Saturday, December 31, 2005

The year 2005 in review

I went for a run today, 7.1 easy miles. It was a calm, cool, overcast day...perfect for running and reflection. 2005 has been quite a year. The biggest "question" of the year has been defining who I have become. You see, if you hadn't picked up on it in previous posts, I'm turning 40 next year and I figured it's time to move out of the gray and into the black and white (for the most part). (Note: the topics covered below are only a subset. They represent those I wish to discuss in a public forum, and are therefore by no means all inclusive.)

- I'm a pretty good triathlete and journeyman runner. I'm not a bike racer anymore. Not to say I couldn't be, I just don't "want it" anymore. I enjoy races and helping friends, but the feeling of accomplishment just isn't there. Sure if I was still a great climber (I barely upgraded to adequate this year), didn't mind losing a little skin every now and then, and did nothing but train on my bike (not in the pool and not running), then I'm very sure I could still do it. The truth of the matter is that I like my skin, I enjoy my swimming and running, and I just don't love devoting all of my training hours with a bunch of type "A"s, and because of that, I can't get strong enough to finish really well. Which brings me to my next point:
- I still have ego needs in terms of beating people. I enjoy placing at races. It makes me feel special, if only for a moment, and if only in my own mind. I've found that's important, however, because the loss of that "I'm special" feeling isn't a pretty sight. As I've said before there has never been more intense moments in my life than those moments when I would realize that I was going to win a race.
- I can still run, even when not chased. I have to be much more methodical about my training, taking discipline (including the discipline to rest when needed) to a new level, because I do take longer to heal when injured. I've got the bum ankle to prove it (18 mos). And I'm now better over the longer distances than the shorter ones.
- I can swim if I put the hours in. Given that this is the one discipline where I still have a steep improvement curve ahead of me, it's time to get serious. Santa brought me the requisite training implements to help (and fill my need for toys).
- I really have become an endurance beast. I used to race A LOT on will power. I never did long runs, even when prepping for a marathon. In fact my longest run before my best marathon was 13.1 miles, at the New Bedford 1/2 Marathon. I knocked out my 7.1 miles today with relative ease despite not really running since the end of October (I have run ~6 times since the Cape Cod Marathon). This year I routinely put in 18 milers, even after 40 or so miles on my bike.
- I can only take the "it's just a job" thing so far. At some point it becomes so intrusive you can't turn it off when you get home. I don't think I need to love what I do, but I can't hate it. 2006 will bring a change.

And finally,
- I'm a Dad. This is the best. Alexandra has changed so dramatically in the last 12 months. She's not a baby anymore. She's a little girl...Daddy's little girl. Yeah, she does have me wrapped around her finger, but as I've said before, that still isn't enough to get me to do something I know I shouldn't.

I'm eagerly anticipating 2006. From a racing standpoint I have a feeling lots of things should start coming together. It looks like I'll be concentrating on 1/2 Ironman distances. I'll also be new to the 40-44 age group, so maybe I can get back to earning podium spots. I don't really have a huge goal, like Worlds, but we'll see. I think 2007 will be the year I drive for Kona. 2006 I plan to make a concerted effort to finally crack the elusive 3 hour barrier in the marathon. It would be gravy to do it at Boston, but more likely it will be a fall marathon if it is to happen.

I'm also looking forward to getting Leanna and Alexandra out to a few more races. This is more about logistics than anything, but with Alexandra only taking one nap a day now, and that in the afternoon, it is once again feasible. To this end I'm looking for races which are more spectator friendly (loop courses), have reasonable start times, and have a hotel near the course if the race itself isn't too close to home. This might be a tall order for some on the schedule, but I think I can manage it. Montreal in September anyone?

And yes, 2006 will be the year of the terrible twos for Alexandra. She's actually already given us a little foreshadowing of things to come, so I think we'll be all right. I do know it will get ugly at times, but this too will pass...

So there it is, the teenager must now be gone. It's time to become the man I'm destined to be.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Dear Santa,

I'm writing this letter for next year in the hopes that you fill requests on a first come, first served basis. First, thank you for really hook'n up Alexandra. She especially likes the MEGA BLOKS. However, her haul has left me with some needs. It is these for which I am asking.

1) A bigger house. The toys were great, but we are now flat out of space.
2) Lower real estate costs so we can afford the bigger house mentioned above.
3) A new job, so I can pay for said house.

Thanks again. I know it's a lot to ask, so that's why I'm trying to get my request in early.

Sincerely,

Joel

Playing the odds

Six kids
4 parents
1 trainset at Barnes and Noble

...and the smell of a poopy diaper in the air. Do I check Alexandra in public or just assume it's one of the other kids and move on?

Friday, December 23, 2005

One of my favorite movie characters

Paul Dooley as the Dad Raymond Stoller, a used car salesman, in "Breaking Away" (1979).

"I don't want no ITY food. I want some American food, like french fries."

"What's the matter?"--Evelyn
"He's shaving!"--Dad
"Well, so what!"--Evelyn
"He's shaving his legs!"--Dad

Rent it sometime, I recommend it.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

No doubt you've noticed my infrequent, but readily apparent departures from the standard themes of family and introspection. Well these meltodowns occur outside of the internet as well. Leanna has to deal with this in real-life! Hey, that tag line below the title is there for a reason.

Hopefully the current crisis has passed. I upped my B vitamins, reduced the caffeine (a little), and went a night without my glass of wine (okay only because there was none in the house, BUT I didn't go out!) With my restored frame of mind came a calm and, shall we say, forgetful state. I went out to get firewood last night, and as the door clicked shut I realized...shit...I left my keys inside and the door is now locked. I circled the house twice and it appeared all doors and windows were locked. You see, Leanna and Alexandra are down at grandma and grandpa's house now, and Otis and Bentley, having been fed, had no real motivation to help. Yes Dadda was f---ed.

I had my cell phone with me, so with the remaining charge I did what any self-respecting man would do in a similar situation...I called my wife and yelled at her for not putting a key under the deck! Then I hung up on her! Dammit woman, I need ideas, not sympathy! No, no...I wasn't calling a locksmith or going over to the neighbors. That's like asking directions. No, I pride myself on crisis management and problem solving skills, so I was finding a way in without breaking anything. I mean seriously, we're talking about the same person who, in his youth engineered the perfect break-in of the prison, I mean, school store. In that "Escape from Alcatraz" spirit we worked night after night with only the blade of a hacksaw, only cutting a single piece of rebar when the schoolhouse bells were ringing (which covered the sound of the saw), planning to enter through the suspended ceiling, and exit again undetected (The stupid football players were kind enough to unknowingly cover our tracks when they simply broke the door down and ransacked the place). But I digress, back to last night.

Having tried my trusty Stop 'n Shop card (which might well have worked had I kept trying, so note to self, get a deadbolt for that door), I circled the house one last time, and there it was: one window in the family room with the latch lever pointing the opposite direction of all the others. It was OPEN! And even better, it was a very new window so it would slide up without a fight! Now I just had to get past the screen. Employing a 2mm allen wrench (found in my truck which was unlocked), I was able to flick the latches securing the screen, and remove it. I shimmied through and belly flopped into the family room. Success! MANLY SUCCESS!! I did my touchdown dance for a moment, grabbed my keys, and went out and got the firewood.

(And yes, I called Leanna and apologized.)

(PS: I can't take full credit for the logistics of the store break-in. My partner RGGM was instrumental. RGGM, if you're out there, I still think of our adventures with amazement and pride.)

How's my cat you ask?

He's hangin' in there. Isn't really gaining weight back, but has stopped losing it. His fur has also grown back in which in fact makes him look bigger than he really is (this is a cat's "superpower", you know). Yes and with the return of his superpowers has come the return of his attitude. Poor Otis...Bentley's back wearin' steel toe boots and look'n for some asses to kick!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Does the end EVER justify the means?

I have a lots of thoughts on this topic, but frankly get so worked up I can't get them out in a coherent manner in a blog.

I support the following sentiments, however: Bush Spying - Asking my Congressmen to Act Now!

"Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?"
Who will guard the guards?

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Saturday is Daddy Day.

Alexandra and I are hangin' out today while Leanna finishes up her Christmas shopping. She's becoming quite the little girl. She knows what she wants and is very determined to get it. The first volleys in our life long battle of wills have been fired! Daddy has the upper hand right now, but it's almost as if she knows someday that will change.

Alexandra is growing up quickly. It's relieved me to see that she's pretty resilient. Gets hit in the head by a falling hair-dryer, gets upset for just a moment and then moves on. She's also becoming quite accomplished at getting her hands out when she falls. Good thing too, because she's really pushing her limits to develop her running capacity. Yeah, you're right, Daddy's already imagining runs with his daughter, cheering her at track meets or cross-country meets, etc... She seems to have attributes which would be good for gymnastics as well (I guess most little kids do), but after seeing the elite gymnasts and hearing the stories of broken bones, stress fractures, etc... I'm not sure if I want to see her go that route.

She loves her books as well. Recently she's graduated from her board books to a beginning astronomy book we have on the coffee table. She likes the pictures fo stars, constellations, and nebulas.

Well, gotta run. We're off to do some shopping of our own. Happy weekend!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Interviewing babysitters

We're going through this right now. Actually we're trying to go through this right now. We're newbies to be sure. This morning Leanna and I discussed what questions we'd ask the candidate who was coming over. Why do you want to baby sit ("I like, duh, need money for school n'stuff.")? Have you had previous experience? Have you been convicted of violent crimes? You know the usual stuff. It got me to thinking, what are the primary attributes we're looking for? Well after the girl stiffed us by not showing for her interview and not calling, I'm thinking reliability's probably right up there. Sorry, no second chances here. In the babysitting realm, I'm thinking no show/no call's probably a one and done.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Heard on Barney

"And while you are all bllowing bubbles, I'll be blowing this!"