Monthly Archives: July 2004

Jean’s Race Day

It’s Jean’s race day at Ironman USA, Lake Placid. She’s out of the swim, but that’s the only race report I’ve seen up until now. I’m on pins and needles because, as I found out, anything can happen in an instant.

Have you ever had one of those days where the conditions are near perfect, and you expect things to go well, only to find out that it just isn’t your day? Yesterday’s (Saturday) bike ride started out in near perfect weather. Other than a little wind, which I’ve become accustomed to, it was great riding weather. Sunny but on the coolish side. I rode from Delton to Hastings, made the turn on Chief Noonday (M-179) west, and headed for Hopkins. My plan was to ride to the stone house (see prior e-mails for description), turn around and come back.

The ride was a 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 hour HR2 ride so it would be around 90 miles. 58 minutes into the ride I had a flat tire. The tire was a brand new one so I wasn’t happy. I could feel the air on my leg escaping from the tube, so I knew it wasn’t just a pin prick. There were two holes in the tube and tire about a centimeter apart, so it was a textbook pinch flat. The tire had exposed fiberglass fibers in the two holes, so I had to use a repair patch for the tire itself so it didn’t wreck the spare tube.

Things went from bad to worse (at least in my mind). I had just passed the Shell station when I heard a siren so I stopped and let a State Police car pass. A couple of minutes later two more State Police cars went by with their sirens and lights on. I stopped again and watched them as they turned down Payne Lake Road.

All of a sudden I had this feeling that there had been a car/bike accident at the Great Lakes Triathlon. My mind churned, as it has since the wreck of ’03, and I convinced myself that Diane was in it and it was really bad. Only last evening when I talked to Diane about where the Sunday run was did I find out that there really was a car/bike accident and that Diane was in it. There are some pretty nasty scrapes and bruises, but Diane is fine. Her brand new Zipp front wheel is now only good for riding around corners.

Later on the ride I dropped my chain twice while shifting from the big chain ring to the small chain ring half way up hills. The second time, the chain wrapped itself around the rear axle before I could stop pedaling so it took some time to “unkink” it. I took a turn up 18th Street (or is it 18th Avenue?) and went into Wayland from that direction. Of course, Wayland is having sidewalk sales and the downtown streets are all blocked off so I detoured through the town.

As I finished the bike ride, I was going through the hills into Cloverdale and I noticed it was hard riding up the hills. I knew it was around 85 miles at that point, but my nutrition had been good and I was well enough hydrated to stop and pee at the stream on 18th street, so I shouldn’t be that tired. After about the fifth hard hill, I looked down and I was in the hardest gear on the cassette. I looked at the shifter and it was in the easiest gear for the cassette. It only took me a milli-second to realize I had broken my rear shifter cable.

I went through my list of names on my cell phone. Half were out of town, and the other half probably had caller I.D. and didn’t want to leave their easy chairs, so no one answered. I started to walk the six miles home when I realized it would be easier to ride the bike in a hard gear and walk it up hills if I had to, so I rode it on home. My legs were spent when I got there, but not enough to keep me from running a 50 minute transition run.

I ran with Diane, Laura, Jon, Paul and Pat on the Sunday long run. They did around 8 miles. My run was supposed to be 120 to 135 minutes, but I switched it with last week’s 105 to 120 minutes. We stopped for water at 44 minutes and I never restarted my watch so I don’t know how long or far I went, but I think around 10 or 11 miles. As usual, Pat was talking on Ryan Road (or was it Hammond?) and I wasn’t catching everything, but he talked about someone he knows being happy about being single. He went on to say that dating Miss America is cheaper and easier and held up his right hand.

I didn’t know what he was talking about so I said “…and her sister” as I held up my left hand. He laughed and said “That’s sick”. I don’t know what he meant so I’m completely in the dark. Let your imagination go and, if you come up with something, fill me in.

Seven weeks to the thriller.

Just (Hoping Jean Has a Good Race) Jack

Mom And Dad Sent Me To Summer Camp

Road Cracks 1

Road Cracks 2 

The e-mail this week is a day late (and you were hoping I’d forget) but here it is. I attended the Ironman Wisconsin training camp put on by Multisports this last weekend and didn’t get home until 8:15 Sunday evening. That’s the company owned and operated by Roch Frey, Paul Huddle, Heather Fuhr (she wasn’t there-she’s doing Lake Placid next week) and Paula Newby-Frazier. For those of you not into triathlon, Paula has won the “Big Race” at Kona at least eight times with another 22 or so Ironman wins around the world (she’s married to Paul Huddle). Heather has won at least eight times around the world (she’s younger and married to Roch Frey).

In addition to them, Chris Legh (3 Ironman wins with Ironman Cour d-Alene the most recent and he was also the cover story on the most recent Triathlete magazine) was there leading the fastest group on the bike and adding comments about his training experiences. The guys called him “Penny” because his middle name is Pennington. Also there helping was John Duke, CEO and co-publisher of Triathlete magazine. The guys called him “The Devil” and Paula said the only reason he works out every day and does Triathlons is so he can justify his 3 martinis in the evening.

The camp was great and I learned a lot about all aspects of Ironman racing. Now all I have to do is be able to put the knowledge to work during the rest of my training and on race day.

Have you ever walked into a room and thought you shouldn’t be there. Every person in there looked fitter than me, which may not be saying much, and, with the exception of one guy who may be my age, I was the oldest. Most of the men were around 30 and all were “buff”. The women may have averaged a couple of years older, but nearly all were slender and athletic looking.

Only after the ride to the pool which included three falls (including one by Roch) and two flats (none of them, the falls or the flats, were me) followed by the swim workout (I was in one of the middle lanes with one side of the pool being slower and the other side being faster) did I realize I probably did belong and was, as always, in the “mediocre middle” of the group.

That night I asked to be put in the slowest bike group for the next day’s long ride for a couple of reasons. In the first place, I came to learn the group dynamics of bike rides. A large percentage of the men (at least at this camp) have two basic rules of the ride. Number one is don’t get dropped by a girl. For those of you who are not bikers, being dropped means not being able to keep up with the group or self-appointed leader of the group. For those of you who think the term “girl” is not socially acceptable, that’s the way bike racing is these days for that large percentage of men. Men are men and all others are girls. Not women; not co-riders; not co-competitors; girls!! If you ever get dropped by a GIRL, you might as well be castrated and become a monk in Tibet.

The second is much the same as the group dynamics in a wolf pack. All, at one time or another, strive to be the Alpha male. In riding, that means the fastest, the one who leads all the time. In the fastest group (remember it was led by a 3 time Ironman champion) the ride started at a comfortable 22 mph. As time went on, those animal instincts jumped out and testosterone filled the air. At the first stop, all the groups were called together and were reamed out by Roch, Paul and John for riding all over the road like a–holes. When we broke back apart, Paul told us our group was doing fine but the guys in the two fastest groups were jockeying for position constantly. The average speed in the fastest group increased to 27 or so. The story went around that one of the guys tried to drop Chris Legh, but couldn’t.

So, I didn’t want to get in a group that pushed so hard to be “MEN” that they lost sight of the purpose of the ride and that was to learn the best way to ride that 112 mile hilly course and still have legs for the 26.2 mile run. Just as big a reason for riding slow was that I was petrified. As you know by the e-mails, I’ve been riding plenty of miles around here and have been very comfortable, at least most of the time. But the thought of riding that course and going by the exact spot of the wreck of 2003 made me very nervous. I hardly slept at all Friday night and was trying to think of ways to get out of the ride and still save face.

As it turned out, riding it this past weekend with that group was the best decision I could have made. Yes, for much of the time I was coasting because the people ahead of me were not riding very fast. But it taught me to ride more in the small chain ring (easier gears for you non-bikers) and spin up the hills instead of power up in a big gear like I’m used to. I finished the 72 miles (we only did one of the 40 mile loops at Verona) with legs that felt great and I have lots of confidence for the race.

I did have a tense moment or two when I went by the accident site. I’ve attached pictures that don’t do the road justice. The spots where the chunks of cement are missing are at least 3 inches deep. I have faint recollections about being there and forced into a spot on the road I didn’t want to be in. It sounds weird and I don’t know what it means since I still don’t remember the wreck. I’m still convinced that I either caught the front wheel in one of the expansion joints or cracks, or I hit one of the holes which threw me out of control and I lost the bike.

At any rate, I can’t change anything now and it doesn’t bother me although, on the way back, I got up out of the aero bars on the bike as I rode by and gave the demon that lives there the international one-fingered salute (sorry, Mom-I really did).

Until next week-good luck to Jean at Lake Placid on Sunday.

Just (The Happy Camper and I Didn’t Wet The Bed) Jack

63 Days To Go

 The race is nine weeks away, but who’s counting the days? This week was a recovery week, so everything was a little less intense and a little shorter. Now I go into five weeks of “tough”. Next week is the Ironman camp at Madison with Multisports, the week after is an intense Ironman specific week (and the weekend of Jean’s race-GO JEAN), and the week after is the Steelhead Half Ironman back in my “so-called” home town of St. Joseph. The following two weeks are the longest bikes and longest runs in the 24 week program.

We moved to St. Joe in between my 6th and 7th grades, moved away right after I graduated from high school and I haven’t really been back much since. I’ve always called it the town I grew up in, but when I went to my 40th class reunion last night, I didn’t know anyone. Jean and I spent $80 for hors- d’ouvres and left after an hour. Out of 280+ kids there were 50 or so there. Most of them had been at each reunion thus far and knew everyone else.

Not only did I not know them by sight, I would look at the name tags and the names didn’t ring any bells. As always, people seemed to congregate around the jocks, the cheerleaders and the homecoming queen. I wasn’t a high school jock and, luckily, I wasn’t a cheerleader or queen either. As I told Jean on the elevator out of the yacht club, at least we didn’t have to block out our calendar 10 years from now for “The Big 50th”.

Yesterday Bill, Larry and I went for a recovery ride. It was supposed to be at heart rate 1 but I couldn’t keep it there. We did the same route as last week, only 20 minutes longer, and I was still in HR 2 most of the time. Some of the hills got me into high HR 3.

Shortly into the ride, somehow the conversation went from “I thought there was a restaurant in Banfield”, to “There was a great restaurant at Gilkey Lake called the Gilkey Lake Tavern”, to “Remember when they turned that place into a topless joint?”. Bill complained a little about being the “center subject” of the last couple of e-mails and was afraid the students at Lakewood would get the wrong impression of him. So when the conversation went to “The dancers there were the rejects from all the topless bars in Kalamazoo, Battle Creek and Lansing”, and “Yeah, instead of having 38-Ds they were 42-Longs”, I promised I wouldn’t say who said what. OK, Bill? You’re welcome.

Bill tells me he has been asked several times if the statement about ejaculating 21 times a month to minimize prostate problems was true. I think some of the questions are from men who want to tape a printed copy of the article to their wife’s pillow, and some are from wives who want to burn the article before their husbands see it. At any rate, ask Bill. I’m only the messenger.

Larry kept stopping on the ride yesterday at the side of the road. I counted four times but it could have been more. Larry, being a retired Navy pilot and current Delton Middle School teacher, couldn’t have been relieving himself because public urination is against the law, and I’m sure he wants to continue to be a role model to his own kids and students. I finally figured out that he must be rinsing the dust and bugs from his bike shoes with a rinse bottle because there was a stream of water each time. I asked him if that’s what he was doing as I passed him and he said yes, so I know it’s the truth.

Better go. It’s warm and the beach needs raking.

Just (Ready to Get It Over With) Jack

Time Flies When You’re Having Fun

 Training continues. With ten weeks to go, I’m getting into the nitty gritty of Ironman specific training. The bike rides are getting longer on the long easy ride days and harder and more intense on the shorter ride days. The runs are getting longer on the long easy run days and harder and more intense on the shorter run days. Sound like a pattern to you? The swims are still at Diane’s Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The group starts anywhere from 5:45 to 6. That’s AM, not PM and, yes, it is light by then. The hardest thing about the swims is keeping from being lulled into a trance and bumping into someone else, head to head. The near misses are up to 67 and climbing.

The Saturday ride was shorter this week, only 3 hours, but the intensity was at heart rate 3 (as fast as you can go and still maintain the speed). Since Larry’s family was in Florida, and Terry said Larry needed a babysitter, we rode together. I was used to riding the higher intensity rides alone so I could go my own pace. What I found was that since Larry is a faster biker than me, he was there to push me a little when I got tired. Actually, push is just an expression since Larry was ahead of me the last half. But he did provide the incentive to not just get complacent and ride easy. So, Bill, I take it all back.

The run from Diane’s was a soaker. The rain came down the first half and it became so humid, it was like it was raining back up to the sky the second half. I did the 13.5 mile loop but made a slight miscalculation. The water was at mile 4+ on my route. That meant I did the last 9+ miles on one bottle of water and it wasn’t enough. I should have run back to the water jug at mile 10 or 11, filled up, continued on to 13.5 and walked in the rest of the way. Sounds smart now and never entered my head when it really counted. I’m learning all over again. I know all these things, but when I’m out there in the heat of battle, they don’t click in like they used to.

You riders that have done the 24 hour challenge route know that Mud Lake Road is famous for its dogs. We were riding along, Larry in the lead, when a white dog came out of a yard with a gate open. He got to the end of the driveway, stopped on a dime, and yelped. Apparently he has a shock collar and there is an underground electronic fence. I could see Larry chuckling when, all of a sudden, that big dog that looks like Lassie on steroids came out into the road from the other side and almost got him. I was behind so I had to stop, stare the dog down (like my friend Buddy, remember?), and ride by slowly with one foot out of the clips and my hand on the pepper spray.

A friend, I won’t mention his name, years ago told me that when he ran, he was pestered by a dog that would come out and try to bite him. He talked to the owner several times to no avail. The last time the dog came out to get him, he dropped a piece of raw hamburger with a pill inside that causes what appears to be a heart attack. The dog never bothered him or anyone else again. I was wishing I had one of those pills today. You all know I love animals, and I believe the owners are at fault for not restraining the dogs, so I would have wrapped the pill in a bottle of Bud Light. Actually, I wouldn’t do that either, but dogs chasing bikes makes me mad.

Jean, having three weeks until her race at Ironman USA, Lake Placid, is starting her taper. The length of her training is shorter, but the intensity remains high. She continues to be strong and remains injury free other than the two year old toe injury that she should have had fixed last fall/winter but didn’t, but I won’t comment on that. Lest you think she didn’t because she was babysitting me after the bike wreck, remember I spent almost the entire winter alone in Florida.

You bike riders and runners know that some of the strangest conversations come out of a long ride or long run. On one of our recent rides, my training buddy Bill rode up along side of me and said “I just read an article that said men could lessen the risk of prostate problems by ejaculating 21 times a month”. First of all, he didn’t say whether he read the article in the Journal of American Medicine or the most recent issue of Penthouse (he says he reads that one just for the articles, honest!). Second of all, I couldn’t imagine what made him offer that little tidbit and where the conversation was headed.

I asked him if the article described the subjects as having sex each month with 21 different 56 year old post-menopausal women or one 30 year old divorcee with no children. He quipped back with something about “manual self-actualization”. I made a remark about that way not being as much fun as when I was 15 and the conversation was immediately over.

I had always thought that older men dropping their spouses of 30 years and hooking up with younger women was just a mid-life crisis reaction. Instead, it appears it is solely for prostate health reasons, and we all want to continue to do things that promote good health and fitness as long as we are able, right?

And now, what you have all been waiting for, the results of last week’s question:

    Those who thought I should have told the woman at Wal-Mart about the Hot Wheels car that didn’t get rung up – 0

    Those who thought I should have told the cashier at Wal-Mart about the Hot Wheels car that didn’t get rung up – 0

    Those who thought I should mind my own @#%*& business – 0

    Those who thought it was the stupidest question they had ever been asked – ALL

OK. It doesn’t mean I won’t conduct any more polls, but I’ll try to make them interesting, and not sleep inducing.

Adios for another week,

Just (God Bless Our Independence, But Enough of the Fireworks Already) Jack