Bittersweet weekend – College is beckoning

It’s really hard to believe that I became a father for the first time over 18 years ago.  How is it that my oldest son has grown up so quickly, yet I seem to not have aged a bit?  Lol, not really.  Definitely more gray, and surely wiser, as well.  Life teaches us so many lessons, and I can only hope I taught my son great lessons along his path, as well.

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This weekend is move in weekend at North Carolina State University.  A huge step in his life, and really a life changing step for me, as well.  I am losing one of my best friends this weekend to college life.  My only wish is that he be successful, and really soak up the college experience.  It really is a privilege to go to college, and the learning he is embarking on will hopefully sustain him later in life in a career that brings him much joy.

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From today forward, I will not get to spend nearly as much time with him.  Instead, he will be making new friends, studying way more than he ever needed to in Highschool, attending college games, and becoming an adult more and more everyday.  I wish him a world of success, and hope he remembers that Dad can still be a mentor, and that I will always be here for him.  I hope we become even closer as he ages and becomes a successful man himself.

The nest is a little quieter this weekend, a little less cluttered, but a whole lot prouder.

Dylan, remember that Dad loves you, and I am here for you always.

……sigh……

 

Mrs. Doubtfire – Drag Done Right!

My sincerest condolences to the many friends and family of one of the greatest comedic geniuses of our generation.  Robin Williams will be missed by millions of fans the world around.

Although I loved Robin Williams growing up watching Mork & Mindy on TV, he became such a huge and beloved star in the late 80’s and early 90’s.  The World According to Garp, Fisher King, Dead Poet’s Society to name a few….  

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My absolute all time favorite, a movie that I sit down and watch if I happen to catch it on TV even now, over 20 years since its’ debut in 1993, Mrs. Doubtfire.  I have that movie on VHS!  (If you don’t know what a VHS is, look it up cuz you’re probably very young). 

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That movie came out before I got married.  Before I had kids.  I watched that movie countless times with my kids over the years.  We always laughed at just how hilarious Robin Williams was.  As a woman!  Endearing, funny and a great message about a Dad in the middle of a divorce, just trying to spend time with his kids.  

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Robin is an awesome elderly woman, let’s face it.  I will always remember that role, and continue to watch that movie over and over again.  

We’ll miss you Euphegenia, Dear.

Another great race planned

With such a huge focus on my upcoming marathon in Utah, at Big Cottonwood, I can’t forget that just a week later I have a beautiful Half marathon to run in Tennessee.

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A National Park series race, put on by Vacation Races.  The event, named the Great Smoky Mountains Half Marathon, is an inaugural race this year.  With a race course extending from Maryville to Townsend, TN, this race should be a beautiful run.

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I have been working hard trying to find the perfect accommodations for my trip to the a Great Smoky mountains.  I have looked a quite a few properties, but a few necessities are a must.  Trying to find them all in one property is proving a bit challenging.  Pet friendly is a must.  I have two dogs that will bark at a bear in an instant!  A hot tub for pre and post race, is a must as well.  A nice, fully equipped kitchen for preparing meals.  A comfortable king bed.  How about a really nice view, too!

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Looking forward to taking part in this race, and spending some time in the mountains of Tennessee.

City of Oaks Marathon and Half- Raleigh’s Finest

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That’s right!  Just 100 days away today, our local marathon and half will once again provide some of the finest views on an awesome course.  

In 2013, I achieved my Personal Record for the marathon distance on this beautiful and challenging course.  Still to this day, I am trying to figure out what I did right that day to bank that 3:32.  This race is neither considered flat or fast, as it contains some difficult rolling hills.

When online registration for this years event rolled around, I knew that I wanted to go back.  I also knew that because I had already signed up for a few marathons during the Fall season, that I probably shouldn’t add another one.  I debated it for a few days, until one day the race offered a one day discount, and I had to make a quick decision.  My son actually helped in the decision making process.  Fresh off of watching my older son complete his first half marathon in Hilton Head, my younger son asked if he could run the City of Oaks Half, as his first race at the 13.1 distance.  Decision made!  Of course I said yes, and decided to register for the Half with him.  I want to run with him, pace him, and be at his side when he finishes.

I have already got him set up on a 16 week Half Marathon training plan, which he has already started.  He is excited, and so am I.  In 100 days, I will be toeing the line with my 16 year old to run through Raleigh and and watch as he has his first (of many I hope) Half Marathon finisher medals placed around his neck.

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Look out City of Oaks, this time it’s going to be a family affair!

 

…I Need A Vacation

What I am in serious need of is decompression time.  Time to sit, time to ponder and not have any obligations.  Time to do things for myself, and enjoy the things that mean the most to me.  That means family, that means running…. and cooking, hiking and breathing in the clean air.

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I haven’t been on vacation since March.  Contrary to popular belief, even though I was at the beach last week, I worked about 46 hours, and barely had time to even see the ocean.  

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What I need is some serious time in the mountains.  Time away from the terrible, oppressive heat and humidity.  It makes me think of the many times I have been to the mountains, and had the most relaxing vacations.  I’ve rented cabins or homes mostly, because we like to have the space to spread out, and also be able to cook.  A fully equipped kitchen is a must while on vacation.  I know, some of you may be saying, “there is no way I am cooking on vacation”.  I love to cook though, so I find it a necessity while on vacation in the mountains.  I would much rather cook than go out to eat constantly.

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What I look forward to are the crisp, cool mornings.  A nice run, enjoying the sights and sounds of nature.  A good hike with family.  Taking pictures.  

Yeah, now I’ve got myself all worked up, yearning for the day this a Fall where I will be able to get away and enjoy “me time”.  Family time.

Luckily for me, I have time away planned for September.  A few months back I signed up for a Half Marathon in the Great Smoky Mountains.  This will be the weekend following the Big Cottonwood Marathon (another mountain getaway, yeah!) so extending my vacation to a full week and a half, and including two runs will be just amazing.  Vacation Races has several great National Park Half marathons on their event list, so check them out.  I am really excited about it.  I am now in the process of finding the perfect cabin to rent for a few days so that I have time to relax while in Tennessee, as well.

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While I am enduring long, tedious training runs in the North Carolina heat of Summer, I guess I just have to dream about my upcoming vacations, and hold tight, knowing that they will be here before I know it.  

Do you run while on vacation?  Maybe you plan your vacations around a race?  I like to be able to do it all while on vacation.  Relax and run.  How about you?

Father’s Day Donut Run

To my Dad:  I love you, and thank you for loving me unconditionally for 44 years.  I thank you for the lessons in life, and I thank you for your often times quiet support from afar the last 33 years.

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To my kids:  Thank you for allowing me to love you unconditionally.  Thank you for loving me through thick and thin, and for becoming great young men under my guidance.  When I’ve made mistakes, we’ve both learned from them.  When you’ve made mistakes, I’ve tried to give you a better path.  I hope I’ve given you the tools to become great fathers one day.  A Dad is very important, and I am thankful that I went down the path of fatherhood.  Oh, and thank you for the donuts, too!

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Because of my early morning breakfast treat, I am going to partake in one of my favorite activities while you do the dishes and clean the bathroom today.  After all, I can’t eat donuts without trying to work them off this aging body.  A four mile run is in order.   Hold down the fort, I will return…

Happy Father’s Day to of all the awesome Dad’s out there!  Hope you get to enjoy some of your favorite things today, including the kids.

Run the Quay 10k & 5k – Race Recap

My hometown event.  Run local they say, and that is just what my 16 year old son and I did on Saturday morning.  After celebrating my older sons graduation from High School on Friday morning, it was a jam packed weekend.  We have only run this event one other time.  Three years ago we ran the 5k, which was the only distance offered for the first nine runnings of this race.  This being the 10 year anniversary of the event, they added both a 10k, and the 15 Quay Challenge (running both the 10k and 5k).

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I do love a challenge, so I signed up for the 15, and my son signed up for his first 10k.  Saturday morning came early, but I dropped by the Chamber of Commerce on Friday afternoon during packet pickup, so we were ready to roll.  We arrived about a half hour before the race start, such an easy 5 minute drive from the house.

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We both felt pretty good that morning.  Albeit a little tired, especially my son.  I actually ran the full “new” 10k course once in training just to familiarize myself with the course.  They described this course as hilly, challenging and full of turns.  30+ turns on the course exclusively run in historic downtown.  I wondered how many folks would miss turns and get lost on the course come race day.  I have to say, they did a great job keeping us on the right track. They color coded the miles, and had signs denoting turns as well as volunteers.  It was a great course, but tough.

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The gun went off.  The start is downhill which is part of the reason why my 5k PR of 20:45 in 2011 still stands today.  Going out strong, my son and I clocked the first mile in 6:56.  I didn’t want to tell him that so I kept quiet.  Right then though comes the first hills, and my son dropped back a bit.  He never caught back up to me, but was never that far behind.  We wound around the hilly and twisty turny course at a good clip.  Volunteers and signage made it easy to stay on course.  I concentrated on just enjoying the run.  I wasn’t trying to set any records, but did want to not have a personal worst.  I was shooting for sub 50 minutes, but knew I had the 5k directly afterward so wanted to leave a little gas in the tank for that.

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Me in purple shirt, son next to me in red.

There was a big crowd, and quite a few spectators all along the route.  The miles ticked by quickly.  Mile 3 then 4 then 5.  I knew the finish was uphill but tried to stay strong for the final push. I haven’t run a 10k race in almost two years, so of course I was surprised by how quickly it was over compared to a Half or Full marathon, which is pretty much all I’ve run the past two years.  I crossed the line in 48:25.  By far not my best, but also not my worst.  I was actually surprised that I finished as high in the standings as I did.  I finished 32/205 overall, and placed 8/32 in my age group.  This event is the only one I’ve ever run where the age groups are 10 years instead of 5.  As I’ve said before, and will continue to say, the 40-50 year old male age group is extremely competitive.  I would have placed higher in both the 20-30 and 30-40 age brackets.  Oh well.

I moved to the side of the street to start watching for my son.  Not long afterward, I saw my sons red shirt off in the distance.  He was chugging along nicely.  As he made his way up to the finish, the hill was taking its toll.  As he neared the finish, we cheered him on.  One guy, probably in his 40’s overtook him just before the finish, and I yelled out to my son “strong, finish strong”.  He turned up the heat, and passed that man and finished just in front of him.  Huffing and puffing, he was proud of his finish and so was I.  His first 10k, and he turned in a fantastic time on this difficult course.  Overall he finished 43/205, and WON his age group!!!  His time was 51:16.  Quite the honorable debut!

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My son with his first medal, and first running trophy for first place in Age Group!

As we celebrated his age group win, I had to remind myself that I had to run again.  The 10k started at 7am, and based on my finish time, I had about 40 minutes rest before the 5k began at 8:30am.  I drank an entire bottle of water without even really realizing it, and also ate a banana.  I hoped I wouldn’t cramp up during my second race.  My son stayed with family while I lined up for the 5k.  A lot more people in this event, the crowd was deep for a local event.  I wished I had brought a second race shirt, because I was still soaking wet from the 10k, but the gun went off and here we go.

Making my way on the 5k course I was familiar with, I felt good.  I wasn’t overdoing it though.  I wanted a respectable time.  The course is hilly like the other, but has a different route.  Ups and downs and some turns, I was hoping for a pace quicker than the first race.  That was my one and only goal.  Did I have enough left in the tank?  Turns out I did.  No cramping, either.  Legs were ok.  My son and friends were at the finish cheering me on as I ascended the finishing hill.  Chip time was 23:45.  Not great, but my goal was met.  A pace quicker than the 10k.  I finished 36/430 overall, and 7/41 in the 40-49 age group.

I felt good after running both races.  Not overly tired, but still have it a good effort.  My efforts that day led to an overall finish of 6th place in the 15 Quay Challenge.  There were only 28 people that opted to take the challenge of running both races.  So I guess sixth place isn’t too bad for this old timer.

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The Run the Quay Race Events is a great locally run event.  Plenty of food and water at the finish, they even had photographers there this year.  Will wait to see how those photos turn out.  More than likely horrible like most others.  We had a great time at the race, and will surely return to run it again next year.  The next race my son and I will run together will again be a new distance for him.  We are already signed up to race the City of Oaks Half Marathon in November.  Can’t wait, it’s always great to run with my kids.

Commencement 2014

It all happens so quickly…. almost without being aware of it.  One day your child is born, your entire life changes.

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Acts of selfishness are now acts of selflessness.  It’s really quite peculiar how things happen at such lightening speed.  I remember cutting the cord and welcoming my first born son into the world.  I remember changing his diaper and feeding him for the first time.  Then he took his first steps, and got his first haircut.  Sucked his thumb.  Had his first Birthday.

I blinked and he was on the bus to kindergarten.  Joined his first soccer team.  Played a video game.  Sang a song, and laughed and loved.  Won an award.  Cried.  Rejoiced.

Went to his first dance, had his first date.  First kiss.  Got his drivers license.

Blink again, it’s graduation day.

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Where has all of the time gone?  He grew up and is ready to head out into the world on his own.  I can only hope that the lessons I taught him on life and love and learning will help.  I am turning him out into the world to succeed on his own.  Head to college.  Live a successful and productive life.  Relax son, although you are entering a new phase in life, I will always be your Dad, and I will always be here for you.  To lean on, to learn from.

Congratulations son, on a very successful High School career.  NC State awaits, and will be lucky to have you.