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Where I’m a monster

I’m guest posting over at Natalie’s place today, sharing a Monster Mommy Daddy Moment. Please, won’t you stop by?


Where I unleash fury at a troll

There was an anonymous commenter on a guest post I made that struck me especially close to home. It insinuated that I was a horrible father, an absent husband, and, basically, a fraud. This comment was deleted, and as I run through the comment in my mind, I realize, more & more, that it was likely only a troll (I refuse to believe anyone who knows me personally would be so mean and/or cowardly do something behind a veil of anonymity at a stranger’s blog). But, it still stings – and, me being me, I can’t just easily let it go.

So fuck you, anonymous commenter.

Fatherhood is far from easy. I don’t want to be heading to work at 6am in the fucking morning every Monday morning so that I can avoid a late-night video conference later in the week, but I do it to keep more time with the kids.

I don’t want to give up sleep and at 4:00 in the morning, or workout over lunch (and then eat on the go), but I do, to keep more time with my family.

My picture of “perfect” never involved working all day, grocery shopping on the way home, making dinner, eating (which, as most every reader of this blog knows, with kids the age that I have them, is 90% “keeping the kids from injuring themselves”), bathing the kids, getting them to sleep, throwing in a load of laundry, turning on the computer so that I could finish up what I couldn’t finish at the office, going to bed dead tired, and then waking up to do it all over again the next morning at 4, because leaving the office and getting home in time to do all of that was far more important to me than “quickly doing one last thing,” which would probably turn into a dozen “one last things” and I’d watch leaving 5 minutes late turn into two hours. And, you know, while my “picture of perfect,” from a younger age never involved all of that – “all of that” is pretty damn near perfect.

Fuck you for making me think that pictures I post of my kids are all a show – for planting a seed in my mind that they’re smiling for a camera and not because I’m there.

Fuck you for making me feel even guiltier about being in my band and for playing in the symphony.

Fuck you for making me think that I don’t pull my share.

Fuck you for taking what was a near perfect moment in my mind, and shitting all over it.

Fuck you for spewing your vitriol at Nichole’s blog.

Fuck you for making me write this post.

We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled boob talk and smiling next week, I promise

Where I look for inspiration

I was chatting with a very dear the friend the other day, and, somehow, the words “you’re inspiring” were used. I may have blushed, and then I tried to figure out how this happened. See, I don’t see myself as inspiring. I see myself as a guy, trying to “keep his head above water,” who simply talks about whatever comes to his mind in this little section of the internet.

And, for the past few weeks, I haven’t been inspired. There are things that I want to write, that I just can’t get into. There are pieces that I want to learn, that I just can’t make myself sit down and work on. There are miles & miles of pavement that are screaming to be pounded by my feet, but the siren’s call of my bed has been too strong for me. In short, if others find me inspirational, well, it feels like the pilot light on my inspirational oven has been extinguished.

So, it’s time to pick myself up by the boot-straps and find something to get that spark back. On the workout side, which, for whatever reason, seems to be the thing that I find the easiest to write about, I need to remind myself of the following:

  • The feeling that lasts throughout the day, that starts as soon as you’ve re-captured your breath after truly exhausting yourself.
  • The “good sore” that you feel, that can last days, telling you that your muscles are growing
  • Those tiny little changes in your body that might only make themselves aware to you, but that you know are there1
  • The way your pants fit a little more loosely

On the writing front, I need to remind myself that people actually want to read what I put out. It’s strange – there is a very real part of me that thinks that people read out of obligation . . . I know it’s bullshit – if I’m not writing something worth reading, people simply won’t read, but I still feel that way.

1 As you lament the fact that it’s always the belly that shows the least change

Where I think about the small moments that matter

I think we all need to stop and look at the small moments more often. Stop to smell the flowers, stop to note the sunrise, stop to listen to a sonata.

Nichole of In These Small Moments asked me to guest post, and I couldn’t have been more honored. Please, take a minute to read about a parenting moment, where I couldn’t help but smile and marvel.

Thank you, Nichole, for the opportunity!

Where I write in six words #sixwordsunday

I knew fatherhood would be hard.

Visit Diary of a Mad Woman to participate in your own #SixWordSunday.

Where I just let the crazy come as it may

I’m a bit fried this week, so let’s just go bullet-point style:

  • I’ve written more this week than I have in a long, long time, but I haven’t actually posted any of it because none of it is anywhere near complete. I like to think this is me, trying to get more mature with my writing. But, in all actuality, it’s probably just me, making new strides with how wordy I am.
  • I think I may be a guest-post-whore. Seriously, if I get an invite from a blog I read regularly, I cannot wait to write a guest post.
  • With the previous statement, I am slightly-less-likely to read a guest post than I am to read a non-guest post. I don’t know why. This is truly unfortunate, because most of the people that I enjoy reading regularly, I found through guest posts.
  • And, speaking of guest posts, I seem unable to ever actually volunteer a guest post – if I’m asked, I’m happy, but coming forward and saying “I’ll write something for you” might be the one place where I am actually shy.
  • I just had to un-subscribe from a blog because the first line of the post confused your & you’re. I’m a grammar snob, I know.
  • When I grow up, I hope to be able to write half-as-well as some of my favorite people to read
  • The remake of Fright Night opens today – it’s penned by Marti Noxon, who wrote some of the episodes of Buffy the Vampire Hunter that I liked the best. So, we have a remake of one of the most classic cheesy 80’s horror flicks, written by one of my absolute favorite writers . . . before kids, I’d have taken a half-day at work, bought one ticket, but sat through three showings of this movie.
  • My crush on Marti Noxon is nowhere near as strong as my mancrush on Joss Whedon, though, and I may actually plan a vacation day around the release of Cabin in the Woods.
  • I ended up with a odd craving to watch Kentucky Fried Movie the other day . . . perhaps because I haven’t seen it in forever, or because I just listened to Bossypants by Tina Fey and I realize that I’m old and can no longer stay awake to watch Saturday Night Life so I have a severe lacking of sketch comedy, or maybe I just want to see Catholic Schoolgirls in Trouble.
  • While I’ve managed regular workouts, I haven’t run in quite some time. My legs feel like a drawn bowstring – I’m missing out on running a Steeplechase with a friend this weekend, but if I can find the time on Saturday, I may run a half-marathon.
  • I’ve been thinking about my next tattoo, a lot, lately. I’m well passed the “wait 6 months” on the tattoo idea, so it’s a “go.” If only good tattoos were free and didn’t take a whole lot of time to have inked.
  • I need a job where I can drink wine and not wear pants.
  • My tan lines from RAGBRAI are still quite legendary. And they freak me out when I’m not wearing pants.
  • I had the strangest zombie-porn dream the other night . . . I’m at a complete loss to figure out what the dream actually meant. I was actually watching the whole thing as if it was a movie, where a man & a woman (who were they? I couldn’t tell you) and they heard of a zombie infestation. After running around and around and around and around, with lots of close calls, they came upon a forest. Suddenly, they ran across an abandoned Revolutionary War fort and went inside. After a few hours without zombies, they started doing what two survivors of the zombie apocalypse might do – loudly. The sounds drew the zombies – I woke up just as I watched the zombies breaking down a door.
  • As we get closer to the school year, I get closer to having to take up my regular gig as organist. I’m somewhat shocked at myself that I haven’t thought up anything new for #InappropriateChurchTweet theater.

Where I call myself a triathlete

Unlike that first marathon, I had a time that I wanted to beat here. I never admitted that time to anyone but my inner dialog, but it was there.

I kept telling people this was “only” a sprint triathlon, because that’s all it was. Why do I say this, though? Because there’s no shortage of people who associate “Iron Man” with “triathlon.” And, while I fully hope to complete an Iron Man some day1, a triathlon is simply a combination of swimming, biking, and running (almost always in that order). Perhaps running a triathlon is crazy, but a 900 yard swim followed by cycling for 16 miles, followed by running for 3 miles is a far cry from a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride, and then a full marathon on foot.

So, I did what preparation I could – I signed up for the Y to get access to their pool. I ran the Gettysburg Marathon on May 1 and have kept my “running legs” going, I rode #RAGBRAI, averaging 70 miles per day for a week on my bike. I didn’t swim as much as I wanted to leading up to the event3, but I figured I’d be ok.

The night before the triathlon, there was a meeting at the pool, where things would start. We picked up general information in our swag bag, and we heard some lady drone on about the charity associated with the Boiling Springs Triathlon4. The race director went over the course outline & how the course rules.

She kept on referring to the “transition area,” which is where the bike racks were . . . but I didn’t have the balls to actually ask about how the transition area worked. Everyone around me just listened intently, without a hint of question on a face around me.

I found out that I needed to be checked in by 6:55, my anticipated start time was 7:40, and that parking might be an issue. Well, no – there would be plenty of parking, but all of the guaranteed parking would be “locked in” until the end of the event, which would probably be around 12:30. Seeing as I had a gig that night, I didn’t want to take a chance . . . nevermind that I really didn’t want to sit around for a few hours.

Talking to a few other competitors entrants who were also doing their first triathlon, someone mentioned a website to look up just what to pack & what to expect. I made note to check it out and then, looking at a tiny little traffic jam on the way out of the pool parking lot, I made the decision to bike to the event the next day. Biking to the event ensured that I wouldn’t get snarled in traffic – and it would give me ample opportunity to collect my thoughts.

I got home, made myself a salad, drank a diet coke, played around on twitter as I did my research. Almost all of the guides for help with the transition areas dealt with shaving seconds off (use rubber bands to hold your pedals in place, you’ll be able to start pedaling right away, saving yourself 2-3 seconds from your final time). I, however, was not going to consider the event a success or a failure based on a few seconds, and that rubber band idea sounded like way more work than necessary.

What I did find was that it was unlikely that there would be a “changing area” for a pool triathlon – you’d be expected to complete all three events in the same general clothing (I was actually thinking about wearing a swimsuit, changing into bike shorts, and then changing into running shorts . . . without a changing area, that would have meant a whole lot of full-frontal nudity, and that might have disqualified me more than a poor swimming time). Looking through the actual course description proved just that – no changing area . . . I’d have to pick one pair of pants & stick to it . . . and I went with a very comfy pair of bib cycling shorts (the kind that go over your shoulders).

So, I pulled out all of the stuff I’d need right before I went to an early bedtime and threw it all in a plastic bag: swim cap (I barely have hair, so this wasn’t necessary for me to swim, but since it had my number on it, I had to wear it), bib shorts, cycling jersey, running jersey, cycling shoes (I chose to forego socks), Vibrams. Then, I woke up at 4:35 to start getting ready the next day.

My plan was to basically follow my pre-marathon checklist – start coffee brewing, make sure everything was ready, fuck around on facebook & twitter, eat some oatmeal and enjoy my coffee, head to the race. I loved this plan in my head.

So, I started brewing coffee & went to get my bike. In my safety check, there was a pretty constant squeak as I set the pedals revolving, so I put new oil on the chain. Then, I noticed that the front tire was a little low, so I went to put air in it. Only, the top of my presta valve came off with the pump. I had a flat. It wasn’t yet 5am. The sun wasn’t out.

Changing a flat, in the dark, sucks. I pulled out my trusty LL-Bean baseball cap with the LED lights, and got it done (though it took me almost 20 minutes, which is way more time than I’m used to a flat taking me). The clock was pushing 5:30. And with the start line measuring 8 miles from my house, combined with the fact that I wanted to give myself a full hour to get there (my plans had me riding at a ridiculously slow pace, so as to not actually tire myself on a ride that didn’t count), I picked things up.

Instead of enjoying my coffee, I poured it into one of my bike’s water bottles, along with some cream and sugar, and drank it along the way. I skipped breakfast. Holding a plastic bag containing a bunch of random stuff as I rode, I left for the start. I might have given myself an hour to get there, but it took me barely thirty minutes . . . flat roads and long legs that are used to cycling dictated the pace.

I got there with plenty of time to kill.

I checked in, got my chip, had a very nice lady draw my #25 on my arm and my leg, and did what I do best5. There were some people who I had met the night before, and a few others who were eavesdropping on the “triathlon newbie” conversation who introduced themselves to me. I chatted for awhile until my number was called.

For most any triathlon, there are two times that matter. The first is the overall time – and you must complete the triathlon within that time in order to ensure that there is adequate support (e.g. water stations). Most any endurance event has this cut-off, and, in the events I’ve participated in, this cut-off is usually pretty lax. The race volunteers aren’t “on a clock.” They’re there because they legitimately want to help the participants get to the finish line. So, if that means that they need to sit at a station for another half-hour to make sure that people coming through have what they need, so be it. But, in reading around, that swimming cut-off is different.

First, swimming requires lifeguards, and those lifeguards may, in fact, be “on the clock.” But, especially for a pool triathlon, you can only have so many people in the water at the same time . . . suddenly, that “you must be done in x time” means something, because if you take too long, you’re holding up other runners.

Since we were all individually chipped for this event, and, as such, had our individual times, this didn’t matter quite as much as previous runnings of the triathlon, where they would have heats (so everybody had to be out of the water before the next heat would start, and that meant they’d actually tell people to leave the pool). When one person finished their swim and left the pool, someone else crosses the start line, and that’s when their time starts.

When the first ten swimmers hit the pool, I started getting myself ready – I’d hit the water once the 16th person finished. I put my cap on. I took my cycling jersey off. I went to put my goggles on . . . only to find that I forgot my goggles.


I’m not sure my goggles would have helped, though.

I, intentionally, didn’t look at the clock when I entered the water. The temperature outside was downright chilly, but the water was actually nice. I started swimming & immediately knew I was in trouble. The Boiling Springs pool is a lap pool without lane markers. In addition to keeping people in their lanes, lane markers actually absorb some of the waves created by people swimming.

Without goggles, I couldn’t see too well. With the choppy water, my breathing was affected. It seemed that every time I turned my head for a sip of air, I got a gulp of pool water.

I made the decision to switch from the forward-crawl to the backstroke. I knew I’d be slower, but I knew I’d be able to see and be less-frustrated.

And, I was pretty sure I could backstroke half-mile in half-an-hour.

I anchored my sight (this certainly cost me some time, as the proper backstroke technique would have you looking straight up) to a fence post one way and my lane spotter the other way, and just went at it. Tired, I finished the swim. I think I was well-short of 30 minutes. They didn’t stop me from getting on my bike, so I’m crossing my fingers that I made the cut.

I took just a minute to get myself ready for the bike portion. I ran my fingers down my shorts to get rid of any excess water, put my jersey on, put my cycling shoes on, put my helmet on, walked my bike to the start, and mounted.

The cycling was two-laps of an 8 mile loop, across roads that I ride all of the time. Discouraging was the fact that the biggest climb of the ride was located right at the beginning. Seriously – I was barely on my saddle and I went into granny gear.

Still, it wasn’t a big climb (just a steep one), and one I got to the top, I was off.

For anyone who has not ridden around Boiling Springs, it’s really a beautiful area, and this ride was a beautiful ride. I went hard, but not to the point of exhaustion, passing a few riders along the way. The second lap was just like the first – granny gear & then I turned on the jets. As I write this, the splits haven’t been posted yet, but I’m quite eager to see my time for the cycling portion.

I finished up, put my bike back. I took off my helmet, shoes, and bike jersey, put on my running shirt, and then I took my time putting on my Vibrams (if you don’t take your time, you end up with your pinky toes trying to fit into the “ring-toe” slot, and that gets uncomfortable after awhile). Before I knew it, I was running . . . right up that same climb that I had to invoke my “granny gear” on the bike.

After swimming, and cycling, then running up a steep incline, it took me a little longer to “find my stride” than normal. Typically, when I run, I start out questioning why I’m running. “This is stupid.” “Who’s going to know if you start to walk?” “Why am I doing this again?” At the beginning of every run, I deal with the “bad John” on my shoulder, whispering these seeds of doubt in my ear. But, then I hit some point & he shuts up – I just keep running. The run goes from “stupid” to “not so bad” to “downright enjoyable.”

It wasn’t until the two-mile mark that “downright enjoyable” point here . . . just, with the swim moving about the water trying not to drown, and the cycling, and the nasty hill at the start of the run, I couldn’t find “my speed.” I tried going faster, I tried going slower . . . but, I eventually did find it, and I finished strong.

I honestly didn’t know what I’d have in the tank at the end of the run. I’ve never done this before – I mean, sure I’ve run to the gym, and then swam, and then cycled, and then ran back from the gym . . . but there wasn’t a crowd there. When there’s nobody there to cheer you on, when there’s nobody doing the same tasks as you . . . you’re only “racing” yourself, and it’s a completely separate thing than race event day.

When I knew I was approaching the finish line, I sprinted. I crossed the finish line strong. In fact, I wish I had pushed myself harder through the entire run, with how much juice I had left in my tank. The clock read something like 2:37:41, but that was from the actual start of the event, and I didn’t know what it read when I crossed the start mat. But, with an anticipated start time of 7:40, and the clock starting at 6:55, I should be able to subtract 45 minutes from that time.

Later in the day, The Boiling Springs Triathlon Website showed the initial results, without splits. My time was 1:52:00. As I write this, I have that same website open in another window, hitting refresh often, hoping to catch the details of each leg.

That time I told myself I wanted to beat? It was 2 hours. I beat it by 8 minutes. And I couldn’t be more ecstatic.

After catching my breath, drinking some water, and eating a banana, I got back to my bike and worked my way back home – a leisurely ride.

Back at the house, I had to prepare for a gig with my band, Landslide, so there wasn’t too much time for me to do anything but I did take just a minute to embrace the fact that I was, now, a fucking triathlete.

1 Note the difference between compete and complete2 here. The only competition I’m in is the one with myself, and maybe the water.
2 The difference is the letter “l”
3 I’m beyond tempted to use the word “race” instead of “event” here, but I did not treat this like a race.
4 I don’t mean to sound heartless here – but I know I do. See, the Boiling Springs Triathlon is associated with Project Share, which is a very worthy cause . . . but we were there to find out about the course & the rules. When the person talking about the charity continued speaking for 20 minutes, going over the stories of individual families and why we should be proud to swim or run for them . . . well, it didn’t work.
5 Masturbate Talk with new people.

Where I write in only six words #SixWordSunday

Working on my recovery day blows

Where I don’t blog

I’m not blogging, I’m boycotting.

Tweet, Don't Blog

Congratulations, Liz, on a year of Blog Boycott Days!

Where I daydream

Close your eyes and lean back.

The sounds around you swirl about. They distort. They ride a decrescendo to next to nothing. Slowly, all that exists is the soft sound of a gentle breeze and a very distant call of a bird.

You can feel the wind tickling the back of your neck.

The sun is out. You know this because you can feel it on your skin; it’s not hot – it’s not burning. It’s simply there, warming.

And then the breeze grows – never a gust, but a constant movement of air about you, like a cool breath constantly exhaling on your exposed skin. You become chilly, but not cold. A sweatshirt would be wonderful. Better woul be the touch of someone else, stealing each other’s body heat.

Your nostrils fill with the scent of fresh air. Cool air, coming in and seemingly filling your body. Is that a hint of the sea tickling your nose? Or a campfire? A freshly mown lawn? A lover’s scent?

You pull your knees into you, hugging them to your chest. You think, wistfully, about the breeze. You concentrate on your breathing. You feel this air filling you. Recharging you.

Skin against your skin would be perfect right now.

You open your eyes.

You can take on anything.