Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Greater Cleveland Tri - Volunteer Report

I have two reports to write and I have been very lax in getting it done. However, each report I feel has important messages.

Almost two weeks ago was the Greater Cleveland Triathlon. I have helped out the RD, Mickey, with this race from the beginning. Last year I assembled the team to work the transition area. This year I returned with another crew to help with body marking, traffic control, motorcycle coordination, transition security, bike check, mount/dismount line and anything else we could help with.

Aimee and I arrived by 5:15AM so that I could coordinate the troops prior to the transition area opening at 5:30. We needed markers. I needed answers to some last minute questions. We checked the numbers on the bike racks.

The athletes slowly started trickling in and we tried to make sure they were ready for the race. Timing chip, security bracelet, bike number, body marking, end caps in their handlebars. The idea was to make sure they had everything taken care of before going into transition.

There was the occasional bottle neck when someone didn't have their timing chip or security bracelet on but we had two of us checking for these things so the flow into transition was steady.

Considering that everyone who was helping out knows quite a bit about racing we were able to answer many newbie questions. Anything we could do to help people have a fun and successful race was done.....short of racing for them.

There were four race categories...International/Sprint triathlon and duathlon. Overall we didn't care what races people were in except for Aimee. She was sending out the motorcycle escorts with the leaders of each category. I was watching for the first sprint triathlete so I could give Aimee and heads up to send out the motorcycle.

As I noticed the wet shorts and saw ST on his calf I yelled at Aimee, "The guy in the purple top!!!" Well this freaked out the guy because I saw him look back like he did something wrong. I told him to keep going. At least Aimee knew who the motorcycle should go with.

At the mount line we kept on telling people when they could get on their bikes and to have a good ride. This is a great way to see ALL of the athletes and to see the many different ways people get on their bikes.

We cheered for everyone until the transition area was empty. For a brief while we had to handle two-way traffic until the last several people finally left transition. The sprint racers were coming back fast.

Overall everything was running smoothly. Some slight issues on the run course but nothing tragic. Also some misdirection on the bike course.

I really enjoyed cheering for my friends from the front row.

The athletes were very well behaved as we asked them to wait before entering transition. The RD indicated in the athlete package that transition would not be open for finishers until all bikes had returned from the course. We made a judgment call and opened up the area with about 95% of the bikes back into transition. We just made sure the returning athletes were given top priority in transition over people removing their gear.

Now to the "important" portion of the report and this has absolutely nothing to do with the athletes. If you recall Aimee was working with the motorcycle escorts. She has been doing this for the past 2 or 3 years. The same guys show up and she does a good job with them.

The guys are from the Cleveland Harley Owners Group....or H.O.G.s. Six guys show up to provide escort for the leaders and transportation for the two USAT officials who handle the race.

Post race Aimee shared two fantastic stories about these guys.

HOG #1: This guy was so inspired watching the race last year he....

  • Quit smoking
  • Dropped 20 pounds
  • Started running
Aimee gave this guy a little fist bump and congratulated him on his changes.

HOG #2: This guy was with the leader of the race, Jim LaMastra I believe. First bike out on the course. As they approached one of the intersections a car was blocking the direction arrow and the police officer seemed to wave them in the wrong direction.

Once he returned to the transition area he felt so bad about what happened he wanted to pay for the triathletes race fee. He wanted to PAY..HIM..BACK. Reimburse. Sorry for what happened. It wasn't even the HOGs fault.

Each year Aimee says the same thing. These are the nicest group of guys she has ever met....well maybe besides me....but she enjoys talking with them each year.

Game On HOGs......Game On.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Momma said knock you out

So much to blog about and so little time. Haven't I said that before? I think I have a volunteer report and a race report to write. Plus there are three other "important" posts I want to get written. Well I feel they are important and relevant and just some random thoughts I want to share with everyone.

So working backwards I need to post one of the "important" posts before the race reports.

So we are like three weeks away from the biggest and newest triathlon event here on the North Coast of Ohio. Yep...I'm talking Rev3 on Sept. 12th. FullRev and HalfRev. I know many people who will be participating race weekend...I will be in the HalfRev myself.

Some of my friends and teammates are using this race as their first full or half. Like many other people in the Cleveland tri community, I have kept my eye on several people and check in on them to see how their training is going or if I can help in some way.

I always preceed my comments with..."I'm not a coach" or " I'm not certified USAT Level I" or "in my opinion". I'm just trying to help people make some smart decisions and be healthy and make it to the start line or even better cross the finish line.

So as I am making my rounds I send an e-mail to my friend Rachael over at MissFit_Island . She is a college friend of Aimee's and Rachael has embraced the tri lifestyle wholeheartedly. She had just completed the Cleveland Olympic tri and I was seeing how she felt after the race.

She posted our dialog recently on her blog titled....You are at an Impasse. Feel free to read it then come back here to finish my post. That's okay. I'll wait.

Theme from Jeopardy.....do do do do.......do do dooooo....do do do do dooooo....da do do do.....

Sorry...also had to take bathroom break.

Okay. So anyways. I'm just trying to be a concerned friend and help her make it to the finish line. Safely. Unfortunately my intentions were not clear...one reason I hate e-mail and blog posts......for the simple reason the written words can often be read the wrong way.

After she posted, then received some comments, Rachael called me to explain her post. I hadn't even read it yet. She wanted to make sure I didn't feel like I was thrown under the bus. She's just awesome that way.

Once I read the post and comments it all became clear.

Beth wants to knock me out. That's right woman. I'm calling you out.....and offering you a free shot should we ever meet...which could be sooner than you think.

I was just trying to be a sounding board for Rachael. The most important part of our dialog was me understanding her mental state. How did she feel her training has been going? What are her expectations? What will she be happy with?

And this is where I was put in my place. I was reminded what this is all about.

The Journey.

Self discovery. Pushing the limits. What are you capable of.

This is what I love about sports. This is what I love about blogging. This is what I love about the open dialog with people of varied personalities, abilities, education, lifestyles, etc.

We can all grow and learn from the people and events the make up our lives.

Our views about what we do may be slightly different but they are all right.

The only thing I will disagree with Beth on......being an athlete. I have had that "discussion" with Aimee many times. In my book...if you participate...you are an athlete.

Nuf said

Game On

Friday, August 06, 2010

Friday Funny - Can you handle the truth?

Truths For Mature Humans

1. I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.

2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.

3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.......Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.....know what I mean dumb ass

5. How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet? I can do this one.

6. Was learning cursive really necessary? My printing is bad enough.

7. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on # 5. I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

8. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.

9. I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired. Back to Number 3.

10. Bad decisions make good stories. And interesting police reports.

11. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.

12. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don't want to have to restart my collection...again. My brother can probably relate to this one.

13. I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page technical report that I swear I did not make any changes to.

14. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.

15. I think the freezer deserves a light as well. Our freezer has a light.

16. I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lite than Kay.

17. I wish Google Maps had an "Avoid Ghetto" routing option.

18. I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.

19. How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear or understand a word they said?

20. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters!

21. Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.

22. Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.

23. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey - but I'd bet everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time!

The first testicular guard, the "Cup," was used in Hockey in 1874 and the first helmet was used in 1974. That means it only took 100 years for men to realize that their brain is also important.

Ladies.....Quit Laughing. Eventually. ;-D

Have a fun filled weekend.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Burning River 100


Volunteers are not paid ---- not because they are worthless,
but because they are priceless.

For those of you that know I live near Cleveland....spare me any jokes about the title. Nowadays the Burning River is a 100 mile endurance trail run.

Four years ago I volunteered at my coaches aid station. The saying above was printed on the back of the t-shirts they gave us.

This past weekend I volunteered again at the aid station of running and tri friend Elizabeth (E-Speed). When I saw the t-shirts I was happy to see they kept the saying on the back.

With 2010 being the fourth year of the race it was also selected to be the USATF 100 mile national championship race. I was expecting to see some very talented ultra-runners on the course.

The Boston Store Aid station is a very busy place. The runners come into the station at mile 49.1 before heading out for a 5.4 mile loop which brings them back to the same aid station at mile 54.5. The aid station would be open for 12 hours running three 4 hour shifts. We had the first shift.

Elizabeth does a great job and decided upon a pirate theme for the aid station.

Here is the first shift crew ready for the runners.

Here is Elizabeth on the left with her sister Katie who was scoring

For those of you not familiar with ultra running these aid stations are something else. The food being offered was immense. PB&J sandwiches, pizza, watermelon, cookies, chips, grapes, soup, coffee, gatorade, water, ice, sponges....what am I forgetting.

The runners can also have a gear bag dropped off at the aid station. Inside the gear bag can be almost anything. Nutrition, change of socks, band-aids, bandannas, hats, etc.

My task was to be a handler. I would great the runner into the aid station and ask what he needs. Water bottles would be handed off to another volunteer to refill. I would call for his gear back to be brought forward and help him with whatever he needed. While he was getting ready for the next section I would tell him how far the section was and what to expect. I also made sure runners headed in the right direction for the loop they were doing. We wanted to avoid someone accidentally skipping a loop or doing a loop twice.

The first group of runners, the elites, often had their own support crew who would have most of their needs taken care of. As volunteers were weren't needed to much. If the runner was from out of town and didn't know the course we made sure they understood the next section.....distance, terrain, next aid station.

This dude in the white tights and black shorts (thank goodness) had a support crew so we didn't offer much help.

After about 30 runners had made it through the first pass of the aid station I moved over to the street corner where the runners would be returning. Aimee and Lou were now handling the first time runners, I started working on the runners coming to the aid station the second time.

Here is Aimee waiting for a runner while talking with our friend Dale who was handling gear bags.

As the runners made their way back to the aid station for the second time I would handle them before they went back out for their next 4.1 mile section. They were far enough apart that I could handle them on my own.

Here I am with the eventual second place finisher and local runner Mark Godale. He had a crew but I was still able to help.

There is much to be inspired by when watching an ultra race. Many stories to tell and motivation to absorb. The runners below on the right is an 18 year old local. He finished his 100 mile run in 18 hours and 49 minutes.

He's a cancer survivor. That's Aimee helping get his bottle refilled.

One runner I handled was 20 years old from Indiana. When he came into the aid station he was a little out of it. He wasn't very talkative and wanted to sit and have something to eat. I had seen the look on his face before....many times....usually at Ironman races. But here he was at mile 54.5 out of 100. He was over half way done. I was concerned that he wouldn't make it. Fortunately two local legends were close by and offered the right encouragement, advice and motivation to get him moving. His mom was listening intently to what they said....so did I. I couldn't recognize the symptoms and offer a solution because it was a different environment for me. But when it comes down to it......Ironman and ultra running are very similar.

He finished the 100 miles in 22 hours and 7 minutes.

My final take away from this race was offered by my friend Dale. As I was waiting for a runner to come into the aid station I could hear behind me someone yelling for a change of socks. I saw someone running towards me with a pair but when I turned towards the aid station I saw Dale sitting on the group removing his shoes and socks for the runner.

That's the type of guy Dale is. He will give you the shirt off his back, socks from his feet and...well we can stop there.

Overall Aimee and I had a great time helping at the aid station. I hated to leave but we had other things to do. There would be two more 4 hour shifts at the aid station. I wanted to stay all day.

Ultra Game On.