Monthly Archives: August 2004

14 Days To Go And Confused

 It’s Summerfest weekend in Hastings and the weather has been rainy, so I have decided to adjust my schedule accordingly. Everyone knows I follow instructions to the letter, so those of you that just fainted probably think I still have lasting effects from the wreck that have caused me to hallucinate, but I’ll explain.

Saturday on the schedule is long bike day. For me it was to be a 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hour HR#2-3 ride, a little faster than race pace, and a good time to finalize nutrition plans for the race. Sunday morning is usually our group run. But the weather was rainy on Saturday and some of the Trilanders were running in the 10K race. So I decided to do my Sunday run on Saturday and do the long bike today. Now today is rainy, windy and cold.

So here’s the plan. I already did today’s run yesterday but, with weather conditions the way they are, it’s not good enough to have a meaningful long ride. So I’ll do Tuesday’s turbo trainer bike workout today with a short transition run after. I’ll do tomorrow’s swim using Wednesday’s swim workout. Since I have a hospital board meeting on Tuesday, I’ll do the Thursday track workout early in the morning, and then do Monday’s swim workout on Wednesday. Thursday I’ll replace the normal track day I will have already done Tuesday with today’s long bike and will work on the final plan of what to eat and when to eat it during the race. Friday is a scheduled day off (it’s taper week, you know) and then Saturday I’ll be back on schedule with my last long bike ride (2-3 hour HR#2) before the race. Make sense?

Today is the last day of the Olympics, so now I don’t know what I’ll watch on TV. The political ads are driving me more nuts than I already am, I’m getting a little tired of the controversy over Paul Hamm’s gold medal, and I’ve just about had it with the diving expert’s criticism of every single flaw in every single dive. If she knows that much about it she should be on the diving board rather than talking into a microphone with the benefit of slow motion instant replay.

Some of Jean seems to be rubbing off on Becky since they have spent so much time together lately. We were watching a short clip of one of the basketball games in the Olympics when she asked what the term “PITS IN PAINT” meant. Apparently her eyes aren’t as good as they used to be. The graphic was “PTS IN PAINT” and refers to how many points were made from near the basket in the painted part of the floor between the foul lines and the end line. I told her they counted the player’s armpits, then divided by two to see how many players were in the painted part of the floor. Unlike Jean, she didn’t believe me.

At 7AM there were 336 hours to go until the start of the race. It’s funny how fast 168 hours has flown by since last week. It seems like 168 minutes to me. I’m getting anxious for the whole race experience to start. Maybe I’ve built it up too much in my own mind, but I want to recapture all the hype and excitement I missed last year.

I sent a question to the “Ask the Coaches” forum at my training website about whether or not there is an underpants run at Ironman Wisconsin. There is one at the Hawaii Ironman, and I thought I saw something about one at Ironman Canada in one of the other questions and answers. For those of you that don’t know what this is, the Thursday before the big Saturday race, those who want to participate meet in front of a restaurant on Alii Drive in Kona wearing white underwear and do a short fun-type race (more like a parade). The rules follow as copied directly from one of the e-mails in the “Ask the Coaches” archives:

1. Any version of men’s white “mommy underwear” (also known as tighty whities, y-fronts, briefs, etc.) is permitted. Good sources include Duofold’s performance briefs made with Coolmax Alta or any variety of cotton three-packs available at Wal-Mart and other fine stores.
2. No boxers, long underwear, or stylish Euro-bikini briefs permitted.
3. Route must be completed by running, walking, or crawling. Heart rate monitors, black or argyle socks, bad hats, and earrings are optional.
4. While this event is considered a “moderately paced parade” rather than a “race”, pacing strategies are up to the participant.
5. No awards will be presented.
6. No aid stations will be provided.
7. Other rules to be decided as issues arise.
8. Rules committee (Tim Morris, Slice, Huddle, and Roch Frey) reserve the right to make things up as they go along.
9. All are welcome regardless of age, species (dog’s welcome), gender, race, religious beliefs and/or nationality.

I won’t say I’ve never done this before, but it wasn’t at 8AM, I was much younger then, and it wasn’t without the influence of alcohol.

Ta Ta ’til the Sunday before race day,

Just (Confused But Happy) Jack

P.S. I understand Pat Purgiel took a tumble on the bike and ended up with a cracked helmet, a head injury, and a night in the hospital. I though everyone learned from my experience not to do that. When I bumped my head, it made me talkative. I wonder if Pat’s bumping his head made him quiet. We’ll see.

504 Hours To Go

 As of 7AM this morning there were 504 hours to the start of “The Big One” but who’s counting? This is the time I get in the panic mode. It’s not fear, but concern that something is going to go wrong (an injury, a bike wreck, a bike mechanical problem that can’t be fixed, and on and on) and I won’t be able to do the race after all these weeks of training.

I’m told that last weekend was to be the inaugural Lansing Legislator Half Ironman. After waiting until 10 AM for dense fog to lift the Half was canceled and anyone who had signed up was forced to do an Olympic length race if they wanted to do anything at all. No refunds. We all know that when we sign up for races. So instead of doing a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run like they trained for, the racers did a .93 mile (1.5K) swim, 24.8 mile (40K) bike, and a 6.2  mile (10K) run. Bummer. That’s another one of my fears.

This past Wednesday I decided to swim in the pool to work on form and do some sprints. I also had a 7AM committee meeting at the hospital so it worked out better for me than going out to the lake. Wrong!! I didn’t wear my nose clip (I haven’t worn it in the lake for some time) and my sinuses got really inflamed from the chlorine. I have been sneezing and stuffed up ever since. I finally had to leave the house and go out to the lake before Jean asked me for the 50th time if I wanted to use her prescription nose spray (that’s illegal isn’t it?).

Jean came into the fitness center at around 6:20 and said she had driven out to Algonquin to swim, but it was so foggy she turned around at the store and came back to the pool. I understand that Bill, Eric and Becky swam anyway. Here’s the story as I was told, I think. Eric swam 4 lengths, showered and headed for work. The fog was so dense that he missed a turn at Hammond and Willits Roads and rolled his car. He wasn’t hurt but the car was totaled. Bill continued to swim until the fog, which had been hovering above the lake, dropped to the surface so it was impossible to see.

Becky started swimming back from Mark’s place which is across from Diane’s, swam around in circles and ended up back at Mark’s on the other side of the lake. It was impossible to see well enough to swim back to Diane’s so she started walking. In the meantime, Bill had finished swimming, gotten dressed, and went back down to the water to make sure Becky made it in OK. After several minutes Bill started to become very worried and thought about borrowing Diane’s Jet Ski and going to look for Becky. He was just about to go when he heard SLOSH! SLOSH! SLOSH! coming from the direction of the store. In a couple of minutes along came Becky, walking along the shoreline all the way from the other side of the lake.

I know the details aren’t exactly right, but that’s the gist of the story. The way rumors go, one could imagine that after Eric left, Bill and Becky were alone in the water, their actions shielded by fog. They decided to swim without wetsuits, got carried away, lost track of time and that’s why Becky was late for work. Bill’s wife is out of town and Becky is single. Hmmmm! You be the judge. I’m dumb enough to believe the fog story even though we all know that all three of them are smart enough not to swim in the fog when you can’t see where you are going and anyone in a boat couldn’t see you either.

Since this is a recovery week for me, the bike was a 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hour HR#1 easy ride. I didn’t feel comfortable in the aerobars until around the halfway point. I know I’ve become a real wimp when it comes to bike weather. 52 degrees at the lake was too cold to start out early so I waited until 11AM. By then there was lots of traffic which made the ride from the lake up Norris Road to Chief Noonday Road exciting.

I was riding the last stretch of woods between Yankee Springs Road and Gun Lake Road and had just dropped to the aerobars when I heard a noise that scared the heck out of me. Most of you haven’t hunted deer, but those of you that have know the sound of a buck when he catches wind of a person and is startled. It’s like the combination of the blow from a snot rocket and an exhale in the TB ward at the VA hospital. A strong exhale through the nose with a distinctive wheeze mixed in. Well, I heard that sound followed by thundering hooves and I was petrified that the deer would run out in front of me, I would slam into the side of it, and, as they say, “…it would be all over but the shouting”. Of course he didn’t and here I am to tell about it, but I thought I may have to change my bike shorts.

I went West to Bradley and turned South on A-45 for the first time. I rode that down to 124th Avenue, turned back East through the metropolis of Shelbyville, and ended up at Gun Lake at the Allegan County boat launch. While going down A-45 I caught sight of an animal running inside a fenced area. The fence was wood and was about five feet high. I could see the back bobbing up and down so I thought at first it was a pony. It turned out to be a huge dog. He got to the end of the yard, stood up at the fence and took a bite out of one of the fence slats. Splinters flew everywhere and he spit out a big chunk of wood. He had that look in his eyes that seemed to say “I wish that was your leg”. Even though the road was flat, I was immediately in heart rate 3-4.

I don’t care how hard you try. No one can ride Lindsay Road from North to South up the big hill and keep the ride in HR#1. I was on the high side of 3 and pushing 4. After the hill is a slight downhill and then another small hill. I pushed up the hill to see what I had left in my legs and felt the bike bouncing. It took me about 300 yards before I realized my bike doesn’t have shock absorbers and shouldn’t bounce. I kept hearing this awful sound and thought my head bracket was loose or my bottom bracket (on the bike, not my bottom) had gone bad. I turned on Pine Lake Road and went halfway to Norris Road before I thought to look at the tires. Of course the back one was almost flat. It had air, but from a start of 116 pounds it was probably down to 35 or 40.

I hate changing tires on the road and it always seems to be the back one, so you take the wheel off and let the chain lay in the sand and road grit. It took just a few minutes and I was back on it riding the last 20 minutes home. I’m never comfortable after a tire change because I fear that I missed whatever caused the flat in the first place so my new tube will also probably go. Then I’m down to no spares and what do I do then? It’s not fun being paranoid. Maybe I should stop thinking that way and learn to “go with the flow”.

Just (Paranoid and Definitely Insane) Jack

Long Weekend Off

 With the race four weeks from last Sunday, it seems wrong to take a long weekend off but I did. Mid-August is our annual trip the Upper Peninsula to see friends. The trip becomes a gambling (8 casino stops and I don’t gamble) and golf adventure(Friday, Saturday and Sunday at three different courses and I played my last golf on last year’s trip) followed by too much eating (that part I did).

I don’t have anything against gambling for those who enjoy it, but I don’t have fun doing it. I guess it’s the “thrifty” part of me that knows how hard I worked to make it in the first place that I don’t enjoy losing it. But each year I buy KENO tickets. Most years it is $10 worth; this year it was $20. I won $4 so I lost $16 and that’s enough for me. Two or three years ago I won $1,500 on a $2 KENO ticket so I figure I’m still playing on their money for 147 more years.

This year, when we played golf at the Casino at Watersmeet (home of the Nimrods-anyone see the nationwide TV commercial?), we got $3 off the Friday night buffet which we were going to eat anyway, and a $5 match coupon. With the match coupon you give them $5 and they give you a $10 roll of quarters. I still have the roll of quarters so, technically, I’m only down $8 (the $16 from KENO minus the $3 food savings minus the $5 they gave me over what I gave them in quarters).

Ron Lewis, one of the friends on the trip, says my math is all wrong. When you gamble and bet $10, the money is no longer yours. It’s on the table so it belongs to the casino. If you get $2 dollars back, you’re not “down” $8, you’ve won $2. If I don’t understand that I’ll never be a gambler. I do understand it, but I don’t see it that way and I’ll never be a gambler.

So the question is, if I don’t gamble and don’t play golf, why do I go on this trip at all? The answer goes back to why we do most things and that is family and friends. From these trips we have stories and memories you can’t buy. One of the guys that used to go on this trip died a few years ago, and it’s on these trips that we remember the stories and “bring him back” for a time.

Couple that with the fact that a 12 mile loop of my Sunday 15 miler was from one lake to another 6 miles away on the Michigan Wisconsin border through a desolate state forest. In the entire two hours I saw three cars and they all waved like they knew me. The peace and serenity that run brought me couldn’t be duplicated here. 

So on the training front, Thursday was a travel day there (Iron River in the U.P. is around 500 miles away), I ran 9 miles Friday, took Saturday off for golf, casino and a trip to Houghton, ran 15 miles Sunday, and Monday was a travel day back. Three days of rest in five days sounds like too much. But in the Q & A section of my training website, others have asked the question about the same type of break for weddings, business trips, family vacations, etc. and the coaches have said it probably does more good than harm. Some people need the physical recovery time, some the mental recovery time, and some still have to work to make a living.

So I’m ready to go back at it. I missed a 6-7 hour long bike and wasn’t in the water at all. The lake we stayed at was chilly and the night-time temp got down around 38 so I was happy to not get wet. The coaches say not to try and make up what you lost, but get right back into the groove. Since this is a recovery week, and I’ve already recovered, I will probably substitute last weekend’s schedule with this weekend (yes, the coaches say that’s OK) with a little longer bike but not a longer run.

It’s less than four weeks to go until the “Big Race” and I’m still not in panic mode.

Just (At Peace With The World) Jack

35 Days And Counting (Slowly)

 I’m ready for the “big dance” to start. It’s not that I’m sick of training, and I know in that the last six weeks we all go through lots of different emotions like “Why in the world did I sign up for this race?” or “I wish I had trained a little bit harder a little bit earlier”, or “I’m so sick of training I just want to get it over with”. But none of those have crossed my mind.

I told Gary Ivinskas, when he brought me a house warming gift of 6 Labatts Blue and, yes, we did sample them, that I get angry sometimes when I think that the bike wreck screwed me out of the fun. Yes, 14 or 15 hours of all out physical effort is fun, but it’s more than that. It’s the fun of riding through Verona at the halfway point on the bike when thousands of people are cheering you on. It’s the fun of riding up the toughest hill with a guy dressed like the devil chasing you. It’s the fun of going up a tough hill with crowds lining the bike path like you see on the Tour de France. It’s the fun of running with several different people over the 26.2 miles and talking about everything and anything. It’s the fun of crossing the finish line with your friends there waiting and talking non-stop about all the things that happened to you and to others in your view of the race.

So that’s what I’m looking forward to. I’m not going to win my age division unless all of the other guys get a last minute stomach virus and, even then, they would probably beat me. I’m not going to qualify for Kona, ever. But the fun is the race. To me, these other things are all secondary and not very important.

Becky, Jenifer, Len and Elaine all came out Friday evening to see the cottage and talk. It’s great to have friends around. Bill and Nancy didn’t stop by since they are on a short camping vacation on the Leelanau Peninsula. I think the real reason they left town is so Bill didn’t make the Sunday e-mail with one of his off-the-wall quips.

Len and Elaine talked about their recent trip to the finger lakes region of New York. They had a wonderful time and left late in the afternoon to come home. They hadn’t made reservations anywhere so they drove on to Hamilton, Ontario where they found a motel. Elaine says they should have known they shouldn’t stay there when they didn’t see any cars. They got up to their room and thought they would watch TV for a few minutes before going to sleep. They tried all the channels, but the only one that came in at all was channel 22. Len said, and I quote, “Look hon, they’re doing what we used to do”. It was a porn channel. Our guess is that the rooms rented by the hour and the first shift had already left.

So my thoughts went directly to Bill and Nancy when they drove back from Lake Placid. Bill says they got off the expressway and stayed in Hamilton, Ontario for the night. Bill’s comment to me was, and again I quote, “The motel was a little more expensive than I had planned, but it was worth every penny”. I won’t say he ever mentioned channel 22, but we all know my memory still needs a little work, so I’m not saying he didn’t. You be the judge.

This weekend is the longest training weekend of the whole 24 weeks, or is it next weekend? The long ride yesterday was supposed to be between 5 and 6 hours followed by a 50-60 minute run. My ride was 6:15 and I felt great other than a sore butt and a really sore big toe. My legs felt fresh when I started running, but at 21 minutes I got a little light-headed so I stopped and walked. I started feeling better and ran the last 10  minutes home but had a bad headache afterwards. I’ve been having headaches after hard workouts, but the doctor says that may be from the accident still, so we will be keeping an eye on them. I’ve learned to listen to my body and stop training when something unusual happens other than just being tired.

Today’s run was 140 minutes this morning and another 40 minutes late this afternoon. By splitting the long run day, you can get the long miles in but you leave enough time in the middle for the body to recover some. I’m not looking forward to that last 40 minutes but it’s part of the training and I’ll have all winter to rest.

By the way, I’ve decided to go to Kona with Jean. I thought about it a lot on the ride yesterday and I think it’s more important to be there to support Jean than to worry about my difficulty in watching her race. I’ve taken some good advice. Thanks, Jen.

Just (On The Road Again) Jack

Back To The Drawing Board

 Week 18 is history and I’m in the home stretch on this training schedule. Many of you know, as one of my “tune-up races”, I did the Steelhead Half Ironman in Benton Harbor/St. Joseph yesterday. There were several reasons I decided to do that particular race. I grew up in St. Joe (age 11 through high school graduation) so it was old home weekend (sort of….everything has changed). Also, I needed to know I could “go long” and a 6 hour race lets you know that. I finished so I guess I proved that part.

But the main reason was to test fitness level, nutrition and hydration so see that everything is where it should be. Hence the title this week, back to the drawing board. One of the cardinal rules in any race is “Don’t try anything new on race day”. So naturally, since I knew it would be a hot humid day, I took several Endurolytes before and during the race. They are electrolyte replacement capsules that help replace the salt, potassium, calcium, etc. that are sweated out during the race and I hadn’t taken any in a couple of years.

For the first time in at least two years I was “pukey” feeling on the bike and run. I also used too much Carbo Pro too soon in a too concentrated form. For the entire bike I felt bloated and nothing was emptying from my stomach and getting absorbed. Consequently I became dehydrated going into the run. The run started with an 11% grade hill in the first mile (it was at Rocky Gap Park where we used to have beach beer parties my senior year of high school so I’m sure it was payback). After mile three the run went through an old industrial area, over the bridge to St. Joe, over two more bridges to Benton Harbor, an out and back along the St. Joe River, an out and back down Main Street, and back to the start at Jean Klock Park. None of those 10 miles had any shade and by then it was around 83 degrees without a cloud in the sky.

I make it sound like a dismal race for me and it wasn’t. I did as well as I could for the conditions. The run was hot and, other than the aid stations where everyone walks through, I walked about 400 yards (the two uphills on the bridges coming back from Benton Harbor to St. Joe plus a short walk to get out and take another endurolyte capsule). My total time was 6:08:49 and consisted of a 44:17 swim, 5:45 transition, 2:54:28 bike, 2:37 transition, and a 2:21:42 run. I can’t compare the times to any other race because each venue is different.

So now in the next 6 weeks I need to work on the nutrition part of the race. Going into Madison I want to do everything I can that works for me. That won’t necessarily mean a perfect race there either, but I’ll feel like I’ve done all I could to make it work.

I may need to work on my pre-race mental state as well. Bill, Nancy and Becky came over Friday night before the race for pizza and wine. I only had a glass or two, but the conversation turned from a nice genteel discussion of how to decorate MY HOUSE, to a repeat of Bill’s comment on the male way to decrease prostate problems, to a discussion of one of Jean’s classmates who used to work at the Algonquin store and, for fun, would help a male Chihuahua reach climax, to a discussion of Becky’s dog breeding business where she used to do the same thing to get rid of the old sperm before a breeding session (not her’s, the dog’s).

Saturday evening was spent at an outdoor restaurant with Gary Ivinskas, Jean, Becky and one of my high school friends, Skip, and his wife. That conversation turned to the time, before Jean and I were married, that we went down to St. Joe with another couple to charter a fishing boat. We met Skip at the Elks club and proceeded to drink a little more than we should. I woke up the next morning with a terrible hangover and, since Jean and I weren’t married, I was sleeping alone on the bench where you sit down to take off your shoes, naked, with Jean’s sweater wrapped around my neck (just joking Mom).

So my pre-race focus and planning were out the window. It did take my mind off the fear of the race and the bad spots in the road but it didn’t help me organize. Jean and Becky both noticed that I have difficulty focusing on tasks after the bike accident. That will (I hope) get better with time. During my set-up at the race it took me a long time to arrange the bike and run paraphernalia. Eventually I remembered everything (the swim cap was located at the last minute) except my heart rate monitor. I remembered that on the shuttle ride to the North Pier where the swim started.

By now most of you know that Jean had a good race at Lake Placid and qualified for the World Championships at Hawaii in October. She has the support of a lot of people and will continue to train for that one after a recovery week off.

Just (Nose to the Grindstone on Nutrition/Hydration) Jack