American Past Time - $15.00

American Past Time (signed paperback) $12.99

American Past Time
A novel by Len Joy

American Past Time (Ebook) $5.99

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Monday, July 13, 2015

The Shoehorn Made the Difference

A shoehorn cost me third place (for my age group) in the Lake Zurich Triathlon yesterday.

On June 25th, in a freak accident, which I am not going to blame on my coach even though it happened because I was waiting for her to catch up to me, I fell off my bike and cracked a back rib.

The injury, while minor, made it difficult to maintain a normal training program.  It hurt to run and I couldn’t swim because I couldn’t raise my arm over my head, but ironically, I could still bike without difficulty. However to be prudent and avoid the possibility of another freak accident I trained on the computrainer (pretty hard to fall off a stationary bike).  J.P. Bordeleau of Precision Multisport set me up on a series of rides called “Sufferlandia”.  Those training rides hurt more than falling off the bike.

So I was able to maintain a fitness level, but it was still doubtful I would be ready to race on July 12. 

A week ago, I went back to the pool to see if I could swim.  I could dog paddle, but it would have taken me an hour to finish the course.  I also tried to run, and I was fine for the first ten yards, then not so fine. 

But as they say, time heals all wounds.  Last week I was feeling much improved. I still couldn’t roll over, but I could tie my shoes and feed the cat and do other important household chores. Wednesday I went for a slow jog and it didn’t hurt.  So the Saturday before the race I went to Lake Michigan with my wetsuit – which is like wearing a life raft on your body. Lots of buoyancy which I figured might make it easier to swim. My theory was correct and once I took a few strokes my back loosened up and I could extend my arm so that my stroke was almost normal. It was a little hard to lift my head to spot for buoys but I thought I could manage it and decided to go ahead with the race.  By the way – Lake Michigan is still really cold.

It was perfect weather for the race: cloudy and cool. And Lake Zurich was 75 degrees – wetsuit legal, but comfortable.  This is a small race (about 500 competitors) and the waves were only about 60 swimmers at a time so I wasn’t too worried about getting kicked or mauled during the swim.  I didn’t quite have my normal stroke – but I just took it easy and completed the swim without incident in about 35 minutes.  In my last race I covered that distance in 32 minutes.

I had an easy transition. I had decided not to wear socks so I didn’t have to bend over and struggle to put them on. I had no problem on the bike, although as a concession to the injury I didn’t ride in aero position– as I promised my wife I would be careful. I also slowed down a lot on the corners.  Even with all the caution I averaged over 20 mph (it’s a pretty flat course). I had a good ride and it was way easier than the computrainer rides.

It was on the transition to the run that the shoehorn did me in.  I had a two part plan for managing the transitions with my limited mobility and that was to 1) skip the socks (which worked fine except that I ended up with blisters on the tops of my toes); and 2) use a long shoehorn to get my quick-tied running shoes on.  

It almost worked great.
The problem was that my sweaty sockless feet stuck to the tongue of the shoe and when I pried it on with the shoehorn – the tongue got all wrinkled. I couldn’t fix it so I had to take the shoe off and put it on the way I always do.  That escapade with the shoehorn, cost me at least twenty seconds.

Full disclosure requires that I point out that my coach (the one who IS NOT IN ANYWAY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ACCIDENT EVEN THOUGH IT HAPPENED WHILE I WAS WAITING FOR HER) has always suggested I not try anything during a race that I have not practiced beforehand (like using a shoehorn).  I almost always follow her suggestions because
1) she tends to be right MOST of the time and
2) her suggestions don’t really sound like suggestions;

I had a great run. Maybe because my legs were fresh from not running at all for two weeks.  I did the 10K at a 8:10 pace which is better than my other two races this year.

I finished in 2:45 and thought I had really good chance to make it to the podium. But I finished fourth – just .93 of a second out of 3rd place. 

I blame the shoehorn. 

Next race:  The USAT Age Group Championships  August 8, 2015 – Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Elkhart Lake Triathlon - June 13, 2015

After the race with Dan Coots

On Saturday I competed in my third Elkhart Lake Triathlon.  It is a great venue for an Olympic Tri. It is located at the Osthoff Resort on Elkhart Lake in Wisconsin.  It's spectator friendly, the lake, at least the last three years, has been smooth and reasonably warm and the bike and run courses are scenic and offer some nice hill challenges, which we don't always get in Illinois. 

My favorite part of the race is that it gives me a chance to visit my friend Dan Coots and (Nancy) who have graciously provided my wife and me with pre-race lodging at their home in Appleton.  Dan and I are proud members of the Canandaigua Academy Class of 1969. 

I finished third this year in my age group, 37 seconds behind the second place finisher and one tenth of a second ahead of the fourth place finisher. 

Here are the results for the last three years (the bike course is 28 miles instead of the standard 25 miles:
6/13/15 2:58:30 33:05 2:01 3:41 1:27:58  19.1  2:30 51:10 8:14
6/7/14 3:09:33 31:49 1:56 3:01 1:33:21  18.0  3:42 57:40 9:17
6/8/13 2:56:51 31:37 1:55 4:14 1:26:44  19.3  2:52 51:24 8:16

Race Schedule:  

Ricky Byrdsong Race Against Hate - June 21, 2015
Lake Zurich, IL Olympic Triathlon - July 12, 2015
USAT Nationals - Milwaukee - August  8, 2015

Another nice feature of this race is that they provide complimentary digital photos.




Friday, May 15, 2015

Mary Bryan Cake

My daughter Christie is making me a Mary Bryan cake for my birthday today.

In the spring of 1961 our family took a car trip to Florida. We stopped in North Carolina to visit one of my dad's Army Air Force buddies.  Mr. Hurst had a daughter, Mary Bryan (the blonde on the tractor) who baked for us a double-fudge chocolate cake.  She gave the recipe to our mom and from then on for every birthday, holiday or family gathering Mom baked what we all called a Mary Bryan cake, but I'm told others know as Texas sheet cake. I like our name better.

When we were visiting Mom in the hospital last month for her 99th birthday my sisters and I started reminiscing about the Mary Bryan cake (it's featured in most of the birthday photos my dad took). We contacted my sister Carol in Arizona and she sent us the recipe, which she had rescued when we cleaned out Mom's house.

So today when Christie asked me what kind of cake I wanted for my birthday, I told her about the Mary Bryan cake and gave her the recipe.  I'm sure it will be delicious.

A few years ago, just after my dad died, my mom made her last Mary Bryan cake (we were moving her to Assisted Living). I asked her what happened to Mary Bryan and she told me that Mary Bryan had died in a car accident several years ago.

She had had a hard life, Mom said.  Bad luck with men. Drug problems. An earlier automobile accident she never really recovered from.  I'm not sure of all the details and now it's too late to check with mom to make sure my memory is correct.

I guess it doesn't really matter. For all of us, Mary Bryan will always be that sweet little girl on the tractor. 

A couple years ago I wrote a story inspired by Mary Bryan cake that was published in the Foundling Review. Here is the link to that story (it's only 500 words):

Mary Bryan Cake