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Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Kindness of Strangers


Bike Trail in Marquette Michigan

"I have always depended on the kindness of strangers."-
Tennessee Williams from "A streetcar named desire."


I had to do a bit of traveling for business this week.  I work for the local electrical utility in Milwaukee and I was visiting our power generation facilities in Marquette and Iron Mountain Michigan.

 The first thing I noticed as I drove into Marquette all was all the bike paths. Miles and miles of paved trails along Lake Superior.

As soon as I got checked-in to my hotel, I was off for a bike ride.  I like to go for a run or a ride when I am in a new place. It is a great way to get oriented.  I like to explore with no goal in mind and just see what I find. I also took my Boston Strong Duck along to get a few pictures.  This project is to raise awareness and money for the Boston Strong Fund. People buy the ducks when they see the pictures on Facebook. A portion of each sale goes to the fund.

Boston Strong Duck at Northern Michigan University.

I did make a few finds on my ride. I didn't know Northern Michigan University was located in Marquette.  They have an Olympic Training Center that I found when I rode around campus.  I headed toward the power plant I was going to visit so I could find my way the next day. I also knew Presque Isle park was right next to the plant.  I stopped and had lunch in the park. It was 87 F and a great day or a ride.

As I was leaving the park, my tire went flat. I always get a moment of panic when this happens.  The last flat I got, I made my date change,  the time before that I waked 4 miles to get home.

I took a bike maintenance class a few months ago and I have a flat kit on my bike, so I decided to try and change the tire. I was a long way from my hotel and it was hot.  I got everything out and worked on getting off the tire. I had the same problem I did when I practiced trying to change a tire about 2 months ago.

My hands have trouble getting the timer off of the rim.  As I was struggling with it, a couple biked by. The woman called out "Are you ok?"  I told her "No."  Then this lovely couple stopped.  The man volunteered to change my tire.  We had some problem with the tire pump and the CO2 cartridges. but he got it changed and me back on the road.

It was so kind of them to stop and they were really lovely people.  Their behavior is so typical of Midwest people. They are just so open, friendly and helpful.  Back on the road, I was able to finish my ride, happy and grateful for the help I got.  This wonderful couple changed my day for the better.

The second day of my trip was to be in Iron Mountain.  Since it was not too far from Iron Mountain, I stayed with my friend Jon Helminiak in Land O Lakes while I was on business in Iron Mountain.  He has authored three books and if you like to travel I suggest you check out his book "Nothing Routine".


He lives on Big Portage Lake. Every time I visit I cannot believe how quiet and peaceful it is.  It was great to get in a visit between business meetings. I also got in a bike ride and hill running workout.  Back home at the end of the week.  It was a week made all that much better by the kindness of two strangers and a vist with a good friend.

**************************
Chris Wodke
Founder & Manager Team CMT
www.run4cmt.com

Team CMT is a group of athletes and supporters working to raise awareness and to find a cure for CMT. We have 122 members in 26 states. If you wish to join us visit our web site.

CMT or Charcot-Marie-Tooth is the most commonly inherited peripheral neuropathy. It affects over 155,000 Americans (as many as MS).  It is a disease of the nerves that control the muscles. It is slowly progressive, causing loss of normal function and or sensation in the lower legs/feet and arms/hands.

Symptoms include; muscle wasting in the lower legs and feet leading to foot drop, poor balance and gait problems Atrophy in the hands causes difficulty with manual dexterity.

Structural foot deformities such as high arches and hammer toes are common.

Poor tolerance for cool or cold temperatures and many people have chronically cold hands and feet.

Additional symptoms may include fatigue, sleep apnea, breathing difficulties and hearing loss.




Sunday, June 23, 2013

Pleasant Prairie Triathlon




"Ability is what you are capable of doing
Motivation determines what you do

Attitude determines how well you do it."- Lou Holtz


Today was race day. I participated in the Pleasant Prairie Triathlon.  I was excited because I was entered in the Paratriathlon division.  I was doing it just for the experience.  Dare 2 Tri a Chicago based triathlon club was bringing a large group of athletes. Many had placed at Nationals and we were all competing in an Open Division.  I did not expect to place among a large and talented group.

Last year I bailed in the swim and did not finish the race. I 'd done a 10K the day before and mentally I was still exhausted from Nationals. The buoy looked so far away and I was not able to finish.  So I had to come back and conquer this course.

My wave was at 6:30 am which meant getting up at 4 am in order to set up my race area by the time transition closed. Anyone who knows me, know I am not a morning person. So a 4 am start was hard.

I did my warm up and was waiting for the race to start. All the athletes were all in the water. One of those waiting said to me " This is only for paratriathletes.", meaning I did not belong at the start.  I was wearing the red swim cap everyone else had. I informed the woman that I was a paratriathlete. Not content she asked if I was a handler. Again I said I was a paratriathlete. I know I look normal, but I was standing right next to a young woman that also has a neuro-muscular condition. I know because she was wearing AFO's at the clinic   I attended. I would like that woman to experience the pain I had the night before the race. My arms and hands ached because I over did. That happens sometimes now, even on days I don't do much.. The whole thing was not good right at the swim start.

But I felt confident this swim.  The buoy's did not look so far away this year. I was off with the group and after 22 minutes I was done with the 1/2 mile swim. I was not the first out of the water, but close behind two other athletes.  It was on to the bike course which my favorite spot. Thanks to all the off season cycling, I am getting better at this leg.

It was strange to be in the first wave of the race, so I was in the lead group on the bike course. I am used to being a follower. The course was not well marked and the volunteers did not always know the route.  Took one wrong turn.  When I came in off the bike I heard my race number called out over the radio. I wondered if I did something wrong.
The biggest excitement was a Sand hill crane crossed just a few feet in front of me with her baby. She was starting toward me until I yelled. I came close to hitting them.  The course was not as flat as advertised, there was some good sized hills.  My off season class really helped with those as well.

When I got to the first water stop on the run course the race volunteers said I was third over all and the first female so that is why my number was called out. I was the first female back in the park.
 I thought just wait I will get passed soon and I was by one of the wheelchair athletes. I felt happy for her because she took the same wrong turn on the bike course and she looked strong.

It was all over before I knew it and it was fun. I took 2nd female in the para tri and 1st in my division because they split the division into wheelchair and ambulatory. I did not care, it was just so much fun.
I finished in 1 hr 43 minutes. A very nice time for me.

It took 3 hours for the awards and I had a nice long visit with Team CMT member Kevin Klein and some other tri friends.  It was 87 F and humid but a great day.

I wore my Dare 2 Tri visor since I am part of their club, they asked me to be on their elite team, but I was already committed to Team CMT.

Chris Wodke
Founder & Manager Team CMT
www.run4cmt.com

Team CMT is a group of athletes and supporters working to raise awareness and to find a cure for CMT. We have 122 members in 26 states. If you wish to join us visit our web site.

CMT or Charcot-Marie-Tooth is the most commonly inherited peripheral neuropathy. It affects over 155,000 Americans (as many as MS).  It is a disease of the nerves that control the muscles. It is slowly progressive, causing loss of normal function and or sensation in the lower legs/feet and arms/hands.

Symptoms include; muscle wasting in the lower legs and feet leading to foot drop, poor balance and gait problems Atrophy in the hands causes difficulty with manual dexterity.

Structural foot deformities such as high arches and hammer toes are common.

Poor tolerance for cool or cold temperatures and many people have chronically cold hands and feet.

Additional symptoms may include fatigue, sleep apnea, breathing difficulties and hearing loss.