Sunday, March 30, 2014

Springtime Tallahassee 10K

Since I couldn't make it to the Eastern States 20 Mile run, I signed up for a couple of local runs as a consolation.

First up - Saturday, March 29th - the Springtime Tallahassee 10K. Lovely weather they ordered for us - Thunder; Lightning; and a LOT of rain. Thankfully the Thunder and Lightning cleared out enough for the race to take place. Unfortunately, the roads were very wet and it decided to keep raining on us - very hard at times.

The course starts out with a short stretch and then a turn onto Call Street - which is all downhill!  I passed the lead off TPD Motorcycle Officers on the short stretch of Monroe - and it took them a while to safely catch up to me. My racing app says I hit a peak speed of 63.5 kph going down the Call Street hill - even if I was riding the brakes because of the sharp turn onto Franklin at the bottom of the hill!

Then it turned nasty - both a lot more rain and a lot of uphill. Without the rain (and the %@#$& hills), it would have been nice circling around the parks and quiet (except for some great cheer squads) neighborhood.

Finished 1st in my Division with a time of 50:49. Just seconds off of my PR - and it was raining and had a lot more hills than the other course. Free beer to rehydrate at the finish ... did I mention FREE BEER! Not that fake, watered down stuff either - a big selection of craft beers. There were also free subs/grinders/hoagies/... and coffee.

A really nice race put on by a pair of first time Race Directors from Gulf Winds Track Club - and a great job they did!

The National Anthem

Ready to Rock (and Roll) this 10K

Not raining hard ... yet!

Sunday, March 30 was a new race for Tallahassee - the Nautilus to Nucleus 5K. No chip timing; no official photos - but a fun race. Ir runs on one of the standard 5K courses at FSU ... and has a LOT of hills. Top speed today was much more conservative (and the one 'big' downhill wasn't) - 20.2 MPH. I took a selfie at the finish - that will have to do.

The best part about the two races - they are for Christopher Wahlquist ... because he CAN'T run!

Friday, March 28, 2014

After all the hassle, life goes on

I won't be going to the Eastern States 20 Mile run after all - and I'm sure the Race Director is turning handsprings. Things happen and you just have to roll with it.

I AM going to do two local runs to console me ;)

Saturday, April 29 is the Springtime Tallahassee 10K and on Sunday I have the Nautilus to Nucleus 5K at FSU. I will be running both of these runs (and all future runs) for Christopher Wahlquist since he CAN'T run. I already have a Springtime Tallahassee10K shirt in his size!

What about returning the handcycle? I fly into Boston April 4th, and I will be met by people from Northeast Passage at the airport. They get the racing chair and I get a longish layover before I fly back to Florida.

Photos forthcoming!

The Bainbridge Half Marathon

March 22, 2014

The people there are outstanding! The course had some good points - and some 'not so good' points.

The good:

1.  This is the first time I've been across speed bumps that were wide enough not to drag the bottom of my handcycle. Most speed bumps are to narrow and the front tire is off before the back tires get to the bump and you are too low to go over it smoothly. Bainbridge, GA speed bumps are higher - but wide enough for the rear tires to start up before the front tire is off the bump ... no dragging!

2. Some of the friendliest people I've come across! Everyone encouraged the runners - even the spectators that sat out on lawn chairs to watch.

The bad:

1. Cobblestones in the downtown area. Cobblestones shake you a LOT on a handcycle.

2.  A HUGE hill around the 3 mile point!

3. An overpass that is a bit of a hill, too ...
I was glad to get to the top of that one ...

3. Potholes and other rough areas! The streets could use some work.

Lined up at the start -

 and I go "flying" off -

Overall, this is a very nice race and I will be back next year!

The bling (it's all about the bling!) -

Etched Mug for 1st place in my Division!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A little pick me up

Since the last week was such a downer, I decided to do a few things to perk it (and hopefully me) up a little.

1) I registered for the Walt Disney World Wine & Dine Half Marathon before it sold out.

2) I made reservations at Shades of Green for the Wine & Dine weekend.

While I was at it,

3) I made reservations at Shades of Green for Walt Disney World Marathon Week. Going to treat myself on this one - it has a private patio on the pool.

Registration for Marathon week isn't open yet - doesn't open until 12:00 Noon on April 22, 2014 - but I have my room reserved.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Albany Marathon Photos are in

 The 4-Wheeler was an Albany PD Officer ... and was my personal escort for most of the Marathon.

3rd Place Award ...

Not one of my best weeks

The weather has been like a yo yo ... and my sinuses are NOT happy about it. Even with my prescribed meds, it hasn't been a good week because of Sinus Headaches, etc. Hot, steamy showers have helped. Hopefully they don't progress to infected sinuses.

Add in some real issues with my L4 problem, and it gets even worse. Several days this week I literally could not move my left leg from the knee down; my left foot was in permanent foot drop; walking safely was almost impossible. Try lifting your pant's leg to move your leg for EVERY step. It has NOT been fun.  I have an appointment with Neurology - but it isn't until June. I tried to get it moved up sooner, but they are already overbooked. Oh, well ...

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Monday, March 10, 2014

A minor win, but I'll take it.

The Race Director for the Eastern States 20 Mile run has agreed to accommodate me for the run, but I, " must abide by all race rules." Really? What's up with that. Does he think I'm trying to get one over on him for asking for accommodation?  Does he send everyone that registers an e-mail requiring them to "abide by all race rules"?

He asked all kinds of questions during the weeks of e-mail exchanges - questions it was inappropriate for him to ask, and ones I wasn't required to answer.  Did he ask ALL the registrants why they wanted to enter the race; did he ask them to list their previous races and results ... TWICE; did he .... I seriously doubt it.

This man has been racing for YEARS - and been a race director since 1998 (or earlier). I'm sure he has been in races that accommodated other Special Needs people. He probably had others ask for accommodations and instead of fighting his negativity, they just gave up on it.  I hope that by pushing this now, that it will make it easier for others in the future. Who knows - he doesn't seem to be very accommodating (pun intended).

March 30 isn't far off. Be prepared for my final say about this race. It isn't very encouraging so far.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Shamrock Scurry 5K

Up at 5:45 this morning; on the road by 6:30. Yuck!

Packet Pick-up was quick and easy. They had a 1Mile run that started at 8:00 and was over before they started the 5K. Wheelchair Start: 8:28 - the other 677 started at 8:30.

This course has a LOT of hills! You may think that Florida is flat ... it isn't! They aren't HUGE hills, but any incline seems that way in a racing chair. They are still pretty significant inclines along the route they chose.

A hint to Race Directors - do NOT put a turn 3/4 of the way down the only real decent on the course.  I had worked my way UP the other side; I was probably going over 40 mph when the turn came into view; I didn't appreciate having to burn off that speed with my brakes; I REALLY didn't appreciate overshooting the turn and having to come back UP HILL to make the turn! 5 minutes lost there!

Even with the little hick-up, I still had a PR on the course!

Wheelchair Division
Place First Name         Last Name           Sex  Age   Gun Time     Net Time
1     Edward             Russell              M   60    27:32.01     27:32.01
No photos yet, but they should be out soon. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Protect your gourd!

As previously noted, I was in a crash and cracked my helmet ... so I had to order another one to use for an upcoming race (The Shamrock Scurry 5K on 3/8/14 in Tallahassee, FL). It is now in - a Limar 757.

I'm very impressed with the fit. The short run tomorrow will give me a good idea how it's going to work out for the long haul.

I can't say enough about how important it is to use a helmet (and other protective gear) while racing in a chair - even if it's not required.  This is what the old helmet looked like:

That could have been my skull!

Even if you aren't concerned, I'm sure you have others that DO care about you.  Play it safe!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Mulligrubs

The weather today is sort of depressing, and it's getting to me. At least I don't have snow, ice ... or earthquakes.

On the brighter side of things, I received my replacement helmet yesterday. A definite upgrade over my old one. I also got a new pair of gloves, since the palms of the old ones were almost gone. They are rated for a higher level of impact than the old ones, also.

The bad news - my headlight won't mount on my new helmet like it did on the old one. Time to figure out where to mount it.  I liked being able to move my head and have the light directed in that direction. I may need to get an additional light - or two - to have the same area of coverage.

I also heard back from the VA - they have the modified quote in for my new handcycle ... now it is just a matter of time. Time at the VA is NOT the same time we live by. You are NEVER in a hurry when it's the VA.  I would like to say that they will act on it this week or next ... but that's just wishful thinking. Realistically, I expect them to approve the funding close to the end of next month. Then I have to wait on Top End to build it - another 2 to 4 weeks, probably.  That puts me into May or June without any runs ... BOO!  At least I have a few more runs this month to tide me over.

Still no response from the #jackwagon Race Director for the Eastern States 20 Mile run. What is WRONG with him? Seriously, the only accommodation I need is to be able to compete. Most races start you ahead of the pack just to avoid any accidents due to the crush. Does he REALLY realize how much fire he is playing with. If he denies me accommodation, then the Department of Justice can get involved with an Americans With Disabilities Act complaint - that would be VERY costly for him and the race organizers. If he waits until the day of the race, it would be after the fact and there would be little that could be done at that time ... other than compensate me for entry fees, travel (almost 1500 miles) and hotel stays (at least 7 nights). Without any penalties, that's about $1000 dollars. There would also be a lot of bad publicity associated with it - which could hurt them a lot more than having to pay $1000.  I wonder if Don has told the rest of the Race Committee what he's doing.

Maybe if I heard back something positive from him - or the VA (ha ha) - I wouldn't feel so blah!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Head banging frustration ... mixed with some good

Last month, I registered for the Eastern States 20 Mile run. I sent an e-mail to the Race Director notifying him I was competing in a racing chair ... and was met by a HUGH amount of negativity. He immediately started making excuses about why HE thought I would not be able to compete in a chair. This is one of his typical replies: " I am not sure  my insurance or town regulations will allow wheelchairs/handcycles". We all know that is total BS. After a few e-mails back and forth (with him mostly saying he was waiting for information about his insurance - 3 weeks, REALLY?), he stopped responding at all. Until I get a definite answer from him, there is little I can do from the legal standpoint. ADA doesn't apply until I have been denied accommodation; I can't force him to answer; all I can do is show up (a 1500 mile drive, BTW) and see what happens. If you want to jerk this #jackwagon up a notch, you can contact him at  Don Allison, Race Director.

The crazy part of all this - this is the ONLY time I have had a problem like this. I have registered for two other races since then - The Shamrock Scurry 5K in Tallahassee, FL and the Bainbridge 1/2 Marathon in Bainbridge, GA.  Neither has EVER had a racing chair entry; both Race Directors responded within an hour and THANKED me for entering. One even gave me a 50% discount on the entry fee!

Oops - THREE races - I also registered for the Wine & Dine 1/2 Marathon at Walt Disney World.

MEANWHILE ... I met some of Team Achilles during the Dopey at Walt Disney World in January, and they encouraged me to apply. I am now going to be racing as part of Team Achilles!

Sunday, March 2, 2014


March 1st, I completed the Albany, GA Marathon ... with a brief intermission.  Not far from the finish, there is a big downhill ... and a VERY sharp (more than 90°) turn onto a relatively narrow path.  Handcycles do NOT turn sharply - especially when you are doing 25+ mph. I grabbed the brakes, shifted my weight and turned the least I could and still make the turn - all to no avail. In less than a second, the handcycle and I were our left sides, and slid into a metal retaining fence.  Initial impressions ... OUCH! Banged my left knee; scraped my left elbow (through a compression sleeve) and had a nose bleed.

After getting help getting the handcycle upright and me back in the seat (great effort by the Race Officials and bystanders!), I completed the last section of the race.  Not my best time, but I DID finish. Then I was escorted to the Medical Tent.  NOT real impressed - the staff seemed to be Basic First Aid only. Every other race I've been at had EMTs at the minimum.  Ice packed my knee; bandaid (a small one that didn't begin to cover the scrape) on my elbow and a kleenex for my bloody nose.

By now, my head was beginning to ache a little - what's up with that?  Maybe my helmet will give you a clue ...

Big chunk of the shell missing; several deep creases where I hit the metal retaining fence; and a lump on the side of my head where I think the helmet bottom dug in.

Later that afternoon, I began to find (mainly because they started to make themselves know) other little bruises and scrapes.  My gloves saved my hands - but they are both worn almost all the way through the leather. My left shoe is worn almost all the way through the side, and my compression sock has a hole worn through it corresponding to a small scrape on my left ankle. My biker pants have a hole in the left hip area, and there is a bruise there. My right thigh has a large bruise where I probably hit the hand crank on that side.  I am generally sore all over even after hot and cold soaks.

Albany Marathon (like many other races I have been to) does not require protective gear.  I wore mine anyway.  If I hadn't, I would probably be in the hospital with a cracked skull - if not worse.  I will be blunt - you are a FOOL if you are in a racing chair and NOT using at least a helmet! 

My time suffered because the "flat" course they advertize is anything but. It is almost all rolling hills with a couple that are long climbs. About the 5 mile point, my upper derailleur decided not to shift to granny low, making it a lot of grunt work to get up those hills. I started manually shifting the chain over for the worst climbs.

High points - VERY friendly people cheering all the way. Uncle Sam's Misguided Children (USMC) out in force - 2 or 3 at every intersection. Ooh-Rah! I had my personal escort (I was running 3rd place racing chair) - an Albany PD officer on an ATV. We had a great conversation during the race, and he encouraged me on the hills when he saw my derailleur had stopped working. At the 24 Mile point, there was a tailgate party set up in a yard with people watching the race ... I was offered a Fat Tire Amber to go, and an invitation to come back and join the party after I finished!

Will I 'run' Albany again - YES (and I will be wearing a helmet)!