9/30/16

Jumping into October!

Well, that's it for September 2016 once the clock strikes Midnight tonight.

As I mentioned rolling into September, a flood of emotions about many issues seem to have ruled my thoughts during September. Serious health issues of my wife's parents - especially her father. Loss of our family pets. And on and on in some way all contributed to a bit of a muddle through period in our lives during September. Throwing myself into a busy Fall Semester helped, as did rehearsals for the upcoming holidays, some repairs on our aging fleet of vehicles, and a bit of focus on getting things in order in the house (interior and exterior).

Tara, Zack, and I flew out to San Francisco to spend Labor Day weekend with Tara's father. He was diagnosed with a terminal illness in August, and we wanted to visit with him. Zack returned last week to spend 5 days with his grandfather, and Tara is there this week. Obviously, it is a tough time for the entire family, but from my view - the entire family is doing everything right.

I located a hiking trail where he lives, and was able to head out for about an hour hike to enjoy a portion of their trails - not to mention the sunny California weather...

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Needless to say, an odd juxtaposition considering why we were there to visit. But exercise is a good way to clear one's thoughts, enjoy the fresh air and nature to recharge one's emotional batteries. We flew back to Iowa on Labor Day to be back at work the following day.

Two weeks later, Tara organized an excellent surprise birthday weekend on the occasion of my turning double nickels - or rather a common speed limit of 55 - at the Hotel Pattee in Perry.

I must be pretty dang easy to plan a surprise party around, as like my previous one 5 years ago, I had absolutely no clue about this one. I was only told to be ready to leave at 4:45 on a Friday and to bring my road bike along. I had no clue where we were going. Imagine my surprise when we arrived at the Hotel Pattee, checked in, and went downstairs for our 7 pm reservation for what I thought was going to be a nice quiet evening of husband and spouse chatting - and I walked into this lovely group of friends...

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Wow!

We drank, ate, danced, drank some more, danced some more, and ended the evening with a highly infectious game of couples bowling in the basement bowling alley at the Hotel Pattee.

Speaking of the post meal and what seemed like umpteen glasses of wine haze before the dancing even had begun...

Chef'sTable

Fun was had by all bowling (perhaps the intoxication enhanced the laughing and fun....), and we all managed to make it to our respective rooms a bit after Midnight. The plan was to meet at 10 am for a morning bike ride. I was a little cross eyed in the morning, but after a nice breakfast - we were off on the Raccoon River Valley Trail to get multiple hours of riding in to burn off the previous night's intake. I had a great time!

Hats off to my lovely spouse for planning a weekend with friends. It was just the shot of medicine I needed - and at the right time.

I managed to also throw in a Cyclocross Race over in Pella to keep my top end fueled knowing I wanted to do a mountain bike race or two before the snow flies. I raced in the Masters 55+ group. I wasn't dead last (came in 4th out of the 7 or 8 of us in the old man's group), but did see my highest heart rate during race for 2016 as it's a full on effort for 40-45 minutes. Mix in a slight uptick in my riding for the month compared to August, and it is now time to JUMP into the month of October with legs that feel a little better than they did in August.

Due to a rained out race last weekend, I will begin the month of October with the rescheduled mountain bike race at Lake Rebecca Park Reserve in Minnesota. I try and take in at least one or two races of neighboring state series when I can, and tomorrow is one of those opportunities.

Bike time jumped up about 20% over what I did in August.

September 4th 15.3 Miles -- Duration 1:59:07
September 6th 6.76 Miles -- Duration 00:41:45
September 8th 18.7 Miles -- Duration 1:15:04
September 10th 13.0 Miles -- Duration 1:09:44
September 11th 14.47 Miles -- Duration 1:38:55 (Including a Cross Race)
September 12th 18.3 Miles -- Duration 1:14:02
September 14th 20.8 Miles -- Duration 1:27:19
September 16th 7.81 Miles -- Duration 00:40:52
September 17th 39.7 Miles -- Duration 2:42:34
September 18th 12.9 Miles -- Duration 1:20:40
September 20th 10.9 Miles -- Duration 1:00:34
September 21st 6.88 Miles -- Duration 00:30:39
September 23rd 15.2 Miles -- Duration 00:44:58
September 24th 27.19 Miles -- Duration 1:54:00
September 25th 36.2 Miles -- Duration 2:23:05
September 26th 11.7 Miles -- Duration 1:00:46
September 27th 12.5 Miles -- Duration 1:30:02
September 29th 10.2 Miles -- Duration 00:46:12
September 30th 12.3 Miles -- Duration 00:57:27

September Total Miles: 310.81
September Total Duration: 24:57:45

And that's a wrap for September, 2016!!!

9/3/16

Rolling into September with all kinds of emotions...

I stuck to my goal of riding on dirt only - or at least mountain bikes only - for the month of August. It was a fairly light month for me on the bike compared to the rest of the year due to spending so many hours doing trail work at Lake Ahquabi to get it prepped for the race I host - The Mullet Fall Classic.

Relieved with my fellow race host, Bob Matthews, after we finished the final marking of the course the day before the race.

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My month of August on the bike...

I am Mountain Biking Only in August!

August 2nd 18.6 Miles -- Duration 1:18:48
August 4th 6.5 Miles -- Duration 00:44:53
August 5th 9.4 Miles -- Duration 00:41:53
August 6th 4.93 Miles -- Duration 00:22:40 (warm-up)
August 6th 19.6 Miles -- Duration 1:31:01 (MTB race)
August 7th 6.31 Miles -- Duration 00:52:02 (dirt lap)
August 7th 18.4 Miles -- Duration 1:12:52 (pavement MTB ride)
August 9th 13.22 Miles -- Duration 1:14:01 (taper reps L3/5 on dirt)
August 12th 8.55 Miles -- Duration 00:34:28
August 13th 6.79 Miles -- Duration 1:02:31
August 14th 22.46 Miles -- Duration 1:51:51 (MTB race)
August 19th 7.24 Miles -- Duration 00:46:00
August 20th 11.6 Miles -- Duration 00:58:18
August 21st 21.68 Miles -- Duration 2:18:19 (MTB race)
August 23rd 6.84 Miles -- Duration 00:42:23
August 24th 13.9 Miles -- Duration 1:56:13
August 30th 8.24 Miles -- Duration 00:44:09
August 31st 30.9 Miles -- Duration 1:55:22

August Total Miles: 235.16
August Total Duration: 20:47:44

Suffice it to say, this year of hosting The Mullet was draining to put on for me as we celebrated the 9th year of the event. Why draining? For one, it was due to the weather leading up to it which looked like nothing but rain until 48 hours before when things changed in favor of an excellent race day course. The second reason revolved around the addition of a Hog Roast. I took the risk to add a Hog Roast to the event since it was our year end event for the series, and series awards would be presented. Tara and I had been to a great event in Colorado last summer with roasted meat - and everyone loved it. That's really where the impetus was to bring such goodness and fun to my event in Iowa - at least to give it the old college try.

The gamble being - would enough people come to cover the expense of chip timing, portable toilets, USAC Officials, beverages, permits, and the - what proved to be controversial for some - Hog Roast?

HogRoast

The intent was not to be controversial at all, but to provide a good end-user experience for our IMBCS season finale. We had done a potluck the last few years, and I thought it was a nice time for a change - especially with the move of the race from October to August to account for the Cyclocross race schedule change due to the Jingle Cross World Cup. I've been to enough events over the years including many that always include food in the entry fee price (Dakota Five-0 being a prime example of that) to know that I wasn't doing something so different than other events who include food as part of the experience. Food trucks and vendors are not allowed at Lake Ahquabi due to the canoe shop's concession stand contract. Although I would have liked to use a vendor (although most charge a minimum that if not met through sales, I would have to cover the gap) so that those who wanted to eat could do so if they wanted to pay for the food - it just simply isn't allowed at this particular state park.

I provided sandwiches in the early years of the race, and the cost of the food was indeed included in the entry fee price. Expenses have always been included in the entry fee price, but it was the Hog Roast this year which bumped the price up $7 per racer over last year (I covered the remaining $3 out of my pocket) that created the issue. I truly thought the price of a fresh hog roast buffet, beer, water, tea, soft drinks wouldn't be a problem to enjoy for $7. Heck, a simple grilled cheese sandwich the previous week at the Sugar Bottom Scramble was $5 from the vendor (and that didn't include a beverage or any sides). We had beans, freshly made cole slaw on site, corn bread, homemade BBQ sauce, a bun, all the pig one could down, beer, tea, water, watermelon, soft drinks. Not bad for a mere $7 - or so I thought....

Not only was I going to include food in the entry price, but also each racer's choice of a t-shirt, hat, cap, or pint mug...

Red

MulletWare

All of these were included in my attempt to enhance the end-user experience.

Several balked online in a public forum at the principle of me adding food into the entry fee cost of a race. So be it. The criticism has been taken, and participant numbers may indeed have been down because of it. We had 128 racers, 6 runners, and 2 in the Kids Race - plus quite a few non-racer friends, family, and significant others that enjoyed the Hog Roast for a donation. It will all weigh in on the future for decisions of what I provide the racers, or if I even move forward with hosting an event again. Certainly, after 9 full years of doing it, if the fun of it all gets sucked out of being a host causes me to even be discussing this openly, then it is time to evaluate the premise of continuing. I'll let all the dust settle, and my energy return before making any decisions.

The amount of garbage we had to pick up - even though we had 2 large garbage cans and garbage bags easily available at the race this year - after the awards ceremony was nearly overwhelming. Some didn't even make an attempt to carry their plates, cans, bottles, etc... to the garbage cans. Several of us launched into the process and picked up everything until darkness arrived. Coming out the next day to do yet another clean sweep in the sunlight to make sure we left the place better than we found it also had me playing more of a garbage man than I felt should be needed. The parking lot was full of garbage, and the first 300 yards of the course was littered with gel wrappers. I know that is all part of the process of being a race promoter, but the task seems to grow year over year dealing with the garbage. I only mention it because it all contributes to my thought process of answering the question of "why do I do this" and do I want to do this again. One of our new beverage sponsors - Oskar Blues Brewery - has their motto on every can "pack it in, pack it out". 

We may have to have everyone learn the "pack it in, pack it out" motto next season.

The 27 who lined up to do the 4 hour Marathon in the humid mid-80's temperature weather...

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IMBCS Co-Director Cam Kirkpatrick, and my wife Tara enjoying the first sample of the 139 pound pig once it was out of the roaster... 

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I haven't really had time to digest all of the data and accounting yet as I jumped right into the first day of school at Simpson the day after the race. The next day, we had to say goodbye to our beloved family pets, Max and Zoey.

Max - at age 12 - developed a mass in his sinuses/head about three weeks ago that was causing a lot of blood to come out of his nose. We did everything we could with the veterinarian with tests, biopsy, antibiotics, Prednisone - and it all led to the reality he had a mass that was getting worse. He had a rough night on Monday, and Tuesday morning was bleeding pretty heavily out of his nose. 

He was not feeling well and I snapped this picture for my own memory...

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You can see the tear streaks in both of his eyes (especially his right eye which is the side the mass was on).  That tearing is indicative of the cancerous mass he had developed.

Zoey, at age 13, had been kept alive for nearly 18 months on very expensive medicine for her Cushing Disease, as well as pain medications for her rear hips/legs (could barely use them). We had decided when Max's health declined - if she was still alive - that it was time to provide a dignified, humane, and painless end for both of them. That day finally arrived on Tuesday.

After we fed them some of the leftover Hog Roast from the race, and some treats - we took them to the Vet for the final goodbye.

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Talk about a void in one's companionship and daily routine with both of our beloved pets gone!!!! It was tough, but the Vet assured us we were making the right decision for both of them based on their condition, health, age, and ailments.

In spite of that - it was hard to say good-bye.  Those who have been there, understand.

Compounding the emotional past week or so, we are out in California at this moment visiting my father-in-law who has received a dire diagnosis and is in the hospital. He begins Hospice care tomorrow. Again, those who have been there, understand.

It has been an emotional journey the past few weeks. The sun will rise tomorrow, and the next day, and on and on, but for now - we are going through what we are going through this Labor Day Weekend.