#VirtuALL Distance Challenge – 5/12/21

As I’ve said many times over the the last 15 months, I am NOT a fan of virtual events. Typically, the only ones that I will do are to support organizations that have helped support me. The simple reason behind this is that I want to be out doing things physically. I’ve also got enough race gear that I don’t need to be paying extra money to run by myself.

The exception to this is the Brewery Running Series VirtuALL Distance Challenge. When I saw this in late 2020, I thought it would be something fun. It has been; but it’s also been a good motivating object. There have been days where I just didn’t want to get out there for a training session. But having that little extra push to complete the current challenge helped.

At this point, the goal is to complete the entire US before the end of the decade. Alaska on its own (35K+ miles for the perimeter) will take more than a year. It will be a fun goal, and I know that it will all pay dividends in the long run…

You can learn more about the VirtuALL challenge and sign up at https://breweryrunningseries.com/virtuall/ .

2021 #CAFSrong – 3/23/21

Being unable to drive, transportation is one of the large hurdles in my athletic life. While I have many (family friend, guides) that will help at times, there’s still a HUGE transportation cost each year.

As such, I am extremely grateful to Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) for their continued support. For many years, their grant has helped ensure that I can get to training sessions and continue pursuing my goals.

As things continue to open up, I look forward to making the most of this grant in 2021!

ET Indoor Triathlon – 3/21/21


For months, everyone was talking about getting back to normalcy. But for the most part, it wasn’t really happening — people were just on the sidelines. Thankfully, Coach Joe offered an opportunity to change that. And from what I remember, was the first of RDs to start moving things forward to true normalcy.

In 2020, the March ET Indoor Triathlon was the last in-person Tri that I did. For 2021, it was a great place to pick things back up. While I didn’t have one of my normal guides in place, my parents helped to ensure that I could make it through things safely and properly.

The swim went along the same lines as it had a year prior. However, things weren’t the same with the bike or run. As I’ve struggled with guides and focus to be on the indoor trainer, the bike was about 2 miles less. I am also sure that I lost speed at points as I tried to keep it going after 15-20 min. With the run, it was a ‘standard’ treadmill run for the first 3/4 of a mile — meaning not fun. After that point my left back tightened up and I had to go to a mostly walk for the remainder.

Even though it wasn’t on par with 2020, it was still so great to be back in Lisle. I am extremely grateful to Coach Joe for putting the even together while so many were still on the sidelines.

Also, to help with the treadmill issues, I am currently on the search for one. If you have one or know someone that has one and would be willing to donate it, I’d be happy to give it a great home! 🙂

F^3 Fleet Feet Elmhurst 5K – 2/28/21

As I’ve mentioned before, I am not a fan of virtual races. So I was excited to see the F^3 5K race series, which was made up of races at local Fleet Feet locations.

Because of the cold weather and snow, I hadn’t been able to get much running in since November. Pretty much everything had been walks on an indoor track to keep the legs loose. Because of this, I knew the first few 5Ks would be a challenge. Even still, I was eager for the opportunity to race in-person again and signed up.

The race itself had its ups and downs. Between the puddles, hills and the unintentional snow marker ‘hit’, there were challenges. But there were also successes when I was able to find a rhythm during chunks of the race.

I am grateful to Natalie for guiding for me. I’m also grateful to her for pushing me up the final hill. The 5K finished with a 1/10th – 1/5th of a mile hill climb. As we got to the bottom of that hill, I wasn’t thrilled to climb it. She helped to motivate me on to make it to the top of the hill and finish.

While it wasn’t perfect, it was good to be out racing again. I’m looking forward to the start of the 2021 Triathlon season next weekend!

2021 Dare2Tri Development Team

In 2015, Triathlon was supposed to be a ‘one and done’… and then I met Dare2Tri Executive Director Keri Serota at the 2015 Shamrock Shuffle. The rest is history…

As I start my 7th year in the sport, I am proud and honored to once again be part of the Dare2Tri Development Team!

I am looking forward to an extremely fan, long and strong 2021 season. To see how it all unfolds, please subscribe to my blog or follow me on Facebook (fb.me/jgathlete) or Instagram (instagram.com/nocrappyexcuses).

2020 Year End — and looking forward

[Image from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Full video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y23ur1rHInw ]

Like many, I was happy to see the calendar roll over Friday morning. As I mentioned throughout 2020, it was a struggle for me at times. However, I did what I could — and I made it through.

While I don’t want to dwell on the year that wasn’t, there are a few things I did want to say about it before looking forward to 2021.

First and foremost, THANK YOU to all of those who supported me throughout the year. This includes teams, supporters, guides and a long list of others. Even though 2020 didn’t turn out as planned, your assistance and support helped me to succeed during what opportunities there were.

Secondly, a huge thank you to a local business. In the stress that came from all the changes, having ‘safety release valves’ were key. One of these was ordering from the local Dominos. Yes, I realize that constant pizza isn’t on the normal training menu. However, 2020 was far from ‘normal’. Knowing that I would have a hot, delicious and well made pizza because of Ray Montez and his team made it easier to get through the challenges of the week.

Finally, I realized that while I couldn’t control what I lost in 2020, I could get ready for 2021. To that end, I focused on getting additional training in where I could. I also looked at putting in a base so that I would be ready for 2021 — whenever it started.

Now that I’ve gotten through that, I want to look forward. As a summary, here’s what I’m focusing on:

  • A projected schedule of more than 30 races (5Ks, 10Ks, Sprints, Olympic, 70.3s, Aquathons, Duathalons) and camps throughout the country. While there won’t be an Indoor Triathlon season, I believe that things will start to come back in early April when my outdoor season would start.
  • Focusing on strength and recovery. As the training and racing have increased, so have the minor aches. And with a long season for 2021, I know they’ll be there again. To deal with that, I’ve purchased a full compression kit — more on that in a future blog post. I also have other strength tools (exercise bands, weighted ball, etc.) that I’ll be using to address the strength issues.
  • Focusing on a year-long training challenge. With a minimal amount of racing opportunities (running only) right now, I need to be focusing on training. In the past, it’s been easy to get distracted and lose focus in the off-season. This year, I’ve signed up for the VirtuALL Distance Challenge to help keep the focus. I’m currently working towards completing American Samoa, and will see how much I can complete during the year. If you want to join me, you can register here.
  • Completing my 2021 season goals. The first step is to qualify for Paratriathlon Nationals and we’ll go from there. I’m also nervously excited to do my first 70.3s (relay first and then full).

I am looking forward to 2021. Follow the blog and my Facebook/Instagram posts to see how it all unfolds!

Roaring Back (for a 7th year!)

I am extremely grateful to have the continued support of the Naperville Noon Lions Club for my 2021 season!

They have supported my Triathlon endeavors since the very beginning in 2015. Their continued support will enable me to race throughout the country in 2021.

While there’s still uncertainty about what the 2021 season will look like, their support will enable me to make the most of it. I look forward to proudly having Lions ink at every race to show my gratitude. And I hope to have a very strong showing at the hometown race (Naperville Sprint Tri – estimated 8/1/21).

FraidyCat 5K – 10/25/20

As I’ve said in the past, I finish most races with a beer — even if it’s just at home. So the IL Brewery Running Series race I was going to do was the perfect fit. However, the particular brewery (Jolly Pumpkin) still hadn’t reopened, and thus the race was cancelled. When I went looking for a replacement in-person race, I found the FraidyCat 5K.

I had run this race in the past, and it was a lot of fun. Well, except for that climb when you went around the back of the building (school?) and up the hill at about 2.75mi.

At some point earlier in the week, I had done something to my left knee. It wasn’t serious enough where it hurt all the time. But it hurt enough that I kept off of it most of the week. I also did a lot of extra stretching that morning to try and get it as loose as possible. I thought it would lead to the best possible outcome.

And then about 20 feet into the race, my left leg went down into a minor pothole and jarred the knee. This would become an issue later in the race.

During the first mile, things went OK. The pacing was a little too fast early on, but we managed to get it more in line before the end of the first mile. For most of mile 2, things were OK with the knee. But by the time we made the turn into the neighborhoods, it started to act up.

During the last mile, it became a run/walk scenario. I’d run until it got to about a 6, and then would walk until it was down to about a 2.

Even with all of the knee challenges throughout the race, I did still shave 6 seconds off of the last race time. And I’m closing in on being down 5 full minutes since getting back to more consistent running.

Race For Abilities (Naperville Healthy Driven Half/5K) – 10/18/20

While I am not a fan of virtual races, I will always do them to help support those that have supported me. Having received extensive JAWS (screen readins software) training from Donka, I was happy to run with them when asked.

As I am Visually Impaired, I need at least 1 guide when I race. I am ALWAYS looking for new ‘eyes’, so a guide-In-training also ran with me on Sunday. For the race, Kathy was my main guide and Dave was the guide-in-training. Kathy and I have run multiple times over the last couple months, which gave her a good idea of how to pace me for the race.

Sunday’s virtual 5K was my first Naperville Half/5K race. I had attempted to run the Half in 2016, but was unable to do so. I believe that unreasonable hurdles were put in place by the Race Director, so I ended up finding another race to run that fall.

We met as a group in Veterans Park in Naperville to run. We had 8 people of Team Donka show up to race together, in a socially distanced manner. Myself, Kathy, Dave and Jodi all ran while the rest of the group walked.

Over the last 5 years, I had run this section of the trail many times, so I was familiar with the course. We did have one minor ‘obstacle’ along the way in the form of a stop light. This added about a minute round trip as we waited for traffic.

In the past, my issues have been with pacing. In that I will end up running an extremently fast first mile and then be spent, positive splitting 2, 3 and 3.1. Over the last month, I have been focused on starting off slower and then negative splitting. While I don’t have the exact split times, I believe that I did accomplish that.

The route itself was mostly flat during the first section (start to first stop light) and then a lot of hills (first stoplight to second stpolight / turnaround point). Knowing that, I focused on keeping a steady pace out, knowing that a small part of the back would be a run/walk due to the hills. This is essentially how it all played out.

It was a really fun day, and we were fortunate to finish before it started raining. After the 5K, we added on another .4mi to satisfy a 3.5mi race I needed to do. I look forward to running with Team Donka again in 2021!

If you’d like to donate to Team Donka, you can do so here!

Six Months In

Six months ago, I decided to use Nutrisystem as a ‘temporary’ solution through the summer. I had thought we’d be back in an office by the fall, and I’d be able to be back on the more ‘normal’ nutritional path from earlier in 2020. At this point, I’ve seen enough of the benefits from it to strongly consider keeping it in place even when I’m back in an office.

Now that’s not to say that I do things perfectly. I’ll admit to adding in meals that may not be perfect ‘flex’ meals — including the weekly ‘safety valve’ pizza from the local Domino’s. But even with all that, I am still seeing results because the number of times I’m on track outweigh the times I’m not. And once I’m back in an office, I believe that I’ll see even better results.

If you’re interested in giving Nutrisystem a try while saving $30, please comment with your e-mail. These comments will not be seen publicly, and I will send you the $30 coupon directly through Nutrisystem’s site.