D.I.N.K. for a day.

Filed under: General — Steve at 7:50 am on Thursday, July 2, 2015

I am getting to pretend that I’m a D.I.N.K. again for a few days, you know, dual income, no kids?  Alexander is at grandma and grandpa Flemings place for a few more days.  Jessica’s family had a reunion last Saturday that we went to and Alexander is staying with them for the week to spend some more time with his cousins who are in town from Pittsburgh, that and we needed daycare for Friday and Saturday since our normal Friday daycare doesn’t work on observed holidays and no one wants our kid on the actual 4th of July either and both Jessica and I have to work on both days.  I’m kind of bummed about not having Alexander here this week, Jessica is working and I’m here by myself all day and I’m not liking the single guy life.  The house is too quiet.  It’s nice to be able to go take a nap or leave the house without making a plan first but I’m missing having the squirt around this week, I wanted to go to the fireworks stand with him and pick up some stuff to light off.  It was a trade off though because I wanted him here for the big town fireworks show on the 4th of July and if he stayed with my parents he wouldn’t be able to be here for that because Jessica is too pregnant to get off work and then go get him.  Just too much time in the car, plus at least this way he can see the Pittsburgh crew while they are in town.  Grandma is going to bring him back on the 4th when Jessica gets off work and when I get off at 9 I’m going to haul ass home with just enough time to get to see the fireworks with the family before poof… the holiday is done.  I miss the old days where the 4th was a pretty eventful holiday in my life.  We had the cabin and everyone came out to celebrate and it was a pretty big deal.  Now it’s pretty disappointing.

I’ve signed up for a race!  It’s a 21 mile trail race and will be the longest race I’ve ever completed when I do it.  I was signed up for a full marathon at one point that got snowed out and then I got hurt so I never got a chance to do it.  This race is in Omaha and is part of a 50k ultramarathon.  It’s a loop course, 10 and a half miles per loop.  I’m doing the 2 loop 21 miler, the 3 loop is the 50k.  I needed something to train for and another half marathon didn’t trip my trigger, but I didn’t have enough time to train for a full so this race was perfect.  I’m using it as a stepping stone towards my goals of longer races, I’ll do the full Lincoln Marathon next spring and then if everything goes well with no major injuries I’ll do a 50k ultra race in the Fall so I can officially be an ultramarathoner, even if it is the shortest of the ultramarathons and the guys who do the 100 mile races would chuckle at my accomplishment because they go out on training runs longer than that.  My friend Dave is one of those hundred mile guys and he’s kind of peaked my interest in it though.  I’ve never been a physical specimen and have never been in danger of winning anything, but the thing about ultras is that it’s really more of a test of your mental strength than anything and I just wonder if I’ve got what it takes.

“How’d ya do?”

Filed under: General — Steve at 8:43 am on Wednesday, June 10, 2015

“I won!”

I’ve done a couple of races in the last couple weeks which I of course didn’t really win, but that’s what I say when people ask.  In all seriousness I’m extremely happy to finish in the top 50%, but usually don’t.  I’ve gotten a few third place medals, but only on technicalities.   Took 3rd in a team triathlon (I was paired with someone much younger and there were only 3 teams in that age group), I took third place men’s in a 5k (there were only 11 people in the whole race), and I took third place in my age group in another 5k (several people ahead of me were disqualified, for what I don’t know but I didn’t even get my medal for that one because I ran the race while on vacation in Wisconsin and then left without knowing I was even in the running for anything).  So yea, not exactly a speed demon.  I’ve got more of a Clydesdale with a broken leg carrying a fat guy on his back while dragging a cart that’s filled with old car batteries that has a wheel with a flat spot kind of speed going for me.  Oh well, I do what I can with what I’ve got.

Anyway, the whole family went up to Omaha on Memorial Day to do a race at Boy’s Town, a fund raiser for… something…  I don’t remember now for sure.  We saw the “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother” statue out front which Jessica didn’t know about other than knowing of the song from the late 60s with that title.  The whole thing was pretty fun because it was Alexander’s very first race and I got to run it with him.  His was only a quarter mile and was filled with lots of other little kids who were around his age, which came with the usual things that come with a large group of kids his age like one of them getting scared in the middle of the race and breaking down bawling because he didn’t know what the hell was going on or what to do.  Alexander was a bit freaked out too but he was ok once he knew I was going to stay with him.  I was super proud of him because he ran the whole way and did great!  We had matching red shirts and blue socks (he chose the socks and gave them to me for my birthday) so we were quite the pair.  Afterward I did the 5 mile race while he and Jessica partook in the festivities, there was lots of people in costumes to entertain the kids and entertainment to make it relatively fun for young people so it was a good experience for everyone.  He came out of it with an orange Mohawk, several temporary tattoos and a personal encounter with several Imperial Storm Troopers, Chewbacca and Batman.  I’ll probably make up a little picture display for his race bib and finishers ribbon and our picture.  Probably not something he will care much about when he gets older but it’s a good memory for me so I’ll hang it in my office or something.

The second race I did was the Warrior Dash obstacle race on Saturday.  It’s the second one of these that I’ve done, Jessica was supposed to have done it with me and we had signed up for it a year ago after my first one but she went and got pregnant on purpose just to get out of doing it!  Not really, she would never get pregnant on purpose of course, we were perfectly happy with one, we aren’t the Duggars after all.  Anyway, since I had a paid for registration that was transferable I talked Trent and Panther (yea I know, it’s weird how nicknames stick) at work into running it too so I didn’t have to go by myself.  In the months leading up to the race I kept asking them when they were going to start training and the answer was always “Soon”, which for Trent turned into “None” training, and for Panther riding his bike to work a few times which stopped when his butt hurt from the seat.  Didn’t matter to me, I told they that they were going to do it, training or no training and I wasn’t going to let anyone puss out at the very last minute.  On the morning of the race I show up at the butt crack of dark at work to pick them up (they both work the overnight shift), open the door and the first thing I hear out of Trent’s mouth is him telling me that he’s not going because it’s gonna rain and he’ll be cold and wet and it’ll suck, to which I replied, “ITS A FREAKIN’ WARRIOR DASH, NOT A PRETTY PRETTY PRINCESS MY LITTLE PONY TEA PARTY, NOW GET YOUR CRAP AND GET IN THE CAR, YOU’RE GOING!”  Which he did, and then complained the next 2 hours during the drive about how miserable it was going to be because his phone said there was an 80% chance of rain, to which I replied that meant there was a 20% chance on no rain!

We got there and got our stuff, I had to give them the run through of how things work and what to do since this was the very first race for either of them.  We were in the first non competitive wave at 9am after the real athletes did their for real race at 8:30.  After the race started Trent made a rookie mistake and took off out of the chute way too fast and got out pretty far ahead, while I took it slow because I knew what was coming and ran with Panther at a relatively easy pace so I wouldn’t step in a hole and blow my knee out.  As we were doing that I looked ahead and went, “Panther look!  IT’S THE SWEDE!”  Who is The Swede?  It’s this giant tattooed guy that was in the race last year that I named The Swede, I wanted to beat him so bad last year and I had him until right at the very end when I got stuck in the mud helping some girl who was stuck and crying while everyone went around her.  Because of that The Swede beat me out right at the last second at the finish line.  Well now I had my target!  Trent stayed ahead of us for the first, oh maybe three quarters of a mile or so before we reeled him in, as I passed him he was looking pretty green and sick, probably wishing he had trained a little bit.  We all started up the first big hill and I turned to say something and… whoops, no more Trent or Panther.  I ran the rest of the race on my own, seeing them once along the way on a loop when I was 2 obstacles ahead.  I finished the race (thoroughly beating The Swede) and Click and Clack finished 20 minutes later, having their asses thoroughly kicked by the course.  Guess what, not a drop of rain fell while we were running and Trent wants to do it again next year.

I’m trying to do the running streak thing again this year where you have to run at least a mile a day for a year to even make it on the list.  I made it about 3 months last year before I stopped, don’t remember why, probably an injury but I started it again on my birthday and I’m 22 days in.  I also want to do a thousand miles over the year, which I didn’t accomplish last year either, but I guess it’s all about the journey and not the destination right?  I’ve also been dieting and tracking my calories over the last couple months, which I completely hate but I’m down about 10 pounds and feel better.  I miss my metabolism from 20 years ago when I had abs and didn’t throw my back out doing seemingly nothing.  I’ve also lowered my blood pressure a bit which is good because I’ve got my health screening at work for the health insurance coming up soon which I never do great it (Jessica always gets a perfect score and pulls our average up enough for the full discount).  That’s enough for today, it’s a 1400 word, running heavy post, thoroughly uninteresting to most people I’m sure.

Have you ever seen a goose, kissing a moose?

Filed under: General — Steve at 7:41 am on Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Happy birthday to me!  I actually forgot my birthday was even close to happening until I looked at our electronic calendar about a week and a half ago.  It’s amazing how little birthdays mean the older you get.  At least this year I actually know how old I am, 38 which is more than I can say for some years.

So I’ve entered Alexander in his very first running race, the Boys Town Memorial Day Run on May 25th.  We’ve been talking with him about entering a race at some point just like daddy does and I’ve been casually looking at some of the kids races that are out there.  I think just about all of the kids runs are a mile long which is just a little too far for him at this point since he isn’t super athletic, so I figured we wouldn’t be doing it all that soon but while looking for races that were being held on days that don’t have to work I came across this one which offers a 400 meter run (about a quarter mile) for younger kids which is just about perfect for his ability level.  He’s pretty stoked about it, getting to wear a race number and getting a ribbon (Maybe a medal?  It was vague) at the end like I got for my races and he wants to go out and do some training runs with me.  In fact he was super pissed that I didn’t take him along when I went out that night, but it was starting to rain and I didn’t have time to get him ready before it started pouring.  I’m glad he’s excited about it, I really hope to get him interested early in it so it can possibly grow into a lifetime love of exercise and good health which is the most precious thing anyone can possess as they get older.  I’m under no illusions that he is going to turn into some sort of elite athlete or anything, the boy can’t walk and chew gum at the same time and seems much more interested in non physical endeavors than he is with running, climbing or any kind of sports which is fine.  I just want to have some fun doing something together and show him some new things.  I’m going to run his race with him and after all the kids races are done I’m going to do the 5 mile race while he hangs out with Jessica.  Hopefully it’s a good experience for everyone.

We did our first official family camping trip on Sunday and went out to Wagontrain State Recreation area a few miles east of our house. We’ve done some yard camping last year which I don’t count because we have electricity and wi-fi and I can go inside to sleep in bed when my back starts to hurt or I’m cold. I checked the weather over and over and over in the days leading up to it, and every time they assured me no rain and nice weather so I traded some time with another guy and took a few hours of vacation so I could get out of work 5 hours sooner than I normally would have and hauled butt down to lake with enough crap to live for a week. We had just enough time to get the tent set up, get the air mattress filled up and cook a batch of hot dogs before a line of heavy thunderstorms rolled through, one after the other until after dark, killing any good time available to do any swimming or exploring or cooking smores which was kind of a bummer. We ended up watching Star Wars Episode 3 on the ipad and being cold and damp the rest of the night. In the morning our plan was to cook breakfast there but it was 48 degrees and we were all cold so we left everything there and drove home and cooked our breakfast on the stove at home. Then we went back out and packed everything up and came home. The tent held up well though, we stayed dry for the most part except in the absolute strongest parts of the storm where we had to hold it up to keep it from collapsing in on us and it snapped a line that was holding the rain shield on and let some water in the window. I think in the future this year we will just do the yard camping again, its a lot more enjoyable and easier and when you inevitably forget something you can just walk in and get it.

I’ve always wanted to play a musical instrument, but I’ve never had the dedication to actually sit down and do the practice that it takes to actually be any good at it.  I’ve had guitars laying around that I noodle around with but I can’t really play anything recognizable much past the skill level of a stirring rendition of Yankee Doodle Dandy.  In fact, the cheap acoustic guitar that I had sat around for so long without being touched that it dried out a bit and the bridge pulled itself halfway off and I only just saw it recently, it’s probably been like that for several years.  No use fixing it, I’m just going to toss it since it’s cheap junk anyway.  I did recently get a baritone ukulele with some of the bonus money that I got for working at Duncan for 10 years, it’s been on my want list for some time but not enough to actually spend any money on it.  Since I had a set amount to spend for anything that I wanted on Amazon and I couldn’t get that money in cash I picked one up.  I went with the baritone instead of just a standard uke because it’s just pretty much the same as a standard guitar without the bottom 2 strings so I could switch back and forth to a certain extent without relearning what little I did know.  After toying around with it for a bit I’ve decided that I want a real guitar again so I’m going to save up and use my fun money on purchasing a Little Martin LX1 backpacker guitar.  Jessica is of the opinion that I am super lame for choosing this particular instrument since she is bit of a music snob and only douches use backpackers, but I am of course going to have to disagree with that assessment.  I’m not going to tour with the thing to go play live shows in Nashville, I just want to lay around and plink on it and for that I don’t want the size (or expense) of a higher quality full size guitar.    I may be a douche for using it but she married a douche so she got the worse end of the deal.  Anyway I thought I would share Alexander and I giving our stirring rendition of Down by the Bay.  We’re a little rusty because we hadn’t practiced it at all in a couple weeks so I was not as smooth as I had been when it was fresh.

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