Saturday, November 20, 2004

Alexandra's Baptism Posted by Hello

Your thoughts, please.

Interested in feedback on the following article, especially towards the bottom of the page. What would it take for you to allow your child to undergo this procedure?

Amazing what you find in the cracks of the sofa

I found a word document on my laptop from August of last year. It brought back intense memories.

July 1, 2003

I’ve never done an Ironman. I don’t know what race day will feel like; I can only guess. It’s that way with a lot of things, in my life and probably in yours. With less than 26 days to go, I can offer this: I believe the preparation will have been the challenge, and race day just a reflection of the previous 299 days.

I began this journey with two goals, finish the one triathlon distance missing from my resume, and to silence the voices inside my head which say I can’t. The one’s who say I’m a fraud and that there is nothing remarkable about me.

July 27, 2003

As for the race, the finish time doesn't even begin to tell the story. As the canon sounded and the race began to U2's "Beautiful Day", the helicopter overhead taking pictures, I watched the first surge of swimmers go. In retrospect, all strategy aside, I'm glad I got to see that. It was incredible. It was also chaotic.

Following the initial surge, I and a couple hundred of my newest friends pushed off to start. The very first physical feeling of the race was a searing pain in my left foot as I pushed off on the edge of a sharp rock and punctured my foot just below the fleshy part. It was the first test of day, and I would learn throughout the day that in a way all tests of my will, all difficulties would be the same, in that they tried to force me into thinking about the race as a whole and question my ability to overcome this monumental task. In the end, the answer also proved to be the same: Live in the moment and don't worry about what might be. Maybe my foot will be too sore to run, maybe it won't, but right now I'm swimming, and it isn't affecting that one bit.

The first leg of the bike I rode pretty conservatively. My plan was to ride so I could run. The test on lap one was to keep my ego in check as rider after rider went cruising by me. Maybe I'd catch them again, maybe not, but either way that wasn't in the plan. On the second loop I began getting bad indigestion, and by mile 71 it kept me from eating, drinking, or getting on my aerobars. Once again the voices started telling me that even if I somehow struggled through the rest of the bike, there was no way I could run, so just stop now. The lack of nutrition led to leg cramps the second time past Whiteface, but I just focused up the road and told myself to keep going easy and it would come back to me. As soon as the nausea began to pass I was able to put down a couple of GU packets and some Gatorade. By the three bears I knew I was going to make it in and give the run a go.

Once again I took a leisurely transition to allow myself to recover a bit. I set out with a strict run plan of 12 minutes run, 2 minutes walk, something I've practiced numerous times. An amazing thing happened as I exited the oval for the run; I actually felt good. Not just capable of shuffling, but really ready to run. And now I was not alone, I had the crowd on my side.

The next 4 hours were incredible. I had one scare at the first mile point when both hamstrings cramped simultaneously, but with a lot of encouragement from a fellow racer I was able to first shuffle, then walk, and finally run my way through it. It was a scary moment as I was literally stopped stone cold, like a mannequin, in the middle of the road unable to move any direction. As I started to move and my legs relaxed I knew I was going to finish. No matter how bad it got from there, and I was fully aware that there would be more pain, I was able to overcome it. The doubt was completely gone and I think I smiled the whole way. I remember so many feelings, so many nameless people (and many named like Cait whose cheers came through loud and clear..."Is that JOEL? You look great!") who were all cheering for me in that nasty weather. The volunteer who was so concerned that nobody had a GU packet available when I came by, that she chased me down the course and actually caught up with me a 1/4 mile later, even though it obviously hurt her physically to do so. I wasn't flying, but I was still running 7:50 - 8:00 minutes per mile at that point and she wasn't an athlete. I was just overwhelmed by the dedication. I'm attaching my finish photo, because I think it says it all. (the young man is my nephew Corey) I'm feeling rejuvenated, albeit tired, but I don't think this high will ever fade completely.



Friday, November 19, 2004

All good things must come to an end.

For most of the last week Alexandra has had what might possibly be a perfect schedule...until tonight. She's been waking up crying quite a bit. I think she's having nightmares of Thanksgiving with her cousins! :-)

(I'm kidding, of course.)

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Alexandra's first night on the town.

The three of us went out for dinner last night. We chose a local restaurant, The Red Parrot, that was very informal and was sure to have lots of activity. We arrived at about 6:00 pm, and it was already pretty busy. I meant to check if there was a cruise ship in the harbor, because there were lots of big groups. Maybe it was a parent's weekend at Salve Regina or St. George's.

I think Daddy was more impatient and antsy than Alexandra or Leanna. There were no worries. With so much activity, there was plenty for Alexandra to watch, including lots of children. And with all the noise, she could have had a world class meltdown, and nobody would have noticed. Our poor waitress kept getting hit with huge (10 - 12 person) groups. (Don't worry, I took care of her.)

It was a very successful trip out. In fact it did dawn on me that a year from now it will probably be more difficult to go out, because that hook-on-the-table chair just won't get it done anymore. She's going to want to hit the floor and start going.

One final note: Alexandra was baptized last weekend. Here's a picture of her in her outfit (the same one in which Leanna was baptized, incidentally).
Posted by Hello

Another blast from the past

(with Ted Marks)
Head of the Charles, 1992. Posted by Hello

Thursday, November 11, 2004

One person's Holiday...

Okay, so I'm home today. My company gives us Veteran's day off. Time to just "screw off" right? Well no. Holiday for daddy, means day off for mommy and daddy get's to watch Alexandra. Of course Leanna will read this and think I'm complaining, but I'm not. It's been almost two weeks since I got to spend the whole day with my little peanut. However, I am interested in seeing how she takes to my "day off" routine (within reason). I get up, make my coffee, read e-mail, watch SportCenter. Sometime late morning I go for a run (it'll be with the jogging stroller of course). I come back and find some food. Later I'll meet my friend Austin (a.k.a. the only person who comments on these posts) for coffee. I figure Alexandra will go to sleep on the run, and then nap for a bit after we get back. When she wakes up she'll need feeding, so coffee will most likely be after that, about 2:00pm.

Sounds like a plan, right? I'll post the results later on. Wish me luck!

Update: 7:48 PM
Ouch...4.3 very slow hard miles. Alexandra went out like a light about two steps off the driveway. I read an article by Kristin Armstrong in Runner's World that she'll go out with a triple jogger. Wow. Lance wasn't the only stud in that marriage.

Do you believe in Karma, Jujube, what have you? I was setting up a spreadsheet today to begin work on my Ironman training plan. I labeled the first column with today's date. I labeled the subsequent columns with tomorrow, the next day, etc... Excel has a limit on how many columns you may have. So what was the date on the last column? July 24, 2005 ... Race day!

PS: Leanna took over at 2:00 today, so I met Austin and ran errands the rest of the day.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Questions of faith

I read another blog which stated basic guidelines for making you blog "work" (meaningful to others).

"Blogs work when they are based on:
and Controversy
(maybe Utility if you want six)."

I fail on most accounts, so clearly nobody cares about what I have to say. Another goal accomplished! The more people care about what I have to say, the more responsible I must become. I've got enough responsibility.

However, I'll take one stab at a "working" post. Here's your controversy (or point for religious debate, you decide):
Who is less pious, the man who gets drunk on Saturday night and misses church, or the man who gets drunk on Sunday morning and makes it?

Thursday, November 04, 2004

It's okay, I've been to Europe.

When did you first notice time creeping past?

I'm so tired I can't remember my own name. It's not from lack of sleep, it's from a lack of any mental downtime. Alexandra is fantastic, but even so there is never a moment when some part of my consciousness (or unconsciousness) is focused on her. Now that she's ready to crawl, my house seems like a death trap. Everything it seems is a "choking hazard."

Anyway, I digress. What I meant to write about was events from what seems like a lifetime ago: my days as a rowing coach at Pitt. It really hit me that that was a long time ago when I found I couldn't remember the names of people in one of my boats. And not just any boat, but a Dad Vail medallist (for you non-rowers, that's the year end championship race for smaller programs). I'm not even sure of the color of the medal they won! I remember all of my early rowers, even the women who thought I always liked the men's team better. Here's the honest truth: I did not like them better, I was just more comfortable with them. I coached from age 22 - 28. I was barely older than most of them, and in fact younger than some.

I'm 38 now and hopefully a little more wise, if also more forgetful. I'm still young, but darn tired. I've reconnected with some of the team through a Pitt rowing alumni message board. However two questions still remain: Who was in my Novice Men's 4+ in 1992, and what color was the medal?

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

That was different

I'm definitely not the athlete I once was. Cape Cod was a very different experience from any marathon I've ever run. I went out at what I felt was a sustainable pace, one which would give me a shot of running my target time. I hit the 1/2 way point in 1:34:30, my slowest first half of a marathon ever. If I stayed true to my form from every other marathon, I'd fade about 7 minutes on the harder, second half of the course and finish in 3:15:00, my goal time.

The second 1/2 was not a 1:41, not even close. Instead I rolled home in a 1:34:12, for a total time of 3:08:42, good enough for 57th place (out of 920) and my third fastest time ever. But the real surprise came the next morning when I felt no leg, especially quadriceps, soreness. Sure I was tired, but everything felt great. Believe me that's never happened before.

Okay I'm done patting myself on the back. In the end, it demonstrated to me that being a dad won't end my racing career. It might even enhance it, after all I had a great Halloween with Leanna and Alexandra!

Place Div/Tot Name Div City St Nettime Guntime
57 25/239 Joel Kehm M1439 Middletown RI 3:08:42 3:08:47

2004 Cape Cod Marathon Results