Monthly Archives: January 2010

Modified Race Report

For all of you who didn’t know, ten of our Multisport Club, The Trilanders, did the Phoenix Rock and Roll Marathon…one, and Half-Marathon…nine. Since I was the last to finish, I’ll give you a quick, down and dirty version of the results.

Diane finished first, hopped in a shuttle to a local hotel, and flew out by 3PM. They tell me she was in the 2:08 range for the half. Jean ran the entire run, still hasn’t checked her time, but thinks she is in the 2:20 range. Patti and Nancy started out together, did finish but not together, and no one has told me what their times were, so there. Stacy started with Jean, started feeling not so well, and finished, but was quite sickish for quite some time. I don’t know her time either. Tom started several corrals in front of me, told me his entire training schedule included 15-18 miles of running (total) between Memorial day weekend and the race. He says his time was in the 3:15 range, even with all that training.

Judy and Kevin were supposed to start in corrals 22 and 23, I think, but moved ahead and started way before I did. They walked most of the race and finished in the 3:30 plus range which included two long bathroom breaks. Not the “reading the newspaper” long, but had to wait a while for a porta john to open up. That leaves two of us. Bill did the Marathon and had his usual pre-race barf to start things out right. He had trained well, but was having some achilles issues during training. A short version of his race goes like this…he was on pace until mile 18 or so. The sick-to-the-stomach feeling reared its ugly head again for a couple of miles. He then hit the proverbial “wall”, and his pace slowed. Sometime during the last six miles his quads, yes both of them, cramped, and he limped into the finish in 4:40 or so. His first and, he says, last Marathon. Congratulations Bill!!

That leaves me, and I know all the gory details. Most of you know I’ve been having right knee issues since May. I tried some limited running and in September ramped it up. The knee rebelled and I couldn’t run at all since then. The most I had done was a couple of five mile walks in Florida, and a couple of 4.38 mile walks in Phoenix. So who in their right mind would actually do the 13.1 mile half marathon? No one, which proves that I’m legally insane.

The debacle began before the race ever started. I got an e-mail from the race director who said that I had two entries to the race. One would be canceled and my entry of $85.00 would be refunded on my credit card. I sent back an e-mail saying there must be some mistake and that I had only been charged once in September. She sent back a response that said someone else must have signed me up and that my money would be refunded. I responded by asking if there was more than one John Walker. She sent back an e-mail saying that they matched name, birth date and e-mail address, so unless there were two people with all of those things the same, I would be refunded my entry. I sent back an e-mail saying no one had taken responsibility for signing me up, so I shouldn’t get a refund. She responded by saying “have a nice race”. Case closed.

I should have known that things may not go well. When we all went down on Friday to pick up our packets, I got mine right away. I had told them when I signed up that I should finish in about 2:10. With the knee thing going on, I didn’t update that information, knowing that I could move back in the starting area to a later corral. For those of you who don’t know what a corral is, it’s just what you would think. All the people who plan to run at a similar pace are placed in a group, separated by clotheslines. The fastest start first and then the corrals leave at equal intervals, but your race time doesn’t begin until you cross the start line.

My packet said that I expected to finish the race in 4:40 (not 2:10), so they put me in corral 26, the very last one. Since I was going to walk the race anyway, I didn’t mind. But when I went to pick up my race shirt, they had medium for my shirt size, so that’s what I got. You all know that there’s no way this body is getting into a medium t-shirt without me looking like 10 pounds of crap stuffed into a 5 pound bag. Apparently they deleted the wrong John Walker, or they changed all the details to get back at me for all the e-mails. At any rate, the race started, and it was 47 minutes before I crossed the start line.

I walked what, for me, was a brisk pace (16 minute miles), never stopped for anything, and finished at a 16:45 minute mile pace. The knee was sore every step, but not sore enough to quit. Afterward it didn’t bother me any more than if I had done a 4 mile walk at a slower pace. I forgot to hit my Garmin at the finish line and hit it a minute or two later, so I think my time was 3:37ish. I was happy with that considering I had no business doing the race at all, but my feet were another matter. Since walking is a different foot plant and push off than running, I had forgotten about the issues I have with long walks. Blisters!! I had a blister the size of a silver dollar on the pad of my right foot, one the size of a quarter on the pad of my left foot, and one the size of a quarter on the bottom of my left heel. My big toenail on my right foot had turned a blue (several shades) and was on its way to black.

Afterward I walked like I had done an Ironman race, but the only thing sore was my feet. The blisters are not sore any more, but my big toe throbbed all last night and all day today. Jean picked up some peroxide, I have a needle in my dop kit, and I’m contemplating drilling a hole in my toenail with the needle to relieve the pressure. I cringe just thinking about it, but the throbbing is keeping me awake and Jean doesn’t want me catching up on my sleep while barreling down the road at 70 mph.

Just (Where’s The Doctor When You Need Her) Jack

We All Can’t Be Perfect

img_0860.JPGFirst of all, my apologies to all of you with dial up that hate getting e-mails with pictures attached. If you, like I used to do, download the e-mail without the picture, you won’t understand what I’m talking about. I’ve walked by this Saguaro Cactus three times now (actually four if you count today’s out and back walk). The first time I saw it, I thought to myself all the captions you could put on a picture like; “Polluted? What do you mean this land is polluted?” or; “Arizona Postcard Contestant Rejected” or; “I remember everything until the 9th shot of Tequila—I don’t feel so good” and, you know me, I could go on and on. I went out and took a picture and had planned to get a few laughs about it.

Then I got to thinking. I know! Dangerous! What I thought about was that the cactus started out in a very harsh environment, trying to get enough of a foothold to grow. It struggled to find its niche in that particular spot and probably had to defeat several other plants just to survive. The struggles it endured show in the “arms” that broke off, or twisted the wrong way, or the holes that the birds pecked in its skin. And it still is there, hanging around until the land is bulldozed down for another development. It is what it is, and what we see on the outside, and make jokes about, don’t begin to praise the strength and perseverance it took to make it this far.

So now is the time I’m supposed to compare that cactus to an old broken down man (me, at the moment, with the knee thing going on) and say something about how we shouldn’t judge something by what we see. Some of us will never look like the guys on the cover of Men’s Health, so maybe we shouldn’t be ashamed of what we look like. What we think are defects and malformations may be scars from many courageous battles that were fought and won. But that would make me sound too preachy and it’s way too deep for my intellect. So let’s just say it’s a nice picture and leave it for you to interpret for yourself.

In my last e-mail, I failed to mention that Rocky took me to a New Orleans Saints game, my first regular season professional football game. They only had one loss at the time, ended up losing that game, and the next. But it was a fun game to watch and we had a good time. The only downside was the guys sitting behind us. There always seems to be someone in the stands that everyone hates, and these guys were, by far, at the head of that list. To say they were foul mouthed would be an understatement. Every swear word you could possibly think of, and some that I didn’t even know, came spewing out of their mouths non-stop. They were extremely derogatory toward women, and described them in every degrading way you could imagine. The plus side was that the game lasted so long they began to sober up (yes, drunk to the point of losing the power of speech) and the early hangovers were setting in. We had fun afterward touring the location of Rocky and Nina’s rehearsal dinner and riding around in the French Quarter chauffered by Nina’s mother.

We think we’ve decided to head for Michigan shortly after the race on the 17th. We’ll probably leave when the weather looks like we can make the three day drive without heading into storms. We plan to get back no later than the 24th so I can have a day to prepare for my board meeting on the 26th. If the travel weather looks bad, I can fly back and Jean can drive back when it clears up. At 100 miles a day, she should make it by Super Bowl Sunday…who’s having the party?

Just (Waiting Around For The Trilanders To Get Here) Jack

Lost In Arizona

Well, actually I’m not lost, but you don’t realize how much you rely on a computer until you don’t have one at your fingertips 24/7. While we were in Florida, you probably remember, the rental didn’t have a computer hookup, so we had to go to the activities center to pick up the wifi signal. We stopped at Rocky and Nina’s for a couple of days, and they didn’t have wifi. We could use their computer to check e-mails, but it didn’t have my address book in it, so there was no way for me to send e-mails from the yahoo website without knowing what the e-mail address is.

Now we’re at Kevin and Stacy’s in Arizona and, since they’re only here on short vacations, they don’t have a wifi signal here either. Luckily, we’re able to use Stacy’s parents’ computers and hook into their wifi, so we aren’t totally incummunicado. We were sitting here last night watching the Fiesta Bowl and talking about Kevin and Stacy’s condo in Middleville. Kevin had told her that they were building townhouses across the street. None of us knew the exact definition of a townhouse and how that differs from a free standing house or a condominium. I would normally go to my computer, type “townhouse definition” into Google and see what came up. It probably would have taken me to Wikipedia and it would have told me way more than I ever wanted to know about townhouses in easy to understand language.

I’m typing this Tuesday afternoon while Jean and Stacy are shopping. I decided to stay here and guard the house rather than follow a bunch of women around in several stores, getting in the way of other shoppers. I need solitude to write these e-mails. Things are going around in my head and I can’t type fast enough to get them all down. When Jean comes in, she usually starts talking the minute she hits the door and telling me extremely important information that I need to know to survive. I lose my train of thought (a short train with an engine, a coal car, and a caboose) and my thoughts are gone.

We had a great Christmas with Mom, brother Bob (aka Bobbie Butane), his friend Patti, my Aunt Sharon and Uncle Fred. We often have Thanksgiving and/or Christmas with Becky and whatever kids can make it home. For some reason, the conversation usually turns to Becky and her ex husband raising dogs, which degenerates to discussing the exact process of the collection of materials for artificial insemination. I knew that wouldn’t be the case with Mom, Aunt Sharon and Uncle Fred there, but it wasn’t much better.

Bob was talking about his friends who were naturalists. I was naive enough to think that he meant those people who walk around watching birds. They are usually wearing khaki shorts and pith helmets with a pair of binoculars (the people, not the birds). WRONG!!! He meant they were wearing nothing at all and they lived in one of those communities that junior high boys try to sneak into all the time. Then he told us they were in their late seventies or early eighties. For some reason, we all stopped eating and that was the end of a very good Christmas dinner.

The trip through Texas, New Mexico and Arizone was relatively uneventful. However, if I never drive through Houston or San Antonio again, I’ll be happy. The cities go on forever and ever and, since they’re otherwise in the middle of nowhere, a whole bunch of interstates converge there. We went though in the middle of the day, but the traffic was heavy and the lane I was supposed to be in was not always obvious. The Tom Tom told me where to go, but I couldn’t look at the picture on the screen and stay out of the way of maniac cowboy drivers at the same time. We made it OK and only got the “you’re number one” wave a couple of times.

We stopped for the night in Ozona, Texas. The towns with motels are all about 60 miles apart in West Texas. We had planned to get to Fort Stockton (I expected to meet he cavalry there), but it would have taken us until past 8 PM to make it. We had gotten up at 5:30 AM and started at 6:15, so we were both very tired. We went into a Best Western that looked nice and were third in line to check in. The guy at the counter was about 5’3″ (both tall and around). He asked what the price was and the clerk told him $89.95. He said, “I only have $80.00 in the budget. Would you drop it to that?” Jean and I both could have strangled the guy. I was thinking to myself, “You’re out here in the middle of nowhere, and the only other choice is a Holiday Inn Express for $119.99. What makes you think you are in a strong bargaining position?” The clerk told him he had a room on the second floor with one bed for $85.99, so the guy took it. The clerk was kinder than I would have been. My answer would have been, NEXT! We saw the guy and his wife at the only restaurant in town while we were having dinner. After seeing her, that bed was going to be stressed to its limit (weight…not action).

We drove along the Rio Grand for about 50 miles on the way to El Paso. I’d like to say it was beautiful, but we couldn’t see it. The air temperature was 31 and the river was much warmer than that, so we drove in a fog bank for all 50 miles. Since we were so close to the border, we saw a border patrol stop on the Eastbound side of the highway. All cars and trucks had to stop and traffic was backed up a half mile or so. After we got past El Paso and crossed into New Mexico, we had a border patrol stop on our side. There wasn’t much traffic and we were the first ones in line. We slowed to about 20 mph and I was preparing to stop when the young girl waved us through. Jean wondered why we didn’t have to stop, and I said “Just look at us. We’re a 60 plus year old couple with bikes on the back and Christmas presents sticking up all over the place. What could we possibly be trying to sneak into the United States?”

A short note on the knee recovery…it’s not happening! It’s no better and may be just a shade worse after helping some people move on Saturday morning, touring new home models on Saturday afternoon, a four plus mile walk Sunday partly through trails, and a 13 mile bike ride today. Maybe I can rub some Tequila on it to numb the pain.

Just (Maybe Not Even Able To Walk The Rock-And-Roll Half Marathon) Jack

PS – The weather here is relentless. Day after day of sun, no clouds, and 70 degrees. You would think we’d be sick of it by now. We aren’t. We feel sorry for all of you enduring crappy weather. But remember, you were all kind enough to tell me how good the weather was on spring break, knowing that I hadn’t had a 1/1 to 4/15 vacation since 1972.