Monthly Archives: October 2006


 This week’s e-mail is a day later than usual for a couple of reasons. As you all must know by now, we plan to head for Florida on Wednesday of this week. I’ve been getting the cottage ready for the long cold winter and have moved a lot of my clothes and all the food into town.

Being the frugal person that I am, I’ve set the thermostat at 50 degrees since no one is there most of the time, unlike Jean who sets the thermostat at around 57 and we are here all the time. I usually go out each day to check on things and do some more things around the house, but it’s cold enough that I don’t sit around watching TV or reading the paper. If you’ve ever sat on a 50 degree toilet seat, you’d also know that you don’t linger long in the bathroom either.

Most of you also know that my son Matt has been teaching me the art/science of brewing beer. I’m also sure you all know that I’ve brewed ales, but haven’t brewed any lagers because they have to ferment at colder temperatures than ales. The good news is that the yeast that I’ll use to brew an Irish Red lager likes temperatures around 50 degrees.

So this is an ideal time to brew a lager and let it do its primary fermentation in the basement while I’m in Florida. When I come back around November 25th, I’ll bottle the Kolsch that’s been in the refrigerator cold conditioning for the last couple of weeks. Then I’ll transfer the lager to the five gallon carboy and cold condition it in the fridge until spring. So Larry and Terri, we’ll have to do another taste test next spring to see if we like Irish Red ale or Irish Red lager best. The ingredients are the same except for the yeast so we’ll see.

So that’s a long explanation for the first reason I didn’t go out to the cottage and write my normal Sunday epistle yesterday. It’s too cold to sit there that long and my fingers don’t work after five minutes, so I’m writing it in town and e-mailing it to myself out there. The computer out at the lake is where I have kept my address book up to date so I’ll go out later and forward this to all of you. Sound geeky?

The second reason I didn’t go to the lake yesterday is that Jean and I went and looked at a couple of the condos where Judy lives. Jean is thinking that, at this point in our lives, the maintenance of an older home is getting harder and more expensive. Since we go to Florida for a while in the winter, she would feel more comfortable if we left the condo empty with neighbors who would watch over it rather than the big house in town.

We met Ron at 1:45 and didn’t get home until 4:15, so that pretty well shot the afternoon. I didn’t want to drive out and spend $5.00 for gas, and sit in a cold house writing this, and drive back here in the dark so there you have it. Not cheap…thrifty! Anyway, Jean liked the last condo we looked at and wanted someone to write a check right then, so we’ll see what she thinks after a good nights sleep. I’ve told her…I’ll rephrase that…I’ve asked her to think long and hard and be absolutely certain she wants to sell the house in town before she does it and regrets it later.

I’ll be off the air for a while until I get things set up in Florida. Good luck to Martin and Jim at Ironman Florida next Saturday. I’m sure they’ll both do well and we’ll be there to supply race support. I’ve been commissioned to take Judy’s place as the “The Happy Snapper” and take some pictures. I usually take my camera for a long ride, get it out at the last minute, and snap a few pictures as our friends are pushing their bikes to their rooms after the race. Hopefully Jean and Becky will remind me to start a little earlier.

Congratulations to Diane, Laura, Laura’s sister-in-law Stacy, Libby, Liz and Pat on their finish at the Grand Rapids half marathon yesterday. Anyone else? I haven’t heard much about the race but Jean heard some from Judy so she’ll pass it on to me. Diane and Mike and Jean and I sat at the same table at a cocktail party last Monday and Diane must have “caught my blister” from Ironman Wisconsin beacuse I heard that she pulled up lame at mile 12 or so with a blister. No, we didn’t play “footsie” under the table…she must have gotten it through my shoes…as a doctor she should know better. Anyway, she decided not to lay down and quit and toughed it out only to finish 4th (the top three get awards) by 9 seconds in her age group.

I had my annual back spasm after moving a plant for Jean last Wednesday, so I thought it would be good to exercise it by raking leaves at the cottage the rest of the day, carrying 9 bags of leaves to my car, and dropping them off behind the city garage. That didn’t help much so the next day I helped Jean bag and carry 14 bags of leaves from the house in town to the same place at the city garage. Knowing that running is always good for a sore back, I ran five miles with Larry and Paul yesterday.

Today I plan to spend three hours brewing beer and cleaning up and then the boys from next door and I will take in the dock at the cottage. Between carrying one end of all three dock sections, each weighing about 80 pounds, and standing in waist deep 45 degree water wrestling the posts out of the lake, I should do myself in. Luckily I’ll be sitting in one position all day Wednesday and half a day Thursday on the way to Florida, so that should make it feel better.

Just (Not As Smart As I Thought I Was) Jack

Ate Too Much

 Last evening was the annual Trilanders dinner where we all get together and talk about what races we’ve done and what races we expect to do next year. It was fun to see so many of us get together, but not all could make it. Some can’t make the Sunday morning runs and others can’t make the Saturday long rides, the Wednesday time trials, the Monday/Wednesday/Friday swims or the Thursday spinning class so it’s a way to hook everyone together.

Thanks to Bill for organizing the dinner, Judy “The Happy Snapper” for providing many of the pictures, Corrine for organizing the pictures and Martin for the computer work to put the slide show together. As I watched the slide show and looked around at peoples’ reactions, I knew that we were all there for one reason. Not all of us swim, or bike, or run and, yes, a few of us do all three, but we have become a pretty close family of health nuts.

Every person there got involved in Triathlon or running for a different reason and it would be fascinating to hear all of those stories. When you see what’s going on in the world today, and look around the room last night, we have a pretty special group of people.

OK. Enough of the sentimental stuff. Conspicuously absent from the triathlon pictures was Jon Anderson or “King J.D.” as he was named in the story of how the Trilanders were formed. He has had some health issues going on so I asked him how he was progressing and what his injury was. Being a healthcare professional he explained it in medical terms, so when I asked him to put it in layman’s terms, he called it “butt muscle tendonitis”.

Even though I’m on the hospital board, I don’t believe that I know everything there is to know about medicine, but have read that tendonitis often comes from overuse. So the way I see it, Jon has been injured for almost a year for using his butt too much. That’s not something I would openly discuss if I were him.

Along the same lines, I was talking with Sam and Colleen about their upcoming “Iceman” race. As many of you know, I had a short career on the mountain bike circuit, but I do know a little about that particular race. This will be Sam and Colleen’s first time and we were discussing how much sand there is on the course and how rough some spots are. He said that was OK because Colleen had a “soft tail”. I told him that he should keep his wife’s physical attributes to himself, but he insisted it was a mountain bike term. Before you think the alcohol was clouding my thoughts, I was drinking ice water all night.

Today’s run reminded me of Ironman Wisconsin. It was raining the entire run, the temperature was around 47 degrees, but there was very little wind. Now it’s gotten a little colder and the wind is blowing at least 20 mph, so it’s getting worse. No, I’m not going out on a bike ride this afternoon to show how tough I am. I admit to being a weather weenie and can’t wait to get down to Florida. Of course I’ll whine about it being too hot and humid, but if I didn’t, you’d think that aliens had taken over my body.

Congratulations to our friend from Hudsonville, Jim Dyke, on his Hawaii Ironman finish. Jim is 61 and completed the race in 13:20:36. I understand the heat was stifling but there wasn’t much wind on the bike. By the way, the winner in that age group, which will be my age group in 6 weeks, did the race in 11 hours flat. Wow!

In the last couple of weeks I’ve given a lot of thought to the general lack of understanding, compassion, and forgiveness in the world today. Just when I think I stand above the rest, along comes the guy who shot ten Amish girls in Lancaster County Pennsylvania and five of them died. The interviews with the Amish people all showed that they had forgiven the guy already. If my daughter had been one of the girls in that classroom, and the guy wanted to die himself, I’m sure I would have helped him along the way. So maybe I’m not as far down the line as I thought.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t plan to become Amish. On the one hand I wouldn’t have to worry about what to wear or what colors look good on me. On the other hand, the beard would make my pitiful swim even slower, it’s a long buggy ride to Florida and Jean wouldn’t be able to use her cell phone.

Just (Wish I Had Taken In The Dock Yesterday)


 It’s weeks like this last one that make me wonder why I’ve waited this long to go to Florida. The plan is to leave on November 1st, the day after the hospital board meeting and, of course, Halloween on Green Street. It’s not like “the Castro” in San Francisco where the streets are closed down and the adults, for one day out of the year, can dress in drag and everyone thinks it’s OK. But, given good weather, we could see upwards of 1,200 trick or treaters and it is kind of fun.

Since I’m not really into Halloween and used to hide out wherever I could to not be around when the little beggars came to the door, I kind of enjoy being the guy that brings candy to Jean as she sits out in the driveway in her witch’s outfit. Apparently giving barrels of sugar carbs to kids is thirsty work ‘cuz Jean usually asks me to make Margaritas about halfway through the evening. I have to test them first to make sure they’re fit for human consumption.

I never knew my father to drink anything with alcohol in it, but if he had, Margaritas may have been his choice. He loved tart things and would have liked them, but probably would have sworn they didn’t contain alcohol before he had a couple, then went off to bed a little earlier than usual.

We’ll be leaving for Hudson in two and a half weeks so I’m starting to slowly close up the cottage. I called to set up a time for the marina to come pick up the pontoon and they scheduled it for this past Thursday. For those of you who don’t live near here, we got a lot of snow Thursday. The wind blew hard and it never got above 35 or so. Since it was so warm, the snowflakes were those big huge wet ones that stick to everything. There were lots of limbs down in the area, but when we started to whine about it, along came the reports of Buffalo, NY getting two feet of snow. It made our 8 inches or so seem puny.

Kyle Matteson from Matteson Marine called at about 2:10 and asked if 3:00 would be OK and I said yes. It gave me a chance to go down and brush the snow off the mooring cover and make sure the engine would start. I did all that and the engine started easily and ran smoothly. Kyle called at 2:45 and said he was leaving the marina and would meet me at the boat landing on Crooked Lake at 3:00.

I went down, kicked the snow and ice off the mooring lines and pushed off the dock. I got the boat turned around and headed for the landing when the island disappeared. It was less than 600 yards away and I couldn’t even see it because a snow squall was coming through. I pointed the boat at what I thought was the right direction, which it was, and went around the island headed toward the landing. I couldn’t see the landing until I was about 100 yards away. Between the snow sticking to my glasses and the wind blowing the snow and boat around, it was not a fun ride.

We got the boat out, all buttoned up, and Kyle brought me back to Sprague Road. I didn’t have him come down to the cottage ‘cuz there are no turn arounds and he was hauling a 24 foot pontoon, so I walked the last seven tenths of a mile. By the time I got home my hands were wet and frozen and all my clothes were wet. I closed the garage door, locked the house up, jumped in the shower, changed into a sweatshirt and pajama bottoms, and I was in for the night at 3:45. I finally warmed up on Friday at about 4:45.

I should fess up to an update on last week’s e-mail entitled “Back In The Saddle”. Apparently I fell off the horse because, after Sunday’s run, I didn’t do anything all week but a mid-week 4 mile run to the high school and back. This week I plan to start lifting weights again and may get back into it, but I may not. I think that you have to be mentally ready after a big race, no matter what it is and I don’t know whether I’m there or not. I am anxious to get to Florida and ride the trails down there again, but I have a hard time forcing myself out in the cold to do a bike ride.

No need to hurry. No races are coming up but my waistline is suffering.

Just (Not Wanting To Be Called Porky Again) Jack 

Back In The Saddle Again

 No, I haven’t regressed into singing old country and western songs and I haven’t taken up horseback riding. My only exposure to horses was when we had first moved to Kalamazoo after my high school graduation. I was somewhat active in the church youth group. I’ve probably told this story before, but one weekend the group went to a riding stable near Paw Paw and, I use the term loosely, rode horses.

I had never ridden before so they gave me the oldest, most docile horse they had. If you remember the song “The Old Gray Mare She Ain’t What She Used To Be”, it was written with that horse in mind. It was an old, swaybacked, gray mare and she struggled to keep up with the rest of the horses even at a walking pace. She seemed to like grapes and, as we rode through the vineyards, she would stop and eat them and I couldn’t get her to move.

Apparently the grapes gave her digestive distress and, to put it delicately, she broke wind…a lot of wind. When I did get her going you could tell her eyesight wasn’t what it used to be either because she would stumble over every rock or log on the path. I wasn’t having much fun and thought I would whine a little (you know me…a whiner all my life) and I would get a more spirited horse. Just then one of the younger horses took off out of control with the prettiest girl in the youth group laying flat on the horse’s back, holding the reins by the very ends, with her head bouncing off the horse’s rump. I stuck with the old nag.

Anyway, back in the saddle refers to yesterday’s 24 mile bike ride out to the Shell station and back and today’s run around Algonquin Lake. It felt great to be back on the bike after IM Wisconsin and not have to go anywhere special or ride at a kicked up intensity. The run was just a 4.2 mile run but Larry and I ran with a couple youngsters and eased around the lake at a 9:09 pace. Slow for you good runners…a “faster than I need to go” pace for The Old Gray Mare (Stallion…not Gelding) of the running group.

I’ve been doing nothing for a month and I’m ready to start back. No races in mind and no real training pattern to follow, but I need to get back to some kind of activity or I’ll lose my mind and gain all the weight back that I lost last year. It’s been nice to not have a schedule, but that can only go so long before it gets boring. I look forward to the winter rides in Florida with our Florida friends and running without having to bundle up to start and shed clothes as we go. We only have a couple of running routes from the mobe, but this year we may branch out and drive to a good running spot as if we were going to the Trilander’s house that was hosting this week’s run.

I know I’ve said that I came out of Ironman Wisconsin and The Tiburon Mile with no injuries, but I may have been hasty. I still have no visible injuries, but I snorkeled up a lot of the water from Lake Monona in Madison and San Francisco Bay between Angel Island and Tiburon, and I may have snorkeled in a bug. My sinuses have been plugged for the past couple of weeks and I seem to be teetering between uncomfortable stuffiness, a sinus infection, or a cold based in the sinuses. Whatever the malady, this is my whine of the week. I don’t feel quite up to par. Maybe bogey…maybe double bogey…but not par.

At the Saturday morning coffee get together, Larry talked about the new Ironman race next year at Louisville, Kentucky. It will be the inaugural event and will be similar to Wisconsin as far as terrain goes. Larry plans to enter and he got a “qualified no” from Bill. I’ll leave it at that. I still think that if I decide to do another Ironman Race, it will be either Ironman Florida or The Great Floridian. The terrain and weather at Ironman Florida seem to fit me better, but I was the only one of our group that trained for The Great Floridian and couldn’t do it because of injury six weeks before the race. I’d still be smart to retire from Ironman length races and stick to halves. It’s a better distance for me and isn’t as punishing on the body.

Better close. It’s a nice day out…maybe the last decent day of the year here in Michigan.

Just (Cleaning Up The Beach And Loving It) Jack

Tiburon Mile

 To quote an old Henny Youngman joke (most of you are way too young to have ever seen Henny Youngman, but he was the king of corny jokes), “I just flew in from San Francisco and boy, are my arms tired.” Actually we did fly in from SF late last night and, from the Sunday swim, my triceps are tired.

As for the swim…I hadn’t swam in three weeks since Ironman Wisconsin, the water seemed especially cold, my left shoulder kept wanting to pop out of joint (4 times) as it did at Madison, but I thought I had a good swim. My time was 6 minutes slower than it was two years ago and so was Matt’s, but that could be a difference in currents.

They said the water was 61 degrees, but it seemed very cold in the bay on Angel Island where we started from. I could feel it getting warmer as we got out of the bay but ran in and out of cold currents all the way across. At the mouth of the harbor at Tiburon I went through an especially cold current for about 10 meters, then it turned warm (tolerably cold) again.

For what it’s worth, two years ago I was 177th out of 254 in the wetsuit division and this year I was 227th out of 281. Slightly worse in the overall standings, but I really don’t care. I’m not a swimmer and this is one of the premier open water swims in the world, so it attracts good swimmers.

I went to do the race with my son, Matt, and we had fun. I use the term “we had fun” loosely. On the way over to Tiburon, Matt didn’t seem as happy to have signed up as I was. I told him “Remember those times when you were growing up and you told me you were going somewhere, but you actually went to a different place that I wouldn’t have approved of? This is a payback, having to swim in a race you wouldn’t have signed up for if it wasn’t for dear old Dad”. You can tell Matt is a chip off the old block because we celebrated the race by going to a brewpub and afterwards bottled about nine gallons of home brewed beer.

Jean and I had fun in San Francisco going to Alcatraz for a tour and walking all over town. On the negative side, the blister that I got at Ironman Wisconsin apparently hadn’t healed completely and it caused a lot of pain the farther we walked. Most of you know that not doing something every minute with Jean along isn’t an option, so I was stuck. After Alcatraz we got lunch at a surf oriented tourist restaurant called Wipe Out at Fisherman’s Wharf where the food mimicked the name. They were out of Anchor Steam (the signature beer of San Francisco), the service was slow, the coffee (decaf) was lousy, the special pineapple cole slaw had no pineapple in it, and the fish and chips at the world famous fisherman’s wharf weren’t anything special.

I was so distraught, we went to the Buena Vista for Irish Coffee. They claim to have invented Irish Coffee, which is refuted by the Irish of course. For those who have never had Irish Coffee, in a heated glass you pour a shot of Irish Whiskey, add three cubes of sugar, fill it within a half inch of the top of the glass with coffee and top it with a layer of cream. 

You would think that with a name like Cavanaugh, Jean would love it but she doesn’t like whiskey at all. She tried hers and decided I should finish it for her and she got some Chardonnay. Our waiter was good about it. Luckily he saw that I didn’t mind finishing Jean’s, so when he had an extra Irish Coffee for another table, he gave it to me to drink the mistake. Unluckily I felt obligated to leave a five dollar tip. Luckily we were riding the bus and I wasn’t driving. Unluckily the bus stop was several blocks away. Luckily the pain in my blister miraculously disappeared for a couple of hours. Unluckily the pain in my head got worse in a couple of hours. Luckily…OK, OK. I’ll quit with the lame jokes.

It was great to see Matt and Anna again. When they live so far away the reunions aren’t often enough but I enjoyed every minute of them. They both seem to be happy with where they’re at (physically and mentally) and they both have a great group of friends.

On Saturday Matt, Tonya, Jean and I went up to Guerneville and looked over the course for the Vineman Triathlon. They have a half ironman and a full ironman on different weekends in July or August. The swim is in the Russian River at Guerneville, the bike traverses through wine country past about 30 wineries, and transitions from swim to bike in a different town a few miles away. The bike course is somewhat technical. I would feel intimidated but it’s a bike that Jean liked and Jon Anderson would love. For all the mountains around there it is just a “rolling” bike with only a couple 300 to 400 foot climbs. Is that race in our future? We’ll see.

We never get over the people we see on Haight Street. There are a number of homeless street bums. A good share of them are our age that probably burned out in the sixties, but there are quite a few young dropouts that don’t want anything more out of life than to hang out and beg for money. The vast majority of the people we see are normal but don’t dress as we do nor as young people do in Hastings. We snicker at some of their outfits, but I’m guessing there are couples sitting in Magnolias (a brew pub at Haight and Masonic) who look at us and see oddly dressed pilgrims from the Midwest.

It makes me think about what “normal” is and I guess it’s a state of mind. My normal isn’t necessarily the same as your normal or anyone else’s normal. If the world were filled with my “normal”, it would either be too dull or too “off the wall” to imagine. So I guess it’s only OK to snicker if I don’t mind having people snicker back.

Just (Getting Weird Even For Me) Jack