Monthly Archives: September 2006

Starting Back

 Today was the first day since the race that Jean and I ran. Jean had a sore knee from the race and it still hurts some when she runs, so she stopped at 1 mile and walked. No need to aggravate an injury since there aren’t any races for a while. I ran with Corrine and Bill at an easy pace over a “Barry County flat” (for those who don’t live here, Barry County is hilly so there isn’t a place that’s really flat) four plus miles and felt great although it started raining when we got going and didn’t stop until after we had finished. Shades of Madison 2006.

Actually I’m not sure how far we ran and at what pace. Bill and I both have Garmin Forerunners. We started and ended them 7 seconds apart, so mine says we went 41 minutes and 15 seconds, ran 4.35 miles and our average pace was 9:30 per mile with a best pace of 8:03. Bill’s said we went 41 minutes and 22 seconds, ran 4.45 miles and our average pace was 9:20 per mile with a best pace in the low 7 range. So if they are GPS devices and they work off the same satellites, how can they be so much different when we run together? The “Monk” part of me is going nuts over this.

Jean and I leave Thursday for a few days in San Francisco to see the kids. Jean is freaking out because she has to leave her Thursday and Tuesday weight lifting group in someone else’s hands. I’ll try to keep her in control out there so she doesn’t go through the “personal trainer DTs”.

Next Sunday Matt and I will swim the Tiburon Mile. As many of you know it’s a San Francisco Bay swim from Angel Island to Tiburon. If you are interested, the web site for the race is . The last e-mail I received listed some of the elite swimmers that will be there and, I have to admit, I don’t know any of them. The e-mail read:

We are pleased to announce and welcome 14 year old phenom swimmer, Chloe Sutton to our field of Seeded Elite Swimmers. Chloe just took home the Gold Medal at the Pan Pacific 10k Open Water Championships in British Columbia and also captured the 10k National Champion Title earlier this summer. Just named to the National Open Water Team, Chloe will certainly be one to watch at the RCP Tiburon Mile Open water Swim.Other confirmed Elites for this year include:
Sara McLarty – Defending RCP Tiburon Mile Women’s Champion; 2005 USA Triathlon Professional Rookie of the Year;2005 Open Water World Championship 5k Gold Medalist
Brooke Bennett – Three-time Gold Medalist; four-time RCP Tiburon Mile Women’s Champion, 2nd in 2004
Erica Rose – 2006 Pan American 5k and 10k Open Water Gold Medalist, 2005 Open Water World Championship 5k Bronze Medalist, 3rd at the RCP Tiburon Mile in 2004
Evgeni Bezrutchenko (RUS) – 2005 World Cup 21k Silver Medalist; two-time podium finisher at the Tiburon Mile
Thomas Lurz (GER) – 2005 Swimming World Co-Open Water Swimmer of the Year; 2005 10k World Champion, German National Champion and European Open Water Champion

So in order for me to win this thing it looks like I’ll have to have a personal best swim. I’ve been swimming 2 miles each Monday, Wednesday and Friday all summer (except for this last two weeks) so I think I’m ready. It’s a nautical mile which is different than a regular mile. What is the difference, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you. A nautical mile is:

  • 1.852 km (exact) 1,852 meters
  • 1.150779 mile (statute)
  • 2025.372 yards
  • 6076.1155 feet
  • 1 arc minute (within 0.2 percent)

So what’s an arc minute, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you.

The nautical mile was historically defined as a minute of arc along a meridian of the Earth. It can therefore be used for approximate measures on a meridian as change of latitude on a nautical chart. According to WGS84, radius of curvature in a meridian plane is 6,399,593.6258 meters at the poles and 6,335,439.3273 meters at the Equator. By the definition of geodetic latitude, length of the minute of arc depends on the radius of curvature; distance to the angle (1 minute, in this case), not to the Earth’s center. This length equals to approx. 1861.57 meters at the poles and 1842.90 meters at the Equator. Length of a minute of arc defined by the geocentric latitude depends on the distance from the Earth’s center (and curvature). This length is greater at the Equator.

So what is WGS84, you ask? Well, I actually do know but, by popular demand, I’m not going to tell you.

OK. By now 99% of you are either:

    A) Bored to tears

    B) Pitying the geeks who understand it all

    C) Knowing that I’m actually insane enough to care about any of that crap

    D) Glad you were passing notes back and forth and missed this part of science class, or

    E) All of the above

Please don’t send me the results of the above test. I don’t want to know.

I’m sure the water will be cold and we’ll be wearing wetsuits. I know I’ll be wearing a swim suit, but Matt, being a surfer, goes “commando”. Let’s hope they don’t have wetsuit “peelers” at the end of the race like they do at Ironman races. The ultra-cold water could make that quite embarrassing…shades of the Seinfeld episode when George got walked in on while changing after a cold water swim…aka the “shrink” episode.

Since this e-mail is degenerating rapidly, I’d better quit before you all change your e-mail addresses and don’t tell me.

Just (I’m Eating Too Much And Feeling Like A Slug) Jack

Dangerous Recovery

 As most of you know the week or so after an Ironman race you shouldn’t do any swimming, biking or running. After that you should slowly start exercising again starting with swimming and then doing some easy biking and running. Since we’ve been training so hard for so long, we have a tendency to get post race blues and get antsy (is that a word?) to do something…anything!

There are lots of things out here at the cottage that I should have fixed but didn’t before the race so I’m starting to knock them off one by one. The last couple of weeks there has been a steady drip at the top of my water softener tank. Not the one that holds salt but the one that looks like an acetylene torch tank.

I took off the cover and the leak was coming from a small plastic plug. I don’t know what else it is supposed to do but if it just plugs a hole, why even have it? It has a screwdriver slot so I grabbed a screwdriver and turned it very slightly. The drip stopped and I was proud that I (mechanically inclined I’m not!) was able to fix it so easily. I came back a half hour later to check it to make sure the dripping had stopped and it was dripping much faster than it had been before I messed with it.

I figured it loosened up on its own so I tightened it a slight bit more. Just then the plastic plug came flying out along with a stream of water that hit me in the face and chest and I was immediately soaked. The stream went all the way across the basement (15 feet or so) so I had to get it stopped. I put my hand against the stream of water, went under a power cord (dangerous?) and shut off the water to the whole house. All my conditioning beer got wet and I didn’t want to lose the cardboard cases so I had to move them to “high ground” and get everything else away from the inch of standing water.

After a trip to Hastings to get a $3.29 plug, some salt for the softener and a new water filter I was back in business. The new plug was engineered a little differently so it didn’t break with very little pressure. I put it in, the leak stopped, and I was on to my next repair job.

I had three bags of salt so I carried them in from the car and put them in the softener. I grabbed the first one from the car and carried it downstairs on my left shoulder. Not a problem. When I got to the softener I didn’t have anything to cut the plastic salt bag with so I grabbed an awl from the pegboard where I keep my screwdrivers. I put the salt bag on the edge of the tank and stuck the bag with the awl and pulled it to the side. The bag opened and salt came pouring out into the tank, but I started to lose my grip on the bag. I don’t know what spazoid move I made but I ended up trying to grab the bag with both hands and I stabbed myself in the finger with the awl. It was a little painful since my fingers were covered in salt.

I got that to stop bleeding and I was on my way to the next project. The water filter is right next to the water softener so I thought it would be a good time to change that. I turned off the water to the filter, pressed the pressure relief valve (yes, I read the directions and that’s what it said to do), and took off the canister. The old filter came out and had a rubber gasket on the end so I salvaged that and cleaned the canister thoroughly.

I took it to the basement, inserted the filter, put on the gasket and screwed it back on. It said not to overtighten so I didn’t. I turned the water back on and water, again, sprayed all over the place. After a couple more tries it dawned on me that the old filter was one style (that needed a gasket) and the new filter was another style (that didn’t need a gasket). It didn’t say that anywhere in the directions but, if you’ve read any directions lately, you know they sound like they’re written by someone in a foreign country that doesn’t have a good command of the English language. Gasket out…filter in…didn’t leak…success!!

With that kind of track record it concerns me that I have a couple of projects that may be dangerous. The stool in the upstairs bathroom has some rust stains that I just can’t get out. I’ve tried everything and I think the rust is etched into the porcelain. I need to change the stool and the seat, but I’ve never done it. The instructions on the internet say an idiot can do it (they don’t say that, but they do imply it) but they haven’t met me. I’m concerned that I’ll make the switch, have a huge water leak, and create a costly water repair job to the entire downstairs ceilings and walls.

The other job is on the roof. The coaxial cable to the basement doesn’t work so I can’t get Dish Network down there. When I’m riding on the trainer I listen to the oldies on Ch 6005 (Ch 5 on Sirius) so I’d be able to hear it on the downstairs TV without turning the sound way up on the upstairs TV and blasting out the neighborhood. The ladder I would use to fix the cable is one that Jean’s Dad used to use and it’s seen better days. With that and my post bike wreck sense of balance, I could lay in the front yard for days before anyone came by to pick up Humpty Dumpty.

Maybe I should just clean the refrigerator and call it good?

Just (Finally Warm And Able To Move My Fingers) Jack

Race Report

 By now many of you have already heard that Jean, Larry and I finished the race at Ironman Wisconsin Sunday and none of us got hurt. That could be the end of the story, but if you’re interested, here are some of the details from the “Just Jack” point of view.

All week long before the race the weathermen talked about a cool front coming through the area and the temperatures were expected to be a high of 67 and a low of 52 with a 30% chance of rain. Well, they were about 30% right!!! I don’t know the exact numbers but I think the low was around 52, the high never got above 59, there was a 100% rain event from the time the race started until it was over and the wind blew from 10 to 20 mph all day long. I can’t describe the conditions as anything but BRUTAL.

The swim was the warmest I was all day. It was chilly when we got ready, but once we got in, the water temp was about 72 and was not uncomfortable. The waves were a different story. There was a strong chop and whitecaps on the lake. The wind was from the east northeast so the waves made the swim on the “back side” of the rectangular swim course difficult. On many occasions I turned my head to take a breath and was whacked in the face by a wave, either swallowing water or having to wait for the next time to get that breath.

Several times I went to take a stroke and was slapped in the face by the waves, but on one stroke a wave caught my left elbow and I could feel my shoulder joint strain. It took a lot of the strength out of the next few strokes and was uncomfortable for the rest of the swim, but nothing that really lasted too long and was gone by the middle of the bike. The mass of humanity in the water was awful. 2,475 athletes started the swim which was the most for any Ironman race. There were bodies everywhere and I fought for position the entire race. I was groped so many times by flailing arms that I felt like one of the “loose girls” at the senior prom.

The bike was worse. I came out of the swim a minute or so of when I expected, did a slow transition to the bike and was off. There were a lot of bikes around us so we had to go slow in town since we made lots of turns in tight areas and the roads were slippery from the rain. Once we got on the road to Verona, it was still crowded but at least you could pick up some speed. Without going into all the details about the ride (ask me sometime and I’ll tell you more than you want to know), all I can say is that it was difficult. The corners were slippery and I saw a few riders go down.

My speed was about where I expected until the second loop. By then the wind was a bit stronger, I was soaked to the skin, all my muscles stayed “tight” and never loosened up, and my body decided to release water. I’ll try to explain. I don’t know why it happens, but often, when the temperatures change from warm to cold, my body decides I don’t need to retain so much water, so I (excuse the expression) pee a lot. I went once when I got up at 4:15 AM, once again before we left the hotel, once after the swim and then I was fine until the second loop of the bike.

I had hydrated as planned and I had to pee again after stopping at the bike special needs area to fill up my camelback with Gatorade mixed with carbo pro. This is where men have an advantage over women (the only time we have an advantage). I pulled over to the side of the road in an abandoned driveway, stayed straddled on the bike, and cut loose. About halfway through he loop, I had to go again, pulled into another abandoned driveway, and repeated. A half hour later when I had completed the second loop and was near the spot where we turned off on the road to Madison, I had to go again and pulled into an entrance to a bike path.

The ride from that point to Madison was 14 miles and took less than an hour, but I had to go (had to go) twice more so I “let ‘er rip” while riding. I had heard about racers doing that and I said I never would but I was in a residential area, couldn’t wait, and I knew the rain would wash it away. Gross and disgusting…yes. Necessary relief…priceless. By the way…anyone want to buy a slightly used Trek bike seat? I had hoped for a 7 hour bike which, for me on that course, was possible. My bike computer time was around 7:13 or so but the stop at the bike special needs and the three pee breaks made the actual time closer to 7:30.

My ride into town was into the teeth of the wind and, by the time I made it to Monona Terrace where the bike transition was located, my hands were so cold I had trouble shifting. The last of the ride is up a helix to a parking level and I had to get the bike into my easiest gear, which I eventually did, but with much difficulty.

I had a long transition from bike to run just trying to get dry and warm. I saw several guys that were so cold, they were wrapped in thermal blankets and had dropped out of the race. The guy next to me was shivering so much he couldn’t undress himself, so he was done (under protest). I got on dry clothes, got my jacket out of my swim to bike bag (not a waterproof jacket), and was off on the run after another pee break.

I felt surprisingly good and was running at a comfortable pace for the first 10 miles. I was stopping at each aid station and drinking warm chicken broth, eating pretzels, drinking water and Gatorade, and felt good. At about the 8th mile I could tell my legs were getting very tired, my left achilles was stiff, but the muscles were still tight from the cold and I couldn’t get them to loosen up. By the 10th mile I went to complete muscle failure and I was reduced to a walk. I’d like to say that it was some kind of injury to save face, but it wasn’t. I hit my limit of endurance on that day under those conditions.

From there on in it was a walk. Oh I ran/shuffled in some of the spots where I could but I couldn’t go more than a half mile at a time and I was back to walking. I stopped in porta-johns to pee twice more so I was well hydrated. The porta-johns have a little funnel shaped “thing” in the corner that is supposed to act as a urinal for the men. I was so cold and shivering so much that I couldn’t keep the “stream” where it should be and the next person in there probably thought I was writing my name in pee all over one wall.

I drank either water, Gatorade or warm chicken broth at every aid station except the last one and I ate soggy pretzels, oranges, bananas and soggy cookies so my nutrition was up to speed. On a positive note I finished with a personal record time. On a negative note, my previous times were both 16:13 and a few seconds so 15:50 (yes, that’s 15 hours and 50 minutes) wasn’t that great. I was 34th out of 63 in my age group (my normal “middle of the pack” finish) and 13 out of those 63 didn’t finish.

Out of our friends from Grand Rapids, Libby finished about 4 minutes ahead of me after two flats on the bike, Ruth finished in 16:59:20 (yes, that’s 40 seconds from the time cutoff) and George (Ruth’s husband) didn’t make the time cutoff.

As for Jean and Larry, you’ll have to talk to them about their races. Jean ended up 2nd out of 10 in her age group after a treacherous swim, a decent bike considering that when she passed me on the second loop she couldn’t get her bike into the big ring and had to ride the rest of the bike in the small ring, and a run where she ran the first loop (13.1 miles) until her knee gave out and she too was reduced to walking. I haven’t had a chance to talk to Larry after the race but I know he got chilled, the muscles tightened up and cramped on the run, and he ended up 75th out of 121 in his age group.

I don’t usually do this but I’ll speak for all of us. Things didn’t go as we planned and we would have liked to have better races so it sounds like we’re all disappointed but we’re not. Given the brutal conditions, we’re all proud that we were able to “tough it out”, finish a race that 305 of the 2,475 that started couldn’t, and again we can call ourselves IRONMAN. This was Jean’s 5th, Larry’s 4th and my 3rd ( and probably last) but running up that last couple hundred yards with screaming fans cheering you on still brings a tear to my eyes. With blisters on both feet, we were cold, we were wet, and every muscle and bone in our bodies ached, but for that minute we were all three “on top of the world”.

Just (Ironman And Proud Of It) Jack


 The race is one week away (yikes!!) and we’re on the taper part of our training. There isn’t anything we can do now to improve fitness but the taper should keep us at our peak or so that we peak on race day (I never know which).

We did an easy bike yesterday. Larry was supposed to go 2 hours at an easy pace and I was supposed to go 2 to 3 hours at race pace, so we went 2:40 at an easier than race pace followed by a 20 minute run. The run was at a 9:02 pace which was a little faster than I had planned to go off the bike, but you know Larry and Bill. It’s testosterone. It’s chemical. It’s not their fault.

We couldn’t decide on a “for sure route” so we started out headed West (for Bill it was East). It was going to be a little cool and at coffee on Friday I said I didn’t want to go any later than 10 so Larry said meet at his place at 9 (Bill chimed in “What was wrong with 10?”). It was chilly and I was a little cool with a long sleeved “Primal” bike jersey. Bill rode with both long and short sleeved shirts and Larry wore a Trilanders jacket over his bike jersey.

We went over 131 and pulled into a “park and ride” lot. I thought one of them may have felt a call of nature so I turned my back and was staring out at the highway. I happened to turn around and they were both stripping down to their bike shorts and I turned away as fast as I could. They’re both grown men and what they do at rest areas along highways is their own business. I just hope I don’t read about them in the paper at one of those camera surveillance sting operations.

At about an hour and 30 minutes I mentioned that I could use a bathroom break sometime and if we were more than 20 minutes out I couldn’t wait for Larry’s house. So Larry, Bill and I broke the law again and relieved ourselves in front of nature and everyone who cared to look. Larry picked the spot and I thought it would be desolate but it was the dirt extension of a heavily traveled road and the cars were constantly coming up to the corner staring right at us. I really think they were all laughing “with” us, not “at” us. Several people stopped their cars and looked for sticks to poke their eyes out with.

Becky came out to the cottage last night and we cooked out on the grill. She always bring her wine mixed with diet squirt (she can’t figure out why that hasn’t caught on with one of the wine companies…they could make a fortune) and she was drinking it out of a “sippy cup”. She said she picked it up in the grocery store in the infant and child section. Yes, It’s the same Becky who claims she isn’t pregnant when we asked on our Torch Lake training trip. She said today on the boat ride after our morning run that the father may be “that guy that won the Tour de France” but she couldn’t remember his name. I just don’t know what to think.

We’ll be leaving on Thursday and will be back late Monday. Our original plan was to come back by way of the Upper Peninsula and stop at some friends’ house in Iron River to make up for a trip we didn’t make back in July when Jean did her “not so graceful” tumbling act off the bike and maybe get back late Wednesday. Now she’s working with a group of ladies to get started with weights and her first class is Tuesday evening. She’s bummed because she’ll miss the second class on Thursday and missing the following Tuesday is out of the question. So, Jack and Mum…maybe in Florida?

We’ll be swimming at the cottage tomorrow morning (Labor Day) since Diane isn’t home and we have a short (40 to 50 minute) race pace swim. It’s at 8 AM so anyone who wants to swim or go along side with the kayak and protect us, come on out. We’ll have coffee, bagels, English muffins, ham that Judy left today and the last two cinnamon rolls that Pat left today.

Keep us in your thoughts next Sunday. We’ll need all the good vibes we can get.

Just (Counting Down The Hours Until The Big One) Jack