Monthly Archives: June 2004

On The Downhill Slide

 11 weeks to go ’til “the big one” so I’m on the downhill side of the 24 weeks of training. The cold symptoms are pretty well gone, although the snot rocket count on my rides and runs is at a record high.

Sunday’s long run was from the cottage at Crooked Lake. Diane is still grousing a little because she is in a recovery week and I told her the run was around the lake and flat. I meant “Barry County flat”. The hills aren’t steep, but they’re long and there are lots of them.

I apologize for the confusion about the water stop. On the printed map it said it was at Oak Drive, and I highlighted that spot with an arrow. I told everyone, when I explained the map, the water was at the stop sign at Oak Drive. As we walked out the door, I announced to everyone the water was at Oak Drive at the stop sign. For some reason, the directionally challenged lead group thought I may have said Peninsular Drive since they sound so much alike. Anyway, they missed the water stop at 5.5 miles. Sorry!

As smart as I always think I am, I’m embarrassed to admit that Saturday’s long bike ride was a nutritional meltdown. I should attend one of those meetings with all the other nutritional backsliders where I stand up and say “My name is Jack and I don’t know how to eat on a long bike ride”.

Jean and I went with Bill and Nancy Bradley to Striders in G.R. and Gazelle’s in Holland Friday looking for tri suits. Instead, the trip turned into two hours of agony watching Jean try on every running shoe in both stores and not buy anything. We all decided to drown our sorrows in a vat of beer so we went to the brewery in Holland. Actually, we each only had one (glass, not vat) except “Nancy the Lush” had two glasses of wine ‘cuz she wasn’t going on a long bike ride the next day. Bill and I talked about the Saturday ride and what we needed to bring for nourishment. He wanted to go between three and four hours, and I needed to go between five and six. I won’t bore you with all the details, but suffice it to say that six scoops of CarboPro along with one scoop of Gatorade in 26 ounces of water, 40 ounces of Gatorade in a camelback, and nine figs will not take a 185 lb. man one minute longer than 5:23:55.

So did I take the second six scoops of CarboPro to mix when the first bottle is gone as I intended? No. Did I take any of the HammerGel that I knew agreed with my stomach and I would need on the bike as I told Bill, Nancy and Jean the night before? No. Did I stop at the Gun Lake Shell station and refill the camelback knowing I couldn’t make a long bike on 40 ounces of Gatorade? No. Did I use any of the PowerGels I had purchased the night before? No. To not belabor the point, I need to write these things down and use the checklist on my way out the door. I guess I don’t want to face the fact that after the bike dive of ’03, I can’t remember things like I used to.

While we were in Holland, we went into a store that specialized in furnishings for cabins and cottages. Much of the furniture was made from Red Cedar and was quite unique. Bill and I walked by a stuffed Raccoon that had one of his paws in a box of Cracker Jacks. He couldn’t help but make a comment about the chipmunk idea from last week’s e-mail. So all day long on the Saturday ride, he was evaluating whether the “road kill” raccoons and ‘possums were in good enough shape to be used for my cottage decorations. He’s as sick as I am.

So after last week’s chipmunk weirdness, here’s a thought-provoker. You all know me as Mr. Straight Arrow (no, I’m not having my name changed). But this week I have a real conundrum (is that really a word? It sounds so Junior High funny). I’m not a shopper, but since I bought the cottage, I think I’ve been in every store in Michigan at least twice.

Last Monday I was in Wal-Mart, “where America shops”, at around 9 A.M. when the geezers are having their free coffee at McDonalds so it wasn’t very busy. We don’t want to go into shopping experiences, because they would make a book unto themselves, but I saw some of the largest people I’ve ever seen in Barry County at that store. I checked out at the only register open and was behind a young mother with a child in the “jump seat” and a cart full of kid crap. She shoveled everything out so it could be scanned while her child extended his eight arms and legs and was into everything.

The checker ran everything through the computer and came up with a total that the mother either charged or wrote a rubber check for. As I stood there, I noticed that there was a “Hot Wheels” car still in the cart, but under the child. The mother didn’t catch it and the checker didn’t either. So here’s question number 27 from this series of e-mails. Should I have pointed out to the mother and/or the clerk that the Hot Wheels car was stuck in the cart and didn’t get paid for?

On the one hand, if I had gotten home and found I hadn’t paid for something, I know I would have gone back to the store and paid the $1.29 so the store didn’t get cheated out of its sale, even if it cost me $2.00 for gas. But, on the other hand, stores have been very bad about having the correct prices in their computers, and this oversight would surely have been offset by that woman or other customers being overcharged for what they bought.

So, what did I do? And what should I have done? Instead of sending your answers to as usual, please send them to me and I will forward them to the National “What’s Right” Clearing House.

Ta Ta – 13 down and 11 to go,

Just (Hiring a Dietitian) Jack

Halfway Through

 12 weeks down, 12 weeks to go. Sometimes it seems like I just got started and sometimes it feels like I’ve been on the training schedule forever.

I did my first triathlon since the wreck of ’03. I’m Baaaaaack!! I still have the remnants of this cold with a cough that sounds like the seals barking for fish at Sea World. I was up-tight all week about the possibility of freezing at the bike start. I didn’t think I would but there’s always that nagging feeling that the demon may still be lurking. I didn’t feel apprehensive at the swim start and didn’t even think about the wreck; well, not a lot anyway. Last year I finished first in my age group; this year fourth. Sounds like a real backslide, but last year the big guns were at other races and this year they were all back.

I got beat up a little on the swim as happens occasionally to everyone. I couldn’t get away from the crowds and got hit pretty hard four times in the head, kicked twice pretty hard with frog kicks around the buoys and lots of other bumps. The transitions were slow and deliberate, but in the reasonable range. I pushed the bike pretty hard but, with the strong North wind, didn’t break any speed records. I felt great on the run and kept the same pace the entire time. I finished with energy to spare so I did leave some out there. Last year 2:43:15. This year 2:47:58. Let’s blame it on the cold, OK?

One of the things that makes good athletes “good athletes” is the ability to focus on their sport. In triathlon, sometimes you need to focus for ten or more hours. I’m not training for ten hours at a crack yet, but have noticed that one of the things that makes me a mediocre athlete is the lack of my ability to focus and the propensity to let my mind wander on the long runs or long bikes.

Last weekend I was either running the 120 minute Sunday run or riding the Saturday 3 hour ride and I happened to notice a chipmunk was stuck to the pavement and had been flattened by a car. Normal road kill is smathered all over the road and, often, you can even tell what kind of animal it was. But not this chipmunk. It’s pelt was perfectly flattened and didn’t have a blemish on it. Of course, here’s where my mind wandered a bit. I thought what a shame it was to die like that and end up stuck to the tire of an old pickup truck.

Then I thought, as a perfect tribute, we could use the road kill skins to make fur cases for our cell phones. Chipmunks are exactly the right size for most cell phones. The pattern is pretty enough to be carried by a woman, but it’s the skin of an animal, so could be carried by us manly men (let’s not be offended by the connotation that historically the man is the hunter and the woman is the gatherer in our ancient civilization). You know I’m an animal lover so I don’t think killing chipmunks for fur is a good idea, but using road kill for something other than jokes about hillbilly meals sounds like a better place for their souls to go. Think about it and don’t laugh. It could be a moneymaker.

After one of my long rides I had turned the corner a block from the house and was riding on the correct side of the street with no traffic on my side. You other riders know that, invariably, some young guys yell at bicycle riders, mostly to scare them into losing control. Of course, one guy stuck his head out the window of his beater truck and said “GET A CAR” as loud as he could. It must be some mating ritual to impress their girlfriends. I like it when idiots make their presence known so I can stay as far away from them as possible.

Thursday I worked on anger management. The satellite installer was to come to the cottage “mid-morning” to hook up the dish and receivers. Not wanting to miss him I got up at 5:50 AM (had trouble getting to sleep-was still awake at 12:30 AM) and got out on my Thursday track run by 6:10. The schedule showed a 20 minute warm-up followed by a 30 minute HR-2 run with four 2 minute HR 3-4 fartleks followed by a 15 minute cool-down. For you non-runners it was a moderate pace run with some faster parts in the middle.

The schedule suggested doing it on trails (the run, not what you are thinking) so I did the Cook-Quimby-Broadway 7 mile loop and pushed up the hills. The cold is better but my lungs are quite congested, so breathing the heavy early morning air without sounding like I had escaped from the TB ward at the VA hospital wasn’t easy. I showered quickly and went to the cottage and waited. At 11 AM the installer called and said he would be there at 2 PM and I gave him directions. 2 PM came and went and his office finally called at 4:45. Apparently he had car trouble, didn’t have a spare tire, and could we reschedule for Friday at 10?

I, not so politely, told her my calendar was in Hastings and I didn’t know what was planned for Friday. I had waited there all day with no TV, no radio, waiting for someone who didn’t show up when originally planned and didn’t bother to call and keep me informed so I could do other things. So here’s the anger management improvement. I didn’t, sarcastically, ask if he had run over his phone which caused the flat and that’s why he didn’t call. Also, it was our 15th anniversary so later when Jean and I went out to dinner, I waited until the third time before I asked her to stop kicking me in the shins; it was my leg and not the table leg. I think I’m improving.

Ta Ta for another week,

Just (Back But Running on 7 Cylinders) Jack

Week 11 Is History

 Every third week is a recovery week and I’m ready for this one coming up. For some reason I’m in a “blue funk”. I don’t know whether it’s overtraining, a lack of sleep (been bad since the accident), this never-ending rain, a ton of things to do at the cottage, or a combination of all four. For the first time in a year and a half on the Multisports training program I’ve skipped one of the bold workouts. My Thursday track workout was on a rainy day and I just couldn’t muster the strength to do it. Bad boy! But then again, the coaches all say when your body tells you it’s tired, LISTEN TO IT.

Update-I wrote the above paragraph on Saturday. On Sunday morning I awoke with a cold that Jean has had and was kind enough to share with me. One night last week she rolled over and I could feel her hot breath on my arm. I thought maybe she was up for a little middle of the night adventure, but when she snored I knew it was not to be. Little did I know she was making it so the cold bugs didn’t have to jump as far.

The Saturday bike ride was a disaster but I felt great on the 50 minute transition run. It started out by raining when I was ready to go so I had to wait around a while. I’m not a good “waiter”. I had mixed some CarboPro and Gatorade for some needed carbs on the 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hour heart rate 2 to 3 bike. When I filled the aero bottle on my bike, some of it leaked back into my bike computer. I was riding out to the 24 hour challenge route, looked at the computer, and it said I was doing 27 mph on airport road going across the river. On the uphill right after that it said I was also doing 27 so I knew it was acting funny. It had me going anywhere from 35 down to 18 and back up to 32 in the same short stretch.

After 1:24:12 it quit working altogether so I have no idea how far I went or how long. It started working again about two miles from the end of the ride. My closest estimate is 3 hours and around 50 miles. It was one of those rides where all else failed as well. At the risk of being blunt, my butt was sore from the first mile. Without getting too technical for you non-bikers, all I can say is the equipment placement was never quite right. The wind was strong and gusty from the east and south, the exact directions I spent 90% of my time going toward, so that didn’t help either.

So here’s a thought. When I dumped the bike at Madison, the CarboPro went all over me and the bike and my brain went haywire too. So do you think it wasn’t brain injury at all and CarboPro is the culprit? You may laugh, but I think it’s true. I’m also leaning toward the possibility that there really is a Shrek out there somewhere.

For those of you who have talked to Jean after her camp at Lake Placid, she had a great time, learned quite a few useful things, and was happy to have seen the bike course before her race. She called on the way back. Well, actually Becky called, but she and Jean both talked at the same time, so I got twice the stories in half the time. Anyway, she said she had won the “hammerhead award” at the camp. When I heard her tell the story later, she called it the “hammer award” so I’m not sure which one to have etched on our joint tombstone.

My run this morning had its ups and downs. I started out feeling comfortable. I was trying to keep my heart rate in the 2 to 3 zone so I sped up a little from my normal plodding. I went around 12 miles but the last two turned into a chore. Again, the cold had its way with me and I just ran out of gas. I kept the speed up but it was quite an effort.

Time to rest. I’ll stay out at the cottage tonight and Jean will probably stay here in town. When you’re in misery, sleeping alone is a good thing. Someone used all but a tiny bit of my Nyquil so it’s another trip to the store.


Just (Feeling Like Crap) Jack

Week 10 Back In The Groove


Last week’s mention of the deer camp at Mass City has opened the flood gates of deer camp stories. Most of them are like fish stories; hard to believe the details but the story itself seems plausible. I won’t bore you with all of them. It’s like many other stories, you just had to be there to see the humor. But I will pass on one story and it wasn’t the proudest moment of my life.

Many people hear the term “deer camp” and it conjures up thoughts of a bunch of guys going up north saying they’re going hunting, when all they do is go to the bars, drink too much, and chase women. Not so with our group. Not that we didn’t have a drink or two, but never during the day before going hunting and rarely more than we should at night. Of all the years we went, I don’t remember going to any of the bars at night. As for chasing women, one of the guys brought his wife, who was an avid hunter, so that never happened either.

We hunted hard each day and at night would talk about what we saw and would tell stories. Some of the stories were new things that had just happened and some were from other years, and they were often repeated year after year. But that was the way deer camp should be, it was  a great group of people, and it created a lot of good memories.

The first year that I went it was just the guys and I was the newbie. The newbie had two jobs. One was to bring magazines that would provide new, more risqué centerfolds for the walls. The second was to knock the tops off the piles of turds in the outdoor john and sprinkle what was in there with lime. They called it “stirring the shitter”.

I don’t really have a sensitive stomach as a rule, but after a couple of beers (honestly, no more than that), some tortilla chips dipped in a mixture of Velveeta cheese and Hormel chili heated on the woodburning stove, and a big bowl of white chili (very hot and spicy) that one of the guy’s girlfriend, now wife, made and my stomach was, at best, unsettled. I went to bed knowing that I could have problems in the night so I had a flashlight at hand.

Around two in the morning I awoke with a rumbling in my guts and the instant knowledge that if I didn’t hurry to the outdoor john, I would have a terrible accident. I made it and was relieved, pun intended. Just when I thought I was finished and started out the john door, I realized there was more on the way and it too was in a hurry. After the third time, I knew that I was in for a spell, so I waited the process out.

The next morning, C.R. said he had heard some noise outside and saw me going into the john. He fell back asleep, awoke 10  minutes later and still saw my light in the john. He fell back asleep, awoke 10 minutes later and, again, saw my light in the john. He laid there awake until I came in the door about 10 minutes after that. He was poking a little fun and asked “What the hell did you do; fall asleep in there”? Without batting an eye I said “No, I was taking a powerdump”. He laughed so hard I thought he would fall out of his chair. From then on, he nicknamed me powerdump. I had always wanted a nickname like Butch, or Sonny, or some other cool, mysterious name. Powerdump wasn’t what I had in mind.

It was a great week for training. The long run yesterday was the first loop of the marathon relay. I didn’t have a team, but paid for Jean, Becky and I anyway (Jean and Becky were in Lake Placid) and ran for 100 minutes, then quit. It was a perfect day for running. Diane’s team won the prize for the most unique baton. I didn’t know what it was but the girls all seemed to know and get a big kick out of it. They said it was a speculum decorated with a feather to look like a duck. The duck’s mouth would open and close and it looked to me like there was a smile on his face.

I decided to go out on a recovery bike ride after the run. I fell at the corner of Heath Road and M-37. Don’t ask!! It was a momentary “rectal cranial insertion” and I didn’t get hurt. Three miles down the road I had a flat. When I put the spare tube in, the rectal cranial insertion reared it’s ugly head again and I pinched a hole in that tube. I put in my last spare tube and decided to call it quits for the day.

Today I did a four and a half hour HR 1-2 ride. I went out Chief Noonday (M-179) to A-42 through Hopkins and all the way to where M-40 turns right to Hamilton. I sat there for a couple of minutes until the gnats drove me crazy then came back. I was ready to do the 30 minute T-run after the ride when the former owners of the “cottage” said they were out and I could come right down, so I did.

If you pay attention, you can learn something new every day. If not new, at least you can be reminded of what it’s like growing up with brothers and sisters. If you didn’t delete last week’s e-mail from sheer boredom, you probably saw pictures of “sweets” that Jean puts around the house to tempt me.

The day that Jean left for her Lake Placid triathlon camp, I found what’s in the attached picture sitting on the counter exactly as you see it. I’m sure it’s a way of marking territory, much like male dogs peeing on every mailbox during Becky’s Sunday morning run. Sibling rules are, in order to keep others out, take one bite out of each end and leave it out uncovered to either dry out and be petrified, or get mushy, stale and moldy if it’s humid.

So here’s the problem. You all know I have some slight memory problems from what I say is the bike wreck but probably is from advancing age. Before I complain about “advancing age”, I remember I almost didn’t advance in age last September 7th, so I mostly stop whining. I don’t remember taking a bite out of that roll, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t. I’ve always had trouble keeping my weight from going literally “off the scale”, but I’ve tried to eat sensibly. Maybe I am eating in my sleep, packing in the calories, then not remembering. Interesting!

Time to go to the lake,

Just (Happy New Cottage Owner) Jack