Thursday, July 29, 2010

Morgan, You are an IronKid!

IronKids Race Report

My daughter who likes to accompany me to the gym and typically enjoys a swim along side me decided she wanted to do a Triathlon. Other than lessons 4 or 5 years ago she really has no formal training as a swimmer but does pretty well considering. Most of what she knows she picked up watching other swimmers at the pool and occasionally asking me a question, although rare. You know us parents really don’t know anything anyway. We did a little research and found an IronKids branded event in Carmel Indiana. After a brief discussion she decided to she wanted to sign up. I probably pushed a little, dunno, but she seemed excited and I know I was.

Obviously with on 300 or so participants the setup was not quite as fancy as what you would see at an IronMan event but still better than most local tri’s. A couple of vendors selling their wares along with “Team Winter” who, as we later found out, the ambassador for IronKids. Very nice young girl who had lost her Dad to Prostate Cancer formed a team and raised roughly 250K through her foundation. She also took a few minutes to speak about both her foundation and the event to come. Well spoken young lady and I am sure that her Dad is smiling down on her, as a Dad I know I was. For more information on Team Winter and her Foundation visit:

Pre-Race Routine:

Up at 5AM. She had a couple of spoonfuls of Peanut butter from the jar, as did I. Washed down with a few sips of Gatorade. Packed up the bike and off to the race venue. We were still unsure of the bike route so decided we would drive it once that morning. It was still dark and we never could find one of the turns which began to create some undue stress in the car. Opted to just head on to the race and plan on the course marshals helping guide her.

It was raining off and on when we arrived so we setup transition and then covered her stuff with an extra towel that was in the back of the car. Just like any other triathlon, no outside assistance is allowed once the starting gun fires. Spent some time with her going over her plan and making sure she was comfortable with how it was laid out. I think at this point I was getting way to detailed about instructions and advice, settled myself down and we headed over to the swim start.

The Senior division was to start prior to Morgan’s event. We were instructed that the Intermediate’s would not be able to start until the last Sr. has left transition on the run. This meant roughly another hour before she would get her turn, however, she would get about 10 minutes in transition to make any changes, adjustments or whatever. We used this time to walk through her transitions without many distractions so she had a mental image of what to do and where to go when she came in from the swim and bike. The rain had also cleared up and the sun was out so we opted to remove towel that was covering her gear which might help minimize clutter and fuss.


Each age group was broken out into 9, 10 and 11 year old Girls and Boys. Starting with the 11 year old boys first they were instructed to do a staggered start entering the lazy river and exiting at the same point. While we were all a nervous wreck Morgan seemed to be pretty relaxed and just ready to get started. Great start for her and she seemed to quickly find her pace although this was her first time swimming in a crowd so I think she was little surprised by the splashing about that took place. At one point she seemed to have taken a nice drink of water from a swimmer that was running up next to her. The lazy river does what most do and it waves and meanders around about a 200 meter loop. The jets were turned off so there was no help from the current, in fact at a couple of points the jets, possibly filters, were still running and several kids struggled to get past them as they slowed to a crawl over them.


New bike and she is not used to shifting gears. We practiced prior to her race and found a gear that she was comfortable in on flat ground and the plan was to just not worry about shifting for now. The return from the first loop she was looking pretty good. There was a course marshal that was helping guide the participants on which way to go depending on whether they were finishing or heading out on their second lap. I really only had one complaint about the race and perhaps I am biased but the course marshal was standing at the base of the fork in the road. Kids were coming up a slight incline and it allowed for very little warning on what to do next. My daughter was one of the ones that got confused by the instructions and went right instead of left. As did the young man behind her. Realizing her error she braked and tried to make the turn which also caused the kid behind her to run her over.

While this was a low speed crash it was still quite frightening and I was looking around for my wife to see if she had also seen it. One of the course marshals ran to their aid and had her up and talking to him in a few moments. I also arrived and went through the typical questions trying to remain calm so as to not upset her further. After a minute or two she gathered herself together, wiped her tears and got back on the bike heading out for lap two. I have never been more proud of her than I was at that very moment. Leg is bleeding a bit, hip is hurting but she insisted she was OK and wanted to continue.

It was a much longer time on this second lap and I was starting to worry about how she was feeling. After what seemed like an eternity she rounded the corner and her legs were going about 110 RPM’s. During the wreck the chain was knocked down the little ring and she was working her tail off to go about 5 or 6 MPH. Should have spent more time learning to shift, my fault. Ughh. Either way she was still moving forward and looked to be having fun again.


I was able to run up next to her along the chute and out onto the run course. She said her knee and hip were still hurting but she wanted to finish. I told her it was OK if she bowed out but she insisted.  I told her to walk if she needed to and just get through it. This is supposed to be fun so enjoy it and don’t worry about your time. She slowed to a walk shortly after the turn onto the course and was quickly down the hill and out of site.

My son decided he would run to another vantage point and watch for her. Once she was spotted he ran to her side to provide encouragement. I don’t know what he was saying to her but you could see his arms swinging and clapping. Watching from afar it almost brought me to tears to see how my kids have grown from these little tiny babies to independent souls. When they are at home they fight like cats and dogs but at that moment it was clear how he really feels. This was now proud papa moment number 2 in the span of less that 20 minutes.

Once she caught site of the finish her pace picked up and she began to run again. I could see the pain diminish and the smile was starting to return. Into the chute and across the finish she was awarded her medal and it was announced that she was an IronKid. I am not sure that she heard it announced across the PA so we all made sure to remind her for the next several hours and now days.

Post Race:

She slept like a baby on the trip home and knee and hip pain is gone. We just realized that next year she will be moving up to Seniors since her Birthday is in Dec so even though she is only 11 she will be racing with the 12 year olds. When asked how she feels about it she just shrugs her shoulders, perhaps it’s too soon to discuss.

On On

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Exploring the City’s Greenway’s

When I began running last year one of my favorite things about it was seeing the city from a new perspective. When your in a car or even on a bike your focus is on the road ahead and it’s easy to miss all of beauty around you. Running had become a means of discovery as I was able to increase my mileage it continued to open new opportunities for viewing the city at 6 mph vs. 45.

After my last race in April I had more or less lost my passion for it and was finding it more and more challenging to get myself motivated for anything about 3 miles or so. Arriving at the park last night I had a planned 3 or 4 mile easy recovery run. Rounding the corner from the trail I was on I was reminded that there was a 2 mile nature loop that had just opened in a neighborhood nearby. The weather was perfect in the mid 80’s and humidity was at a manageable level. If you are from the south you know how humidity can be a complete game changer in relation to outside temperatures.

My decision went from turning left down the typical path of monotony times 3, it’s a 1 mile loop or straight ahead and out of the park boundary to see if I can figure out how to get to the new place. I debated with myself briefly before determining that a 6 or 7 mile adventure run would be much more fun than 3 miles of the same’ol.

My wife and I had walked this trail a week or so prior but I had no idea how to get there from here. The wildflowers were in bloom, there was a small vegetable garden at one point and a small decking overlook that took you out into some wetlands that was full of fish, turtles and likely other wildlife that I did not stick around long enough to see. Many varieties of birds were seen either jumping from the brush or just flying overhead. Truly a paradise and a gem of the city that likely many people are completely unaware of.

The return back I found a new entrance to the park and realized it used to be the grounds of Central Kentucky Lunatic Asylum. The adjacent property has Central State Hospital but I had no idea there used to be something other than the park here. Apparently a grand complex with 2 signature 60 foot towers built in 1874 and later demolished in 1996. I got lost in the woods nearby trying to find my way back to the main trail, which as it turned out I was about 50 feet away the entire time but could not figure out how to get there. There is also a cave that runs under the park I have spent the last year running in. What the heck, it’s a shame that the entrance is defaced with graffiti and rubbish but perhaps when I have more time I am going to have to explore this area of the park more.

In the end I made the right decision in breaking the routine and finding a new path. At the expense of sounding hokey I was also reminded that life in general is no different. I have always been one to go right or left when everyone else says to go straight. While it will often leads to a dead end or may even circle back to the beginning it sometimes leads to new adventures that had I continued down the same path I would have missed. Life is about the journey not the destination and I will get there eventually but not without running into a few walls, getting lost in the wilderness or circling back to the start to get my bearings again. Besides had it not been for all my wrong turns I would have never met my Wife or had my two wonderful kids. Life is Good!


This new trail was funded by one of our local businessmen and founder of Papa Johns pizza, John Schnatter. Among his many contributions to the pizza industry he is also a philanthropist, outdoor enthusiast and cyclist. “John Schnatter and his Evergreen Real Estate team have created a priceless legacy for Louisville and an inspiring model for other landowners and companies nationwide. He chose to preserve priceless land, create a first-class, state-of-the-art trail and offer these amenities for the benefit of the public.” ~ American Trails

So thanks Papa for providing the city with such a beautiful venue in which to enjoy the nature around us. If you have not visited this park you can drive there and park in the Anchorage lot at Evergreen and Lagrange.

I also worked for Papa Johns for a couple of years while in a career transistion. Had it not been for that Pizza delivery job I may not be where I am today. So the next time the family ask for Pizza I will have to insist on Papa John’s.

More info…
American Trails Anchorage Greenway

ETA: If your listening Papa, where can a guy get one of those slick Papa Johns cycling kits?