GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL[ball] (2/17/18)

When I first heard about Goalball, my initial reaction was ‘absolutely not; never; that just sounds awful’. But over the last year of so, I’ve changed my view on Goalball, wanting to try it.

Since I can’t drive, GLASA’s programs in Lake Forest aren’t feasible. At a minimum, I’d spend 8 hours in transit or $100 in Ubers/cabs. So when I saw the Chicago clinic, I was excited to do it and finally have a chance to try Goalball.

As I was on the way down, I had started listening to Simon & Lesley’s book. One of the points that stuck with me from the first couple chapters was ‘you know you can get through the pain because you’ve experienced it before and it hasn’t killed you’. That point will become key/apparent later.

During the initial drills, the two Dans stressed form. I think the best way to describe it is Superman with bilateral breathing. I know, I know, that’s not an exact representation; but it’s the best I’ve got. And since you can’t see anything, have at most 3-5 seconds to react to the ball coming at you, you just have to work at form until it’s catlike muscle memory strong.

Having never done Goalball before, the form wasn’t always there or perfect. During one of the opponent’s throws, I didn’t get my arms in the right place, so the ball went right into my face – hard, hitting the nose painfully.

All those falls I mentioned during the CA camp sucked, but I think the last one (where the bike was on top of me) just confirmed the fact that a fall won’t kill me. So instead of the reaction being ‘[Explitive, explitive, explitive], walk to the side’, it was ‘Is it broken? No. Okay, give me 10-15 seconds to get blood flow back to it and let’s go.’

It was a tremendous amount of fun, and I really hope that the 2 Dans can get legs under a Chicago program. Even though it’s 90+ min of transportation each way, that’s far better than a minimum of 4 hours.

Dare2Tri Development Team (2/15/18)

At this time 3 years ago, I had no idea that Dare2Tri even existed. As I’ve said in several blogs, the 2015 Naperville Sprint was intended to be a ‘one and done’. And then I ran into Keri Serota (Dare2Tri Executive Director) at the 2015 Shamrock Shuffle; the rest is history.

After Chicago 2017, I thought I’d be on the outside looking in on several fronts for 2018. That was my race to prove a lot of things and to end 2017 strong. And then it all fell apart during mile 11 on the bike when my entire body went numb.

Thankfully, my fears weren’t reality. 🙂 I will be starting my 3rd season as part of the Development Team next weekend. I am extremely grateful to Dare2Tri for all of their support to this point, and for continuing to believe in me.

I am excited for 2018. The goal is to be representing Dare2Tri in the National wave in June. I’ve got a plan and a path to make that happen – follow the blog to learn more as it unfolds.

If you’d like to view the entire Dare2Tri Elite Team, Development Team and Jr. Development Team rosters, please visit Dare2Tri’s site.

No Sight No Limits 2018 (1/16-21/18)

[Photo courtesy of Amy Dixon / Camp No Sight No Limits]

This was my second year going out to San Diego for Amy Dixon’s No Sight No Limits Camp. While it was a challenge to disconnect from everything else for the week, the return for doing so has been immense.

As a blind/VI athlete, trust is essential. You’re putting your life in someone else’s hands, trusting that they won’t lead you off course, into obsticles or wreck the bike. As I was having problems finding a guide, Amy helped me with that. While I hadn’t met Chris prior to camp, I trusted it would all work out well. And it did – in so many ways!

With both United Airlines and Southwest Airlines generously agreed to waive the bike fees, everything was set. A chance to leave the Chicago cold for a week in the San Diego sun? Absolutely – stop twisting my arm!

During the bike builds, we found out that my tandem wouldn’t work for us. I had thought it was a M/L frame; it’s actually a S/M frame. So we let a team that fit better to it use it and were on one of the Santana had generously loaned for use during camp. Being on a new bike, it sometimes takes a couple of rides to get everything adjusted, so our first group ride was with the seat too low. But it all got worked out.

Day 2 started with us in the pool, followed by bike skills on the grass/pavement and then a run session. During both this day and the following, Chris Huxley was doing individual stroke analysis with everyone. I am anxiously waiting the drills so that I can work on all of that with my coach. While this year the grass was much drier, the bike skills were still a challenge. I didn’t realize that the cover on one of my cleats had come off, so I had bent it while walking. Let’s just leave it at clipping in/out was no fun until Mike helped to switch them out after Day 2. During the run, the entire front piece of both knees started hurting really bad – icing afterwards helped that.

Day 3 started out in the pool again, followed by work on the Criterion course / drills and transition. Like new shoes, new cleats take some time to get broken in. So for Day 3, while the clipping in/out was better, it still wasn’t smooth. The Criterion course in a challenging, hilly course, and when you’re confident on it, is a lot of fun. But since I had fallen several times due to clip issues prior, it was a little bit of white knuckle riding. Thankfully we didn’t have to try and do transition practice in the hail agin this year! 🙂

Day 4 started out with swimming in Ventura Cove followed by a bike/run brick and then strength training. I’m very grateful to Xterra’s help in having a long sleeve wet suit. Trying to swim in the cove in a short sleeve one would have been a bad idea. It had been about 5 years since I’ve swum in salt water, and the salt taste from my mustache kept making it a little hard to consistently swim. But it was still fun, and I was looking forward to doing it again the next day. Going into the Criterion course fresh (no falls) made it much more enjoyable. Still a challenge, but no white knucles!

As we headed to strength training, it started to rain. When it rains hard in San Diego, it backs up into the ocean, and you can’t swim in it for 48-72 hours afterwards. A hard rain at Fiesta Island turned our Triathlon for Day 5 into a Duathalon. And post storm, there was a 20mph+ head wind across most of the bike course. But Chris kept us steady and moving forward on the bike. Both (shortened) runs got completed, and we finished strong.

Throughout camp, there were also lectures on bike maintenance, race prep, sports psychology (presented by Simon and Lesley – their book is available here), recovery (the Normatec boots are amazing), technology (including a really nice presentation by Craig from RunGo) and nutrition. Oh, and most importantly, post-race massages from Amy’s roommate who is a licensed massage therapist. 🙂

While there were hiccups and challenges during the week, I learned a tremendous amount. I have already been applying things learned there to my practices. And Chris Holley, who is a nutrition coach, has started helping me to tackle what’s been an ongoing hurdle. I am excited to see how the season turns out with putting all of this to use and to being back in San Diego in the near future!

Roaring Back (1/6/18)

The Lions Clubs do a tremendous amount to help people with visual disabilities, both directly and indirectly. One of those direct impacts, is the support that they have provided to me to pursue my Triathlon endeavours.

They helped to support the very first Triathlon related experience (2015 Dare2Tri Paratriathalon Camp), and provided generous support again in 2016 and 2017. I was hopeful that they would do so again for 2018. And to my delight, they did!

A huge THANK YOU to the Naperville Noon Lions, not just for continuing to support me, but also for having been there since the start! If you would like to support their worthy endeavors, please visit their web site!

A Cold Run (1/6/18)

With camp a few weks later, I wanted to find a 5K to prep for the run part of it. Fortunately, Team Ortho had an event (Polar Dash) that fit my schedule. So Racheal, Anna and I signed up to run it.

During the previous couple weeks, it had been decent. Sure a couple of super windy or super cold days. But not the typical brutal Chicago December cold. And while it had been cold earlier that week, I thought it would warm up a bit (as the day after was going to be high 30s). Nope; a nice 10 degree day for the run.

The first cabbie dropped me off in the entirely wrong spot, but a second got me to where I needed to be. We all met up at gear check and got ready to brave the cold. Having read all of the race updates posted on the Facebook page, even with the cold, I expected aid stations out there. They didn’t say those were scrapped, so I ran without my bottle.

The first 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 miles went great. But then not having any water out there became an issue. The back half of the race bacame more of a walk/run, bolstered by Racheal and Anna’s freestyle raps. 🙂

Even though it was a cold day, I will look to do the race again next year. Team Ortho always does great events. Their next race is the Get Lucky 7K/14K/21K on March 17th — check it out!