Sunday, July 22, 2012

Michigan Mayhem

I put mayhem in the title simply to grab your attention.

After a visit with my mom (Barry changed the mower's oil and blade, so I christened the machine by giving the back lawn a fine shaving), Barry and I drove to Benton Harbor late Saturday.

Early Sunday morning, we headed to Jean Klock park, the site of the start/finish/transition of the Steelhead Half Ironman August 19, 2012. We have come to realize our preparation for each increasingly difficult event falls short of the necessary. Today we are beginning to correct our lackadaisical approach by riding the 56 mile bike route.

At this point, it might be helpful for you to know I have not ridden more than 39 miles.


Experts caution to increase workouts by no more than 10%/week.

Hmmm...10% of 39 is 3.9. 43 miles. NOT 56. 56 is 17 miles more than 39.


Also, there's the small matter of my two-day-ago bike crash (see previous blog).

BUT, I'm in Michigan, and I'm determined.

I also have two packets of biofreeze in my jersey.

I will use both.

Not on crash injuries.

On my sitting glutes.

Ow, ow, ow-de-ow!


Have you watched the Tour de France? Those people ride ENDLESSLY. The Wall Street Journal featured some huge bike event across Iowa - 80 miles/day, 500 miles or so?

How do they do it?? They must have butts of steel.

I cannot emphasize this enough:


Aside from my suffering bottom, the ride was lovely. The shore is beautiful - sand and endless lake. The park has outside showers and facilities, tables, beach, shelter. GORGEOUS.

We biked on one main road, with glimpses of the lake and pretty homes - a little busy, but a very wide shoulder.

The other roads wound through the countryside by blueberry fields, vineyards, and farmhouses. We were serenaded by rural Michigan sounds - roosters, tractors, cows, gunshots...

Yes, I pedaled faster...

But not as fast as when a dog charged and made a chomping grab for my leg.

I need that to be a repetitive part of race motivation.

bark snarl bark...pedal pedal pedal...

I was pleased with my effort, except for three terrible hills in the second half when I was reduced to eight struggling miles per hour. The wind destroyed the fun of the downhills, but one cannot go on a bike ride without wind, warmth, and rough road, so all good.

I have to work hard the next three weeks, or I won't be able to run the half marathon after that ride.

But for now...ah...icing my knees and enjoying a glass of vino we picked up on the way home.

I love Michigan!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Midwesterner Again

So, I am no longer a Midwesterner living in Miami.

I’m a Midwesterner living in the Midwest.

Kind of takes the kick out of the blog.

Nothing funny or blog-worthy will ever happen to me again.


As anyone recently trapped in a conversation with me will verify, I am training for an Ironman.

I can’t seem to help mentioning it…

a lot…

… along with all the gory, gritty, grimacing training details.

I’m sorry.

Consider this a blanket apology covering my articulations, both written and verbal, from November 4, 2011 to November 10, 2012. The race is November 3, and I give the 10th to allow for the post-event euphoria to dissipate to a reasonable level.

I’m especially chatty under the influence of endorphins.

An Ironman triathlon is 2.4-mile open water swim, 112-mile bike ride, and 26.2 mile run.

In order to survive this, training is essential. I’m currently doing about 15 hours/week of swim, bike, run, and “functional training” (strength, stretch, abs).

I gained some perspective on this effort from an unexpected encounter.

Perspective and four enormous bruise/scrapes.

I am learning to ride in the aero position – where the cyclist has his elbows on pads centered on the bar. I’m taking it slowly, 10 miles at a time, and I am pleased with my progress. I anticipated balance issues, but after a few practices around a small parking lot, I moved onto the circular road in a nearby forest preserve. It is a 1.5-mile track with a bike lane, very limited traffic, some good curves and a gradual uphill to practice bike control.

Slow, slow, a bit faster, faster, full speed.

Woo hoo.

Early in yesterday’s trek, I passed a cross-country squad, running on the left of the single lane road.

On lap five, I saw them again, still grouped on the left. A biker flanked them – for pace or protection – on the open road side. I was going about 16 mph, so moved over to pass on right.

They made a sharp turn into a parking area. The biker moved into my path.

I yelled “ON YOUR RIGHT!” but….



I clearly remember my hip and elbow smacking the pavement, followed by the crack of my helmet.

ALWAYS wear a helmet!

You never know when the unexpected will occur. That’s why it is UNEXPECTED. Without a helmet, my head would be Humpty-Dumptied. Instead, after a few minutes of nausea and a careful exploration of the range of motion of my elbow and shoulder, I was able to get up and walk (hobble) away with the help of the team's coach.

Turns out, this guy was a three time Ironman Wisconsin finisher. As we chatted, he said he encourages the girls to enjoy training. Athletes spend hours training for one event. If something happens at that event – an injury, bike failure, extreme heat, rain – the athlete is disappointed, but should not look at the preparation as time lost, but time enjoyed.


The Ironman will take me between 15 (optimistic, perfect) to 17 (that’s all rules allow) hours.

Conservatively, I will spend 500 hours training.

At 7 a.m., when I did my eight mile run, I realized I would not be out on the beautiful Lake County forest preserve trail if I wasn’t training. I would not have seen how the one-inch rain yielded a foot of prairie plant growth. I saw bluebirds, yellow finches, woodpeckers, red-winged blackbirds – and a majestic heron that rose from the pond to fly low over my head. Bunnies, geese, frogs, flowers, ponds…

I am blessed by this process and resolve to enjoy my swims, bikes, and runs. I am seeing beautiful places and meeting fun, supportive people. What a grace!

Be at peace, enjoy the path of your day, and…