After the challenges in La Porte in May, I wanted a ‘do over’ in Texas in 2021. So I registered for Cypress and headed back into the land of humidity.
The day before the race, all of the Paras gathered (by chance) as Paul helped to make sure things were set for everyone. We also had a chance to get used to the tandem that Catapult had secured for us. Things went really well, and I was feeling great for the following day.
On race morning, the ‘Para Guide Sherpas’ showed up and helped to ensure that we had everything and that proper documentation (photos/videos) occurred. As the Para wave, we were in the water first. However, none of us heard the initial start (see Para Guide’s Instagram page for the video).
Even though there were some struggles on the swim, with my right arm hitting the tether, it seemed to go OK. What went even better was the bike — with us averaging 20.7 and spiking at 24 or 25. I saw just how solid a pilot Paul is when someone decided to try to pass us on the right going into a curve at 19-20 mph. He was able to properly and safely get us through it and then accelerate out of it as needed.
While the swim was OK and the bike was great, the run was not. At less than 1/4 mile in, I felt something go in my lower back. When it did, I started doing the normal things that I’ve done in the past (run/walk, stretching). However, before even 1/2 mile, it was so painful that all I could do was walk. And there were times when it even hurt to walk. Even still, I did find a way to run the last 1/10th of a mile into the chute.
It defintely wasn’t the Texas redo that I was looking for. However, I’m extremely grateful to Linda for all her help throughout the weekend and to Paul for flying in from Charlotte to guide for me.
A few years ago, I saw something that I thought would be fun. This was the EndureIt! 2 person 10K Team Relay.
The first time round, I made mistakes. Prior to that race, I had been doing consistent 2-2:15 quarter mile repeats at camp. I thought that if I had one of my faster Dare2Tri teammates as the other half, we’d have a decent time and I’d still be able to recover. What I didn’t factor into that equation was that it took about 25-30 seconds to get off the track, get water and get back to the exchange point. This meant that I would typically get about 40 seconds to recover, which was never enough.
Knowing that, for 2021, I looked to find a parter whose 1/4 mile splits were closer to mine. The original person had schedule conflicts, but we were able to find another on short notice.
While the recovery part went better this time around, the actual race part did not. I was struggling on the laps after about the 4th or 5th one and they were almost all walk/run laps.
Even though it was a struggle, it was still a great and fun event. Thanks to John for guiding and Jeff for being the other half of the team!
Earlier this year, I was presented with an opportunity to obtain a new piece of equipment. While it took a month before I was able to get assistance with putting it together, I wanted to introduce everyone to Archie (formally Archie L.).
I am extremely grateful to Challenged Athletes Foundation and ElliptiGO USA for providing the equipment for me! I look forward to getting used to it first on the stand and then taking it on the road.
I am visually impaired, and I realize that the last part of the prior paragraph will make my family nervous. But one of the biggest things that I was looking forward to when the ElliptiGO aarived was getting my independence back. It’s been about 30 years since I’ve had the confidence (and vision) to be out on a single bike by myself. But I look forward to the challenge — and the freedom.
I’m sure you’ve all heard that in the past. And you’ve probably said to others. But that’s exactly what I was doing the last two days. All to help support the local Lions Club!
I became a Lion in 2015, and volunteered to help with their Candy Day for the first time in 2015 or 2016. Because of my vision, the prospect of being out in traffic was a little bit scary that first year. But because most were respectful (not trying to run into me or push me into oncoming traffic), it worked out well and I was hooked.
This year was at least my 5th year out on the streets near North Central College (NCC) in downtown Naperville. As in the past, I was able to volunteer for both days because of community service initatives that my current employer supports. I am extremely grateful for and appreciative of that!
Because of the current conditions, we were all in full PPE (masks and gloves) throughout the collection period. I believe that helped people in their cars feel more comfortable about rolling down their windows to donate. And with the lower numbers overall, I’m sure that that decision helped out overall.
Prior to this year, Friday was an almost constant stream of cars and people. Whether it was students going to NNHS/NCC, the commercial traffic or people going about their normal tasks, I would say a vehicle would come through the intersection every 3-5 seconds. And there was also the pedestrian traffic as NCC students walked to / from classes and dorms. Past Saturdays were roughly the same, but without as much commercial traffic. There would be even more pedestrian traffic on Saturday if there was a home football game. But of course, this year was different.
On Friday, the early morning was slower than in years past. But it did start to pick up to normal levels by about 10AM. And starting at about 2PM it was back to ‘normal’ Friday levels. On Saturday, after a couple of brief spurts in the late morning, things really seemed to slow down. Even though traffic wasn’t as heavy throughout the two days I was out there, I did notice people being more generous. So it may have evened out overall. We’ll see in the next couple weeks what the final numbers show.
One of the downsides of it being much slower on Saturday was that I ended up standing in one place for long stretches of time. This meant that by about 1:30 PM, my back was starting to spasm. From that point through about 3:30, I did what I could to try and stretch it every 30-40 cars. But by 3:30, it was painful enough that I had to take a walk to try and relieve it. Even though I was in a great deal of pain, I wasn’t going to tap out. Thankfully, the walk helped and I was able to make it through the last part of the day.
While there were a lot of generous people (including the two who said ‘this [large bill] is all I have, so that’s what you’re going to get.’, there were still the normal share of assholes. This included an 18 wheel truck that seemed to want to play chicken with me in the road on Friday. I get it, not everyone wants to donate. No one is forcing you to, and in fact there’s enough space to where you can just stay right to go past us. However, to try and push me into oncoming lanes of traffic is just absurd. And while I deal with this BS every year, I will still be out there year after year.
I am grateful to everyone who came out and donated throughout the past two days. I believe Lions will be at Casey’s today if you want to donate in person. You can also donate online here. Or if you’d prefer to support the Naperville Noon Lions Club in other ways, you can do so by:
Because of my vision, I struggle greatly with meal prep. For the most part, unless I can put it into a microwave or oven, it just doesn’t work well. I’m unable to distinguish the flame on the stovetop, and thus am concerned about ‘playing with fire’.
Because of that, I’m always looking for alternatives. With COVID shortening the 2020 race season, I was even more motivated to find something better than micro-meals. Especially since I’ll probably get 5-6 Tris instead of the 15 I had planned.
I had done NutriSystem in the past with great results. I had stopped doing it at the time because of the cost. When I looked at it again about 5 weeks ago, I was able to find a plan that worked.
Things went well with the first box. So well in fact, that I doubled down. I had originally gone with just M-F meals. The header photo is box #2 and their frozen meals for the weekends.
I am committed to staying with Nutrisystem through at least September. If you’re interested in giving it a try, I can share a $30 coupon with you. Please comment with an e-mail address if you’d like one. These will NOT show up publicly, and I will delete e-mail addresses once the coupon is sent.
About a month ago, I shared a high-level view of what had happened in Schrödinger’s Packet. At the time, I referred to the Race Organizer as ‘ROX’. After what occurred today, I am providing a much more detailed blog post — including dropping the ‘ROX’ tag.
As many of you know by now, I do a lot of long-range planning. Knowing what the goal races were for 2020, I needed a couple of long May races. When I went through the options, what made sense were a pair run by RAM Racing (formally ‘ROX’). While I was still frustrated with what had happened at Hot Chocolate in late 2019, the Race Director (RD) had always been accomodating. So I decided to set those feelings off to the side and move forward.
[As an aside, what I am referring to is how they did the tear-off fundraising in 2019. From the pre-race announcements, it sounded like THEY were donating all the money. As I found out 3-4 weeks post-race, WE donated all that money. ‘Nice’ surprise to see an extra charge come out of nowhere.]
When I registered for the Cinco de Miler race (pre-COVID), I understood the terms. They are all of the standard ones that racers all sign umpteen times per year. As COVID started to change the landscape, they also changed things.
Towards the end of March, they sent out an e-mail that essentially said ‘We have unilaterially changed the contract that you signed when you registered. This is now a virtual race without refund. We will have packets to you by race day (5/2/20).’ And while I’m not a fan of VIrtual races in general, the story would have ended there IF the packets had arrived by 5/2. I would have used the race gear and tried to make the best of it.
However, the packets were not shipped until AFTER the race weekend. As they (a) breached the modified contract and (b) had not fulfilled paid for goods/services, I asked for a refund. The responses that I received from Pat (speaking for RAM) were essentially ‘we had sunk costs. We’re not doing any refunds.’
While they can say that, I personally don’t believe it. This change was made roughly 5 weeks prior. Most contracts have clauses to cover unforseen issues like this. Or even if this one didn’t, 5 weeks is enough lead time to minimize any city-based fees. If the police aren’t physically out there, maybe you pay 15% of the contract to cover any additional scheduling they put in place. But IMO, you’re certainly not paying 100% of your city-based sunk costs.
I think the best case that illustrates my belief of how laughable their statements are is the Shamrock Shuffle. I believe at about 3 weeks out, they pulled the plug. At a MINIMUM, they refunded $2M in registration fees. That’s on top of whatever minimal sunk costs they had to incur. I can’t remember hearing a single word from them about ‘poor us; COVID caused a cancellation’. In fact, in addition to doing FULL refunds, they will eventually send out 2020 swag.
The other part that IMO makes their statements laughable is just common sense. If you’re any part of the exterior (i.e. police, city services, etc) that generate revenue from the race, you’re not going to say ‘we want 100%; we don’t care about COVID.’ Simply because IF you do that, there’s a very strong likelyhood that the RO will fight you on it, eventually begrudingly pay 100%, and then move every race from 2021 forward to the suburbs.
But since they wouldn’t be reasonable, I disputed the charge. On what was most likely the final day for them to respond, they apparently just brought up the ‘registration said no refunds.’ Now, if they hadn’t materially and unilaterally changed the contract, that would be true. However, this falls under non-performance / non-deliverance of goods/services as promised. That’s been covered by Visa(R)/MasterCard(R) as a valid dispute for years. I spoke with my bank earlier today and shared a synposis view of this blog. Hopefully this will get resolved and I’ll keep the provisional credit.
Regardless, I do not plan to EVER do a RAM Racing event again. When this is their response to what’s happened, I do not have any confidence in doing a future event with them.
And for the record, Cinco de Miler is the ONLY race that this has happened with. EVERY OTHER RD has offered 3 of refund, deferral, transfer or donate as the options. Some of them have just auto-deferred everyone to 2021. So while it’s been a frustrating 2020 season, I know it will be a VERY full 2021 season.
“I give honesty without regret.” – Unknown senior (from Voices of Old People by Simon & Garfunkel)
And to be honest, the COVID pandemic has created a tremendous amount of frustration for me. This has included cancellations of multiple racees and has impacted my training. I just haven’t had the focus most of the last 6 weeks to get in everything I need to. I know it could be much worse, which is why it’s just temporary frustration instead of anger or just plain giving up on the 2020 season.
While I have lost multiple events, I was fortunate to get a 2nd Indoor Tri in in March before the shutdowns occurred. I truly love doing Coach Joe’s (Experience Triathlon) events, and had hoped to do the April one as well.
As a brief summary of the Feb/March ones, the swims went OK (with March’s going better), the bikes were both solid, and the March run was much better than Feb’s. Thankfully, there are still multiple ET outdoor races for this summer to look at doing. For those of you making schedule readjustments, I would strongly recommend looking at these as options:
6/14 – ET Batavia 7/12 – ET Lake Zurich 8/2 – ET Naperville 9/5 – ET Pleasant Prairie
Once the shut downs had occurred, I expected to see RDs do the right things. Whether this meant cancellations with refunds, rescheduling to the fall or deferring to 2021. And for the overwhelming majority, that’s what has occurred.
As just one example, the Shamrock Shuffle did full refunds in addition to still sending out the swag. Yes, that has and will cost them a lot of money to do. But IMO they’ll make it up in 2021 and beyond. Simply because anyone looking at it from the outside should say ‘that’s a RO that I want to give my money to’ , along with ‘I had X on my 2021 schedule for that same weekend, but I’ll look at doing the Shamrock Shuffle’. If it wasn’t already a permanent fixture on my race schedule, their actions this year would make it so.
So when the order was extended to May 31st, I expected something similar from my May RDs/ROs. One of them (Race Director X (‘RDX’) / Race Organizer X (‘ROX’)) made a 4th decision — turning a physical race into a virtual one without any of the other options mentioned before. I am using RDX/ROX going forward from here, and would ask those who know the real name NOT to Dox them. Frustrating, but that was the choice they made.
Their March e-mail mentioned ‘you will have everything by race day’. So in the spirit of making lemonade out of lemons, I thought ‘Okay, we’ll make the best of it… and simulate things with the race items.’ A few days prior to the event, I still hadn’t received the items, so I reached out. The response that I received was ‘we’ll send things soon… COVID has impacted our ability to do this.’
I have two issues with this: (1) there was a gap of at least 3 weeks between the two e-mails where they could have shipped items out and (2) from the way the e-mail reads, it sounds like they’re using COVID as a crutch. Yes, social distancing needs to be followed. And yes, COVID may be creating some minor delays. However, I don’t believe these delays can be contributed to it given how long of a lead time there was.
Given all of this, IMO what was supposed to be a physical race has now turned into one of those ‘$x for a charity’ races. You’ve probably seen them — $10-$15 for a medal/bib so you can do a virtual race. Because of this, I have asked ROX for a credit to be used for one of their future races. I know that they couldn’t control the initial change. But IMO, what it’s turned into is NOT what I bought — or what they advertised after it had to become a virtual race.
Hopefully things will reopen at the beginning of June so that I can salvage a big chunk of my 2020 season. Regardless, after 6 weeks of frustration, I am working on getting things in line so that I am ready for whenever it does start…
While I am not a long distance runner, I am always willing to keep trying. And with a 70.3 planned for 2020, I need to get there quickly… So when Catapult offered an opportunity to run the Houston Half/Full Marathon as part of their team, I jumped at the chance.
The weekend in Houston included their gala Friday night, a 5K Saturday and then the Half/Full on Sunday. After an amazingly fun night at the gala, it was time to run.
We met as a large group early Saturday morning at Starbucks. After packet pickup and a large group photo, we headed out to the front of the starting grid. It was a warm day, but I felt good through the first 2 1/4 miles. After that point, the humidity started to take its effect on me. So the last mile was more of a run/walk until we got to the chute. Even with the humidity-related struggles, the time was right on par with most of my 5Ks.
Shortly after we had finished, it started raining. While running in the rain adds an additional hazard, I would have really enjoyed that during the last mile. Oh well, at least it should be nicer for the Half, I thought.
During the break between the 5K and packet pickup for the Half, Nicole and I had a chance to go through the Expo. One of the items that I picked up was a running cape from Texas Children’s Hospital. I had intended to run down the chute with it. But plans changed — as I’ll discuss shortly.
On Sunday morning, I was debating on what to wear. While it was cold (40s), I know that you heat up when you run. So I was torn between the singlet and shorts and an Under Armour top plus my running pants in addition. In the end, I went with the colder weather gear — and I’m glad I did.
When I race, I typically do not have jewelry on. Simply because I’m concerned about these small items falling off or getting lost in general. But this weekend, I decided to do so rather than leave them at the AirBNB. Because of that, one of the thoughts that went through my mind as we (Nicole, Sam and I) tried to hide from the wind was ‘I wish Gramps had been able to see me race’. Sadly, both he and his second wife perished in/because of a fire in 2012. As my first races weren’t until 2014, he never did…
As we started running, things felt really good. So much so that I didn’t realize that we were already at almost 2 miles before we hit the first aid station. And while there was some slow down between 2 and 7 at times, things still felt good.
Then at about 7, my calves started to seize. Since we were less than a half mile away from a medical tent, I thought I’d be just fine. As with every race, the waiver includes ‘you will allow us to provide medical attention’. Therefore I believed it would be an easy ask for some Advil or something similar. So I was extremely surprised when I was told that they couldn’t give me anything on the course. When I asked post-race for an explanation, I was given reasoning that I don’t believe to be correct. It was along the lines of ‘too much can cause kidney issues, and race volunteers don’t know how much you’ve taken. So they can’t give you anything unless it’s an emergency.’.
So I was faced with two options. One was to tap out; the other was to gut out the last 5.5+ miles in pain. I chose the latter, and it was a struggle for the remainder of the race. We had to stop multiple times, with it becomming more frequent the further we got into the race. During a couple of the stops as Sam worked out the knots, I was groaning in pain. Even when the race volunteers saw this, they still wouldn’t offer any pain relief. The most I got was some salt at about 9 3/4 or 10.
Even though I was in tremendous pain at 13, I made the decision that I was still going to try and run through the chute. No matter how bad a race has gone, I always want to run through the chute. Not just for pride, but also for the finishing photos.
While I didn’t get a chance to use the Texas CHildren’s Hospital cape this year, I will have it for 2021. I am also going to try and find one for Lurie Children’s Hospital for my longer runs in the Chicago area.
I am grateful to Catapult for all of their help and support throughout the entire weekend. If you’d like to learn more about the organization and/or support their mission, please visit their web site.
In 2016, I was first selected to Dare2Tri’s Development team. Since then, I have been able to grow within and outside of the sport because of all their support.
I am honored and grateful to be part of the Development team for 2020! I have a tremendous amount planned for the season, along with a few specific goals. I know that because of their help and support that I will be able to succeed throughout the season.
To follow my progress throughout the season, please subscribe to the blog. Or follow me on Facebook (fb.me/jgathlete) or Instagram (instagram.com/nocrappyexcuses).