American Past Time - $15.00


American Past Time (signed paperback) $9.99

American Past Time
A novel by Len Joy

American Past Time (Ebook) $3.99

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Wednesday is the First Day of the Rest of My Life

             In March, after my annual physical flagged an increase in my PSA level, I had a biopsy done, which revealed I had early stage prostate cancer.  I want to say “VERY early stage,” but as writers we learn to avoid the use of meaningless adjectives. 

            My doctor outlined the treatment options.  The first option was “watchful waiting,” but that seemed most appropriate if it looked like there was something else on your health horizon that would kill you before the cancer did.  The second choice was radiation.  That would require going to the hospital every morning for six months at six a.m.  It would clearly interfere with my 5 a.m. workouts.  The third option was surgery, either standard incision or robotic. The robots took four hours and the surgeon only took one, so I opted for the old-school approach.

            The doctor then outlined all the possible side effects. None of them were appealing. I’m planning on “None of the above.” 

            Then it was just a matter of scheduling. I told the doctor I had a book launch scheduled for early April.  He said that wouldn’t be a problem because his calendar was full until May.  Then I told him I had qualified for the USAT Nationals in August and had been training all winter. I really didn’t want to miss that race. He looked like a runner so I think he understood. He said he had no problem with me waiting until after the race.

            Then I remembered that I’d signed up to run in the Wisconsin Marathon with my coach in early October. The doctor gave me a funny look and told me to forget about the marathon.

            Before I competed in the Ironman at Coeur d’Alene they told us that the only thing we could control during the race was our attitude. In every race since then I’ve been sticking an Ironman tattoo on my shoulder (the kind that wash off) to remind me of that.  Tomorrow I’m going to use one of those tattoos as part of the pre-op prep.  Then on Wednesday I will have the surgery.

I am expecting a good outcome. 

Prayers welcomed.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Argument for Unrealistic Goals

USAT Nationals - Milwaukee - The day before the race

 The Argument for Unrealistic Goals

“Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what's a heaven for?”


                I began my blog on July 28, 2009.  I explained that the purpose of the blog was to chronicle my development as a writer and as a triathlete. I wisely didn’t come up with any specific goals for writing, but for my triathlon career I was clear:   

   “My goal is to finish in the top ten at the USAT National Age Group Championship for the 60-64 year old age group. I will turn 60 in 2011 so at least I’ll have youth going for me.”

            It turned out that youth was not enough.  I first competed in the Nationals in 2009 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  It was hot and humid and we swam in a river against the current and the water temperature was 84 degrees.  I became dehydrated and my legs cramped so bad I had to withdraw after the first mile of the race. So I finished last.

            In 2011 I made it back to the Nationals, which was held in mountainous but cool Vermont.  During that race my new front-mounted water bottle fell off and I wasted five minutes getting it reassembled.  Managed to finish in 2 hours 59 minutes and 41 seconds. So at least I was under three hours and I finished 43rd out of 48, so I moved up from last to the top 90% (or for the glass half empty folks: bottom 10%).

            I took a break from the Nationals in 2012 to try the Ironman at Coeur d’Alene.  For that race, time didn’t matter as long as I finished before they all went home. When I crossed the finish line I heard the announcement:  “Len Joy, age 61 in his first Ironman…Age 61! Len Joy you are an Ironman.”  That was cool and for a few weeks after that I thought seriously about entering another Ironman, but I got over it. 

            The USAT Nationals moved to Milwaukee in 2012. I really wanted to race there and I entered five races trying to qualify. Finally, a month before the race I qualified at the Regional championship in Ann Arbor. 

Race day in Milwaukee was perfect. Cool and sunny and the water was calm. I swam okay, but got a little off course when my goggles fogged up. I hit it hard on the bike course, averaging over 20 mph, but then I didn’t have much left for the run. And when my hamstring tweaked at the end of mile two I had to slow to a jog. I finished in 2 hours fifty minutes, but with that nine minute improvement I had climbed all the way to the 82nd  percentile. 

            Yesterday I raced in my fourth USAT National event. It was in Milwaukee again, so I had the advantage of knowing the course. Knew what to expect. I had learned through these years of training that I wasn’t going to show up on race day and all of sudden be thirty minutes faster –which is what I would have to be in order to make the top ten in the age group. 

            I just wanted to have a solid race that reflected all the training I had done. Wanted to execute the plan I had worked out with my coach (Heather Collins). I wanted to finish strong.

            And that’s what I did. I stayed on course in the swim, ran through the transitions, controlled my effort on the bike so that my legs would be fresh for the run. On the run, my hamstrings cramped up on mile one and two, but this year I knew how to work through that and while it hurt my time, I still managed a pace of 8:11. Not great, but not bad either.  I crossed the finish line in 2 hours 42 minutes – which put me in the 62nd percentile.

            I was 21 minutes behind the 10th place finisher – a huge amount and not something I’m going to be able to overcome next year – my last year in the 60-64 age group.  But the 10th place finisher in the 65-69 age group had a time of ONLY 2 hours 28 minutes. 

So I have a new goal:

            Top 10 finisher in 2016 when I will be 65. I just need to pare fourteen minutes from my time. 

I’m sure I can do that.






Sunday, August 3, 2014

"The Birdhouse Builder"

Today's story is fictionalized non-fiction.  Faction?  It originally appeared in FWRICTION: REVIEW so I guess it's fiction. But true. Not true events, just true feelings.  How about "inspired by true events?"  The picture below was taken in August 2008 a few weeks before my dad died. It was his last good week. The ladies in the picture are my mom and three sisters, Christine, Carol and Kendra.


We’re in the seasonal interregnum. The last winter snow hangs on in the shadows of my parents’ two-story colonial, while the first wave of migratory birds circle the neighborhood, checking out the accommodations. Dad wants to reconstruct the birdhouse. The son of a farmer, he can fix broken things. Build stuff. Use tools the right way. I have none of those skills. As a boy I was his unhappy assistant. “Hand me the needle-nose,” he would say, his arm reaching back, head buried in the bowels of the cranky Maytag washing machine. I would stare at the battlefield of tools surrounding him and try to pick one that resembled a needle nose. I usually guessed wrong.