Friday, May 30, 2008

Hippos, Pandas, and Elephants, Oh my!

Of course I woke up early this morning and decided to make the most of the day by getting in a quick 4 mile run here on Shelter Island while the girls continued sleeping. Instead of the usual deer and squirrels I see on my usual Twinsburg runs, I was treated to sea lions barking and the thrill of watching a naval destroyer pull into the harbor. All the sailors were lined up along the deck and I took a moment to stop and watch the ship as it passed by. There is a nice path along the shoreline that I did two laps of.

We spent the majority of the day at the San Diego Zoo. We arrived just as the park opened at 9am and were able to get some really great views of most of the animals. The highlights were watching the orangutans roll out of bed and start their day, the hippoes swimming around their 150,000 gallon pool, and the beautiful pandas eating bamboo and literally "hanging out" in the trees. Weather was perfect and we all agreed it was an awesome place to explore for five hours!

We then headed to the convention center for the marathon expo and packet pick-up. The parking garage was extremely full and there was a ton of traffic, but surprisingly the expo did not seem very crowded. There was no line at packet pick-up and we moved swiftly through the stops for timing chip and t-shirt. We bought a few goodies and sampled a few products and were back in the car to let DaveDave show us the way back to the hotel!

The girls swam in the pool and then it was Subway for dinner which we ate near the beach across the street from the hotel. To date the girls have each snapped 250 photos on their cameras.

Tomorrow we hope to have a low key day exploring Coronado Island. We will also do a dry run of how to get to the marathon start, parking lot, trolley stops for spectating and finish line. Oh yeah, and I'm going to get up early again and run towards downtown along the harbor and enjoy the sights and sounds of morning along the ocean.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Planes and Palm Trees

Well, I am writing this from San Diego, CA after our first family plane flight! The almost 5 hour flight did not feel too bad since I had managed a 10 mile run yesterday morning commencing at 5am. A 8:40am departure this morning had us waking up at normal school time. BUT, school is over for this year and I now have an eighth grader and a sixth grader. To say that they were/are excited about our trip to California is putting it mildly.

Gina's trip to Cedar Point on tuesday with her class prepared her for the sensation of lift-off. Abby was big-eyed but enjoyed the experience once we were off of the ground. Great flight with clear skies and we actually arrived in Los Angeles on time. We retrieved our luggage and then waited for the rental car shuttle. And waited... It arrived and we loaded the car with our luggage. Many many thanks to Dave for letting us borrow his TomTom navigation unit. We have affectionatly renamed it to DaveDave, even though the voice does not match the name! It managed to get us to the hotel without missing a beat! We tried to fool it with an off-highway excursion to look for a beach access, but DaveDave was patient and let us have some fun exploring before entering "Nag" mode.

Great mexican dinner tonight and we are all ready for a good night of rest. I hope to run a few miles tomorrow morning along the harbor and then we are off to the zoo. We will head to the marathon expo for race packet pickup and more exploration.

The girls are amazed at all of the palm trees that line the streets. Some look like giant pineapples and there are lots of very beautiful plants and trees around! I understand why people want to live here.

Hope to post some photos tomorrow... good night!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Grand Marshall

Denise and I had decided to take the girls to the Memorial Day Parade in Twinsburg this morning. We always like to watch the marching band and there was supposed to be C130 cargo plane fly-over. As we prepared to go, the dogs always sense that we are about to leave and usually start making their way towards their crates. Forrest, feeling fluffy and spunky, has having no part of this. He was bouncing and running back and forth, trying to get outside and into the van. He wanted to go where ever we were going! Denise and I tried a few times to get him into his crate and then gave in. Outside he ran and almost make it into the back of the van unassisted. I provided the extra boost for him to get into the back and off we went!

We parked at the library and staked out a spot at the end of the driveway. Forrest was looking so 'stately' and proud as he sat and watched the people and parade. People would walk by and pet him and tell him how handsome he looked! He really likes the attention. As the band approached, the drums sounded a bit too much like thunder for his liking and he was a little nervous. Forrest however really enjoyed the kids throwing candy! A couple of people in the parade even came over to say hello to him. He was stealing the show!

The parade was over much too quickly and I started scanning the sky for the plane. We started to gather our things and walk back to the van when I looked up and saw the C-130 flying low right over Ravenna road! (It was pretty hard to miss!) It was pretty cool to see as he make a big left hand banking turn over the square. Almost as impressive as the F16s a couple of years ago...

Fun morning out. Mia, our golden has pouted all day about not going along... We are about to take her out for a walk. That should help.

Holiday Weekend

Memorial weekend is here and the temperatures are finally starting to climb back up to where they should be. I had to wear gloves friday morning for my run...40 degrees was a bit cool.

We gave Forrest a bath yesterday and he looks and smells a whole lot better! His fur always gets so fluffly after we dry him and he looks twice as large as normal! The medication that he is taking now is really working. He is starting to act like a much younger dog than he is.

Abby, Gina, and Kelly had a raucous water fight last evening and I then built a fire to help them 'warm-up'. The fact that there were s'mores too helped a lot! It was a perfect end to a perfect day for all of us!

I sit here typing, listening to the approaching thunderstorm, trying to keep Forrest calm. He is very thunder-phobic and will probably at any minute bolt for the "protection" of the upstairs shower... He is a funny boy..

I had a great running week. 47 miles total with a 25 mile run saturday followed with 10 miles with Paul yesterday! I completed a nice 6 this morning while the rest of the family was sleeping. I figured that I could run and then make pancakes with Abby when she wakes up. They are still asleep but the storm is close... Time to rescue Forrest!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Magic Carpet Ride

Forrest gave us quite a scare sunday/monday. He was trying to go up the stairs sunday afternoon when he suddenly went 'splat' on the third step. He could not get back up or move. We managed to get him onto the floor where he was able to stand, although very wobbly.

He rested the remainder of the afternoon. I carried him outside to "water the grass" and I told Denise that I can't do that too often. A 100 lb dog is a bit much to carry by myself. He was not able to stand for long by himself and we thought that he may have broken something but he did not seem to be distressed, just wobbly. We decided to see what monday would bring.

We slept downstairs with him sunday night. Actually, we didn't sleep with all of the possible outcomes going through our heads. We awoke to him even less mobile, if that was possible. We took him to the Vet where they proceeded to check him out. Neurologically, he was fine. His hips were creaky, but we already knew that. The vet asked what kind of arthritis meds he was on. "What meds?" we replied. "No one here has ever said anything about medication for his creaky bones!"

The vet gave us some anti-inflammatory meds and some pain meds. We took him home and made our own little stretcher from a blanket. The photo above is of us bringing him back inside. We went to Gina's band concert and when we came home, he was sitting up and then tried to walk outside! We were pretty excited to say the least.

This morning when I came downstairs, he was standing in the dining room, tail just a wagging like nothing was wrong! He made it outside by himself, but need help getting back inside.

I came home from work and he was just as happy as can be.... Good drugs! I want some of those for the race in August!!!

We are very thankful that he is on the mend so quickly! We had a wake-up call and now we are in the "Bonus Round" with Forrest.

It sounds so cliche, but really, "Make every day count..."

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Aqua Running

I awoke this morning to the sound of rain hitting the roof. I wanted to run 10 today but really did not want to run in the rain. After a quick look at the weather map, I realized that if I wanted to run this morning, it would be in the rain.

I changed and started. As I entered the woods, there was not really a trail, it was a small creek with water flowing into the mud holes. Oh well, I just slopped through and had a blast!!! It was really fun and I got pretty muddy. It was funny, no one else was out enjoying this with me...hmmmm

The rain stopped after a while and I decided to stop at 8 miles. I did not want to go too far even though it felt good. As I returned home, I met Denise as she started her run. She asked "4 more?" I thought why not?! I ran in the grass along the bike path with Denise. It was wet, of course, but I was already pretty muddy so it did not matter. At one point, I stepped into a hole and created a huge splash. Again, big fun! Denise was not amused, but I was having a good time.

I completed 11.5 miles for the day. 46.5 miles total for the week, making this the biggest week since early April. It feels good to be back!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

New Trails, new friends

I wanted a 20 mile run today and also wanted to run some parts of the Burning River course that I was not familiar with. I arranged to meet Andy and Bolanz road and also posted a note on the VR bulletin board. Kurt, JP, Patti, and Don joined Andy and I on a beautiful morning.

We started by traveling the BR course backwards to Pine Hollow. We passed a goat farm on the way and I chuckled at the babies and mother goats scampering about. Several parts of the trail were muddy and Andy abandoned all hope of keeping dry feet very early in the day. Instead of calling our muddy sections to the group, we would call out dry sections. There were a lot fewer of them... We also called out fallen trees for Kurt so that he would not trip! Ask him sometime for the story.

We made a couple of wrong turns but recovered before too much time was lost. Before we knew it we were at Pine Hollow. We returned the same way and after we waited for Kurt to retreive his shoe from the mud, we arrived back at the cars for fluids and food. We decided to go to the covered bridge and travel the Perkins/Riding Run bridle trails. JP warned us that it was very muddy there earlier in the week and we discussed options for alternate routes. We started up the climb from the valley and it was not too bad. Andy and Don turned back for a 15 mile day while JP, Patti and I continued on.

These trails were pretty isolated and very scenic. JP said that the fall colors are very vivid and that the woods are even nicer with a fresh covering of snow in the winter. I need to get back here again to experience the other seasons.

We arrived at the covered bridge again and none of us really wanted to run along Ira road per the original plan so we instead headed back into the woods towards Oak Hill trail and Furnace run. These were a couple of short loops but they contained some steep sections of trail. A few loops here would make for a good hill workout.

Back to Bolanz road for a total of 20 miles and 4 hours 15 minutes of running. Not a fast day but I am feeling good and felt like I could have gone farther. I hope to follow up with 10 miles in the morning to complete a good week. Thanks to JP, Patti, Andy, Don, and Kurt for the company. JP, lets get a night run planned soon!

Denise and I walked the dogs in the park this afternoon and a red fox crossed the bike path in front of us. Pretty cool..

Friday, May 16, 2008

Dress Code

A funny story from last night's run with Gina...

I had changed into a pair of my older running shorts and a long-sleeved shirt for our run. Gina came down from upstairs and said to me, "Dad, you have to change your shorts!" I asked why and she said "They are too short!". I said that they were fine and she said "put you arms down at your sides. See? They are too short! You would not be allowed to wear them in my school because they are not longer than your reach!"


I changed my shorts...

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Dogs, Dad, and Daughter

Denise had a meeting to go to tonight so Gina and I decided to walk with the dogs though the woods. Both Gina and I were itching for a short run so we decided to jog a bit. Mia, our Golden, was a bit timid around the mud, but Tara, another Golden that we are dog-sitting this week, had no problems going through it. We had a nice time chatting as we ran and Gina enjoyed running the trail instead of walking it. She was amazed at how fast we got to the vernal pools.

We brought the bike path back to the grassy path where Gina ran hard to Glenwood. The dogs and I walked the path and met Gina as she jogged back. A very nice evening. I hope to be able to do it again soon.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Rainy monday

Started today with a sloppy 4 miles before work. It was just raining hard enough to be raining, but again, not enough to get you totally soaked. Very enjoyable and I like getting the run out of the way early.

I felt very tired today at work. I slept well last night, it just seemed like a short night...Maybe Mother's Day took its toll on me with the stress of planning, preparing, and cleanup of 3 meals. How do you mothers do that day after day after day???

I returned home from work to find Denise and the girls frantically preparing for what might have been Gina's "first date". Her friend called to see if she wanted to run with him on the Bike path. Now what could make two parents who run happier than that? I was invited along as well as the dogs, to ensure that everything went well. The kids ran, and we walked behind, like two doting parents. I am not ready for this....

I want to run again tomorrow morning and am starting to plan saturday's long run already. I want to park at the covered bridge and run portions of the Burning River 100 course. There is a 6 mile segment to Pine Hollow, a 4.1 mile loop, and a 3.5 mile segment to O'Neil Woods. Total distance would be 23.1 miles, making for a nice run. Pace will be easy and I am going to post on both the VR web site and BR100 sites for some company. A lot of people will probably be running the Cleveland marathon this weekend, but maybe I can get someone to join me to help pass the miles.

Mother's Day recap

Here is a photo of Abby, Denise, and Gina at the Botanical Gardens in Cleveland. We decided to go visit there since the weather was not very nice for an outdoor hike as we had originally planned. We are so glad that we ventured down there. They have a huge green house with a Costa Rica Cloud forest habitat which contained hundreds of butterflies and assorted colorful birds.

The butterflies were feasting on the nectar from the flowers that were blooming and it was amazing to be so close and observe them floating about.

We started the day with the girls making chocolate chip pancakes for Denise. Abby presented Denise with a poem and Gina, a collage of Adirondack photos. Both were a huge hit with Denise.

Off we went to the Botanical gardens for a great visit. We will return on a sunny day to enjoy the outdoor gardens this summer.

I prepared dinner and chocolate casserole for desert. (do you sense a chocolate theme??) It was a very good day and Denise had her wish of staying out of the kitchen for a day.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Like Mother, like Daughter...

Yesterday was the Run 4 Life event at Hudson Communtity Chapel. Gina and Abby had registered for the 1 mile run and Denise had registered for the 4 mile event. I was just spectating and Abby and I had plans to ride the tandem home from Hudson.

Gina and Abby started the race and at the 1/2 mile point, the police car leading the race made a wrong turn! Gina and Abby both got caught up in the confusion, but quickley got back on course. Gina finished looking strong and Abby was not far behind. Abby held on pretty well since she has only run a few times this spring...

The 4 mile race starts and Denise just wanted to use this as a recovery run from her 21 mile run on friday. This 21 miles was the last long run before San Diego and it went very well for her. Her goal for the 4 miles was to build each mile. She expected to go 34 minutes, I predicted 33 minutes. We were both wrong! Denise came in at 32:20 something... I told her at the finish "So much for taking it easy!"

Gina placed first in her age group and Denise also place first! Pretty cool to see the smile on Gina's face.

The men's winner set a new course record! 19:59 for 4 miles!!!! He was simply beautiful to watch run. He made it look effortless, like all good runners do, and I was simply amazed at how fast he was going without looking like he was going fast! The women also posted some smokin' fast times. ~25 minutes and change.... wow!

Abby and I then unloaded the tandem and started for home. We had a Starbuck's Gift card burning a hole in our pockets so we stopped at the Twinsburg store for cocoa and coffee. A great 12 mile ride together and even better conversation and laughs!

I then followed this up with a 6 mile run though the woods. Overall, a fantastic day for everyone! Now, it is time to spoil Denise for Mother's day!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Early morning

I love the early morning! I finally got my behind out of bed this morning for a pre-work run. I left the house at 5:30am and ran as the day began. The woods were alive with birds of all shapes and sizes. Lots of cardinals and I heard an owl off in the woods on the other side of the rail tracks.

I was able to turn off my headlamp after a while and was able to enjoy the sun rise. I saw one person running on the bike path as I crossed for a connecting trail. I made it home in time to say goodbye to Gina as she walked to the bus. She said that someone on the bus was telling her about some crazy nut they saw running one morning with a headlamp on. Gina did not say that it was probably me...

I took the girls out shopping tonight. It is always an adventure with them as I listen to the pre-teen jabber and with Gina constantly changing the radio stations. We had a nice time out together. I need to do these trips more often.

We are preparing the mother's day menu. I will not say what it is since Denise will probably read this, but I can say that it has been fun planning with the girls. It will be a great day!

Another run tomorrow morning. Did I mention that I like the mornings?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Rainy woods

I ventured back to the valley saturday for a lap of the Fool's FA course. There had been some rain and I was expecting a muddy mess on the trails but was suprised with how solid they were. Of course, the rain that was falling made for a wet trail, but footing was solid.

My main goal of the day was to keep moving and see how my leg feels. After my warmup, things felt ok. My pace was slow, but I really did not care. I just wanted to see how 15 miles would feel.

Suprisingly, there was no one else out in the woods except for a ranger near Happy Days! The rain was coming down just hard enough to keep me cool, but not too hard to get me soaked! The sky got real dark and the wind picked up just as I got to the Ledges Overlook and I thought to myself, "I am about to get soaked!" But, a few harder sprinkles, and it was over.

The woods were filled with song birds and wood-peckers! It was nice to run and simply listen to the birds singing and the rain hitting and dripping from the trees. Very quiet and relaxing.

The 15 miles went well and before I knew it, I was back at the van. A quick change into dry clothes and I returned home.

I followed up with 6 miles today. My leg is not getting worse, I think it is better... One thing is for sure, I am scared to death about 100 miles... But, fear is a good thing, right?