Monday, July 27, 2009

Tri Tri Again

“Why would people want to get up so early and do this?”

fairport02Completed my first triathlon of the season yesterday morning. I managed to post a personal best time of 1:17 and a little change. The weather was perfect – low seventies – the lake as still as coffee in cup – the bike course was a bit windy but I wedged in with a group traveling along at a decent clip (technically there is no drafting allowed in a tri – but that’s a dumb rule anyways) and the run ended with a downhill slope for almost the the whole second half of the course.

creature Early on in my triathlon participation I would edge myself to the front of the pack before the start of the swim and would find myself being crawled over by the guys behind me once we got underway – slamming my face underwater just as I was coming up for air – brushing against my legs as if I were being chased by the creature from the black lagoon. This would send me into panic – get my heart racing – I switched strategies last year during the Cleveland Tri – moved to the back and I became the person climbing up the backs of folks in front of me. Made it out of the water in the top five or so today – even catching up to the group of younger guys whose wave started five minutes earlier before us geriatrics.

fairport03The first half of the bike leg I was pretty much on my own – I could see some riders in front of me but there was no way I was catching them anytime soon and the riders behind weren’t gaining on me so I spent those six and a half miles pedaling away trying to find the silver lining related to having thighs that felt like they were going to split open. I kept grinding along around 21+ mph which is a good clip for me so I figured I had a wind at my back and wasn’t really looking forward to the turn around. Then right at the turn around a pack of eight riders came up on me and passed – i slid into their slipstream and we pulled each other along into the headwind way quicker than any of us could have managed on our own. Like I said – technically not kosher but I still think it’s a stupid rule – what’s more sportsmanlike than a crew of competitors working together? In any case I finished the leg in (for me) record time.

In order to keep up with the crew on the second part of the bike ride I had to push near my limit spending a lot of time down in aero bars – those are those things added to handlebars so that your elbows rest on the crossbar keeping your riding stance extra low and more wind resistant. It also does a number on your back – so when I got off the bike I found it pretty tricky straightening up to do the run. My two thousand year old man impersonation wasn't wasted on my fans who included my parents Sara, Max, Frank, Scotty baby Sara and Isaac a friend of Frank’s responsible for the quote that opened this blog.

Fortunately after about an eight of a mile my joints self lubricated and i finished the race with a smile on my face. I told Frank - afterwards as he helped me gather my gear that it has taken three years – but running these things have gone from a test of survival to fun.

So I guess that’s why people get up so early in the morning to do this – for fun.


Friday, July 24, 2009

First Triathlon of the Year


Sunday is my first tri of the year. We’ll see if all this running I have been doing is going to pay off. run2

This is a good race to start with as they do not have a Clydesdale division so there is no way on god’s gray earth that I even have to consider placing.

Next Sunday at the Cleveland Triathlon I am hoping to come in the top three of the big boy’s division – we’ll see

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

26,400 feet - but who's counting?

This year my preparations for triathlon season have been as much an exercise in pain management as it has been training. My first tri is this coming Sunday in beautiful Fairport Ohio. Those of you who have followed this blog for any length of time know that my least favorite portion of these races is the running part – I lumber down the road pretty much as if I were dragging a studded snow tire attached to my waist via a twelve foot length of swing set chain. So I have paid particular attention to this portion of the contest this year and even entered a handful of races – including the Cleveland Marathon.

Okay, here’s a little aside – back when I was growing we had Great Danes. One of the males used to run away every time a certain female dog that lived over the hill would come into heat. My mom or dad decided to attach a tire, complete with metal wheel hub still embedded in the center, with a length of chain to this canine Romeo. The set up didn’t keep him in his yard but it did provide a nice path in the snow with which to track him by. The swath cut through leafless blackberry bushes, under split rail fencing and across chilly ponds. Such is the power of puppy love.

Needless to say (ever notice the caveat “needless to say” never stops a person from making whatever the unnecessary comment is? Needless to say – my performances haven’t equaled that of a love struck Great Dane – but I did beat the goal of cracking into the eight minute mile pace in this past Sunday’s five mile Johnnycake Jog. The race runs past my parent’s house – the starting line for that Great Dane – and they and Sara cheered me and my son Franklin on and snapped these pics.

Franklin moving along a whole lot quicker than his dad.

Monday, July 13, 2009



We are strongest where broken then mended
a weld will resist tearing surviving even the metal
that has been repaired
a stitched sail
the patch of bicycle tire tube
new soles on favorite shoes
a fractured bone
once set will knit
more resolute than before the injury

Of course
some sort of scar
a cicatrix of new connecting tissue
a slight misalignment
a stitch or a gouge
will document the lesson

The remnants of an arrowhead
in the shoulder blade
of a 5,300 year old body
of a shepherd found frozen
in the Italian Alps
the tiny white cuticle half moon divot
beneath the right eye
of the woman with whom you are having lunch
the sealed exit of your grandfather’s appendix
a mother’s broken heart

All recounting the story
of pain outlasted

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Spinning wheel got to go round...

I’ve been enjoying
the coverage of the Tour de France this year the VS cable channel has been broadcasting the race live and repeating the installment a couple times a day. The return of Lance Armstrong to the race was my initial impetus to take a look at the event again. A guy pushing forty with nothing to prove jumps back into the game - a feat attempted by an old man which the rest of us long toothed athletes can vicariously live through.

Years past I would occasionally check in to see how the race was progressing – but this year I am watching each stage in its entirety - usually during the last re-broadcast of the of the day. I remember my grandmother watching professional golf – a game she never played – like it was a soap opera and that is how I am enjoying the Tour.

I’ve acquired a new vocabulary – peloton, domestique, attack. chase, break away, drop, yellow – green – white – polka dot jerseys. I’m getting into the strategy of the races – the rivalries between Team Columbia (the sporting goods company not the country) and Lance’s Team Astana (a Kazakhstan based team.) Then there are the rivalries amongst members of the same teams – just yesterday Armstrong’s whippersnapper of a teammate - Alberto Contador (his Spanish name conjuring the image of a bullfighter) broke from the pack – and the team manager’s plan – with less than two kilometers left rocketing himself in front of Lance in the standings into second place.

Now this is a long race – 21 stages, most over a hundred kilometers long and this was only the seventh stage – there is a lot of racing left. So, Armstrong let the kid go without bothering to chase finishing two seconds behind Contador. So, is this a wily veteran move? In the post race interview the senior’s face said pissed off, while his words were more cordial. Or, is this the beginning of the end for the old man? What about the rest of the Team Astana – who will they rally behind now? Bicycling is much more a team sport than one would initially imagine – it takes all nine members working together to put one of their complement on the winner’s podium.

Like I’ve told my sons – never get in a fight with an old man if you can avoid it ‘cause while they may not have the stamina to go a real long time they know this too. So they’ll try to take you out as quickly as possible.

I’d love to eavesdrop on the team meeting before the start of today’s stage.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Albuquerque if you be quirky

Green salsa
on my scrambled eggs later I hop a shuttle and head back home to Cleveland. I’ve just finished spending almost four days at a literacy and comprehension conference here in sunny Albuquerque New Mexico where I attended and [resented sessions. I was lucky enough to work with two stellar educators – Ellin Keene – the author of the seminal comprehension tome Mosaic of Thought and her new book To Understand (which by the way – the copy I lost on the plane a couple weeks ago is still MIA) and her compatriot of comprehension Bruce Morgan author of Writing Through the Tween Years.

We had a great crew of about fifty teachers, reading and writing specialists and administrators- as always Heinemann ran a smooth conference – which in my book means the coffee never ran out! It was nice to be part of such a stimulating and intimate affair. I’m so lucky – I really like my job and the folks I get to work with.

Triathlon season is coming up so I continued getting ready – running in the evenings after the day’s sessions were over. Hitting the pavement @ 4pm in central New Mexico at the end of June means temps nudging the three digit mark with virtually zero humidity – not unlike running inside of a pizza oven. Add the 5300 foot elevation and this sea level Cleveland boy was left feeling like he was sucking dryer vent air through a coffee stirrer. What little cloud cover exists is more reminiscent of stretched wisps of wadding pulled from a brand new Advil bottle than any sun blocking entity. Fortunately the pavement was so hot my feet, throbbing and burning, took my mind off my imminent suffocation. It’s not often that I have to scrape melted asphalt from my running shoes. I don’t know if it is a symptom of the dry air – but the rare shade provided by the rogue sycamore seemed to drop the temperature exponentially more than I had ever noticed in more humid climes. I love you rogue sycamore trees.

It’s tough to get back home from the southwest – there are very few evening flights headed back toward Ohio so I had to stay an extra evening which allowed me time to take a cab into old town with Karen – one of Heinemann’s irascible event coordinating queens - whom I duly impressed with my bartering skills in the little shops and shared a pretty good meal which included some guacamole, very fresh and tasty.

On the one hand – the company was good and it was nice not to be racing to the airport immediately after finishing a presentation but, after a month or so away in four different states it’ll be nice to sleep in my own bed again.

Has it stopped raining in Ohio yet?