Friday, July 11, 2014

Winner, winner. Chicken dinner.

The Schmitty train pulled into Grand Ledge, Michigan last weekend to celebrate the 4th with the family of Schmitty #4 and to run the "Duo at The Ledge" Half Marathon. They call it the "duo" because runners can run the half marathon in the morning and then go out and run the 5k soon thereafter. Cheeky monkeys.

The Duo at The Ledge is the very definition of a small town race. And I loved it. Goliath sized races are becoming so overblown (I'm looking right at you Chicago). These small races are where it's at. Everything about the race was easy and low stress. The volunteers were cheerful and everything was top shelf...as far as a small race is concerned. Easy parking, walk-right-up-to-the-table-on-race-day packet pickup, a full pre-race spread with bagels, fruit, sweet rolls and coffee and -- perhaps most importantly -- zero lines for the facilities (ding!). Yet just like any large, commercial, for profit race, the anthem was sung, electronic timing commenced (with immediate race results), there were fully stocked aid stations, a couple of photographers and an announcer at the finish. Perfect.

The course set out on country-ish roads...some of them dirt. It was a lot of fun. Like an fully supported training run on a random Saturday in July. Maybe 120 or so locals toe'd the line for the half. And it was a morning of brotherly love as Schmitty #2 was charged with pacing Schmitty #4 to a half marathon PR. And we had a blast. The miles ticked by, the conversation was light. We were killing it...that is until mile 9.5. A testament to family genetics, Schmitty #4 had that sudden urgent need to pull off into the weeds (there's some word play to be mined here about "runs in the family" but it's currently too wordy...let me work on it and get back to you). Now, I want to make it perfectly clear - there is absolutely no shame in having to answer nature's call during a race...it is the scourge of pro and age groupers a like. I myself have faced the intestinal devil during many a race. That said, my responsibilities as a race pacer ended there. I live by the warriors credo of leaving no man behind....except for "that." And "that" is definitely a you problem not a me problem. I wished him "a good one" and we parted ways.

I cruised on to mile 10 where I happened upon the shiny morning time faces of Jen, Emily (SIL) and my two nephews.  Everyone cheering - well except for Jen who, as only an endurance spouse can, lovingly shouted "What's you're problem! You're running too slow! Go get those guys!" Well played Jen, well played. She said go...so I went, covering the last 5k at right around a 6:55 pace. Which moved me past a couple guys in my age group scoring Schmitty a first ever AG road win. Granted it wasn't a PR and yeah it was a small field but hey, you can only race against the dudes that dare to show up. Go me.

I am happy to report that Schmitty #4 recovered quickly from his detour and was that amount of time off his own PR. Bummer. You ran a great race and The Triathlife salutes you - SALUTE! Next time Schmitty #4 you will conquer the intestinal menace and victory shall be yours!

- HIM

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tuesday Scramble - June 24, 2014

It's the Tuesday scramble. Pleasant Prairie Triathlon edition.

Back and better than ever:
Swimmun an bikun an runnun
Jen's return to triathlon was made official over the weekend by competing in the Pleasant Prairie sprint distance -- just six months post double mastectomy and three months post reconstruction surgery. Seems like so much longer than that -- but when you're in the eye of the storm it always does. 

Jen has come out the other side of the off-season a very different person from the one that finished the Chicago Triathlon last August. Speaking as someone who witnessed Jen's every moment these past six months, this day celebrated BRAVE. She bravely faced her genetic test results...bravely took the preventative hard road...bravely "re-learned" how to carry stuff, stretch, do push-ups, perform planks...bravely put her swim suit back on and faced a public locker room in a new body laced with fresh scars...bravely got back in the pool...bravely got back to racing. 

I know it still feels very odd and different for you Jen but it was really good to see you get your race grit back on -- girl power and all that stuff;)

Post script: The Triathlife would like to thank all of you for your thoughts, prayers, emails, cards, texts and shout outs on the social media. I know it has meant a great deal to Jen. We have some totally freaky awesome family, friends and co-workers. The Triathlife salutes all of you. SAAA-LUTE!

Ok - now back to me - MEEEEEEEEEEE!
The wrist is back to mostly normal. But my kingdom for a fully functioning thumb! Just going to have to deal with it I suppose. I only had to take one week off from the pool but it had been two weeks since I was on a bike out on the road (I stayed in-doors on the trainer in aero since supporting myself on my left hand was quite painful).

On Saturday I didn't want my stoopid long training to be a  kink in Jen's pre-race logistics so we headed up to Pleasant Prairie early in the AM and I left on my bike from south east Wisconsin to parts unknown (leaving Jen to navigate packet pick up and to do some serious damage at the outlet malls). Being on unfamiliar roads I am always more comfortable navigating on my road bike. So I was forced to deal with my wrist/thumb on the "roads" around Kenosha. I can still feel every seam and separation of pavement (honestly Kenosha...its like a magnitude 7.3 earthquake just hit!). But it wasn't all bad. The Wisconsin farm land does make fer some purty ridin'. And most of the country-ish roads are in good shape. Outside of some really poor navigational choices, two very large Cujo farm dogs and the sudden 15 minute storm burst....well, it was one fine day to be out on my two wheeled steed.

Jen hates it when I go out riding alone. But similar to when I go for my long runs, I very mush enjoy the solitude. And I really like exploring. Map, shmap...just pointed my bike in a direction and looked for roads that were appealing. Granted, it's a bit of a gamble but it made for a very interesting 85 miles.

Give me a G!
There's a lake back there somewhere
Triathlon is a community sport. And Pleasant Prairie is certainly a community race for us in that we are bound to run into familiar faces.

This year was no exception. Special shout out to Monica, Jeremy, Jeff, Jim -- it was good seeing all of you as usual. And special shout out to Jen's work pals from Gatorade. For many this was their first Triathlon of any distance. I think everyone had a great time out despite the 90 minute fog delay.

And a special Triathlife salute to Monica and "Brooke" for your AG podium finishes. The Triathlife salutes you -- SAAAA-LUTE!



Monday, June 9, 2014

Monday Scramble - June 9, 2014

It's the Monday scramble.

Falling down is hard
Just wish one of these times when I get injured that I had a good story to go with it.

After putting in about 3.5 hours of epic southwest suburban Chicago road miles on Saturday morning, I decided to bypass the worsening traffic with some flatland TT miles along Centennial and I&MC Trails. It's about 13 miles from the Willow Springs Road trail head to 135th near Romeoville. The first 5 miles west of Willow Spring road are crap (now that they tore up the newer north of the canal trail for construction work) but if you can stand that kidney buster section without jettisoning any water bottles, then the last 8 are smooth sailing....no stop signs and very little traffic in terms of other riders.

Thanks Walgreens!
On my return trip out by Lemont Road, distracted by my own thoughts and assessing upcoming traffic (cars/bikes), I completely missed the brightly colored steel gate lock thing on the ground at the trail head. Down I went. Hard. Hand, elbow, knee, hip, shoulder...in that order. There's no bailing off your bike when you're clipped in. The clipless pedals giveth and the clipless pedal taketh away...a lot of skin and ego. I shooed away any help and pity from curious onlookers, made sure my wheels were true, hopped back on the saddle and pedaled away as quickly as I could. My left hand hurt from impact and my left knee bled like a warrior. I held up really well the remainder of the ride, still felt ok when I got home and even after walking Lance. But upon waking from a quick nap my left wrist stopped working and was barking up a storm. So then, yada yada ER at Loyola Medical Center...yada yada clean x-ray...yada, yada sprained ligament/tendon...yada, yada I'm wearing a black wrist brace. I think my tweet on Saturday sums up my feelings.
All Hail Jesse - Winner of Eagleman 81.3!
The pro triathlete that I stalk My bestie and pro triathlete Jesse Thomas made a critical error over the weekend and added 11 miles to his ride at Eagleman IM70.3. Jesse still held it together and finished in a respectable 4:31 (see his race report here). I wouldn't have thought him any less if he had chosen to bail out of the race as soon as he realized his mistake, but I so do love that he finished. Too many pros in that position would have called it a day and saved themselves for the next race. But for us age groupers who deal with our own race highs and race lows, I find that sticking it out and finishing strong to be more inspirational than winning (and Jesse wins a lot). Jesse, The Triathlife salutes you. Saaaa-lute!

All Hail Amanda Wendorff - 2nd Place F35-39, Eagleman 70.3!
Friend of The Triathlife Amanda placed 2nd in her AG over the weekend at Eagleman IM70.3. Schmitty owes Amanda many thanks for turning him on to Swedish style swim goggles. Hey Amanda, looks like the long sleeve/heat acclimation training worked! The Triathlife salutes you. Saaaa-lute!

-HIM