The third annual ice fishing trip is in the books! The crew consists of me and three work buddies – Lou was able to join Tom, Micah, and me for the first time this year, so we had four poles in four ice holes. Plus several tip-up style rigs, which is how we caught our only two fish.
Tom’s truck was loaded up and we climbed in to make the 5.5-hour drive north.l to r: Lou, Tom, me, and Micah.
We opted to head to northern Wisconsin in January instead of February hoping that it would be a little warmer for us and for the fish. Our first trip resulted in catching one fish. Our second trip was a bust – zero. This year we caught two! Both nice sized Northern Pikes. Although it wasn’t quite the amount we were hoping to catch, it was enough for a nice lunch of fried fish.
Tom showing off a rod to Lou.
Micah was once again our awesome breakfast chef and whipped up three great meals, in addition to helping Tom with frying up the fish.
Starting the day off right with a ham/cheese/egg bagel sandwich
Micah wondering why we haven’t caught any fish yet.
It wasn’t long before we caught our first Northern Pike!
A picture with me and Tom holding the fish because it’s my blog, dang it.
Our second fish was caught not long after the first one, with Lou doing the honors of reeling in this whopper.
I had made dinner reservations for Friday night in case we didn’t catch any fish, and the two fish we caught we decided to save for tomorrow’s lunch. The special dinner out this year was at Norwood Pines Supper Club and we enjoyed the all-you-can-eat fish fry. Everyone seemed to enjoy their meals.
The after-dinner photo at Norwood Pines Supper Club, Minocqua, Wisconsin.
We had a backup plan this year in case fishing wasn’t going our way. Tom had mentioned maybe renting snowmobiles and I had been thinking of buying one. I ended up buying two new Ski-Doo 2-up trail sleds to have at the house. Renting some additional ones fell through, but we took turns riding the awesome trails that exist in the snowmobile capital of the world, the Northwoods of Wisconsin.
While Tom & Micah fished, Lou and I hit the trails on the new sleds.
Saturday was our last full day and we started off fishing but the lack of action made Lou and I opt for hitting the trails. Lots of exploring before heading back for lunch.
Tom cleaned the two fish and he and Micah fried them up. Delicious! Made for a great lunch.
Tom and Micah hadn’t had a chance to do any snowmobiling yet, so after lunch, we all found a helmet that fit our heads and headed out for some sledding. Lou and I rode shotgun while Tom and Micah explored Dan’s Trail and many others.
The sun had come out and was providing some beautiful scenery to stop and enjoy.
We decided to head to a town called Sayner, where I thought we would just turn around and head back. Of course, we missed a turn and went way out of our way heading back home, now in complete darkness. It was a fun experience to ride by headlights at night. A little nerve-wracking too.
Since we didn’t catch any fish on Saturday, we opted for Bad Bones BBQ in Arbor Vitae, Wisconsin.
Evenings were spent playing poker and Lou won all three nights. Didn’t realize that he was a card shark.
High-stakes gambling going on.
Sunday always comes too soon. We cleaned and packed up and headed back home full of talk about the fishing and snowmobiling. We hope to be back again next year!
In February 2021, I took a couple of coworker buddies Micah and Tom up to my lake home in Minocqua, Wisconsin to do some ice fishing and we had a great time. (You can read it about it here: Ice Fishing Fun). Tom is the fisherman, Micah likes outdoor fun, and I am fortunate enough to have a house on a lake to enjoy great activities all year long. Although we only caught one dang fish in 2021, and nearly froze our rear-ends off, we decided to go back to give catching some fish another go. Unfortunately, another buddy Lou couldn’t make it again this year, so he’ll just have to read about the fun here instead. Next year for sure, Lou!!!
We left work in the afternoon and motored along until stopping for dinner. As there’s not a lot of choices of places to stop for a quick meal, I suggested a common stop for me – Culver’s in Portage, Wisconsin. Tom and I were convinced we hadn’t stopped there before, but Micah was sure we had – “This is the same damn Culver’s we ate at last time, you jack-loads!” Micah was right. What can I say, there’s not much variety in Wisconsin.
Last year we went to a new bait shop in town and the owner kind of treated us indifferently. I think Tom said he treated us like “Fibs” – a Wisconsin put-down for Illinoisians. Fortunately, Kurt’s Island Sport Shop opens at 6am, so Tom hopped in his truck and came back with a bucket full of minnows and shiners (a bigger minnow) and some helpful advice as to where the hot spots for fishing was. Now it was time for some breakfast.
Micah loves to cook and once again Tom and I were glad to let him do so. I was a little concerned about the chocolate-flavored pancake mix Tom brought along, but I have to admit that they were really tasty. I was disappointed in them somewhat when they opted for the fake Aunt Jemima syrup over real maple syrup, but whatever.
Hoping for warmer weather than what we had in 2021 was pointless. It was brutally cold, and also windy. And to add to that, later in the day it started snowing like crazy. Typical Northwoods weather in February, I guess.
After a few hours of not catching anything, we decided to head back inside, eat an early lunch, warm up a little, and then head back out.
We found that the wind was really howling in the afternoon so we decided to head over to a cove that was protected from the wind and try our luck there. It was definitely better to be a little more sheltered from the wind, but the fish still weren’t biting.
We opted to call it a day and head inside to shower and get ready for dinner. I had made reservations for us at Minocqua Prime, knowing that they had a pretty good Friday night fish fry. We all had the bluegill and enjoyed our dinners.
A post-meal trip to Walmart to pick up some more food and some more propane for the heater, we then headed home. After a day on the lake and a very filling dinner, we found ourselves pretty tired and hit the sack at 8:30pm. Ended the day with zero bites and caught no fish.
Saturday morning didn’t start quite the way we were expecting, but after another great breakfast from Chef Micah, we were ready to hit the ice once again. The temperature was once again very cold, but we had sunshine and hardly any wind, so it made for a pretty comfortable day.
We chose a new location for some deeper water but it didn’t yield any action. We are starting to be convinced that there are no fish in the lake in the winter. After a little while, we moved closer to what’s called Clumbs Island hoping for some luck near a weedier part of the lake but still had no bites.
Since we had gotten a little bit of a late start to the day we decided to skip lunch and fish until we had enough. Once again, the conversations Tom and Micah were having were very interesting. I don’t know when I became an old man, but I found myself shaking my head at the stuff these two were talking about. But it was entertaining nonetheless.
We finally pulled the plug on fishing and packed it up for the day. The neighbor has some open water near his on-the-lake boathouse which prompted those two to once again think about doing the Northwoods version of the Polar Plunge. That made me really nervous. I was relieved when their scouting of the water made them reconsider doing that. Why can’t they be normal? (lol)
Since they had deemed the Polar Plunge to be out, we opted to do some sledding down the hills in my yard. That’s more my speed.
We showered up and headed over to a wood-fire pizza place called Oakfire. Another great meal and more great conversations with these two.
Tom was pushing really hard to drive his truck on the lake and I was trying really hard not to let him do it. But I finally relented and we found ourselves driving onto the lake. A minute later he got off the packed down snow and we quickly found ourselves stuck in the snow! My fears were becoming reality! I probably wouldn’t have been too nervous about it, but Tom had already told us a story of how he got stuck in the snow with his truck. Micah and I got out to help push, and after Tom cleared some snow from the tires, we pushed. Micah fell down, I laughed, and we got ourselves unstuck. I think these two live to see me have nervous breakdowns.
Upon getting home, Tom wanted to play a game but I told him the games I had stunk. Sorry about that, Tom. I’ll have some better games next year.
Sunday morning came and Tom headed out to the lake while Micah and I opted to stay inside and have breakfast.
Tom was able to land a couple small fish, but I never got to actually see them. But even so, this trip will forever be known as the no-fish ice fishing trip. Oh well, try again next year!
I usually refer to Week 27 of the Be Iron Fit Ironman training plan as the “Dreaded Week 27.” It’s the toughest week in the 30-weeks of training, ending in a 6-hour bike ride with a one hour run right after it on Saturday, and a 3-hour long run on Sunday. But I took a little sting out of it by basically doing that workout at the end of Week 26. I did that for a couple of reasons. First, the opportunity presented itself last Saturday to ride an extra half-hour when I rode with Susan and we were managing our effort very well, staying hydrated and fueled on a very hot day. So as we got closer to getting back I just committed to it and it worked out fine. Same with Sunday, I was feeling good and figured I would just go an extra 15-minutes and make it a full 3-hour run. On the Friday before those two days I was somewhat dreading the weekend, but after getting out there and doing the extended portions and feeling good afterwards, it was a huge confidence builder for me.
Secondly, my wife Kari and I planned to head north to our lake home to enjoy some lake life and take care of some fall house and yard needs, and I thought that if I did the workouts a week ahead of time, I might not be so pressed for time or be so wornout if I swapped the planned workouts. I may even cut the long Saturday ride and long Sunday run down and start my tapering a little earlier this time around.
Here’s how the Dreaded Week 27 went for me.
Monday is usually a rest day, and I usually putter around the house and do the things that get neglected during the week; catch up on laundry, mow the grass, get groceries, etc. But after a couple of walks I was bored and thought why not do a swim. So I put on some tri shorts and jumped in. 30-minutes is my typical swim workout, but I was feeling good so I pushed it to 60-minutes. When I got to sixty I was still feeling pretty good, so I pushed it another half-hour, and before I knew it I had swum 4300 yards – covering the distance of an Ironman swim. There was no tiredness, no calf or foot cramps, and really no boredom, which surprised the heck out of me. Knowing that I can easily swim the 2.4 miles in my own backyard pool in 1.5 hours was a good feeling. Oh sure, I have done the Ironman swim four previous times, so I know that I can do it. But I still needed to train for each one of those previous attempts, and prove that it can be accomplished with smart training. Could I actually be enjoying swimming? Let’s not get carried away.
Tuesday ushered in a little bit less heat for the day and I ran at a time when there was a coolish breeze and it was overcast. I did the 10-minute warm-up and then started in on the five 6-minute repeats. I was pacing them pretty well. My legs were a little sore at the start, but when I picked up pace I did so easily. My turnover felt smooth and comfortable. I felt like I was rocking it! I skipped the swim due to the previous day’s effort, and opted to vacuum the pool instead.
Wednesday was quite a different day weather-wise than what I had last weekend. Much cooler, with a strong northeast wind. I hopped on the bike and was flying along heading south on my usual route. I saw my buddy Charlie attempting to run on his two injured toes and wished him a good run. I must have been averaging over 20 mph heading south, but turning around and coming back north was not fun. The ride ended with a 18 mph average, so I guess I was doing okay. A quick change to running shoes and it was off on a 30-minute run. I didn’t feel the wind as much, but the cooler temperature had me running with a good tempo. I like to use the Wednesday bike/run brick as a hard effort instead of staying in a Zone 2 heart rate zone. It’s the one day I like to hit the gas.
Thursday ushered in another cooler day and the winds were better for me as well, which caused me to push myself a little more than I should of. I could feel my calves tightening, but the 1.5-hour ride went well. I jumped in the pool afterwards and tried to swim, but I was getting some calf cramps and called it a day after 21 minutes.
Friday I got in my 1.5-hour run and then jumped into the car with Kari to head to Wisconsin.
Saturday was rainy of course, but it wasn’t too bad, and after a hearty breakfast with Kari at Tula’s in Minocqua the rain was turning to a misty drizzle on its way to ending. I planned to do a 5-hour ride and I stuck to it. I headed down Hwy J towards St. Germain to pick up the trails and head into the beautiful Northwoods. I hadn’t even gotten a few miles into it and the wet road and what little leftover sprinkles had me pretty wet. But it was bearable and I kept pushing on. I had never went further than Boulder Junction before so I continued onward and found the trail toward Manitowish Waters to be beautiful.
I took a couple of minutes on the way back to stop and enjoy some scenery just west of Boulder Junction. The trail here was beautiful.
I was thinking of how much fun I was having and four hours of the ride was just perfect. The last hour, not so much. Back onto Hwy J I was greeted with hills and headwind and an overall lack of energy. At one point my thigh muscles started to cramp, which had never happened to me before. I decided to slow down and fuel and hydrate more and limp it home. I got off my bike and sat down and took a minute to watch my calf muscles twitch uncontrollably. Good times.
I decided to not do the 60-minute run after the bike after watching the twitching going on.
Sunday was beautiful. I had recovered enough from yesterday’s bike ride that I talked myself back into doing a long run after talking myself out of it during the latter portion of yesterday’s bike.
I headed to the Bearskin Trail in downtown Minocqua and before I realized it, I was was crashing a marathon and half-marathon in progress. It was fun to see the runners coming back in with determination on their faces. I ran out seven miles and turned around and headed back. There were spectators cheering me on, as they didn’t realize that I wasn’t in the race. I said, “I’m not in the race, but I love your enthusiasm!”
It wasn’t long and the 3:45 marathon pacer caught up to me as I was walking and taking a gel. He was encouraging everyone to join in, and after telling him that I was on a training run he still wanted me to pace with him. I ran with him chatting about my Ironman and ultra coming up and I then took a detour to avoid the finish line, as I already felt awkward being on the trail with the others. I made it home with an extra mile added due to the detour, making it 15 total miles and some fun memories of running with those runners. Maybe I will join them for real next year.
Time to enjoy some lake lifeone last time before pulling the boat out of the water for the season.
The week preceding Independence Day was my family’s vacation week in Wisconsin at the lake home. I ended last week up here too, but looked forward to a great week of training with some awesome weather and some different scenery than what I am used to.
After my rest day on Monday I got in a nice open water swim in the lake. The wetsuit hadn’t been used in over a year, but I got it on with only some minor contortions and struggles.
This was an easy training week according to the plan, ending with an Olympic distance race. So Wednesday’s bike/run brick was about the hardest part of it. On Thursday I began my swim workout in the lake again and during the swim I decided why not just make this the Olympic distance race practice instead of doing it on the Fourth. So I turned around and headed back to the dock, finishing right at 1500 meters.
Since I hadn’t planned to do the mock race I had to go upstairs and gather some junk to do the ride. I needed a tri top, water bottle, a gel or two and get my bike ready. So transition took a little longer than usual, but I was soon on the bike heading to St. Germain.
Once back from the bike I opted to switch to a running shirt and drink a Gatorade that my wife was kind enough to have ready for me. Out the door and off at a pretty strong pace had me a little wiped out around 3.5 miles into the run, but a few stops to wait for traffic allowed me to catch my breath and find a comfortable pace.
At home and done meant a cool down jump in the lake, which is always refreshing. I decided right there and then that my week was over on a Thursday and it was time to take a mental break from training for the rest of the week. And that’s exactly what I did.
Week 17 was a little different than the usual “here’s the workout – go do it.” I had to change some things up a bit.
Monday and Tuesday went as planned. Wednesday I participated in my department’s leg of the Torch Run, benefiting the Illinois Special Olympics. So I biked to work, ran with the gang, and then biked home again. A little bit more than the usual bike/run brick.
On Thursday my in-laws arrived to join us for a vacation trip, so I had guests to entertain, and it was stormy in the afternoon. I decided that riding and swimming in a thunderstorm was probably not the best idea, so I bagged Thursday.
Friday I got in my planned run and felt really good. It was a cool and humid run, but not as bad as the 90’s we had been dealing with.
Saturday was a day for travel to our place in Minocqua, Wisconsin. Lots of busy work to take care of so I skipped another workout. But Sunday I made up for it by having a great brick workout of 3.5 hours of biking and a half hour run. I had a beautiful and cool day for it. I chose to ride the road out to St. Germain and then hit the paved trails they have there to head further north.
All was going great and at at an hour and 45 minutes I turned around to head back, except I was not sure where the connecting trail was after going around this little wooded lake. Fortunately I remembered that my GPS watch had a track back feature and once I figured out how to access it I was all set. Except I didn’t understand how to go the direction I was supposed to go.
So off I went in the direction I thought I needed to go but it would tell me that I was off course. So I would turn around and ride the other way until it told me that I was off course again! What was I doing wrong?
I finally passed a trail that I had kept missing because I was riding in a direction that kept me from seeing it. Oh well, I got back on the right trail, hit the gas and pulled into the driveway at exactly 3.5 hours.
The track back feature was pretty impressive and I’m sure I will use it again if I ever find myself not knowing how to get back.
I am very lucky to own a house on a lake with my wife and also very lucky to have four varied seasons to enjoy a variety of activities there. One that I had yet to try was ice fishing. Some buddies from work had shown an interest in going up there to give it a try, but something always seemed to get in the way – we waited too long and the ice got too thin, Covid happened, we just forgot about it, etc.
The topic came up again though, and we decided on a date. Our group included my coworkers Micah, Tom, and Lou; however, Lou had something come up and opted out of the trip.
We left at 11 am on Friday from work. We didn’t even get a 1/4 mile away and Micah made us stop because he forgot to pee before leaving. About 30 minutes later we stopped at an old haunt of Tom’s to grab a sandwich, which we ate in the car. From then on it was another five-hours of driving before we were there. Lots of conversations were had and I think that they know more about me than they bargained for. Our shared stories of how we met our significant others were a highlight.
When we arrived I was beaming with pride about my house on the lake as they took it all in and gave me some great compliments. We unloaded our gear, and Micah and Tom picked out which bedroom they wanted, and then we made plans for dinner.
Since it was the first Friday of Lent, we opted for a fish fry somewhere and I played it safe and took them to the Boathouse in downtown Minocqua. Tom had some northern pike, Micah had the fried cod, and I opted for some fried walleye. Based on their comments, I think they really enjoyed the Boathouse.
On the way back we stopped at a local fishing/bait shop called “Dewey, Catchem & How” for some bait. The two guys inside must have thought we were real greenhorns and one of the guys helping us gave us a little attitude, but we got what we needed and then hopped back in the car with a bait bucket full of the biggest minnows I have ever seen.
Back home, we got busy getting the newly purchased rods and reels ready for fishing and made sure everything was ready to go. Micah had asked me how many fish I thought we would catch, and I kind of jokingly said “none. If we catch one, I’d be surprised,” I think my words were. They were having none of that negative talk. We were going to eat fish again tomorrow! Some more hanging around and talking then it was off to bed.
Micah had promised to make his award-winning biscuits and gravy and it was outstanding! We supplemented it with some scrambled eggs and fried potatoes, and we were eating like fishermen ready to fish for the day.
We had woken up to -12 degrees Fahrenheit and a forecasted high of 25. I don’t think it ever got that high, but the day itself was a clear blue sky with hardly any wind until the later afternoon when the breeze picked up a little. Thankfully, Tom brought a little propane-fueled heater which made our little pop-up shanty nice and toasty. It wasn’t long until I had my gloves off, and Micah and Tom had both removed their coats.
But the real excitement started right after we got the shanty set up, the ice holes drilled, and Tom had set up his tip-ups. I had a pretty good understanding of how they worked and as we were doing some other baiting and what-not, I asked Tom how the pole-type tip-up worked, because I could clearly see that it had sprung up. This prompted Tom to bolt for the pole and start reeling in the line. We were all excited by Tom’s excitement when he declared that he had a fish! When he pulled it out it was a nice-sized Northern Pike!
Turns out it was not only the only Northern Pike in the lake but seemingly the only fish in the lake. Fifteen minutes into our day and we caught the only fish we were going to catch all day! We thought we were going to be eating like kings on fried fish! I’m still laughing about it.
We soldiered on, baiting our hooks, dropping our lines into the murky depths of Minocqua Lake, and talking up the excitement of catching more fish. Other groups had joined in on the fishing nearby and we were starting to notice that they were congregating in another area. I’m not sure if they were successful there or not, but next time I think we’ll give that area a try. The only issue with it is that it was pretty close to the snowmobile thoroughfare on the lake and they roared by with regularity.
When it was time for lunch, we decided that maybe we should seek out another spot as ours had not produced any more nibbles. We dragged our stuff back across the lake and decided to set up shop out in front of the house. Tom drilled another hole in the lake and after sticking his depth/fish finder down into the hole it was declared that this would be a great spot. We went inside and filled our stomachs with sandwiches and chips and thawed out for a little bit before heading back outside. We had fish to catch, dang it!
After we ate, we rushed back down to get back at it and determined that we misread the depth on the display as 31 feet, but it was actually 3 feet 1 inch. Oops. Not quite deep enough. After Tom consulted a webpage that showed the depth of the lake we walked some of our stuff directly across the lake and left the shanty. After fishing for a while with our backs turned to a somewhat cold breeze, Tom added more steps to his watch and fetched the shanty. We then opted to move back closer to where we had caught the northern earlier in the day. It was not long after I hit the “wall.” I didn’t know that fishing could wipe me out as it did, but I was spent. I was doing everything I could to stay awake. My back was hurting, as well as my butt, and my brain was going numb as well. I was generally becoming a grumpy – make that a grumpier – old man. But we fished and held out hope that we would get lucky again.
At one point, with Micah’s family “FaceTiming” him, he thought he could sense a nibble, and got really excited that he may have seen a fish on his line. But it either was playing with him or it didn’t want to join the northern lying frozen in our bucket, and Micah was left fishless.
As the sun went down we realized that our day of ice fishing was coming to an end. I was relieved to finally be getting off of the cold lake, even if it would take a few more hours of me being grumpy until I was not as grumpy as before.
Tom cleaned his northern and Micah helped him wash it and fry it up. Tom called it our appetizer and we each had a little bit of the one northern pike in Minocqua Lake. It was a minor victory, but a victory none-the-less. Even with having to deal with the little bones, each bite was very tasty, and I was glad to have had an opportunity to share our bounty with Tom and Micah.
We finished out our evening with a trip to Bad Bones BBQ in Arbor Vitae and then back home for some dominoes and a well-appreciated hot shower.
After another great breakfast of pancakes and sausages, we packed up and headed for home, happy to have had the chance to share a weekend of fun together even if the fish feast didn’t happen. I still believe that we caught the one and only fish in Minocqua Lake, and that is an impressive feat.
IRONMAN TRAINING IN THE TIME OF PANDEMIC – PART XV
I’m typing this on my iPad and it’s a little bit of a struggle for this technology challenged old guy, but I promise to clean it up when I get back to my computer at home. I’m surprised that I am even putting forth the effort seeing that I am on vacation.
There were a few things happening this week that kind of screwed with my desire to train. The first is that knowing that my family and I were heading to our lake house for a week, I had some stuff to deal with before leaving. I did get most of the weekly stuff done, but I missed the long ride on Saturday due to the drive up north and then dealing with cleaning up the yard and moving a week worth junk in.
So I opted to do the four-hour ride on Sunday and it went okay, but it was eerily similar to last week’s ride. Had another tire issue that I just refilled with a CO2 cartridge a couple of times. This bike is nine years old and I have never had a tire or tube issue with it. I seem jinxed lately with flats. The ride also ended with a similar bonk at the end. It wasn’t really hot, but I was sweating as usual and most likely didn’t keep up with my hydration. I felt so worn out at the end that I opted to jump in the lake to cool down and skip the 30-minute brick run afterward.
My better half joined me on the ride for awhile on the Bearskin Trail.
My ride took me to Nokomis and I found a new place in the middle of nowhere called “Bubba’s”. It looks like a large place for bikers to assemble for an upcoming event they have for motorcyclists. The USA War monument They built was pretty impressive.
The other issue that has poured a little water on my enthusiasm is that I discovered that Ironman has closed registration for Ironman Louisville. That’s a problem because 3/5’s of my Gunner teammates hadn’t signed up for it yet! I’m not sure why they closed it, but I have a pretty good idea why. They maybe trying to limit they amount of triathletes competing to limit the risk to everyone, but that’s not it. They also may be trying to limit the amount of triathletes that they have to offer transfers to if and when they have to cancel the race due to COVID-19, but that’s not it either. I’m now about 99% sure this race will get canceled next week.
It was mentioned on the IM Louisville Facebook page that the same thing happened to Ironman Ohio 70.3 – they closed registration and then the following week they postponed/canceled it.
So, now I kind of don’t feel like training. I know that I said last week that if the race survives past Week 15 that I would keep training, but I’m not so sure. Feeling like the ax is going to fall on this race puts a damper on training for me. Gunner teammate Dave says he’ll probably still train and look for another late fall race to do, but I’m thinking that there won’t be any racing this year for Ironman in the US. Seeing that COVID-19 numbers are spiking in some areas again says a lot.
So I plan on training this next week while on vacation and doing what I can waiting for a decision to be made. I just hope it comes sooner rather than later.
TOTALS FOR WEEK 15:
Swim: 1 / 1500 yards
Bike: 3 rides / 85.5 miles
Run: 5 runs / 17.3 miles (skipped the Saturday brick and the Sunday long run this week.)
56 years, 2 months, and 16 days into my life I found out that I actually like cross country skiing!
Now this isn’t my first attempt at XC skiing. Kari and I bought some skis for ourselves Christmas 1992. We took them out to the local park and fell down numerous times and had some fun. We got busy with our young lives together, having kids and moving that most of the time the skis were tossed up into the attic and forgotten about. We tried again shortly after moving into our current home, probably around 2001, but after trying them out on a very difficult place to ski, we brought them home and put them back into the attic again.
Flash ahead to February 2019 we decided to haul them up to our lake home in upper Wisconsin and give them a try up there, a place where winter is serious about being winter. We drove to a place called Minocqua Winter Park where they have numerous groomed trails. However that day the park was hosting a XC ski race, a marathon actually, and after deciding we’d be too embarrassed in front of this group of people we opted to head home and try them out on our frozen lake. That went well until I fell and my 25 year old ski boots ripped apart in the most comical way. The boot literally ripped itself from the sole and left the sole on the ski that was quickly skiing far away from me!
We came up north on January 1st, 2020 to spend some time before the holidays were over and tried to give XC skiing another go. I think we were all a little nervous when we got there, but we checked in and strapped on the skis and found the easiest trail we could find. We all struggled a little at first and there were a few falls, but we quickly got the hang of it and off we went.
Ashley seemed to struggle a little more than the rest of us, falling on her tush enough times that she was having some pain with that. So Kari and her headed back to the chalet and Rebecca and I attempted to complete the loop.
I forgot to start my watch’s XC ski app right when we started, but I did hit the start button after about 15 minutes of skiing. When Rebecca and I got back we had gone a little over 3.5 miles in an hour and twenty-one minutes. After reuniting with Kari and Ashley and finding out that Ashley was feeling pretty sore after falling so much, we packed it in and headed home for some much deserved hot chocolate. I can’t wait to go back!
The family was up north in Minocqua for Thanksgiving and four of us decided that doing the local turkey trot would be fun. Ben had already looked at the previous results from last year and figured he could easily beat the winner’s time by a couple of minutes. I was glad to see we could save a few bucks by signing up as a family, $90 for the four of us instead of $30 each on race day! What we hadn’t planned on was the snowstorm the day before.
The snowstorm caused the race director to alter the course and eliminate the trail portion of the run. The course was now changed to an out and back. The town took care of the snow for the most part, but the sidewalk and the streets we would run on still had some snow. Fortunately, due to the sand they throw around up there on the streets, the footing was pretty good.
So we all showed up, registered and then Kari and I went back to the car to keep warm while the real runners, Ben and Emily, went for a pre-race warm-up.
The start time approached and we all started gathering around the start banner. Ben had keyed on a kid wearing a Ripon College cross country shirt and figured he would stay with him until the end and out-kick him. Emily joined me and said she was going to run easy, which meant to go my pace, and I was glad to have the company. Kari took her spot away from the front and then the countdown began. 8… 7… 6… I hate when they do this because some guy always will jump the gun and go on 1, but here we were. 1… GO!
The race start was narrow and fed us almost immediately into a more narrow sidewalk, and that is when the festive mood of the race changed for me. A woman runner started to run almost directly at me from the left and I thought she was going to run into me so I held my arm up and kept her from bowling me over.
“YOU SHOVED ME, YOU ASSHOLE!”
For the record, I didn’t shove her. She didn’t even lose her balance. She just didn’t get to run into me like she was about to do. I explained to her that I was just keeping her from knocking me down, but damn, she was angry enough about it to call me an asshole. But now I was a little miffed. When you are a slow runner you shouldn’t be starting at the front of the race where the faster runners belong, and if you are going to cut someone off you better understand that the person you are cutting off isn’t going to like it. Why can’t these races just be fun and not end up with some weird, screwed-up occurrence? Happy Thanksgiving to you too, lady.
So with that incident on my mind, I tried to find a comfortable pace to run and try not to slip and fall on the snow-covered sidewalk. Emily and I made our way to the side street and to the turnaround point without any further issues. There were a couple of younger guys ahead of me wearing turkey outfits and I decided that I didn’t want to get beat by a couple of turkeys, so I started working on pulling them in. Emily had also decided to push ahead and leave me in her snowy dust. The first turkey I caught pretty quickly but it wasn’t until about a half-mile left of the race that I caught the second one. Another runner was ahead of me and I passed him as I was starting my last all-out kick, but he still had a kick left and then blew past me and started racing a high school kid up ahead that we were getting close to. I finished alone without any further challenges.
I looked at my watch and saw that the GPS recorded a distance of 2.90 miles and Ben and Emily said the same. The course was a little short, but no big deal.
Being called an “asshole” aside, it was a pretty good race for all four of us. Ben implemented his race plan and waited until 20 feet left to take the air out of the other kid and beat him by a second, winning the race. I think Ben enjoyed toying with his prey until the final moments. He won’t deny it. Emily was also first on the women’s side and both of them got turkeys for their wins. Kari was also on the podium with a 3rd place in her age group.
When we got home I was explaining to everyone what I did to get called an “asshole” and I demonstrated what she did with my daughter Rebecca. As I got close to Rebecca she instinctively put her arm up to keep me from running into her. There, I am vindicated!
Training while on vacation can be challenging, mainly because you want to be doing vacation stuff instead of training stuff. But fortunately for me, my family has a lake home in northern Wisconsin that allows me the opportunity to do open water swims, and run and bike on a beautiful trail. I can’t complain about that.
The training you do during the week while training for an Ironman is pretty unremarkable, and I find that the only thing I really remember about them when Sunday comes and I write this wrap up is the Saturday long bike ride. This week’s ride took place on the Bearskin Trail in Oneida County, Wisconsin, which is an old rail-to-trail conversion path. I have used this trail for most of my rides when I am up north because it offers lots of beautiful scenery and it is awesome.
I really had to motivate myself to do this ride. I was almost mad about it, but when I got to the trail, I realized how lucky I am to have this beautiful trail available to me. The ride was to be four hours long and just like the ride I did in 2017 when training for Ironman Louisville, I got to the 2-hour turn around point I decided to go just a little longer to hit 30 miles before turning around. I was feeling great, but I was getting low on water so I decided to ride by a couple of county buildings but found no outdoor water spigots. I rode a little further and found the Nokomis Fire Department building and a firefighter let me in to refill my bottles. Very thankful for that.
As I got to the three-hour mark I started to bonk. Not sure why that happened, as I was using gels and feeling good up to that point. But I limped it home in four hours and twenty minutes. Not exactly what the plan called for. I was also very sore from riding my hybrid bike on this crushed rock trail instead of my tri bike on the road. My muscles and butt just aren’t trained and used to that bike. I also made the mistake of trying to keep my pace on that bike equivalent to what I do at home on the roads, which caused me to push my effort pretty hard, only to manage a 14 mph average speed. It felt like I was averaging 20 mph by the effort I was putting out.
When I got home I hobbled down to the lake and waded into it while my somewhat concerned family watched. It took me a little bit to recover, but after a while, I was back to normal. They say being near the water restores the soul. It did that and a whole bunch more for me this week.