Posts Tagged sports

Embracing the suck of an intergalactic fracture

Stardate: 58365.1 Sector 001, Atlanta. It was 4 degrees Celsius and I was dressed in shorts, a long sleeve t-shirt, and Mizuno running shoes. It was the Atlanta Marathon and I knew I could run the distance. As I started from Turner Field, I paced myself- not running too quickly with the lead pack. I’d been in that situation before, but 26.2 miles meant careful planning. At mile fifteen, a monkey jumped on my back but I had enough energy to run over and hug daughter, 9.2 to go. When I hit “Cardiac Hill” (for those of you familiar with the Peachtree Road Race) I slowed to a crawl. Then, cramps… I had to make it. As I rounded Capitol Avenue to see the Olympic Rings, I told my running companion, “Let’s make this count…,” and sped across the finish line with family cheering. That’s what a race feels like. That’s why we do it.

With training, setbacks come and go; each one seems like it’ll be the end of the road. You take two steps back for every one forward. Then the next race appears on the horizon and you know it is a goal worth reaching. Whether it is a fun run or an Ironman, each runner takes a challenge to push themselves farther and faster than before to earn the intrinsic reward of achievement. You spend hours in the pool, miles on the road, and days of recovery only to be sidelined by an insidious, barely visible crack that runs through your tibia and the doctor suggests surgery.

This is not my first rodeo, daughter and son barely know the “healthy” me, having seen me undergo surgery after surgery to repair the “blue light special” fracture of the day. Health is not a goal, it is a drive to meet the needs of my family; but I do not train to become healthy. It may be a side-effect, a good one; but, I train to embrace the suck. To prove to myself I can be stronger, faster, smarter.

Wife is the real victim; she works harder to help the kids, care for me, and perform well at work.  She is my Lt. Commander Nella Doran to my Captain Picard. Picard opened his heart up once and it was worth it; my wife is worth every moment we spend together.

Today is Halloween, and I am going to dress as wife’s husband, and son and daughter’s father. You don’t need a costume to make that look good. Sometimes, you just need to show up. The next race is the May 11, 2013 11Global Olympic Triathlon at Lake Oconee. I’ll be there because sometimes you just need to show up.

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Setting goals on poop or something like that

                This weekend, the family got the scoop on poop. Seriously, there was an exhibit at Fernbank Museum where son and daughter could learn how long it takes an elephant to poop their weight (6hours). The Labor Day weekend was filled with frivolity as wife and I decided to splurge on everything from clothes at the mall to dinners out. Wife ran her first 10km road race on Monday. I woke the kids after she left and we made a sign that said “Go Mommy!” As runners ran by, they pointed and smiled at son in his monkey pajamas eating a Krispy Kreme doughnut waiting for wife to run by.

Later that day, after the museum, son fell asleep in car. Allowing him to OMG finally take a nap; wife prepared a pallet for him to sleep on in the family room. See, we tried the couch, once. Once. Wife took a trash bag and placed it on the floor then covered it with a blanket and a pillow lest he leaks and we have to get out the green machine to clean up. He slept for a blissful hour. I am sure he enjoyed the rest; we enjoyed it more. Daughter kept saying she wasn’t tired until she succumbed in the car and her face fell forward into sleep. Overall, it was a nice drive home.

Today, I signed up for the Eric Shanteau Swim For Your Life race in two weeks. It has a 1km and a 5km swim. I would suggest that for most people, 3.1miles in the water would constitute the equivalent effort of a half-marathon. I never swam that far before, but have tackled 1.5miles in open water at the beach this summer. I swam 2.5miles half a dozen times in the pool, and regularly swim 6-8miles per week. In the pool…big difference. Once you leave the confines of the safety net of a pool, nothing is the same. This should be a piece of cake for the Ironmen and women who have to swim 2.4miles often in ocean water that at times can be rough. WARNING: solicitation coming…If you’d like to donate money to the LiveSTRONG Foundation or just want to check out Eric’s amazing story, go to .

There are amazing people in this world to whom we are introduced everyday; I think the most amazing people are the ones that take a step forward towards a goal, whether they can achieve it or not. Daughter dreams of dancing in the great theatres of the world; son wants to haul garbage; wife wants to run a half-marathon; I want to go farther and faster than the time before. What’s your goal?

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Why football is not my fantasy and the catfish shootout

“Pain heals. Chicks dig scars. Glory lasts forever.” –Shane Falco, The Replacements. For the first time in ten years, football season is approaching and I feel like saying, “myeh.” I cancelled DirecTV Sunday Ticket, I quit fantasy football, and I am actually not that excited to go to the Georgia-Vanderbilt game. What is wrong with me? Basically, my life is full. Following the leaky bucket theory, as new things arrive in my immediate concern, the more things drip out the bottom.

Now, you are probably wondering what my life is full of. Well, for starters, sheep dip, but beyond that I have 2hours per day of fitness, 8hours of work, 30min thinking about my dissertation (30more if I actually work on it), helping get the kids off to school, helping the kids get to bed, and one psychotic three-year-old and a overly dramatic tween. So when, pray tell, am I supposed to squeeze in a three hour football game?

Wife won’t let play son play football. “Too dangerous.”

I say to her, “No more than soccer.” Silence.


Most of my conversations with wife are one sided. It’s not that she or I don’t listen to each other. Sometimes, I actually hear too much. Really, my wife says something; I disagree; she reiterates her idea; I agree. Now that you look at it, it actually seems balanced when she wins.

This summer, grandfather took daughter to fish at a nearby lake where a ten pound catfish became the prize of the day. Not wanting to diminish the responsibilities of dealing with the results of hunting, fishing, etc. grandfather taught daughter how to clean a catfish.

Warning: Graphic material ahead. You see, the best way to clean a catfish is to get a plank, place the fish on the plank, and drive a nail through its skull, firmly keeping the fish in place. Then, the skin is peeled off. Catfish don’t have scales. Both son and daughter watched in horror. Should we have let son watch? Only time and psycho-analysis will tell, but the other day, son told me that fish and people have the same kind of “bleed.” Great…

Here’s a TV lesson I learned. No, not from TV, about TV. The other day when I went to turn on the television for son, I manually (that means without the remote) turned the set on, bent over to press the DirecTV DVR power button, and clicked the sound receiver on. When all of this happened the shootout scene from Clint Eastwood’s Pale Rider came on immediately while son watched men be shot down as fast as good ol’ Clint could pull the triggers, yes- two guns. I scrambled for the remote, but alas, it was nowhere to be found. Now, it wasn’t the office scene from The Matrix where Neo and Trinity approach the building strapped with weapons and annihilate everything and everyone, but…son’s eyes were fixated on this.

So, what was the lesson? Make sure you have the remote and it works BEFORE you turn something on. Invariably, it was left on the most violent channel running a violent show.

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Going the distance, going for speed

As I swam a mile and a half in the Atlantic Ocean today, wife was listening through the door of son’s bedroom as he was teaching his “baby friend” to go poop in the snack bowl. I struggle to balance fitness and family life. Wife gets up before anyone to get her miles in.

I choose to sleep in.

Today we visited a lighthouse decommissioned in 1933 and daughter and wife climbed up while I stayed with the “under the 44inch set”. We had a good day!

I struggle with finding motivation to beat the odds and meet my goals. Is an Ironman in my future? Who knows…Tri the Mountains is in three weeks and I am looking forward to the next challenge. I will be watching the 2012 London Olympics to see the Triathlon. But, really…we all have to overcome the demons that haunt us and keep us from achieving glory. Read a friend’s personal journey to greatness in France: 2012 Ironman France: The Journey

Peace out!

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Reflections from the looking glass

Yesterday, son was running around the house holding a mirror in front of his face exclaiming that he could see everything. I guess when we look in the mirror, we do in fact see what reality looks like. Sort of. Most of us have warped self-images: too tall, too short, too fat. When we close our eyes and see ourselves sometimes we have a negative self-perception. Setting and achieving goals can make that mirror reflect the person you want to be.

On Thanksgiving Day, 2004, I ran in the Atlanta Marathon. It was a blistering 38deg yet sunny outside. Daughter was wrapped in tights, two layers of clothes and a warm winter jacket. I, of course, was dressed in shorts and a long-sleeve technical shirt. Lesson one: Check the forecast BEFORE you show up to Turner Field at 5AM. I ran the race right on pace until, UNTIL, I hit mile 21. At that point, there is a steep hill oft called “Cardiac Hill”. Well, cramping set in, and I was forced to walk/run for several miles until I could get my legs moving again. The magic came as I rounded the Georgia State Capitol Building and saw a long downhill that ran under the 1996 Olympic Rings. As I crossed the finish line, I was in full stride as family and friends encouraged me with cheers and adulations.

Fast forward five years: I can barely walk and must use a cane to get around. I put on weight, felt terrible about myself and didn’t see a bright future. I wrote recently about my struggles in 2011 (see This past weekend, I ran the Eleven Lake Oconee Triathlon and broke the barriers that were holding me back. As I finished in just over two hours, wife was cheering me on again and I realized, I am happy.

Things still annoy me; kids and wife may get on my nerves but everything feels downhill from here. I love seeing the absolutely positive outlook son has on his face over life’s simplest things: A cookie at Kroger, a 79cent “pusher truck”. Daughter is focused on doing her best at dance. She practices all the time, often tap dancing to footloose in the family room. Yeah, THAT can get kinda annoying. Wife works hard. I have now set new goals to achieve.

In science fiction, writers frequently suggest that mankind will be the author of its own destruction. Daughter stresses about the resources being used by society today and has become totally part of the “Green” movement. Son could care less. Either way, I don’t buy it. The only way man will play a role in his destruction is if he gives up hope. I thought I had, but now I realize it was only a stepping stone to get where I need to be.

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The down side of always winning

Seven days ago, I went to a Widespread Panic Concert in Raleigh and had a really good time. The next day, I drove back to the ’05 and drove the whole time while the wife rested. I wanted to drive, actually, which is very uncharacteristic of me. See, I had a rental and it had more flash than the car I currently owned.
Why did I have a rental? Good question. Over Labor Day weekend, a Mazda apparently backed into our car as it was parked in front of my best friend’s house. Or, at least that’s what the note said that was left on the passenger side windshield wiper. That was an annoyance. Another long drive where I didn’t want to drive the whole way, but only the wife could scootch over the console. See, the passenger door wouldn’t open.
So, the rental comes home. It’s a 2012 Charcoal Gray Nissan where I drive a 2005 Metallic Blue Buick. I love the Buick; I really do. The kids go crazy and want rides in it and ask questions like, “How come we can’t keep this car?” Wonderful. Not only am I a shallow consumer of goods, but my children are inheriting it as well. Long story, not so short, we returned the car yesterday to the rental company and will pick up the original today.
I guess what the entire episode has made me think about is the magnets you put on your car. The body shop technician said it could damage the paint. Really?!? Could they build these cars with a little more fortitude now? I have two magnets, actually. One is shaped like the University of Georgia “G” while the other one says “26.2”.
Over the years since 2004 when I ran my marathon in an average time, I have regarded those stickers as bragging about the race and saying, “See, look what I did?” I thought that since everyone who beat my time deserved more respect and I didn’t want to be seen as a guy that bragged about an average finish. It took my wife’s comment last night to really drive home a general problem I have: Competition.
Last night, she stated in a frustrated tone,”What now? Does everything have to be a competition?” I thought to myself, uh…yeah. The pursuit to win has driven my feet into the ground as I ran mile after mile in order to achieve a better time or farther distance; it made me play through aggravating and sometimes very painful injuries to get on the rugby pitch and help my team win, it has driven everyone crazy as I never seem to do it well enough.
The funny thing is that no one really puts any undue pressure on me to succeed. I already do my job well, and heck, I did run that marathon and I’m dang proud of it. So, when the rental car came home, I immediately placed the marathon magnet on it, even though it was temporary and I post tweets about my runs daily. The moral, here, is sort of vague. I guess I should strive to win in some endeavors, I.e. raising kids, doctoral scholarly work, and teaching. However, in those pursuits the rewards are not immediate, I.e. finishing a race, winning the game (whatever game). I just don’t wake up and realize I’ve lost the most important competition of all: enjoying my life.

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Addicted to my child’s sport

When I was growing up, the only sport my father suggested-no, emphasized that I play was golf. We belonged to a country club that had one eighteen hole course and an additional back nine. Heck, we lived on the fifth green. Every weekend, CBS would televise the professional golfers and I was quizzed on their names. Then in Fall, our family would venture to our friends’ homes and watch the Atlanta Falcons. We even went to a few baseball games; however, nothing compared to the Atlanta Golf Classic.
When people ask me if I play golf, they act surprised when I say I play golf but am not a golfer. Despite all my Father’s efforts I became a rugby player and brutalized my body for 12 years. When I hung up my cleats on March 3, 2002, I knew I was done. Since that time, I have tried to replace playing a sport with watching it. I find that watching rugby causes the internal itch to become unbearable, so I watch football and baseball. Recently, though, I have become enthralled with fantasy sports. I play fantasy baseball in one league and football in four.
On the radio this morning, the announcer exclaimed that the fantasy draft experience is addictive. Many people want the thrill of the draft. This happens so often that halfway through the seasons, many league participants stop updating their lineups (a cardinal sin). Hearing the announcer this morning, I began to wonder how many of us are addicted to our pastime. Whether cross-stitching or cross bowing, people have shoved their lives aside to focus on their hobby. Nowhere is this more evident than kids’ sports.
Parents stand on the sideline second-guessing the coaches’s decisions, often displaying their dissatisfaction in front of everyone in the stands. Coaches spending enormous time developing players into a team, yet everyone feels their situation is different and deserves special consideration. Being addicted to TV sports may not be the best use of a person’s time, but being addicted to the role of your child in sports can only cause problems. As I sit here in front of Major League Baseball, I know my daughter will grow as a dancer despite what I do. Kids should be set free from their parents’ expectations and grow into the player God meant them to be.

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