July 15, 2009

I haven’t posted in a couple of weeks – I have no better excuse than laziness.

However, something happened over the weekend that shook me to the core.

While I was cheering on Trimom and our good friend Luna in the Trek Women’s Triathlon in Pleasant Prarie, WI (Trimom PR’d), a young man named Daniel Murry was drowning in Pewaukee Lake during the Pewaukee Triathlon.

From Milwaukee’s WTMJ-TV.  Emphases mine.

Parents Speak Out on Triathlete’s Death

By Charles Benson

We now know what killed a triathlete in Sunday’s race in Pewaukee. Daniel Murry, 33, died of an accidental drowning.

Tuesday night his parents shared their grief.

Lee and Sharon Murry struggle with Dan’s death. They know he battled weight problems. But training for the Pewaukee Triathlon was a turning point in Dan’s life.

“It was a challenge,” said Lee Murry.
Murry says his son Dan once weighed 400 pounds. Earlier this year he decided to compete in the Pewaukee Triathlon.
“Everyone was happy seeing him lose weight and he looked good,” said his father.

This was Dan’s first triathlon but he didn’t decide to just jump into the lake. His family says he had been training for months and had lost 100 pounds.

But Dan never made it through the swim despite being a good swimmer. Investigators called it an accidental drowning but a doctor told the Murry’s it was a heart attack.

Reporter Charles Benson asked, “Do you have any doubts or concerns about the event itself?”
Lee Murry said, “Either way, we realized it was an accident.”

An accident that has left Dan’s co-workers at Culver’s stunned and saddened. His race number and bike helmet are now part of the many memories his family has.

“He was my youngest and he was the light of everybody’s life,” said Dan’s mom.

Sharon Murry never got to see Dan at the finish line but she believes someday she will.

“He really believed and trusted in the Lord,” said Sharon. “He knew where he was going to be going. We have no problems where he is. We’ve just got to meet him at the finish line one day.”

Dan’s funeral is set for Wednesday.

I had heard that “someone” had died during the Pewaukee Triathlon, but I hadn’t heard any details until driving to work this morning, when the radioman said that Murry had lost 100 pounds from his once 400-pound frame. Simple math says he was probably about 300 pounds when he got in the water on Sunday.

I weigh 305.

Daniel Murry was 33. I’m 31.

He is me, and I am him.

Why didn’t I die?

Could I still die?

I’ve taken a lot of pride in pushing myself. Longer swims, faster rides, harder runs. I’ve dropped my time in sprint tris by more than 30 minutes. I told everyone I know I’m doing Devil’s Challenge this year, and I committed myself to doing an Olympic distance next season. I’ve been reading a book about first-time Ironman finishers, and I was just talking to Trimom last night about how someday, when our kids are a little older, we would do an Ironman.

Now I feel like I’m cheating death every time I get a race number.

Here’s the scary part: I’m not quitting. I didn’t even think about quitting. In fact, when I finished reading the story, I decided I would dedicate the rest of my races this season to Daniel.

I’m going to write to his parents and offer my sympathy, and I’m going to let them know Daniel will be swimming, biking and running right next to me in every race I ever do for the rest of my life. Having never met him, I will carry his memory across every finish line, and every race I finish, he’ll finish.

In a very real way, I’ve been swimming, biking and running away from the fat, unhappy person I’d become and towards health and happiness. I’m sure Daniel was dong much the same thing.

I hope that in heaven the water’s always still, tires never flat, and the course is always fast.

Godspeed, Daniel.


Status: Not crazy

June 29, 2009

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that a problem with my bike had manifested during the Elkhart Lake tri, and that an initial visit to the bike shop (Thanks to Trimom) proved fruitless. Last week, I whined and complained about my bike STILL not being quite right. So I’ve been looking for an opportunity to go back to the bike store and find out, once and for all, if I’m crazy.

I have some free time this week because the factory at the company where I work is shut down. I was catching up on some desk time, when the Information Systems guys announced the computers would be down, for the rest of the day. So, rather than sit around and stare at a blank computer screen (which definitely would have been crazy) I decided to head down to the Emery’s and ask them to take a look.

It’s important that I pause here and pimp Emery’s. Owned by a former Olympic cyclist (and silver medalist!) they carry Trek, Gary Fisher, Cervelo and I think a couple of other brands. They have a full-service shop and lots of accessories, and like so many bike shops, they sell fitness equipment so the off-season isn’t completely dead. But what really sets Emery’s apart is their commitment to a good bike fit. If you buy a bike from them, they will take serious time making sure it fits correctly. Even if you didn’t buy your bike from them, for a reasonable fee, they’ll fit you from hands to cleats. The day they discovered how badly misaligned my feet were and added wedges to my shoes was the day I started to really enjoy riding.

Anyway, I rolled into Emery’s and Brent himself asked how he could help. I described the problem, gave the whole backstory, and he said, “Well, let’s take a look.” He put my bike up on a rack and proceeded to examine it. He didn’t just check it out, he diagnosed it. He was moving the pedals back and forth, changing through the gears, listening to the chain… I was standing there thinking, “This guy is like Dr. House, but for bikes.”

Sure enough, he soon found that in certain gears in the rear, there was a problem with the chain jumping on the front middle chainring. He made an adjustment to the front derailleur, which didn’t prevent the jumping, but kept the chain on the center ring. I took it for a test ride, and it didn’t slip off once.

He sent me on my way with a doctorly, “Try that for a couple weeks, and if it gets worse, bring it back in.”

Thanks, Emery’s. Thanks for fixing my bike and thanks for validating my sanity.



Because writing something is better than writing nothing.

June 24, 2009

I’ve been a bad, bad blogger. In my pitiful defense, I’ve had two of the most insanely busy weeks I’ve ever had. I have some exciting news I’m working on for tomorrow, but in the meantime, here’s the highlights from the past couple of days.

On Father’s Day every year, my dad’s family gathers at my Aunt Patty and Uncle Jim’s cottage on Elkhart Lake. It’s always a great, relaxing time and the kids love to play in the lake and on the beach. My oldest daughter (almost four) was very brave, walking out to the little yellow raft off my aunt and uncle’s pier and climbing up on it all by herself. She’s a cautious little girl sometimes, but I was proud of her.

I also have to give a shout-out to Aunt Patty and Uncle Jim, not only for hosting Father’s Day, but also for their support of the Elkhart Lake Triathlon. Jim volunteers every year to take his boat out on the lake with a lifeguard to patrol the swim course, which is very cool. Plus, when Trimom and I want to practice lake swimming, they always let us use their pier and their spare bedroom to change.

On Monday and Tuesday, I was at the National Plastics Exposition (NPE) in Chicago. Working in the plastics industry, this is my nerd-vana every three years. The show always has the best technology and newest materials, and it’s almost impossible not to come away with a couple of good ideas. I won’t bore you with the details of the show, but I do want to make one point. The plastics industry is often vilified as being environmentally unfriendly and plastic products are held up as unhealthy for people and the planet. I wish those who criticize our industry could have been at the show, because the theme in almost every booth was “green.” From materials suppliers using post-consumer waste in new materials, to machinery makers using less electricity to run machines, to extensive recycling efforts to minimize the show’s own solid waste, care for our planet was everywhere. I was proud of my industry’s commitment to the environment, and bolstered that the marketplace sees an opportunity in making the world cleaner and healthier.

Being in Chicago also gave me the opportunity to see my good friend Al, albeit briefly. A few years ago, there would be no curfew and we might have hit the bars and an “arcade” or two until closing time. Today, responsible adulthood has us firmly in its grasp, so we agreed to meet for breakfast. At 7:30 a.m. God, I’m old.

However pathetically square I felt, I was quickly won over by the cafe at Fox and Obel, where we met. I took a quick spin through the store while I was waiting for Al. I was in ecstasy. Artisanal cheeses. Olive varieties I didn’t know existed. Gorgeous meats, beautiful produce and exotic chocolates and caramels. I didn’t buy anything, but it’s only because I wasn’t mentally prepared for how wonderful it would be. I was overwhelmed with gastronomic pleasure. But my feast for the eyes was nothing compared to breakfast. I had truffled eggs Benedict and fresh-squeezed orange juice and I could have died, right then, a happy man.

I didn’t die, and I headed home via cab, train and car. I made it back just in time to catch Trimom for the run leg of a practice triathlon with her tri training group. It wasn’t unbearably hot in Chicago, but back home, even at 7 p.m., it was damn near 90 degrees. It was a hot, slow run, but we ran (okay we walked some) the whole way together, which was a nice way to see Trimom after a night away.

Tomorrow, the big news I teased you with ‘way back at the beginning.



I’m not crazy

June 17, 2009

I mentioned in my post-race post that I was having trouble with my front chainring. Trimom was headed down to Milwaukee, so she agreed (because she’s awesome) to take my bike down and drop it off at the bike shop.

So this afternoon, I get a call from Trimom. She’s at the bike shop, and she’s reporting that the mechanic found NOTHING WRONG. He even took it out for a ride and couldn’t find any problem with the chainring.

That leads to four choices:

1) I’m crazy, and hallucinated the problems I (thought I) had on Saturday.

2) The problem truly existed, but magically fixed itself between Saturday and today.

3) The mechanic at the bike shop has a powerful aura that makes problems go away when he’s within five feet of a bicycle.

4) There’s actually a problem, and the mechanic couldn’t recreate it.

No matter what, I’m not sure what to do. I told Trimom that I wasn’t crazy (which I’m now having doubts about) and that I had real problems, and would the mechanic please take one more look at it.

That was almost two hours ago and I haven’t heard anything back. That can’t be good.



UPDATE: The mechanic couldn’t find anything, and so sent the bike home without any adjustment. I’m terrified to go riding, because now I’m about fifty percent sure I am insane.

By the way, Trimom thinks option #2 above is what actually happened. I guess that is the least unlikely.

It’s gotta be the shoes

May 31, 2009

My gear, in case you care. I’m sure you don’t.

Wetsuit: Fit2Race Sockeye sleeveless. I don’t like swimming in a full-sleeve wetsuit – I feel like I just spend more effort turning my arms over. It’ll be chilly in Elkhart Lake on June 13, but I can always get warm again. I can’t gain back energy I wasted needlessly. I have to plug the folks over at Fit2Race (www dot f2r dot com). Their customer service is OUTSTANDING; they answered a lot of questions before I bought my first wetsuit, and they have a terrific warranty policy. They also rent suits. I highly recommend you patronize their business.

Bike: 2007 Trek Pilot 5.2 s.p.a. I know, I know, it’s kind of a Cadillac in a Corvette world, but cut me some slack. When I bought it, I was so fat and out of shape I couldn’t touch my toes, much less get horizontal on a road bike. It’s usually the plushest bike at a smaller tri, but I upgraded all the components to Ultegra, took off the front reflector (lame!) and recently got re-fit to a more aggressive handlebar and seat position. I do love riding the Pilot; it’ll ride all day comfortably and eats potholes for breakfast. Next year, after I lose more weight in the off-season, I’m going to look at a tri bike. The hard decision will be to stick with Trek (my homies – we have five Treks including my 3-year-old daughters bike) or look at Cervelo.

I wear Sidi road shoes (13 Mega – I have FLIPPERS) with Speedplay pedals.

Clothes: I like Under Armor shirts and SmartWool socks, but I really want to pimp AeroTech Designs (www dot aerotechdesigns dot com) and Mt. Borah (mtborah dot com). AeroTech is based in Pennsylvania and sells both other manufacturer’s jerseys, bike shorts and tri shorts as well as their own brand. Their stuff is manufactured in the U.S.A. in Pennsylvania and is high-quality stuff. I love their tri shorts. Plus, their sizes run up to 4X-5X depending on the item. They’re the only guys I’ve found that cater to the truly big and tall cyclist and triathlete. Mt. Borah sells shorts, jerseys and jackets in killer designs, all made right here in Wisconsin. I really think it’s good for our country and our economy to buy American, so I love to give my money to these two companies.

Shoes: Brooks Adrenaline GTS. I walked into Fox Valley Running in Appleton, they took one look at me and handed me these shoes. (Don’t get the wrong idea, though. They did a full gait analysis and let me run outside in them. They pride themselves on giving you a good fit.) I have to say, they were right; my lungs and legs give out long before my feet ever hurt.

Nutrition: I like regular PowerBars and bananas before a workout or race, GU during, and Clif Bars (Black Cherry Almond – mmm) and PB&J after.

Miscellaneous: Body Glide is this Fat Triathlete’s best friend. If your thighs rub together, you need this.

Anyway, that was totally a filler post, but hey, if you got this far, you read it. Thank you.