At the risk of ending up in copyright court, I’m going to steal a chunk of C Different’s February newsletter…’cause I think it’s the coolest thing I’ve read in a long while:

22 financial grants were mailed out this month to respective blind athletes throughout the country. Each of the grant recepients had to meet certain qualifications in order to receive their grant. But most importantly, they each had to display the C Different credo, “Inspire, Educate, Change.”

We are proud to support some wonderful blind athletes throughout their 2008 journey. Here are a few examples of athletes whom we are supporting.

Justin Grant and Kyle Coon plan to use their grant to purchase climbing equipment to assist them on their journey to climb Mt. McKinley.

Mycell Armington plans to use her grant to help her train and be ready to complete her first triathlon with C Different.

Nancy Stevens plans to use her grant to put on a 3 day Tri It Camp in Glenwood Springs, Colorado in order to teach blind women how to become triathletes, while simultaneously teaching sighted women how to become guides.

Adrian Brocaplans to use his grant money to defend his title at the Boston Marathon as overall champion of all blind runners.

Thomas Wolfe is a world champion blind snowboarder who plans to use his grant money to educate blind athletes through his winter sports programs.

When I first learned about C Different, I really only knew about their work with triathletes. But now I know that they do so much more. Their credo is “Inspire, Educate, Change”. I can say, I’m the one being inspired, educated, and changed!


A funny thing happened on my way to Boston

When I finished IronMan Couer d’Alene last year, I expected that April 21, 2008 would be my return trip to the Boston Marathon…but this time as a competitor. While at Boston University a brzillion years ago I soaked in the race, and this year was supposed to be my turn to run.

But then over the summer I did an open water swim in a race that had a guided blind athlete competing. Long story short, I’m going back to CDA this year in support of the C Different Foundation and their exciting work for blind athletes. (There’s a link to C Different’s web site over on the right side of this page.)

So Boston will have to wait until next year. And yes, in case you’re wondering about the title of this blog – the Western States 100 will slide another year.

IM CDA Race Report

Readers Digest version – Great venue, great race, GREAT volunteers, a bit too much wind during the swim and bike, pleased with my race, wishing I was faster – 12:36.

I had the pleasure of not having to worry about CDA lodging – my wife’s sister lives 12 minutes from the starting line! So we enjoyed a family get together along with the race. So me, wife, twin 5 yr. olds and my wife’s son flew in Thursday. To babysit the twins on raceday, wife’s niece and her boyfriend (the niece’s boyfriend, not my wife’s!) flew in on Friday.

On Friday morning I swam a lap of the course, and sat through a very helpful pre-race talk with Rich Strauss – I’ve followed his Intermediate Ironman training plan since Christmas. The key thing I took away from the talk: spend your day getting prepared for racing starting at mile 18 of the run. Other than walking up the hill to the second turn around and one other very short hill, I had no unscheduled walks (I walked out of most of the aid stations to drink).

Race morning started at 3:30 with a trip to the potty (30 min before my alarm). Breakfast consisted of a Clif bar, banana, Gatorade Endurance, and a hard boiled egg. Thirty minutes before the race I had another Gatorade.

The race started under the shadow of 10-20 mph winds, and very choppy water. I was surprised to hear the announcer offer a duathlon option if anyone wanted it. From what I can tell, about 35 people took the offer and skipped the swim. My guess is that at least that many started the swim and never finished. It was rough out there. I found the solution to my hydration problems – I think I drank at least 1/2 gallon of lake water due to the waves. I also got kicked, a lot. I have two abrasions on my nose from goggle impacts. At the mash up at the first bouy I politely, but firmly, removed a young lady’s grip from my arm. She said “Sorry” – but you get the idea of how crowded it was for that little scene to take place. I’m all for tradition, but the mass start tradition I could do without. And I started WAY right and out of the fray, though I did stray closer to the middle of the course at the buoy (a mistake I quickly corrected).

Swim time: 1:18:50

During much of the swim and into T1 I was FREEZING – more on that in the “Things that didn’t work” section below. The highlight of my extended (12 min) T1 was the slathering. The people applying sunscreen had warm hands, and it felt SO great on my ice legs.

I started out very slow on the bike. Very slow. I was freezing, and glad that I had arm warmers on. My upper body was spent and wouldn’t hold me up in aero position, so I mostly sat up for the first 45 minutes or so. Once I got to the first real hill the daze cleared and I started to ride for real. Oh, but then the hills hit. It’s not that any one of them was a monster; it’s just that there were a lot of them. But the course was great, the roads were in very good condition, and the community support was terrific. Loads and loads of residents brought chairs to the top of their driveways to watch and cheer as us crazies went by. Each of my three bike splits had a faster time than the previous – dang, if the race were only 200 miles longer I probably could have gotten up to a respectable pace!

Bike time: 6:39:30

The run went better than I had hoped. Well, I had hoped for a 4 hour time, and that didn’t happen, but all went according to plan, and I didn’t bonk or cramp out. My biggest concern coming into the race was a nagging groin strain that has been with me for about a month. I was pretty nervous that 30 minutes into the race it would flame out. So to protect it I shortened my stride considerably and just ran lots of short quick steps. Many people feel that this is the way you’re supposed to run anyway, but I don’t because of problems with one of my big toes. Mercifully, the toe cooperated, and didn’t flare up.

Again, the community was outstanding, and a couple of houses had their stereos blaring (Rocky, Chariots of Fire, and U2!). After not seeing familiar faces through the bike, it was great to see my wife, her sister and her husband. I also saw (and heard) from many Silicon Valley Tri Club members. And my brother in law’s buddy Kevin who gave constant phone updates to the rest of my crew who couldn’t find me on the course. You guys were great!

After a little nervousness that maybe I should have included some reflective tape on my clothes, I hit mile 22 or so, and still had a lot of daylight. I drank coke for the first time, and started running closer to my 9 minute pace goal. And then around the corner, and a straight shot to the finish line. I was smart enough to take off my hat and sunglasses, and zip up my jersey for the picture, but I finished too close to the previous runner so I never got to hear the famous “you are an Ironman” bit. Hmm, I don’t remember hearing anything. Maybe they did say it.

Run time: 4:20:49
Overall time: 12:36:05

Things that went well…
Nutrition. I chose to not get a CDA rolldown slot last year at Oceanside because I was so badly dehydrated and realized I needed to get better control of my nutrition and hydration. Things went perfectly on Sunday. On the bike I wore a CamelBak with 12 scoops of Infinit (to cover 6 hours), and supplemented with course water, a couple banana chunks from the course, a Clif bar, and a few salt tablets. The CamelBak was empty right at mile 111. Nice. On the run, I started with one bottle of Infinit with 4 scoops, and had another in my special needs bag (or my Dire Needs bag as my sister in law called it!). I then walked through most of the aid stations and was careful to put down at least one cup of water per station, sometimes another 1/2. I also ate probably 3 salt pills, and started drinking a cup of cola at each station starting around mile 20. I think maybe I could/should have started the cola earlier.

Porta potties. All this drinking sent me to the porta potties probably 5 or 6 times. I was very appreciative of the typically 4 potties at each bike aid station, and 2 per run station. I think I had to wait only once. At one of the bike stops they had a rack, at another a volunteer held my bike. Very nice.

TriBike Transport. Nice to not have to mess with the bike.

Support. I could not have done this without the help and encouragement of many, many people. This report would go on for another 3 pages if I listed them all, but thanks Laura and Danny for opening your home and being a great help with everything in CDA. And many, many thanks to my wife and twins for putting up with my crazy hours, long workouts on the weekends, and the multitude of you made over the last year to make this day happen.

Things that didn’t work…
Oops too much… I shouldn’t have had that last bottle of Gatorade right before (not) sleeping the night before the race. I took a lot of trips to the bathroom when I would have preferred to be sleeping.

Wetsuit. After the first 1/4, and sitting idle in the traffic jam at the first bouy, the top half of my wetsuit filled with water, including the arms. I thought it just flushed through, and would get warm again, but it never did – cold water just seemed to keep flowing through. My neck seal seemed tight, and I can’t find any obvious tears. I’ve been diving much of my adult life, and have tons and tons of time in wetsuits, and I’ve never experienced anything like it. So I rode really low in the water, and my arms were extra heavy. Funny, I did a good enough time, but my arms and shoulders were hamburger for the first hour on the bike.

SaltStick was sticky – had to take apart to get the tablets out on the bike. Maybe the pills I had were too big. I should have worked with it more in practice.