Sunday, June 29, 2014

Transition Practice

So it looks like I haven't posted for two months.  Where does the time go!?!?  The emails requesting I update this blog have not gone unnoticed!

In those two months I've had a few weeks away from my family, volunteered as run course captain at a local triathlon, went to an AWESOME minor league baseball game (2 hour rain delay and then a 14 inning extra inning game of baseball madness!  PLUS Mike got himself a foul ball. #freebaseball), was hired at the YMCA (second job), went to Delaware for some exciting work meetings, and there is always the normal everyday stuff that is probably not worth mentioning.


Pics from the night of #freebaseball (beard have been shaved off :(  )


There was also an important life milestone and a couple holidays.  My wife and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary and, in that same week, there was National Running Day and National Donut Day.  Talk about a mind explosion of awesome.

To get a little more recent with the goings on of my exciting life, I've been sucked into the World Cup.  I'm a fan of sport and I have been known to watch any soccer match that comes on the tele, but this World Cup has been so awesome that my level fandom has skyrocketed.  The "I-took-a-day-off-work-to-watch-a-match" level.

Finally, to get even MORE recent, I worked another triathlon this morning.  The "I Love the Tavern Triathlon".  I've manned the bike and run courses so this time I tackled the transition area.  With working a new area there was a learning curve.  If I had to grade how well I did I would go with a C+.  With 400+ bikes (some with a price tag close to 10k) you have to be careful and only allow athletes into the transition.  For the first 45 minutes I failed at this.  During this time myself, and 6 other volunteers, were body marking everyone.

Side-note: Leading up to race morning this was the biggest concern I had.  I've never been in a race that did body marking and I've never marked someone.  A few people in I realized how irrational of a fear this really was...

After the transition area got in lockdown mode, myself, and a few others, worked the mount line.  It's critical that an athlete does not mount their bike until after they cross the line.  It was during this time I was sure I would lose my voice.  For a quick second I worried about having to go to work tomorrow without a voice.  I realized how this irrational this is too.

Once the bikes left the transition I got to talking to one of my fellow volunteers.  He is leaving for college and was telling me about his triathlon exploits.  Him and his family went around the country and he would compete in triathlons.  You wouldn't know it just from meeting him.  He was extremely humble with his exploits.  Telling you this allows me to transition into someone I met who was the complete opposite..

The race took place alongside the James River, in a local park.  Whilst playing transition bouncer a gentlemen walked up who was not marked as an athlete.  I told him that only athletes were allowed in the transition area.  In an accent that sounded Australian (which ended up being a southern accent with a wad of dip in his mouth) he told me he ran this park.  Also telling me he could shut down the race if he wanted to.  I looked at him a little perplexed (see southern accent with big wad of dip in his mouth) and he said "you don't believe me?".  I replied "I do believe you".  The question was apparently not going to sway his decision to show me his I.D. because he started getting it out while I answered said question.  I'm not sure if he was waiting for an apology or something because he stood there for a few extra seconds, said something I could not understand, and walked away.  Good times!

Volunteering to captain a portion of a race is weird.  I get a similar kind of "runner's high" while I'm at the race and after it's over.  So I'll sign up to captain another race and leading up to the race I tell myself "this is the last race I'm going to captain".  Walking back to my car today I tried to remember when the next race was...

bikes on bikes on bikes

The next time I transition captain I will do much better.  Aside from the one part about letting in spectators, I needed to be told what to do a couple times.  Chalk it up to lack of experience.  Practice makes perfect, I guess.

Speaking of transition.   The last couple months have been the toughest of our time here.  When we first moved here we were meeting people, and attempting to build friendships, but that has almost stopped.  I say attempt lightly.  Working out has also been put on the back burner.  I've worked out once every couple weeks for the past month (which may be a contributing factor in us having that blah feeling).

The support here has been great.  The people we have spent time with are great.  Finding a church has been a rough spot.  At first we thought we found one, and went for a few months, but it was not for us.  Since then we've been a few places a few times each and nothing seems to fit.  It's to the point where they're starting to blend together.  I don't know.  We've just been tired.  Tired and overwhelmed.  Overwhelmed and disengaged from the world.  We've put ourselves on a little pity island and used the row boat and oars as kindling for a fire.  I'm going to do what's best for my family and go where God wants us, but I don't know where that is. Is it back to Ohio?  Here in Virginia?  Who knows.  Maybe we just need some practice.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Hall of Fame Half Recap

What a week.  What a weekend.

The wife, wee tots, and I were in the great buckeye state since Easter weekend.  Stayed with family, met with friends, had a couple of good runs, ate a ton of local cuisine, and took my friend to his first baseball game.  All of that will be talked about in a later post.  You're here for a race recap.

One word to describe it: Epic.

Thanks for reading everyone!




Just kidding.  You can't get away that easy...

I didn't train too well for this one.  A few weeks back I went out on that ten miler and felt competent enough to continue with the race, and I'm glad that I did.  The race weekend started, for me, on Saturday at the football hall of fame.



The expo wound it's way through the history filled halls.  After picking up my expo bag I learned about the history of the game.  Checked out a couple booths and walked through the hall with all the player bronze heads.  After that I made my way to the Akron Marathon booth, shuttered, and continued to the history of the super bowl.

The shirt and bib pick up was on the field that the race would be finishing on.  You could tell that they put a lot into the expo.  The only complaints I heard were about having to go through the hall of fame to get their race stuff.  Oh no.  How horrible.  There's always one whiner...

Bib action
I did my best to lay low on Saturday to rest up for the race.  I have a history of doing a lot of stuff the day before a big race.  Not too smart.  The week had been rough, in terms of quality of sleep.  I was sleeping in a bed I wasn't familiar with and there was an evil pomeranian (which doesn't need to be specified since they are all evil) who liked to bark at 5:30 in the morning.  It had made me a little grumpy throughout the week, when I was in the same house with the yapping mutt.  With that being said I made an effort to go to bed earlier on Saturday since I knew I'd be up at 4:15.  I did my usual pre-race ritual of pinning on my bib and setting out all of my clothes.  Included in the ritual was me packing since I would be driving home after the race.

Sunday morning came and I woke up and got to the field much earlier than I had to.  The temperature for race start was in the upper 30s with a light breeze.  My running ensemble included shorts, a long sleeve under shirt, Active:Water jersey, throw away gloves, throw away shirt, and the normal shoes and socks.  I wasn't too worried about the bare legs but many appeared to be.  This choice of clothes is fine for running the race but waiting an hour and a half outdoors this is not the best idea.  In an effort to conserve body heat, and fight off hypothermia, I ducked into a bathroom under the stadium stands.  There were port a johns so I was worried they'd lock the running water bathrooms.  Luckily for me they did not.  When I entered there were already 3 other guys standing in there with the same idea.  They were from Chicago and had just came in the day before.  Felt good knowing that there were some out of state people venturing into Canton, Ohio for a race (even though I guess I fit that mold now).

I reluctantly left my toilet clad paradise to find some friends from the High Mill running group.  Moments after leaving the commode zone I spotted Duane Acito.  We got to catch up for a while and after a good half hour we made our way to the start corrals.  I put myself behind the 2:10 half marathon pacer.  Going into the race I put myself at between 2:10 and 2:15 for a finishing time.  Spirits were high in the corrals.  I hit someone with my arm when I removed my throw away shirt and they were fun about it.  Gotta love the runner community.  A few minutes later I overheard them talking about how to get rid of their throw away clothes and I gave them my way.  Throw it and then look in the opposite direction.  That way if you hit someone they won't know it was you (unless they saw you throw it of course).  I may or may not have done this in Chicago.  In all fairness it's hard NOT to hit someone in the sea of people of Chicago.

There were no speakers so I didn't hear anything about the countdown or national anthem.  A few minutes before the gun went off (which we could hear) I saw another HM runner, Shane.  He was running his first half and was nervous.  He told me how unprepared he felt.  His long run was a 13 mile treadmill session that made him feel like crap.  Ran it at 10:00 a mile.  After that the gun went off and away we went.  I did my usual start slower than most strategy and it went well.  Saw some people I knew in the group of racers and looked forward to mile 4ish when I would see my wife, kids, and mother in law.  There was a good mix of up and down hills for first third of the race.  On Market St., before seeing my wife, I saw a co-worker of mine, from Nationwide, named Kyle.  It's always a pleasant surprise to see people you know on the race course.  He was there for a family member.  Soon after I approached my girls and made a slight mistake.  I took off my throw away gloves and gave one to each of my daughters.  It was definitely an aw moment.  My mother in law handed me my Active:Water bracelet that fell off removing gloves, I kissed my wife, and I was off again.  A few steps later my great friend Jermaine was there snapping a photo.  I probably ruined his photo by running straight towards him and getting a high five.

This brings us to mile 6.  I saw Kyle again (he was biking the course) and then another friend Matt.  I got myself another high five, he complimented my form, and then ran a few steps with me.

Side note: Having people you know cheer you on during a race is a great feeling.  I've invited people out, thinking that most people won't do it (from experience), but man did Sunday feel great.  The lesson from this is that I should run more hometown races.

The next few miles didn't have much to write about.  I saw Kyle again.

Miles 9 through 10 we were in the park below the Hall of Fame.  I saw Kyle again.  Right after mile 10 was when my legs started feeling heavy.  I could feel the lack of training.  It was at this point someone body checked me from behind, it was Shane.  After he apologized for checking me we talked about how he was feeling and he had a big smile on his face.  He said he felt great (rub it in) and I gave him a good luck shout before he kept going.  He was killing it for sure.

It was before mile 12 that I felt like I had run out of energy but I kept going.  I struck up a conversation with someone to get my mind off of things but once he sped up I told him good luck and let him go on his merry way.

The last half mile goes in front of the hall and around a practice field.  Once we button hooked the field you could see it.  The stadium entrance.  I'm just going to come out and say it.  Approaching the finish always chokes me up.  I'm even getting choked up right now thinking about it.  Luckily because of dehydration from all the running no one ever notices!  WIN!  I entered the stadium turned to the finish, gave Kyle a high five, and pushed it through the finish with my arms up in the air.

Final time: 2:05:58.  Did better than I thought.  Not my PR but only a couple minutes off.  After this race I really want to get back into endurance running.  The race experience was that good.

You couldn't tell this was their first year of putting on a race of this caliber.  I will definitely be doing it next year.  Probably going to do the half.  It will be two weeks after I run 29 miles with Daren Wendell on the Run Daren Run cross country run.

I highly recommend you look into the Pro Football Hall of Fame marathon and REALLY look into Run Daren Run.

Football medal has actual pigskin on it
My goal now is to get an under 2 hour half and then train well for a full Marathon by years end.  Either Richmond or Columbus.  I've got the running itch and I'm going to scratch the crap out of it.

Thanks for reading everyone!




Saturday, April 12, 2014

600

So my first volunteer experience turned out pretty good.  I had a touch of nerves at first, staring at the map hoping that it would tell me what to do, but came away with a good experience.  A few notes from the event:

-I need to drink coffee next time
-Teenage girls, who are forced to volunteer, are not great at following instructions
-No one looks happy while competing
-Keep note of the course closure times
-I put 105 miles on my car...

Throughout the bike portion of the race I did my job of making sure volunteers were in their spots and no cyclists needed help.  I gave all the volunteers my phone number and told them their duties: A. tell the runners where to go with a bright orange flag and B. Call me if anything happens.  I stopped a couple of times for stopped cyclists but was waved off both times.  One was for a woman with a broken clip and another just stopped to readjust.  A couple hours after the race start there were two cyclists left but I noticed something a bit off.  The police were leaving their posts.  The volunteers then left too..

That's not good.

I called the coordinator and they quickly got the police back out for the two remaining riders.  They were about a mile from the dismount.  One of the two was the cyclist with the broken clip.  She couldn't get up hills because her feet had no traction on the clips.  I offered to help or take her and her bike back but she declined.  This isn't surprising.  Regardless of circumstances she was set on finishing.

Arriving back at the YMCA I stood and watched the award ceremony, while waiting for the volunteer coordinator.  During the ceremony the swim captain came up and said something along the lines of "I wonder if that cyclist who got hit by the car is ok."  WHAT?!?  An 80+ year old cyclist got hit by someone blowing through a light.  The car clipped the back tire of the bike and he was fine, but due to his age was taken to the hospital for observation.  The same intersection had three teenage girls with my phone number (that doesn't sound creepy at all).  Not once did they contact me.  There were police there to apprehend the idiot driver though.  Score one for the good guys.

Regardless of someone getting struck on the course I was told I did a great job.  I didn't believe it but she followed it up saying she wanted me to captain again and said she wouldn't tell someone they did a good job if they didn't.  Signed up for the May 18th tri as bike captain again.

The Chasing Chicken triathlon had a the racers actually chasing a chicken..


Now 600.  It has nothing to do with bike captaining a race.  It's a countdown.

When I got back from the race my wife went and laid down because she wasn't feeling good.  This continued to Monday and I had to stay home from work.  A nasty stomach bug worked its way into our home.  I was bored Monday so I did random searches online.  I've mentioned this in the last couple years but I had this crazy plan to complete an Ironman by the time I was 30.   I made this "bucket list" type goal before I was even running.  Wouldn't you guess it but searching for November 29, 2015 told me I had 600 days till my 30th birthday!  Imagine the motivation and excitement that flowed through my veins?

The motivation flow ran dry pretty quick because I came down with the same stomach bug...

Today is 595 days and I'm getting focused.  That 140.6 will be completed.  I've got a long way to go but I'm going to start equipping myself, physically.  By that I mean getting better at swimming.  Still feeling like rubbish about my abilities.  I would sign up for one today if I had confidence in it but that'll come with practice and time.

On the social front, my family actually left our house last night to talk to other human beings!  GASP!  We made our way out to the mighty James river for an open water Richmond Triathlon Club "swim and social".  I was a spectator of the swimming and phew was the current going.  A good 7 to 10 people were swimming in place.  Call it an aquamill (don't call it that).  One of the Thursday trail running Dad's, Joe, came with his wife and kids.  While he was killing it on the swim we played frisbee, cleaned up boo boos, and I opened beer bottles for people without bottle openers (using the side of a picnic table).  After my sober foot was drenched with Sam Adams I had some good tri talk.  Heart rates, race plans, and much more.  It's downright therapeutic talking about endurance sports.  Aimee tuned this conversation out faster than I tune out camera specs.

In other news, I had my YMCA interview on Thursday.  Going for a part time member services position.  I felt like I did extremely well except one minor mistake... I'll elaborate on that in my next post.

Today I'm going to get some miles in on my Nikes.  Maybe 6 to 8.  HOF 13.1 in two weeks in Canton!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Out and Back

This is going to be a short post.

I'm just excited to share about today's run.  It wasn't my fastest or longest but it brought back that feeling I haven't had in a while.

I felt like a runner again.

Started Thursday with a 4 mile trail run.  It was the first time I've gone into a trail run voluntarily.  The last time, which I swore would be the last, was at my first 5k when half of it ended up being through the woods.  Thursday I met up with some local folk who I met on Facebook.  I'm used to running with other people and for the past few months I've been going at it solo.  Actually, every run in the entire month of March I completed on the treadmill.

The guys I ran with were there for their kid's tri practice.  That's right.  Kids tri practice.  There must have been at least 30 kids between the ages of 6 to 12ish taking part in strength drills.  I think 30 is the amount of triathletes in all of Canton.  We bobbed and weaved through a local park and our first two mile lap was around 9:30 a mile.  I wanted to quit at that point.  Many times I held back the "you guys go ahead!" comment I'm so used to saying.  The last tenth of a mile I fell back but I was able to hold my own.  I'll be going back at it next week.

Today's ten mile run was pre-planned a few days back.  I created the route to be on the bike course for tomorrow's Chasing Chicken Reverse Tri, the one I will be volunteering as bike captain.  My plan for the run was to check out the road and make sure there wasn't any debris or issues.  I woke up this morning (and once during the night thanks to my youngest wanting chocolate milk (which she did not get)) not feeling the best.  It's funny how when important things are planned things seem to get in the way.  I was also a good deal sore from Thursday's run (it's always two days after the work out when it hits you).  The illness subsided so I got my running clothes ready, which were half unclean.  I wasn't going to let anything else stop me from going out the door.  Once I put on my stinky clothes I couldn't find my water bottle sleeve or sunscreen.  I still wasn't going to let it stop me.  I put the bottle in my hand and took my pale skin out for a run.

1.4 miles in I stopped because my phone wasn't making any noise and I wanted to know when I hit each mile.  I couldn't figure it out so I kept going.  Most of the run was on a road with either no shoulder or an extremely narrow one.  The motor vehicle operators were courteous.  They would veer  away from the side of the road and I would follow that with a hand wave.  When Bryce and I started running together, a while back, he asked me why I wave to people.  My response was simple, "I wave to anyone who doesn't hit me".

This route had some hills:



I had an idea of the hills because I've driven the bike course a couple times, but it never matches the feeling of running.  I felt like I was keeping good pace though.  A while into the run I finally told myself that I was going to stop to see how far I had went.  It felt like I had gone a good distance but knew that I would overshoot how far I had gone, and follow up the overshooting with some good ole fashioned depression for having a long way to go.  I told myself I had only gone about 3 or 3.5 miles.  What I would see next was great.  5.1 miles!  Over halfway done!  I would fly above the clouds for the remaining 4.9 miles!

Just kidding.  The way back was good but it wasn't great.  I was hilled out and on the last one I stopped halfway up.  The pit stop lasted a good 5 seconds and I kept going.

Finishing the mileage was great though.  The confidence build cannot be measured.  Feels like I'm back.

Tomorrow is the tri.  I'm sure I will post about it.  It will be one of two posts:

1. The race went off well, I learned a lot about triathlons, showed the race director I was a worthy course captain, made some friends, and feel so excited that I can't wait to work another one!
2. Crash and burn

Enough optimism for now!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Race Report

I've got so much running and tri related material in this post to make up for all the past posts this year that had nothing to do with running or triathloning (sp?).

Hold on to your seat endurance racing fans!  This one's for you!

RACING TOPIC NUMBER 1!!!

The Pro Football Hall of Fame Marathon!!  (I am in no way affiliated with the pro football hall of fame marathon.  I'm just excited for it.  They don't have any official bloggers.  Believe you me I would try to be one if I could)

I ran the now defunct Canton Marathon two years ago.  It was the inaugural event and excitement was on high!  Soon after race day, drama unfolded with the two sides of the race team.  Claims of stealing money, sponsors and entire cities weren't paid, and the future of races in the streets of Canton were put in jeopardy.

In 2013 the alleged money thieving side of the race duo started a half marathon/marathon that was slated for June, and after taking people's registration money, moved the date to October or November.  I didn't touch that event with a ten foot pole.

After the craziness over the past two years a new group came together to start a race.  This time they got the Pro Football Hall of Fame to sign on as the head sponsor.  It's a group of runners putting on a race for runners.  Here's a little visual comparison for the Canton Marathon and the Pro Football Hall of Fame Marathon:


THE SHIRTS

The graphic recreation of the shirt.  (ended up not having the sleeve designs)

The actual created shirt for the HOF Marathon
HOF Marathon for the win.

THE FINISHERS MEDAL

Canton Marathon medal.  I actually like it.  Heaviest medal I have (if that means anything to you)

Made with actual football material.  Not too shabby
We'll call this one a push

FINISHERS GIFT

Canton Marathon.......

HOF Marathon finishers gift

Pro Football Hall of Fame comes away with the win.

OK that was a comparison of race swag.  Pretty shallow, I know, but people pay good money to sign up for races (and not to win).  Give the people their money's worth, instead of allegedly stealing it from the general funds.  When I say allegedly stole I'm saying in the 10k + range.  

Another way this race is awesome is because I was given free race registration, since I was in the Army.  I had initially signed up for the full but switched over to the half (which they did for me about an hour after I emailed the request).  The HOF marathon is also getting entries faster than expected.  People recognize a good product...

Training update:  It hasn't gone great.  Moving here has been tough on my family and my oldest daughter is making life more difficult.  These are convenient excuses, I know, but today I did run almost six and a half miles and felt great (after swimming 400 meters).  It was the most motivation I've felt in a while.

RACING TOPIC NUMBER 2!!!!!

TRIATHLONS!  

I still haven't registered for one...BUT! I am volunteering for one.  The Chasing Chicken reverse triathlon at my YMCA (Reverse meaning you run first, then bike, then swim.  You don't do the race going backwards..).  My plan was to go for whatever position they wanted to put me in but that position was already taken on the site...  Instead I signed up to be the bike captain.  AKA I would be in charge of the volunteers on the bike path.  Pretty cool.  I've always talked about volunteering on a race crew but never took the leap.  

ADDED BONUS!  

After I signed up to be a bike captain I read that captain's get a free race entry for any of the remaining races in the year!  SCORE CITY!  I'm hoping that's true, and whatever I do on race day qualifies me, because I will volunteer a lot more if that's the case.  

RACING TOPIC NUMBER 3!!!!!!!!!!!  (Have you fallen off your seat yet?)

I volunteered to ride a bike for an hour at the Monument 10k race expo.  It will be with the Richmond Triathlon club.  They also want people to take part in 15 minute triathlons (5 minutes doing each leg).  If they need people after my hour of biking I may join in.

If you aren't from the greater Richmond area, the Monument 10k is an out and back 6 miles on Monument avenue.  Monument avenue is an old historic street with statues of Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, other confederate legends, and Arthur Ashe looking like he may hit a child with a tennis racket...

Proof

The race is huge.  Entries in the tens of thousands.

Volunteering for these events is really my foot in to the triathlon community.  I've been a member of the Richmond Tri Club since October and haven't done anything with it.  With my wife being out of town from the end of April till the end of May, I'm looking to volunteer in as many races as I can.  Also get in some extended cycling.  Possibly even go to the shore and run my legs off till I pass out on the beach.  

RACING! TOPIC! FOUR!!!!

My USA Triathlon membership card came in!  

You're darn right I covered up my membership number!  GET YOUR OWN!

Phew...

That was a lot of endurance racing material.

I hope you guys are held over for a while.  

It's a running blog, sure, but you can only say so much about running until your blog turns into a big advertisement for running stuff.

Speaking of advertising running stuff.  Read one of my old posts and consider sponsoring me!!

Just kidding......ish.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Travels with Brent

Welcome to the blog.  In this post you'll be whisked away to "the first state"!  That's right!  We're going to Delaware!

STOP!  DON'T LEAVE!  The post will not be that boring.  I promise.  Please.  Don't leave...

The trip has some back story involved so kick your feet up, get cozy in your snuggie, and travel with me back to 2005!

I was a year removed from high school and I owned life.  I was livin' with my mom, wasn't going to college, had hair down to my shoulders, and I was working at Hollywood Video.  I basically had life figured out.

I was hanging out with some high school chums and we went over to their friend's apartment (which was amazing because I knew someone who knew someone who didn't live with their parents).  We were sitting there on the couch of his cozy one bedroom apartment, feeling all adult like, looking around at the tenant's drawrings taped up on the walls.  Sitting across from us was a quiet guy named Brent.  It took a while to get his name out because he had an accent where the end of his name vanished (we thought his name was Brin (which in hindsight makes me look like an idiot)).  He had followed love all the way to from Donaldsonville, Louisiana to Canton, Ohio.  The friend of a friend who let Brent live in his apartment (we'll call him Alex) did not know Brent.  Alex knew Brent's girlfriend.  Brent was a nice guy and for the next couple weeks I would hang out with my friends and Brent, minus Alex.

One night we went to get Brent and he was having a discussion with his roommate.  He was getting the boot.  I'm fairly certain that there was no good reason why he was being kicked out, or else I'd probably remember.  Brent's girlfriend also gave him the preemptive boot by letting him know that her parents would not allow him to live with them.  So now there's a guy thrown out to live on his own, half a country away from his homeland.  What do you do?

Without consulting my landlord (mom) I asked him to live with me.  We spent a lot of time together over the next few weeks and our friendship blossomed.

Fast forward to last Wednesday (I would need more blog posts to fill you in on the time in between).  Brent was to start a new job on March 17th in Canton, Ohio, and he was living with his dad and step mother (a year and a half ago he was brought from Ohio to his dad's, in Delaware).  He did not have a car so I was going to be driving him to Ohio on March 14th.  We were texting back and forth, about our upcoming adventures, and he let me know that his step mother told him, his sister, and his sister's fiancĂ© that not only are they not allowed to shower, they would have to clean themselves in the sink...

I don't know if I just have a hero complex but I that angered me a bit.  I consulted with my beautifully understanding wife and she was ok with us bumping the trip up a week.  Two days later I would be on my way to Delaware and then the heart of it all, Ohio!  ROAD TRIP!!

Friday at 4:30 p.m. came and I was on the road.  Straight up US interstate 95.  Travels were smooth until I hit Washington D.C. and Baltimore traffic.  I'm not a perfect man.  Never claim to be!  There is just something about traffic that brings out the worst in me.  I got through the traffic, without any arrest warrants filed, and arrived in Delaware.  Another minor beef about the first leg of the trip: $14.00 in tolls.  Four dollars of that came directly after crossing into Delaware.  NOT a great first impression.  Just sayin..

Since Delaware is about 20 ft in surface area, I soon arrived at Brent's dad's and boy was it awkward!  Brent's dad was fine.  He even thanked me for driving his son, which I appreciated.  It was more with his step mom..

Me: Hi, my name is Thomas *start to extend out hand for handshake*

SM: hi *arms crossed with a flick of the wrist as a wave*

We had a rough plan for time at his dad's: I would sleep a few hours then we'd hit the road.  I don't know if it was the red hot traffic blood flowing through my veins, seeing Brent for the first time in over a year, or the dangerously high levels of awkwardness and tension, but I didn't want to sleep.  We ride for Canton!

We got some unhealthy fast food for dinner and off we went through the back highways of Pennsylvania (not a single toll).  The two of us caught up, listened to some podcasts, stopped for gas and snacks, made obscure pop culture references (it's kind of our thing) and covered a lot of ground.

Side note: we drove through Harrisburg, PA.  If you don't remember, I almost interviewed for an Underwriter position in a service center in Harrisburg.  Leading up to the potential interview, Aimee and I took a virtual tour of the city online and didn't give us the warm and fuzzies.  The drive through was definitely confirmation that we made the right choice.

We were outside of Pittsburgh when I made the first rest stop.  I was able to get an hour of sleep then we were back on the road!  Kinda..  I couldn't drive too much longer without sleepiness taking control of me, so we stopped for another hour...  Once the sun came up I was feeling good.  It just so happened that it started coming up soon after hitting the Ohio border.  Just kidding.  It just got brighter when we hit Ohio.  The sun comes out about 10 times a year in Northeast Ohio.  I didn't notice this till I moved to Virginia, where I see is most days of the week.

The two of us finally got to Canton and our logical stop was Dennys.  The same Dennys I had frequented when I was the master of my own destiny was the welcome to Ohio I had been looking for.  We marveled at the flat screen TVs installed.  The future had hit Canton but some things never change.  For instance, a booth of drunk guys with neck tattoos getting up every 5 minutes to go outside and smoke (Ohio does not allow any indoor smoking in restaurants/bars/etc).  Ahh yes.  Home!

During my one day in Ohio I was able to see friends and family.  My time was bitter sweet knowing my wife and girls were at home.  My wife probably would have switched places with me if she could (not knowing what I was typing she LITERALLY just said "I can't wait for my sister to get hereeeee")  I was fairly certain that my mom didn't even want me there without her granddaughters...  That is definitely a joke because she hugged me so hard I'm sure something inside me came loose.  She also sent me home with a roast, a Mountain Dew energy drink, multiple bottles of water, a jar of Mids spaghetti sauce, a package of spaghetti, a bag of Gold'n Krisp potato chips (for my wife), and a chunk of cheese (also a big shout out to my in-laws for giving me work books and stickers to bring home to the girls).

Between Delaware and Ohio I asked Brent about how it felt when he had gone back home.  He said the feeling is weird and indescribable and that fits.  It's not a bad weird.  It's just weird..  The world you left continues on without you.

Ok well maybe that road trip wasn't as exciting as I promised...  Watch Planes, Trains, and Automobiles if you want a real road trip.

Thanks for reading.

Oh wait!  This is an active/running/triathlon themed(ish) blog...  I brought my bike home!  Wooo!

Ok.  Thanks again for reading!  My next post will be about my plans when my wife and girls are away from me for three weeks.  Or it'll be about being content.  I don't know.  Maybe it'll be about both or about none of those topics.

You'll have to wait and see won't you!?!




Thursday, February 27, 2014

Confessions of a Frustrated Father

My friend, and training partner, Bryce has a story that sums up parenting pretty well.  One day, after raising a child for a few years, he approaches his parents:

I figured you guys out!  You had no idea what you were doing!

I've shared this story with many people, because it's true.  There is no right way to parent.

The past month has been rough, in my parenting realm.  The phrase I use to describe Savannah (my oldest) the most is "She is fiercely independent".  It doesn't take being around her too long before you recognize it.

I used this same phrase in an email that I sent the YMCA yesterday.

Savannah has not had much exposure to swimming pools, or non bathwater water.  She's also my daughter, which is already a genetic hit against being a good swimmer.  With that in mind we signed her up for swim lessons.  She started on the first Tuesday of February.

The first class separated the pikes from the polliwogs.  Literally.  That's what they're called.  The test was jumping into the pool.  When it came to Savannah's turn she did not jump.  She did get in the water though.  She now has a label: pike.  That was the only time she got in the pool for the entire first half hour class.  Following class she asked the teacher "can we do what I want now?"  When we quickly hushed her she had a good sized toddler freak out.  Aimee vowed to not go to another lesson.  People say things like that in high emotion situations.  We had some work to do...

Before the next class, we went to the gym early and I worked with her on getting into the pool.  One side of the pool is 2 to 3 ft.  After 15 to 20 minutes of prodding she walked down the ramp to get in the water.  She loved it.  She was jumping up and down and laughing hysterically.  Life was good.  We had three solid weeks of great pre class swimming, and attentive and excited learning in class.  When the teacher asked for volunteers, and sometimes when she didn't, she yelled "ME ME MEEEE!!!"  When it came to the exercises she didn't do the best in the class.  She made up for it with spunk and tenacity.  Then came the last week of class.  Two days ago...

Tuesday morning I received an email from the YMCA alerting me of changes to that night's class.  There would be a special guest instructor, to show the existing teachers some new "tricks".  She came with 30+ years of experience!!!  What could go wrong?

Class started good enough.  Jumping kangaroo game.  Kicking exercises with the paddle board (Savannah takes in some water and coughs a bunch but she recovers).  Then come the "magic thumbs".  It's Savannah's turn and the teacher takes her out for some paddling/kicking exercises.  Savannah has a little floating mechanism the size of a half loaf of bread and the teacher just holds her by her "magic thumbs".  Here's when it turned; the magic thumbs disappear!!  So does Savannah.  Wearing Tony Soprano cement shoes, Savannah goes under.  Sitting there watching her eyes OVERFLOW with fear.  Nerves hit me.  The teacher grabs her and gets her back to the edge of the pool.  Savannah sits on her turtle and is crying and shaking but she continues with the exercises when it comes back to her turn.  This time each trip in the water is filled with screams and shock.  I go up behind her and put my arms around her, just to let her know we are here and she is safe.  Anytime she looks back I have a smile on my face...

The overprotective parent in me wants to pick her up and leave.

The strong male figure in me wants to sit there and assure my wife that everything is going to be OK.

The realist in me realizes that Savannah isn't great at swimming and this was bound to happen.

The anarchist in me wants to kick a foam turtle into the instructors 30+ years of experience face or show a different magic finger.  (Pray for me)

I just hide it behind a never ending smile that never takes away her fear.  It's the best option.

Class is over and her normal teacher, Michele, comes up and apologizes to Savannah for not being there and congratulated her on jumping in the pool twice.  She shows each child the same amount of attention in the pool but hasn't spoke with the parents much.  I wasn't sure about her at first but this spoke VOLUMES about her character.  To be honest with you, even writing about it now evokes emotions in me.  Savannah won't remember the exchange but I won't soon forget.

I wrote an email about my fiercely independent daughter to the director of the swimming program (replying to the Tuesday morning email).  My email is to commend Michele for being an amazing instructor, and more importantly, person.  I mention the series of events (minus kicking turtles or magic fingers) to the director but don't pass blame onto the teacher.  This was her first time with Savannah.  If she had been with her from the start she may not have let go.

I talked to Savannah tonight before class, "Are you excited for your last swim lesson?  You're going to have your old teacher back!"  Her reply "I want my last teacher to be my last swim lesson" (later Tuesday night Savannah told her Aunt, on FaceTime, "I don't like magic thumbs").  We went early, like normal, to get some pool time with Savannah.  She comes in the water but doesn't act too excited.  She doesn't want me to hold her on her back and she won't blow bubbles.

Class starts and Savannah gets in to do the kangaroo game.  That's it.  She doesn't go back in the entire class.  Completely reverted back to day 1.  The trust built was gone.  Gobbled up by fear.  I keep the smile on.  The smile is always there...

She gets a completion certificate but the teacher's recommendation is back to pike level.  In the locker room I talk to her about fear and she says "where is fear? I don't see it".

Good lord I love her so much.

Time to rebuild.

Thanks for reading...

P.S.  There is no right way to parent, but there sure are wrong ways.  Some of these ways include being on your phone, playing games, during the entire half hour swim lesson while your kid makes strides in the pool.  Also, when your daughter is waiving to you and saying "Hi daddy", put DOWN your phone.  Your email can wait.  Acknowledge your child's existence.  It's a half hour kids swimming class.  That smile on their face will change your life more than clearing the spam out of your inbox.

I have been holding that in for the entire month.  Thank you for allowing me to vent...