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American Past Time
A novel by Len Joy

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Monday, October 25, 2010

The Triathlon Goal for 2011



My plan is to compete at Lake Havasu in March, Tempe Town Lakes in May, Keuka Lake in early June and then qualify for the Nationals at the Evergreen Lake Race on July 17, 2011. The Nationals will be sometime in August in Burlington, Vermont.

I'll need to make significant improvements in all areas to achieve the goal. It is attainable, but it is going to take a serious training commitment.
When I started this blog in July 2009, I set a goal to make it to the USAT National Age-Group Championship in 2011 and to finish in the top ten for my age-group, which in 2011 will be 60 to 64.

 
I managed to qualify and compete in the Nationals in 2009 in the 55-59 year old age group, but I didn't finish the race, because of hamstring cramps. This year, I competed in three Olympic distance events and two 70.3 Ironman events.

In my July 2009 blog entry I projected that I would need a time of 2 hours 30 minutes to make it to 10th place in the Nationals. Based on last year's results, I think that a time of 2 hours 34 minutes will be good enough. Here is how I did this year and my what I think it will take to qualify for the Nationals:
RACE
Distance
Date
Total Time
Swim
Time / 100
T1
Bike
MPH
T2
Run
Min/ Mile
Div Place
Lake Havasu Olympic -Tri
3/20/10
2:51:47
0:28:48
1:45
2:10
1:23:51
17.9
1:50
0:55:07
8:49
3/6
Tempe Intern'l Olympic -Tri
5/16/10
2:49:19
0:33:13
2:01
2:10
1:18:31
19.1
1:50
0:53:32
8:34
12/22
Keuka Lake Tri Olympic -Tri
6/6/10
3:05:29
0:39:13
2:37
2:29
1:26:39
17.3
1:50
0:55:18
8:55
6/7
Musselman 70.3 Ironman
7/11/10
6:21:40
0:41:43
1:59
2:50
3:07:26
18.0
4:07
2:25:34
11:07
14/28
Steelhead 70.3 Ironman
7/31/10
6:09:29
0:39:21
2:03
4:42
2:59:26
18.7
4:14
2:21:46
10:50
27/44
Wisconsin Half-Marathon
5/1/10
1:49:05
1:49:05
8:19
257/1948
Ricky Byrdsong
10K
0:48:48
0:48:48
7:52
4/22
GOAL
Burlington, VT Nationals
August
2:34:00
0:29:00
1:46
2:00
1:13:00
20.6
2:00
0:48:00
7:53
10th

Friday, October 22, 2010

Without a Trace

My short story, "Without a Trace," is now published on the webzine, the Foundling Review.  This issue features stories by Elaine Chiew, Doug Campbell, Mel Bosworth, Ethel Rohan, Jason Jordan, Ajay Vishwanathan, Nathaniel Tower, Gay Degani and Jack Swenson.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Age Limits


Why do they ride for their money
Tell me why do they ride for short pay

They ain't a'gettin' nowhere 
And they're losin' their share
Boy, they must've gone crazy out there  
Son, they all must be crazy out there

          “Night Riders Lament” by Garth Brooks

“Why?” is a common question for endurance athletes. If we’re not asking it of ourselves someone else is asking us why we do what we do. I used to think that someday I might compete in a full Ironman, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. I tell myself that it just takes too much training time, but the truth is I’m starting to think I’m too old for that distance.

There is no denying age in the triathlon world. One of the attractions of the sport is that you compete in your own age group. The only good thing about turning sixty next year is that I get to move up to the 60-64 year age group. I won’t have to compete against all those 55 year old kids.

In the past as I planned for an upcoming season of competition I usually predicted improvements in all events. That wasn’t totally unrealistic. I am relatively new to competitive swimming and my instructors don’t seem to have run out of suggestions for how to improve my stroke. This year my swim times improved significantly. Same thing with the bike. When I started doing sprint triathlons five years ago, my average time on the bike was around 17 mph and that was for twelve miles. This year at the Steelhead 70.3 Ironman I averaged nearly 19 mph for 56 miles. Better equipment has definitely helped and finally this year I actually got out on the road and trained with other competitors. It does make a difference.

Running is where I’ve broken down. Tight hamstrings, sore feet, tired legs. At Steelhead my run time was at an average pace of 10:50. That’s a good walking pace. My goal had been to run that segment at a nine minute pace (or better), but I didn’t come close in either race. I had cramping issues, but even when I overcame them my legs didn’t seem inclined to move very fast.

Denial has always been one of my better qualities. But it’s getting harder to invoke with all the nagging injuries and ailments. I’m not ready to give up, especially not when I get to be the young guy again next year, but there are some days when I ask myself why.

Maybe Garth is right.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Novel So Far - One Year Later



A year ago (October 9, 2009) I posted on this blog a report on my three year novel-writing endeavor. I concluded:

So it has now been three years since I started working on the novel. I’ve learned a lot in those three years, and managed to get several short fiction pieces published (including one of the chapters of the novel.)

Over the last couple of weeks I thought about whether I should continue with this project or start fresh on a new novel. I decided I’m not ready to give up on it yet. I’m going to hire another editor to give me a fresh perspective and then I’m going to write it one more time.


Hey - it’s only been three years—and it’s nowhere near the size of a Chicago phonebook. And I don’t look as old as that guy in the picture. Not yet, anyway.

So I started rewriting in November and by the time I attended the summer workshops at Skidmore and Norman Mailer I had another forty thousand words written. The workshops helped me to see what was working and what wasn’t. When I returned from Provincetown I had a clear vision of how to finish the novel.

I finished it (again) last month and have sent copies out to a couple of trusted reader / writers for feedback.

I have also hired  Marita Golden who was my instructor at The Norman Mailer Writers Colony to give the manuscript a critical reading. I am hopeful that she will identify the novel’s weaknesses and provide me with some ideas on how I can make it better.

It’s a good novel. I have a lot of confidence in the work, but I’m not satisfied that it is as good as I can possibly make it. And until it is I’m not going to send it out. I think I am getting close.

While I’ve been waiting for the feedback, I’ve been working on the query letter that I would send to literary agents to persuade them to represent me. Here’s my latest version:

Dear Ms Agent:


Dancer Stonemason hadn’t always been considered a failure. Fifty years ago he had a free-spirited pregnant wife, a son (Clayton) who thought he was perfect, and an offer to pitch for the St. Louis Cardinals. Baseball was Dancer’s life, but when he upheld the honor of the game, he lost everything – his career, his marriage and Clayton’s belief in him. Now Dancer’s a recovering alcoholic living in a trailer park on the outskirts of Maple Springs, Missouri, washing cars for his younger son. He’s reconciled to the world, but not to Clayton. When Dancer fails to show for his granddaughter’s wedding rehearsal he sets in motion a series of events that force Dancer and Clayton to finally come to terms with their imperfect lives and with each other.


Told against the backdrop of America’s postwar challenges from Little Rock to Viet Nam to Iraq, AMERICAN JUKEBOX is a mainstream novel (74,000 words) about how the decisions we make when we are young can reverberate through the decades effecting the lives of everyone we love. It will appeal to readers who enjoy Elmore Leonard, Richard Russo and Tawni O’Dell.


An excerpt from the novel was published by Annalemma Magazine in October 2009. In recent months I have had stories published in Pindeldyboz, Hobart, 3AM Magazine, The Daily Palette (Iowa Review) and Slow Trains.


I have attached the first chapter and look forward to hearing from you.


Len Joy

So I guess now I’ve been at this for four years. I hope by next October I won’t need to make another status report.