far). I rode seven miles just to see how they worked. Went to the YMCA to lift weights and swim about fifty minutes.

We could be going to the beach but Jean made an appointment to look at a condo down the beach (ugh!!!). I don’ know why. We have renters coming in two months and I wouldn’t make a move until after spring anyway. I would rather keep the place we have and open up the kitchen. Since she isn’t running I think she is antsy, but I’m trying to train and relax. Thankfully Becky is coming down to Florida and can play with Jean so I can get some rest.

We found a good Mexican restaurant with smooth Margaritas Monday night. I tried the Deck Runner the other day at Sharky’s but I like the Bait Buckets better. We’ll take Becky there and let her decide. Will need to be careful because there are lots of single men at Sharky’s (marriage licenses are only good in the state that issues them, right?). I’ll keep an eye on her but will not report anything I see.

Better close and get to the realtor’s office.


By the way, I ran into Michelle Skedgell’s in-laws the day after she e-mailed and said they were here. They are from Hastings too. It was quite a coincidence. 

Training Update

 Training continues in the hot sun. We did a 100 mile bike on Wednesday. We started at dawn before the heat got too bad and did a two loop ride on the same road we had been riding all along. Highway 776 goes to Port Charlotte and meets up again with US-41. We crossed over US-41 and the bike lane disappeared so we turned around and went back the same way we came. Due to horrendous traffic at the intersection of Highway 776 and US-41, we decided to turn around before we got there on the next loop.

On the second loop I told Jean I would probably slow down. She smirked and said “That’s ok. If I have trouble I know you’ll be along shortly”. I’ve learned that what you hear is only a small part of what is actually being said. So I interpret that as, “Jack, if you have trouble, tough s—“! The other, more likely interpretation is “You’re slower than I am, so you’ll never get past me”. I think I have three choices. One is that I could ride faster and get ahead of her, but if I could do that, I would be already. It’s a man thing, you know. The other choice is, if I do come upon her with bike trouble, I could ride right on by. Or I could just keep my mouth shut. It’s quite a dilemma since I don’t think I am ready to give up sex yet at age 55.

So on the second loop, I saw Jean ahead of me by about a half mile on the last straight stretch from El Jobean to Port Charlotte. I lost sight of her when the road turned slightly, but then at the turn around, I looked and she was only a block ahead of me. Apparently, her blonde hair took hold and she crossed US-41. After all it had been nearly two hours since the first time we were there and we had already decided that wasn’t the best choice. She didn’t go very far across but had to wait for two or three lights before getting back. It only pays to be the lead dog when you know where you are going!

There were several instances of people pulling out in front of us or turning and cutting us off. Lest you think it’s all geezers, my closest call was with a late twenties or early thirties construction worker who never even looked at me and rolled through a stop sign. An older couple cut Jean off turning into a strip mall. I thought she gave them the “you’re number one salute” but she said she just waved. Becky, would you check in your engineering books and see if there is any physical reason turn signals won’t work south of the Georgia-Florida border? Maybe it’s a temperature thing!

We found another restaurant downtown with excellent food. This time I strayed from my diet of fish and went with chicken portabella, a baked sweet potato and, of course, a Miller Lite. Jean had the blackened prime rib to satisfy her craving for red meat. She isn’t the fish eater I am! We were impressed by the food and service. We have yet to find a restaurant that has bad food.

I ran seven and a half miles yesterday and everything still feels good and yes, I’m knocking on wood. Jean hasn’t run since the thirteen and a third miles she ran on Sunday. She may try running tomorrow if her foot feels better. I’m going fishing for grouper with my brother Bill, Mom and my brother Bob, also known as Bobbie Butane. We went to the YMCA and lifted weights for a couple of hours and swam forty five minutes. This morning we both went for a forty mile recovery bike. Jean had a flat tire before we ever got out of the parking lot. She is using up my spare tubes like candy, or in her case, her favorite evening snack, popcorn. I can see it all now. At the race, she won’t have a problem and I’ll be the one sitting on the curb out of spare tubes like Jim Everett at The Great Floridian last year.

I’m being beckoned to the beach. We will walk down to the Jetty, at the harbor of Venice, which is about a mile. I could be talked into a stop at Sharky’s later. I may try the deck runner this time. It’s similar to a rum runner with rum, blackberry brandy and banana liqueur. I’m sure that’s on the training table of all good triathletes.

Ta Ta,

Jack & Jean

And So It Goes

 I can’t remember what was in the last update so I’ll tell you guys what I think I haven’t already. We started out to do our long run of 20 miles on Sunday morning as usual. We planned to do three loops of the run to Caspersen Beach. After 13 1/3 miles, two loops, I was hot, nauseous and light headed so I quit. Good sense got in the way of macho-ism (is that a word?). Jean ran the same 13 1/3 miles and her leg started to hurt so she was done also. It was funny that this leg was not the same one as the one with the toe problem she’s been having for weeks now.

I rode 55 miles of flat road on Monday again out on Highway 776. It was 88 degrees by the time I finished. Jean’s legs hurt from running the day before so she took the day off. I had a bad start to the day. I went out, loaded things up and started to drive out to the parking lot on US-41 where we leave the car. I got to “The Rialto”, a turnoff from Business US-41, when I heard something on the top of the car. It was my new bike shoes. One fell off into the middle of the road and the other stayed on top of the car. I went back to get the shoe that fell off and stood there 5 minutes waiting for traffic to clear. I was just about to go out to get the shoe when a truck came by and smathered it!!! The shoe was fine but the cleat ended up 30 feet from the rest of the shoe, was bent and the plate was shattered. Luckily, I brought 2 sets of shoes in case of emergency so I did my ride anyway. How anal is this-2 sets of shoes, 2 helmets, 4 pair of swim goggles, 5 tubes, 2 spare tires and a large suitcase full of riding and running clothes?

I ran six and two third miles this morning on the familiar Caspersen Beach loop. Jean did the same loop several times on the bike since running still bothered her toe.  We went to the YMCA and I lifted weights for one and a half hours and swam one hour. Jean swam one and a quarter hours and didn’t lift quite as long.

Being down here with lots of retirees make us feel young. Everything is comparative, but the average age of people Venice is the highest in Florida and maybe the country.

Jean had a massage at three so I went to the Presbyterian Church on Highway 776 to see if we could park in their parking lot while we did our long bike and save the congestion of US-41. It was no problem with them as long as we parked out near the road and didn’t use the spots up close to the doors. I told them we wouldn’t be riding on Sunday so that shouldn’t be an issue, but we would park at the far end of the lot just in case. While I waited for Jean’s massage to end, I got hot and thirsty so after I picked her up downtown we went to Sharky’s, a beach restaurant, for Bait Buckets. They are Margaritas made with Blue Curacao and served in 16 ounce plastic beach cups. There’s a sign above the bar saying the limit on the blended drinks is two per customer. We felt like we needed to eat something to help soak up the alcohol so we ordered a basket of stuffed mushrooms.

I will cook Grouper and Portobello Mushrooms for dinner. Life is good!!!!

Hungry now so bye!!

Jack & Jean

Training Update

 While most of you have ended your triathlon training seasons, ours are still going on.

We got to Florida Tuesday at noon and stopped at my younger brother Bob’s house in Hudson. The real estate closing took place at 4 PM in Hudson on the condo I bought with my mother. We went halvsies so both our names are on it but she’ll be the one living there full time. We wanted to get things settled at our other condo on the beach in Venice so we were on our way by 5 and got there at 7:15. We unloaded the car immediately and carried things in using miniature grocery carts that were bought for next to nothing when a hardware store went out of business. It seems like for the $325 a month we pay in maintenance fees they could have afforded something big enough for more than one suitcase.

Since Jean didn’t feel like cooking, which is happening more and more, we went to Marker 4, an outdoor seafood restaurant on the intercoastal waterway. I had to wear a disguise since my friends and I had been there one night on our golf trip. We had just enough to drink for a couple of the guys (not me, of course) to get a little unruly and one of the guys to toss the root end of an onion onto the deck of a $50,000 yacht. We were tired, but I managed to choke down Red Snapper Strips, french fries and two Bud Lights.

We slept in a little the next morning, which turned out to be a big mistake, and didn’t get out for our training run until 8:30 AM. By then it was 76 degrees with 96% humidity, something we really weren’t used to having come from fall weather in Michigan. Jean and I ran a six and two third mile loop from our place to Caspersen Beach. There was little or no shade at the beach and very little on the way back. We’ve decided to mend our ways because now we know how hot Hell can be.

After the run we went to the grocery store and then had to lay in the sun by the pool for a couple of hours to rest. We were too tired to cook at dinner time again so we went to the Myakka River Oyster Bar. They have a great training table for athletes so we settled on grilled blackened grouper, rice pilaf and I switched to two Miller Lights.

We slept in again this morning so we didn’t get out on the bike until 8:30. I guess we’re slow learners. We drove to a strip mall parking lot off the island and left from there on a 52 mile bike ride. The first half mile was on US-41 but it has a bike lane. It’s six lanes wide with heavy traffic and is like riding on 28th Street in Grand Rapids. We turned off US-41 onto Florida Highway 776. It has a bike lane too and generally light traffic. It was a little congested when we went through built up areas but all in all we felt really comfortable and were happy to be back on the road.

Jean maintained her string of flat tires every time out with one around 18 miles into the ride. She was considerate enough to have the flat in a spot with shade and a sign to lean the bikes against. We fought wind all the way but rode with a tailwind coming back. Of course, Jean rode faster than I did so I played clean up just in case she had another flat. We only felt hot when we stopped for traffic lights. By the time we finished the temperature was 86 degrees and it was humid.

We went to the open air market on the 41 bypass to get some fruit and veggies including some great asparagus. Shopping made us so tired we had to rest by walking on the beach and lying in the sun for a couple of hours. We ate in tonight as the charge card was starting to melt from overuse.

Will keep y’all (do I sound like a hillbilly yet?) posted.

Jack & Jean