Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Humidity & Burnt Ends

Eldest Brother Kimmer ventured through the heat to get some PT for his new FrankenKnee. (Four weeks old, today!) Almost an hour on the recumbent bike for him. A mile in the pool for me, then a couple of miles on the recumbent. Both of us working on improving our form and waging the continual war against aging. Just over a decade (or was it a century?) ago, we would hit the gym together, in Atlanta. His stack of weights went anywhere from 200 - 400 pounds. My stack would rarely break 100 pounds. His pecs were bigger than my head. And on "leg day," he'd bring the whole gym to a screeching halt as we loaded more than 1400lbs onto the leg press sled and he'd do dozens of reps. Sometimes having me stand on top, when he wanted a real challenge. These days, he's a cancer survivor. slowly replacing bits and pieces of himself that have worn out, and working on the range of motion instead of his one rep max.

After the gym, we stopped by one of my favorite local joints: Murky Waters for an unrivaled dose of humidity & burnt ends & blues in the Deep South. We both ended up rocking a plate of 'ends. Mine showed up with fried okra. (When onion rings were ordered.) But they ended up being consumed along with multiple beers and anything else that landed on the bar in front of us.

Believe it or not, but we usually talk on a daily basis. Even though we're hundreds of miles apart. (The same with Uncle Ron, btw!) Thank you, Mister Internet. So on occasions like these, when we get together in person, we catch up quickly and rapidly get down to business: complaining about our age, the state of the union, and the ever-increasing-impossibility of actually retiring one day.  We relive some of the glory days. Compare notes on missing comrades. And eventually drag back to our kids and wives and the routine drag of our new normal.

We'll see what the rest of his trip holds. Hopefully more training and more nights on the town. Everything in moderation. And everything enjoyed while it lasts.


Monday, June 06, 2016

Monday Night Jams

Aside from the new-normal late start, the ad hoc band was in rare form, tonight. (As opposed to last Monday, which was canceled!) The first song was a crazy wild jam that originated in some odd guitar modulations from Diggs. Then they moved into some blues. And some old familiar tunes followed. All along the way, the spirit had clearly descended upon Liam and he was cranking out funktastic bass licks with brisk authority. The realization of what is happening never ceases to amaze me. The guitarists are mostly just strumming, but Liam doesn't have that luxury. He's not only constantly providing the rhythm,  improvising as he finds openings, often unexpectedly changing the tempo, and watching for subtle queues to end the song or extend the song, or lower his volume for somebody's solo. Anyone up there doing this would earn my respect. But it helps that he's my son. And the kid is just 16!

Six more weeks, though. Then he is off to Columbus. Will happen before we know it. Far before we're actually ready for it. So we're enjoying every performance, while they last.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

The Hall Mob Returns

Kim & Nenna came down for their annual pilgrimage to South Hell. Much more difficult this year, though. Complications include: three kids, two dogs, and one artificial joint. (Poor Nenna!) Last year, Kimmer was recovering from cancer. This year, he's brought a four week old, bionic knee! (He does nothing lightly.) He's doing very well, though. The scar is beginning to fade. He's barely using a cane to walk. And the pain diminishes on a regular basis.  Then, on top of their own challenges, just as they arrive, the first hurricane of the season enters the Gulf. (Though it will eventually take a very hard right turn and sputter out over central Florida.) Ominous foreshadowing?

We grab some lunch at the Cajun Crawfish Hut and meet the new addition to his family. It shocks all of us to consider that Liam (my oldest) could actually have a child Mark's age (Kim's youngest!) Making me eligible to be a grandfather? Once upon a time, Kimmer played Santa Claus for my children, at Christmas. These days, my kids could babysit his. Man oh man oh man, time flies quickly. Too damn quickly....

Friday, June 03, 2016

Grandman Pre-Race Party

Long day of work. Pack pack pack. Long drive to the Eastern Shore Motel. Traffic in the tunnel. Hot and humid the whole way. Pick up the race packet. #360 for Your Humble Narrator. Scope the course. Fight off the hunger long enough be one of the first people to the Pre-Race Party. Rotolo's. Pizza shop with lots of personality. Mimosa cider! Buffalo chicken wrap. Thirty minute wait to get our checks. End up getting back to the motel late. Discover my room is nearly adjacent to the heavily-trafficked highway. But the attendant won't allow me to change rooms. Joy. The bed is made of bricks. The pillows are thinner than most pot-holders. And the AC barely keeps the room cool, let alone cold. Prediction? Tonight will suck.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

CrossFit Coaching

My first OFFICIAL class, today. Mondays and Wednesdays will be on my schedule. 0600. (Ouch!) Four athletes this morning. Bergener Warmup. Squat Snatch. And lots of wallballs, box jumps, and power snatches. Nobody died, puked, or cried. A minor victory, in my book.

Trying to convey the importance of form and constancy. And the difference between strength training and metabolic conditioning. Make a difference in somebody's life. Even a small change to improve their abilities or perception of fitness.

Hoping to do much more. Give a seminar about fueling and recovery. Create a running program to prepare folks for the marathon we'll have along the beach in December. Endurance-related programs. Help folks manage their weight. And body composition. Just a matter of finding the time. And patience. But it all started today, with one small class, and my first foray into CrossFit coaching.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Start Of Hurricane Season

June 1st leaves a sour stomach taste in my mouth. From now until November, a constant background noise behind our thoughts: tick tick tick. We have to pretend the heat doesn't make us miserable. The sweat on everything. Mosquitoes and gnats and squirrels and road kill littering our lives. And all this is just a backdrop for what we're fearing the most: another hurricane entering the Gulf of Mexico, with its crosshairs on South Mississippi. Is this year? We all just have to wait and see...

On a good note, today Liam received The Call. His first paying music gig! One of the guys from the Monday night jam sessions needs a bassist. And Kidd Maestro goes up to bat in a couple of weeks. Every parent dreams that one day their children will do better than the parents did. And our kids are making our dreams a reality on a regular basis. At sixteen, my son is going to be paid to bring the thunder! How damn cool is that?? We're all proud of his progress and numerous accomplishments.

On an unexpected note, my Mo-In-Law had been fighting her way through an issue with her digestive track. Minutes from spinning down my day and heading to bed (since the alarm will ring @ 0500!) a message hits my phone. It's Cindy: Mom's going into surgery. Can you come be with me? Apparently there was a severe blockage and nothing could go past. And it was not going to get any better. So they made the decision to remove the problem, immediately. Which means Your Humble Narrator goes from thoughts of bed to dashing to the hospital in the span of a few minutes...

The surgery took about an hour. Closing up took about half an hour. Ten people (family, friends, doctors, pastors, children, and grand children!) waiting on the inevitable phone call. But it was all good news in the end. No cancer. Only a small section needed to be removed. Everything else still looks very healthy. And Cindy's Mom will be with us many many years to come.

And, my friends, was June 1st, 2016.... on to the rest of Hurricane Season!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

No More Nexus 7

After almost three years of loyal service, my Much Beloved Nexus 7 has given up the digital ghost. If repairs cannot be made, funeral services will be announced shortly.

An ideal replacement would be Google's Pixel C. But, given the price tag, that won't happen. It will likely get replaced by a refurbished model, for 15% of the cost of a Pixel C. And all the same functionality of the previous tablet.

Goodbye, old friend, you served me very well, and will be missed.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day 2016

Did a Memorial Day "Murph"  workout with Jack G. Should have started early. The sun was in collusion with the humidity by the time we started.  Approaching 90 degrees, and a total heat index approaching 100. But Murph is an exercise in suffering. And that's what we did. 

Murph is a 1 mile run,  followed by 100 chin-ups,  200 push-ups, 300 air squats, and another 1 mile run. It was originally done to honor Michael Murphy, who was killed in action in Afghanistan on June 28th, 2005. Oddly enough, when the air squats started getting tough, my brain kept drifting to thoughts like, "Would Murph give up?" And that would give me additional strength. These days we do it in memory of all our brave service people. Past, present, and future. Thank you for your service and sacrifices.

For the curious: Your Humble Narrator finished the workout in  41:47. 37:59 for Jack. We didn't have weighted vests.  But we pushed hard. There was much sweating but little profanity. And hope we honored the efforts of our brothers and sisters and parents and friends in the military.

Sometime thereafter, Kidd Maestro packed his bass and we proceeded to the usual pub for the usual jam session. But, unsually, the scene was too slow and nobody(ie: Diggs!) wanted to setup for an empty house. 

So while the day was busy, the night was a flop. And ultimately concluded with this season's final episode of House of Cards, on Netflix. Such is the life of IronNerd these days....

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Race Rehearsal - Grandman

Roadtrip! Destination: Fairhope, AL. Everyone met up early for an ad hoc race rehearsal. Training for our next event: Grandman. The first time for almost everyone. So they wanted some experience with the course ahead of next week. Beautiful day for practice, too. Bright. Slight wind. No rain. Moderate humidity.  Of course that's before the sun finds us...

Started with a lovely Gulf swim. Your Humble Narrator jumps in first. Tests the waters. Slightly warm. Not too deep. Maybe a foot over my head. Then the rest of the overly-worried crew takes one last breath.. ...and jumps. Splashes everywhere and a cannonball, or two. We're all together, swimming across the waves, towards some orange buoy that never seems to get any closer. 

Things go well, until we negotiate the turn. Then one of the newbies (her first open water swim EVER!) rolls onto her back. And my ear goes sideways after too many too-sharp turns of my head. Vertigo threatens. Bile comes up in my throat. And we're both bobbing like ducks, trying not to panic and searching for the sandy bottom with our toes. Rest of the pack keeps swimming. Leaving us alone with out panting and fears of salty drowning. After staring at one spot (the girl's head!) for a minute, my ear calms down, the vertigo crawls back into its cave, and the bile subsides. But the new girl keeps struggling. She's moving furiously, but her hands are pounding the water, not pulling her forward. Like a wicked liquid hamster wheel. After she hears me yell to slow down, to reach, to calm down, and we get into shallow water, she calms down. But instead of 600 meters, as we waddle to shore, we have almost 1000 meters on our watches. Now the best experience for her first time, but she didn't die and my vertigo didn't ruin the rest of the day. So notch those up as minor victories. 

The bike went well, despite nearly getting lost and a couple of stretches of unforgiving headwind. Did  nearly 2/3rds of the ride at close to race pace. Then dropped back and worked with Wendy on her pacing and gearing. Did my best to motivate her and try to keep her focused. But when you're new to endurance events, your brain loves to trick you into slowing down, or even stopping. And that's always a difficult challenge to over come. Even with IronNerd on your wheel with reassuring words and rarely-clever advice...

Eventually we finished the bike portion of the show and did the laziest-ever transition to something vaguely resembling a run. By now, the sun was in full effect and we were all spent from practicing the hill that squats angrily at the beginning of the bike/run course. Jogged/walked a mile up and a mile back, still encouraging Wendy and looking forward to being done... 

Good times, but tiring. And hot. And humid! We were all ready to get home and cherish what was left of our weekend. Quick bite to eat at Two Sisters.  Then traffic on the bridge. And the trip home seems to last twice as long as it should. But such is the life of IronNerd. It never ends. And it is certainly never dull.

Friday, April 08, 2016

Trophy Life

Had this noble idea about getting CrossFitters to compete in a triathlon (via 3-person-relay) against other local boxes. You know, one group of athletes getting exposed to another, and each influencing the other. Set it up with Run-N-Tri. Made it an official category at Traditions. You know, lots of work.

Then, one at a time, Your Humble Narrator attempted to contact somewhere around thirty boxes. From Mobile, AL, to Slidell, LA, and everything in between. Surprisingly difficult to get in touch with some of the owners. A couple of phone numbers were disconnected. Others did not ever (EVER!) answer. Some folks did not bother to return messages. (EVER!) Left with about eighteen gyms that said they were interested and asked me to send them more information. Of those eighteen, exactly NONE responded to emails. However, three did decide to sign up for the race.

Ended up spending all day working on some unique trophies for the winners. Supposed to resemble the props used for box jumps at CrossFit. First attempt at making anything like that. Cindy contributed the lettering. (She's acrafty like that.) Good bit of fun. Learning experience. Bonding time. And we got it done together.

Hopefully the winners like it. Gonna do things MUCH different, next year. If there is a next year...

Thursday, April 07, 2016

What's Cooking

Two days of resumes and interviews and little (if any) training. It was dull. You don't need, or want, details. Too much stress. Mostly in the form of doubt and uncertainty. Not to mention the air conditioner, an ancient beast from the 20th century, is coughing its guts across the yard. The medical bills to revive it will not be pleasant.

Cooked to distract myself. Pork tenderloin. In my magnificent new (as of Christmas) pressure cooker. Rubbed it down with some spices and let the machine do its magic. Less than an hour later: perfection. Where has this thing been all my life? Seriously. Where?


Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Corks & Cleavage

Cindy's 49th birthday again. Bottle of wine. Couple of cards. Bag of her favorite chocolates. Could have gone a lot better for her. She should have received better presents. She should have stayed home from work. Gone for a spa day! She should not have needed to deal with my recent issues. But she accepted the situation for what it was and we'll make it up to her... down the road... somehow...

After work, she wanted to go somewhere quiet and try something new. We headed over to Corks & Cleaver, in downtown Gulfport.  We wanted to go on MY birthday, a couple of weeks ago, but that didn't happen. So we picked up some BBQ wings for the kids and went off, on our own.

Sat inside, out of the setting sun. Pleasantly rural/rustic decor . Comfortable seating. Good service. Cindy had an almost-glass of white wine. And some Mystery Romp for Your Humble Narrator. We wanted more but the price and the drink portions did not excite us. Couldn't agree on appetizers but some of them looked awesome. Uncertainty versus the price was the likely villain. Cindy had a smoked salmon BLT which she thoroughly enjoyed. My hamburger was very flavorful and cooked perfectly. Wanted a bit more, though. 1/3 of a pound didn't quite fill me. The fries were just average.  But the dessert (a dark chocolate and cheese cake invention) rocked!

Not sure if we'll go back there, or not. Corks & Cleaver was a nice treat. Maybe my belly is too big and my wallet too small.  But the end result didn't entirely satisfy us. We'll have to play a return trip by ear.

Monday, April 04, 2016

Driven Solo

Liam: Can I drive to the Quick Stop?
Me: Sure. Here are the keys.
Liam: Really?!?!?
Me: Yes. Just don't wreck. And take the back way.
Liam: Whoa...

And that is the first time he has ever driven solo.

Fortunately there were no wrecks. Except the one in my head during the long delay before he returned.

Thus it begins.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Tradition's Triathlon 2016 - Race Rehearsal

Several of my plans have gone somewhat sideways, this year. Adventures in employment a couple of weeks ago. Crippled by a sneeze three days ago. Very unlikely to hit a new personal record, next week, but at this point just being able to walk with a minimum of pain is glorious.

Today was the last official day of The Road to Tradition's 2016 and came in the form of a race rehearsal. Once last chance to check our theories and dial in the numerous variables.

Swim went fairly well. Definitely helped loosen up my back. Then the bike went VERY well. No pain or even soreness. None. The run was cut a bit short because the course has an off-road element and the trail was virtually a mud course after all the recent rain.

All in all, a good, productive rehearsal. Finishing won't be a problem. Just a matter of timing. May have to settle for new records at the NEXT ones...

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Interviews & Tamales

Cindy & Liam made the trek to Columbus, MS, last night. MMeg stayed home with me. In case my back didn't get any better. Rained on all of us, even though we were four hours apart. Their trip went smoothly, otherwise.

Liam had to schedule the visit to interview with The MS School of Math & Science. He made it past the application phase and was invited up for the next one. First, they had some essay for him to write, on the spot. He said he KILLED it. Then he had some standardized math and/or science tests to take. He said he KILLED it. Then he had to do an interview with staff and alumni. Cindy was on the phone with me as he walked out, and she said he was all smiles. So we took that to be a good sign. Overall, they had a great trip. And Liam feels he did very well. By my guestimate, he has a 90% chance to get accepted. Good grade, great ACT, lots of extracurricular activities, and a rockstar personality. Oh yeah, they're gonna want him there!

Meanwhile, my back decided to stop having muscle spasms and walking was possible today. Meg & Molly went with me to visit the Farmer's Market in Long Beach for groceries and then pick up some lunch. Molly met some friends. Meg had a quesadilla that somehow ended up across the front of her shirt. And Your Humble Narrator reveled in his freedom from the sofa by scarfing down some of the finest tamales on the Gulf Coast.

Good time for everyone involved. But now we have to wait a week to hear from MSMS... ...and learn of Liam's fate.

Friday, April 01, 2016

Just A Sneeze

This would be funnier if it were a joke. It isn't. And actually, it isn't funny.


The event which completely wrecked my back and has kept me on the sofa (thank God for Netflix!) the past two days was: just a sneeze. Pick up the keys, turn to take Liam to school, and a mundane... ACHOO! But nature didn't take its natural course and the muscles along the left side of my spine immediately locked up like a vice along with my ability to breath for several long seconds.

Oddly enough, things didn't initially seem disastrous. Driving didn't hurt. Even did mobility work on the foam roller and the Voodoo floss without any significant woe. But after getting home, making some calls, and doing some clicking clack, the spasms started. Freshly and brutal. Couldn't moved. Couldn't breathe. Jaw clenched during unstoppable moans. And they kept hitting me. While walking. While sitting. While doing anything other than reclining on the sofa. Watching Netflix.

On a good note, my binginity has been broken because it is apparently impossible to stop watching Daredevil (Season 2.)  And Archer (Season 6) has also kept me company these many pain-filled hours. Never binged before. Only took a pinched nerve to change that.

Fortunately the last spasm hit was at lunch time, today. None since. Plenty of residual aches. And my range of motion is still limited. But there is positive progress. Slow, but positive.

And that's my life for the past two days. Cindy and Liam headed to MSMS, for his interview, on their own. Left me to my wounded fate, with Meg in charge of getting medical attention in the event of a turn for the worst. Let's hope it doesn't come to that. Not over just a sneeze...

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Fifteen Trillion Little Insects

Structure and plans and goals maintain a semblance of order in the crowded room behind my eyes. Something to work towards. A means to measure my personal progress.

When just one thing goes sideways, there's a profound, subconscious impact. Having to reorganize my thoughts. My life. And the lives of everyone around me. The orderly world erupts in static and chaos. Like kicking an ant pile. Fifteen trillion little insects dashing and buzzing in different directions without any structure. or rhyme or reason. And that's just ONE plan crumbling to pieces. 

This week, three have fallen through. THREE! The first triathlon of the season was cancelled. (Again...) And then two separate CrossFit certification were cancelled, with no ETA. Training wasted. Plans scrapped. The world fills with static. The ant pile kicked. And kicked. And kicked again. Topped off with a bright orange mushroom cloud taking shape in the tight confines of my head. 

But, as always, this too shall pass. It is what it is. There will be other races. Other certs. Just have to put the pieces of the new puzzle together. Wherever those pieces may be...

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Reverse Brick

Progress. Slowly. Something of a reverse brick, today. Started with 300 single-under jump ropes. Added banded stretching for The Worst Hamstrings in MS. Ran inside for 2 miles @ 18:24. And hopped on the trainer for 18 miles @ 42:20. Happy with that, despite being inside. Wrapped up with half an hour in the sauna and 15 minutes in the cold dip.

The Knee Recover is on day 32. Feeling better. Less wonky. With the cyst gone, there is an unknown time frame for all the mechanisms in my knee to return to their normal position and function, In the meanwhile, just gotta keep picking up the pace and prep'ing for 2016. Gonna be VERY hard to do better than last year. It can be done. But it won't be easy. Then again, when has EASY ever been a part of Your Humble Narrator's agenda?

Monday, January 11, 2016

Warming Up

The cycles take decades. Sometimes.But everything comes around again. Check the picture. Guy in Green? Your Humble Narrator. Teaching yoga poses to a bunch of avid Crossfitters. 

Creating space. Lengthen. Reach, up. Palms ascending. Stretch. Present your chest. Outward. Breathe in. First from the diaphragm. To the top of the lungs. Get long. Exhale the old stress. Inhale the new intentions. 

Not sure if they're ready for advanced backbends, but we'll see how far these folks want to go down the rabbit hole. Yoga's always trendy!

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Racing Thoughts

Woke up tired. Couldn't sleep. Stupid brain. Wouldn't turn off. Filled to the brim with racing thoughts. Would-be plans for upcoming adventures. Incessant concerns about the plausibility of achieving my goals. Uncertainty. Doubt. So much easier to do things the same way for another 20 plus years. Just accept my role and take the safe path into eventual silence.

Have to try, regardless. Failed before. May fail again. But at the end of this mortal journey, there will be no regrets. My life will have been a long series of: tried it. Rather than a disappointing tale of:never dared to take the risk. 

At least that's the plan...

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

On The Run

Twenty five days after clearing up a few issues with my right knee. Ventured to the gym. First serious attempt at going any significant distance on the knee. Wanted a 30min 5k. Ended up with 31:26. And that was a not so easy effort. Significant sweating and panting involved. But, got it done. And felt some degree of pride in returning real training.

After that, tried a little MetCon. Some push press and chin-up action. But was already gassed Barely finished half of it. Pretty stupid of me to have tried. Far too aggressive. And, lesson learned.
Followed with a half hour of torture in the sauna then a quarter hour in the cold dip. Therapy far easier these days than training. But one step at a time. And I'm on the run again.

Monday, January 04, 2016

First Jam

Monday. Work sinks its teeth into soft soft neckmeat. Temperatures drop. Forecasts say: Nearly freezing by morning. Ran my first mile since The Knee was "fixed." Didn't suck. Quick workout: 100/50, 80/40, 60/30, 40/20 on jumps/situps. Couple of weighted Good Mornings. Helped coach a large class of sweaty Argonauts. The Bride is nearly delusional with fever after her third day of The Crud. And like rude, neo-urban ninjas, Your Humble Narrator & Son are off to Irish Coast Pub for the first jam session of 2016.

Lo and behold, Kidd Maestro leads off the very first song! Diggs joins on the drums. Then Zach tickles his keyboards and crafts some vocals. Just the three of them, with Liam at the helm of the FunkBoat. Few things can exceed the beauty awe of witnessing one of your children unleash their natural talents upon the world.

Despite the long hours and frequent shortages of appreciation for my efforts, in this life, my blessings are numerous. They shall be enjoyed while they last. Until there is silence.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Under Pressure

 A pressure cooker appeared under our tree. Experimental kitchenware. Courtesy of the Jolly Ol Fat Man Himself. The Bride didn't trust it. Thought it would explode. Wanted to send it back. To the North Pole. Your Humble Narrator, however, saw his opportunity to shine!

Grass fed, bone-in shoulder roast from Country Girl's Creamery. Some giant carrots. Purple sweet potatoes (yes, PURPLE!) And an onion from the Biloxi's Farmer's Market. Seared the meat in some coconut oil. Kids pealed cut up the veggies. And away we went! Of course, being the maiden voyage, it didn't go eeeexxxxacctly right the first try. Meaning SOMEBODY only set the timer, and neglected to pressurize Ye Ol Beast. But we got past that without pointing any fingers and it didn't take long before everything was firing on all cylinders.  And THEN away we went...

Normally, when a fine fine McDougal Roast is crafted, it spends eight hours in the crockpot. On this glorious day, the total cooking time was a mere forty minutes. Roughly 10% of the normal endeavor! And it came out every bit as succulent and tasty as the traditional method. Actually, we should have cooked the meat for the first 10 minutes, by itself, and then added the veggies for 30 minutes. The carrots and onions were SUPER tender, but the poor sweet potatoes ended up as mashed potatoes.

The Bride cobbled together some bacon & green beans as well as a batch of rice. Mom brought Dad and a carrot cake. And we all feasted.

Wonderful contraction, this new pressure cooker. New recipes must be discovered! And we're all happy nothing exploded. Except our taste buds. And there're more to come.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Post Polar Bear Plunge

Mobility, warm-up, and strength training in the morning. Followed with some grooming of entirely-too-long nails. Treats for an ailing bride. Took the kids by GameStop for some new hotness. And then the rest of the day was spent working on coaching-related materials. So much to do, but it is slowly coming together, one piece at a time. All new. But all exciting. Hoping 2016 will be a break-out year for Your Humble Narrator. If not, there's always a return to being a pudgy master of ancient geekery.

Friday, January 01, 2016

A Busy 2016


Started off a busy year with a busy day. Despite the weather and a terrible mood. drove by Long Beach to visit my Grandparents. Weird tangle of emotions visiting them "together," for the first time nearly a decade. Today would have marked 96 years for G'Pa. And G'Ma crossed over exactly a year ago. Brought flowers. Couldn't breathe for a while. Finally put them on his grave. Something bothered me about marking her passing with flowers. Next year, one for each of them!

Skipped lunch, picked up Kidd Maestro and headed to our local 3rd Annual Polar Bear Plunge. Couple of dozen folks: Luke, Jack, Onnie, Lisa, Dean, and Rachel, to name a few. Air temperatures in the high 40s. Water temperature in the low 60s. Actually warmer than last year. And good to have a Sherpa with me for a change. Video below as proof of my stupidity.

Afterwards, we grabbed some lunch at The Dock (good sammiches but the water tasted like melted plastic) then went to see a 3D viewing of Star Wars. Better character development than I thought. Less campy. Great special effects but not overwhelming. Couple of loop holes that bothered me, but it was a good start. It pleased more folks than it disappointed, and that has to count as something. 

And here's hoping the rest of the year is as fulfilling!


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mothers Day 2015

Sleeping late these days means 0730. Kids kept to their beds until much later. Card for Cindy. Mani\Pedi Gift Certificate. Hugs and such. Whatever she wants today. Turned out to be a late lunch with her Mom while the rest of us hit the theater to catch a thankfully-uncrowed showing of The Avengers.  (Fairly good flick despite some flimsy plot moments but the effects compensated.) And the  day continues as a long lazy Sunday with Liam playing his new bass and Meg alternating between her ukulele and her violin.

Life. Good.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Enough Adventure

One pint too many last night and paid for it this morning. Most unpleasant swimming 1200 yards without a wetsuit. Then we hopped on the bikes for a HR Zone 2. 17.9MPH but only 124BPM. Then a crazy sweaty ten minute run. All three pieces. Good times with good friends. Approaching 21 weeks until The Main Event. We're probably half way there already. Will build up the rest across the next 4+ months. In the furnace of South Mississippi....


After training and getting lunch, hit the road with Kidd Maestro. Checked out some different jazz bass guitars. First music place had a Fender and a second hand amp at a reasonable price. Second place (actually our favorite) had the same Fender but a bigger selection of guitars and we were able to noticeably hear the difference between some of them. In the end, the owner (a bassist himself) convinced us to pick up an Ibanez  (that Liam absolutely loved) and a new 300W amp. Took it home and it is night and day different than his old bass. Much better sound and far greater range of versatility. So we took it back home and he played for hours, looking forward to the jam session on Monday.

Then an unexpected surprise: Nenna (Kimmer's Wife) had a kidney stone flare up and they decided to head to the ER to get it checked out professionally. They dropped off Ethan and we all hung out for a couple of hours. SUPER sweet little boy. We'd have quick, cute conversations and talk about his favorite cartoons. He decided he wanted to watch Thomas The Tank Enginer, like Liam used to. Then one by one, every except me & Ethan went to sleep. First Meg went to her room. Then Liam went off to his. And finally, Cindy fell asleep on the sofa next to me. Approaching midnight, Kim & Nenna made it out of the ER. Us boys were still awake and able to get everything packed without any drama or concerns.

That's enough adventure for one day, methinks.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Push Pull, Clip Clop

Another day and another round of wrestling with server hardware. Yesterday was bad memory. Today involved adding fiber connections. Push pull, clip clop. All done and hopefully we can migrate some SQL services off of old servers and onto these monsters. Often time easier said than done, when my corporate cohorts in Las Vegas are involved. But we'll see how it goes.

After work, met Kimmer at Rooney's for the usual Friday Night Dance. Couple of pints. BBQ Sammich. Music in the background. Conversation in the foreground. He's a good guy with a heart even bigger than his chest. Fought more battles than I can count and still comes out smiling. A good example for me to follow. And his guidance is always appreciated. Glad to have him down for a couple of weeks. We both need it.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

A Rest Day

9 workouts in 6 days and finally, a rest day.! Very happy to NOT be in the gym or on the road anywhere. 

Not that there is any rest for the wicked. Still had a full load at work: Dealing with vendors. Volunteering for a new Citrix adventure well ahead of the rest of the organization. Extinguishing numerous minor wildfires. And, as pictured, swapping out bad memory in an ESX host. Funny bit, there, after powering off the server, changing the hardware, and restoring power, my email starts blowing up. The Virtualization Dudes in Las Vegas start proclaiming, "Everything dropped offline!" Which quickly spiked by heart rate closer to 200BPM. Until they started laughing the second they answer their hotline. Of course, it was a joke. A naughty nerdy joke. Highlight of my day. 

My short-lived, greatly needed, REST day....

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Mittwoch

Early morning workout: lots of stretching, then deadlifts and (my favorite) toes-to-bar. Only recently starting doing TTBs. They're tricky. And the taller you are, the more difficult they become. So the workout was a super set of 4 x bodyweight deadlifts and 8 x TTBs.

Evening workout: an hour on the bike trainer. Joined by Mister Kim Hall. First time we've worked out together since Augusta. Went about 18 miles in 45 minutes, then walked around the track to cool down our legs and let Kimmer catch his breath. He's still recovering from his adventures, but we agree any day above ground is a good day.

Afterwards, off to Irish Coast for some trivia. Our team, Bitch Please, came in third of three teams. Not a good night. But good times with good folks. We'll extract our revenge, next time.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Cinco De Tired

Another Two A Day. Did Crossfit after work. Shoulders and back and lots of sweat. Then went back to the house and ran. Sorta ran. Paced with Liam through the neighborhood. Went close to three miles. Jogged about a third of that. Tragically funny: after he started getting warmed up, his chest started getting tight. Where? Exact same spot where my chest used to get tight (for decades:) left upper lobe. How does something like THAT get passed along in the genes? Boggles the mind.

No Mexican celebrations, this year. Big meal at work. But nothing at home. Just me and Liam, Cinco De Tired.

Monday, April 27, 2015

For A Monday

Normal nerdy adventures at work, at least for a Monday. Not too much debris lingering from the near-explosion last week. But enough to spin up a figment of a headache and chew up enough energy to make training all-the-more challenging.

What was on the agenda today? Biking! 21.0 miles on the trainer with an angry (ANRGY!) instructor barking at me for just under 54 minutes (23.4MPH average!) Much sweat created. Great workout.

Afterwards, me & Kidd Maestro hit Irish Coast Pub. Ben's birthday. The Pub's birthday, too.  Couple of new musicians, and Liam. He's getting the feel of performing live, winging it, playing from instinct rather than set music. Does my heart good to see him up there, driving the rhythm and improvising with subtle nuances of his own creation. Plan B, we call it. Something to earn him some money and maybe help get him through college. We'd much rather have him playing for a couple of hours to earn $50 than to take food orders all day. He's a great musician and really shines once he lets his guard down and just goes with it. Hopefully we'll look back on these nights and they'll be good memories. They are already, for me.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

On To IMChoo

A good year, thus far: Stronger than ever. Faster than ever. And, knock on wood, healthier than ever.

But everything so far has been a preamble to the ultimate goal for 2015. And it is time to move on to IMChoo training.

The race is 23 weeks from today. Preceded by five months of training in the furnace of South Mississippi. A new training program from Endurance Nation. Strength & conditioning from Coach Sara at Crossfit Portside. Plus lots of stretching, rolling, and sleeping. Stay healthy, stay focused. Do it right.

There have been months of groundwork and preparation and major improvements. But the real journey begins tomorrow.

And doesn't end, until the finish line.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Gulf Coast Youth Symphony - Spring Concert 2015

Liam's been practicing a couple of hours per week for several weeks and we finally get to see the fruit of his late-night labors. The Gulf Coast Youth Symphony had their Spring Concert today. All the grandparents went. Should have taken a picture for posterity. But my brain wasn't firing on all cylinders. As you can imagine, everyone enjoyed it. My favorite was The Barber Of Seville. Liam enjoyed Duke Ellington. Cindy & Meg loved the violin soloist in Praeludium & Allegro. And my Mom could barely control her excitement during Hoe Down. All in all, a great show for the whole family. Proud of that kid. We're all blessed.
















Sunday, March 01, 2015

Seaside Half Marathon - 2015

Actually slept last night. Despite the foreign bed. Despite the pending race. We finished dinner, turned in early, and embraced the resulting silence. Which helped when the alarm started at five o'clock. Then the usual silence as everyone performed their pre-race rituals. Mine included: coffee, vitamins, KT tape, plenty of stretching, and the internal struggle over What To Wear. By six thirty, we were all ready and prepared to walk a block (ha!) to the starting line where 3,997 other racers were huddled in the grey air.


Found several people from The MS Gulf Coast wandering the crowd. IPA folks. Triathlon folks. And all our various handlers. Seeing so many familiar faces among the smiling racers helped take off the edge. The cold was a bit crispy, but everyone was in good spirits. Surprisingly quiet, well mannered. And eager to get started. Somehow, Allison & Nancy vanished, then Robin (fellow Ticking Tri Bomb) ended up next to me. Quick hug. Some chatter about pacing. And when the clock struck seven o'clock, the race gun sounded.

My plan to was to start close to the front, maintain a quickish pace at first, settle into something comfortable once the crowd thinned, and then cruise on the way back. That was the plan. Early into it, we went too fast, closer to minutes than nine. By the time the crowd thinned, nine minute miles were the norm. However my memory of a somewhat flat course was corrected around three miles into it when the rolling hills appeared. Nothing difficult, but they did not help. Nor did the slanting rise in the road at each curve. At the half way point, my watch showed my pace was BELOW the two hour point. Very happy! Much awesomeness. Made the turn, grabbed a gel, and prepared for the return trip.
Return trip did not go very well. By mile eight, my left knee (the one that died last year) began to protest. By nine miles it started to hurt to the point where keeping any reasonable pace was going to damage something. Barely beat my 10 mile pace from last week, but crept after that. Wanted to pick it up more and get it over with. Felt this gnawing desire to "push through the pain." But in the back of my head, ghosts of failed races from 2014 started to resurface.

Ended up slowing enough for Nancy to catch me. She was hurting, too. Her calf. My knee. Partners in pain. We finished the last two miles in shared suffering. Every couple of hundred meters one of us would say, "Almost there." Then we could see the finish line. Then the crowd was cheering. We held hands and raised them high as we crossed the line. Done at last. Her 25th half marathon. (Not sure of mine.) Both of us eager to get this one behind us. Didn't break two hours. Didn't PR. But finished in 2:19:50, which beat last year's time.

Things blurred after that. Drank a 30oz mimosa that didn't touch me. Allison finished her very FIRST marathon and gave us all a tear-filled hug. Returned to the rental house to get some more layers. Which didn't ultimately help. Had a free beer that wasn't great but went down quickly. BBQ was slightly better than last year. And ended up browsing the local stores rather than crash from the uncontrollable shaking that gradually threatened to overcome me.

Eventually, we all recovered our legs, shuffled back to the rental for some real beers, a shower, and a change of clothes. When we had caught our breath and made ourselves presentable, we went BACK out for Lunch #2. Chili dogs from Wild Bill's and a few more beers. Finally, felt warm and right and happy. And the world was beautiful once again.

Anyway. Another half marathon in the books. Not the prettiest. But it is done. And on to the next adventure...

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Meg At 13

What to say about Meg at 13? She enters her teen years nearly as tall as her mother, as crazy-talented like her brother, and far more creative than her father. She's moved past pink and My Little Pony and ballet to focus on theater and violin and her artwork. Sure, she gets moody and sometimes dramatic. But she is the music that keeps me moving and always brightens my day in the morning or after work. Thankful to have her in my life and continue to enjoy my time with her while she's still into hugging her Old Man.


Cindy put together Meg's party. All of Meg's favorites: Cane's Chicken, French Onion Dip, small cans of coke, vanilla ice cream, and (of course) cake. On top of putting all those pieces together and straightening the house, Cindy also made some crockpot lasagna that super double delicious.

Joined today by: My parents, my brother & Morgan, Cindy's parents, Cindy's brother plus Aunt Amy, Alex, and Tolar.


So now we have two teenagers. Liam's driving and trying to find his own edges. Meg's approaching high school and still trying her hand at as many different hobbies as possible. There are so many possibilities, for both of them.We're enjoying watching them grow up. It just happens too quickly sometimes. And has its prickly moments. But none of us are ever bored.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Road To Traditions - 02/22/15

 Sunday in South Mississippi finds us training and socializing. Supporting each other. Encouraging those around us. New triathletes. Old friends. Jim worked with the new folks. Going over drills and the fundamentals. Helping to get the beginners more comfortable with their form and the idea of swimming for distance. What most of the folks don't know is that open water is night and day different from the pool. My own experiences were full of struggle on ALL levels. It took me many months to find my own form, talking to myself non-stop in open water: "Be cool. Be cool! BE COOL!" Hopefully this next generation of competitors has a more pleasant experience.

At the same time, the intermediate and more advanced folks swam with Brian Harris. They worked on improving their stroke. Usually trying to maximize their "glide." Reaching. Twisting. Minimizing wasted motion. All tough stuff to master. But Brian knows what he's talking about and knows how to teach people. 

My training started much earlier. Sara Carter showed up and we swam 3 sets of 600 meters. A mile when you put them together. Odd how we both felt tight until 300 meters, then our shoulders finally relaxed. Sara's amazing. Her fourth swim in a decade (or more) and she is already doing a mile. Gonna be fun having HER chasing me down at the race.

After, the swimming clinic, Allen & JG went over transition preparation and fundamentals. Once again: minimize, minimize, minimize. An abundance of secrets and experience shared by those guys. Once the weather is sure to be cooperative, the group will move to the actual race site and we'll put those skills to the test.

Won't be long, now. Then the REAL training begins.