This is going to contain anything I see fit. Anything I think is important. Pretty much everything that involves me. Why, you ask? Because it's all about me. I am the Center of the Universe and the rest of you mearly revolve around me. So, pull up a bar stool. Order a pint. Look around and enjoy me. Oh, and please ignore the spelling mistakes. Also, remember to take care of your bartender.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Harpoon Brewery 5 Miler

It was a hot and steamy day in Boston. It was the kind of hot that keeps women’s skirts short and their tempers even shorter. The sun was barring down and the smell of fish filled the air on the Boston Harbor front. Start time was 10 am and as usual I got there early in order to park and get my toys ready for the 5 mile buzz through the Marine Industrial Park to Castle Island and back. Every year, the Harpoon Brewery plays host to a 5 miler for the Angle Fund to fight ALS. It’s a great race with a fantastic post race party and an important charity.
I arrived and got checked in. I was worried about getting into the race at first as I waited a long time to register. So, I was surprised when I got #25. Check in went really smooth. Number, t-shirt, draw string bag and even a pretty neat metal water bottle. I had to spend some time to figure out where to mount the timing chip as the timing company didn’t provide an ankle strap. I really got to pick up one. I finally found a spot. I tied to the back of the Camel Back and let it trail low and on he back of the racing chair. Seemed to work out okay. As I went over the matt to check with the timing folks I heard it "beep". Well, it seems that all this effort was for nothing. The timing folks decided to time me on a separate clock and they took my chip. Oh well. During race prep I realized that my left racing glove was getting a bit thin. Note to self, might be time to order a new pair of gloves. I sprayed my push rims with spray tack to avoid my hands slipping off the rims. Then I rolled off to the start to bake in the sun.

Start was going to be a little late. Probably due to the long lines at the port-o-potties. Why don't people leave themselves enough time to pee? Never seems to fail, when it's hot and you want to get going, the start is late. It was announced that this year's course was going to be .3 miles longer then last year's due to construction. Big deal, ya just ran 5 miles. Is .3 more going to kill ya? Besides, it's not the olympic time trials.

On "go" I took off. I got a nice clean and quick push off. My breathing and pushing rhythm seemed to fall into sync almost right off the line. I was feeling really good. The first mile was very flat with a couple of tight turns. I knew this course well. My office is only about 2 miles from here and it is part of the route I take when I get some mileage at lunch time. I know it so well I even know exactly how to go over the old railroad tracks leaving the Marine Industrial Park. As the course leaves the park and takes a left onto Summer Street it starts a slight incline up and over the channel bridge. I hit this just right and had a good pace going. I didn't have a watch on, I had lost it a couple months ago and haven't replaced it yet, so I didn't know what my time was, but I felt great. On the other side of the bridge I got a good decline. Not a hill that will build up high speed, but enough to stop pushing for a second and shake out the arms, adjust the gloves and get a mouthful of water. While adjusting the gloves I realize I really need to order those new gloves soon. There was a split opening along the left thumb. That’s gonna be a blister and hurt later.
The course took left onto 1st street heading toward the beach. First Street has a small up hill climb to it. If you are not aware of it, it's enough to slow you down some. I was ready for it and was able to hold my pace up and over the top. As I passed the water stops I noticed there were 2 tables directly across from each other on very narrow street. This is going to be very hairy on the return trip. A thousand runners will be coming directly at me and filling the street. With that many people trying to get water, they are not going to stay to the right side. Many will start using the one on the left. Once at the beach we took a left onto Day Boulevard and went racing toward Fort Independence. Castle Island to the locals. The course leaves the street and heads around the fort and back into the street. I started to loose my pace here. Although I did have a police motorcycle escort, many, many pedestrians still got between the officer and me. I had to keep steering around them or slowing down to avoid running into them. Once around the fort, we got back onto the roads and the course doubles backs along itself. We were approaching the water stops and just as I feared, the thousand runners were passing through and using both water tables and filling the whole road. There was no place to go. All I could do was get as close as I could to the officer and have him guide me through the crowd. Well, it goes without saying, a few runners thought they were fast enough to jump between the motorcycle and me to grab a quick cup of water. Most made it. Barely. But I'm pretty sure my right wheel grazed the heel of one young woman. I didn't catch a number or face, but I hope she didn't get hurt from her mistake.

Back onto Summer Street and into the last mile for the race. I knew the up hill approach to the bridge was coming. I also knew if I hit it at a good pace I will have not problem getting up and over the top. I knew all this. Did I do it? Of course not! I don't know where my head was as I approached the up hill. I had an ok pace going, but I didn't do anything to speed up any. I was in the middle of the hill before it dawned on me. By that time I was starting to struggle with the hill and the heat wasn't helping. Oh well, that'll learn me. Over the bridge and back onto the flats. Things were easier from now on. I cruised into the finish with a time of 30:58. I'll take it. Not that have much of a choice as the clock doesn't lie. What sucked is it was 2 minutes slower then last year.

Now the fun begins. The folks at the Harpoon Brewery throw one hell of a post race party. First of all, there is freshly brewed Harpoon Ales of different flavors. And what a spread! Pasta and grilled sausages as far as the eye could see. More then even I could eat.

As the festivities were outdoors in the sun I figured it was time to slap on the old sun block. I pulled out the old bottle of SPF30, squeezed the bottle into my palm and waited for the "splurt". I waited and I waited... I squeezed again and again. No "splurt". Well, seems the bottle was empty. That could be a problem. So I started asking around. Seems lots of people were looking for sun block. After about 20 minutes I finally found a friend with the spray on type. Thank the Gods for friends., but I already had a sunburn going.

I was enjoying another round of Harpoon Summer Beer with friends when awards started. I was the only wheeler to show up today, but I figured I'd at least pick up the medal. As usual Harpoon was more then generous.

At the end of awards I rolled away with a nice Harpoon mug with the medal on the front, a brand new Timex Ironman watch, a new gear bag courtesy of Puma and let us not forget the case of Harpoon IPA. Which I was allowed to swap for a case of Summer Beer. Not a bad haul for 30 minutes on a hot race course.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Triathlon #2. Sudbury Sprint

This is a tough race report to write. Unlike my first Tri, this race at the Sudbury Sprint worked out pretty much as planned. I was a little nervous leading up to start time due to the fact that I didn’t have my support team that I had last year. Three of them had races of their own. Including one of them doing their own first race in the same race I was doing. This year my team consisted of the love of my life. Amy was there all day. She added support and strength when I needed it.
After checking in and being numbered with the big 490. I went off to find my home base for the day. Well, we found it. It was the last spot on the last rack in the last row. It didn’t take long for me and my rack mates to start calling it the suburbs.

Awaiting the start with Diane. It's her first Tri.

Swim: The RD decided to have me swim before the start. So they put me in the water 10 minutes before the first elite hit the water. It’s kind of cool having the pool all to yourself. Not washing machine effect. At the same time having all those people surrounding the pool watching me swim was kind of creepy. But hell, I’m and attention whore… The weird part was that as I hit the wall for a lane change, in lap 4, I could hear the crowd, talking, yelling and cheering. I pushed off the wall, underwater. Got about five good breaststrokes down the lane before surfacing. As I broke the surface and rolled over onto my back I realized it was dead silent. I first I thought “What happened? Did I drown?” Suddenly the crowd broke into a round of applause. Turns out they had a moment of slice for someone that has passed away. Don’t know who. I was a little busy. As I was starting the second to last lane, I could hear the first elite hit the water. Believe it, or not, I was close to the finish of the swim but I started to panic that he would catch me. My swim was not going as fast as my training swims but going under the lane ropes was really slowing me down. Now I was getting sloppy. Pushing off the wall for my last length, I didn’t pull my feet up high enough to clear the wall. I ended up scrapping the top of my feet up the wall. Man, did that hurt. More on this later. I got to the end of the pool and my dear wife was waiting with the wheelchair. The swim time end up being 14:36. Way off from my training time. In the same pool! I climbed up onto the chair and we were off to T1.

Arrived at T1 and everything was all set up. Grabbed a towel for quick wipe down. I reached down to dry my feet before slipping into a pair of socks. This is when I discovered that not only did I scrap the top of my foot, I cut it was bleeding like a stuck pig. Not time to deal with this. I just dried and threw a sock on.

Mounting the handcycle
I then slipped onto my bike, strapped on the helmet and gloves and rolled out. Coming out of the transition area we discovered I had no way to get off the sidewalk to the road. Seems they blocked the curb cut with the chip mat coming from the pool. A little quick thinking and I decided to just cut across the mat between swimmers. Hell it was the only way out. Out on the road, I was a pretty happy camper. Nice smooth, wide roads. Well marked out course with gentle rolling hills. The route was s double loop and when I made my first pass, I was feeling pretty strong. So I decided to apply same more power in the second loop. I was a little surprised with a bike time of 41:07. I thought I was moving faster then that. But I’ll take it. Heading into T2 I had the same problem with the curb. Luckily, a volunteer gave me a quick lift up the curb. So I now cruised into T2 for a quick change to the racing chair. Did a quick check on my now bloody sock. Curt Schilling had nothing on me. Looked like it stopped bleeding, but that sock will never be the same again.

Out on the road.

Returning to the suburbs of transition.

Hey, who parked a wheelchair in my spot?

Let's get out of this and into the racing chair

T2 went very quickly. Off the bike, onto the regular wheelchair and then slip into the racing chair. Amy held down the front as I slipped in. The chip strapped around my ankle got hung up on the sling my feet sit in. After a fast adjustment by Amy I changed gloves and pushed off. Again, the problem with the curb. So once again I had to cut over the simmers mat. Luckily the swimmers were spaced pretty far apart at this point.

And now back from the run.

The 2.3 mile run portion was through a neighborhood on a narrow path for most of the route. Along with many ups and downs on short hills and many turns, there wasn’t really a place to get up to speed until the last ¾ of a mile. This explains my 20:14 on the run. That’s worse then my worse 5K. Hey, what are gonna do? I got back to the transition area and some of the people from back in the burbs hadn’t even swam yet. Felt a little weird hanging out and cleaning up before other had even started. Oh, well. I’ll get over it.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I give myself a 7.5 on the day. When it was over I was feeling like I could have kept going. A few adult beverages and some BBQ and the day was a grand total of a 10. Now it’s time to pick my next one and start training for it.

Monday, December 17, 2007


I was recently asked about my first race.

Have you ever been out in the middle of a workout or a race and had everything going bad? You know the moments. It starts raining, the pedestrians, bike riders or rollerbladers are getting in the way. Or you spend more time dodging potholes and broken glass then you do pushing. On days like that I have often asked myself “How and why did I ever start this silly sport?” Whenever I ask this question I always come back to my very first race.
It all started on July 4th weekend 1996. I was sitting in my favorite Cape Cod pub. Having a few beers, singing and dancing to some Irish tunes with some friends. During the band’s break, Dan, the bands lead and pub owner asked me if I was going to do their road race in August. Knowing that I was very active in wheelchair sports, such as basketball and skiing, he assumed I was into racing too. At this point I have never done a race. I always thought that Henry Ford found a way to mass produce cars in order to keep people from having to run or push long distance. So I told him I didn’t really think so.
When the band started up again Dan wasn’t ready to let me off the hook. He decided to ask me again, from the stage, won’t I do his race. He even got the crowd on his side. And after a few minutes of razing and the crowds chanting of “do it, do it” I gave in and told him and the crowd that I would do it. I received a quick cheer and we went right back to dancing and singing. Only problem now.......where would I get a racing chair inside of three weeks.
Well the problem of the racing chair was solved a few days later. A friend that I play basketball with offered to hook me up with a “loaner”. About a week before the race I picked up the racer. Now another problem. The weather didn’t cooperate. It rained and rained and I never got the chance to go out for a few miles of workouts. I wasn’t to worried. I have always been in good shape and figured “Oh hell, I can do it. After all, it’s only five miles”. Yea right!
Race day came and the sun was shining and the temps had climbed into the high 90’s. Ok, so it’s gonna be hot. I can handle it. After the drive down to the cape, I rolled into the pub to check in. After all, I had pre-registered. I went into the pub and checked the list for my name and number. Nothing, here .. Hmmmm, Maybe I should be concerned? Nahhhh........
I spoke to Dan and he squared it away. I was assigned number 295. Maybe I’ll play it in the lottery. Could be my lucky number.
While waiting for race time I checked out my equipment. Let’s see, tires, three of them with air included. Water bottle, yup, got one of those. Oh yes, gloves. I got my old batting gloves from college. That was the sum of the equipment check. I might be a rookie but, I am no idiot. Ya wanna bet? I was soon to discover that I had a lot to learn.
Race time arrived and I wasn’t alone on the starting line. Dave Harrison, the provider of the chair had arrived. Along with his years of pushing. Also, Jamie Legeyt, a 10 year old from these parts. Home field advantage for him. Not a problem.
The gun went off and so did I. At first I was feeling pretty good. I managed to stay with Dave through the first couple of turns. Even Jamie was with us. Not bad for a kid I thought. After the first half mile we cleared the turns and were on a straight away. That’s when Dave took off and I never saw him again. Not a problem. He knows what he’s doing. But suddenly, Jamie began creeping up along side of me. OK, this is gonna be embarrasing...beat by a 10 year old.
Jamie continued to cruise by me and I never saw him till the end too. I pushed along at not warp speed. The runners had caught up with me and were passing me with ease. I got a few cheers and words of encouragement and that kept me going.
At the top of mile 3, I realized that I was getting the some unbelievable blisters on both hands. Boy those were gonna hurt. Well, I’ll deal with that later
Mile 4. My arms and shoulders are screaming. My heart feels as if it wants to crash right through my chest. And I just kept thinking ”who invented this dumb sport?” I was just realizing that I was more than half way through this ordeal. Hey, I can do this....
Suddenly, BANG!!! Just as I pushed down on the push rims, two screws on the right side push rim pulled right out and the rim separated from the wheel. At the same time my hand jammed into the spokes and I cut myself pretty good. Great, the last thing I thought was this was a blood sport. I had finally figured out what was wrong and then another screw let go. Now out of 6 screws, there was only 3 holding the rim in place. OK, mental note, add the push rims to the equipment checklist. This was getting tougher. Now I had to time every push for when the good side of the push rim was up top.
Into the 5th mile. Hey, I am almost done. Just a little under a mile left. I can do this. I was sailing along. Well kinda. Turning onto RT 28. I remember this road. The pub is on this road. OK, the big finish, lets make it look good. Man, do I hurt and am I thirsty. Went through the water miles ago. I can wait till the end.
Suddenly, there it was. An oasis in the distance. The Pub!! Right where I had left it The same place this nightmare began. Soon, real soon, I’ll be sitting back and enjoying a cold beer and hotdog.
I came zooming in. Well, more like a crawl. But, I came in. Looking up at the calender....ahhh, I mean the clock, I see 39:46. Well, what can you expect for a first race.
I make for my truck to get my broken, sweaty, blistered and bloody body out of the racing chair and cool off with a cold beer. As I pass the back of Jamie’s dad’s van, I see the kid sitting in the shade with a ice cold soda and a mouth-watering hotdog. All comfy, cool and not a worry in he world. The least he could have done is break a sweat.
Well, that’s was my first race. And for all the pain and torture I cause myself, I have to admit, I LOVED IT. Every bit of the 39:40 that was on the clock. I loved it all. So when a race or workout is going bad and I have no idea why I do this, I realize that I just love it.

Monday, August 20, 2007

A new addition to the gang.

Say Hello to Ringo! or was it Rico? Nemo? Fabio? Groucho?..... He doesn't answer to anything yet. So what difference does it make? The final name is still to be determined.
We adopted the little 1.5 year old beagle. He's already discovered how to sneak out of the house, via the cat door. Also, he doesn't believe that any of the dog toys should stay in the toy basket. Let's not forget that anything breakable that is left at low levels, will get broken when the 2 dogs get to wrestling. Actually, make that anything breakable no matter what height it's at.

Sooner or later he does get tired. He then joins his new playmate, Lola, on the living room couch for some much need rest. That would be Ringo on the left and Lola on the right. Of course that's the lovely and talented Amy, the love of my life sitting on the floor. She's trying to get some work done, but the dogs believe that their rest is far more important. I'm guessing the humans didn't get a vote on this.

Ringo came to us from BONES. Beagles of new England States. Good People doing some tough work. So if you're looking for a beagle, look them up.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Just a few other projects

Noah's Ark. All the animals were cut and painted by hand.

Everybody loves Kangaroos

The "island" in our old apartment's kitchen.
The door on the end tilts out to find the trash barrel.
The cutting board lifts up to wipe the top down right into the barrel. I miss that place at times. But I wouldn't give up the house.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Another project finished!

Hey, Guess what? I finished another home project. Yes, I'm showing yet another woodwork project. But with no foster kids in the house right now, I got no one else to show off to. Amy expects this stuff now.

This is the bench for the dining room table. Amy is decorating it as a kinda of country dining room theme. For the table she wanted a bench. What Princess wants, Princess get. Here it is.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

My First Try at a Tri…

For the longest time I've wanted to try myself in a triathlon. For years I never got around to it, always using the excuse that I didn’t have a handcycle. Well, I lost that excuse last fall when I was able to get a handcycle for free, my favorite price, from another athlete that was retiring from the sport. I didn’t get to train much as the winter had set in and outdoor fun was pretty much a wash until spring.
So, spring arrived and I picked my first triathlon. Not being so sure of my swimming abilities I choose a race based on the shorter swim distance. 250 yards in a pool. I can handle that. I think. After a few weeks of pool training I was able to do the 250 yards in a reasonable time of 7:20. OK. Stop stalling. It's time to register.
20 May 2007. The Lions Spring Sprint Triathlon. 250 yard swim, 9.3 mile bike with the handcycle and 3.2 mile run in the racing chair. I can handle this. I think.
Race day: The swim was first. I didn’t know what to expect on the set up. It was a 5 lane pool and they had to feed 300 athletes through. We entered the pool according to our number. Each athlete was assigned a number according to their registered swim times. Ok, that makes sense. We had to swim up and back in each lane. Then swim under the lane line and go up and back again. This caused me a few problems because I hadn’t practiced changing lanes like this. I had practiced my turns at the wall over and over. I only had to do 5 wall turns. The others were a full stop, duck under the lane line and take off again. Oh well. Lesson one learned. I was a little nervous as I waited my turn. It seems that everyone around me had a swimmers build and the ones right in front of me were swimming at a faster pace than I was trained for. One of the friends on my support team told me not to worry. Because to her is seemed that everyone was going out fast and slowing down by the second or third lane. She kept telling me to go out at a pace that I can hold and not to worry about the others. So I did. My swim total was 9:43. A lot slower then I wanted or expected, but surprisingly, I did pass a few people in the water. Not bad for a gimp.
Lesson two was learned when getting out of the pool. I told the guys on my support team that I would climb onto the deck and then they can grab me under the arms and lift me onto my wheelchair. We really should have gone over that with some more detail. As I started to climb out of the pool, the guys suddenly grabbed me and tried to drop me onto the wheelchair. Chest first. Not part of the game plan. It took a few second for them to realize this isn’t going to work. They then lowered me back down onto the deck so I could turn around. It was then a quick lift onto the seat and away we went to the transition area.
Once outside we discover that it was raining again. When we went into the pool, it had stopped raining and the sun even looked to be attempting an appearance. Well, now it was drizzling. I had left my clothing set out to make it easy to do a quick change. So, now my sweatpants and socks were damp. I had to slide into the damp sweatpants for warmth. After 30 seconds fighting with a wet sock I just ditched both of them and put on my shoes, singlet (SRR of course), gloves and helmet. As I was gearing up, 3 of my support crew took off to get their bikes. This being my first triathlon I got permission from the RD for some course support. The roads were open to vehicle traffic and the bike route was on a long winding narrow road. Anyway, I was dressed, mounted up and just started to roll out. We were off…!! Or so I thought. Only after two cranks on the pedals, I heard a big click. As sounded as if I was switching gears, but I wasn’t and. I was getting nothing for forward motion. It seems that the chain had jumped off the gear. I was about to get off the handcycle to fix it when my buddy, Andy, ran over. He told me to stay in the seat. He had seen it happen and could fix it quickly. It took him about 5 seconds and we were finally off. More lessons learned in my very first transition.
We hit the road really lagging behind. But I had decided not to race the clock. I just wanted to do the event and get the feeling of the whole thing. The first mile was kinda flat, so, I decided to swallow down a Cliff Bar. One of the smart things I did that day. I would need the energy from it soon. After about 1 mile of cycling, the hills started to go up, up and up some more. Since it was raining the roads were wet and slippery. The steeper the hills got the tougher it was to peddle up them. I saw many of those bi-ped types walking their bikes up the hill. Well, that really wasn’t an option for me. So, I just had to suck it up. The road got real narrow at a few points and had some blind curves on it. Thankfully, I had my support team. Diane, would ride up front and yell back warnings about oncoming cars. Jim was 20-30 yards behind me doing the same thing. At the same time I had Beth riding on my left wing. She was keeping me up to date on all kinds of things such as mileage since my odometer wasn't working. It was also in the first couple of miles I discovered that I had forgotten to start my watch at the pool. This was getting better and better. It was only 9.3 miles, but man, is seemed like a marathon. After a mere 1:26:27, I arrived back at the transition area.
Once again, we discovered that we should have worked out the transition better. In an attempt to keep things dry, Andy had put my wheelchair into my truck. He didn’t think I’d need it until the very end. Well, great thought, but I needed it to sit on to climb into the racing chair. While I stripped off some wet gear and pulled out my racing gloves, Andy ran to the truck to get the chair. By the time he was back, I was ready for it. I sat on the wheelchair and slipped into the racing chair. Now, I’m back in my office. I know what I’m doing in the racing chair. So, I thought. The whole transition took no more than 3 minutes and we were off. Not bad this time. Di & Jim decided that because it was raining, they would stay with me. I really didn’t need them out there, but since I was bringing up the rear of the race I welcomed the company. The rains had decided they were here to stay and a one point it got really heavy. The first real up hill we hit was so steep that my hands started slipping off the push rims. DUH! I forgot to spray the wheels with spray-tac. Spray–tac is a spray on glue keeps my hands from sliding off the wet push rims. I even had a brand new can in my gear bag! Another lesson learned. Now, down hill runs are usually my favorite thing. We were flying down this hill and having a ball. Di had run ahead and came back to tell me that there was a hard blind left turn at the bottom. I hit the brakes to slow down. The wheel just ran through the wet brake. It was useless for a few seconds. It suddenly grabbed and I started to skid sideways. So, I had to grab the main wheels to slow down and get control. I finally had control again. Just in time to come to almost a complete stop at the bottom and make the turn. This was not good as all that momentum from the hill was lost. In these conditions, the 3.2 miles should have only taken me 20 minutes at worst. But between the rains, the hills and a stop for some water (I left the camel back on the handcycle) it took me 41:42. Probably the worst 3 miles I’ve ever done, but again, I wasn't racing the clock. My over all finish time was 2:17:53. I don’t think it’s totally accurate, but with a chip strapped around my ankle, how can I argue with it? Also, I was on the bike course and awful long time.
Lots of lessons were learned that day. One is that I can’t operate in a triathlon the way I do an average road race. Usually, I just show up with my racing chair, gloves and sometimes my helmet and usually the beer cooler. I go out, race and have fun. You can’t do that with a tri. First, with the handcycle, the racing chair, the wheelchair and my gear bag, I didn’t have room for the cooler. Second, transitions have to be practiced. Especially, if you have a support team. We really should have run through the pool exit and the gear changes a little more than talking about it over beers. Most importantly, I couldn’t have done this alone. Di, Beth, Jim and Andy were the key parts of my completion. I couldn’t have done it with out them. They say no man is an island. It was proven on Sunday. Although, with all the rain we were having, I felt like one.

My advice. Go try a tri. You’ll love it.

Cheers, Chris