Glow On! (G.L.O.W. 5K) – 5/18/19

For those of you who may be new to the blog, I am night blind, which makes night activities a challenge. But as I’ve said in the past, I refuse to be a prisoner of the dark. To that end, I planned 3 5Ks in the dark for 2019. The G.L.O.W. 5K was the first of these races.

As I can see very, very little during these night races, I rely heavily on my guides. It’s about complete faith and trust that they’re going to keep me safe. Not just from cracks and poles, but also small children…

As with any race, there was a bottleneck at the start. However, it was worse that other races because of all the small children around us. Many would run ahead of their parents and stop suddenly. Some would stop with their parents without warning to take pictures. In both cases, it created extra obstacles. Thankfully both Chris and Erjon helped to guide, and to guide me around these two-legged obstacles.

Even though I couldn’t see much, I was still able to keep a decent pace. And it was another 5K where the only walking that I did was through the aid station (at about 1.75mi). I was able to set a new dark PR by about 3 minutes!

Thanks to Chris and Erjon for all their help!

Bicycle Ride (USABA Cycling Camp) – 5/2-5/8/19

“{We’re] not here to fuck spiders.” – Australian saying

After seeing photos and hearing stories from friends last year, I slated the USABA bike camp into my 2019 schedule. I believed that it would be extremely beneficial — not just for improving my cycling skills, but also because it would push me outside my comfort zone.

But before any of that could happen, I had to confirm my pilot. With the Velodrome, mountain climbining and some other things that I knew would be scary the first time, it was a short list. Thankfully, Danny was able to do it and I was able to move forward with the application.

The first day of camp included the bike build and a skills ride. It was a short ride out to the crit course and then several laps around it. It was easier to do the crit course / drills clockwise than it was counter-clockwise. At some point during the first day, one of the coaches noticed the seat was too low, so we raised it prior to day 2.

Day 2 of camp started with skills and ended with a 20mi+ ride. Some of the skills (especially the hip steering ones) were a little unnerving; but we made it through them. The afternoon ride included climbing, a rolling pace line and a couple of dicey stop sign crossings on the way back.

I think the biggest challenge of day 2 was with height. With the higher seat height, I was having problems getting clipped in consistently. As it became more of an issue during the afternoon ride, we decided to try other cleats. Unfortunately, my shoes wouldn’t take the cleats that we planned to use. So we went to plan C — borrowing cleats and using pedals that I had had problems clipping into.

Day 3 was spent entirely at the Velodrome. Because I was having so many issues with clipping in, people had to physically help get my feet into them and I had to stay clipped in at stops. After going through the intro / overview of the Velodrome, it was time to conquer my fear of it. And after the first few laps, it got easier. That changed when we went high and another tandem was underneath us. The ‘people look like ants’ viewpoint was the issue I believe.

The afternoon presented even more stressful moments. We spent it doing standing starts, during which I felt so incredibly unstable and flying starts. The standing starts got a little easier as we kept doing them, but I was never fully comfortable with them. Thankfully, we only did one flying start — that was the worst for me.

Day 4 was ‘race day’ at the Velodrome. It started with pursuits (4K for men and 3K for women), followed by kilos. While we succeeded in not being caught during our pursuit, I didn’t have ‘track hack’ afterwards. That did happen after our kilo though. That and chain ring issues that caused the bike to throw the drive chain. Thankfully the mechanic was able to bend the teeth back.

During the afternoon ride, the pedal issue finally caught up with me. Because of the clipping issues, I was having to hold a position during red lights. This was usually at least 30 seconds, and sometimes longer. So as we rode, my hands continually became more numb. At about 20 miles both my hands and arms were numb enough that I no longer felt safe. I ended up in the van, extremely disappointed that I had dropped Danny.

Day 5 started with climbing and ended with TT recon. Because of the issues the prior day, I was in the van on the way to the base of the mountain. After the first climb up and photos at the top, we came down extremely fast. It was quite a thrill and a little bit nervewracking at the end. After the second climb up, we did group photos and came down at a much more controlled pace.

During the afternoon TT recon, the numbness was back in spades. The TT course had only one small downhill at the very beginning, which meant very little time to get pressue off of them. I wasn’t going to drop Danny again, so I did everything possible to get blood flow back during the last 3-4 miles.

Day 6 was just the TT, and it wasn’t in the best of weather. The out wasn’t that bad, but the back was. There were a couple of points where my struggles on hills made things hard for Danny. I did what I could, finishing the last couple hills with the ‘track hack’.

It was an amazing camp, and I learned a lot during it. I am grateful to all of the staff/coaches for their help during it and to Danny for being such an amazing pilot.

Go Cubs Go! (Race to Wrigley) – 4/27/19

“Now you tell me, if I have a day off during the baseball season, where do you think I’ll spend it? The ballpark. I still love it. Always have; always will.” – Harry Carey

While Harry never got a chance to see the Cubs win it all, he had the right idea. Wrigley is magical. Always has been; always will be. So when Race to Wrigley fit into my schedule, it was an immediate YES.

As we were hanging out at the tent pre-race, I was glad to hear my ‘stalker’ appear. I had thought we had all lost him in the Florida triangle until Mother Nature stopped throwing ‘spring temper tantrums’. While waiting, we were able to get a pre-race photo in front of the marquee and do all the other pre-race stuff.

We were supposed to start 5 minutes ahead of the Elite group. However, that didn’t happen. So we ended up being at the very front of the pack (see above photo). This meant not just trying to run normal, but also trying NOT to get run over by people that can do 6-7 minute miles as their ‘easy’ pace.

After the first main pack cleared us, it calmed down and we were able to settle in. And then the main 2nd corral showed up. As a result of all this, the first mile was at about 11 min (1 min faster than intended). Things went as normal until we made the turn into Wrigley.

While running in the dark is always a challenge, this part of the 5K was moreso than usual. Normally, I’ll be going under a bridge or parking structure. In either case, it’ll be a straight line and I won’t be worried about obstacles. However, in this run, we had poles and other obstacles to contend with. So I had to slow down a bit and have my hand on Matt’s shoulder during this part.

Once we made it back into daylight, it was a short (400yd?) stretch to the finish. As soon as we turned the last corner, I went all out and sprinted to the finish. While I haven’t gone through all my past results, I do believe that it was a 5K PR.

Thanks to Achilles Chicago for their support and for Eva and Matt for guiding for me! #GoAchilles

As Seen on TV (BibBoards) – 4/28/19

Full Disclosure: BibBobards has not provided any sponsorship and has not asked me to write this. They have no advance knowledge of this, and will see it at the same point that all of you do. And they’re free to use it for any marketing, promotional or other purposes without any compensation or sponsorship.

Over the past 20 years, I’ve seen a LOT of infomercials and bumps. Whether it’s been on YouTube feeds or because I’m up at 3AM, 99%+ of them are just not worth the money. IMHO, if you’re having to resort to ‘skip marketing’ to sell your product, it’s probably not worth it.

So when I caught the BibBoards bump in a YouTube video in late 2018, I went into it with that mentality. I had $20 to burn, and I was willing to take a chance on the pinless technology. I figured if it worked once, I’d come out ahead by having one less set of holes in my athletic clothing.

While there were issues with one of the BibBoards during/after the first race, they rectified it. And to this point, I’ve used them for 5 races. They’ve worked so well that I will continue to use them in ALL of my running races and any Tri where I need to toss a shirt over my Tri Top.

The bottom line here is that BibBoards ARE well worth the money. You won’t put holes into your expensive/nice athletic gear and you most likely will show up in more photos (as their ad states). While it may not be typical, since using them, I’ve gone from 4-5 photos in a 5K (prior) to 15-25 (when using them).

BibBoards #SaveYourShirt #NoMorePins

The Grain Lesson – 3/28/19

“But if we are wise, we know that there’s always tomorrow.” – Bill Withers

Growing up, I attended Camp Saugatuck several times. It was a Presbyterian Church camp on Lake Michigan, and it was located near Saugatuck, MI. It’s been gone for several years — the Presbytery of Chicago sold the land and a developer has put / is putting mega houses where it once was.

During the summer camp about 30 years ago, none of us were allowed into the dining hall as normal. Instead, they divided us up into 3 groups and let us in for the ‘grain lesson’. One group was given 7 grains, one group was given 3 and the last was given none. You had to trade your grain for food items, and IIRC the lesson was about showing compassion and help for those that were in need (from the group that had more than enough (7) to the other two).

I ended up in the group that got zero grain. I remember being temporarily worried about how I was going to eat, as I had nothing to trade for my food. But within short order, others gave and helped me, and I was able to get dinner.

If you’ve read through all of that, you may be wondering — what’s the point? What does this have to do with Triathlon? Keep reading — I’ll explain.

During the first two full years, I relied extremely heavily on others since I simply didn’t have the resources. I had lost hours and benefits shortly before the 2016 season started, and would have been in a bad spot without that help. As I start my 2019 season, I’m now faced with having to find a new job.

If I hadn’t had that lesson 30 years ago, and the support throughout the challenges of the first 3 full seasons, I would have been MUCH more upset about all these changes and their potential effects. But since I have, I’m able to find ways to make sure I’m ‘salvaging’ workouts during the chaos and trying to stay on the path. I have a tremendously long list of goals, races and camps for 2019. So taking more than a day or two to be upset/feel sorry for myself isn’t going to do anyone any good…

The bottom line, and moral of the story is that you’re NEVER alone. No matter how hard the journey may look or may be, there are always others to help you along it. And there’s always tomorrow…

6 Months Later (7/16/18)

6 months ago, I was introduced to Chris Holley of Evolution Multisport at a Triathlon camp when I needed a pilot/guide for the week. I’ve been struggling with weight for more than 25 years, so I was interested to hear more about his success. As we talked both during and after camp, he provided helpful information.

I’ll be honest, in the beginning, it was hard. There were several times in the first couple weeks that I just said ‘screw it’ and went back to how I had been eating prior to camp. What stopped me from doing so was his encouragement and slowly starting to see a few early signs. So I didn’t give in to falling back into what was ‘comfortable’, even though it meant giveng up some foods I really liked.

Since that point, I’ve seen his help and advice pay off. I’ve seen all of my race times go down, the runs are getting easier, and yesterday I was able to do 12 x 400 repeats with only 90 second rests. That is after struggling to do single 400s in January as part of bike/run bricks. And the weight has come off and stayed off.

I am grateful that I was introduced to Chris. I would strongly suggest working with him if you want to get better, faster and fit!

2017 Dare2Tri PT Camp (6/9-6/11/17)

When I showed up at camp two years ago, it was my first Triathlon experience. That weekend got me hooked and provided a wealth of experiences / knowledge – including that I needed so much additional gear to succeed.

Earlier this month, I showed up for my 3rd Paratriathlon (PT) camp. Much better armed and geared than I was in 2015, I was excited for the weekend. It was great to see new faces as well as many familiar ones.

As in the past, the weekend included strength training, yoga, transition work and two sessions (drills and workouts) for bike, swim & run. An added benefit for 2017 was getting to practice on parts of what will be the PT Nationals Course this coming weekend.

Throughout the weekend, the coaches helped to increase skills, regardless of what the level of the participant was. For me, a couple of the big improvements were on the bike. This is the first season that I’ve been using clips, and it’s been a hard learning process at times. But during the weekend, I was able to get in/out and do starts/stops with a lot more confidence than I had prior. It wasn’t always perfect, but it worked well. While the bike (and swim) were big pluses, the run is still a struggle. I know that I need to get more runs in, and I will continue working on that throughout the rest of the year.

After two days of being beat up… um, I mean, training ;), it was time for the Tri It Triathlon. As you can probably predict from the above paragraph, Swim/T1/Bike/T2 went well; Run was a disaster. Even still, great to see a lot of people cross their first finish line as I did in 2015!

Even with the issues with the run, it was still a great weekend. IMO it’s all about continuing to move forward. It won’t always be perfect, but you can’t let the frustrations break you or make you give up.

If you are disabled and want to get involved in or improve your Triathlon skills, look at attending the 2018 PT Camp! www.dare2tri.org