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....

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Grandman 2016

The storms began around 1am. The sky cracked in half and debris crashed outside my too-thin window until seconds before my alarm rang at 4am. Right then and there, going home seemed like an infinitely more enjoyable option than racing. But quitting isn't in my blood. And too many people expected to see me at the finish line. Couldn't let them, or myself, down by not at least trying to race. So, protein shake, pack, and hit the still-dark road by 5am. And get to transition as the sun peeks above the horizon at 5:30am.

Thankfully there was no rain in store for us. Transition setup was uneventful. And a practice swim revealed that we could easily stand-up just past the half-way point of the course. While not particularly worried about drowning, it was soothing to know the water wasn't particularly deep.

Being #360 had some interesting consequences. Waiting to start the swim took forever. And any "warm-up" was gone by the time my turn came. The water felt just right. The crowd wasn't very thick, even near the turn. And there wasn't much wrestling this year. (As opposed to last year when it was almost a slobberknocker at times!) Swam up very close to shore. Hit the ground running. And finished with an average of 1:35/100. Unfortunately too many zig zags resulted in nearly 100 extra meters of swimming and my total swim time was 11:59. Well beyond my plans...

Hit the bike, conquered our favorite hill, and settled into aero for the duration. Starting in the middle of the line-up resulted in passing lots and lots of folks during the ride. A bit surprised at how many people had to be admonished for riding in the middle, or even the left side of the road. But passing folks helps me pass the time and strokes the agressive part of my Lizard Brain. So it was go go go for Your Humble Narrator.

To the best of my recollection, only two people came around me during the bike ride. Felt good about that. Slowed a bit during the last mile. Had trouble getting the Velcro undone on my shoes, which ruined my attempt at a quick dismount. But otherwise it went well and my moving average turned out to be 20.3MPH, which is a new personal record!

Then came the run. (sigh) Way way way off my pace. Couldn't settle into a comfortable position and kept stressing about my stomach. Maybe it was too much water. Maybe not enough water. Maybe it was the heat. Or the long uphill climb. But by the second mile, it was a struggle not to completely stop and the final water station did result in 30 seconds (or more) of walking to collect my breath. Run time: 33:42.

Total race time: 1:42:17. Last year was in the 1:38:XX. Swim was actually better than last year. Bike was better than last year. Run clobbered me. But it is what it is, not too terribly bad, and still early in the season. There's plenty of time to focus on the run.

Afterwards, stayed to watch several of my friends and team members finish. Very proud of all of them, but a big shoutout to my favorite Athena: Wendy! She struggles with the voices of her lizard telling her that she can't do it and she's not good enough to finish. She pushed through all that though and finished without puking, crying, or dying. So we'll mark that up as a victory and keep working towards a sub-2hr finish.

And then there is Mi Amigos Locos: Charlie & Alvi. Two big Clydesdales with families and full time jobs and additional struggles of their own. Alvi's knee was TOAST and Charlie's been too busy running a business instead of running on the road. But they also crossed the line without any ill effects. And we're all smiling because it is over with!

Hopefully the rest of the season goes a little better. Only one way to find out.

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!