Saturday, December 28, 2013


December 29, 1973

It doesn't seem like it was yesterday

Here are some things I have remembered for four decades:
  • I forgot the wedding ring. 
  • My high school and college friends played poker in my hotel room the night before and kept me up. High school beat college. Badly. 
  • Suzanne’s Uncle Hank gave us 5 hundred dollar bills. That would be about a jillion dollars today.
  •  I can’t recall any of the other wedding gifts, but I do remember that Tim McGinnis, a fellow DEKE, bought us a popcorn popper but then he couldn’t make it to the wedding so he kept the popper. Some things you never forget.
  • They weren’t selling gas on weekends due to the Arab oil embargo so we had to take a Greyhound bus for our honeymoon to Montreal. The bus was packed and we couldn’t sit together. I sat in the back with convicts who were returning from prison furlough. Years later I used that incident as the inspiration for my short story, Riding a Greyhound Bus into the New World, which took 3rd place in the Canadian Writers Collective Short Story Contest (you didn’t have to be Canadian to enter).
  • Suzanne was a beautiful bride.
  • She still is.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Evanston Flying Turkey 5K - November 28, 2013

On Thanksgiving I ran in the 3rd annual Flying Turkey 5K, which is held along Evanston's lakefront. They give you a special button if you can beat the guy dressed like a turkey, but he's too fast.

It was a great course, and while it was cold for spectating (25 degrees) it was great for running. I finished second in my age group with a 23:15 time, about 30 seconds faster than last year. My coach (Heather Collins) specializes in coaching old people. Or at least she should.

Sue Leoni, Lois Moeller (2nd in the 71-74 age group), Me and the Turkey

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Skaneateles Weekend

            Len            Suzanne                           Mom             Carol Vecchi              Kendra Witter         Stephen  Joy

Every year as many of my family members as can make visit Skaneateles to visit Mom (97 this year) and enjoy one last week of summer recreation. 

For those who aren’t content to just enjoy the beauty of Skaneateles Lake
 or dine in their restaurants
 or shop,

they have races.  This year I competed for the fifth time in the Skinnyman Triathlon and for the first time in the Race from the Judge, which is a mile-long swim from the dinner cruise boat Judge Ben Wills.
 There is also a bike time trial (all uphill) which I judiciously avoided.  Maybe next year.

 I took second place in my age group in the triathlon and finished the mile swim in 32 minutes 31 seconds which was just 13 minutes slower than the first place finisher. They have some fast swimmers here.   

Stephen      Len     Tom
  after the Tri

Tom Vecchi anticipating another Notre Dame victory


Sunday, August 11, 2013

USAT Age Group National Championship - Milwaukee, WI - August 10, 2013

Before the race with my official photographer

When I started this blog in 2009, one of my objectives was to chronicle my plan to participate in the USAT Championship and to achieve a top ten finish.  That wasn’t a realistic goal, but most of my goals aren’t.

I managed to qualify in 2009 and went off to Birmingham where I had the worst race experience of my life.  Birmingham in mid-August is not what anyone would think of as a fun venue for a triathlon. To make it more challenging they had us swim in a river against the current. I wasn’t ready to compete with those guys that first year and as it turned out, I didn’t. My legs cramped up so badly that I withdrew from the race after the first mile. So call it a last place finish. 

In 2011 I again qualified and that year they held the race in Burlington, Vermont.  Hilly, but about 30 degrees cooler than Alabama. That year I had some self-inflicted problems with my bike, but at least I finished the race.  I was 34th out 38 in my age-group. 

This year they had the championship in Milwaukee. It was a great location – I didn’t have to fly somewhere – it’s flat like Illinois and we got to swim in Lake Michigan – so a great venue for me.
And this year, for the first time I felt much less like an imposter sneaking into the game. I didn’t have any expectations of finishing in the top ten, but I’m competitive now and could at least come close(r) to those podium-finishers.

I vowed to follow the race plan that I had carefully developed with my coach Heather Collins of Precision Multisport .  Mike Tyson used to say, “Everyone has a plan until you punch them in the face...”  but I actually stuck with the plan even after being kicked hard in the face twice in the first five minutes of the swim.

In fact for me the most satisfying thing about the race was that I did what I set out to do:

·         Breathe bilaterally on the swim (i.e. breathe on both sides;) I tend to abandon that pattern during races, but this time I stuck with it;

·         Race through the transitions instead of treating them as snack breaks.

·         Stay above 22 mph on the flats during the bike.

·         Push the run (meaning suffer). 
Unfortunately I had tweaked my hamstring a couple of weeks ago and despite great treatment help from Tony Breithbach at The Wellness Revolution, on the first mile of the run the hamstring pain returned.  Every time I tried to run hard it seized up on me, so I had to maintain a jogging pace. It was frustrating to see all of those 60 plus guys that I had passed on the bike pass me back on the run. 

I finished in about 2 hours 49 minutes (haven’t seen the official results yet) and I am pretty sure with that time I will be in the slower half of my age group. But I finished and even with the slow run I improved from the previous race.
Wait till next year.


Monday, July 15, 2013

Evergreen Lake Triathlon - July 13, 2013

Christine Anderson - 2011

On Saturday I competed in the Evergreen Lake Olympic Distance Triathlon near Normal, Illinois.  This is the fourth year that I've run this race.  My best previous finish was 5th but this year I finished 2nd so I stayed for the awards ceremony.

They had a podium and they made us get up on it so that they could take our picture. I thought it would be nice to post a podium picture instead of the same old photos of the old tired guy running, biking or swimming. I even wore my C'oeur d'Alene Ironman hat to hide my bad hair.

Unfortunately so far they haven't been able to find that podium shot so until they do I thought I would just repost this shot of Christine Anderson finishing her run at Evergreen from a couple years ago.

Patrick McCreary won for our age group, as he has every year that I've entered the race. However this year he only beat me by 11 minutes down from 20 minutes the last time we raced. I figure a couple more years and I'll have him.

Here are the results:

Patrick McCreary 62 33:13.9 01:17.6 1:07:19 22.1 01:12.1 49:52.7 8:02 2:32:56
Len Joy 62 36:40.6 01:58.7 1:11:16 20.9 01:41.0 52:14.0 8:25 2:43:50
Reid Hansen 62 38:06.8 01:54.6 1:10:41 21.1 02:18.8 02:18.8 10:02 2:55:20
Scott Richardson 62 37:59.7 02:22.5 1:12:18 20.6 02:09.3 03:09.2 10:10 2:57:58
Jim McIntyre 61 41:33.6 02:46.4 1:20:15 18.5 01:41.1 01:00.0 9:49 3:07:16
Mark Frederiksen 64 34:46.9 03:38.3 1:24:32 17.6 02:54.2 04:06.5 10:19 3:09:58
Charles Stengel 60 39:12.0 03:11.1 1:11:35 20.8 03:59.6 15:27.4 12:09 3:13:25
Dan Powell 63 39:38.1 03:06.3 1:24:04 17.7 01:34.8 07:57.2 10:57 3:16:20
Bruce Duffield 61 54:22.2 05:21.8 1:32:01 16.2 02:21.3 59:52.6 9:38 3:33:58
Robert Trippel 62 37:00.8 03:02.1 1:10:37 21.1 03:40.1  

No Wetsuits allowed

Monday, July 1, 2013

An Almost Perfect Race

Yesterday I competed in the USAT Mideast Regional Championship. The race was held near Waterloo, Michigan - about 30 miles west of Ann Arbor. 

When I first start competing in Olympic Distance triathlons seven years ago (.9 mile swim, 25 mile bike, 6.25 mile run) my goal was to finish a race in 2 hours 30 minutes.  My somewhat naive assumption was that I could complete all of those events individually in that amout of time so with some training I should be able to do them back to back to back. 

It didn't work out that way. I managed to break 3 hours but I have never had a race time under 2 hours 45 minutes.

Conditions for the regional championship were perfect.  Cool temperatures, no wind, easy to spot swim buoys (staying on course on the swim has always been a challenge for me), easy rolling hills for the bike course and a scenic trail through a shaded forest for the run.  There were only about 200 competitors so the tranisition area was compact, which meant faster transition times, too. 

For years I have been expecting a breakout race where I finally knock serious minutes of my personal best. But progress to date has been glacial.  Until yesterday. 

Yesterday I had personal bests on the bike (averaging 21.5 mph) and the run (7:56 pace per mile) and had my second best time ever on the swim.  I was actually in second place for my age group into the last mile of the race, but was passed by Squires and Baas just before the finish line, pushing me back to 4th place. 

Nevertheless it was a great race and I was thrilled to finish in 2 hours 33 minutes.  Just three minutes short of my original goal.  And fifteen minutes faster than my previous best time for this distance.

Here were the results for my age group:

Male 60 to 64
Swim T1 Bike T2 Run Total Overall
Place Name Time Time Time Time Time Time Place
1 Robert Rossbach 28:33:00 1:13 1:08:38 0:59 50:16:00 2:29:40 99
2 D Mark Squires 31:43:00 1:10 1:09:26 0:54 49:07:00 2:32:21 108
3 Ed Baas 26:07:00 1:11 1:18:37 0:58 45:52:00 2:32:47 112
4 Len Joy 30:16:00 2:16 1:09:45 1:18 49:28:00 2:33:05 114
5 Michael Lindley 29:36:00 1:56 1:14:59 1:03 50:41:00 2:38:17 129
6 Mike Morris 40:11:00 1:50 1:16:22 0:43 48:46:00 2:47:54 160
7 James Weaver 34:00:00 1:23 1:15:33 1:23 1:04:04 2:56:25 179
8 James O'Brien 48:31:00 2:12 1:15:57 1:05 49:12:00 2:57:00 181

Next Race:  Evergreen Lake Olympic Triathlon - July 13, 2013

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

BOX Evanston - 739 Main Street, Evanston, IL

My friend, Fernando Rivera has a gym in Evanston where he provides boxing instruction as well as other fitness classes like Pilates and Yoga. 
He invited me to try a class and so this morning I met him for a one hour "light" workout.
Fernando's clients range from the very young to the not so very young and from beginners to advanced, although if you looked at his website photos - BOX Evanston  - you might think that all he trains are young, very fit women. 

I discovered that some of the same form challenges which I encounter in triathlon training such as staying balanced and maintaining a tight core are also critical for proper boxing technique.
It was a challenging cardio workout but the time went by very fast.  Fernando's an excellent trainer. He was able to demonstrate and encourage with good humor so that all of the sessions were fun. He enjoys what he is doing and that makes a huge difference when you are trying to learn something new. 
If you live in the Evanston area and are interested in a different kind of workout give him a call at 224-999-0288
Dangerous Lefty

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Elkhart Lake Triathlon Results - June 8, 2013

Woody's maxim proved true for my goal of qualifying for USAT Nationals.  This was my third attempt and all I had to do was finish 5th in my age group.  It turned out there were only 7 competitors in the 60-64 age cohort and one of them dropped out during the bike segment, so I just had to finish ahead of someone. Which I did.  I finished 5th, a couple minutes ahead of Sam Hill, who finished sixth. I could probably find another pithy maxim referencing Sam Hill.

It was a perfect day for a race - partly cloudy, cool and no wind. The water, while a little coolish at 63 degrees was like a mirror and the bike course, while not exactly flat, had mostly rolling hills and again no wind.  The best part of the race though was that the final two miles of the run were downhill.

I had a good race. The bike course was 2.4 miles longer than I anticipated so my actual time is hard to compare, but I averaged 19.4 mph, which was close to my goal of 19.7 mph.

It was a very well organized race in a spectator-friendly venue. I would race here again.

Here are my race results this year:
Min/ Mile
Goal - Elkhart
Act - Elkhart

 Note:  The Elkhart bike course was 2.4 miles longer than the other races and the run from swim to transition was twice as long.