Full Circle (5/18/18)

In 2007, I started an amazing football journey in Huntington, WV. While I had more sight at that point, there were still challenges and struggles.

It would have been very easy at the end of that summer to say ‘this won’t work. I tried again, but my vision is still too much of a barrier.’ If I had, I would have missed out on so much that came after those first experiences. But by sticking through it and coming back, I had a total of 8 years of fun in the sun.

11 years later, going into the next football journey, I decided just symbolically to use the practice gear I had been given in 2007. Really the only thought last week was to bring things full circle. And I’m glad I did for other reasons.

During the first practice, I kept losing the ball in the indoor field’s lights. That’s happened for a long time, so it was to be expected. In the past, it’s only been a short period of time, and then things have moved outside. However, in this case I knew that all of our practice and possibly games (due to weather) would be in these same scenarios.

Knowing that, I came very close to not signing up for the full program. What changed my mind was looking at what I was wearing and remembering how things had started out in 2007 and where they’d gone to. So on Monday I signed up for the full season.

I’m not saying that this will be an easy season, but I will guarantee two things. One is that I’ll do everything I can based on sight and two is that I’ll have a lot of fun.

Fitbit Surge Raffle (5/12/18)

As this season has moved forward, I’ve seen the need for a watch. It needs to be one that’s either extremely easy to read or that will give audio outputs.

When I received a Fitbit Surge a few weeks ago, it looked like it would be a perfect fit. The back of the box made it appear like it would have a bright screen that I could read. However and unfortunately, it hasn’t worked out. I can just barely make out the text with my Pebble over it.

While I wish it would work, I’m going to try and make lemonade out of lemons. Rather than just selling it on eBay, I am going to raffle it off. Hopefully it’ll end up in someone’s hands that can really use it and I’ll have a decent start towards one I can use.

So if you are interested, here are the details:

Make a donation of ANY size through my USABA fundrasing page between now and 11:59P CT on 6/24/18. Depending on your situation, the donations may be tax deductible. Each donation, regardless of size, will get you an entry into the raffle.

On 6/25/18, I will draw a name and notify the winner. If the inital person drawn is outside of the US and their country doesn’t allow the import of Fitbit / similar devices, I will re-draw.

The watch, charging cable and dongle will be shipped via a trackable method to them.

Dolphin Dash 5K (5/5/18)

With a May Tri on the calendar, I went looking for a couple of ‘warm up’ 5Ks early in March. The one that was part of Dare2Tri’s Start the Season event was one I found; another was the Dolphin Dash.

As Chris and I talked prior to the race, I went through guiding basics and the time milestones I was trying to hit with him. With the progress from prior 5Ks, the compression running socks and the new running tether, I was confident that I’d hit them.

There was a nice turnout of students and their parents for the 5K. Knowing my pace, the plan was to start at the back and move forward, continually hitting 13 min miles. The first one was on target, and after walking through the aid station to grab water/brief breather, we focused on mile 2. Until we were about to hit the 2 mile mark, I had no idea that I was waaaaaaaaaay ahead of the pace. I believe mile #2 was at about 11:15.

Given where I was at at 2 miles, I thought I could PR. And I came very close to doing so. But the normal foot numbness at 2.5-2.75 happened. And along with burning too fast during mile #2, I missed it by a bit.

It was still a good race, with the average / mile being 25 seconds below what I was aiming for. I had a lot of fun, and will plan to do the Dolphin Dash again in 2019!

Pleasant Prairie Training (4/27/18)

This year I have added a lot of new and brand new (aka first-time) guides to my guide pool. As I’ve said to them, ‘as long as you can [activity], and have a good attitude, the rest will work itself out’. And to this point, it’s been true.

Today I went up to Pleasnt Prairie to meet with Dave so we could get training in. I had hoped that we could get in an OWS in the lake along with the other training. I knew it would be cold, but supsected mid 50s to high 50s. As the first Dare2Tri OWS of the season is usually high 50s to 60, I would have been fine with that water temp. Especially since I now have a full sleeve wet suit and thermal gear. However, with the water being mid 40s at best, we had to practice the swim indoors.

Throughout the swim, things kept getting better with each 50m length. From working out signals to coordinating turns to getting in rhythm, things were good by the time we got out of the pool.

After changing, we headed outside to get the bike practice in. Because of the longer winter, I hadn’t been on the tandem since being in San Diego. So I was ready for the first lap to be a little bit choppy. What I espected did happen, and things got a little bit dicey around a couple of sharp turns. But because of the nutritional work I’ve been doing with Chris, these weren’t crashes. Having ridden the course at camp and at the Tri, I was very used to the bike being a closed course. It was a much different experience to be dealing with traffic on that same course. I do like the turnaround that they added to the left (used to be a stop sign).

The final leg of training was to do a run around the lake. This is about a 2.5 mile loop, and I was aiming to run the entire thing. While the first half went well, I ran out of energy after that. The next quarter was a run/walk and the last was just a walk.

All told, we did about 3 hours of practice. And thankfully the rain held off until we finished. A really good day of practice and a great building block towards the June tri.

NRC April Fool’s Run (4/2/18)

Since I had started running in 2015, I had continually used a hand tether. It was the most comfortable for me for almost 4 full years. I had tried using my v1.0 swim tether for a run tether, but I chucked that after a couple tries since it kept slipping down. But after several people had suggested the race belt method, I decided to give that a try.

So when Mark and I went out to Wheaton to do the April NRC Pub Run, I decided to give it a try. While it wasn’t perfect, it seemed to work much better than the hand tether. And even though we got stopped by traffic a couple of times, it seemed to be a solid run.

I’ll continue to work with the running puzzle and see if I can find a solution to this Rubik’s Cube before June.

Training? Are you talking about Training? (CAF Grant APPROVED!) – 3/29/18

Last year, I was fortunate to receive a grant from CAF (Challenged Athletes Foundation) for training. With all of the new disability training pieces in the fall, I wasn’t able to make full use of it. Things having gone back to ‘normal chaos’, I was hopeful to receive support from CAF for training again in 2018.

Earlier this week, I received the confirmation e-mail letting me know my 2018 Grant request had been approved! This will allow me to do a tremendous amount of training, both in the city and suburbs. I am excitedly planning things out to ensure that I get the most out of this wonderful support!

THANK YOU to CAF for their support, and thank you to them for re-upping in 2018! Your continued support is so greatly appreciated!

Hammer Powered Race (ET Indoor Tri) – 3/25/18

As I continue to look for a solution to the running issues, I’m continually trying new things. I know that there’s a full solution out there so that I don’t have numbness during the run. If I could just solve that Rubik’s Cube…

For Sunday’s ET Indoor Tri, I had added a new Hammer Nutrition product (Tissue Rejuvination) along with compression running socks into the mix. And with breakfast being a Hammer Bar with the last dose of Endrolytes and Heed in the bottles, it was a fully Hammer powered race.

As with the last Indoor Tri earlier this month, I had desired benchmarks going into it. While I didn’t hit all of them, and while just the bike improved for the 2017 race, it was still a good day. Not just because I felt more energy throughout it, but because I got to race with one of my Dare2Tri teammates (Val Chavez)!

Like last year, Todd guided for me for the Tri. But unlike last year, 1/2 lengths didn’t count in the pool. Knowing that and knowing where the time was led to me really pushing that last length to make sure it counted.

After changing, we headed to the spin bikes. I was glad that I had changed into my bike bibs, especially at about 26-27 min in when that triangle started hurting. Even more evidence that the saddle upgrade was a really good idea and will pay dividends in 2018 when I don’t have bibs.

My focus for the treadmill was to run the entire 20 minutes without stopping. And if it hadn’t been for spit, I would have made that happen. At about 12:30 in, I couldn’t get the spit in my throat to go back down and started minorly choking on it. As I wasn’t going to spit on the treadmill or floor, I had to walk for about 20-30 seconds to get that taken care of before going back to running.

While the jury’s still out on the new Hammer tool, I will say that the compression socks were a good purchase. A couple times during the run, I could feel the start of tingling that eventually goes to numbness. But the socks helped to stop that in a couple steps. I will of course continue to play with both during the two runs I have coming up.

You Couldn’t Race Without Them (Shamrock Shuffle Prep) – 3/17/18

Over the last 5 years, I have participated in a LOT of races. And I’ve got a LOT planned for 2018. During that time, we (or more correctly my guides since I’ve been focused on running) have done our part to thank the volunteers that are out there.

But those are just one level of volunteers that help to make sure that the race you’re participating in goes smoothly. There’s usually a small army (or a large one for big events) behind the scenes doing every thing imaginable so you have a great race.

During St. Patrick’s Day, I joined that army putting together packets for the Shamrock Shuffle. Now before I even touched them, several other groups had already taken the time to do envelopes, tags onto bibs (timing and name) and labels on the envelopes. My part was to scan the bib tags and double check everything.

After scanning 1200-1500 of them, I’ve got a much better appreciation for just how much work goes into a smooth event. The moral of this story – make sure you thank the volunteers out there as you’re racing. A LOT of people have put in time to make sure you’ll have a great race day!

NRC Pub Run – 3/15/18

Yes, March Madness… the most fun (or agony if you picked Virginia) you can have. Oh wait, I was talking about my March, not anything to do with basketball. And yes, there is a method to my madness…

As I’ve mentioned before, the run portion of the Tri is still a struggle. And since solo runs haven’t worked out well (as I’ll do the 1st mile in < 11:30 and be burnt out), I am trying something new this year. That’s using 5Ks as a way to work out the kinks and also improve. There are several different things that I will be trying between now and my next outdoor Tri. The focus the last two has been on the shoes – going to a thicker pad in the New Balance shoes. While it hasn’t been a magic bullet, it has helped – and I would have been SOL without it for Thursday’s run. This was the second March run that Achilles helped with a guide. I was able to find the other through NCC’s Tri Coach. At Natalie’s suggestion, she and I did a 10-15 minute warmup prior so I wouldn’t be as cold going into the run. The first 2 miles weren’t that bad and were on pace. But the 3rd was a bear between being tired and my feet going numb. This started slightly somewhere around 2.5 miles and got really bad in both feet shortly before the end. Even with all that, I kept going because of the support from Mark and Natalie. It helped me to hold off on fully walking until I felt like my feet would fold under even though I was in pain a lot earlier. The post-party, which was sponsored by Hoka was a lot of fun. And as I’ve said before, beer heals all wounds… 🙂 I’ve got two more races in March, and will be adding in compression socks to one of them. It was suggested to help with the numbness, and I’m willing to try anything within reason. I just want to get the times down.

First Timer Success (St. Paddy’s Day 5K) – 3/10/18

As I’ve said many times in the past, I am not a strong runner. I didn’t really start running until 2014, and that was after almost 20 years of not doing it. But it’s part of the Triathlon, so I can’t just avoid it…

Knowing that I need to get better prior to the main season starts, and knowing that running by myself isn’t always the greatest (mostly because I end up doing a 11 min 1st mile and are drained for the rest), I went looking for a plan B. This was and is to do multiple 5Ks starting in March. I figured that this would not only give me someone to run with but also force me run, hard.

Having not been able to find guides to run with me through my friends, I reached out to Achilles Chicago. They did an amazing job with finding guides for me. I believe that within about 24 hours of my initial e-mail, they had found guides for all 3 March races/runs for me!

My guide for this race (Jen) was just starting out her guiding career. She did an amazing job for her first time! And for those who might be thinking ‘I’d like to do that, but I can’t because I’ve never done it’, I encourage you to still try. If you can run, if you’ve got a good attitude and you’re willing to give up your race to help someone else, you meet all the criteria. If you have an interest in doing it, reach out to your local Achilles chapter or running company for help on getting started!

While Heed was in my bottle as usual, the real help for this race was Endrolytes. During a really bad Half a couple years ago, one of my guides told me about starting them 3 days out to help minimize issues. I’ve been doing that since and it’s worked well.

As we started the race, we were greeted with a nice long uphill. For those of you who are wondering, no I don’t intentionally choose to run hilly races (see Columbus). The hills just know where I live; they stalk me and try to see if they can break me. So far they keep losing… We were able to keep the pace and I was able to keep going throughout the hills (up and down) for about 1.75 miles before I had to walk to catch my breath.

As we made the turn at mile 2, we were greeted with a really nice surprise… more hills! What goes down (into mile 2) must come up (towards mile 3). At about 2.5, the normal numbness that I sometimes get came up and I had to walk for a little bit until it relaxed enough to run. Remember those lovely hills at the start? We got to finish going down them, and I thought the finish was just around the turn. So I was giving it everything. However, it turned out to be around the corner and down a few blocks. Quite an interesting .1 to run when you’ve already kicked it. Even with very little left, we still finished strong and in the right pace area. That happened mainly because Jen’s counting, which I was focusing on during that last .1.

I had such a great time, and am grateful to both Achilles for the connection and Jen for running with me. I wouldn’t have been able to do it otherwise!