Saturday, October 30, 2004

The Future is Unwritten

I'm watching Grosse Pointe Blank. A banner displays "The Future is Unwritten." I've seen this movie 7 or 8 times and have never noticed the banner, and yet during a fight seen in Martin Blank's former high school, the banner is shown, in focus, many times. The director is trying to tell us something. Because I just noticed it today, is someone trying to tell me something?

Tomorrow I'm running the Cape Cod Marathon. I don't think destiny will make an appearance, so I'll save further discussion of the banner for a later date. I'm sure I'll think about the banner during the race. What else is there to do for 3 hours and 15 minutes? 3:15, that's the magic number. That's the number that's gets me back into the Boston Marathon for the first time since 1999.

I'm nervous. To say I've had very limited and only somewhat focused preparation for this event is an understatement. If you've read this Blog, you know what I've been doing. However, it's important to me that I do this. It's the first goal I've set for myself since we brought Alexandra home. It's important to me to add her to my life, not replace my life now that she's here. She won't be there tomorrow, but if I succeed she'll join me in Boston next April!

Will I run a 3:15? I have no idea. I've never run slower than a 3:14 in any marathon I've finished. The last time I ran this course, in 1996, I ran a 3:09. My personal best is a 3:04 set at Boston in 1998. And all that means nothing. Tomorrow, the only thing I know for sure is that I'll not quit, and it will hurt. So will it be good enough? Who knows? After all anything is possible. The future is unwritten.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Hollywood wishes they came up with this...

Total Eclipse of the Moon
o ' o '
W071 05, N42 19
Eastern Daylight Time
Azimuth Altitude
h m o o
Moonrise 2004 Oct 27 17:33 73.5 ----
Moon enters penumbra 2004 Oct 27 20:05.5 97.9 26.8
Moon enters umbra 2004 Oct 27 21:14.3 111.0 39.0
Moon enters totality 2004 Oct 27 22:23.4 128.3 50.1
Middle of eclipse 2004 Oct 27 23:04.0 141.7 55.4
Moon leaves totality 2004 Oct 27 23:44.6 158.3 59.3

Moon leaves umbra 2004 Oct 28 00:53.7 191.4 60.7
Moon leaves penumbra 2004 Oct 28 02:02.7 221.1 55.3
Moonset 2004 Oct 28 07:41 290.8 ----

Red Sox are World Series Champions
(and the moon it the same moon?)

Monday, October 25, 2004

The List

"Do you know about the List? You've got to make the list! It's almost more important than the presents."

The List is a list of who gave which gift at the baby shower. For possibly the first time in human history, a male was the guest of honor at a baby shower. No this was not by design. We are not some sort of progressive couple. Leanna was just plain sick, and couldn't go. Unfortunately the symptoms didn't get really bad until just before the shower, so it was too late to reschedule. Thus it was just Alexandra and I and a room full of women (with their men being attentive!).

I've always been pretty good at thinking on my feet. To divert attention from my bumbling, I placed Alexandra in her Exersaucer in the middle of the room. It worked like a charm. I also was the beneficiary of some wonderful people who took pity on my plight and thus made the list and helped me generally keep things in order. I feel enriched by the experience, but hope never to be enriched in this way again!

A fish out of water:


Saturday, October 23, 2004

Metaphysical Masturbation?

The following is rated PG-13 for graphic imagery.
If a Blog is published on the internet, and nobody is there to read it, does it make sense? Perhaps I should direct this and all other questions related to the internet, to its founder, Al Gore.

I've been a father now for 2 weeks, and while I'm not in line for the Hall of Fame, I don't think I suck at it either. I've personally walked into many of the traps little one's lay for us: not having the new diaper ready on the changing table (think fountain), continuing to pat after the burp (and getting the liquids!), and of course not checking for the wipes before removing the very poopie diaper. Makes me wonder who's in charge here. It isn't me, that's for sure...maybe it's Leanna. Anyway, Alexandra's doing very well so we must be doing something right.

Speaking of poop, I think I now understand the origins of "My life is sh-t." In my estimation, this is a very misunderstood phrase as too often people take this figuratively, instead of literally (you read that properly) as I believe was it's original intent. My daily schedule revolves around poop: our baby's (how often, how hard, and DAMN what did she eat?!!!), our geriatric cat's (in the litter box or on the floor?), our dog's (did he go after breakfast?), and naturally carving out a little time for my own; ergo My life is Sh-t! (And to reinforce this point, Otis just farted!)

A final thought for today: I was out running this morning (okay no big surprise here for the other person out there who has been reading this Blog), and I started thinking about destiny, manifest and otherwise. Was it just chance that Leanna and Alexandra came into my life? I'll write more about this later.

My friends I must stop and depart. It wasn't the dog that let that fart. Don't fear I'll keep you in the loop, but I've finished my coffee and now must...

Friday, October 22, 2004


JJK 1992

Totally 80's

I'm watching Vision Quest with Matthew Modine, and it's one of the most 80's movies I've ever seen.

What's your Vision Quest?

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

The Big Chill

"You got a letter from Kent School. Do you remember a person from high school named Brian?" Leanna's question caught me a little off guard. It says here he went to Kent and then Cornell, and ran cross country while at Kent. I went to Kent and then Cornell, and ran cross country while at Kent. Yes I knew Brian. I hadn't seen him since May 1988, graduation day at Cornell. I briefly wondered why Leanna was asking me that, though I for some reason I feared I knew the answer. "Brian passed away."

I have run for as long as I can remember. I remember my mother, frustrated with my attempts to get her attention while she prepared dinner, "Why don't you go run around the block!" I took her exclamation literally. I would run around our city block. I'd imagine I was a piloting a spaceship as a banked my body around each corner. I always wanted to be an astronaut. Once out on the pavement, I was. It was fun.

I chose to attend Kent School because they had an excellent horseback riding program, and I loved riding and jumping horses. However, my experience with horses had been at summer camp, and while I had the riding skills, I was not ready to interact with the privileged "Horse People." My last day in the riding program I missed the bus back to the boys campus at Kent, so I ran 6 1/2 miles in riding boots back to my dorm. That day one of the seniors in my dorm recruited me to run cross country.

My first race was against Trinity Pawling. It wasn't pretty, but I finished. I raced low JV cross country the remainder of my 3rd Form (freshman) year at Kent. I followed that up by making the Varsity squad for much of my 4th Form (sophomore) year. I trained under the tutelage of the great British runner Bruce Tulloh. I discovered interval training in the form of a drill called "Indian runs" (do I need to call those "Native American runs"?). And I discovered winning. True the wins came in JV races, but they were wins. In fact each of those wins would be a redemption for a bad race (if a JV runner's time beat a varsity time, the varsity runner would get demoted). One of those wins, at Avon Old Farms, stays with me today. I remember the call of our team captain as I started the final 1/2 mile climb to the finish, "It's all you! There's nobody in sight!"

My fifth form year was a bust. I quit cross country because I was more interested in girls than running.

Now it was the fall of 1983, and I was entering my 6th form (senior) year. What was my legacy? What could I do that was of note?! What could I do to get anyone to notice me?! I could run, so I rejoined cross country. However I was two years removed from my last race, and the faces were mostly new. It quickly became clear that there were no "entitlements." I needed to prove myself or be a "has-been." It's tough to accept being a "has-been" at 17.

As fate would have it, one of the new faces on the team was a classmate of mine, Brian Simmons, who had joined cross country during our 5th form year (while I was on a hormone induced hiatus). He had been a low JV runner that year. Brian and I had never been close friends, but we never disliked each other either. Our paths just converged. He apparently had something to prove as well. It's tough to accept being a "never was" at 17.

A typical long cross country practice would consist of the team starting out together, and then splitting up as we ran, the faster runners moving ahead. As this selection process took place, Brian and I always found ourselves running side by side. There was instant synergy. Despite the disparity in our heights (Brian was taller than I), our strides matched perfectly. Mile after mile we ran in perfect sync, as if there were but a single set of foot falls. We talked about things teenagers talk about; which teachers we liked, which we didn't. We talked about which girls we thought were hot, and why did they always like jerks. We talked about the underclassmen “gunning” to take our spots on the varsity. And we talked about making the Kent cross country "honor role." The honor role was a sheet of paper hung in the cross country locker room. On it were the names of every runner at Kent who had ever posted a time faster than 15 minutes on our 2.8 mile home course. (In our teenage minds) Make the honor role, and you were someone.

Brian and I were two different people who shared some of the same demons. Getting our names on that type-written piece of paper would, at least in our minds, exercise one of them, anonymity. We both ran well that season. Brian was more consistent than I. I had returned to my previous form, having some bad races and following them up with solid performances. However, race after race passed and while we both inched closer to that 15 minute barrier, neither of us broke it. Finally the last home race of our careers was upon us. It was parents weekend and we were racing against Trinity Pawling. Three years earlier I had begun my cross country career against TP. Now I would end my home career against them. Fairytale endings seldom occur in life. Instead life seems to be self-moderating. Good things happen, but they are almost always tempered by terrible things. In the fall of 1983, on an overcast day, Brian and I lined up for the final time on the Kent cross country course.

Brian's gone now, and I'm sitting here drinking wine and remembering a friend. Tomorrow I'll tie on my running shoes, as I always do, and go out on the road. The spaceship will most likely stay in the hanger. And while there might be some intervals run, there won’t be any victories. There will be but a single set of foot falls. I'll think about things older men think about; which managers I like, which I don't. Which women are hot, and why do they always like jerks. I’ll think about how, if someone really wants to take my job, they can give it their best shot. And I'll remember a day in the fall of 1983 when Brian and I made the Kent cross country honor role.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Enduring Questions

How did Tony Little really become Tony Little? How do you break into the infomercial spokesperson industry? How is it I sit behind a desk hammering out e-mails and computer code, while others dispense the following "wisdom"?

(and what is the significance of my spell-checker recognizing the word "infomercial"?)

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Side Effects

By sending the url of this Blog to my relatives, I guess I've stuck a PG rating on it! Perhaps if I start some of the racier material with MOM and DAD, DON'T READ THIS!

I had my first taste of what training for Ironman will be like from now on: Up at 4:45 for feeding and playtime with Alexandra (heretofore known as "Dawn Patrol"), followed by an 8:00 AM hand-off to Leanna so I can put in an 18 mile run (my longest since Ironman last year). I ran a 2:10:16. I'm thinking of it as "acclimating to race conditions;" forcing my body to perform in a state of extreme fatigue.

Product pick of the day: NipGuards

Monday, October 11, 2004

No matter where you go...

It’s 2:00 am and I’m in the middle of Russia on a train heading from St. Petersburg to Moscow. The darkness outside the sleeper car is deep, broken only by the lights of passing trains heading the other direction. The air in my compartment is getting stale, as the vent on the bottom of the door I've blocked with a blanket; a preventative measure to reduce the chances of robbery (we were told the thieves sometimes gas you through the vents, and then break into the cabin). I’m incredibly far removed from my everyday life, most people’s everyday life for that matter. How does a one-time rowing coach, current Ironman triathlete, and computer programmer end up on an overnight train in the heart of the country formerly known as “the Evil Empire?” Is this really happening, or am I just dreaming? I look over at my sleeping wife and six month old daughter, and think,” if it is a dream, I hope I never wake up.” Ironically, the quote from the cult movie The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai Across the 8th Dimension plays in my head. “No matter where you go, there you are.” I’m surrounded by my own small, familiar sphere of reality, and everything else is different. I’m just waiting to meet a bunch of people, all named John!

Life has changed dramatically this past year. I felt like the clock was ticking as I was pushing up towards 40 and Leanna and I were still without a family. However, I had also just completed Ironman USA, and while the race itself did not cure anything, for me it pointed the way. After more than twelve hours, it was in the final meters of the race when everything came clear to me. I was jogging down the finishing stretch with my nephew Corey’s hand in mine. Amidst the euphoria of completing the greatest mental and physical test of my life, one very definite thought came into my head. Only one thing could make this moment more perfect; running down the finishing shoot with my own child. I didn’t convey this sentiment to anyone for quite a while. I was afraid that my nephew would perceive it as something negative directed towards him, and it’s far from that. I love Corey, but I need to be a father, not just an uncle.

August passed quietly as I recovered from the exertion, and then came time for Leanna and I to once again address the subject of starting a family. I suggested adoption, and she agreed. In fact, she admitted she too had been considering it. After attending a seminar and talking to others about adoption, we hired our home study agency. That was October, 2003.

It’s October 8, 2004. Another train, a high speed I think, comes screaming past us traveling in the opposite direction, probably headed to St. Petersburg. I’m exhausted, hungry, sick to my stomach, a little feverish (I think I’ve got giardia), crammed into a stuffy 6 x 8 ft. cabin on a train 5000 miles away from my home in Rhode Island, and I’ve never been more content.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Who's your daddy!

No, I'm not making a Pedro Martinez reference. I'm counting down the days until the next phase of my life officially begins. Leanna and I fly out from Logan Airport tomorrow, bound for St. Petersburg, Russia. "What's in St. Petersburg? " you ask. Actually the more accurate question is, "Who's in St. Petersburg?" A 6 mo. old little girl named Alexandra Lee Kehm, that's who. "How convenient, she's already named Kehm, just like you!" Yeah, yeah I know she's not officially a Kehm until this coming Wednesday, but you wouldn't know it to see her.

To say I'm excited is an understatement. Maybe because of everything we've been through to get here, maybe because I'm 38 now, but I have no sense that "Life as I know it is ending." Life is definitely changing, and I'm ready for the change.

Daddy's little girl... Posted by Hello