Big Raffle, Big prizes, big storm, big updates!

Yes, I’ve been gone a while, but I’ve got lots to share:

- The “Frankenstorm” is pounding the east coast right now, and we’re starting to get the wind and rain. I bought a generator and we stocked up on water and peanut butter. Our electric company is a little co-op with about 18 employees and a couple weeks ago a small thunderstorm took out the power for the whole night. No power means no breathing machine. Another reason to focus on weight loss, but I digress.

- What would normally be the best news of the week is that I got asked back to be a member of Eleonore Rocks next year. I was glad to be a part of the team this year and I’m really looking forward to continuing my work helping new babies come into life or enjoy what time sick babies may have with their families.

- The “even better news” is that the annual Eleonore Rocks raffle has started. For $10 a ticket, you are entered to win these fabulous prizes!

  • 1 Blueseventy package (includes goggles, wetsuit, swimskin, cap, toe covers, race belt
  • 5 Asics backpack with gift cards for shoes
  • 1 LifeProof package (worth $800)
  • 1 All3sports care package (items TBD)
  • 1 Speedfil
  • 2 Infinit Nutrition care packages
  • 1 ISM saddle of winners choice
  • 1 Garmin 910xt
  • 1 Rudy Project Wingspan and 1 pair of Sunglasses

The raffle starts today and ends 12/1/12. To enter, go to my Eleonore Rocks fundraising page, select the “raffle” option from the drop down, and choose how many tickets you want. The raffle option is the only way to enter that gets counted for this contest.

- Finally, my favorite news of the week; my niece Abby is being induced for labor today and in the next 48 hours, I’m going to become a Great Uncle, as opposed to just a great uncle. My niece called me to tell me it was happening and as she walked into her birthing suite, she said “Uncle Ben, they have an Eleonore Rocks chair in here!” So now I have a personal connection to Eleonore Rocks beyond just my fundraising; in a few hours my great niece is going to have her first sit in a rocking chair with her mom in an ER Chair. Please help us make this experience available to many more families

The first chair my great niece will ever sit in

- I’ve started running to get ready for Smoke the Turkey 5k in Toledo. I hadn’t spent any time running in the prior two months so getting started again has been a challenge both from the motivation and physical aspects. But I’m doing it anyways. I don’t want to put on weight this winter, I want to lose weight to be ready for next years season.

- Speaking of next year, I’ve started looking into next seasons races. There are a lot I want to do, but I simply haven’t figured it out yet. A lot of neat races are starting next year plus some old ones I’ve been wanting to get back to or finally finish for the first time.

No triathlon, just trout (but you should read it anyways)

A week ago this past Sunday I was driving home from Half Full Triathlon thinking I was not going to put my legs through that kind of torture for a long time. But there I was, just a week later, standing for several hours in the Salmon river, knee deep in water flowing at just under 300 cubic feet per second, feeling it try to uproot me from my spot at the edge of a pool that’s been constantly replenishing itself with gigantic fish.

Never mind that the river had been successful once already; when we first arrived to the part of the river called “ball park” (Sections of rivers get nicknames for landmarks nearby) I learned how invaluable my guide was going to be. I had ignored his warnings that having spikes would help me to feel more stable on the more slippery spots where we were likely to have the best luck; I’d fished a bunch at Oriskany Creek and a little on the West Canada, I figured I’d be all set. Then I got out there, and I’m sliding around, and when trying to take a step I lost my balance and wind up on my side in the water. My guide Jim helped me out, and I realized my balance wasn’t the only thing I lost, my pole was gone.

It’s funny that my first day out on a creek I fell, and my first day on a real river I fell. I guess I learn stuff the hard way. Jim had brought a spare pole to account for just such a tragedy, and after renting some corkers (spikes that strap onto fishing boots to stop you from slipping) and a dry t shirt, we visited some other areas of the river. I wish I had taken pictures, it looked every bit what you think salmon run fishing looks like; guys (and a few gals) all along the river, fishing throughout the rain, hoping for that one big one to hit their artificial fly. We tried a few different spots, but none of them were really active. It gave me a chance to build up my confidence which was good because Jim wanted me to give ball park another try now that i had the spikes.

When we got back to ball park, we approached the spot Jim had identified from our first visit. Spikes make fishing in a fast moving river feel so much safer. Jim made good calls all day long, none better than the pool he had identified. Within a few minutes of setting up on the pool, I got my first hit. I didn’t set the hook hard, so that fish and the next couple of hits that followed weren’t on the line very long. I soon got the hang of it though and the next couple of fish on the line were protracted battles. One even ran upstream, a big king salmon that I thought I might have a shot at (fish that run upstream tire faster) but it wrapped the line around a rock before changing directions and breaking the line.

I was having fun, even without pulling in a fish, but fearing I might go away unhappy, and this being his maiden voyage as a guide, he wanted to make sure I didn’t. I think the guide buddy he’d been checking in with throughout the day had been filling his head with horror stories of customers who wanted only to reel in the big one, no matter what. Me, I’d gotten past a fall, wet clothes, a rainy trip, a lost fly pole, really cold feet, and learning a whole lot in about 6 hours; I was happy just to be still fishing. Jim though, wanted to up our odds a bit, replacing our tippet (the end of the line) with some stronger material. The risk in this is, is that the fish can see the thicker line more easily, meaning fewer hits. But when those hits happen, your odds to keep the fish go up a bit.

And that’s just what happened. My second cast after the line change my fly stopped drifting almost right away. A hard tug, and I had a steelhead on the line and about a foot in the air. This wasn’t nearly my biggest jump of the day (I had a King Salmon that I think was trying to match Felix Baumgertner’s ascent from the other day; you should have seen the look on my face), but I knew I had this one good. After an initial quick fight, I put a little stress on her; she ran, and she ran hard. In about 10 seconds she went about 200 feet downstream, but I still had her. Watching a fish move that fast, and feel that much pull on a fly pole is something to behold. That’s when Jim started walking me down stream as a I slowly reeled her in.

It’s strange the way things on the river work; when someone hooks a fish the people between you and your fish stop what they’re doing and get out of the way. It reminds me a lot of triathlon race day; everyone wants to win, and while they’ll be jealous of the people who are winning, they also want to help each other out. As I took my cautious steps down the river, several other men made way and encouraged me. Jim was in my ear making sure I was taking safe steps (he was more nervous than I was after I fell earlier in the day), and making sure I was doing the right thing with the fly rod to keep tension without breaking the line. In fact, it was another angler who was my net man on the steelie in question when I pulled her in. I really couldn’t tell you who was more excited, but it might have been Jim. I loved the whole day, and catching my first trout, a mammoth 28 inch steelhead was a huge thing, I was thrilled. I felt like a real fisherman for the first time in my life.


Half Full Triathlon Race Report: Wait, I did what?

Over these past few weeks, this blog has done its level best to combine fishing and triathlon. Yesterday in the midst of the Half Full Triathlon, I did just that, much to my chagrin.

Swim: So there I am about halfway through the swim, and I’m making good time. I didn’t have any goals when I planned this race out a few weeks ago, but after the schedule got changed, my only goal was to be out of the water before the first (aka Lance) of the half distance race caught me. The aquabike division was the last wave of the Olympic, and I was the very last person in the water. I was on pace to do my average swim, and stay ahead of the half distance racers, but as I made the 2nd to last turn, I felt something on my foot. At first I assumed it was seaweed and tried to kick it loose. I couldn’t get it off, so I stopped to pull it loose, and that’s when I figured out why it wouldn’t come off; it was tangled up fishing line, a bunch of it. Long story short, cold water making my hands too numb to do much with my fingers in the water and tangled fishing line led to a panic attack. Right there in the water, I’m freaking out; every kick makes me more nervous that there’s a hook somewhere in the tangle and I’m going to wind up with it in my foot.

In the end there turned out to be no hook, but my panic meant the pointy end of the half race passed me by a few minutes in the water. Coming out of the water I finally got the fishing line off. Not a big deal in that I really had no goal for the swim but to survive it, but I was about 8 minutes off even my slower Olympic distance swims. 58 minutes is not a respectable time for a .9 mile swim but on this day, with this situation, I’ll absolutely take finishing over not.

Transition: was another special event all it’s own. When I peeled my wetsuit off, I could have quickly been on the bike and on my way, but by then it was raining and it was really cold. Plus I knew what lie ahead, a bike ride I wasn’t at all trained for, that was about 2 1/2 times as difficult as advertised. In fact, by the time I made it to transition, the ambulance was already being called out to the bike course to carry someone dealing with symptoms of hypothermia off to the hospital. I took my time and made myself as warm as I could; compression socks, short socks over them, arm warmers and a tech shirt over my tri top. Compression socks with frozen hands and toes are damn near impossible, to the tune of a 14 minute transition. That’s like 5 or 6 transitions for an athlete with better transition skills than mine.

Bike: Timberman has 2,000 feet of elevation in 56 miles. Rev3 Anderson has 1,043 feet in 23 miles. Half Full Tri had 1,924 feet of climbing in just 32 miles, and unlike the other two, it was hellish weather. Cold, gloomy, rainy and at times with some wind. When I couldn’t ride fast, I rode slow. When I couldn’t ride slow, I walked. When I couldn’t walk, I stood and rested leaning on my bike. I made sure I was on my bike as much as I could be, until the cramps didn’t let me. Then I rested,stretched, and rode some more. It was a slow slog, made easier only by the fantastic people riding around me who would ask how I was doing or give words of encouragement. Even Lance said “Morning” as he passed me on the bike. The hills on this ride were tough, and didn’t end until I turned into transition. My time for the bike was incredibly slow, around 3 hours, though I don’t have my official time yet. I do have my garmin which I forgot to shut off until I was on my way out of transition.

What’s strange about aquabike is that once you get off the bike you’re done, but you still have to go run through the finishing chute. So technically, it’s still a triathlon, but the run is about 200 yards. I did it while holding over my head a bib with the name Rebecca Tabat on it. Rebecca if you aren’t familiar was Rachelle’s cousin who passed away a couple of years ago from abdominal cancer at just 19 years old. She’s why I joined Team Fight. And she’s why I did the race even with all the Lance drama.

And she, along with my friends Derek, Jordan, and John Young remind me why you should never quit no matter how much it hurts, or how much you want to stop. And sometimes, when you don’t stop, you get rewarded with more than a finishers medal. By finishing, I podiumed for the Men’s Aquabike. 3rd place. A podium at a Rev 3 event. No matter how happy I am with how I did this year that was something I never expected to see myself type. I really had an enjoyable weekend, and I have some final thouhts on the Lance stuff I’ll share this week while I spend a couple days figuring out what’s next. In the meantime I’ll leave you with my Rev 3 podium photo.

Yes, the medal does have a certain Flava Flav quality to it…